Sunday, March 5, 2017

Monika uses 'off seasaon' to refine bakery skills

Courtesy photo
Monika’s Organic Bakery is one of our favorite vendors at Batavia’s outdoor Farmers’ Market, and we happily followed Monika’s Facebook updates from Germany, where she recently spent a month at a bakery academy. Monika further developed her skills in bread making and dessert preparation. Monika’s bakery is located in Kingston and Monika regularly offers her baked goods at winter markets in St. Charles and Woodstock. During the summer months, Monika participates in outdoor markets in DeKalb, Kane and McHenry counties. Batavia’s Farmers’ Market is scheduled to open June 3.

Library to host ESPN writer
The Batavia Public Library will host a presentation featuring ESPN senior writer Lester Munson at noon March 16. Munson will discuss two sports books, “The Last Innocents” by Michael Leahy and “All the Way” by Jordin Tootoo. The presentation is part of the Books Between Bites program. Admission is free and attendees may bring a lunch to enjoy during the hour-long program. The library is located at 10 S. Batavia Ave. For more information, call 630-879-1393.

Messenger library to screen 'Some Like It Hot'
The Messenger Public Library in North Aurora will show the classic 1959 comedy “Some Like It Hot” at 2 p.m. March 19. The movie stars Tony Curtis Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon. The screening is part of the library’s monthly Classic Cinema Sundays series. Admission is free, but registration is encouraged. For more information or to register, call 630-896-0240. The library is located at 113 Oak St., North Aurora

Here comes 'Restaurant Madness Week'
Batavia’s 2017 Restaurant Madness Week is set for March 20 24 and will include 30 Batavia eateries. For a list of participating restaurants and a coupon, click here.
The event is presented by Batavia MainStreet, the Batavia Chamber of Commerce and the City of Batavia.

From the farm bureau:
The Kane County Farm Bureau recently shared these interesting facts:
• More than 30 million acres of land in Illinois are used for agricultural purposes.
• Illinois has about 1,500 different soil types.
• The average depth of Illinois top soil is 12.6 inches.
• The average age of an Illinois farmer is 56, and each Illinois farmer feeds 156. (And that average age fact ought to fuel some concern for each of us.)
• Illinois grows more pumpkins than any other state.

Here’s what I think:
• I frequently comment about the sad condition of state government in Illinois, so I want to balance some of my criticism with a bit of praise. I had reason in recent months to visit two different facilities operated by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, one in Aurora and another in Elgin, and I left impressed with the staff’s efficiency and professionalism. I completed my business at both locations in less than 10 minutes and was tended to by workers who were pleasant and professional. I just wanted to go on the record with that before I return to complaining about the state legislature.

• When it comes to Hollywood depictions of military drill instructors, I can’t imagine any actor topping R. Lee Ermey’s performance as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket”,  but Vince Vaughn does a fine job as Sgt. Howell in Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning World War II saga “Hacksaw Ridge”. Lori and I recently watched the film, and I recommend it, but do not let the humor in this scene mislead you. The film’s combat scenes are beyond intense, and Mel really has a thing for flamethrowers.

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Concert, holiday programs highlight upcoming events

Photo by Kevin Botterman

Concert puts spotlight on Broadway tunes
The St. Charles Public Library will host Two for One Broadway, a cabaret performance featuring Matt and Cynthia Gruel, at 2 p.m. Nov. 13. The show will feature music from seven Broadway shows from the 1940s to the present. Admission is free, but registration is encouraged. The show is part of the library’s Sunday Concert program. For more information or to register, call 630-584-0076. The library is located at 1 S. Sixth Ave., St. Charles.

Library program to feature Our Lady of Angels fire

Jim Gibbons will discuss the Our Lady of the Angels School fire during a program at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Geneva Public Library. The 1958 fire at Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago claimed the lives of 92 children and three nuns.  Admission is free, but registration is encouraged. For more information, call 630-232-0780, ext. 251. On a personal note, my mother is still moved by her memories of the tragedy. Mom was raised in Chicago, but was residing in the suburbs at the time of the fire. I imagine the library's presentation will be a challenging but worthwhile experience for attendees old enough to remember the incident.

Senior center sets annual Holiday Craft Fair
The Oswego Senior Center will present its sixth annual Holiday Craft Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 19. The fair will feature hand-made items by more than 65 artists and crafters. Admission is free. The fair also will include a cookie sale, door prizes and other attractions. The center is located at 156 E. Washington, Oswego.  For more information, call 630-554-5602.

Festival of Lights program welcomes the holidays
Batavia will welcome Santa and the holiday season during its annual Festival of Lights program from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 27 at the Batavia Riverwalk, 151 Island Ave., in downtown Batavia. 

    Santa is scheduled to arrive at 5:30 p.m. and will assist in lighting the community Christmas tree before sitting down to visit with children.
    The event will include a holiday craft fair, music, hayrides and other activities. Visitors can tour Christmas Tree Lane, a special attraction featuring 25 tress decorated by local businesses and organizations. Admission is free. Refreshments will be available for purchase.
    For more information, call 630-879-5235. The festival is presented by the Batavia Park District, the City of Batavia, Batavia MainStreet, the Batavia Chamber of Commerce and the Batavia Police Department.

Did you know:
The Kane County Farm Bureau recently shared some interesting facts about cranberries, including these tidbits:
• The first recorded yield of cranberries was grown and harvested in 1816 in Dennis, MA.

• Honeybees are used to pollinate cranberry crops.
• Wisconsin ranks No. 1 in cranberry production.
• Cranberries need sandy soil, abundant fresh water and a growing season from about May to October. Cranberries are grown in the dry bed and then beds are flooded with water.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

So long October and welcome November

As we prepare to set our clocks to daylight-saving time and close the book on October 2016, here's a look at some November calendar highlights and a bit of farming news.

Elburn church plans harvest dinner
The Elburn Community Congregational Church will host its annual Harvest Dinner benefit Nov. 6. The dinner will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and will include fried chicken, ham, potatoes, green beans and other items. Tickets are $13 for adults and $8 for children. Children ages 6 dine for free. The church is located at 100 E. Shannon St., Elburn. For more information, call 630-365-6544.

Park District to host Heritage Day

The Geneva Park District will host Heritage Day on Nov. 12 at Peck Farm Park, 4038 Kaneville Road. Visitors can learn about the Peck family and enjoy a variety of activities, including sheep herding. The program will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will offer attractions for all ages. For more information, call 232-4542.

St. Mark's Lutheran Church sets Christmas market
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in St. Charles will host a Christmas market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 12. Visitors will find crafts, artisans and other vendors. The event also will include a cookie walk, a silent auction, hourly drawings, children’s activities and other attractions. Food and refreshments will be available for purchase. For more information, call 630-584-8683. The church is located at 101 S. Sixth Ave., St. Charles.
Lundeen's, Blumen Gardens partner for event
Lundeen’s Discount Liquors in St. Charles will partner with Blumen Gardens in Sycamore to offer their annual fall wine event from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 12. The event will be on the grounds of Blumen Gardens, 325 Edward St., Sycamore, and will include a variety of wines and an appetizer buffet. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of the event. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 815-899-1231.

Illinois corn, soybean harvest nearly complete
Illinois farmers harvested more than 83 percent of the state’s corn and soybean crops by late October, according to federal agriculture officials. The figure is above the five-year average for October of 77 percent, but below the 91 percent harvested by this time in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Federal officials also said farmers have planted 68 percent of the winter wheat crop and about 38 percent of the crop has emerged.

Did you know:
The Kane County Farm Bureau recently shared information about pecans. Here are some of the details I found interesting:
• About 78 pecans are used in an average pecan pie. That’s important for those of us who enjoy a well-crafted pecan pie.
• More than 80 percent of the world’s pecan crop comes from the United States. Who knew?
• Pecan trees only produce nuts every two years, but pecan trees can live more than 300 years and produce nuts throughout that time.
• The Pecan is heart healthy and contains antioxidants and 19 vitamins.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Area welcomes fall with a variety of activities

There are plenty of fall activities in the area in the coming days. Here are a few of the events we plan to attend.

Oktoberfest in Batavia
Batavia MainStreet will host an Oktoberfest Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 in downtown Batavia. The fest will feature authentic German food, beer, music, entertainment and family friendly activities. The fest will be open 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 7 and throughout the day Oct. 8.

Holmstad to host bazaar
The Holmstad in Batavia will host its 39th annual bazaar from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m Oct. 8 at  Holmstad’s Town Center. The bazaar will offer jewelry, woodworking items, crafts, collectibles and more. Food will be available for purchase. The Holmstad is located at 700 W. Fabyan Parkway, Batavia. For more information, call 877-226-7310.

Fall fest down on the farm

Our friends at Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce will host a Fall Festival Oct. 7 to Oct.10. The event will feature a petting zoo, games, and activities for all ages. Refreshments will be available for purchase and a percentage of all vegetable and pumpkin sales will benefit Pulling for a Cure. The festival will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce is located at 15565 McGrirr Road, Hinckley. Indoor and outdoor vendor booths are available for crafters and others to sell their wares. For vendor information, email Jeff at

Museum plans fall fest
The Sycamore History Museum will host its fall festival starting at 1 p.m. Oct. 15. Visitors can tour the museum, make apple cider and participate in other activities. Admission is free. The museum is located at 1730 N. Main St., Sycamore.

Spooky tales at the library
The Geneva Public Library will offer The Haunted Page, a program featuring William Packs and his scary tales, at 7 p.m. Oct. 20. Admission is free. The library is located at 127 James St., Geneva. For more information, call 630-232-0780.

Now for something completely different
The Forest Preserve District of Kane County will host a senior stroll at 10 a.m. Oct. 6 at the Elburn Forest Preserve, 45W061 IL Route 38, Maple Park. The walk lasts about an hour, and refreshments will be served after the walk. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. For details, call 630-444-3190.

Harvest underway in Illinois
I drove through several central Illinois counties during a recent visit to Eastern Illinois University and saw many farmers harvesting corn from their fields.
I have always been impressed with the visual images associated with harvest time and enjoyed viewing farmers at work in their fields, even though I was driving along at 60 mph. I was raised in Arlington Heights, but my dad was raised on a farm near Roselle, and he instilled in us a deep appreciation for farming and all things related agriculture. I try to visit DeKalb County and other areas during harvest time just to watch the work in progress and to take photos. I will post photos of my upcoming tour as soon as they are available. 

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Directory features local farmer's markets

     The Kane County Farm Bureau’s Bounty of Kane directory features information about the many local farmer’s markets and roadside stands offering fresh produce and specialty items. The directory is at The site includes an interactive map to help you locate markets and stands throughout Kane County. The directory also includes dates and hours of operation. 
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Museum to host annual Quilt and Textile Show

The Batavia Depot Museum will host its annual Quilt and Textile Show July 15 to 17 at the Eastside Community Center and Shannon Hall, 14 N. Van Buren St. in downtown Batavia. The event will include an exhibit featuring commemorative quilts, an artisan market and more. The show is open 1 to 6 p.m. on July 15 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 16 and 17. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for seniors age 60 and older. Children 10 and younger are admitted free. Military personnel are admitted free with military I.D. 
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fishing the Fox River and so much more

Photo courtesy of Eric Schaaf
A big shout out to Sugar Grove resident Eric Schaaf for sharing the photo above. Eric hosts and produces Fish the Fox, a website devoted to fishing activities on the Fox River. The site offers a variety of helpful information about the river and features a personal journal about Eric’s fishing experiences. Those with an interest in fishing and the Fox River will appreciate the site, but you don’t have to fish to enjoy the gallery of photos and images Eric captured along the Fox River. We're sure you'll enjoy visiting Eric’s site

It's Chop Around the Block time again
Craig Foltos and the crew at Foltos’ Tonsorial Parlor in downtown Batavia will conduct the 27th annual Chop Around the Clock hair-cutting event Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 4 to benefit the Ronald McDonald’s Children’s Charities. The event will begin at 4 p.m. June 3 at the parlor, 7 E. Wilson St. The event will include entertainment, free food, music and other attractions. The event will continue around the clock until 4 p.m. June 4. For more information or to volunteer, call Craig at 630-879-5253.

Batavia's Farmers' Market opens June 4

Batavia’s Farmers' Market will open for the season June 4 on River Street, just north of Wilson Street. The market will be open from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays through Oct. 22 and will include more than 20 vendors. Shoppers will find fresh produce, flowers, meat, cheese, music and more.

Museum and garden set open

The Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Garden will open for the season at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 29. Admission is $3 for the villa museum and $1 for the garden. The museum and the garden are located in the Fabyan West Forest Preserve, near Route 31 in Geneva. The museum and garden are open from 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 13. For additional dates, visit the click here.

Program recalls airborne operations on D-Day
The St. Charles Public Library will observe the anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy with The Airborne on D-Day, a special program at 7 p.m. June 6 at the library. The program will look at the critical role U.S. airborne forces played during the early hours of the invasion on June 6, 1944. The program is free, but registration is encouraged. The library is located a 1 S. 6th Ave., St. Charles. For more information or to register, call 630-584-0076.

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