I've long talked about how pizza makers here in Chicago have access to a product from Chellino Cheese Makers in Joliet that is unique and available in grocery and specialty stores in the Suburbs. Over the years, I've posted the details of where I've picked it up and have been (informally) tracking the price. This year, we bought the Chellino Scamorza Pizza Cheese from Pete's Market in Oak Brook Terrace. See below for the cheese and the price tag: $12.53. What was it last year? Here's a post from December 29, 2021 that shows a tag from Angelo Caputo's for the same Chellino Scamorza Pizza Cheese that (at that time) was costing: $6.99 . That's some price increase, isn't it? Holy Cow. That's $5.54 increase in 12 months. 80% increase year-over-year. December 2022: $12.53 December 2021: $6.99 November 2021: $7.99 February 2019: $5.99 February 2018: $6.99
Showing posts from December, 2022
I spotted this lady Loki at Graham Cracker Comics in town right before Christmas. Did she come home with us? Nope. But, that doesn't mean we can't appreciate her existence. Loki is one of the kid's favorite member of the MCU, but I think they prefer Alligator vs Lady Loki in whatever version of the multi-verse is appropriate.
Nat showed me this new (to me) Macca book covering his initial post-Beatles years. The notes talk about how he 'refused to go quietly after the Beatles breakup'. So...that's kinda interesting, right? But, this thing is HUGE. However... there *is* an audiobook , but alas..,not narrated by Paul but rather Simon Vance.
Yesterday, I showed the high and low blooms on the Magic Touch Amaryllis that we grew this Christmas season . We also planted two *other* new bulbs at the same time - a Flamenco Queen and a Sunshine Nymph. Neither of these bloomed for Christmas. But, both of them have tall, proud stems with a large bud on top. But, neither have made any moves to open or bloom just yet. Maybe by New Year's Day? Here's the Sunshine Nymph Amaryllis below. First a photo of the tag and then followed by a shot of the tip of the stem: And, here below, is the Flamenco Queen Amaryllis. This one is very tall and slender. I've been watering them with an alcohol mix, but that didn't seem to slow this one down. It started to lean a little bit, so I used this plant support to keep it upright.
Twelve days ago, I showed our first Amaryllis bloom: A magic touch set of two flowers that didn't grow up at all - just bloomed straight from the bulb . Weird. The other two (new) bulbs still haven't flowered. But, they've shot upwards. This post shows the post-Christmas view of just the Magic Touch - I'll get to the other two tomorrow. Did we get Christmas blooms this year? Yes. We did. The Magic Touch. We're going to get New Years blooms, too. Here's what the top of the Magic Touch looks like today:
Yesterday, I updated my annual Christmas Tree Tracking series with a post about our Family Room tree - a Fraser Fir from Wisconsin . This post documents the smaller tree in our front room - the Green Room that has far less ornaments. It is in the front window and is the one that's visible from the outside. This is...Nat's tree. The other one is for the rest of us. I've been tracking these trees on the blog over the years. This is the 19th tree that I've documented. Here's our 2022 Green Room tree - a smaller, but properly-scaled Fraser Fir Here's our 2022 Family Room tree - a perfectly shaped Fraser Fir Here's our 2021 Green Room tree - about 6' tall. Here's our 2021 Family Room Tree - between 8' and 9' tall and picture-perfect shape. Here's our 2020 Green Room tree - about 6' tall in total and perfectly shaped. Here's our 2020 Family Room tree - about 8' tall in total , but really nicely shaped. Here's our 20
Like we've done since we moved in to our house here in Downers, we put up two Christmas trees this year. One in the front room - a smaller tree. And a larger one in the family room. And, like the past few years, we drove up to Wisconsin to get them. We went back to Evergreen Acres (same place as lats year and paid the same $75 per tree ). Below is a photo of our family room tree for 2022. It is, like most years, a Fraser Fir. I've been tracking these trees on the blog over the years. This is the 18th tree that I've documented with the front room one from last year being the most recent (#17) . Here's our 2021 Green Room tree - about 6' tall. Here's our 2021 Family Room Tree - between 8' and 9' tall and picture-perfect shape. Here's our 2020 Green Room tree - about 6' tall in total and perfectly shaped. Here's our 2020 Family Room tree - about 8' tall in total , but really nicely shaped. Here's our 2019 Family Room tree t
A few days ago, I shared a mid-Winter update on my Staghorn Ferns and mentioned that I was going to share a separate post on the lone Elkhorn fern that I mounted in October . First thing though....I'm pretty sure that the name "Elkhorn Fern" is probably misplaced. This is likely just a variety of Bird's Nest Fern, but that's ok. And...not the point - right now. This is a six-week update on the Elkhorn since mounting. And, it hasn't been pretty. Below is a look at the current state. Lots of brown. And lots of unhappy fronds. But, a really nice cedar mount. Not great. See below: Not great - at first glance. But...upon closer inspection, I can see some new, small, thin fronds. New growth? One note that I've observed in the past six weeks. This Fern requires more water, more frequently than the Staghorns.
Welp, I did it. I signed the petition. What petition? The silly one to make Festivus an Official Holiday . There's even a #hashtag and badges. RT if you find tinsel distracting. #MakeFestivusOfficial https://t.co/DBjRBZITl0 pic.twitter.com/drgNvbHlOB — Seinfeld (@SeinfeldTV) December 17, 2022 I've marked the passing of Festivus on the blog a number of times over the years. Here's the post from 2021 that was the eighth year of celebrating with a pole. This year is nine. Next year...we'll get to ten. Not to shabby for a not-official, fake holiday, right? One big miss, though...I forgot to sneak in "Happy Festivus" on our family Christmas card. Here's the post from December 23rd, 2021 . Here's how I celebrated Fesitvus in 2020 . With the inclusion of the holiday on our family Christmas Card. Here's how I celebrated Festivus in 2019 . Here's how I celebrated Festivus in 2018 . Here's how I celebrated Festivus in 2017 . Here's
Currently, we have three Staghorn Ferns and one Elkhorn Fern (More on the Elkhorn in a separate post) that have been sitting in our basement windows trying to survive the long, dark Winter. Two of the Staghorns are mounted to boards. And one continues to be in the container that it arrived in from the big box nursery. First up, the one in the container. This is the oldest Staghorn and seems to be doing fine . Not great. But, fine. The shield frond is the original one that is now brown and dried out. We have a few antler-shaped fronds, too. See below for current state. This can use a repotting and/or mounting this Spring. The next Staghorn Fern is the original fern mounted to a pine board with a large knot hole in it. I posted about this one in August when I talked about it suffering . How is it doing today? Not great. But...I *think* it is growing. There are some small, new, non-antler-shaped fronds that have emerged. Here, below, is an overview of this mounted Staghorn s
The most recent check-in on our Frans Fontaine Columnar Hornbeam trees was in November when all of out trees were still showing green foliage and outlasting - in terms of holding leaves - most everything else in our yard . Where are they today - three weeks in December? Well....they're ALL still holding leaves. But, some more than other. And...all the leaves are dry and desiccated. See below for the current view of the trees. The tops are thin, but the middles are *still* providing some level of screening between our house and then neighbors. Pretty nice for a deciduous tree, right? This ability to hold their dried leaves through marcescence - is one of the key features of the Frans Fontaine Hornbeam trees and helps make them even more desirable for screening beyond just the Summer months.
I might have jumped the gun. With what, you ask? The moisture reading on the recently split Norway Maple firewood. As a reminder, we had a very large Norway Maple (that was in a bad state of decline) removed from our front yard this Fall . I had the wood processed into rounds and brought to the back of our property to begin to dry out. By the end of October, I started to split the rounds . And they were HEAVY and wet. (or....as they say in the firewood business: 'green'). I wanted to track how fast this Norway Maple firewood would dry out and become 'seasoned' enough to be able to burn. The pros say that you need to get the moisture level down below 20% to be dry-enough to burn properly. F rom the time that I began to split the wood to 18 days later (2.5 weeks), I was reading the moisture level to be 50% . Now...if you read any of the firewood online forums, you'll see that A LOT of people claim that Norway Maple (or...some folks call it Box Elder wood)
I've told this story before: All the way back in 2018, we had some Lemon Coral Sedum in one of our patio containers . One way or another, it managed to migrate from the container to the little, square bed next to our back stoop. And, in a surprise to me, it managed to overwinter in that spot underneath a bed of snow. I've since left it there and it has spread out each subsequent year. I had not - up until that point - really thought much about groundcover. But, then I saw this bed planted out front of the entrance of the Morton Arboretum in 2020 . That inspired me to plant a mass of Lemon Coral Sedum up front in our front porch beds in 2021 . It turned out really nice and created a carpet. With the success of the volunteer sedum in our backyard, I thought that I could replicate that growth and split up the front porch sedum and transplanted it in various spots - including IB2Dws and behind the large, Norway Maple in front. All the while, the volunteer kept just sti
Trends come and go, right? In fashion. In food. In living. Feels like you have to kind of pick your spots in all things trendy, right? Can't be too on trend. But, you still want to show how you're a little contemporary, right? Trends in the garden are something that I've unpacked over the year. Here's a trends post that I did very early this past year - January 2022 . And I did the same thing in 2019 and 2020 . I came across a recent 2023 Garden Trends list from Garden Design email newsletter and thought it was worth kicking-the-tires on the items they included. Here's their list . Below is a screenshot showing the nine items that they think will breakthrough and show up in gardens this growing season: There are a few - what I'll call - 'narrow' items on their list. And others that are way more 'broad' in nature. Let's start with the more 'broad' category items. Why? Because they're A LOT less interesting to me.
Most everything has let go of their leaves for the season. Our Hornbeams are holding some of their leaves and the Chanticlear Pear flowering trees have many of theirs, too. But, there are a few shrubs that are playing the marcescence game, too. The deciduous shrubs that I recently noticed are holding their leaves are a few varieties of Oakleaf Hydrangeas. This is, I think, the latest they've head their leaves into Winter, but this is ALSO the first year that I've protected them with chicken wire cages from the dang rabbits. So...is it just a unique situation where they're holding their leaves longer than normal? Or, is the nibbling from the rabbits what has - in past years - caused the leaves to drop? Either way, I'm happy to see these leaves stick around. First...the Alice Oakleaf Hydrangeas that are closer to the house. These are holding deep purple leaves on all of them. See below: Also, a little further down that same bed are three Little Honey Oakleaf H
Two things might be true in our garden right now: First...the chicken wire cages that I've made have protected quite a few of our shrubs. And...second...the rabbits are still here and eating new things. Including this Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass in the photo below. This is the only one of these that has been gnawed off near the ground by the dang! rabbits this season. Something to watch this Winter. I have mixed thoughts on this; in terms of something that I don't mind sacrificing...these grassses would lead the list. I was going to cut them off at the ground come Spring anyway. So, having the rabbits graze on these do not really do any damage. But...on the other hand....it means that they're still sticking around and not moving on to other yards where they can feast on unprotected plants.
A week ago, I posted an update on the three new Amaryllis bulbs that we're growing this year and talked about how they are at different stages of growth . One of them - the Magic Touch - is what I'd call the furthest along and has two flower stalks. But, those two are VERY different, too. One of them is taking a normal shape and form. Tall and proud. With a flower bud at the top. The other one? Failed to launch. Didn't grow much up from the bulb at all. But what did it do? It flowered. ALREADY. A mid-December Amaryllis bloom. Holy moly. This is a lovely red, too. What do I mean by 'failure to launch'? See the photo below showing the two flower stalks. The one in bloom is barely out of the bulb: And, here's a look at the backside of the bloom showing that ANOTHER flower is set to open in the same spot: Magic Touch Amaryllis is a fast-mover (for us, this year) and has produced the earliest flowers of any bulb we've grown. Kinda nice, right?
In October, I began to split all the Norway Maple wood that came from the mature tree that we took down in our front yard . The crew that took the tree down processed the trunk and major limbs into rounds of various lengths and put them up on a rack in the far back of our property. That work continued in November and December. In November, I decided to begin to attack some of the large pieces with a splitting wedge to get some smaller pieces that I could split with my axe and that's been really helpful in getting some of the larger pieces processed. I've used the fact that some of the wood is just sitting on the ground as a sort-of forcing function to compel me to split those pieces first. They're the largest ones because I couldn't lift them up on the rack due to their weight. By November 11th, I noted that some of the freshly-split Norway Maple was *VERY* high in moisture with a reading of 50% moisture . But, a month later, it was already down to 13% . I di
We're growing Paperwhite bulbs for the first time this holiday season. In early November, we bought an inexpensive package of Ziva Paperwhite bulbs at the orange big box store and planted them in a glass jar with some gravel at the bottom . A couple weeks later - and one month ago today - we decided to add a little bit of rubbing alcohol to the mix in an attempt to stunt their overall growth . (Everything you read on the Web will tell you that Paperwhites are prone to flopping over, so the alcohol keeps them compact in size.) With two weeks to go until Christmas, how are the Paperwhites doing? Here, below are a few photos: They've grown up and most of the bulbs have multiple stems (and or leaves) that have emerged. They're not yet to the top of the jar, but a couple of them are getting close (see the last photo that shows the tips compared to the rim of the jar). A couple things of note here in the Paperwhite Diary. First... is that *some* of the tips are brown. My
For the past few years (planted in 2019), we've had a creeping/crawling Juniper shrub planted in a patio container out back. I put it in this container and attempted to prune it a little bit and wire it up when I was focused on trying my hand at bonsai . Two years later (Spring of 2021), I was seeing some wire damage and (for now) abandoned the project . My thought was....let this thing grow a bit more, then let's revisit it for pruning and shaping as it is more mature. On a recent walk in the backyard, I came across (or...really...'noticed') this shrub in the container and I was (temporarily) alarmed. Look at it in the photo below. It is maroon-ish/green. Or, I suppose, one could view it as greenish/maroon-ish/brown-ish/grey-ish? Is that a color? (That is a lot of 'ishes'.) I snapped that photo and then went looking back in the garden diary here. I found this post from two years ago - December of 2020 . Good news: it was (then) the same color as to
Back in 2020, I published a long post talking about how I wanted to add a (at least one) Japanese Maple to the backyard . I ran through a series of varieties to try to narrow down what I wanted and ended up planting an Emperor 1 Japanese Maple (from the Morton Arboretum Sale) back by the firepit. That tree has now gone through two seasons and seems to be settling into the spot. The dark maroon leaves of the Emperor 1 Japanese Maple tree are in the photo above. I also planted a Tamukeyama dwarf Japanese Maple up a little closer and was happy with that one, too. Until this year, when that tree seemed to die. Could it be the Walnut trees? Maybe. I've left it in the ground to see if it will come back this Spring. If it doesn't, I'm thinking that I should replace it with ANOTHER Emperor 1 or other Japanese Maple from the Morton Arboretum this Spring. Maybe on the north side, too? Underneath the Cataplas? In front of the Viburnum ? Or in the far back yard, behind
Earlier this week, I p osted some photos of our four (current) Hellebores in the backyard and talked about how our plan called for even more in the borders in a few areas . As I wrapped up that post, I mentioned that there were (now) a few perennials on my 'plant wish list' and that I should do a proper post showing the mix of trees, shrubs and perennials that I have on this standing 'want' or 'wish' list. That's what I'm doing here: taking that first list and add shrubs. As part of my 2023 garden planting, here's my current (as of early December) standing plant wish/want list below: Perennials, groundcover and grasses: ( previously posted - but I added a few more here) 1. Hellebores . Up to 16 more. 2. Even more Autumn Ferns and Ghost Ferns . Probably want to replace (gasp!) my Ostrich Ferns. 3. More Hakone Grasses - Japanese Forest Grasses . 4. Pulmonaria ground cover . 5. Pineapple Lily bulbs . 6. A couple of Disneyland Roses for IB2D
We're about half-way between when we planted our annual Christmas Amaryllis bulbs and the big day - December 25th - when I would (ideally) want blooms. This is a (partial) progress report showing the three newly acquired bulbs . Why just these three new ones (and not the bulbs that I kept from last year)? Because these are the ones that are showing action on the stalk growth and the three that are furthest along. All three of these bulbs were bought from Wannemakers in early/mid November and were planted up right around Nov 17th. That puts these three weeks from their first watering. And just over two weeks until Christmas Day. Will any of them bloom in time? First up is the Flamenco Queen Amaryllis . This is what I think is the most unique of the three - with green centers and white-speckled red petals. The leaves and first flower stalk are up out of the neck of the bulb, but not too much height so far. Photo of the mid-growth Flamenco Queen Christmas Amaryllis below
Three growing seasons ago - the Summer of 2019 - I planted a row of VERY SMALL Hicks upright Yews in the far back of the yard . I wanted to create a little structure back there and was inspired by a curvy, swoopy, undulating hedge that I saw here . By last Fall (November 2021), they had put on a little bit of size and girth and I was able to document the current state here . 13 months ago, one of them - the fifth from the left - was at that time the tallest Yew in the row. Today? It still *is*. I wanted to mark the height heading into Winter - so I dug my spade in the ground to show the height in relation to the handle. See below for the current height of this tallest Hicks Yew: Above is a closeup that shows the very tip almost to the black rubber handle at the end of the evergreen shrub. Getting tall, isn't it?
On a recent afternoon, I went to have a look at some of the garden to see how it was navigating this first part of Winter. We've had plenty of hard frosts, cold nights and even a little snow. Most everything has gone dormant, so I was mostly (on this trip) focused on having a look at the evergreens. I went to the back of the garden to see how the three Green Giant Thujas that I planted this Spring were doing and noticed that one of them is doing...not so well. See below for the photo of this tree (or shrub??) turning light brown: This one is the middle of the tree in the back - on the northside. It was planted in late April. I'm not calling this thing dead (just yet), but it appears that will be the case come Spring.
One of the most unique evergreens (or mostly-evergreen) perennials that we have in the garden are the Hellebores - or Lenten Roses - that are planted in our backyard on the northside in the front of the border. What started with just one, is now four. We added three new Ivory Prince Hellebores at the Morton Arboretum sale this past season . Here, below are the four Hellebores - one Sally's Shell, three Ivory Prince: The three newly planted (in 2022) Ivory Prince Hellebores are planted in the triangle shape *around* the Sally's Shell. Size-wise, it seems that at least one of the new ones has caught up to the Sally's Shell. What's really striking about these is that the foliage persists well past the frosts. What typically happens that by late Winter, this year's foliage will die back and one of the first things we'll see is the new plant emerge from the soil. Here's a photo of the original Sally's Shell emerging from the mulch in early March of l