That's it on the right.  My mom grew up right upstairs in the apartment while her Mom and Dad operated a bakery out of the first floor.  Later, after her folks moved out to a new, bigger house, my Mom and Dad moved in right after they were married.   It (obviously) looked a bit different back then!  It was named Dorianels after my mom and her two siblings.  DOrothy, floRIAN, and MitchEL.  Dorianels.

The bakery was right on 51st Street a few blocks north of Sherman Park.  My sister Vic went with my folks to scout out my Mom's old neighborhood and see her old church before they dismantled it.  Quite the sad story, but that's for another post.  Vic supplied this photo (and a few others I'll use later) and was the driving force to getting my mom back to her old stomping grounds.  The closest thing I have to an "old neighborhood" is probably Champaign-Urbana.  I know how I feel when I'm back on campus, so I can guess how my mom was feeling as they wondered around her old 'hood.  
Back in the late 1970's and early 1980's, my father was a part-time police officer in my hometown of Frankfort.  He might have been called an auxiliary officer or something like that, but never-the-less he *was* still a copper.   That's him standing up in the light shirt farthest to the right with the mustache.   He looks great!
In the back row, third from the left is my Uncle Ed.  He's my Godfather and meant a lot to me and my family.  This photo was shared with me by his daughter.

It is kind of funny to think about my dad as a police officer.  Clearly, Uncle Ed had an impact on him to get him to join the force.  Frankfort is still a pretty small town (15,000ish people), but back in the late 1970's it was REALLY sleepy.  My dad grew up on the south side, so I'm thinking that after relocating from Hickory Hills to Frankfort in the 70's, he was looking for a bit of excitement.    He told me once that he had to pull his gun and (I think?) fired it.  Must have been like the Wild West!

I don't know nor remember much about his police days, but I do remember him coming home for late suppers in his uniform when I was little.  It was usually mostaccioli, red gravy and neck bones.  

He's probably in his late 30's in that photo.  What an amazing life he's lived and it sure is fun to be able to look at photos like this and think about what my dad was doing/thinking when he was the same age I am coming up on.  Wonder if the Babe will be thinking that her Dad was as nuts as mine?  I sure hope so.  
Seems as though my post about my paper Owl inspired my niece to make her own paper pumpkin.  Nice!  Look at the great job she did!
My Owl was feeling a bit lonely so I made him a few friends.  That's for another post!
I didn't want my pumpkin owls to be all alone, so I folded up an indoor companion.  Using these as guidelines, I accordion-folded some construction paper.  He's a little amateurish, but that's fine with me.  I used the hot glue gun and I think that was a mistake, but being me, I also took a stab at the largest one - which according to the comments on the page is the one with the highest difficulty.  

If I have time today, I'll make him a pumpkin and cat friend - perhaps in the medium version.  Spooky owls can't be sitting on our window sill all alone, right?
Not only is Congressman Mark Kirk pulling away in the Google Insights for Search Poll, but State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is slumping as of late.   They came out of the primary locked in a dead-heat but with the news that Kirk wasn't being totally truthful during the summer, he surged in interest level.  Clearly, as we head into the final week, interest in both candidates is heating up.  Will Kirk's Google lead hold up?

State Senator Bill Brady is pulling away in the Illinois Governor's race as viewed through Google.  He took a lead in September and never looked back it seems.  Some official polls reflect a Brady lead, too.  Will this hold up?

After the weird video I posted yesterday, I thought it would be worthwhile showing a few close-ups of the two visitors.  This is the second year I've made these particular creatures and I think they've turned out better this year after making some minor modifications.  The plans we followed are featured here on Martha Stewart's pretty rad Halloween section.

Here's how they look at night.

With some backlighting on the porch. the kitchen after being put together!
There's two of them!  Video under the cover of night of our front porch visitors here:
The Illini stomped the Hoosiers and everyone (and I really mean EVERYONE!) had a great time in Champaign today.  The Babe broke out her Fighting Illini Cheerleader outfit and even spent a little bit of time in a campus bar.   I have to work quickly before those ND Domers corrupt her too much.  Not to mention her Wash U Mother!
Did you know that the idea of Homecoming started in Champaign at the University of Illinois?

This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the first collegiate Homecoming....anywhere!   Pretty neat.
Nat and I are hoping to go tomorrow, but if it rains like it is planned, we might scrap our plans.  Nothing sounds nicer than sitting in Memorial Stadium watching my Illini followed by a romp around campus, unless said visit is with a 10 month old and it is raining cats and dogs.  Our original plans were to head down next weekend for Varsity "I" weekend - where a bunch of the ex-athletes gather and they let us onto the field for pre-game - but with Halloween being the same day, it is tough to rally a crowd and slip out of town.

Here's hoping for the best tomorrow and no rain!  Doesn't look promising.
The Babe has made her choice(s) from Sonny Acres in West Chicago.  Time to get busy carving the owls.  Last year we did two of them and I wouldn't expect to do less this fall.
Never really got my sea legs during the 3+ hour tour, but I did get to see "The Rock".  Pretty neat stuff.

One of my preferred part of my day job is finding and pointing out trends using data from the company.  With the end of the year coming, these inevitably end up being used in "list" format.  You know...Top 10 XXX of 2010, etc.  

For Chicago, the List Season got off to an early start with the Sun-Times running the top 10 food/drink trends.  You can see them in the photo above (on the right side) that I took with my phone or in the lists below.  

Guacamole tops pizza?  That's crazy talk.  

Fastest Rising Food and Drink Search Terms in Chicago

1. Chicken
2. Zucchini bread
3. Guacamole
4. Pizza
5. Bruschetta
6. Cake
7. Wings
8. Pie
9. Pasta
10. Cookies

Non-alcoholic beverages1. Acai
2. Frappe
3. Macchiato
4. Smoothie
5. Tea
6. Pepsi
7. Coke
8. Kombucha
9. Frappuccino
10. Pomegranate
Over the weekend, we went to a kid-packed Halloween party.  Of course, Nat made sure the Babe had a costume so she wouldn't be left out of the fun.

Pink Ladybugs might now be my favorite kind!  Plenty more photos from the upcoming Halloween festivities I'm certain will be posted in all the appropriate places around the web.  If you know where to look, you won't be able to miss them soon!
Late last week, I had to take Nat's car in for some maintenance and instead of dropping the car off, I decided (at the advice of the guy running the place) to sit around and wait.  Didn't take more than an hour, but I was bored enough to start taking pictures of my surroundings.  The truck drivers for this place plastered almost every surface of the waiting area/checkout area with these stickers.
Nat's car is a hybrid and I've gotten pretty good at learning how to drive while optimizing mpg. (pardon the dust on the dashboard!)
Not bad, eh?
A few nights back, Nat made a big batch of red gravy. you guys might call it:  tomato sauce.  Using a bunch of varieties including Romas, Mr. Stripey's and Green Zebras, it turned out delicious.  She used a recipe that called for roasting the tomatoes after halving them and de-seeding them.  She put together a couple pans worth and made gravy to last weeks!
I think she improvised a bit, but her gravy/sauce was based largely on this Alton Brown recipe:

20 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup finely diced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves
1 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans place tomato halves cut side up. Sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper, onion, garlic, and herbs. Bake tomatoes for 2 hours. Check the tomatoes after 1 hour and turn down the heat if they seem to be cooking too quickly. Then turn the oven to 400 degrees and bake another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and process tomatoes through a food mill on medium dye setting over a small saucepan. Discard skins. Add white wine, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.
They're both sitting on 2X4 posts, but the Natcrow has 2" PVC for arms and the Jakecrow has another 2X4 for arms.  The inspiration for these guys were Martha's Scarecrows here.

What do you think?  Clearly mine aren't as cute as Martha's, but they're close, no?
Oh...I didn't tell you there were going to be two of them, did I?  Here's how they look from the street.  Still not done with the "little one", but hopefully I'll get to that on Friday.
While our garden is still throwing off lots and lots of tomatoes, peppers, zuchini, and eggplant, we're now able to harvest a set of fall crops.  Mostly "Jack Be Littles", but we also have a bunch of random gourds.  Quite a few of them aren't quite ripe so I'm hopeful they'll get-goin' before the frost comes.
Some of these will be used in our Owl jack-o-lanterns and others will probably just stay put.  I'll toss them back into the compost bin and *fingers crossed* we'll get more next year!
Was able to get him (at least half-way) properly dressed.  Have to figure out the trousers and the stuffing, but that should be done by Wednesday.  Hopefully he'll be on guard by Wednesday night.
Indiana Street - Be on the lookout!
Notice the resemblance?  He's a bit taller than me right now, but I think I carved the eyebrows about right.
We picked up some clothes at Goodwill today and I'll get busy stuffing them sometime this week.  Have to get them in the yard before the autumn comes to a close!
*Looking for other Downtown Elmhurst posts?  Check out the full list here on my Downtown Elmhurst page.*

Saw this rendering/logo in the window of a new tavern along York in Downtown Elmhurst called "Pints". Has a very "Cheers-like" feel.
It is south of the tracks, right near the new Charlie's Elmhurst, which we went to with my sister and Equation Boy/Man over the weekend.  Pretty neat place with pretty decent chow.

With the addition of Pints, it seems that South York is becoming a very hot spot for restaurants/bars/taverns.
On A1 of today's Cleveland Plain Dealer, they report on the "top 5 local travel trends" in Cleveland. Bottom left of the front page, but still the front page!
Story can be read here.
Spotted this truck on the road recently and thought it was a pretty clever business name for a heating/air conditioning contractor:  Air Force One.

More notable, in my mind, is the fact that someone in their marketing organization is savvy enough to have grabed that url.  Their website is  Either they paid big or they moved fast.  I'm guessing that they moved fast.
Last week, I was in Columbus Ohio to meet with some folks at the various news outlets.  One of them was the Columbus Dispatch.  The Dispatch building is pretty nice and it sits directly across the street from the State Capitol in Columbus.  The front doors of each building are literally 100 yards or so away from each other.  Must be pretty nice for the political reporters.

But the location isn't the most interesting part of the facility.  That distinction *has* to go to the sign that sits atop their headquarters.  The sign boasts that the Dispatch is "Ohio's Greatest Home Newspaper".

I won't argue with them.
With pumpkin heads, too!  I have a lot of work left to get them done and in proper display shape, but they should be done by the end of the weekend.  Neighborhood beware....
Either they had the wrong room, or the standards for "Whales" have dropped with the huge downtown that Las Vegas has suffered.  From the sounds of this story that ran over the weekend, things are NOT looking up for the town and the tourism industry.   This "gift" showed up on the second day of my stay, so I'm guessing they are inferring *something* about me.  It isn't like I am a big traveler and have big-time status or am a big travel account (I'm right in the middle of things like AAdvantage and Marriott Rewards - not "Platinum" or whatnot, but rather in the lower tiered "Gold" or the like).

I also didn't spend a dime at the gambling tables, so this isn't like "house money".
Granted this isn't comp'd tickets to a show or even a free meal in a restaurant, so it isn't that big of a deal.  In fact, it is mostly just junk food.  Maybe EVERYONE gets these things these days?
It appears that there is a new place either just opened or on the verge of opening in Downtown Elmhurst called "Charlie's".  It is the former McNally's location - an Irish bar with a HUGE beer garden/patio.  From the looks of their website, Charlie's is owned by the same folks who run Rizzo's in Downtown Naperville. They appear to be able to run a successful hotspot in a suburban downtown, so that sounds promising for this location in Elmhurst.  It is across the tracks (on the south side of the tracks), but has a great location right on York Street.  They already have their Yelp listing up off the ground, so from the sounds of the only review on there, they might be open ( least had a pre-opening night?).
Nat was walking by early this morning and she noted that just a few doors north in the old LaLaLand location was a sign for a new placed called "Pints" - which to me sounds like another tavern.   Should be nice to get the south side of Downtown moving with these two new nightlife locations.  I'm a bit fearful of this place, though.  Based on some of the "featured events" on their website, they're going to try to make this place a "scene".  Fingers crossed that "DJ Mixin Mark" and "DJ Whizz Kid" are just some intro nights and they'll let us eat our food and watch sports in peace!
Yesterday's post with my photo of Higbee's in Downtown Cleveland had me thinking about how generations of folks watch that movie (like I did) and probably wonder what Higbee's looks like today.  Most people aren't going to hop on a plane/in a car and go see the old Higbee's store, but what they will do is hop on their friendly search engine and have a look-see at what the web has to say about Ralphie's favorite department store.

The "A Christmas Story" movie is a favorite of families all over the country and continues to hold up over time.  Right after Thanksgiving, it seems that plenty of folks are watching the movie then searching for info on Higbee's.  Here's a chart that shows that seasonality.  Look at what happens each year near Christmas.  There's a HUGE surge of folks looking for Higbee's on the web.

Imagine if you were Dillard's (who owned Higbee's), wouldn't this search behavior make you want to create a seasonal brand around Higbee's?  Can't you imagine the Higbee's gear for those die-hard "Christmas Story" fans?  After all, there is a museum and more already, so the fan-base appears rabid.
I'm sure there are other things to see when you're stopping over in Cleveland for a few days (like the Rock and Roll HoF!), but the highlight of my trip was stumbling into this building:
You Christmas Story fans will know what Higbee's is when you see it!  Turns out, the place closed down years ago and the city of Cleveland's tourism bureau moved into the store.

If you've seen the movie, you'll remember this very corner from the movie.  It looked like this in the opening sequence.