The Pergola Project: Our Experience With LKM Landscaping

We worked with LKM several years ago on an outdoor lighting project that made us very happy, so when it came time to renovate our backyard patio, they were the only company we called.

The primary reason we called LKM focused around two issues. Firstly, we have three trees that outgrew the brick circles LKM laid around them. It should be noted that LKM initially told us our circles would be too small due to the impending growth of the trees, and they were right.  The roots eventually pushed the bricks up, making them uneven.  The diameter of the circles needed to be increased. Secondly, the nine-year-old back patio settled incorrectly which resulted in a large crack. (It should be mentioned that LKM did not lay this patio—our builder did.) We asked LKM if they could enlarge the patio area in such a way that it could comfortably accommodate eight to ten people. I also floated the idea of a pergola because the sun beats down on our backyard as it sets.

LKM sent Daniel McClure, whom we’ve worked with before, and he took into account our needs and ideas. He soon drew up a set of plans that we absolutely fell in love with. Now, to be honest, he gave us the Cadillac of plans. He probably assumed that we would scale back certain aspects. For the most part, though, we kept everything he designed. We plan to raise our kids in our current house, as well as to retire in our current house, and so we looked at it as a worthwhile investment that would increase the quality of our lives.

From start to finish, it took LKM about two weeks to complete the project. This pace amazed us because they took down an old tree and removed its stump; planted five pine trees; tore out and replaced the brick surrounding three Autumn Blazes; broke up our small concrete patio and replaced it with one about four times its size; cut a pattern into the concrete of the new patio; installed new lighting around the new patio; wired that lighting; carried in the pieces of the pergola, stained the pergola, and constructed the pergola from the ground up; regraded a low spot; and planted dozens of new plants. Most amazingly, the same crew did all of this work. The guys planting the prairie grass were the same guys cutting the wood for the pergola and putting it together!

Furthermore, the LKM crew worked relentlessly. They’d start at about 7:30 a.m. and work to 5:00 p.m. Other than a lunch break, they pretty much powered through the day, every day. And though we didn’t interact with the crew very much, they were perfectly friendly when we did. We found them all to be pleasant, accommodating, and respectful of the property.

Now, just to be clear, this project proved very expensive. However, we knew the work would be done correctly, we knew LKM guarantees their efforts, and, frankly, we like working with LKM. This is a company that takes pride in its projects, its quality, and its customer service.

If you’re thinking of completing an outdoor project, I completely recommend LKM. You can pay their website a visit by clicking HERE, and you can also contact our project manager, Daniel McClure, by calling this number: (309) 454-3600

Here are a few before and after photographs. Let me know what you think! (The fire pit and furniture are from Sam’s.)

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Looking For a Barber In Bloomington, Illinois? Try Bold & Barber

If you’re looking for a barber in the Bloomington-Normal area, I’d like to recommend Bold & Barber.  This new establishment is owned and operated by Mike Epley, a lifelong resident of the community.

Mike has cut my hair for many years while he worked at Shorty’s Barbershop in Uptown Normal.  He recently struck out on his own with Bold & Barber.

I’ve always found Mike to be a friendly, even-tempered person who is quick to laugh and easy to talk with.  He’s a family man, so we have that in common, but he’s also a sports fan and knows his movies and  TV.  In short, you’ll have no trouble finding a topic of conversation.

His new shop is very clean with super cool decor.  The front is made up almost entirely of windows, which allows ample natural light.  It’s also got high ceilings and plenty of room to move.  It’s the kind of place I wouldn’t mind hanging out!  Take a look at it by clicking HERE.

Furthermore, he takes online appointments through his Facebook page.  This may not seem like a big deal, but I find it incredibly convenient.  I don’t know why, but it’s always hard for me to find time to call.  Check out the Bold & Barber Facebook page HERE.

If you’re in need of a haircut, give Bold & Barber a try.  You can visit the Bold & Barber website by clicking this link: https://www.boldandbarber.com/

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Are you in need of a new epic series? Try Dr. Nekros, a trilogy that I like to describe as Moonlighting meets The X-FilesKindle: https://amzn.to/2X3S7vO or NOOK: http://bit.ly/2JTFXm1

 

Come Support Minivan Morrissey (Or: This Van Will Be A-Rockin’!)

I hope you’ll join me in coming out on Friday night, March 1st, in order to support Minivan Morrissey at Legends Sports Bar and Grill in Bloomington, Illinois.

Minivan Morrissey is a local band comprised of a few good friends of mine.  This trio has been playing together for quite a while under different names.  Their latest iteration–Minivan Morrissey–will rock you garage band style with songs spanning the last 50 years.

Are they any good?  Honestly, I have no idea.  I’ve never seen them play.  But, I know for sure that they’ve been invited to perform at local fairs and venues, and I can also personally attest to the fact that one of them plays the guitar very well because I’ve seen it my own eyes.

I really like these guys.  They are good dudes.  That’s all it really takes for me to come out and show them some love.  However, I also admire that they are chasing their passion for playing live.  Like me, they are family men working full time, so it’s not a simple thing to muster up the willpower to do anything extra. The effort it takes to practice, book locations, travel, all while being loving dads and top-notch professionals … it’s not easy, I’m sure.

So come out and support Minivan Morrissey on March 1st from 7:30 to 10:30!  I know they will give you a great time.

While you’re at it, head on over to their Facebook page and click “like”: Minivan Morrissey Facebook Page

You can find the Legends Sports Bar and Grill website here: LegendsBloomington.com

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s Dr. Nekros e-book series HERE)

My New Favorite Mexican Restaurant In Bloomington-Normal

My wife and I have been searching for a new Mexican restaurant ever since Carlos O’Kelly’s closed its doors.  Yes, that was five years ago.

We’ve tried a few local establishments over time, but nothing really won us over.  In the interim, we’ve made due with Mexican dishes at Chile’s, Applebee’s–you know, those kinds of places.  That’s fine, but we missed an actual authentic Mexican restaurant.  Actually, I don’t know how authentic Carlos O’Kelly’s was, but you get my meaning.

A few week’s ago, on New Year’s Eve, my wife suggested a relatively new Mexican restaurant in town called Hacienda Leon.  We were going out as an entire family to see Mary Poppins Returns, and we wanted to eat together afterward in order to celebrate the holiday.

As we walked in, the size and open layout of the restaurant immediately struck me.  I loved the roominess of the place.  I also really liked the decor and general style.  I’m no expert at that kind of thing, so I’ll simply say everything pleased the eye.

We’ve been back since, and on both occasions the service proved friendly and capable.  The menu is very diverse with a wide range of rates.  You will be able to eat quite affordably if you wish, but there are also some more expensive and elaborate dishes available.  The drink menu also has a lot to offer with some very fair prices.  Both of my children were happy with the kids’ menu and were glad that they could substitute the rice and beans with fries.  By the way, my ten-year-old daughter just told me to tell you that their fries are “delicious.”

I don’t know how “authentic” Hacienda Leon is in terms of cuisine, but as far as I’m concerned, the two meals I ate there were wonderful.  It has instantly become my favorite Mexican restaurant in the area, and probably my second favorite restaurant around here in general.

If you live in the Bloomington-Normal region and crave Mexican fare, I urge you to give Hacienda Leon a chance.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Visit their website to see a photo gallery, their location, and the menu: Hacienda Leon

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Meet Me At Graham Crackers Comics On February 18th

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It is my distinct honor to appear at Graham Crackers Comics in Normal, IL, on Saturday, February 18th.  I’ll deliver a brief talk entitled “We Can Be Heroes!” followed by a reading from my science fiction novel, Andropia.

If you have not yet visited Graham Crackers, this is the perfect opportunity.  I am consistently impressed with the clean, friendly atmosphere and the incredibly helpful staff.  This will be a family friendly event, so bring the kids!

Hope to see you there, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Learn more about Graham Crackers Comics HERE.

On Working With Sandy Vick of Wintrust Mortgage

Years ago, in 2010, my wife and I needed a mortgage broker.  A trusted source recommended Sandy Vick to us.  We were pleased with the experience, but in the chaos of building a home, Sandy’s service got lost in the mix.  I did remember liking and trusting her, however, and so in the last few months, when we wanted to refinance, we tracked her down and gave her a call.

Now with the entire process complete, I can authentically tell you that the experience with Sandy proved exceptional.  We appreciated her professionalism, her expertise, her patience, and also her willingness to accommodate our schedules. Furthermore, she responded quickly to emails and phone calls and made herself available literally at any time of day or night. We felt completely at ease as we worked with her because of her obvious trustworthy character and good humor. Sandy exceeded our expectations at every level.

If you live in the Bloomington-Normal area and you’re looking to take out a mortgage or refinance, I wholeheartedly recommend Sandy Vick.

You can reach Sandy at the following …

Mobile: (309) 706-6539

Address:205 North Williamsburg Drive, Suite A, Bloomington, IL, 61704

Email:svick@wintrustmortgage.com

Website:loanswithsandyvick.com

Sandy Marshall Vick

Get To Know Pete Moore

Perhaps you didn’t hear the news, but Pete Moore is now managing the historic Normal Theater in Uptown Normal.

I’d like to take a few moments to talk about why this is great for the community.

Make no mistake, though.  While I’ll try to be objective, I’ve known Pete for over ten years – he was in a my wedding, we’ve played countless card games together, our kids have play dates, and I count him among my friends.  So yes, I’m going to gush a little, but he deserves it.

I could tell from the moment I met Pete that he was an innovator.  At the time, he ran a website called BloomingtonNormal.com.  The website had much to do with the local Bloomington-Normal scene, and when he found out I wrote fiction, he invited me to provide content.  He also wrote for the site, and I tell you, it was some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever read.  A lot of people are funny in person, but Pete had a way of conveying his humor to the printed word in such an effortless, effective style that I quickly grew jealous and remain so to this day.

Pretty soon, Pete started using something called a “blog.”  He told me about it, helped me start my own, and, by 2003, we were off to the races with something about to catch on with the masses.  We all know what a blog is today, but back then it was not commonplace nor was it always user friendly.  I still have the html language cheat sheet that Pete made me to help me navigate those murky waters.

Soon thereafter, Pete started doing something called a “podcast.”  Again, I had no idea what that was, but Pete did.  Back in the early 2000’s, podcasts were incredibly difficult to produce and clunky to deliver online, but this did not stop Pete.  In fact, before long he produced two podcasts!  Both of these podcasts dealt quite a bit with music, which is a passion of Pete’s.  Like with technology, Pete loves to discover great bands before they get hot.  Honestly, he’s helped more than a a few bands gain a following.  (He’s actually a musician himself, too.)

This is Pete Moore.  He is always ahead of the curve.  He knows about the next cool thing before it arrives.  He’s typically the guy who tells us about the next cool thing!

Want to know just how much of a trendsetter Pete is?  Have you heard the phrase “BloNo” or seen the hashtag #BloNo?  Pete created that.  He’s proven it to me, and he can prove it to you.  If you’re on Twitter, you know how hard it is to create a hashtag that actually lasts longer than a moment, but Pete created one that transcended Twitter and is now part of the everyday vocabulary in Bloomington-Normal!  This kind of thing is very rare indeed.

And while Pete is certainly a guy with his finger on the digital and entertainment pulse, he’s also a man with tons of public relations experience.  He’s worked on numerous fund raisers, provided necessary public services, and supported several charitable causes.  He’s actively involved withe the Bloomington-Normal business scene, and I challenge you to find a mover and shaker in the BloNo area that is not on a first name basis with Pete.

That’s why I’m so excited that he’s now managing the Normal Theater.  I love the exterior look of the Normal Theater, but I haven’t had the “push” to actually go inside since 1995 when I was an ISU freshman and there was an old James Bond movie playing.  I have no doubt that Pete will deliver new, must-see events.  I am certain that he’ll regularly provide dynamic experiences for BloNo to enjoy.  He knows technology, he knows social media, he knows music, he knows movies, he knows pop-culture, he knows business, he knows public relations… he’s tailor-made for this position.

I wish Pete Moore all the best, and you can be sure I’ll be the first guy in line when he rolls out his first spectacular event.