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Showing posts from January, 2019

Belgian Fence Espalier Inspiration Via Disneyland

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I've written about the pair of Greenspire Linden trees that we have in our backyard that I espalier'd in the late Summer of 2017, right after we moved in a few times here on the blog - with the most recent being in May of last year where I showed the tree's buds about to burst open to lifeHere's a post from September of 2017 that I showed the espalier system that I used (wires and posts) and why I chose to put them a little bit further away from the fence than one would normally.

Those two espalier'd trees are done in what is known as the "cordon" style.  Or, maybe, a "Double Cordon" or "Triple Cordon" because we have (currently) four rows of branches.

Cordon is just one of the styles that are popular with the others being Candelabra and something called the "Belgian Fence".

Here's a breakdown of some of the most common versions of espalier from "State by State Gardening" below.  Link to the image here.

The …

Cold Couple of Days in Downers Grove (and the rest of Northern Illinois)

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As of this morning, it has gotten down to -22 degrees fahrenheit with wind chills down to -49 degrees fahrenheit.  You can see in the image above that it appears that tomorrow early am is going to be a couple of degrees colder.

But, not sure it will break the record of -27 degrees - which happened during my lifetime in January of 1985.  I don't have any memory of the cold of 1985, but I *do* have vivid memories of the Polar Vortex of 2014 that sat over Elmhurst (and all of Northern Illinois) for two days.  It was cold those days, but not so cold that they shut down the mail.  In fact, Nat spotted our mail carrier out delivering mail and invited him in to warm up.  We had another smaller Polar Vortex in 2015 (I think it was classified as such??) and I posted about how we ended up with just a little bit of cabin fever and went outside to make a quick snow angel for like 4 minutes here on the blog.

So...how cold is it today?  The United States Postal Service has suspended mail deliv…

Disneyland Bathroom Hotel Wallpaper: Original Attractions

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Why not make the bathroom awesome, right?  That's what, I'm sure the Imagineers said who were putting the final touches on the Disneyland Hotel.  As I've mentioned before, you should - if you can swing it - stay there on your visit to the Disneyland Resort.   Most recently, we failed to take my own advice and stayed at a "Good Neighbor" hotel (c'mon...let's be honest here:  it was a motel).

To make-up for our staying outside the 'Disney Bubble' and to kind-of recreate a special character meal we had a few years back, we booked a breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen.  The restaurant is in the convention center building that is right next door to the Fantasy Tower.  Here's a map from the OC Register that shows the Disneyland Hotel footprint.

If you wander off to the bathroom that is outside of the restaurant, you enter one that is set up for conventions.  It has a lot of room.  The bathroom itself isn't worth commenting on.  But, the wallpaper …

Lamplight Lounge Coaster - Added to Collection #34

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Just to make things simple here for the record keeper at the 'official' coaster collection archives, I'm calling this just one coaster.  You can see a bunch of coasters in the photos of this post and one side of them are all different, but just to keep things simple here, let's call this one coaster.

And that coaster is pretty neat:  it is from the new (at least kinda new) Lamplight Lounge at Disney California Adventure.

As I've posted over time, we're lounge people when it comes to Disney parks and dining.  After taking some advice from Pam at the BoG Podcast, we've sought out more and more lounges.  They don't require ADRs and you can get pretty good food in an atmosphere that we can enjoy and the kids can tolerate.

This place - the Lamplight Lounge - is called a 'lounge', but it also takes ADRs.  Or at least reservations via the Disneyland mobile app - which is a bit different than WDW ADRs.  But, you get it, right?  Also, the food is a bit …

Meeting the (Unofficial) Mayor of Buena Vista Street - Donna Linn De Larria

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Add another 'streetmosphere' character to the list of folks that we've met at the Disney Parks over the years.  Today's post is about Donna Linn De Larria - one of the "Citizens of Buena Vista Street" in Disney California Adventure.

She's a lot like the "Citizens of Hollywood" that greet guests at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, but she's in California. 

We met Donna and her dog Lady one morning on our recent visit.  MousePlanet has the full list and details of the Citizens of Buena Vista Street hereFrom their notes about Donna, we find out that she's the 'unofficial mayor'. 

From MousePlanet and their post about all the 'Citizens':
Donna is the unofficial mayor of Buena Vista St.. You usually see her with her dog, Lady. The kids love to meet the dog and pet her of course. She is happy to give you directions to any attractions. She is also happy that women just got the vote and has no plans on running for ac…

Disneyland Resort Tile Inspiration for Basement?

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Over the years, I've posted a few times on tilework done at Disney Parks.  It has been a source of inspiration and admiration both for us as we built our house and how we observe the world. 

First, I covered the tilework in the Peter Pan queue in Fantasyland at Walt Disney World.  Then, I came across the tile in PizzaRizzo at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Both served as inspiration for our vestibule tile work that we eventually incorporated into the house. 

Today's post shows some tile that is the Ariel ride at Disney's California Adventure.  Turns out, this is, I think, called the San Felipe style of tile

Think about the beating this tile is taking at Disney California Adventure.  Hundreds of thousands of people are walking across this every month.  And it looks great. 

As we are beginning to think about our basement build-out, tile is something to think about and this struck some part of inspiration in me.  Now....we all know that I'm out of the committee that …

Disneyland Park Christmastime Parks Map

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Putting this photo here in the ole' online diary to note the inclusion of this seasonal Parks Map.  I've posted other Disney Parks maps/guides including both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea here.  And a guide for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party from 2017 here.  Over the past ten days or so, I've posted some items from our recent trip to DLR but really didn't mention the trip. 

We've been to Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Park a few times over the years, but this trip was just a little interlude before a larger Disney-centric vacation.  We stayed for a few nights and spent a good chunk of the days at the Parks in Anaheim.  Would we do things differently?  I think so, but we decided to try something new and NOT take my own advice.  What was that advice? 

From this post on Disneyland in 2016, I said:
If you get a chance, stay at the Disneyland Hotel at the Disneyland Resort. They really drape themselves in Walt and the place is themed to Disney itse…

Carthay Circle Lounge - Walt Disney Family Museum Displays (Donald Duck)

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On our recent trip to Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort, we had a dinner at the Carthay Circle Lounge.  NOT at the restaurant, but downstairs in the lounge that doesn't require reservations.  We waited in a short line, then were lead into the outer lounge space - that doubles as kind of the lobby - for the upstairs restaurant.  We were *just* outside of the formal lounge, but had nice plush chairs and a little table.  Nat had a cocktail, I had a beer flight and we ate a bunch of the small plates.

But, none of that was the star.  Nope.  That's because right beside our table was a display case that had all these Donald Duck products in it.  And if you look closely, the consumer products are all in almost perfect mint condition.  There's Cheese Quackers from Nabisco that has a nice Donald Duck-tie-in.  But then there's just a bunch of random products that they appear to have slapped the Donald Duck name/brand on.  I mean...Tomato Juice?  Grapefruit Sec…

Vintage Disneyland Tray Found At Blue Sky Cellar

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Back last Summer, I posted a 'one that got away' about a vintage Disneyland drink tray that I came across.  It was white, but had the state of California and a bunch of characters.   I admired the tray, but quickly realized that I can appreciate it without actually having to own it.  Besides...there are really just a handful of times a year (for us) that we could actually use a tray like this one.

But then....we stopped into the Blue Sky Cellar.  It is in Disney's California Adventure and included a bunch of models and Imagineering stuff.  There are interactive cards to fill out, a video to watch and artifacts to gaze over.

They bill "Blue Sky" as the first step in the Imagineering process.


In amongst the artifacts was that black Disneyland beverage tray that you see at the very top of this post.  I'm certain there were a bunch of iterations of the Disneyland tray, but now we know of at least two of them.  While my initial thought was to adore the white vers…

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:



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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…