Showing posts from 2018

Walt Disney on Animals

"What I have learned from the animal world, and what everyone will learn who studies it, is a renewed sense of kinship with the earth and all its inhabitants." - Walt Disney — Walt Disney Archives (@TWDCArchives) January 17, 2018
I've been thinking a lot lately about our #newoldbackyard and the critters that inhabit it and pass through it.  While there's been some bad experiences (Lizzie got skunk'd!), we've been trying to encourage some good experiences (with the feeders and what-have-yous).  With Spring just around the corner, my attention is going to shift to our first full season of gardening in our new house.  Hopefully, with the right plantings, we'll find even more friends visiting us - and we'll have that sense of kinship with the earth - like Walt says.

Holy Moly! Model Train Shop In the Old LaudryMat Spot

Via the Frankfort Station comes this news that there's a Lionel O Gauge Hobby Shop called Choo Choo Works that has sprung up in Frankfort.  That's cool and all.  But it is in the location of a place that was a big part of my childhood:  the (as I called it) Laundrymat. 

More photos here on Facebook via this guy and this guy who I believe are involved/own in the shop (and the custom car shop next door).

This is a weird collision of concepts and places that brings a HUGE smile to my face.  My Dad is smiling too, I bet.

Ready to Cut With The Rockwell Sonicrafter 4.2 Amp F80

I've had one of these Rockwell Sonicrafters for a number of years and I've found it pretty useful from time-to-time.  It isn't something that I pull out every time I tackle a project, but have been a specific set of applications that required *just* this tool. 

This year at Christmas, I was upgraded to the new version of the F80 that has 4.2 Amps and comes with this nifty hard-sided case.  My original one came in a cloth carrying bag and I pushed it to it's max, so this upgraded version is a welcome addition to my shop lineup.

You might be wondering...what do you do with an oscillating tool?  Welp, the fine folks at Rockwell have created this handy list of 10 things you can do with a Sonicrafter.

The F80 comes with a nice light to shine on your project and has two 'degrees' - meaning one setting is a narrow oscillation and the other is a wider oscillation.  Also, note... this is a corded tool.  But, it is a 10 foot cord, so you get some pretty good reach.


Simply Suet From Wild Birds Unlimited - In the Yard

Still going through some of the new birding-related supplies (like this fruit and seed bell) I was gifted this Christmas season and that includes today's post showing this other suet cake.  Like the hot pepper one that I posted last week, this one is from Wild Birds Unlimited.  The premise is the same:  make something that the birds will like (and need!) that the squirrels aren't interested in devouring down.  The hot pepper suet version takes a proactive approach:  adding something like red pepper that bothers the squirrels.  This one, takes the opposite approach:  strip everything else away but the rendered fat and the squirrels won't be that interested in it.  You can find this Simply Suet on the WBU site here

I haven't gotten around to putting the hot pepper version out yet and that's because since about the first of the year, this Simply Suet cake has survived in our feeder. a long time!  In fact, I found it on the ground one morning after the …

Lionel Tell-Tale Reindeer Christmas Car

When the 2017 Lionel catalog came out early in the year, like most years, I ended up pre-ordering a few items from TrainWorld that I knew would trickle in throughout the year.  That's what most often happens - starting around Halloween, the cars start to arrive.  But, just like last year, a car that has Christmas theme'ing arrived in

Here's the post from last February showing the Buddy the Elf boxcars that arrived late.  This year's late arrival is the car you can see above:  a Tell-Tale Reindeer Christmas Car.

If you look closely, you'll see that this is part of the "North Pole Central Lines" and is marked with "Reindeer Transport Express" on the sides along with some drawings of Christmas symbols like teddy bears, drums and a brass instrument.

So, you're probably wondering...what is a "Tell Tale" car?  Welp, it is a car with an animal inside that kind of 'ducks'.  In this case, it is a reindeer t…

Vintage Schlitz Mug - Antique Mall Find

Last week, I posted about our trip to the MAGA Antique Mall up in Lake Geneva and how we came across those vintage "Made in Japan" Poinsettia candle holders that we passed on.  Before we were asked to leave by the MAGA guy who runs the place (because...gasp! the boy was playing with some vintage toys!), I spotted this Schlitz glass mug.  They were asking $6 and this thing was H - E - A - V - Y!

I've posted a lot over the years about vintage Schlitz stuff, but this mug is a dead ringer for the big Schlitz pitcher that we bought at a flea market last summer. here for just a second.  And look at the bottom of that pitcher and the bottom of this glass.  Then look at the logo with the thin maroon line around the box.  And the white "The Beer that made Milwaukee Famous" font/mark.   This was totally released at the same time as that pitcher, right?  Had to be part of a set?  Like a tavern would place that pitcher on your table and four of these gl…

Plasticville Drug Store (Hardware and Pharmacy)

I was packing up my train stuff for the year (btw....we finally got around to putting out our Christmas Train, yeah!) and I came across this Plasticville Pharmacy and Hardware Store that I picked up at the 2017 Christmas Train Show in Wheaton.  This is a piece that we bought for $1 and goes along with the other items that I've already posted here including the Plasticville Town Hall, the Schlitz beer billboard, the American Flyer Lackawanna girder bridge and Lionel flag pole.  According to the fine folks at Tandem Associates - who have chronicled Plasticville - this piece you see above is the 1853 Tan Version.  From their site, we find out when this was released: Bachmann introduced the No. 1853 in 1974 in a Bicentennial box, they had redesigned the front wall that was now TAN in color. As you can see in the version I bought, there are two big open windows up front.  Turns out, those are for little cardboard inserts.  Again....Tandem comes to the rescue:
So, as they state, those…

Welcome to Illinois Historical Marker in Hebron

We took a drive one afternoon through the backroads to downtown Woodstock (or as Nat calls it 'Stars Hallow') and on Route 47 there were a series of signs that said "historical marker X Miles ahead" until we finally saw a sign that pointed to a turn-off where about 20 yards away, in the snow was this sign you see above.  You can see the little path that has been worn out to the sign and even footprints in the fresh snow, so I wasn't the first person to get out of their car to check out this sign/historical marker on this day. 

While Nat and the kids stayed in the car, I got out and walked closer.

Until I came to this:

The Historical Marker Database or HMDB (which is a pretty incredible site!), you can find all the details.  It was put up in 1982 but the sign calls out the fact that Nathaniel Pope fought for Illinois to have its northern border moved further north - which gave Illinois the City of Chicago and the 14 most northern counties (including Lake...which …

What do YOU do with Cutter Pans and Pizza Skin Transportation?

Here's a situation that I'm faced with at least a few times a year:  Make the dough for thin pizzas at home.  Do a cold rise overnight, take them out in the am and spread the skins on the pans.  Then, later in the day... pack up my gear, get in the car and head to someone's house (my Mom's, Nat's Mom's, etc).  Where we dress and bake and serve the pies.

With Detroit-style pizzas, that's a breeze.  There are a bunch of vendors who sell plastic lids that snap on to the blue steel pans that I use.  But, what about round cutter pans?  The ones I use are from Lloyd's Pans and have a 63-degree angle with just a shallow lip.  I press the dough into one of these and when it rises, it comes up to almost meet the edge of the dough.   At home, that's fine.  But what about transporting?  These things aren't the easiest to handle and there isn't a lid that I have on hand that works.  I've been recently using these black plastic dimpled serving trays

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace White Christmas Doll

Have a little acknowledgement to make:  I had never watched the movie 'White Christmas' until Nat and I were married and we were buying our own Christmas trees.  Was never on my radar.  But, in what has become a pretty strong holiday tradition, Nat puts this movie on our tv on 'Christmas tree Day' and we watch it as we bring the tree in the house, set it up in the stand and trim it together.  Welp...we usually don't trim it that much that first night - rather we prefer to let the branches fall/settle and then put most of the ornaments on the next night.

So, that's where this dollie comes in.  You can see him above that Bing Crosby as "Bob Wallace".  Funny isn't it?  But this is what the Babe came home with from the Pre-Christmas train show.  She saw it on one of the tables, liked it, then looked around for another hour or so and decided that she wanted it.  So we went back.

I always try to make the kids do their own haggling in situations like th…

Hot Pepper Suet - Christmas Birding Haul

Yesterday, I posted the first of a few birding related Christmas presents that the kids gifted to me this Christmas and today comes the next in the line:  a Hot Pepper Suet.  Yeah!  Hot Pepper. 
Turns out, birds don't have taste buds?  But squirrels do.  At least that's what this story on has to say.  As I mentioned in the post about the Christmas bird bell yesterday, we have squirrels like everybody else.  And they go after everything they can, including our suet cage.  
My hope here is to run a few squirrel-proof suets and hopefully *teach* the squirrels to buzz off?  They have short memories, I'm guessing, so who knows if it will work?!?

Christmas Haul: Mr. Bird's Christmas Fruit & Nut Bell

Right before New Year's, I mentioned that I got a new leaf blower for Christmas, but it wasn't all that I received.  Above, you see one of a few different birding-related gifts that the kids gave me.  This one is Mr. Bird's Fruit and Nut Christmas Bell.  From Duncraft's site, they can share with you all the little treats in this thing:
Contains pecans, sunflower seed, safflower seed, sunflower chips, peanuts, cherries, cranberries, raisins, apple and papaya. It has proven popular with birds AND squirrels, but so far, the baffle has worked and most of this bell is still in place despite the squirrels having figured out it exists.   I'll post some of the other bird-related items (including some squirrel-proof ones!) in the next few days, but we've had some good luck this winter attracting some of our feathered friends to our feeders and bath that are stationed right outside of our kitchen windows.  The kids eat breakfast and get to take in the little visitors mo…

Early Morning Back Porch Winter Visitor

There I was minding my own business early one morning recently reading on my phone when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed some movement out on the back porch.  I looked up and saw this guy's head peeking out from behind a post.  Those pointy ears and his bright coat told me he wasn't a coyote.  He was there for just an instance.  Then off he went down the stairs.  

I shot up and made my way to the window to see where he was heading.  After some frollicking in the snow, he made his way into the neighbor's yard and disappeared.  

Nat tells me that she's come across a similar fox last fall up there - so he's a known neighborhood member.  Turns out...they don't attack dogs.  So they have that going for themselves...

Vintage Napco Poinsettia Christmas Candle Holders

Up at the Lake Geneva Antique Mall ( Trump Country, FYI.  MAGA and all that what-have-yous are involved.  Also, I think it means that Nat might not let us go back.  Also, the fact that the guy asked us to leave because the King of the Ball Tossers was touching toys.  Imagine that!  Toys!), I came across this pair of Poinsettia candle stick holders.  They're marked Napco 1957 on the bottom and have what I assume is a "Made in Japan" sticker that has been smudged pretty harshly.

You can see the marks in the photo below.

One note:  this did NOT come home with us.

I didn't particularly love them.  And we have just gone through a Christmas season where most of our vintage Christmas collection was relegated to an upper shelf in our green room up front where nobody - including me - could see them.  They brought me little joy - and were a pain to unwrap/re-wrap after the season had passed.  Not to mention that Nat had purged about half of the pieces - that weren&#…

Our Christmas Tree V2 - 2017 Edition

Last week, I posted a photo of one of Christmas trees that we had up in our green room.  As I mentioned in that post, this year we had two inside Christmas trees.  Both bought from the Tammen Treeberry Farm down in Braidwood.

This tree wasn't a great looking tree, but it survived remarkably well in terms of staying green and alive.  You can kind of tell it is a bit off center and maybe not super symmetrical, but that's because we couldn't settle on a tree out in the tree farm.  We've historically preferred Fraser Firs - and that's what we had in the Green Room this year - but we've also had Douglas Firs in the past too.  In 2015, our first Christmas not in our own house, we had a Douglas

This tree, is a Douglas.  And it was not a great tree for lights and ornaments.  The needles were consolidated towards the very extremities.  That made it tricky and also made the tree look sparse at times.  
We ended up with a Douglas because everyone else in our party had a…

Bucky Badger Club Cheese - A King of Clubs Rival?

Those of you who have been following along on the blog know a few things about me:  I'm pretty passionate about pizza and gardening.  But also about Club Cheese.  Yeah...Club Cheese.  You might call it Cold Pack Cheese.  Or Cheese spread.  Or a 'tub of cheese'.  Here in Illinois, Merkt's rules the grocery store, but Trader Joe's sells something that is a bit more whipped than Club Cheese that they market under the label "Pub Cheese".  It is all good stuff.  And I'll eat a lot of any variety of the stuff that I come across at parties and social gatherings.  Also, I'll eat a lot of the stuff inside my very own house.

Pretzels, tortilla chips, pita chips.  I'm pretty agnostic when it comes to the vessel that I use to scoop up the club cheese and deliver it to my mouth.

But, I've had a few Club Cheese experiences that have allowed me to demonstrate a strong preference for a particular variety.

Sure, I still stay true to Merkts.  It *is* the m…

Face Cord of Firewood Ordered For the Season - Winter 2017/2018

Back in November, I posted a before/after set of photos of the pile of wood that I had partially chopped and stacked near our back door ahead of the winter season.  That pile of wood was made up of a series of logs that had been left behind by our tree guys when they cleared out a bunch of dying/scrub trees.  Think it was a blend of Walnut, Ash and Maple trees.

As the weather turned, we started to use the fireplace in our family room.  And use it.  And use it.   We went through the entire stack of firewood by Christmas.  So, I had to order some.

It is funny, the whole idea of ordering firewood make me felt pretty manly.  You know who else is a man?  I'm a man.

I hunted around for providers and settled on one that had a good mix of wood, plus they delivered and stacked.  Yeah...stacked.

I have fond memories of going over to my friend Matt's house on Saturdays during the fall when his Dad would be receiving his wood delivery.  We hauled and stacked it in their garage every year…

Update on our Christmas Amaryllis

About 10 days before Christmas, our amaryllis looked like this.  But on Christmas day?  It had bloomed!  All four ways.  It was a spectacular flower and as luck would have it, the final of the four buds opened on Christmas day.   That's a shot of the white/red beauty above.  There were four of these double petal stars for us to enjoy for a few weeks.  
You'll recall that this is the bulb that we picked up at Wannemakers and it was far outperforming the cheap one from Menards.  I'm really so pleased with how this - the $14 version one - worked out for us.  The Menards one ($3 one!), is still chugging along, but it is all green shoots and no stem so far.

Next year, the Babe already has plans to get after these things at scale.  And by 'scale', we're talking about 4 or 5 of them.  She's thinking that in addition to us trying a couple different ones, we can work on a project together and be in a position of gifting them already planted around St. Nick's Da…

Our Christmas Tree - V1 - 2017 Edition

Every year for the past eight years, I've been documenting our Christmas trees here on the blog and it has been fun to look back.  I'm not talking about the front yard trees, however.  Sure, I've been doing that, too, but this post is about the trees we're had in our house.   Here's the post showing our tree in 2016 - our last one in Equation Boy/Man's house.  Above you see something that I've labeled V1 of our tree, because this year, we had two trees.  This one, in the green room, is a Fraser Fir and is adorned with vintage glass ornaments that we've acquired over the years at garage sales and estate sales.  Also has an angel that we scored at a yard sale up in Michigan.  I'll post a photo of the other tree from our Family Room later this week.

Here's our 2016 tree - our last one in Elmhurst.
Here's our tiny tree from 2015 at Equation Boy/Man and Vic's house.
Here's the tree in 2014 at our old house.
Here's the post of our 2013…

Miter Saw Table - Progress Step 2

Yesterday, I posted a photo of the set of legs that I had built that were the beginning of my new miter saw station.  Today, you can see the two frames that I built that will go on top/in the middle of those set-ups.  The leaner one on the left is the one that will go on the bottom and be the bottom 'shelf' and the wider one on the right will be the shelf that the bottom of the saw sits on top of.  There's another layer/level of platform that will sit at the very top that will be even with the table that is at the top of the saw. 

Each of these were spec'd to be put together with pocket screws, so I went ahead and followed those directions.  You can see the pocket screw holes below:

Let's call this step 2:  the bases are built out.

Miter Saw Table - Progress Step 1

This winter break, I've embarked on a few projects to get my shop up and running in the new house.  The first project is a mitre saw stand.  I figure that if I get my saw up off the floor onto a stand, I can then begin to make a few other tables/benches to host the other tools and what-have-yous that I've collected over the years.  I have two Christmas's worth of tools to unpack and set up and actually use.

I'm using this plan from the Home Depot with a few modifications including the addition of this Kreg Precision Trak and Stop Kit, so that will require me to use a thicker fence than what is spec'd in the plans.  I also think I'm going to add a dust shroud and dust collection near the end.  But, the first few steps in the plans - which focus on the legs and the base pieces, I'm going straight by the plans.  In the photo above, you can see the four legs that I put together with 2x4's and a 2x6.  The plans call pocket screws, so that's what I used …

Electrical Water Pageant Transportation Card - WDW

Starting the year out the right way:  celebrating vintage Walt Disney World with this Electrical Water Pageant Transportation Collector Card. 

I've posted about these in the past.  Here's one from the Friendship Boat that we received leaving the Yacht Club dock as we headed towards Hollywood Studios.  And here's a post from December of 2016 (can't say "last year" any more?!?!) showing a set we received from a captain on our way to the Wilderness Lodge

This one is kinda odd, isn't it?  I isn't exactly transportation, right?  You can't ride on it?  I guess it does move, but if that was the only requirement, they'd offer cards for things like horses that you can't ride or some of the other maintenance vehicles?  Maybe they do?!?!