Showing posts from February, 2017

Anderson's Candy Shop in Richmond

As we spend more time up at Twin Lakes in Wisconsin, we are beginning to get to know the local community a bit more including places to shop like Lake Geneva Antique Mall and this place above"  Anderson's Candy Shop, which is actually in Illinois.  Richmond, Illinois to be exact.  Richmond is a border town.  Check out this map that shows the town of Richmond, the location of Anderson's and it's proximity to the Wisconsin border (which I've circled in green) as well as Twin Lakes of Elizabeth and Mary.

Anderson's isn't the first candy shop that we've discovered.  Because of Google Maps rerouting us one time due to traffic and accidents, we came across the Riverside Chocolate Factory in McHenry.  It is shaped like a teepee, so it is hard to miss.  I'll try to post something on that place the next time we go because I think that the kids actually like that place better. Mostly because they have LOTS of little bins of name-brand candy.

And that's…

Tulips Emerge Early This Year

Last year, I posted a very similar photo of these tulips popping up at Equation Boy/Man's place, but I posted it about two weeks later in the year.  Could these things have been prompted to emerge from the ground based on that week-long heat streak where temperatures were in the 60's everyday?   

What happens if we get a frost?  Maybe they'll survive?

Either way, this seems to mark an important moment:  Spring is right around the corner.  It also means that the countdown until we're in our new place is on!  It has been a few years since I've been able to putter around in the yard and add things and move things around because we haven't had a yard of our own.  I planted a few things in the yard in Elmhurst and over at my in-laws place that we'll likely try to transplant this summer if we can find a cool week.  Then  Gardening and bulb planting and tree planting to get us a good start on the lot this year, I'm thinking...

Ray Charles: Ring of Fire

Chalk one up for YouTube and stumbling on new, interesting things.  I was watching a Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash "Girl from the North Country" video and then was offered up this Ray Charles video as a recommendation.  Had no idea that Ray Charles recorded an entire country record called "Love Country Style" in 1970.  Have to say that is is a pretty great cover version, eh?  
My brother-in-law Shaun, who was the first person to turn me on to The Band and gave me his vintage copy of The Last Waltz also gave me a Ray Charles boxed set.  Those were among some of my most cherished 'pieces' of vinyl.  I've admired Ray and his music, but haven't gotten too far into it.  Maybe this country stuff is the ticket in?
I use Google Music for all my listening needs, but I can only find this one song from a Greatest Hits compilation on there and the country album isn't available.  For those of you vinyl nerds out there, one of the 'pieces' that you might wan…

Ice Heaving or Ice Jacking in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin

Check out that shoreline!  That's what they call Ice Jacking or Ice Heaving.  And best I can tell it is quite common in Minnesota.  There's dozens of stories like this one about it happening and damaging both the shoreline and occasionally, someone's property.   I took these photos a bit ago before the lake ice melted completely.

We dealt with heaving with our old gate and the pavers underneath it as each winter they'd rise up by a small fraction of an inch, but it was enough to make the gate stick underneath it.

That curling up of the earth and movement of the stones from the riprap is something I've never seen before in all my years spent around a lake.  Paw Paw didn't do this, but we also had a lot of beach area with a zero-depth entrance, so perhaps the ice had room to expand?

If you look in the photo below, you can see it happening in the neighbors shoreline, too.  But, it doesn't occur everywhere.  Just in *some* spots.

Based on what I've read…

WDW Half Marathon Pin - 20th Year

Beyond mentioning it here in this post about Raglan Road, I don't think I've ever posted about the trip Nat and I took for the half marathon down in Disney earlier this year? Welp, that's a good, long story.
But not for this post.   This post is just about a pin.  This happens to be one of the pins that they offered at the Race Expo that is a tiny replica of the medal they give you at the finish line.  This was the 20th running of the race, so that's why the double x's stacked on top of each other.  We scored two different half marathon pins, so I'll post the other one on another day.

Port Orleans Riverside Resort Pin

I've posted a few times about Port Orleans Riverside down at Walt Disney World over the past few months.  First, I shared the sawn balusters on the luggage cart, then talked about the amazing Live Oak they built the resort around and then just this week, showed off the animated headboards in the Princess rooms.  All awesome.

Above is the pin that we picked up from our stay there.  As we've done in the past, we always try to get the pin from our resort to mark the trip.  Here's one from the Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Polynesian.  The girls pins have been accumulating in a zip lock bag because we've outgrown the one pin board we have and we're waiting for the new place to think about unpacking them even more.

Oh, and by the way, that photo up top?  It was taken with the Google Photoscan app.  It is awesome.  I tried to take the same photo with my camera of the pin and it turned out all glare-y.  Photoscan gets rid of it.

Hartmann Jewelers - Closed?

If you walk past Hartmann Jewelers on the east side of York Street - just across the tracks - in the Elmhurst City Centre, you'll see this:  papered up windows.  And a little note that says that they're closed.  The note says that if you left a piece with them, they'll be in touch to get it to you.

There were once three jewelry stores in the City Centre.  There's Cottage Hill Diamonds (still there!), plus this place Hartmann and one other.  Can you remember?

Well, it wasn't so much a jewelry shop as it was a pawn shop.  Yep, for a sad period of time, we had a "GoldMax" on the west side of York Street in the City Centre.  This was back in 2012.

We've been in Hartmann a few times, but it was ONLY ever on the downtown Trick-or-Treat days when the kids wandered in there to pick up a lollipop or Tootsie Roll.  Oh well, I guess part of why they're closing is the community didn't support them.

There was once three.  Now there's just one.  Bet…

Animated Headboards At Port Orleans Riverside

Just about one year ago today (February 12th of 2016), I posted about the really neat animated headboards at the Disneyland Hotel.  I've long thought that the little details like those headboards made spending the few extra dollars to stay at one of Disney's hotels was worth it vs. staying off property.

Above you'll see a different headboard.  With different animations.  This time, it is in Orlando at Port Orleans Riverside in one of Princess Tiana's rooms.  We stayed there recently and loved it.   These headboards don't play music like the ones at DLR, but they're just as delightful.  The girls loved the little Princess touches around the room and I loved the price.  So let's call it a win-win, right?

Posting for Postings sake

Late one, but still keeping the resolution alive.

Fighting Illini Pen Rest

One of my nephews gave this to me for Christmas and it has been sitting on my desk ever since.  It is a 'pen rest', but that's not the cool part.  First, he made it! he made it in shop class in school.  I'm thinking it was some sort of computer-driven machining tool?  He programmed in my name and (most importantly) the Illini shield - which I'm over the moon for - and then stained it all by himself.

Kinda awesome, right?  Especially because he's just a 12 year old.

Custom "Share a Coke" Bottles

Back at Christmastime, my friend Kate gave me this big red box right ahead of the holidays.  She knew of my affinity for Coke Zero and so this was a welcome gift.  Inside the box was a set of these cute glass bottles with my name on them!

This is the 2nd time I've written about the #ShareaCoke campaign.  First time was back here in August of 2015 when I bemoaned the lack of an 'e' on the Jacob bottles.  Well...turns out they've solved that little problem.

You can go over and create your own bottle on the 'share a Coke' site here:   And you can put an 'e' on the end of your name if you'd like, too!

Swiss Minivan Spotted

Out on Ogden Road in Downers a few weeks back, I spotted this Honda Odysessy, which at first glance appears to be your standard, run-of-the-mill grocery wagon that we all drive out in the suburbs.  But, if you look closely, you'll see a "CH" oval sticker in the corner of the rear window.

I saw it and then as safely as I could, whipped out my phone and tried to take this photo.

Why?  Because that "CH" oval sticker is one that I saw a bunch when we were visiting my sister and Equation Boy/Man in Switzerland.  CH means Swiss, which came as a surprise to me.  But now, when I see it, I know!

From Wikipedia:
The data code for Switzerland, CH, is derived from Latin Confoederatio Helvetica (English: Helvetic Confederation). I gleefully emailed off this photo to Equation Boy/Man and I'm hoping that they'll come home with one of these stickers and stick it on the back of their own van when they're living back in Elmhurst this summer.   They'll have fell…

Save This Town - Elmhurst City Center Snow Village?

Over on Addison Street in the Elmhurst City Centre, there's this place called Undercover Upholstery.  It is located south of the new parking deck with Orange Theory Fitness in it and north of the Coldwell Banker office and Pizza Palace on the east side of the street.  I parked over there recently when I was getting my haircut at JMC Barbershop.

I never thought much of the Upholstery shop and neither saw anyone ever go inside nor did it ever really seem open.  But, it must have been because it's been there for a number of years.

It caught my attention this time, because of the numerous flyers on the windows of the place that you can see in the photo above.  There's seven of the same flyer hung up in the front window.

And here's a closeup of that flyer.  It is pretty cute and reads:  "Save this town - snow village."

"All these buildings and homes must be moved to make room for another seven story parking deck.    The Historic Society of Snow Village is s…

Beerhead Bar Elmhurst Exterior Work Complete

Back in December of last year, there was finally a flurry of activity on the structure that sits at the northwest corner of First and York (just on the north side of the tracks) in the Elmhurst City Center.  I covered it here on the blog and at that time, Alderman Dannee Polomsky of the 3rd Ward shared that there was a new business going into the spot called Beerhead Bar & Eatery.  If you head to the Beerhead site, they now even have a page up for the Elmhurst location.

For the better part of the past 60 days, there has been scaffolding up on both sides of the building as they do some exterior work on the facade, but as I walked by it earlier this week on my way to the train, I noticed the scaffolding was all gone.

And the building looks great!  They added some black stone to the top and down the sides and cleaned up the brick it looks like to me.  The building, which if you look back thru the archives was a hodgepodge of a bunch of different uses including Polay's interior…


In a major development on the construction site, we now have windows installed!  Windows!  Yeah, I know.  You're questioning the exclamation points.  But, listen....we've been at this a loooooooooong time.  And this is a real mark of progress towards having a home completed, so it is worth celebrating for our family.

They're not all in - nor are the doors - so the house isn't quite 'buttoned up', but it is close.  And that marks an exciting time.  If you look closely on the right side of this photo you'll see some metal conduit that the electrician has put in.  That means that some of the mechanical work has been started, so once that's done and the insulation is installed, I think we get the drywall hung.  Then we'll *really* get a sense for how the place is turning out and what the true space is for each room.

But for now, we're celebrating windows.

Late 70's Illini Football Helmet Lamp

Over on eBay this weekend, I came across this beauty of a lamp.  It is listed at $85 and has no shade, so it isn't a steal, right?

But it *is* awesome.  But right now, it isn't for me.  (remember that whole Joe Rhode-thing about that says: "It is enough to enjoy the existence of things without possessing all of them"???)

Looking up the helmets in the Helmet Project site, it seems that this one with the blue facemask, the arched "Illini" that is outlined in blue is from a very specific few years:  1977 to 1979.

As a child of the late 70's, I kinda love that.  We don't have a house yet, let alone a place for this lamp, but I bet it'd look pretty awesome in a rumpus room, right?  At $85, it might not go fast, right?  All it takes is one nutball like me to buy it, though!

Christmas Vacation Lionel Trains Boxcar

Earlier this week, I posted some photos of the new Elf the Movie Lionel O-Gauge Boxcar that we pre-ordered for this past Christmas, but just arrived in February.  Welp, here's the other one:  A National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation "Merry Clarkmas" boxcar.

Both of these Lionel cars are made in the USA and have that special American flag box.  I was going to give this to one of my nephews who really loves this movie last year, but I swapped in something else because this didn't arrive.  I'll pack this one up too, and take it off to our storage unit for a few months.  There's light at the end of the tunnel, though.  Just four more months until we'll be in our place.  At least that's what I'm hoping for right now.

The boxcar features the Griswold's house and station wagon with the huge tree strapped to the top, Cousin Eddie's RV, the tree out in the wild and a bit more.

Including Clark, the squirrel and the flying Santa and Reindeer.


The Betty: Coaster Collection

This is the 17th coaster added to the 'coaster collection'.  You can see the whole archive here.  This is from The Betty where we went for a 'too cool for school' cocktail while we waited for a table at Duck Duck Goat.

The Betty is a pretty big place so we found a spot to hang for a while and drink our craft cocktails like the cool kids.  We weren't out of place, thankfully, because Nat, her sister and her mom were there to class our group up.

Vintage Find: Early Japan Wooden Horsecart

Our middle child picked out this little early wooden horsecart at the Lake Geneva Antique Mall on a trip up there.  I'm not sure exactly how it went down, but I think Nat told the girls that they could pick out something small - a 'treasure' - to reward their patience while we wandered around the place.   Now that they're not in strollers, it is a lot harder to wrangle them at places like antique malls where they don't go crazy.

The Bird picked this little wooden horse and cart.  The tag says "Early Japan" and the bottom is stamped directly on the piece, no sticker:

Kind of a sweet little treasure, isn't it?  It is super brittle, so I know it won't last long. But, one of the horse legs was busted off already, so it wasn't perfect in the first place.

Just like my Dad did to me, we're (I think) doing to our girls:  encouraging them to love old things.

The trick, however, is something that I'm not quite *there* with that Joe Rhode onc…

Miss Beatrice Starr - Citizen of Main Street USA

On the left is Chief Smokey Miller and on the far right is Victoria Trumpetto - both of whom I've posted about already.  But, right next to me is a new one:  Beatrice Starr.  We met her on the same day earlier this year.  According to the DisneyParks Blog, she runs the theatre program around Main Street USA:
Miss Beatrice Starr is better known as “Bea” (pronounced Be-uh), and is the Chairman of The Main Street Thespian Society. She signed one of the girl's books, too!

So, that now makes

Honorable Christopher George Weaver, Mayor of Main Street USAScoop Sanderson, Main Street Gazette Reporter, Town Councilman and Pin-thusiastChief Smokey Miller, Chief of the Main Street Volunteer Fire Department, Mayor George Weaver's “right-hand man”Ms. Hildegard Olivia Harding, socialite and suffragette, President of the Main Street Social Society, Women’s Auxiliary and Decorating Committee, and owner of the EmporiumVictoria Trumpetto, the Main Street Choir Director

Elf Lionel Christmas Boxcar (Featuring Buddy The Elf)

Recently a box arrived from TrainWorld that included a few little surprises.  Why were they surprises?  Because I had pre-ordered a few things from the 2016 Lionel Catalog that had late fall delivery before Christmas last year.  Unfortunately, Lionel didn't make their deadlines, so these despite these boxcars having Christmas themes (I'll post the other one on a different day), came in February.

(in other news, the 2017 catalog is up at Trainworld and they're accepting pre-orders.  There are a bunch of stuff that I'm keen to buy...but I wonder if I should wait for the new house??)

This first one is from Elf the Movie.  It features Buddy the Elf and a few phrases like "Son of a nutcracker".  I don't love boxcars, but I do love a good Christmas train and love Elf, so this one was hard to pass up.

Here's the side panel of the box showing the boxcar description.  These will go over to my Dad's house until we get moved into our place.  Once that'…

The Batman Lego Movie: Lego Mini Batwing

The Babe scored this little bonus pack that includes The Mini Batwing from the Lego Batman movie as the VIP Club 'free' gift along with a recent Lego purchase.  I say 'free' in quotes because while it *is* free, that's because we bought the sets directly from the Lego store, which gives us VIP points and little free sets like this.  They don't, however, have the best prices.  You can go on Target and compare prices on just about any recent set and see that Target has it a few bucks cheaper. don't get the points and the little things like this.  So, since the kids are so young and it seems like we're just entering our Lego years, I've decided to play the long-game and go with the VIP points program.  See this brickvesting post for some details.  (btw...brickvesting?  Like investing in Legos???  Seriously?  Maybe that's how I can convince Nat to let us buy more!  Honey....we're investing in our future!!)

The Babe seems to be hangin…

The Gingerbread Carousel @ The Beach Club

There are gingerbread houses and even castles.  But then there's this:  the gingerbread carousel that graced the lobby of Disney's Beach Club and Yacht Club's lobby earlier this year.  You can read the description above and know that this is the 17th year of them doing this and it *is* pretty impressive.

And it moves!

The kids loved it but, I stood and stared for a while.  It's no Mary Blair artwork, but as far as lobby displays go, this one is pretty incredible.

Insulators As Light Fixture

Down at Disney Springs, we ate at a burger place that had pretty good burgers, but the star of the show was this light fixture that used repurposed insulators.  Pretty neat.  Maybe I can convince Nat that we should try something like this in our new place?

Raglan Road @ Disney Springs - Coaster Collection

Back late last year, we had dinner at Raglan Road in Disney Springs and it.was.awesome.

We were down there with Nat's folks and they really love a good Irish pub.  They seek them out when they're traveling.  Because we're always eager to try new things on our Disney trips, it seemed perfect to head there and give this place a try.  I had ZERO expectations.  And was totally blown away.

They had live entertainment and some incredible dancing on a few different stages.  And there's customer participation.  They invited some kids to go up on stage and if you know my kids, you know that the two girls are sooooo different.  One is bashful and very deliberate.  The other is up for just about anything.

So, without much encouragement, up the Bird went on stage.  And she danced!  She was the youngest of all the participants, but that didn't stop her.  Afterwards, she got a few stickers and this sweet certificate recognizing her for dancing with the crew.

Oh, and the coast…

Me On Google Local Guides: 2.5M Photo Views Milestone

Back in May, I posted about hitting level 4 on the Google Local Guides program which gives you a nice storage bonus for photos and docs and gmail.  I've been contributing to the Local Guide program - which is where you submit your reviews/ratings as well as photos of local places to Google Maps - ever since and every few weeks, Google sends you a little update on how well your stuff is faring.  Sometimes, it is how many people are being helped by your photos and other times it is how often your reviews are being shared, etc.

Recently, I received the email above that shows that my photos have now hit 2.5M combined views.  I have no idea what that means, other than it seems like a big number.  As a Local Guide, you can go in and see all of your contributions and even see which photos have the most views (this photo of Silver Beach Pizza in St. Joe's is my most-viewed photo ever).

Kind of interesting to see which photos people are using and how they're helping.  The Local G…

MotherBoy 2022

I just found out that the school that the kids go to has a 'mother son' event.  And now I can't stop laughing at the idea of Nat and the Big Beef at MotherBoy 2022 wearing matching outfits.  Might have sent a few images via text over the past 24 hours.  Just might have...

Yard Sale Find: Vintage Plastic Santa Light Up With Handheld Bulb

Earlier this fall, I stopped at a yard sale up in Twin Lakes and saw this Santa on the table with an asking price of $0.25.  Couldn't pass him up.  Mostly because I liked him, but also because I thought - at the time - that he looked just like a Santa that sits on my inlaws counter in their kitchen at Christmastime.  There's a story involved, but I believe that the Santa in question (the one on the counter in Naperville) is from Nat's Dad's childhood.  So, it is loved.

This one, looked just like it.  But had better paint.  I brought it back and figured there was no better home than with Nat's parents.  I was just a quarter, so if it got thrown out, that's not the end of the world.  But, they loved it!  And confirmed that it *is* the exact same one they have at home from Granddad's childhood.

I've looked around and you can see on eBay that the mug that he's holding in his hand holds a bulb in some cases.  Not sure, exactly, how that would …