Happy Nautical Thanksgiving

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a little over a week away. This year has sure gone by fast. I remember last year and how many boxes were around the place as we were packing. We are looking forward to our First Thanksgiving and Christmas here in WI.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. The move went well, overall our health is good and we have food on the table.

From our house to yours wishing all my friends and followers a wonderful Thanksgiving as we enter the holiday season.

thanksgiving,nautical,signal flags,holidaysIB Designs, USA


Fall Pictures in WI- 2015

As promised in my previous post I was able to get some pictures of Oshkosh around our area. The first picture is my favorite. It was taken at Menominee Park. We were sitting on the dock fishing and this is what we were seeing. On all picture you can click to enlarge!


This picture was taken through our living room window looking out towards the East.

The next picture would be our view of across the street facing North.
Lastly this picture is a tree that is in our yard. You can see the mesh of the screen a little bit but you get the idea.


Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Not bright colors but pretty good.

6 Month Update on Move

It’s now been 6 months since we moved and the house is starting to take shape. It’s starting to feel more like home. Time really flies by fast! When we moved last April, the two-car garage got overrun with boxes. It was at the point, in the beginning, that we had to create a path just to get from one side to the other. We have a nice long driveway, so we left the cars parked outside. Since then, we’ve been working away most of the summer, (between fishing and grilling and mowing a lawn for the first time). Now, with Fall having arrived, we wanted to be able to put the cars in the garage for the winter months ahead.

Below is a picture collage I put together showing the before and after. The bottom two show the after. The before pictures really don’t show all the boxes we had in there, and we had some furniture the first few days that the mover guys put there. We didn’t know what we were going to do with it back then. But now, at least, we can finally park both cars in the garage, which is great!


We’ve learned a lot over the summer months, about just how much stuff we’ve accumulated over the years. After living so long in apartments, we are seeing what a difference living in a house can be. Especially mowing a lawn for the first time in years (yes I already mentioned that, but it’s a huge deal for us!). Still, we really are happy that we moved to Wisconsin, and we love the rental we found, even with the kitchen being a bit small for us. And we just got a snow-blower (a really huge one!) so we should be good to go for the winter.

I was hoping to include here some Autumn pictures, since we live in a area with lots of trees. But although a few trees have started to change colors, it’s been a warm fall so they haven’t changed all that much. If we get some really good colors on the trees, I’ll take some pictures for maybe the next post. I was going to include a picture of the snow blower, but it’s so big I couldn’t fit it in the camera!

IB Designs, USA

USS Cooperstown and Signal Flags

We make signal flags. Reading this blog, you’d know it because it’s all about signal flags. But our signal flags are indoor decorations for people who want a nautical theme or room decor. The question is from where did we get the flag patterns and colors? Well, the US Navy.

Our flags are small 8-inch squares, but the full-size flags can be from size 0 up to size 14, which is a 4-by-6-foot letter flags, or a 2.6-by-9-foot number pennant. Can you imagine putting a 9-foot flag in the living room? When an ocean-going ship is dressed in flags (i.e., flying the full set of all the flags used for messaging), it’s an amazing picture!

Here’s a picture of one of the Navy’s newest Freedom-class war ships. It’s a “littoral” combat ship, meaning that it’s designed for close to shore action. The intention is for a ship that can take out defense systems on beaches and shores where we want to land military troops and supplies.

navy ship,nautical,signal flags,pennants
photo credit-fox11 online

This ship is the USS Cooperstown, with the call sign “LCS-23.” That would looks like this in signal flags:

Call sign USS Cooperstown
Call sign USS Cooperstown

The Cooperstown is the first ship with this particular name, signifying the baseball Hall of Fame and the 64 veterans who are members. Those men served in conflicts ranging from the Civil War to the Korean War, as you can read about in the Fox News story. Navy Ship    


In this picture, the ship is about to be launched and is dressed in signal flags the way we might wear our Sunday best for a celebration or formal occasion. The entire set of signal flags comprises all 26 alphabet letters and 10 numbers (0-9). In addition there are “repeater” flags. Because a set contains only 1 of each letter or number, certain flags instruct the reader to “repeat the first instance” of a previous flag. The repeaters indicate repetitions of a second or third occurrence, and can be quite confusing. That’s why we don’t make them. We offer multiple copies of letters, depending on what a customer would like to spell.

The Freedom-class ships are considered fast on the water, capable of reaching speeds of 40 knots. That’s about 46 miles-per-hour, which is two times faster than necessary to pull a water skier! And this ship is 388 feet long! Picture that: You’re out on a lake and ship the size of a football stadium comes flying by, pulling thirty or forty water skiers! Now that would be something to see!

IB Designs, USA

Signal Flag Alphabet and Local Business

The longer we live here in Oshkosh the more we discover and love. One of our worries was how we would find everything we need to make the flags and send them out. We use a lot of fabric, specialty thread, fusing materials, PVC tubing, and tools. We’re always buying rotary cutter blades, scissors, rope, envelopes and tape. Then there’s all the paperwork, some from our own management and order-tracking, then the printed materials we send out with each order.

Some of the towns we looked at are pretty remote, and it would have been difficult to easily take care of business. We often shop at Hobby Lobby, but there aren’t very many of them in Wisconsin, particularly in some of the other towns we visited. Here in Oshksoh, by gosh, there’s a Hobby Lobby! How nice is that!

We opened the Web site a month ago and found a UPS store, along with a nice post office. But recently, we needed to get some more of our printing done. A good example is the dictionary we include when we ship each order. We always include the signal flag alphabet on a sheet of paper that shows each of the flags and its corresponding letter or number.

Here is a picture of our dictionary.

signal flags,dictionary,nautical
Property of IB Designs, USA

When it comes to printing, we were working with Alpha Graphics, a very good company in Illinois, but we were worried about who we’d find in Wisconsin. I am happy to report that we found Park ‘n Print, and they’re great! Another idea we’ve been working on is some sort of high-quality printed flag that customers could cut out and attach to a wooden dowel or fold over a piece of string. We could offer flags we can’t make in fabric, and the price would be lower than the heirloom flags we make now. Printing would be a big issue, so finding a good printer has been a priority.

At some point, hopefully soon, we’re going to offer a Bravo-Zulu print that will be suitable for framing. We’re still in the design phase, but we realized that we couldn’t keep up with the orders for the fabric version of the flags. One or two are okay, but people wanted ten or twenty to give out as “Nice Job” recognition awards. A printed, frameable art print would be a great way to satisfy those needs without wearing us out.

IB Designs, USA

IB Designs Open For Orders & New Beginnings

It’s been awhile since I have posted. Life has been busy for us since we moved up here a couple of months ago. Although we still have some odd and end boxes we are mostly settled in.

First off IB Designs, USA is now open for orders. Originally we thought we would open in June but it took us longer then anticipated. The picture below with our signal flags says “Now Open”. We thank our customers for their patience the last few months since we were closed to orders.

signal flags,open business
In-between unpacking and getting the house in order we have discovered some really nice parks and fishing areas. We love it here in Oshkosh, WI and the idea that there is so much water around. The 2 pictures below are of Craig and I. He caught a 4 lb drum as you can see in the picture! These were taken from the Fox River in Oshkosh. Below is assorted pictures we have taken.

Lastly we took some pics of some of the areas that we have fished. One place is called Asylum Point Park. It’s a cove between the 2 points of Lake Winnebago. It’s so relaxing. They have a lighthouse that we took pics of. Enjoy!

fox river wi.fishing
Fox River in Oshkosh,WI
fishing,wi,fox river
Fox River in Oshkosh, WI
park,fishing,.lake winnebago
Asylum Point Park
Asylum Point Park
Asylum Point Park
Asylum Point Park

How we made our out of state move

Warning this is long but worth it! Useful tips and images to follow.

Well, here we are! It’s the first week of May, and we’re moved and sort of…kind of…okay, not really settled. It’s pretty much chaos. You wouldn’t think that two people in 1-bedroom apartments (one each), could possibly accumulate so much stuff! And we pitched tons of it before we even left Illinois!

A year ago we finally had the resources to make the move from Illinois to Wisconsin. We’ve wanted to do it for eight years, and it finally was going to happen. We thought we’d move May 1, and started packing 6 months in advance. Our first problem was supplies. It’s been 10 years since I moved, and 25 years since Craig moved. Back then, we just went to stores and got empty boxes. We saved newspaper and bought some packing tape. That doesn’t work anymore. Most grocery stores break down and crush their boxes, and who uses newspapers anymore?

The solution was to start saving all those stupid advertising flyers we got in the mail. You would not believe how much paper we accumulated that way! We then got two 10lb boxes of packing paper from U-Haul ($11/box), figuring it wouldn’t be enough. In conjunction with the flyers, it was more than enough. Then we really started searching hard for empty boxes. We lucked out in that Woodman’s Food Stores put tons of boxes in temporary bins while stocking shelves before they crush the boxes. That got us what we needed.

The next problem was unusual items. When you move anywhere, even a few miles, if you have everything in boxes you can stack a truck, trailer or van all the way to the roof. Otherwise, you waste space; things get broken, and it’s frustrating to try and pick up single items. So everything in boxes! That meant some strange sizes and shape. Lots and lots (and more lots!) of things are 15″ or 24″ long or high. Standard moving boxes are 12″ or 18″ long/high. Not so good. On the other hand, with plenty of lead time and the sizes we needed in mind, we did find even those boxes at Woodman’s, and sometimes Target.

We still needed big boxes or specialty boxes, and that’s where we spent our limited money amounts. We used Two Men & a Truck to move the big stuff, and they have good-quality boxes. We also got many odd sizes at U-Haul because we could shop online to find exactly what we needed. The U-Haul boxes aren’t as good unless you go with the expensive double-walled items. For the most part, our 12″ small and 18″ mediums were good enough. We got a 28″ big-ass box for one item, and some big “dish barrels.” Not for dishes, but because they were big enough for some of our stuff.

Another problem we had we lamps. The first box we got was a lamp box, where you can put the whole thing in it upright, then seal the lid. You need an 18″ box for the shade, and it got expensive. Then we realized we could unscrew the harps from most lamps, in which event they fit into a typical 18″ box. But how to protect it all?

Here, U-Haul provided a terrific solution! They have a corner in their stores where people drop off used boxes. If they’re in good shape, fine; otherwise, we can cut them up for cardboard and use that as filler. Using cut, folded cardboard replaces TONS of crumpled paper! We bought two, 2-lb bags of peanuts from UPS, and thought that wouldn’t be enough. But we also saved all boxes from online orders, all packing material and that included some bubble-wrap and air-pocket plastics. Together with bent cardboard, we did just fine.

We might have spent about $800 or more on packing supplies, but we ended up maybe around $200. The tape was the most expensive, and we learned quickly that the clever dispensers were useless. Better to just buy the plain rolls and invest in a box-cutter to cut the tape. Then put a toothpick under the loose end and press a bit, to keep the end accessible.

The two coolest things we bought were what seemed at first to be gimmicks: the Forearm Forklift, and the Shoulder Dolly straps (As Seen on TV). We saw them on the rack at the U-Haul store and figured they were dumb. Not so! They really, really work! We didn’t want to spend $45 for the heavy-duty Shoulder Dolly, and found a copy from Teamstrap for $20. These things are incredible! Craig is 63 and Kathy is 21 (sort of), but feels a little older these days. Between the two of us we used the Forearm lift to move a tall bookshelf that sat on a furniture dolly, out the apartment; down the hall; down a flight of stairs; out the security door; out the main door; down the front walk to the street; and over to the dumpster. And neither of us was even out of breath!

Having moved in, the movers put an antique deacon’s desk in one place. It’s five feet long and three feet wide, and Literally weighs 90,462 pounds! I mean, like…literally! Nah; just kidding, but it’s a super heavy desk (guessing around 200 lbs). Well, it turned out to be in the wrong place, but with the Shoulder Dolly, we were able to pick it up, move it across a room, turn it 180-degrees, and put it back down. Un-be-expletive-deleted-lievable! Get those, even for just moving stuff around the house. They work!

Back to the boxes. The big problem was buying 10 boxes, or grabbing 20-30 from the grocery store. Trying to carry even 1 broke-down box to the car is a big chore. Carrying many is a serious problem, particularly in wind. The solution, invented by Craig is a rope-loop lasso. We took some 1/4″ rope (we have lots to string our banners), and measured the width of the larges box when it was flattened. Figure that was about 30″ across. Then multiplied by two (front and back, flat on the ground). Then doubled that for a loop. Take about 120″ of rope and tie the ends together to make a plain loop.

Lay a pile of flat cardboard boxes on the ground and slide one end of the loop under them so it pokes out the other side. It’s like two lines of rope, lying next to each other with the bent end of the loop at one side. Then slide the other end of the loop through the end sticking out from under the boxes, pull tight and presto!…instant cardboard suitcase! The lasso puts a handle on the boxes, and we were able to carry 30-40 boxes at a time across parking lots, up stairs, in wind, or whatever else. Boxes (empty) don’t way much at all, they’re just bulky.

So that’s mostly how we solved our biggest headaches. The price? Oy-yoi-yoi-yoi-Vey! We budgeted what we thought was A Lot Of Money, then added in another thousand. Just about everything cost more than we figured! We realized we needed a 10×10 storage shed for packed boxes (instead of leaving them in the corner of Craig’s apartment). Wall hangings, knick-knacks, pictures and “stuff” take up a lot of floor space! Then we figured on a 12-foot truck, only to realize as we got to around 30% packed, we’d have a “Jaws” moment: “I think we’re gonna need a bigger truck!”

A 16-foot truck comes with a ramp; the 12-foot truck doesn’t. We went with Penske, on user recommendations and are glad we did. The truck rode like a dream, and with a 200-mile drive that mattered. The two of us packed up the entire truck on the 15th at 1am, with a hand-cart Craig already had, and a wood furniture dolly we bought ($20). Another invention of Craig’s was to put another loop, this time with 5/16″ rope around the bottom axle of the hand-cart. That not only held boxes in place to tip the cart back, but also held them securely going down stairs. Took us about 4 hours to pack the truck.

Next day we drove to Oshkosh and unpacked into the garage we were lucky enough to have. We never thought we’d need a big garage, but we do. Good thing this house has one! We were going to spend the night at a motel, but with the Forearm Forklift, it was easy to move the mattress (not the box spring), and we put that on our truck. Unloaded it, put it downstairs and slept on the floor. We drove back to Illinois and went nuts packing the last stuff for the movers. They said they’d take whatever we “missed,” which we figured wouldn’t be much. Wrong…! It was a lot!

On the 18th, they guys (Rich and Keith) showed up around 3pm, and lightning-fast moved out all the furniture. We rushed around trying to put things in boxes while it was vanishing, but they were done in about an hour. That desk was a miracle of muscle to behold, let me tell you! They took off, expecting to meet us the next day up in Wisconsin, and we figured we finish up and leave in an hour or so.

By around midnight, we finally had every “last minute thing” packed. The apartments were a mess, but we didn’t care; we were too tired. Our plan was to drive to Richmond at the border, take a 1-hour nap, then drive the rest of the way. Instead, we barely made it to the motel at 2am, with a dinner at Mickey-Dee’s, and left a wake-up call for 7am. Got up, had caffeine, then drove the last 3 hours, arriving around 11am in time for the two guys and the truck to show up by 1pm.

For the past three weeks, all we’ve done is tried to FIND whatever the hell we packed. We labeled the outside of each box with just about every item in that box, instead of just; “Living Room,” or “Bedroom,” or “Kitchen.” So we knew where things were, but we still can’t find things! Craig had another idea to use the Medical Offices color-coding system. We bought colored Duck Tape and had red for tight-packing that would support 4 layers of boxes on top. Yellow tape meant somewhere in the middle of stack, and green was light-weight and would go on top.

We then coded various major categories: Navy blue for kitchen, sky blue for IB Designs, white for bathroom and drugs, electrician’s tape for tools and so forth. Then we used hot pink for “Open Immediately!”, a sort of rainbow colored tape for “This is Useful Stuff we Probably want right away.” With the mufti-tiered colored strips (about 2″ long, one on all four top edges) we can see across the entire garage what’s where. And with boxes on top of boxes, we at least know “That’s kitchen stuff,” even if it’s buried under three layers.

With all that, we took two weeks just to find the basics! Then we moved into a somewhat smaller house than the combined two apartments; and there’s WAY less closet space. So we’re having to consolidate and then pitch what won’t fit. AND we have lots and lots of boxes! It took a lot of work to get all those boxes, and if we ever move again (maybe never!) it’d be nice to have them. But we can’t fit them. Then there’s all the crumpled paper in 40-gallon trash bags. We use that to start our Safari BBQ grill to make burgers in 3 minutes!

All in all, it’s utter craziness! But the reward is we’re out in the country in the middle of farmland and it’s really quiet! We can see stars at night, and hear birds in the mornings. Turns out we’re about 5 minutes from the shopping we want, and 10 minutes from just about all the other resources. And Most Importantly; we have about the same mount of fishing water as Long Island Sound on the East Coast! No kidding; Lake Winnebago is 12 miles across, and 30 miles long. And that’s only the larger of three lakes (in addition to Butte de Mortes, and Winneconne). Then there are the creeks, ponds, streams and Fox River.

Can you say fishing heaven?  Below is some images from Batavia and then some in Oshkosh. Click each image to enlarge.

moving,out of state,wi
Batavia, IL