Showing posts from January, 2012

Pagliacci Crushed Tomatoes

Over the weekend I had plans to make some Detroit-style pizza so we went out to Angelo Caputo's to pick up a ingredients.  After putting 5 cans of 6-in-1's, I spotted these Pagliacci cans and couldn't pass them up.   Between the cute can (great colors that don't totally come through in my ratty photo) and the Seinfeld (Crazy Joe Davola!) connection, I had to give them a try.

I didn't have enough energy to make 2 pies (nor the audience to eat them), so ended up not using these just yet.  They'll have their chance this coming weekend.  I'll report back if they topple my 6-in-1's and these end up being my tomatoes of choice.

New Illini Football Uniforms?

Yes, please.

This photo - sent to me by Equation Boy/Man and spotted on the Illinois Loyalty Forums - sure makes it seem like the days of the ILLINOIS helmets are gone.  The entire thread has discussion of the alleged changes including the incorporation of the "zig-zag" trim elements that are already in place on the hoops jerseys.  I welcome these new changes including what appears to be a Pro-Combat matte Navy Blue helmet.

The arched "Illini" is the same font/look that's currently on the hoops jerseys, which makes me think that this is a done deal.   And brings the program back to something close to what we had on our helmets from 1971 - 1987.  Check out the Helmet Project (scroll down to Illinois since there is no permalink) to see the Illinois helmet changes.

The changes will be endless...  The endzones.  The letterhead for the department.  The logo on the floor of the locker room.  (or is it the "Lockerroom"?)

Can't wait to see what else C…

You Too, Caputo's?

Even my favorite grocery store has fallen prey to the lure of labeling their goods "homemade".

I sure hope these weren't made in some dude who works in the deli's home.  I'd much rather enjoy them knowing they were created in the clean, bright, food-service-approved in-house kitchen on premises.

Housemade Bocconcini, please.

First Softball Mitt

On a trip to Menards this morning, we came across this softball mitt and between the Babe's delight and the rock-bottom price, we couldn't leave the store without it in hand.

Sure, I'd prefer a less gender-specific color, but the upside is that we're now one step closer to the day when the Babe asks me to take her out in the backyard and have a catch.  Now, that'll be the day.  Can't wait!

Gold Max? Really, Elmhurst? Really?!?

A few months back Cottage Hill Diamonds moved across York Street to a new location leaving their old spot open.  And...we got Gold Max!  Yippee!  Huh.....I'm guessing I'm not the only one who didn't envision a 'Cash-for-Gold' joint moving in as the best retail tenant we could get in Downtown Elmhurst.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a free market guy most of the time, but when it comes to economic development, I'm open to some government involvement.  With space so precious and the environment teetering on success/failure, getting prime tenants into the open storefronts is critical.  The question of whether having this space vacant is better than this GoldMax place is - in my mind a valid one worthy of discussion.   As of now, I'm of the opinion that I'd rather have vacant spots than more salons, consignment shops, and new-fangled pawnshops.  The hit we take for having vacancies is better than the hit we take on our reputation.

Bigger Bin for Roomba

With all those new floors in the basement, it was time to upgrade the collection bin for our Roomba.  We have a 500-series model that allows for programable use.  That means that we can tell it to go out and work at a set time each day and then come back to it's base to recharge.  The only issue is that with the normal-sized bin, the robot would fill up in a week(ish).  Cheerios, goldfish crackers, dust, dog hair and the like all add up fast.

With this new "AeroVac Upgrade Kit", not only do we get a much larger bin, I've seen some improvement in performance.  The rollers are new and there's (apparently) better air-flow due to the new shaped/sized filters.  I haven't figured out exactly how long the new bin can go (because I check it too often and thus empty it before it gets full), but in time we'll know the full results.

Basement Trim Finished. Finally

We finally finished installing all of the trim in the basement - including these baseboards in the bathroom.  Still plenty of work to do including most of the caulking and painting, but at least the construction phase of the space has concluded.

There are (obviously) a few more touches like shower doors to finalize, so we'll get those things sorted soon.  Funny how projects like this go like nuts for weeks/months, but as soon as it is "good enough" to occupy, everything slows down.  Once we moved in and unpacked the toys it seems like I forgot that I had all this extra work to do.  At least with caulk and paint, I can do it in batches with one section at a time.   With Spring right around the corner, I have just a few months to get this done or else my attention will wander to the garden and backyard.  Time to focus.

Bruce Weber Thank You Note

After the big Illini win over the Ohio State Buckeyes a few weeks ago, I sent Coach Bruce Weber a congratulatory note in the mail.  I've been a big Weber supporter since day one and was pleased that with the win, he had the team headed in the right direction.  And some of the "Fire Weber" folks would calm down.

He sent me back an email note that includes his photo - which was kinda weird.  Guessing that this is what they must use to send out notes to recruits and the like?  He ( least his secretary) actually read my note because he referenced it in his response, which I suppose is nice.

Unfortunately, the last 2 games since the note arrived (both losses) didn't turn out as Coach Weber had hoped.   There's been just as many 'downs' as there have been 'ups' this season.  If not more.

Such is the life of an Illini fan.

151 N. York Street, Elmhurst

On my 'downtown building' walk last week, I found myself of the east side of York and took some time to peek in this building at 151 N. York.  Here is the real estate listing from Inland.   It has been vacant for a while as there was (I think?) a salon of some sort that occupied the storefront most recently.   It is in MUCH better shape - and a better location - than the neat building I saw at 126 N. Addison Street last week.

This is right in the heart of our downtown ( they like to call it: "City Center") directly across the street from the York Theatre.  It has 2 large front sets of windows that have been totally underutilized by the previous tenants.

For a sense of where this is, see the rendering below.  The location in question is #15 space here on the drawing below.  Right between the Chase Bank and BW3.  For a salon, it is HUGE - and based on the size of BW3, it may be sized properly for a sit-down restaurant.

Sit down restaurant?  Or big retail shop…

Great Snowman Weather

Thanks to the Babe's Uncle Bill and Granddad, we have (for now at least) a pretty cute snowman friend out in our front yard.  They even made him 2-faced, so we could see him from the comfort of our front room.

With the temps rising and a little bit of rain coming down, the conditions couldn't be more perfect for snowman-making, or as we called it as kids:  "packing snow".

Snowy Back Porch

Last night the snow came in and piled up to the tune of almost 8 inches.  Half way through the storm, I went to let Maisy out the back door when we came across this snow-art on our back deck.  The snow was so fine and light that it was spilling through the cracks in the deck boards.

Bieber Birthday Cake (Wreck?)

I spotted this cake at the local Jewel (when I was snooping around for one of those free day-old cookies that they often have out for you to take) and while the decorating is more than adequate, I'm going to rule that due to the HUGE Justin Bieber keychain of some sort this qualifies as a CakeWreck.  What happened to sugar flowers?  First came the kids getting cell phones.  Now they're skipping over the sugar flowers on their birthday cakes?  Get off of my lawn!  (Sorry...old man Parrillo came out there a bit.)

Anyway....What's the tween going to do with that enormous keychain?  I guess an 11 year old doesn't really have that many keys, so perhaps this straps on one's backpack?

Back Yard Rink - Down the Block

My sister and brother-in-law (Equation Boy/Man) installed a backyard rink this season and with the recent snow and temperature drop it is finally time to get out and enjoy it.  It is pretty impressive and their kids are having a great time almost every night.  My sister has been very generous in inviting just about the entire neighborhood down for a skate and lots of kids have enjoyed their hard work.

Recently, I took the Babe down there to check it out and get up on the ice.   She's not quite skating, but with her new snow boots on, she had a lot of fun stomping around with her cousins.  And falling down.

I, on the other hand, took to the ice (in my new skates - Thanks, Nat!)  to dominate with my stick handling, dekes, and one-timers.  It wasn't easy.  Just look at the competition!

126 N. Addison Street, Elmhurst - Rehab Work Started

Over the weekend, while I was out on a walk, I noticed that one of my favorite buildings in downtown Elmhurst - at 126 N. Addison Street - appeared to have some rehab work begun on it.  It is a gorgeous building with an interesting facade that is made of brick, has some neat iron elements and that great looking green tile roof.  It is on the west side of Addison Street directly across the street from where the huge new Addison Street Development is planned.  (If you don't remember what that massive structure is planned to look like, go read this old post again.)   The last tenant (based on the signage) appears to be a photography studio that offered framing services.  The age of the sign indicates that they were there quite some time ago!  Here's what it looks like from the sidewalk.

There appears to be an apartment or two up stairs of this retail space on the street level.  You can see a good front-facing photo of the building here on Google Streetview.

The sign in the wind…

Google 'Good To Know' Ads

If you opened up that copy of the Chicago Tribune that landed on your driveway this morning you likely saw the big ad from the good folks at Google touting the new program called:  Good to Know.  Here's how it looks in print:
You'll be seeing similar ads in the paper AND around town for the next few weeks that include tips that are consistent with Google's commitment to keep users safe online.   Keep an eye out for the ads at your bus stop and other outdoor places.

Think of it as an education program for everyone on why things happen on the internet and what to watch out for in terms of bad guys.

I'm proud of Google for going rolling this out.  Good for users.  Good for Google.

*disclaimer:  You guys know that I work at Google, right?  I didn't work on this campaign, though.

Aqua Globes for Potted Plants

Earlier this year, we bought these Aqua Globes for the ferns that we keep on our front porch.  We were going on a trip of some sort and I was afraid they were going to dry out totally, so this seemed like a short-term solution.  They worked, in that they kept the ferns from totally dying.

After the ferns came down, these globes came inside.  I've since plugged them into the pots of our Asparagus Ferns to keep them alive during these dry winter months.  So far, so good.  They drip out water in very small quantities, so I'm not sure they're adequate as the sole watering mechanism, but as a supplemental technique, I'd recommend them.  You'll still have to water your plants every once in a while, but these globes will make that job less of a hard requirement.

Grandma Pizza Failure

Over the weekend, we had some folks over for a pizza party.  I wanted to refine and perfect my Grandma Pizza recipe so I needed a crowd in order to make more than one skin.

Unfortunately, the first two didn't turn out as well as I'd have liked.  Not sure exactly what went wrong, but while the tops browned up, the bottom didn't get crisp enough.  Here's what the top looked like:
Just about perfect.  But the bottom?  It was limp and soggy.  Not crisp.  Guess I'll have to go back to the drawing board and re-work the recipe.  Who's up for a pizza party this weekend?

The Things You Find on Craigslist

We were trolling Craigslist for a new Maclaren stroller after ours broke today when we found this Creep in the 'baby & kid stuff' section.   In between a post selling a collection of legos and a post listing board games.

Just a friendly reminder: Be careful out there on the internets, guys.

Strange Sighting: MTA Metro North Train in Elmhurst

Recently, I was stuck at a grade-level crossing in Elmhurst when I this odd train passed: it was a commuter train, but was badged by the MTA - Metro North Railroad.  That's New York City?!?!

Strange seeing it on the Union Pacific West line in suburban Chicago, that's for sure.  I'm guessing that this *must* be a new train that is being driven across country to be put in service?

262 N. Indiana Street, Elmhurst

It was just back a few months in August that the construction fences went up and I expected the old bungalow that was on the lot to be torn down.  Fast forward to this week, and this big house is going up fast.  They have the framing done and the roofers arrived to get started.

They've made (in my mind) a mistake by putting the garage up front, but I'm not the guy buying the place.  We have an alley on our street and there's a lot of ways that you can improve the curb appeal by getting rid of that garage that takes up more than 50% of the view from the street.

The listing has it at $899,900 with 4 bedrooms, 5 baths and 3700 square feet.  Nice house.  But, not my style.

Rockwell Sonicrafter

For Christmas this year, I was gifted the Rockwell Sonicrafter - which is billed as one of the "most versatile and effective power tools on the market".  It is a multi-purpose tool that is a step-up in terms of power and functionality from a Dremel.  I've pulled out my Dremel from time to time, so I can understand the usefulness of this thing.  In fact, Nat has a big project made out of PVC pipe that we have to work on and I think the Sonicrafter will make short work of the cuts.

I'm starting to amass a nice set of tools, but after the basement construction, I lost most of my work space and storage.  I was planning on doing it out in the crawlspace, but it is so chocked full of our stuff, there isn't a lot of room to operate.  Looks like I may end up out in the garage for now.  My plans call for putting a second story on our garage, but that's a big project and will have to wait until I get everything done in the basement.  Until then, my tools will kind of …

My Favorite (Holiday) Things - 2011 Edition

The holidays ALWAYS go by so fast, so like in year's past, I tried to take a look back to chronicle the things that made this year special.  This is the 3rd year of putting together a list of My Favorite (Holiday) Things.  Sorry, this isn't like Oprah, so I'm not giving out any of these things to you guys just yet.  But, perhaps they can make your holidays next year brighter by including them in your plans.

2009 Edition2010 Edition 1.  Tammen Tree Farm - The ONLY honoree that has appeared on all three editions of MF(H)T.  Each year, we head down to Wilmington to cut down a few trees with the Morans.  Our 2011 tree - a 8 foot Fraser Fir - looked great in our living room.  

2.  Having a project - This is a two-time honoree.  This year, I had a MASSIVE project in the basement, but I also took some time to make a DIY Basketball rack for Equation Boy/Man for our gift exchange.  I have bigger aspirations for next year, but I'll hope to at least keep doing one project each ho…

The Talented Mr. Fox Draws Cinderella

Over the weekend, we were lucky enough to have the Babe's Aunt Cici and Uncle Bill look after her for a night so Nat and I could go out to see our good friends off to Austin Texas.  While we were out, Uncle Bill got creative and - with chalk markers - drew this masterpiece on this piece of chalkboard that sits atop the Babe's puppet theatre.  Pretty spectacular stuff and this will probably be the second 'temporary' drawing that Bill has made that Nat will want to be made permanent via the use of lacquer or something.

Housemade NOT Homemade Please

Every time I see a restaurant - or in this case Mike's Meat Market - claim something as "Homemade" it drives me crazy.  There is nothing appetizing about the notion of going to a restaurant and thinking about someone making their specialities in their own home kitchen, packing them in the car and then hauling them into their restaurant or store.

Housemade on the other hand is much better - because it tells me that whatever this particular item is - it  isn't bought from a distributor.  Rather, they're putting it together back in the kitchen.

I know it is an odd request.

Please restaurant operators:  Stop with this homemade madness.  I don't want homemade.

(Oh, and while you're at it, please stop calling anything the "First Annual", too.)

Going Over to Big Red

This morning, I received a nice surprise:  this thing that I've been carrying around in my pocket for 3 weeks is finally more than just a wifi paperweight.  LTE time!

York's Joe Newton on NBC Sports Spot

Elmhurst's own, Joe Newton the legendary York High School cross country coach is featured prominently in this NBC Sports Network commercial.  Couldn't think of a better guy to open the network up for business.   (If you are reading this in your email and cant' see the video above, click here to watch on YouTube.)

First time I ever heard of Joe Newton was when I was a high school junior and my High School brought him in for an all-school assembly.  Since then, I've heard him talk to the Elmhurst College Football team on 2 occasions and my admiration for him has only grown.  Pretty neat to see him get this recognition.

Grandma Pizza Recipe

Since documenting the variety known as Grandma Pizza back in October of 2010, I still had not introduced it to my rotation of homebaked pies and  tried to bake one myself.  That all ended last night.

*UPDATE on Feb 3, 2012* I recently bought 2 Detroit-style Blue Steel Pizza Pans and changed my recipe a bit.

We had a few friends have babies recently, so Nat decided to bring them over a ready-made meal.  I was able to help and put together a few deep dish pizzas.  While I was making the skins, I threw together the ingredients for a 3rd one - that we could keep.  I modified my deep dish dough recipe a bit by adding more water and oil to make it more match the Grandma recipe from Slice.   I modified the recipe for both the dough and the sauce a bit, but the science behind it is all Kenji's from Slice.

For the Dough3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
A couple of scoops of rapid-rise yeast (I have a big tub of the stuff so I don't measure that well, unfortunately)

Vintage Santa Cake Toppers

What's this?  Another stinkin' Christmas post?  WTF?  This is January you say.  It is, indeed.  But...the sad truth of the matter is that I still have Christmas on my brain.  And, I'm sad to report that the deluge of vintage Christmas shopping didn't stop with our little Christmas girl.   I couldn't put these (above) 3 vintage Santa cake toppers down at the Antique Mall.  I'm not sure we're going to keep them because they seem to be more in the wheelhouse of my mother-in-law.  While Nat bakes a MEAN cake (and other sweet treats), her Mom has used cake toppers of all sorts - including some vintage ones that her Dad brought over - so she's likely be geeked to have them.

They've been packed away in one of our Christmas tubs, so come this November, we'll see what Nat thinks when we unpack them and if we're going to keep 'em.

Vintage Christmas Porcelain Girl

The turn of the page on the new calendar year didn't slow down the Christmas insanity in my world.  While we were up in Michigan, we went to the Great Lakes Antique Mall - in Coloma - and came away with a few treasures.  We go the Mall often - almost everytime we go up to Michigan - but have never come away with any Christmas stuff.  Seems like we must not be up there in the weeks/month leading up to Christmas, so I've never seen the booths stocked with vintage holiday stuff.

Sure...there's a lot of junk and because of the setup (vendors in their own booths), the prices are often a tad high, but as we usually do, I came across a few gems including this darling little Christmas girl.  She's wearing a pink dress (you can barely see it in the photo) and carrying a few packages.  It has a great "Made in Japan" sticker on the bottom that you find on these 50's and 60's items.

She'll go great in our display next year when she's sitting next to our…

Elmhurst Front Yard Tree Tradition - 2011

Every year, a number of folks around town participate in what I call the "Elmhurst Front Yard Christmas Tree Tradition" - where we put up small(ish) Christmas trees in our front yards and light them up to celebrate the season.  Above is a photo of our tree this year.  You'll note that most of the lights are off to the side (on the bottom left of the tree) - and that's because I was taking the tree down today and realized that I hadn't take a photo of the tree to post!  So, mid-disassemble, I grabbed this photo - to mark the annual tradition before I shipped it off to the curb.

Here's my post from our 2009 tree.Here's my post from our 2010 tree.  
I kept putting this off, thinking that I'll wait for snow to be on the ground to make it a bit more seasonal.  That snow never came.

The trees are $17 and are a fundraiser for the Elmhurst School District.  One of our neighbors organizes it ever year and distributes slips of paper to each of mailboxes that …

Ringing in the New Year - 2012

Couldn't imagine another way to ring in the new year than with ice cream sundaes and my favorite people.