Showing posts from September, 2016

How This Republican Became A Guy Who Says #ImWithHer

Here's my Presidential voting record.  You may not like it or agree with it, but here's what it has been since I was able to vote.  
1996: First time being able to vote. Fall of Freshman year in college. Bob Dole. 2000: Just graduated and selling drywall screws. George Dubya Bush. 2004: In the thick of things working for Tom Cross and the Illinois House GOP. Re-elect Dubya. 2008: Just married. No kids. Voted for the patriot and honorable man despite Nat being all-in with BO. And, even in the face of 'you-know-who' as his running mate. Proudly voted John McCain. 2012: Two kids in the suburbs. Voted against the incumbent and hometown guy BO for Mitt Romney.  Yep. That's right. 5 presidential elections. 5 straight Republican candidate votes for president.  Again, you may not like my votes, but that's what they've been.

Here in Illinois, you have to pick a party (or basically not vote by picking the non-partisan ballot) in the primary. If you wante…

Lionel and Disney Dumbo 75th Anniversary O-Gauge Boxcar

In the Venn Diagram that includes Lionel O-Gauge train stuff and Disney stuff, the overlap has been small but consistent over the years.  You can go to any train show (and...yes those things exist!) and find some vintage Mickey the Mouse cabooses and box cars from over the years.

And if we were to map people who would have an interest in that intersection, I'd gladly raise my hand.  As we've talked about before, I grew up with a Christmas Train.  My Dad would break out his vintage post-war Lionel train some time after Thanksgiving and we'd set it up.  Sometimes, around the tree, but at some point, my Mom relegated it to the basement.  That tradition - of breaking out the Lionel train set - has been one that I've tried to bring to my own kids.  And, my Dad fed the beast by giving the oldest girl - The Babe - her own set when she was 1.

So, beside last year - when we were transient during the holidays - we've set up our Holiday Train.  And we're not aiming for…

Proud Parenting Moment - Raising a Future Illini?

We were at the Babe's school for new parent orientation recently and as we exited her classroom, we were able to see some of the work that the class had done.  And as I looked for the Babe's paper, I saw this above.  Sure...she gives really good answers for what she needs to do in 1st grade.  But, look at the bottom where the kids were asked to color in their own backpack.  She picked the Fighting Illini and the Block I?!?  Yep.  Not Mickey the Mouse.  Not My Little Pony.  Nor Shopkins.  Or her *actual* backpack - which is cute...but probably hard to draw because of the squiggles and such.

Nope.  She went with the orange and blue.  I-L-L!

Proud parenting moment for sure.

Vintage Coby Glass Tree Ornaments - Estate Sale Find

Over the weekend, we packed the kids into the minivan and drove around Hinsdale looking at some houses/house features as we work to finalize our own house.  We saw some pretty beautiful places, but we also came across an Estate Sale.  Which.....I couldn't *not* go in, right?  It was a nice, old house on the outside, so my hunch was that there'd be some gems inside.

After waiting for my number to be called ( was one of those Estate Sales.  Where they had you pull a ticket like you do when you're waiting at the deli counter.), I got in and poked around.  Nothing.  At least for us.  So, I went outside to the garage and discovered something!  They had a few cases of vintage 3 1/4" glass ornaments in their original boxes.  That's the side of the box above and the top of the box below.  They say "American Made" from Coby Glass Products.  If you poke around on the web, it turns out that Coby likely didn't make these, they were using Corning blank…

Menards Christmas Creep - 2016

The calendar may read September, but the folks at Menards already have Christmas on their mind. Seriously.   They have their Christmas stuff up already!  Well...most of it.  The "Enchanted Forest" isn't up yet because the Halloween inflatables are still up.  But, all the lights and lawn items for Christmas - as you can see - are on the shelves.

And think we were excited?  Just look at the Bird running up and down the aisles celebrating Christmas coming soon.  Last year, the Menards in Melrose Park put up their Christmas stuff in early October, so they're a bit ahead of where they were last year.  But, this isn't the earliest sighting of Christmas stuff at Menards on record.  Here, back in 2011, I posted a photo of the Babe with holiday blow molds on September 17th.

Alas, we didn't buy anything from the Christmas section, but we *did* buy a few Halloween items that they still have displayed.

Christmas creep is real and I, for one, welcome it.

Vintage Christmas Angel - Garage Sale Find

We spent a few days up in Twin Lakes Wisconsin and besides the beautiful views and lovely screened in porch, I was glad to see that just like in Coloma, there's a pretty active garage sale circuit that one can run on the weekends.  Maybe it is a 'lake house town' thing?

I found time to stop at one and picked up a few items including this angel above.  She's old, but not *that* old because her head is squeeze-y rubber.  But she's in impeccable shape.  Super bright white.  No dirt or marks on her.  I also bought a plastic blowmold Santa that takes a light in his back.  It is the same one that Nat's parents have on their counter during Christmastime and I *think* it dates back to her Dad's childhood.  Which...means it is from the 1950's - 60's?  But this one that I bought, just like the angel above, was in just about perfect shape, too!

We left the Santa up in Twin Lakes for Grammy and Granddad and who knows?  Maybe he'll get a shot at the big t…

Mini Helmet Motherlode

I came across this table of mini helmets recently at an estate sale and had a fun time poking around the collection.  If you know guys born in the 60's or 70's that like old, vintage things and have an affinity for sports, they're probably nuts about gumball helmets.  My brother-in-law up in Park Ridge has a thing for gumball helmets.  Has a collection.  Has even made his own helmets, which is kinda neat.  While I can appreciate them, I'm not drawn to them - unless I see an Illini one, of course - and passed on these.  But, I did send the photo to said brother-in-law.  These don't appear to have any age to them, right?  All pretty much modern day versions?

The part that jumps out to me here, though, is the four baseball caps at the bottom of the photo.  They appear to be NFL team hats like Quarterbacks wear on the sidelines.  Those are a thing now?

Howdy Pardner Stacking Bowl Mug Plate Set

We saw this three-piece set at the Kane County Flea Market a few weeks back and I stopped to take a photo of it, but didn't buy.   I've used 'teh Googles' about six different ways to try to find a description of this thing, but can't, so I'm not sure what it is/who made it.  But is sure is cute.

If I was a kid, I'd be all over this set and would love how the bowl, mug and plate stack up to make me a cowboy.  It feels like this thing has a proper home and hopefully someone walked by after us and discovered it and brought it home to it's proper place and home.  Someone saved it all these years and it is worth being in someone's life.  Just not *our* life right now.

Vintage Football Punter Trophy - Flea Market Find

Despite never getting a trophy showing off a punter during my time in Jr. High or High School or even college down at the University of Illinois, I have NOW rectified that and am the proud owner of this sweet vintage punter trophy!  I picked it up at the Kane County Flea Market during the same trip when we got these Fraggle McDonalds cars and the Chipettes glass.

I had never seen a punter trophy before, so you know the old rule:  when you see something you've never come across before, you need to buy it.  So, I knew I had to have it.  Fortunately, Nat was looking at a vintage book in the same booth and after decided she wanted it, I packaged up the book and this guy.   I think the vendor figured that if she didn't sell this thing to me, she wasn't going to sell it to anyone as the buyers for a 60's era vintage punter trophy are rare, I'm guessing.  So, she gave us a great price for the book and basically threw the trophy in for nuttin'.  Pretty sweet deal.


A Sour Tasting With Dr. Jeff This Weekend

Over the weekend, Dr. Jeff brought over a flight of sours for us to taste along with some pizza and besides the nice conversation and friendship, these were the standouts:  Allagash FV 13, Perennial Von Pampelmuse and Allagash Farm to Face.   He's done this before - here's the series of stouts that he brought earlier this Spring and one of the sours from earlier this summer.  This time....I liked the two Allgash's, but the peach one stood out for me.  I believe that they're brewed with different processes aside from being different fruits.
If you head to the links for each of the beers above, you'll see that the two Allgash ones score very high on BeerAdvocate but the Perennial one isn't scored.  When Dr. Jeff brings and shares knowledge around various beers, they're always really good and/or rare ones.  He's pretty passionate about beers and spends plenty of time at Binny's finding interesting things.  Making pizza and sharing some of our pies wit…

7-Up The Uncola Upside Down Glasses

How cute are these two upside down Uncola glasses?  I picked them up - and frankly couldn't pass them up - at Antiques on the Bluff in St. Joe's recently because of how they looked and how they were priced.  And now we're starting to have a little bit of a problem in terms of vintage and pinched glassware.  But these were too special to me to pass up as I always love a good underdog story.

I don't love 7-Up, actually, but kinda love the spunk in which they took on Coke back in the day.  The details of how they came about comes from this story on 'Retro Thing':
The profile of a Coke bottle and the classic distinctly-shaped Coke glass are (seemingly) eternal icons of American nostalgia. Many retro pop-culture icons are tied to a specific time period; the Elvis mic, a disco ball, Rubik's cube... but the Coke glass represents a sort of American uber-nostalgia. Coke has spent millions protecting and propagating their iconography for decades, and small wonder. F…

So Long, Cold Stone In The Elmhurst City Centre...

At one point, I have to think that Elmhurst and our City Centre was one of the sweet treat capitols of the world.  We had - what - three yogurt shops.  And two ice cream shops.  And a shaved ice place.  All within like three blocks of each other.

Now we're down to three total.  TCBY on the yogurt side.  And BrainFreeze on the ice cream side.  And the shaved ice place that operates seasonally. And that's because the Cold Stone Creamery on the east side of York - right across from the bowling alley - is shuttered.  That sign was posted on the windows earlier this month and if you walk by the place now, it is empty.  All the signage inside and out is gone.  The fixtures and furniture...gone.

And while we're saying 'so long' to this place, I have to raise my own hand and say 'sorry'.  We just flat out didn't support this store.  Not sure the reason, but it wasn't in our world and didn't appeal to us.  Maybe our kids are too young to see the appea…

Vander Mill Red Hard Apple Cider

This feels like some sort of cider achievement that I've unlocked.  Back in March, I had some blue Vander Mill Cider and posted a photo here on the blog.  And today, I'm sharing the red version which is just simply called Hard Apple.

Lemax Spookytown Wanda's Wicked Cupcake Shop

The third building from Lemax's Spooky Town this year on the blog is Wanda's Cupcake Shop.  You can see the official listing here on the Lemax site.

Earlier, we showed the Black Cauldron Bootique and the Scariest Halloween House on the blog as part of the setup at Menard's in Melrose Park.

This one isn't animated and Wanda appears to have just some interior lights to show off her wares, but would be a cute addition to the town part of your own Spooky Town.  Unfortunately, Mantleburg isn't in the Halloween spirit.  And at $39.99, I don't blame the Mayor for not decorating for the fall.

Keeping Time With My Dad's Clock

After staring at - or at least referencing often - this clock for close to twenty-five years, it is now a member of the permanent collection of the Elmhurst/Downers Parrillos as it came home with us from Coloma this past week.  I'm considering it a kind of 'see you later' kind of token and as we build out my new home office in our new place, I'm sure that I'll figure out how to give this a prime spot somewhere on a shelf or bookcase and I'll always remember where it sat for a long part of it's time in our life.

It isn't the prettiest or best looking clock, but it has been in my life for a long time AND it had something that drew my Dad to it two decades ago.  It has #147 on it - meaning it was an early member of my Dad's collection - so I'll honor it and keep it in a place of high regard.  And yes, that means my Dad was a collector of sorts and he even kept records on all the treasures he came across.  Good lesson to learn, I think.  Probably c…

Found: Vintage Fraggle Rock McDonald's Toys

On the same trip to the Kane County Flea market where we picked up that rad Chipettes glass from Natalie's childhood, we also gave each of the girls ten bucks to buy whatever they want.  The Babe bought some dollie cloths that fit her American Girl doll, but the Bird?  She went all-in on toys.  And specifically, she dug though a few different zip lock bags of vintage fast food toys to find these three Fraggle Rock toys from McDonald's.  Turns out, after looking on the web just now, this isn't a complete set.  There was a fourth.

But we do have Gobo Fraggle in the carrot car, Red Fraggle in the radish car and Wembly Fraggle along with Boober Fraggle in the cucumber car.  We're missing Mokey Fraggle who was, apparently, in an eggplant car.  Full details of the set and even more about some special Doozer cars can be found at the Muppet Wiki site.

But, I have to tell you, that seeing her select these guys - amongst other things like My Little Ponies and Barbies and what-…

Michigan Centennial Farm - Jollay's in Coloma

We were up in Michigan recently to do our annual apple picking and I came across this sign at Jollay's in Coloma that celebrates the place being a Centennial Farm. From the Historical Society of Michigan site, we find out what it technically means to be a Centennial Farm:
The Centennial Farm Program recognizes farms that have remained in the same family for 100 years or more and highlights the farm’s contributions to Michigan’s development. To be designated as a Centennial Farm, a property must be a working farm of 10 or more acres that has been continuously owned by the same family for at least 100 years. From the looks of this sign, they're *well* past the 100 year mark.

A neat little program that highlights some of the hardworking family farms that make Southwest Michigan a great place with a bountiful harvest.

The Chipettes Vintage Glass

A week or so ago, we went out to the Kane County Flea Market with the kids to hunt for some treasures.  We found a few including this The Chipettes vintage glass featuring Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor that I couldn't pass on based on Nat's affinity for this bunch.

This feels a bit like I'm heading down a rabbit's hole with vintage glassware and I think I'm going to have to get a bit more choosey going forward.  But, I do, like to think about having some vintage items in our everyday use instead of as decorations and the such, as is the case with most of our Christmas stuff.

The idea of grabbing some of these glasses from my childhood (I'm really after the McDonald's Muppets ones that my parents had...) and getting them into regular rotation in the cupboards is a nice way to bring some 'treasures' into our everyday life.

September 2016 Wall Calendars Turned Over

Although this post is going up on September 12th, I turned these calendars over on the 7th.  I took the photo above then.  And here's proof - if you go to this Google Photos link all the data is there with the photo.  Not that anyone but me really cares, right?

On the left is Ratatouille from 2009 on the Pixar calendar and on the right is the Grainger Engineering Library on the UIUC calendar.  And a kinda fall-ish day.  Not quite fall.  Not quite summer, either.  I think the photo works for September.

Last year, I turned the calendars on September 18th.  This year, I posted on the 12th, but turned them on the 7th.  Hmmm...let's be fair here and call it on the day I posted.  I don't want this lead to be too insurmountable.  So that's a net of -6 days.  Add it to the pile below.

As for the movie Ratatouille, I really liked it, but have only watched it one or two times.  I think we own it?  We should break it out again.  It made more than $600M at the box office accordi…

Vintage Felt and Sequin Mrs. Claus Christmas Ornament - Estate Sale Find

I posted some photos of the batch of vintage glass ornaments I bought at an Estate Sale earlier this week and mentioned in that post that there was one more ornament that came with the set.  And here she is!  She's some sort of felt version of Mrs. Claus who has a bunch of bedazzling on her with her Christmas best on and she's carrying a pie with both hands.  She's maybe five or six inches tall and a mirror image on the other side of her.  And awfully cute.

We have a few ornaments that look/feel like this and they all came from Anthropologie.  I could totally see something like her hanging in their store and selling for $12.99.

As for us, she was a no-brainer.  We are always open to 'unbreakable' ornaments that we can hang low on the tree for the kids to see, touch, and yank on.  She'll go great down there amongst her brethren.

Wine Barrel Flower And Water Garden

The top photo I took this week and the bottom photo is from the very end of May of this year.  It shows the DIY water garden that I built using a wine barrel bottom and a pedestal plastic planter (see the black pedestal planter next to the wine barrel?  That's what I put in the middle of the barrel to serve as the 'pond' of sorts.  I tucked in dirt all around the pedestal and then planted.  You can see in the bottom photo that there are various plants like spikes, sweet potato vines, asparagus ferns, geraniums and a few other filler plants.

Back in May, you could see a lot of the pond (and the Big Beef was all up in it!), but today?  Not only can you not really see the pond, but you can't see the barrel!?!  The fountain is still in there and bubbling away.  And when the air conditioner unit is off (which, thankfully, with the cooler temperatures recently it has been!), it throws off a nice, gentle noise that a water feature should.

A Stop At Ian's Pizza By The Slice Madison

A trip to Madison - or anywhere for that matter - wouldn't be complete without trying some of the local pizza.  And when you're on campus at U of W, I think that means heading to Ian's for some Mac-and-Cheese slices.  I first came across Ian's when they opened in Chicago back in 2009.  Here's a post from Slice/Serious Eats that talked about their 'kinda-famous' Mac-and-Cheese slice.  First time I'd heard of something like that and ever since, Ian's has been on my radar.   Looks like Ian's in Chicago didn't make it and is now a Dimo's?

But, back to Madison.  With some time to kill and a walk around campus towards the State Capitol, we went to Ian's on State Street and ordered a wide range of slices.  Of course, we had the Mac-and-Cheese.  But the girls also tried the cheese.  

We also ordered the Macadilla Killa - which has Mac-and-Cheese in it but also buffalo chicken and a weird tortilla top.  Didn't love it.  And I think we h…

Lemax Spookytown Black Cauldron Bootique

Second in the series of Lemax Spookytown structures as featured at our Menards this Halloween season is this Black Cauldron Bootique.  I posted some photos of another building last week that was called the 'Scariest Halloween House' here on the blog.   This one retails for $10 more but it seems that you get a bit more including a taller structure, more lights and a few different witches in various spots around the place.

Still not able to convince myself that Mantleburg needs a fall season.  Might have something to do with our housing situation.  Next year, I might be in a different mood come late summer for Spookytown.

Vintage Christmas Ornament Haul - Estate Sale Finds

A few weeks back, I picked up this ornament case and these 14 vintage Christmas ornaments at an Estate Sale in Elmhurst.  It was the same sale where I picked up this hobnail milkglass pitcher and this vintage White Sox book.  Quite the haul...

The ornament case was found where most Christmas stuff ends up - buried either on the floor under a table or in the basement.  When I opened the case, it was totally full, but I pulled out the ornaments that I didn't want that were newer and the seller at the sale was glad to keep them to try to sell to someone else.  We see these type of ornaments all the time at sales and most of the time they want anywhere between $2 and $4 a piece for each of them. Sometimes they're not even really that old, but just look old.  And each time, I usually pass.

Both, because glass ornaments like these aren't destined to last super long on our tree with the three savages roaming around and shaking the tree, but also because we have a tree full of or…

So Long, Meeder Industries - Moved Out of City Centre

If you walk by the storefront just south of TCBY on the west side of York Street in the Elmhurst City Centre these days, you'll notice that there's a 'for lease' sign up in the old Meeder Remodeling location.  They were in this spot for about a year or less only - as I posted about them moving out of their location further south here on the blog last December.

If you drive down south on York near the Prairie Path, you'll see that they've relocated down there, which is great and means that they didn't close up shop.

As for the City Centre, we need a mix of uses - from retail to restaurant to services to offices.  And Meeder was a part of that mix.  They didn't generate a ton of foot traffic, but I am guessing that they employed a staff that worked in the City Centre everyday that provided needed customers to the other tenants of the City Centre.

Because storefronts are so scarce, I'm always going to advocate for office/showroom uses like this be …

A Trip To Madison, Wisconsin - Late Summer 2016

A few weekends back, we found ourselves up in the Madison Wisconsin area and decided to take a trip to campus.  And, after drinking a Spotted Cow up on the Memorial Union Terrace, I had to ask myself:  Who know that Madison was so great?

I think it was the limited view of the collegiate world that Lincoln-Way gave me:  after all....if you were able to think about moving on from LWHS and think about a big, land-grant, state university, why wouldn't you go to the University of Illinois?  And if not there, it seemed like the other choice was Iowa.  Or...maybe Indiana?    But Wisconsin at Madison?  Nope.  Not on my radar.  Don't actually know anyone who went there from my high school days.

Subsequently, have come across some folks who graduated there.  There's a bunch of guys in our neighborhood in Elmhurst who are Badgers.  And, now?  I kinda get it.  Beautiful place.  So alive, too.  Between the campus and the Capitol, and the lakes.  My god...the lakes.  There's a lot…

Swizly Cider

Seems to be the week of 'international ciders', eh?  After the Canadian Danish cider earlier this week, here's a look at a Swiss cider called Swizly that I had with Nat, my sister and Equation Boy/Man earlier this summer at one of their favorite restaurants in Schaffhausen.  Same as the Somersby one.  Didn't love it.  But, it was a lovely evening dining outdoors on one of our last nights there.

Oddly enough, if you go to the Swizly website, they're advertising the stuff by showing off a pair of underpants and a tramp stamp?  Seriously?  Kind of a weird way to market the stuff, no?

Blazin Buddy Firewood

I came across these big wooden blocks called "Blazin' Buddy" at the Delta Sonic in Melrose and thought it was an interesting idea.  With the kids back in school, 'tis the season for snuggle wood, right?  You know...the bundles of wood that you pick up from the front display of the Jewel or out on the pallet of your local gas station?

Well, they now have a competitor.  And it is this thing.

It is like a 12" x 12" x 12" (I am guessing) block of wood with a hole drilled in the side and a big one on top under the label.  If you look closely, you'll see a little piece of kindling in the hole below.  You fish that thing out, light it on fire and stick it in the side hole to get the fire going.

They claim you'll get 3 hours of burn time out of one of these and have posted a YouTube video that compares it to three packs of snuggle wood.  The fire out of the regular wood is clearly better/brighter/more desirable, but there's no doubt that the Blaz…