Thursday, July 30, 2009

Funky 'Shrooms

As it was supposed to have rained today, I thought I would get in a few minor lawn care issues dealt with before the supposed rain. In a fairly shady area of my landscaping shadowed by dwarf Alberta Spruce trees, Heavy Metal Switchgrass and daylillies I find something very odd poking out from underneath the mulch: Neon orange-ish red mushrooms with black tops. They more resembled asparagus than a shroom. For your disbelieving pleasure, funky black tipped neon orange mushrooms (which I "shot" this morning casting shadows where I shouldn't have been casting shadows).







Right before I decided to share this, I went to check on the funkshrooms. They are all pretty much wilted up. Maybe if more pop up tomorrow, I'll pick one and take it to the Botanical Gardens and see if they have a clue. I've played "Google the Internet" with no luck.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

September 12th Wine & Dine Update

As most of my faithful readers know, I am the chef for Willett's Winery & Cellars Wine & Dine Experience in Manito. It is a four course dinner, paired with four of Willett's Wines. While enjoying dinner, guitarist/voclaist Joe Metzka performs. Before each course, winemaker Dan Willett explains each wine and I talk about why the wine pairs with the food. Due to the success the Willetts have had with opening up a retail shop at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie, we've been holding back on printing the menu so we will know which wines will be available as some of last years wine is just now being bottled and the previous years supply is running low. Now that we know what will be available, here is the menu:


Large Diver Sea Scallop on Black Thai Rice and Pineapple-Cucumber Riata served with Willett’s Winery & Cellars Traminette

Heirloom Tomato and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup topped with Four Cheese Crème Fraiche served with Willett’s Winery & Cellar Frontenac Rose’

Pork Flat Iron Steak stuffed with a Ropp Jersey Farm’s Smoked White Cheddar Cheese, Dried Cherries & Sausage Stuffing, Mirette Potatoes and Autumn Squash Medley served with Willett’s Winery & Cellars St. Croix

Lemon & House Made Ricotta Pie with Mixed Berries and Jostaberry Sauce served with
Willett’s Winery and Cellar’s Blueberry Thrill

This is an enjoyable evening. Tickets are $50 per person and includes a glass of wine with each course. Call the winery today at 309.968.7070 to reserve your space as we already have several reservations from people wanting to attend not even knowing what the menu would be. Got to love those adventurous souls!

A Cornucopia of Things

I'm always excited over the first bloom of my crimson red hibiscus. Well, it happened yesterday.



And the pond is looking great.




In my travels today, I finally stopped at the new location for the German Grocery Store. Ya think with my German heritage, I would have been there by now....but... They have a grill set up out side over the lunch hour. I had a grilled Thuringer sausage. If you don't know what that is : go have one as they are pretty cheap and very good at $3.00

I also noticed today that there were some sign people or electricians working on the "Vonachen's Old Place" sign. I haven't heard any rumors. However, why would someone work on a sign for an out of business restaurant unless they are tearing it down?

There are some restaurants I've been meaning to right reviews for. Just never seem to get around to it.

Last Sunday, I went to the Central Illinois Jazz Society's monthly jazz concert at the Peoria Castle Lodge (formerly Jumers among others). I wandered around a bit and I'm saddened that this once fine establishment is a shell of its former self. I gotta say, it seems like what I saw in dim lighting, that it seemed fairly well kept. I remember the different rooms off the side on the second level of the now defunct dining room and bar. And how can one forget the Black Bear Lounge? Desolate. Too bad this grand establishment couldn't be picked up and put on the riverfront instead of a museum.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eamon Patricks

I've heard that Eamon Patrick's has closed? Is this true? Anyone confirm? Bueller? Bueller?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Just Can't Leave Well Enough Alone

Something recently happened to the waterfall that "falls" into my pond. One of the feeder tubes seemed to have lost some flow. So, I replaced it. Nothing. As there is one tube coming from the pond and then split into three feeder tubes I figured I would put in control valves to equalize the filtered pond water flowing into the falls. Cut tubes and install valves. One is leaking a bit so I tighten it down. Good. Now the falls don't look like they used to....the water isn't weaving its way through the rocks right. So, I mess with one section and get it looking pretty good. Now to the troublesome middle section. To get the effect I want, the return hose has to be positioned j-u-s-t right. It just wasn't happening and what did happen? KA-SPLASH!! The whole center section of the falls plunges into the pond. Just hoping that it didn't puncture the liner. Get soaked getting all the rocks out of the pond. Now I can't remember exactly how I had it structured to rebuild it. Build, move rock, adjust return hose...over and over and over and over again. Great...now it is starting to rain. And........KA-SPLASH!! The whole center section of the falls plunges into the pond...again. If my neighbors have never heard a string of 1000 profanities strung together before, they have now. Get rocks out of pond again. Knowing what I had just done, and was pretty close, the rebuild was pretty easy. Looks pretty good. Section 3. Slight adjustment. Take a look at my handiwork and.....that darn center section must have gone whack when I fixed section 3. Adjust, adjust, adjust. HOLY SHI----- Whew...close call...almost lost the whole thing again. So I slide the whole structure back a bit, but now the fall looks like crap. Adjust, cuss, adjust, cuss, adjust...go get beer. Two beers make pond waterfall building more tolerable. After several more adjustments to the rocks, return pipe and valves all is working and looking well. Totally different look than what I had and a little higher which I'm not sure I like. Screw it. WTF??? In all my movement of rock, I noticed that I must have poked a miniscule hole in the first sections return hose as I have a pinhole stream of water shooting directly away from the falls soaking a small tree. Replace tube. Rebuild section one. All is well. Clean up all tools and equipment. Re-run powercords, etc. Huh? Why are the lights on? Go uncover light control mechanism. Must have bumped it a few times during the mulitple re-building process. Re-set. Recover. While I'm soaked from pond water, rain and sweat, I decide to check the other "in the pond" pump and filter. Its clogged. New filter. Now I'm thinking "What if I take the filtered water, run it through some tubing and have it come up under the edge of this huge rock that is overhanging the pond. Go get stuff to do so and equipment. Not as easy as a task as I would have hoped as there isn't a good way to get the hose, which is spewing 875 gallons of pond water per hour, to stay in place. After rigging a clever combinations of aquarium airline tubing and zip ties, it is unnoticeable and just barely causing a stir on the water's surface. SWEET. Time to celebrate with another beer. Where did my big reed plant go? Must have fell over. Reach over plants and brick "dam" and right it. It falls over. And how many times did this happen? Lost track. The airline to one of the bubblers comes off. find bubbler and reconnect. Finally, between a small brick and the edge of the pond the redd plant stays up. What's this next to the bottom of the reed plant? A piece of very thin and long flagstone. Hmmmm...I'm sure this could be added to the falls SOMEWHERE to make even a more dramatic appearance.

At this point, you should be cringing.

Nope...slipped right in where I thought it would look good. Another reason to celebrate...another beer.

What was supposed to have been a half hour project has "entertained" me after the rain this morning until the rain we are getting right now.

I'm done screwing with it. I'm writing this to remind myself what happened the last time I was going to "make a few adjustments" and for my readers to get a good laugh.