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Showing posts from 2017

Vintage Pipe Cleaner Bendable Santa - Estate Sale Find

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Earlier this week, I posted a photo of a felt Christmas mouse ornament from an Estate Sale, but it wasn't the only Christmas item that I came home with that day: I also got this Santa.  He's all gangly and has wire 'pose-able' limbs with a cute wooden face.  And those eyelashes, right?  There's a pretty strong legacy in the vintage Christmas world it seems to have a strong eyelash game.  Here's an angel ornament with some serious eyelashes.  Then there is this deer with major eyelashes.  And this pair of ornaments with strong lashes, too.

This Santa has a weird belt that you can see up higher than his waist.  It isn't connected anywhere and is bigger - around - than the white band at his waist.  In our new place, I'm sure we'll find a place for him come November.

Planting Our Dawn Redwood Tree

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Even though our #NewOldFarmhouse is still under construction, that isn't stopping us from having an impact on the backyard.  And that started with transplanting some of the ostrich ferns and now it includes the planting of the Dawn Redwood tree that I posted about last week.  I was lucky to have a little bit of help from my crew getting this tree in the ground.  All three kids helped decide where we should put it and then helped me (kinda) dig the hole and backfill the rootball.

We placed it close to the north property line, with enough room for it to grow while being able to put a fence in behind it.  There was an opening in the tree line that I think this will fill in nicely over time. It also is on the low side of the property, so it will enjoy whatever groundwater we get over time.  My experience tells me that this thing will go through a little shock soon, but I'm hoping that with some care and watering, it will weather this first year and begin to fill in and grow.

Me & Magdalena - The Monkees

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Last week, my buddy Justin texted me a link and said "Here's a song for you."  It was this song - Me & Magdalena - by The Monkees.  Yeah.  The Monkees.  It is in the YouTube player above.  (If you are reading this in your email and can't see the player above, click here to see it.)  I can't stop listening to it.  I haven't even been able to check out much more of the album because I keep coming back to this one song.

Have a listen.  I think you'll like it.

Over on All Songs Considered, they give more background about how this album and this song in particular came together.  In honor of The Monkees 50th anniversary, they've put out a new record full of previously unreleased songs and a few new ones written for the band.  Including this song that was written by Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie.  From the story:
And, though Mike Nesmith won't tour to support Good Times! — he left the band a few years back — he does appear on the album, Th…

New Espaliered Linden Trees

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Earlier in May, I posted about one of what I called 'troublesome privacy spots' in our new backyard.  This post, covers what I think will be the solution to the other one of those 'troublesome privacy spots' - this time being on the south side of our lot close to our neighbor's patio.   We're looking into fences and will likely get a 6' privacy fence close to the house, tapering down to a four-foot fence for the balance of the yard, but I'm also taking this opportunity to try something I've wanted to for a while:  espalier'ing a pair of trees.

Don't know what an espalier tree is?  Here's a post that chronicles the history of the practice that is worth reading, but in a nutshell it is the intersection of the science of how things grow with the art of gardening.  You trim and train trees to be just two-dimensional objects.  That's espalier.

At our previous place, our landscape architect spec'd an espaliered fruit tree along our fe…

View From My Office: Mid May 2017

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The last time I posted a 'view from my office' was a few months ago when we had a March snowfall in the city, but this week, Chicago's 'front yard' is greening up nicely and the boats are starting to come into the harbor.  It is a delightful time to be around the city - things are blooming, but the heat isn't here yet, so the walk from Ogilvie to Aon isn't sweat-inducing.  Yet.

So Long, Salseria in Elmhurst City Centre

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If you walk by the Salseria on the east side of York Street right in the heart of the City Centre, you'll come across a few signs announcing the closing of the restaurant including the one above and the one below that say "See you Soon" and "Thank you Elmhurst for 12 great years".

They also herald a new concept coming to the location:  Victory Meat and Seafood.

When I came across the news of the Salseria being closed, I had to ask Nat how many times we went there.  The answer?  Just twice.

And both times, I guess we didn't love it.  But other folks must have, right?  No way a place survives for 10+ years without being pretty good?

The new place is going to feature "5-varieties of fresh Oysters daily", so it will be a bit different and will likely fill a need in town, but because they're going to be opening in August of this year, we'll have to think about coming back as 'tourists' to the Elmhurst City Centre.

So long, Salseria.…

What's This? The Pizza Ring?

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Came across this kitchen gadget near the checkout aisle at the local Jewel here in Elmhurst:  it is called The Pizza Ring and it apparently comes out of St. Louis, Missouri.  Here's the product website with a video, but the basic premise is that frozen pizza companies are increasingly asking consumers to take the pies out of their boxes and place them directly on the rack in your oven.  That, in turn leads to all sorts of messy disasters that leave your oven dirty and full of frozen pizza residuals which, in turn, lead to smoke.


It is sort of interesting, but we cook so few frozen pies - and I haven't really experienced any sort of mess trouble with them - that I'm not moved to buy it.  Most of the time, we make the kids those little personal Home Run Inn pizzas that would likely just slip right through the middle ring of this thing, right?

For ten bucks, this unitasker (although, they point out that you can use this for pies that spill over, too!  So...technically, it …

Brass Critter: Fox Letter Rack - Estate Sale Find

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A few weekends back I stopped at a few Estate Sales both in Elmhurst and in Downers Grove including one at this really neat house that was built in the early 1910's for some wealthy family as their 'country house' - at least that's what the folks running the sale said.  Here's the property listing of the house that, unfortunately, I'm thinking someone will buy for the land and tear the place down.  Like a lot of older houses, the layout isn't what works for families today, but the land?  My gawd.  Not just a lot of it.  But lots of mature trees, different elevations.  Really, really great.

Inside the house, there were lots of treasures, but just one came home with me:  this brass fox 'letter rack'.  Hard to tell from this angle/photo, but between the fox and the fence is a gap that allows you to stand up/hold mail/cards.  Check out this Etsy listing that has some photos of a similar piece that show how envelopes stand up in there.  Kinda cool.  Th…

Vintage Christmas Felt Mouse Ornament

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A few days ago, I posted a photo of a little brass letter rack that I picked up at an Estate Sale recently.  I also stopped at a garage sale or two on the same trip including the one where I bought a few vintage Christmas items  - one of which is this flat Santa Mouse felt ornament.  He has a cute little bow that has a couple of bedazzles on him and he reminds me of both the vintage felt ornament that I made when I was a kid and this flat Mrs. Claus felt ornament that I picked up last year at an estate sale.

This year, we'll be back to decorating our *own* place and having a tree (or two?!?) and we're always looking for 'low-hanging' ornaments that the Big Beef/King of the Ball Tossers can reach and not shatter/break.  So, I'm sure this one will find a home somewhere low this season.  Should be a nice addition to our holiday.

New Dawn Redwood Tree Destined For Our Backyard

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Earlier this Spring, we came home with this tree in the minivan on a normal trip to Menards.  I didn't plan on going there to look at trees, but when we were wandering around the garden center, I noticed this one.  It was over with the rest of the deciduous trees, but it looked different.  I pulled it out of the rack and realized it was a Redwood.  A Dawn Redwood.  I couldn't pass it up.

Dawn Redwoods are one of a handful of deciduous conifers - which means that it forms cones and sprouts needles like evergreens, but it also turns colors in the fall and drops its leaves/needles late in the year like deciduous trees.  And, as you can imagine being a redwood, it gets huge!  Like 100 feet tall.  Fun to think about decades from now, all the trees in the neighborhood top out at like 40 or 50 feet.  Then there's this one massive tree, shooting up double that height.

Menards trees aren't always the best quality, but the prices are always right.  This Dawn Redwood was in go…

School Boards And Their Insatiable Appetite for MOAR

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In today's Daily Herald, Robert Sanchez covers Elmhurst School District 205 and their facilities.  It appears that the School Board is going to come to the taxpayers soon and ask for even more money.  Elmhurst Unit District 205 has released preliminary cost estimates for up to $151 million in building projects that could be included in a future referendum question. By more money, I mean...simply more.  The School District in Elmhurst appears to have an insatiable appetite for taxpayer money.  From 2007 to 2015, spending in the district increased 41%.  In just 8 years.  In 2007, they spent $78M.  In 2015 they spent $111M.  Source.

That's $33M more EVERY YEAR in spending for the schools.  Did Elmhurst grow over that period of time?  The answer is no.  But the tax bill for the schools and their pensions sure did.

And what did the average Elmhurst property owner get during that same period of time?  A 25% decrease in their property values.  Source.  (Elmhurst Schools aren't …

Denver, With The Mountains

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Went to the same place.  Stayed at the same hotel.  Only this time, on a quick trip to Denver, I *did* get a shot of the mountains.  Two years ago, I posted this sad photo of the mountains from a Denver Marriott and I was determined to not repeat the feat.  I snapped this photo out the little window in my room.  Still not exactly the way one would want to see the local community right?  I mean, there isn't much more to Denver than what is in between the airport and the DTC, right?

Still Blogging In 2017

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Last week, Tim Brey posted a piece on his blog titled "Still Blogging in 2017" that was shared by Jason Kottke on his own blog. That's how I came across Tim's original post.  Isn't that how blogs *used* to work, right?  You'd read something in your feed reader that referenced someone else's blog/post and you stumbled upon them.  Liked it?  Usually, I grabbed a subscription to their feed and kept up on them.

I'm not one to pine for the 'good old days' (or, maybe I am?), but that little blog-to-blog transaction (about blogging!) struck me.

I read both of them and figured that it warranted comment or two here on my *own* blog.  I've been doing these daily diary entries on objects, experiences and occurrences in my life for the past few years after picking blogging back up 2010.  For a few years (2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016), I've been able to publish *something* everyday here on "Why I Oughta..." (which, is what I used to cal…

Update on Foster Ostrich Fern - Spring 2017

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Last month, I posted about a few of our 'foster' plants out at Nat's folks' place in Naperville including the giant hosta that had emerged this Spring and Nat's Great Aunt's peonies and the miniature variety of Hosta Venusta that came back to my surprise.  But, there was also a big bunch of Ostrich Ferns that we transplanted into foster care.  Just about a month ago, on May 2nd, 2016, I posted this photo showing the ferns emerging from the ground and in June, I posted this photo showing the giant Hosta and the Ostrich Fern all unfurled in their full glory.  They were doing so well last year, so I never thought for a minute that they wouldn't come back this year.

That photo above is what they look like now:  they've not only sprung up ahead of last year's pace, they're also big, vibrant and strong.  How nice to see them doing so well.  I'm not surprised, because a few years back, we divided some of our ferns and gave them to Nat's mom f…

1 of 2 Troublesome "Privacy" Spots In Our New Backyard

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Above is a photo of the northern side of our new lot in our backyard that is almost immediately outside our backdoor.  That fence, it turns out, belongs to our neighbor to the north, but is installed incorrectly (with the 'good side' facing his side and a bit too tall), so things are changing, I believe.  We've heard from our builder that the fence might be coming down and getting readjusted.  But, we hope it isn't going away.  That's because it is shielding their driveway - which is currently occupied by a few project cars and some other larger items.

We are investigating a fence for ourselves (btw, this would be our second fence. Here's a post from way back in 2011 when I was staining our newly installed fence at our old place.) , but because of the way the lot is graded, this part of the property is a lot lower than the middle part, where our house is located.  That means that it is really easy to basically see 'over' the current fence.  And if it …

Patio Planning @ Our New Old Farmhouse

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With the weather turning, and the inside of the house moving along at it's scheduled pace (like with the installation of this leaded window), it is time for our builder to turn some of their attention to the outside of the house.  In this case, it means a look at what our patio is going to look like out back.   The world is, indeed, a small place, and on this project it meant that I was able to reconnect with a friend from my college days who it turned out was the subcontractor chosen to help us with our landscaping by our builder.  As part of the project, Chris, our landscape team lead went out and spray painted the outline of our proposed patio.  You can see that in pink above.

Nat did what she does best:  picked some great materials, and soon enough, the team will be leveling and grading the site, cleaning up all the various debris and then installing the patio in pavers.  We have a good-sized yard, so we were trying to strike a balance between installing a 'large enough&…

Cinnamon Ferns @ Equation Boy/Man's Emerging For Year Two

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Last year, I picked up a few plants at the Elmhurst Ladies' Garden Club annual sale including the Hosta Venusta miniature plant that we're fostering out in Naperville (posted about it recently here) and what was billed as a Cinnamon Fern.  I planted that here in Elmhurst at Equation Boy/Man and Vic's house with some help from the Bird as a "Mother's Day" present to her God Mother.  (and a little, tiny token of gratitude for having us stay in their house!)  

I put it along the south property line in one of their landscape beds that had some nice groundcover and a few other shade plants like hostas.  It looked great when I planted it (see pic here), but it didn't do that well after the transplant.  Must have had some serious shock, because it withered and just about looked dead a month or so after putting it in the ground.  I looked earlier this Spring and didn't see anything emerging, so I assumed that it wasn't coming back and had died, unfortuna…

More Pizza Clues - Aurelio's Uses A Sheeter and Bagged Flour?

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Over the weekend, I stopped into the Aurelio's takeout location in Downtown Downers Grove while I waited for the Babe to emerge from the basement setting for a birthday party at the Tivoli Lanes right next door.   When I was there, I came across three things:  First was this art glass piece above that is right when you open the front door.  Hadn't noticed it before, but I really like it and it seems like this belongs in one of their *real* restaurants.  And, by 'real', I mean a sitdown place.  This one in Downers is just a takeout joint.  Sure, they have 3 tables and sell (sadly) slices, but it isn't a restaurant, at least to me.  (Also, the fact that they are selling pie-shaped slices is a bummer, right?  I mean...Aurelio's is a tavern-cut pie by nature.  I get that they're trying to sell slices, but being a pizza crazy person, I don't like to see the bastardization of a tavern-cut pie.   Why not 'big squares'?)

Anyway, on to the second and th…

May The Fourth - Jedi Training

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Back in April, I posted a photo of the Jedi Training badge that the Bird was given after participating in the Jedi Training session at Disney's Hollywood Studios earlier this year.  This was the first time that we were able to do the training, but wasn't our first time trying.  The timing just worked out.  But, since it is May the Fourth, I figured it was time to show off some of those Jedi photos.

She donned her robe, grabbed her lightsaber and listened to the master trainers.  "Sabers up!"

She even took on the Seventh Sister.  


For those keeping track at home, this is the 2nd time I've posted on May the Fourth.  Last time was when the Big Ten shop came out with a bunch of Star Wars-themed gear, but the Illini got left out.  Checking that campaign today, and the Illini still don't have any Star Wars gear.

Premium Boss Black Coffee - Hot or Cold?

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I posted about the beer I drank in Tokyo last week and I've covered a bunch of my trip to Tokyo Disney in various posts over the past few weeks, but this coffee experience seemed like it warranted it's own post.  Coffee? In a can?  That looks like a Mickey's bottle from my college days? Yeah.

We were there in Japan on-site working on a client project in a few of their facilities; one of them an office building and the other a more of an assembly or manufacturing plant.  That's where I came across this Premium Boss Black Coffee in a hand-grenade can.  It came out of a vending machine (I forget how many yen it was), but what was cool was that there were two options:  hot or cold.  You got, what I think is the same exact can and same exact coffee, only one of the cans was piping hot and the other was ice cold.  Pretty neat.

Transplanted Survivor Ostrich Ferns

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Over the weekend, I posted this photo of a handful of 'survivor' ferns in our new backyard and mentioned that they deserved a shot at being transplanted because they're clearly hearty souls.  Having been able to thrive without anyone tending to them in years means they'll likely be easy to care for, right?  That's what I'm going to assume.  Plus the experience I've had with these ferns before make me love them.

I ended up bringing out the spade shovel and dug up a few clumps of them ahead of the landscaper coming out to grade the backyard.  I ended up sticking them in with a bunch of other salvaged plants in the rear of the yard.  Here, in the photo below, you'll see them mixed in amongst the hostas that I took from the front yard as well as a few of the variegated hostas that we picked out of our old neighbor's compost bin in the back.


I'm thinking that this isn't likely their end destination (my current thought is to put these on the north…

One That Got Away - McCoy Pot

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Over the weekend, I stopped at a few Estate Sales in Elmhurst and while I ended up picking up a few small items, there was one thing that I regret not buying:  this blue McCoy pot.  I snapped a few photos of it and texted them to my oldest sister - who collects McCoy pots.  I set it down and moved on.  I ended up leaving the sale without hearing from her.

About 30 minutes later, she texts me back and says she's in love and the price they're asking is 'a steal'.  So, back I go to the sale.  And guess what?  Someone else had snatched up this treasure.  Too bad.

I had never come across this size and color of McCoy, so I knew that I should have grabbed it. Would have been a heckuva gift, right?  Oh, well.  As Joe Rhode says:
It is enough to enjoy the existence of things without possessing all of them.  I'll post some pics of the items that I *did* end up buying later this week.


Tawashi Scrubbing Brush - From Tokyo Fish Market

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Despite what it seems like based on the posts here, it wasn't all Disney during my time in Tokyo.  Besides the work proper, we also took in a bunch of the local sights and places.  One of them was the Tsukiji Market where we spent time in both parts - the inner market where we wandered around amongst fork lifts and workers and the outer market where they sell more retail items from food to household products.  And that's where I came across this Tawashi Scrubbing Brush.  It is billed as being "made by Traditional Craftsman of Japan" and as you can see, they even list the guy's name:  Shinichi Sagara.  It seemed like a nice, unique item to bring home that wouldn't sit on a shelf, but that we'd actually use.



You can find these online like in this Japanese Restaurant supply shop where they describe their own version of the product thusly:
This biodegradable, all-natural scrubbing brush has been around in Japanese households for over 100 years and is made fr…

Disney Bucket List: Both Tokyo Parks. Check.

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I came home with a bunch of stuff for the kids from my visit to both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea including pins and easter stuff, but above you see both park maps.  I'm writing this post to go along with the deposit I'm making in my 'stash box'.

Having gone to these two parks was on my Disney Bucket list and having gone to them both, I can now check them off.  Into the stash box they go, with this reminder of why they're there.

It isn't used for the 'stash' you're probably thinking of, but rather is just a collection of my personal effects and items that I've come across and accumulated over the years.  Everything from race medals to cufflinks that were given to me as a gift to a bunch of lapel pins (fraternity, secret service cleared, etc).  There's a few paper items in there as well.  And now, it will include these maps.  Speaking of my stash box, I think it might be time to upgrade it in size.  Having a small one has been good …

Update: Burny Brothers Bakery 'Welcome Mat' Staying @ Beerhead Bar

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Back at the beginning of the month, I posted a photo of a relic from a long-gone Burny Brothers Bakery on York Street in Elmhurst that had recently been unearthed by the construction crew and owners of the soon-to-open Beerheads bar right in the heart of the Elmhurst City Centre.  You can see all the posts about the Beerhead Bar & Eatery construction here.    In that post, I expressed my hope that between the owners of the building, the contractor and the folks behind Beerheads, there would emerge a sense of history and conclude that retaining this cool relic would only add to the flavor of their new place.

Well...guess what?  They're all over it!  Seriously.  I heard heard from the owner of Global Builders, Carmen Gratace, who said that they've confirmed with the owners that the 'welcome mat' from Burney Brothers is indeed staying.  Kudos to Global Builders.  You can find their site here.  We should applaud both Carmen and his entire company for going the extra s…

Survivor Ostrich Ferns In Our New Backyard

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The work over at our #NewOldFarmhouse has begun to shift to include the outdoors areas as the project continues to come together.  That means hard surfaces, grass and landscaping.  In the back, we're going to tend to a good chunk of the yard, but there is going to be the back portion that we won't be getting to out of the gate.  That means, we'll be leaving it in it's natural state for now.

The whole thing is kind of in it's 'natural state' for now, meaning there are clumps of weeds and trees and ground covering scattered all over the place.  The landscape crew that is coming in to straighten things out will be clearing some of this stuff out.  But, check out the photo above.  See what is in those red circles?  That's right?!?  Ostrich Ferns.  My favorite.  I've covered them extensively including this post where the University of Illinois Master Gardener confirmed the species and I even transplanted a good set of them out in Naperville to be foste…

Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights

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I stayed at Tokyo Disneyland until late in the evening and long enough to see their main nighttime parade called "Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights".  We've seen the the "Main Street Electrical Parade" at WDW and we've seen "Paint the Night" parade at DLR and this is kind of a combination of both of those things.  And because of that, it is awesome.  You get all the lights and action from "Paint the Night", but you get Baroque Hoedown blasting over the speakers.  (go ahead...click that link and listen to the song.  It transports you, like it does me???)

Above you see the Casey Jr. train float with Mickey, Minnie and Goof on it.  (You'll also note the 2 dudes snapping vertical video/photos.  C'mon man.  Landscape mode, dudes.  Landscape mode!)

And below you see the photo, the first float is lead by the Blue Fairy from Pinnochio.  And then is followed by the locomotive and big drum you see above.  Those are float #1 a…

Leaded Transom Installed In Entry Vestibule

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All the way back in early January, I posted for the first time about the salvaged windows we were intending to use in our new old farmhouse.  You can see them in their original state here.  There is a pair of square-ish windows for use in one of the rooms and this large, horizontal-oriented transom that was destined to go in our front hall vestibule.

In early March, I shared a photo of some of the window sashes that were removed.  We dropped them off at Drebohl Art Glass in Chicago to be fixed and preserved.  As part of that process, we had our builder strip the sashes off all three, sand them down to be smooth and then prime them with a white primer before bringing them back to the guys at Drebohl Art Glass for the final assembly.

As the house progress continues, one of the trades that is moving along is the trim carpenter.  We didn't want these windows just laying around the jobsite because of their delicate state, so as part of his work, he moved ahead with installing the tra…

Tokyo Disneyland Pin

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Last week, I posted a photo of the Tokyo DisneySea pin that I picked up on my trip there for one of the girl's collection.  Today, here's the companion Tokyo Disneyland pin for the other girl.  They're very close in terms of looks and this was, as far as I could tell the only version of the park-centric pins that were available.  (at least in the store I was in at DisneySea)

The cards on these are plastic, so that's a big difference between these Tokyo Disney pins and the domestic ones sold in the US parks.  Also, the backs are quite different as each of these has the specific park listed on the backs, which is kind of neat.  I bought another pin (non-park-specific) and that back is different than these, so I'm thinking that the park-specific ones have their own stamped backs.


Asahi Super "Dry" Beer

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Despite Beer Advocate giving this Asahi Super "Dry" a 'poor' rating, I found it quite drinkable at the various dinners and evening activities that we took on during my stay in Tokyo and Nagoya.  When we weren't drinking sake, I defaulted to beer and more often than not, it seemed that this Asahi Super "Dry" was amongst the beers available.

Tile Install - New Old Farmhouse Bathroom

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The last update on our #NewOldFarmhouse showed off the drywall being hung and finished back a week or so ago.  Today, I'm sharing a few photos of the tile work being done in an upstairs bathroom that I think is coming together really nicely.  Nat has been the champion behind all of the design selections and she's done a really great job on all of it - including the tile.

This bathroom has a retro-vibe to it and she's using 'penny tiles' that from this distance look a bit like hexagon tiles, but are all circles.  We had a hexagon tile bathroom floor in our last house, so I'm inclined to love the look, but in this one, she went in a little different direction by introducing a custom border around the room.  In the photo at the top, you can see the section that the tile guy is working on.  In that spot will be the pattern he's been building below.  If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a printout of the tile pattern right above the tile guy'…

Cherry Blossoms - Tokyo In Bloom

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My trip to Tokyo was timed perfectly - in terms of seeing the famed Cherry Blossom trees in all their glory.  If you have ready anything about them this year, there was concern that they were emerging 'early' - officially - five days earlier than average.  Here in Illinois, we have our little 'blossom season' going on with the widely planted Cleveland Pear tree.  They're the trees that are blooming white flowers like crazy all over the suburbs.  They're a common tree planted in the front of new houses and in parkways and along parking lots.  They grow in a tight area and they are quite show-y during this period of time.  We had a Cleveland Select Pear tree in the front yard our old house and I loved it.  Loved it so much that I bought a few more.  (And we've included one in our plan for the new place.)

But, back to these Cherry Blossoms.  We don't live in Seattle or DC - where these things are present.  So, I haven't really experienced 'blossom…