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Showing posts from January, 2019

Two Lights - Alagash Brewing Company

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What's this?  It is a craft beer that combines beer with a little effervescence from sparkling wine.  And Nat discovered it recently and shared a little bit with me earlier this year.  From the Allagash Brewing Company site:
Two Lights is an ode to two of the more refreshing drinks of summer: cold beer and sparkling wine. While brewing this beer, we add sauvignon blanc must—the freshly pressed juice of the grapes. Then we ferment it with both lager and champagne yeast to create a tart, crisp, and dry profile. The finished beer’s aromas of pear, grape, and light hops pair with a flavor profile that’s a mix of tropical fruit and the snappy spritz of a freshly picked grape. We suggest sipping Two Lights by a water source too large to see across.
BeerAdvocate has it at 3.91 out of 5.00, but I think that's beer snobbery at play.  Like many of you, my introduction to Allagash Brewing Co was through their White beer - which BA has at 4.16.

Maybe You Can Tweet About It. That'll Solve Everything...

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Zing.

Amaryllis Update: The Alcohol Worked To Limit The Bulb Height

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These photos of our Christmas Amaryllis are a few days old, so let's call it mid-January in terms of the timing of the bloom.  Look at that beauty!  Double blooming variety that is still going strong for us. 

But, this post isn't about the blooms.  It is about the height of the bulb stalk.  I placed a ruler in the pot and you can see in the photo below:  11.5" tall to the top of the bloom.


And, just for record-keeping sake, here's a photo (below) of where I placed the bottom of the ruler:  at the top of the bulb - NOT at soil level.


Amaryllis have a tendency to get long and leggy and with the size of those blooms, from time-to-time, they tip over because the stalk is too lean and long. 

How does one solve that?  By poisoning the bulb.  Seriously. 

I mentioned in my post in December that I'd been giving this bulb an 8% (approximately) blend of vodka and water.  In an attempt to keep the stalk from growing too tall.

And, guess what?  It totally worked!

Compare this…

Honorary Mickey Aviator Sticker from Soarin' - Disney California Adventure

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Another day and another post on something we picked up at a Disney Park.  This continues the last few posts about items at Disneyland Resort.  Above is a Mickey Mouse "Honorary Aviator" sticker that they give out in the Soarin' line at Disney's California Adventure.  It is bigger than the normal "Mickey Stickers" that they hand out all over and is the size of the celebration buttons.

This is a little different than the 'job role' stickers like the other WDW-related ones we've picked up including a Honorary Custodian or WDW Monorail Pilot.  It is ride-related and includes Mickey, so not sure where exactly to put it. 

But, that doesn't matter.  Get it next time you ride Soarin' in DCA.

Full list of items that are free from Disney Parks:
This "Honorary Aviator" Mickey the Mouse sticker (that's the size of a button) from the Soarin' queue.  A cute set of Lightning McQueen and Stanley Disney California Adventure buttons.  You…

Lightning McQueen And Stanley Buttons - Disney's California Adventure and Carsland

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Everyone always talks about how much Disney park visits cost.  And they do, indeed, cost quite a bit.  But, there's value all around if you look for it.  Most of the time, that value comes from spending quality time with your family.  Some other times, that value comes from the little things that you can pick up/get/do around the parks.

I've written about these various 'freebies' around the parks here on the blog.  Full list is below.  Today, is the second day in a row posting about one of these things and they're both transportation-related.  These in the photo at the top are from Disney's California Adventure and are available at Radiator Springs Racers in Carsland.  If you ask the cast member, you can choose between Lightning McQueen and Stanley.  With three kids, we were able to get both!

The kids wore these (the boy on his hat, the girls on their lanyards) all day.  Disneyland Resort does NOT do pin trading like they do at Walt Disney World (it is hard to…

Autopia Official Driver License: Now Licensed On Both Coasts At Both Parks

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I've written about 'freebies at Walt Disney World' over the years on the blog.  There's the business card that we got from the Mayor of Main Street USAHe's dead now, so I don't think they're doing this any longer.  There's also an official 'guest skipper' license from the Jungle Cruise Skippers.  And a card from Soarin' that is labeled "Born to Soar" that allows little ones to 'fly' the ride as soon as they hit the height.   There are also plenty of character stickers from various cast members and DVC kiosks like Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse.  And you can get a Celebration Pin everyday or special pins on other days like Mickey Mouse's birthday or a special pin if you participate in the Star Wars Jedi Training.  If you look hard enough, you can also find 'job role' stickers like Honorary Custodian or WDW Monorail Pilot.  And there's, of course, transportation cards.

Another one those is the Tomorrowland …

Christmas Haul - C-Life Smart Bulbs With Google Home

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I've chronicled my experience with LIFX bulbs before here on the blog.  Here's my post from February of last year showing the bulb and how we were using it.  The LIFX bulbs are great.  They have tons of different colors, plenty of scheduling, integration with Nest and Google Home.  But they're pricey.  Still.  After being on the market for a number of years, they're still about $49.00 per bulb.

These GE C-Life bulbs are cheaper.  Much cheaper.  If you can find them on sale, you can get a pair of them for $15.  $7.50 per bulb is very affordable. 

But with that lower cost comes some trade-offs.   First, there's no color.  They're just normal light bulbs.  Second, it appears that they're running off bluetooth, so they have to be *close* to a Google Home.  Welp, for us, that's not a problem, because we have these Google Homes, Google Home Minis and Google Home what-have-yous in various places around our house.

Here's the bulb below.  Looks like a mostl…

New Winter Blog Header - Housecleaning on the Blog

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If you've arrived here on the blog, you'll (maybe) note that I've swapped out the header image at the top of the page to better reflect the season we're in:  Winter.  The image at the top of this post shows the header image that I had up until I made the swap.  I had this from Fall of 2018 until now.

And here's a look at what it looks like now:


Cold.  Barren.  Yeah...that's what the world looks like through my eyes right now.

The new image shows off our fly-through bird feeder, part of the fence on our southern property line and our little Weeping Cedar tree on the middle/right on the image. 

I've done this before.  Here's the 'Summer/Spring' cleaning post when I swapped out the header image in June.

Christmas Haul 2018: Twin Draft Guard for the Home Office

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As I do every January (at least lately), I've been documenting the good/bad/cool/useful things that were gifted me via a series of "Christmas Haul" posts.  These are in the spirit of "Haul Videos" that are still all the rage on YouTube.  Unfortunately, I'm neither a YouTube Star nor do I get paid to promote things.  So, these are genuinely all things that people gave me.

But, this one, technically, isn't.  Meaning...no one gave me this. Rather, it came as part of a family grab-bag thing.  You know the type of grab-bag.  You all put in wrapped gifts.  Pick numbers.  Go around and 'steal' things you like.  There's a certain number of 'steals' that any one item can receive before it is out of play.  We do this a few different times and it is both fun and a cost-effective way to gift a large family.

So...this is part of my 'haul' but it was something that was pulled from the pile in a grab bag.  A draft guard that you can slide …

Working Hands - Hand Cream FTW (Still)

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Three years ago, I bragged on this very blog about how O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream had changed my life and cured my dry, cracked hands and kept them from bleeding each Winter season.  Ever since, I've been using the jar version (or 'pucks' as I call them) of this hand cream almost every day from Labor Day until about my birthday.  I keep a puck at the office on my desk and a puck on my desk at home.

If I stay on top of things, my hands don't get too terribly chapped and they've mostly stopped from cracking at the tips.

This year, my Mother-in-Law gifted me some O'Keeffe's Working Hands, but this time it wasn't in the puck or jar.

It was in this tube that you see above.  And despite the ingredients being slightly different between the two (it appears that the tube version has one or two more ingredients??), it is working just as well.

Consider this the next post in my Christmas Haul that continues here on the blog.  Christmas Haul post o…

Our Elf Goldie Visited Again This Year

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It was a nice little set of visits from Golide, our Elf on the Shelf, this Christmas season.  I think this was his final morning with us on Christmas Eve before he flew away for another 11 months.  Thank goodness that he didn't have any sort of cookie/dog treat mishap like he did a few years back

There's pages all over the web spilled on both sides of the Elf on the Shelf debate.  There are plenty of folks who are posting tips/ideas for what the Elf can do in your house.  Then there are the other folks who shun the Elf.  Then...frankly there are the third set of folks - the militantly opposed to the Elf people. 

I'm not ashamed to say that we're firmly in the pro-Elf on the Shelf category.  Have to embrace these years while we can, amirite?!?!

Basement Storage Rack Custom Design System

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I mentioned back in September that I had come across a product that could make it easy to create storage racks that I wanted to build in custom sizes for our firewood storage.  I then posted a WiP photo of one of the racks with the black brackets and cedar supports.  One of the projects that I'm trying to tackle this Winter is to figure out our basement storage setup.

We currently have a series of different sized/shaped racks holding a wide variety of storage tubs, containers and boxes.  I'm talking about our holiday/seasonal decorations, the Mantleburg Line Christmas Train, tons and tons of kids clothes (that we're holding on to for SOME reason???), our personal effects from childhood (mostly mine) that is totally random and completely un-optimized space-wise.

I mean...the racks we have are set to standard heights.  Meaning they have a vertical set of stands and then come with a certain number of shelves.  So, if our tubs are say 15" tall and the space for each shel…

2018 Anchor Steam Christmas Ale

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Over the years, I've posted photos of the bottles of Anchor Brewing's Annual Christmas Ale here on the blog.  Nat's brothers are beer people and they've been seeking this stuff out every Christmas season for as long as I've been a part of it in Naperville.  So, when we arrive for Christmas Day there's always a few six packs of the annual Christmas beer in the basement fridge and every once in a while, there's even a magnum of the stuff. 

This year's bottle struck me as different:  much more red in the label.  You can scroll through all the labels here on their site and see if you agree with me on the red.  1982 gives this year a run for its money in terms of the outer red band, but in terms of recent runs, this one clearly has the most red on it. 

The tree on this year's label is a Korean Pine Tree.  From the Anchor Brewing site:
For the 2018 release, Stitt created a brimming Korean Pine Tree for the label. Native to both North and South Korea, the …

Jacques Wirtz Hedges As Inspiration For Our Backyard?

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Yesterday, I posted about the idea of gabion walls in our backyard and today I'm noodling hedges.  Yeah..hedges.   I came across this photo of Bunny Williams' garden/yard on Instagram a few months back and have it filed away as something interesting to consider for the backyard.  Take a peek:



View this post on Instagram
In memory of Jacques Wirtz. Eight years ago a Giulian into dear fiends took a tour to see the gardens of Mr Wirtz in Belgium we were lucky to have met him And see his garden and I came home with so many ideas especially his hedges. I was inspired to create this curved hedge which as taken almost all this time to really come into its own and every time I look at it I think of him. What a gift he gave to all who love gardens A post shared by Bunny Williams (@bunnys_eye) on Aug 4, 2018 at 12:16pm PDT

Those curves are something, right?  She mentions that the inspiration for her was Jacques Wirtz.  Who is he?  Well...I had no idea until she posted this.  Then I was l…

Garden Trend for 2019: Gabion-Style Walls?

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I read this story in Country Living about some garden trends that they see emerging in 2019 and one of the items on their list caught my attention:  gabion-style walls.

What the what?  I had never heard of those. 

A quick search around the Web and I realized that while I had not heard the term "gabion-style walls", I've come across them.  And likely, so have you.   But just didn't know that's what they were called. 

From the Country Living piece:


See that metal cage holding the material in/together?  That's the defining characteristic. 

More...From Gardenista:
Derived from an old Italian word, gabbione, meaning “big cage,” gabions are enclosures that can be filled with any sort of inorganic material: rock, brick, or concrete debris. The cages were originally wicker, but now are usually a welded mesh made of sturdy galvanized, coated, or stainless steel wire that won’t bend when filled with rocks. In landscaping, gabion walls can support an earth wall, stabilize …

Christmas Haul: I don't KNOW, Margo Shirt

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This was a gift from a friend at work. And, as Nat pointed out:  "she knows me".

Why is the carpet all wet, Todd?

Cracked Corn - A New Winter Treat For Our Backyard Critters

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With the hardest part of Winter here for us humans, I am trying to find things to make us a little bit happier during the dark, cold, wet days of January.  And one of those ways is dealing with our feeders for the birds and the squirrels.  In an attempt to keep the squirrels off of and away from our feeders, I'm trying to enhance our offering.  Those of you following along at home might remember that earlier this Summer, we added a 'Squirrel Bungee' feeder.

Now we're going further:  feeding them in neat little piles along the top of our fence - which is where they seem to run along all day.

This ten pound back of cracked corn was just a little over $10 on Amazon and is, I hope, just the ticket to keeping our squirrels and ground-feeding birds happy for the rest of the Winter.

And it gives me something to do with the boy every once in a while.  So that's nice, too.

Pizza Soap - Christmas Haul

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One of my teammates gifted me this bar of pizza soap.  Two things I like about this:

1.  It is soap that smells like pizza.
2.  It is bar soap.

That is all.

Spotted: Eight Cardinals (and one Squirrel)

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I've already added both the female and male Cardinal to the bird visitor log, but on a recent morning, I spotted quite a few Cardinals milling around.  Mix of males and females.  The photo above is using zoom, so it isn't perfectly clear, so I went ahead and circled the birds.  Eight of them.  And a squirrel (in the red box) munching on some Winter treats.  Way, way better than the normal lot of House Sparrows that we get at our feeders most of the Winter.

An Amaryllis Update - Opening Up

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Still no bloom.  But, plenty of progress as the bud is opening up and beginning to show how many flowers it is going to show off this January.  This went into a pot in Mid-November, so we're now sitting at seven weeks of growth.  Two or so in November.  Four in December.  And almost one in January this year.  This is the second year that I've bought the bulb at Wannemaker's annual Christmas Open House and I'm sitting at 50/50 in terms of timing it right for a Christmas bloom.  My instincts (largely based on this year) is that I should start these earlier - mostly so they'll be ready for the Babe's annual Birthday party - which takes place about a week before Christmas. 

But, there isn't enough data.  One bulb:  six weeks to full bloom.  This bulb?  Likely eight weeks or more. 

Year three will, I suppose, tilt the operation one way or the other once we see how long that one takes to bloom.

Bird Visitor Log: Northern Flicker

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The last time I added an entry to the [backyard bird visitor log] was back in April when I documented the American Goldfinch.  Today, I'm adding the Northern Flicker to the list.  You'll have to trust me because I didn't have my phone on me when I was watching the feeders, but due to the yellow feathers and the huge size of this bird, I'm confirming a Northern Flicker.  I recognize that this isn't quite how it supposed to work but ever since Nat gave me a pair of binoculars as a gift last year, my bird viewing has improved, but my camera skills have remained flat.  So, I'm seeing *more*, but not necessarily photographing *more*.

This is the second woodpecker that we've added to the visitor log - the first of which was the Red-Bellied Woodpecker.

Full [bird feeder visitor log] set of seven entries here on the blog:

This Northern Flicker.Not in our backyard, but up in Wisconsin - this pair of Scarlet TanagersA series of American GoldfinchesA White-Breasted Nu…

Princess Illiniwek - 1943 War-Time Chief

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What do you do when most of the men on campus are tied up with military programs in 1943 and there's nobody with the free time who can participate in the role of Chief Illiniwek at the University of Illinois?  You introduce "Princess Illiniwek". 

Her name was Idelle Brooks and that's her up there in the photo at the top of this post.  I came across this story in a book that I dug out from our bookshelves.  You can see that book below - it is from the News-Gazette and I *think* it came out during the 'Last Dance' time when they retired the Chief. 


More on that war-time period in Champaign-Urbana (including photos and other what-have-yous) can be found here.

A Trip to Harrah's Joliet

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Over the break, I went down to Joliet for a little bit of gambling with Nat's Grampy and Great Uncle.  They're regulars there, so they knew the ropes.  Me?  First timer.  Well, that's not actually true.  But I was a first time registrant in their "Total Rewards" program.  The guys played video poker and I poked around at a couple of slot machines.  I ended up - get this - walking away with a few hundred dollars in my pocket! 

Beginners luck, I suppose.

I also found that they had this little soda machine in the corner of the casino floor.  It is a free-style-like machine, but it is from Pepsi, which was new to me. 


This was interesting to me in that it shows how they're removing people from the equation at the casinos.  First it was the change machines and ticket machines.  Where they replaced cashiers. 

Now soda machines to reduce the number of waitresses who are walking the floor.