I'm a sucker for Disney stuff.  And with our two girls getting into Legos and being totally addicted to anything in a 'blind bag', there might not be something that is more addictive in our house than these Lego Disney Mini Figures.  There's a set of 18 different Disney characters in what I think everyone is presuming is the first edition of multiple editions that came out earlier this year.

We've been picking up blind bags here and there, but I also went on eBay and bought a dozen bags.  The girls have begun to go through them, but we're no where near the full set.  No Ariel so far.  And like three Captain Hook's?!?!

But, we did get Ursula that you can see down below.  She's pretty great!
The whole Disney Vinylmation thing ran it's own course and we stopped buying them, but these feel different.  With a Mini Figure display in the works, these seem like something that the girls can get after.  If a second edition/season comes out (which...it just will, right?), I'm sure we'll buy a lot more blind bags.  We're Disney people after all.
Well...we don't actually have it on hand, but I've cut a deal and my Dad is picking it up this week while he's in Coloma.

That's right, we're the proud owner of that beauty of an apple press.  I found it at a yard sale up in Coloma and after passing on it initially, we went back later in the afternoon only to find it closed.  The woman told me that they bought it from a farmer back in the 1970's but she had no idea how old it was.  It has two parts: a grinder in the box (that's the wheel on the side) and the 22 lb press on top (that's the handle on top).

Fortunately, the house was for sale, so I took a shot and emailed the agent with my story about wanting to reach the owner of the house she was selling to try to buy their apple press.  Well...a few days later a lady calls me and....yada, yada, yada....we now have an apple press.  (Or...we will have it this week when my Dad comes home from Michigan!).

And...yes...I yada-yada'd over the good part.

So, what will we be doing with this thing?  I dunno.  But I can guarantee that we'll make at least ONE batch of apple cider this fall.  Who knows...maybe we'll work with Dr. Jeff or Nat's brothers on a collaboration of some fermented ciders?  Or...press our own olive oil?  Wine?  Other pressed fruit what-have-yous...

Who wants to come out to the suburbs for a good ole' fashioned apple pressin' one fall weekend?
Along side Ariel and Flounder, that orange and white fish on the left is our new pet: Lucky.  Well...his name *might* be Lovie because the Savage calls her that, but everyone else calls her Lucky.  She's been living in this two gallon bowl for the past few weeks after being 'won' (can we call it that?) at the Naperville Rib Fest.

This new 'pet' has, ummmm, been a source of disagreement around the family.  I've taken on the bulk of the burden of keeping her tank clean - which hasn't been super easy - but getting her at a carnival is a sort of 'loophole' that was exploited that I don't think was appreciated by senior leadership.  Add the fact that we've been out of our temporary home for five weeks and the burden has been shared across generations.

Over the next few days, we'll transition her back to Elmhurst and if she survives the multiple water changes, the car ride and the change of locations, then she's far hardier that I expected her to be.  And...we'll be stuck with her.
Earlier this month, we spent some time up in Coloma for our annual July visit and as we normally do, we went out to St. Joe's for some Silver Beach Pizza and what-have-yous.  On this trip, we went a few times and spent time both down below the bluff and up on top in town.  I covered one of the stops earlier this week with our visit to Silver Harbor Brewing Company.

St. Joe's always has public art and this year is no different.  The theme is 'beach bugs' and there are lots of little statues/art that kids can climb on and have fun, but one of these bugs is a bit different.

It is a caterpiller that was built by a team at Whirlpool named H-E-L-L-O.  You can read more about the bug here.  It was built by a cross-functional team at Whirlpool.  The team that built this thing can be found here.

So...while it it *is* public art, this is interactive public art that takes your photo and then allows you to save it on your device.  There are instructions on the statue that tell you a 3 step process:

1.  Join a specific wifi network
2.  Scan a QR Code that takes you to a url that has a 'take photo' button.
3.  Line up on a line on the sidewalk and 'smile'!

We lined up on the line and snapped the photo.  See it above.  Unfortunately....there were five of us on the line.  But the two smallest kids got cut off!  Still pretty cool, right?

From the site:
H E L L O is a collaboration of seven individuals who contribute to Whirlpool Corporation’s Engineering teams. The process of working with our caterpillar was very similar to how we design a new appliance. It takes creative minds to execute the design, another group to figure out all the buzzers and whistles, and then a final team to ensure the original design intent is feasible. And that is how we tackled our caterpillar! 
H E L L O embodies the principles of engineering; the team of engineers when tasked, made it their mission to create the functions, as directed, in the very best way possible. Engineers do not improve upon a design, which is a very large misconception; they make what you ask … actually happen. And perfectly! So when the opportunity to light, enable speech, take pictures, and create a lighting spectacle in a bug presented itself, the team stepped up and made it happen - perfectly! 
Our team’s talents range from background lighting of products, software algorithms for timing cycles, sensor technology to know when things are finished or when a door is open. We also do lighting for the interior of appliances, sequence lighting (for effects and information,) cameras for refrigeration technology, and WiFi (which we utilize in many appliances for connectivity). 
The design was created with children and families in mind, as well as to show visitors what an engineer can do with all that knowledge! All these skills along with a lot of fun went into the creation of H E L L O!
Just like the Mr. T bicycle book I posted earlier this week, I picked up this sweet vintage Golden book for the kids at a garage sale for just $0.25.  The vintage cars and trucks alone made this un-passable.  If you look at the 3rd photo down, you'll see the 1973 date in the edition.  The cars are pretty sweet, but the work trucks and jeeps make this a keeper and worth adding to the 'vintage books' tag here on the blog.


Look at those rides?!?!?










Soldiers?  Criminals?




I have to tell you:  something just *had* to give in terms of St. Joe's Michigan restaurants.  I mean...the wait at Silver Beach Pizza sometimes gets to be like 2 hours on non-holiday weekends and sure...the pizza is great(!!!), but it also tells me that there's a huge unmet demand for eats in town.

Couple that dynamic with the craft beer movement and what pops out the other end is the new Silver Harbor Brewing Company that has opened recently in Downtown St. Joe's.  Silver Harbor has a taproom that opened up in a 100 year old building and is located on the 'other side' of the main drag through town.  You can comfortably park anywhere in town like near the bluff and still walk to Silver Harbor.  

We decided to bring all three kids and give this place a try on a Friday night.  They have a system of texting you when your table is ready, so we were given a 45 minute wait and we went to town to walk around and check out the public art.  Once we were texted, we were seated right away.

The taproom is made of natural materials and has a long, live edge wood bar.


The 'speciality' of Silver Harbor is 'smoking' your beer.  Yeah...smoking.  Check out the photo below and look to the right of the woman in the jean jacket.  That dome thing is a beer being smoked.

And here's a close-up of the beer under the dome being smoked.

We ordered dinner and a couple of flights.  There were some highlights and some not so great beers.  Nat loved the stout and the "Party Barge".   The flights are served on this awfully cute mitten-shaped Michigan beer paddles.

We ordered dinner and it wasn't super memorable.  Our visit was a couple weeks ago and I can't quite remember what we had, so it must not have been a stand out?  But, it also must not have been terrible, either, right?

This is a welcome addition to St. Joseph's, Michigan and we'll certainly be back.  Seems like a place that we can take out-of-towners for beers when we think the crowd at Silver Beach Pizza is too slammed.





On our trip to Italy earlier this summer, we made a journey back to Cortona where we had spent some time a few years back.  It was interesting to be in a place that is so foreign, yet somehow feels familiar.  We hit up some of our old haunts, hung out in the two town squares and even took the kids to see Le Celle - a Franciscan Covenant that was started in 1211 and housed St. Francis of Assisi.  It is a pretty special place and once you arrive there and take it all in, you can quickly realize why people - even a long time ago - thought his place was special and magical.

This place had a big impact on Nat and I when we went the first time and (I think because of that!) St. Francis has a special place in our lives now, so taking everyone back was worth the effort.  If you find yourself in or around Cortona (which....I gotta tell you...just do it!), take the time to go to Le Celle.

The photo above is a Google Photosphere picture that I took of St. Francis' cell (his room) that is a stitched-together view of the room.  Try clicking on it it to see the full thing, but if it isn't working for you to pan around in the photo above, click here to go directly to the Google Photos-hosted version and you can pan around and up/down. It is pretty neat.  Amazing to think that he lived in this room; or that anyone lived in this room frankly.
Another month, another turn of the wall calendars at my office.  On the right, the University of Illinois calendar features the ACES Library (which, I think was built after my time) and on the right, one of the best animated movies of all time yet this list has at #11?!?!).  Looking at my Google Photos auto-upload library, I see that I took this photo above on the 8th of July, so even though today is the 20th of July, let's call this one turned on the 8th.

And a big swing here!  Last year, it was July 22nd that I turned the calendars a net of -14 days.

For those keeping track like I am:
  • January took 8 days to put up the calendar. I don't think I was tracking January last year. So let's call it a wash. (+0 Days)
  • February took 16 days to put up the calendar. In 2015, I turned it over on the 17th. (-1 Days better)
  • March took 8 days this year. In 2015, I turned them on the 10th. Posted on the 11th. So...that makes it -2 days better.
  • April took just 7 days. I didn't post last April. So..no new net days.
  • May took 12 days. Net + 5 days over last year. Wowsa. 
  • June took 6 days. Net +5 days over last year. Another Wowsa. 
  • July took 8 days. Net -14 days over last year. Huge swing. 
I started July at a +7 day differential and with this big number put up, I'm now -7 day better than last year.
This Rothaus coaster that we used in Triburg, Germany is the 12th coaster in the Coaster Collection here on the blog.  We enjoyed a Rothaus Pils (which has a 91 on Beer Advocate) in the Black Forest right before we went off and checked out the cuckoo clocks all around tow.  We actually came away with one (or...we'll eventually have one), but I'll share that in a separate post later this week.

Full Coaster Collection here on the blog.
If you look closely at the mark on the bottom of this sled, you'll see the words "Made in Occupied Japan" and that's the very reason why I couldn't pass this Santa and reindeer by at a garage sale in Elmhurst a few weeks back.  I've posted many a time about the vintage Christmas stuff we've collected at garage sales, estate sales and antique stores here on the blog, and MOST of them have a little sticker on the back of the figures that reads 'Japan'.  But, this is the FIRST piece we've ever bought that says "Occupied Japan".

This story says that items marked this way were made in between 1945 and 1952 when the Allies 'occupied' Japan and to encourage the growth of the economy, we imported items during those years as long as they were marked thusly.

This is, I think, called celluloid and it is pretty delicate, but it still works.  When you roll this forward, the wheels under Santa move and ding a bell every time they roll around once.    This will look great once we put all of our Christmas stuff together in our new house.  But...that's not going to happen this year!


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