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October Happenings (including Halloween)

November 2nd, 2021 Comments off

Sunday (10/10) we headed to St. Charles for their annual Scarecrow Festival. When we arrived at Lincoln Park there were no scarecrows to be found! We drove around the area but there wasn’t nearly as much as in year’s past, no doubt due to the pandemic so we drove to the other side of the river to Pottawatomie Park where they put up tents for the craft fair.

We parked in the lot by their community center and pool. There was plenty of parking since the festival hadn’t officially started yet. We didn’t end up staying long because there wasn’t much to see. Even the amount of craft booths was less than in previous years.

They did, however, surprise us with a new pavilion and area you can play cornhole near the miniature golf spot.

It looks really nice! I’ll have to keep it in mind for next summer when we’re looking for something to do.

Thursday (10/21) the kids came over for dinner. K had been talking about missing my spaghetti and meatballs so I made it for the first time in probably years at this point. E works two jobs so Thursday is his only day off. I put together a Halloween basket for them using these fake books I found at Dollar Tree.

I was happy they liked them so much! They only stayed a couple of hours since E was so tired. We sent them home with leftovers, cookies, fruit and veggies, along with the rest of my IZZE bottled cherry lime. They were getting close to expiration and I haven’t been drinking them much. I really prefer how it tastes in cans and now they are offering a 24-pack of them at Amazon I plan to order soon.

Saturday (10/23) We visited Sonny Acres and boy was it busy! The parking lot was packed when we arrived just before 11 am. They open at 10 but their kitchen doesn’t open until 11 am and I assumed that’s where they would be serving the hot apple cider I wanted to try. Turns out they have a special booth for it, and they were just bringing it out when we got there.

There’s second booth down by the kids’ rides where they have it too, so I will try to remember that for next year since it was way less busy than the main booth.

They have some of the best apple cider donuts around, but man do they keep raising the prices! A single donut will cost you $2.50 and they do get cheaper the more you buy but they are still very costly! The hot apple cider was just ok and it was annoying how the bees followed me around trying to get at it.

We enjoyed people-watching for awhile but there’s not too much to do if you don’t have young kids to take on rides.

The rides themselves are more plentiful than back when we’d take the kids there, and they even added a trampoline-like attraction that the kids would have loved. I read that the haunted hayride is $20 per person now which is kinda crazy. It used to be $10. I have mixed feelings about this. The new owners have definitely put more money into the place which is nice because the previous owners were ready to close the place down, but it’s so crowded and expensive it’s probably not as enjoyable to visit like it used to be.

Halloween (Sunday 10/31) was pretty interesting this year because we actually got trick-or-treaters, twelve in fact, which is the most we’ve had for well over a decade now. I’m glad I made up treat bags at Joe’s request even though I was certain no one would come. I’m happy to have been wrong, although with Wookie Crankypants in the mix, it was a bit frustrating as she does not like visitors to HER home.

Categories: Excursions, Family, Food, Holidays, Kids Tags:

Internet Issues, Barn Owls & Pool Parties

September 20th, 2021 Comments off

Friday (9/17) we woke up and our internet was down. I don’t know if I wrote about it, but a few months ago after our Comcast contract expired, and they wouldn’t give us another deal, we switched our internet service to T-Mobile. It worked pretty well, although not quite as fast, but for $50 per month (no added taxes or fees), we figured it was worth trying out.

When Joe called T-Mobile they really couldn’t do much to help other than offer to send out a new device, aka trashcan (nicknamed as such by the T-Mobile internet community on Reddit). T-Mobile Trash Can

The problem? They estimated it would be a week. Unacceptable! Joe warned them that he’d be cancelling if it took that long and they called his bluff, so he immediately contacted Comcast and sure enough, we were able to get 200 MBS for $50/month for the next 12 months, so we signed up. We have our own router and modem so it was all done online, although Joe did have to chat with someone for them to do something on the account to get it to actually work, but we were up within a half hour.

A manager at T-Mobile called around that time to say they were expediting the device but Joe explained we were cancelling and not to bother. T-Mobile ended up giving us a $25 credit for our trouble anyway, and I guess they couldn’t stop the shipment because UPS is saying we’re getting something from them today. I guess we’ll have two devices to send back to them now.

If only Comcast had given us a better rate months ago, we would have stayed with them.

I feel like T-Mobile needs to do more work on their device/service before it’s a viable alternative to cable internet. Just like with their failed T-Vision streaming cable service, which they never invested in because the user interface sucked, they are rolling stuff out that is inferior to their competitors and consumers are paying the price in frustration. It could just be a coincidence, or Apple TV being particular, but we could never watch Ted Lasso on Fridays (the night new episodes are released) under T-Mobile because halfway through an episode it would lock up and crash the Roku. We tried it Friday on Comcast and had no such issues. I think it’s still partly Apple, since none of the other streaming services ever give us issues, but it’s also T-Mobile for being too slow as well. Perhaps in a few years it will be different. I hope so, since there are a lot of rural customers who would benefit from 5G internet and we personally do not like giving our money to Comcast.

Saturday (9/18) we decided to check out the local plant nursery’s open house. Not before stopping at White Castle for breakfast, however. I got a sausage slider, but also wanted to try the chicken and waffles slider based on the description on their website:

White Castle - Expectation

Imagine my surprise/disappointment when what I got was this:

White Castle - Reality

So of course I had to go online and air my grievance with them. We’ll see whether they reply back.

White Castle Feedback 20210920 - 2

(I contacted Meijer well over a month ago to complain about the quality of their broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken (the broccoli is really hard/sharp recently) and they never bothered to acknowledge it, so hopefully White Castle is more responsive).

Barn Owl (the nursery) wasn’t too crowded when we first arrived, so we ate our breakfast in the car and then took a look around. They had a whole building of just bird houses and bird food! I ended up getting this cute hummingbird palm feeder.

Hummingbird Palm Feeder

I doubt I’ll get any birds to feed directly from my hand this year, but maybe next year when I’m planning on putting everything up in April. As it stands now, we’re already seeing fewer visitors to the feeder as they start their migration south. *sad*

They had live owls on display which was really cool!

Yesterday (9/19) we decided to check out the community garage sale at the nearby park. They also had a car show and craft fair going on at the same time so we figured there would be a lot to see. Not so much. Joe wasn’t very thrilled with the cars, there were hardly any craft booths, and only a few garage sale booths. With the amount of cars parked in the area you would have thought more was going on than there was. Oktoberfest in a tent further back is going on right now too, but that doesn’t open until noon and we were there just after 10 am. Needless to say, we were back at home by 10:30.

At one of the booths the owner trapped me in an impromptu demonstration of her product and forced me to take a business card. I can appreciate people wanting to sell their creations, but I really think they should ask you first. I didn’t want to be rude by walking away, so it was very uncomfortable, not to mention a waste of her time since I wasn’t interested.

A good thing came of our little excursion, though! On our way back to the car we ran into our friend D who was walking over (she lives a few blocks away from the park) to check things out and she invited us to come over for a swim later. I enthusiastically agreed knowing it was due to be very hot that day and I have been wanting to go swimming one more time before it gets too cold to do so. We went home to do some light cleaning, ran to the store to grab some snacks to bring over, and took a shower. After getting everything packed up and ready to go I went to use the bathroom and BAM, the time of the month said “SUPRISE, I’M HERE!” It couldn’t have waited just a few more hours, right?

We still had fun hanging out with our friend, but I was only able to deep my feet into the pool. She made us some cheeseburgers and we lounged on her awesome patio furniture under a big tent away from the blazing sun. It really made a difference since my weather app said it was 85 and felt like 95 yet we were very comfortable.

We interrupt this entry to display pics of our friend’s two dogs who love getting pets, particularly the all brown one.

Dog 1

Dog 2

D’s ex, a guy we used to all go to Bingo with back when they were dating, hit her up later on since he was also at the nearby park, and she invited him to stop by, so we ended our afternoon chatting with him before taking off around 6 pm so we could walk Wookie before sunset.

Speaking of, she was so unbelievably excited when we go home she was literally vibrating and panting a lot. She’s been fine being left alone for hours but this was perhaps just a bit too long for her liking (5 hours). Usually she’ll sleep when we’re gone which is what she did most of the time since I checked in our her once in awhile via the cameras. About an hour before we came home I noticed her pacing around the house, however.

Touch-Up Paint & Praying Mantis

September 10th, 2021 Comments off

Saturday (9/4) – Took Wookie to see K & T and she was dog-sitting two other dogs that Wookie did not like (surprise surprise). They eventually managed to co-exist, but it’s pretty clear Wookie is not a dog lover. She’s not really a people lover either, other than Joe and me. She merely tolerates everyone else. I wish she got along with other dogs and people more; it would be less stressful.

Wednesday (9/8) – Finally got around to painting the passenger side mirror on the Crosstrek because way back in January 2018, I scraped the side of my car going into the garage. Ugh!

Crosstrek Mirror – Before

I bought touch-up paint from Subaru years ago, so it was about time we did something with it.

Crosstrek Mirror – After

It does not look great, but better than before so whatever. Luckily I don’t have to look at it much.

Thursday 9/9 – We decided to visit Willowbrook Wildlife Center to walk around and enjoy the weather. Joe spotted this cool praying mantis!

He actually spotted two total. He is always finding the best insects on our walks!

The visitor center is still closed which was a bummer because they keep a lot of cool birds in there.

Categories: Car, Excursions Tags: ,

All The Other Things

August 19th, 2021 Comments off

Figured I’d post a mish mash of things that have happened recently. I really only keep up this blog for my own memories at this point so if you find this boring that’s why.

Sat 8/7 – We tried Wendy’s breakfast for the first time in years because T-Mobile Tuesday had a deal where you get a free breakfast sandwich with any purchase. I got the Maple Bacon Chicken Croissant and a small order of Seasoned Potatoes. I thought the sandwich was pretty good. Reminded me of a chicken version of McDonald’s McGriddles. So good, but not great. But those potatoes were amazing! They remind me so much of the potato wedges KFC used to have. It’s too bad you can only get them during breakfast. I might have to plan ahead so I can get some in the morning, grab some KFC in the afternoon, and reheat the wedges in the air fryer.

Fresh Picked Tomatoes

Sun 8/8 – Our neighbor came by asking if we’d like to pick some tomatoes from his garden since he had too many. Joe picked four and we used most of them to make the most delicious bruschetta.

Bruschetta

Wed 8/11 – The Woodman’s finally opened by us on Tuesday, August 10th, so we headed over there the next day around 8 am to check it out. Observations: there’s no deli (weird), they only take Discover (in addition to debit and cash), the liquor store has a separate entrance but can also be accessed via the store, but you have to pay for everything there separately, their selection is off the charts. Needless to say, we spent an hour going up and down the majority of the aisles. It will definitely be a place we shop at often, particularly because they’re open 24 hours.

Subaru Outback Outback Screen

Thu 8/12 – Took my Crosstrek to the dealer to address two recalls and was given an Outback loaner. Observations: I like the dual climate control but found the radio annoying to operate, and the fact that all the controls had to be done on the screen other than adjusting the temperature. The Auto Start-Stop feature to conserve gas is hella annoying because the car would jerk when starting back up. If my car had that I’d be disabling it real quick. I did like that the doors automatically locked once the car reached 15 MPH, though, and you could open the door from the inside without having to unlock the door first. That’s the single most annoying thing about my car and I still don’t understand how me having to manually lock and unlock the doors is supposedly a safety feature. It’s stupid!

Herrick Lake

Sun 8/15 – We got up early to visit Herrick Lake & Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton. It’s been years since visiting either one.

At Herrick we saw a Tussock Moth caterpillar, a Cedar Waxwing, and heard woodpeckers and blue jays, which I was able to identify with the Merlin Bird ID app. They recently added a feature where you can have it listen to birds in the area and give you a possible match. It’s remarkably accurate.

Most of the horses at Danada were eating in a pasture not really accessible to the public (and had their eyes covered which I thought was interesting; I read it has to do with flies). There were two in the barn that we saw, and we were visited by two curious barn cats too, and saw some barn swallows, although I wasn’t able to get a good photo of them.

Vito & Nick's Frozen Pizza

Later in the day we decided to make one of the Vito & Nick’s pizza we picked up at Woodman’s and when I tell you that we were blown away by how good it was I am not exaggerating. We’ve never had a better frozen pizza. The amount of toppings they add is insane!

Pizza Slice

Each slice is very filling even though the crust is thin. We intend to keep one on hand at all times for lazy dinner days.

Tue 8/17 – I met my friend, C, for lunch at Culver’s to catch up. We initially sat outside, at my request, because that Delta variant of COVID has got me worried and I’m not really comfortable being indoors without a mask, and that’s kinda hard to do when you’re eating. Unfortunately, a few bees found our food very interesting, so we were forced to retreat inside to get away from their relentless buzzing around us.

Rueben

We were planning on visiting my friend, K, today, and we usually get Culver’s, so I decided to have something different than a burger during this visit, and got the Rueben. It looked better than it was, although it wasn’t actually bad. It was average, I’d say. I would eat it again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to do so.

After we had been at the restaurant 45 minutes I asked my friend if we could go back to my place since I wasn’t comfortable being there any longer (it was getting busier) so we hung out at the house until she left around 3:15. Right before she left we were standing by the patio door hoping to see a hummingbird but none came by. I told her they’ll probably come right after she leaves, and that’s exactly what happened. Not only that, but I pointed out that they don’t seem to like the new red Pentas we recently got, and of course now they do! Are they trying to make me look bad?

Famer's Market VeggiesCinnamon Roll

Wed 8/18 – We decided to check out Warrenville’s farmer’s market and spent nearly $40 between blackberries ($4), veggies ($5.50), sweet cheese pierogi ($12/dozen), a gigantic cinnamon roll ($4.25), and two rolls ($12 total) from a food truck called Roll With It.

Rolls

The Oreo roll is on the left and a caprese roll is on the right. We really liked the Oreo one and the other one was ok, but not good enough we’d get again.

I made some icing for the cinnamon roll by mixing powdered sugar, milk, and a little almond extract. It came out delicious, particularly because Joe heated the roll in the air fryer before we added the icing.

We used the poblano and yellow peppers to make southwestern stuffed peppers for dinner. They came out amazing, particularly the poblanos.

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

We are looking forward to making them again soon.

Today we were supposed to head to K’s house for a puppy play date but Wookie isn’t feeling well so we’re taking it easy and keeping an eye on her. I fed her some canned pumpkin mixed in wither her wet food, which she loved, so hopefully that will help her belly. She’s currently lying on the floor right next to my chair.

General Stuff

My left shoulder is still slowly getting better. I can almost raise my arm all the way up, reach behind my back again, and sleep on it with minimal pain. Crazy how long it’s been since these issues started – a year now, I believe.

We haven’t been using our master tub/shower in the last month because the drain hole is messed up and Joe is having a tough time removing it to replace it. We are planning on using this opportunity to redo the master bathroom. It’s sorely needed – the tub is old, the grout in the wall tile is falling apart and I fear water has gotten behind it and might be harboring mold, and the grout in the floor tile is coming apart even though Joe redid that a few years ago. Might as well do a full gut and install all new stuff. We’ve been dragging our feet on it though because picking out materials is stressful! I can’t decide if I want to do a shower surround or do tile again. Tile would definitely look better, but the wall surround would be easier to keep clean.

Chicago Botanic Garden

August 7th, 2021 Comments off

On Wednesday (8/4/21) we went to the Chicago Botanic Garden where the most beautiful sunflowers greeted us outside the entrance.

Sunflower

Apparently it’s been 6 years since we lasted visited. Color me surprised – I could have sworn we visited at least once since then, but based on my blog and Flickr photos I guess that’s not the case. And that explains why there was a whole new section there that we didn’t remember – the Plant Science Center which has an outdoor roof garden.

Inside the Plant Science Center

We snagged a pass from the library so we’d get in for half price, which would be $12.50, but the woman at the gate said it was going to be $10, but had a hard time getting her computer to access the right screen and ended up letting us in for free. Joe joked it was because he’s so cute.

We arrived not too long after they opened at 8 am so the weather was very pleasant and it wasn’t at crowded at all. The same can’t be said for when we left at 10:30 am – it was very hot and crowded.

As always, the hummingbirds were hanging out in the purple flowers near the entrance, but I couldn’t get a photo quickly enough, not just because they never stay in the same spot for more than a few seconds, but also because I opted not to bring a camera and only had my phone with me. It takes pretty decent photos but doesn’t handle mixed lighting well.

 Japanese Gardens

It was really nice walking around all the gardens and stopping to pick up Thai food on the way home.

Categories: Excursions, Photos Tags: