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Showing posts from May, 2015

Disney Stuff (And A New Page)

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There's been quite a bit of Disney chatter here on "Why I Oughta" including yesterday's post about the Reddit gift exchange. So much so, that it was about time to organize all the Disney posts into their own sub-page. You can now find that on the navigation at the top as well as by clicking here.
One thing that jumps out is the sheer velocity that my Disney fandom has taken on.  One post on Disney in 2012.  One in 2013.  Two last year.  And...this year?  More than 20.  And it isn't even June yet!  
That photo above is one that Nat took at this year's Flower and Garden Show in Epcot.  We were able to get in before the place opened because we had an 8 am breakfast reservation at Akershaus.  The place was empty and more beautiful that it has ever been.  



You Guys! There's A Reddit Disney Gift Exchange?!?

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And I just signed up to participate.  You can check out the details here on the Disney Gift Exchange page.  I've done the Secret Santa exchanges in the past around Christmastime, but none of the 'off season' exchanges have struck me enough to force me into participating.

I know *some* of you guys are DisneyGeeks, so I come bearing good news:  There's still time to sign up.  They're going to close it down on June 1st (soon!), so you can head to the sign-up page and fill out their three easy questions (Favorite things about Disney, Favorite Disney Movies and Favorite Disney Characters) and you'll be on your way.

Redamak's Open For The Season - 2015

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We made a stop at Redamak's in New Buffalo on the way home from the holiday weekend.   There are a few places we like to stop at on the way to Coloma including this place and Steve Dahl's recommendation of Stop 50 in Michiana Shores.

I had a VERY tasty double cheeseburger.  I've tried the triple and it is just simply too much for me.  I also ordered my waffle fries 'well done' and they were pretty stinkin' good.

Don't take it from me on the quality of Redamak's burgers, just look at A Hamburger Today when they say: "The cheeseburger at Redamak's is among the best on the planet."

Giving San Marzanos Another Try

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Back in 2011, I went on a plum tomato binge.  I think I grew like six or seven varieties of plum tomatoes including a plant or two of these San Marzanos.

Because of where they sit in the pizza universe, there's a draw to these that is unnatural for me, I think.  I actually don't eat a lot of tomatoes if I can avoid them.  I do, however, eat a lot of 'sauces and pureees'.  On pizzas. On sandwiches.  On noodles of all sorts.  

I also haven't canned anything in a few years.  The effort just never yielded a lot of upside for me.

But, after seeing these Bonnie Plants heirloom variety sitting on the shelf of Home Depot over the weekend, I just.simply.couldn't.resist.  Into the cart they went.  Along with some other things that will cause me agita all summer long.  But, that's for another day.

I Got It: Let's Name The Company "Cap America". That'll Do it.

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Call it what you want, but Cap America isn't fooling anyone, right?

Now Showing: A Huge Pile Of Nope

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I couldn't walk by this movie poster at the York Theatre in Downtown Elmhurst fast enough.

Nope.  Nope. Nope.

Memorial Day Rain Out

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We *so* tried to go the Memorial Day Parade.  In fact, we tried twice.  Both times, turned around for either the Bambino or the rain.  My god...the rain.  It came down light.  It came down heavy.  It came down when we were walking there, once again, so we just turned around.

That didn't stop the Bird from stomping around in her rain boots, her pants hiked way up and her giant 'sumbrella'.  We ended up in a *new* place for breakfast that felt comfortable but a bit foreign.  We'll have to do something about that.

Basement Design Idea: Clubhouse Under The Stairs

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We saw this little 'nook' built into a model home last weekend and everyone who was down there with us coo'd over it and thought it was 'sooo cute' or 'soooo darling'.

It is a really nice touch and one that just takes a little bit of drywall, framing and trim.  Have to think it could be replicated in anyone's house as they're thinking about a basement redesign or basement rehab/construction.

WDWTableFinder Is Magical At Getting You "Ungettable" Disney World ADR's

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If you're going to Disney World, there are a couple of stressful planning moments.  After you've picked your travel days and your hotels, you get to move on to what Disney calls "Advance Dining Reservations" (ADRs) and your ride reservations (Fastpass+'s).

If you're staying onsite at one of Disney's hotels, one of the benefits they give you is that you can make dining reservations (ADRs) at their restaurants 180 days out from your first night's stay.  
Disney opens up the reservations at 6 am eastern on your 180 day mark and for a lot of us, that means a mad-dash scramble to try to scoop up as many of the prime reservations as possible.  For most folks, that means places like "Be Our Guest" at the Magic Kingdom and "Chef Mickey's" at the Contemporary Resort and Le Cellier at Epcot.  
If you don't get on the Disney website at 5 am central, odds are, you're out of luck.  The reservations get tied up and everything gets b…

How to Properly Fertilize Your Lawn With The Right Walking Pattern

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Who knew there was a proper way to walk your lawn fertilizer spreader?  I suppose this is kind of common-sense, right?  If you have the spreader opened up all the way, you simply walk back and forth and make turns at the end of the lawn each time.  This is similar to how I cut the grass.  (I actually cut the grass like this about 50% of the time, the rest of the time I do the 'cut from the outside in and walk in a circle with each lap getting smaller' manner.)

But, the 'half-rate settings' pattern is A LOT more complex.  You basically overlay a whole additional set of steps on top of the first.

Five Years Ago On The Blog: Lighting Up The Garage

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Five years ago today, I posted this photo of the electricians finally wiring up our garage in Elmhurst.  Below is a screenshot from the blog.

Really hard to believe that it has been five years since this went in.  Pretty remarkable.  In the photo, we had the old chainlink fence and the arborvitae that we planted are tiny.  And the entire patio area/pavilion off the garage isn't there.  Most importantly...we were just a family of three.  And had a five month old.  Time sure does fly.


Apricot Dream Tomato - 11.5 on Brix Scale

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Lots of tomato talk around these parts lately, eh?  'Tis the season, I guess.  This is the last of the tomato posts for a bit (until I get them into the ground), but is an important one.  Above is the Apricot Dream Tomato - a orangish cherry tomato.

The most important thing about these is buried in the description on the back:
The ridiculously huge trusses each have 20-30 oblong cherry sized tomatoes that are super sweet with a Brix rating of 11.5 giving them a candy like sweetness. Emphasis, mine.

I think there are a few missing hyphens in that line, but that's not the point.  The fact that these are an 11.5 on the Brix scale *is* the point.


If you follow tomatoes, you'll know that 11.5 is a rare score.  This post talks about the ranges for tomatoes (usually you eat ones that are 6-10's).  The girls eat cherry tomatoes off the vines each summer and I am guessing if this variety comes in, I'll know their favorite ones:  these sweet Apricot Dreams.

This Year's Mr. Stripey - 2015

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I have a long history here on the blog talking about Mr. Stripey tomato plants.  Back in 2010, I posted a photo of one of the huge fruits next to a little baby pacifier.  And two years later, I was contacted by a small Quaker school in Minnesota who wanted to use the photo for their plant sale.  This year, we'll be growing this Bonnie Plants variety from Home Depot.  

I grow them almost every year and they're just about the easiest tomato to give away/gift to people.  

Be it family or neighbors or just putting them out on a table in the front of the house.  They're always pretty to look at and have a slightly exotic feel to them with the yellow/pink/red stripes.  My sister usually comes a looking later in the summer for some of them when she's having a party and wants to make a caprese salad.   They're stunners for that when you slice 'em open.  A bit watery, but you forgive that when the color pops so much.

Tomato Rapunzel

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When I was shopping with the girls, how could I possibly pass up a variety of tomatoes called "Rapunzel"?!?  Just look at that photo:  I've never seen a plant that grows like that at any of the home improvement/gardening stores.  They're cherry-sized which is the preferred size by Nat and the girls.  I have to think these will be a hit this summer.

From TomatoGrowers.com:
Just like its fairy tale namesake, Rapunzel puts out long, cascading trusses, each with up to 40 sweet, bright red cherry tomatoes that keep coming all summer long. The long stems are quite impressive when picked fully loaded with tomatoes, which can be enjoyed individually as they ripen.

Gardener's Supply Bean Tower

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Every year, I grow our beans on a trellis net perched above one of our beds.  You can see a photo of our typical setup here on the blog.  But this year, I was gifted something new for my birthday:  a Bean Tower from Gardener's Supply.   Taking a photo of the Tower without any growth on it is kinda hard, so I took this ratty photo (below) of the instructions/details.    
We've already picked out the bean seeds, but because I still have to get a new thin layer of compost on the top of our beds, we still haven't planted them yet.  
Here's what it says on the Gardener's site:Grow bushels of beans with our tallest, strongest and sturdiest bean trellis tower yet. The secret is thicker supports coupled with 10" legs that hold the structure securely in the ground. The Bean Tower in our test garden yielded 2,400 beans between mid-July and late September — in just 1-1/2 square feet! Supports are 5 mm thick with 3.5 mm crosspieces. Openings are 7-1/2" square to allo…

Mortgage Lifter Tomato

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I picked up a few tomato plants at Angelo Caputo's last weekend that I hadn't ever planted before including this one:  the Mortgage Lifter.

The description supplied tells a neat story about "Radiator Charlie" and how he cross-bred four varieties of tomatoes to develop this beefy variety.


Addison Street Garage Update - Elmhurst City Centre

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A few weeks back, I posted the first photo of the 'changing skyline' of the Elmhurst City Centre from York Street.   But, I recently went down Addison Street and was confronted with a new 'look' of the parking deck from a new angle and had to take this photo you see above.  It certainly is pretty imposing compared to what was there (a parking lot).  The first section here went up really pretty fast as it appears they're mostly a bunch of pre-fab'd sections/panels.  There will be first floor retail/office, so I'm looking forward to seeing that part go up and see what it does to the downtown and in particular what impact it has on other/future growth along Addison Street.

Disneyland Using Bob Dylan To Promote 60th Anniversary

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Well...they're using what sounds like someone like Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks singing just  a bit of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" in this really cute promo spot for the upcoming 60th Anniversary of the park.  But it is *still* Dylan.  That's kinda awesome.

We came in stationwagons.
Campers.
On planes.
To see what Walt had built.
And what we found was a place that was always growing.
But never grew old.


Gotta get there for the 60th, right?

Hula Berries - White Strawberries That Taste Like Pineapple

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I have no idea what these are going to turn out like, but I couldn't pass them up.  In this four-pack from Home Depot, they're selling "Hula Berry" plants.  Three white ones, one red one.  The red one produces pollen for the white ones, it seems.

They have a Facebook page where they say they're 'going fast' in Chicago, so if you're curious about them like I was and find yourself out and about, head to Home Depot to try to pick up a set.

I'm going to plant them out in the garden and see what happens.  I have very little expectations, so if they do, indeed, turn out to taste like pineapple, I'll be pretty amazed.

Wall Calendars Turned Over To May 2015

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I took this photo late last week in my office at Aon, so it wasn't the 12th of May but more like the 7th of May that I actually realized I had to turn them over a month.

Here's the post from turning them to March.  And here's the post from February where I discussed the perils of wall calendars (the whole forgetting to turn them over and what-have-you...).  Looks like I didn't post a photo of the April calendars.

But, back to this month's images:  on the left in the D23 calendar you see the 65th Anniversary of the release of Cinderella in 1960 (and...if you are like me - and Nat - and are a HUGE Disney nerd who listens to Disney Podcasts, you'll know that the success of this movie and the cash it threw off to the company was the biggest driver of the creation of Disneyland!).  On the right, you see a photo of the recently renovated Alma Mater right on Wright/Green Streets.  With Graduation right here, it is a totally appropriate image.

"To thy happy chil…

Basil Plant In A Pot - Early Spring 2015

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I was cooking pizza for a little dinner party with our friends from the city a few weeks back so I took a trip to Angelo Caputo's for Chellino Scamorza, some hot soppressata, and a few other items.  I usually pick up a little container of basil to top the pies, but they had these containers of potted basil for $0.99, so I figured with the price being less than the container, I couldn't loose.

I could use the basil that night for the pies and then plant it and harvest all summer.  I usually buy a basil plant each summer anyway, so why not start early.

Well, that plant sat in our kitchen for two weeks, but I finally got around to planting it in a big pot.  One of the lead stalks cracked off during transport home from the store, so we only have one big stalk and a halfie.  I gave it some organic plant food and with a little bit of sunshine and some water, I think we'll be basking in sweet basil glory for all of our KettlePizza adventures all summer.  

Our Ostrich Ferns Curling Up In 2015

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Here's a look at one of the masses of Ostrich Ferns that are curling up and through the mulch.  They're finally and firmly established in their new spot in the beds.

Here's what they looked like in 2013.  And this photo from 2012 shows how many of them there were/are when you pull back.

These have quickly turned into my favorite plant in the entire yard/garden.  They started out with a leftover fern in the far back corner of our yard that I *think* crept over from our neighbor's yard.  He has some ferns over there, so I'm not sure which sprouted which.  Ours gave him his.  Or his gave us ours?

Either way, I took one of the ferns from the back corner and transplanted it in the middle part of our beds.  They've quickly flourished there.  So much so, that I was able to split a few of the heads of these guys and added them to the north side of our yard and even gave a few to my mother-in-law.

Here's some of my post from 2012 that talks about what a nice su…

Indigo Rose Tomatoes

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I went to Home Depot a few days ago after work to pick up a new furnace filter and made a stop in the Garden Center.  They had a lot of the usual suspects:  Big Boys, Early Girls, etc.  But they also had this little Cherry-ish variety called Indigo Rose.  They're a blend of red/black/purple when ripe.

Via JohnnySeeds:
Anthocyanins are powerful anti-oxidants. In the early stages of fruit development, Indigo Rose develops a dark purple pigment in its skin where exposed to direct sunlight. Green when unripe, purple-red when ripe, the 1-2 oz., cocktail-sized tomatoes have good flavor with 'plummy' overtones. Developed by Jim Myers at Oregon State University using traditional plant breeding techniques.

Sour Shoes Calls Into the Dan Patrick Show

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And Dan lets him go on for four+ minutes.

He hits the Gary "Noine" a bunch of times - which everyone seems to love including me!

KettlePizza Fires Up (Round Two)

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Over the weekend, I put the KettlePizza through it's paces for the second time and the results were much better.  I upgraded the dough and went with a lighter hand on the toppings but I also made sure that the peel was set up right and the pie could slide off properly.

The first time, I got the oven up to about 800 degrees, but this time it was topping out between 600 and 700.  I used the Kenji Lopez-Alt/The Food Lab hack by putting the Pizza Steel in on the top grate to create both thermal mass and a top heat source.

My pie didn't have great leopard spotting, but it was cooked close to right and had a nice combination of crisp/chew on the cornicione.  (What...you don't use the words in the pizza glossary??)

Orange Bird and Jose Carioca Disney Pins

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These two birds are hanging out together on The Babe's Disney pin board.  They're both 'Hidden Mickeys'.  She arranges the board to build little 'collections' and because these guys were about the same size and both birds, of course, they'd go together, right?

The guy on the left is "Orange Bird" is a guy you see around the area where they sell Dole Whips in Adventureland and he appears to have a very fervent fan base/following.  I didn't know the history of him, but it turns out, Disney created this creature for the Florida Citrus growers.  From DisneyWiki:
The Orange Bird was created in 1970 as a mascot for the Florida Citrus Commission in exchange for them sponsoring the Tiki Room attraction at Magic Kingdom.Accompanied by singer Anita Bryant, the two appeared in ads for Florida oranges and Bryant narrated a record album telling the character's story. After the Anita Bryant ad campaign was dropped in the late 70s, the Orange Bird had a …

May The Fourth Is NOT With The Fighting Illini

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Yesterday (May the Fourth), the Big Ten Fan Shop at Fanatics sent out this cute (and timely) email touting Big Ten/Star Wars gear.  Seems like everyone was doing May the Fourth stuff yesterday.

One note:  Nat actually got this and pointed it out to me. That's pretty awesome, right?   Also, I don't go into my promotions tab in Gmail very much these days.  After this, I should, I'm thinking.

Anyway, When you click through the email copy, you end up at this page on the Big Ten Store.  There are 12 different Big Ten t-shirts/bags with Star Wars stuff.  Cool.  I scroll down and look around.

Here's the roundup.

3 Ohio State University Buckeyes items
2 Michigan State University Spartans items
3 University of Michigan Wolverines items
1 University of Wisconsin Badgers item
1 Penn State University item
1 University of Nebraska item.

Sadly...not one Fighting Illini item.

How many?  Zero.point.Zero.  WTF?  Illinois has this massive and super well-known engineering school.  If I…

Illini Baseball Hits 21 Straight Wins

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I don't normally follow college baseball and the College World Series, but this year, things might be different:  my Illini have won 21 straight games are now ranked #6 in the country.  They beat #23 Ohio State yesterday in a comeback.  Pretty awesome to see the sports like baseball (and golf!) doing so well down in Champaign.  (One slight nitpick...why are the Illini wearing these 'old' uniforms?  This isn't the new font, right?  Maybe because these are 'cut off' jerseys, they're alternates and holdovers from last year's uniform set?)

Happy for these guys and for the team.  Here's hoping the student body is getting behind this crew and showing up at the home games.

I-L-L...

Black Gold: The Compost Bin Pays Off

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Yesterday, I opened the compost bin and found total black gold:  beautiful, soft compost.  I used the Babe's shovel to pull it out and piled it into the garden beds.  I normally replenish the beds with a thin layer of mushroom compost and will do that this year, but because of the bin, I won't need as much.

Now comes the next decision:  do we fill the bin up again or should we keep it empty so we can relocate it when the time comes?

Elmhust City Centre's Skyline Is Changing

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See that structure in the middle of the photo?  That's a new 6 story (I think?) parking deck/office building going in.  This is the view from City Hall heading south on York Street.

Exciting times for the downtown area and I'll always be rooting for downtowns to succeed.

My Office Is Doing The 'Window Thing' for the NFL Draft's TV Cameras

This is kinda cool.  Received this note from our office services folks.  My window is going to be blacked out.  Maybe.
Please be reminded that Aon Center will be displaying the letters “NFL” on the South side of the Building beginning today. In order to display the letters “NFL”, Building Engineers will need to access floors 34-78 to place black plastic on specific windows, on the South side. It is very important that the plastic remain on the windows from April 30th through May 2nd in order to properly display the image to the city and to enhance the image to the fullest extent.