Monthly Archives: March 2014

OSLC Spring Garage Sale

Spring Cleaning + Organizing = Charitable Donations

Well, the calendar says it is officially Spring, even if the snow on the ground begs to differ. Spring cleaning for me involves organizing along with actual cleaning. This is the time of year that I try to go through closets and storage areas to try to downsize and organize.

Many times in late Fall, in my hurry to tidy up for holiday decorating, things seem to get shoved into closets, drawers or under beds. You know that saying, out of sight ~ out of mind? Well it comes into play a little too often at my house 🙂

Each April, my church holds an annual garage sale (from donations from the congregation and the surrounding community). After operating expenses, the proceeds go to help several charitable organizations in our community. It has always been a successful and highly anticipated event. I usually volunteer by helping sort through and organize the donations and by working as a cashier on the actual day of the sale.

About a month or so beforehand, I usually start to get motivated to sort through my stuff for items to donate. I start a mental list of possible items ~

  • clothes we no longer need or use
  • books I’ve already read
  • home décor items
  • pieces of furniture
  • kitchen utensils and small appliances
  • movies and CD’s 

Then I plan a schedule to start sorting through and organizing the various closets, cabinets and bookshelves. I box up the items for donation. Then I’ll wipe down and clean the shelves before putting back the items that I’m keeping.

It always gives me a sense of accomplishment to tidy up and re-organize the cabinets and closets. I also really like the feeling of giving … of my time and my treasures.

This year’s sale is on April 12th … come check it out and say “hi” 🙂

First Anniversary Newsletter

Anniversary Giveaway Results ~ And The Winner Is …

Today is the day … it’s our First Anniversary here at Tracy Helps You !! I’ve been looking forward to this day for quite a while. Sadly, statistics show that many small businesses shut down within the first 5 years of operation. We are celebrating the fact that we can now say, “1 down a few more to go” 🙂

And the WINNER of the Amazon Gift card (drumroll please) … will be contacted via email. I know, kinda anti-climatic especially after a drumroll, but I want to respect the privacy of my subscribers.

I would like to take this time to THANK all the clients that I’ve been blessed with and had the pleasure of “helping” this past year. You’ve all been wonderful and make what I do … FUN !!

I have received a report from Rafflecopter with your responses to the giveaway entry questions about what topics and subjects you’d like to read about here in my blog and in the newsletter. Also, thank you for your suggestions in the comments section. I plan to incorporate all this info into my blogging / newsletter topic planner.

So my friends, going into our second year of business, I’d appreciate your thoughts, tips and/or suggestions. Do you have any ideas to improve our website ~ navigation or design? Would you like to see additional services offered? How about on our social media profiles (I hope you like / follow me) … what type Pins, Tweets, and Statuses would you like to see more of? Do you have any advertising suggestions (keeping a small budget in mind)? They say “word of mouth” is the best type of advertising … I appreciate any referrals that you have made or will make for me 🙂

Consider the comment section as Tracy Helps You’s “virtual” suggestion box 🙂 

First Anniversary Newsletter

Tracy Helps You’s Tips and Helpful Info Newsletter

Tracy Helps You is celebrating its 1st Anniversary this week !!

To commemorate this auspicious occasion, I plan to issue a monthly newsletter with various tips and helpful info. I hope to use this newsletter to highlight the different services we offer, as well as, a way to let you know of future specials that will be offered exclusively to newsletter subscribers. My intention is to keep it informative, yet concise 🙂

  • What topics would you like to see covered?
  • What kind of tips would be helpful to you?
  • Give me your ideas in the comments 🙂

Sign up to subscribe to the newsletter in the column to the right 🙂 

There are still a few days left to enter for a chance to win my Anniversary Giveaway ! Who wouldn’t like an Amazon Gift Card ??

Enter Here …

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review & Giveaway ~ On The Inside by Kim Cano

On the InsideWhen Kristen is sentenced to seventeen years for committing a white collar crime, she’s forced to leave her husband and two sons behind.Life in prison is a shock. She discovers that people aren’t always what they seem, love wears many faces, and friendship can make life worth living.But as she struggles to survive on the inside, Kristen must face something even more frightening than her fellow inmates. . . herself.On the Inside is based on true events, written from the authors own family tragedy.

My Thoughts:

I found it quite interesting to “see” life, on the inside, from a prisoner’s perspective. I liked getting to know the different inmates and how they relate to each other. Knowing their stories doesn’t excuse their crimes, but it does humanize them and makes me empathize with them. We all make mistakes, and most mistakes have consequences, these ladies are now paying the penalty for the choices they made.

As a mother, I felt sorry for Kristen having to miss seeing her kids grow up, but was happy that her sister in law kept her updated with her family through letters. I also liked getting to know the prison warden and her staff members. It seems like a hard job having to spend so much time “On the Inside” and then coming home at the end of their shift to a totally different reality.

While this book is a work of fiction, I think that because it is based on the author’s real life situation, that I now have a “feel” for how life behind bars is … and that I never want to experience it.

I’d definitely recommend this book and look forward to reading more books from this author.

Review for On The Inside…..

This book will hook you from the very first paragraph, as you meet Lakeisha, a mail scanner for a women’s prison. She reads the prisoner’s correspondence, checks it for drugs and dangerous devices, and delivers the mail.Lakeisha is drawn into the correspondence Kristen has with her husband. And in this way, the reader is also drawn into the story about life inside a correctional facility for women.  Kristen is the main character. She’s in jail for bilking her employer out of a huge sum of money. In the process, she lost the trust of her husband and children and virtually bankrupted them. They are bitter and wary of her, but she continues to send letters to her husband telling him how sorry she is. The only family member to write back is her sister-in-law, Olivia, who extends a lifeline to her with family pictures and events.We also meet a panoply of colorful characters from the flashy inmate, Lupe, to the prison psychiatrist, Megan, the warden, Laura, Kristen’s antagonist, Jess, and many others. Each person has their story, their trials, and triumphs, and you’ll find yourself rooting for all of them.

Ms. Cano expertly weaves in multiple points of view to make you understand and empathize with all of these people. Each has his or her own pain and sorrow as well as aspirations for a better future. Necessarily, some of the stories end tragically whereas others move on as best they can. But Kristen and the others learn to take happiness in small places and to accept what can’t be changed.

The story is uplifting and poignant. You won’t want to miss this. I read this in a single evening because I not just wanted to find out what happened to the characters, but I felt for them and laughed and cried and wished so much for them to be victorious in their lives.

Everything was resolved and there were no loose ends. Even though there was sadness leavened into the book, the overall message is joyful and shows the power of love, devotion, and forgiveness. You won’t be disappointed with this wonderful story. ~ Clare Chu

 

Buy the book from….
About the Author
Kim Cano debut novel was A Widow Redefined, which tells the story of a young woman’s journey through grief and the transformational power of friendship

Kim has also written two animal books: For Animal Lovers, a short story collection for kids ages 9 to 12 (also appeals to adult readers who are young at heart) 10% of the sale price is donated to the ASPCA® to help homeless pets.

Follow the AuthorWebsite    Facebook    Twitter    Pinterest    Goodreads 

Follow the Book Tour

Photobucket I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

NOW FOR THE AUTHOR’S GIVEAWAY

 

 

 

2 LUCKY WINNERS !! 1 Winner will receive $20 Amazon Giftcard – Open Worldwide  1 Winner will receive a Signed Book from the author – Open US/CA

 

Ending on Thursday 3rd April at 11.59pm EST

 

Enter Below and Good Luck !!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spring Break Getaways

Spring Break Getaway ~ Staycation ~ or ~ Clean Up Week ??

When did Clean-Up Week change to Spring Break ? Back in the day, when I was in grade school (late 1960’s / early 1970’s), Chicago public schools had a week off in the spring called Clean-Up Week. It was always a “staycation” for me because we literally cleaned. It was a time of major spring-cleaning at our house – wall washing, hands and knees floor washing. Whenever I smell Pine Sol, I have flashbacks to scrubbing the stairway to our second floor apartment on Southport Street. My grandma (who raised me) used to say she loved to give the house a good “airing out” after a long winter. I remember her hanging the kitchen curtains on the pulley laundry line and watching them flap in the breeze on a sunny spring afternoon. 

I’m not sure exactly when, but by my high school years, it was called Spring Break. I have wonderful memories of my senior class trip to Hawaii during spring break. As a travel agent during the 1980’s, I can attest to the fact that spring break travel was very popular, especially for college students. During the 1990’s, it started becoming a popular time for family trips as well.

In the last 10 years or so, the “stay cation” concept has been gaining popularity.  The idea of taking short day trips and then sleeping at home seems to work well with the current economy. You can sight see and check out local tourist attractions while saving money on lodging and breakfast. 

So, what does Spring hold for you this year? My husband and I plan on a combination of Clean-Up and Staycation. We have some small projects around the house and I think it will be fun playing tourist in my hometown of Chicago. What are your plans … similar to mine or warm tropical getaway? 

photo by: eskedal
First Anniversary Newsletter

Tracy Helps You’s First Anniversary Giveaway Celebration

Tracy Helps You is Celebrating it’s 1st Anniversary on March 21st With An Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Last year around this time, Tracy Helps You was just an idea that I was tossing around.  I was entering into a new “season” of my life. I had finished homeschooling my children. After graduating high school, my children were too old to participate in the theater group that kept us so busy (all parents were assigned to a volunteer committee each production) during their teen years. I was starting to feel a little of the empty nest syndrome … my oldest was preparing to move into his first apartment and my youngest was hardly ever home.

I went from super busy … to … now what do I do? I had a lot of free time. I worked part-time for a while, but after being a stay at home / homeschooling mom for so long, I was quite accustomed to making and managing my own schedule. I wasn’t so used to being told what to do, how to & when to do it 🙂 So I decided to “get in touch with my inner entrepreneur” and start my own business.  

March 21, 2013 … the day it became official! It’s hard to believe that it is coming up on a year already; the time has really flown by. I have spent so much time (tons) learning about owning and running your own small business. I’ve read dozens of books, researching and learning about creating and managing a website. I’ve attended numerous seminars and webinars about blogging, SEO and social media marketing. I’ve learned so much in a short time … but there is so much more to learn. Things in the cyber world are constantly changing and evolving.

I’ve enjoyed meeting so many new people ~ some who have become regular repeat clients. I really, truly like being able to offer my services to help people. I feel my first year in business has been quite successful and look forward to helping people for many years to come 🙂

To CELEBRATE this momentous occasion, Tracy Helps You is having an Anniversary Giveaway on March 21st … enter below to win 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pinterest Crockpot Soup Recipe

Monday’s Menu ~ Pinterest Recipe for Crockpot Pasta e Fagioli Soup

One of my goals for 2014 was to learn how to make homemade soups. I chose a few I’d like to learn in an previous post. Yesterday I made a recipe (that wasn’t even on my list) that I found on Pinterest.

My husband and I enjoy going out to eat. We like simple, casual food ~ homey, comfort food, nothing too fancy or gourmet. Olive Garden is one of our favorite places to go.

I was looking for crockpot recipes on Pinterest when I found this one. I made a couple of changes, but only because I didn’t have a couple of the ingredients on hand. I used Italian Seasoning in place of the basil and thyme, and I skipped the apple juice entirely. I also chose to slice the carrots instead of shred them. Otherwise, I pretty much followed the recipe step by step. You can find the original recipe here.

My recipes calls for fresh chopped veggies

Chopping fresh veggies for my homemade soup recipe from Pinterest

Recipe call for healthy beans

Healthy beans are one of the ingredients in my homemade soup recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had this for dinner last night … I served it with warm from the oven pumpernickel dinner rolls. YUM !

Pasta E Fagioli with warm pumpernickel dinner rolls

My first time making Pasta E Fagioli soup using a copycat recipe from Olive Garden

This recipe makes a big pot of homemade soup … both my husband and I give it a big thumbs up – you should give it a try 🙂

Cleaning Kitchen Cabinets

Tackle Spring Cleaning Early ~ Kitchen To-Do List Update

It’s the first day of March ~ so here’s an update on my early kitchen spring cleaning challenge I gave to myself.

First I’d like to apologize for posting so sporadically lately … I’ve been feeling a little under the weather for the last couple of weeks. Nothing major, mostly just feeling worn down and dealing with sinus issues 🙁

That, coupled with my perfectionist / all or nothing mindset, well … lets just say I felt like I couldn’t post about my kitchen progress because I thought because I didn’t keep up with my own expectations, that I had failed.

I’m working on trying to wrap my brain around a new outlook (we’re all a work in progress … right?) for life ~ Something is Better than Nothing 🙂

So, here are SOME THINGS (from my earlier kitchen to-do list post) that I did accomplish in February …

  • Emptied out, wiped down, and re-organized the inside of the cabinets
  • Scrubbed and de-greased the outside of the cabinets
  • Cleaned the oven and microwave
  • Washed the windows and curtains
  • Cleaned the ceiling fan

So … this is where my new mindset needs to kick in … I accomplished SOME THINGS from my to-do list 🙂  It’s not done perfectly (something has already spilled over and splattered in the microwave), but it’s better than nothing ~ There is still plenty of time and plenty to do for spring cleaning 🙂

Does anyone else suffer with an all or nothing mindset ? How do you deal with it ? Please share your ideas and thoughts …