Friday, October 22, 2010

Spooky fun

Looking for some last-minute Halloween plans? Want something scary to do this weekend? Check out these suburban ghost tours for some eerie entertainment:

Historic Ghost Tours of Elgin:
Where: Meet at Mel's Pizza, 728 W. Chicago St., Elgin, (847) 695-8180,
Price: $30
What: Nobody under 16 allowed. Van travels to some of Elgin's scariest spots, including a haunted elementary school, a cemetery and the Elgin State Mental Hospital. Tour participants can carry an electromagnetic field sensor, a tool used by paranormal investigators. Three hours; ends at Mel's for a hypnotism demonstration. Tarot readings are available at the restaurant for an extra fee.

Ghost Tours of Naperville
Where: Meet at Central Park, 36 S. Washington St., Naperville, (630) 205-2664,
Price: $20, $15 for students and seniors
What: Led by paranormal investigator Kevin Frantz. Two-hour tour through the city's downtown area. Stops can vary, but typically include Central Park, the YMCA, the city's old library and the Red Geranium, Naperville's most notorious haunted house. Visitors are encouraged to bring cameras to snap pictures looking for ghostly images.

Historic Ghost Tours of Naperville
Where: Meet at Quigley's Irish Pub, 43 E. Jefferson St., (630) 978-7033,
Price: $15, $10 for kids younger than 14 and seniors
What: Two-hour walking tour through downtown Naperville runs at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 15. Learn about the Great Naperville Train Disaster and hear local legends and ghost stories like “Charlie Yellow Boots” and the “Weeping Bride” and tales of paranormal encounters. Special trolley tours also are available on a few dates.

Historic Roundhouse Ghost Tours of Aurora
Where: Meet at America's Historic Roundhouse, 205 N. Broadway, Aurora, (630) 978-7033,
Price: $13
What: Tours run at 7:30 p.m. Mondays and walk around the historic Roundhouse, which is said to be very haunted.

Ghost Walk of Palatine
Where: Durty Nellie's Pub, 180 N. Smith St., Palatine, (847) 358-9150
Price: $5
What: Tour areas of Palatine said to be haunted and help the Haitian relief effort at the same time. Remaining walks are at 6 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 24 and 31, and start with a short presentation at Durty Nellie's.

Excursions into the Unknown
Where: Westfield Chicago Ridge Shopping Mall, 444 Chicago Ridge Mall, Chicago Ridge, (708) 425-5163,
Price: $35-$45
What: A bus tour of south and southwest Chicago, Excursions into the Unknown makes 10 to 12 stops including Jane Addams Hull House, the Glessner House and the Marshall Field Jr. Mansion. Guests are encouraged to bring an open mind and a camera to look for spirits.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cheap, plentiful Chinese -- Hoy's, Bensenville

I drive past Hoy's, 455 W Irving Park Rd, Bensenville daily. It's in a strip mall that's actually one of the bright spots of the Bensenville stretch of Irving Park, which has a lot of auto shops and empty spaces.

This cheery little strip mall contains a taqueria, a Jimmy John's, a Polish deli, a barber shop, a couple other small shops and Hoy's Chinese Restaurant.

So I drive past Hoy's regularly, but I hadn't indulged my Chinese take-out craving for quite awhile -- until the husband was away for the weekend and I wanted something fast and tasty.

The restaurant is not very big, but has a decent-size dining room for eating in. I perused the large menu briefly and selected a small wonton soup and Taiwan Style Rice Noodles, described as "Taiwan style thin rice noodles mixed with shredded pork, pea pods, peppers, carrots, bean sprouts and onions."

About 10 minutes later, I had my piping hot bag in hand and was out the door.

Even though it seemed a touch overpackaged, I appreciated that the soup was in its own small plastic bag and then a bigger paper bag inside the largest plastic bag, so there was no chance of leakage.

The soup was packed with veggies -- unusual for wonton soup -- and instead of one or two big wontons, it contained maybe six or seven small meatball-sized wontons. The broth wasn't quite as flavorful as I'm used to, but I appreciated the tons of cabbage and sprouts.

The noodles were a HUGE portion -- easily enough for two. It was flavorful, with fresh, plentiful veggies. There was also plenty of pork, although it wasn't really shredded. Instead it was big slices and strips, and some of it was a bit on the chewy side. Oh, and it also contained egg, which is not mentioned in the description. That said, it was fresh-tasting and very good, both for dinner and the next morning when I polished off the rest of it.

Given the prompt service, tasty food and very reasonable prices, I am looking forward to trying more of Hoy's huge menu.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Sci Side

You probably fall in to one of two categories:

A) You've never heard of American Science & Surplus


B) You absolutely LOVE American Science & Surplus

I am most definitely a category B!
AS&S is one part mad-scientist toy store and one part educational fun/hobby store. A great place for adults and kids alike...and you don't have to break the bank to get a bag full of fun, interesting, and/or educational goodies.

American Science & Surplus is located in West Chicago at 33W361 Roosevelt Rd. (aka Route 38), just a quarter of a mile East of Kirk Rd. You can also reach them by calling 630-232-2882. They also have two other locations in Chicago and Milwaukee.

If you are babysitting or have children, bring them here- it's worth the drive if you don't live in the area. My husband and I spend at least an hour if not more in this store each time we go, and we don't have children.

It's also great place to gather supplies for Halloween costumes- this year my husband purchased many items for his, go figure, "mad scientist" costume here. We also scored some crazy goggles - one pair is for welding and another is supposed to be Chinese Snow Goggles. Say what? Yup, Chinese Snow Goggles...this place has everything! Rubber insects? Check. Beakers and test tubes? Check. Disco Ball? Check. British Postal Worker Vest? Youbetcha! They have more wires and thingamabobs than you can shake a stick at. And it probably goes without saying, but if there is a science project to do this store is a must.

Their staff is quirky but very friendly and helpful. They also have a fun and informative website for your home browsing pleasure, So come on over and get your sci on!