Showing posts from April, 2017

Tawashi Scrubbing Brush - From Tokyo Fish Market

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.

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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…

Tokyo DisneySea Pin

Over the weekend, I posted some photos from my visit to Tokyo DisneySea that showed off the Easter decorations and a bunch of the Easter-related merchandise available in the stores at both DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland.  I bought a bunch of that Easter stuff, but I also picked up some other items including, of course, some pins.

I ended up getting a pin for Tokyo DisneySea the park itself as one of them.  You can see that pin above.  Once we get our pin boards out, this will join its brethren in the 'places' section that mostly features Resorts/hotels like the Contemporary pin in posted at the beginning of April or the holiday-themed resort pins we picked up on our 2015 Christmas trip.  This might be the first park-specific pin that we've bought, although I believe we've traded for some park-specific pins over time.

You can see the full post archives of various Disney pins here on the blog and once we get the pin boards and full pin sets out of storage, I'll tr…

Hosta Venusta - Emerging 2017

This is the third in a series of posts showing off the foster-care plants that we planted in Nat's Mom's garden over the past few years that she has helped care for while we've been without a yard of our own.  First was the post and photo of the giant hosta that came up for the second year.  Then, yesterday, I posted about the peonies that look to be re-established after a rough first year.

Today, you'll have to look hard at the photo above, but the green shoots sticking out amongst the scattered, dried Bald Cypress leaves/needles, are from our Hosta Venusta.  Last year, at the Elmhurst Garden Club Plant Sale, I picked up a fern and this miniature hosta.  It is billed as being one of the very few miniature hosta varieties that can actually be planted directly in the ground and come back each year.  I've had other miniature hostas before and they've never survived year-over-year - either in the ground or even in a pot that I brought inside our (unheated garage)…

Nat's Peonies Emerging in 2017 - Via Foster Care In Naperville

Yesterday, I posted a photo of our foster-care hosta out in Naperville, but it isn't the only plant we have in my in-laws yard.  There are a few others including an Ostrich Fern, a miniature hosta and this peony plant above.  This peony plant was given to Nat by her Aunt from Tennessee, I believe and has it's roots in one of their Great Aunt's gardens from years ago.  Back in 2010, I posted this piece about these very ferns and their origin story.

I've covered Nat's peonies over the years here on the blog.  You can see the full peony archive here.

These are being fostered by Nat's mom and after being transplanted late in the summer in 2015, had a pretty rough year last year.

Nat's mom is a pretty good gardener and thanks to her, we had these beauties survive.  We brought them over in the middle-of-summer heat (that's when we moved out!), and she got them in the ground and kept them wet as they tried to establish themselves.  I wasn't that hopefu…

Our Foster Hosta - 2017

Spring time always brings some anticipation of watching our perennials breaking through the ground and beginning to show themselves.  Starting last year, that was occurring both at Equation Boy/Man's house (where we are living) and Nat's folk's house (where we had placed our orphan'd plants).

I chronicled our orphaned hosta last year starting with their emergence and then followed up with a full glory photo later in the season.

Recently, we were out in Naperville and I went to check out the fosters.  Sure enough:  they're coming back in year two.  Above, you can see the buds of the giant hosta emerging in the middle of the photo.   The smaller hostas as well as the ferns and peony plants are all coming up and I'll post about those soon.

But, now the question becomes:  when do we move them?  This post indicates that there's 2 shots per year: early Spring and later in the Fall.  It looks like we'll miss the Spring window, but should we try in the fall?…

Easter Shopping at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea

As I posted yesterday, Easter is a (surprising, at least to me) big deal at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.  Lots of displays around the parks, but the stores are loaded with Easter-related items.  It wouldn't be a trip to a Disney Park without buying stuff you don't really need, right?  And holiday-related items for my kids?  Couldn't pass some of this stuff up.

Here's a look at some of the displays in the stores including "Grand Emporium" at Tokyo Disneyland (which is the big store on their version of MainStreet USA) and the Emporio - the version at DisneySea.

They have a big display of towels in different sizes featuring Mickey and Minnie in their Easter best. Pay attention to those outfits.  More on that down below.

They also have these pretty awesome eggs in a package.  Inside of each of those are little candies.  You can see the display in the bottom left of the photo.

There's a bunch of pins and post-it notes that are all egg-shaped or egg…

Happy Easter from Tokyo DisneySea

One of the things that I was surprised by was how prominent the Easter holiday was present at the Disney Parks in Tokyo.  Based on this story from 2015, the idea of celebrating Easter is fairly new to Japan and brands were just starting to package their products with special Easter packaging.  Fast forward two years and you'll see that they've totally embraced Easter at the Disney Parks!

From from 2015:
With Japan easily getting interested in foreign holidays, and celebrating them in their own unique way, it is surprising to notice, that Easter has so far not being targeted by brands and companies as one would suggest it might do. DisneySea went all-in on Easter.  And they did a really spectacular job!
Most of the Easter-related displays were in the part of the park called American Waterfront, so perhaps having most of this stuff displayed there was purposeful?  They also had this big display at the entrance to the park, for all to see.

Here's a look at the …

DisneySea Caravan Carousel

As I mentioned yesterday in a post, I spent a few days recently in Tokyo.  Part of that trip included an escape to see both Disney parks located there of course.  Yeah...I went to Tokyo.  And I went to their two Disney parks.  The first park I visited was Tokyo DisneySea.  Pretty incredible place and unlike any other Disney Park I've ever been to.  Over a bunch of posts, I'll share more of that experience including some of the things I saw and rode.  But for now?  Take a look at their Carousel.  It is back in the far corner of the park in the Arabian Coast land that features the Agrabah Marketplace and flying carpets from Aladdin.

But that carousel?  First, it is two stories tall.  And then they've built this beautiful building around it.  Just magnificent.

Here's the ride listing from the official Tokyo DisneySea site.  They list both the ride duration (2.5 minutes), the capacity (190 persons) and the number of mounts (126).  That's something that the domestic p…

My Lost in Translation Moment(s)

I experienced the one that I think everyone likely does:  having to raise the shower head up to actually my height.

But, also this one:  a sky lounge.   We were up there on a Sunday night and it was still packed.  Couples, groups.  And us.  Three American dudes and a Canadian.  I had 3/4 of a beer before I had to call it a night.  Loads of fun and quite a few deposits into the memory bank.

Jedi Training - Badge

The Bird scored this "Future of the Force" badge after she went through Jedi Training.  Her older sister?   Not interested.  Well...that's not true.  She *was* interested.  If it was a private exercise with no one looking.  And on her own terms.  If that was the case?  She'd be all over it.

But this should not come as a surprise if you've been following along.  This is the same exercise we went through when I posted about our visit to Raglan Road at Disney Springs.  The Bird danced on stage.  The Babe?  Not so much.

Drywall Getting Hung - New Old Farmhouse

The last construction update that I shared on our New Old Farmhouse was way back in early March when I showed the audio/visual 'chases' that were put in the walls to carry all the various cable-ing back to the basement.   Well, a lot has happened since then.  But let's start with what came after the chases.  The crew put in insulation.  We had a pretty cool mix of foam, batts and blown-in.  Different product for different applications.  As soon as the insulation went in, the street noise went to almost zero.  It was nuts.  After that?  What you see in this photo.  The drywall was hung.

For the first time, the rooms took shape and we could get a sense for the light values in each room.  Exciting stuff.  If you're following along with Nat on the insta (as the kids say these days, right?), then you know where we are today and what's been done since I snapped this photo above.  Exciting times!

Also, for those following along at home, I've covered other drywall pr…

Horse-Drawn Blue Carriage On Main Street USA

We were in Magic Kingdom recently and on our way out one morning, we saw this 2 horse coach charging right up Main Street USA.  This is a vehicle that we had never seen before.  And a few quick searches on the Googles, I think I've discovered that it is a rare sight?

I've written in the past about meeting the Main Street USA Characters.  The latest of those posts featuring Bea Starr - who is the Chairwoman of the Main Street USA Thespian Society - is here from earlier this year.

But this is the first time, I think, I've written about the vehicles of Main Street USA.  Turns out, it is a pretty common topic for various Disney World outlets to cover.  Here's Touring Plans page.  Here's MousePlanet's vehicle page.

Just peek at this wiki listing of various Main Street USA vehicles.  They even have photos.

The horse-drawn vehicles in that post and in the official Disney World posting about Main Street USA vehicles show the usual horse-drawn trolley cars that you…