The winter was understandably a tough one for local businesses.
But for Caroline Scheeler, the timing of the worst winter in decades couldn't have been worse.
She opened the Outpost General Store in Wayne late last September, banking on the notion that the village would again embrace having a general store it could call its own. The location had been empty for at least two years.
"We had a nice end of 2013, and once 2014 hit, it all came pretty much to a screeching halt," Scheeler said. "I am not one to complain about the weather, but this year was especially brutal."
Scheeler doesn't hold anything back in praising the brave souls who did venture out in the cold and snow to stop by the Outpost.
"Thank the gods for those who did come in and shop with us," she said.
Scheeler said her family learned a lot through the rugged winter. "We never realized how seasonal this business will probably be."
She is banking on Wayne and its residents coming back to life when warmer weather is here to stay. "That's when things will really get fun," Scheeler said.
The store will host many "really cool events" that should interest all ages, she said.
Hoping to make the Outpost "the place that folks want to come and hang out," Scheeler is planning arts and crafts classes, "foodie" and music events.
The store has an arrangement with Moveable Feast in Geneva to provide takeout sandwiches, salads and dinners. Scheeler hopes the takeout meals will appeal to those on the go, or others just passing through Wayne.
Mostly, she envisions the Outpost as a place where "great memories are made and brings a little artful living to this little store."
Ultimately, the customers will decide. And Scheeler knows this.
"We continue to listen to what our customers are looking for from us and are constantly evolving this brand that has become so much a part of us and this village," she said.
Hey, it's Kilroy!: If you know what "Kilroy Was Here" means, then you are either from the World War II era or know American history quite well.
Kilroy was basically a figment of the imaginations of Americans who served in the world conflict -- a wily character who would "leave" his note wherever he was.
Forget that just about anyone could post a Kilroy note. It was a prehistoric foray into social media, one might say; simply a way to boost morale while sending the message that Americans were covering a lot of ground in their global conflict.
The Batavia Loyalty Day Parade is taking note of the Kilroy legacy, using "Kilroy Was Here" as its theme for the May 4 event. Applications for those wanting to participate in the parade are available at the Batavia VFW or the post's website at bataviavfw.org. You can also call the post at (630) 879-9630 to get information.
This is the 40th annual parade for Batavia, and its organizers are always seeking donations and volunteers.
For those cars: Did you know it's Car Care Month in Illinois?
I didn't either, until the governor's office sent me a note about it. I don't know why we need a car care month, other than maybe trying to get people who drive around in beat-up cars to make sure the things are safe.
As a general area of study, car care is rather foreign to me. But have you seen a man lying under a car on his driveway lately changing the car's oil? That's a vision of yesteryear.
I make sure to do routine maintenance, hoping to avoid someday sitting on the side of the road with a smoking engine.
I drive my cars for many years and many miles, and car-care guys have been lifesavers on more than a few occasions.
At the very least, honor this month and make sure your car is clicking on all cylinders. Consider this: I know nothing more about my car than its color, but it runs pretty well because I don't miss an oil change.
Tasty fish dish: The Lenten season is coming into its stretch run. For those who stick to the rule of avoiding meat on Fridays, that means only a couple more dates for fish frys.
I have enjoyed the walleye fish at Culver's this year, but I have also heard rave reviews about one fish special in particular: The fish 'n chips at Claddagh Irish Pub in the Geneva Commons.
My sister-in-law made it sound like the greatest thing ever made after she tried it -- and it might be. The pub has pretty good deals on this dish, even when it's not Lent. I have seen the two-for-one specials advertised for Mondays, and it's going to have to go on my must-do list.
Those Easter meals: An Easter Sunday brunch is another tradition that numerous local restaurants offer, but one gets a mention here because the place features a new chef and new look.
Niche, a Geneva restaurant on Third Street, has been open for business again after a remodel job and the introduction of new executive chef Chris Ayukawa.
They're touting an Easter Sunday brunch that looks like a terrific spread. But it's not your typical Easter brunch, from what I can tell.
House-made brioche, duck egg hash, cheddar grits and coconut "bunny tail" bombe might not be everyone's cup of tea, but if it triggers your interest, contact Niche to learn more.
And yes, just to make sure brioche is what I think it is, I looked it up. I was right. It's a bread/pastry.