Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pagliacci Crushed Tomatoes

Over the weekend I had plans to make some Detroit-style pizza so we went out to Angelo Caputo's to pick up a ingredients.  After putting 5 cans of 6-in-1's, I spotted these Pagliacci cans and couldn't pass them up.   Between the cute can (great colors that don't totally come through in my ratty photo) and the Seinfeld (Crazy Joe Davola!) connection, I had to give them a try.

I didn't have enough energy to make 2 pies (nor the audience to eat them), so ended up not using these just yet.  They'll have their chance this coming weekend.  I'll report back if they topple my 6-in-1's and these end up being my tomatoes of choice.

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Illini Football Uniforms?


Yes, please.

This photo - sent to me by Equation Boy/Man and spotted on the Illinois Loyalty Forums - sure makes it seem like the days of the ILLINOIS helmets are gone.  The entire thread has discussion of the alleged changes including the incorporation of the "zig-zag" trim elements that are already in place on the hoops jerseys.  I welcome these new changes including what appears to be a Pro-Combat matte Navy Blue helmet.

The arched "Illini" is the same font/look that's currently on the hoops jerseys, which makes me think that this is a done deal.   And brings the program back to something close to what we had on our helmets from 1971 - 1987.  Check out the Helmet Project (scroll down to Illinois since there is no permalink) to see the Illinois helmet changes.


The changes will be endless...  The endzones.  The letterhead for the department.  The logo on the floor of the locker room.  (or is it the "Lockerroom"?)

Can't wait to see what else Coach Tim Beckman can do to improve the program.  Here we go!

The photo above is courtesy of IllinoisLoyalty.com - which it sounds like someone posted from a Facebook page somewhere?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

You Too, Caputo's?

Even my favorite grocery store has fallen prey to the lure of labeling their goods "homemade".

I sure hope these weren't made in some dude who works in the deli's home.  I'd much rather enjoy them knowing they were created in the clean, bright, food-service-approved in-house kitchen on premises.

Housemade Bocconcini, please.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

First Softball Mitt

On a trip to Menards this morning, we came across this softball mitt and between the Babe's delight and the rock-bottom price, we couldn't leave the store without it in hand.

Sure, I'd prefer a less gender-specific color, but the upside is that we're now one step closer to the day when the Babe asks me to take her out in the backyard and have a catch.  Now, that'll be the day.  Can't wait!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Gold Max? Really, Elmhurst? Really?!?

A few months back Cottage Hill Diamonds moved across York Street to a new location leaving their old spot open.  And...we got Gold Max!  Yippee!  Huh.....I'm guessing I'm not the only one who didn't envision a 'Cash-for-Gold' joint moving in as the best retail tenant we could get in Downtown Elmhurst.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a free market guy most of the time, but when it comes to economic development, I'm open to some government involvement.  With space so precious and the environment teetering on success/failure, getting prime tenants into the open storefronts is critical.  The question of whether having this space vacant is better than this GoldMax place is - in my mind a valid one worthy of discussion.   As of now, I'm of the opinion that I'd rather have vacant spots than more salons, consignment shops, and new-fangled pawnshops.  The hit we take for having vacancies is better than the hit we take on our reputation.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bigger Bin for Roomba

With all those new floors in the basement, it was time to upgrade the collection bin for our Roomba.  We have a 500-series model that allows for programable use.  That means that we can tell it to go out and work at a set time each day and then come back to it's base to recharge.  The only issue is that with the normal-sized bin, the robot would fill up in a week(ish).  Cheerios, goldfish crackers, dust, dog hair and the like all add up fast.

With this new "AeroVac Upgrade Kit", not only do we get a much larger bin, I've seen some improvement in performance.  The rollers are new and there's (apparently) better air-flow due to the new shaped/sized filters.  I haven't figured out exactly how long the new bin can go (because I check it too often and thus empty it before it gets full), but in time we'll know the full results.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Basement Trim Finished. Finally

We finally finished installing all of the trim in the basement - including these baseboards in the bathroom.  Still plenty of work to do including most of the caulking and painting, but at least the construction phase of the space has concluded.

There are (obviously) a few more touches like shower doors to finalize, so we'll get those things sorted soon.  Funny how projects like this go like nuts for weeks/months, but as soon as it is "good enough" to occupy, everything slows down.  Once we moved in and unpacked the toys it seems like I forgot that I had all this extra work to do.  At least with caulk and paint, I can do it in batches with one section at a time.   With Spring right around the corner, I have just a few months to get this done or else my attention will wander to the garden and backyard.  Time to focus.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bruce Weber Thank You Note

After the big Illini win over the Ohio State Buckeyes a few weeks ago, I sent Coach Bruce Weber a congratulatory note in the mail.  I've been a big Weber supporter since day one and was pleased that with the win, he had the team headed in the right direction.  And some of the "Fire Weber" folks would calm down.

He sent me back an email note that includes his photo - which was kinda weird.  Guessing that this is what they must use to send out notes to recruits and the like?  He (or...at least his secretary) actually read my note because he referenced it in his response, which I suppose is nice.

Unfortunately, the last 2 games since the note arrived (both losses) didn't turn out as Coach Weber had hoped.   There's been just as many 'downs' as there have been 'ups' this season.  If not more.

Such is the life of an Illini fan.

Monday, January 23, 2012

151 N. York Street, Elmhurst


On my 'downtown building' walk last week, I found myself of the east side of York and took some time to peek in this building at 151 N. York.  Here is the real estate listing from Inland.   It has been vacant for a while as there was (I think?) a salon of some sort that occupied the storefront most recently.   It is in MUCH better shape - and a better location - than the neat building I saw at 126 N. Addison Street last week.

This is right in the heart of our downtown (Or...as they like to call it: "City Center") directly across the street from the York Theatre.  It has 2 large front sets of windows that have been totally underutilized by the previous tenants.

For a sense of where this is, see the rendering below.  The location in question is #15 space here on the drawing below.  Right between the Chase Bank and BW3.  For a salon, it is HUGE - and based on the size of BW3, it may be sized properly for a sit-down restaurant.





Sit down restaurant?  Or big retail shop?  We can hope, right?  Come on Elmhurst, let's just say "no" to more salons/nail places.   I'll keep my eye on the spot and if someone moves in, we can revisit the post.  When you look in the front windows, the entire space is chopped up into little rooms with glass doors? So, whomever moves in, there likely will have to be a significant buildout to adapt the space to their needs.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Great Snowman Weather

Thanks to the Babe's Uncle Bill and Granddad, we have (for now at least) a pretty cute snowman friend out in our front yard.  They even made him 2-faced, so we could see him from the comfort of our front room.

With the temps rising and a little bit of rain coming down, the conditions couldn't be more perfect for snowman-making, or as we called it as kids:  "packing snow".

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snowy Back Porch

Last night the snow came in and piled up to the tune of almost 8 inches.  Half way through the storm, I went to let Maisy out the back door when we came across this snow-art on our back deck.  The snow was so fine and light that it was spilling through the cracks in the deck boards.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bieber Birthday Cake (Wreck?)


I spotted this cake at the local Jewel (when I was snooping around for one of those free day-old cookies that they often have out for you to take) and while the decorating is more than adequate, I'm going to rule that due to the HUGE Justin Bieber keychain of some sort this qualifies as a CakeWreck.  What happened to sugar flowers?  First came the kids getting cell phones.  Now they're skipping over the sugar flowers on their birthday cakes?  Get off of my lawn!  (Sorry...old man Parrillo came out there a bit.)

Anyway....What's the tween going to do with that enormous keychain?  I guess an 11 year old doesn't really have that many keys, so perhaps this straps on one's backpack?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Back Yard Rink - Down the Block

My sister and brother-in-law (Equation Boy/Man) installed a backyard rink this season and with the recent snow and temperature drop it is finally time to get out and enjoy it.  It is pretty impressive and their kids are having a great time almost every night.  My sister has been very generous in inviting just about the entire neighborhood down for a skate and lots of kids have enjoyed their hard work.

Recently, I took the Babe down there to check it out and get up on the ice.   She's not quite skating, but with her new snow boots on, she had a lot of fun stomping around with her cousins.  And falling down.

I, on the other hand, took to the ice (in my new skates - Thanks, Nat!)  to dominate with my stick handling, dekes, and one-timers.  It wasn't easy.  Just look at the competition!



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

126 N. Addison Street, Elmhurst - Rehab Work Started

Over the weekend, while I was out on a walk, I noticed that one of my favorite buildings in downtown Elmhurst - at 126 N. Addison Street - appeared to have some rehab work begun on it.  It is a gorgeous building with an interesting facade that is made of brick, has some neat iron elements and that great looking green tile roof.  It is on the west side of Addison Street directly across the street from where the huge new Addison Street Development is planned.  (If you don't remember what that massive structure is planned to look like, go read this old post again.)   The last tenant (based on the signage) appears to be a photography studio that offered framing services.  The age of the sign indicates that they were there quite some time ago!  Here's what it looks like from the sidewalk.

There appears to be an apartment or two up stairs of this retail space on the street level.  You can see a good front-facing photo of the building here on Google Streetview.

The sign in the window indicates construction, but also when I walked a little further down the sidewalk, I saw the dumpster in the back and this HUGE hole in the wall.  Not to mention the contractors milling around in the back and sideyard.
So, the big question is....what is planned?  If anything?  There are so many currently vacant storefronts in downtown that I'm having a hard time believing that we'll see a quality tenant move in.  Just north of this building is a dry cleaner followed by another vacant storefront that was once a wedding dress shop.

Is this a developer 'betting on the come' with the proposed development across the street?  Perhaps.  As long as it isn't a dentist, salon, or Cash for Gold store, even if we end up with a vacant store front that has been rehabbed, Downtown Elmhurst will be better off.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Google 'Good To Know' Ads

If you opened up that copy of the Chicago Tribune that landed on your driveway this morning you likely saw the big ad from the good folks at Google touting the new program called:  Good to Know.  Here's how it looks in print:
You'll be seeing similar ads in the paper AND around town for the next few weeks that include tips that are consistent with Google's commitment to keep users safe online.   Keep an eye out for the ads at your bus stop and other outdoor places.

Think of it as an education program for everyone on why things happen on the internet and what to watch out for in terms of bad guys.

I'm proud of Google for going rolling this out.  Good for users.  Good for Google.

*disclaimer:  You guys know that I work at Google, right?  I didn't work on this campaign, though.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Aqua Globes for Potted Plants

Earlier this year, we bought these Aqua Globes for the ferns that we keep on our front porch.  We were going on a trip of some sort and I was afraid they were going to dry out totally, so this seemed like a short-term solution.  They worked, in that they kept the ferns from totally dying.

After the ferns came down, these globes came inside.  I've since plugged them into the pots of our Asparagus Ferns to keep them alive during these dry winter months.  So far, so good.  They drip out water in very small quantities, so I'm not sure they're adequate as the sole watering mechanism, but as a supplemental technique, I'd recommend them.  You'll still have to water your plants every once in a while, but these globes will make that job less of a hard requirement.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Grandma Pizza Failure

Over the weekend, we had some folks over for a pizza party.  I wanted to refine and perfect my Grandma Pizza recipe so I needed a crowd in order to make more than one skin.

Unfortunately, the first two didn't turn out as well as I'd have liked.  Not sure exactly what went wrong, but while the tops browned up, the bottom didn't get crisp enough.  Here's what the top looked like:
Just about perfect.  But the bottom?  It was limp and soggy.  Not crisp.  Guess I'll have to go back to the drawing board and re-work the recipe.  Who's up for a pizza party this weekend?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Things You Find on Craigslist


We were trolling Craigslist for a new Maclaren stroller after ours broke today when we found this Creep in the 'baby & kid stuff' section.   In between a post selling a collection of legos and a post listing board games.

Just a friendly reminder: Be careful out there on the internets, guys.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Strange Sighting: MTA Metro North Train in Elmhurst


Recently, I was stuck at a grade-level crossing in Elmhurst when I this odd train passed: it was a commuter train, but was badged by the MTA - Metro North Railroad.  That's New York City?!?!

Strange seeing it on the Union Pacific West line in suburban Chicago, that's for sure.  I'm guessing that this *must* be a new train that is being driven across country to be put in service?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

262 N. Indiana Street, Elmhurst

It was just back a few months in August that the construction fences went up and I expected the old bungalow that was on the lot to be torn down.  Fast forward to this week, and this big house is going up fast.  They have the framing done and the roofers arrived to get started.

They've made (in my mind) a mistake by putting the garage up front, but I'm not the guy buying the place.  We have an alley on our street and there's a lot of ways that you can improve the curb appeal by getting rid of that garage that takes up more than 50% of the view from the street.

The listing has it at $899,900 with 4 bedrooms, 5 baths and 3700 square feet.  Nice house.  But, not my style.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rockwell Sonicrafter

For Christmas this year, I was gifted the Rockwell Sonicrafter - which is billed as one of the "most versatile and effective power tools on the market".  It is a multi-purpose tool that is a step-up in terms of power and functionality from a Dremel.  I've pulled out my Dremel from time to time, so I can understand the usefulness of this thing.  In fact, Nat has a big project made out of PVC pipe that we have to work on and I think the Sonicrafter will make short work of the cuts.

I'm starting to amass a nice set of tools, but after the basement construction, I lost most of my work space and storage.  I was planning on doing it out in the crawlspace, but it is so chocked full of our stuff, there isn't a lot of room to operate.  Looks like I may end up out in the garage for now.  My plans call for putting a second story on our garage, but that's a big project and will have to wait until I get everything done in the basement.  Until then, my tools will kind of be orphans.  Living in a closet in the basement and in the garage.

Of note, this is my second Rockwell product; I have the pretty amazing Jawhorse - that I was gifted last year.  If the Sonicrafter performs as well as the Jawhorse, I'll be quite pleased.  For the most part, I've adopted Craftsman as my brand of choice - but Rockwell seems to be nudging in there.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Favorite (Holiday) Things - 2011 Edition

The holidays ALWAYS go by so fast, so like in year's past, I tried to take a look back to chronicle the things that made this year special.  This is the 3rd year of putting together a list of My Favorite (Holiday) Things.  Sorry, this isn't like Oprah, so I'm not giving out any of these things to you guys just yet.  But, perhaps they can make your holidays next year brighter by including them in your plans.

1.  Tammen Tree Farm - The ONLY honoree that has appeared on all three editions of MF(H)T.  Each year, we head down to Wilmington to cut down a few trees with the Morans.  Our 2011 tree - a 8 foot Fraser Fir - looked great in our living room.  


2.  Having a project - This is a two-time honoree.  This year, I had a MASSIVE project in the basement, but I also took some time to make a DIY Basketball rack for Equation Boy/Man for our gift exchange.  I have bigger aspirations for next year, but I'll hope to at least keep doing one project each holiday season.  
3.  Samsung Galaxy Nexus - Everybody likes a new gadget.  Especially a fast/snappy one like the Galaxy Nexus.  Last year, I was digging on my CR-48 Chromebook, this year the fine folks at Google and Samsung have delivered a drop dead gorgeous handset.  
4.  Muppets Christmas Carol - I actually didn't get to watch one scene from the movie, but I sure listened to A LOT of it.  I think Nat was the one to pop this movie into the DVD player in the back of her car, so wherever we went together as a family, we listened to Michael Cain rabble rouse with Kermit and the others.  "We're Marley and Marley....whoaaaa......"
5.  A Christmas Story Musical - A few days before Christmas, we were lucky enough to head down to the Chicago Theatre to see "A Christmas Story" - the musical.  Adapting such an incredibly well known (and loved) film is a tough task, but they did a great job using a radio program/host as a nice device to view the period piece through.  Ralphie to the Rescue!
6.  Candycane Joe-Joe's n' Cream Ice Cream - Back on the 2009 list, I included Peppermint Joe Joe's and even called out the chocolate-covered version.   There's always (it seems) to be a TJs item on the list with the Advent Calendar on the list.  This year, for whatever reason the cookies were overshadowed by ice cream that Nat brought home from TJs one trip.  This stuff was a real treat and hopefully will be made next year so I can enjoy it in the season.

7.  Vintage Christmas Fair - This one has the potential to be a perennial favorite on the list, but surprisingly this is the first time I've included it.  Each year, right after Thanksgiving we head into the city and come home with some delightful vintage treasures.  This year, we bought an angel, a bobble-head, and a santa bank.  Here's the full description of what we bought.  
8.  Lionel Train - Our Christmas Train - It made it's first appearance this year.  With the Babe getting older, this one will only get more fun.  
9.  Christmas Village - Last year, I (to much embarrassment) proclaimed by adoration of villages and began - in earnest - the collection.  In fact, the community that I created even secured a name:  Mantleburg.  Due to the basement construction (among other factors), Mantleburg didn't get set up until just the week before Christmas.  The intention was to put them in the basement, but we had to finish the trim work down there before we set the whole thing up.  I exhibited a lot of bravery - in the face of numerous sales at Menards - and didn't buy a new Village building this year until the very end of the season.  I finally caved and picked up Frosty's Tree Lot.  Next year, Mantleburg will return in a big way.
10.  Disneyland for the Holidays.  Yes, we were fortunate enough to head to Disneyland during the holiday season.  Seeing all the decorations up was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us.  And what else did we get to see?  The Babe met her favorite:  Cinderella!   But...she was too shy once we got to the front of the line.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Talented Mr. Fox Draws Cinderella

Over the weekend, we were lucky enough to have the Babe's Aunt Cici and Uncle Bill look after her for a night so Nat and I could go out to see our good friends off to Austin Texas.  While we were out, Uncle Bill got creative and - with chalk markers - drew this masterpiece on this piece of chalkboard that sits atop the Babe's puppet theatre.  Pretty spectacular stuff and this will probably be the second 'temporary' drawing that Bill has made that Nat will want to be made permanent via the use of lacquer or something.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Housemade NOT Homemade Please

Every time I see a restaurant - or in this case Mike's Meat Market - claim something as "Homemade" it drives me crazy.  There is nothing appetizing about the notion of going to a restaurant and thinking about someone making their specialities in their own home kitchen, packing them in the car and then hauling them into their restaurant or store.

Housemade on the other hand is much better - because it tells me that whatever this particular item is - it  isn't bought from a distributor.  Rather, they're putting it together back in the kitchen.

I know it is an odd request.

Please restaurant operators:  Stop with this homemade madness.  I don't want homemade.

(Oh, and while you're at it, please stop calling anything the "First Annual", too.)

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Going Over to Big Red

This morning, I received a nice surprise:  this thing that I've been carrying around in my pocket for 3 weeks is finally more than just a wifi paperweight.  LTE time!

Friday, January 06, 2012

York's Joe Newton on NBC Sports Spot


Elmhurst's own, Joe Newton the legendary York High School cross country coach is featured prominently in this NBC Sports Network commercial.  Couldn't think of a better guy to open the network up for business.   (If you are reading this in your email and cant' see the video above, click here to watch on YouTube.)

First time I ever heard of Joe Newton was when I was a high school junior and my High School brought him in for an all-school assembly.  Since then, I've heard him talk to the Elmhurst College Football team on 2 occasions and my admiration for him has only grown.  Pretty neat to see him get this recognition.   

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Grandma Pizza Recipe


Since documenting the variety known as Grandma Pizza back in October of 2010, I still had not introduced it to my rotation of homebaked pies and  tried to bake one myself.  That all ended last night.

*UPDATE on Feb 3, 2012* I recently bought 2 Detroit-style Blue Steel Pizza Pans and changed my recipe a bit.

We had a few friends have babies recently, so Nat decided to bring them over a ready-made meal.  I was able to help and put together a few deep dish pizzas.  While I was making the skins, I threw together the ingredients for a 3rd one - that we could keep.  I modified my deep dish dough recipe a bit by adding more water and oil to make it more match the Grandma recipe from Slice.   I modified the recipe for both the dough and the sauce a bit, but the science behind it is all Kenji's from Slice.

For the Dough3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
A couple of scoops of rapid-rise yeast (I have a big tub of the stuff so I don't measure that well, unfortunately)
pinch of sugar
8 oz of hot water
4 oz of cold milk
1/2 cup corn oil  (yes...corn oil.  not olive oil.  It is just a personal preference with pizza for me.)

Cheese, meats, etc.  
2-3 cups of cheese of your choice.  I prefer Chellino Scamorza - it is the best!
as much Soprasetta/pepperoni/sausage that you'd like.  
1 cup of hard parmesan cheese shredded
1/2 cup of Giardiniera - if you're into that stuff....

For the Sauce1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes packed in tomato juice, drained
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons sugar
Kosher salt
1.  Start with the dough mix.  Add the yeast, sugar and the hot water to the bowl of your kitchen mixer.  Let it proof for a few minutes.  Then add the milk, flour and salt.  Stir a bit with your dough hook.  Then start adding in the oil.  Mix until it comes together and there isn't any dry bits.  This will be a bit sticky.  

2.  (This is totally optional.)  Dump a tablespoon or two of oil (your preference) into a ziplock bag and after kneading the dough up in your hands into a ball, dump it into the bag.  Squish it around a bit so the dough ball is covered with the oil and won't stick to the bag.  Stick it in the fridge for a night or two.  Two days of a cold rise is my preference, but I don't often plan that well, so one night is better than nothing.  (you should check on it occasionally and see if you need to release some of the pressure in the bag.)  On the day you are going to make the pie, pull your dough bag out of the fridge about 4-5 hours ahead of time.  Let it sit on your counter for 2 hours to warm up. 

3.  Two hours before you want to start baking, dump your dough onto a well-oiled baking sheet.  Most of us have the typical 12X18 rimmed baking sheets.  Those are fine, but if you have a rectangular blue steel pan - and we all really should - use that.  This is where the science of Slice came in.  This was their invention and it worked.  Just cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in a warm spot to let it work it's own magic.  (I put mine in our oven with the oven light on to warm it up.)  The dough just finds it way out to the edges of the pan and you don't have to do much stretching/pulling at all.  

4.  Now to start the sauce.  Again, I used a modified version of the Slice recipe.   I don't want to take too much credit for the sauce, so go over here to read the recipe.  It is step 4 &5.  I normally don't like to cook my sauce at all.  But, this turned out good and I'll use it again with a few modifications.  

5.  To bake the skin, first crank your oven up to 500 degrees.  Put your pizza stone in there, too.  Let it warm up for 30 minutes or so.  I suppose you could do this as you cook the sauce.  

6.  Peel back the plastic wrap from the skin and make sure the dough is spread out to all four corners.  Pop it into the oven for 4-5 minutes to par-bake and set the crust.  

At this point, the skin should be nice and bubbly.  Mine had a lot of activity - which I hoped would lead to a nice hole structure.

7.  When you take it out, carefully distribute the parmesan cheese around the exterior of the pie - along the edge where the skin meets the pan.  This is going to make that crunchy, dark edge.  Then take a cup of your sauce and spread it around (up to the parmesan cheese on the edge).  Stick it back in the oven for another 5-6 minutes.  This helps set the crust and will make sure that your top doesn't get too brown while you wait for your crust to darken up.  

8.  After you take your pie out again, top it with the rest of the cheese and your meats.  Then spoon on the rest of the sauce in either diagonal lines or just dollops where ever you'd like.  Bake for another 12-15 minutes until it is brown to your preference.  

9.  Cut it into squares and enjoy the Detroit-style goodness.  Because of the oil in the pan (and the recipe) the skin basically fry's itself.  Your upskirt should look golden and crispy.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Vintage Santa Cake Toppers

What's this?  Another stinkin' Christmas post?  WTF?  This is January you say.  It is, indeed.  But...the sad truth of the matter is that I still have Christmas on my brain.  And, I'm sad to report that the deluge of vintage Christmas shopping didn't stop with our little Christmas girl.   I couldn't put these (above) 3 vintage Santa cake toppers down at the Antique Mall.  I'm not sure we're going to keep them because they seem to be more in the wheelhouse of my mother-in-law.  While Nat bakes a MEAN cake (and other sweet treats), her Mom has used cake toppers of all sorts - including some vintage ones that her Dad brought over - so she's likely be geeked to have them.

They've been packed away in one of our Christmas tubs, so come this November, we'll see what Nat thinks when we unpack them and if we're going to keep 'em.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Vintage Christmas Porcelain Girl

The turn of the page on the new calendar year didn't slow down the Christmas insanity in my world.  While we were up in Michigan, we went to the Great Lakes Antique Mall - in Coloma - and came away with a few treasures.  We go the Mall often - almost everytime we go up to Michigan - but have never come away with any Christmas stuff.  Seems like we must not be up there in the weeks/month leading up to Christmas, so I've never seen the booths stocked with vintage holiday stuff.

Sure...there's a lot of junk and because of the setup (vendors in their own booths), the prices are often a tad high, but as we usually do, I came across a few gems including this darling little Christmas girl.  She's wearing a pink dress (you can barely see it in the photo) and carrying a few packages.  It has a great "Made in Japan" sticker on the bottom that you find on these 50's and 60's items.

She'll go great in our display next year when she's sitting next to our vintage spaghetti trim Santa bobble-head.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Elmhurst Front Yard Tree Tradition - 2011

Every year, a number of folks around town participate in what I call the "Elmhurst Front Yard Christmas Tree Tradition" - where we put up small(ish) Christmas trees in our front yards and light them up to celebrate the season.  Above is a photo of our tree this year.  You'll note that most of the lights are off to the side (on the bottom left of the tree) - and that's because I was taking the tree down today and realized that I hadn't take a photo of the tree to post!  So, mid-disassemble, I grabbed this photo - to mark the annual tradition before I shipped it off to the curb.


I kept putting this off, thinking that I'll wait for snow to be on the ground to make it a bit more seasonal.  That snow never came.  

The trees are $17 and are a fundraiser for the Elmhurst School District.  One of our neighbors organizes it ever year and distributes slips of paper to each of mailboxes that are basically order forms.  Then, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, all the trees get delivered to her house.  We all gather down there, sip on some hot chocolate, eat cookies and see our neighbors one last time before we all close up shop and get out of the cold for the winter!  It is a really nice tradition for our neighbors...and...I *think* my sister Vic had something to do with bringing it to our block.  I don't know the details, but Nat mentioned to me that we have Vic to thank for Indiana Street participating.  It seems that her 'old' block in her first home in Elmhurst participated, so she brought the tradition with her.  From what I've been told (not sure exactly from whom) that this tradition of decorating "front yard trees" in Elmhurst goes back decades.  Not every block participates, but there are some (like ours) that just about everybody has a tree.  South of our neighborhood - across the tracks - there's a block that does a really great job and gets a high level of participation.

There isn't a lot written on the web about these trees, so I always get some traffic (and comments) about them when they start to pop up each season - on past posts like this one from last year.

If you're new to town and/or your block doesn't participate, drop me a line/comment and I can introduce you to our neighbor who organizes it for us - I'm sure she'd be happy to get you/your block lined up with the school to get trees delivered!

BTW...the 2010 tree photo is way prettier - with all the snow.  But the 2009 tree was even better with a HUGE snow dump the night before I took the shot.

2010

2009

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Ringing in the New Year - 2012

Couldn't imagine another way to ring in the new year than with ice cream sundaes and my favorite people.
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