Showing posts from 2012

354 Posts - Not 365 This Year

This post marks the 354th - and final - post of 2012.  That puts me 11 short of my annual goal of 365 posts - one each day.  Not bad, but not the full Monty like the past two years.

Between things at work, the addition of a new family member, a ton of travel (Disney World 2X this year alone!), a heck of a lot of projects and crafts around the house, and plenty of pizza eating and making, things around the Parrillo homestead were busy.

2013 looks to be another great year ahead and I'll be sure to chronicle all of it - in it's glorious minutia - right here on the blog.

Here's to a great 2013. A great wife. Two great daughters. An amazing family. A good job. Even more surprises. And...maybe even another whole year of blogging (almost!).

Christmas Haul: Reclaimed Birdhouse

I don't actually know the craftsman who put this together, but Nat tells me that it is made entirely with reclaimed materials.  I'm thinking that it is going to hold up just fine once it goes outside in the Spring.

Christmas Haul: The Stump

Santa Claus also brought me a bright green Stump.  Sure, they advertise it working with the ipad and iphone, but it works perfectly with my Nexus 7.  Take that, 'made for ipad' sticker.

Craft: Pinecone Elves with the Babe

The Babe and I rounded up a few pinecones from the tree in our alley a few houses down and with a little bit of felt, a wood bead and some pipe cleaners we had ourseves an elf.  The Babe even drew the face herself.  She couldn't have been more proud of herself after this we made these.

Christmas Haul: The Victory Lab

Although I haven't read many books in the past few years, I'm going to give it a go with this new book that my brother-in-law gifted me for Christmas called "The Victory Lab - The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns".  It was on my list, so I'm excited to give it a go.

Snow Maker Set Up

I put the snowmaker up on Christmas Eve, but the temperatures were a few degrees too high to get any accumulation.  Maybe for New Years?

Christmas for the Babe and the Bird

These two ladies had quite the Christmas Day and Eve.  Santa treated them right.

Dollhouse: Done

With the help of Nat, we made it under the Christmas Eve deadline to get the dollhouse.  We left the top floor walls just primed so the Babe can pick out what the wall coverings look like up there herself.

Dollhouse Stairs

With the help of Nat's Dad, we built these dollhouse stairs by slicing a 1x1 in half on a 45 degree angle.   Then I glued them to a thin veneer board.

A little bit of obnoxious pink paint and we have a sweet set of stairs.  For the dollhouse, I had to make two of these - one for front, one for back.

Santa & the Elmhurst Police are Watching

This sign is posted in the big fountain in the Elmhurst City Centre right in the middle of town.  They have quite a few decorations set up and they must not want the hooligans around town messing with them.  I'd say it looked to be quite effective.

Cowboy Cooler - The Other Project

In addition to the dollhouse for the girls, I have been making a rustic cowboy cooler for one of my brother-in-laws for Christmas.  Last year, I made Equation Boy/Man a basketball rack (he had just put in a new hoop) and I had some cedar boards laying around, so this seemed like a nice project.  Today, I put the hinges on top, epoxy'd in the spigot and put on the last coat of polycrilic.  With just 2 more building days to go (Today and Saturday), I have to finish up a few of the last minute details and get this one done under the wire.

Dollhouse Progress - 4 Days To Go

With Christmas just a few days away, the Elves at the Parrillo House have been getting busy trying to finish up some projects.  I've been at this Dollhouse for the Babe for a few weeks and things are finally getting close to completion.  Today, I made the shingles, painted them and tacked them on the roof tonight.  I still have to make a few more for the other side and then fit in the floors.  The walls are built, but waiting for my partner in crime to paper them up with wall paper.

I don't have the stairs figured out, but by Saturday night, we'll have them built, painted and installed.

One Year Later: Sink Cabinet is Finished

We 'finished' up the basement project last year before Christmas, but it took until today for me to finish painting the cabinet and re-attaching the cabinet front for the cabinet on the right.  That side has a little bar sink in the cabinet, so I cut the front off of the drawer and had a big hole on that side for 12 months.

I was using trim paint to cover the dollhouse, so while I had the brush out, I figured I'd paint the cabinets.  Then, the compressor was down in the basement for the dollhouse project, too, so...what the heck.  Let's finish this thing.

Dollhouse Progress - 6 Days To Go

The frame is built, the floor boards are dry fitted and the glue is drying.  Off to the paint shop next, then on to walls and roof.  Just eight building days to go....going to be tight.

DIY Snowmakersnow

The forecast for later this week calls for snow followed by very cold weather.  I know I'm hoping that the snow doesn't actually come, but that we get that brutal cold weather.  Why's that?  Because holding in my hand up there is a DIY snow machine.  Add a pressure washer and compressor and we'll (hopefully) have some snow!

The Parrillos will be having a white Christmas...

Dollhouse Progress - 8 Days To Go

I put together both sides of the house using pocket screws.  This was my first project with pocket screws and the jig worked perfectly.  Really liking how they look and how strong they are.

Baby Homeless Baby

This baby belongs to one of my nieces.  She's like 10+ years old and looks like she's homeless.  My sister tells me that they've tried to scrub it with various products and nothing takes the  - what they call - "love" - and what I call "soot" - off her face and hands.

NIU Huskies: "We Look Good in Orange"

If the fact that the NIU Huskies from the Mid American Conference were playing in a BCS game while my Illini were at home licking their wounds wasn't bad enough, now the NIU athletic department is taking direct shots at us with a full page ad in the Sun-Times.  "We look good in orange"?  Really?  I know that's a line about the Orange Bowl they're set to play in, but they're also rubbing it in a bit, right?

Dollhouse Build - Day Two

I got both end pieces framed up and built on the Babe's dollhouse.  I used poplar boards because they were straight as an arrow and after building the two frames, I'm glad I did.  They were easy to square up and with the help of the Kreg Pocket Screw Jig, they were easy to drill together without splitting.

Stowaway on the Mantleburg Line

The Babe added this guy to the end of her log-rolling car on the ole' Mantleburg line in the basement.  I think we'll let him rid along for a while.

Google Cafe 312 Open for Business

Yesterday, we held a ribbon cutting for our new cafe at the office featuring our Alderman Brendan Reilly and the office leadership.  Here's my shot from 'behind' the ribbon.

Here's a nice story about what the new cafe space means for both Google and for the local food scene.

Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic

On Saturday, we went to the Brookfield Zoo 'Holiday Magic' - along with thousands of our closest friends.  We're members, so Nat and the girls go pretty regularly and she's never seen the parking lot as full as it was two nights ago.

The lights were great and the star of the show is the music-sync'd Christmas tree display around the center pond/lagoon.  They have 100ish trees lit up that rock-and-roll with the music.  And fortunately, it isn't all Manheim Steamroller.

A disappointment, however, was the animals.  Most of them weren't around or they were inside and we couldn't go in to see them.  The big cats, however were on the prowl, so that was kind of neat.  Every other time we go see the lions and tigers and other cats, they just lay around on the rocks and yawn.  We saw one stalk something - which, I think, ended up just being a shadow - but it was neat to see.

If you're taking your kids, make sure you bundle up and bring some light-up toys f…

Christmas Pyramid Cake Fan Assembly Arrived

Look what arrived via the mailman yesterday?  My fan assembly for our Christmas Pyramid.  Yep...that means we have another project we have to tackle in the next two weeks to get ready for the big day.  I'm thinking I'm going to bring this thing to my mom's house for the big fest on the Eve.

Another Christmas miracle!

Beads for the Christmas Pyramid

Using my handy drying board, I was able to put a few coats of red paint on these eight beads that will adorn our Chistmas Pyramid.  Just waiting for the fan assembly, rod and bearing cup to arrive to give it a test run.

DIY Candle Lamps - Installed

I finished the eight candle lamps over the weekend and put them up on the steps to the house.  They didn't stay in this position for very long and have moved up to be by the front door for the time being.

I put flicker bulbs in them and at night they provide a nice orange-ish contrast to the little white traditional lights that we have up on other parts of our house.

Parrillo Family Photo @ Renegade Craft Fair - Holiday 2012

Nothing more to say this year about our annual visit to Renegade except for:  parking sucks.  The place is way too packed, and what the Tribune said yesterday.

We, did, however take our annual family photo.  The Bird made it in there!

Here's our Renegade photo from Holiday 2011.
Here's our Renegade photo from summer 2011.
Here's our Renegade photo from Holiday 2010.
Here's our Renegade photo from Holiday 2009.

Train Table Set up in Basement - 2012

With the help of my brother-in-law Bill, I got my train table up and running last week.  It is 5' X 9' and has a layout that is called "Round-n-Round the X-mas Tree".  The Babe has had quite a lot of fun running the train around the track most days.

My dad always put out his Lionel train during Christmastime when I was a kid and he gave me this set a few years back when the Babe was born.  Although it takes up a lot of space, I really like having it set up for the holidays and will (hopefully) be putting it back up in the years to come.

Choir Boys Vintage Planter - Vintage Christmas Fair 2012

These two guys were the final pieces we picked up at the Vintage Christmas Fair.  They look great next to the Spaghetti Trim Santas and the little Christmas Tree girl.

This piece has a couple of holes on the back and a large container, so I'm assuming it was a wall planter of some sort.  Will we be mounting them on the wall?  Not likely.  I think Nat will stuff them full of candy canes and they'll find a spot on top of the piano next to our other choir boys.

*More* of Elmhurst Now on Google StreetView

For the past few years, you could go on Google Maps and see a few spots around town - mostly on North Avenue.  But, this week, data from early October has been added to StreetView and now our block - and plenty of places across town - is able to be viewed.

Pretty great stuff for us as residents but also a great economic development tool.  Our City Centre is now on web for all to see.  From anywhere in the world!

You can navigate around in the map below to go up and down our block.  So far, I haven't found anything too terribly interesting, but based on what is up on the marquee on the York Threatre (Liev Shreiber's birthday), the StreetView car came through town on October 4th.  Less than two months later, the footage is usable.  (and...our scarecrows are captured for all to see!)

(If you're reading this in your email and can't see the map below, click here to see it on the site).

View Larger Map

Vintage Rotating Tinsel Christmas Tree - It Works!

Earlier this summer, I picked up this vintage Christmas Tree Turner from my folks house as they were cleaning out their attic.  I knew we had this four-foot tinsel tree that we set up every year and figured it was going to be perfect use for the turner.

I knew that it turns with no tree in it, but this is a 30+ year old motor.  Would it turn with a tree in the base?  You bet it would!

(If you're reading this in your email and can't see the video below, you should click here to view the video on the site.)

Poplar, Not Popular Hobby Boards

These aren't the hottest selling items, guys....

DIY Outdoor Candle Lamps

Last night, I finished up the first - of eight - diy outdoor candle lamps.  The inspiration and design came from Mrs. Martha Stewart, of course.

That's a two-footer there in the photo and I have four of those along with four three-footers.

I used 2" PVC pipe along with a 1.5" galvanized flange (the foot) and a 6" 1.5" (diameter) nipple to give it some stability.  The light is a simple IKEA Hemma fixture.

I primed the pvc with plastic primer than sprayed the pipe green.  Due to the low temperatures and the fact that our detached garage isn't super warm right now, it took quite a while to cure.  I brought them inside and within a few hours the paint had set up.

Once that happened, I whipped out the hot glue gun and drizzled big globs of glue down the sides to replicate some faux candle wax which I painted white.  I topped it with a flickering bulb and it turned out great!

I have the other seven to hot glue/paint white then to make a platform for them.  I…

Elmhurst 3rd Ward Alderman - Petitions for Ballot Access

The City of Elmhurst has an important election coming up on April 9, 2013.  In addition to electing a new Mayor (our Mayor won a seat on the County Board and is resigning from the City post in December), we're also going to be electing Alderman across all 7 Wards, City Clerk and the City Treasurer.

After hearing from residents and neighbors as well as talking with my wife, I've begun weighing the decision to get back involved in local government.   Last week, I went to City Hall and picked up a packet and have begun to circulate the petitions to 3rd Ward residents.

I've long believed in "Citizen-Government" where individuals from every walk of life stand up to serve our government - at all levels - for a period of time, upon which they go back to their chose professions.  The idea of a career politician was never considered by the founders of our country.  I've served as a Trustee in the Village of Frankfort for six years and on the Frankfort Park District…

Black Friday @ Target (Actually Thursday Night)

Nat and I braved the (nice/warm/pleasant?) temperatures to try to capture some of the deals at Target on Thanksgiving night ahead of Black Friday.  Here's a photo of the line wrapping around the Target building that must be 400-500 people long.  We got what we came for - toys - but based on the number of tvs that were laying around, I'm thinking the electronics weren't moving as fast as they have in years past.

Christmas Tree Farm Trip - 2012

We packed up the whole clan and made our annual pilgrimage to Wilmington to chop down a few trees  to put up in our living rooms.  This year, we brought The Bird for the first time.  If you know where we post the family blog posts about the girls, you can see even more photos of the trip over there!

This is one of my favorite family traditions and really kicks off the holiday season in a big way for the Parrillos.

Beaujos Colorado Style Pizza - Idaho Springs

Did I ever tell you guys about how we went to the Colorado-pizza-touchstone Beaujo's?  This location was in this really cute mountain town called Idaho Springs.  Did we go in?  Nope.  We went to a different location that was closer to Nat's sister's house.  I'll do a full review of the pies in a future post.

The Last Waltz - Required Thanksgiving Viewing - 2012

Since 2004 (and likely before, but 2004 on the web), I've been recommending a viewing of The Last Waltz as a way to give thanks on Thanksgiving.  With kids - and a Turkey Trot - my time to sit down and watch the whole thing has been diminished, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be breaking bread with Levon, Rick, Garth, Robbie and Richard.

Here's my post from 2011 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2010 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2007 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2005 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2004 on The Last Waltz.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Spaghetti Trim Santa and His Sleigh

In addition to the sweet little Christmas girl, we also bought this Santa and Sleigh for the deal of the day at this year's Vintage Christmas Antique Fair.  This has spaghetti trim like the Santas we bought last year.

Christmas Girl - Vintage Christmas Fair Find

We picked up this little sweetheart at our annual trip to the Vintage Christmas Fair this past weekend.

She looks A LOT like the one we bought at the Coloma Antique Market in early January of this year.

Breckinridge Brewery Christmas Ale - Mini Keg

Nat picked up this 1.32 gallon mini keg at Standard Market right before Thanksgiving.  It's from Breckenridge Brewery - which is surprisingly in Denver.  I think Nat's sister and her husband are big fans of this place.

The purchase wasn't really for us - but for Nat's two brothers who go all-in for various holiday/Christmas beers this time of year.  In fact, they brewed their own (once again) that should be ready at next Christmastime.  They'll be cracking open bottles of last year's brew in mid-December.

Benet vs. Lincoln-Way East in 7A Semi-Finals - 2012

Last night, Nat and I dropped the girls off at her folks house and (after Vest Fest) went to Benedictine University to see the IHSA Class 7A Football Semifinals between the Benet Academy Redwings and the Lincoln-Way East Griffins.

Nat is a *very* proud Benet Alum.  And, I went to Lincoln-Way.  Long story, but I consider myself a "Lincoln-Way Central Knight", but I went to school at Lincoln-Way East for 2 years (fresh/soph) and Central for 2 years (junior/senior).  They had both campuses built when I was a student there, but there was *just* one school - called Lincoln-Way.

So, it is with mixed-emotions that I root for the Griffins.  While in my heart, I'm a Knight (graduated from the Central building, played football on the field at Central and have my photo up on the wall at Central), I have some connection to East.

And...those of you who follow high school football know that while Central hasn't made a lot of hay in the past decade or so, East has emerged as a pe…

What good tavern doesn't have a beer maid?

Mantleburg's population grew by 1 today as the recently added tavern enlisted this fine lady to serve frosty brews to the folks who stop by.

Lemax Menards Saw Mill

This mill looks like it fits in really well with the mountain/resort side of Mantleburg, doesn't it?  Menards slapped their name on it this year, so for everyone else but me, that probably is a turn-off.

Walgreens in the Christmas Village Game

I was in Walgreens over the weekend when I spotted these four Christmas Village buildings for sale.  They're priced pretty aggressively, but I'm not sure Mantleburg needs a slum.

Lemax Caribou Hotel & Saloon

With all the tourism that the Carousel is going to bring, one would think that Mantleburg could support a hotel.  We'll just have to see what Mayor Johnson decides.

Lemax Kris' Tree Farm

This year, Lemax came out with another tree lot.  Last year it was Frosty's.  This year it is Kris' - and it's more of a "tree farm" than lot.

I'm thinking that there isn't enough action in Mantleburg to warrant competing tree businesses.  Poor old Frosty would starve, right?

Don't Go Backwards, ILGOP...

The Chicago Sun-Times called it a “bloodbath”. The Chicago Tribune described the Illinois Republican Party as being in a “gloom”. Whatever you call it, if you are a Republican in Illinois you can’t be pleased with the outcomes of the 2012 election. Worse, without action, the trend will only get worse and Republicans will soon become an extinct species in Illinois.

In a post-mortem piece in Crain's, a GOP operative said:
"The Republican party has to take a hard look at who are the new people who turned out in this election, and who else is out there? If we don't, this will become Massachusetts for a generation." Christine Dudley, a GOP consultant and former executive director of the state party in its mid-1990s heyday, said the real problem is that "our party is driven by 25- to 40-year-old men sitting at a computer and looking at data who are driven to win, (but have) no real knowledge of the real world." Really?  We should dump a data-driven approach?  Ju…

Mantleburg Gets a Tavern?

The folks in Mantleburg are set for a Merry Christmas as we've now seen the building permits come across for the Haypenny Tavern.  The economy took a tool on the community last year, but 2012 looks like their will be growth for Mantleburg.

First Time in the Garage Since Spring

I spent a good part of Saturday, straightening out our garage.  Back a few years ago, we built a 3 car garage that has - for the better part of the last year - housed 1 car.  And a lot of bikes and toys and wagons, and trikes.  My car has been sitting in the driveway all summer long,  but last week when I was getting up early to go to Cardio Tennis, my windshield had a thin layer of frost across the whole thing.  Winter was, indeed, near.

So I dec-luttered and put a lot of our stuff up in the rafters to make room and after a few hours, I was able to drive my car into the space.  And there's plenty of room for Nat's big grocery wagon.  A win for everybody - but mostly me!  Just in time for the cold front that is set to arrive this week.