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Showing posts from February, 2021

Aurelio's Pizza Pre-Panning Their Dough - Pizzamaking 2021

Back in  this post from October of 2015 , at the very end, I mention that in a video , the franchisee of the Aurelio's in Geneva "points out that they roll/sheet their skins out ahead of time and let them kind of dry out. They don't want the top 'sticky'. Not 'doughy'."  I thought that was interesting.  They pan their doughs ahead of time.  That kinda makes sense in terms of a production environment, right?  But, I wasn't sure if that was just unique to the Geneva franchise.   Welp, over on their Instagram handle , the folks at Aurelio's pizza confirm for me - as fact - this pre-panning of the dough that I've been thinking about for years.   View this post on Instagram A post shared by Aurelio's Pizza (@aureliospizza) I've been making Bar Pizzas the past few weekends and this is something I'm going to incorporate into my tests to see what impact it has on the finished product.  Also, note...they use cutt

Vintage Family Disney Vacation Kingdom Photo - Location Solved

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Over the weekend, I posted a vintage photo of my family 1 at Walt Disney World back in the early 1980's and talked about how I wasn't sure EXACTLY where the photo was taken nor was I sure why my sister and I were wearing these white tags on our clothes.  Here, again, is the photo in question below showing three of us wearing Mickey Ears and my mom looking very chic in the Florida heat. See those tags on me and my Sister next to me that seem to be pinned or tied to our shirts?  Earlier this week, I posted about the details and solved *that* part of the mystery:  those are "Lost Parent" Tags with Mickey and Minnie Mouse on them .    But, I still didn't know the location.  Of course, we're in a hat shop.  And, the cast member is wearing some sort of lederhosen-like outfit.  But, was it in Epcot @ the Germany pavillion?  Was it at The Chapeau in Magic Kingdom?  I wasn't sure.   But, I knew that someone WOULD know the location.  And, the first place I turned

Burro's Tail Office Succulent + New Winter Cuttings - February 2021

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Like a lot of you guys, the year of working-from-home caused me to have a little work plant casualty.  On the ledge at the Aon Center, I was keeping a couple of pots/containers of a Burro's Tail succulents that when we SUDDENLY decided to just stop going into the office were mostly abandoned.  The last time that I posted about them was at the end of October 2018 here on the blog .  Well, thanks to our office services team, one of those containers somehow survived the Spring and Summer, so when I ventured into the office in Fall of 2020, I was able to bring one of them home and nurse it along this Winter.   I mostly neglected it the past four months, giving it occasional water.  And, here's what it looks like now: The container that I have on hand is the very one that I started with cuttings from the parent succulent that I was given by a co-worker who was leaving .  If you look at the bottom of the green bin that this container is sitting in, you can see a bunch of lobes of th

2021 Yard and Garden To-Do List

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This is the third year of publishing these yard and garden to-do lists here on the blog. This is an attempt to FORCE myself into focusing and prioritizing my approach to the yard and garden in terms of what I buy, where I work, what I do in terms of the yard and garden. In 2019, I published my initial list on February 23rd and an addendum in April . In 2020, I published my list on February 22nd . As recently as February 6th of this year, I published a "draft" list that had 15 items on it and just last week - in a post about bonsai - I created a second list of eight items related to bonsai. Just between those two lists, I'm already at 23 items. And, I try to keep my list to 25 items, so I have some, ummm, pruning to do. My 2019 list started at 10 items. I added 7 with the addendum. That was 17 total items for 2019. Last year, I had 25. And I didn't get them all done. Some of the already identified 23 items are on not up for debate. But you'll see t

Dwarf Umbrella Plant - Week Later Update - New Lower Growth

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A week ago, I shared a photo of a dwarf umbrella potted plant that I straightened out by repotting it in a slightly larger pot and giving it a haircut to try to push some lower growth.  The plant was growing at an odd angle - leaning towards the light after being neglected for months and by repotting it, I was able to stand it up straight.  But, it was still top-heavy.  Hence, the haircut. Based on my experience with our OTHER umbrella plant, I've found that if I cut off the leaders, two things happen:  first, it usually flushes out some lower growth and second, the part that I cut has some die-back...about a half-an-inch. So, when I lop'd off the leader, I left a little bit to account for the die-back.   And today? There's some good news.  First, near the top.  Here's a look at the tiny new growth that has appeared next to the top cut.  The stress of the pruning has flushed this new growth.   But, there's more.  Down the trunk - which is where I was aiming to flus

Vintage Disney Parks "Lost Parent" Paper Tag From Early 1980's

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 A few days ago, I posted a retro photo from a family trip to the Vacation Kingdom back in the early 1980's and wondered both where (inside the park(s)) it was taken and also, what these little tags on our clothes were for during our visit to the parks.   I was maybe four or five years old.  And that would make my middle sisters age 6 and age 12 or so.    It didn't take long to turn up this listing on eBay that shows a "Lost Parent" paper tag that they say is from Disneyland. Source via Ebay listing.  This is NOT my listing, not my tag.  Original here . Now, if I zoom waaaaaaaay in on our original photo, it sure seems to be Mickey and Minnie in this pose on the tag.  Have a look here: So, we're wearing "Lost Parent" tags.  The back of those ( via that *same* eBay listing ) looks like this: Source via this eBay listing.  Not my tag, not my photo.   Pretty interesting to think how much they de-prioritized the telephone number on the form isn't it? 

Maidenhair Fern - Potted Up Indoors - February 2021

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 Over the weekend - without much thought - I picked up a tiny Maidenhair Fern and potted it up in a six-inch clay pot and added it our little collection of house plants.  My thought was that this would MOSTLY replace the dead fern that I tried to bring back this Winter  and would live next to the potted-up wire vine that I treated similarly .  I opted against using the traditional clay saucer for this one, opting instead for a small plastic container to keep the water from running out AND keeping the humidity level up higher.  One of the things I know about Maidenhair Ferns is that they're temperamental and like to have a higher degree of humidity around them.  Being in clay pot isn't ideal, but it is the cheapest of the pots, right?  It was just $2.99 and quite small, but looks nice potted up.  Here, below, is where its stands as of today.   Like, umm, everyone, I was naturally drawn to the light, airy leaflets of the Maidenhair that kind of dance when you blow on them.   Wha

Deep Snow Shoveled Between Two Driveways - February 2021

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I normally don't mind shoveling our driveway, front walk and sidewalk that much.  We don't have a ton of square footage to do and I find the shoveling to be somewhat therapeutic - especially this season as I' not getting out of the house too much.  I *had* a snowblower, but sold it on Craigslist because I found that I wasn't using it, it was getting old and cranky and it took up A LOT of space in the garage.   I use a wide shovel from Menards that I bought last season and I've found that good shovels have a life of a couple of seasons before I want to replace it.  Usually the metal edge gives away.   But this year?  We've had A LOT of snow.  In the past month, we've had A LOT of snow.  And that means a lot of shoveling.  And I'm kinda getting tired of it.   It is becoming hard to find spots to put the snow now and our driveway is probably six or seven feet narrower than it is normally because I stopped clearing to the edges.  I wanted to mark the snow si

Vintage Walt Disney World Family Photo - 1982 or So?

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My sister Vic sent me this photo of us at Walt Disney World from when we were very young.  It is my Mom (very stylish, right?), my second oldest sister Sharon, my sister Vic and - of course - myself.  I'm assuming my oldest sister is the one taking the photo, right?  We're all wearing Mickey Ears and my mom is holding a fourth pair in the photo.  But, where are we?  It seems like we are (obviously) in a hat shop, but looking at the cast member's uniform, I wonder if there's a way to figure out the location.  Is this inside The Chapeau in the Magic Kingdom - the big hat shop?  Or, are those lederhosen that the Cast Member is wearing?  Could this be inside the Germany Pavillion at Epcot?   I can't confirm this, but my parents tell me that they went to Walt Disney World during the opening year of Magic Kingdom - so sometime between October 1971 and September of 1972.  And, if that is, indeed, true, might my Mom have booked another trip down during the opening year of E

Buddhist Pine - A Tropical Bonsai For 2021?

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Yesterday, I posted my bonsai dreaming for the year and mentioned that one of the items on my 2021 bonsai mini-list was to try a tropical bonsai like a ficus or umbrella.  It was #8 on that list , but I'll start with it here on the blog.  For beginner bonsai hobbyists, a couple of other very common tropical to try is Dwarf or Mini Jade and Chinese Elm.  Those are interesting, but I think I came across something else that might be more my speed. I was poking around on some bonsai nurseries sites and came across a tropical called a dwarf podocarpus.  Here's the listing (below) on Brussel's Bonsai : Source via Brussel's Bonsai product listing. The common name for this is Buddhist Pine - Podocarpus macrophyllus - and is talked about in various bonsai places on the Web.    This list from Bonsai Outlet talks the benefits of giving this particular cultivar a shot.  That includes : Tolerates temperature variances.  Hard to train.  Produces cones and fruit.  And is hard to k

Juniper Bonsai On My Mind - February 2021

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I started working my very first bonsai experience back a couple of years ago with a nursery-stock cypress tree that I ended up killing.  I pruned it far too hard and pushed it the first year and it dried out and died.  That same Summer (2019), I bought a few other nursery stock junipers and decided to give them a very light pruning and left them alone.  I dug a couple of them IN the ground , in their pots and put another one in a large container on the patio .  I brought that large container into the screened porch this fall and removed much of the wire that had been on this tree (because it was growing AROUND the wire).  But, the time in from the weather was short lived.  It turned out to be infested with fungus gnats (or something similar) and after figuring things out, I pushed it back outside hoping that a hard frost would kill off the gnats.  Today, that pot is totally covered in snow.  Here's how it looks after being piled on for the past month or so. That's more than a

Dwarf Umbrella Plant - Straightened Out and Top Pruned

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 Along with the fern and wire vine, we had a dwarf umbrella plant (schefflera) that had been languishing upstairs in our guest bedroom for the better part of the past six months.  It was stuck and growing at an odd angle, was very top-heavy and had a very tall, thin and bare trunk.  We have another one of these plants that I've been tending to over the past year or so with top-cuts to encourage it to grow out more bush-y.  It has responded to each of those pruning exercises.   So, I thought that if I repotted the troubled plant to straighten it out and give it a little top-prune, we might have something.  And, so far - about a week in - it seems to be ok.   Here's how it looks now - on our mantle: It is now standing up straight (instead of off at an odd angle) and I cut the leader/apical meristem off about half-an-inch from where the die-back settles.  I'm hoping that we'll see even more growth coming out of this thing starting with the current crown and down the trunk.

Bar Pizza Undercarriage - Via Slowrise Class

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Over the weekend, I took the Bar Pizza Class from Slowrise Pizza featuring Adam Kuban and learned a bunch of things.  I also cooked eight pizzas over the previous 72 hours.   And, I think I've gotten a little bit better with each of those eight.  Here's a look at the undercarriage of one of the slices that I housed shortly after it came out of the oven.  Really lovely pizza chassis that I can work to modify going forward to make my own. It was light, crisp, flakey and super thin. Of the eight pizzas (not pies), two of them can be classified as "stunt pizzas" - a term that I learned during the class.  One of them based on Adam Kuban's Margot's pizza menu and one of my own creations.  I think that they'll be offering more/other classes or making the class that I took 'on demand', so I don't think it is appropriate to disclose anything else from the class here online other than a few notes (below).  But, I will tell you that Bar Pizza is going to

Stock Tank Pond Dreaming (no fish, though)

Late Winter, heading towards Spring is the "what if" season for a gardener like me.  And...by a gardener "like me", I mean a total amateur who doesn't always think things through and has half-baked ideas.  My latest "what if" has to do with a pond.  Oh, I've posted a number of times about ponds on the blog.  Even talked about locations for them a couple of times .  But, due to a variety of factors (cost, upkeep, location, permanency, being busy with other things among them), I just haven't pulled the trigger.   But last week, I came across an Instagram post from Erin, the Impatient Gardener that stopped my scrolling.  I've posted about Erin the Impatient Gardener before here , here  and here .  As I've mentioned before, I think she's great and provides a lot of inspiration to me - not just because she knows her stuff, but because she's in (or very close) to my growing zone.  She's in Wisconsin, I'm in Northern Illinoi

Plant Dreaming: Praying Hands Succulent - New in 2021

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On Friday, I posted a description and a photo of a columnar tree that was being introduced as "new" by the Growing Place Nursery near us.  It was a columnar cultivar of a Baldcypress called Lindsey's Skyward .   In that post, I mentioned that the tree was on a list of 'new for this season' plants.  There were a few other things that caught my eye on that list including a succulent.   It is striking because of the form - and the name:  Praying Hands.  Here's how they bill it on the Growing Place's site: Quite interesting isn't it?  I can see this being a really lovely container succulent.  Love that they call out how it looks like an artichoke, right?  Walter's Garden has more details including how it is relatively fast growing and is a cross of Agave .   This past Fall, I added a hosta with the same name - Praying Hands - to our yard .  And, yes... I made mistake in buying ONLY one of them .  Thanks for reminding me.  

Deep Dish Stacking Pan Added - February 2021

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Ahead of the virtual Bar Pizza class I am taking today, I added a new pan to my pizza making gear at home.  It is another pan from Lloyd's Pans out of Washington State .   I've been very happy with my Lloyd's pans over the years including the long, narrow ones that I bought last year during quarantine and the cutter pans that I've been using for years.   For the Bar Pizza Class , the instructions provided by the instructor (Online Pizza OG Adam Kuban) recommended a specific pan, but provided for a couple of alternatives including a cheap one from Target and using cutter pans that I have on hand.  I figured that I should go all-in and spring for the *right* pan.    That pan is the one you see below from Lloyd's Pans - a 12" Deep Dish Stacking Pan .   Here's how it came in the box: A close look at the label shows the specs and mentions the PSTK coating that Lloyd's puts on their pans. One thing to mention, I ended up buying this pan via Lloyd's stor

Tree Dreaming: Lindsey's Skyward BaldCypress

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 The folks at The Growing Place in Naperville and Aurora have recently posted a list of some "new" or at least "new to them" plants and trees that they will be carrying this season .  There are a few things that I'm seeing on the list that are interesting to consider, but one item in particular made me go and do more research.  It is all.the.way.at.the.bottom of the list they published.  Go ahead, click here .  And scroll down.  There, you'll find the Lindsey’s Skyward Bald Cypress tree.  Here's how they describe it on their site: What's that?  Narrow form?  Oh, you know me, I'm a sucker for narrow, columnar-form trees.  A quick look around the Web reveals even more details including: "fern-like needles", "very upward facing branches", "Winter interest", "dramatic symmetrical columnar habit", "showy bronze carpet".   You hand me at fern-like + narrow.  And, here (below) is what it looks like in t

Transplanted Fern - Seeming Like Failure - February 2021

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 It seems that I *may* have made a mistake with the fern that I tried to rescue by transplanting it into a different container and giving it a haircut.  Back a couple of weeks ago, I posted a photo of this small (miniature?) fern that I had brought inside before the frost and neglected all Fal l.  It was dry, brittle and showing a lot of stress.  I decided to try to bring it back by feeding it with some composted manure and trimming off all the dead fronds.  I then put it out on the screened porch where the humidity level is a bit higher than in the house.   Unfortunately, it seems like we've seen no positive growth since the transplant and haircut.   There are still come greyish-green fronds hanging around that aren't totally brittle, but no new growth.  This is what it looks like 15 days post haircut.  Not promising.   I brought all three of the containers that were on the screened porch INSIDE the house late last week since the forecast was calling for negative temperatures

Sclafani Crushed Tomatoes - Bulk Buy for Pizza Making

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 I took the Sclafani Crushed Tomatoes plunge.  Via a 12 pack of these 28 ounce cans from Amazon.  They don't seem to be available locally and the price on Amazon comes out to $2.32 per can , so I figured I'd give them a try.  I can get the Kroger brand of Crushed Tomatoes for $1.49, so there's certainly a premium, but these are (by all accounts) a good, quality item .  When they arrived, I opend up the case and saw those adorable cans. In the post from a couple of weeks ago , I mentioned that online pizza OG Adam Kuban was who recommended these via the instructions that SlowRise sent out related to Adam's Bar Pizza online class.   I've long been a user of 6-in-1 tomatoes, which are billed as "ground tomatoes" , but unfortunately, our local Mariano's (Kroger) stopped carrying them in 28 ounce cans.  They, occasionally get the gigantic, food-service-size cans, but I'm not equipped to deal with that volume of crushed tomatoes.  The guys over at Zeppe&

Near Backyard Tree Planting Location(s) - 2021 and Beyond

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I've done this before on the blog - where I put out a plan for future tree planting locations - mostly as a way to guide my planning, but also marking down a place for when I buy a tree on impulse and provide it a place to grow.  For this post, I wanted to specifically think about trees as they relate to the patio area and rear of the house.  I've identified five spots to plant trees that you can see in the plan below. I'll quickly mention each of these - but note, they're NOT in priority order.  But, they each are likely deserving of a specific tree type/variety/caliper.  So, let's consider this a macro list (for now). 1.  Backyard - focal on southside.  Across from large Oak.   This is what I think needs to be a substantial tree - something on the order of 2" caliper.  And, likely a shade tree. 2.  Outside of Kitchen window, patio shade tree.   This one, too, should be a more mature tree.  It is in a vulnerable position in terms of being out in the open, but