Showing posts from October, 2016

Our Jack-O-Lanterns (2016 Editions)

That's the "Alien pig Queen" on the top courtesy of the Bird.
A scribbled-on two-eye and a heart (drawn by his sister) guy faithfully sawn based on some of the drawings of the King of the Ball Tossers.
And....a masked guy as created by the oldest one - The Babe.

Unlike in past years, these have stayed inside our front porch, not on the outside porch.  Here's a post from back in 2014 showing the ways I have kept them free of squirrel bites.

New Toy Cars from Candylab Toys - Kickstarter Project

For the King of the Ball Tosser's 2nd birthday, I gave him a collection of three different vehicles including this Police Cruiser from Candylab Toys.  I came across these guys on Kickstarter and have backed them with their latest project featuring some mid-century cars like a stationwagon and a few race cars.

But, they also had earlier projects that were backed featuring cars that they billed as "heirloom" toys that included this cruiser you see in the box above.

The latest cars are set to come sometime before Christmas and they had more than 1K backers and raised more than $120K to launch the new line.  So, we'll soon have six of them knocking around our house.

After opening up the cars including the cruiser, the kids all tooled around the floor with them (briefly!) and then quickly moved on to other stuff.  Isn't it always that way when there's a pile of presents on the floor awaiting to be opened?

These are, seemingly, pretty special toys and I'm …

Lionel Disney Winnie the Pooh 50th Anniversary Boxcar - O-Gauge

Late in September, I posted a few photos of a special Lionel/Disney Dumbo boxcar that I picked up for one of the kids this year and just this week I received another Disney pre-ordered boxcar.  This time it is the 50th Anniversary of Winnie the Pooh in O-Gauge boxcar form.

And just like with the Dumbo car, this Pooh Bear car comes in a pretty nice "Disney Railroad" box.  Took pics of the front, a close-up of the photo of the car on the back of the box and the product listing on the side label that you can see below.

As I mentioned in the Dumbo car post, I wasn't quite sure who that one was destined for (amongst my kids and nephews), but this one?  The Pooh Bear one?  That's for the one and only Pooh Bear lover in our family:  The Bird.  She sleeps with a Pooh Bear every night!  He's her favorite.   Well...Ariel might be her true favorite, but Pooh Bear has been there through it all!

Have to say that I'm a sucker for Disney/Lionel crossovers.  There's a…

Canyon Trail Cemetery - Halloween Tradition 2016

A few nights ago, we packed the kids into the van and headed west.  To Carol Stream to be precise.

The reason?  To go make our annual visit to the Canyon Trail Cemetery.  Here's my post from 2014 when I think we went for the first time (and I made Richard Christie reference?!?) and here's my post from last fall.

You can get all the details - including the address - about the Canyon Trail Cemetery from their Facebook page here.  

The place is pretty awesome.  Tons of pneumatic animatronics and lots of sounds and lights and movement.  Things jump out at you and make all sorts of racket.  The Babe did some screaming.  The King of the Ball Tossers kept his distance.  You can see him in this photo below.  Well past the fence and even standing in the parkway.  He wasn't too sure of the 'scary skellies' as he calls them.

Here's the big Pumpkin King that they have 'around the corner'.  Always a big hit with us every year.  He rises out of the ground to be l…

The Dude Lebowski Sweater

I know I'm about a week late on this, but I just had to post it here on the blog.  Last week, after the Packers beat the Bears, Aaron Rodgers (Hey!!!! Roddd-gers!) broke out his Lebowski sweater for the postgame interview.  And that's when I discovered that this sweater is a real thing. can buy it.  And not off ebay or from some Estate Sale.

A quick search on teh Googlesturns up a company named Pendleton who sells the sweater.  Originally from 1972, they're still selling it today, but for a pretty steep price: $239.00.  Doesn't matter.  I've now added it to my Christmas list.  Yeah...that's right.  I keep a running list of 'wants' that Nat will check out near Christmas or birthday time.  But, if I'm honest: Will someone buy this for me?  Nope.  Not a chance. Still goes on the list.  Still goes on the list.

And if you have a minute, go check out the reviews at the bottom of the product listing.  Lots of people saying how nice of a sweat…

Lemax Corner Barber Shop - Mantleburg

Another day, another Lemax Christmas village building.  This time it is the Corner Barber Shop, which just like the piano bar from yesterday is new this year.

Mantleburg could totally use a barber shop.  Alas, it isn't in the cards.

Both the barber shop and the piano bar are part of the Caddington Village collection that also features quite a few 'new in 2016' structures.

Lemax CJ's Piano Bar - Mantleburg

Our Menards in Melrose Park is in full Christmas mode these days.  They've set up the entire Enchanted Forest and now have their Lemax Christmas Village set up.  It *is* the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it?

There's a bunch of new structures up this year and we'll start with this one above: CJ's Piano Bar.  From the product listing on the Lemax site, this is a new building for 2016.  It has a nice 'inside scene' and would be a nice addition to anyone's mainstreet.  But, what about Mantleburg, you're probably asking yourself?  Welp, the Mayor has decided to keep the moratorium on new buildings and annexations until the entire town of Mantleburg gets settled into their new home, which is currently slated for Christmas of 2017.  The last addition was made official in January of 2016, but I'm pretty sure that the saw mill was sitting in my trunk for an entire year, so it was likely annexed in the fall of 2014 - two years ago.

I'll po…

Gaming Goat: Coming Soon to Elmhurst City Centre

It has been almost a full year since the Elmhurst Olive Oil Company closed it's doors in the spot just north of the York Threatre in the Elmhurst City Centre.  But, if you walk past the store today, you'll see these new signs hanging up in the window that herald a new beginning:  The Gaming Goat store is coming to the City Centre.

Going back in the archives, I have this post from January of 2011 when this location hosted a recently-closed business called "Let's Have a Party".  Remember that?

But, what *is* the Gaming Goat?  I can't get to their site for some reason, but the Oak Park Store has a Facebook page and from the looks of things this isn't a video game store.  It is more of a Settlers of Catan-type of store.  Or Magic The Gathering-type of store.  Board and dice games.  The Geeks shall inherit the City Centre, it seems.

I am assuming that they're going to hustle to get the store open before the holiday shopping season and I'm glad to s…

Apple Holler - AKA "Big Apple"

No, I'm not talking about New York City.  I'm talking about "Big Apple".  As in..."big pharma" or "big tobacco" or even the recently-coined "Big Uni" by the guys at Uni-Watch.

That's the best way to describe Apple Holler in Sturtevant, Wisconsin.

We've been to a bunch of these apple orchards and pumpkin patches.  Apple Holler is a combination of those two experiences and it is - based on how crowded it was when we went - quite popular.

So, why is it, exactly, "Big Apple"?

Well, let's start with the parking.  It costs you $5 to park your car.

Then, if you want to go pick apples, they charge each person $20 to go in the orchard.  Yep....$20.  Sure, they give you a little tiny bag that can hold like a dozen apples.  But, every person that goes in, it is $20.  Kids, too!  That means, for us it was going to be $80 just to pick some apples.  No thanks.

We went up there with some friends, so it was great to see them an…

Hit 'Em With The Hein!

My office door not only includes a 'Flat Ronnie' (see the post from the archives about #FlatRonnie here), but now a "Hit 'em With The Hein!".  I'm still awaiting the day when a secret Superfan at Edelman walks by and strikes up a conversation.

I love how quickly this whole "Hit 'em with the Hein!" thing has taken off including Jason Sudeikis shouting one out on Son of Zorn this week.

Meet Lizzie

It was back in May that we lost our dear girl Maisy just shy of her 11th birthday.  I still miss her dearly.  And we kinda tried to fill the void by bringing home a goldfish from RibFest.  BTW...that fish is still alive and well!  And the whole burden of cleaning the bowl has been pretty easy thus far.  Installed a filter, change out like 1/4 to 1/3rd of the water about once every ten days and the thing stays clean.

Anyway...back to dogs.  Our dear Maisy was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  And she  First dogs often are, aren't they?   I've talked with a few people and they all say the same thing:  that first dog that couples often get BEFORE they have kids has a special relationship and bond with the family.  They're just different.  Sure, second dogs are great and they're also special.  But just about everybody that I've talked to has said the same thing:  it just isn't the same.

And with Maisy being pretty awesome?  I'm guessin…

My Year+ With Digit Savings

Early in 2015, I signed up for a savings account, but it wasn't until last fall that I really paid it any attention.  It was then that I configured/turned back on/confirmed and linked all the right account pipes to actually make the thing work properly.  I'm 102 transactions in at this point and the app has saved over $800.

If you're not familiar with Digit Savings, here's a bit more that explains how things work:

I won't go into the minutia of how Nat and I work our banking/checking/savings accounts, but for the purpose of Digit, I isolated the app away from certain accounts and had it focus on a checking account that has just one debit card that I carry in my wallet.  Isn't always the card I use nor is it the account that has the most action in it.  So...just stating that because if you watched the video above, you now know that the Digit Savings App is *supposed* to be 'smart' and monitor your account and studies spending history.  Thus, si…

Metra Refurbished Passenger Car Spotted on UP-West Line

After reading about how the folks at Metra - in between all of their non-stop fare increases and delays - were refurbishing some of their cars with updates like new seats and cupholders back in January, I had been wondering when I'd come across one of them.

Welp, the wait is over.  Last week, on one of my morning commutes on the Union Pacific West line, I boarded and climbed upstairs like I always do.  Only to realize that I was in a refurbished car.

Preetay, preetay, preetay nice.  Or at least it is more like what you expect a train car in 2016 to actually look like.

Check out the sleek blue seats:

There's more, including cupholders!  But, in the seats I was sitting, there weren't any cupholders.  From ABC7's story in January:
Most of Metra's passenger cars are feeling the wear and tear of age. A select group of them are being refurbished with a new look and a most-definite new feel.

New seats are being installed on 30 Metra passenger cars, giving them something…

No Way Da Mare Would Have Allowed This Nonsense In City Hall

Walk through City Hall these days and you'll see that Northside guy Rahm has wrapped himself in the "W" flag and there's dozens of them hung up in the lobby.  There's no way that Da Mare would would have allowed this, right?  I don't like this.  Not one bit.

A View of Lake Elizabeth @ Twin Lakes

I feel a little bit like Sarah Palin when I stand on the dock at Lake Elizabeth in Wisconsin and look to the right to see the great state of Illinois.  Just a little bit. 

Burst Mode on the Nexus 6P Camera

Those of you that follow the technology world like I do likely heard about/read about the new Pixel and Pixel XL phones that Google announced last week along with other things like Google Home and Google Wifi.  Being an Android guy and owner of every Nexus phone (and a few tablets!) that have come out, I couldn't wait to get in line to buy a phone.  But, as part of the marketing for these new phones, Google has been doing a lot of talk about the camera.  And how it is, by at least one regard, the *best* camera to ever be put in a phone.  That's nice, right?  They also talked about a feature called Smartburst.  From their post:
Pixel’s camera lets you take stunning photos in low light, bright light or any light. Catch action shots as they happen with Smartburst, which takes a rapid-fire sequence of shots and automatically selects the best one. Use Lens Blur to achieve shallow depth of field and bokeh effects, making your subject pop. You can capture dramatic landscapes or make …

The McCallister House in Winnetka

On Monday, I posted about our trip to the Highwood Pumpkin Festival where we carved a few pumpkins and rode some rides.  And, I mentioned that we made a second stop on the way home.  And, this photo above is *that* second stop.  And it is kind of a 'meta' photo.  That's me, in the driver's seat of the van taking a picture of Nat taking a picture of the McAllister home from Home Alone in Winnetka.

Yep...that's the driveway where the neighbor tells the McAllisters to "Bring me back something French!" and is the one that has been subject to a bunch of coverage lately as it has been put up for sale and ultimately changed hands a few years back.

We were in the neighborhood, or....well...we kind of *made* it the neighborhood.  As we left Highwood, Nat navigated us down there to check it out.  We've been meaning to go up there for a while, but we haven't been close enough.

The place is a stunner.  But the real star of the show is Old Man Marley's…

Getting A Late Start On Election Day 2016

These are a few of the posters that have gone up recently around the office that are urging all of us at Edelman to make sure we get out and vote on Election Day.  They've even incentivized us by having the office 'open' at 11:30 am central that day and by bribing us with donuts.  The puns just write themselves, it seems.

And Edelman isn't alone.  There's a trend happening on Election Day.  From this Digiday story:
A variety of agencies, from Edelman and Day One to AKQA and Walton Isaacson, are doing everything from letting employees work remotely to delaying opening their offices until later in the day in a bid to encourage them to vote.

For Edelman, flexibility just didn’t cut it. When the agency polled its employees about the biggest barriers stopping them from getting to the polls, time fared top of the list. Agency executives realized that even with flexible time off to vote, it was still difficult for staffers to juggle work, polls, childcare and other respon…

An IPA Craft Beer Tasting Session With Dr. Jeff

Another month, another craft beer tasting session with our good friend Dr. Jeff.  Here's the last session he hosted that focused on Sours.  And one from earlier this year where he toured us through various stouts.

This time, he took us on a tour of IPAs including a stop at what he called the "OG of West Coast IPAs", this 5th Anniversary Stone Brewing IPA.  This one scored a 93 on Beer Advocate, so he isn't fooling around.   It was interesting to taste a few different versions from Stone being that we were just at the Bavarian Lodge where Stone did a takeover.  Of course, Dr. Jeff was there on opening night as a good craft beer advocate *should* be.

Here's the story on the back of the big bottle:

After that, he brought out a can of Heady Topper The Alchemist from Vermont.  This one has a score of 100!  I think that's the first 100 I've ever had.  And, maybe it was the age of this can, but I liked other beers better that night.   However, it was nice to h…

The Man Who Knew Infinity - Art @ The York October 2016

Showing TODAY (Wedesday) at the York Theater is this month's "Art @ the York" feature titled 'The Man Who Knew Infinity'.  For those of you who don't know about this film series, the basics are that you can get all art-y with this movie (that isn't shown widely) today and you can also get there for the organ player before the show.   Yep.  They bring the guy from The Tivoli in Downers Grove to play before the show in the original theatre at the York.  Pretty neat.  
Despite the Rotten Tomatoes score of just 62%, the Art @ York series usually gets the movies right, so this one seems worth seeing.
Check out the Art @ The York archives here on the blog where I've been covering this series since it began all the way back in June of 2015.  

Not Quite Fall Splendor - View From My Office

The trees are starting to turn.  Look at the ones just southwest of the end of the Pritzker Pavillion lawn.  They're red!  Well, some of them are.  But, looking back in the archives, I found this post from Halloween of last year that shows that same stand of trees being all bright red.  So, the best is yet to come.

There's also a bit of post-Chicago Marathon clean-up happening here with the tents and what-have-you in the parks and around Buckingham Fountain.  Fall splendor, not quite.  But a quick look at the transition point between summer and fall from the 64th floor of the Aon Center.

A Trip to the Highwood Pumpkin Festival

Over the weekend we went up to the Highwood Pumpkin Festival and came face-to-face with this massive wall of carved pumpkins.  It was pretty neat to see them all stacked up on the scaffolding around the downtown.  We even contributed two carved masterpieces to the collection in the hopes of breaking the Guinness World Record, but I'm not sure that they got there this year.

The festival is just seven years young, but they're doing a lot of great things to bring their community together and raise money for a cause.  I'm not sure how Nat found out about the fest, but I'm glad we went.  Oh...and we made a stop our way home, just because we were in that neck of the woods.  But, that's for another post on another day.

Muppets McDonald's Glasses - Miss Piggy on Motorcycle

I grew up with a set of these McDonald's Muppets glasses in our kitchen cupboards in Frankfort and this one of Miss Piggy riding a motorcycle through what I think is a stained glass window was the one that I recall most vividly.  I spotted these glasses at the Kane County Flea market, but they wanted like $8 a piece for each of the four glasses.  I passed.

But the idea didn't leave my mind.  So, I came across them recently online and had to pull the trigger.  I've been using this one in particular - but all of them, frankly - since they arrived.

The back of the glass is marked with a 'Henson Associates, Inc 1981' along with the golden arches from McDonalds.  Or...Mac-and-Donalds as my oldest sister (apparently) says.

These were released alongside the film The Great Muppet Caper.  Now, they're living their second life in our (temporary) home where my kids get to enjoy them.  #vintageglasses tag page can be found here where this one becomes the fourth in the c…

Bavarian Lodge Mug - Pinched Glass Collection

Add this beauty of a mug to the collection from the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle.  But, before we talk more about the mug/glassware, can we say a word about this place?  We had never been there before.  But, we took the three savages with us and decided to try an early dinner one night.  And... I... Loved... It!

Loved the place.  Loved the food.

We ordered the pretzels and they might have been the highlight.  Also went with the schnitzel and a knockwurst along with a side of kraut.  All-in, German-style.  Loved the schnitzel, didn't have room to take on much of the knockwurst.

And when we were there, Nat's brother's favorite brewery - Stone Brewing - was doing a takeover of the lodge's taps, so we both enjoyed a few of those, which was nice.

Here's a few pics of the Stone takeover menu front and back:

And here's my beautiful partner in life hoisting one of those tasty beers in the gorgeous mug that's part of the 'pinched collection'.

Lego Friends 2016 Advent Calendar

On Monday, I posted a couple of photos of the Lego City Advent Calendar that we're giving to the Bird and today here is the front and the back of the Lego Friends version of  the 2016 Advent Calendar.

This one is intended for the Babe - the older girl - because she already has a few different Lego Friends sets.  Also...if you know them, you know that their personalities are just about right in that the Bird gets the City version and the Babe gets this one.