One of my nephews gave this to me for Christmas and it has been sitting on my desk ever since.  It is a 'pen rest', but that's not the cool part.  First, he made it! he made it in shop class in school.  I'm thinking it was some sort of computer-driven machining tool?  He programmed in my name and (most importantly) the Illini shield - which I'm over the moon for - and then stained it all by himself.

Kinda awesome, right?  Especially because he's just a 12 year old.

Back at Christmastime, my friend Kate gave me this big red box right ahead of the holidays.  She knew of my affinity for Coke Zero and so this was a welcome gift.  Inside the box was a set of these cute glass bottles with my name on them!

This is the 2nd time I've written about the #ShareaCoke campaign.  First time was back here in August of 2015 when I bemoaned the lack of an 'e' on the Jacob bottles.  Well...turns out they've solved that little problem.

You can go over and create your own bottle on the 'share a Coke' site here:   And you can put an 'e' on the end of your name if you'd like, too!

Out on Ogden Road in Downers a few weeks back, I spotted this Honda Odysessy, which at first glance appears to be your standard, run-of-the-mill grocery wagon that we all drive out in the suburbs.  But, if you look closely, you'll see a "CH" oval sticker in the corner of the rear window.

I saw it and then as safely as I could, whipped out my phone and tried to take this photo.

Why?  Because that "CH" oval sticker is one that I saw a bunch when we were visiting my sister and Equation Boy/Man in Switzerland.  CH means Swiss, which came as a surprise to me.  But now, when I see it, I know!

From Wikipedia:
The data code for Switzerland, CH, is derived from Latin Confoederatio Helvetica (English: Helvetic Confederation).
I gleefully emailed off this photo to Equation Boy/Man and I'm hoping that they'll come home with one of these stickers and stick it on the back of their own van when they're living back in Elmhurst this summer.   They'll have fellow ex-pats that they know (and don't know!) who they'll be able to smugly wave to as they drive past around town.   Kinda like a little, exclusive club.

Over on Addison Street in the Elmhurst City Centre, there's this place called Undercover Upholstery.  It is located south of the new parking deck with Orange Theory Fitness in it and north of the Coldwell Banker office and Pizza Palace on the east side of the street.  I parked over there recently when I was getting my haircut at JMC Barbershop.

I never thought much of the Upholstery shop and neither saw anyone ever go inside nor did it ever really seem open.  But, it must have been because it's been there for a number of years.

It caught my attention this time, because of the numerous flyers on the windows of the place that you can see in the photo above.  There's seven of the same flyer hung up in the front window.

And here's a closeup of that flyer.  It is pretty cute and reads:  "Save this town - snow village."

"All these buildings and homes must be moved to make room for another seven story parking deck.   
The Historic Society of Snow Village is seeking new owners to save the character of the town by moving them to your estate.   
An experienced tree arborist is on hand to move the mature species as part of the transition. 
Each building is only $50.00 and includes trees."

Mantleburg has been quite stagnant in recent years as the economy has been held down due to various factors including them not being on display for two Christmases in a row, but growth through bulk acquisition has never been the route that the Mayor has chosen in the past and I doubt it is one that we'll go down this time.

And, let's not skip over the passive-aggressive jab at the City of Elmhurst with the use of "another seven story parking deck".  Ouch.

Back to these Christmas village buildings.....I am guessing that these are Department 56 buildings?  I don't know enough about them to know if $50 a piece is fair, but I'm thinking that if someone wanted to try to buy a package deal of a few of them at once, the price would come down.  There *is* a phone number.....hmmm....maybe the Mayor of Mantleburg should at least inquire with the Historic Society?  I mean....there *is* an arborist on hand to help with the trees?

Back in December of last year, there was finally a flurry of activity on the structure that sits at the northwest corner of First and York (just on the north side of the tracks) in the Elmhurst City Center.  I covered it here on the blog and at that time, Alderman Dannee Polomsky of the 3rd Ward shared that there was a new business going into the spot called Beerhead Bar & Eatery.  If you head to the Beerhead site, they now even have a page up for the Elmhurst location.

For the better part of the past 60 days, there has been scaffolding up on both sides of the building as they do some exterior work on the facade, but as I walked by it earlier this week on my way to the train, I noticed the scaffolding was all gone.

And the building looks great!  They added some black stone to the top and down the sides and cleaned up the brick it looks like to me.  The building, which if you look back thru the archives was a hodgepodge of a bunch of different uses including Polay's interior designs, Meeder remodeling and that store that sold kids clothes.  And in December of 2015, they posted the plans for what would eventually become what we see here.  December of 2015!  That's more than 2 years ago.  Development moves at a glacial pace sometimes, it seems.

If you walked by when they were doing this interior work, you could see that the interior was totally gutted, so they still have a bunch of work to do I would think.  But, maybe by the end of Spring, we'll have another beer place in town?  What's that, now...3?

The old trend that was all about yogurt places is the new craft beer place, I guess?

In a major development on the construction site, we now have windows installed!  Windows!  Yeah, I know.  You're questioning the exclamation points.  But, listen....we've been at this a loooooooooong time.  And this is a real mark of progress towards having a home completed, so it is worth celebrating for our family.

They're not all in - nor are the doors - so the house isn't quite 'buttoned up', but it is close.  And that marks an exciting time.  If you look closely on the right side of this photo you'll see some metal conduit that the electrician has put in.  That means that some of the mechanical work has been started, so once that's done and the insulation is installed, I think we get the drywall hung.  Then we'll *really* get a sense for how the place is turning out and what the true space is for each room.

But for now, we're celebrating windows.

Over on eBay this weekend, I came across this beauty of a lamp.  It is listed at $85 and has no shade, so it isn't a steal, right?

But it *is* awesome.  But right now, it isn't for me.  (remember that whole Joe Rhode-thing about that says: "It is enough to enjoy the existence of things without possessing all of them"???)

Looking up the helmets in the Helmet Project site, it seems that this one with the blue facemask, the arched "Illini" that is outlined in blue is from a very specific few years:  1977 to 1979.

As a child of the late 70's, I kinda love that.  We don't have a house yet, let alone a place for this lamp, but I bet it'd look pretty awesome in a rumpus room, right?  At $85, it might not go fast, right?  All it takes is one nutball like me to buy it, though!

Earlier this week, I posted some photos of the new Elf the Movie Lionel O-Gauge Boxcar that we pre-ordered for this past Christmas, but just arrived in February.  Welp, here's the other one:  A National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation "Merry Clarkmas" boxcar.

Both of these Lionel cars are made in the USA and have that special American flag box.  I was going to give this to one of my nephews who really loves this movie last year, but I swapped in something else because this didn't arrive.  I'll pack this one up too, and take it off to our storage unit for a few months.  There's light at the end of the tunnel, though.  Just four more months until we'll be in our place.  At least that's what I'm hoping for right now.

The boxcar features the Griswold's house and station wagon with the huge tree strapped to the top, Cousin Eddie's RV, the tree out in the wild and a bit more.

Including Clark, the squirrel and the flying Santa and Reindeer.

They packed a lot of the movie into this thing it seems.

Here's the side panel that shows all the details:

This is the 17th coaster added to the 'coaster collection'.  You can see the whole archive here.  This is from The Betty where we went for a 'too cool for school' cocktail while we waited for a table at Duck Duck Goat.

The Betty is a pretty big place so we found a spot to hang for a while and drink our craft cocktails like the cool kids.  We weren't out of place, thankfully, because Nat, her sister and her mom were there to class our group up.

Our middle child picked out this little early wooden horsecart at the Lake Geneva Antique Mall on a trip up there.  I'm not sure exactly how it went down, but I think Nat told the girls that they could pick out something small - a 'treasure' - to reward their patience while we wandered around the place.   Now that they're not in strollers, it is a lot harder to wrangle them at places like antique malls where they don't go crazy.

The Bird picked this little wooden horse and cart.  The tag says "Early Japan" and the bottom is stamped directly on the piece, no sticker:

Kind of a sweet little treasure, isn't it?  It is super brittle, so I know it won't last long. But, one of the horse legs was busted off already, so it wasn't perfect in the first place.

Just like my Dad did to me, we're (I think) doing to our girls:  encouraging them to love old things.

The trick, however, is something that I'm not quite *there* with that Joe Rhode once wrote on a photo he posted on Instagram when asked in a comment if he purchased something he posted.  He replied:
It is enough to enjoy the existence of things without possessing all of them.
For someone who likes 'treasures', this is a big and important statement.  Something I need to keep reminding myself of each time I come across a vintage Santa.  Just enjoy the existence of something.  That's a healthy mindset.