Tag Archives: Chicago

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 🙂

Book Review & Giveaway ~ Mistletoe at Moonglow by Deborah Garner

~~~ My Thoughts & Review ~~~

Deborah Garner does a wonderful job of developing her characters, it almost feels like they are real people, at a real hotel, in a real town, in Montana. This is a heart-warming story set a Christmastime that showcases how important simple kindness & caring is so important to people, even strangers that gather together and share their Christmas celebrations.

This novella helped put me in the Christmas spirit this year. Sometimes the Holiday season can get so hectic that you forget what Christmas should be about. It’s not about shopping for numerous gifts, attending countless parties and extravagant decorations, but about the simple joys in life. Slowing down and taking time to spend with a dear friend – baking some cookies from your grandma’s recipe that brings back fond memories of times spent with her – taking a walk in the snow or building a snowman with your kids – perhaps, stealing a kiss under the mistletoe.

I spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon during the first snowfall of the season (Chicago) reading this story, and I loved just loved it. I plan to try a couple of the recipes from the book that she includes at the end of the book. 5 stars and 2 thumbs up from me ~ can’t wait to read the next one 🙂

The Timberton Hotel has always provided a perfect Christmas retreat for regular guests, as well as newcomers. But the small town of Timberton, Montana, hasn’t been the same since resident chef and artist, Mist, arrived, bringing a unique new age flavor to the old western town.

When guests check in for the holidays, they bring along worries, fears and broken hearts, unaware that Mist has a way of working magic in people’s lives. Old-fashioned time spent together, exquisite food, conversation and a snowball or two offer guests a chance to trade sadness for hope. One thing is certain: no matter how cold winter’s grip is on each guest, no one leaves Timberton without a warmer heart.

Available to buy from….
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Nook   iBooks   Kobo   Amazon Paperback   Barnes and Noble

“Christmas at the Timberton Hotel is special. The beauty and peace people find there is magic. Strangers come to escape their pain and find solace and strength. I loved this story. It gave me a sense of hope. The characters are amazing.” 
 
“Deborah weaves a beautiful mosaic of Christmas sights, sounds and smells and introduces us to memorable characters. From the grieving widow to the five-year-old child who lost his brother to a reclusive scholar who only wants to sit in front of the fireplace and read, each are treated with genuine emotion and care which adds to this uplifting story.”
 
 “Deborah did it again. What a great christmas story. I love christmas stories and this will be one that I will read year after year.” 
Above reviews from Amazon.com


NEW RELEASE also available..
Silver Bells at Moonglow

Christmas at the Timberton Hotel arrives each year with a unique set of guests, some returning, some new. When this holiday brings a celebrity seeking reprieve, sisters who are distant yet closer to each other than they think, a widow approaching a new horizon, and an eclectic smattering of local townsfolk and visiting relatives, the season is certain to be eventful. Add in a hint of romance and there’s more than snow in the air around the small Montana town.

Elegant decor and exquisite cuisine from resident artist and chef, Mist, form a backdrop to much needed camaraderie, bringing strangers and friends together. When the last note of Christmas carols has faded away, the soft whisper of silver bells from the front door’s wreath will usher guests and townsfolk alike back into the world with hope for the coming year.


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About the author

Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.
Find the author on the following sites…

 


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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?  

 

Happy Memorial Day ~ Summer is Here

Memorial Day Weekend Is the Unofficial Start of Summer

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, and with it comes different meanings.

One being observing the actual holiday …

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formerly known as Decoration Day and commemorates all men and women, who have died in military service for the United States. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day and it is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season. (from timeanddate.com)

Another being the beginning of summertime activities …

The school term is drawing to a close, the weather is getting warmer, it stays light longer in the evenings. Everyone wants to spend more time outdoors after being cooped up over the long Chicago winter.

Signs of summer are popping up all over:

  • The trees have leaves, lawns are green, flowers are blooming and vegetable gardens are being planted.
  • Burgers and brats are sizzling on freshly scrubbed grills 🙂
  • Beaches & pools are opening, people are hiking & biking ~ they’re camping & fishing.
  • Vacations and long weekend getaways are being planned.

It seems like a large part of summer is about relaxing & enjoying fun, leisurely activities. Of course, in today’s busy 24/7 world it’s not always easy to find free-time to rest and relax. That’s where Tracy Helps You comes in … having a personal assistant take care of some of your to-do list tasks frees up your time to do what you want to do, as well as, taking care of the things you have to do.

Call us to see how we can help you !

Book Review & Giveaway ~ Eighty and Out by Kim Cano

Traumatized by visits to the nursing home to see their elderly aunt, Louise and her sister Jeannie made a youthful pact to not live past age eighty. Was it a silly childhood idea, or were they wise beyond their years? Most importantly, will they go through with it when the time comes?

Eighty and Out Editorial Review:

“An emotionally-charged women’s fiction novel about the bond between sisters, friendship, and fate, Eighty and Out will have you deliberating your destiny.” ~ Bestselling author Deborah Brown

My Thoughts:

This is a love story … yes, romantic love, but also love between sisters, love between parents and children, and love between friends.
Lou and Jeannie were sisters growing up in Chicago during the 60’s. Their family regularly visited an elderly aunt in a nursing home. They loved their aunt, but like most young people, they didn’t like going there. Seeing the sick & elderly residents freaked them out … so they made a secret pact – they wouldn’t let each other suffer in old age – hence, eighty & out.
The story follows Lou’s life from high school through adulthood and into old age. She has many ups & downs, happiness and sorrows. We live vicariously through her experiences … we read of times before “political correctness”, of racism and civil rights, of the Viet Nam War, of sexism, of computers and Y2K.
Kim Cano does a wonderful job introducing her characters and making her reader feel connected to them. Right from the first chapter, I cared for these people like they were my friends. This author is quickly becoming one of my favorites.
I loved this book … 2 thumbs up and 5 stars 🙂

Available to buy from….

Amazon.co.uk
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Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Kim Cano is the author of two women’s fiction novels: A Widow Redefined, her debut novel and On The Inside, a novel about a middle-aged woman who is sentenced to 17 years in prison for committing a white collar crime.

Kim has also written two animal books: For Animal Lovers, a short story collection for kids ages 9 to 12. and for adults who are young at heart.

Kim Cano lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and cat.

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Website   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest    Goodreads   Amazon

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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     Win a $25 Amazon.com Giftcard Open Worldwide   Ending on Thursday 28th May at 11.59pm EST   Enter Below and Good Luck !! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review & Giveaway ~ A Widow Redefined by Kim Cano

My Thoughts:

Justin and Amy White were high school sweethearts; they had a wonderful relationship where they dreamed of traveling to exotic places and seeing the world together. Justin worked long hours to support his wife and son, and to save for those longed for vacations. Then the unexpected happened ~ Justin died of cancer, leaving his wife a widow and his young son without a father.

Amy believed her marriage was perfect; that she knew all there was to know about her soulmate. She still mourns her husband’s death; she has been going through the motions but not really feeling anything. Until she discovered someone (besides her) was leaving flowers – yellow daffodils at his grave, she started questioning her relationship. Had he been unfaithful? Did he have a mistress? Discovering who this mystery person was became her mission. It gave her a new focus ~ and an unlikely friendship where she learned new things she hadn’t known about her late husband. This friendship helped her work through a large range of emotions and become a stronger woman because of it.

I think this story showed a fairly realistic look into the ongoing grief of losing a spouse and trying to start to live (and possibly love) again. I highly recommend it 🙂

On a cold Valentine’s Day in Chicago, Amy White, a young widow who lost her husband to cancer, visits the cemetery and makes an unsettling discovery: a bouquet of fresh daffodils lying in front of her husband’s grave.Curiosity grows into obsession as Amy searches for the stranger who left the flowers, while keeping her activities a secret from her live-in mother and seven-year-old son. The search leads to an unusual friendship that transforms her world and redefines her life.“The warmth of an evolving friendship bound by mutual interests and a family’s recovery from close-held grief makes the processes in A Widow Redefined revealing and involving. Any reader seeking a story of emotional growth from all protagonists will find this a story of quiet desperation, friendship, and moving on.” D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review“A lovely story of deep love, friendship, grief, and the process of healing.” Mary/Full Circle Book Club, Algonquin, IL“Not since Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan have I read such a complex portrayal of friendship. A Widow Redefined will resonate with anyone who has ever lost a loved one and learned how to live again.” Author Deborah Brown“Inspiring! Destined to become a book club favorite.” Alicia Robinson/reader review

 
Buy the book from….
About the Author

Kim Cano is the author of two women’s fiction novels: A Widow Redefined, her debut novel and On The Inside, a novel about a middle-aged woman who is sentenced to 17 years in prison for committing a white collar crime.

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 Author

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

 


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will each receive A Widow Redefined audiobook

 

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My Top 10 Favorite Things About Spring Time in Chicagoland

I think May is my favorite month in the spring. You can pretty much rely on having mild temps and sunny days. Of course, I do live in the Chicagoland area, so weather wise, nothing is ever for certain 🙂 I love getting to see everything come back to life after a long, cold winter.

• Lilacs ~ so many varieties, colors and glorious scents

• Seeing the brave little Hyacinths, Tulips and Daffodils breaking through the ground

• Seeing and hearing all the robins everywhere

• Having more daylight hours

• The smell of fresh cut grass (sorry allergy sufferers)

• Starting my organic vegetable garden

• Getting to wear sandals

• Being able to have the windows open for fresh air

• Cooking and eating outside

• Going for long walks in the forest preserves or on the IL prairie paths

These are some of my favorite things in the spring. It is usually a short-lived season in the Chicagoland area. We tend to move into hot and humid summer weather fairly quickly … but I do love the few blissful weeks in May with its mild weather and promise of new life 🙂

Many thanks to http://www.manylittleblessings.com & http://www.weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com/ for co-hosting List It Tuesday 🙂

Little green signs of life means Spring has come.

Outdoor Spring Cleaning in the Yard and Garden

Spring has finally sprung … well not quite, but it is trying 🙂 I can at least say all the piles of snow have melted. We had one nice sunny, warmish day last week. My husband and I took advantage of it to start the process of getting the yard tidied up a little.

Chicago endured a long and harsh winter this year … the high winds and 5+ feet of snowfall really took its toll on our yard. When it finally warmed up enough to be outdoors for a couple of hours, we found that the wind had tried to blow down a section of our fence … it didn’t succeed entirely, but it is leaning at a precarious angle. Repairing that is at the top of our to-do list when the ground is more thawed. After walking around and sizing everything up, we realized that we were quite blessed by only having to repair the fence.

Living on a corner lot, we’ve come to understand that our house is kind of like a windbreak. During severe storms, you can almost feel the wind howling all around us. All that wind blows a lot of debris and litter into our yard. We filled a whole outdoor trashcan with what we picked up.

I went around picking up lots of branches that had been broken off during the cold, hard winter. Lets just say we have plenty of kindling for whenever we want enjoy a fire in our fire pit. We also were reminded that we didn’t have time to get all the leaves raked up last fall before the snow came. With 6 trees on our property, raking leaves is like a full time job in autumn. After the litter was cleaned up, we thought that if we were to take a picture of the front yard it would be actually hard to tell if it was autumn or spring. We got to work and filled several bags with leaves.

The best part of that afternoon (besides enjoying some fresh air and feeling a sense of accomplishment) was finding little signs of life peeking out of the ground. If my memory of their locations serves me, we have seen signs of life from the Crocus, the Daffodils, the Hyacinths and the Tulips. Soon we will be able to start turning over and preparing the soil in the garden area. I plan to start my vegetable seedlings indoors this weekend.  

Welcome Spring … we’ve been waiting for you 🙂

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

Early Spring Cleaning - Kitchen

5 Things on My "Tackle Spring Cleaning Early" List ~ Kitchen

Please accept my apologies for complaining so much about the weather last month 🙁

I’ve decided to stop whining and get productive.  I’m starting some spring cleaning early … hopefully I can be done (or almost done) by the time spring actually arrives 🙂

My plan is to spend the month of February deep cleaning my kitchen.

  • Cabinets/Counters – clean/degrease the outsides, wipe down /sanitize the insides, re-organize the contents, wipe down, de-clutter & organize counter tops more efficiently
  • Frig/Freezer completely empty out and throw away expired items, thoroughly clean and sanitize shelves, organize shelves more logically, clean off the top of the frig
  • Stove/Oven – thorough cleaning & scrubbing using lots of “elbow grease” to get rid of those really tough baked on stains casino online
  • Floor – wash on my hands and knees (like my Grandma taught me), getting into every corner and scrubbing the grout of the tile
  • Walls/Windows/Ceiling Fan – wipe down walls, clean/degrease backsplashes, wash windows (inside only – it’s February in Chicago, people … lol), change the curtains, clean/degrease the fan blades

I really can’t stand all that gross, greasy dust that accumulates on every surface in the kitchen … I hope to be able to stay on top of this chore every month, so it doesn’t get so out of control in the future 🙂

Who wants to join me on getting an early start on our spring cleaning this year? I’m thinking that if I spend my time productively during these “cabin fever”, winter months, I can actually spend lots of time outdoors enjoying the spring weather without feeling guilty for blowing off my household responsibilities 🙂

Many thanks to  http://www.manylittleblessings.com & http://www.weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com/ for co-hosting List It Tuesday / Top Ten Tuesday 🙂

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BooleanRadley