Backyard Race Car Track & …Dinosaur Garden? 🚚🦕


Well.  Damn, you Pinterest.  Ha ha.  We made more progress on the Back Yard Race Car Track.  It may now also be a construction zone, gravel pit, monster truck arena, and dinosaur garden.  Molly even asked about building a volcano.  I do have an extra bag of concrete.

#BackyardRaceCarTrack, #DinosaurGarden, & #MonsterTruckArena! #DadStuff

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Check out the latest photos.  We added a gravel pit, some large rocks for edging-work to try to contain the gravel, and dug out the grass so we have a dirt pit.  Not sure if I should plant grass and leave a dirt track, or make it all a dirt pit.  I may try to buy some river rock to make the outside edges look a little neater, and mix some more extra sloppy concrete to smooth it over, and fill in the edges smooth.

I bet it will evolve greatly over time.

I’m anxious to see photos of other projects like this.  Show me what you’ve got in the comments!

 

 

🚧 🚧 🚧 👷 👷‍♀️ 🚚 🦕 🚗 🏁 🧚 🌱 🚧 🚧 🚧

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🚧 🚗🏁 Backyard Race Car Track & Fairy Garden Construction! 🧚🌱🚧


So, on Labor Day this year, we labored.  We finally got around to pouring cement for the Backyard Race Car Track, and we started a Fairy Garden.

I have been sitting on the race car track idea for a while, and wondering what to do landscape-wise around the one small tree in the back.  We recently got some fairy garden furniture stuff as a gift… so we thought that would be a cool second (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th?) backyard play-space.

I had purchased some Quikrete coloring from Amazon a while ago, and some bags of Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix from Home Depot this Saturday knowing that we had a full day to work today.

We had also started the digging a while ago when Ian was over-zealous and wanted to “Dig, Dig Dig!” in the back yard.

Ian is getting serious with this #BackyardRaceCarTrack. #excavator #shenanigans

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We had an easy enough start, put down some gravel, and mixed two of the three bags of Sand/Topping Mix with the coloring.  I mixed it a little thick, and really what was all the coloring was meant to cover.  The track was only about ‎⅔ of the way complete.  So, I mixed the one other bag we had on hand.  It was a little sloppier and went on really well.  The kids helped in a kid-helping capacity, and Bethany did nearly all of the troweling/finishing work.  Molly told me that she wanted to use the trowel because that’s what “brick builders” use to put the stuff in between bricks.  I have no idea where she learned that.

So.  It was obvious we needed a quick trip back to Home Depot to get some more bags.  Ian & I went on a mission.

Going into @homedepot dirty, so the other customers know we mean business.

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I asked the little man if we should get 3, or 4.  He was adamant about getting 4.  We also got the cheapest bag of garden soil, and some pebbles.  Sadly, the bottle of coloring didn’t last long, and maddeningly Home Depot didn’t carry it… even with two shelves full of Quikrete products.  I ended up asking if they had anything in the paint department, and they just had a concrete paint or dye to use after the fact.

We got back and Bethany made us a delicious salad for lunch.  We needed to re-fuel for more work out back!  I mixed 2 more bags, with some help:

After that, we did use just one more bag… but that’s OK.  I can use the rest for some driveway patch work now that I have some more recent practice with this stuff.  (A long time ago, I worked for a bit for a general contractor, and would sometimes mix mortar all day for the subcontracted bricklayers.)

For now, that’s about all we can do.  The bag says it needs to set up for five days.  Hopefully we can be patient and the neighborhood wildlife (including my children) stays out of it.  I did grab an odd old brick from out front that had originally been in the back yard, and made a sort of garage out of it.  I plan to get some river rocks or pebbles or something to kind of clean up the edges of the track.  Maybe they will need to go on with concrete, or some of that stuff that comes in a caulking-gun dispenser.  If they’re not stuck down, they will end up all over and most likely destroy my lawn mower.

The other quick family project was to make a fairy garden.  I was hoping to use stuff that we had around in addition to the recently gifted furniture and starter items.

After thinking about a couple of different ideas, we settled on me taking a chainsaw to some large branches and small logs that we had out back, and driving nails partway into the bottom so we could drive them into the ground and they would hopefully hold.  It worked!

I played with the chainsaw, demonstrated the nail technique, then Bethany and the kids did most of the nail-driving… and I think that was mostly Bethany.  Molly helped me place them around the tree in sort of a kidney bean shape, including an old wooden bucket that I think we bought from the estate sale of the previous owner of this house (who coincidentally said she would miss the little tree in the backyard most of all).

Then we pulled up 90% of the grass, and Ian hauled it away in his wheelbarrow.  We put down the bag of cheap garden soil and it was perfect for coverage & fairy garden decoration placement.  We also planted a small succulent plant that my mom had recently given us in a small pot that should be durable outdoors, but may look cool covered in small round stones so it looks like a fairy house.  We’re putting Grandma on craft duty to help make little projects to decorate the space.  I would love to use some of the stuff we have around the yard or house like tiny terracotta pots, or Popsicle sticks, or wire.

Is it a #FairyGarden or a #SquirrelPlayground?

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It would be nice to plant some small ornamental succulents, moss, or super tiny flowers eventually too.  Luckily (?) Pinterest is an endless rabbit hole when it comes to fairy garden stuff.  Speaking of rabbits, our backyard is overrun with them as well as squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer, and who knows what else.  Think they’ll leave this stuff alone?

At any rate, playing in the dirt has been proven over-and-over to be good for you.  These spaces offer two additional opportunities for the kids to get into the dirt in the back yard.  It’s great to learn about gardening, ecosystems, using your imagination, and more… all without even realizing that you’re learning.

Check out some photos from the day if you have the time and interest, and let us know what you think in the comments!

 

 

If this is something you’d like to try yourself, check out these Pinterest boards for inspiration:

If it’s something you have tried yourself, please share your stuff in the comments!  I would love to see some other backyard family projects.

Caption This! Butterscotch in the Christmas Tree. 🐱🎄


My wife got a great shot of our cat Butterscotch in the Christmas tree.  I know some amusing people.  Let’s have a caption contest in the comments!

Butterscotch in the Christmas Tree

Caption this in the comments!

I got some funny ones too, but Bethany‘s shot takes the cake:

#JingleTails?

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>^.^<

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It's actually a pretty good seat. #CatsOfInstagram

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Do you see it? #CatsOfInstagram

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We might have to leave the tree up all year, just for #Butterscotch. 🎄

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#Scutterbotch.

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The Clarks; “Producing ire” or “to admire”?


Nothing can polarize a random group of yinzers like discussing the Clarks.  A lot of people love them, a lot of people hate them.  There’s probably even more people that could really care less about the whole issue.  The reason I’m blogging about this is, well, it blew up when I mentioned my distaste for them on Facebook.  Everybody & their mother (literally in my case) has an opinion about the Clarks:

That Clarks commercial makes my butthole pucker...

That Clarks commercial makes my butthole pucker...

English: Gary Busey in Almaty, Kazakhstan in O...

"Wahooooo!"

Have you seen the Clarks’ Toyota commercial, or any of the Gary Busey Kia commercials?  Gary Busey is bat-shit-nuts, and I’d rather buy an inferior car endorsed by him.  OK, I’d really rather buy neither… but the Gary Busey commercials don’t make me want to change the channel, and they don’t make my butthole pucker.

I present to you some video evidence for your review:

Then, I posted a status linking to the first status, asking for help building my list.  It turned into chaos.  Don’t believe Joel below.  He’s a bit mischievous.  Tiffany certainly seems adamant about her love for the Clarks.

Help make a list...

Help make a list...

So, what’s the big deal?  Personally, I find their songs trite, corny, tonally bland, and their vocalist quite annoying.  My general line is that his vocals are the aural equivalent to taking a cheese-grater to my eardrum.  When I hear them on the radio I involuntarily sigh or roll my eyes.  Yet, I know some of their songs because (thanks to local radio) I have heard them ad nauseam.

The Clarks (album)

There's a penny on the floor from our last album sale residuals...

I understand that music preferences are an opinion, and that others are entitled to theirs.  I’m just stating mine.  There’s no need to get your panties in a bunch just because I don’t like the Clarks and you do.  I’ll try hard not to consider you hopelessly tonally-challenged if you happen to like the Clarks.

I get a feeling that a lot of people like the Clarks simply because they’re from the area and mention Fayette County in their songs.  Yinzers seem to like them because they’re on the radio, or because they’ve been in a bar when they played.  They appear to appeal to the lowest common denominator,  I don’t know how many people like the Clarks because they actually like the Clarks’ music.  When I ask someone why they like the Clarks, I get answers like “I saw them at so & so’s bar” or “They’re from here” or something about allegiance to IUP.  It’s never “I really like [name of song here]” or “I really like their song writing/guitar playing/etc.”. Again, this is my opinion.

Also my opinion…  This car has more musical ability than the Clarks:

It’s been told to me repeatedly that people in bands around Pittsburgh simply don’t like the Clarks out of jealousy of their success.  I don’t believe I’m jealous of the Clarks for myself, but I guess I am a hater on certain levels.  I hate that they’re representative of Pittsburgh music.  I hate that people with no grasp of the local music scene ask me if I know/like them when they find out I’m in a band.  I hate that so many other bands around here that deserve wider recognition go unnoticed and go without radio play.  At the same time, a lot of musicians that I know just don’t like the Clarks because they write & perform bad songs.  This undoubtedly fuels the ire.  Perhaps it’s “bandwagon” to hate on the Clarks?  Maybe it’s the “cool” thing to do?  Maybe we’re all just not tone deaf.

A box grater with multiple grating surfaces.

Scott Blasey

So, please, I’d like a discussion on the comments below, not on the Facebook post about this blog.  You can comment using your name/e-mail address/url, your Facebook login, your Twitter login, or your WordPress login.

If you like the Clarks, please tell me why.  If you don’t like the Clarks, please tell me why.  If you don’t care about the Clarks, you can let us know that too.  Let’s not resort to name-calling or devaluing anyone’s opinions.  We’re (mostly) all adults here.

Perhaps I’ll make another blog post soon trying to make a list of Pittsburgh local bands that deserve more attention & a wider audience.

Again…

  • If you like the Clarks, please tell me why.
  • If you don’t like the Clarks, please tell me why.
  • If you don’t care about the Clarks, you can let us know that too.
  • Let’s not resort to name-calling or devaluing anyone’s opinions.

Furniture Follow-Up and Fallout


So,did you read the couch-buying blog and see the couches?  I did get some follow up from both sides.  You can see some in the comments section of the original blog, and I’d like to share some here…

I sent this to DFW via their contact form

Comment: Hello,

I wanted to write to let you know that my wife & I had an excellent experience with store manager Matt Walker at DFW in Pittsburgh earlier this evening.  We left a Value City nearby wholly disgusted with their salesperson, and our experience at DFW was such a great relief.

I blogged about my experience here:  http://wp.me/pwqzc-y2

Please pass my praise on to Matt and his boss.  I hope that such excellent service is rewarded!

Thank you for your time,
-Eric
.seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

(Contents of my blog below for your convenience…)

…and got this back:

From: Andrew Robinson <arobinson2255@gmail.com>
To: eric_aixelsyd@yahoo.com
Sent: Mon, April 25, 2011 8:11:15 AM
Subject: Re: Contact Form

Eric. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. We hope you don’t mind, but we have posted a link to your blog on our Facebook page.

PS. We are giving away a FREE sectional on our facebook fan page.   http://www.facebook.com/DFWFurniture#!/DFWFurniture?sk=app_121121694568521   just “like” DFW to enter….

On Sat, Apr 23, 2011 at 1:41 AM, CustomerSupport <sales@dfwfurniture.com> wrote:

It made their Facebook page too!  They have a pretty cool blog if you’re in the market for some new furniture.

Here’s the post in question… if you follow, them please “Like” it or leave a comment:  http://www.facebook.com/DFWFurniture/posts/110773852342054

Even better, Bethany’s on their email list, and this was in her inbox today:  http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=66b31c192a78cb1962439b620&id=58954895aa&e=fed37b6f6a

Just part of the email…

…but we want to encourage  feedback and interaction from the community on Facebook.

Example : The recent story from Eric in Pittsburgh about his shopping experience at Value City Furniture vs. DFW Furniture in Pittsburgh.

We realize that advertising is always SUSPECT…But customer testimonials are PRICELESS… and credible.

How awesome is that?!  I’m famous!  Ha ha.

In all fairness, Value City did indeed reach out in the comments of the original blog, and as requested… I did follow-up:

From: Eric Carroll
To: jeremy.sipes@vcf.com
Sent: Mon, April 25, 2011
Subject: Blog about couch buyin experience…

Hello Mr. Snipes,

I’m responding to your comment on my blog.  I’m not sure what else you would need detail-wise, or any way of resolving anything.  Did you first read about my blog through your submission form?   I don’t really have any other details then what I expressed in my blog.  What else would you be looking for, exactly?

Thanks,
-Eric

.seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

And, this was the response:

From: “Jeremy.Sipes@americansignature.com”
To: Eric Carroll
Sent: Tue, April 26, 2011
Subject: Re: Blog about couch buying experience…

I just wanted to make sure to reach out to you regarding your experience in the store. I apologize for your experience with one of our sales people. I will be in contact with store management in order to address your concerns. I am glad that you found furniture that you are happy with, it is just unfortunate that you were not able to so with our store.

If you need anything going forward, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thanks for your time

Jeremy Sipes
American Signature Inc.
Customer Service Coordinator
1-800-743-4577
1-614-449-4351

Again, there’s not too much to do at this point, is there?  Although, they did have some cool pop-bottle looking bar-stools there…

Heh.  Twitter is also a powerful tool:

http://twitter.com/#!/dfwfurniture/status/62486421889486848

http://twitter.com/#!/ValueCityFurn/status/62885704874721281

http://twitter.com/#!/ValueCityFurn/status/62885852690399234

Dunkin’ Donuts on Allergy Signage… [Case# 7577485]


Did you see my allergen warning sign photos from Dunkin’ Donuts and Giant Eagle?  I wrote to both of them to thank them for displaying the signs.  Giant Eagle was the first to reply, and now I’ve heard from Dunkin’ Donuts.  I submitted the following via webform:

Hello,

I was in the Dunkin’ Donuts in Dormont this weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised to see this allergen warning sign:  http://i127.photobucket.com/albums/p139/worldandlunardomination/Signs/p_00527.jpg

As someone who has a severe allergy, I found this to be a responsible and proactive decision on the part of Dunkin’ Donuts, and I just wanted you to know that it’s an appreciated gesture.

Thankfully, my allergy isn’t to peanuts, or I’d most likely go nowhere near your fine establishments, much like I currently avoid Red Lobster and Long John Silver’s due to my shellfish allergy.

I did, as the sign suggested, go to https://www.dunkindonuts.com/aboutus/nutrition/ in order to see allergen information for some of my favorite menu items.

I also see that you have a blanket *.pdf available showing nutrition information for all of your products.  Do you have something like this for allergens in all of your products?

It’s a red flag for me that you have “Crustaceans” on the list, and even expand upon it under the data table with “Crustaceans include, crab, crayfish, lobster, and shrimp.”

Do any of these creepy little sea-bugs show up in any of your products?  My curiosity is piqued, my friends!

Thank you for your time, and for responsibly posting allergen warnings.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Not dead yet,
-Eric

Ant they wrote back…

From:customerservicereply@dunkinbrands.com” <customerservicereply@dunkinbrands.com>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Tue, October 12, 2010
Subject: Case# 7577485 – Dunkin’ Donuts

Hi Eric,
Thank you for taking the time to contact Dunkin’ Donuts.
To answer your questions regarding allergens, the stores should have a printed document available behind the counter that will tell you if any of the allergens required to be listed by the FDA are in our products.
If you call our Consumer Care line, they can tell you as well.
As far as the shell fish listing on our forms, that form is required by the FDA. We have to show it on the form but you won’t see it checked off for any of our products.
I hope this answered your questions.
You can reach us at 800-859-5339 M-F 8:30AM to 5:00PM EST.
At Dunkin’ Donuts we value our customers and are committed to making your visits to our stores a pleasant experience.

Thank you and have a great day.

Louise
Customer Relations Associate

Reference # 7577485

It’s interesting how people intemperate the laws… I certainly don’t see standardized allergen information on all food-related websites. I’m glad that companies like this are at least trying to be active in their warning, and hope it’s not just a “CYA” measure.

It’s also interesting to note that I received a the same  exact reply to this message at least 13 times, all with the same case/reference number.  Weird.

https://aixelsyd13.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/allergy-sign-d-donuts-p_00527.jpg

Giant Eagle on Allergy Signage… [Incident #: 12702111]


So, remember my allergen warning sign photos from Dunkin’ Donuts and Giant Eagle?  I wrote to both of them to thank them for displaying the signs, and Giant Eagle is the first to reply.  I submitted this via webform:

Hello,

I’d like to thank you for actively posting allergen awareness/warning signage.  Sunday, I came upon this sign above some chocolate chunk (& other) cookies on a display table at the GE in Parkway Center: http://bit.ly/bg09rX

As someone with a severe allergy to shellfish, I appreciate these kinds of signs… but the all-inclusive sign begs the question:  Did these cookies come into contact with any shellfish in the bakery?  I hope not!  I worry enough about the crab cakes & seafood salad in the deli counters!

Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you!

-Eric
me@my.email.address

And their reply:

From: sc autoemail <sc.autoemail@gianteagle.com>
To: “me@my.email.address” <me@my.email.address>
Sent: Fri, October 8, 2010 9:06:49 AM
Subject: In response to Giant Eagle Incident #: 12702111

ServiceCenter Operator: arabia michele

In response to your recent communication:

Incident #: 12702111

Brief Description:
Store: Parkway Center Giant Eagle Hello, I’d like to tha

Response:
At  10/08/10 09:06:47  we wrote:
10/08/10 09:06:47 (arabia michele):

Good Morning Eric,

Thank you for contacting Giant Eagle and for sharing your thoughts and concerns with us regarding our allergen signs and the possibility of cross-contamination of shellfish in the bakery.

The sign was generated to alert allergen sensitive customers that our stores do process all allergens. You are correct in your assumption that seafood is not present in the bakery department. We appreciate your feedback and will use it to determine signage needs in the future.

If you have any further questions or comments, please contact our Customer Care Department toll-free at 1-800-553-2324.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us and please know that we welcome your thoughts and feedback in the future.

Sincerely,

Michele Arabia
Bakery Merchandising Department
Giant Eagle, Inc.

I’d like to see stores become more active in labeling prepared foods, but this is a a start.  As noted in the comments on my last allergy post, they are currently doing more than required by law… so that’s a good thing.

 

https://aixelsyd13.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/allergy-sign-giant-eagle-p_00533.jpg