All posts by Tenny

Wild Mushroom Hunting

This past weekend I got a chance to do one of my favorite spring time activities; Wild Mushroom Hunting! I was joined by my wife, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law in the hunt. They have joined in past years and all have a keen eye for Morels.

morel mushroomsFor years we have cruised choice mushroom hunting spots for the ever elusive morel mushroom. This year however was a bit different because I was able to go hunting on 190 acres of our families new recreational property in New Lisbon, WI. What also makes this different than the past is that for the first time in a long time I don’t have any go-to hot spots. Prior to purchasing this new property we did ask the previous owners if they had any history finding morel mushrooms and they informed us they had much better luck finding Oysters and Hen of the Woods, two varieties I didn’t have much experience foraging.

Tip! When I am hunting Morel mushrooms I typically follow the “dead elm rule”. If there are morels to be found, find them by the dead elms.

I have found morel mushrooms in many different places, open fields, along creeks, under pines, but dead elms seem to be the most common place to find them here in Wisconsin. That said, in 2 days I must have checked over 50 dead elms, but no luck. In the end I struck out and didn’t find any morel mushrooms. However, I didn’t walk away empty handed. I was lucky enough to find a nice batch of pheasant back mushrooms. Pheasant Back Mushrooms on a stumpNow normally I am pretty dismissive of pretty much any wild mushroom except for morels, but I had been doing a fair amount of research lately and knew exactly
what I was dealing with as soon as I spotted it. The pheasant back mushroom as also known as hawk’s wing or dryad’s saddle and its formal name is polyporous squamosus. Pheasant backs are very easy to identify (based on looks), has no poisonous look-a-likes (that I have been able to find in some exhaustive searching), and can often be found in large quantities. They also have a very watermelon or cucumber-like smell once picked. The mushroom is actually a tree-wound parasite of hardwoods, and causes white-rot. I have heard people generally have the most luck finding pheasant backs on old or dead box-elder and elm. In my case it was an old oak tree. In all I found over 3 lbs!

over 3 lbs of dryad's saddle mushroomsIf you want to learn more about pheasant back mushrooms I recommend checking out the following links:

Disclaimer: I am not an expert at this. While I have done my share of research and am very selective over what I eat. I hold no accountability over your choices to consume wild mushrooms. Some mushrooms are poisonous and may even result in death if consumed.


Upcycling an old outdoor patio table and chairs

A few weeks ago my wife came home and said “check out this patio set someone was throwing out!”. At first glance, it was clear to see why, it was a deep forest green and had several spots that were starting to rust. Yet upon closer inspection the set was actually very sturdy and in good shape. Here is a photo I took of just 2 of the chairs and the table after setting it out on the deck:

Patio Chairs and Table - Before refinishing

In the picture you can see how plain and simple they are. You can also see some of the rust spots around the center of the table, which regardless of my approach was going to need to be addressed. Soon after getting them an idea formed pretty easily that I knew would suit these iron chairs and table very well, especially considering I am just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Taking inspiration from the iconic U.W. Memorial Union terrace chairs, I just knew a variety of bold colors would look exceptional, here is what the Union chairs look like if you’re unfamiliar with them:

Memorial Union chairs
Image Source:

Armed with an idea and an inspiration photo, I headed to my local hardware & paint store and came away with 3 cans of spray paint per chair and 5 cans for the table. I choose a palette of red for the table and green, yellow, blue, and orange for the chairs. I also specifically stuck with high gloss paints that identified as good for use outdoors. I then used painters plastic drop cloth and some duct tape to setup a paint studio in the garage (which allowed great airflow with the garage door open). Here is a picture midway through the painting of the green chair in the paint studio,  which is also good because you can see the before (right side) and after (left side) greens that I was dealing with.

Patio Chairs during the painting process

As far as prep, outside of building the studio, on the table and chairs I used a course sponge to clean the chairs before any paint was applied. I also sanded some of the rusting spots with a piece of sand paper. Once cleaned off I was ready to complete each chair. I actually started with the chairs flipped over and started from the back/bottom first. Once that side was dry I flipped them right side up and finished the front/top of the table and chairs. I was super happy with the end results and really wouldn’t change a thing about how I did this refinishing project.

Here is the finished set out on my deck, just prior to a party we had this past weekend:

Finished Patio Deck Chairs and Table

If you’re looking to accomplish this same effect, here is a general build list of what you will need:

Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links where I receive credit if you purchase based on my recommendation. 

Install Synology DS Video app on Amazon Fire TV (and Fire TV Stick)

I have Synology’s DS Video working on my Amazon Fire TV and it works great. I have confirmed that these instructions work for both the Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick. In order for this to work I actually needed to do a number of things, so I will do my best to outline them here. At a high level what I did was:

  • Sideload DS Video app to my Fire TV to enable browsing of movie selection
  • Sideload VLC app to my Fire TV to enable video transcoding on the Fire TV
  • Sideload Llama to my Fire TV  to enable home screen icon access to DS Video
  • Pushed file changes so that the appropriate icons showed up on my Fire TV home screen

My steps are based on using a Mac, similar instructions for PC are available at

Step 1: Enable ADB Debugging to allow for sideloading

  1. On Fire TV go to Settings > System > Developer Options
  2. Then turn ADB Debugging on

Step 2: Connect to your Fire TV from your Mac

  1. On Fire TV get your IP address by going to Settings > System > About > Network
    Note: Write down the IP address, you’ll need to reference it later
  2. Unzip ADB platform tools (download platform-tools) to your desktop
  3. Open Terminal (just type Term in finder and it will come right up)
  4. Once in terminal, type the following and then hit enter:
    cd /Users/YourUserName/Desktop/platform-tools
    note:YourUserName is your mac user name
  5. This will bring you into the Platform-tools folder, from here now type and then hit enter:
    ./adb connect IPADDRESS
    Note: IPADDRESS is the address we wrote down earlier from your Fire TV

Step 3: Sideload apps onto the Fire TV

  1. Load up a web browser and download the following APK files to your dekstop:
    DS Video – (link to find the latest DS Video APKs)
    VLC (you need something to play all those different video formats) – To download the VLC APK you need to follow a multi-step process:

      1. Get the most recent VLC Play Store URL (Google Play link for VLC)
      2. Go to an APK Downloader (I use Evozi’s APK Downloader)
      3. Generate a link with the downloader and then download the APK

    Llama (optional, use if you want a home screen icon for DS Video) – You can download the Llama APK here

  2. Go back to your Terminal session and install each application by entering in the following command:
    ./adb install /Users/YourUserName/Desktop/filename.apk
    note:YourUserName is your mac user name
  3. You will know the install was completed successfully when you see a message about the install details and the word Success.
  4. Now that the DS Video application is on your Fire TV you can load it by going to Settings > Applications and clicking on DS Video.

Step 4 (Optional): Want to launch the DS Video app from the Home Screen? I used the steps found at and modified it a little so that I could do this with DS Video instead of Kodi XBMC.

  1. On the Fire TV go to Apps > Categories > Entertainment and search for and install “Classic TV”
  2. Open Classic TV app to verify that it worked, and then return to the home screen
  3. You need Llama to trick the Fire TV (so if you haven’t already installed it, return back to Step 3 first and do that before continuing)
    1. Go to Settings > Applications > Manage All Installed Applications and launch Llama
    2. In Llama go to the Events tab and then click the + button
    3. Now click the Add Condition button, trigger event based on Active Application
    4. Now select Choose an App and choose Classic TV and hit ok.
    5. Next you need to select Add Action and select Run Application
    6. Select DS Video
  4. Return to the home screen and launch Classic TV. Because the event was created DS Video will run instead.

Step 5 (Super Optional): Change the Classic TV icon to be a DS Video icon.

1. You will need DS Video Thumbnails and Previews, to make it easy here is the thumbnail and preview icons I used. Right-click both DS Video icons and save the images to your desktop (do not change the default file name):

DS Video Thumbnail Icon

File must be named: thumbnail_43127692f3ed9671e079492a40a450bbd51543bd84d74bba24baf55fe7e06afa.png

DS Video Preview Icon

File must be named: preview_84a70e233a1a6d1ac0d93d2e9f1f2de0e7c2d64d289f1e6f17434fe4c3752717.png

2.In your Terminal session we now need to replace the Classic TV icons with the DS Video icons by running the following 2 commands:

./adb push /Users/YOURUSERNAME/Desktop/thumbnail_43127692f3ed9671e079492a40a450bbd51543bd84d74bba24baf55fe7e06afa.png /sdcard/.imagecache/

./adb push /Users/YOURUSERNAME/Desktop/preview_84a70e233a1a6d1ac0d93d2e9f1f2de0e7c2d64d289f1e6f17434fe4c3752717.png /sdcard/.imagecache/

note:YourUserName is your mac user name

3. Now you need to reboot your Fire TV in order for the settings to take place. You can do this by Pressing and holding the Select and Play buttons down on the Fire TV remote for 5 seconds. Once it reboots the DS Video icon should appear. For it to work for me I actually had to launch the app, and then back out in order for it to show up correctly.

Disclaimer, Amazon links above are affiliate links. I earn credit off any purchases made from those links.

Edit Notes (3-1-15): Updated the Evozi link so that is correct. Also for those interested I have lately been playing around with the FiredTVLauncher to just use a custom UI instead of the out-of-the box FireTV interface. I must say it is much more functional. To date I have watched about 20 movies on the FireTV and overall the experience has been pretty good. I do wish the DScloud UI was a little more optimized for button navigation, but overall I am pretty happy with how it works.

What is AdvoCare?

I like to read a lot and because food blogs are one of the things I enjoy reading I had been hearing a lot about body cleansing, juicing, and nutrition hacking. I have also been fascinated by CrossFit, which inevitably led me to hearing about AdvoCare at various times. So flash back to a month ago when my wife tells me that a friend of ours was starting the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge.
AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge
Being the supportive person I am I told my wife that I thought it was awesome that her friend was doing this (and here is where I really surprised here) I told her that if she wanted to try it out I would do the challenge with her. I figured I love doing challenges like this, I definitely have a health conscience, and I thought it could be fun to be supportive of my wife during her challenge with the foods we ate.
So on May 8th, 2014 we started Day 1 of the challenge. See the first 10 days are a cleanse (not not really a cleanse in the poop your brains out way sort of way); the way I see it the first 10 days is really about 3 things:

  1. Developing a schedule/routine – Drink this first, eat this second, take these third… I think you get the point. Thankfully AdvoCare provides resources like a challenge book and a smartphone app that helps keep track of things nicely.
  2. Following a strict No list – This may have been the most difficult part. Here are a list of foods to avoid:
    • No Alcohol
    • No Coffee
    • No Dairy (milk, butter, cream, cheese, etc.)
    • No Fried Food
    • No High Fat Foods
    • No Processed Foods
    • No Preservative-Based Foods – You know all those crazy things on the labels that you either can’t really pronounce or have no clue what it really is like High Fructose Corn Syrup, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Sulfite, Sodium Nitrate, etc. well they are all bad when you’re taking the 24 day challenge.
    • No Soda
    • No Sugar – It really doesn’t matter what kind, try and stay away from all sugars
    • No White Bread
    • No White Flour
  1. Establishing a healthy balanced diet – I don’t know  if I have ever eaten this healthy in my life. 100% natural fresh meats, veggies, fruits, whole grain, etc.

After the cleanse phase you go into what AdvoCare calls the max phase. As I see it this is really about continuing the 3 points above, while adding specific supplements and vitamins in order to support your body.

Being the stat nerd I am I kept very detailed logs of my food, weight, fat mass (thanks to my awesome Withings Smart Body Analyzer!!), and even blood pressure (using a Panasonic Blood Pressure Monitor).

Ok now if you have made it this far in the reading you’re probably wondering, DID IT WORK??? Well I found it did for me! Stats Summary for my 24 Day Challenge:

  • I lost 11 lbs going from 213.5 lbs down to 202.5 lbs.
  • I had a 14.6% reduction in Fat Mass dropping from 54.7 lbs of fat to 46.7 lb of fat
  • I saw a 7 point drop (using first 5 day average – last 5 day average) on both my systolic and diastolic measurements.
  • I lost 7 inches on my BWHT (chest-weight-hips-thigh) measurements (4 on waist/belly and 3 on thigh, my chest and hips stayed the same).

The above data is just a summary, here is a detailed log of my weight, fat mass, fat mass % of total weight, and blood pressure. Days that are identified as n/a no measurements were taken usually because I was traveling for work:

Tenny's Advocare 24 Day Challenge log

I don’t want to turn this into a commercial or advertisement, but wanted to realistically address some questions:

Would I recommend AdvoCare?  Overall I think I would. I saw positive results. It really wasn’t that difficult.  I successfully completed the challenge.

How did you feel during and after the challenge? I have heard a number of people who said they feel so much more energy when on AdvoCare, but that just wasn’t the case for me. I had a morning caffeine ritual that worked well for me prior to starting, so if anything I felt less energy due to the change in my habit. I also have felt more emotionally sensitive during and now for the first few days after. It could all be in my head, it could be seasonality (it did transition from spring to summer here), it could be anything, but I strongly feel it was influence by the diet.

Would I do it again? Yes, because in a way I am still doing it. I am taking the AdvoCare Spark (as a replacement to my morning caffeine drinks), AdvoCare Catalyst (before working out), and taking AdvoCare OmegaPlex (as a omega-3 supplement). I have also significantly hacked my diet by cutting out crap that was bad for me and overall I have changed out a lot of the bad foods for good ones.

What was the most difficult part of the challenge? The most difficult part was finding reliable information. What can I eat? What can’t I eat? There is a lot of contradictory data out there. I also struggled to find recipes. It was such a challenge that my wife and I created our own AdvoCare website called where we post helpful hints and recipes that we have enjoyed while on the challenge.

FitBit Force Review/Warning

I have had the FitBit Force for several months now, but have been hesitant to do a formal review. I have been a huge fan of FitBit devices for some time now, with the FitBit Force being the third device of their I have owned. Back when they first came out I even wrote about using a FitBit One. When the Force came out I knew this was going to be the device for me! Finally a quality wrist wearable fitness tracker that integrated with the online experience of the website. I have to admit that I loved this device. I wore it all the time (except for showers and the pool), but basically anywhere I would go. The accuracy was good. The battery life was good. The fact that I was able to avoid losing it as easily as the FitBit one was GREAT, but then I got burned and haven’t wore it since.

FitBit Force rash the day I stopped wearing it.

Like I literally developed a burn-like rash where a certain part of the FitBit touched my skin. When I contacted FitBit they were helpful and offered me a full refund without question (but nothing else was offered)… At the time of writing this post FitBit has (sort of) acknowledged this “skin irritation” and even issued a recall to address the problem.

9 days after I stopped wearing the FitBit Force I still have the rash. I have been using a prescription to try and eliminate the traces of the rash, but so far it is as visible as it was when I stopped wearing the Force.

FitBit Force rash 9 days after I stopped wearing it

I will end up getting another wearable at some point, but this whole experience has me much more hesitant to jump into it right away.

Wordle of my twitter activity

I have been seeing several wordle clouds lately and thought it would be cool to do one of my Twitter posts over the last 2 years. I like that wordle lets you right click on words you want to remove (which I did with my username, months, and other common twitter words like reply, favorite, etc.). This is the end result:

jmtenny's twitter word cloud via wordle

looking now I see a few other common words were still left in (like summary), but overall I think it is a pretty accurate snapshot into my Twitter interactions.

Google Bought Nest? No!!

Look I have been a loyal Google user since day 1. I have also been a loyal Nest user since it came out (I even blogged about it here). So upon hearing that Google bought out Nest (here is a great article on the purchase at Gigaom) you would think that I would be super pleased, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

See Google already took a shot at energy monitoring with PowerMeter and failed. They shut the service down in September of 2011. And shutting things down is the primary reason that I am really alarmed and disappointed by this acquisition. My loyalty to Google has extended across its many product lines and far too often I have been completely burned by their desire to shut down a service. Services I had come to rely on: shut down. Services I used everyday: shutdown. Services I, in collaboration with a former employer, spent many man hours and many thousands of dollars to deploy: shutdown.

Google’s leadership has decided that instead of making the web a better place and profiting as a benefit, they would rather solely chase profits and eliminate lower margin solutions. I would be shocked if we don’t see a message like this at some point in the future:

Parody of Google Reader shutdown message applied to Nest website.
Parody of Google Reader shutdown message applied to Nest website.


About to get my Kombucha on!

Kombucha fermenting
Pictures of Kombucha fermenting. Pictures via

So my friend Andrea has been brewing and drinking the stuff for ever. I have always really enjoyed drinking it as well when ever given the opportunity. I finally decided to jump in and brew some myself. Andrea pointed me to her mom’s blog about how to get started brewing Kombucha. I used this as a shopping list of what to buy and as soon as everything arrives I’ll get started. I hope to post some of my experiences with Kombucha here on the blog so please check back to see my progress.