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Showing posts from January, 2018

Motor Cruiser WDW Transportation Card

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I've posted about Walt Disney World Transportation Cards in the past here on the blog.  They're cards that are given out by Transportation cast members (boat captains, bus drivers, monorail pilots and what-have-yous) to guests at seemingly random intervals.  In December of 2016, I posted about how we scored a pile of them from a boat captain on our way back to the Wilderness Lodge.  And in August of last year, I posted a Friendship Boat card that one of the kids was given on a ride to the Hollywood Studios.  And most recently, on January 1st of this year, I posted a photo of the coolest (at least to me!) Transportation Card:  the Electrical Water Pageant

Today, I'm sharing another card in the series:  the Motor Cruiser.  This is the boat that takes people to/from the Magic Kingdom and what I think might be my favorite Disney Resort Hotel - The Wilderness Lodge.   And this might be my favorite boat?  It has these big windows that they usually have wide open and there is …

Wall-Hung Workbench - Quite a Looker!

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I came across this wall-hung workbench on the Wood Archivist and it stopped me in my tracks. I posted last week on my link blog the minute I saw it.  I was/am smitten.  I didn't want to lose the link.  Just look at it - she's a beaut, right?  Those curves. The built in lighting.  The fact that it doesn't hog floorspace?  The built-in dust collection system? All of it.  Awesome.  The full plans (or call it an article showing some of the steps and the cutlist) are here.  My shop right now is just a 'space', but that is ending soon.  Have plans to add a wall and a door to define the space.  Then, the first step is to finish my miter saw table.  After that, I'm going to turn my attention to a few benches.

I currently have a bench that is satisfactory, but needs an upgrade.   I posted about the first (and existing) bench here on the blog back in 2010.  Still looks the same.  Functional, but kinda basic.   I also need a secondary table for some other bench tools lik…

Far Southwest Corner - Landscape Plan including Hemlocks

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This is the fourth in the series of different snapshots of our emerging landscape plan for our #newoldbackyard.  The other three are here and are worth visiting to get a sense for the overall plan.   Here's a look at part of the southern fence line.  Includes a set of hydrangeas, some hostas and ferns, allium and some Canadian Hemlocks.  I got a little bit of a headstart on this section last Fall when I planted somehydrangeas that we were given by Nat's Mom.  Here's a look at part of the rear foundation planting areas.  This one is right outside our breakfast nook/kitchen.  It includes some grasses, boxwoods, a rhododendron and some hostas.  This is right where our bird feeders are located, so the grasses are perfect.  Also, I harvested some hostas/ferns from our neighbor's house down the street late last season and got those started in their spots.  Hoping they'll come back this Spring.  Unfortunately, I also planted our Disneyland Rose there, so it might need to …

Harold Ramis Groundhog Day Letter @ Woodstock Theater

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Back in October, I posted a photo of me and Lizzie outside of Ned's Corner in downtown Woodstock (errr...as Nat calls it:  Stars Hollow) right outside the square.  Ned's Corner is - of course - from the movie Groundhog Day which was filmed in Woodstock.  With our trips up to Wisconsin, we've been finding ourselves spending time more-and-more in Woodstock.  It isn't a far trip and the square is quite cute.  They have a nice Farmer's Market - which we visited this summer and bought this Glas Club Cheese - and they decorate the place quite nice for Christmas.  
On a recent trip, we went to the movie theater there called the Woodstock Theater.  It is part of the Classic Cinemas chain, which I've written about extensively over the years.  Classic Cinemas is - by far - my favorite movie theater chain for a variety of reasons.  The York Theater in Elmhurst is part of Classic Cinemas and if you've read the blog over the years, you know I've posted quite a bit …

Red-Bellied Woodpecker Visits Our #NewOldBackyard

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Just a few days ago, I posted a photo of the Illinois Bird Field Guide that Nat gave me for Christmas and today I can share that is already paying dividends!  We had a visitor to our suet feeder that I was able to get that grainy photo you can see above.  There's a screen up in that window and I didn't want to get too close for fear of scaring him away, so you're going to have to deal with the Zapruder film-version of my woodpecker.  
But..that's him up there.  I've posted about woodpeckers before here on the blog last summer when I showed our tailprop suet feeder back in Elmhurst here.  But for the first time, we're able to identify our visitor - which is very exciting!  (at least to me...)
I snapped that photo before the bird flew off and then scurried over to my office to open up the field guide to figure out who it was.  As you can see in the photo above, he has a red head, right? 
Welp...that would be a big tell!  He's NOT a red-headed woodpecker.  No…

Ted's Montana Grill - My Favorite Chain (Right Now)

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Can we talk for a minute about Ted's?  Ted's Montana Grill.   Have you been?  This place might be my favorite chain restaurant in the world.  We don't go there very often - in fact I bet I've only been to Ted's about 10 times total - but it has quickly risen to the top of the rankings for me.  
Here's my love letter to Ted's:
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Dear Readers:
If you haven't been to Ted's Montana Grill, give it a try in your local restaurant rotation.  Sure, when we're going out for burgers we go to the Country House far more than we go to Ted's.  But, when it comes to chain restaurants (Ted's has close to 50 locations by my count, so it qualifies as a chain, right?
Why do I love it?  Simple:
1.  Crushed ice 2.  Wikkistx 3.  The bathroom setup
Let's start with the crushed ice you serve with your water, sodas and Arnold Palmers.  Crushed ice.  Such a nice touch.  Why don't more restaurants serve crushed ice?  Not sure, but it must have something …

Sunrise View from the Lakeview Bedroom (Name Pending)

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I keep my phone on the nightstand and use it as my alarm clock.  Because of that, it was handy one morning that we were up in Wisconsin, so Nat grabbed it and snapped this photo of the sunrise view (#nofilter) from the Lakeview Bedroom (Name Pending).  I say 'pending' because there's just one room that seems to have a name up there:  the Pine Needle Room.  That was named, I think, by Vic.  But, it has stuck!  That's the room that the Babe normally sleeps in, but this - the Lakeview Bedroom (Name Pending) is the room where Nat and I sleep when we're up there.  The windows face straight east, so we get great morning views full of colors that you can kind of see in the photos of the early morning fox visitor I posted a few weeks back.  
And that really is a #NoFilter photo.  For realz.

My Field Guide to Birds of Illinois

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As you can kind of tell from some of the 'Christmas Haul' posts here on the blog, it was a birding-kind-of-holiday in our house.  I posted about the two kinds of suet (simply and hot pepper), the fruit and nut bell and just yesterday, I posted a photo of the water wiggler for our bird bath.  With all those treats to try to lure birds to our feeders and backyard, Nat was thoughtful enough to also get me this Field Guide to Birds of Illinois from the American Birding Association.  We've already put it to work by documenting some of the feathered friends who have come to our feeders.  I'll post some side-by-side photos and the descriptions of the birds from this book in the next few days.

Here's a look at a spread in the book for a two woodpeckers.


I really like that this is an Illinois-specific Field Guide because it narrows down the searching we have to do to identify the species that are visiting.

Water Wiggler for our Bird Bath - Round 2

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We've had the same birdbath for a number of years now - it is a heated one that we can put out all year long.  I posted in November about how we put it out for the winter after I found it when I was unpacking part of our basement.  But, as part of the birding-related Christmas gifts, the kids also gave me a Water Wiggler.  This isn't the first one of these I've had - I posted about our first Water Wiggler here back in 2013 - but based on that experience, I wanted another one. 

For details on how/why it works, check out my old post here.    The biggest difference this time is that the bird bath is now directly adjacent to our feeder set-up.  In our old house, we hung a feeder where we could see the birds, but the bath was connected to the railing on our porch so it was easy to refill.  Those positions were in two different locations.  Now?  You can see that we've put the bath out just a few feet away from the feeders.  I think this isn't likely the final location f…

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 #WaltWednesdaypic.twitter.com/PpzodqQUL7 — 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

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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

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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.

This…

Simply Suet From Wild Birds Unlimited - In the Yard

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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.  Which....is a long time!  In fact, I found it on the ground one morning after the …

Lionel Tell-Tale Reindeer Christmas Car

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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 January...post-Christmas.

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

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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.  Seriously...click 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)

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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 Sciencing.com 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

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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

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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

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Up at the Lake Geneva Antique Mall (which...is 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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 …