I've just done something that feels a little bit out of my comfort zone. I've registered for a pizza making class via Zoom that is coming up in a few weeks. I'm thinking it is going to be incredibly interesting and fun and I'll learn quite a bit about Bar Pizza. There is a little bit of prep homework you have to complete before the class begins including making some dough, prepping the various items and making some sauce. The instructor (Pizza Web OG Adam Kuban) included in the class instructions a mention of his favorite tomatoes: Scalfani Crushed Tomatoes. I had not heard of them before. But, it turns out, they're available on Amazon for a 12 pack for $27.82 . That is NOT an affiliate link. The cans are adorable. Here is the listing below: With 12 cans, they come out to be $2.32 per can, which I can't hardly beat at the local Mariano's. Seems like only the Kroger house brand is typically cheaper at $1.99. And most recently, our local Mariano
Showing posts from January, 2021
Here's a matched set of Disney Parks pins that were in that little stash that we came across last weekend - but these are a matched set of a matched set. Of holiday character themed-mittens. With the whole Bernie Sanders inauguration mittens meme, I'm so *on* trend right with this post now, amiright? The first one below is from 2015 Christmas at the Polynesian Resort (note: not yet the Polynesian Village Resort) featuring Stitch. And the other one on the left is from the same 2015 Christmas/holiday celebration at Disney's Contemporary Resort featuring...for some reason...Tinkerbell in a Santa hat and outfit. Both of these are on cute cards that carry the whole mittens-theme forward and are both marked "Limited Edition". This is the most recent of the discovered 'stash' pins from Disney Parks on the blog. ALL of my posts about various Disney Parks trading pins can be found here . I also have created this running log of everything I've posted
As I often do during the deep part of Winter, my brain starts to think about the garden and the projects that I'd like to take on this season. I've done a couple of years of to-do lists and those have been good ways of forcing me to focus. In each of those years ( 2019 and 2020 ), I included trying a metal-frame topiary to the list. And in both of those years, I never check the idea off my list . But, that hasn't stopped me from thinking about how to pull one off. And, as I was tool'ing around the Web recently, I came across this Etsy store that sells all sorts of topiary frame s. They're all really great. Go have a look at this Pikachu one . Or this Mickey Mouse head . They also sell a full-body Mickey Mouse which looks really great . It is $300, so maybe a little rich for a first-timer like me. But, there also was one that caught my attention. It is the one featuring Auburn University's A/U logo. Here's a screenshot of the listing below. (Ag
Yesterday, I shared a photo of a newly cropped small fern that I tried to bring inside this Fall and promptly neglected . I mentioned that I repotted it, fed it and the lopped off the dead stuff. I've put it out on the screened porch in the hopes that between the moderate temperatures, the higher humidity (than inside) and the light, it will recover with some new growth. In that post, I mentioned that this fern was the second transplant project from outside with the first one being successful. Hence, me thinking I could revive the fern in the same way. *That* first successful transplant was a Wire Vine plant. (or Angel Vine). It is named Muehlenbeckia complexa and Nat had it out in one of our planters on our front porch this Summer. We dug it up, transplanted it and...mostly forgot about it. I noticed it was stressed, so I transplanted it, gave it some composted manure, watered it pretty good and gave it a haircut. I lop'd off all of the shoots that were bare and cut
One of the girls bought a small/miniature fern for their fairy garden in the Summer of 2019 and I somehow was able to yank it out of the garden, pot it and keep it alive all last Winter into this past Spring. When the warm weather arrived, I put the pot out on the back stoop and the fern seemed to be happy. I brought it in this fall and promptly neglected it. I came across it and noticed that it was dried out, brittle and rootbound. I repotted it and moved it to something larger, fed it with some composted manure and put it out on the screened porch. It looked like this after repotting: It isn't happy looking. That's (I think) a combination of neglect and the stress of coming inside to deal with the dry, indoor air and what I'm guessing is some level of dormancy-induced decline due to Winter. All of the leaves are dry and a lot of the fronds are brittle. If you pinch them and slide up/down, you can peel off the leaves on about 1/3rd of the fronds. I decided to do
Almost three weeks ago, I posted my last update on our 2020/2021 Christmas Amaryllis bulb that Nat picked up kind of last minute at Trader Joe's. This year, we went back to basics with a no-name flower and a bulb that was dipped in wax. My expectations were really low. But, this thing has - despite it's low-end roots - has done as good of a job as almost every other Amaryllis that we've had over the years. Back in early January, this one was in peak bloom , but today? It is still blooming. I'm thinking these three blooms that are on the stalk might be the final ones, but they're showing off deep into January. See the current state below: Last year, one of our Amaryllis (the Cherry Nymph Red Amaryllis) was blooming late into February , and one of ours in 2019 went through March , so I've certainly had blooms well past January 26th. But, those bulbs were hand-picked and potted in soil. I suppose that this might serve as as much of a *proper* debrief
Another day, another pin for the archives here on the blog. These are all from the little stash that I found last week that had a bunch of unopened (and not put on the pin board) pins from a couple of trips in 2015 and 2016. First was this 2015 Christmas pin with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee , then yesterday I posted a pin from Hollywood Studios that showed off the final year of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in 2015 . Today is the third new pin, but this one is from 2016. It is from the 2016 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and features Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in what I think is kind of an homage to their topiaries. I've posted about the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival/show before here on the blog - including this Tow Mater topiary from 2015 . I also posted some photos of some plants from the 2016 festival and we were there in 2018 to pick up this Passholder Magnet from the Festival . I don't know how many years we've been to the
Here comes the second newly discovered Disney Parks trading pin from this stash that I turned up when cleaning out a closet . All of the pins seem to be from 2015/2016 and a series of them appear to be special-event or limited edition in nature. Two days ago, I posted a photo of a Captain Hook and Mr. Smee Holiday pin from the 2015 Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party pin . Today, is ANOTHER Christmas pin, but from a different park. It features The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights from Disney's Hollywood Studios and has Santa Mickey Mouse and Santa Minnie Mouse along with a photo card that features all the little lights. We saw these lights in what appears to be the final year at the park - 2015 - and we were blown away by them. Here's a few photos of our visit that I'm not sure I ever posted about here on the blog: Disney Parks, Entertainment and Products Group - DPEP - donated these lights to Give Kids the World Village and they had a little show this
For the last ten-plus years, I've been using a couple of stadium cups that I've picked up over the years to fill our bird feeders. One of them is this one you see below from the Detroit Tigers - featuring Tiger Stadium. Here's one side showing a sepia tone photo of the old ball park. Unfortnately, if you look at the bottom of the cup, you'll see why I'm posting these photos. This one finally cracked and is no longer useful for seed. Here's the back that chronicles the history - starting with the name change to Briggs Stadium in 1961, and renovations in 1979, 1980 and 1993. A key note, is the year on the bottom of the cup. Although it is blurry, it reads 1999. See below: What's interesting is that 1999 was the last year for Tiger Stadium. My sister and Equation Boy/Man were living up in Detroit (or...Birmingham) at the time and we were able to get to a game in the final season. I have no recollection of who the Tigers played, but I held onto this cu
One of the pins in the stash that I posted about yesterday from what seems to be a couple of Disney Parks trip in 2015 and 2016 is this Christmas pin you see below. It is marked "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2015" as well as "Limited Edition". It features Captain Hook and his guy Smee and has a ribbon bow affixed to the front of the trading pin: Looking through the archives, it seems that I documented a few of these back in the day - including these two companion pins from the very same 2015 Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom and these Haunted Mansion one from the same series , too.
I recently came across a little stash of unopened, undocumented (at least here on the blog) of Disney Parks trading pins from 2015 and 2016 that are mostly still on the cards they came with when we bought them. Here's a look at the little Perry the Platypus lunchpail that I stored them in: I'm going to pick through these and see how many of them that I haven't documented and will push some of them here on the blog.
Just two days ago, I posted my latest progress photo of this 750 piece Disney Parks collectible pin jigsaw puzzle that I had - to that point - been working on for two weeks. Today, I can say that I've completed my third Winter COVID puzzle. See below for the full reveal: First was a 300 piece Christmas puzzle. I didn't take any photos of it, unfortunately. Second was a 1000 piece Harry Potter book cover puzzle that I did over break. And third, is this Disney Parks pin puzzle. This one is pretty disorienting. It was hard to train my eyes to review the back of the box for the actual image because with so much going on, it was VERY natural for my eyes to just kind of wander around. Up next is the Kodak one that you see at the top of the photo. Yeah...Kodak. Weird, right? They went from cameras and film to, umm, puzzles? Must be a licensing deal. Well, that was a gift and is of backyard birds at a feeder, so it will be quite appropriate for putting together on the
A few weeks back, I attended my first in-person work meeting in 2021. In fact, it has been the ONLY one that I've attended all this year. And, one of the precautions that the team that I was visiting has been taking was the application of this yellow and black tape to the floor as a visual reminder of social distancing. This was in a conference room and is meant to remind the user to stay in the square so they can safely stay at least six feet away from other attendees. Posting this not because it is a unique experience for the world, but rather as a sort of COVID-era artifact that I encountered as we begin to return to work in offices.
A few weeks back, I posted a photo to mark the beginning of my second Winter Break COVID puzzle - this 750 piece puzzle featuring Disney pins that you can trade in/around the parks. Well, I hit it hard out of the gate - while I was still had some time away from work. But, then, reality hit and my days were filled with Microsoft Teams calls. As with my previous COVID puzzles (a smaller, 300-piece Christmas one and a 1000-piece Harry Potter-themed one ) that I successfully completed, I set this Disney Pins puzzle up in the screened porch where there is a lot of light and plenty of company. After starting strong, this puzzle seemed to just kind of sit idle. Couple work stuff with the kids using my puzzle table to do their Christmas Lego sets and this one got shelved for a bit. But, this past weekend, I picked up where I left off, reset a few of the pieces that had come up and got busy. Here's where I ended the weekend: Pretty close to being done. I think one or two more s
In terms of "super groups", I think we all can agree that the Traveling Wilburys are tops. There are some that are part of my lifetime (like Temple of the Dog and Oysterhead) and plenty of them from way before my life including CSNY and Cream. Rolling Stone has a pretty good list here . The reason I bring it up is that I've come across a new (to me) supergroup: The Dirty Mac. Like all of you Google Music users, I've had to make the (TERRIBLE) migration to YouTube Music. Can I tell you how much I dislike YouTube Music? It, umm, feels like they don't really care if anyone uses the service. But, on there, I came across this Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus video of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" . Neat version, cool video. But, at the bottom of the description there's this little nugget: "The program also includes extraordinary performances by The Who, Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, Yoko Ono, and The Dirty M
Just a couple of days ago, I posted an update on my Google Local Guides status with one of my photos (of Dogpatch in Naperville ) hitting 6M views. Like all of you with your location history turned on, Google also sent me a note showing my annual timeline. And, 2020 was certainly different. And my location history tells the story. (Thanks, COVID.) Normally, Google Maps will show all the trips you have taken in a year. In 2020, I made it to five states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan), but that Minneapolis trip took place pre-pandemic. The rest of those trips were from March --> December. We didn't go very far from home. Here is something pretty striking. My visits broken down by Shopping and Restaurants. Big cliff in March: My time on mass transit went to ZERO after March: Part of the report from Google shows some of the places that you went -and calls them "highlights". Interesting to see that ALL FIVE of my Places highlighted were parks/o
On all of our trips to campus to see a Fighting Illini football game down at Memorial Stadium, we do a few things: park at Frat Chi, walk the quad and buy some stuff at the bookstore or Gameday Sports. Or both. On one of those trips in the past few years, I guess I made an impulse buy that I recently came across. Doing what most of us do at the new year, I decided to clean out my desk drawers. In one of them, I found a package that contained this Fighting Illini football player minifigure you see below. He's wearing W-O-W or White - Orange - White...which isn't my favorite look (I'm much more of a traditionalist in O-B-O), but seems like something the team wears a lot these days. A few notes: 1. He's wearing #00 - which I think has to do with players not being paid to play. 2. If you look closely at the yoke, you'll see "Team Shield" showing up. Nice little detail. 3. He came with a football, but TKOTBS seems to have misplaced it. 4. The h
I received this note from Google Local Guides telling me that one of my photos on Google Maps has hit 6M views. It is of this pet store in Naperville that I posted back in 2016. I've been chronicling my Google Local Guides experience over time here on the blog . The last time I looked at the stats was back in May of 2018 when I had 4M OVERALL photo views . Before that, in February of 2017, I was at 2.5M views . So, this one photo has 6M views alone. And, when I went to look at my overall views, I'm now at 15M photo views. That's 4X growth in 32 months.
Back in November of 2020, McDonalds had a Happy Meal promotion with Walt Disney World that featured ride vehicle toys from the parks included in each Happy Meal. The promotion started (I think) right before Thanksgiving , but by the end of the month they stopped selling the toys due to an error of some sort with the QR code that came in the package . Of course, when they released these, we ran out to get a Happy Meal for the kids. They gave us two of the same toy (Goofy) and one Mission Space toy (Mickey). The ones we have are marked "Walt Disney World" and the Goofy one is from the newly opened (at least...new to us, since we haven't been to the Parks since the pandemic hit) Runaway Railway ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The Mission Space one is from the ride in Epcot below. You can see all ten of them here from WDWNT . Wonder if they'll ever bring the toys back? They kind of remind me of these Disney Matchbox cars that I have from when I was a kid
We packed the kids and their sleds in the car and spent an hour or so out at the White River County Park in Walworth County a couple of weeks ago . The photo at the top is the hill that greets you as you walk down from the parking lot towards the river. If you look closely at the top of the photo, you'll see the river winding around the bend. If you were pretty streamlined and had a good push, you could *ALMOST* reach the river by sled from the top of the hill. This is the county's largest park and is located just 10 minutes or so away from Lake Geneva. From the county's website : After we hit the hill a few times with the sleds, we took the kids for a little snow hike down the trail that is adjacent to the White River. We didn't get far, but we did see people doing it right - with snowshoes and cross country skis. Back near the parking lot, there's a large barn - not sure if it is in service, but it looks like it was original the property. Here's the bar
Recently, I was working in my office early one morning when I heard the BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP that comes with the backing up of a large truck. It sounded close, so it got me out of my desk chair to look outside. And, that's the exact moment when I remembered that I reordered some firewood from Best Firewood. I was the first delivery of the day it seemed. I walked out the front door and saw the guys unloading - by hand - our two face cords. One of Cherry. And the other of 'mixed hardwoods'. Like I did last Fall, I decided to forgo paying for stacking and had them drop the face cords on the driveway, close to where I intend to bring it around the back. Here they are unloading: And here's the beginning of the big pile. They started with the "mixed hardwoods" and the guy on the top of the truck is pulling the cherry firewood. It was just Friday that I posted about how we were down to around fifty pieces of firewood in our racks . For this season, we
My brother-in-laws have a thing going on with the annual Anchor Steam Christmas Ale that comes out every year. And I've posted a little bit about the bottles each year. This year, the beer was billed as : "New tree. New recipe. Same holiday tradition." Nat's brother Charlie tells me that they have a new head brewer - hence the changes. He also said that this year is heavier (is that the right term?) alcohol. But, I'm mostly interested in the label. Here's a look - below - at one of the bottles that Nat's Dad bought and stored for her brothers when they can make it. They have a beer from every year back a number of years in this fridge. Three trees. That's kinda interesting. Turns out, that's new. From the 2020 page : This year’s label features The Three Graces; three iconic towering sequoias from the Mariposa Grove in California’s Yosemite National Park. This is only the second time in its 46-year history that multiple trees are shown t
If you head to the Spruce Plot on the main loop of the Morton Arboretum and park your car directly across the loop from the tall Spruce trees, you are also close to this fallen tree jungle gym. Walk out of the plot across the main road and go straight. Soon, you'll find a sunken valley that has a lot of fallen timber. There, you'll find this mess of tree trunks that you can climb on - just like our kids did in the photo below. I'll say it again: COVID took a lot from us and others. But, it gave us this simple joy:
Here's a look at the five firewood racks that we have in and around our house. (I have another aack at the back of the property, but we use that one for fire pit wood.) These were full with Oak, Cherry and Birch early this Fall and by early January, we've just about completely exhausted the supply. First, the pair of outdoor racks along the fence line. On the left, you see some of the recently split Ash (or Walnut??). On the right, you see some of the unprocessed Norway Maple that came down this Summer. I've just ordered another two Face Cords of wood that will be delivered next week to fill these up, but I'm thinking I should get the rounds out first so I can split them this Winter. Next up, below, is the Oak rack that I keep on a side stoop. Two months ago, it was full . Today, it is empty but for a coupe of pieces that I'm keeping on hand to test moisture content over time. Now, we move into the screened porch. The double rack (photo below) has about a
The last time I posted photo showing off this season's Christmas Amaryllis bulb was over this past weekend , but the photo was from 10 days ago on December 28th. Today - these photos below are *from today* - our wax Amaryllis bulb is still throwing off blooms. Here's how it looks from what I'm calling the front. Blooms are closely packed together and the height is just - Chef's kiss - perfect. Not too tall and leggy which means they usually flop over. This waxed bulb is compact and short. And, if you look closely at the flowers, you'll see that it is even producing new, about-to-open blooms like the one you see below: Around back, you'll see some of the blooms in decline that I need to pinch off. I'm not ready to give a final analysis of this waxed bulb Amaryllis experiment, but, right now, despite getting a late start, this thing has been pretty great.