Saturday, March 31, 2012

Forever Bags - Bananas

I picked up these Forever Bags from Menards a few weeks back.  They were one of those "Pay $4.00 and get a $4.00 rebate back" type of deals.  Due to the frequency of my trips to Menards, I usually take a flyer on these things because I can typically spend the rebates on something I actually want.

The Forever Bags folks claim that these bags will extend the life of your produce by somehow removing the ethylene gas that gets produced.  Take a peek at those bananas above.  The one of the left was left out normally.  The two on the right were in the yellow bag.

I was skeptical, but the proof is in the photo:  they actually work.  Do they keep your bananas perfect?  Nope.  But, might they extend them by a few days?   Seems that way.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Backyard Fountain: Purchased. And Returned.

This beautiful 51" two-tiered fountain is on sale at Menards this week.  I saw it and on impulse stuck it in the back of our car and brought it home.  I've wanted a fountain for a few years and I thought that I finally was going to be able to get one up and running.  Actually...I've wanted a pond in our yard, but Nat thinks - with the toddler - that's a tad too dangerous for us at this point in our lives.  So, the fountain was a compromise.  We live just 8 houses away from North Avenue and are in the flight pattern for O'Hare Airport.  The noise isn't terrible, but the gentle waterfall noise that this fountain produces was sure to drown out whatever noise pollution we had.

But, things weren't meant to be.  In fact, this fountain didn't even make it out of the trunk.  I brought it back.  For reason(s) I won't disclose!  I'll just bide my time for when I can get Nat herself to Menards so we can 'buy one together'.  I better hurry, because this one goes off sale on April 8th!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

See Ya Soon - Going to a Going Away Party

Nat's sister - who we now call Sisi - along with her husband are moving to Denver.  To send them on their way, there was a going away party.  Along with this pretty cute banner made by Nat's mom.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Atlantic City - The Band



I've written about the song "Atlantic City" as recorded by The Band (the original is by the Boss) and even embedded the video a few years back in a post.   I guess I'm surprised by the lasting effect this song has had on me.  I woke up this morning with the song in my head and have listened to it on repeat a few times already.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Illini Hoops Coaching Search

Opening up the paper this morning, we're greeted with this headline (at the top) about the University of Illinois mens coaching vacancy.  By all indications, it looks like we're going to hire Ohio University's John Groce (said "gross") to replace Bruce Weber.   While I'm going to be a Groce backer, I have to admit that I'm a bit let down.  After what seemed like shooting for the stars (Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens), if feels like our Athletic Director is taking a clone of his football pick Tim Beckman.  A smart, up-and-coming MAC coach.  Not sure that's quite desperation, but man-o-man does Groce have a hill to climb with fans.  The environment on the Illini message boards isn't all that positive.  (I have no historical recollection of what the reaction was to Bruce Weber?)  What can he do?  First things first:  win.  Then, after that?  Bring in some of that Ohio State magic in the form of assistant coaches and what not.  Everyone wants to retain "Snacks" (and so do I), it seems pretty clear to me that the guys at OSU have done a better job of recruiting than we have for the past six years.

If it is Groce, then I'm all in with him.   Not my first choice, but now he'll be my favorite.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Down the Block - Lots of Lily of the Valley and Ostrich Ferns

This is a (basically) abandoned house a few blocks away that is right next to my sister's house.  Nice little shade garden.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gardener's Supply Company Catalog

Between the seed catalogs that have been arriving the past few weeks and the Gardener's Supply Company catalog, I have my new spring porn.  There's so much that I want to get going out in the garden, but the dropping temperatures that are expected this week will likely bring me back to earth and remind me that April 1st is 'early enough' for some of the early crops.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nice Looking Raised Bed (Plants)

I've been thinking that we should add a raised bed for herbs that can be moved around.  This is an interesting design idea.  Add some casters and we'd have something?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mitt Romney Visits Google Chicago

Look who came by the Google Chicago office on Illinois Primary Day?!?  He hosted a Google+ Hangout from the office then took a short tour of the 8th floor (along with his press pool!).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cleveland Pear Tree - 2012 Spring

The past few years I've documented the growth of our little Cleveland Pear Tree.

Here's how it looked in 2011.   Here's my post from 2010 that features the pink buds.   With this crazy early Spring, I missed the buds and we moved straight to these bright white flowers.  As you can see from the photo above, the tree went crazy last year/this spring and has shot up like a rocket.  From a little tree that was barely above my head as it heads into it's third season of growth.  (the leap year of the sleep-creep-leap cycle!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Does the Mosquito Magnet Work?

See that guy in there on the bottom left?  And those other spots on the mesh bag?  That's after just 12 hours of being turned on for the first time.  The instructions clearly state that the bag won't fill up with dozens of mosquitos overnight.  This is a long-term play that takes time.  The summer is long and there's plenty of opportunity for the Mosquito Magnet to fail me, but so far, I'm pleased with the performance.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Elmhurst: Vote for Kirk Dillard Today!

All across Elmhurst, and DuPage County, we as voters have an opportunity to help straighten the mess out in all levels of government.  We need leaders who have strong voices, deep convictions, and the ability to get things done.  We don't need more bickering and fighting.  We need results that get Illinois and the country working again.

This morning, I cast my vote at Elmhurst City Hall and I voted for Kirk Dillard for the Illinois State Senate.  Kirk has served his district well in Springfield while his opponent has flailed about for relevancy. Senator Dillard is proud to call Illinois his home and he's looking to work with voters all across his District and State to make Illinois work again.

Kirk Dillard is endorsed by the Chicago Tribune who said: "Dillard earns our endorsement in this Senate race because he gets results."

When you go to the polls today all across DuPage County, make sure you join me in filling in the little circle for Kirk Dillard.  

Here's a note from his wife Stephanie:









Monday, March 19, 2012

My Niece Turns Two (With Lots of Kids!)


That's her there behind the cake.  Right next to the Babe.  Who'da thunk she'd be wearing a bikini to her own birthday party outside in March?!?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Taking Back Our Yard with the Mosquito Magnet

Last year, we found ourselves coming inside after dusk due to the bugs going crazy with the biting.  That fact, coupled with this crazy warm spring and the dire warnings around the planned mosquito population boom convinced me to take the plunge with the Mosquito Magnet.  Since it is so early in the season, I had to have the guy at Home Depot come by with his forklift to pull the box down from deep storage, but I brought it home this afternoon.  We'll have it set up today and with some luck, we'll have a solution to our problem, and more importantly: our backyard back.

I read the reviews and while they're mixed, it seems that if you utilize the Magnet in the right way (it needs to run constantly, not just something you flick on when you are sitting outside), it can effectively disrupt the lifecycle of the mosquitos.  As the box says, there will be some results in just one week, but the larger impact happens 4 weeks (and beyond) after installation.  It runs on a mixture of propane and octenal which both need to be replaced ever 21-28 days.   Thus this isn't a cheap proposition to solving the mosquito problem.  Figure somewhere around $20 for the can of propane and $7 for the octenal refill.  That means we'll be spending somewhere around $30 a month for the better part of six months.  Not chump change.  But worth every penny....*IF* it works.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Oh...This Happened!

A few weeks back we went to the Happiest Place on Earth down in Orlando and the Babe met Mickey the Mouse and all of her favorites.  Including the Princesses.  All of the Princesses!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Easter Projects Underway - 2012

Work on the second in a series of collectible Faux Chocolate Easter Bunnies is underway in the Parrillo household.    This year, instead of hugging/holding a big egg, he/she's carrying it on their back.  I made a mold last night and I'm NOT thrilled with the alignment of the two pieces.  As you can see in the photo above, the noses don't quite line up.  That leads to a bunch of seam problems.  I can either choose to align the noses and mis-align a significant portion of the body or align the body and have a 2-faced bunny.  Decisions, decisions.

There's also the question of volume.  Exactly how many bunnies is enough to make?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Raised Timber Planting Beds and Retaining Walls - Backyard Inspiration

In this month's This Old House magazine (photo above), I've drawn some inspiration for our 2012 backyard landscape design plans.  I've long desired to install a series of raised beds/planters that will add some dimension and height to our small backyard, and the article about how to "stretch a small yard", which includes a few of said raised beds, is another nudge towards getting these started.

In my mind these were going to be more ornate: either with shingles on the sides or maybe even stone veneer.  But, after seeing these simple 6X6 landscape timber walls/boxes, I think I've now settled on going this route.    I can see them going up in a bunch of places in the back, but as with most projects that I take on, there tends to be 'scope creep'.  Have to be careful to not take on too much, so I'm going to (hopefully) just focus on getting one planter/wall installed.  Maybe other ones next year?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Boston Marrow Winter Squash Seeds

The second experiment for this year's garden are these Winter Squash seeds.  They're of the "Boston Marrow" family and - as you can see on the seed packet - they're raised for Pumpkin Pies.  Just 100 days until maturity, so if we want these to be ready in the early fall, I'll have to wait until July to plant.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Touchon Carrot Seeds

Last year, my garden had some hits and misses - both in terms of placement/design and selection.  This year, I've decided to pare it back a bit and focus on the basics with fewer experiments.  One of those experiments is going to be carrots.  I've never grown them.

I picked up this seed packet at Menards of Touchon Carrots that are described as one of the 'finest' carrots from France.  I'll plant the seeds in Mid-April and just 65 days later (right around July 1), we'll have (hopefully) a bumper crop of carrots.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Alliums Up Early - 2012

It is still early March and these Allium in our front yard are way ahead of last year.  I posted a photo on March 30th of last year and they look to be just about the place in development as these.  Another sign of the mild winter/early spring, I suppose.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mariano's Fresh Market Elmhurst - Confirmed

Per this blurb in the Elmhurst Press, we're gettting a Mariano's Fresh Market on the site of the old Elmhurst Ford.  More choice is good for consumers, so in addition to Mariano's bringing some new things to town for grocery shoppers, I'm hoping that the new competition will keep the Jewel on their toes more - because they're just two blocks away from our house and get (almost) all of our non-Trader Joe's shopping.

Here's some video of the annoucement:


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Elmhurst St. Patrick's Day Parade - 2012

The Babe got right up there in the front with her Cousins and mixed it up with the big kids to get all the candy she could eat.  The weather today couldn't have been better for a parade and while the company was good (my sister and Equation Boy/Man invited us to tag along with their group of friends), some dear angel brought a cooler full of cooked/bun'd hotdogs and I was able to enjoy one of those beauties.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Father/Son (Uncle) Hockey

That's me on the back left (behind Equation Boy/Man) right before we took on the Elmhurst Chiefs Hockey Club in a Father/Son (in my case Uncle!) game.  My nephew plays for the Chiefs and I was lucky enough to be able to get on the ice along with these Dad's.

I'm not standing that far away from the other guys because I don't like them.  Nope.  It's because I'm not that adept on the skates as some folks and I didn't want to risk falling in any attempt to move closer to get into the photo.  No injuries were reported and I had a lot of fun.  Equation Boy/Man had a hat trick and my nephew had a goal off of a nice rebound!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Twins Spring Training - Ft. Myers - 2012

The three of us caught the Twins/Cardinals game in Ft. Myers this week.  It was the first time I'd been to a Spring Training game (ever) and it was a lot of fun.  It feels A LOT like Minor League baseball, but it certainly isn't priced like Minor League baseball.  We left before the end, but the Cards were up 3-1 when we took off.  Even though it was a 'home' game for the Twins, there were plenty of Cardinal fans in attendance.  Not one peep about Pujols.  Not one.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

2 Weeks In - Rooting Pussy Willows

Well, well, well.  What do we have here?  Looks like lots of thin white roots are springing from the French Pussy Willow cuttings that I put on our window sill just two weeks ago.  With warmer temperatures right around the corner, looks like we'll be able to put these in the ground in a few weeks.  Looks like I know what I'm giving my mom for Easter?!?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Hyacinth Up Early - 2012

While they're always one of our earliest bits of green in the Spring, these are coming up particularly early due to the VERY mild winter we've had.  *Fingers crossed* that we'll see the continued mild weather and these won't get a frost shock treatment from the lingering Old Man Winter.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Toddler Birthday Project

In a week, my niece turns two!  To celebrate, her parents are having a party for her where our whole family with gather.  I came across a fun project that *seems* appropriate for a two year old, so I started to put it together.  Can't spill the beans just yet on what it is, because my sister reads these posts on occasion.  After the party, I'll post a full how-to with more photos.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Solio Classic Solar Charger

Anyone ever use these solar chargers from Solio in a pinch when they're stuck somewhere with a dead mobile?  Do they work?
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