Showing posts from October, 2011

Noonie's Halloween Party - 2011

In typical fashion, my mom threw a great Halloween party in Frankfort over the weekend.  Here's all the grandkids - plus a few great-nieces/nephews - all dressed up in costume.  The Babe got a good seat right on Papa's lap.

Basement Framing - Starting to Go Up

The basement walls are starting to take shape.  Lots of dust in the air, so the photo is a bit blurry, but on the left is going to be a fridge and bar area.  On the right is a closet and a bathroom.  Electric is going to go up this week, plumbing at the end of the week, followed (quickly) by drywall next week!

Basement - View of the main room

The main room ends up being 18' X 24' with just one post down the middle.  Going to be a fun rumpus room for me and a perfect playroom for the Babe.

#gplushalloween 2011

Not the best attempt, but a good first round.  More here.

Lemax Christmas Frosty's Christmas Tree Lot

After a quick glance, it appears that the winner this year from Lemax is this Frosty's Christmas tree lot table piece.  It isn't lighted, but it is the cutest one.

Indiana Street House Knocked Down

Back in August, I speculated that the house a few doors to the south of ours was going to get torn down - based on the fence that someone put up.  We woke up this morning to the sound of heavy equipment.  Guess today was the day that the house was coming down.  The machine made quick work of the house.
With the housing market still not that hot, the builder must have a buyer for the new house, right?

Lemax Christmas Yulesteiner Brewery Building - 2011

Of all the Lemax Christmas Village buildings that spoke to me at Menards, this Brewery building was one of the standouts.  There's a ton of things going on - with movement, lights, and sound so it is a fun piece.  I didn't look to see what it was priced at, but if it goes on red-tag sale, I'll try to scoop one up.  What's not to like?  Giant beer stein?  Big pipe and gnomes?  Yes, please.

Basement A/V Buildout Idea

Thanks to my brother-in-law* Bill, I now have a plan for hiding our water meter, our electric ground and house some A/V equipment in the corner of our basement.  I asked him to help me conceptualize what something could look like and he whipped up this beautiful rendering.

Pay no attention to the scrap paper he used - but focus on the drawing.  The bookshelves on the right have 'rails' that run from floor to ceiling that 'contain' the pipes.  Pretty clever design.

Herb Alpert - My *other* Guilty Pleasure

I was driving home from Kalamazoo on Friday evening when I got burned out of Howard Stern replays.  I was driving my own car, so I had my original Sirius player with me.  With Stern only doing 3 days a week, by the time Friday rolls around, I've likely heard *most* of the bits/segments, so if I'm in the car, it is either tie for sports radio or a spin around the Sirius dial.

One of my stops is Channel 31 - the Coffeehouse.  I heard this song from Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass and *had* to take a photo of the display so I could remember the name of the song.

After my love of Christmas Village buildings, this might be my second-most-embarrassing guilty pleasure.    Here's an AMAZING live effort from Herb and the boys.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Joins Google Event via Google+ Hangout

Pretty neat to be a part of the "first-ever" Google+ Hangout featuring a sitting Governor - in this case Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.  We had him on yesterday at our event in Kalamazoo, Michigan at our event for small businesses.   I think you'll likely see more of these types of uses at Google events - and could be a really neat use for politics.  What would the Iowa Caucuses look like with house parties and hangouts?  Could be interesting!

Menards Lemax Christmas Village Set Up - 2011

They've gone ahead and set up the Lemax Christmas Village at Menards.  Yes...I'm still starry-eyed by these things.  And...yes, I'm still embarrassed to say that I'm into them.  The Babe liked them too.  There's a set of these things that are Mickey Mouse-themed, so that got her to chime in with some "Micky!" and points and grunts.  There are a bunch of structures - from all of the various collections that I'll post in the coming days/weeks.  We spent a lot of time in front of the display over the weekend as it is really big.  With the Halloween stuff still taking up prime real estate in the store, the display is in a different spot this year.

So...did I buy anything?  Nope.  Not yet at least.  My (personal) rule is that I can't/won't buy anything that isn't on sale.  We'll see if my impluse resistance will stick through December 15th - when these type of things go on sale.

12th OGB Post: It’s a beautiful day for some baseball...searches, that is

My sixth sports-related OGB Post went up about 20 minutes before the first pitch of the 2011 World Series and includes a bunch of baseball search-related trends.  The most interesting?  The rally squirrel.

I couldn't be less interested in the series with the Rangers and the Cards.  At least I can root for the Cards because so many Cubs fans will be bummed out if they win.

Here are the live links to all twelve of my posts on the Official Google Blog:
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)  Searching for the 2010 Stanley Cup (6/2/10)  Celebrating 10 Years in Chicago (12/16/10)  Auto Industry off to a Fast Start in Motown (1/14/11)It's Googler v. Googler this weekend as the Packer and Steelers face off (2/3/11)Searching for a Cinderella Story (3/31/11)If the Green Jacket Fits (4/7/11)The Taxman Searcheth (4/17/11) It's a Sla…

Elmhurst Bleeding Heart Bakery Coming Along

First reported back in July, one of Chicago's top indie bakeries - Bleeding Heart Bakery - is opening up an outpost right in Downtown Elmhurst.  It has been more than two months of build-out but by the look of things, they're close to opening shop.
The coffee machine, counters and bakery cases are all in.  And the light fixtures?  So clever.  They're big industrial wisks from a huge electric mixer.  We'll be there as soon as they open for some cupcakes. I bet the other cupcake shop in town is loving the delay.

Cinderella Pumpkins - 2011

I yanked these pumpkins out of our garden early yesterday morning.  They aren't HUGE - about the diameter of  basketball, so I would have preferred to left them to grow a bit longer.  Unfortunately, the calendar dictates that if we're going to enjoy them out on our front porch, the time had come to cut them off the vine.

The neat part of these is that last year, Nat bought one of these pumpkins from Trader Joe's and right before we chucked it in our compost bin, I scooped out some of the seeds, dried them out and saved them for the spring.  Not all of the plants worked out but with this outcome, the effort was worth it.

Those other Jack-be-Littles on the right side of the picture are all compost orphans:  they just popped up based on the seeds we threw in the compost bin last fall.

The Babe @ Memorial Stadium - 2011

The Babe really loved the turf but was spooked a bit by all the people and commotion at the Illini game this past weekend.

She wasn't the only one who had a great time!

Memorial Stadium - Illini Stripe the Stadium

On Saturday Nat and I took my folks and the Babe to the Illini game.  At half-time, they shot this 'fancam' photo that is ultra-high-resolution and built an application on that allows you to 'tag' yourself.  Of course, i couldn't help myself and I tagged my face.  That's me with the "I" right over my face.  You can make Nat out behind the kid with his hand up.  My folks must have been sitting down with the Babe, I guess.

Varsity "I" Weekend - 2011

This afternoon, the University of Illinois Athletic Department hosted Varsity "I" weekend, where they invite back all the former-athletes to campus for a series of festivities.  They bring us down on the field before the game which is always fun, but this year they made our passes/lanyards a little bit more special by including a photo of everyone from their playing days.   My dad and the Babe both came down on the field with me and we snapped a bunch of photos.  I'll share those later.

Yes!  That's me up there in the photo during (I think) my sophomore season posing for my personal photo right after the team photos.  Look at those uniforms - no stripes on the pants.  That was all the rage during the 90's.

Martha Stewart Gold Owl Ornaments

Nothing says Christmas like 6 shatter-proof (read plastic) golden owl ornaments from my gal Martha Stewart, right?  I'm a bit ashamed that I actually like these a bit.  If they weren't plastic, they likely would have ended up in my cart at Home Depot last week.

Gene & Jude's Hotdogs

Nat, the Babe and myself made our way to Gene & Jude's.  ( it Gene's & Jude's?  See the photo below.)  Having "America's Best Hotdog" just 14 miles from our house and never eating one is a great point of embarrassment for me.  When we arrived, the parking lot was half-full and the line moved pretty fast.  

They serve "Depression Dogs" that are dressed with just mustard, onions, relish, sport peppers and french fries.  I'll be honest?  The only thing I missed was the pickle spear (and maybe the Celery Salt), so not having the cukes or tomatoes didn't bother me one bit.
It was a delicious dog.  And a neat place.  This seems to be a place that we can take out-of-towners and give them a feel for what a real stand is like.  Can't wait to go back.

Scarecrows 2011 (Details on the New Addition)

Yesterday, I posted a close-up of the scarecrows.

I had help this year from the Babe (see here there straightening out the legs) so we got ambitious and built a third scarecrow to represent our family.  She loved taking the zip ties and was modeling my behavior of attaching the scarecrows to the posts.  She couldn't quite manage the ties, but was mostly sticking them in little crevices that she could find.  Pretty cute.

Here's a photo of what they looked like in 2010.  Looks like the husband and wife scarecrow swapped places this year.

Scarecrows Have Arrived - 2011

Here's a close-up of the new visitors to our front lawn.  Here's the same guys who were around last year.

Looks like there's someone new, eh?

Calling all Google Politics Trendspotters

Love data?  Love politics?  Then we have a fun contest for you.  Help us spot trends in our tools around the 2012 race(s) and we'll highlight them.  You could even win something from the Google Politics and Elections team.

You can read more here on the new Google Politics & Elections blog.

Or....drop in a trend in this form below:


Labriola's Bakery and Cafe - Skip the Burger, Try the Gelato

Nat and I have been to Labriola's Bakery and Cafe in Oak Brook on quite a few occasions.  They're known for their burgers (I think the Tribune said it was one of the best in town), and I typically get the wood-fired pizza.  But on our latest trip there, I discovered something new:  their gelato.  It is kind of tucked away in the reception area and because of where the cash registers are, it isn't super easy to order, but it is worth the hassle.

We ordered two kinds:  lemon and a combo of Chocolate/Peanut Butter.

I (obviously!) picked the choc/pb combo and while Nat and the Babe shared the lemon, I think I hossed the entire container of choc/pb myself.

I'm not sure I'll order the burger again, but I do know that I'll be waiting online to get the gelato.

Katy Bar the Door: Michael's Has Lemax Christmas Villages (already)

If you were around last Christmas, you know that I somehow got hooked on Lemax Christmas Villages. is embarrassing.  Yes, I know.

That's why it was so hard to just walk by the huge display of Lemax stuff at Michael's this week.  Look at all that stuff.  And, there's some "exclusives" that Michael's is marketing.  I can't rationalize why I want these things, but my brain has a blip in it apparently.

If I let myself go crazy, I think you could probably point to this 'hobby' as the reason for why Nat would ask me to move out.

Thankfully, I've shown tremendous restraint thus far.

World War 1 Memorial - St. Joseph's Michigan Bluff

All along the bluff are a series of Memorials to various wars from WW1 through Vietnam.  The most stirring one - and (in my opinion) well done - is this WW1 Doughboy that sits atop this mound with boulders scattered around.

I've walked around on the bluff many times, but it wasn't until this morning that I noticed them all in a line.

Basement Waterproofing

A huge hurdle has been lept over:  our basement is bone dry now thanks to getting it waterproofed.

Vintage Snowball Throwing Figures - Estate Sale Find

Yesterday, I showed off just one of my two Christmas-related buys at this Estate Sale in our neighborhood.  The vintage Santa and Mrs. Claus rocking-chairs were a hit with Nat.  And so was this set of figures who are getting ready to lob some snowballs.
They were $2.50 for the pair and the box was in great shape.  The neatest part?  The bottom is stamped with "Japan" and NOT as we'd see today:  China.

Vintage Santa and Mrs. Claus Rocking Chair Ornaments

Got them for 'half-off' at an estate sale recently.  They're pretty cute, but I took a gamble that Nat would dig them because I was there alone.  At 2 for $0.25, I couldn't go wrong.

They'll look fun up on top of our piano this holiday season, won't they?

New Halloween Decor Part 1- 2011

Last November, I scouted some after-the-fact Halloween decor sales and came up with a few nice treasures.  I've decided that if I am diligent and buy things that didn't sell after the holiday(s) and I pack them away with the rest of the holiday-themed things, when we unpack the following years, we get a few surprises from things that I forgot we bought.  So, in a sense, it feels like we have some brand-new things!

This bird, came from the Martha Stewart Collection from 2010 and I forgot that I bought it for Nat.  He's taken a great spot on our mantle and will stand guard throughout the Halloween season.

The Fox Wedding

There isn't a wedding quite like a Moran wedding.  And last week, my sister-in-law Elise's wedding was a spectacular event and a success for the Moran family.  More planning went into this party than for a Gubernatorial Inauguration - and you could tell.  As the day and evening went on flawlessly.

And....the bride and groom?  So happy and so lovely looking.  They're destined for great things together as they walk paw-in-paw in life.  (Get it?  They're Foxes!)

BTW....see that cake topper?  Brother-in-law Bill (he's not quite that, but I suppose that's the easiest way to describe him.  He's NOW married to my sister-in-law, so that makes him my "sister-in-law's husband"?  Sounds crazy.  I'm going with Brother-in-law.) carved that himself.  Yes.  Out of wood.

You could say he's talented.  Just a bit.

Harvest - October 2011

Pumpkins, gourds, and even some cauliflower have just come in.  I planted the pumpkins and gourds right next to other things like tomatoes, so I never fertilized them with anything but an organic fertilizer.  Thus, they never got to be 'competition size'.  Next year?  I'll move them far away and try to hit them with some sort of boost.