Showing posts from June, 2010

Kellogg School of Management Building (Weibolt Hall)

Although my days at Kellogg are now behind me, I found these photos on my phone over the weekend. During the 3 hour classes, we get a 10-15 minute break.  More often than not, I spent that outside.  Usually walking around the building, calling Nat, and NOT smoking (like most of the folks outside.)   The building's exterior has been under construction during a good portion of my time there and I always fancied this piece of stone.  I thought it would be a nice addition to our pavilion/patio.  But alas....I'm not a thief. probably weighs 3,000 lbs.  
Above one of the doors at the school is this King Solomon quote that always struck me when I saw it.
I'll miss this place.  Just a little.

Fireplace: Done

Last night, Nat and I enjoyed the fireplace for the first time.  The temps were low enough outside to make it worthwhile.  Now that it is done, I'm thrilled with how it turned out.
My nieces and nephews have already brought over a bag of s'mores fixings, so I'm certain we'll put it through it's paces this summer.

New Coffee Shop in Elmhurst Hours of Operation

Back in March, Nat and I wandered by a "coming soon" sign for a new coffee shop in Downtown Elmhurst called "That Coffee Shop".  They've opened their doors a month ago, but we've failed to go in.  Today, on our walk to the library we spied their new hours of operation.
Cute, but the late start on Sunday isn't smart.

Jeff Tweedy - Single Ladies Cover

How about this?!?!
Via EW by way of Fratty Matty's FB page.

Purple Cupcakes

The house is cleaned up, the yard is cleared.  The party is over.  I've spent entirely too much time in my yard over the past week.  Nat put together a great party....with carrot cake cupcakes (purple frosting!).
Have 10 days of vacation time in front of me to kick off the Summer of Jake.

Long Day...Yard, Mulch, Tree, Pavilion, Lights, and...Smoker

I've been at it all day long.  Put down 10 yards of mulch, planted a Ginko tree, set up the low-voltage lights, and most of the patio/pavilion got done.

As I type this, I have 18 pounds of Boston Butt in the smoker. The Yankee Smoker - which looks like a dorm refrigerator.  14 hours at 185 degrees, and we'll have lots of pulled pork for our party tomorrow.

Under the Gun - Getting in the Yard Everything Done

I've all but written off the grass.  I was thinking it would come back in time for this party we're having Saturday, but that's clearly NOT going to happen.

But....the rest of the stuff?  I assumed it was a slam dunk - everything would be done by today at the latest. Guess what?  MOST everything isn't done yet.  The contractor hasn't been around for 6 days.  In fact, he called me back last night after I left him messages for the past five days.  He's apparently taken another job.  I begged him to come today after he's done and get the electric done.  He thinks he can get it done this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon.  If he doesn't, I'm sure I'll write a post about him specifically....

I've also had to quickly find another contractor to install the stone on the fireplace.  It showed up over the weekend.  This was on the original contractor's contract, but with so little time, I needed to turn elsewhere.
That's the box of corners - a …

Found it: My (Dream) Pizza Oven

When we built the garage, I made plans for a future addition:  our own brick pizza oven.  I left a space for the footprint just to the north of the garage.  For the past 18 months, I've been lurking on the Forno Bravo forums; watching the builds, keeping track of all the details/modifications and planning my oven all along.  
After a long search, I came across this oven as my inspiration. 
Once the backyard gets finished, we'll sit back and enjoy it for a while, then when winter comes, I'll begin my preparation for getting started early in the spring of 2011.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Earlier this year, Nat and I bought Nat's mom the Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook for Mother's Day.  We sent the book away via the USPS and also sent the PW a note via email telling her that it was coming.   (We also paid for the return shipping ahead of time.)

A few weeks later (kind of disappointing that we didn't get an email response), this arrived back in the mail.

While I am thrilled to get the book back, the whole process made me re-think my expectations of "people on the internets".  I held the PW in pretty high regard, and, at the end she delivered (the signed book), but the process and no email response back were a bit of a bummer.  I bet she gets A LOT of email, but a simple "I'm on it" response would have been perfect.  (and would have allowed us to actually print it out and give it to Nat's mom on Mother's Day instead of giving her an IOW.  
In the end, she still makes tasty food.  And...the Crash Hot Potatoes are in regular rotatio…

Paver Patio Update - Half Way Home

We're half-way home to having the pavers finished.  The weather has been throwing us some curveballs, but the crew is saying they're going to get it finished up in the next few days - if they can get 8-10 hours of work in.  I'm really like the way the patio has turned out, but I was very concerned when it started. They have the patio and the walk-way done all the way to our deck.  Next is getting it to the front driveway.  I'm also desperately trying to resurrect our grass.  As you can see in the photo above, because of all the work and lumber laying on it for too long, the grass is in some sad shape.  We bought some fast-germinating seed, which says it takes 3 days, but so far....nothing!  Party is in 5 days.

Al's Hobby Shop - Downtown Elmhurst

Behind the main drag - York Street - there's this hidden parking lot that usually has parking.  On the rare occassion that we drive and park in downtown, I usually check there first.  Some of the older businesses that have been in town for years have signs that face this lot.  The newer ones do not.  When this was the only parking in Downtown, this must have been a good marketing expense.
There aren't any Arcade Stores any longer, but their entrance is - apparently- still there.

Sad Trombone for the Cubs

Too bad, Cubs fans.  Nothing like a little bit of Blackhawks bandwagon-ing to point this out.

Patio Pavers Being Laid

With the rain holding off so far this morning, the paver guys are hard at work trying to get the job done.  I don't think they'll get it done, but at least a portion of it is underway.
I was nervous about the pattern, but after a bunch of them went in, it became more understandable.  Will they be ready for our party?  We'll see.

Patio in Progress (finally)

When we went with the LOW bidder (and I mean really, really low), I assumed that we'd have some difficulties with our patio installation, but I didn't think it would take *this* long.

The good news, is that we're finally progressing on the installation.  After all the rains fell, they finally excavated and started to put down the paver base.
They're putting down more base, then comes the sand and finally....the pavers.  Hopefully, we'll have something to walk on by Saturday.  We still don't have a pic-a-nic table (Nat hates that I call it that), so that is on the agenda this weekend.

Pavilion Progress Report

This is what we had in mind when we decided to build the pavilion:

This is where we are today.  Not too far off!
Still have to wrap the bottom of the posts in cedar shingles to ground this thing, but we're getting pretty close to finishing.

Pavilion Roof Plus....Fireplace

The pavilion construction keeps churning along in the backyard.  We're in crunch-time.  A party is planned for 12 days from today.  EVERYTHING needs to be done.  The guys were at our house early to start roofing the structure.  We picked the same shingles as were selected for our garage.

The pavilion extension blends right in with the garage.  I'm very pleased with that!

And...a very special guest arrived today:  the firebox.
It will have an eight foot chimney stacked on top of this when it is complete, but it should be installed enough for us to run a fire or two.  This is a wood-burning firebox with 2-channel chimney.  It burns normal wood, but doesn't have a masonry surround.  We're going to build one with stone veneer.

The instructions require us to burn a few small fires - gradually growing the temperature inside the box up as we go.  Maybe this week - if the patio goes in - we'll have a smallish fire or two.

The Backyard Garden Begins

Over the weekend, while Nat was in NYC, I decided to get started on turning that totally-underused patch of real estate on the south side of our house into a world-class vegetable garden.  The area is about 30' by 15' and needed some attention.  I got busy by digging out a ton of Irises and then rototilled the whole place.

In order to both make it useable while working and to keep the weeds down, I installed landscape fabric.  Good thing, too, because as soon as I was done with the fabric, the rain came down.  But I was able to come right back out and get busy working because the mud stayed away.
Laying out the raised beds is on my list of jobs this week.  Since I don't have class anymore, my nights can be spent in the yard!

Another Reason to Shop at Meijer

Up in Michigan, we have our choice of Big Box stores; we can shop at Wal-Mart or Meijer.  Aside from societal-political issues, both of these places are pretty simliar: wide selection at cheap prices.  However, Meijer sells fountain sodas at checkout for $0.49 and when you're leaving their restrooms, you are greeted with this sign:
Another reason to shop at Meijer in Michigan.

Pizza Specific Yeast from Fleishmann's

My week has been too busy to get to the Jewel to see if Elmhurst has any of this stuff, but it sounds interesting:  Pizza-specific yeast.  It has dough relaxers and (this is nice!) there isn't any proof time.  If I don't get that sourdough culture that I wanted, this might be a good Plan B.  We don't make a lot of last minute pizzas around our house - but for this product to succeed - there must be plenty of folks who do just that.  Pizza at the Parrillo house tends to be an event - one that is planned well in advance.
Anyone try this stuff yet?  Results?

Backyard Pavilion Restart

Two days ago, I documented the beginnings of the installation of the backyard pavilion.  Unfortunately, after some consideration and inspection by the engineer, we've decided to take it down and restart.

It now has a ledger board against the garage, reinforced legs and is lower by 12 inches.

That should take out much of the sway and make it stronger.

Here's where we were after the installation of the ledger board.

Google World Cup Easter Egg

Pop the term "World Cup" in your friendly search engine and scroll down.  Pretty cute image awaits you at the bottom.

As pointed out by othersthese both are pretty good, too.

World Cup in 1 day.  Let's go USA!

Greatest Show Ever*

with an asterisk.  (and an abrupt end!)

The Backyard Pavilion Goes Up

The guys got started erecting the pavilion in our backyard yesterday.  It is turning out a bit taller than I expected.

There's some debate over whether we should attach this structure to the garage to gain some rigidity.   If the rain holds out this morning, we'll get even more done and have a sense for whether the pavilion was the right choice.  I'm skeptical as I write this on morning two.

2010 Father's Day Gift Guide: Sourdough Culture

Previous Gift Guide Posts
Star Wars Cookie CuttersIf you're still looking for a Father's Day gift for your husband/dad and he's a crafty-kind-of-guy, you've come to the right place.  For $16.00, you can get him a gift that keeps on giving:  a sourdough culture.

The Italian one will make the pizza-maker happy.

For those of you know are unfamiliar with a culture, it is the starter batch that you add water and flour to in order to get the necessary yeast-like properties you need to bake.  If you continue to feed it flour and water - just about weekly - you'll have the starter batch to last you a lifetime.  That one above is courtesy of Wikipedia.  Here's their page on sourdough cultures.

Often times, these cultures are living for years and years and take on unique characteristics that the local environment provides.

A sourdough culture is sure to be a fun experiment for the baker husband/father in your life.

I can't vouch for a culture, but I have had one …

The Pavers Arrive

This morning, Menards showed up with 8 skids of pavers.  675 square feet of them.  I still have to go get the rectangular pavers that will form the soldier course, but these will give us a good start.

We're putting in a 100 foot plus walkway along with a patio underneath the pavilion, so it is a pretty sizeable job.  Excavation starts early next week.  Guess what I know what I'm doing with all that free time I have from school ending, eh?

Fence Installation - Day 1

The fence guys (Paramount Fence) showed up early Friday morning and got busy taking down our old fence and getting our new one up.  They moved fast, but unfortunately didn't finish.  The sunk all the posts in the concrete, but didn't attach the pickets.

Here's the crew digging the holes with an auger.
Leaves behind a perfect set of holes.

These guys know what they're doing - as they mix their own concrete.  Portland cement+gravel+sand+water=concrete.  They mix it on site in wheel barrows and set the posts wet.
The day ran long and they didn't get it all done.  Here's how it ended: posts in, rest of the materials scattered in their locations.
That's our neighbor's fence on the right side of the photo.  We're putting up a 4 foot fence next to it.

The Roots of the Gas City Cow

If you grew up in Frankfort, you know the Gas City cow.  It has been down on south LaGrange Road for as long as I can remember.  It always seemed out of place, but was of great fascination to me (and I'm guessing just about everybody who grew up in town).  It was the scene of at least one high school movie where the utters were milked on camera to hilarious results (at least we thought - at the time - it was rip-roaringly funny).

A few days ago, I came across this piece in Crain's Chicago Business about how Gas City has been hit with a foreclosure suit which mentions the roots of the cow.
Longtime Southwest Siders may remember a cow statue that Mr. McEnery placed on the roof of his original station at 55th Street and Pulaski Road in the early 1970s. It was an attempt to advertise milk, a somewhat unusual product to be sold at a gas station at the time.In 1976, the roof gave way, and the cow was eventually moved to the company’s Frankfort offices, according to the Gas City Web …

Third Official Google Blog Post - Searching for the Stanley Cup

Yesterday, on the Official Google Blog, a post on the Stanley Cup Finals went live.  This was my third post published on the OGB (although 2 of them are "posted" by someone else).

I had the idea for the post late Sunday during the Hawks game, pitched the blog team internally and got the draft ready early Tuesday.  Jim - the Googler who's name is on the post - is a HUGE Hawks fan and I'm thrilled he agreed to put his name behind it.

The most interesting trend that I spotted was the surge in queries for [Chelsea Dagger] - the song the Hawks play after each goal.
Really pretty fun to get the posts in front of such a huge audience - there's 523K feed readers alone, let alone those that come from Twitter and other links.

For those keeping track at home here are the other 2 posts that I wrote (signed the GOP one)

At the Republican National Convention: Politics in the Cloud and on the Ground (9/9/08)Searching for the Next Olympic Host City (10/1/09)

100 Grand Bar

In my mailbox at Kellogg yesterday, the administration left this candy bar as a congratulatory item on my final day in school.

I'm thinking that someone in the PTMBA office has a sense of humor.

Outdoor Television Cabinet

Lots of construction news.  The building of our pavilion starts this week.  Here's the inspiration for that project.   Our fence is getting installed on Friday (weather permitting) and we'll start on our pavers early next week.

I've also been thinking about another project of my own:  an outdoor television cabinet.  Something very similar to this.
We have an old tv that I'm not that concerned about, so I always figured that will be our "outdoor" tv, but with this type of cabinet, maybe we're talking about a bigger/nicer tv?   I'm going to start shopping tongue-and-groove cedar boards and hinges and see what we come up with!