Showing posts from May, 2011

Day One Cedar Summit Playground

I put in a few hours this afternoon (after installing a gutter on our garage) on the Cedar Summit Playground from Costco - at long last.  We bought it back in March, but it took me until the end of May to crack the containers and get started.  This is through step eight.
I have tomorrow off from work, so I'm going to put in a few more hours and (hopefully) by the weekend I'll have a good bit of this done.  Based on the comments on my original blog post - it seems that this is a 20ish hour job.

New Potato Plants Growing Like Crazy

A how-to post to follow at some point but my seed potato plants are really taking off.  I have to pile on more mulch, but it seems that six weeks or so from now we'll have new red potatoes.

Memorial Day Party 2011

Another year, another great Petruck party.  This time Eloise brought her own chair.

Congrats Matt and Suzie

Big day!  Here's to many great years ahead. about moving to the suburbs and having some kids?

Happy 8th Birthday to My Nephew

Today is his 8th Birthday and to celebrate, we went out to Home Run Inn for pizza and (the best part) a Cookie Monster.  Based on this photo, I'm not sure which one of us is more excited about digging into the Cookie Monster.
We were supposed to go to the batting cages before dinner, but the weather didn't cooperate so we opted for a quick game at the Cosmic Bowl.

Happy Birthday, G-Man!

Elmhurst Needs Deduct Meters

News comes today that the City of Elmhurst is pushing ahead with ANOTHER tax increase that will cost those of us in town even more money for the exact same service.   This time it is a 8% increase in the cost of both water AND sewer.  I understand the realities of the revenue/cost situation at City Hall and that the City has said that they can't cut any more (I'm skeptical of that) and they'll (of course) point the finger at others - in this case the DuPage Water Commission - as the real bad guy.  They'll say, "Oh...don't blame us!  The DuPage Water Commission is MAKING us do this!" 

What happened to "The Buck Stops Here"?  Apparently that's not the approach of Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni.  Instead, he's going to jam through another tax increase and not loose any sleep over it.

I think it is time for the City to STOP being disingenuous with the pricing of water and sewer fees - and this could have been the right time for the move.  But…

Day 2: No Raccoon, Yet

The second night of having a baited trap came and went with no raccoon to be found.  Last night was pretty rainy, so perhaps he stayed at home and didn't venture out to take a HUGE dump in my garden.  Alas, per the recommendation of the trapper, I left his latest pile in tact and when I went out to inspect, there wasn't a companion turd from last night.  So, at least that's a positive, right?

In addition to moving the trap and in a further attempt to make the trap more appealing, I cut up an apple into wedges and added that to the sausage wrapped in tin foil, but it (apparently) wasn't enough. 

Per the recommendation of Nat's Aunt, I'm going to up the ante and go with a can of cat food or tuna fish and really try to lure him in tonight.  Those items were both mentioned by the trapper, too, so I'm thinking they may work.  But, do you guys know?  Do I just open the can and take the lid off?  Then put the entire can in the back of the trap?  Or, should I du…

How to Trap A Racoon - Part 1

Last night, the fine folks at Animal Trackers set this trap up in our vegetable garden.  After spying the various piles of turds laying around, the guy said that we definitely had a raccoon living among us - and that he believed he could trap it. 

So, this morning, I went out with a big smirk on my face to see what we had caught. I peered over the vegetable garden fence, I saw.....nothing.  The cage was empty.  Bummer.   To make matters worse, there was another HUGE pile of turds that was spitefully left behind.

I've repositioned the trap and I'll put a few more aromatics in there this evening and HOPE that we catch him tonight.

First Fire of 2011

We had the first fire in our backyard this past weekend - not out of a need to sit out there and relax, but because I have a HUGE stack of wood that is a mess and I wanted to bring some order to the area.  It is still a work in progress, but after burning through the material that was in the box over the winter (Christmas tree branches, yard waste, etc), things are looking better.

We have a weird, evasive animal that is making a home in our yard these past few weeks.  And by "making a home", I mean taking HUGE smelly dumps in weird spots.  I have Animal Control coming over today to set a trap so hopefully we'll be free of whatever it is soon and can go back to enjoying more fires like these!

Asexual Reproduction Is Prohibited By Law

This was attached to one of new Hydrangeas - the (apparently Trademarked) Incrediball Hydrangea.   Strange isn't it?  I haven't seen any warning like this before on anything we've purchased, but maybe grafting of some sort is common for a special variety of flower like these?

The Increciball Hydrangea are billed as having the "enormous" blooms with very sturdy stems (to support said enormous blooms) and grow fast.  We bought 5 gallon container ones - which were on sale at Menards - instead of smaller ones because Nat wanted them to have impact right away.  I always error on the side of cheapness and buy smaller plants hoping that they'll grow into something spectacular over a number of years.  Hopefully these Incrediballs will be the best of both worlds: big blooms this summer with a long, healthy, vibrant life over the next few years.

Jacob's Ladder - Just Planted

Today was a yard day.  After a quick trip to the store to pick up a few plants, both Nat and I got dirt under our fingernails and planted a bunch of different varieties in both our back and front yard.  Out of all the new plants we bought, I think my favorite is something called a Jacob's Ladder. The photo doesn't do them justice - but the leaves are really quite pretty to see and are very delicate. 
We planted two of them near some of our ferns on the north side of our yard right near our deck.  I'm very hopeful that they'll thrive there.  They're called 'part shade' plants, but they flower, so I'm wondering how much sun they actually need.

I'm a Published Photographer

A few months back, I received an email from someone at the McHenry County Visitors Bureau asking me if they could use a photo I took of some corn we bought at the Elmhurst Farmers' Market.  They wanted to highlight Twin Garden Farms in their annual travel magazine but didn't have a photo they could use.  So, they wanted to use the photo I posted on this post about Mirai Corn.  Sure, I said.  Go ahead.  But...can you send me a copy of the magazine when it is done?

Fast forward to this week.  In our mailbox was a copy of the McHenry County Visitors Guide.
And, if you turn to page 12, you'll see the photo of the corn taken with my phone.  No photo credit, but because of this post, I can take credit, eh?  I'll have to update my CV to include "published photojournalist", right? 

Addison Street Development - Downtown Elmhurst

According to this story on the Elmhurst Patch, the Elmhurst City Council is considering a joint public/private partnership with a developer to re-develop part of Addison Street (the east side) from Schiller Court (the little walk-thru alley) north to Second Street (which is where the mechanic's garage is).  I think there is a one-story office building on the south end (next to Shiller Court) then 2 parking lots and the Mechanic's garage.  There used to be a Greek restaurant in there, but they tore it down last year.  The City is considering a retail only version or one with retail AND offices upstairs.  Both options have a garage connected to them - which it seems is a big deal for everyone.  I am partial to the bigger option that has office space - even though it is 20 feet taller.  In this case, I think density is our friend.  Those office jobs help feed the retail component by putting bodies in Downtown during the day which means more revenue opportunities for those stores/…

My Nephew's 5th Birthday Party

It is Birthday Week on the blog it seems.  First, it was Balone's birthday on Monday and now I'll chronicle one of the Babe's cousins' big day.

Yesterday, we were able to stop by my sister's (and Equation Boy/Man's) place for a quick birthday party for her son's 5th Birthday celebration.  This was just some parts of our family who could get together, but it was fun.  The birthday boy is also my Godson so he gets a little bit of extra attention from me!  Happy Birthday, buddy!
He's wearing his Bulls jersey - to mark the occasion.  While the cake looked delicious, I did not have any, unfortunately.  I have a tuxedo I'm trying to fit into in 10 days.

How to: Faux Chocolate Bunnies for Easter

For Easter, I decided to take on a craft project from Martha Stewart that seemed kind of manly.  I chose to make these Faux Chocolate Easter Bunnies.  I ended up making four of them: three as gifts and one to keep for ourselves.  I believe Ms. Martha herself makes different chocolate bunnies each year, so perhaps this will become a tradition.  I suppose I'm only limited by the number of molds I can find.

Martha Stewart's Faux-Chocolate Bunnies

Tools Required:
Easter bunny chocolate molds
Binder clips
Bamboo skewer or other long, slender stick
File, sandpaper, and/or Dremel tool with a sanding attachment
Durham's water putty
Drill with paint mixer attachment, or paint mixing stick
White primer paint
Brown paint (Martha used liquid acrylic -- a mix of burnt sienna, burnt umber, and white)
Clear satin topcoat
Paint in a variety of colors for details
Ribbon and flowers for embellishing

This year, I bought a mold at KHL Molds - per Martha's recomm…

Happy Birthday Balone!

Here's to the only guy I know who still has a Birthday Party at his parents house in the suburbs - my good friend Jason.  I've know Jason for the better than 25 years and he's a pretty a pretty amazing guy.  From his critter days to lots of laughs along the way, I'm proud to call him a friend.  Happy Birthday, Jason!  BTW...Look who got in there right next to the cake (on the right):  the Babe with her Noonie (My mom).  She looks mesmerized by the candles, doesn't she?  (it was past her bedtime, so that may be the reason.)
Although the weather didn't cooperate and there wasn't any Jarts, Whiffle ball nor beanbags, there was a lot of fun.  Thanks for having us, Balone.  Can't wait until next year.

Chicago Tribune Front Page - All Advertisement

It took me at least five minutes to figure out what was going on with the print edition of the Chicago Tribune this morning.  I saw this kid with the pineapple head and read every one of the surrounding blurbs like 3X just to try to figure out why the image was there.
Only then did I realize that it had NOTHING to do with the news, but was an advertisement for Lunchables that became clear when I turned the page.  Kind of a weird monetization strategy for a serious news organization, but - hey - who am I to judge, right?

2 More Flowers: Black-Eyed Susans & Salvia

I went out and picked up more perennials for the backyard at Menards.  They're already in the ground, so I'm hopeful they'll color up this summer.  And...getting a hummingbird or two (as the BES tag claims) would be a nice side benefit, too.

Funny Amazon Video Smile Fail

Last week, Nat and I rented 'Little Fockers' from Amazon Video on Demand.  The local video store in Coloma closed last year and we haven't found a close Redbox (Hello, somebody?  There's an opportunity for you!  Put a Redbox at the Hilltop/Harding's grocery store.) so we turned to Amazon Video on Demand.

Sure, the movie was terrible (we should have know, right?), but to make matters worse, the connection we were on (we were up in Michigan slurping free/slow wifi from our neighbors) was terrible.  The film crapped out at this very moment.  Seriously.  No funny-business in hitting pause or whatever.  Just a smirking Bob De Niro and the Amazon logo.   One heckuva coincidence, eh?

BTW....Blogger is back online?  Sort of?  I guess the post I wrote yesterday about the fence stain disappeared into the ether.

Fence Staining - Interrupted

Yesterday I had everything set up: while Nat was out for the evening, I had the Babe being watched by my Mom.  Earlier this week, I picked up 5 cans of stain that were on sale (thanks for the rebate, Menards!) and was about to get my stain on.   I set up my Wagner Powersprayer with the can/hose attachment and fired away.  One can in, the skies opened and it started to pour out of nowhere.  The forecast said I was going to be fine for 3-4 hours.  Turned out to be 30 to 45 minutes.  I just got 5 panels done (3+ that you can see here to the left side of the photo).

We're using a semi-transparent stain called Cedartone.  At first I didn't love the color, but it is growing on me.  And, looking at it half done/half not done, I actually am starting to love how it looks.   I have four more cans in the garage, but I'm thinking that - based on how far the last can went - I'm going to have to back and buy five more.  At least.

First Asparagus Stalk EVER

I planted an asparagus plant two summers ago and (as planned) this should be the first year of any sort of payoff.  The first two years it was mostly a lace-like plant without any stalks.  The first thin stalk /shoot appeared this morning.
Guess what I'm going to go out and picking up this afternoon?  That's right.  More asparagus plants.  Hope Menards has them.  Two years from now we'll be having a (small) asparagus party.

Aerating our Lawn - 2011

Just like last year, we had our lawn aerated this year.   And, based on the photos alone (go back and check out the shape of our lawn last year), it seems that it is helping.  Our lawn is thicker, fuller, and a bit more lush.  (I'm also now using the Menards brand of the 4-step fertilizer process -which is bound to help.)
This year, I had both the front and back yards 'plugged' and have stepped up my entire lawncare treatment process.  I have a lot of bare spots in the backyard from the various construction jobs last summer and I'm attempting to seed them, but I waited until after the aeration to maximize the effect.

Front Porch Perennials 2011

This year, I picked two early Perennials for the planter box on our front porch.  The two varieties are a Pincushion Flower Scabiosa and an Erysimum Apricot Twist.
I put them in the planter box that we converted from an old "beverage" case that we picked up at the Kane County Flea Market.  Nat has a particular taste in flowers, but as you can tell by the orange choice, she didn't have much to say in this decision.  Fortunately, she's ok with them because (I think) they're kind of on the wild sign.
I am documenting them here because I did the same thing last year - planting two varieties of perennials in the same box, but when late summer arrived and the flowers drooped, Nat yanked them out of the box and stuck them in the ground on the south side of our front porch and we mostly forgot about them.  Fast forward to this spring and one variety (the yellow one) has gone and gotten HUGE.  As a side note, you can *barely* see our Anemone plant just to the right of the b…

Nat's Mother's Day Card 2011

The Babe is clearly an "outside-the-lines" thinker, right?  She colored it all by herself.
Here's to the most wonderful woman in the world.  Hope it is a good day, Nat!

GEM Comics in Elmhurst - No Free Comic Book Day

When I was running errands this morning, I spotted on Twitter a few folks talking about today being Free Comic Book Day - which turns out to be the first Saturday in May every year.  Fortunately for me, there's a place called GEM Comics in Elmhurst which is located just a few doors down from our dry cleaners.  Nat had asked me to stop at the cleaners to pick something up, so I figured I would stop by GEM Comics and pick up the free comic book.
First thing I did when I walked in was ask "Today is Free Comic Book Day, right?" 

The older lady at the counter said, " isn't free for me, so I decided to pass on it." 

Hmmm....out the door I went.  Bummer.  This is the local comic book store in Downtown Elmhurst.  I want a reason to shop there.   I am after a birthday present for my nephew and figured I would find something cool at the store, but when she rained on my parade, I couldn't muster up the attitude to dig through their store. 

I understand tha…

Peonies - Back and Bigger in 2011

Much like last year, I was (apparently unnecessarily) concerned that our peonies would not return this spring.  No need to worry as last week they began to punch through the mulch and have come on very strong.
We're up to five peony plants around the yard - which is one more than my records show.  I can't figure out where the fifth one came from - but perhaps it is a dahlia?  I suppose we'll find out soon!

Google A2 Goes Green

I was in Ann Arbor this week doing some press outreach with the leader of our office and our landlord about our local office's effort to green-up the office and our building.  This is a pretty unique effort in that we have a VERY supportive and forward-looking landlord/partner in McKinley Properties and their CEO Albert Berriz.  Here's a photo I took of Albert and Fulter - a Googler - as they talk with the Detroit Free Press reporter AND photog (very meta, eh?) in front of the new solar panel installation at the Google office.  It is the largest private solar installation in the state of Michigan (I believe...)
The neat part is that *this* project (which includes these panels plus other things like a "live" roof/green roof on another portion of our building, a greenhouse, and a new compost program IS consistent with Google's global approach to these things.  Pretty great to see the implementation at the local level in our regional offices instead of just at HQ in …

Chicago Smelt Fishing 2011

This past weekend, I spent Saturday evening out on Montrose Harbor in our annual tradition of smelt fishing.   This was the 8th year of smelt fishing, but I've only gone 7 times.  I remember writing posts about the outing back in 2005 and 2006, but I can't track them down.  Damn you, Wordpress migration!'s a post from our 2010 outing and one from our 2007 outing.

Organized by my good friends Matt and Jason, a group of us gathered for some sodas, plenty of laughs, peanuts in the shell and (hopefully) a smelt or two.  Like in years past, unfortunately, the smelt weren't running (sure....that's the reason we didn't catch any, right?), but that's not the point of smelt fishing, right?  I got to spend some time with guys like Eric and Rob - which was great to catch up.  And...the peanuts?  I think I've found a permanent addition to the Chicago Smelt tradition.  Peanuts in the shell. 

I arrived late, but it was still not quite dark.  The city …

More Chromercise

Guess who's getting her Chromercise in this morning?  Who knew they'd make such great baby wristbands?!?

One Third of the Way Through 2011

Taking a look at the list of archives on this blog, it seems that we've arrived at the 1/3rd point in the calendar year.  (well...technically, we're just a hair past 1/3rd, but for round numbers, this is as close it we can get, right?)

Has gone fast, hasn't it?  I've done so much this year, but still have so much to get done - especially outside in the backyard. 
On my to-do list:
1.  Stain the fence
2.  Stain the deck
3.  Seed the lawn
4.  Powerwash/re-sand/seal the pavers
5.  Build/assemble playground
6.  Re-establish vegetable garden
7.  Stain/seal raised beds in vegetable garden
8.  Stain the pavilion wood

Chromercise Fingerbands

Now that's how you follow through on an April Fool's Day joke.  These finger bands arrive via first class mail yesterday.