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Showing posts from October, 2017

Canyon Trail Cemetery - 2017 Visit

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We might not live in Elmhurst any longer, but that doesn't mean we can't keep *some* of our Halloween traditions alive, right?  We didn't find time to get to Sonny Acres this year, but we DID get to Canyon Trail Cemetery in Carol Stream.  I posted about our visit to this house in 2016, in 2015, and in 2014 here on the blog. 

If you have time, head there before the place disappears for the season tonight!


Minnie Mouse Sticker at Walt Disney World

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You can't roll a stroller into a Disney World hotel and not have someone hand you a Mickey the Mouse sticker.  But a Minnie sticker?  Hmmm....think this was the first and only time one of the kids scored these.  She's the same size as the normal Mickey ones, but has a yellow background instead of the standard white.  You can add this to the list of 'free' things that you can score at Walt Disney World.  The most recent one that I posted about was this Honorary Custodian sticker that one of the kids received for picking up some garbage. 

These things aren't HUGE (or Yuuuuge...if you'd prefer), but they do make for nice little moments for families that don't cost any money down at Disney.  Here's my list that I've chronicled on the blog.

This "honorary custodian" sticker from the Cast member who takes out the trashA Friendship Boat Transportation cardThe Babe was an Honorary Jungle Cruise Skipper and got a badge, but I don't seem to have…

Happy Hallowishes Fireworks From the Grand Floridian

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Some of the best fireworks at Walt Disney World are clearly New Year's Eve.  And we've seen those from our room at the Polynesian Village Resort.  I posted about that experience here and here.  That show has ruined me for just about any other fireworks show.   The second best?  Might be Hallowishes that they put on during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.   We went to the party one night, but we also were staying at the Grand Floridian during another night that they hosted the party and we did not attend.  We did, however, head down to the pier to catch the show from near the water and it was pretty great.  Perimeter fireworks were still great - not quite as great as being dead-on from the Polynesian - and light up the waterfront. 

There was a small crowd down on the end of the pier, but we stayed next to Narcoossee's and were able to enjoy them all by ourselves.  

We've experienced the various fireworks shows from Bay Lake Tower, but I don't seem to have…

Marshall Field's Windows Prepping For Big Holiday Reveal

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The window you see above is on the Randolph Street side.  The one below is on the State Street side.  Both of them are currently dark with the message:  Pardon our appearance.  Something magical is in store.  And...being good Chicagoans, we all know what that is:  the big reveal of the Marshall Field's Christmas windows.  The one below shows the 'Santa' theme that they've used in year's past and...unfortunately, doesn't include Uncle Mistletoe. 

I posted photos of the windows being prepped last year - just in early November 2016.  Here's the photos.  And here's a photo from the morning of November 9th, 2015 - the very day they opened for public viewing.  Here's photos of the 'coming soon' windows in 2014


Let's all hope they don't make the mistake they made back in 2015 when we got NYC's 'sloppy seconds' where they re-used Macy's NYC window displayShame

What else is a shame?  That they don't really use Uncle …

Christmas Lights Installation In Chicago - 2017

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It's - beginning - to - look - a - lot - like - Christmas....  At least if you walk down Randolph Street outside of the Daley Center.  I took this photo on a recent walk and you can see the guys in the bucket trucks stringing little white twinkle lights on the Ginko trees that are perched in the raised beds right along Randolph.  I covered this same thing the past few years.

In 2016, the lights went up in early October.
And in 2015, the lights went up in September.

So, the trend continues to creep back towards Halloween.    And, I for one, don't consider this Christmas creep.  They don't keep them on once the installation is done.  Let's just count this as flat out good weather planning, right?

Late Fall Crimson King Update

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Back in July, we added a Crimson King Maple tree to one of the far back corners of our #newoldbackyard after finding it on sale at Menards.  It was the ninth tree we planted this season and the final one added to the arboretum before the summer heat hit.  I planted this one pretty late - in mid-July - and then we were hit with a pretty severe drought through most of August and September. 

The Crimson King is a purple-leafed Maple tree with shallow roots that doesn't give much of a show in the fall, but in exchange, gives a nice contrasting color most of the summer.  Nat's folks have a big one up on Twin Lakes that I've admired and that's part of the reason why we planted this one back here.

I'm posting this photo so I can revisit this tree in the Spring when it *hopefully* comes back to life with some new leaf buds.  This is now located kind of behind the big trampoline that Nat bought for the kids, so it has been somewhat out of sight, out of mind. 

But, despite …

Great Big Tiki at Polynesian

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We walked from the Grand Floridian to the Polynesian one morning recently for breakfast at Kona Cafe and on that walk, we came across this large Tiki.  He is outside one of the Longhouses, just a bit west of the Grand Ceremonial House.  In what is seemingly a random location.  But, he is big.  And angry looking.  And something that makes your stay at the Poly just a little.bit.more special. 

I've written about the Tiki Room at DLR here.  And I've posted photos of some of the other art at the Polynesian including this painting and this print that we picked up in Boutiki.

Hey! Jim Gaffigan Was In Town

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And...belly laughs all around.  Hot pockets, too.

2017 Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Map

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I've written a few times about Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party down at the Magic Kingdom in the past.  In 2015, I posted a few photos of Halloween pins and a video of the Sanderson Sisters.  I also posted a photo of a Christmas ornament - yes Christmas - that was a Mickey-shaped pumpkin.  And, finally, that same year, we picked up a few 'limited edition' pins from the party and I shared a photo of those.    This year, I'll place this year's map here in my diary to remember what things looked like and where the trick-or-treat locations were located.  You can see those below. 

This isn't the first Parks map that I've posted.  You can see more from Disneyland/Sea Tokyo here.  And the full archive of maps-specific posts here


Boo to you!

Quick Visit to NYC - SoHo

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Just like my recent trip to the Bay Area, I spent all of about 24 hours in New York recently.  The entirety of it between Newark Airport and offices and a hotel in SoHo.  That photo above, is the view I had for an afternoon, which was pretty nice.  Back when I was working at Google and would occasionally travel to NYC, I never got below 15th Street, so this is a whole new territory for me being Downtown and all.  How cosmopolitan, eh?!?!

First Firing: New Fireplace

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We marked the evening fall temperatures lately with the maiden fire in our new fireplace recently.  I posted photos of this fireplace being built earlier on the blog back in March of this year, so you can see the location of this fireplace in that post.  I've posted a bunch of pieces on our various fireplaces over time that you can check out here.  
We loved our outdoor fireplace back in Elmhurst - especially during the fall - when we broke out the s'mores, so I'm thinking we'll get a lot of use out of this new one.  Here's a photo from seven years ago showing the kid's cousins toasting their marshmallows.  We didn't do any toasting this time, but there's still plenty of fall left, right?  And in this one?  We have a gas burner, so I don't have to round up kindling and work to get it started each time.

The Leslie Knope of Home Pizza Making

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I was visiting an Edelman office recently and sat down at someone's desk who happened to be traveling that day.  There wasn't much 'cubicle decor' as it were, but there was this mug.  And it is awfully sweet, isn't it?  The positivity of the message stuck with me all day: 
Be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do. Don't mind if I do.

Is Our Dawn Redwood Going To Make It?

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I went out in the #newoldbackyard to check on some of the trees we had planted this year recently and was surprised that MOST of them were doing just fine despite the almost drought-like conditions.  But the Dawn Redwood seems like it might be in trouble.  That's it above where you can see a lot of brown, yellow'd needles that have dropped off.  But, many of the 'tips' of the limbs are still green - see the photo below:

See the green needles on the far edges of the limbs?  So, there is *some* life in this thing, but did the drought get to the rest?  
I've seen another of these (or perhaps it was a Bald Cypress??) in the neighborhood that had all of it's needles drop, so while I'm concerned that the drought affected my dear Dawn Redwood, maybe it will be fine?  I'll be watching this one bud out early in the Spring and will - of course - report back on it here.

Checking In On My Office Succulent - Fall 2017

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Back in August of 2016 (14 months ago), I posted a photo of my office succulent.  You should go look at that photo here to get a sense for the growth.  Above, you see a photo of what it looks like today.  It has gone, literally, berzerk.  This started from some cuttings of a co-worker's succulent and now has clearly outgrown it's pot.  Not to mention the soil has likely outlived its useful life, right? 

I'm going to bring in a few little pots and some succulent soil and see if I can again replicate the success I had with cuttings on this original version to grow a few more.  If you look closely, you'll see that there are quite a few little buds on the main stems that I can cleave off and use to start entirely new plants, I think.

Buzz Lightyear Mickey Head Disney Pin

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One of the pin-types that I trade for at the parks are these Mickey head-shaped ones that you can see above.  This one, in particular, is of Buzz Lightyear, but they have them in a bunch of designs like cast-member outfits and various characters.  This one is the second of these that I've featured here in this shape, the first of which was this Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas

The King of the Ball Tossers loves him some Buzz Lightyear - in fact - he uses "To Infinity...and Beyond!" as a rallying cry for just about everything he does.  Jump into the pool?  To Infinity and beyond!  Go down the stairs?  To Infinity and beyond! 

But is the pin for him?  Nope.  Don't think so.  Going to go on *my* board, which I'm hoping we'll hang at some point in my home office. 


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…