Monday, July 17, 2006

Security @Home

Scam artists add new
arrow to their quiver:
Caller ID

Tribune--Caller ID isn't the trusty old crystal ball that it used to be.

Revered for years by persnickety consumers who like to screen their telephone calls, the premium service is now being appropriated by identity thieves.

Such scams are made possible by technology that enables con artists to manipulate the phone number and even the name that shows up on the unsuspecting recipient's caller ID, allowing them to masquerade as officials of churches, banks and courthouses.

Known as "spoofing," the endgame is to persuade consumers to reveal their Social Security numbers or other sensitive information. Spoofing is the phone industry's version of phishing, in which criminals use fake e-mails to fool computer users into divulging personal information. But phishing is so yesterday compared with spoofing, one security expert says. More....

Monday, July 10, 2006

Money Matters @Home

Are you thinking about buying one of those cool retro Vespa Scooters and save a little money and time on your commute? You might want to reconsider. Do you already own one and can't seem to get it fixed? Here's the story from Crain's

Chicago scooter market in disarray after city's only Vespa dealer goes under

A modish image and $3-a-gallon gas are pushing sales of Vespa motor scooters to record heights in U.S. cities — but not in Chicago.

With the area's only Vespa dealer in bankruptcy, the Italian manufacturer has stopped shipping new scooters here. Vespa of Chicago is selling what's left of its inventory out of a single location in Lincoln Park.
And while the dealer insists it is still open for sales and service, many Chicagoans are having better luck buying Vespas out of town, from dealerships as far away as Downstate Edwardsville.
Meanwhile, local scooter owners say they don't know where to get their Vespas fixed.

Chris Oles bought his scooter in June 2005 from Vespa of Chicago's parent dealership, West Suburban Imports in Maywood. This month, he called to inquire about a 3,000-mile tune-up, only to learn that the dealership had closed."It's like if I bought a Yugo and all of a sudden Yugo went out of business," says Mr. Oles of Chicago, who owns a silver Vespa LX.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Not @Home

10 things to do this Weekend

1. DANCE. CHICAGO FOLK AND ROOTS FESTIVAL 2006, the Old Town School of Folk Music's annual music extravaganza in Lincoln Square's Welles Park, is as inclusive as it sounds. Check out five stages of live bands of all shapes and sizes. July 7 and July 8, 12:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Admission is $5, $1 for kids and seniors. Lincoln Avenue, between Montrose and Sunnyside avenues. 773-728-6000,

9 More from Crain's

Monday, June 26, 2006

Real Estate @Home

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Your Porch @Home

Is Your Porch Safe?

A year after the city's Buildings Department created a special task force to step up inspections of unsafe porches, city data shows that 166 porches cited as hazardous after a fatal porch collapse in 2003 still do not have the proper permits required to fix them.

Last June, the Buildings Department announced that inspectors would re-inspect the 250 sites listed in the RedEye and Tribune report. Then-commissioner Stan Kaderbek formed a new squad of city porch inspectors and said checking up on the porches would be the first priority of the new squad.

Not sure about your porch? If you are a renter, owner or neighbor and you have concerns about a porch, call 311. A Buildings Department inspector will be assigned to inspect it, according to the city.
For more information, go to At the site, you can find checklists that inspectors use when looking at porches. You also can find information on requesting records through the Freedom of Information Act. More..

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Parents @Home

A Note From
The Rogers Park
Neighborfood Council
A little about Neighborfood

AOL Web MD---Junk food could be expelled from our schools if the government imposes tougher food requirements recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A report issued by the USDA calls for a new law to "ensure that all foods sold or served anywhere in the school during the day meet nutritional standards." Some states, like West Virginia and Louisiana, already have adopted tougher standards that prevent kids from buying junk food on campus until the end of the school day.

However, implementing a nationwide junk-food ban would mean a major change in the eating habits of America's 50 million schoolkids. Along with standard lunchroom fare, sodas, snacks, and candy have become staples of the student diet, often driving out more nutritious alternatives, the USDA says.

"When children are taught in the classroom about good nutrition and the value of healthy food choices, but are surrounded by vending machines ... they receive the message that good nutrition is merely an academic exercise," the report says. Many nutritionists agree. More....

Monday, June 19, 2006

Gardening @Home

City in a Garden
Chicago is a city in a garden.

And WGN News at Nine wants to honor amateur gardeners like you who make our city shine! If you think your garden sticks out like a green thumb just send us three pictures of your garden and 100 words or less on why you think it has made your neighborhood nicer. More....

Friday, June 16, 2006


Having a Tough Time Selling Your Home? You're Not Alone.....

Home sellers hit roadblocks in buyer's market
Spring is the traditional peak sales season for houses and condos. Summer is also usually very good until the traditional August slump.......But 2006 is proving to be a bit different. Although 2005 was a record home sales volume year, the number of residence sales has slowed this year.

By far, this is the top reason a home doesn't sell. Although you might be just testing the market, prospective home buyers are very smart and they know an overpriced listing when they see it. Worse, their buyer's agents won't even bother showing homes with asking prices above recent sales prices of comparable nearby homes. Here are some more reasons from Inman News.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Quack! Plan Some Getaways @Home

OK, It's Time to Get Comfy and Plan Some Weekend Getaways
( found these at a garage sale, quackquack $2 brand new)

Drivin’ and tryin’
Timeout Chicago hit the open road in search of the best eats
within three hours of Chicago
and keeping with the duckie theme, Paradise can feast at

1006 S State St, Lockport, 815-838-5566
So your doctor gave you a couple months to live and you figured: The hell with it, I’m eating foie gras dipped in butter and then fried in fat. Head here, where you’ll find fine dining in a quaint Victorian home. Foie gras terrine followed by potato-crusted sweetbreads and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin? Done.
(1006 S State St, Lockport, 815-838-5566)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

For You Architecture Buffs @Home

Visit Manhattan This Weekend: In Evanston
Evanston continues to be in the grip of a building boom. On still another Fountain Square corner is David Hovey's 2002 Optima Towers, 13 stories, 136 feet, with the the orange balconies that have become a Hovey trademark.

and here's an Architecture Event in June
This is the 150 anniversary year of the birth of Louis Sullivan, and the Society of Architectural Historians is marking the event with a lecture, Louis H. Sullivan: Father of the Prairie School, by renowned scholar H. Allen Brooks at the Graham Foundation, 6:00 P.M. on Monday, June 19th.

More Events from ArchitectureChicago PLUS

Monday, June 12, 2006

Why Cook @Home?

Review of People Lounge from The Chicagoist

"Say what you will about Wicker Park, it really is a wonderful place - a little messy, a tad polished in places, tarnished in others and filled with people who are either so high on their own marvelousness that they suck your will to live or are lovely and understated and leave you and your Kool-Aid the hell alone with nary a second thought. Not many Chicago neighborhoods can boast such diametrically opposed characteristics so effortlessly. This pretty much encapsulates People Lounge - from it's decor to its staff, its menu to the crowd it attracts, this a perfect hodge podge of both good and bad in a neighborhood that is much the same."

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Stuck @Home

Can't Wait for the weekend so we can...

Well, forget that plan. That was Thursday and this is Chicago.
If you plan on going out, better look for your gortex parka.

Maybe it's a good movie day.....
Roger Ebert said "In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to." , invest a few hours in the future, and go see
An Inconvenient Truth, Roger Ebert

or catch up on some reading.....
Some of the most common questions we get here at TreeHugger start with "How do I…" as in: "How do I know that a product is truly good for the environment?" "How do I find a hip eco-friendly gift?" or "How do I get my office to be more green?" Many of those questions can be answered by the good folks at
Green Home Environmental Store.

Book Review: Woody Harrelson’s “How to Go Further”
Kara, Newport, Rhode Island
We really enjoyed reading “How to Go Further” as soon as we turned the first page. With its large color photos, simple steps to leading an organic life and Woody Harrelson’s anecdotes throughout, it’s hard not to think about what kind of footprint you are leaving on this earth.

from Treehugger

Friday, June 09, 2006

Fashion @Home

OK, Here are two posts from designboom that should give you a chuckle........

A Wearable Cellphone Booth
NYU student jenny chowdhury designed and stitched together a wearable cell booth that starts off as a backpack and then unfolds to create a personal cocoon to hold your secret conversations.

Online Guide to Vintage Stuff
'old's-cool' is an online guide to classic tracksuits from the 70's and 80's. with guides on how to repairyour favourite leisure wear and watchto look for when buying vintage sports goods

And a Related Article from Yesterday's Tribune
Come on, Chicago,
let's vogue

"When I think of fashion, I don't think Chicago," said Amanda Hodor, 19, a fashion design major at Columbia College in Chicago who had figured she would have to move to either coast to launch her career. "I would love for more fashion to be here so I don't have to leave."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My Secret Urban Oasis

If you fight the traffic everyday heading west on Touhy trying to get to the highway, you’ve passed it. In fact, it isn’t that easy to find once you know the directions. It’s tucked away and hidden, as it should be.

Once you find what you thought was the right address, there is still plenty of doubt about your navigation skills. It couldn’t be across from this brand new, block long school, could it? How could a nursery this big, be smack in the middle of a modest, brick ranch residential neighborhood?
Well, it is. You’re in the right place. Just look for the old, hand sawn, wood lettered sign adjacent to a gravel road on the east side of N.E. Prairie Road.


You can drive your car down the short, dusty road to their small 8 car parking area. You’ll probably get a spot. We always do and it still always makes me feel like I’ve won the lottery. A parking spot right in front of my favorite place in Chicagoland and I didn’t need to dig into my wallet for a valet or a meter.


The Grounds



Urhausen Greenhouses is a step back in time. Walk around the grounds and through the perennial gardens that are always in bloom and if you left your house upset, you will soon forget why. It’s quiet and the pace is slow. Why rush?

Empty out your trunk and give yourself ample time to push your cart down aisle after aisle of their 60,000 sq. ft. indoor greenhouse that sits on 2 acres in Lincolnwood. There are annuals, herbs, vegetables and hanging baskets everywhere you look. If you can leave here without buying anything, you probably have more discipline than you should.

Urhausen has been at this location since 1922. Until 1986, they grew only tomatoes in the greenhouses which were sold to local and wholesale markets downtown. The rise in fuel prices that translated into higher heating cost for the greenhouses during the winter, made tomato farming an unprofitable enterprise.

They decided to grow their own flowers instead. Everything that is on sale is grown right there in the greenhouse.
Preparations for the spring begin every September like clockwork. The rhythm and atmosphere reminds me of farms I’ve visited. The familiar and friendly people who work there have that refreshing small town helpfulness and modesty too.


The Greenhouses


Urhausen Greenhouses
is located at
6973 North East Prairie Road
Take Touhy west to N.E. Prairie Road make a left, 1.5 blocks.

N.E. Prairie Road is just east of Crawford
847 675 1573


Monday, June 05, 2006

ChitChat @Home

Schaumburg Space Needle?
Lee Bey- The famed Seattle Space Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair, everyone knows. But what is lesser-known: a similar building was planned for suburban Chicago a decade later. More...

Friday, June 02, 2006

MoneyMatters @Home

City has a deal for home buyers
Tribune -The city will make $100 million in bargain-rate mortgage money available as it revives a financing program for moderate-income home buyers, Mayor Richard Daley announced Wednesday.
The current rate for the money is 6.375 percent, and qualified buyers will receive a grant equal to 4 percent of the total mortgage to help cover down payment and closing costs. More.....

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Recycle @Home

Muscle mow your lawn
Could your power lawn mower be more polluting than your car? Apparently so. According to the California Air Resources Board, gallon for gallon, the 2006 lawn mower engines contribute 93 times more smog-forming emissions than 2006 cars. Mowing for an hour with a gasoline- powered lawn mower can produce as much air pollution as a 350-mile drive in a car. Imagine, along with the pleasant smells of fresh cut grass, you're taking in nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons by the nose fulls.

More from GreenGuide....

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Lawn Repair Advice Continued

Sod rolls at a garden center

Example of What NOT to Buy

OK, we're back with some pics.

The rolls of sod that you see are an example of what happens
after just a few hours in the sun. The soil that surrounds the sod is
dried and the grass is a pale, green or yellow. If you plant this
sod your chances of success are pretty slim and it just isn't
worth the effort.

Sod is grown in local downstate sod farms, cut the previous day,
weather permitting and delivered in the early morning hours
to the nursery or garden center. If you plan on a lawn repair using sod,
your best chance at success is to get to the garden center as
early as possible, have some gloves and a plastic liner for your vehicle.

Next: What to Look For When Buying Sod

Previous Post: The Problem

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Gardening @Home

Lawn Repair and Preparation Tips

Damaged Area

Preparing the Soil for New Grass: From Bayer Advanced
Whether you use sod or seed, it is important to prepare

your planting area in advance. Following are some simple
pre-planting steps that will help you create a beautiful lawn.

1.Remove weeds from the planting area
2.Till the area to break up dead grass and compacted soil
3.Work in any needed lime or organic matter as you till
4.Use a steel rake to remove any dead grass or stones from the planting area
5.Smooth the planting area so that it is even
6.When installing the lawn, use a roller to settle the loosened soil
7.After the soil is prepared, plant the seed or sod More.....

Some Practical Advice
We need to repair that lawn damage today so we're
off to the nursery. Will be back later with step by step advice.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Design @Home

A Cool Website
Apartment Therapy

2 Featured Chicago Stores

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Green @Home

Edens Lost & Found

Edens Lost & Found is all about getting involved at home, at work, at school, and in neighborhoods. Getting involved may be as simple as planting flowers in public places or working with developers to incorporate state-of-the-art stormwater treatment.

Getting involved means first getting educated about issues that concern you, then lending your energy to organizations and coalitions that advocate for sustainable solutions. Perhaps you will be needed to get the ball rolling and start a working group.

The PBS Series

Action Guide
List of Chicago Organizations

Learn More...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Green Tips for Interior Designers

A Little Green
Treeehugger -
Che-Wei Wang, Brooklyn
Bettencourt Green Building Supplies put together A Little Green Show at SLEEP for an eco-friendly ICFF offshoot. The designs were clean and simple featuring some great usage of Plyboo and Scrapile. More.....


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Money Matters @Home

Housing futures launch Monday,
Contracts may appeal to builders, developers
Medill News Service
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange will launch new futures and options contracts Monday pegged to housing-price indices in 10 metropolitan markets.
Also, later this spring the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s all-electronic futures subsidiary will offer a competing product based upon median home prices tracked by the National Association of Realtors.
Also, later this spring the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s all-electronic futures subsidiary will offer a competing product based upon median home prices tracked by the National Association of Realtors.
The futures contract offers investors a hedge against declining home prices. The purchaser of a contract wins if prices rise, but if they fall, the seller of the contract wins. More....

CME to launch housing futures product
"Risk is increasing in the housing market, and it is becoming more speculative, creating more need for hedging markets," he added.
The futures contract, which is pegged to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, offers investors a hedge against declining home prices. The purchaser of a contract wins if housing prices rise, but if they fall, the seller of the contract is the winner.
The indices track home prices by looking at "repeat sales" or same-home sales over time. Case and Shiller developed this measurement as an alternative to median home prices,
which could be skewed by a changing mix of properties. A new luxury condo would skew prices up, for example. More....

Friday, May 19, 2006

Recycling @Home

A Safe Place For Old Electronics, Household Items

It's time for a little spring cleaning.If you've got some old paint cans, fluorescent light bulbs or an old computer you're dying to get rid of, we've got good news for you.Today is Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Drop-off Day, and people are arriving in droves, CBS 2's Holly Gregory reports.
Until 3 p.m., you can come to Goose Island, at 1150 N. North Branch St., and safely dispose of your old electronics and any hazardous household items you need to get rid of. Officials say they expect up to 1,500 people to take advantage of today's event. More....

Monday, May 15, 2006

Garden in a City

If You Go: Garden in a City
Associated Press
WHAT: "Garden in a City," a garden and landscape design show focusing on urban horticulture and community greening. It opens May 13 and runs through May 21.
WHERE: Butler Field in Chicago's Grant Park. The box office is located on the southeast corner of Monroe Street and Columbus Drive.
HOURS: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ADMISSION: Tickets are $10 for adults on weekdays, $12 on weekends. Tickets for children ages 12 to 17 and seniors are $7; children ages 11 and under are free.
or 312-742-4817

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Condo board fights may follow pattern
May 6, 2006 By Leslie Mann
When you buy a condo or townhouse, you usually become a member of a homeowners' association. Run efficiently, an association is an asset to the buyers and makes things operate smoothly. Run amok, it becomes a liability. Attorney Jordan Shifrin helps...