Showing posts from April, 2015

NFL Draft Town Opens Today

Today is the day for the NFL Draft to kick off.  Compare this photo of Draft Town with Tuesday's and you'll see the closed up the big tent in the middle and they've added a bunch of accessory structures around the place.

Cool stuff for Chicago.

Just The Babe And Her Art

My oldest couldn't be more proud of her painting that is hanging up in the local coffee shop in town as part of a gallery/collection of kids art.  We made a special trip to the coffee shop just so she could show it to me.  I'm so impressed with her and her willingness to be an artist.  Something I could never quite do when I was younger.

NFL DraftTown Progress

They have much of the structures set up and are wrapping them with the white tarps this morning.  Here's where they were just a few days ago.

This Tomato Is Growing A Tomato

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at Nat's folks' house with the kids.  While we were there, my mother-in-law showed us this super weird tomato.  She put it on the ledge above her sink in her kitchen in the sun and mostly forgot about it.  At some point, some weird stuff started happening and the seeds *inside* the tomato started to sprout and grow INSIDE the tomato.  
I thought it was pretty interesting, so I posted it to r/mildlyinteresting using a throw-away account.  If you're of of *those* folks, make sure you give it an upvote!

This Box Is Reversible And Can Be Reused For Storage

The box my shoes came in claims to be 'reversible'.  Interesting idea, isn't it?  Take a shoe box that you'd normally throw away and turn it into something that you'd want to reuse to store things?

I'll put it through it's paces this week and see how the box turns out - inside-out.

Oh No. The President Is Weak *And* Depressed?!?

Nevermind the fact that 'Old Blue Eyes was a 'bag man' for the outfit, let's focus on the more pressing matters:  The President is 'forced into a wheelchair' and has 'lost the will to live'.  The CGI these days is just amazing.

Mammoth Sunflower Seeds - To Be Planted 2015

The second pack (after last week's Apollo Ring variety I posted about) is this Mammoth sunflower.  This one will tower (12 feet tall!) over the rest of them and I'll plan on putting the seeds in the far back row against the fenceline.  I think a few more weeks need to pass and then we'll get them in the ground.

NFL Draft Starts To Set Up Draft Town In Chicago

Just west of Buckingham Fountain you can start to see the tents going up for the NFL's DraftTown.  They've shut down the street and it appears they're just going to take the whole place over with a series of tents/structures.  Kinda neat.

Here's the sketch they have on of the final product:

KettlePizza Arrives at the Parrillo Household

After many a year of dreaming about building my own wood-fired pizza oven, we have come to a sort-of compromise.  Introducing...the KettlePizza.  It takes a 22.5" Weber grill and transforms it (with some slight modifications) into a wood-burning 800 degree beast.

I put it through it's paces over the weekend and the results were less than stellar.  Lots to learn about this thing including the dough formulation, how to get them in the oven, how to top the pies and how to get them out of this beast without burning myself like crazy.

Good thing Summer is almost here and we'll have plenty of time to experiment.

Bullseye Power Nozzle For Garden Hoses

I picked up this hose nozzle as a gift earlier this year but have yet to put it through it's proper paces.  What...with the lack of 'hose weather', right?

This thing is super simple but is highly endorsed and is labeled as being used by 'wildland firefighters'.  From the DuluthTrading listing come some big boasts:
BULLS-EYE NOZZLE NEVER LEAKS, NEVER BREAKS.Proven on firelines by U.S. and Canadian wildlife services, the small but powerful Bulls-eye Nozzle saves water and gives you more power, in an emergency or just around the yard. A simple twist adjusts the force from maximum to heavy spray to pinpoint stream. Sprays up to 600 psi! If there's a way to break me...our family will figure out how to do so.  Stay tuned for pressure-testing that claim...

Pumpkin Pedestals From Gardener's Supply

I am now the proud (that's right....PROUD!) owner of six - count 'em - six pumpkin pedestals.

What's a pumpkin pedestal?  From Gardener's Supply:
Growing pumpkins is so much fun, but can be frustrating when the fruits are misshapen or rot before they ripen. These ingenious supports elevate pumpkins, squash and melons up off the ground, allowing air to circulate. This promotes even ripening and minimizes rot. Fruit stays cleaner and develops a more uniform shape. The smaller side of the pedestal supports a pumpkin up to 10" in diameter and weighing up to 20 pounds. Flip it over and the larger side holds a mature pumpkin up to 14" and 30 pounds. Makes me want to go all-in on pumpkins again this year.  But...I can't help but recall how they TOTALLY took over the entire place.

Dylan's Candy Bar Chicago

Last weekend, we spent the night in the city so the girls could go swimming in a hotel pool.  (Well...that's not the *only* reason, but it was one of the driving forces anyway...)

We spent Friday afternoon walking around with stops at my office, the new Maggie Daley Park (wowsa...pretty neat place!) and then hoofing it up Michigan Avenue to head to dinner.  On the way there, we stopped into Dylan's Candy Bar.

Pretty neat place.  Lotsa candy (as you'd expect) and they even had 'nostalgia' area with old school candy.  Some of it from a long time ago, but plenty from the 80's and 90's that I remember from my childhood.  I was pretty impressed with the place.  That was...until...I checked out and was waiting around for Nat and the girls to finish filling up their bags of candy.  There, by the door laying on the counter was a book all about Dylan's Candy Bar and the founder Dylan Lauren.

You can see the book here on Amazon.

I went to back inside cover wher…

Apollo's Ring Hybrid Sunflower Seeds

I get a set of Sunflower seed packets each year for my birthday.  It is a nice tradition that I've come to enjoy.  For the past few years, the person who gives me the seeds has been getting pretty creative in terms of the variety of seeds.

This year, they gave me a few packets - and I'll run through them in different posts here - starting with this Apollo's Ring Hybrid (GIRASOL Apollo's Ring Hybrid).    These ones aren't super tall.  They are listed as topping out at 5-6', so they'll be a nice compliment to some of the taller ones.

Here's the post showing off all the different varieties I planted last year in 2014.
Here's the post showing off some of the 2013 sunflowers already growing.'s a post from 2011 showing off some of the blooming flowers.

Peonies Are Back - 2015 Edition

In a sure sign of spring, I have to look no further than some of the landscape beds in our back yard to see the peonies popping their little red tips out of the mulch.

This is an annual ritual - the posting of the peony tips - on the blog here.  Six years and counting.  Here's how I documented this Spring moment last year.

Here's my post from 2013. And here are the photos of these same peonies in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

It's Wednesday, Gary!

This commercial from makes me laugh so much.  There isn't another spot on television right now that I laugh EVERY time I see it.  Just too funny.

"I know that, Janet." 

Pizza-spiration: The Spicy Bear From The Doughroom

As found on Instagram: this pie from the Doughroom in LA.  Pepperoni, something called 'calabrese chili' (which I think are these), ricotta and some Mike's Hot Honey.

I've been putting Mike's Hot Honey on my sausage/pepperoni pies lately and it is soooo good.  Have to believe this is one tasty pie.

Last month, I posted about the St. Louie and I'm thinking I might have to try this combination, too.

Custom Disney World T-Shirts From Celebration Shirts

For the second year in a row, we (well...I, actually) decided to add some 'extra magic' to our trip and get some shirts made up for our family.  Yeah...we're one of those families with matching shirts.  Just for one day of the trip, though.  
Last year, our shirts had a Mary Poppins theme, but this year, since we were going in March, I thought we'd do a hoops tie-in.  
For both orders, we worked with the team at Celebration Shirts.  You can find our more about them here at their site.  
If you are going to Disney and want custom-printed family t-shirts, I can't recommend Celebration Shirts enough.  
When you go to the CelebrationShirts site, you'll see that they have quite a few customizable designs to choose from to tailor for your family trip.  Lots of really cool designs that can have your family's last name/first names/year to the shirts.  They really make it easy to add some of this 'extra magic' to your trip.
But, being a crazy person, we had…

8 Years Ago Today: Talking About Annual Smelt Fishing Trip On Montrose Harbor

Using the 'way-back machine' here on the blog (aka the Archives link on the right rail), I find that exactly eight years ago today, I was posting (from....the FeedBurner offices, I think!) about how I was prepping for our annual trip out on Montrose Harbor for smelt fishing.

Those trips - which were soooo much fun - just don't take place any longer.  First, The Cactus moved away, which meant that the Sunshine Lighting crew stopped showing up.  But...the Mayor picked up the lead.  And did he ever lead.  But, he's since moved away too.

And either nobody has taken out the gill nets in recent years or they're not inviting me.  (Ahem...Balone!).  These photos from the 2010 trip tell the full story of living on the end of the pier and having lots of laughs.

Anyone going out on the pier this April?  If so, you'll invite me, right?  Right?!?

This Year's Water Putty Easter Bunny - 2015 Edition

This is the fifth edition of the 'faux chocolate' water putty Easter bunny produced in our house.  He has a basket on his back and is pretty tall.  Took almost a half can of Water Putty for each one.

I can't seem to find the photo of last year's version (but I did, indeed, produce one).   Guessing it had something to my lack of posting in March and April of 2014.  I did, however post the mold from last year that you can see here.  We made the typical batch of four of these guys and with the help of the girls, we gave them away a week ago on Easter Sunday.

Here's the original how-to post from back in 2011.

There have been five, but with 2014 missing, here's the rest:

Here's the 2013 edition.
Here's the 2012 edition.
Here's the 2011 edition.

Two Of the Pins From Our March Disney Trip

As I've mentioned before, I'm not ashamed to admit that not only am I DisneyDad, I'm also into pin trading at the parks.  (Hell - I even went so far as to review and recommend a specific pin back!)

Well...the girls are the ones who actually pin trade, but I'm the one pushing them to trade and acquire pins.  Here's two pins that speak to this year's trip:  the Beach Club and Flower and Garden show.  I don't buy a lot of pins while we're there, but I always try to buy one or two from each trip that allow me to remember when/where we went.

These two things:  Beach Club (where we stayed) and F&G show (what we did) are distinctly 2015 to me.

We traded quite a few pins and now facing the dilemma of how to deal with them.  Do we display them on a board?  Keep them in a book/binder?  We have a split collection right now.  Between what the Babe collects, what the Bird collects, what I collect.  Do we have 3 distinct collections?  Or just one?  Have to get…

Omega Speedmaster Moto360 Watchface

Growing up, my dad always wore a very specific watch: an Omega Speedmaster.  As he told it, that watch is/was the best watch on the market.  At least for him.  
So, imagine my joy when I stumbled across a knock-off face on the XDA forums for the very same watch.  I wore it on Easter and my Dad got a kick out of it.   It doesn't quite look perfect, but it isn't that far off.  
Right away, I (of course) went right back to my Mickey Mouse face as fast as I could.  Back in my comfort zone.

Citrus Cooler Gatorade Is Back! (For Now)

My childhood favorite (and Mike's favorite!) is back in stores.  Go out and stock up.  I just did.  I put 20 of them in my cart at Jewel over the weekend.

What's the big deal?  Here's the details via CBS Sports:
In the pantheon of sports drink flavors, not many things top Gatorade's Citrus Cooler. So hell yes you should be excited the sports scientists are bringing it back in March of 2015.Gatorade's celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015 and as such they're producing a bunch of commercials related to the milestone.But this is next level stuff. Citrus Cooler was/is Michael Jordan's favorite flavor and if it's good enough for the G.O.A.T. it's good enough for the rest of us. And they also brought back the "Be Like Mike" commercials with a slight tweak.  I can't stop humming the song.

Alliums (Bulbs) Popping Up - 2015

Nat's favorite bulb is allium.  Over the years, I've picked up little ones and big ones and planted them in different parts of the beds.  In back, we have a set of the larger ones that create a pathway to our vegetable garden.  They've just started to break through the mulch this week.

Last year, I couldn't figure out what these were until they fully sprouted. that I've been through a season with them, I'm all that much wiser.

We also have some smaller/more delicate allium bulbs in the front by the porch.  I took photos of those back in 2012.  And before that in 2011.

In fact, over the years, I've populated the 'bulbs' tag on the blog with various bulb-related photos.  Check 'em out here.

This Year's Bunny Mold - 2015

Easter may have come and gone, but I find time to get around to posting about this year's bunny mold.  The Babe and I produced a few of these just like we've done in year's past.

This year's mold was pretty big and used A LOT of water putty.   This marks the 5th year of doing the bunnies and they're all different.  I'll post some photos of the in-progress bunnies and the fully-finished ones that are all glossy with polycrylic.

Here's the mold we used in 2014.
Here's the mold we used in 2013.
Here's the mold we used in 2012.
Here's the mold we used in 2011.

There's An Election Tomorrow In Elmhurst

(If you're reading this in your email, the election is actually *today*!)  I was walking by City Hall over the weekend and was surprised by the volume of campaign signs that were posted in the parkway.  There has been early voting at City Hall and my assumption is that these campaigns wanted to make sure they had a presence in front of those early voters.

But, it makes me wonder:  do these signs actually work?  Is there a voter out there who is engaged enough in the electoral process that wants to actually early vote who doesn't know who they're going to vote for?  And glancing at one of these yard signs is going to sway them?

I suppose, there is some notion of 'confirmation' that can be achieved with these signs. really doesn't cost anything to put one up.  That minimal cost/effort is likely the reason why these things are even here.  When you're running a local campaign, the margins are often so small that you want to make sure that you're…

Spex Optical Coming To Elmhurst City Centre

Just a few days ago, I posted about how the Runner's Soul has closed in the Elmhurst City Centre and consolidated their operations in their LaGrange location.

Well...all is not lost on York Street, it seems.  I was walking by the old Irish Treasures store (is that what it was called?!?) between Enzee and the Bank on the west side of York and I saw this green-papered windows announcing that Spex Optical was coming soon.

What is Spex?  It appears to be a full-service eye exam/glasses store featuring a lot of 'known' fashion brands.  They also seem to like to come up with as many Spex-related puns as humanly possible.  I guess I should like a brand that doesn't take itself too terribly seriously.

I went over to the Spex site and on their "Spex Appeal" blog, they have an Elmhurst announcement up:
STAY TUNED! We’re bringing Spex appeal to Elmhurst late spring 2015! Our newest Spex location will reside at 138 N. York Road. It seems that the operation is growing…

Who's Ready For Easter?!?

Let's get after it with some egg dying, outdoor egg huts, and potato salad, right?


We went to see the new Cinderella movie over the weekend and standing in the lobby was this display for George Clooney's Tomorrowland.  It was practically *begging* to have the Babe go in there for a photo shoot.  There was a preview for Tomorrowland before the Frozen short and it looks pretay, pretay, pretay good.  We'll go see it.

To infinity and beyond!  (Oh wait...that's the wrong picture.)

So Long, The Runner's Soul: Closed In Downtown Elmhurst

Another day, another blow for the Elmhurst City Centre.  This time, it is in the form of the departure of the Runner's Soul from York Street.   Now, we're down to having one running store with Fleet Feet remaining.  So sad to see these guys go as they added some nice retail diversity to York Street.

The sign in the window says that they've moved to LaGrange but it looks like they just consolidated to that one store.  Posted on their site is this note:
The Runner’s Soul - ElmhurstNow Closed

Thank you for all your support! We’ve consolidated into our larger location in La Grange in order to serve you better with our programs

3 Months In the Book - Blogging 2015

Three months in the book and I've stuck to it here on the blog.  A chicken in every pot and a post on every day and all that stuff.

With crossing the 90 post mark, this makes 2015 the 6th most prolific year on JakeParrillo/RhodesSchool since inception back in 2004.  But it also reminds me that we've already been through a quarter of the calendar year.  For me, that means we're *that* much closer to the holiday season (which as we all know kicks off right/after Halloween...).  So, I got that going for myself.

Which is nice.