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On the Sixth Day of Christmas...

By Tim Butler | Posted at 2:20

I checked out this year's PNC Christmas Price Index. I haven't run into references to the CPI in a few years, so I decided it was high time to look it up and see what the “true price of Christmas” was for 2011. Apparently Christmas inflation was not as bad this year as some recent years.

Merry Christmas, indeed!

Last Minute Fireworks Shopping? Here's Where to Go.

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:58

Every year I give fireworks shopping tips in case anyone in the St. Louis area is in the mood to explore the exciting realm of pyrotechnics. I started blogging about the different tents because, given my love of fireworks, I would typically visit at least one location of every fireworks seller in St. Charles on a given year. I love seeing all the different varieties of fireworks, and inevitably, each company carries a little different selection. This year, other things demanded my time, so instead of visiting every tent, I took my own advice and simply visited the very best.

As an aside, if you are curious about the business of selling fireworks, I interviewed Chris Sander, the owner of “powder monkey FIREWORKS,” late last month on Open for Business. Chris offered some really astute insights into what it is like to run a fireworks tent and — more generally — what it takes to get a business off the ground. His observations are excellent and well worth pursuing.

Since Chris opened his tent in 2008, I make it a point to visit “powder monkey” several times each year. He has some absolutely incredible deals and a very knowledgable staff who have personally seen most of the fireworks they sell. As an added bonus, each night around 9:11 p.m., Chris shoots off a large variety of fireworks, offering his customers a way to “try before they buy.” I was able to catch his demonstration tonight, out of which three really caught my attention: “Attack,” an affordable multi-shot that was impressive in its duration and the size of its effects; “Peacock,” a long lasting and vibrant fountain; and, a rather generically labeled (but impressive) red, white and blue 36-shot peony that would make a nice finale. Every year, I find some new favorites here, making it hard to decide just what to get. I plan to figure out what I have left from last year and then go back.

This year, “powder monkey” is located in three locations — two in Weldon Spring, MO (St. Charles County) and one in Arnold, MO (Jefferson County, just outside of St. Louis County). Check out their site if you want directions to stop by.

A year or two before “powder monkey” opened its proverbial doors, I found Red Dragon. Tim Clayton and his staff have always been kind and helpful, too. Whereas “powder monkey” has served to get me to try all kinds of new things that have been demoed or recommended, Red Dragon carries a number of long time family favorites I've always had a hard time finding elsewhere, including “Just 2 Cool,” “Havana Heat” and “Just Another Stinkin Fountain” (astute asisaid readers will recall that “Just Another” is one of my longest running favorites).

As I wrote last year:

I was at both of them tonight and it was like seeing old friends again. Both have wonderful personal touches and enthusiasm for the fireworks. You can tell these people actually love shooting off fireworks, not necessarily a given at every tent, and have seen the fireworks they are selling. They also both carry a very good selection of fountains and other affordable yet satisfying choices.

Unfortunately, that description certainly doesn't fit just every fireworks tent out there. So, do not just assume the first tent you pass is worth patronizing. Year after year “powder monkey” and Red Dragon have never failed to impress me; I trust if you go to these guys and ask for advice that they'll steer you in the right direction.

Happy Ninth Day of Christmas!

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:31

I hope everyone has a good day, today. Don't forget that there are still 3 2 official days of Christmas left!

Happy New Year!

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:11

Sorry to be scarce this week. Since Christmas things have been a little different than I expected or would have hoped. But, on this seventh day of Christmas, let me wish everyone a Happy New Year filled with joy and the best sorts of excitement.

I'll try to resume regular blogging, so stay tuned.

Merry Christmas!

By Tim Butler | Posted at 22:01

I hope everyone has had a blessed and Merry Christmas! It has been a beautiful, white Christmas here with a nice snowfall yesterday and continued flurries today and into the night. Picture perfect and peaceful.

Remember this is just day one of the twelve days of Christmas — my goal is to get people to observe the whole 12 days of Christmas with lights, music and general “Christmasyness.” Will you join me in celebrating the next 11?

Bang!

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:15

What a lovely Independence Day. I got to spend it with family, eat lots of good food and shoot off a bunch of beautiful fireworks. It was just a spectacular day. Hope all of you had a great one!

1776

By Tim Butler | Posted at 23:21

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Merry Christmas!

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:42

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas Day. Feel free to post a favorite tradition of the day in the comments…

Last Minute Shopping?

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:24

Check out OFB's gift buying guide for last minute gift ideas. While you are over there, here are some other Christmasy things you may want to read:

Gifts of Christmas

Happy Thanksgiving

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:30

I hope everyone had an especially good Thanksgiving. It has been a roller coaster ride of a year… and while quite a bit of it has been rough, I am really thankful for where things are now. The last few weeks have been a much needed time of healing and refreshment; I am thankful for that.

I am thankful God has taken that roller coaster to get me closer to where I believe he wants me to be. I am also thankful that I have been blessed with such a great family and circle of friends. In so many ways, my cup runneth over.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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