Please take my money

Attended a beautiful farmers market last week in Chicago’s Daley Plaza and bought a bunch of great stuff that we grilled that night on our patio. The array of vegetables and other treats available at this market was impressive.

Only a few of the merchants accepted credit or debit cards, though, which means we couldn’t give our money to a lot of earnest farmers who had such excellent produce for sale. Lucky for us, there were some earnest farmers with equally excellent produce who also lived in the 21st century and were able to take our money for their goods. Commerce!

Yes, the merchants who didn’t accept plastic avoided a small transaction fee, but they also avoided an entire sale (and judging by the number of people using credit or debit cards at this market, they avoided a lot of sales).

For people who are more visual, here’s a chart illustrating the percentage of money we spent at merchants who accepted our cards compared with merchants who didn’t.

One hundred percent of the money we spent at the Daley Plaza farmers market went to merchants who accepted credit/debit cards. Merchants who accepted cash only (or checks!) earned zero of our dollars.

One hundred percent of the money we spent at the Daley Plaza farmers market went to merchants who accepted credit/debit cards. Merchants who accepted cash only (or checks!) earned zero of our dollars.

This topic has come up before, of course, with Kimball’s Peak Three Theater in downtown Colorado Springs. A few years ago, a theater rep snidely told us and the Colorado Springs Independent that “cash is king.” But it looks like cash has been dethroned, since Kimball’s now takes credit cards. Welcome to the future, Kimball’s!

Taste of Chicago: Half-Baked

See what I did there in that headline? It’s a food-related play on words on a post about food. Pretty clever, right? Of course it is.

But let’s get back to the meat of the story, shall we? (OK, that one’s just ridiculous, and I’ll stop now.)

For more than 30 years, the Chicago food world gets some tents and sets up shop in a park and offers the hungry masses a taste of what Chicago’s restaurants have to offer.

Here’s what they have to say about it all on their website:

Taste of Chicago is the nation’s premier outdoor food festival showcasing the diversity of Chicago’s dining community. The delicious array of food served at Taste of Chicago is complemented by music and exciting activities for the entire family. Every summer since 1980, Chicago’s beautiful Grant Park on the city’s magnificent lakefront has been home to the world’s largest food festival.

Seriously, people, lots of really good food available here. But why do we say half-baked, then? There were some problems with this Taste of Chicago 2013 that could really be easily fixed. First of all, it’s miserable hot out there, and the festival is on pavement? Nice going. Whatever, though, it’s probably easier to maneuver the grills and all the equipment. But then all the shaded areas are fenced off? Do you want me to die of heat stroke, Chicago?

Second, in addition to not having any shaded places available, there were no places to sit, either.

Anyway, I’m sure it’s nicer in the evenings. And the weather probably isn’t Taste of Chicago’s fault. But whatever with that. Spring for some chairs and tables, you guys.

Other than that, though, the food was delicious, as we expected. For $16, we had some red beans and rice with jerk chicken from Vee Vee’s African Restaurant, a pulled-pork mini from The Smoke Daddy, a veggie chickpea bowl from Bombay Spice Grill, two slices of cheesecake (key lime and regular) from Eli’s Cheesecake Co., and a cup of sherbet from Original Rainbow Cone.

Overall, even though my stupid bald spot got sunburned, the cheesecake and sherbet made up for it.

Eli's Cheesecake Co., Taste of Chicago 2013

Found a sliver of shade, and stood there with my slices of dessert from Eli’s Cheesecake Co.– key lime and regular. Oddly, the regular was tastier.

We sold our cute little vintage Play Mor travel trailer last month, so here’s a repost from last year

When we got this beat-up little trailer, we didn’t know how much work it’d be — or how much fun! Every project seemed to lead to another project, and so on. We had to leave the trailer behind for now, but we’re by no means finished with it.

Here’s a quick roundup of the work we’ve done on it so far:

  • Painted interior
  • Painted exterior, bondo’d and filled holes and imperfections
  • Changed tires
  • Repacked / greased bearings
  • Replaced screen in door
  • Lubricated leaf springs
  • Upholstered cushions
  • Caulked and sealed exterior seams
  • Replaced exterior trim screws
  • Changed taillights
  • Replaced exterior outlet access
  • Installed bottle opener (probably among the more important upgrades)
  • Replaced wood under rear skin
  • Removed carpeting
  • Installed LED interior lights
  • Replaced exterior cord housing
  • Replaced fresh-water hose
  • Replaced drain on water tank
  • Replaced supply line on water tank
  • Installed flanges on exterior water supply / drain
  • Replaced all interior hardware
  • Replaced ice box with storage shelves
  • Made curtains
  • Installed interior trim / moulding
  • Shortened bunk bed for storage needs
  • Installed Ikea bathroom shelf and toilet paper holder
  • Purchased a portable toilet
I know a lot of you all out there are restoring and fixing up your old Play-Mors (and others). How’s it going?

Here she is on one of her very first trips — to Deckers.


And here she is on her final trip, somewhere in Wyoming.


A work in progress. We used Clark & Kensington exterior paint we picked up at Ace Hardware, and despite my reservations about its durability, it went on well and has held up so far.


The interior as it was when we bought it. Dark and panelly.


Cushions fresh from the upholsterer.


After some sprucing up, and with the cushions in place. Much lighter.


Now, with curtains and the bedding. Downright livable!


The best part of any project is napping in the middle of it.


The dining room, complete with chandelier.


In the dark of night, Blair Witch-style.


Getting the bearings out and lubed up.


After pulling up the nasty carpet, we find the original floor in excellent shape. Score.


When I said earlier that the best part of the project is napping in it, I was wrong. The best part is enjoying a beer in it beside the creek.


When it came time for the tedious interior painting, Adrienne got in and worked the tight spots.


Hard to believe this thing ended up looking as good as it did.


Some paint, some shelves, and it’s so much nicer.


Adrienne’s bedroom. Cozy.


This is typical of what the exterior looked like: Skin peeling off the edges, stripped screws, weird wires attached to the seams for no reason at all.


Part of what makes the whole thing work so well are the details, like this candle thing. This is Adrienne’s doing.


New paint, new reflectors, new screen door, and this old gal’s ready for travel.

So we’ve packed her away for a while till we figure out what we’re doing with our lives, and I can’t wait to get back to camping. There is beer to drink and fish to catch.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Edzo’s

You’ll be shocked to know that I wasn’t in the mood for a burger today.

Adrienne said: Hey, there’s this burger place opening up down the street, and we should give it a try.

Like I said, I wasn’t in the mood, but whatever. A new burger place? Bring it on.

When we walked in to Edzo’s, I was suddenly in the mood for a burger. Now I’m not usually into those fancy, trendy burger places with the very strange concoctions and tall burgers. Places like The Counter, with dijon balsamic sauce and dried cranberries. Those can be some tasty meals, for sure, but for me, a burger has to be a burger. Diner-style. Road food. If you need a fork for it, it’s not a burger.

So I’m happy to say this Edzo’s place that just opened a location in Lincoln Park was perfect. Succulent, diner-style burgers, hand-cut fries, and shakes. Oh, man, the shakes. I’m going to have to go back for another shake. I’m also interested in trying some of their fries — we just had the plain fries, which were outstanding. But someone else had some with a bunch of toppings, and it looked even better.

So welcome to the neighborhood, Edzo’s. We’ll be back.

Edzo's Burger Shop opened a location in Lincoln Park -- just down the street from where we live.


Great burgers (just how I like them) at Edzo's in Lincoln Park.


Burger, fries, and a shake at Edzo's.


Glad I got a chocolate shake. I'll be back for more.

I am a holiday elf, people

Christmas never really did much for me. Maybe when I was a kid, sure, but over the years, I usually just offered to work so someone else could have the day off. But other people like Christmas, so I try to not say anything negative about our holiest most consumer-driven holiday.

This year, though, I thought I’d try something different. I love novelty.

Adrienne is a person who enjoys Christmas and has what many people call “holiday spirit.” While she was away on one of her L.A. trips, I got a tree and some lights and stockings for our small apartment. Thoughtful? Hell yes.

Anyway, I’ve never bought a real tree before, and I learned a few things: They are ridiculously expensive. They are also sticky. By the time I got home with this thing, I was coated in sap, and that sap doesn’t come off with just soap. You need to use a cheese grater to get that gunk off. You will also need a tree stand. Apparently, just leaning it against the wall is a recipe for trouble. Who knew?

I also built a lighted star thing made out of yardsticks that Adrienne found on the Internet. Joy!

Small stocking hung from the tree with care. With my initial on it.


Our very small holiday tree, with both sets of lights. I initially bought only one set of lights, but one set is never enough.


My lighted star project: Staple five yardsticks together in the shape of a star. It will probably be all crooked and wonky. Whatever.


Before stapling, I thought gluing might work better. It doesn't.


We happened to have some paint (surprise!), so I set this guy up in the bathtub and gave it a good whitewashing.


Final step: Wrap some lights around it. Done!


How it looks from the inside.


How it looks from outside. Fancy.


Me and this bird are all about Christmas.