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Showing posts from November, 2016

The Boathouse - Coaster Collection

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It has been a few months, but I'm now adding this Boathouse coaster to the Coaster Collection here on the blog.  We ate outside on the pier and I had a preetay preetay preetay great Wedge.  This place has been opened in Disney Springs for more than a year but this was the first time we found time to head there and try it out.  Nat tells me that there's a Gibson's connection, and that's what explains the Wedge and the giant desserts.

This is just the 13th in the Coaster Collection.  Figured it was far better and less pack-rat-y to take a photo of them than to actually (as my instinct is) horde them.

March Of The First Order

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Just as we were entering the park, these guys came along and marched right in front of us.  Lead by Captain Phasma, I think they went all the way to the hub/center of Hollywood Studios with the good Darth Vader music blasting.  The kids loved it.  And this gives just a small/little glance of what the future of this park will look like in just a few years when Star Wars land opens.

Menards Black Friday 2016

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As I've done in the past, this year, I went out early in the morning on Black Friday.   And I went to my favorite store:  Menards.  Yes.  That's right.  I'm guilty.  I was up and out of the house before six am and stood in lines for junk at Menards.  With all of these people.

I wrote about my Black Friday experiences before here on the blog.

I mean...it was a total zoo.  This is at the new Menards in Melrose Park, so it was the first time I've done Black Friday there, but it was more packed and the people were more aggressive than I've seen in year's past.  By the time I entered the store, all the shopping carts were gone and it was Lord of The Flies time.  People were grabbing garbage cans, buckets and even big cardboard boxes (see the woman in front of me in the line in the photo above with a big box) and jamming all the junk that Menards was peddling in them.

The biggest sellers?  It seemed that there was yelling and screaming and huge crowds around some…

The Diet Of A Disney Horse

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John, a Percheron horse, gets two meals at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness down in Orlando.  We wandered around the Fort one night waiting for Hoop De Doo to start and spent some in the stables checking on the facilities and seeing the horses.  Neat stuff and can't believe we had not done this before.

He seems to live on Coastal Hay, which a quick Google search tells me that Coastal Hay isn't crazy expensive/exclusive stuff.  Just normal horse food.  Kinda expected more from Disney?  Maybe I'm wrong?  And Coastal Hay is fancy horse food?

Snowing On Hollywood Boulevard

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One of the prettiest sights these eyes have ever seen:  snow falling on the beautifully decorated Hollywood Boulevard while some appropriate-era Christmas song is playing over the loudspeakers.

We were told about this 'snow' by my friend Adam and he recommended this time of year for a visit.  We've taken him up on his recommendation a few times now and it never gets old.

Carolwood Pacific Train Cars @ Wilderness Lodge

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If you find yourself down in Orlando at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, take a moment to head over to the Villas - which have been recently renamed the Boulder Creek Villas - and go to the "train room".  There, you'll see a bunch of stuff from the Carolwood Pacific train line.  That's the line that ran in Walt Disney's backyard.  

They have two of the cars there that you can check out:

I took some other photos of the train room (it is a neat space with a roaring fireplace and lots of comfy chairs) that I'll post at some point.  But these two cars, and the box they're in - which has a tramp art style to it - are the stars of the show.  Take the ten minutes after your meal in the Lodge to wander over to the Villas to check them out.  Neat stuff.

Happy Thanksgiving 2016 - Via The Last Waltz

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The 13th year here on the blog where we mark Thanksgiving day not with the parade or the Turkey Trot (although those are both usually present!), but with the boys from The Band and The Last Waltz.

And, this is the 10th post (that I can locate), but the first one was back in 2004.  There are 3 years missing (2006, 2008, 2009).

We're marking the occasion in Vic + Equation Boy/Man's house and this *should* be the last Thanksgiving we're here and the final one NOT in our own house.

"Happy Thanksgiving."  And a condensed version of 'Don't do it'.  Which they play like it is their own.


Here's my post from 2015 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2014 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2013 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2012 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2011 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2010 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2007 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2005 on The Last Waltz

Lemax Twas The Night House - Christmas Village at Menards

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Released in 2015, this building from Lemax is called "Twas the Night" and has all the bells and whistles that Lemax offers including lights, music and interior scenes.  It even has Santa in the house with his reindeer awaiting him on the roof.  Here's the official product page.

Unfortunately for Mantleburg, there's a moratorium on residential construction in place until they get more businesses or the train station in place.


Superdawg Wheeling: Same Dogs, Bigger Dining Room

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Recently, Nat endured a little trip up to Wheeling with the express purpose of trying the 2nd location of Superdawg.  We went to the original back a few years and after hearing about how the Wheeling location had a bigger dining room, I wanted to go.  And...it was delicious.

We all had our own Superdawgs - lounging inside their boxes - 'cushioned in Superfries' and the kids always get a kick out of a meal in a box.  Of any kind.  Their own little special box of food.

The Superdawg in Wheeling feels a bit different than the original location, but the food was the same.  Nat isn't a huge hot dog lover, so I'm grateful she went along on the journey.

And who doesn't love the rooftop wieners that adorn both locations??


Vestibule Tile Inspiration Via Peter Pan Queue

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As we begin the *actual* building of our new old farmhouse (gasp!  Could *it* really be happening??  Appears that way, but I don't want to jinx us...), we now begin to move from the 'drawing phase' to more of the real, actual, 'selection phase'.  That's where Nat reigns and is in control of everything from the big decisions to the smallest detail.  We find out more this week in terms of schedule and such and will be updating our farmhouse blog in short order.

But, as I know she reads the blog here, I figure I'll use this platform to try to influence her and persuade her to something I'm keen on:  this tile as seen in the queue in the Peter Pan ride at WDW.

In our house at Hilltop, we have designed a vestibule of sorts right inside the front door before you enter the hallway.  If you've been in a period house from 100 years ago, you know the type.  Think about something like this.  Usually has an 'inside' door and serves as a sort of air l…

East Lake Station - Lemax at Menards Christmas Village

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More Christmas village stuff, Jake?  Yep.  More.

This time it is the East Lake Station that Menards is selling at $69.99 because of both the interior lights and the exterior ones, but also because it plays music.  That is, according to the product listing on the Lemax site.

Mantleburg - as a once proud growing community - might need a commuter station, to inject some new life into the village, right?  Become a bit of a bedroom community to some other larger town (that we don't need to construct?), perhaps?

Maybe.  But the federal grant didn't come through and funding is tight with the drop in sales tax, so the Mayor of Mantleburg has shelved the station project.  Too bad.  Maybe next year.


Big Ben Pub - 2012 Christmas Village from Lemax

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We might even be able to consider this one 'vintage' when it comes to Lemax at Menards.  From the Caddington Village Collection comes this Big Ben Pub.  And I'm thinking because it *is* four years old, that's part of the reason for the pricing at $29.99.  That's $10+ cheaper than most of the other Lemax buildings Menards is selling these days.

And, no, Mantleburg isn't big enough these days for both a tavern and a pub.



Menards Maple Syrup Workshop

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Today we veer off from Lemax to the private label collection from Menards Christmas Village buildings under the banner of "Enchanted Forest".  Menards does this seemingly more and more - by bringing their own private label goods to market.  They've done it with O Gauge trains and now with Christmas Village buildings.

This little Maple Syrup Workshop is boxed right next to the Lemax stuff - see below- but is in a bright red box.


They price these a little bit cheaper than the Lemax versions, but if you look closely at the top photo, you can tell it is kinda sloppily painted.

Does Mantleburg need a Maple Syrup Workshop?  Nope.  Sorry.  Not this year.

Caddington Village Adds Wine And Beer Garden From Lemax

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Another day, another Lemax lighted building.  This time, it is a new release from 2016 called the Village Wine & Beer Garden.  This is part of Lemax's Caddington Village, which they seem to have rolled out tons of new buildings for this season.

None of which are destined for Mantleburg.  Sad face.  (kinda)


Lubbock's Bar-B-Que With An Attitude From Lemax

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Next up in the parade of Lemax Christmas Village structures is this Lubbock's Bar-B-Que With An Attitude from the Harvest Crossing collection.  It came out in 2015, but I don't believe that Menards carried it last year.  Here's the official product page on Lemax's site.

Menards is selling it for $39.99 (see photo below), but I don't think that the town of Mantleburg is quite ready for a rowdy Bar-B-Que joint.  I mean...they just got their first tavern in town back in 2012, right?

For those looking to keep up with all things Mantleburg, you can check out the tag page here.


Christmas Vacation LED Outdoor Lights For Your Holiday House

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We were at Wannamakers in Downers Grove for their Christmas open house over the weekend and while the rest of the crew was waiting in line to see the Big Guy, I took the Bird and the King of the Ball Tossers into the store to wander around the Christmas lights department.  And that's where I came across these National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation LED light sets.

If you look at the box, you'll see that they bill them as being 'twice as bright' and have bigger/brighter/more bulbs than normal strands of lights.

Kind of interesting licensing at play here and I suppose it is a cute concept, but I wonder if anyone is actually buying these things?  They're more money than comparable sets and it seems like there's very little bragging rights in these once they're out of the box, right?

As for the brightness, I think there's some upside there.  We've put big C9 LEDs on our annual Elmhurst Front Yard Christmas tree every year and I always notice that …

Google Home Comes Home

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We now have this little robot assistant living on our countertop in the kitchen.  Thus far, we've built out a shopping list, asked it 'Do you want to build a snowman?', had it play some Disney music and even asked it to play some YouTube videos on our Chromecast.  Kinda nice.  It isn't sending things to our phones yet, but having it create a 'shopping list' on Google Keep is pretty nice.

I ordered an orange base (or course, I went with orange!) and we'll be outfitting it this week.

Oh, and not that I'm attached to Google Home yet or anything...but I *did* say "Hey Google...see you later." as I left the house this am.  And she replied "goodbye".

Reddit Disney Gift Exchange 2016 - Gift Sent

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On Thursday, I shared some photos of the gifts we received from the Reddit Disney Gift Exchange this year and above shows the gifts we 'gave' as part of the program this year.

Here's the post showing what we 'gave' last year in 2015.

The person we matched with lived in Nevada and professed their love of Cinderella and a specific set of Disney pins - which made it easy.  We went with a Cinderella Mickey ears Christmas ornament and that set of five princess pins.  She seemed happy as the pins helped her complete a set.

The girls had fun picking out the right items from the Disney store and I had fun teaching them about random acts of kindness.

Meeting Red Grange @ The Grange Grove - Memorial Stadium

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A few days ago, I posted a couple of photos from our visit to the Legacy Lounge in the Northwest corner terrace of Memorial Stadium down in Champaign that included finding one of the team photos that I was in from my days on the Fighting Illini squad in the late 90's.  But, this was our first trip down that we were able to enjoy the *kinda* new Grange Grove.

The Athletic Department christened the Grange Grove for last year's season and it has been a big hit.  From FightingIllini.com:
Grange Grove has transformed what was previously Lot 36, the parking lot directly west of Memorial Stadium, into a free, high-energy tailgating area, which Fighting Illini fans of all ages can enjoy. When we arrived a few hours before kickoff, the place was jumping!  There was a band playing on one side and the beer garden was loaded with alums and students.  It was Dad's day, so it appeared that a few Fraternities had their "Football Block" on site in the Grange Grove and as the t…

Vintage Door Knob @ Equation Boy/Man's House

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Have been here for more than 15 months and never paid much attention to this doorknob before Halloween this year.  That's when I spent a bunch of time out on the front porch of Vic and Equation Boy/Man's house handing out candy.  In fact, I don't think I've sat in that front porch ever.  

Their house is old - not sure exactly - but likely the early 1900's or 1910's or 1920's.  And the front door *has* to be original.  On it, is that knob.  And, it is a beauty and one of the relics that is remaining from the house when it was built originally.  Just look at that knob and think about how many hands have been laid on it.  Very pretty door plate, too, with that huge keyhole.

Reddit Disney Gift Exchange - Gift Received 2016

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For the second year in a row, we participated in Reddit's Disney Gift Exchange with the girls being the 'intended audience' of the gifts being sent and received.  Here's my post from last year's exchange where we gave away some Peter Pan and Wendy gear to a Redditor.  
I'll post the details of what we 'gave' at some point, but here's the details on what we were sent.  I posted the full note here on RedditGifts, so you can see the full story.  Our "Santa" was super thoughtful and asked a bunch of questions.  Turns out, they were in couple in Kansas who are Disney fans (just like us) but don't have kids, so they loved (so they said!) being paired up with our girls.  

The day the box arrived, we let the girls open it.  And on top was a sweet little note from their pal Mickey:


And under the little tote bag was this bounty!  Ermahgerd!


Tons of stuff for both girls.  They were in heaven!

And some pins from their own collection:


In the pack…

What the What?

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Those Were The Days - 1998 Fighting Illini Football Team

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We were down in Champaign recently for an Illini game and as part of the pre-game festivities we spent some time in what they call the "Legacy Lounge" in the Northwest corner of Memorial Stadium.  Along with a nice bar and some good tailgate chow (bbq sandwiches this week), they have photos of a bunch of the past Fighting Illini football teams.  There, on a few of the team photos, was a picture of *this guy* that I was able to show my nieces and nephews and kids.  That was kinda fun.
There's a page here on the blog that chronicles a bit more about my time as a punter on the Fighting Illini football team in the 90's.
If you look closely at the photo, you'll see me in #44.
They also gave me this sweet "football alumni" lanyard that granted access to the field.  Really nice way to embrace former players - even guys like me - beyond the annual "Varsity I" weekend game.




House On Halloween - 2016

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Posting this here for diary-keeping purposes.  That's Vic's/Equation Boy/Man's house all doll'd up with inflatables and pumpkins and what-have-yous on Halloween 2016.

Look who is missing from last year.

I love me some inflatables despite Nat not being all over them (I think she prefers them in the backyard!) and brought them out front for the big day last week.

Here's a look at our home on Halloween back in 2013.

Wall Calendars Turned Over to November 2016

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On the left in the Pixar calendar is Wall-E and on the right is 'passing the time' as a student waits for a bus on the UIUC campus.  Today is the 6th and in looking at last year, I flipped them on the 8th, so that's a -2 addition to the tally.  

For those keeping track like I am (Which, we all know is nobody!):
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. Leaving a -7 day advantage over last year.August took just 2 days. Net o…

Fall Splendor 2016 - View From My Office

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Compare those stands of trees to the west (to the right in this photo) of the Pritzker Pavillion in all their red glory to what they looked like just 3ish weeks ago in this post.

It won't be long before they're barren and covered in ice.

Free Slurpee Tickets - Trick-or-Treaters This Year

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Earlier this week, I posted about this year's Halloween Trick-or-Treater tally (302 for the record), but I also wanted to share one little change we made to our candy mix.  Normally, we have both 'full size' candy bars (for the kids we know) and the normal 'snack size' candy bars for everyone else.  (For the record, we get both a big bag of chocolate-based bars and a big bag of chewy/fruit-flavored treats.)

We also have the blue pumpkin out front for kids who can't eat nuts and candy and what not, so Nat gets a set of plastic toys and spider rings and vampire teeth and what-have-yous, although I don't think we had anyone request that stuff this year.

But this year, I also bought a book of 20 of those free small slurpee tickets that you see up top of this post.  They went fast!  I gave them to 'kids we know', so 20 of those kids got a little extra treat from us.  

And at just $5 for 20 tickets, it was a fun little addition to the mix.  I'll try…

Marshall Field's Christmas State Street Windows Getting Ready

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Walking down State Street this week, you'll see that they've gone 'dark' with their windows in preparation for the release of their annual windows featuring Christmas scenes.

I covered the same 'coming soon' situation back in 2014 and the day they opened last year here on the blog.  We still take our kids down to the Walnut Room every year just as I did when I was a kid with my mom and sister(s).  (I actually only remember going with Vic, but I'm guessing that Sharon and Linda were there, too??  I dunno.)  Thus, I have a really soft spot in my heart for Marshall Field's at Christmastime and specifically for peering into these windows.

Let's hope that the fine folks at Macy's have learned their lesson and won't give us New York City's "hand me downs" like they did last year.  Shame on them for that one.

Can I Listen to Christmas Music?

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If you pointed your browser in the direction of my Can I Listen to Christmas music? project yesterday morning, you would have noticed that the annual transition has been made from 'no' to 'yes'.  Much rejoicing was had with various Christmas-related memes and gifs.

The countdown clock is now counting 'up' since November 1st at 6 am central - which was the time that the committee selected as the official line.  (And, for the record, the committee just included me!)

So, go ahead.  Turn on the Christmas classics.  Nobody will be judging you any more.


Enjoy this little clip that Aunt Sisi surfaced earlier this week from Buzzfeed.

Last Night's Tally - 302 on Halloween 2016

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Last night, we had 88 'kids we know', 210 'kids we don't know' and just 4 adults with no kids.  That's a grand total of 302 trick-or-treaters.

Comparing to last year's number of 346 total, we were down 12% overall.  And it felt that way in terms of kids coming to the door.  The weather was perfect, but there weren't as many cars parked up and down the block.

In the specific categories, we had 73 'known kids' last year and 88 this year.  Could be because we recognized more kids or that more kids moved to the neighborhood.  However, last year we had 264 'unknown kids' compared to 210 this year.  That's a 20% drop.

The reason?  Last year was on a Saturday.  And in looking at the historical numbers, I'm not calling this year a 'drop', but rather a reversion back towards the norm.  Therefore, 2015 was more a 'Saturday Surge' than anything.

Historical totals:

2016: 302 total.In 2015, we had 346 total.In 2014, we had …