Category Archives: Seasonal

Book Review & Giveaway ~ Snowfall at Moonglow by Deborah Garner

My Thoughts & Review  A personal and/or virtual assistant can help you check items off your to-do list. Delegate some tasks to us today.

I just returned from an afternoon spent at the Timberton Hotel in Montana. Well, not really, but that is one of my favorite things about a good book, it takes you away from reality for a little while. Mist, Betty and the rest of the gang are doing great.

This is the 5th story in Deborah Garner’s Moonglow Christmas novella series. It is a heart-warming story set at Christmastime that shows the importance of simple kindness & caring is to people. I’ve read and reviewed all of them, and they are all similar yet quite different. I look forward to them each year, reading it ushers in the Christmas season for me. Continue reading

Give Thanks

What Are You Thankful For?

Another November is drawing to a close; and once again my thoughts returned to being thankful for my many blessings. Overall, I consider myself to be a grateful person, but November usually brings thankful thoughts more front and center to mind.

For the last decade or so, I’ve been participating in #30DaysofThanks challenge. I believe it is mostly on social media, hence the hashtag 😊, but my reflections were mostly private during my devotion time. I really like the 30-day format because it helps me to really concentrate on the everyday blessings that could otherwise be taken for granted. Continue reading

Fall Reset

Fall Reset

Hope you had a wonderful Labor Day Weekend! It’s known as the “unofficial” last weekend of summer. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for Fall and I’m ready for a reset. I have had a fun-filled summer, including several camping trips, a road trip to Nashville & Mississippi and an amazing Alaskan Cruise! If you said that I may have over-indulged a bit, you would be right. If I can be a little vulnerable with you, my jeans are feeling a little tight right about now ~ it’s definitely time for me to get back on track!

Fall is also “Back to School” time. When I was growing up, I always loved starting school after a long summer vacation (I also loved getting new school supplies, and to this day I love getting new office supplies … but I digress). In hind sight, I think it’s because I now know that I do well having a steady routine. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the freedom that comes from having a break (summer vacation), I am truly at my best in a more structured routine.

In adulthood, I see so many similarities. When I’m on vacation or during the summer months, I truly enjoy the many freedoms – less hectic schedules, laid back/carefree atmosphere, as well as, food and adult beverage indulgences. However, once Fall starts rolling around, I am more than ready to get back to a regular routine.

I, of course, rely on my Isagenix products to give me the best nutrition while I lose pounds and inches. I get the complete nutrition that my body needs to thrive in a low-calorie meal. I know this program works if I follow the guidelines. If I go back to making really unhealthy choices, of course I will gain weight back (as with any other weight loss program) … follow the program = get results 😊 Go back to the way you used to eat = you go back to where you were (or worse).

Eat like crap = feel like crap

Eat like crap = feel like crap

What’s frightening about our diets is that most of the population consumes foods laden with additives, hormones, pesticides, herbicides and preservatives just to name a few. Yes, eating an organic diet is a great start to avoiding these health-hazardous chemicals, but it is actually more than simply ingesting the chemicals that should concern us. Our topsoil, the fundamental component to growing nutritious foods, is nearly depleted of all its former nutrients. So, what does this mean? We are left with foods that contain significantly less vitamins and minerals. We need vitamins and minerals to support our bodily functions in every aspect; without them, the body is left much more susceptible to disease and illness.

Unfortunately, we cannot avoid toxins altogether (unless you live in a bubble), but there are ways of cleansing the body to help rid of the toxicity that we are exposed to daily. This is where our intermittent fasting with nutritional support (cleanse days) comes into play. When our body is exposed to a toxin, it acknowledges the toxin as ‘foreign’ and it either expels or stores the toxin within a fat cell. Our Cleanse for Life product helps the cell release these toxins so the body can naturally eliminate them … aka cellular cleansing. Of course, this is oversimplifying it, but Isagenix has tons of scientific reports that explain it thoroughly (if you are a scientific report reading type of person, I will get them for you)

So, consider all the diet pop/soda consumed by our society today. I can only guess that people drink ‘diet’ anything because they think they are doing a good thing by avoiding excess calories. Yes, aspartame and sucralose are zero calorie sweeteners, but they may just pack on more fat than any soda drink derived of real sugar because your body has zero idea what to do with that zero calorie sweetener; so, into the fat cell it goes and there it will stay until you learn how to remove it. On a side note, even if you make no other changes to your diet, I hope you figure out a way to NOT drink pop/soda. They have no nutritional value, and tons of toxins … Your body will thank you!

How about you? Are you feeling like you want to get into a healthy routine – get back on track? Ready for a reset?  I know I have the tools I need to get back on track and I know they can help you too!

If you’ve been curious about Isagenix, now is the perfect time to find out for yourself. Jump on the wagon with a huge group of people (online) who are offering to coach, encourage and inspire you! Getting started is simple (plus, I am offering free shipping for a limited time) ~ Call me!!

We love our new camper!

We Are Happy Campers !!

Our New Home Away from Home

We did it! We finally bought a new (to us, anyway) camper! We did our walk through and took possession of it this morning! We are the proud owners of a 2015 KZ Sportsmen S302BH Travel Trailer! Eek! I feel like my emotions are all over the place ~ like a combination of excitement & anxiety!

Since I’m not sure if you regularly read my blog posts, or this is your first one, I’ll recap some of the story leading up to today. We first started camping about 10 years ago. That first year, we camped in a tent. We had a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of work. I also figured out that I’m not a big fan of sleeping on the ground 😊

The next year, we bought a used pop-up trailer. We loved that we could store all the camping gear / supplies we needed in the camper … not to mention sleeping in a bed. It was also nice to have a warm, dry place to hang out during rainy weather. We owned our pop-up for 5 years and usually went camping 4 or 5 weekends a year.

I think its human nature to want what you don’t have. Like after tent camping for a season, I wanted a bed off the ground. Then after 5 years of having a bed off the ground, not to mention a warm/dry space to play games or read a book on wet/dreary days, we wanted to have a bathroom.

So, the next year we bought a small travel trailer. We actually bought it on eBay. There were plenty of pictures and the owner was prompt in answering my questions. I placed a bid and then set the auto bid feature that stops when the auction hits our price limit. Then I sort of forgot about it until I got an email informing me that we won the auction. We were so excited!! ~ that is, until we got it home ☹ But that’s another story for another time (or you can read it here now if you want).

We only used that trailer for one camping season. If you’ve read the story, you know that purchase left me feeling taken advantage of and not so trusting. However, we knew that we loved camping and that we loved owning a camper. That summer, we learned the basics of owning a travel trailer. We also used our camping trips as a time to scope out other campers at our campgrounds, making lots of notes of what we liked and didn’t like. We ended up selling that camper in the fall and started saving money for the perfect camper.

For two summers, we cabin camped. It’s a lot more work than camping in a travel trailer. Think of it like tent camping except with a roof over your head.

We knew we need a bigger, more powerful vehicle to tow the type of camper we wanted, so we saved to buy our Yukon Denali. Then we started looking for a trailer that fit our tow capabilities. Lots of online browsing until I found a few that checked off most of our wish list boxes. We went to see them, and we fell in love with one. We thought the asking price was a tad high for a used model. It was the middle of RV Show season and most dealers usually offer great discounts. But we really liked this one, so we made a lower offer and they accepted it 😊

Today, we dotted all the i(s) and crossed all the t(s). We are now the proud owners of a 2015 KZ Sportsmen. While we were having our walk-through, we had them install a new weight distribution hitch on the Denali. We can’t wait to go on our maiden voyage, hopefully in May.

😊 Now to find the perfect campground …

I'm Over Winter

My Top 10 Reasons I’m Over Winter ~ Is It Spring Yet?

I’m so over winter this year. It seems to be dragging on forever. I am ready for some warmth and sunshine. I am ready to spend some time outdoors. I am ready for more daylight.

I haven’t done a Top 10 type post in a while … so here are my thoughts 🙂

1 ~ My skin is to dry, it sometimes cracks and bleeds

2 ~ I’ve slipped on the ice and fallen several times already

3 ~ I miss feeling the warmth of the sun

4 ~ The gas/heating bill is outrageous

5 ~ Driving can be treacherous during a winter snow/ice storm

6 ~ I hate having to scrap my car windows

7 ~ Everything has static electricity because the air is so dry

8 ~ It seems like someone in the family always has a cold

9 ~ Tt gets dark so early

10 ~ There is a lot more laundry because of having to wear layers to be warm

Sorry for my rant, but I feel better now 🙂 Do you agree with my Top 10? Can you add any of your own?

Coldest Chicago Temp -27 on 1-20-85

ICYMI ~ It’s COLD in Chicago!!

I’m from Chicago, born & raised. I never left (ok, technically I moved to the suburbs), but I still consider myself a Chicagoan. I’ve lived through some tough winters in my lifetime. I was around for the Blizzard of ’67 (kindergartner), and lots of snow storms during my high school years in the late ’70s. I made a lot of cash shoveling people out and setting up lawn chairs with brooms laying across them … It’s a Chicago thing – DIBS, you can Google it 🙂 I also remember Christmas week in 1983, it was so cold that my pet fish, Oscar, (he was a giant, you guessed it, Oscar) died because the power was out for several days and the tank nearly froze. However, my most prominent, vivid memory is January 20, 1985.

Ice Crystal Bird by Lorra Rudman - llinois Birding Network FB 1-30-19
Photo Credit: Lorra Rudman

Ironically, January 20, 1985, the coldest day in Chicago history, was the first day at my new job … as a ramp agent working at O’Hare airport. I remember coming in from running bags (as a trainee, I had to shadow each type of job position) from our incoming flight to the baggage claim … when we got back to the ready room, I had actual frost on my eyelashes (similar to my feathered friend above)! I was never so cold in my life. I kept asking myself why the heck I quit my job as a travel agent at a Michigan Avenue travel agency. I honestly have no idea why I didn’t quit then and there (I stayed close to 15 years), but I’m glad I didn’t because I have so many wonderful memories of my years there and met so many great people.

Delicate Frost Bubble

Which brings me to our current Polar Vortex. This time I was blessed to be able to stay indoors for the duration. I was blessed with a nice warm home to stay cozy and safe. My husband’s employer closed down for the extreme cold. We didn’t have any major emergencies, no broken pipes or furnace mishaps. My furnace was able to keep the temperature a reasonable 60 degrees, I wore layers and snuggled under a blanket to watch movies with my family 🙂 I also spent way too much time on social media. Everyone was posting about the temperature. Many braved the elements to throw boiling water into the air to watch it freeze, and some people recorded these beautiful frost bubbles. I am fascinated by them, they are so beautifully intricate and fragile … amazing! Sadly, they were also posting about some of the struggles they were having trying to cope with this extreme cold … frozen pipes, broken furnaces, etc. We had only one problem because of the weather, one (of 3) vehicles wouldn’t start. That’s OK, we had no place we needed to be yesterday. Late this afternoon, in a balmy -5 degrees, we replaced the battery and it started right up. They are predicting a high of 13 tomorrow … that’s practically a heatwave 🙂

2018 Carrot Harvest

Garden Harvest 2018

For me, October is harvest time, it marks the end of my gardening season.

I’m fairly pleased with my crop this year, especially considering that I didn’t take very good care of my garden this year.

Every May, I eagerly plant my garden. I love being outside in the fresh air and sunshine. I even enjoy the manual labor of preparing the soil for the new seedlings and planting the seeds. For the first month or so, I took great care of the garden. I watered it daily and dug out every little weed as soon as it sprung up. Then, sometime near the end of July or beginning of August, I start to not take such good care. I start resenting having to water every night, especially while getting eaten alive by mosquitos. The weeds start taking over, and I just ignore them. Usually, I still am blessed with a decent harvest.

This year, however, my luck ran out. My above ground crops didn’t do very well at all. Plenty of grape tomatoes, but only a few bell peppers and cucumbers. My broccoli did ok, enough for meals throughout the summer, but no extra for the freezer like in years past.

I had a decent sweet potato harvest. I’ve cured them and they are now in my crawl space to hopefully last through next spring again. Last year, we enjoyed the last of our crop in a sweet potato casserole for Easter dinner.

I also had a nice crop of carrots again this year. Last year, I preserved them by blanching, and then freezing. It worked great but required a lot of prep work. This year, I just didn’t have the time, so I found some articles about storing them in a root cellar. I don’t have a root cellar, but I have a crawl space that stays fairly cool. Most of the articles recommended storing the carrots in sand, straw or peat moss. I also read one that stored them in leaves. I have six large trees on my property, so, this time of year, let’s just say that I have plenty of leaves 🙂

So, this year, I’m experimenting with my harvest – half of my carrot crop is stored in a 5-gallon bucket covered in leaves. The other half was cleaned, chopped, blanched and frozen in ziplock baggies. I’ll let you know how it turns out 🙂

Do you like to garden? How do you preserve your harvest?

Garden Crop Harvest

Garden Harvest Time

Autumn is in the air … the evenings are getting chilly. It is time to harvest our garden crop. I’m a little concerned about how this year’s crop is going to be. Between my neglect (lack of weeding) and an early frost last night, I don’t have high expectations. My schedule is crazy busy this week, but my plan is to harvest everything on Thursday afternoon … please pray for no rain that day.

Each springtime, I usually try to plant seeds that I’ve saved from last year’s crop. I use my own compost created from our own compostable kitchen scraps and fallen leaves from our many trees. BTW, if anyone is ever in the mood to rake during the month of October … give me a call …  we usually fill 40+ kraft bags with leaves every year. Continue reading

Time Flies - Seasons Change

Time Flies ~ Seasons Change

Labor Day Weekend is upon us once again, the unofficial end of summer. I love autumn, but I’m not ready for summer to end just yet.

Time flies by too quickly … I know I say this all the time, but it’s true! I truly believe that the busier you are, the faster times goes by and this summer proves it (for me anyway).

I was so excited when the weather warmed up last May. I had so many things I wanted to do: Continue reading

Goals ~ Not Resolutions for the New Year

Goals ~ Not Resolutions

Happy New Year’s Eve 2017!

Well, 2017 has proven to be an interesting year for me. Mostly because I decided to make my health a more important/relevant part of my daily schedule.

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 Please note, I am healthy, I didn’t have any major medical issues

 … I was just “sick & tired of feeling sick & tired” …

you know what I mean?

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For the first half of the year, we (my hubby and I) worked on making healthy food choices (for the most part). We made a meal plan and cut back on eating out so much. We cooked most of our meals at home. We “brown bagged it” (are those even a thing anymore?) for our lunches. We did have a “cheat” day on the weekend, but really tried hard to not go overboard. We both lost some weight, but not a whole lot 🙁

We tried making a concentrated effort on being more active. Exercise has never really been my thing, so I tried spending more time doing activities that I enjoyed, like camping and taking long hikes in the woods of various state parks. I also worked a lot in my yard and garden. We went for bike rides and went bowling. You know what I mean? Activities that had a purpose in additional to exercising my body.

We also joined the local gym to have a place to do a more consistent type workout.  Like many, we went 3 times a week religiously for a month or two, then it dwindled to 2 times, then once a week, then very sporadically until we are now at the point in time of saying ”why are we paying for this – we never use it”. By the middle of summer, I was off the healthy wagon more often than I was on it ☹

I ran into a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. I commented that she looked amazing … she of course thanked me, and responded that that the best part is that she felt great. Healthier than she ever really remembered feeling. Being a good friend, she told me all about the great health and wellness program she was following that was giving her such great results.

I started following the program and I’m feeling great … I’ve lost pounds and inches. I’ve gone down 2 sizes. At my annual physical, my bloodwork came back as being in the normal healthy range, plus I was able to stop taking meds for high blood pressure! It sounds strange, I know, but I feel younger 🙂   I don’t feel as many aches and pains as before. I’m sure my joints appreciate not have so much extra weight to support 🙂

I do have a few health goals for 2018:

  • continue losing more weight while giving my body nutrient rich foods (50 more lbs. would put me back to my high school weight)
  • get my BMI into the normal range
  • continue trying to have a healthy active lifestyle
  • use my gym membership to help build lean muscle tone

I also have a few business goals for 2018:

  • blog more consistently (sorry for being MIA a lot this past year)
  • complete training to get certified in building & maintaining WordPress websites
  • revamp my Tracy Helps You website
  • be more active in my local Chamber of Commerce and in IVAA

These are goals ~ not resolutions.

For me, the difference is this:

Resolutions seem kind of all or nothing – you achieved them or you didn’t ?

Goals can be broken down into doable steps … they are a work in process ?

What goals will you be working on in 2018 ?