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Showing posts from October, 2019

Macy's State Street Christmas Windows - Prepping For Reveal 2019

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I walked by Marshall Field's Macy's this week and noticed that they've converted their State Street windows to the usual 'Pardon our appearance.  Something Magical is in store.' signage covering up the soon-to-be-revealed Holiday Christmas windows.

One big flag to me is that they've only covered up the State Street side and not the one or two windows on the Randolph Street side.  In year's past, they've used those two windows to do something a little bit history-oriented like this one in 2017.   Hopefully there will be a little Uncle Mistletoe in the windows and we don't get NYC's sloppy seconds again.

Edging for Backyard Path - Brick or Metal or Natural

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On my post yesterday where I scored my yard/garden activity for the year, I included some initial thoughts about what I am thinking about doing next year.  On that list was to build the first section of the backyard 'path'.  I mentioned that I also need to figure out the edging - because what I start with is what I'll end up using going forward.

I recently saw this photo from Laura at Garden Answer where she was sharing the beds out front of her chicken coop and was drawn to the brick edging that she's using.



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Chicken coop area is all cleaned up! Next thing to do is add some greenhouse plastic to the top and sides of their run to give them a warmer, dry place to move around for the winter! It’s going to look so classy... 😆🤦‍♀️ Oh well, happy chickens are more important! A post shared by Garden Answer (@gardenanswer) on Oct 22, 2019 at 8:20am PDT
That is so simple, but looks really nice against the gravel, right?

I found this video where sh…

My 2019 Yard To-Do List Scorecard

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Earlier this year, I set out a Yard & Garden To-Do List and a To-Do List Addendum that outlined 17 (10 on original list, 7 on Addendum) tasks that I wanted to tackle.  With the month of October coming to a close, I think it is worth taking a look and scoring myself.

So...how did I do?  7 of the 10.  Missed on the Belgian Fence, Angel Topiary and raised beds.

The original ten items on the list:
1.  Improve the soil.  Check. And Check.  And Check.
2.  Plant a Belgian Fence.  Nope.
3.  Try metal frame topiary.  Kinda.  I tried pruning small shrubs for topiary or bonsai.
4.  Do the Angel topiary.  Nope.
5.  Plant a Yew hedge.  Yes!
6.  Move Automower Boundary wires.  Yes.  No more getting caught up under the trampoline.
7.  Prune the Linden Espalier.  Yes.
8.  Add conifers.  A couple of them.  And planted sixtiny Canadian Hemlocks.  Lost one so far.
9.  Build and plant a raised bed vegetable garden.  Nope.
10.  Remember the 'path'.  Yes.  Behind the Yew hedge.

What about the o…

Sugar Plum Bakery - Lemax 2019

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Another 'new' for 2019 building from Lemax at Menards is this Sugar Plum Bakery.  The product page is here on Lemax's site.  It is part of the Santa's Wonderland collection. 

This is the 3rd Christmas Village building from the Menards Enchanted Forest Christmas display that I've posted on the blog this year.

First was the North Pole Tower - part of Santa's Wonderland.
Yesterday was The Hop Stop craft brew building - part of Harvest Crossing. 

This is a standard, non-animated building that is being retailed for $34.99.

Once again, Mantleburg isn't growing as it seems the citizens won't be having a prosperous Christmas once again this year as the town continues to shrink. 

Lemax The Hop Stop - Christmas Village - 2019

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The craft brewing craze has hit Lemax's Christmas Village in the form of The Hop Stop.  This is new in 2019 - for Lemax and being sold at Menards and is currently listed for $34.99 as part of the Harvest Crossing series

This is the second day of posting some Lemax Christmas Village buildings from Menards.  Yesterday, I posted some images of the animated North Pole Tower

Mantleburg had a tavern back in the day, but one would think that the tough times might bring about even more drinking establishments, but the Hop Stop is a little too bougie for a town like Mantleburg that is down on it's luck. 


Lemax North Pole Tower - 2019

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The time has come for the Lemax Christmas Village posts from the setup at Menards.  I've done this over the years as my interest grew in the little village things and now that my interest is on the wane, I still enjoy going to see the setup and posting some of the more interesting structures. 

The first one up is this North Pole Tower that is animated and makes some sound.  You can see the animation in the top image and the product page is here on the Lemax site.  This is new to me - and I think new to Menards - but it was released in 2018.  Part of the Santa's Wonderland series, I suppose it would be nice in Mantleburg, but the town has fallen on some seriously hard times.  Oh, and for you crazy people...this thing retails for $99.99.  Woah. 




A Visit to Richardson Adventure Farm - World's Largest Corn Maze - 2019

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A couple of weekends back, we took the kids to Richardson Adventure Farm up near the Illinois/Wisconsin border for some - you know - "Fall Fun".  This place has pig races, corn cannons, jumpy houses, zip lines, little rides and...the "World's Largest Corn Maze".  This year's theme is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo program.  We decided to try one of the smallest sections with the kids and they provided us a tip:  "take every left turn".  We did that and ended up at the exit in short order. 

How do they make these mazes?  Sounds like there's a technology-enabled GPS way.  And a different, more old-fashioned way


The Richardson folks also run a tree farm that we visited to check out as a potential option for trees this year.  More on that in another post.

Confused Rhododendron Flowering in Fall - 2019

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It appears that we have a confused rhododendron in our backyard.  Nat told me that one of our two rhododendrons were flowering out back and I didn't believe her.  Wrong time of year.  I went back there - and sure enough - she was right.  A small purple flower had emerged from one of the buds that the shrub has been setting as it heads into dormancy. 

This same thing happened last year with our Chanticleer Pear flowering tree out front - it flowered in early November

Back to the rhododendron, it appears (for now) that there's just one flower, so I'm not concerned.  This story claims that it isn't that rare for them to flower in the Autumn.  I'll return to these shrubs before the Winter sets in with a Wilt-Pruf application like I've did last year.

Catalpa Tree - October 2019 Tree Inventory

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Yesterday, I posted a photo of the large Oak tree that we use for our tree swing and today, I'm posting another larger tree in our yard that is pre-losing its leaves:  one of our Catalpa trees.  We have four of them and there are actually three in this photo.  The large one in the middle of course coupled with a Walnut tree on the left that has lost all of its leaves already.  But, tucked on in on either side of the Walnut tree?  A pair of small Catalpa trees:


You may or may not know Catalpa trees, as I didn't either until we moved in and inherited these.  They're a pretty unique tree because they are considered what I would call an 'All of the above' tree.  That means they're a shade tree.  And a flowering tree.  And an ornamental tree. 

They flower in the late Spring and have beans in the Fall.  And the leaves are H-U-G-E.  I like a lot about these trees, but I don't think that I've ever come across them in the nursery. They're native, so you wil…

Large Oak Tree Canopy - October 2019 Inventory

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Last Summer, I documented the 'mighty' Oak Tree that we inherited in our backyard here on the blog in June.  As we're moving to late October, I wanted to post here the view - looking northeast - of the same tree and canopy before it drops all of its leaves.  This was a Mast Year and it dropped thousands of acorns, but like always, the leaves are clinging on to "fall" what seems to be the last leaves in the yard every year.

There's no way to know how old this tree is, but I know we lop'd off some limbs before we built and opened up the tree a bit.  That means that this year, we saw quite a bit of growth on the large limbs to 'puff them up' a bit with new branches/leaf clumps.  The tips grew just fine, but that exposure of new parts of the central limbs has allowed the tree to fatten up a bit more this season.

ANA Star Wars BB-8 Livery at O'Hare Airport (Boeing 767-300)

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I was sitting at the gate in my American Airlines plane waiting to back away when this ANA plane taxi'ed by our gate.  ANA is a Japanese carrier that is doing a "Star Wars Project" as they call it.  I've flown a few times to Japan (Narita), but I've only flown either United or JAL.  This BB-8 livery is one of three in the Star Wars fleet:  they also have a R2-D2 and C-3PO versions.

If you're interested in seeing it, the fine folks at Flight Radar 24 have provided this tracking link:  Follow the BB-8 777-300ER with registration JA789A.

For you #AvGeeks, the BB-8 livery is on a Boeing 767-300.  This plane is awfully cute - but I think it is pretty clear: the C-3PO livery is the *best* one of the three, right? 

Check out the release on the ANA Star Wars site here for full details including the cabin details that match the livery:

Here's (below) another look at the BB-8 Boeing 767-300 that I spotted at O'hare earlier this month:


This isn't the only - …

Sunday Fertilizer Lawn Nitrogen Burning - Large Yard Beta Test Update

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted the details of how I was participating in the Get Sunday Large Yard Beta Test for fertilizer.  They shipped me a couple of bags of granular product and a large hopper Chapin broadcast spreader.  In that post, I disclosed that I wasn't thrilled with the Chapin spreader - and put down too much of the product in the location I was loading.  From that post:
I ended up spreading a little bit too much in one spot. The spreader had a little malfunction (operator error??) so when I was filling it the first time, I ended up dropping A LOT of the product in one place. This Sunday GrowGreen product isn't billed as 'non-burning', so I'm assuming that I'm going to get a big burn spot. I did my best to get as much of the product out of the one spot - first by hand. Then with my blower. Then I watered the heck out of the area to try to saturate the turf with water in a hope that watering it down would do something? We'll see what hap…

Red Maple Sun Valley Maple Update - Fall 2019

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Our little Red Maple Sun Valley Maple Tree in the far back of our yard is putting on a little bit of a Fall show right now.  As the name implies, it is *supposed* to be a lovely red show.  Like this.  Ours isn't, ummm, red.  But it *is* yellow.  And that's what happened last year, too.  Here's a post from early November that shows the tree in early Fall and then during its yellow phase

This Maple tree was planted on Earth Day in 2018 and was a tiny little thing.  It has since grown up a bit - both in height and caliper. 

In the [tree inventory] of 2018, it topped out at 96" in June of 2018.
This year's [tree inventory], showed it had gained 12" and is now 108" tall

This is a tree planted not for today, but for the long term. (Remember..."He who plants Oaks Maples, looks forward to future ages...") It is a tree that is for 20 years from now and one that we planted in the rear part of the yard because we know that one day, the giant Walnut tr…

Rear Foundation Boxwoods - Fall 2019 Update

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Above is a look at the four boxwoods that are planted right outside of our Kitchen windows next to the foundation.  I last posted a photo of these four shrubs back in April of this year when I was taking off the Winter Burn from them and shaping them a little bit.   They've really grown quite a bit and green'd up on their tips in a nice way.

A lot of boxwoods in our neighborhood took hard hits from Winter Burn this past Winter - including a few of ours in front - but these seem to have totally recovered nicely.  The two in front are now larger than the two in back.  I was initially thinking of clipping these into nicely shaped orbs, but now that I've seen the Jacques Wirtz-inspired hedge of boxwoods outside of the Fedex World Headquarters, I'm thinking I can grow these together and make a more cloud-like shape out of all four of them. 

The other thing to note in this [Garden Diary] post is the other plant in the photo.  No...it isn't a weed.  Well, not a weed in t…

Fall Lawn Spraying - Creeping Charlie - 2019

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This is the first season that I've really paid a lot of attention to the lawn in any sort of meaningful way.  I've posted about it all year, but normally, I just dealt with the length of the grass and that's about it.  Weeds?  Sure.  Fertilizer?  If I remembered.  But, this year, I've upped my cutting and feeding game.  And also, for the first time used some herbicides to tackle the weeds.

In the far back of the yards, I had a pretty serious Creeping Charlie issue that is a result of the lawn being untouched since before we moved in our house.  I posted in late May about how I started to use a Blue Spray Pattern Indicator in the sprayer to know where I was putting down the treatment.  I had both Wild Violet and Creeping Charlie running through the yard and the herbicide worked well.  In my mind, the blue pattern indicator additive was part of the reason for the efficacy because I was able to tell both how much and where I was putting it down.

This Fall (the past few w…

Fighting Illini Football Coke Zero Bottle (With The Old Block I)

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As part of the 'Share a Coke' campaign, it seems that the fine folks at Coca-Cola are running some college football team logos on their bottles.  Above...you'll see the Block I from what I'm pretty sure is the Fighting Illini.  More on this in a moment.

Below, you'll see the other side with a football helmet.


Here (below) is another football team logo - this one from Ole Miss.  I bought both of these in Memphis.  Hence...why I was uncertain if the Block I is *really* the Illini?  It *has* to be, right?


The problem is that Coke is using the OLD Block I.  They updated it a few years back to include these rounded inside corners.  See the brand guidelines here.  Or here

Below is the "new" Block I - with those rounded inside corner.  Wonder how that happened?

I've posted Coca-Cola products here on the blog before including these from Singapore.  And these from France.  And this one that ALMOST got my name right.

Menards Mickey and Minnie Christmas Blowmolds - 2019

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At the beginning of the month, I posted a couple of photos of the beginning of Menards Christmas setup at their Bolingbrook store.  The 'Enchanted Forest" is something that I look forward to every year as they always have some new items to check out.  Anybody who has been in a big box store during the holidays the past few years will attest that there is a HUGE market for inflatable outdoor decorations.  I've succumbed to the inflatable trend and we have a couple of BIG ones we put out at Halloween.  
But, Menards is also holding strong with the blowmold market.  They put out holiday blowmolds for Halloween - and I've covered them here on the blog before - and looking at the analytics of this site, that's a popular post, so plenty of people are looking for Halloween Blowmolds from Menards.  
There's more Halloween blowmolds in this post from 2011, too.   
They also do quite a bit of Christmas blowmolds as part of their Enchanted Forest including these two you…

Garden Dreaming: Zoe The Garden Gnome @ Wannemaker's

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We were recently at Wannemakers in Downers Grove to pick up a few Fall items (cabbages for the outdoor planters and the like) and - like I usually do when I'm there - I ended up wandering around their fountain and statue area.  I last posted about the fountains in 2018 here on the blog when I was dreaming about a backyard fountain in various shapes and sizes.  I think I've settled on either a bubbler or one of those fountains with a large, ground-level bowl/pool.  (more on that in another post, I suppose...)

And then earlier this Summer, I posted about how I've been looking to find another cast iron gnome to add to our garden and how they're either super expensive (vintage) or hard to find (not available very often at retail, so I've been hunting at Estate Sales and Flea Markets), and turned my attention to a possible concrete/stone Gnome that I found from Henri Studios.  The guy I started to be drawn to was named Ziggie and he's more than 2 feet tall.

Right n…

Cybill Shepherd - Duck Walk of Fame Plaque in Memphis

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As I was walking around Memphis on my recent trip, I came across a few of these 'Duck' plaques in the street around the Peabody Hotel.  Turns out, they have a "Duck Walk of Fame" and a few weeks before I arrived, they inducted Cybill Shepherd into the Hall.  
From the Daily Memphian on September 6, 2019: Actress, singer, model and Memphian Cybill Shepherd was honored in her hometown on Sept. 5, when she was inducted into The Peabody hotel's Duck Walk Hall of Fame.  Shepherd, 69, said during the event that she always wanted to join Elvis Presley, Danny Thomas and other influential Memphis figures who are immortalized on the sidewalk outside the landmark Downtown hotel. Hadn't thought much about Cybill Shepherd in years - but I remember my parents watching Moonlighting with her and Bruce Willis back in the day.  There's been some chatter about a reboot of the show, so maybe she'll get even more exposure in the future?
The plaques are spread out along Un…

Menards O Gauge Piggly Wiggly Building

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We were at Menards recently (of course we were) and in addition to all their Christmas decorations being out on display, we took a spin through their other seasonal section including the O Gauge train setup.  There were a few interesting buildings that I haven't seen before including a branded Starbucks store and this vintage-looking Wally's Shell station.  But, this grocery store - the Piggly Wiggly - is one of the standouts.  The product listing on Menards site is here where you can find all the details.

(Well...maybe this UFO scene with an animated claw device pulling a cow into the belly of the ship is a standout, too!  Or...maybe this odd Taco Bell with a drive-thru?

The Piggly Wiggly is a nice Wisconsin-centric addition to the line of buildings that Menards continues to put out every year.  There are more than 50 Piggly Wigglys in Wisconsin - including the only one I've ever been to in Lake Geneva.

Here, below, is Menards video that shows off that lit-up and animate…

Fedex Worldwide Headquarters Landscape Hedge Inspiration

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Yesterday, I posted about the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and mentioned that this was my first time visiting the city.  I didn't get to see much of that the city has to offer - no Beale Street, etc - but I did have bbq from Central BBQ (which was recommended) and made a visit to another big landmark in town.  That's what you see in the photo above:  the entrance gates to the Fedex World Headquarters.

You can find quiteabit online about the Headquarters project related to the building and grounds and the various building and LEED certifications that the project undertook, but I haven't been able to find any documentation about the landscape and landscape design.  And that means that I can't - with certainty - understand what is going on with the entrance hedge that you see above.

I snapped this photo out the van window while we were waiting to be admitted to the grounds and I was struck by the boxwood hedge that is in place out front of the campus.

What does …

Columnar Tree Tips via Pretty Purple Door

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I've written pretty extensively on my love of columnar trees here on the blog.  We have this stand of eight Frans Fontaine European Hornbeams (that you see some of above) and have this Weeping White Spruce that I picked up this season in our yard.  And I'vepostedmultipletimesabout the columnar street trees of Tokyo over the years.  My love of columnar, narrow trees is something I've think I've well established here.  But, that doesn't mean that I  know everything about them!

Recently, I read a note from Amy in from Pretty Purple about her take on narrow trees and thought it was worth sharing here.   Those of you who read the blog might remember Pretty Purple Door from my post earlier this year talking about tulip bulb colors and how she outlined some of the ways to make colors work together (add yellow!).

In her post about narrow trees, she talks about how/why these trees work in suburban yards (space, duh!).  She includes some varieties that are probably known to…

The Peabody Hotel In Memphis

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I made a stop in Memphis, Tennessee recently (my first trip there) and I didn't stay at the Peabody Hotel.  Nope.  I stayed next door.  At a...ummm...not so great place.  It was fine.  But it wasn't the Peabody.  And, I do love me some historic hotels, so I had to stop in during one of the breaks to take a look around the lobby.

From their site:
Known as the “South’s Grand Hotel,” The Peabody is legendary for its charm, elegance, gracious hospitality and rich history. This Memphis icon, opened in 1869, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is world-famous for its five resident ducks, who march daily through the lobby at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Of course, I had to see the ducks.  But, I didn't see them arrive or depart.  They were just kind of hanging out in the fountain in the lobby.


And...that two-story lobby?  It is spectacular.  Worth going to have a drink there if you are in town.
I've covered some other historic hotels here on the blog.

Earlier th…

The Sunday Fertilizer Large Lawn Beta Test - Fall 2019

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If you're like me, and you follow lawn/landscape/gardening people on Instagram, you've likely been targeted with a fertilizer product called Sunday.  They're a 'better lawn' company that can send you - on a schedule - a tailored nutrient plan that is healthy (for kids, pets and the environment), easy (just arrives and you have to apply it) and effective (will keep your turf in a good spot).   That's a really powerful value proposition, right?  I want something that is easy to put down.  Something that works - and keeps my lawn green.  And...importantly....I want it safe for my kids and dog.  I've gone to organic with Milorganite and I don't think I want to go back to a synthetic.  
Of all the Direct-To-Consumer 'subscription' services that have popped up, I think the two that meet me right where I am are a furnace filter one and a lawn care/fertilizer one.  
Unfortunately, the furnace filter service(s) are tailored to people that have/use thin …