El Burrito Mexican Food Crystal Lake McHenry County

El Burrito is located in a quiet strip mall in Crystal Lake, McHenry County. This authentic Mexican restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The sea foam green walls, colorful pinatas and scenic paintings transport diners south of the border as Mexican music plays in the background. Those who need more persuading can order a margarita or cerveza from the bar.

Menu items include the traditional tacos, quesadilla, enchiladas, burritos and chimichanga cooked on the open kitchen grill. Enjoy chips and salsa while you wait for your meal.

Noel F. Williams had the steak taco dinner served with rice, beans. I had the Fiesta Mixta including nachos, quesadilla and stuffed jalapeño poppers. On previous visits, we had the burritos and enchiladas.

Steak Tacos

Steak Tacos at El Burrito in Crystal Lake, McHenry County


Fiesta Mixta

Fiesta Mixta at El Burrito in McHenry County


The food at El Burrito is muy bueno!

815) 477-0751
Crystal Lake
6236 Northwest Hwy
Crystal Lake, IL 60014

El Burrito Restaurant on Urbanspoon
El Burrito Restaurant on Foodio54

Algonquin Golden Corral Buffet Restaurant McHenry County, Illinois.

Golden Corral is a buffet restaurant in Algonquin, McHenry County, Illinois. Prices for meals include everything on the menu except for drinks.

Grab a plate and help yourself to your choice of foods from a wide variety of menu items. Foods are grouped in sections of like foods. The first section is a salad bar with several types of greens, toppings and dressings. Also in this area is nacho and chili fixings.

The next area had soups, potatoes, vegetables, mac and cheese, popcorn shrimp and other hot dishes. In a third area we found several meats and rice, pizza, quiche and a grill.

The last section included breads, pastries, cookies, pudding, ice cream and toppings.

Golden Corral buffet restaurant Algonquin McHenry County

Golden Corral buffet restaurant Algonquin, McHenry County


The restaurant is located in the Algonquin Galleria Center, an outdoor shopping mall, there is plenty of free parking. Families with children filled most of the restaurant.

A large meeting room with a door can be reserved at no charge for private parties or meetings.

Buffet foods

Help yourself to your favorites at the Golden Corral in Algonquin Galleria Center

Golden Corral on Urbanspoon

Jeanine Hill-Soldner Veterans Painting in Algonquin Library

“Where Are You Today?” visited artist Jeanine Hill-Soldner’s exhibit “Portraits of American Veterans: A Continuing Dialogue”. Jeanine is a McHenry County artist with a studio in Crystal Lake. Her exhibit at the Algonquin Area Public Library is part of the Vet Art Project.

The mission of The Vet Art Project is to provide “opportunities for veterans and their families to work in collaboration with artists to create art about war and service, and to foster discussion about how war and service affect us all.”

Growing up, Jeanine loved to visit art museums and draw. At age 12, she began painting after her grandfather sent her a set of paints.


Jeanine Hill-Soldner with portrait of veteran Allen Jakes. Photo credit @noelfwilliams


Through these portraits of veterans, Jeanine tells their stories about their time both in the military and after discharge. Currently living in Algonquin, she grew up in a military family and in the 1960’s lived in Hawaii. In 1965 her father was deployed from there to Viet Nam and trained some of those first ground troops.

“These paintings are about veterans.” Jeanine says, “I am doing work about veterans because my childhood was defined by my father being in the military. My dad was in Marine Corp. It has been very worthwhile, I feel like it is quite an honor that all these wonderful people come into my studio for their portrait.”

Each painting represents a person who has come into her studio and posed for their portrait. The paintings are all oil on canvas and 30×40 inches. Each veteran is pictured with items that are meaningful to him or her. Jeanine is currently working on her 17th veteran portrait in her Crystal Lake studio.

We spoke with Virginia Freyre, Adult Reference Librarian at the Algonquin Area Public Library which hosted this exhibit and I asked her how patrons benefit from exhibits like this.

Virginia said, “The patrons benefit because we are providing exactly what our mission states which is the informational, educational, cultural, and recreational aspect of art. We collaborate frequently with a lot of artists. Jeanine, who has done all these art works, was the first one to actually exhibit in this library, And she is also the one who got us the hanging system here. So she is quite a star here at our library.”

Librarian Virginia Freyre

Librarian Virginia Freyre with portraits of Allen Jakes and De Yip G. Louie. Photo credit @noelfwilliams

The library also collaborates with other artists, Jacobs High School and the Village of Algonquin to display art. Follow the library on Facebook.

April M. Williams with portraits of veterans De Yip G. Louie and Matt Ping. Photo credit @noelfwilliams

April M. Williams with portraits of veterans De Yip G. Louie and Matt Ping. Photo credit @noelfwilliams

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”


Edgar Gonzalez Beaza

Veteran Edgar Gonzalez Beaza. Photo credit @noelfwilliams


Portrait 2

Veteran Phillip Seyller. Photo credit @noelfwilliams


Portrait 1

Veteran Charles McHenry. Photo credit @noelfwilliams





Giving Tree Band Recycling Inspired by Shel Silverstein

One of the first books I owned was the The Giving Tree written by the late Shel Silverstein. This book was a gift from my godmother many years ago. In the book, an apple tree gives joy to a the main character from the time he is a boy until he becomes an old man. The tree keeps giving back.

Recently I heard about the Giving Tree Band from Yorkville, Illinois. The Giving Tree Band uses social networking to connect with their fans and share their message of environmental sustainability. They made a green statement while recording their “Great Possessions” album in 2009. The group stayed near the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center where they recorded the songs to reduce their carbon emissions during commutes. Even the instruments used on this CD were made of recycled materials.

After the recording, the band raffled off the guitar pictured below, signed by the band, through the Chicago Bluesgrass & Blues Festival. McHenry County resident Kyle E. Williams, also a song writer and guitarist, won this Taliesin model guitar which Jason Harshbarger of Highland Strings created from reclaimed materials.

Guitar Giving Tree Band used on the “Great Possessions” album
Guitar inlay Giving Tree Band used on the “Great Possessions” album

Click on the image below to view the video of Kyle playing the guitar from the Giving Tree Guitar and signing his original song CTA accompanied by Noel F. Williams.

Read more about the band’s eco friendly practices and recording. Purchase the Great Possessions album. Listen to their music on MySpace and Facebook. Follow Giving Tree Band on Twitter.

Ewaste Recycling in Algonquin McHenry County

The Village of Algonquin in McHenry County is hosting an e-waste recycling event at the Algonquin Public Works Facility. This event, open to Algonquin residents is on May 14 from 9AM to 1PM.

Bring your computers and accessories, televisions and other electronic items you no longer use. Check with the village for a list of accepted items.

Bring along your patience. Last year, a mile long line of cars was queued up at 10:30 AM. For those with manual transmission vehicles, note the Public Works Facility is located at the top of a hill.

Electronics Recycling Algonquin, McHenry County Illinois

Electronics Recycling Algonquin, McHenry County Illinois

Here is a link to information on last year’s ewaste recycling event.

Algonquin Public Works Facility
110 Meyer Drive
Algonquin, Illinois 60102

Diced Restaurant Fresh Food Fast

One of my favorite fast food restaurants is Diced Fresh in Algonquin. It is convenient for us to stop at Diced Fresh on Randall Road for lunch in between errands. Chili, soups, baked potatoes and salads are featured items. If you have not stopped in to try their meals, I recommend you do.

The Diced Fresh menu offers a wide variety of choices and is vegetarian friendly. Perfect for winter, traditional and vegetarian chili dishes are offered. During a recent visit, six daily soup selections were available including two vegetarians soups and three premium soups.


Pair your soup with a baked potato topped with your favorite fixings or as a meal itself.

The salads are my favorite. Diners choose one of the salads on the menu and the staff assembles your salad right in front of you. Since everything is made to order, you can ask them to skip an ingredient if you wish.

When I visit, I choose a made to order salad. This starts with a base of iceberg, romaine, spring mix or spinach topped with the ingredients I select. With over fifty add ins, your salad is an individual as you are.

Topping include a variety of cheeses, pine nuts, dried cranberries, red and green bell peppers, hearts of palm, sun dried tomatoes. Of course, the usual cucumber, tomato, carrots, etc. are there.

Salad dressing choices are overwhelming. Whether you like spicy, tangy, low fat, creamy or chunky, they got you covered. You can even request a taste before making your choice. The salad comes with a choice of bread and I prefer the rosemary herb roll.

If  you cannot decide, pair up two smaller portions like soup and salad or chili and baked potato.

Have Diced Fresh cater your next event and leave the cooking to them.

Diced Fresh
132 South Randall Road
Algonquin, IL 60102-9774
(847) 458-7687
Follow Diced Fresh on Facebook

Diced Fresh on Urbanspoon

Vegetarian Meals in Woodstock McHenry County Illinois

Woodstock is celebrating Groundhog Day with events all weekend. While you are in McHenry County, check out this restaurant on the square.

One of our local vegetarian restaurants, Expressly Leslie, moved from Algonquin, McHenry County. Still in McHenry County, you can find her new location on the square in Woodstock, Illinois.  Leslie offers Meatless Monday menus everyday of the week.

We talked with owner Leslie A. Cook about the menu at her restaurant.

Where Are You Today?: Describe your restaurant menu.

Leslie A. Cook: We serve up an array of delicious, all vegetarian (and vegan friendly), mostly Middle Eastern Style foods. Everything is made fresh on-site, including falafel and hummus. Our 14 salads can be combined in a variety of ways for pocket sandwiches and salad plates. Daily soups include red lentil and veggie chili, and a third soup rotates among potato and cabbage, cream of potato and leek, cream of mushroom, beet borscht, home style tomato soup, gazpacho (in summer) and many others.  Egg dishes include shakshouka, eggs poached in Moroccan salsa and Israeli breakfast with Middle Eastern style hard-boiled eggs. Jaci’s Cookies are a regular, and we have recently added hand-made chocolate truffles for those with a sweet tooth.

WAYT: Tell us about your signature dish.

LAC: Falafel Pockets and Moroccan Eggplant Pockets are our top-selling sandwiches. Falafel are made from fava beans (or chickpeas) ground with herbs and spices and lots of cilantro, rolled into balls and deep fried. The falafel balls are dropped into a whole wheat pita pocket on a bed of hummus and are topped with Jerusalem salad and tahina (sesame based lemon-garlic flavor dressing). Hot sauce (and hotter sauce) are available for the daring. Moroccan Eggplant Pockets include our own Moroccan Eggplant salad, a zesty blend of fried eggplant, onions, cilantro, pickles, garlic and tomato based dressing. The salad is dropped into a whole wheat pocket on a bed of hummus and topped with creamy cucumber salad.


Expressly Leslie Vegetarian Specialties

110 S. Johnson St. , Woodstock , IL 60098 (On the Square in Woodstock )

Follow Expressly Leslie Vegetarian Specialties Group on Facebook.

Expressly Leslie on Urbanspoon
Expressly Leslie LLC. on Foodio54

Hobby Fans RC Racing at HobbyTown USA

Radio control car fans are racing for action at the new RC car track in McHenry County. HobbyTown customers are excited about the store’s move from Crystal Lake to Lake in the Hills, Illinois.

"Where Are You Today?" visits HobbyTown USA LITH

“Where Are You Today?” visits HobbyTown USA LITH. Photo credit @noelfwilliams

The new location for this toy and hobby store features an indoor track. Racers told me this is a big improvement over the previous location. The track was outdoors and only used when the weather was dry. The warmer indoor track makes winter racing more pleasant.
Racing 4

“This car goes approximately 25 to 30 miles an hour depending on the battery, gearing and motor,” said Matt, one of the racers. When I asked how much a RC car cost, Matt continued, “I have about $1,000 invested in this car. Though you could put another couple hundred on it if you wanted to.”

For information on the store, practice and racing hours for the track, visit HobbyTown online or on Facebook.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?” and see the cars and racers in action.

R/C Car Bible: How to Build, Tune and Drive Electric and Nitro-Powered

R/C Car Bible: How to Build, Tune and Drive Electric and Nitro-Powered

New Years Eve With Lake Shore Vibe at Liquid Blues Woodstock

Looking for a fun way to rock in the New Year 2011? Ready to start 2011 off with a good friends and good food? The McHenry County place to be is Liquid Blues off the square in downtown Woodstock, Illinois celebrating with Lake Shore Vibe. Check out their sounds on MySpace! Follow Lake Shore Vibe on Facebook.

Lake Shore Vibe

Lake Shore Vibe

The band:

  • Josh Kremer – Guitar/Vocals
  • Mike Mongoven- Guitar
  • Jim Hegarty – Bass
  • Carson Williams – Percussion/Vocals
  • Dan Suwinski- Keyboards/Vocals

Voted Woodstock’s best keep secret, Liquid Blues is a flashback to the 1960s. Lava lamps, beads, candles, incense and the friendliest staff and patrons in the world. Travel back to the time when music and magic mattered.

Liquid Blues
126 N Benton Street
Woodstock IL

Liquid Blues Limited on Urbanspoon

Wireless Security: Best Practices

In today’s world of technology, we are no longer tethered to the Cat5 cable at the end our Internet accessible device. With each new and improved device manufactured, wireless access is now the norm.

So how do you protect yourself, your data and your identity when using a standard that is inherently flawed in its security?

While my list of best practices is not all-inclusive, it’s a start down the road to your wireless security.

  1. Know that security is a process not a destination. Security is an ongoing process. Today you may be able to say you are secure, but tomorrow, the entire landscape could change.Think of your security as you do your vehicle. It must be maintained and monitored.
  2. Educate yourself. Your security is YOUR responsibility as a citizen of the global Internet community. When you do not maintain proper security, you put the entire Internet community at risk!Never place your total trust in one vendor, manufacture, or service provider. You should always know what’s running on your system and network and why!
  3. Internet Security Best Practices

    Internet Security Best Practices

  4. Always maintain your software updates, security patches, and service packs on ALL your software. You may have other software running on your device besides a Microsoft operating system (OS). Make sure you’re maintaining updates on iTunes, Java, Adobe Reader, Flash and other non-OS-specific software. Every software developed has updated from time-to-time and many fix known security issues.Remember, within 24 hours of a patch being released, someone out on the Internet has already started exploiting the problem the patch fixed. Prompt updates insure you are not a victim.
  5. When using wireless, make sure you are using a secured wireless connection. If that is not practical at the time, and you must use free WI-FI or an unsecured connection, follow these practices for safe computing.
  • Use a browser to access web-based mail. Even if you are on your personal laptop and have Outlook or Windows mail available, do not use it. Standard mail programs send your passwords in plain text, meaning anyone on the unsecured connection with you can capture that information. Web browsers encrypt passwords when you access the web-based email.
  • Use a good antivirus and good firewall protection. And no, Microsoft is not one of them.Many of the security software vendors have special encryption toolbars for wireless connections. Trend Micro is one of them.  It senses when you are using wireless and automatically engages the encryption keyboard for use in your browser. Most hackers and identity thieves don’t want to have to work hard so by encrypting your information, you make it harder for them and they will move on to the next person who’s giving away their information easily.A good firewall will block any suspicious incoming packet – a good thing to do when on unsecured wireless.

Good security practices when using wireless is not rocket science. You just have to be trained in what that means, and anyone can learn to be safe online. I’ve taught thousands to do it over the past 15 years so I speak from experience.

I want to give you two more helpful hints. The biggest security risk you will face is the social engineer. This person can engage you a conversation and get a lot of information from you freely.

For instance, if you show someone your cell phone don’t let him or her see your code to unlock it. Most hackers and identity thieves know that you probably use the same 4-digit code to unlock your phone and your PIN number on your debit card or credit card. It’s just one more piece of personally identifying information you give away without realizing it.

Be careful what you say over your cell phone when others are within listening distance and never volunteer information even in casual conversation. I have heard people call their credit card company on their cell phone in a crowded commuter train and give out all the numbers and security question answers to the entire train car!

A healthy dose of paranoia goes a long way when it comes to security. Get some!

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