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Showing posts from November, 2018

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…

Last Night's Tally - Halloween Visitors 2018

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My...how the mighty have fallen.  That list above is our sad tally sheet from last night.  It only has five marks before we went out trick-or-treating and ended up with 24 total.  Oh,  and a big drink stain on it.  Twenty Four.  And that's being VERY GENEROUS by counting all the little ones that live on our block who came over to our house with their parents for a little post trick-or-treating party.  The five were kids that rang the bell and I dropped candy into their bowls/bags.  Mostly middle school kids.  The 19 others were kids who did, indeed, take candy from our bowls, but also stuck around for a while.

We then went out with the kids to hit up the neighborhood.  And we put out a bowl.  About 150 pieces of candy (based on the bag having 300 pieces... I poured in about half) in the bowl.  Set it out on our front porch.  And put our Nest camera pointing towards it. 

You can see the little orange bowl just off our front door mat below:


It didn't take long for kids to come …