For the past few years, you could go on Google Maps and see a few spots around town - mostly on North Avenue.  But, this week, data from early October has been added to StreetView and now our block - and plenty of places across town - is able to be viewed.

Pretty great stuff for us as residents but also a great economic development tool.  Our City Centre is now on web for all to see.  From anywhere in the world!

You can navigate around in the map below to go up and down our block.  So far, I haven't found anything too terribly interesting, but based on what is up on the marquee on the York Threatre (Liev Shreiber's birthday), the StreetView car came through town on October 4th.  Less than two months later, the footage is usable.  (and...our scarecrows are captured for all to see!)

(If you're reading this in your email and can't see the map below, click here to see it on the site).

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Earlier this summer, I picked up this vintage Christmas Tree Turner from my folks house as they were cleaning out their attic.  I knew we had this four-foot tinsel tree that we set up every year and figured it was going to be perfect use for the turner.

I knew that it turns with no tree in it, but this is a 30+ year old motor.  Would it turn with a tree in the base?  You bet it would!

(If you're reading this in your email and can't see the video below, you should click here to view the video on the site.)

Last night, I finished up the first - of eight - diy outdoor candle lamps.  The inspiration and design came from Mrs. Martha Stewart, of course.

That's a two-footer there in the photo and I have four of those along with four three-footers.

I used 2" PVC pipe along with a 1.5" galvanized flange (the foot) and a 6" 1.5" (diameter) nipple to give it some stability.  The light is a simple IKEA Hemma fixture.

I primed the pvc with plastic primer than sprayed the pipe green.  Due to the low temperatures and the fact that our detached garage isn't super warm right now, it took quite a while to cure.  I brought them inside and within a few hours the paint had set up.

Once that happened, I whipped out the hot glue gun and drizzled big globs of glue down the sides to replicate some faux candle wax which I painted white.  I topped it with a flickering bulb and it turned out great!

I have the other seven to hot glue/paint white then to make a platform for them.  I'm planning on putting them on our front steps heading up to our front porch.  Tonight, I'll paint the rest and hopefully before long we'll have them outside lighting up the night.

Here's a close-up of the flange/nipple set up.  I'll screw these down to a wood platform to provide even more stability.

This is what the pipe looks like after it is painted/primed but before the 'melted wax' was applied.

Here's my first stab at the 'melted wax'.  I painted the pipe white at the top before I put the glue on.  That turned out to be a bad idea.  So, I quickly sprayed the whole top green again before painting it white.

The City of Elmhurst has an important election coming up on April 9, 2013.  In addition to electing a new Mayor (our Mayor won a seat on the County Board and is resigning from the City post in December), we're also going to be electing Alderman across all 7 Wards, City Clerk and the City Treasurer.

After hearing from residents and neighbors as well as talking with my wife, I've begun weighing the decision to get back involved in local government.   Last week, I went to City Hall and picked up a packet and have begun to circulate the petitions to 3rd Ward residents.

I've long believed in "Citizen-Government" where individuals from every walk of life stand up to serve our government - at all levels - for a period of time, upon which they go back to their chose professions.  The idea of a career politician was never considered by the founders of our country.  I've served as a Trustee in the Village of Frankfort for six years and on the Frankfort Park District Board of Commissioners for two years.  I gave my time and service and then went back to my profession and family.  I support candidates who share that philosophy.

I'll be frank:  times are tough in Elmhurst.  We've raised taxes and fees on residents and had to make tough decisions on services and cuts.  But, more can be done.  The newly seated City Council will be making tough decisions that will impact not just the next 5 years, but the next 50 years.  Between the City Centre plans, TIF District decisions, service levels across the board, and the expansion of our tax base through commercial and light industrial development, the new Mayor and Council will set the direction for the next generation of Elmhurst residents.

The 3rd Ward is represented by two dedicated, hard-working Alderman in Dannee Polomsky and Michael Bram.

In thinking about the future of our city, it is plain to me that the way forward can't always be "no".  Residents of Elmhurst want our government to bring common-sense solutions and creative approaches to solving our problems while limiting the size and scope of our local government.

We also want a responsive local government.  There is no closer unit of government than municipal and we want transparency and honest, open communications.  The line about "You can't fight City Hall" needs to be turned on it's ear.  We want an Alderman who "Is fighting for us at City Hall."

I intend to listen to my family (first!) and my friends and neighbors as I circulate petitions.  Once we secure enough petitions to gain ballot access, we'll be able to have a solid conversation about whether there's a desire to have me enter the race for the 3rd Ward in 2013.
Nat and I braved the (nice/warm/pleasant?) temperatures to try to capture some of the deals at Target on Thanksgiving night ahead of Black Friday.  Here's a photo of the line wrapping around the Target building that must be 400-500 people long.  We got what we came for - toys - but based on the number of tvs that were laying around, I'm thinking the electronics weren't moving as fast as they have in years past.
We packed up the whole clan and made our annual pilgrimage to Wilmington to chop down a few trees  to put up in our living rooms.  This year, we brought The Bird for the first time.  If you know where we post the family blog posts about the girls, you can see even more photos of the trip over there!

This is one of my favorite family traditions and really kicks off the holiday season in a big way for the Parrillos.
Did I ever tell you guys about how we went to the Colorado-pizza-touchstone Beaujo's?  This location was in this really cute mountain town called Idaho Springs.  Did we go in?  Nope.  We went to a different location that was closer to Nat's sister's house.  I'll do a full review of the pies in a future post.
Since 2004 (and likely before, but 2004 on the web), I've been recommending a viewing of The Last Waltz as a way to give thanks on Thanksgiving.  With kids - and a Turkey Trot - my time to sit down and watch the whole thing has been diminished, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be breaking bread with Levon, Rick, Garth, Robbie and Richard.

Here's my post from 2011 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2010 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2007 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2005 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2004 on The Last Waltz.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
In addition to the sweet little Christmas girl, we also bought this Santa and Sleigh for the deal of the day at this year's Vintage Christmas Antique Fair.  This has spaghetti trim like the Santas we bought last year.
We picked up this little sweetheart at our annual trip to the Vintage Christmas Fair this past weekend.

She looks A LOT like the one we bought at the Coloma Antique Market in early January of this year.
Nat picked up this 1.32 gallon mini keg at Standard Market right before Thanksgiving.  It's from Breckenridge Brewery - which is surprisingly in Denver.  I think Nat's sister and her husband are big fans of this place.

The purchase wasn't really for us - but for Nat's two brothers who go all-in for various holiday/Christmas beers this time of year.  In fact, they brewed their own (once again) that should be ready at next Christmastime.  They'll be cracking open bottles of last year's brew in mid-December.

Last night, Nat and I dropped the girls off at her folks house and (after Vest Fest) went to Benedictine University to see the IHSA Class 7A Football Semifinals between the Benet Academy Redwings and the Lincoln-Way East Griffins.

Nat is a *very* proud Benet Alum.  And, I went to Lincoln-Way.  Long story, but I consider myself a "Lincoln-Way Central Knight", but I went to school at Lincoln-Way East for 2 years (fresh/soph) and Central for 2 years (junior/senior).  They had both campuses built when I was a student there, but there was *just* one school - called Lincoln-Way.

So, it is with mixed-emotions that I root for the Griffins.  While in my heart, I'm a Knight (graduated from the Central building, played football on the field at Central and have my photo up on the wall at Central), I have some connection to East.

And...those of you who follow high school football know that while Central hasn't made a lot of hay in the past decade or so, East has emerged as a perennial power and contends every year.

So, we found ourselves rooting for our schools on Saturday night.

Unfortunately for Nat, it was a route.  We got there late and by the time we found seats, the score was 31 to 7 in favor of Lincoln-Way East.  Benet was just over-matched.  They had a heckuva run and a big turn-around from last year.  In 2011, they went 1-8.  This year they were 10-1.  Now 10-2.  Pretty remarkable and with a sophomore quarterback, they'll be back next year.    I've long dismissed Benet athletics as being 'small potatoes' but as the past few years in hoops, softball and football have shown me, they have strong programs and Nat (as usual) was/is right! least Nat got to enjoy the hot pretzel, eh?

Mantleburg's population grew by 1 today as the recently added tavern enlisted this fine lady to serve frosty brews to the folks who stop by.
This mill looks like it fits in really well with the mountain/resort side of Mantleburg, doesn't it?  Menards slapped their name on it this year, so for everyone else but me, that probably is a turn-off.
I was in Walgreens over the weekend when I spotted these four Christmas Village buildings for sale.  They're priced pretty aggressively, but I'm not sure Mantleburg needs a slum.
With all the tourism that the Carousel is going to bring, one would think that Mantleburg could support a hotel.  We'll just have to see what Mayor Johnson decides.
This year, Lemax came out with another tree lot.  Last year it was Frosty's.  This year it is Kris' - and it's more of a "tree farm" than lot.

I'm thinking that there isn't enough action in Mantleburg to warrant competing tree businesses.  Poor old Frosty would starve, right?
The Chicago Sun-Times called it a “bloodbath”. The Chicago Tribune described the Illinois Republican Party as being in a “gloom”. Whatever you call it, if you are a Republican in Illinois you can’t be pleased with the outcomes of the 2012 election. Worse, without action, the trend will only get worse and Republicans will soon become an extinct species in Illinois.

In a post-mortem piece in Crain's, a GOP operative said:
"The Republican party has to take a hard look at who are the new people who turned out in this election, and who else is out there? If we don't, this will become Massachusetts for a generation." Christine Dudley, a GOP consultant and former executive director of the state party in its mid-1990s heyday, said the real problem is that "our party is driven by 25- to 40-year-old men sitting at a computer and looking at data who are driven to win, (but have) no real knowledge of the real world."
Really?  We should dump a data-driven approach?  Just go with our hunches?  Really?

If that's the future of the Illinois Republican Party, then you'll likely have to count me out.  I want to be a party that isn't afraid of science or research or data.  Instead of ignoring the polling data and trends, we should go further to embrace and capture *as much* data as we can as a party.

Either we can spend the next several months -- or years -- trying to figure out what how this all happened, laying blame for the accumulated losses at Conservatives or Moderates, blaming Speaker Mike Madigan, “the map” or even President Obama, or we can begin our work today of building the new ILGOP.

And the number one priority needs to be a massive investment in digital organizing.   That's the only way we win in 2014.  

The folks in Mantleburg are set for a Merry Christmas as we've now seen the building permits come across for the Haypenny Tavern.  The economy took a tool on the community last year, but 2012 looks like their will be growth for Mantleburg.
I spent a good part of Saturday, straightening out our garage.  Back a few years ago, we built a 3 car garage that has - for the better part of the last year - housed 1 car.  And a lot of bikes and toys and wagons, and trikes.  My car has been sitting in the driveway all summer long,  but last week when I was getting up early to go to Cardio Tennis, my windshield had a thin layer of frost across the whole thing.  Winter was, indeed, near.

So I dec-luttered and put a lot of our stuff up in the rafters to make room and after a few hours, I was able to drive my car into the space.  And there's plenty of room for Nat's big grocery wagon.  A win for everybody - but mostly me!  Just in time for the cold front that is set to arrive this week.
Costco sells this Glabani Precious brand of low-moisture mozzarella in a two pound pack that comes pretty close to the price of a one pound block from the Jewel.  They bill it as "Italy's Favorite Cheese brand" - which I was dubious of to begin with, but I went ahead and tossed it into the cart.

It was cheap.  I have to remember that, but it also wasn't that great.  I used it on a few pies this weekend and it didn't pass the Babe's taste test.  When I'm grinding up the cheeses for our pizza pies, she usually says she wants to "help" which means eating cheese. She took a handful of this stuff and didn't go back for more. Confirms my thoughts. I won't be re-buying this stuff again. I'll take the $3 hit and go with something from the Jewel like Sorrento - which was the best 'raw' flavor on the Slice taste test.
The Elmhurst City Center has put up their Christmas lights and the downtown area looks pretty festive already.
Thanks to two of my brother-in-laws, we went to this place while we were in Denver.  Those of you who are South Park fans will get a little chuckle out of this.  Those of you who don't watch the show, this will be lost on you.
This morning, Nat and I took both of our girls to vote at Elmhurst City Hall.  And...I'll have you note that I took both girls into the booth with me so they can see the *right* way to cast their ballots.  In Illinois, that typically means voting for losers.

They were both incredibly well behaved!  As a result, they both got their "I Voted!" stickers.

Here's a photo of The Babe as a first-time voter in February of 2010.
Here's a photo of The Babe as a second-time voter in November of 2010.
Here's a photo of The Babe as a third-time voter in April of 2011.
And...there's no photo of her at the polling place from earlier this spring. me!  She was there!
Do you know where to go to vote on Tuesday? Head here and plug your address into the little widget.  You should see your polling place and what races you can vote in.

 Yes, the sad truth of the matter is that if you live in Illinois, our votes for President don't really matter. And, due to the Gerrymandering done by Speaker Mike Madigan, our votes for Congress likely don't matter that much either.

 But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't vote, right?  It's our only opportunity to have your say.

So....What time are you going?
I was walking by one of our two running stores in Downtown Elmhurst and saw this message on the window.  Turns out Coach Joe Newton and the York Dukes won their 28th State Championship.  That's one more than the New York Yankees!  Pretty incredible stuff.  
The altitude didn't seem to bother the Babe.
Take a peek at what Menards has this year from Lemax.  Me thinks that Mantleburg is going to come out of the recession with a bunch of new building permits this winter.
We had 327 trick-or-treaters come to our door last night.  Now...I have to admit, that my nephew wanted to do some of the 'tracking', so he was writing down some of the numbers so this may be fudged a bit, but not by a ton.

That's 86 kids that we "know" (or live on our block/next block), 9 adults with no kids, 6 teens with no costumes, 1 girl who refused peanut M&M's and the rest made up of kids that we "don't know" and don't live in our neighborhood.

The numbers saw a big jump this year and are on a clear upward trajectory.

Last year, we had 269 total.  And only 37 kids that we "knew".
In 2010, we had 236 total.
In 2009, we had 184 total.