Showing posts from March, 2011

HUGE tree at Third and Indiana Street: Gone

Turns out, we're not alone.  Elmhust Patch is saying that the City of Elmhurst is going around quite a few neighborhoods - and in a pro-active attempt to keep the Ash Borer from finding a home in our city - chopping down as many Ash trees as they can find regardless of their size.  Just one block from our house - at the southeast corner of Third and Indiana Streets sits this massive stump.

I put the Babe's stroller in the photo to give you some perspective.  I tried to count the rings, but lost track somewhere north of 100.

I can understand the issue behind the elimination of these Ash trees, but it seems like a pretty significant waste in my mind.  More sad than anything else I suppose. 

On the bright side, it seems that not only is the City replacing the trees with something else, they're willing to work with the homeowner if the Ash tree is *really* special to the homeowner and they don't want it chopped down.

But, I have to ask:  Can't they be treated some oth…

Alliums Springing Up - 2011

While I wish they were the HUGE ones, these little green shoots are our Allium bulbs that rise up in front of our porch in the front yard.

Nat had been talking for a few years about how she *wanted* Alliums, so late in the fall of 2009, I secured a handful of the bulbs and planted them without telling her.  I hoped that I had done everything right - the depth, spacing, watering, etc.  I crossed my fingers.  Then, waited.

Come Spring of 2010, they sprung to life and with a big smile on my face, I took Nat out to see her new Alliums.  I may not be the most romantic guy on the planet, but I have to say that my Allium adventure turned out great.

Hyacinths Popping Up - 2011

Although the thermometer this weekend said the exact opposite, Spring appears to be right around the corner as our Hyacinths are peeking out of the mulch in our front yard.
I planted these back in the fall of 2009 and they came to life for the first time last spring.  They're my favorite color - orange - and while they don't stick around too terribly long, they make a nice impression right next to our front stairs.

Tom and Eddie's - Fancy McDonald's in Lombard

I know this may be hard to believe, but Nat doesn't like pizza as much as I do. Because of that fact, we (unfortunately) have to go to restaurants OTHER than pizza joints. One of those was Tom & Eddie's in Lombard.

Tom & Eddies is an upscale burger place that was developed by two long-time McDonald's execs.  Their story has been covered elsewhere and it, indeed, is an interesting story line.  These two guys are going after the fast, upscale casual restaurant dollar.  Fancier than Chipotle, but as fast and casual as Panera.

The burgers were good, but not extraordinarily memorable - as noted because I can't quite remember what I had to eat.  Nat had a Turkey burger and loved it.  We'll go back, but the burgers are only a small reason why.

The place is sleek, welcoming, and bright.  And the folks who work there (Who I think(?) were actually Tom and Eddie) were great and warm.

The pieces of the place that are the most fun (for me, at least) were how they ma…

Off-Center Childs Blocks by Fred

The Babe's Uncle Charlie gave us these block by Fred back at Christmastime and we really haven't begun to play with them just yet.  She's not quite to the stacking things stage, rather whenever Nat or I stack something up, the Babe storms over like Godzilla and brings the whole operation crashing down.  At some point, she'll be into stacking blocks and when she does, she'll be the coolest hipster baby on the block.  Instead of the typical letter/object connections like A=Apple, B=Boy, C=Cat, D=Dog, these are a bit more fun.  M=Mustache, U=Underpants, W=Werewolf.
Pretty fun stuff that I'm sure will be fun to laugh about as she grows up.  Thanks, Uncle Charlie!

She's Growing Up - 15 months Old

I'm learning very quickly that time moves very fast with little kids.  One day they can't hold their own head up and the next they're rifling through the cupboards below the sink.  My little girl just crossed the 15 month mark and on pretty regular occasions, I'm seeing her do some very grown up like things.  They're small little actions or body language, but they're definitely there.  Or at least, in my head, they are there. 

Take for example this photo.  We were at the Country House eating burgers this week when I caught her lounging in her high chair.  She looks so at ease and comfortable and the way she's carrying herself just seems so NOT like an infant/toddler.
Every time I look at her I rediscover how adorable she really is.  I couldn't love her more than I do and am so fortunate to have her in my life.  Nat has been doing an amazing job with her and each and every day we're both learning something together!

For those of you friends and family…

Slice's Chicago Pizza Map

A few days ago, my favorite news outlet on the entire web, Slice, put up their Chicago pizza map.

Green = recommended.  Yellow = recommended with reservations.  Red = not recommended.  While I'll quibble with the dearth of true Western Suburban or Southwestern Suburban pie joints, I have to love the hard work they put in on this.  Not to mention the mapping product they chose to use!

View Pizza - Chicago in a larger map

March 2011 - No Beard (for now)

For the better part of the past 18 months (starting a few months before the Babe was born), I've pretty much had a beard.  And I've liked the beard.  But I woke up a few days ago and figured it was time to go.  To mark the occasion, we went to Barnaby's.  (yummers!)  Actually, we don't need a reason to go to Barnaby's to eat the delicious cornmeal-laden pizza pie. 

For those of you keeping track of my looks at home and for Parrillo Family archives record keeping purposes, here's an updated photo for the end of March 2011.  

For a long time there, I figured that I'd just become a "beard guy".  In fact, I would tell anyone that listens that I'm a "beard guy".   Not this week.  Anymore.  The good news is that stubble is back already.  And, I have a feeling that I'll grow it completely back because I already miss it.  Spring and Summer temperatures may convince me otherwise, though.

Cedar Summit Panorama Playset from Costco

Move over vegetable garden and garage pavillion, there's potentially a new entrant into the currently crowded backyard at the Parrillo household.  Behold:  this beauty.  The Cedar Summit Panorama Playset from Costco.   Comes with 3 swings and a tube slide.  Nat spotted this behemoth at Costco and after doing a bit of comparison shopping at a place like Menards (more expensive, I think) and Wannemaker's (don't sell these type of things any more), it appears to be a fair deal.

It is a kit - so I'd be putting it together myself, but I'm up for that challenge.  The real issue is getting it home.  I'm going to head back to Costco to take a look to see if it will fit in Nat's car with the back seats folded down.  If not, it seems like I'll be renting a truck from Home Depot. 

Yes, the Babe is likely too small for a lot of this, but certainly NOT the swings.  We take her to the park on a regular basis and she gets a kick out of the swings.  The whole fort thi… on a Xoom

Pardon the smudgy fingerprints, but look what landed on my desk yesterday.  Site looks pretty good - and blogger knows that I don't want the mobile template and serves up the full site on the Motorola Xoom.

New Carpet Runner

We don't have a single square foot of installed carpet in our house.  Wood floors everywhere.  We do have a few area rugs in our family room and living room, but that all changed this morning.  After one last slip coming down the stairs, it was time to try to make them a bit more grip-tight.  Especially with the Babe being carried up/down multiple times a day. 
The guys from Luna are here putting in a runner that will cover the stairs.  Nat picked the color and I think it turned out nice.  Suppose, we'll find out when she comes home, though!

Minneapolis Star and Tribune Building

I spent a part of past week up in Minneapolis where - in addition to reminiscing about my days of selling drywall screws in the Twin Cities - I also spent some time with reporters teaching a "Google 101 for Journalists" at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Like other papers (Hello, Chicago Sun-Times!), the Star Tribune started as two independent Newspapers called the Minneapolis Star and Minneapolis Tribune.  Interestingly enough, their building reflects those independent roots.  Notice the "and".
Still not as cool as the Columbus Dispatch sign, though.

March Madness - 2011

Thanks to Equation Boy/Man I was able to get into the "Second Round"* games of the Mens 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament at the United Center.  We saw some great names/teams like Notre Dame, Purdue, Georgetown, Florida State and Texas A&M.  And some not so great games.  (Have to love the VCU upset, right?)  Grabbed a grilled cheese at the Billy Goat to top the night off.  ( Cheezeboorger for me.

Papa's Birthday - 2011

A few days ago, we celebrated my dad's birthday (along with my beautiful niece's birthday!) and unlike last year, ALL of the grandkids were able to be there.  Nice hat, dad!
Here's the 2010 version with photo.  The birthday girl (in pink) wasn't even born yet!

Kirkland Handcrafted Ales at Costco

After spotting (and documenting) the new Walgreens house brand of beer called Big Flats 1901 Lager and the Jewel brand Buck Range Light, I figured I should share a photo of another house-brand that I spotted:  Kirkland Signature Handcrafted Ales.  This is a 24 pack - of four different six packs including a Pale Ale, Amber Ale, India Pale Ale and a Belgian White all for $18.99. 

The guy in front of us in line was raving about this stuff - and said that it is all he serves at parties and drinks at home.  If Nat doesn't like it when we serve Miller High Life at our get-togethers, I doubt she'll get behind a house-brand, right? 

Anyone tried this stuff? 

Purple Prince Zinnia - Seeds and Seedlings

In lieu of keeping a gardening journal on paper, you've probably noticed that I've been using this space as a running entry of what is working and what isn't with my seedling experiments.  With Nat's encouragement, I've mentioned that I've taken on some flower seed growing (Amaranthus, Cosmos) including one of her favorites:  Zinnias.

One of 3 varieties of Zinnias I've sown is called the Purple Prince.  I'll find time/space to show you the other two soon.

After just a week and a half in the ground, the seeds have sprouted and seedling have begun to emerge.  None of those "Luminous Blooms" yet, but I'm now more hopeful and knowledgeable about how these things work.  Once again, I put too many seeds in each little compartment - not knowing that so many of them would emerge.  Will be such a shame to have to thin these guys out.

Asparagus Fern - A Way to Remove VOCs

A week or so ago, my sister sent me an article (like this one - but I don't think that was actually the one she sent) that had all these alarming stats about the air quality in our homes during the winter and how these things called VOCs get built up.  I had never even heard of VOCs, let alone knew that they were doing so much damage to our lungs.  VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds that come from a wide range of things in our homes like paint and furniture and cleaning supplies. 

Turns out, because of these VOCs, the air quality *in* our home may be worse than the quality *out* of our home.

This note she sent me said that all is not lost; that there was something you could do to help clean the air in your home:  buy one of these five plants.  Armed with the list of the five plants, I went off to Home Depot to see what I could turn up in the garden center.  On the list was something called an Asparagus Fern and after some digging and Google Image searching (the plants at Home De…

Scamorza Cheese - The BEST Pizza Cheese

Allow me to let you in on a little secret:  After a life-long search for the tastiest, best cheese for pizza, I am happy to tell you that the journey is over.  Here it is:  Chellino Brand Scamorza Cheese.

I've been using Chellino Scamorza for 2 or 3 years after first reading about it on and then seeking it out and finally finding it at Zeppe's Italian Market in Naperville.  It is NOT cheap - a few more bucks per pound than your run-of-the-mill mozzarella, but that few dollar expense is more than worth it.

This particular brand of Scamorza - which is, as I'm told by the guy who answers the phone at Chellino Cheese Co in Joliet, IL, is the only Scamorza made this way (the rest it sounds like are a bit more like fresh mozzarella).  It is the perfect blend of creamy and salty. 

And the key part?  It looks, grates, and smells just like mozzarella.  But it tastes a bit different (better) and it must have a different (higher?) burning point because it browns diffe…

Black & Decker Leaf Collection System

The second part of my Black & Decker Leafhog arrived this week via Amazon.   Billed as a Leaf Collection System, this is an 8' hose with a garbage can attachment that takes the sucked/chopped leaves and deposits them right in your garbage can.  I need a few moisture-free days to get everything to dry out before I can give it a shot, but as you can imagine, I'm chomping at the bit to get started this spring.

Amaranthus Seedlings - One Week In

Well....that didn't take long.  Just late last week, I shared the news that in addition to trying some vegetable plants from seeds, I was also trying my green thumb at sowing flower seeds.  One of them that Nat picked out (she's the flower expert) was heirloom Amaranthus that I showed last week. 

Along with a bunch of other flower seeds, these have really taken off.  The Amaranthus are the light purple ones in the foreground.  Right behind them are a variety of Cosmos - but that is for another post.  As often happens (I'm learning), it is now time to thin all of them out to allow the healthiest and strongest seedlings to flourish, but I hate to just throw the extra seedlings in the trash.  I'm going to try to make it to Menards soon to pick up more non-peat pods and maybe grow some of these to give away.  Maybe they'll find a home in some yards on our block or in Frankfort or Naperville.
I've never attended a seed swap, but after hearing about them, I was wonde…

Addison Car Wash - Undercarriage Button

I *think* I've found a new carwash spot.  During the warm weather months, I use the DIY Sparkle Car Wash on North Avenue, but with the freezing temperatures, they've mostly closed up their bays - not to mention that I don't really want to be using a hose and soap wand in sub-freezing temperatures. 

So I was left to use the Delta Sonic - which does a decent job.  One day last weekend, Nat was set to take my car (the small one) but she didn't want to use it because, as she said, "it is gross inside".  So, I had to find a place that could do the interior.  Using Google Maps on my phone, I found the Addison Car Wash, located just a bit north of North Avenue not to far from our house.

View Larger Map

The prices are great ($7.50 for a interior clean with vacuum and wipe down along with a nice exterior wash), but the place is a little grimey.  Actually, it is pretty close to being a dump.  But with a $7.50 wash, who was I to complain. 

After entering the building, y…

Cosmos - Sensation Mix Seeds and Seedlings

In addition to the Amaranthus seeds, I also planted a set of Cosmos called the Sensation Mix seeds.  These are billed as "superb cut flowers" and (unbelievably) list their height at four feet tall.  That can't be, right?
I'd be VERY surprised if they achieved 4 feet tall, but they *are* clearly the tallest and most lively of all the flower seeds I planted.  That is them in the photo below.  See how much taller they are than everything else?  But four feet tall?

New Wood-Fired Pizza in Elmhurst at Rosalia's Deli

Over the weekend, we took the Babe out in her stroller and went for a walk to get some air.  Somehow, we ended up checking out a new place on York Street named Rosalia's Deli.

Rosalia's is an annex Angelo's Ristorante - a long time fixture in Elmhurst which recently underwent a facelift.  The exterior of the place looks great and I, for one, welcome the addition of an Italian deli literally in my backyard.

When you walk in, you have a pretty standard Italian deli with breads, cheeses, a big counter full of meats and prepared items as well as a handful of oils and other Italian specialty items.  I wasn't all that impressed with the breadth of their offerings, but it is a small place AND it is just getting started.  I suppose just about everything will pale in comparison to Angelo Caputo's, right?

But...when you look to the left - to the part of the store that is connected to Angelo's Ristorante - what do you see?

This beauty.  A custom-built wood-fired pizza oven.

Dannee Polomsky for Elmhurst 3rd Ward Alderman

With the election less than 30 days away, it is time for everyone in Elmhurst to get focused on the upcoming votes we're all facing.  Like it or hate it, EVERYONE in Elmhurst needs to care about what the City Council will choose to do in the coming years.  Raising our taxes, solving the flooding issues, keeping us safe, and getting rid of the skunks are all concerns we have.  On April 5th, 2011, we can start to make choices about our representatives at City Hall who are willing to listen to our concerns and bring our values to the City Council.

Fortunately for me (and...for you, too!) , Dannee Polomsky, one of my neighbors is running for Alderman of the 3rd Ward in Elmhurst.  I've decided to support her and her campaign because I believe she'd do a great job for our neighborhood.  I recently wrote a letter to the editor supporting her campaign and sent it around to various publications including Elmhurst Patch - who ran it on Friday.  (Thanks Patch team!)  I think I have a…

Pizza Palace Elmhurst

The first time I had pizza in our new house in Elmhurst, we ordered from Pizza Palace.  We were having a painting party with our relatives and had to order something on the spot.  One way or the other, I ended up with getting a few pies delivered and I was happy.

I've subsequently started to order from Mama Maria's, but recently decided to head back to give an in-person try to Pizza Palace.  Nat was going out for the night and it was going to be me and the Babe alone for dinner.  What better thing to eat than sausage and pepperoni, right?

Pizza Palace is on Addison Street - right behind the main drag called York in Downtown Elmhurst.  The place is a pretty unassuming bar with a dining room bolted on the side.  We sat in the bar in a booth and waited to see if someone would join us in this fun 70's era table.

Since my dining companion is 14 months old, we chose to eat at 5:30 pm on a Wednesday.  Aside from one older lady by herself at the bar, we were all alone.  By the tim…

Childproofing Our Home

You know you've reached a certain station in life when you start to think about how well you've secured your basement door with an "out of reach" locking mechanism.  Not quite sure what station exactly, but it seems to be somewhere between [mowing your own lawn] and [minivans].

114 W. Park Ave - Elmhurst - Storefront Opening in Downtown

I was picking up our pie at the local Lou Malnati's last week when I can across this note in the window of Choi's nails on Park Avenue.  Seems they're moving across the tracks to a new location.
Choi's nails is moving into the opening that was created when Aisle Style bridal salon closed recently and will fit in a spot right between Armand's and a Dry Cleaner and Fontanos.

The 114 W Park Ave location is looking for tenants and has billed the location as being on the "coming home" side of the tracks.  but with all the openings in downtown, I'm not sure what will open here.   I guess that we should be happy that Choi's nails is staying here, but to be perfectly honest with you, I'm not all that excited by having another nail salon show up in what could be considered a prime location - right across from the train station.

I know the economy is still lumbering along, but with the factors that make Downtown Elmhurst so promising:  the theatre crowd,…

Menards Plastic Greenhouse

Yes...I can positively confirm that things just got weird at the Parrillo homestead:  I bought a mini greenhouse.  This kit came from Menards (where else?) and was just $19.00.  It certainly is NOT heavy-duty but will do the job for my seeds.  At some point, this will move outside and will help me harden-off the seedlings.  It currently is in our dining room - as the plants need southern exposure - but Nat can't stand the looks of it.  I'm thinking in thenot too distant future, when I go into the office, I'll find out that she's pushed it back into my office - far away from the eyes of our visitors.
The greenhouse has 4 shelves each capable of holding 2 seedling trays.  I've begun to transplant some of the bigger seedlings from the trays into their own non-peat pots, which you can see on the left-hand side.

I know I have a compulsive/obsessive personality and need a hobby or project to focus on, but this purchase and this actual post are confirmation of that.  I sup…

Heirloom Amaranthus Seeds

Things just went a little nuts over here at the Parrillo household.  I'm afraid I've become a seed-aholic and with Nat joining me at the store when I was there to pick out a few more vegetables, we've ended up bringing home a large number of flowering plant seeds including this one above: Amaranthus.  This is an heirloom variety, but some of the other ones are hybrid mixes which I'll document at some point.
And the best part?  They're now in a greenhouse of sorts.  Yes.  A greenhouse.  (Don't tell Nat.)

Black and Decker Leafhog Blower/Vacuum

Look what just showed up on our front porch courtesy of the delivery fairy:
Last fall, I did the best I could do raking and mowing up the leaves, but with the snow melting in the past week or so, I've come to realize that there are A LOT of leaves left.  I used our mower - with the bag on - to try to chop up most of them last fall, because I wanted to compost them.  This particular blower/vacuum is pretty well rated and comes with an option attachment that has an 8-foot long tube and garbage can attachment that takes the leaves (that part hasn't arrived just yet).  When I bought, it was on a screaming deal and priced right.  As soon as it dries out a bit and warms up, I'll be out in the yard cleaning up.  Can't wait to get started.

Butternut Squash Seedlings - One Week Later

Just one week later, and the butternut squash seedlings are going crazy.  I'm on my way to Menards to buy some larger pots for these guys - as it seems they're on the verge of outgrowing their current home.  One of my concerns is the roots becoming entangled and leggy. 

As an aside, I'm learning - a little too late - that I think I started these things a bit early.  I'm fearful that by having to wait until after the last frost (May 1-ish), these may end up spending too much time in their pots.  The book I just picked up from the library is telling me that in Region/Zone 5 (which Northern Illinois is in), I should be planting my seeds closer to mid-March.  NOT mid-February.  Oh well.  At least I can call this a learning experience.