Showing posts from May, 2017

Chicago Theater Honors Gregg Allman

On my way to the office this week, I spotted the marquee at the Chicago Theater marking the passing of Gregg Allman.   You can't see the sky in the photo above, but yesterday morning, we had quite a blue sky.  How nice.  I have never been a big Allman Brothers guy, but....

Early morning sunshine tell me all I need to know.

Mid-Century Floor Lamp - Estate Sale Find/One That Got Away

A few weeks back, I stopped at an Estate Sale in south Elmhurst and came across a house that was basically frozen in the 60's and 70's.  They had a lot of interesting furnishings and built-ins, but nothing seemed like a fit for us until I wandered into an upstairs bedroom and saw this lamp.  It is a tall, floorstanding lamp that has a wood (teak, maybe?) base that is made up of three 'prongs' with a bronze/gold rod running up the middle.  The shade, as you can see, has a butterfly scene on it, but it is totally replaceable and appeared to be a standard-size shade that you could easily buy today.  I really liked the base and how the legs give that Mid-Century/Danish/rocket-age look to it.  I also love how the teak blows through the top of the shade.

This was a deal, I think based on this one listing I found that shows a pair of companion table lamps that were listed for $625 for the pair.  They'd be a great grouping put together, right?

Here's a screenshot fr…

Trip to Philadelphia - Steaks

I found myself in Philadelphia recently and unfortunately, I didn't have time for much outside of the scheduled events.  (sounds familiar, right?  Just like my recent trip to Denver where I didn't get to go to the Cherry Cricket!)  And that means my trip didn't include a visit to Pat's and Geno's for the typical tourist showdown.  Let alone Steve's - which I think the eaters have coalesced around as being tops in town, right?  

I did, however, have time for a steak at the airport where Geno's has an outpost.

I got my 'with wiz' and it wasn't awesome.

But, shame on me for thinking it was going to be right?  Kinda like the equivalent of getting pie at the DiFara's in Vegas at the Ceasar's Food Court, right?  You know what you're doing when you enter into an agreement like this.  It always turns out the same.

A Reminder of our Cuckoo Clock - From the Black Forest

My sister Vic sent me this photo above from Oli's in Triberg, Germany - the home of the Master Carvers Club who handcraft *real* cuckoo clocks.  She was in Triberg with my folks recently to show them the town (it is awfully cute) and to show them how you can see/tell the difference between clocks (hint:  look at the side and if you see plastic in the little circle, pass on it.).  My sister and Equation Boy/Man bought a clock from Oli's and while they were there, they sent the photo you see above.   The one in the middle is the clock that Nat and I picked up when we were there all the way back in last Summer.  It has 'balusters', which is kinda awesome if you have been keeping up with our house build.

It's funny, though:  we shipped the clock to Elmhurst from Germany and when it arrived, it was so well packed that, since we didn't have a place to put it, we just left it in it's box and mostly forgot about it.  This photo, though, brought me right back to t…

Corkscrew Willow Tree - Far Backyard Location

More tree posts!  Yeah...just what you were hoping for, right?  Another post about the tree situation at our new place in Downers, but this one is a bit special.  It's because the kids and I went out and picked out this tree just for Natalie.  She wanted a Willow, so we went hunting at Menards and came up with this interesting one:  a Corkscrew Willow.  Salix matsudano 'Tortuosa'.

As a refresher, there's been a bunch of new trees that we're adding/added to the backyard.

We picked up a Dawn Redwood.  And planted it.  I posted about the north side of our backyard and how we're going to fill it in.  I am trying my hand at the art of espalier.  With two Linden trees.  And, after being inspired by the Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo, I picked up a flowering Cherry tree.
And now add this Willow to the mix.  We picked it up at Menards and it was priced to sell.

Listen...I know the reputation of willows.  Dirty, filthy trees.  That don't last long.  Hosts a lot of pests…

So Long, Theatre History Society of America

Earlier this week on my walk to the train, I noticed this "Office Suites Available" sign at 152 York Street - right sandwiched between the Gaming Goat and the York Theatre.   The door leads to a 2nd floor suite that used to be occupied by the Theatre Historical Society of America.  Yeah...the Elmhurst City Centre used to be home to them.  And they were tucked away in a 2nd floor suite above the York Theatre.  But, now they're gone.

Turns out, last summer, news broke that the group was moving to Pittsburgh.   Somehow, I missed all of this.  And that, right there, might have been the problem.  We just weren't paying attention:
After more than two decades in Elmhurst, the Theater Historical Society has decided to move its headquarters to Pittsburgh.  In a newsletter published on the organization’s website, the board of directors said the move is motivated mostly by the space limitations of their location above the York Theater, 150 N. York St., in downtown Elmhurst. T…

Vintage Aurelio's Ad - Scottsdale Opening in 1974

In the vestibule of the Aurelio's in LaGrange are a series of vintage newspaper advertisements including this one you see above.  It is announcing the opening of a new restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona.  But, it is from 1974.  Who knew!?!  They had expanded beyond the southside of Chicago by the mid-1970's?  From the copy in the ad, it appears that Joe Aurelio, himself, had relocated to Scottsdale.
Joe Aurelio formerly of Homewood Illinois cordially invites you to an evening of friendly family atmosphere and delicious foods.  For that extra special touch and Free Gift to the ladies say --- "Joe sent me." That's the move, right?  Have a Chicago eats place, retire. Move to Arizona or Florida.  Open up another place wherethereareother Chicago snowbirds.

We're Adding A Flowering Cherry Tree To The Arboretum

Earlier this Spring, I spent time in Tokyo where in addition to heading to Tokyo Disneyland and checking out the fish market, we were also there during the peak Cherry Blossom season.  I wrote about the trees here on the blog back in April.  I've been enamored with the trees ever since.  And trees have been on my mind lately as we continue to think about our yard.  I'm trying to get an early start on trees, because unlike sod or even flowers or bushes, trees take much longer to mature to the point to where they've grown into their size.  I've already posted about how we picked up a Dawn Redwood tree and planted it.  I also posted about the space we're going to fill in with either flowering pear trees or perhaps European Hornbeams along our northside.  And, of course, there's the Linden trees that I'm going to try to espalier.   (At what point, can we start calling it an arboretum??)

For Mother's Day, I also picked up Nat a Japanese flowering Cherry tre…

Our Driveway Going In - New Old Farmhouse

Last check-in on our house was showing the footprint of the patio out back, but things continue to move along both inside and outside.  One of the latest things is the installation of our new driveway.  Above, you see the apron or approach between the driveway and the street being installed by the crew.  We were able to get there while the concrete was setting up and Nat etched out name in the driveway.

At our old place, we didn't have much of a driveway.  Our garage was out back off the alley and we had a kind of 'pad' for one car out front.  Thus, shoveling wasn't a big issue.  I'd break out the shovel and spend more time on the sidewalk than on the driveway.  But, just look at this thing!?!   We decided to set the house back an additional 20 feet behind where it had to be (by code) because we wanted to try to save a tree that we would have had to cut down.  But, that created 20 additional feet of driveway that I'm going to have to tend to this winter.  And…

Vintage Pipe Cleaner Bendable Santa - Estate Sale Find

Earlier this week, I posted a photo of a felt Christmas mouse ornament from an Estate Sale, but it wasn't the only Christmas item that I came home with that day: I also got this Santa.  He's all gangly and has wire 'pose-able' limbs with a cute wooden face.  And those eyelashes, right?  There's a pretty strong legacy in the vintage Christmas world it seems to have a strong eyelash game.  Here's an angel ornament with some serious eyelashes.  Then there is this deer with major eyelashes.  And this pair of ornaments with strong lashes, too.

This Santa has a weird belt that you can see up higher than his waist.  It isn't connected anywhere and is bigger - around - than the white band at his waist.  In our new place, I'm sure we'll find a place for him come November.

Planting Our Dawn Redwood Tree

Even though our #NewOldFarmhouse is still under construction, that isn't stopping us from having an impact on the backyard.  And that started with transplanting some of the ostrich ferns and now it includes the planting of the Dawn Redwood tree that I posted about last week.  I was lucky to have a little bit of help from my crew getting this tree in the ground.  All three kids helped decide where we should put it and then helped me (kinda) dig the hole and backfill the rootball.

We placed it close to the north property line, with enough room for it to grow while being able to put a fence in behind it.  There was an opening in the tree line that I think this will fill in nicely over time. It also is on the low side of the property, so it will enjoy whatever groundwater we get over time.  My experience tells me that this thing will go through a little shock soon, but I'm hoping that with some care and watering, it will weather this first year and begin to fill in and grow.

Me & Magdalena - The Monkees

Last week, my buddy Justin texted me a link and said "Here's a song for you."  It was this song - Me & Magdalena - by The Monkees.  Yeah.  The Monkees.  It is in the YouTube player above.  (If you are reading this in your email and can't see the player above, click here to see it.)  I can't stop listening to it.  I haven't even been able to check out much more of the album because I keep coming back to this one song.

Have a listen.  I think you'll like it.

Over on All Songs Considered, they give more background about how this album and this song in particular came together.  In honor of The Monkees 50th anniversary, they've put out a new record full of previously unreleased songs and a few new ones written for the band.  Including this song that was written by Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie.  From the story:
And, though Mike Nesmith won't tour to support Good Times! — he left the band a few years back — he does appear on the album, Th…

New Espaliered Linden Trees

Earlier in May, I posted about one of what I called 'troublesome privacy spots' in our new backyard.  This post, covers what I think will be the solution to the other one of those 'troublesome privacy spots' - this time being on the south side of our lot close to our neighbor's patio.   We're looking into fences and will likely get a 6' privacy fence close to the house, tapering down to a four-foot fence for the balance of the yard, but I'm also taking this opportunity to try something I've wanted to for a while:  espalier'ing a pair of trees.

Don't know what an espalier tree is?  Here's a post that chronicles the history of the practice that is worth reading, but in a nutshell it is the intersection of the science of how things grow with the art of gardening.  You trim and train trees to be just two-dimensional objects.  That's espalier.

At our previous place, our landscape architect spec'd an espaliered fruit tree along our fe…

View From My Office: Mid May 2017

The last time I posted a 'view from my office' was a few months ago when we had a March snowfall in the city, but this week, Chicago's 'front yard' is greening up nicely and the boats are starting to come into the harbor.  It is a delightful time to be around the city - things are blooming, but the heat isn't here yet, so the walk from Ogilvie to Aon isn't sweat-inducing.  Yet.

So Long, Salseria in Elmhurst City Centre

If you walk by the Salseria on the east side of York Street right in the heart of the City Centre, you'll come across a few signs announcing the closing of the restaurant including the one above and the one below that say "See you Soon" and "Thank you Elmhurst for 12 great years".

They also herald a new concept coming to the location:  Victory Meat and Seafood.

When I came across the news of the Salseria being closed, I had to ask Nat how many times we went there.  The answer?  Just twice.

And both times, I guess we didn't love it.  But other folks must have, right?  No way a place survives for 10+ years without being pretty good?

The new place is going to feature "5-varieties of fresh Oysters daily", so it will be a bit different and will likely fill a need in town, but because they're going to be opening in August of this year, we'll have to think about coming back as 'tourists' to the Elmhurst City Centre.

So long, Salseria.…

What's This? The Pizza Ring?

Came across this kitchen gadget near the checkout aisle at the local Jewel here in Elmhurst:  it is called The Pizza Ring and it apparently comes out of St. Louis, Missouri.  Here's the product website with a video, but the basic premise is that frozen pizza companies are increasingly asking consumers to take the pies out of their boxes and place them directly on the rack in your oven.  That, in turn leads to all sorts of messy disasters that leave your oven dirty and full of frozen pizza residuals which, in turn, lead to smoke.

It is sort of interesting, but we cook so few frozen pies - and I haven't really experienced any sort of mess trouble with them - that I'm not moved to buy it.  Most of the time, we make the kids those little personal Home Run Inn pizzas that would likely just slip right through the middle ring of this thing, right?

For ten bucks, this unitasker (although, they point out that you can use this for pies that spill over, too!  So...technically, it …

Brass Critter: Fox Letter Rack - Estate Sale Find

A few weekends back I stopped at a few Estate Sales both in Elmhurst and in Downers Grove including one at this really neat house that was built in the early 1910's for some wealthy family as their 'country house' - at least that's what the folks running the sale said.  Here's the property listing of the house that, unfortunately, I'm thinking someone will buy for the land and tear the place down.  Like a lot of older houses, the layout isn't what works for families today, but the land?  My gawd.  Not just a lot of it.  But lots of mature trees, different elevations.  Really, really great.

Inside the house, there were lots of treasures, but just one came home with me:  this brass fox 'letter rack'.  Hard to tell from this angle/photo, but between the fox and the fence is a gap that allows you to stand up/hold mail/cards.  Check out this Etsy listing that has some photos of a similar piece that show how envelopes stand up in there.  Kinda cool.  Th…

Vintage Christmas Felt Mouse Ornament

A few days ago, I posted a photo of a little brass letter rack that I picked up at an Estate Sale recently.  I also stopped at a garage sale or two on the same trip including the one where I bought a few vintage Christmas items  - one of which is this flat Santa Mouse felt ornament.  He has a cute little bow that has a couple of bedazzles on him and he reminds me of both the vintage felt ornament that I made when I was a kid and this flat Mrs. Claus felt ornament that I picked up last year at an estate sale.

This year, we'll be back to decorating our *own* place and having a tree (or two?!?) and we're always looking for 'low-hanging' ornaments that the Big Beef/King of the Ball Tossers can reach and not shatter/break.  So, I'm sure this one will find a home somewhere low this season.  Should be a nice addition to our holiday.

New Dawn Redwood Tree Destined For Our Backyard

Earlier this Spring, we came home with this tree in the minivan on a normal trip to Menards.  I didn't plan on going there to look at trees, but when we were wandering around the garden center, I noticed this one.  It was over with the rest of the deciduous trees, but it looked different.  I pulled it out of the rack and realized it was a Redwood.  A Dawn Redwood.  I couldn't pass it up.

Dawn Redwoods are one of a handful of deciduous conifers - which means that it forms cones and sprouts needles like evergreens, but it also turns colors in the fall and drops its leaves/needles late in the year like deciduous trees.  And, as you can imagine being a redwood, it gets huge!  Like 100 feet tall.  Fun to think about decades from now, all the trees in the neighborhood top out at like 40 or 50 feet.  Then there's this one massive tree, shooting up double that height.

Menards trees aren't always the best quality, but the prices are always right.  This Dawn Redwood was in go…

School Boards And Their Insatiable Appetite for MOAR

In today's Daily Herald, Robert Sanchez covers Elmhurst School District 205 and their facilities.  It appears that the School Board is going to come to the taxpayers soon and ask for even more money.  Elmhurst Unit District 205 has released preliminary cost estimates for up to $151 million in building projects that could be included in a future referendum question. By more money, I mean...simply more.  The School District in Elmhurst appears to have an insatiable appetite for taxpayer money.  From 2007 to 2015, spending in the district increased 41%.  In just 8 years.  In 2007, they spent $78M.  In 2015 they spent $111M.  Source.

That's $33M more EVERY YEAR in spending for the schools.  Did Elmhurst grow over that period of time?  The answer is no.  But the tax bill for the schools and their pensions sure did.

And what did the average Elmhurst property owner get during that same period of time?  A 25% decrease in their property values.  Source.  (Elmhurst Schools aren't …

Denver, With The Mountains

Went to the same place.  Stayed at the same hotel.  Only this time, on a quick trip to Denver, I *did* get a shot of the mountains.  Two years ago, I posted this sad photo of the mountains from a Denver Marriott and I was determined to not repeat the feat.  I snapped this photo out the little window in my room.  Still not exactly the way one would want to see the local community right?  I mean, there isn't much more to Denver than what is in between the airport and the DTC, right?

Still Blogging In 2017

Last week, Tim Brey posted a piece on his blog titled "Still Blogging in 2017" that was shared by Jason Kottke on his own blog. That's how I came across Tim's original post.  Isn't that how blogs *used* to work, right?  You'd read something in your feed reader that referenced someone else's blog/post and you stumbled upon them.  Liked it?  Usually, I grabbed a subscription to their feed and kept up on them.

I'm not one to pine for the 'good old days' (or, maybe I am?), but that little blog-to-blog transaction (about blogging!) struck me.

I read both of them and figured that it warranted comment or two here on my *own* blog.  I've been doing these daily diary entries on objects, experiences and occurrences in my life for the past few years after picking blogging back up 2010.  For a few years (2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016), I've been able to publish *something* everyday here on "Why I Oughta..." (which, is what I used to cal…

Update on Foster Ostrich Fern - Spring 2017

Last month, I posted about a few of our 'foster' plants out at Nat's folks' place in Naperville including the giant hosta that had emerged this Spring and Nat's Great Aunt's peonies and the miniature variety of Hosta Venusta that came back to my surprise.  But, there was also a big bunch of Ostrich Ferns that we transplanted into foster care.  Just about a month ago, on May 2nd, 2016, I posted this photo showing the ferns emerging from the ground and in June, I posted this photo showing the giant Hosta and the Ostrich Fern all unfurled in their full glory.  They were doing so well last year, so I never thought for a minute that they wouldn't come back this year.

That photo above is what they look like now:  they've not only sprung up ahead of last year's pace, they're also big, vibrant and strong.  How nice to see them doing so well.  I'm not surprised, because a few years back, we divided some of our ferns and gave them to Nat's mom f…

1 of 2 Troublesome "Privacy" Spots In Our New Backyard

Above is a photo of the northern side of our new lot in our backyard that is almost immediately outside our backdoor.  That fence, it turns out, belongs to our neighbor to the north, but is installed incorrectly (with the 'good side' facing his side and a bit too tall), so things are changing, I believe.  We've heard from our builder that the fence might be coming down and getting readjusted.  But, we hope it isn't going away.  That's because it is shielding their driveway - which is currently occupied by a few project cars and some other larger items.

We are investigating a fence for ourselves (btw, this would be our second fence. Here's a post from way back in 2011 when I was staining our newly installed fence at our old place.) , but because of the way the lot is graded, this part of the property is a lot lower than the middle part, where our house is located.  That means that it is really easy to basically see 'over' the current fence.  And if it …

Patio Planning @ Our New Old Farmhouse

With the weather turning, and the inside of the house moving along at it's scheduled pace (like with the installation of this leaded window), it is time for our builder to turn some of their attention to the outside of the house.  In this case, it means a look at what our patio is going to look like out back.   The world is, indeed, a small place, and on this project it meant that I was able to reconnect with a friend from my college days who it turned out was the subcontractor chosen to help us with our landscaping by our builder.  As part of the project, Chris, our landscape team lead went out and spray painted the outline of our proposed patio.  You can see that in pink above.

Nat did what she does best:  picked some great materials, and soon enough, the team will be leveling and grading the site, cleaning up all the various debris and then installing the patio in pavers.  We have a good-sized yard, so we were trying to strike a balance between installing a 'large enough&…

Cinnamon Ferns @ Equation Boy/Man's Emerging For Year Two

Last year, I picked up a few plants at the Elmhurst Ladies' Garden Club annual sale including the Hosta Venusta miniature plant that we're fostering out in Naperville (posted about it recently here) and what was billed as a Cinnamon Fern.  I planted that here in Elmhurst at Equation Boy/Man and Vic's house with some help from the Bird as a "Mother's Day" present to her God Mother.  (and a little, tiny token of gratitude for having us stay in their house!)  

I put it along the south property line in one of their landscape beds that had some nice groundcover and a few other shade plants like hostas.  It looked great when I planted it (see pic here), but it didn't do that well after the transplant.  Must have had some serious shock, because it withered and just about looked dead a month or so after putting it in the ground.  I looked earlier this Spring and didn't see anything emerging, so I assumed that it wasn't coming back and had died, unfortuna…

More Pizza Clues - Aurelio's Uses A Sheeter and Bagged Flour?

Over the weekend, I stopped into the Aurelio's takeout location in Downtown Downers Grove while I waited for the Babe to emerge from the basement setting for a birthday party at the Tivoli Lanes right next door.   When I was there, I came across three things:  First was this art glass piece above that is right when you open the front door.  Hadn't noticed it before, but I really like it and it seems like this belongs in one of their *real* restaurants.  And, by 'real', I mean a sitdown place.  This one in Downers is just a takeout joint.  Sure, they have 3 tables and sell (sadly) slices, but it isn't a restaurant, at least to me.  (Also, the fact that they are selling pie-shaped slices is a bummer, right?  I mean...Aurelio's is a tavern-cut pie by nature.  I get that they're trying to sell slices, but being a pizza crazy person, I don't like to see the bastardization of a tavern-cut pie.   Why not 'big squares'?)

Anyway, on to the second and th…

May The Fourth - Jedi Training

Back in April, I posted a photo of the Jedi Training badge that the Bird was given after participating in the Jedi Training session at Disney's Hollywood Studios earlier this year.  This was the first time that we were able to do the training, but wasn't our first time trying.  The timing just worked out.  But, since it is May the Fourth, I figured it was time to show off some of those Jedi photos.

She donned her robe, grabbed her lightsaber and listened to the master trainers.  "Sabers up!"

She even took on the Seventh Sister.  

For those keeping track at home, this is the 2nd time I've posted on May the Fourth.  Last time was when the Big Ten shop came out with a bunch of Star Wars-themed gear, but the Illini got left out.  Checking that campaign today, and the Illini still don't have any Star Wars gear.

Premium Boss Black Coffee - Hot or Cold?

I posted about the beer I drank in Tokyo last week and I've covered a bunch of my trip to Tokyo Disney in various posts over the past few weeks, but this coffee experience seemed like it warranted it's own post.  Coffee? In a can?  That looks like a Mickey's bottle from my college days? Yeah.

We were there in Japan on-site working on a client project in a few of their facilities; one of them an office building and the other a more of an assembly or manufacturing plant.  That's where I came across this Premium Boss Black Coffee in a hand-grenade can.  It came out of a vending machine (I forget how many yen it was), but what was cool was that there were two options:  hot or cold.  You got, what I think is the same exact can and same exact coffee, only one of the cans was piping hot and the other was ice cold.  Pretty neat.

Transplanted Survivor Ostrich Ferns

Over the weekend, I posted this photo of a handful of 'survivor' ferns in our new backyard and mentioned that they deserved a shot at being transplanted because they're clearly hearty souls.  Having been able to thrive without anyone tending to them in years means they'll likely be easy to care for, right?  That's what I'm going to assume.  Plus the experience I've had with these ferns before make me love them.

I ended up bringing out the spade shovel and dug up a few clumps of them ahead of the landscaper coming out to grade the backyard.  I ended up sticking them in with a bunch of other salvaged plants in the rear of the yard.  Here, in the photo below, you'll see them mixed in amongst the hostas that I took from the front yard as well as a few of the variegated hostas that we picked out of our old neighbor's compost bin in the back.

I'm thinking that this isn't likely their end destination (my current thought is to put these on the north…

One That Got Away - McCoy Pot

Over the weekend, I stopped at a few Estate Sales in Elmhurst and while I ended up picking up a few small items, there was one thing that I regret not buying:  this blue McCoy pot.  I snapped a few photos of it and texted them to my oldest sister - who collects McCoy pots.  I set it down and moved on.  I ended up leaving the sale without hearing from her.

About 30 minutes later, she texts me back and says she's in love and the price they're asking is 'a steal'.  So, back I go to the sale.  And guess what?  Someone else had snatched up this treasure.  Too bad.

I had never come across this size and color of McCoy, so I knew that I should have grabbed it. Would have been a heckuva gift, right?  Oh, well.  As Joe Rhode says:
It is enough to enjoy the existence of things without possessing all of them.  I'll post some pics of the items that I *did* end up buying later this week.