Showing posts from 2011

Resolved: One (more) Year of Blogging

More than 700 posts later, I've stuck to my 2010 New Year's resolution of posting *something* to this blog every day of the year.  Last year, I celebrated the first time in my life that I actually stuck to my resolution.  Sure, writing a crummy blog post about something silly isn't all that impressive, but it was what I picked and as you can see from the number of posts next to various years, writing 365 posts wasn't always easy.

As far as stats go, the most popular post - by far - was this post on the Cedar Summit Playground from Costco.

This year, I also made a new resolution - and just like last year - I stuck to this one too.   This one was just as silly - and something that I shouldn't have had to 'resolve' to do, but nevertheless, the process worked and now I'm happy to say that I kept that resolution, too.

Here's to a great 2012.  A great wife.  Great daughter.  Amazing family.  A good job.  Even more surprises.  And...maybe even another …

Wonder Walk-R-Ride Horse

The Babe came out the big winner on our recent trip to the Antique Mall in Coloma.  She scored herself a vintage Wonder Walk-R-Ride Horse for all of $8.60.  Based on some searches on the web, these things go anywhere from $15 all the way up to more than $100 - based on the condition and age.

I'm guessing that this thing is the exact same as the one touted here as "from the 1950's" and selling for $75.  Pretty good deal if that's the case.

We didn't go home empty handed, though.  I picked up a few vintage Christmas smalls - that I love.

2011 Change Jar Total: $181.15

I crushed last year's total of a mere $19.60 in the change jar that I keep on my desk.  The biggest difference was that this year I stuck a bunch of cash in the jar from time-to-time.  I deposit all of the change into The Babe's savings account, so this year I stuck the few Double Sawbucks that she received for her birthday and Christmas in the jar along with the change.  

With 3 data points, we can start to make some interesting assumptions on the data.

2011:  $181.15
2010:  $19.60
2009:  $53.51

The cash is the biggest differentiator this year, and looking at the deposit slip, it accounted for $130 of the $181.15 total - which leaves me with $51.15 of coins and puts me right in line with 2009's total.  The 2010 total seems low by comparison.

DW Hammond Chocolates in Coloma Michigan

This week, when we were up in Coloma, we stopped by the newest store on Main Street:  DW Hammond Chocolates and Fudge.  They just moved from Benton Harbor into this cute old building.
The place isn't quite that cute inside just yet, but they're going to rip up the gross old carpet and refinish the floors.  They have a lot of space, so hopefully someone with a bit of experience can help them gussy the place up a bit.

According to the owner (who told us the story), these guys are the oldest/original chocolate makers in Southwest Michigan - dating back to the 1800's.   With the Chocolate Garden already in business across town (Wow...they were just named "Chocolatier of the Year"!), and DW Hammond relocating their business here, maybe Coloma Michigan can become a chocolate hotbed of sorts.  Two chocolate stores make a coincidence.  But...when the third opens up, we'll have ourselves a trend.

We bought some coffee and a small box of assorted chocolates - pretty…

Hudsonville Ice Cream - Holland Michigan

Seems like just about every time we get up to Coloma, we find a new local product that we can try to substitute for something in our normal grocery store shopping/dining routine.  This time it was in the frozen section with Hudsonville Ice Cream.  They have a cute 'turn' on the normal "Moosetracks" ice cream that is fitting with the region:  Michigan DeerTraxx (Which...looking at the packaging...they've apparently trademarked!)
Turns out, they're based in Holland Michigan and have been around for 85 years.
We don't buy a ton of ice cream at the grocery store, but Hudsonville Ice Cream will now join the ranks of Pioneer Sugar - which is made from Michigan beets - as a local product we'll give preference to in our shopping.

Mark it Down: Rope Light Christmas Craft

This is the second year in a row that Christmas came and went and I didn't get this craft project done.  I've been sitting on two packages of rope lights for more than 700 days and things always get to crazy in December and I don't get this done.

I'm writing this note to myself so I keep me honest and get this done in 2012.  "Joy" it will be.

DIY Basketball Rack Cart

This year, I had* Equation Boy/Man in our Christmas Grab-bag.  (By 'had', I mean that in my mind, I was to buy/build for him because I bought/built for my brother-in-law Shaun last year.  It appears that the guys-only Grab-bag may have fallen apart, but I'll soldier on, alternating between the two of them anyway.)

Earlier this year, Equation Boy/Man had a really nice basketball hoop installed in his new driveway and I've spent many a late afternoon down at their place playing hoops with my nephew.  Everytime we play, the balls were scattered across the yard or garage.     Bingo!  I knew what I could build him - a rolling basketball rack/cart.

I started with red cedar 4X4 beams for the corners.  The rest of the pieces are cedar 2X4s.  An adult basketball has a (just shy of) 10" diameter, so I made the rack 40" long to hold 4 balls.  3 levels means 12 adult balls.
I'll have to grab a photo of the finished product (because I forgot to!) that shows the wh…

My Christmas Train 2011

'Tis the season to get my Lionel Train out and set up in the basement.  This year, the Babe was a bit interested in it - which made it a lot of fun.  I shot that video with my phone yesterday with just a few cars attached.  I'll keep it out for a few days then back it goes into storage until next Christmas season.

Elmhurst Festivus House - 2011

Just like last year, one of our neighbors is ringing in the season with an aluminum pole and a sign in their front yard that reads "A Festivus for the Rest of Us!"

No feats of strength at our house this year.

The Babe's Second Year With Santa

The Babe was all geeked up to see Santa when we were waiting in line. But, alas, stage freight set in and she wailed when it was her turn to get on his lap.

My Favorite Christmas Song - Covered by My Morning Jacket

Courtesy of my friend Adam comes this neat cover of "Christmas Must Be Tonight" - a song by The Band - covered by My Morning Jacket.  Neat stuff.

Basement TV Mounted

Thanks to my father-in-law, we got the TV hooked up and mounted above the fireplace in the corner of the basement.  Still no couch, but the beanbags are fine for me for now.  My mancave has begun to take-shape!

I Caved: Lemax Frosty's Christmas Tree Lot

There's a new addition to the community of Mantleburg - Frosty's Christmas Tree Lot.  With the Menard's Dutch Auction sale on all Christmas stuff going on, I couldn't help myself with getting this piece for 50% off the retail price.  I've had my eye on it all season and it fits in nicely with a few of the other buildings in their new home down in the basement on the ledge.

Basement Wainscotting

The beadboard *should* hold up better than just regular sheetrock when the kids go crazy down in the basement.  We got it up in *most* places and just have to caulk and paint the boards before we're all done.

Basement Fridge Installed

After a bit of shaving down, the fridge fit *PERFECTLY* into the hole and with the water and power connections set back into the closet behind the fridge, it looks like the room was built around it.

It is a 27 cubic foot box, so there's a lot of space in it.  Can't wait to fill it with various beverages!

I'm really quite pleased with how it turned out.  A bit more work left to do around the little counter area and we'll be ready to have the party.

Basement Stairs - Stained

Once the floors were finished up, it was time to get the stairs to match.  After two coats of stain, I'm still not satisfied with the final color, but time is short before the Babe's Second Birthday party so for the next few weeks this will have to do.

Basement Laminate Flooring Installation

Just 2 days ago, I posted this photo of the bare floored hallway in our basement.
Last night, here's what the same hallway looked like with the new floors.  It is really starting to feel like a finished space.
And here's what the main room looks like with the floors installed.  They're called "hand scraped" - which Nat picked out - and look pretty nice installed.  They're a wide board, too, which is different than what I've seen in lots of places.

Basement Floors Going In

That red stuff is the fancy underlayment that they put down before the floors.  They're starting in the southeast corner and hopefully by the end of today they'll have most of the floor installed.  The basement will be totally transformed once these floors go in - and will feel A LOT more finished and useable.

The underlayment itself is made up of 3 layers and is called the Roberts 3-in-1 Harmony Underlayment.  The bottom layer is a permeable layer that keeps moisture down, the second layer is this thin section of little styrofoam balls that provide some bounce, noise deadening - and most importantly - the ability for any moisture that is underneath to travel through this layer and out the sides.  The top layer is a vapor barrier that keeps any and all moisture out from the bottom of the boards.

Basement Walls Painted, Trim Started

There's paint on the walls.  A lot of it.  Nat picked out the color - and it looks nice.  There's a lot of green right now, but that will change.  We're going to put up wainscoting along the lower half of the walls (below the white shelf), but that will happen after the floors get installed.

Here's a view of the hallway as you come down the stairs and head towards the main room.

Hanging the Basement Doors

It is now beginning to feel a bit more like a finished space.  We have doors in!  Most of them had to be cut/hacked to get to fit because of headroom considerations or other funky framing decisions we made earlier, but...all but one of the doors is *in*.  The last one will wait until after the party this weekend when we can slow down a bit and catch our breath with the construction.

Parrillo Family Photo - December 2011

We sat for our annual photobooth family photo last weekend at the Renegade Craft Fair.  Here's a post that shows some of the other family photos.  It is pretty amazing that we coordinated all four panels jsut about perfectly with last year's version.  The bottom 2 photos are almost identical - but for the one year difference.  I didn't look at the previous year's version before we went, so this was just PURELY coincidental.  Crazy.  Guess we'll have to plan that for next year.

Flooring Has Arrived, but We're Delayed

We're now way past the 48 hour 'acclimation period' - where the wood floors have to sit in the space and adjust to the conditions of the room where they'll be installed - but unfortunately, the self-leveling concrete isn't fully cured yet, so the flooring guys came and went this morning; promising to come back first of next week.  We had a few 'patches' to make in the floor yesterday that caused the delay, but I now have a little space heater running down there, so it should speed up the process.

That means that we're going to be busy painting everything - the walls and maybe even some of the trim - before it gets hung - this weekend.

Roberts Harmony 3-in-1 Underlayment - Laminate Floors

Roberts Harmony 3-in-1 Premium Underlayment is the top of the line laminate flooring underlayment and is perfect for basement laminate floors as it seals out moisture while giving it a chance to breath and push the moisture out the sides instead of trapping it.

Home Depot sells the stuff for $60 for a 100 square foot roll, but the web has that beat.  You can buy a 630 square foot roll on Amazon for $210.  That's more than $150 less than it would cost at Home Depot and it ships for free with Super Saver shipping.  Just plan ahead!

The underlayment is made of 3 layers - with a specially designed middle layer made of little styrofoam balls.  You lay the stuff down quickly and this stuff has a really nice 7-inch overlap layer that helps seal the floor from the bottom all the way across the seams.

I'd recommend this underlayment to anyone - especially if you're looking to lay laminate floor in the basement where there is bare concrete floors.  I wouldn't however lay this …

Basement Floors Leveled - Self-Leveling Concrete

In this case, a picture doesn't really tell the story, but that reddish-brown stuff is self-leveling concrete that was poured all over our basement floors recently.  The grey stuff is where it had to be "thick" I was told.  There's more needed in the hallway(s), near the bottom of the stairs and in the bedroom/office left to do, and then (hopefully) on Saturday they'll begin laying the floor.

Our Christmas Tree - 2011

Here's our tree from 2010.  It was a bit taller than this year's version.   We put it in the same spot, but made some other changes with the mantle behind it this year.

New Look - December of '11

The look of the blog has changed - once again.  For those reading on email, you can click through on the headline above to see it.  Right here below is what it looked like yesterday, which was a design that lasted 8ish months.  Below that is what the blog looked like for the entire year of 2010.  
You'll notice on the new template that there's a ticker.  Yes...a ticker!  I can't tell if the site is loading incredibly slow and if it is, if the ticker is the reason.  I'll leave it up there for a few more days while I work out some of the other kinks.  If you see something that isn't quite right, drop a comment on this post. (February 2011- December 2011) (January 2010 - February 2011)

Renegade Holiday Craft Fair - 2011

For the 3rd year in a row, we spent part of our weekend at the Chicago Renegade Holiday Craft Fair at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse.  Here's my post on our 2010 visit.

And, just like in years past, I *really* want to like Renegade.  The bright spot for me was the parking this year:  we found a street spot (which was in a marked zone, but we got lucky with no ticket) and were only 1 block away.  Once we got inside?  It was much better than last year - either the aisles were wider or there were a lot less people milling around.

We opted for no stroller - which is the ONLY way to roll at this event but the Babe wasn't that interested in being hauled around and wanted to walk herself.

Nat picked up multiple items for gifts - which is a good outcome for her - but I haven't quite come around on the event.  It wasn't as terrible of an experience as it was last year, but I must be outside of the main demographic.  Too many screen printers.  And...what's with the mustache …

La Pasadita

This place has a magnetic pull.  Perhaps it is because there are 3 of them on the same block, but whenever I get within 6 blocks of Ashland and Division, my mouth starts watering.  Nat was nice enough to satisfy my urge to recently get a carne asada burrito.  Do they put narcotics in these things?

Second Coat - Basement Drywall Mud

The corners, seams and screwholes have all been hit 2X with drywall mud and tomorrow, we'll have the final coat done and ready to sand.  Monday is the day to prime and Tuesday we'll be painting.  Hopefully.

Gfeller's Pizza Parlor by Carole Towne at Lowes

Worlds are colliding.  Pizza parlors and Christmas Villages.  This one - Gfeller's Pizza Parlor - is at Lowe's and looks like it currently is $34.99 - which isn't terribly cheap.  With the basement project still underway (tapers are there today), Mantleburg hasn't been able to make it's annual appearance yet.  Nat hasn't come right out and said it, but I'm getting from her the desire to push the buildings downstairs.  Once we get the ledge up around the perimeter, Mantleburg will be back in business.

Her First Advent Calendar - 2011

With the Babe getting up to 2 years old soon, this is going to be her 3rd Christmas.  But, this is the first time she has the interest/patience/dexterity to have an advent calendar.  This one (above) is one from Trader Joe's and has little chocolates in it.  Nat would hate it if I didn't tell you guys that we actually have a really nice permanent Advent Calendar (from some place like the Pottery Barn or the link), but we're focusing this morning on this one - because it can't be broken.

This morning, the Babe opened up the first door and the proceeded to say "more".  She doesn't quite get that it is one door per day.  Give it a few days and I bet she picks it up quickly and starts to remind us if we didn't give her the chance to open the door in the morning.  Chocolate is powerful stuff.

Can Your Toilet Do That?

An entire bucket of golf balls in a single flush.  That's what I'm talking about!

This is the Eljer Titan 4 toilet that I bought to put in the basement bathroom.  The tile guy is coming on Thursday, so once the walls get painted this weekend, we'll be able to trim the toilet and get down to business.  Literally.

Vintage Christmas Fair - Chicago 2011

For the past 3 or 4 years, we've gone to a Vintage Christmas Fair that is part of the Randolph Street  Market/Chicago Antique Fair and takes place in November right ahead of Thanksgiving.  In years past we've always come away with an item or two of Christmas decor/decorations and this year was no different.  We bought 3 vintage items:  2 Santas and a new tree-topper Angel.
The Santas have a neat texture on them where the trim is on his suit and while they are both different Santas (and likely makers) the texture binds them together.  Here's a close up of the Big Guy on the left. He's cute, eh?  Oh...what's that?  His neck wobbles?  Like a bobblehead Santa from the 50's?  Yep. And his sack is going to be used by us as a candy dish!  He already has candy canes in there.  
But does his head have any 'action' left it in?  You bet it does.

Kurt Carlson Dental Moves in - Downtown Elmhurst

No offense to Dr. Carlson, but I have to say that I'm pretty disappointed.  Over a year ago, I wrote about this beautiful storefront and the opportunity it held.  Instead of more retail - which Downtown Elmhurst desperately needs, we get another dentist.  It appears that Dr. Carlson runs a very professional operation - based solely on the awnings - so I wish him well.  And, I suppose that his practice will create some foot traffic, but there are only so many ground-floor openings on Addison Street and those need to be used for retail or restaurants.  Offices *should* be upstairs on second floors.

Bleeding Heart Bakery Elmhurst - Open

After months of waiting, our very own Bleeding Heart Bakery opened in Downtown Elmhurst a few weeks back.  Last week, we went out on a family outing and scored some sweet treats - and sampled a lot of what they offer including cakeballs, brownies, and cupcakes.  Their case was jammed full of treats so I'm VERY hopeful that they'll be supported by our Elmhurst community.  Nat and I decided that we're going to make a very conscious choice to try to get there often during the first few months to help ensure that they succeed.

Pro Tip: Never Order a Beef From A Place That Calls it "Gardiner"

I recognized that it is a hard word to spell, but a quick search will turn up the proper spelling: giardiniera.  This sign is up in the Polk-a-dot Drive-in in Braidwood, Illinois - which is where we dine post-Christmas Tree cutting each year.  I learned the lesson (to not order the beef here) the hard way a few years ago.  Ever since, I've gone with a dog, minus the ketchup.  (Yes...they dress their dogs in ketchup + all the other Chicago-style fixings.  Strange.)

Water-testing our Laminate Floor Choice

Nat picked out a flooring that claims to do a better job than *most* other laminate wood floors do against moisture.  I was a bit skeptical, so I took the sample home and stuck it on the counter.  And poured water on top of it.  And then stuck a glass on top to try to make a 'ring'.  I came back 8 hours later and the water was still pooled up and the floor stood up to the challenge without any warping/flaking/damage.

Now...I'm not sure if the samples are different than the real thing, but if they are the same, then we should be in good shape with the floors.  They're being installed next week (hopefully).  The material is a special order, so it takes a few days for it to arrive in, then it needs 48 hours of 'acclimation' to the conditions present in our house.  Then...gets installed in just one day.  The walls will (hopefully) be painted already by then, so the place will start to fell a lot more finished once the floor goes in.

Thanksgiving Tradition - The Last Waltz

It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the mandatory viewing of The Last Waltz film in our house.  There's no better way to wake up and enjoy the day than by watching these guys celebrate the big day.  I'm guessing that as The Babe grows up a bit more, I'll be arm-wrestling her for control of the remote as she'll want to watch the parade.  But until then...I rule the roost on Turkey Day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2010 post
2007 post
2005 post
2004 post

Basement Drywall Hanging

Then sheetrock has begun to be hung.  The guys started on the ceiling and they said they hope to have most of it done by the end of today - including the walls.  Thanks to my mother-in-law who bought me the Mike Holmes basement book, we're using green board - which is a moisture/mold resistant material everywhere except for the bottom of the walls where we're using purpleboard -which is a *more* mold/moisture resistant board all the way through.  (BTW...that green board you can see in the photo laying by the wall is just being stocked in place there against the wall and isn't screwed in place.) Sounds like it is a newer product that came on the market more recently but is a better fit for any place (like a basement) that might be susceptible to any little bit of moisture.  (which...thanks to the basement waterproofing, ours should not get!)

Home Depot Christmas Village

It isn't just Walmart and Lowes getting in on the "home center" Christmas Village building, Home Depot joins the party with their very own orange-tinted Home Depot building.
Home Depot's  building is dated (see the 2011) by the front door, has a Santa and is the cheapest of the lot.  It really surprises me that each of the these stores have their own branded buildings - which means that people *must* be buying them, right?

Walmart Getting in on Christmas Villages

Look what I found when the Babe and I were wondering around our local Walmart.  Some really cheap Christmas village buildings.  They're very affordable (more than $10 less than the Lemax buildings at Menards), but they're poorly painted.  Aside from the church building, I don't think they worth spending the money on.  
But...if you were into the whole Walmart thing, I guess you'd *have* to pick this one up, right?  It was the cheapest of the lot, but I couldn't find it stocked on the shelves.  So, either it is a fast-mover or they don't really intend to sell any of them.  I'm guessing the later.  

Basement Insulation Installed

I spent a good bit of time over the past few days stuffing every orifice down in the basement with insulation.  Based on not running the furnace all day yesterday and me working down there, I think the room is pretty tight and will (hopefully) stay warm on those cold winter days.