Showing posts from 2017

Checking In On My Office Succulent - Fall 2017

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

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

Image 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

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

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

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

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

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. 


Rear Foundation Planting Beds In New Backyard Landscape Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.  …

My Back Pages

Crimson flames tied through my ears, rollin' high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads using ideas as my maps
"We'll meet on edges, soon, " said I, proud 'neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now
Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth, "rip down all hate, " I screamed
Lies that life is black and white spoke from my skull, I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now
Girls' faces formed the forward path from phony jealousy
To memorizing politics of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists, unthought of, though somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now
A self-ordained professor's tongue too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty is just equality in school
"Equality, " I spoke the word as if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now
In a soldi…

Disneyland Rose By Jackson & Perkins

For our anniversary this year, we were gifted this beautiful rose bush from Nat's folks.  And at first look, it is just a nice looking peach/orange rose plant.  We don't have any roses and have never cared for one, but we've always admired them.  So, at first blush, it was a nice, simple gift.  But take a closer look at the tag and this suddenly becomes a really thoughtful gift:

Yeah!  A Disneyland Rose.  Or a Disneyland Floribunda Rose from Jackson & Perkins to be precise. 

I actually didn't even know there *was* a Disneyland Rose.  But it is a perfect gift for us, right?  Hits us right where we swoon:  in between our love for all-things-Disney and gardening in our #newoldbackyard.  As I said:  thoughtful.  Gift giving isn't easy.  But when you find someone who is good at it, they continue to surprise and delight you over time.  There are people who are 'good' at the internet.  They post the right comments on Instagram.  They send you the right .gifs …

Menards Christmas Creep - 2017

Almost one year ago to the day, I posted a photo of Menards Christmas Creep showing up at the Melrose Park location.  I remarked last year that they had most of their Christmas stuff up, but not the full 'Enchanted Forest' and I was surprised. 

This year?  I'm no longer going to the Melrose Park location, but instead now head to Bolingbrook most often.  And that has the old store layout.  And that means that they still have the Halloween stuff up in the seasonal section, but they've converted a lot of the patio furniture area into Christmas decorations that you see above.   It is mostly lights, but there are a few blowmolds scattered around.  No inflatables, though. 

I only had the King of the Ball Tossers with me and had him strapped into the cart, so there wasn't running around the aisles like there was last year

Here's some photos of Menards Christmas last year.
Here's a post from Menards Christmas 2015.   And their Christmas Village from that same year

Travel Wisconsin Fall Colors Campaign

Down in the bowels of Union Station these days you'll find this hourglass and floor/wall takeover from Travel Wisconsin encouraging all of us to get up to 'see the fall color before the leaves fall'.  The hourglass is clever and in terms of size it is pretty big and grabs your attention as you leave the Great Hall and head to your platforms, so it seems like a nice placement. Really seems like Wisconsin is trying to horn in on the whole Pure Michigan thing, right?  Now that I'm not a Michigander any longer (or Michigander by lake house), I'm rooting for Wisconsin.  Cute campaign all around

Turkey Burgers Are Back at Egg Harbor

You guys!  There is such good news for non-breakfast-food-eating crowd that shows up at Egg Harbor these days.  Turkey Burgers are back!    
You're probably muttering..."welp...I didn't even know they were gone?"  
And that's normal.  Because you eat eggs and pancakes and other breakfast what-have-yous like a normal person.  But me?  Not so much.  More than a year ago, Egg Harbor took the turkey burger off their menu.  I was left with....oatmeal.  
Which is fine.  But it always felt like a plan b to me.

But now?  I'm waltzing into Egg Harbor like this these days:

Glas Cheddar Cheese Spread

We stopped at the Farmer's Market in Woodstock on a recent Saturday as part of a trip to Twin Lakes.   We were walking to lunch across the square that looks a lot like Stars Hollow (according to Nat!) and while many of the flower and produce stands/vendors didn't make me think twice, when I came across a booth that was selling club cheese, well....I was going to stop.  
Turns out, it was a booth from the folks at Glas All Naturals Cheese Spreads.  At the booth, they had a variety of cheeses including the one you see above that I bought: Cheddar.  
Glas packages their cheese spreads in glass jars (with *that* name, it seems like a natural fit!) and a metal spin-on lid.  It wasn't cheap at $14, but I figured I'd give it a shot and see what it was like.  

You can see on the lid, they state 'keep refrigerated', but during the transaction, they also stressed the freezable nature of this particular club cheese.  They said that we could put it in the freezer and it w…

We Have A Black Squirrel In Our #NewOldBackyard

Everyday for the past week or so, we've had this Black Squirrel visiting our yard where he is gorging himself on the acorns from our Oak trees and the big green/black walnuts from our Walnut trees.   He usually isn't alone so when you see him in contrast to the normal grey squirrels, he really stands out. 

Grey Squirrels I see all over.  But a Black Squirrel?  From Wikipedia:
The overall population of black squirrels is small when compared to that of the gray squirrel. The black fur color can occur naturally as a mutation in populations of gray squirrels, but it is rare. The rarity of the black squirrel has caused many people to admire them, and the black squirrels enjoy great affection in some places as mascots.  According to this story on DNAinfo, they're about 1 in 10,000.   I also just submitted an observation to and noted all the nut-bearing trees we have on the property. 

Right now, Black Squirrel...we're cool.  But Halloween is coming and th…

Spare Cedar Stock For Raised Beds

I have had this load of cedar boards and planks of various lengths and widths in my garage for almost two months just waiting for either me hauling them to the curb (my inclination) or for inspiration to strike for a new project.   They're leftovers from our fence installation and include some 2x4's a few 4x4's and some fence pickets/planks.   With all the thinking going into our #newoldbackyard this fall (see this post about pizza oven planning, this post for 'entrance' planning, and this post about the planning for a water feature for some of the latest on #newoldbackyard landscape design), I've been out there looking at how the sun interacts with the yard to see if I could find the best spot for a permanent vegetable garden and maybe even a greenhouse/conservatory/solarium.  In addition to the pure location planning, we've been thinking of putting in a full irrigation system, so knowing where and what the garden looks like/lays out like is important so …

Lionel Old St. Nick Operating Billboard #6-82002

Yesterday, I posted a photo of an operating log dump car that I picked up for a Christmas present this year and mentioned that I scored a few operating accessories for the boys.  Above, you see one of those accessories in the Old St. Nick Operating Billboard.  This is the first time I've bought an operating billboard from Lionel but I know the basics:  there are two scenes that alternate in between by the rotating of the slats on the billboard. 

The official product listing on show the two scenes and you can see them on the back of the box below.  For each of the boys that I've bought one of these for, I've been buying them boxcars/operating cars and/or track pieces/bridges/switches every year since they were born, so I figure they have enough rolling stock.  To keep their attention, they need operating accessories, right?

And, like me, they only haul out their layout for the holidays and keep a holiday train so the St. Nick piece seems appropriate, right?