Showing posts from March, 2018

Newcastle Coaster Added to Collection

Here's #26 in the [Coaster Collection].  It is a Newcastle Brown Ale coaster that I picked up almost twenty years ago.  Yeah.  Seriously.  It was in a pile of stuff that I just went through that was from my post-graduation Europe trip.  For some reason, I brought this coaster home.  I'm using it on my desk at home right now, but as with most of these disposable coasters, they don't last long.   Hence, the chronicling of them here on the blog.

Revisiting The New, Ideal Raised Bed Design

Back last summer, I posted this photo of a set of raised beds that I thought were particularly well designed.  Since then, I've been thinking about what it would take to pull them off and I recently came across this image - which based on the watermark is from the Family Handyman, but I found on some weird, scraped site.  I went and found the original article - which you can read here.  There's a self-watering component at play here that utilizes a perforated drain pipe and a pond liner that I'm not sure is something that I want to get into/deal with.  But, rest of the design seems to indicate the direction that the construction can take.  There are a few changes that I'm going to make - starting with using 2x4's for the 'legs' as well as the cross members.  Right now, I'm thinking that notching the legs to accept the cross member is the right approach. 

I also want to make these much taller than they're showing, but with a similar 'false floor&…

I am a city child - Eloise at The Plaza

On a recent trip to NYC, I ended up spending some time in Midtown.  And found myself close to The Plaza Hotel.  I, of course, couldn't help myself and went to find the Eloise painting that is adjacent to the Palm Court.  You can see that above.  I didn't stop for tea in the Palm Court, but did wander down to the lower level and perused the Eloise store - the sign you can see below.

I'm more of an Eloise guy versus a Home Alone 2 guy when it comes to the Plaza.  But, the folks running the hotel sure give Home Alone 2 a little bit of billing, but not nearly as much as the Eloise story.  Who knows...maybe one day, we'll be like Charlie Sheen.  But without the trashing of the room.  And the tiger blood.  And the whole #winning thing?  So, maybe nothing like Charlie Sheen.  Rather...(or Rawther as Eloise would say) more like just a guy who stays at the Plaza in the Eloise suite.  Bucket list stuff, right?

Think this might be my fourth 'historic hotel' that I've…

Door Acquired for Basement Workshop Project

Some good news here in terms of the basement shop project.  Thanks to the fine folks at Oakley Home Builders,  I've acquired the door.   The hang up for the entire project was the door and the thing about the door was that I really wanted it to match the existing storage room door that was already in place in the basement.  The storage room door is right at the base of the stairs and my shop is going to be just to the left of it.  The doors to the two rooms are going to be just a few feet apart (but set at 90 degrees), so it seemed important to have the doors match. 

I posted back at the end of February about the shop being 'pressurized' and trying to figure out a venting work-around.  And this door is the primary reason.  It is an exterior door that is sealed all the way around.  I wanted to use a sealed door for dust control, but am fearful that if we built the shop too 'tight', it would act like a balloon and make it hard to close the door/blow out part of the …

Outdoor Electric Patio Heater. Yea or Nay?

I was perusing the outdoor furniture section of Menards over the weekend and sandwiched in between a pair of these weird Lazy Boy-style chairs (cammo one?  Seriously?) was this electric patio heater from Optimus.  It stands up on pole, has a football-sized heating element and a pretty heavy/sturdy base to (hopefully) avoid tip-overs.   Down near the base of the heater was this product/price detail:

And here's the online product listing.  Description reads:
Imagine being in your garage, in your four season porch or on your patio and enjoying warmth as the weather turns cold. This Indoor-Outdoor Standing Infrared Patio Heater with Remote Control will do the trick. It is made primarily from steel and functionally rainproof. It’s dominant color is black and the quartz heating elements provide infrared sun-like warmth which does not get blown away by wind, it heats you, not the air. It does not generate UV rays and operates silently. It employs a pull cord manual power switch or an in…

Sky Pencil Holly - Zone 5B Hardy?

I came across these Sky Pencil Holly at (that's where the photo above is from) and I found myself going down a Sky-Pencil-Holly-rabbit-hole to figure out if we could grow these in the Chicago Suburbs (Zone 5B).  The folks at Fast Growing Trees list them to be hardy down to zone 5B.  But the team at the Missouri Botanic Garden list them down to Zone 6

These things are super narrow and grow perfectly upright, so they have a lot of appeal to me.  But, I'm afraid that multiple sources (besides the folks who are selling them!) are concurring about Zone 6 hardiness.   Check out the video here:

In particular, I was thinking about them alongside the north property line, in front of the fence where our (eventual) walkway would direct people back.  Check out this area I've circled in red on our landscape plan.  It is a tight area that would call for something very slender, yet would provide a sense of 'entrance. 

These Sky Pencil Holly would be perfect,…

Elephant Ear Bulb For 2018 Patio Garden: Planted in Pot

Here's the last in a series (for now) of posts showing of some of the tubers/bulbs that I picked up on a trip to Menards.  First there was the "Night Queen" mini Dahlias.  Then I posted about the semi-cactus Firebird large Dahlias.  Today, I'm posting a photo of another perennial bulb that's an Elephant Ear.  "Black Magic" variety.  Colocasia Esculenta to be specific.  I stuck this one bulb in the large pot along with one of the Dahlias and based on the description, this one will grow quite tall - with leaves that are 7-9".  As you can see at the top of the photo, it references a 36" plant height, so that's what I'm aiming for this season.   And what drew me to it was the whole "Black Magic" purple thing going on.  I've historically grown purple sweet potato vines as the 'spill' in our pots and I like the color they add in a sea of green.

You can find out much more about this particular plant over on the Missouri…

Vuurvogel Firebird Semi-Cactus Dahlia Tubers - 2018

Yesterday, I posted a photo of some "Night Queen" Dahlias that I picked up and planted indoors recently.  Today, I'm sharing a photo of another set of 3 Dahlia tubers that came home with us, too.  This one is called "Vuurvogel" or Firebird Semi-cactus Dahlia. And while the "Night Queen" flowers are small (< 4"), these are much larger (~11") and have petals that are shaped quite differently.  Hence the whole "semi-cactus" thing.

What's a semi-cactus dahlia?  Glad you asked.  I asked the same question myself.  And found this answer from Gardeners World:
Some of the most spectacular dahlias are cactus and semi-cactus types. With their spiky blooms, they can trace their lineage back to a single surviving plant grown from a crate of tubers imported into the Netherlands in 1872.

Cactus and semi-cactus dahlias are some of the most eye-catching dahlias you can grow. Their star-like form means they stand up well to inclement weather…

Night Queen Dahlia Tubers - 2018

'Tis the season for Spring bulbs/tubers to go in the ground and as I've done in so many year's past, I'm giving it a go with Dahlias this Spring.  Starting all the way back in 2010, I've shared my adventures with Dahlia tubers.  I've planted them in pots/planters for our own yard and as gifts.  We've even bought and planted Dahlias of various types directly in the ground out front of our old house. 

And we've had limited luck with all of them.  But, still, we persist.  Why?  Because behind Peonies and maybe Allium, Dahlias are right there at the top of Nat's favorite flower list.   These "Night Queen" Dahlia are the small version (not 'Dinner plate') and they're going to get an early start in a big pot inside the house.  I also bought a few other things that I'll stick in the pot together and once it warms up, I'll move the pot outside.  With our patio done and plenty of work to be done on the yard, I'm thinking th…

Spring Break 2001 Disney World Pin

Here's another Disney pin that the kids traded for recently on a trip down to WDW.  Part of a recent series including this Pumba one and this Stitch one among others.  This one, acquired in the past six months is - as you can see - from 2001.  Now, what would possess someone to buy this pin back in 2001, hold on to it for 16+ years only to bring it back down to WDW and trade it away for, likely, some scrapper? 

Just like this one from Disneyland that marks the opening of Toy Story Midway Mania back in 2008, someone decided to part with their prized pin many years after the fact.  I kinda get the idea of bring back pins to trade, especially if you don't come very often.  As a kid, your tastes change year over year or what-have-you, so if you have a lanyard of pins that you don't care about, I can understand wanting to bring them back to swap them out.  But 15+ years?  Wouldn't you just want to keep this one as a part of history?  17 years mean that at the youngest, thi…

Fence Gate Upgrade: Pull Installed

I posted a series of posts last Summer about our new fence that was put in our #newoldbackyard here, here and here.  As part of the fence, we installed four gates.  One all the way in the back to access the ComEd easement that is behind our lot - and potentially to get to the neighbor's yards behind us ( date, we've never done!), one on the side closest to our neighbor's playhouse/double trampolines (they have kids the same age as ours, so our thought there was to allow access to the trampoline, playhouse and what-have-you), and two gates on either side of our house where the fence meets the rear/side of our house.  The two gates in back are just four footers and are easy to open/close by kids.  But, the two on the sides of the house are six feet tall and made of the board-on-batten-style that the fence (at that part) is made.  That means, the gates are solid and tall.  With really nothing to grab to pull close.  They both open inwards to our yard and have handl…

Firesticks Cactus - Spring 2018

Over the weekend, I did something that I don't normally do:  I went to the Home Depot.  As you guys know...I'm a Menards guy.  But, with Spring right around the corner, I wanted to see what the Home Depot was up to.  In particular, the store on Butterfield in Downers Grove has a really good garden center and both the plant quality and the care given to them far surpasses the stuff and care at Menards. 

The garden center was just getting booted up.  They had some trees (I'll post about one of them soon), but most of the perennials and annuals were still not in stock.  Too cold. 

After poking around, we wandered into the indoor greenhouse section and found some of their succulents - and one jumped out at me.  It is this Pencil Cactus, which happens to be a "Firesticks" variety.  That means, the new growth/tips are orange/red.  Look at this example to see what I'm talking about in terms of color.  Natalie was in Arizona earlier this year and she shared a photo …

Disney Magic Music Days Pin - Walt Disney World

Yesterday, I posted two Disney pins (Pumba and Stitch) that we had acquired some time in the past 12 months and today is another pin from that same time frame.  I believe this one was traded by The Babe off of a cast member's lanyard, but I'm not certain of the exact vintage.  Looking around on the Dis Boards, it appears that there's some speculation that these "Magic Music Days" pins from Walt Disney World carry *some* value - to some folks, at least

For us, I'll lump this one in with the Disney College Program pins that we traded for last Spring as pins that were given out to participants of an activity to only end up being traded for by my kids.   

It is natural to wonder if these all (the Magic Music Days pin above and the College Program pins linked above) are scrappers, right?  I mean...why would anyone dump those pins for something that you can find on a cast member's lanyard?  But, I know from scrappers.  Or at least, I think I have a pretty go…

Pumba Silhouette and Stitch Outline Pins

The last time I posted about a Disney Pin was back in November of last year, but as we were sorting out some of our traders vs. keepers, I came across some of the finds that the kids had secured sometime between last fall and now.  I'll post a few of these over the next few days, starting with these two:  a Pumba one on the left.  And a Stitch one on the right.  Both of these are, surprisingly, not scrappers.  They have nice edges, strongly-printed backs and clear writing on the reverse.  They also are super smooth on the front with evenly-applied enamel.

The Pumba one is a cast member exclusive pin with a "Hidden Mickey" but the Stitch one appears to be one that was either part of a collection sold at a store or maybe in a blind bag.  Neither of them are very rare - based on the prices they're fetching on eBay.

Giving the Bird Seed Bell Another Shot

I'm giving the whole bell-shaped bird seed thing a go.  Back in early January, I posted about a "Christmas Bell" that the kids gave me for Christmas that featured fruit and nuts and billed itself as 'no melt', so there was some suet involved, I'd think.  As quickly as I put that seed bell up on on post, it was gone.  Taken by some critter.  Maybe a squirrel, but more likely...a racoon.   At least, that's where my brain is right now having seen a couple of big fatty raccoons in our yard on a couple of occasions lately. 

Having come across a seed bell from Kaytee (that you can see below) on sale at Menards, coupled with the fact that I had previously bought the 'seed bell hanger', so I was willing to get right back on the saddle with another one of these.

This time, however, I am prepared.  The old one was put up on a pole that had a baffle on 'top' of the bell.  Meaning...I was attempting to keep critters from kind of 'jumping' ont…

Another Wall-Hung Workbench?

Back at the end of January, I posted about this wall-hung workbench and - at the time - commented about how it was quite a 'looker'.  I still like it.  But, somehow, I came across this Instagram post from woodworking_lovers - which I think is a spammy account - that features a twist on the wall-hung workbench.  Spammy post (about starting a business) aside, the bracing that this bench shows off is interesting to me - and maybe just seems a bit stronger/easier to understand how it would work.  The 2x6's that are angled from the top to the wall are notched to rest on the wall cleat.  Visually, it makes sense to me why it would support the weight. 

Maybe there's a way to marry the two ideas?  This one for the super-structure.  Then wrapped in the curves from the original to cover up the structure?

Downers Grove Community Art Project - We Participated!

If you head there now, you'll see that hanging in the staircase of the Downers Grove Recreation Center is this art project made of small mirrored pieces of glass.  It has squares around the edges and a molecule-looking object in the center.  There's a post here on Facebook that describes the project and the themes it is exploring (community + the universe).  Here's how the project is described in the document hanging next to the work that is titled "C-60" that was created by artist Linda Stucker.

Here's the full post on Facebook from the Art Department embedded:

If you read the description, you'll see that the artist - Linda Stucker - invited Downers Grove residents to design their own 1.5" tile squares that would be included in the final project.

Welp...I totally forgot that we participated!  One Saturday, after basketball, we saw a table set up at the Rec Center.  So, The Babe and I decided to sit down and create a little glass tile.  She had blue…

Weekend Morning Sunrise - Out our Front Window

I normally leave for work well before the sun rises most mornings.  But, one recent weekend morning, I was coming down the stairs and saw this (no filter) sunrise.  The photo doesn't really even do it justice.  This isn't as nice of a scene to wake up to as the many colorful sunrisesover Lake Elizabeth in Twin Lakes, but I paused and took it in for a half a minute or so.  Red sky in morning....sailor's warning, right?

I went to Denver and Only Snapped This Coors Field Photo...

Continuing in the spirit of all of my Denver trips, here's the latest "I went to Denver..." post.  This time, it is this terrible shot of Coors Field from the backseat of our Lyft. 

The first of these posts was this photo of a hotel brochure featuring the Rockies back in 2015.  Then, I posted last year another photo that barely shows the mountains.    Now, Coors Field through a dirty windshield.

This is my life now (coffee)

26 days in and haven't looked back.  At least in terms of the vehicle upon which the caffeine is delivered.  And I've actually started to borderline *like* the whole thing.  This is the machine that I've been using at the office and there's a nice little ice machine right next to it, so I don't have to deal with scalding hot brews.  Kids temp for this guy.  How very cosmopolitan, right?

Orange and Yellow Tulip Bulbs Emerging For First Time - New Old Backyard

Woot, woot.  Spring has sprung in our New Old Backyard/Garden.  Or at least...signs of Spring have sprung.  Last fall, I planted 30 bulbs near the fence line on the southside of our property.  15 Yellow Triumph Tulips.  And 15 Orange Darwin Hybrid Tulips.  And on a recent walk around the yard, we discovered these tips emerging from the soil.  Above, you can see a close up a two of them. 

And down below, you can see many more of them.   I didn't count them, but it didn't seem like 30 bulbs had broken through. 

What is interesting to me is that the tips are coming up red.  They almost appear like peony shoots, don't they? 

I've documented tulips (and other bulbs) emerging from the ground for the past few Springs.  Here's a look at them from 2017 that I posted in late February.  These mature bulbs are way further past the new ones in this post.  And here's the photo from 2016.  Both of those were at Equation Boy/Man's house. 

And speaking of the New Old Garde…

Benet Basketball Game - Winter/Spring 2018

Back in the fall, I posted a very similar photo of a Benet Academy ticket stub.  That one was for a fall football game that we went to as a family.  Both to watch the game, but also because one of the girls was dancing at halftime with the Avions (the dance group).

The ticket you see above is from a recent basketball game that we attended to cheer on the Redwings.  And, once again, watch one of the girls dance at halftime with the Avions. 

We had a lot of fun, despite it being a not-so-spectacular game.  First, Benet couldn't buy a bucket.  And neither could the other team.  I think the score at half was like 12 to 15 or something.  Also, it was a make-up game.  The game was originally scheduled to be in January, but because of a heavy snow storm on a Friday, they cancelled the game.  Because of that, the crowd turnout was pretty paltry.   I think there might have been something else going on at the school, so that might explain the not-so-great student turnout. 

Also, I couldn&#…

Ride a Fast Horse - Ted's Montana Grill Coaster #3

If you've followed along, you know that I adore Ted's Montana Grill.  But now, with this coaster featuring an anonymous quote, I've now enshrined Ted's with three coasters in the [Coaster Collection] here on the blog.  I picked this photo up on a recent visit to the Bolingbrook Ted's. 

The first Ted's coaster was this one (the second ever in the collection) from March of 2015.  The second Ted's one was from December of 2015 featuring a John Wayne quote

With three, Ted's comes in a strong second place - only behind Disney World - which has seven coasters in the collection.

Businessolver Up On Times Square Billboard

This happened a while back, but I just came across it again in Google Photos.  It is Businessolver - a benefits administration company based in West Des Moines, Iowa - showing up on a Times Square billboard.  Since it is Thursday, let's call this #TBT (but it is really more like a #latergram if it is anything...)  They're an Edelman client (I've tagged this post #client for full disclosure.) and we did this in the early winter.  Posting this here in my online diary to remember that time we were involved in a Times Square billboard.  (Hey kids reading this from the future if this post is still up:  these were a *thing* that brands used to do.)

Trying Milkweed Seeds (Again)

Earlier this Winter, the girls and I sent along a SASE and our little donation to the Save our Monarchs Foundation and a few weeks later, we received two packets of the seeds you see above.  We're going to give Milkweed a shot this Spring.  This isn't the first time I've posted about Milkweed seeds here on the blog.  Back two years ago, we scored some Milkweed seeds at a parade that I posted here.  
By now, you know that the Monarch Butterfly population is in severe decline and milkweed seeds are one of the keys to their survival.  Planting Milkweed is something that we - as a family - can do to help the Monarchs.  Once the weather warms up, I'll work with the girls to find a sunny spot and plant the seeds and watch them (hopefully) sprout in the early Summer.

Pint Brothers Alehouse Coaster - Added to Collection

Here comes #24 in the [Coaster Collection] here on the blog.  This one from Pint Brothers Alehouse, located inside the Marriott Denver Tech Center.  The last one I added was the Arlo Hotel in NYC and the full collection is here.   There's a trend here:  the most recent coasters are all from hotel stays.  This isn't a hotel exactly, but is a restaurant *inside* of a hotel. 

Full coaster collection here.  And the first coaster ever posted - which wasn't part of a collection per se, is this Illini/Coors Light coaster that featured the 'new' Illini branding with the curved angles on the inside of the Block I.  For the record, the "collection" is just a digital artifact here on the blog.  I don't actually *have* the coasters.  I horde too much stuff to start to pick up coasters and bring them home.

ZZ Plant

I walked outside my hotel in San Francisco recently and spotted this potted plant in the vestibule.  And a lightbulb went on inside my head:  we have this same plant up in our bathroom.  And unlike many of its brethren, it is not just surviving the winter being inside, but it is thriving.  Here's our version:

Those tallest shoots?  They're brand new growth.  And there's more emerging from the soil. 

I asked Nat if she knew what it was and she did.  It is a ZZ plant.  And turns out, it is quite a houseplant.  From Gardening Know How, they lead with this:
If ever there was the perfect plant for the ultimate brown thumb, the easy ZZ plant is it. This virtually indestructible houseplant can take months and months of neglect and low light and still look amazing. Sounds perfect for us.  It is not in a window, nor does it get any southern exposure/light. 

At work, we give potted bamboo to new employees, but now I'm wondering if we should be swapping out to this ZZ plant?  Se…

Backyard Bird Visitor Log: White-breasted Nuthatch

Since the beginning of this year, I've started to chronicle here on the blog some of our backyard bird visitors.  First, there was the red-bellied woodpecker.   Then, the House Sparrow.  And most recently, I snapped photos of both a male and female Cardinal.    
Today, here's a few photos of a new visitor:  the White-breasted Nuthatch.  I found him hopping around the ground under one of our feeders on a recent morning.  He's very pretty with blues, blacks, greys and whites all over and a striking black streak across the top of his head.    
As a reminder, I take these photos quickly, through screens in the windows on my phone zoomed all the way in.  So they're not great.  But, they're here to diary (for me) some of the visitors.  Here, below, is a different look at the same bird:

As soon as I saw this guy, I, of course, grabbed my Field Guide to Illinois Birds and tried to figure out what he was.  After thumbing through a few pages, I came across this entry for th…

A Trip to the Art Institute

Of course, we saw all the highlights. 

I've posted other art here on the blog.  Here's some art from a stop in Philadelphia.  And of course, I've posted about the art at Disney.  Here's one shot from the Polynesian

But, we also spent quite a bit of time in the kids artist's studio where the kids and I used crayons, markers, colored pencils to make some original art.  Here's my still life featuring a blue flower in a red vase on a small table.  I call it:  Blue flower/red vase.

Back in the aughts, I spent quite some time in my parent's basement working with acrylics and doing some painting.  Mostly on the weekends, while listening to some of my record collection.  It was really a therapeutic experience for me and something I did to express myself.  The medium was always paint and because I didn't have time or money for canvas, I mostly used manilla folders.  Or...frankly...half of manilla folders - where I ripped them down the middle at the crease so …

Chicago Athletic Association Silver Spoon - Reed and Barton

I've written a few times about the Chicago Athletic Association here in Chicago over the years.  It is a place that holds a special meaning in my my life as it was where my oldest sister was married back in the early 1990's.  It has since been reborn as an uber-hip hotel with a cool rooftop bar (Cindy's).  I've been there for both drinks with friends and also work meetings/events

On a couple of occasions, I've come across artifacts from the CAA at stores and estate sales.  Nat and I have bought a few serving pieces for my sister and her husband and given them as Christmas/birthday gifts over the years.  The CAA has a wide variety of serving pieces and dishes that have been sold/taken that have shown up in the market online, too. 

This is a silver spoon from Reed and Barton that I when I saw it, I knew that I had to buy it.  When you pick it up, you notice that it is old.  It is tarnished and just feels old.  It is heavy yet delicate.  A look at the end of the sp…

Another Frozen Sunrise on Lake Elizabeth

Back in late January, I posted a photo from the Lakeview Room* out on Lake Elizabeth showing the colorful sunrise one morning.  Here's another one from the same room showing the view that we woke up to on a recent weekend morning.  The lake was still frozen and covered in snow and if you look closely, you can see one of the ice fishing shantys in the middle right of the photo out in the distance. 

*Room name pending