Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On the First Day of Christmas

What every well-dressed car is wearing this season:

Yes, that's NPV for your hometown and mine.

I found this for AJ last year at the Ireland shop on Main Street and assume they are still peddling these not-inexpensive beauties on the counter.

Yet another idea I didn't dream up first.

If I made a bunch of NapervilleNow stickers, would you slap one on your fender? Or someone else's?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Not That There Was A Choice

Some of us take off for Thanksgiving and read Naperville Now from their Caribbean hideaway.

Others head off to the mall and find something super special just for themselves for Christmas.
Afterall, it is red.
And Chicago is so not the Caribbean.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What Really Happened

It just goes to show that if you tear up a little bit when mentioning a Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving, your neighbor will most definitely take pity on you and invite you in for turkey and stuffing.

Thank you, Beth, for including us. I've never tasted a moister turkey or sampled as many side dishes as you prepared for your family on Thursday. (Who knew Brussel Sprouts were tasty?) You are a great cook not only because you enjoy cooking but because you own every conceivable cooking utensil and pot on the planet. As I lack both desire and Staub cookware, I will never achieve culinary heights. And I am at peace with that, especially since you live three doors down.

Off to see what's left at Woodfield Mall with Daughter #2. Christmas beckons. So not ready.

Enjoy the sunshine.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thank God Cracker Barrel Is Open

It is no secret that I'm an indifferent cook. And while I did manage to cobble together meals while the children were growing up, it was only because cooking was in the Mom Contract. 

Now that the kids have flown the nest, Honey has picked up the culinary gauntlet, and with great success, bless him. The man makes killer casseroles, thanks to his frequent "How Do I Make a (Egg/Spaghetti/Chicken/TaterTot) Casserole?" queries to Google.

Recognizing that tomorrow many of you will be slaving over a hot Aga, I offer up this gift from my friend Tina, a former neighbor now living in Virginia, who has been looking for a Horseradish Mashed Potatoes recipe for me since she moved. That was 10 years ago, so I'm guessing she had a lot of packing boxes to sort through.

Tina, a great cook and all-around All Star in the homemaking department, emailed the requested recipe on Tuesday, just in time for your Thanksgiving preparations. She's very thoughtful in that way.

Yukon Gold Potatoes with Horseradish

5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups light cream
ground white pepper
6 ounces prepared horseradish

Peel and quarter the potatoes and cover with cold water.
Add 1 tablespoon salt, bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle boil, cooking till fork tender, about 25-30 minutes.
Pour off water and let potatoes cool a little (if they sit in the water they'll turn pasty).
In a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip the potatoes until smooth, about 1 minute; add the butter and mix until melted and combined, about 30 seconds. Add the cream, 2 tablespoons salt and white pepper to taste; whip until smooth and creamy, scraping down the bowl frequently. Fold in the horseradish and combine well.

To keep the potatoes warm, put an inch of water in the pot the potatoes were cooked in and set over low heat. Put the potatoes in a mixing bowl, cover with foil and put the bowl on top of the pot. You can hold the potatoes like this for at least 2 hours, just maintain the water level and keep the heat low.

Our Thanksgiving will take place a day late, due to unavoidable scheduling conflicts. And yes, I will cook. But on Thursday, Honey and I will be at the Cracker Barrel, thankful for our arriving family, our health and yes, horseradish mashed potatoes.
                    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sorry, Kids

To Our Darling Girls:

We are sorry. Truly, deeply sorry. I know you loved your Care Bears. And the doll whose cheeks turned a weird color if you put an icey wand to her face. And the dolls your grandparents toted back from Europe. And Shamu. And the assorted stuffed Dalmatians and Barbies that came with every birthday, every Christmas, every every.

Who knew that little open drain in the basement could rise up like Buckingham Fountain and contaminate your childhoods? I assumed something had burrowed into the house and died under the floorboards. But, no, it was far more disgusting and unholy than a moldering chipmunk.

Your valiant Dad ventured into the room-that-shall-not-be-named and discovered a geyser (cannot.think.about.this.in.detail.due.to.gag.reflex) spewing into all of those Bekins moving boxes.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Did I mention stupid?

So there is ongoing cleanup. Continuing haz mat removal. The oak table. The Christmas tree. Your crib. The Dr. Seuss books. Muck and mold and ick for a lifetime.

What we can salvage with Clorox, we shall salvage. But mostly, it's headed to the landfill. Sorry, landfill. I will recycle three times as hard to make up for it.

(The above is a germ-free rendering of what's been lost.
Have I mentioned I'm sorry?)

Sunday, November 21, 2010


It is the photo op of the decade, and you're invited, Naperville. Yes, you! And you over there hiding behind the water cooler.

Mayor George Pradel  has hatched a great idea to make the city's official holiday card with the word PEACE formed by the people of our fair city.

Check the city's website for details (http://www.naperville.il.us/). Apparently, there has been a huge response, so last I read, people are to gather at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26 in front of the Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St., and mosey over to the Carillon for an aerial shot. Unless there are too many people and everyone has to mosey over to Lisle.

So take a break from Black Friday, put down that Mastercard and fancy up. Your city needs you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Passwords, Part Deux

Lyn, my fourth cousin 17 or 15 times removed, lives and computes in Houston. Not only is she an ace genealogist, Naperville Now reader and good-friend-I've-yet-to-meet, but she has her finger on the software pulse of America and a solution to all of life's problems:

Our son talked me into buying a software called 1Password which works like a charm. You create one password to lock in all of your passwords to every single account you have. You never have to remember any of those again. You then can create passwords which are protected as they have a higher level of complication like, e.g., iHqrStUV152266 or something equally crazy. As long as you can remember the 1Password's password, you're covered. Worth looking into!
Complete genius. Thank you, Lyn. Clearly we're related.

(Neither Lyn nor I have a vested interest in this brilliant company. Just wish I'd thought of it.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And Your Name Is...?

To be truthful, I'm a little worried about myself. CRS Syndrome has made itself quite comfy in my head these past few months and it's taking a huge toll on my online self-esteem.

How many computer passwords do you have? I think I counted 25 that are essential, all of them some variation of old addresses and telephone numbers and dead pets from the 70s. There's eBay, Etsy, AOL, Gmail, this very blog, work passwords, the banking accounts, stores online. Even dooce.com, a favorite blog of mine, has a password, and you know what? I'm furious that I can't remember the combo to access all of this stuff. It's like being duck taped to a wall outside the junior high dance while The Beatles sing inside. Live.

Chase Bank called me last week to ask if I was in Brazil, trying to buy Brazilian crap with my credit card. Now, as much fun as that sounds, it would appear that some drug cartel nearly bought a country with my credit line. Oh sure, the Brazilians can be up to no good while I'm here at home, locked out of all the fun.

Apparently my password bollixed up their good time.

Okay, so passwords work for Good and Evil.

I'd try a little bit of both, if I could remember the right combination.

Monday, November 15, 2010

But What About Tuition?

I have a very odd job that involves advertising, the Internet, images and search engines. Sounds sexy, right? Not so much, actually, but from time to time, we encounter stuff on the Internet that is hilarious. This morning, my colleague happened upon this website:


Now think about that. A website that hawks coupons? Or free babies? Or just coupons for free babies?

People in the grammar biz call this a misplaced modifier. Or a baby slavery ring. Possibly a misplaced baby slavery ring. You decide.

Poor thing. Cute, too.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I knew all that sunshine couldn't possibly last. Chicagoans just don't know what to do with warmth and sun streams and balmy-ness. Fair weather, like the Cubs winning World Series, is just not meant for those of us who live over by der.

That being said, it is time to dig into your closets and pry out that overcoat you haven't worn since 1999 and take it over to Casey's. Or District 203's office on Hillside. Or the YMCA (Washington Street and/or 95th Street).  Leave the leather gloves in the pockets because the Rotary folk need your winter clothing. All sizes are accepted.

So quit that woolen hoarding habit and help those in need. You have until November 19.
Besides, raccoon is just so 2009.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

With Thanks

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Generous Sunshine

Ole Tom Skilling tells me (via the Tribune) that today will be the 4th consecutive unseasonably mild day in Chicago. In fact, we will be warmer than San Diego. (And if I could find my cheaters, I could probably name other cities as well. When did they reduce the size of the type? More importantly, why?)

I would like to thank everyone who has had a hand in making this post-Autumn just about the most glorious ever. And I would like to tell my boss I won't be in today.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Happy to report we dodged the snow bullet. I think the Lake dwellers got several inches. Thank you, lucky stars. Living inland rocks, especially today.

Of course, there are still mountains of leaves to create from the backyard, a never-ending, back-breaking job that I try my best to avoid. Gale-force winds have helped. (Apologies to the families at the end of the court. Act of God. Promise.)

Meanwhile, it is time for the next generation to learn responsibility. There's a lot that goes into being a homeowner.

I think he's doing pretty well, don't you? Very symmetrical. I like that.

Always good to take time out for a brief jump. But, duty calls, buddy.
Chop chop.

If your back is tired from all that raking, there are other ways to make piles.

(Just don't tell Mommy.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Not Again

There is snow in the forecast.
Not happy, not happy, not happy.

So not happy.
Are you getting the unhappy part?
Winter is the worst, and it isn't even winter yet.

Monday, November 1, 2010

So Genius

Honey just keeps getting better and better at this.
(Note words for mouth in pumpkin on the right.)