Category Archives: Seasonal

Tracy Helps You Saves You Time

The Most Wonderful (aka Busiest) Time of the Year

The Holiday season is upon us, and it’s the most wonderful time of the year. There are so many fun things to do, like spending time with family & friends … traveling … going to parties … shopping … wrapping … not to mention, celebrating the actual Holiday.

All these things are wonderful, but can also be stressful. Adding these fun activities to our already busy schedules can sometimes feel overwhelming. You are only one person, and you only have so much time. It’s the perfect time to have a Personal Assistant !! Continue reading

Holiday Card

Holiday Cards & Your Hectic Holiday Schedule

Tomorrow, we flip over another page on the calendar … to the last month of 2016. December is a month full of fun, holiday celebrations, but regular life still goes on. All the normal day-to-day responsibilities don’t necessarily take a break during this “most wonderful time of the year”, which means your schedule is even busier than usual.

In today’s world, most of the mail we receive is computer generated – sometimes its addressed to us by name (computers are smart 🙂 ), but many times it is addressed to “Current Resident”. Companies spend a lot of $$ to send you these advertisements, but most people consider it “junk mail” and toss it.

Most everyone loves receiving Holiday cards. I’m talking about physical, snail-mail cards. It’s fun to check your mailbox each day, hoping to find something for you personally. I think of them as “fun” mail … something I want to open right away. I enjoy reading the Holiday Letter that many people include with their card. It’s a good way to catch up with the happenings in their family, especially for those who are not on Facebook 🙂  I also love getting packages in the mail, many of which are gifts I have ordered online … who doesn’t love seeing the UPS, FedEx, USPS or Amazon truck pull up in front of their house (please tell me you do too, that it’s not just me)?

All that to say, sending Holiday cards are is time honored tradition of the season, but also a time-consuming task to do in an already busy time of year. Tracy Helps You can take this task off your to-do list for you. Whether it’s your personal family cards, or cards sent out to your business clients and colleagues, we can take care of it for you – freeing up some time for you to handle all the other things on your to-do list.

This hectic season is the perfect time to delegate some tasks to your personal / virtual assistant. Time is a valuable commodity! Let Tracy Helps You save you some valuable  time 🙂 Call today!!

Beautiful Fall Foliage

Fall Favorites

What is your favorite season? Mine is the Fall !

While I actually like all the seasons, Fall is my favorite. I love the beautiful colors of the leaves. I love all the hues of the autumn color palette, from the golden yellows to the burnt oranges to the deepest maroons. Some trees are like a magnificent work of art 🙂  I also love the weather – warm sunny days; crisp cool evenings; low humidity … what’s not to love ? Unfortunately, my sinuses aren’t a huge fan of the barometric pressures the change of seasons brings, but the rest of me loves the Fall weather.

Another thing I love about Fall is comfort food. The cooler temps have me yearning for big pots of soup with warm crusty bread. I love serving hearty dishes like beef stew and chili. This time of year also gets me craving baked goods, warm from the oven. I’d say it’s a tie between Apple Cinnamon and Pumpkin as my favorite flavor of Fall. I like pumpkin everything … pumpkin bread, pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkins seeds … btw, did I mention that I love pumpkin ?? However, I also love apple cinnamon everything too! Pretty much anything apple flavored from the bakery – apple pie, apple crisp, apple strudel, apple slice … Yum! And let’s not forget hot apple cider 🙂

I also enjoy the great outdoors during the Fall. I love going on long walks in the forest preserves, going to a pumpkin farm, getting turned around & lost in corn mazes, going apple picking, taking a hayride, and going camping. I love sitting around a fire enjoying a warm (or warming) beverage and having long talks while gazing into the mesmerizing flames. I love when the wood pops and sends up sparks; I just love the scent of the burning logs 🙂

Just so the other seasons don’t feel left out, here’s what I like about them:

  • Winter ~ Freshly fallen snow and Christmas (just wish that it wasn’t so bitterly cold and last so long)
  • Spring ~ Nature coming back to life, trees / plants turning green again and the weather starting to warm up
  • Summer ~ Longer hours of daylight and being outdoors more (if only there wasn’t so much humidity)

So, you see, I do actually like all the seasons, but Fall is still my favorite! Please share what your favorite season is and why …

Empty Nest

Empty Nest Syndrome ~ My Thoughts

Empty Nest Syndrome … the syndrome part of that phrase sounds apprehensive to me, the entire phrase suggests uncertainty and anxiety.

I think I have been experiencing Empty Nest Syndrome in varying stages since my youngest child graduated from high school. I home-schooled my kids, so, for a long time, most of my days revolved around them and their schedules. That first Fall, Back-to-School, season after Continue reading

Maiden Voyage Camping Trip

First Camping Trip of the Year

My husband and I love to go camping 🙂

As you know from a previous blog post, we purchased a used travel trailer last month. That post detailed all that happened, but to sum it up, we were deceived and bought a camper that had several issues. We spent the month of May and many $$ to get it ready for safe travels … everything isn’t perfect, but we repaired what we felt were the most important items.

This weekend we are embarking on our Maiden Voyage with it 🙂

We picked it up from the RV repair place on Thursday, and I have been getting all our camping gear transferred from our old pop-up camper to the new one. It’s been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun setting up house in our new (to us) home away from home.

We have been watching lots of You Tube videos to learn how everything works. We’ve (well I have) read the owners manual cover to cover. We have camped for many years, but never in a camper.

We have to learn how to:

  • level the camper at the campsite
  • hook up the electric and water
  • operate the awning
  • make sure the propane is on and the frig & stove work
  • take care of all the bathroom chemical stuff
  • emptying the holding tanks (you know what I’m talking about)
  • and stuff we haven’t even thought of 🙂

I’m hoping for a wonderful weekend filled with fun memories of this first camping trip in our new camper. And I’m hoping that these new fun memories will replace my first disappointing ones & help me to regain the excitement I had when we first decided we were going to buy a camper with a bathroom – a definite upgrade from our pop-up.

Let the fun begin 🙂

Old Camper - New Camper

Camping Season Has Arrived !

I love the month of May!  The weather is getting warmer, the lilacs and other flowers are blooming … and it’s time for camping 🙂

My kids were older, both teenagers when we started camping with our family. Our first trip was as part of a larger group of families that camped every year over Father’s Day weekend. We bought a large tent, tarps, a camp stove, and a lantern. We already had sleeping bags and other essentials. We bought some old pots & pans / dishes at a garage sale. We had a great time. We did this each Father’s Day weekend for 3 years. It was our only camping trip each year.

Then my hubby and I decided we were getting tired of sleeping on the ground, so we bought a used pop-up camper. We continued with the annual trip each June for a few more years. Now the kids, ahem … young adults go on this annual trip without us. Over the past few years, it has been just the hubby and I, and we really like it. We enjoy the peace and quiet 🙂 We usually plan a 3 day weekend camping trip for June, July, August and September.

This Spring, we took the plunge and bought a used travel trailer!  No more middle of the night trips to the bathroom for us 🙂 We actually bought it off EBay and went to pick it up last week.

We were so excited when we first saw it. We knew from the eBay description that there were a couple of minor things wrong with it. It’s a 1999 model, so just age alone was a contributing factor. We trusted the seller when they said that there had been a previous leak but it had been completely repaired and no longer leaked. We trusted the seller when they said the awning had a tear but was still usable. We trusted the seller when they said that the crack in the plastic vent cover was only cosmetic.

Then we drove home with it, six hours in the pouring rain. Then we parked it outside our house for the night, and it rained all night long. The next morning, the sun was out, so we decided to start moving our camping gear from the pop-up to the new trailer. The first thing we noticed when we went to unlock the door was that the entire plastic vent cover was gone … it must of blown off during the long ride home from southern Indiana. So, I taped a piece of plastic over it so the back of the refrigerator didn’t get any more wet than it already was. Then we went inside to discover that it did leak … not giant puddles, but the wall was moist and soft to the touch in the same place the previous water stain was. We then opened the awning to find the tear was nearly half way across. I was mad … so mad. I hate being lied to. So I waited a couple days to cool off, then sent a (very professional, not emotional) ebay message to the sellers explaining that we were very upset that we had been deceived by their description, and that we thought they should be responsible for the cost of the repairs to get it to the way it was described as perfectly usable.

I waited a week for them to respond, and then I opened a resolution ticket with ebay motors. EBay has strict guidelines about items being “as described”. They will investigate the situation and try to work with us to get some of our money back.

We are taking it to a RV repair place to get an estimate for the needed repairs. Hopefully eBay will convince the sellers to cover those costs.

We really do love our new (to us) little camper and can’t wait to take it out for her maiden voyage 🙂 We just didn’t expect to have to put a lot of money into repairs so soon 🙁

Oh, and by the way … our pop-up camper is for sale … make us an offer we can’t refuse 🙂

Dandelions

Dandelions

It’s Springtime here in Chicagoland … and although it is often referred to as “construction season”, it is also “dandelion season” … again. Both dandelions (and other weeds) and construction seem to be hardy perennials that do extremely well in the Midwest climate.

I say “dandelion season” again, because every year I think I have them under control, only to have them come back with a vengenence each spring.

My husband and I are not what you could call “lawn snobs” by any stretch of the imagination, but having a nice green lawn would be so nice. We don’t hire a landscaping company for lawn care, we cut our own grass. I’m trying to not you chemicals to kill them. My methods thus far have been trying “natural” remedies.

I have tried a homemade recipe using apple cider vinegar, salt and Dawn dishwashing detergent. It does kill the dandelion plant that is visible above ground, but apparently does nothing to get rid of the root. It also kills any grass that is surrounding your dandelion. Guess what? They grew back!

I have tried digging them out by hand. It is backbreaking labor, and is very hard to get the whole root out without it breaking off (to grow back again). I even bought an attachment for a power drill that is supposed to get the whole root out … surprise, surprise … it didn’t. Plus, I have so many in my front lawn; they will have gone to seed before I could possibly dig them all out 🙁

I have tried an organic weed control product that you apply using a spreader, only to find burnt patches in my lawn while the dandelions looked healthy and strong.

This year, I’ve read several articles online about letting the dandelions grow so the bees can get nectar after the long winter. I’ve read about how the bees are dwindling off because their habitat has changed so much over the last couple decades.

My plan for this year is to dig them out of my garden area and flower beds. My husband will mow them down each week before they go to seed. The bees will collect nectar and make wonderful local honey. Our lawn will be mostly green, but with some yellow dots 🙂

How do you handle dandelions and other weeds in your yard?  

 

Getting Organized ~ Jewelry

Getting Organized ~ Jewelry

This weekend, my church is having their annual garage sale. It is a huge event every year, and all the profits get donated to local area charities, like PADS and Neighborhood Food Pantry. Each spring, I try to get an area of my home more organized. Finding things to donate for this good cause helps to get me motivated 🙂

During the week, I’ve been sorting through our things to decide what I’d like to donate. In years past, I’ve concentrated on clothing, shoes & purses, holiday decorations, kitchenware, books, etc.

This year, I gathered those type items, but I also decided to sort through my costume jewelry. I love shopping at places like Charming Charlie’s, especially their clearance section. Over the years, I’ve accumulated quite a collection. I usually stored my necklaces and bracelets in various cloth draw-string bags, vinyl zippered pouches. I stored my earrings in a beautiful decorative brass bowl that my friends brought back for me from her trip to India.

It was getting hard to remember what & where I stored these pieces. I would know I had a certain pair of earring that would go perfectly with my outfit, but not be able to find them in a moment or two.

So I decided while I was sorting through all of it, that I wanted to store it in a more organized manner. I found a cute little rack that hangs on the wall. I also like that you can see everything … all your choices in plain sight 🙂

Here’s my AFTER pic …                                         

Getting Organized ~ Jewelry

After Organizing Jewelry

 

 

April Fools' Day Jester

April Fools’ Day Fun “Facts”, Legends & Myths

Happy April Fools’ Day !!

Its hard to believe that its April 1st already. Do you celebrate this day or is it just another day? Personally, I enjoy the fun, good hearted jokes, but I can live without the more mean spirited type of pranks some people pull. IMHO, I don’t think you have to hurt someone else’s feelings to make your prank be fun. I tend to like the puns that make you think, more than the physical practical jokes, again, just my thoughts on the topic 🙂

I was curious about the origins for April Fools’ Day, so, like any red blooded American, I GOOGLED it (duh). Here are some things I learned from my research:

  • There is no actual historical proof of how the celebrations of April 1st started only myths and legends.
  • According to legend, some believe it has to do with Pope Gregory XIII changing the calendar to show January 1st as New Years Day instead of the current date of April 1st. Apparently, not everyone heard the news of the change, so they continued to celebrate New Years on April 1st, making them appear “foolish” to those who knew about the change.
  • Another theory has to do with people having a fun, mischievous mood because it was finally spring, marking the end of a long cold winter.
  • Another myth states that it originates in a 1500’s Flemish poem about a nobleman sending his servant on several absurd errands. One stanza of the poem states “Refrain on fool’s errand-day/which is the first of April”.

As noted earlier, no one can say for certain why, but there are many stories revolving around celebrating April Fools’ Day with fun and mischief. My research came from The Washington Post, the International Business Times and the Museum of Hoaxes.

Happy April Fools’ Day !! Have fun and be kind 🙂

 

Vacation Suitcases

Planning A Vacation ~ Spring Break or Anytime

As you may or may not know, I used to be a travel agent. Planning a vacation was one of my main job duties. I was actually employed in the travel industry for 25 plus years. As well as being a travel agent, I also worked in the reservations department for Apple Vacations for a couple of years, and worked for United Express Airlines for 14 years. All that to say, I’ve planned a vacation or two in my day 🙂
Lots of things have changed since I graduated from travel school in the 80’s … the internet being the most profound one. Planning a vacation online is easy for anyone with even a modest familiarity with computers.
Many people book their own travel these days. Most travel websites are very user friendly, guiding the user along each step of the way. After just a few clicks of your mouse and entering in your credit card info, you can pretty much start packing your bags 🙂
Perhaps these check lists (that I’ve found online) will be helpful to you as you plan your next vacation …

Always remember, if you don’t have the time or just plain don’t feel like it, I would be happy to “help” you by doing all the vacation planning research for you … I’m just a phone call away 🙂