News Round Up


  • It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. If you are a parent at El Sierra PTA, you should have received an email asking for small donations of time or food. Please do your part.
  • Speaking of El Sierra, the Rummage Sale is this Saturday. Here’s a list of some of the stuff that will be there. Rain date is May 17; will we need it?
  • Transformers behind 67th Street Court blew last night, causing two big booms and a power outage. But power is back on now, so that’s good.
  • In other news that started out scary but wound up being okay, an audience member at yesterday’s Downers Grove South Musical “Pajama Games” was taken by ambulance after briefly losing consciousness during the performance. He is okay, but the performance was brought to a halt for roughly 45 minutes and caused some anxiety.

Those kids did a FANTASTIC JOB. I can not stress that enough; they recovered and went on with the show! It is difficult to fathom how young those kids are; it was a high-quality production from the sets to the orchestra to the costumes to the acting and singing and choreography — just everything.

That’s all for now. If I hear of/remember anything else, I will let you know. Hope you all had a wonderful, relaxing weekend!



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All the World is Sad and Dreary Everywhere I Roam…

The view out of every window, everywhere. For what seems like years.

The view out of every window, everywhere. For what seems like years.

I try to keep light and upbeat here, but the world surrounding me is NOT cooperating.

First, the weather. It’s as if Henrik Ibsen and Alexander Solzhenitsyn collaborated to create a sunless, damp, drab landscape against which to write the world’s most soul-crushingly depressing novel ever. (They’re working on a stage version, too.)

Yesterday, Paul Konrad said we would “struggle” to reach 50 degrees. He still put 50 degrees up as the high. I think he was afraid of how we’d take it if we read anything less, so he was giving us false hope. Nice try, Konrad. We weren’t fooled.

Also, I read the news. Enough said.

And, I read this today. Stop, already. Just stop. Can we not have nice things? Ever?

I think I’ll go look at the box of not-yet-inflated hippity hops I bought for the block party. Maybe that will cheer me up.

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Downers Grub: Food is Confusing. And DEADLY!

My mother, a woman who in the 70’s and 80’s kept a dinner of ground beef mixed with Open Pit barbecue sauce topped with Velveeta and wrapped in Pillsbury Crescent Rolls* in frequent rotation, is now very concerned about food additives, GMO’s, and prepackaged foods.

The packaged food industry was supposed to unshackle women from the kitchen and free up the second adult in most families to join the paid workforce. Only we’re being poisoned! Or not. Just mostly. Mostly poisoned.

I am still trying to adapt to a full-time working schedule, and I’ve been told I should avoid any food with a label. Mmm hmm. I’m sure they’re right, in an ideal world. That is not the world in which I currently reside, however.

While I figure out just how much family-poisoning in the name of time and convenience is acceptable to me, please enjoy this picture of my new salad dressing shaker:

salad shake

I was just using an old spaghetti sauce jar, but that must have offended my husband’s sensibilities (no woman of mine will be caught using an old jar, no sir! I’ve got my pride…)

So even if the rest of the dinner is slowly killing my family, at least the salad will be okay.

*It was one of my favorite dinners.

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Pajama Game Opens Tomorrow at DGS

The Downers Grove South musical opens tomorrow. Please go marvel at how talented our kids are. A lot of work goes into it, above and beyond the actors/singers onstage. Lighting, stage crew, make-up — the kids do it all. We have an outstanding theater department at DGS; you should enjoy it. If you’re a senior citizen, tomorrow night is free.


Also, in case you see young hooligans roaming the neighborhood eating candy and throwing sticks at squirrels tomorrow, please be advised that it is a half day of school for District 58.

It is also garbage day. I will be dragging my saggy bags down to the end of the driveway tonight. I will also be putting my lawn waste there. That is a joke about my old saggy buttocks, in case you need clarification.


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Raindrops on Yard Waste and Dead Leaves in Storm Drains

We went to see “The Sound of Music” with Billy Zane in it this weekend, so I still have songs stuck in my head. Because I don’t live in a lush Alpine Austrian wonderland, I have to adapt the words to my everyday life.

So, yard waste. We did the FRONT yard spring cleanup this weekend, including putting down 32 bags of mulch and filling up 5 yard waste bags with dead leaves and sticks. They were very light on Saturday, but let’s see what happens after day after dreary day of rain has turned them into sodden greenjeanssacks of drudgery. Then Mr. Green Jeans called me on the phone to ask if yard waste pickup has even started yet.

Don’t worry, Mr. Green Jeans — it has.

It’s a good thing we did clean up all those dead leaves, because once again the village is calling upon us to clear the storm drains of such debris.  Sometimes I marvel at what exemplary citizens we are. I think our storm drains are the envy of other storm drains everywhere, seeing how clear they are. And my husband didn’t even have to go out there in his crocs and pajama pants this time! This, combined with the fact I use environmentally friendly dish detergent, are things I do to pretend I am a good person.

(visual break to introduce new subject matter)

Unrelated topic I’m going to mention regardless: you know what is coming up? The El Sierra PTA Rummage Sale. Don’t worry; Ill remind you about it.

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This Aggression Will Not Stand!

Guest contributor: renowned block party mascot and bon vivant Spoonie

Guest contributor: renowned block party mascot and bon vivant Spoonie

First, it was helium. No big deal, I told myself. It’s just balloons. Who needs floating balloons when you have WATER balloons? I didn’t pay much attention.

Then, it was limes. Okay, that hurt a little. I mean, gin and tonics, right? And all that delicious Mexican food that tastes better with a little squirt of lime … but we can manage, I thought.

But this is the last straw. Really, winter? Is this how you’re going to play this? Not going away, still trying to mess with us? Trying to keep us down?

Well, this spoon is here to tell you that we will NOT back down from our block party plans! That water slide/bounce house combo? We can turn off the water and just have it be a fun slide. In your FACE you icy bastard! And if we don’t have a water balloon war, we can do an egg toss. AND SO ON.

And you know what? We can have a fire pit and s’mores. That’s what. You think you can threaten us? You think you can ruin our block party the way you ruined our roads and our municipal salt budgets? Screw you.

Oh, and you know what? We saved a bucket of your filthy, nasty crunchy snow. And we’re going to melt it during an opening ceremony. Even if we have to get out a hair dryer to do it. Your time is past, jerkface. Just let it go.

(Crap. That’s a song from your big movie, isn’t it. Even the snowman wanted you to go away. That should tell you something.)


June 14.


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I’m looking out my window again.

Abner! ABNER!

Abner! ABNER!

I think the baby across the street is having her Christening. I can’t see what covered dishes the relatives are bringing inside; they’re covered up. But based on all the Wisconsin plates, I can’t imagine kale is involved.

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Downers Grub: Keen on Greens

Alton Brown and I* have been talking about salad and greens together. Because I am some sort of anti-American weirdo abnormal freak, I love salads. Specifically, while I also love things like potato or grain-or-legume-based salads, I write here of my deep and abiding love for leafy salads which most people around here think of when they hear the word “salad.”

I love their crunch. I love their coolness, either in contrast to other parts of a meal or on their own in one giant, glorious bowl of leafy glory. I don’t care if the greens are bitter and dark or pale and nearly devoid of any sort of nutritious value. I love them all.

Last year, I found out I could enjoy my love year-round without it getting shipped out from far away places like California or a foreign country. We have a place called FarmedHere located in Chicagoland. You can read all about it here, but to sum up they are growing greens and herbs organically (and vertically) indoors and providing them indoors to several nearby grocery stores (closest to us: Shop and Save). This is good news for all sorts of reasons, like being good for both human health and the planet as a whole. I was way more excited than a regular human should have been when I read about it. I desperately want to visit and see how it works.

Now that you know how easy it is to find fresh, healthy greens and herbs, Alton* and I would like to talk to you about salad dressing. Granted, he and I don’t always agree on convenience items; I know we don’t all have the time to make everything from scratch, me might not have the equipment or stock all sorts of ingredients, and we certainly don’t have a cleaning staff. But salad dressing is so easy and so much better than bottled stuff. The next time you empty a jar of something (jelly, spaghetti sauce, whatever) don’t throw it away. Wash it out and keep it for your own homemade dressing.

I asked Alton* for a vinaigrette recipe and for once he managed not to over-complicate things. Here it is. (although he just HAD to say 2 ounces instead of 1/4 cup. It’s a 1/4 cup of vinegar. Use whatever vinegar you have, although that regular white stuff is pretty harsh. But apple cider vinegar or balsamic would work.)

You can make a creamy (think ranch) dressing pretty easily, too. You do need mayonnaise, but if you don’t have buttermilk you can make some out of regular milk or just thin out sour cream with milk. This is pretty much how I make it, although I didn’t follow this recipe, I just made it up myself and these people eerily read my mind and put it up on the internet somehow. They must be listening in to Alton and my conversations.

Anyway, using those basic vinaigrette or creamy dressing bases, you can tailor the recipes for different flavor profiles. Add honey to the vinaigrette. Change out the spices to ginger and add more garlic and a little soy sauce. Stuff like that. As long as the vinaigrettes are all shakey-shakey in the jar and the creamy ones are all whisky-whisky in a bowl before you pour it in the jar you’re good to go. (wait; whisky-whisky sounds wrong, doesn’t it? you know what I mean)

I know you may be skeptical, and I don’t want anyone at Kraft or Wishbone to be fired over this, but please try making your own dressing instead of compulsively reaching for the bottled stuff. I love you almost as much as I love salad, and I want you to have good stuff.

Alton agrees with me completely. Don’t you, Alton?



*Of course, what I mean is I’ve been carrying on an imaginary conversation in my head.
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Cancelled Due to Continuing Winter

Today-Has-Been-Cancelled-PillowcaseHere is a list of things that were supposed to happen this week so far, but didn’t/won’t due to weather cancellation:

  • School (2 days)
  • Work (Tuesday only)
  • Religious Ed
  • DGS Freshman Orientation
  • Art Appreciation
  • Parent/Teacher Conferences for 5th grade (teacher holding them one week early due to rapidly approaching maternity leave)
  • Makeup geometry final for 8th grader
  • Violin lessons
  • Yard patrol (Moxie only)
  • Walks in the park

Even the most faithful walkers/joggers have not been going past my window this morning.

However, I am guessing the ice rink in McCollum is VERY SOLID. So there’s that.

I am happy they decided to close the office today; my car had a difficult time starting at 5 pm yesterday out in the parking lot, and I almost lost traction a couple of times on icy spots on the road.  I am just as happy to stay home and bake banana chocolate chip muffins and watch my DVR’d Downton Abbey and Sherlock episodes from Sunday.

I hope you stay safe and warm today.

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It’s Not a Day Off, It’s a Day Delayed. Insert Frownie Face.

No school today!

It has been rescheduled to June, so O’Neill students can suffer with no air conditioning and El Sierra kids can stare longingly out the window at the beautiful day they aren’t enjoying.


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