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Showing posts from November, 2018

Walt Disney Comics #188 - Featuring Donald Duck And His Nephews

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At some point earlier this year, I picked up this copy of #188 Walt Disney's Comics and stories book at an antique mall up in Wisconsin.  This one is from May of 1956 and is in good condition, but we're not retiring on this thing!  I paid just $1 for the book and it will go into the archives here at the homestead.  
This is the third 'vintage Disney' item that we own with a few others that I've posted about here on the blog that 'got away'.
The first are these Matchbox cars from the 70's/80's that were mine when I was a kid. Then there was this vintage Pooh Bear Golden book from a garage sale.   A prized possession:  this election-themed Pooh Bear glass from Sears.   Then this Summer, I shared this Mickey the Mouse back scratcher.   And finally, I found this vintage Disneyland pennant at an estate sale.  

2018 Amaryllis Bulb - One Week In

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One week in with our 2018 edition of the amaryllis bulb and I'm happy to report that there's a little bit of action going on here.  Here's the post showing the bulb both before it went into the pot and right after.  If you look closely at this photo above, you'll notice two things:  First, the tiniest little green shoot emerging from the middle (top part of the bulb in this photo) and a good-sized 'gap' that has been created near the bottom of the bulb in this photo.  Thinking that the 'gap' that is being made is the result of some growth down below and just kind of *making room* for even more green shoots to emerge. 

As a reminder, this is a double-flowering Nymph bulb that has white flowers with some red/pink accents. 

I'll keep an eye on this, but I'm hoping that by mid-December, we'll have a nice-looking plant beginning to head skywards.  Here's the bulb from 2017 on December 16th to give you a sense for what should take place over …

Disney's Contemporary Resort - Coaster Collection #32

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Here comes #32 in the [coaster collection] here on the blog with this one from Disney's Contemporary Resort that features the neat retro-ish logo with the monorail running right through the hotel.  The most recent coaster I posted was one from Half Acre Brewery

This is also the #10 of the collection that relates to Disney.  10/32 or 31% are Disney-related with the most recent one from Enzo's Hideaway that I posted back in April of this year.  I found this in a pile of coasters that I had stashed in my office closet after cleaning it out over the Thanksgiving break.  It is now sitting on my desk along with a few others and will get used for a while before being discarded. 

The ten Disney-related ones include:
1. The standard one you see in your rooms @ Walt Disney World resort hotels.
2. This black and white one from the original Disney World Resort Hotel.
3. This *new* Walt Disney World resort hotel version that updates the look of #1 above.
4. One from the Irish pub Ragla…

Can I Listen to Christmas Music?

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I neglected to post a link to my annual Christmas Music project earlier this season.  So, I'm getting to it now:  Can I listen to Christmas music?  (v2). 

Why V2?  Welp, that's because V1 is still up at the original URL, but I wanted to try something a little different - and more simple. 

Once the season passes, I'll put in a redirect from the old site to the new one - which I think serves the most basic of purposes:  notifies you if you can or can not listen to Christmas music. 

I posted about this project last year in November
And on November 2nd of 2016

The old, V1 site, has lots more stuff - including a countdown clock, email subscriptions, etc.  I'll work to port those over, but for now, there's just one page and a simple answer:  Yes.    It is built on a responsive template, so it looks identical in both desktop and mobile. 

Come January something, I'll flip it back over to 'no'.  The new template makes that change much more simple - just a &…

Heated Bird Bath Upgrade?

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I spotted this 20" heated bird bath on a pedestal at Wannemaker's earlier this month and it intrigued me in terms of upgrading our current winter heated birdbath that we keep right outside of our kitchen window.  This bowl is big (20") and comes with the integrated pedestal - you can see the product listing here on Amazon (ahem....that's not an affiliate link, folks!) with all the features/details.

Here's a post from November of last year showing off the installation of our existing heated birdbath.  You'll note that it sits on a little table and isn't super deep.  The lack of a pedestal is (obviously) the reason for the table and I think that the table doesn't look awesome.   And since it isn't too terribly deep along with the low humidity in the cold winter meant that I had to continue to fill this thing up every few days.

The one on the pedestal looks deeper, so I'm wondering if that means less filling?  That's good.

But, the cost of th…

RIP Lucky - Our Goldfish

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There's no picture here, mostly because a photo of an upside down goldfish is gross and, frankly, a little sad.  Lucky, our goldfish is no more.

I posted about Lucky back in 2016 when The Babe won her/him at Ribfest

She/he lived in a bowl in Equation Boy/Man's house for a while, then we moved him/her into our place in Downers Grove.  The bowl sat on our vanity upstairs since we moved in.

Welp, he/she succomb'd to something earlier this month and I noticed that he/she was acting funny and after spending a few days near the bottom of the bowl, started to float a bit.  Swimbladder problem is the most likely issue (Thx, Google!) and after a short period of time, he/she appeared one morning near the top of the bowl. 

The loss hit hard on a couple of the kids.  But only for an hour or two.  Then everyone seemingly moved on. 

Feels to me like an inflection point:  we can go one of two ways.

1.  Don't look back and get out of the fish business.
2.  Go big.  Get a tank. 

Nat …

Lizzie's Winter Coat

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Last time we checked in on Lizzie was when she was wearing her third Elizabethan Collar after dealing with her rear end issue.  With the Holiday season in full swing, she's on her way to getting her 'Christmas Cut', so I thought I'd post this photo of her right before we shipped her off to the groomers.  She's wearing her winter coat.  And she's all dirty from chasing squirrels around the yard and up trees.  She hasn't caught one just yet, but she gets close.  I do wonder if the squirrels are playing her.  With the slow walk, staying just out of reach? 

She'll come back from the groomer with a shorter coat (and one of those silly bandanas) and be all clean.  Probably a little bit cold for a while while it grows in, right?  But, come January, she'll have some of her fur grown back and ready to take on the winter. 

Let's call this 2.25 years old.

Main Terminal Train Station - Lemax Caddington Train Station

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I've mentioned in all of the recent Lemax Christmas Village posts that Mantleburg isn't annexing any new structures into town this year and with the recent election of a slate of Libertarian candidates taking on new leadership roles in town, they've even moved to de-annex some existing portions of Mantleburg and just focus the town's operations on the seasonal train.

This year, I've covered a handful of Lemax Christmas Village buildings that are part of the Menards holiday setup including:

1. Draft Brothers Craft Brewing Supplies Store from the Harvest Crossing Collection.
2. The Elf Workshop from Santa's Wonderland Village.
3. Nora's Christmas Boutique from the Caddington Village Collection.
4. The Round-up animated carnival ride from the Carnival Village Collection.
The one in the post today is interesting because it *is* potentially train-related.  And that's why, despite their anti-growth/anti-government leanings the new Mayor and Board have t…

Happy Thanksgiving 2018 - Via The Last Waltz (And Big Pink)

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Go out yonder, peace in the valley
Come downtown, have to rumble in the alley
Oh, you don't know the shape I'm in.
Doesn't get much better than that song, right?  Go ahead...hit 'play',  then keep reading the rest of the post.  
Those of you who have been following along at home over the years know about our Thanksgiving tradition of watching a little bit of The Band play live for their last show.  
(Note:  I say "our" tradition, but Nat has made it *very* clear that this is *my* tradition alone...)
I've been posting about it since 2004 here on the blog with a few years skipped.  Turns out, this is the 12th postin the series over the years.
Here's my post from 2017 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2016 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2015 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2014 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2013 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2012 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2011 o…

2018 Amaryllis Bulb - Double Flowering Nymph

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Like a lot of you guys, I have a whole bunch of Christmas traditions.  Sure, there's the Christmas Train and all the various foodstuffs, but there's also one that is gardening-related:  Planting an amaryllis bulb.  Here's a post showing the two bulbs I planted last year (one from Wannemaker's and one from Menards).  If you look at that post, you'll notice that the one from Menards - that cost $2.99 - never took off while the $15 version from Wannemakers shot up and bloomed right around Christmas Day. 

This year, I simplified things and decided to just do one of these and (obviously) went with what worked last year and bought the $15 version from Wannemakers.  You can see how they pack the bulbs above in a kind of foam carriage to protect the bulb while keeping it free from trapping moisture. 

When I was at the store recently, I couldn't remember what variety I bought last year, but remembered that I went with a double flowering version.  So, I poked around the…

One Frans Fontaine Hornbeam Dropped Its Leaves

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Just a little bit over a week ago, I posted a photo here in the [garden diary] of our Frans Fontaine Columnar Hornbeam trees and discussed their potential marcescence (retaining of their dead leaves).  Fast forward to now and if you look at the photo above here, you'll notice that one of the trees - the fourth from the left - has now dropped all of its leaves and is bare.   I took a closer look at the tree and it has, indeed, put out some buds, so I am not sure if the leaf loss is a sign of anything.  But, we'll know in the Spring when/if the tree comes back.

State Street Christmas Windows Featuring FAO Schwarz

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If you look closely at the Marshall Field's Macy's State Street windows you'll notice a little bit of corporate synergy showing.  Or corporate strategy at least.  In one of the window scenes you that you can see above, you'll see Santa in the midst of his North Pole glory with what I think is an Elf and a bunch of presents.  Right next to the center 'tube' is a little dog.  
Zoom in and you'll see his collar.  Says "F. A. O. Schwarz".  Struck me as odd.

So, off I went into the Web to find out why.  Does Macy's own F.A.O Schwarz? 

The answer?  Nope.  But they're working together.  This NYTimes story from 10 years ago points to the partnership.  Apparently, I haven't been paying any attention.
Two of New York’s most venerable retail brands, Macy’s and F. A. O. Schwarz, are teaming up for a risky experiment: bringing toys back to the department store.  F. A. O. Schwarz will open shops inside 685 Macy’s stores over the next two years, exe…

Fairview Avenue Metra Station Landmark Designation

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I just noticed these two plaques on the Fairview Avenue Metra Station in Downers Grove.  The bottom one says 2016, so it has been there for some time.  But, perhaps the top one is newish?  At least, I've never really noticed it despite walking by it a few times a week.

They both mark the same thing:  the station as a 'landmark'.

I found this set of minutes from the Village of Downers Grove Village Board that recommended a resolution making the station a "Landmark Designation".

Here below is a closer look at the story in the bottom plaque:


If you read closely, you'll see that this isn't the original station, but was built in 1916.

I'm a little bit 'get off my lawn' on this landmark status.  Have you seen the Fairview Station?  Go look at it here in all of it's stucco glory.

I love me some old, vintage buildings.  But it isn't the original station.  And now we've effectively handcuff our government into NOT changing this station.

If…

Santa Fe Gondola O Gauge Car Via Menards - 2018

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Another of the new items that Menards is showing in their O Gauge train section in stores this year is a series of gondola cars like this Santa Fe one you see above.  I've written before about how my Dad runs a vintage (Post War) Santa Fe F3 locomotive and over the years I've gifted him a few Santa Fe cars from Lionel.  I've never given him one from Menards, but I've bought a few on my own and while I LOVE the prices (see above..$20), I don't like two things:

1.  the boxes that Menards sells these in.  The packaging is NOT very re-usable. 
2.  the couplers.  They're not great.

#1 in the list above is really the biggest thing for me.  We're Christmas train people.  That means that we pack away our train for 10 months a year and then bring it out for the holidays.  The boxes that Lionel ships their cars in are a big part of that storage process and the orange boxes have meaning to me whenever we get them out.  These Menards clamshells don't really hold u…

Menards O-Gauge Trains Lighted Changeable Billboard

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In addition to all the Christmas Village buildings from Lemax that I posted last week, Menards has also introduced their holiday toy section including a lot of HO and O Gauge train items.  They have a bunch of cars (I've posted about some of thembefore) and buildings.  But this year, one item caught my eye:  this Lighted Billboard.  You can see it in the photo above.  But also here on the Menards site.

It comes with 26 different signs that you can put in the billboard ranging from vintage scenes to modern, current logos like Pepsi and Mountain Dew. 

Menards describes it thusly:
Pre-lit and prebuilt, this O-scale billboard features 26 interchangeable decals. Decorate your billboard front and back with an assortment of colorful decals, including popular brand names and railroad advertisements. This backlit billboard also houses over 25 LED lights, ensuring your chosen decal will come to life with beautifully saturated light! Constructed of wood and metal for maximum strength, this f…

Cup and Char Ezzo Pepperoni - Added to Pizza Toolkit

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Over the years, I've honed by at-home pizza game.  First it was the discovery and use of Chellino Scamorza Cheese out of Joliet.  Won't make a pie without it now.  Then it was the acquisition of new cutter pans, serving pans and stands.  And now it is buying cup and char pepperoni on the internet.

PennMac sells Ezzo 38MM Pepperoni in 1 lb bags and I took the plunge recently.    The bag you see above is one of two that I bought online - but I also bought an Ezzo stick that I haven't sliced.  If you follow the instagram account /ronicups (which I don't know why you wouldn't be, right??), or visited a hip, new pizza place that is making Detroit or bar pies, you've undoubtedly come across Ezzo cup and char pepperoni.


View this post on Instagram

Roni Cups on a square pizza by @danwongishungry at @psp_nyc #squarepie #squarepizza A post shared by Pepperoni - Roni Cups 🍕 (@ronicups) on Oct 8, 2018 at 6:02am PDT
With the temperatures dropping, pizza making is back in se…

Fall Check-in On Our Dawn Redwood - 2018

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Back on Earth Day 2017, we planted a small Dawn Redwood tree in our backyard.  This was in the middle of construction of our house and we weren't even living there.  I figured, we'd get the tree in and give it a little bit of a head start.  The only problem...since I didn't tend to it for the first few months, it didn't do well.

By October of last year, I was questioning if the tree was going to make it.  Take a look at the photo here to see how bare it was by mid-October.

And ultimately died.   So, we replaced it this year.  Same spot, but more care in terms of water.

And by October of *this* year, the tree wasn't bare.  But instead was sprouting some new growth.

And now?  See the photo at the top of this post?  The entire tree has turned a bronze color and appears poised to drop all of it's needles very soon.  Which, based on what I've seen on other deciduous conifers is appropriate behavior.

The tree also appears to have set some buds for the Spring, so…

Tree Dreaming: Columnar Norway Spruce

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With Halloween in our rearview mirror and Christmas season in full swing, my time in the yard has mostly become leaf collection, branch pickup and walnut removal.  There's no planting going on right now, but that isn't keeping me from dreaming about next Spring and what we could add to Hornbeam Hill.  I've been painfully aware that I'm behind on planting conifers and have only planted three small ones.  The Fraser Fir was planted and lost this Summer.  Same with a small Canadian Hemlock.  Planted and lost this Summer.

But I also posted in late Summer of 2017 about a 'dream' tree.  It was a Weeping Cedar.  I came across it and fell in love.  After finding a small one at Home Depot, I splurged and bought it.  Brought it home and planted it in the backyard

This post is about another 'dream tree'.  I've dreamed/thought about a bunch of trees that I'd like to add over the previous year or so to our backyard.  I posted about a Dappled Willow that w…

Frans Fontaine Hornbeams - First Fall 2018

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Back in May of this year, we planted a hedge of seven Frans Fontaine European Hornbeam trees along the fenceline on the northside of our property right outside of our screened porch.  These are trees that I had researched and dreamed about since we moved in.  Prior to their installation, I documented what the 'view' was like of the space where they were going in April (when there was still a little bit of snow on the ground) and then again in late May, right before they were planted.

I tried to baby them all Summer and with the help of a couple of soaker hoses, I tried to keep them happy and hydrated.

I most recently visited these trees in late August when I posted this photo of the 'late Summer' view of the hedge.  I've noticed that all seven of the trees have handled their transplant differently.  Some of them have done just fine.  A few have even shot up leaders at the top.  One of them seems to be growing wider at the top than others, which is interesting.  An…

Canyon Trail Cemetery - Halloween House in Carol Stream

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Despite it being November and Halloween is squarely in our rearview mirror, I still wanted to post about one of our Halloween traditions:  a visit to Canyon Trail Cemetery in Carol Stream to see all the haunts and ghosts and witches and scares.

We've visited the Canyon Trail Cemetery for the past five years - counting this year.

This post covers our visit in 2018.
Our visit in 2017.
Our visit in 2016.
Our visit in 2015.
Our visit in 2014.

This year, it was a little too scary for the KotBT.  He didn't like some of the things that leap out and what have you.  So we did a quick tour, then headed back to the van.  Nat and the girls spent more time looking at everything.  We did notice a few new things - or at least they were new to us.  In particular...I've never noticed the Haunted Mansion sounds/speech from Madame Leota and her levitating head scene from the ride.  You know the part, right?  Here:


It's too late for you to visit this year, but make time for it next year.  An…

Wireless Charging Via The Google Pixel Stand

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This arrived in the mail to help me turn my phone into a little stand-up display and push me into the future with wireless charging.  But the biggest issue I've come across with being a *real* wireless charging user?  Driving.  Yeah.  Driving.

That's because we have those little car dashboard vent magnetic mounts that require you to slide a little metal plate under your case.  Then you just kind of 'pop' your phone on the mount and it keeps it out our your hands and allows you to use turn-by-turn directions without fumbling around with your phone.

The issue?  If I put the metal plate in the middle of the back of the phone, the wireless charging via the Google Pixel Stand here doesn't work.  If I take the plate out, then I don't get to pop my phone on the dash while we drive.  A few weeks in, it seems that I'm choosing the convenience of the magnetic plate over the wireless charging on the stand.

Anybody solve this dilemma?

Lemax Round Up Animated Carnival Ride Christmas Village

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Another day, another Lemax Christmas Village building. This one is from the Carnival Village and is called The Round Up.  It is pretty neat.  Lemax lists it as being released in 2012 on their site, but this is the first time I've seen it at Menards. 

Quick refresher for this year's Menards Christmas Village buildings:
1.  Draft Brothers Craft Brewing Supplies Store from the Harvest Crossing Collection
2.  The Elf Workshop from Santa's Wonderland Village.
3.  Nora's Christmas Boutique from the Caddington Village Collection. 

Now comes the first carnival-focused, animated, musical structure here on the blog.  This isn't the first one we've bought or come across, but the first one on the blog.  And it is pretty neat.

Called The Round Up Village Carnival Ride - priced at $89.99 -  it is described by Menards thusly:
The Round Up is an absolute blast! This spinning carnival ride puts gravity to the test as a southern-sounding cowboy announcer tells riders to saddle…

Nora's Christmas Boutique - Lemax Christmas Village 2018

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Day Three of the Menards Lemax Christmas Village reveal.  First was the Draft Bros Home Brewing Supplies store. Then yesterday was the Elf Workshop.  Today comes Nora's Christmas Boutique.  Nora's is part of Caddington Village which is a Victorian Era town.    If you search [Caddington] here on the blog, you'll see a series of structures that I've featured over the years.  It seems that Menards sells a lot of the Caddington Village line every year. 

Above you'll see the building in the Menards Village setting.  Below is the box - with the price of $39.99.  (11% back, of course!)

As you guys know, Mantleburg isn't adding anything to the town, but the Economic Development Commissioner can't help but listening to the presentations from the merchants who are looking to move into town.


In terms of villages, you can get lost over on the /villages page at Lemax's site.  Sure, I've flirted with Vail Village or Spookytown or even the Carnival buildings wit…

Lemax Christmas Village - The Elf Workshop

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I warned you yesterday.  There's a few of these Lemax Christmas Village / Mantleburg posts in the hopper here.  First was the Draft Bros. Craft Brewing Supplies store.  Today is The Elf Workshop that features a few cute elves around the place.  Again, Mantleburg won't be annexing one of these, but if you had a Christmas Village scene, it seems like this would be a good addition.

Below is the box at Menards - with this one listed for $10 more than the Home Brewing Supplies structure - at $49.99.

Lemax Draft Bros Home Brewing Supplies - 2018

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Another year, another display of Lemax Christmas Village buildings at Menards has arrived!  Here's the post from 2017 that heralded the return of the Christmas Village at the store.  And that means a whole series of posts are about to arrive here on the blog showing off some of the new buildings.  The first one, here, is the Draft Brothers Home Brewing Supplies store.  Very topical, eh?  Here's the product listing on the Lemax site that provides the description including the fact that this structure was released this year. 

Alas, Mantleburg is full of libertarians and there is a initiative on the ballot this fall to disband the local municipal government.   Which means, for now, the Mayor and Village Board are not in a position to make any sort of annexations or additions to Main Street. 

This Draft Bros Home Brewing Supplies store is listed for $39.99 at Menards this year.


Flowering Pear Tree - In the Fall?!?

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About a month ago, I posted a photo of what appeared to be 'new' growth on our struggling Chanticleer Pear Tree that we had planted out front of our house.  Here's that post that shows new green leaf growth emerging on the tree in early October.    The full history of this tree is long, despite that we've only been in our house a little bit over a year.  It starts with the first tree - a 3" caliper version of this tree - being planted before we moved in our new house in June of 2017.  That tree didn't survive the year and was ripped out and replaced earlier this year

The new tree struggled, too.  But I worked at it.  I did some radial trenching and used a post hole digger to break down thru the clay layer to allow the tree to breath a bit.  I took a very similar route with the Bald Cypress we planted this Summer - you can see the details here

And the tree managed to survive all Summer.  I stopped watering it all together and just monitored it for green un…

A Trip to Champaign for Illini Football Homecoming - 2018

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A few weeks back, we piled into the Swagger Wagon and went to see my Illini take on Purdue for Homecoming.  We now have two nieces that are Freshman down in Champaign, so this was a family affair.  My sisters threw a great tailgate in Grange Grove and then we went into the Loyalty Lounge inside of Memorial Stadium to watch the game.  Well, I went in well before the game because I wanted to see warmups and all the pre-game what-have-yous.  We were lucky that the specialists for the Illini warmed up (for the most part) on the north end of the field, so our spots in the patio in the northwest corner tower of the stadium was a good view. 


Just about every game that we go to as a family, Nat and I disagree about the 'time to enter' the game.  I enjoy the pre-game festivities almost as much as the game.  I like to see the operation unfold, watch the support staff take action and watch the stadium come to life.  A little weird, yeah.  But, that's why I want to get into line to e…

Early November Firewood Consumption Check-In 2018

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Just like I did last year, I'm going to try to track our firewood usage over this Winter in an effort to understand how we are using it and to help plan for next year.  Here's an example of a post I put up in February of this year showing the progress.

As a reminder, we had two face cords delivered in mid-September.  One face cord of Cherry.  One of Birch.   And today, you can see that we've made quite a dent in the pile.  The photo above shows the wood pile that is outside that is about half-way down from the top.  And if you look back at the original photos, you'll note that there was a pile on the left that they stacked on the ground

But, the inside racks are still intact - and not changed. 

We've been burning fires almost everyday.  Or every night, I suppose.  We go through three pieces of wood most nights and the weather hasn't been too terribly cold at night.  I'm fearful that we'll blow through our two face cords before winter is over, but I&#…

Red Maple Sun Valley Update - Fall 2018

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Back on Earth Day of this year, we planted a few trees including this Red Maple "Sun Valley" tree that is maybe 3/4" caliper.  Here's the photo of that tree when it went in - before it leafed out this Spring/Summer.  By June, it had leafed out and grew a bit - topping out at 96" tall in our tree inventory.  The top continued to grow up and now I am thinking it is taller than 96".  But it also is starting to show it's fall colors.  If you look closely at this photo above that I took a few weeks back, you'll see some reds/oranges starting to emerge on the leaves.  This Fall has been funny with leaves - as we didn't get a ton of colors (yet?), but plenty of leaves have fallen.  I'll keep an eye on this one and see if it shows off it's full fall spendor with a red/orange show.  More importantly, I'm thinking that this thing as established itself enough with some new branching that it has a good shot at surviving the winter and coming b…