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Showing posts from 2017

Posts Installed for Espalier Linden Trees

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All the way back in May, I shared a photo of two young Greenspire Linden Trees that I had begun to prune to be two-dimensional with the hopes of - once we moved into our #newoldfarmhouse - that I could try my hand at espalier or pleaching of the trees to train them into a specific habit.  Back in July, in a post on the blog about our new fence, I pointed out the final placement of these Lindens right next to the southern lot line butted up against the 6' portion of our cedar fence.  I got these in right after the fence was installed and then began to plan out the framing/system that I was planning on using to create the espalier.

Over the past week or so, I have made some additional progress on the setup that you can see above:  the three posts have been installed in the ground.  I ended up shopping around and ultimately buying these 10' green 12 gauge steel sign posts from Grainger.  Grainger has a location on Ogden Avenue in Downers Grove and like a lot of places, they hav…

New Walt Disney World Resort Coaster (In Room)

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Back in February of 2016, I posted a photo of the in-room coasters from the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Hotel.  The coasters from WDW are found in the resort hotel rooms usually on the little bar/kitchen setup where the glasses/mugs are located near the coffee makers.  The coasters had been the same ones for as long as we have been traveling there until a recent trip when I came across these new ones you see above.  It is a much cleaner look - both in terms of design but also material.  The old one had a soft, brushed texture.  This one is thinner, more flexible and has a more slick - but not glossy finish to it.  Gone is the castle imagery and the clouds.  In is the word 'Resort'.

The thinner material and less printing make me think that this is a simple cost-cutting measure.  Sure, the new design feels a bit more 'fresh', but if they're putting four of these in 10k hotel rooms, a penny here and a penny there can start to add up, right?

I'm n…

Pizza Gear Upgrade: Heavy-Duty Pan Gripper

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For the last ten or so years, I've been relying on your typical pan gripper when it comes to trying to extract my pizzas out of their pans.  It looks like this one.  But, at some point, I was turned on to the one you see above:  a heavy-duty version.  And it ended up on my Christmas list to Natalie.  It is $5.75 and can be bought from Northern Pizza Equipment.  Nat's brother was looking for ideas for Christmas gifts this year and she sent him along the link and he ended up gifting it to me.  Because of the move, it ended up in a box with some other pizza gear - awaiting the day when it can be used to help with my pizza making.

A few weekends back, this thing made it's debut.  And I don't know how I lived without it.  It is super strong and has a very wide lip on the mouth of the gripper that allows me to - with one hand - grab a cutter pan from Lloyd Pans directly out of the oven and put it on the stovetop.  No more need for even an oven mitt - which is pretty awesom…

WDW Transportation Card: Friendship Boat from Epcot Resort Area

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Thanks to the out-going nature of one of the Friendship boat skippers, we're now the proud owners of a Friendship Boat-specific Transportation card.  This one is #15 of 27 total cards and we got it on the boat going from the Yacht Club to Disney's Hollywood Studios.  
I posted other Transportation cards here on the blog before.  Here's a post showing a few other ones including the Monorail and Motor Launch versions.  
Below is the back of the Friendship Boat card that features Merida.  

This goes in the file with a few other of our Disney World 'free things' that we've amassed over the years.   This Friendship Boat Transportation cardStar Wars Trials of the Temple Training BadgeOfficial Tomorrowland Speedway Drivers LicenseHappy Birthday Mickey pin from Mickey the Mouse's birthdayThe above-mentioned WDW Transportation Cards including the Monorail and Motor LaunchThe Mayor of Mainstreet USA's business card

Walt Disney: "I'm just very curious..."

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Back at the end of July, I posted a photo of a Walt Disney quote that they've hung on some construction walls at WDW in Orlando.  Here's another one that caught my eye.  Again, kudos to Stanley for the sponsorship that seems apt for the place/time/space in terms of sponsoring some of the construction work going on and to the imagineers for turning what would normally be an eyesore into something worth taking a minute to take in while walking towards the International Gateway behind Epcot.

As for the quote itself, I'm drawn to it because of that word 'curious'.  Something that when I hear someone say, I always perk up and tune in to what they're talking about.  I've done hundreds of interviews for hiring folks (doing some these days to hire people for our team) and when describing themselves, if I hear 'curious' as part of the description, that always makes me sit up in my chair.

Trying the New Whittier Playground for the First Time

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Last week, I posted a photo showing the mulch being dropped off at the new playground in the Randall Park neighborhood of Downers Grove.  Recently, while we were at the school working on riding bikes in the big parking lot, we found the fence down in a big section (it was still up on part of it), so we naturally went in.

The kids had a lot of fun.  I only had the two youngest savages with me, but it seems scaled perfectly for all three kids - some areas for the little ones and with the climbing apparatus, I'm sure kids like The Babe will find themselves at home.

All in all, a nice addition to Whittier Elementary School.  Kudos to the Moms and Dads behind the Whittier PTO for all their work and dedication to raising the money needed.

Disney's Yacht Club Resort Pin

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We picked up another Resort-specific pin during a stop at Disney's Yacht Club.  Just like the one from the Contemporary earlier this year.  Or the Port Orleans Riverside one.   This one has Mickey wearing his best beach/old-timey-boardwalk/sailor gear and seems to fit the vibe that the resort puts off.  Now that we're settled in, it seems like we should be doing something in the house with these pins and the various pin boards that are laying around in my office.  The resort-specific section would

Elliott From Pete's Dragon Hidden Mickey Pin

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That's Elliott from Pete's Dragon on a Hidden Mickey Cast Member's lanyard pin that one of the girls traded for at Disney's Yacht Club with the greeter right in the lobby.  There are plenty of scrappers that we come across that are Hidden Mickeys but a close look at the back/edges of this one, makes me think that this one is the genuine article.

Over on PinPics, it says that this one is part of a series that includes other dragons/lizards like Mushu, Malificent, Figment (and Figment chaser, which we own and that I've posted a photo of on the blog), and Madame Mim.

Tinkerbell June Birthstone Disney Pin

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The Babe traded for this Tinkerbell Disney Pin that has [June] on it and must be part of a monthly series of pins, right?  There's limited information that I can find on the pin.  I've turned to my usual source of eBay and while there's other June birthstone-related Tinkerbell pins, this one just turns up some generic descriptions.  PinPics isn't any more help as they don't have this one in their archives.

This pin is interesting for the big pearl on it - and the dimension that it adds.  The pearl is about 1/2" raised off the pin, so this is one of the larger pins that we've ever scored - and this one was traded for from the boat guys at the International Gateway outside the backdoor of Epcot.  

There are a few pins that we've traded for over the years that stand out in terms of being 'good finds'.  This one ranks up there.  Along with this vintage Polynesian Christmas one (that I don't seem to have posted) or this Minnie Mouse as Mary P…

What about decomposed granite for the #NewOldBackyard?

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I've pointed it out before, but one of the spots that I'd like to tackle first in our #newoldbackyard is the 'entrance' or traffic path that we use to get from the front to the backyard.  I posted about a walkway, bridge and pond setup that I thought might work here on the blog back in July.  Recently, I had our landscape contractor come out to talk about some options and how we'd tackle them - and in what order.

There's screening material needed (trees), hardscaping and maybe even some retaining walls involved.  And that is just to get us to the point of having a setup where we could think about something like a water feature/waterfall (which...I really want.)

One of the ideas that came up in my conversations with landscape designer was the idea of decomposed granite walkways.  That's a photo of one up top.  It came from here.  I like the look of paths made out of the stuff and you see it in lots of places both formal and informal.  There are downsides i…

A Tasty Radler @ The Bavarian Lodge

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Now that we're based in Downers Grove, we're A LOT closer to The Bavarian Lodgein Lisle.  We've been a few times when we were out in Naperville with Nat's folks, but it was a hike all the way from Elmhurst.  We took the kids and had a pretty good meal (Schnitzels all around!) with some great pretzels.  The place has a strong reputation for a pretty amazing beer selection.  We're way, way, way out of our element when it comes to appreciating all of the greatness in the ever-changing beer menu.

Doesn't mean we don't try things.  If there's a Solemn Oath Brewery offering on the menu, I think that Nat and I will usually go in that direction (Rooting for the home team and all, right??).  But this past time?  No Solemn Oath it seemed, so we had to go elsewhere.

Being summer, I ended up with a Radler.  The Pfungstadter Weizen Radler to be exact.  It came in this tall, lean glass and was a delicious treat!  If you're there this summer, give it a shot.


Our Cuckoo Clock

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We installed exactly two items on the walls of our #NewOldFarmhouse.  The first was a television.  I mounted it on the wall in the first few days after we moved in.  The other?  Our cuckoo clock that you see above.    I posted about the clock before when I posted a photo from my sister Vic and described how we bought our clock in the Black Forest and then after receiving it, how it went right into storage.

Ours is an eight-day version, so the big weights you see in the photo have a long way to go to reach the floor, but I keep yanking them up after just a day or two so we've never had them dangle close to the reach of the kids.

There are three kids on the clock with the middle one not glued down, so we have to place her over to one side or the other.  With it striking just the cuckoo at the bottom of the hour and playing a song at the top of the hour, I've grown to really like hearing it around the house.  It was running a bit fast, so I moved the flower circle up the shaft…

Self-Closing Screen Doors From Pella

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It took us about a month, but we finally got the big screen doors working properly out back.  These are the larger doors that lead to the #newoldbackyard and little patio we have out there.  They have this self-closing mechanism that allows us to set them to self-close automatically.  It is pretty great - especially when you live with three little savages that don't EVER close any doors behind themselves.  Except, when it turns into a guillotine when one of said kids doesn't open them far enough when they try to sneak out.

It *does*, however help incredibly well with keeping the house flies out of the, ahem, house.  They remain just flies for the most part now.

"Limbed Up" Our Front Yard Saucer Magnolia Tree

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I mentioned in the post about our King Crimson Maple tree last month that we had planted nine trees including a Magnolia tree that we put in our front yard.  That's it above.  After I 'limbed it up' a bit by taking the leaves/shoots/small branches off the bottom few feet of the main trunks of this Saucer Magnolia.  We've never had a Magnolia of our own, but Equation Boy/Man and Vic had one at their house and Greg, our former neighbor had one.  Nat has long fancied them, so in working with Chris Paul at Green Grass Landscaping, we decided to put in a Saucer Magnolia in the front yard.

In looking through the care and pruning advice in this piece, I decided to work on the tree to put more of the energy into the top range of the young tree to try to grow it up a bit.  Ours had leaves all the way to the ground, but if you look at photos of intermediate growth Saucers or larger, mature Saucer Magnolias, the successful ones have been 'limbed up' to get the flowers u…

Mulch Arrival for New Whittier Playground

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In June and July I posted about the new playground going into Whittier Elementary School in the Randall Park neighborhood in Downers Grove.  It is right up the street from our new place.  You'll recall, that this was built with private donations brought together by the Whittier PTA - which is really great!  And...you might remember that I pointed out the WRONG playground.

I've been watching the progress the past few weeks and noticed that the playground closest to Grand Avenue (the one I first posted about) is complete and has the pea gravel and mulch laid down to complement the new, refreshed concrete curb that they installed.   Earlier this week, I was out in the early morning hours and noticed that a large truck had arrived at the *other* new playground as was busy dumping down new, steaming hot mulch to get installed.  From the looks of the situation, this appears to be the final step required before they can re-open the new playground to families and neighbors.  Once it…

Bob's Burgers - Where Have I Been?

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In the past few weeks, I've begun to watch Bob's Burgers.  And it.is.really.great!  In fact, I now seek it out on Cartoon Network when I'm laying around in bed trying to fall asleep.  But, the show has been on for years, so where have I been this whole time?  It's not like there aren't a bunchoffans out there.   I guess I just never gave it a chance.

But, the art crawl episode really roped me in.  What with that 'Don't be crabby' sign (an inside joke between Nat and me.  And, yes, I did snap that photo above with my phone of our tiny tv hanging on the wall of our bedroom.) and the whole animal paintings comedy.   It was all too much.

Lego Loch Ness Monster @ Disney Springs

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I had to look closely to be sure this sea dragon in one of the lakes/ponds at Disney Springs was, indeed, made out of Lego bricks, but after a closer inspection, I can confirm that it is, indeed, legit Legos.  I have no idea if they build these big installations from ONLY bricks (meaning all the way to the middle) or if there is some form they use and apply bricks to the exteriors?  Do you Lego folks know?  Seems some folks use Duplos?  Or, as you'd guess, other structures.

I love how this Lego sea serpent/Loch Ness Monster is reminiscent of the topiary version from the Magic Kingdom and we always stop at the Lego store at Disney Springs.  Despite having that HUGE World of Disney store just a little bit further down the way, the LEGO store is always my kids favorite stop and where they typically put their (very limited) spending power.

New Tires On The Space Shuttle

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I think I was born to be a minivan guy.  I love driving it.  I love that they call it the Swagger Wagon.  I sometimes wish it was a bigger, real van.  Not a 'mini'.  Nat, on the other hand, is counting down the days until she can downsize into something smaller, more SUV-ish that is easier to handle (and park).  Once we get into all boosters and don't have the need for the massive double stroller, I think we can move off the mini-van everyday routine.  But, I think I'll keep it!  And use it as my primary car.  That's why I put on some sweet new tires - 80K tires.

I roll hard.


I don't drive my car very much - to the grocery store or to Menards, so it gets light use.  But, when we go somewhere as a family, we take the minivan.  And...it feels to me like the van is like a space shuttle.  Has so many controls and is so comfortable.  I love driving it and having the space.  It gets just ok gas mileage, but makes up for it in the way it handles and drives.  The onl…

Solar Eclipse Preparation - 2017

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I took the advice of Jason Kottke and took the plunge to obtain a few sets of solar eclipse glasses on Amazon while they were in stock.  With the kids, we opted for plastic glasses.  Are you guys not geeked about what we have in store?  I have a vivid memory of using a pinhole box when I was a kid in elementary school, so I'm excited to see what my kids think about the whole experience.

I have to think that the media is going to whip this into a frenzy, so get your glasses before they're gone.  Make sure you check 'delivery estimates' on Amazon or else you'll end up with a pair that might or might not arrive in time.  Or..who knows?  Maybe these kind of glasses are going to turn into August's version of fidget spinners and they'll be at the checkout counter of every Walgreens and CVS location around the area?

I took Jason's advice and ordered early.  He's been very thoughtful (and is excited) about the event, so go read the whole post over there f…

Vintage "Paw - Come 'N Get Your Coffee!!" Mug - Made in Japan

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I came across a garage sale up in Twin Lakes earlier this summer that I was drawn in via a vintage bicycle (that turned out to be a reproduction and was too expensive for me!) and ended up buying this silly coffee mug for $0.25.  It has this husband/wife and a pig on it and just spoke to me for some reason.  It has a comic strip kind of quality to it, but I can't quite place it.

Not Frank and Ernest.  Not quite Beetle Bailey.  Kind of like a hillbilly Blondie?

The same mug is on eBay for $19.99, which seems nuts, right?

Oh, did I tell you?  This got a MAJOR eye roll from Nat.   I made the mistake of leaving it in the front seat after I picked it up and she came across it before I could put it away.

It has some crazing going on and I have to think it will survive the dishwasher if it still looks like this after 40 or 50 years, so I stuck it in the cupboard in Twin Lakes and I'll use it when I can.

One of the big reasons why I bought it?  This "Made in Japan" sta…

Walt Disney: "Everyone needs deadlines."

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As seen on a construction wall at the International Gateway, where they are putting in the new Skyway station.  Pretty clever sponsorship from the folks at Stanley Tools.  From the Stanley sponsorship page - that may need to be updated based on Lights, Motors, Action going away:
Official Tool Provider of the Walt Disney World Resort, with over 200 branded signs in 40 Disney properties. This 10-year alliance includes branding, business-to-business and special program elements. STANLEY is one of a select group of alliance partners. The partnership includes construction wall signage throughout Walt Disney World Resort. STANLEY, DEWALT and MAC logos are featured at the Walt Disney World Speedway, and STANLEY, MAC, Proto and Vidmar products outfit the Lights, Motors, Action garage and the test track queue line and ride.

Go-Go Debuts in our #NewOldBackyard

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That's our Husqvarna Automower back in business, but in our #NewOldBackyard.  I've written a few times about our Automower here on the blog.  And, on my linkblog/other note-taking/link-saving thing, I even chronicled how we arrived at his/her name:  Go-Go.

We had Go-Go installed at Equation Boy/Man's place, so when we were moving out, I went around the perimiter of the lawn and picked up the boundary wire and stakes.  When we got to the #newoldfarmhouse, it took me a few weeks to find the time to spend in the yard putting the boundary (and guide) wires in around the edges of the yard.  Our #newoldbackyard is quite a bit bigger, so the wire installation kit that I ended up buying was the 'medium' version and as it turned out, we had *just* enough wire.  Like maybe 10 extra feet total.  And that's after deciding to not have Go-Go cut certain parts of the current lawn.    All the way in the back there's a densely shaded area that doesn't really have much…

Our Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangeas Are Turning

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Part of our initial plant/landscape installation included a few sets of hydrangeas out front of the porch.  I think both Nat and I really like hydrangeas - they're pretty easy to tend to and they have a bit of 'showiness' to them.  Our #newoldfarmhouse is white, so one of the ideas that Nat's Mom had was to try to bring in a hydrangea that had a bit of color to it.  Chris Paul of Green Grass Landscaping (and my fraternity brother!) came back with these Vanilla Strawberry ones.

They bloomed this first year and have good-sized white flowers.  But, just this week, you can see that some of them are turning pink.  Exciting stuff.  From the sounds of this story from HydrangeaGuide, it sounds like the show lasts all summer:
It will start to produce them show stopping flowers around the start of Summer and flowers appear from white pinkish buds and open into white flowers.The large white coned shaped flowers then start to turn pink before slowly turning a strawberry red colo…

Hill Cottage Tavern Collector's Plate - Out of Storage

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About three years ago, we stopped at an Estate Sale at this beautiful white house on York Street in Elmhurst, just south of St. Charles.  After looking around, we were told that the house is the old "Hill Cottage Tavern" that was once located on Cottage Hill Avenue but was - at some point - moved to it's current location.  The house was up for sale and if not for the location, would have been SUPER hard for us to pass up.

We bought a few things at the Estate Sale, but one of them is this plate that you see above.  We bought it and then 2+ years ago, it went into storage only to be unwrapped and discovered as we unpacked our stuff at our #NewOldFarmhouse.

On the back of the plate are the details:  it was made by the York State Bank and Trust Company and this plate was made for their 55th year.  They made 1000 of them and this one is #538.


Once we saw it unwrapped, Nat knew immediately what we needed to do.  She quickly came to the conclusion that this plate doesn'…

Spotted Cow Cans Spotted At Walmart

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I tend to do most of my shopping up in Wisconsin at Walmart.  Nat isn't a fan, so most of the time, the trips I make there are with just some of the kids.  We buy fishing gear, groceries (including turkey for grilled turkey and cheeses) and other lakehouse what-have-yous.  On one of my recent trips, I came across this huge pallet of New Glarus Spotted Cow 12 packs of cans right by the 'greeter'.  Interesting to see this craft beer being sold in Walmart, isn't it?

Having recently read this piece about New Glarus planned expansion, this got me thinking.  From BrewBound:
New Glarus Brewing Co. is adding 16 fermentation tanks that will eventually allow the Wisconsin brewery to double its annual capacity to more than 400,000 barrels.  The German manufactured tanks, each capable of holding about 580 barrels of beer, arrived via boat in Milwaukee earlier this week.  Carey had hoped the tanks would be operational for a busy summer selling season, but the additional fermentat…

Lizzie On Instagram

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Our builder came over after we moved in to take a few photos of the house and as she usually does to visitors, little Miss Lizzie cozied right up and made her presence known.  The result?  This photo that they posted on their Instagram handle.   Adorable?  Kinda.  Maddening?  That, too.

CTA Buses Through The Years - 70th Anniversary

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Earlier this month, the Chicago Transit Authority had a neat display of both modern and vintage buses set up at Daley Plaza right next to the Picasso for people to check out.   The buses ranged from one built in 1960 (that you see above) to a brand new one out on the street today.  I didn't go on the buses, but you can see people boarding them, which is kinda nice.  The oldest one is the coolest looking of the bunch that you can see below, isn't it?  Also, the green and cream are lovely to look at, aren't they?  The blue ones could be buses from Champaign or Chicago.  There's nothing making them unique.


The display was part of the CTA's 70th anniversary celebration.  From WGN:
The CTA will display three of its vintage buses on the Daley Plaza Monday and Tuesday as part of its 70th anniversary celebration.  The buses were gradually retired between the 1970's and 1990's -- but you'll get a chance to check them out.  Many of them still have the old ads t…

Postmaster Steel Fence Posts For Our Cedar Fence

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Over the past few posts about our fence, I showed the posts being installed and talked about what the fence was going to do in terms of framing up our backyard.  Unlike our first fence in Elmhurst, the crew putting our fence in this time dug each of the posts by hand.  I'm not sure if that is just how they roll or if it had something to do with the posts we selected?

Because we're planning on staying in our #NewOldFarmhouse for quite some time, after talking with the team at Classic Fence, we decided to upgrade to steel posts instead of the traditional 4x4 cedar posts.  The steel posts we selected are called Postmaster posts from Master Halco. They're specifically designed for wood fences and allow for the attachment of cedar rails on the sides and accept planks on the outside and inside to basically 'cover' or mask the steel post in it's entirety.

Here's a look at a few of the posts that were installed in our #newoldbackyard.  The one on the left is unad…

Crimson King Maple - Added to #NewOldBackyard

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Another tree?  Yep.  This makes number nine.  Nine trees planted this season in the yard.

There's 2 flowering pears, 1 Japanese flowering cherry, 2 Lindens, 1 Dawn Redwood, a Magnolia, a Corkscrew Willow and now this one: A Crimson King Norway Maple.  And let me get this out of the way.  Yes, I know some folks wouldn't recommend this tree.  But I've been drawn to them for a while and I wanted something that would break up the sea of greenness in the very far reaches of the rear of the new old backyard.

Menards has marked their trees down to 30% to 50% off, so this one was a no-brainer for me.  I brought it home and found a spot along the fenceline all the way in the back.  We haven't quite gotten around to cleaning out most of the weeds/brush areas around the perimeter of the lot, so this is - for now - mixed in amongst some native weeds and various, unidentified brush.

Now, back to the tree.  If you're looking to find out why some folks have maligned this tree,…

Fence Install With Posts - In Progress (Step 2)

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Last week, I posted a BF (before fence) photo of the #newoldbackyard and here above is an in-progress look at the fence posts going in the ground.  The above photo is clickable, but here is a link to the Google Photos version where you can zoom in and scroll around.  This is the second fence that we've installed and I documented almost the exact same point in installation from the first time.  Check it out here from seven years ago.

If you look closely, you'll notice the posts aren't traditional 4x4 cedar posts.  We opted for steel posts as an upgrade this time over the standard cedar posts.  They cost a bit more, but they perform much better and will last much longer.  I'll post something on the posts themselves in the coming days.

The fence is one of the first steps in the evolution of the backyard.  Once it is finished being installed, I can move on to planting some of the trees and then move on to deciding on some of the locations of the landscape beds out back.…

Envisioning the "Entrance" to our Backyard

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There's this spot on the rear/side of our house - right next to the screened-in porch and behind the garage that is sandwiched up against the fence and is on a grade appears to be the likely 'entry point' for our backyard.  Right now, it is grass (some of it yellowed!) and a few stepper stones that you can see above.  The concrete pad that you see on the left is the bottom of a few steps that come out of my office and is right behind one that comes out from the side door of our garage.  Behind where I'm standing when I took this photo is one of the fence gates.

The grade poses a problem and that's revealed by the current installation.  You have to kind of walk sideways on the pavers as they make the turn on their angles.  It is *fine* for now.  But, not ideal.

The first thing that pops into my mind is to contemplate how we engineer or build out a little footbridge that incorporates a water feature/pond.  I can imagine excavating a good portion of the area where …

Montgomery Wards Raft - A Second Life

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On a recent visit to Twin Lakes, we spent some time with friends at their place up on Lake Elizabeth.  They have a few water toys that the kids got to try out including one of those massive water trampolines.  What was most interesting was that the kids figured out how to use raft and paddle that they boarded from the dock to navigate out to the trampoline - all the while staying mostly dry and out of the lake.  I talked with the Babe that night and she said that having the ability to pilot her own 'boat' out on the lake was a lot of fun. It was only about 20 feet from the dock to the trampoline, but that whole time, she was the captain and first mate.  She was on her own.  And, she expressed that she liked it!  So...while we're not in the spot to score a trampoline, we happen to be in possession of an old raft.  My Dad gave it to me as he was closing down Coloma and for the past year, it sat up in the garage in Twin Lakes.  Until now.

I dragged it to the porch, hooked up…

Big Rob's Moving - Chicago

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That right there is one of the trucks in the fleet of Big Rob and Big Rob Hauling.  The best and most affordable movers in Chicago.  I posted about Big Rob and his crew back when my parents moved out of my childhood home in 2015.  We've now used Big Rob for a few projects including moving us out of our first house and into storage.  And for moving some big furniture (like a church pew).  And now, most recently, to move us into our #newoldfarmhouse.

The team at Big Rob's take great care with your stuff, work hard and are all-around nice dudes.  Need to move and can't believe the prices that you're getting?  Give Big Rob a call.  # NotAnAd.

The (New) View From My Office

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There's a new view from my spot in the Aon Center on Randolph Street.  For the past few years, I had a south-facing view.  Now?  I'm looking due west.  The view isn't the only thing that changed, but I think I've pretty much adjusted to the new spot.  While this new view has some interest, there's nothing quite like looking south from Aon to see the lake and the museum campus.  I miss it every morning.

Our #NewOldBackYard B.F. (Before Fence)

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Posting this panoramic photo of the backyard at our #NewOldFarmhouse (or...rather... our #NewOldBackyard) of the state of play BEFORE the cedar fence is going in.  That version above is clickable, so you can get a larger look at the yard, but I'll also share this version on Google Photos that allows you to zoom in and take a look at the panoramic that was stitched together from a few photos I took.  If you look closely, you'll see the crew delivering some of the materials like posts to the various locations around the yard.  Also, on the left side of the yard property line, you can also get a good look at the Japanese Cherry Blossom tree that we planted a few weeks back.

And, those of you with sharp eyes who have kept up with some of the tree talk here on the blog, might also see the Greenspire Lindens that I am planning on espalier'ing.  They're still in their containers up along the rear portion of the house.

You can also get a sense for the density of the trees -…

Dog n Suds - Richmond, IL

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Right on the Stateline is a town called Richmond, Illinois.  To get to Twin Lakes, you drive through Richmond.  There's a McDonalds.  An Ace Hardware.  And a couple of flea markets.  But there's also a Dog n Suds.  And we, of course, had to give it a try.   I had a boss back in the day that appreciated a Dog n Suds and we stopped when we came across one.

This one in Richmond is trying to stay true to the original.  From their site:
Richmond Dog n Suds was opened in 1963 by a local family and has always been a small family owned business. The restaurant was sold in the fall of 2005 to another Richmond family, with a strong commitment to food quality, friendly service, and the determination to retain the nostalgic atmosphere which made this Drive In such a success.  After 2005, they refurbished the interior and exterior of the business paying close attention to architectural standards used in 1963. They also added many new events. Look for Live Music, Cruise Nights, and many s…

Happiest of Birthdays to our MVP

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Depending on when you read this, it *might* be Nat's birthday.  I know that the only way she consumes my nonsense here on the blog is via the email broadcasts that go out in the mornings, so I'm posting this on June 11th knowing that she'll end up reading it on June 12th.

Or, more likely, she herself, *might* read this.  And her not reading my pithy blog posts isn't a slight.  It is due to the fact that she barely gets a moment to herself and is always in a constant state of movement.

I likely don't need to tell you all this, but, because of all that she does for us, as the title of this post states, she's our family MVP.

Without her, we wouldn't be here and mostly dressed in clean clothes.  Despite her hating my socks with mandals look and protesting at every turn, she keeps us all on track and the kids looking good and in good health.  If I'm not wearing a tshirt and dirty shorts (with my socks and mandals), that's because Nat had the good sen…

Volunteer Peony Plant Shooting Up?

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I was out in our #newoldbackyard over the weekend doing some weeding of the various beds along our foundation and came across this four-stemmed set of shoots.  I was mindlessly wandering around the perimeter of the house looking for green shoots in the mostly brown mulched (and empty beds).  I was about to bend over and rip it out when I realized that these look a lot like a young peony plant.

Could we have some volunteer peonies?  I don't think they're 'survivors' like our ostrich ferns.  Based on these being right up next to the foundation around our screened porch, I'm thinking that if these are, indeed, peonies, that they hitchhiked along with the mulch when our landscaper put it down before we moved in.

Volunteer peonies?  Wouldn't that be delightful.  We still have to move our foster peonies from Nat's Mom's garden in Naperville.  Maybe this is a sign?  Could this bed be destined to house our peony plants?  I'm going to keep an eye on these …

A Visit to Classic Cinemas Fox Lake Theatre

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Recently, we checked out the new (to us) Classic Cinemas theatre in Fox Lake.  We've come to really love Classic Cinemas based on living so close to the York Theatre in Elmhurst.  They run a first-class operation.  And...the kids popcorn/fruit snacks/icee boxes and booster seats don't hurt one bit.  Not to mention the free refills on corn/soda and the rewards program.  
One morning while it was raining up in Wisconsin, we decided to head to see the new Cars 3 movie and instead of going up to the multiplex in Lake Geneva, we decided to drive down to Fox Lake to give the Classic Cinemas Fox Lake a try.  It wasn't what I was expecting.  But it was great!  Based on seeing what Shirley and Willis Johnson have done to the York in Elmhurst and the Tivoli in Downers Grove, I was expecting an old, downtown movie palace.   Instead, the theatre was kind of tucked in the corner of a stip mall about a block or two off "main street" next to a hardware store.  Turns out, that&…