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Showing posts from October, 2017

House Doll'd Up For Halloween

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Or...at least with some ridiculous inflatables on the front porch.  For record-keeping purposes, here's the annual (or some-what-annual) photo of our house decorated for Halloween.  You can see the Big Pumpkin (or "Big Pump" as the kids call him) along with Frankenstein on our front porch.  You'll also note that the mums at the bottom of the steps are the very same ones I 'tied up' with my pro-tip earlier this fall.  There are also a couple of cinderella pumpkins stashed on the stairs near the right railing that you can - if you look closely - see peeking out. 

This is the first holiday in our #newoldfarmhouse, so we're starting from scratch decorations-wise. 

We've come a long way from last year when we were living in Equation Boy/Man and Vic's house (thanks to their generosity!).  Here's a photo from last year that shows the decorations.  Frankenstein is the only survivor from this whole setup!   To be fair, the line of pumpkin inflatables …

Tuff Stuff Red Hydrangea: Planted Fall 2017

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This fall is the first fall in our #newoldbackyard, so I've been busy with various fall plantings.  Starting with the tulip and allium bulbs, the harvested hostas, ferns and hydrangea from our neighbor's yard and most recently with a Disneyland Rose plant and a Everlasting Revolution Hydrangea - both from Jackson and Perkins. 
This one above, the Tuff Stuff Red Hydrangea, is the last in the series of plants that we were given by Nat's mom as an anniversary gift.   I put it in a spot adjacent to the Everlasting Revolution variety (the multi-colored one) as outlined in the most recent landscape plan documents.   
If you look closely at the photo above, you can get a sense for the soil we're dealing with in the #newoldbackyard.  It isn't great.  In the Spring, I have plans to amend the soil with some organic material and till it in where the beds are located.  That might require me pulling some of these plants out and replanting them, but they'll be better off fo…

Washington University vs. Notre Dame Football - 1936

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A few days back, I mentioned that we had attended a game at Notre Dame Stadium and while there were a lot of 'special touches' at the Stadium/game, one that stood out was that they gave away half dollar coins from the concession stands.  Well...the game turned into a bit of a blowout, so late in the 3rd quarter, I took a walk around the bowels of the stadium.  I wanted to see all the light fixtures, reused sections of bleachers, how the old/new stadium fit together and various other things that adorn the interior of the stadium.

One of the things that they've done to represent some of their strong history is to blow up and and install vintage program covers from games of past around the concourse.  And guess what?  One of those football game programs was from a game between Washington University and the Fighting Irish.  Yeah...Wash U.

That's Nat's alma mater.  And now a Division III football program that I affectionately call the "Teddy Bears".  Nat insi…

Everlasting Revolution Hydrangea: Planted Fall 2017

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In addition to the Disneyland Rose, Nat's Mom also gifted us a few other plants that were shipped this fall including this Everlasting Revolution Hydrangea that you see above.  I mentioned in the post a week or so back that the #newoldbackyard landscape design called for hydrangeas on the south property line tucked in front of a few new hemlock trees.   And that's where I ended up placing this one.

This one is three posts down from the tall 6' section of fence on that side.    I planted it fairly close to the fence and if you look at the drawing in this post, it is where one of the Oak Leaf Hydrangeas are placed and I also planted another one (that I'll post about soon) in a similar location.  I've never planted hydrangea in the fall, so I'm not sure how these are going to turn out, but the nursery shipped them knowing our USDA Zone, so I have my fingers crossed that this one survives the winter.

Also, if you are following along closely at home, you know that

Half Dollars @ Notre Dame Stadium

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We spent a recent Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium watching the Fighting Irish with Nat's parents (both ND grads) and to answer the first question:  yes, I wore an Illini football shirt.  A little different than I did with my big orange sweater back in 2011.  This time, I covered it up with a blue sweatshirt.  No one was the wiser, I guess.

And while I bleed orange and blue, I will be the first person to tell you that there isn't very many better football 'celebrations' than what they pull off in South Bend.  And that's the part of the game that I like the most:  the circus that surrounds the game.  We arrived a few hours before the game and made ourselves comfortable at a few different tailgates and drank Michelob Ultras and downed a few hotdogs.  Then, it was in the stadium for me.  I wanted to see the warm-ups.  I wanted to see the punters and long snappers do their thing.  And I wanted to see all the on-field activities.  I'll post some photos from the game …

Fall Update On Fostered Hosta And Ferns

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For the first time in a while, we spent an afternoon out in Naperville with Nat's parents.  And that means that I took some time to wander in Nat's Mom's garden where I marveled at the size and span of her hydrangeas but also was able to peek at the plants that she is fostering for us.  Above you see both the giant hosta on the left and the dried out ostrich fern laying on it's side on the right. 

The fern ran it's course and dried out.  That is normal.  The hosta is nearing the end of it's season, too, so that's why you're seeing some dried spots.  Critters are the likely cause for some of the missing pieces of leaves.  The last time that I checked in on these plants was early this Spring.  Here's a photo of the hosta emerging from the mulchHere's what this hosta plant looks like when it is a bit further out of the ground but not unfurled quite yet.  Love this time of year.  So much to look forward to and so many gardening expectations. 

An…

Rear Foundation Planting Beds In New Backyard Landscape Plan

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Just a few days ago, I posted the first snapshot of part of our design for the full landscape plan of the #newoldbackyard and discussed how I had planted one of the hydrangea plants that I had earlier last week harvested from a teardown on our block.  Today, I'm sharing another look at part of the design - this time the southernmost section  of new landscape beds that are adjacent to the rear part of our foundation. 

This bed that you see above is actually already in place.  It was dug out and mulched when we did the initial landscaping, but we didn't plant anything in this spot as part of the first round install ahead of our occupancy permits being issued.  If you look closely, you'll see four different types of plants called out in this section:

PJM RhododendronsGreen Velvet BoxwoodsKarl Forester Reed GrassesHadspen Hostas Of the plants that I dug out of the lot down the street (which...mind you...was invited by the owner!  She told neighbors to go over and dig up some s…

Benet Academy Football - Nat's Working On All of Us

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That's the admission ticket from a Benet boys Varsity Football game that we recently went to as a family.  The Bird did a little cheerleading at halftime, Nat was able to do a little bit more immersing of the girls around Benet and I got to watch a high school football game.  Good fit all around, right?  Everyone gets a little something to like.  
The game was fun to watch - and so was seeing my little girl out there cheerleading - but there was also this other interesting moment.  During the halftime show, the marching band came out like they do on Friday Night Lights all over the country.  I don't remember what they played, but I do remember who was playing.  Amongst the kids in band uniforms was this guy in his football uniform belting out his best saxophone.    See him next to the "B" at midfield?

I watched him closely.  He nailed it.  Every step.  Every move.  Amazing, no?  Full time student athlete.  And member of the Marching Band?  Wow.

Fall Bulb Planting 2017 - Tulips

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A few days ago, I posted some photos of a handful of Purple Sensation Allium bulbs that we did a fall bulb planting with around one of the big oak trees in our #newoldbackyard.  Photos here.  I mentioned that we also planted some tulips on that same day.   Today's post shows off the bulbs of the two varieties that we put down. 

I picked up 2 15 packs of tulip bulbs at Menards that were on sale (they also had the 11% rebate thing going on...which....seems right now to be an almost constant thing??).  The first set was 15 Darwin Hybrid Tulips in orange.  You can see the packaging below:


According to Longfield Gardens, Darwin Tulips have some special characteristics: 
Darwin hybrids produce big, showy flowers with a classic tulip shape: broad at the base and slightly narrower at the top. They come in a rainbow of rich, saturated colors that range from white through yellow, orange, red and pink, including several lovely bi-colors.  Darwin hybrids are reliable performers that aren’t bo…

A Look At A Part of #NewOldBackyard Landscape Design

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Just yesterday, I posted a photo of some of the harvested perennials from a teardown a few doors down that I dug out of their lot.  Included in the trug in this photo is a hydrangea, a few hostas and some ferns.   I also mentioned that I was planting these 'new to us' plants in spots that were outlined in one of the plans that we received after we had two landscape design firms give us proposals for the hardscaping for the 'entrance' to our #newoldbackyard.  Here's a look at the first proposal

Above, you'll see a screenshot of just a portion of the second proposal.  In addition to giving us some idea of how they'd approach the 'entrance' to the backyard, they also gave us a look at the entire yard and what they would plant and how they would shape the beds.  It is incredibly detailed and while isn't perfect, gives us a lot of ideas on the direction of the future of our #newoldbackyard.

Importantly, you'll note that in the sketch above, t…

Harvesting Perennials From Neighboring TearDown

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That pile of stuff in the photo above might not look like much, but it potentially is a bountiful harvest from down the block.  There's a family that is tearing down a house four doors to the south of us and the lot had a decent perennial garden.  So, the new owners put out a note to the neighbors to 'come and dig' what you want/can out of the yard before the heavy equipment rolls in and everything is tossed.  
I went over there with my spade shovel and this blue trug and found a half dozen variegated hostas, a few what I think are going to be ostrich ferns, and a hydrangea bush.  Dug them out, walked them home and put them in the #newoldbackyard with some water to give them a chance to survive.  
Back in Elmhurst, I did the same thing a few times when homes were being torn down in our neighborhood.  On one occasion, I grabbed a few peony plants and irises and one other time when a house across the alley from Equation Boy/Man's house was being torn down, I grabbed a b…

Dole Whips At Nando's Peri Peri in Oak Brook

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What the what?  Come for the chicken, stay for the unlimited Dole Whips.  That's the motto of the chicken place that is part of the chain that seems to have sprung up overnight with locations all over the place.  I've been to two locations in the loop and neither had this Dole Whip machine, but Nat sniffed it out in the newish food court/food hall that Oak Brook built upstairs in the mall by the new theatre. 

I've written about Dole Whips before.  There's the time that I compared the sight of a set of Dole Whips at the Polynesian to the time when Rudy's Dad first laid eyes on Notre Dame Stadium.   Then there was the time when a guy who runs a Yogurt store in Glen Ellyn reached out to tell us that they were carrying Dole Whips

They have one of those fancy customizable Coke machines with dozens of drinks and flavors but after poking around on the machine, I think I figured out that they don't have any pineapple juice or pineapple flavored sodas like Fanta, so …

1925 American Legion School Award - Girls

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At a Garage Sale down the street from us recently, I couldn't pass up this American Legion School Award medal that was in a $0.25 bin.  I mean...come on, right?  I grabbed it and scurried home to find out that it is a 1925 medal given to girls.  On the side you see above it reads:  For God and Country.

How do I know it is from 1925?  From this piece where it shows both sides that match to the medal I now have in my possession.  1925 is the first year they gave away awards to girls, so this one is the inaugural version and is listed on eBay across ranges from $29.99 to $89.99.  To me?  It is priceless and will go into my stash box...or maybe even a gift to my Dad for him to treasure.

Allium Purple Sensation Bulbs Planted

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Last week, with the help of the KotBT, we went into the #newoldbackyard and dug up some holes to plant some fall bulbs.  Among the bulbs were tulips (which I'll post on another day) and alliums, which you can see above.  I planted 10 total Allium bulbs of the Purple Sensation variety.

I first wrote about Allium bulbs all the way back in 2011, when the first set of shoots broke through the mulch that Spring.  I planted those in 'secret' as a little surprise for Natalie.

I then chronicled their appearance in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

I put half of this year's Allium bulbs out back by the newly-planted fountain grasses and the other half around this large Oak tree that you can see below.  The red flag isn't related to the bulbs - it is put there by the landscape lighting company to show us where they were planning on putting some lights.  But, If you look closely, you can see a series of holes I dug out around the trunk of the tree where I placed the Allium bulbs.  I figu…

A Visit To Ned's Corner Woodstock

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That's me and little Lizzie posing in front of the sign that reads: Ned's Corner from the movie Groundhog Day that filmed in Woodstock, Illinois.  Earlier this week, I posted about how I picked up a jar of Glas club Cheese at the Woodstock Farmer's Market and while we were in town, we walked the square and *had to* stop at the corner that Ned Ryerson made famous in the movie.  You remember the scene, right?


If you look closely, you'll see a 'for rent' sign in the storefront.  You'd think that someone with the right sense of humor and right approach to business could somehow capitalize on the whole Ned Ryerson/Groundhog day thing, right?  I guess the whole implosion of retail isn't going to make things easy on main street, but with the right mix of businesses, I would think that a place like Stars Hollow errrrr Woodstock - with their town square and all the charm that comes with it, can survive in some way, right?

For the rest of the weekend, I kept say…

2017 Randall Park Soapbox Derby in Downers Grove

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A few blocks over, the neighbors on Fairmount Street host an annual block party in September that features a Soapbox Derby.  This was our first time attending.  And it was great fun.  You can see the Bird riding along with one of the girls from the block in the video above to get a sense for the setup.  The neighbors on the block come together and put together quite an event starting with the starting gate/ramp.  There's a DJ and they had a food truck come out along with a keg, a snow cone maker and a lot of food.  
Nat and I know just some people from our block, but we didn't know many folks from the neighboring streets - but we took the time to get to know a few new people and they couldn't have been more inviting.  This is a real, authentic family event.  It was really enjoyable. 
The kids - and I am assuming - their fathers really showed a lot of creativity in designing the various cars involved.  There must have been more than 70 various cars built on various kits.  …