Showing posts from June, 2017

Whittier School Playground Upgrade

If you walk by (or drive by) the playground outside of Whittier Elementary School on Grand Avenue, you'll see a bit of a construction site taking place on the playground area.  When I snapped this photo, there were concrete forms set up and a new perimeter curb was being poured and set.  They had also dug up quite a bit of earth in what looks like a perfectly-timed summer project for the school.

I poked around a bit and it turns out that this is a major project that has taken five years to ideate and fund and now they're moving on to the construction phase.  From the Downers Grove District 58 site:
Over the years, Whittier’s playground has received regular safety maintenance and minor changes, such as the removal of the teeter-totters. However, the playground itself is decades old and was built when Whittier’s enrollment was half its current size.  This discovery prompted the moms and Whittier PTA to launch a four-year planning and fundraising effort to upgrade Whittier’s pr…

Vintage Christmas Window Candle Lights With Sweet Bulbs - One That Got Away

It was just a few days ago that I posted about a vintage plastic Menorah that I came across at an Estate Sale in Elmhurst.  But, today, I'm sharing a photo of another 'one that got away'.  This time, it was at a Church Sale on 55th Street where I found an entire box of these three-candle vintage holiday lights.  With those pretty awesome red/orange flame bulbs.  There must have been ten sets of these in the box and it was a 'name your own price' sale.  But, I leaned on my collecting mantra and passed on them.  Feels like we need to go through a Christmas season before we add more decor for our new place.

These things would look awesome perched in the windows of an old house, wouldn't they?  I bet they'd cost a fortune to operate in energy costs, but it would be worth it for a few months, right?

Oh, and we have SO.MUCH.STUFF.  We (I) have to stop buying things.  The garage is loaded.  The is LOADED.  Once we sort things, I think we'll hav…

A Walk Around Barth Pond

I took little Lizzie out for a walk around Barth Pond after the kids were put* to bed (*note...put doesn't mean 'staying' in bed.  And 'put' doesn't mean that Nat doesn't do MOST of the heavy lifting involved with wrestling them into submission each night...) one evening recently and if not for the enormous piles of goose turds everywhere, it was quite lovely.  There were other folks walking, a few people down at the water's edge with fishing poles and some families on the playground.  The weather couldn't have been better.  The sun was about to set and the water reflected a beautiful blue from the sky.   The summer heat hasn't hit yet, so most everything was green and not yet yellowed.

Turns out, the path around the pond is .45 miles, according to a post marker, so a few laps around gets a mile in for me and the dog.

With the days being so long right now, this is a nice little way to end the day and wind down.  Who knows?  Maybe we'll for…

Second Backyard Pavilion Inspiration

I came across this pavilion on the site and I'm posting it here so I can later reference it when the time comes to think about such a structure in our #newoldbackyard.  Those of you who have been following along for years might recall that we had a pavilion at our old place.  All the way back in April of 2010, I posted the original inspiration photo here on the blog.  That one was anchored off a structure (garage in our case) and came to life overaseriesofposts.   
The one you see above has some modern touches - like the horizontal slats, lights and some of the flat cuts - and is unanchored to another structure.  The slats remind me a lot of the raised bed planters that I posted about over the weekend.  The simple, single-plane roof is interesting to me in that it requires less framing work.  
The #newoldbackyard is much bigger than our old one, so we have space to do a few things.  Pizza oven.  Greenhouse.  Sports court.  Vegetable garden.  Swingset.  Lots of ideas…

Vintage Plastic Menorah - One That Got Away

In the basement of an Estate Sale in Elmhurst,  I came across this vintage lighted menorah amongst the pile of old Christmas and Halloween stuff.  I picked it up, took this photo, then set it down.  I didn't buy it, so I'm filing this under [One that got away], but now that I've gotten around to posting this, I'm kind of regretful for passing on it.  Those of you who know what has happened/been discovered in my Mom's family over the past year probably have a little smile on your face.  I can only imagine whipping it out at the holidays this year to uproarious laughter.

Thus, part of me is regretful and part of me is remembering my collecting treasures mantra.  Say it with me:
It is enough to enjoy the existence of things without possessing all of them.

Raised Beds Inspiration

How lovely are these raised beds?  There's both an example here with and without the cold frames.  The horizontal slats on the outside that run all the way to the ground are a great way to hide the legs.  Leaving this here for reference when we build out our own beds next summer.  Or after the pizza oven gets built.  Or before.

The cold frames appear to be two independent pieces with the bottom folding down and the top hinge-ing upwards

There's so much to do in the new yard but we have to start somewhere, right?

Retro Lamp From 'Feud'

Nat and I were watching the show "Feud" and I gasped when I saw the lamp next to Joan's bed in this scene where she's 'resting'.  That lamp!  We have one of those!  My Dad bought two of them back in the early 1990's and they lived up in Coloma for as long as I can remember.  Now, the floor lamp is destined to be in my office of our #newoldfarmhouse in the next few days.

Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station

One morning, I wandered around Philadelphia taking in a few sights and came across this stunner of a building facade for the Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station.  Beautiful sign isn't it?  I'm sure the daily commuters who go through here everyday have become numb to seeing it everyday, but it jumped out to me and made me stop and snap this photo.

Water Management @ Our New Old Farmhouse

About a month ago, I showed the last pictures of our #NewOldFarmhouse where we were having our driveway poured out front.  More recently, the crew moved on to the landscaping and that includes the underground routing of drain pipes.  We're putting the downspouts and the sump pump drain into pipes underground.  You can see one of the big runs in the image above. 
They're taking some of the pipes and running them towards a dry well and others...they're running into the yard and installing some 'pop ups' and then letting the grading of the property take over.  
I took some photos of the drywells (yes...there's more than one) that we put in underground and I'll post the details of those over time.  It seemed that we had a few choices:  put in the drywells or include a water garden - like the one that the City of Elmhurst recently installed as a demonstration.  
From a landscaping perspective, I had a really unique experience.  The subcontractor selected by our…

Giant Brass Deer - The King Critter That Got Away

I've posted quite a few times about the various brass 'critters' that I've bought at garage sales, antique malls, estate sales, etc over the years.  The most recent was this little Fox letter holder from an Estate Sale in Downers Grove.  This weekend I stopped at a few Estate Sales including one in a giant house in Oak Brook.  Amongst that massive amounts of stuff (and the biggest crowd I've ever seen at an Estate Sale), was this giant brass deer.  Laying down, it was at least 3 feet tall including the antlers.

I snapped a photo and sent it to Nat.  But, the timing is the thing for us.  We're this/close to having a new place to live where we'll be reunited with our stuff from storage.  We don't quite know where things can go/live and that's a big part of buying something like this, right?  Picturing where it could go in your house?

Alas, this one is being filed away in the [one that got away] category.  Hopefully another buyer fell in love and has g…

Missed: Lebowski Night @ Patio Theater

Recently, we were headed into the City to visit with Nat's sister and Google Maps took us on a route that I don't think I've ever been on before this trip.  Along the way, we drove past the Patio Theater and what did the marquee say?  "A B I D E".  Then, as we creeped forward, the side of the marquee listed an event taking place on Friday:  Lebowski Fest.

What the what?

Sure enough, according to DNA Info, there was, indeed, a Lebowski night there.
"The Big Lebowski" is returning to the big screen at the Patio Theater on Friday.
The theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Road, is hosting "Lebowski Night" with a 7 p.m. screening of the 1998 Coen brothers cult classic.  The showing will be followed by a 10 p.m. live performance by The Fortunate Sons, a tribute band to Credence Clearwater Revival, whose music runs throughout the movie's soundtrack.  The theater use the event to show off its newly-rehabilitated bar, so spectators can sip White Russians …

Join, or Die - At The Logan in Philly

Earlier this Summer, I found myself in Philadelphia for a few days.  I posted about the beer I drank while waiting for my delayed flight home and the not-so-great steak I had at the airport, too.   I stayed at a placed called The Logan that had quite a collection of art around the place.  In the areas by the elevators on my floor, down the hallways and in various places around the lobby were mixed media, paintings, sculptures and more.  They're pretty proud of the art and it seems to be a big part of the hotel's personality.  Here's the page showing off a bunch of it on the hotel's site.

The piece that I took a photo of above is called - of course - "Join, or Die".  Here's a look at the little plaque to the left of the piece.  It is right across from the main elevators and one of the more prominent pieces.

The description from the Logan's site:
“Join, or Die” is a well-known political cartoon, created by Benjamin Franklin and first published in his P…

Converted Kegerator - Curbside Treasure

There I was, minding my own business, driving home when I came across this thing: a converted fridge into a kegerator just sitting on the curb.  Tank, hose, tap.  Everything right there.  Including the - undoubtedly - energy sucking 80's fridge.  There's some ingenuity at work here with the tap coming out the side of the box and the plywood shelf in the bottom to hold up the keg.  I got out, looked the thing over, snapped this photo and thought about trying to figure out how to get it into the van for like 10 seconds.  Texted it to Nat's Dad who said:  "move along".  Good advice in this case, I think.  
I drove by a few hours later and someone had stripped the hose, fittings and tap off the fridge, took the tank and left the box.  That was probably the right call.  

Lizzie on Lake Elizabeth - A Water Dog?

We've been able to spend a little bit of time this summer up in Twin Lakes on Lake Elizabeth with the kids and little Lizzie.  I've posted a few times about Lizzie.  First, when we got her.  Then, earlier this spring when we marked her 7 month mark.    She was born on July 21st of last year, so we're coming up on her 11 month mark and there are still some new experiences - including her first trip into the lake.  Our dear Maisy - who Lizzie isn't a pimple on - spent some time up in Paw Paw Lake in Michigan.  We bought her a dog life jacket and that's the one that Lizzie is wearing in the photo above.  Maisy was a good swimmer, but one of the funniest things was seeing her swim in the lake only to haul her out by the handle on her back, on top of the jacket, only to see her little legs keep swimming even though she was out of the water.  Turns out, that's a Cavalier thing!  Lizzie does the same thing.

The girls love this big 'yoga mat' as they call it,…

We're Legal: Wisconsin Fishing License

We're now all set up with fishing rod and a little tackle box up.  We went off to Walmart and came home with a few little poles (for the two younger kids) and an intermediate one for the Babe and I even bought my own rod.  When we were picking out the equipment the lady at Walmart was very helpful and encouraged me to get a license.  After answering a handful of questions, she printed out this barcode license that says that we are supposed to carry this with us when we fish.  We didn't buy any stamps because, well, we're just beginners and we're catching a lot of little things and tossing them back.

The Babe has had the most luck of the bunch.  She throws her line in - usually with a wax worm on the hook - and most sessions, she pulls out a fish.  A lot of panfish (bluegills) and a few bass (not sure if they're large-mouth or small-mouth...again....we're beginners!) so far.  The King of the Ball Tossers is currently using a casting practice weight.  One of th…

Lakeshore Pie - From Lake Geneva Pie Company

Over the years, we grew into some food 'habits' during our repeated trips to Southwest Michigan and Coloma.  These were places we went, food stuffs that we picked up and fell in love with over time.  Now that we're spending more and more time up in Wisconsin, that same pattern is falling into place.  It seems like we're already coalescing around some favorite spots and foodstuffs like the King of Club cheese spread.  On a Saturday this month,  I packed the kids into the minivan and headed up to the Lake Geneva area to pick up some fishing supplies at Walmart.  After we left, I wandered around the the various big box stores and strip malls near the highway and came across the Lake Geneva Pie Company.   It was open early and there was a crew in there baking.

Having never picked up a pie from this place, I pleaded my ignorance and asked for help.  She lead me to the Lakeshore pie.  From their site:

Lakeshore Berry Crumb.  A customer favorite is our tantalizing blend of s…

Solemn Oath Brewery - Lü Kölsch-Style Ale

This past weekend was Oath Day Five out at Solemn Oath Brewery in Naperville.  We weren't able to make it because the Bird's birthday was the same day and we were, ummm, tied up with cake and presents and rainbows.  Yeah...rainbows.  Lots of them.  That's what she wanted, so Nat delivered!  Anyway, I've posted about Oath Day in the past.  Here's a post from 2015 showing off a cool van sticker I scored from the festivities.   If you're wondering what happens at Oath Day, check out this post from Solemn Oath that details everything or tune into their Instagram feed for a post-event roundup showing some of the sights from the weekend.  It covers all the what-have-yous that go on including how they created a new deck of cards for the event
But, just because we didn't get to go to Oath Day this year, doesn't mean we aren't fans.  And, we even showed off a little bit of our own craft beer nerd chops by introducing Dr. Jeff - our resident craft beer ner…

Summer Craft Beer Session With Dr. Jeff

Recently, we had another craft beer education and tasting with Dr. Jeff at our place.  I've covered previous sessions with Dr. Jeff here on the blog.  As usual, Dr. Jeff brought over a batch of beers to share and they tended to be around a theme.  We started with the beer at the top called Galaxy Bowl from Hop Butcher for the World - which he told us was a Chicago beer.  It has an 88 on BeerAdvocate, so it is a strong beer in the craft beer nerd world.   It is the top right corner of the little collage above.  
After that, we moved on to this beer from Off Color - another Chicago brew maker.  Called I'm Sorry, it isn't rated on BA just yet.  

And the final beer of the evening ( least for me...because I went to bed!) was
Humulus Terreux With Motueka Hops from Bruery Terreux.  Dr. Jeff brought a different beer from this brewery about a year ago.  Here's that post.

Slide and Movie Silver Screen and Angel Topiary from Elmhurst Estate Sale

Pay no attention to the various bag chairs and blankets and strollers and softball gear in the trunk of the minivan in the photo above.  There are two things in this photo that I'd like you to focus on.  First, the big, box from Da-Lite that includes a Slide and Movie Screen on a tripod.  Second, the angel topiary frame laying on it's back below the box.  Both of these items were scored at an Elmhurst Estate Sale recently when I was out with the kids on a Saturday morning.  The screen was just $2 and is in perfect shape.  You pull it out of the box, flip down the tripod and yank up the screen.  It isn't HUGE, but I think measures 48" tall by 48" wide.  And it is a silver screen - which, evidently is 'made for color'.  Kinda love that.

This thing was made for home use and was probably meant for people to show off a slideshows of their vacation when that was a thing.  For us?  It will probably replace the bedsheet and become our outdoor screen in the new …

Uncle Mistletoe Marshall Field's Christmas Glass From Walnut Room - 1983

I scored another vintage Marshall Field's Christmas mug at a Garage Sale a week or so ago - this time from 1983.   If you recall, I posted a few years ago about the two Walnut Room/Marshall Field's Christmas mugs that I picked up at the Elmhurst Goodwill.  They were 1980 and 1981 years.  There were four total mugs (two from each year) and my sister Vic has a Marshall Field's collection of sorts, so a pair of them were destined for her collection.

If you go back and look at the other post showing the 1980 and 1981 mugs, you'll see that the 1980 version is one of these 'hot toddy' mugs while the 1981 one is a normal mug shape.  The '83 version went back to the taller, 'hot toddy' version.  But, the character is just as interesting.

1980:  A teddy bear, Christmas tree and presents under the tree.
1981:  Contortionist Santa.

But, in 1983, they used Uncle Mistletoe.   Don't know who he is?  Check out this piece about Field's from the Smithson…

Elmhurst Demonstration Rain Garden - City Leading the Way on Stormwater Management

If you get a chance, take a walk by the Elmhurst Police Station on First Street and get a view of a newly installed/created 'demonstration rain garden' that they've recently built out front.  As of the past few days, the construction fence was still up around the project, but it appears that all of the work is complete and now they're just wrapping up the project.  The City of Elmhurst is - kind of - putting their money where their mouth is on this.  I say 'kind of' because they, ummm, didn't use their own money I don't think; they got a grant. 
Details on the garden can be found here on the Elmhurst Storm Water Plan site where they describe the project: The Project Involves the construction and maintenance of a rain garden, sized between 800 and 1,200 square feet, to include an engineered soil mix to promote infiltration, as well as a variety of native shrubs, grasses, and forbs, immediately south of the Police Station. The goal is to reduce the runof…

So Long, Weird Tobacco Shop on York

When we first moved to town, there was an Anderson's bookstore right in the Elmhurst City Centre.  For real.  Then they closed down, scurried back to Downtown Naperville and a weird hookah place opened up in the same location just north of Francesca's on York.  Today?  That tobacco/hookah place is now closed and gone with the windows paper'd over and a 'for lease' sign up in front.  We lose another retailer and the associated sales tax, but we get a brand-new opportunity for something great.  I would think that parking is one of the tough parts with this location, but with the new apartment buildings gaining occupancy just north of this, there should be some demand for the space, right?

But then again, right across the street from this is that other newly renovated set of storefronts (where the old Salt Creek Pottery was located on the east side of York, just south of City Hall) that are all totally vacant, too.  Perhaps, retail isn't in the Elmhurst City Cen…

So Long, Bok Choy Elmhurst City Centre

What was Wok 'N Fire just six months ago is now an empty restaurant as Bok Choy has announced their closing in the Elmhurst City Centre.  The sign thanks customers for 15 years of support and asks them to visit the Addison location.  We only visited Wok n' Fire once during our 10 years in town and didn't make it into Bok Choy, so this is hardly a loss for the dining scene for our family, but it is a shame to see another place go in the City Centre.  New places have come (Red Arrow Tap Room) and are on their way (Beerheads) but we'll just have to add this to the long list of "So Long..." posts here on the blog about vacancies in the Elmhurst City Centre.

A few of the most recent:
So Long, Theatre History Society of AmericaSo Long, Salseria in Elmhurst City CentreSo Long, Cold Stone In The Elmhurst City Centre

Post-War Lionel 45N Gateman - Flea Market Find

Day three of showing off the various treasures from the Elkhart Antique Flea Market up in Wisconsin that we scooped up during our visit in May.  First there was the chandelier that Nat scored from these two sweet gentlemen.  Then there was the Schlitz beer glass pitcher.  And then yesterday was the vintage Santa and Mrs. Claus salt and pepper shaker sitting on a cute bench.  The last of the treasures is this Lionel Gateman accessory - item number 45N.  It is destined as a Father's Day gift for my Dad who is the original model train guy in our family.  He runs his early 1940's train set from his childhood and has a handful of vintage accessories.

This one was cheap - the guy took my $5 offer - and because it doesn't come with the box is probably priced close to right.  The reason?  There just aren't that many guys who want to buy vintage trains these days, right?  They either have them or they're gone.  I think that is driving the prices down a bit on vintage Lion…

Vintage Santa and Mrs. Claus Salt/Pepper Shakers With Bench - Flea Market Find

At the Elkhart Antique Flea Market there were so many treasures that it was hard to focus.  It was colder than we thought and we weren't dressed for the wind and weather, so we were hustling around.  I posted about the Schlitz glass pitcher yesterday, but today comes a treasure that is closer to my sweetspot:  vintage Christmas stuff.

Above you see Santa and Mrs. Claus on a little bench giving each other a smooch - and it is pretty cute.  They're salt and pepper shakers and this is what I *think* is the first matching pair of vintage Christmas ones we have.  I posted about this "Merry" (without Christmas) one back in 2014.  And this spaghetti trim Salt shaker (no pepper) in 2015.

This new pair was in a booth that was close to the entrance and I picked them up and liked them right away.  But, it was like the 2nd booth we had visited, so I passed and moved on.  Just like the Schlitz pitcher, since it was on the way out, I stopped by and the vendor was packing up so …

Schlitz Beer Glass Pitcher - Flea Market Find

Last week, I posted about our experience at the Elkhart Antique and Flea Market up in Wisconsin and how we scored a few items including a chandelier for our #newoldfarmhouse.  One of the other items I picked up was this beauty of a glass pitcher from Schlitz.  It has "The Beer that made Milwaukee Famous" written in a cute script and was a steal at just $5.00.  We were walking out and I was carrying - gingerly - the light fixture that Nat had scored in a box and it was awkward.  So, about every 100 yards or so, I had to put it down and re-adjust my hands on it.

One of those stops happened to be in front of a booth where the guy was packing up.  He had this pitcher on the table.  I picked it up, turned it around and looked at the price.  $15.  I set it back down and said.... "nice pitcher".  But it was too much for me.  The guy practically begged me to buy it.  He said it was a rough day for him and that he'd take anything for it.  I hemmed and hawed and finall…

Growing A Pineapple Plant - Giving It A Try At Home

Ever since we first saw the little pineapple plants growing in the gardens at Epcot's Flower and Garden show back in Spring of 2016, I've had the notion in my mind that it would be fun/interesting to try to give a pineapple plant a try.  But, where would we ever come across one?  The answer, surprisingly, was Menards. favorite store.  Menards.  For some reason, they carried a handful of pineapple plants - Ananas Comosus - earlier this Spring.  I was wandering out to the garden center and passed by the tropical section and they had four or five of these things on the end cap.  $11.99?  Can't pass it up, right?  
I planted it in a clay pot that seemed size appropriately.  Here's a close-up of the fruit that is on the plant currently:

Once the weather moderated and we seem to be having no more cold spells, I transitioned it outside to the back patio where it is living amongst our upside tomato plant (well...not quite 'ours', but we're plant sitting…

King of Clubs Cheese Spread from Mars Cheese Castle

I've been a Merkt's guy for a while.  Sharp Cheddar.  Sure, I'll eat the Pub Cheese from Trader Joe's.  Or if a tub of Kaukauna shows up for a party or get together...I'll slather healthy amounts of it on crackers, pita chips, tortilla chips or what-have-yous.  But it was always Merkt's that I came back to.

Until now.

I've found my new love and it is the King of Clubs Sharp Cheddar Cold Pack Cheese Food.  Yeah...Cheese food.  From the folks at the Mars Cheese Castle comes their house brand of cheese spread.  They offer it in one pound size but also in five pound size.  I probably need to stay away from the five pounder, because the one pound version barely lasted the weekend.  (the 18 ounce crock is cute, though.  Might become my go-to party-going bring-along?  Keep a few of them on hand?  I have to think that this stuff - being 'cheese food' - will last quite a while, right??)

They serve the King of Clubs in their bar up at the Cheese Castle - wh…

Walt Wit - A Taste of Philly

A few days ago, I posted a photo of a cheesesteak that I (sadly) ate at the Philadelphia airport and bemoaned by lack of time/availability to do anything while I was in town for the brief trip.  But, while I didn't get to enjoy a pretzel or a proper cheesesteak @ Steve's, I did get a chance during the delay before boarding my flight home to enjoy one of these:  Walt Wit from Philadelphia Brewing Company.  BeerAdvocate lists it in the 'okay' range with a score of 79, so don't go out of your way to pick one of these up, but I do like the bottle (cute label, right?) and maybe it was the sour taste in my mouth of having my flight be delayed, but I enjoyed this.

Looks like, if you can find it, the Philadelphia Brewing Company beer to get is their Schwarzinger.  Scores a 86 @ BA.

Elkhorn Antique Flea Market

Back a few weekends ago, we packed the kids up in the van and headed up to Wisconsin.  The goal for the trip?  A visit to the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market.  Started more than 30 years ago, dealers, pickers, treasure hunters and lookie-loos descend on the Walworth County Fair four times a year (May 21, June 25, August 13, September 24 this year) to wander around and look for treasures.  We've been to the Kane County Flea Market, Shipshewana in Indiana and plenty of other one-off's or season (Christmas) vintage markets and antique malls.

And, I have to say:  I think this was by far the most comprehensive and best of the bunch.  There is so much there that we didn't see it all.  And while there's *some* junk, there's LOTS of treasures.  Deals?  Fewer to find than you'd think.  But the 'merch' as they say was high quality stuff.  And, perhaps that's why the dealers were pricing their stuff the way they were.  I mean...I'm not expecting Garage Sale …