Showing posts from June, 2012

Japanese Painted Fern - Planted 2012

After toiling along with our Ostrich Ferns in our back/side yard for the past two seasons, I took the plunge and picked up a Japanese Painted Fern - Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum' and planted it in our shade garden right next to some hostas.  My mother-in-law tells me that she's had limited luck with getting ferns to come back every year, but I'll be babying this one and hoping I can get it to bounce back next Spring.

3rd Morning This Week for Strawberries - 2012

While we're not filling bushels of Strawberries, our little plant is throwing off enough fruit to have the Babe eat fresh off the plant berries for breakfast three mornings this week.  When I asked her if she knew where food comes from, she responded how any two year old who pals around with her mother every day would:  "Trader Joe's".

Well...that's *kinda* right, but with each picking of these berries in the mornings, she's hopefully starting to understand that with some care (and no pesticides!), food can come from the earth - right in your backyard.

Golden Hops Vine - Planted - 2012

I picked up a Humulus lupulas 'Aureus' Golden Hops vine and planted it on the north side of our house along the fence.  These are the same hops that one would use in the beer making process.  Everything I've read tells me that this season's harvest will be very limited, but by next fall, we'll have a bumper crop of hops that I hope I'll be able to turn over to my brother-in-laws to process into their latest batch of home brew.

Meet York's New Boys Basketball Coach

He sure looks cute, doesn't he?  That's the front page of the Elmhurst Press.  Who - in the same issue - trumpeted the fact that they're one of the best newspapers in the state.  

Rouse Elmhurst Boutique

Last week as we were walking around Downtown Elmhurst, we spotted a 'opening soon' sign on a new boutique located at 132 N. Addison called "Rouse".  They're opening up in the space that was at one time a wedding gown boutique.  It is a really neat building (which you can see more of in the photo below) with a big parking lot right south of the store.  That's good news for these new boutique owners.  Not to mention the proposed development right across the street from them that, if built, will bring even more retail, office and parking to the City Center.

Based on the signs, me thinks they're going to focus on women and compete with the likes of Enzee.  The one twist appears to be the fact that they're going to offer 'workshops' of some sort.  I'm rooting for them to open soon and to - more importantly for Elmhurst - succeed in a big way!

Nu Crepes - Downtown Elmhurst

Down what I consider an alley, but the city of Elmhurst calls "Shiller Street" is a postered-up restaurant space that is listed as "Nu Crepes".  The signs on the window say 'Coming Spring 2012', but thus far they're not opened yet.  There's this listing in Chicago Magazine which bills the place as: "A fast-casual, 40-seat spot with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert crêpes, including egg-bacon-cheese, barbecue chicken, and banger toastie, a flavor paying homage to a Dublin favorite."

Based on some of the posts elsewhere on the web, it appears that they secured the construction permits in late Februrary.  The place also has some fans already from when they were selling crepes at the Elmhurst Farmers Market.   This will be the first of what I think are 3 spots in the Shiller Court development.  I hope these guys get this place up off the ground and that they spot develops into a huge success story.  The Addison Street development - which …

Boston Marrows + Green Hubbards Planted - 2012

Along with the Sugar Pumpkins I put in the ground, I recently put down some seeds for these Boston Marrow 'pumpkins' (I use the term pumpkins here because that is technically what the package says, but....look at 'em.  They're totally gourds!) and these Green Hubbard Winter Squash.  The Boston Marrows came from Menards, but the Green Hubbards were part of a seed packet gift my mother-in-law gave to me called the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Garden.    They both have 100+ days until full maturity, and these babies are for eatin', so they'll be ripe right around the end of October/beginning of November.  Just in time for pies - and for (potentially) The Bird getting ready to eat some solid meals of puree'd squash.

113 Days 'Til Halloween - 2012

I planted these small Sugar Pumpkin seeds last night.  They take 100 days until maturity.  Just in time for some Halloween displaying, followed by some pie baking in early November.

Last year, I grew some big pumpkins (think competition size!) but I planted them way to early - like in May.  You pick a pumpkin when the vines die back and they were browning up and dead in September.  Learned my lesson and waited until June this year.

Strawberries From the Garden - 2012

The Strawberry bush that I planted a few years back is starting to really throw off some fruit this year.  The strawberries are plump, red, and (apparently) juicy.  I say apparently because I didn't actually eat one of these.  I was beat to them by The Babe who grabbed them straight out of Nat's colander in the sink.

Vintage Christmas Tree Turner

Yes, the calendar says June.  But, that doesn't mean we can't talk about Christmas, right?  Specifically this new addition to our Chrismas decor arsenal:  a vintage Christmas Tree Turner for our tinsel tree.  We were down at my folks place for Father's Day over the weekend and this box (along with the working tree) were recently discovered by my Dad as he was cleaning out the attic.  My folks weren't sure what they were going to do with it; maybe sell it on ebay or something?

I plugged it in and it works perfectly.  Spins really nicely just like it did 40+ years ago when my parents used it in their house.  It is to be used with a tinsel tree that doesn't have lights on it because the lights would just get tangled in the base.  There's that auxillary plug at the bottom that my Dad tells me is for a "Color Wheel" that rotates different colors through a spotlight onto the tree.  I've looked for the Color Wheels, but they're like $50 on ebay, so…

Father's Day Present - Aria Scale

Normally when someone gives you a bathroom scale as a gift, you probably wouldn't be geeked.  But that's not the case in the Parrillo household.  Can't wait to get more data based on weigh-ins - coupled with movement data points.  This scale - called the FitBit Aria - couples with the personal Fitbit that I wear on my belt everyday.  It connects to our homenetwork via wifi and *magically* keeps track of your weight without any need to track it yourself.  The data just shows up in the Fitbit dashboard every morning.  With just 2 days of data in, there clearly is no intelligence gained, but I expect to generate some data over the course of a couple of months.  The tricky part is going to come up with a routine to weigh myself in the same manner everyday.

Now all I need is some sort of device that monitors all the chow that I stuff in my piehole.  Then I'll be lean and mean.

Father's Day - 2012

Who'd thunk that I'd be surrounded by all these women!  Here's my three ladies and myself out on the front porch this morning.  Last day of leave for a bit, so we're savoring every minute of it.  I'm a lucky guy!

Don't think you can get a better Father's Day present that the new addition to the family - whom we're calling 'The Bird' here on the blog.   Her Papa, who was sick last week, also got his first chance to bond with The Bird when we traveled to their house to celebrate with him.

Shopping for a Fish Tank

A 55 gallon tank is perfect for a suburban dad with a finished basement, right?  I'm in the market to start up an aquarium for both me and the Babe.  Nat isn't that thrilled with the idea, but she has given me her blessing to go ahead.  As long as she doesn't have to clean the tank.  Ever.

First Romas - 2012

In spite of the fact that I brought home a "4th of July" tomato variety, the Romas are the first out the game with little tiny tomato fruits budding.

Time to Shave the Beard for Summer?

Might be a bit too thick and lustrous?  In the winter, I might be able to pull this off, being Paternity Leave and all, but in mid-June?  That's a stretch.

Now that we have photos of The Bird and me with a strong beard (just like the ones we have with The Babe from a few years back), I'm fine with it coming off for the summer.  We'll see you again in the fall, Beard!

Turning an Old Lamp into a Birdbath

We've had this blue lamp in our garage for the better part of a month.  It came from Nat's Mom and we failed to sell it at our Garage Sale back in May.  It has a big crack in the side but still works as a lamp.  Unfortunately, it won't *work* for us in our house.  Just not the right fit.

But, when I was digging around on the web, I somehow came across this tutorial for transforming an old lamp into a birdbath.  First thing you clip off the lamp fitting then get set to find a bowl to sit on top.  We don't have anything just laying around, so I'll try to get out to GoodWill in the coming weeks to find something that is suitable.  Maybe a white bowl?  Or a grey?  Once I get the hole drilled and the bowl set with epoxy, I'll get it out in the yard so our fine feathered friends can enjoy the water this summer.

The Babe is Spreading Her Wings

With The Bird being at home with Momma, I was able to take The Babe out to spend some time with her cousins this week.  I've LOVED bonding with her and being her primary care taker for the past few days.  I could barely get her out of this trampoline down the block!

She's Coming Home!

Just 36 hours after her arrival, we got the thumbs up to pack up The Bird and head home.  No time like the present to get going and start being a family of four plus a dog back in Elmhurst.  Love her already!

She's Here! Meet The Bird

Born this morning at 9:38 am, our little girl joined her big sister The Babe and her amazing Momma in our new family of four.  Nat did an amazing job and seeing new life enter this world NEVER gets old.

Can't wait to get to know her.

Flower Boxes Filled - 2012

A week or so ago, Nat scored us some flower box holders from one of her friends in the neighborhood.    We've been focused - mostly - on our landscape beds and the perennials the past few years and have for the most part ignored any sort of pots with annuals.  Sure, we have a few annuals in our front porch box, but those are usually an afterthought.  In fact, in years past, I've planted a few perennials in there only to rip them out after they bloom and plant them in the landscape somewhere.

But, with the flower box holders on hand, it is time to get some annuals up and running on our back deck.  I jammed them with petunias, spikes, asparagus ferns, ageratums, and one other annual that didn't have sticks in them.  See those redish flowers?  Know what they are?  Maybe reverse Google Image search will help?

ILGOP 2012 Convention Photo Contest - From the Illinois House Republican Organization

Over the course of the next two days, the Illinois Republican Party has delegates from all across the state converging on the Tinley Park Convention Center for the 2012 ILGOP Convention.  As part of the convention, Tom Cross and the Illinois House Republican Organization (Which is run by their top political guy Kevin Artl) are hosting a "Photo Contest" at a site called  As an Illinois Republican, I'm really excited to see some parts of the party take chances with the web and experiment with ideas and projects like this.  I'm glad to have played a very small role in bringing this thing to life.

To roll the site out, this morning, the Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady tweeted out a call for photos - which need to be tagged #ILGOPIX:

Coming to the IL GOP State Convention this weekend? Submit your pics to tell the story of the convention
— Pat Brady (@pat_brady) June 7, 2012 The site will be p…

Old St. Mary's Rectory - Elmhurst

Out on an early morning walk yesterday, I came across this plaque in front of a house on York Street.  Turns out, the parents of Carl Sandburg's wife lived here after it was used as first a Rectory then a private school.

Here's the house below.  I've driven by it countless times and never gave it much thought, but now I have a new-found respect for the pretty blue house at 145 S. York Street in Elmhurst.

Abed is the Star of Community

For the better part of the past year in our house, we've been having a discussion about how Abed Nadir, played by Danny Pudi, is the star of the show 'Community'.  In this week's Sci-Fi-themed New Yorker, author Emily Nussbaum agrees with me - as you can see above.  She points out how Abed has "drifted closer to the show's center, replacing its ostensible hero, the smart-ass Jeff..."

I think we have the definitive answer now, don't we?  If we can't trust the New Yorker, who can we trust, eh Nat?

Seed Potatoes Sprouting - 2012

Each of these sprouts should create a pound or two of potatoes in a few months.  Now that these green shoots have sprung up, I'll cover them with mulch to keep the potatoes cool and moist.  The potatoes aren't ready to be harvested until all the greens have died back.

Here's how I prepared the seed potatoes.

First Cucumber Flowers - 2012

I planted a few of these cucumber plants under a trellis and in a pretty short time, we've gotten a few flowers to spring to life.  At some point, I hope these will spring up and grab a hold of the trellis and grow vertically.

Cocomero Yogurt + Bubble Tea - Downtown Elmhurst

Just a few months ago, I posted about 151 N. York Street and what a terrific opportunity existed for a retail spot right in the heart of downtown Elmhurst.  Just last week, I was walking by and saw that some signage had sprung up for a new place called "Cocomero" which looks to be selling frozen yogurt and bubble tea.  It looks like this is the second location for Cocomero as they have a spot right on the corner of Wright and Green Streets in Champaign, right across the street from the Alma Mater statue in the heart of the University of Illinois.

But, they won't be alone in the froyo business for long as it appears that we're also getting a Yogen Fruz right up York Street in the old Caribou Coffee location.   Is Elmhurst big enough for two of these places?  And a Coldstone and Brain Freeze?  I'm not so sure.

Flower Box Holders

Nat scored us a set of 3 of these from one of her friends in town here.  They work perfectly on our deck.  Off to the Home Depot to pick up some annuals we go!

Illinois Get Online + Rahm Emanuel

We hosted more than 800 businesses who walked away with a free website over the past 48 hours.   Mayor Rahm Emanuel even stopped by for a quick visit.