Tag Archives: planning

Party Season Collage

Summer is Party Season

Summer is almost here … It’s Memorial Day Weekend – the unofficial start of summer. Summer has the reputation of being unscheduled and carefree, but it’s not – well, not really.

During the month of May, you start getting invitations to many parties and celebrations. Between graduation parties, bridal or baby showers and weddings, the calendar fills up quickly.

All this celebrating is fun, but it can be a lot of work too.

Having a party sounds like fun, right? It can be, but it all starts with the planning. Personally, I love planning, but not everyone does. We can help you plan your event or plan it for you (with your guidance in decision making, of course). Everything from choosing the date and theme, to cleaning up afterward … you can just let us know what you want help with.

  • Invitations
  • Make Party Favors
  • Shopping
  • Decorating
  • Work as Your Assistant Host during the event
  • Clean Up

Maybe you aren’t hosting an event, but you’ve been invited to numerous parties. We can go shopping for the gifts you want to give and wrap them for you.

Or you were the honored guest at the party, and you received many wonderful gifts. We all know the old saying “it’s the thought that counts”. Perhaps some weren’t so wonderful … they were the wrong size or color … not your style … you just plain didn’t like them. We’ll return or exchange them for you.

Tracy Helps You “Your Personal Assistant” can help you handle all the details, whether you are having the party / event or you are a guest. We can take the “work” out of parties so you can have the “fun”. What are you waiting for ??  Call us 🙂

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 🙂

Back to School at COD

Tracy Helps You is Going Back to School

It is mid August, summer is winding down … and that means it’s Back to School time 🙂

The stores are full of school supplies and backpacks/book bags. BTW, Tracy Helps You would be happy to do your Back-to-School shopping for you 🙂

Going back to school is not just for the young … more and more, adults are taking classes too. Some are finishing a degree they starting working on … some are changing careers … some are updating their skills with continuing education.

I will soon be joining the ranks of mature (part-time) students 🙂 I have an appointment scheduled with an adviser at a local college to discuss classes I should take to offer services as a Virtual Assistant. I’m also looking into training programs offered as online courses, tutorials, and webinars.

In the future, I plan to offer some Virtual Assistant services such as, Social Media Management, Online Research, Customer Service, and Email Management. These will be in addition to the Clerical / Business services that I currently offer.

Of course, this is all in the planning stages right now, but it is my hope that I will soon be able to offer some VA services 🙂

What type of services would be helpful to you ?

camping

My Top 10 Best Camping Tips & Hacks

I love camping, but if you know me at all, you know that I love to have a plan. Even if things don’t always go as planned, you can go on to Plan B 🙂

Here are some tidbits of wisdom (no particular order) that have served me well …

#1  Plan all your meals and snacks (I suggest lots of snacks) ahead of time – then use your menu plan to create your shopping & packing lists

#2  Create a separate plastic storage bin (with tight fitting lid) to store camp essentials – one for your “camp kitchen” aka, pots & pans, dishes, utensils, dish towels, etc. – one for your “camp gear” aka, tools, flashlights, rope, fire starters, bug spray, etc. – one for your “camp pantry” aka, to store all your non refrigerated, dry food items.

#3  Have 3 separate coolers – one for meats (freeze ahead of time and put in zip lock bags (to catch blood from the meat so it doesn’t mix in with the water from melting ice)) – one for beverages (I keep these separate because the lid is opened so often). I also fill a gallon zip lock with clean ice for my glass each time we get more bags of ice. – one to serve as the “frig” … for your fruits & veges, condiments, butter, eggs, etc. I freeze gallon jugs of water before hand to keep things cold and then use the melted water to make lemonade.

#4  Try to choose a shady campsite – it is cooler during the day and you can always find a sunny place to hang out if you want heat & fun in the sun.

#5  Get inexpensive solar garden path lights from the Dollar store – place them around your site so you can see where you are going a night … darkness fall very quickly. These generally work even if they don’t get direct sunlight during the day, maybe not as bright, but enough to light your path.

#6  Use aluminum foil and aluminum pans – the grates over the fire pit are usually pretty dirty and gross, so I use foil grill pans to cook my meats – plus easy clean up 🙂

#7  Have two matching (size/shape, so they can stack) laundry baskets – pack your clothes in one with the empty underneath. Each night as you change clothes, put the dirty clothes in the bottom basket and stack the clean clothes on top of it.

#8  Have small mesh bags for carry bath & hygiene essentials to the shower house – make one for males & one for females, or one for each person. I also set up a hand washing station at the campsite for quick clean ups. I put a bar of soap in an old knee high nylon stocking and hang it with a towel near the water / dish washing area.

#9  Always take your trash to the dump station every night before going to sleep – you do not want animals prowling around your campsite because they smell your meal leftovers! I also fill all our water containers at this time too – I need fresh water for my morning coffee 🙂

#10  Always have a well stocked first aid kit with a basic first aid manual. I use a jumbo vitamin/pill day of the week type container and re-labeled them for a supply of Advil / Benadryl / Pepto-Bismol / etc.

Do you have any tips or tricks or ideas about camping that you could share with us? Leave a comment … I’d love to hear them. We can all learn from each other !

Camping - Nap Time

There’s nothing like a relaxing afternoon nap while you are camping.

Happy Camping 🙂

Back to School Time

Back to School Time = Have an Organized Plan Time

Tis the season … Back to School season, that is 🙂

Yes, friends, it’s that time of the year again … and with it brings a myriad of feelings from anticipation/dread to stress/relief … and anywhere in between.

While my kids are no longer attending school, I remember that it can be a stressful and expensive time of year. I, personally, always felt better when I had a good plan. As a homeschooling family living on a single income:

  • I tried to set aside some money each payday during the summer for school supplies and textbooks/curriculum.
  • I attended conferences to get new & fresh ideas from other parents.
  • I tried to have my school year ‘planned out’ by mid summer, so I could be on the lookout for great prices on the curriculum I planned to use for the upcoming school year.
  • I tried to find used textbooks at Homeschool Used Curriculum Sales. Many times, I could buy used books from other homeschool families in my coop.
  • I also searched online for used books.

Some of my favorite websites were eBay.com and Half.com. I’ve found some good deals on some Facebook Groups pages and on Craigslist. I also like vegsource.com and homeschoolclassifieds.com. I have purchased, as well as, sold on both of these linked websites … it isn’t very hard 🙂 These two sites also have a convenient ‘want to buy’ tab. If you are in the market for any high school level curriculum (yes, I’m still emptying my last homeschool bookshelf), I am currently selling some Rosetta Stone and AO LifePacs foreign language and ABeka language arts items … check them out at the links above 🙂

Could you use some help with planning your Back to School schedule ~ lesson plans ~ school supply shopping ~ online research ?

Contact Tracy Helps You ~ I’ll come alongside you to help get it all figured out … then you can breathe a sigh of relief & focus on enjoying the last, long dog days of summer with your family 🙂

Office Assistant Clerical Work

Personal Assistant to Help with General Office, Administrative Clerical Work

Do you have your own business? Could you use some office help? There is an incredible amount of time consuming work involved with keeping your business records organized. Even though so many things can now be digitalized on your computer, you still have to spend time “filing” your documents and reports into electronic files. You need to have an easy system in place to be able to locate those documents at a moments notice. Of course, there are still paper copies of things to file away for future purposes as well. As a personal assistant, I’d be happy to help you … I can take over some of the more mundane tasks of running an efficient office for you 🙂

Some ideas to get you thinking …

  • Courier Service – I’ll deliver your important packages in a professional, yet friendly manner (no offense grunted “sign here” FedEx driver)
  • Shredding – I’ll shred your stacks of documents, in your office with you present, using your shredder and you will dispose of the shredded material as you choose
  • Mass Mailing – I can fold, stuff, label your Holiday Cards or Customer Special Offers
  • Scanning – I’ll scan your paper documents and save them into their appropriate files on your computer system
  • Presentation Packets – I’ll assemble your printed material into packets to pass out during your meeting or presentation
  • Receptionist/Temp Help – Is your receptionist on vacation or out sick with the flu? I have decades of customer service experience in various industries … I can fill in here and there answering phones and greeting clients / customers for you.
  • Data Entry – I’ll enter all your info into spreadsheets for you so you can create reports to analyze and compare statistics for your company – or – do you need to create an opt-in email list for your upcoming email marketing strategy? (or help organize/clean up your existing contacts)
  • ????? – How can I save you valuable time? Is there something more specific to your particular business that you could show me how to do? I’ve been told that I’m a quick learner 🙂

 

Give Tracy Helps You a call … I’m open for suggestions of how I can help YOU.

Graduation Party

Let Tracy Helps You Help With Your Next Party ~ Graduation, Birthday or Shower … it’s up to you !!

What do birthdays, graduations, weddings, and babies all have in common? They all are celebrated with a party !! Spring and Summer are filled with fun parties to celebrate a graduation, a baby shower, a wedding, a confirmation, a birthday, an anniversary, and family reunions ~ just to name a few (okay – more than a few). Our calendars fill up fast with party invitations.

Throwing a party is a lot of work … picking the best date, making the guest list, getting the invitations sent out (digitally or by snail mail), planning the menu, house cleaning, shopping, cooking and preparation, decorating, and of course, the clean-up. Like I said, it’s a lot of work ~ fun work ~ but work none the less.

I love throwing parties … I love the planning … I love being the hostess, but I also love the moment, after all the clean-up is finished that I get to sit down and put my feet up 🙂 It is such a good feeling !

Tracy Helps You can get you to the “put your feet up and relax” stage of hosting a party sooner. Let us be your assistant hostess. We can help with any stage of your party. We can do the shopping for you, or help with the decorating. We can be the “kitchen help” during the party. We can keep the trays of food full, top off the bowls of chips and dip. We can stay ahead of all the dirty dishes that come with hosting a party. An extra pair of hands definitely makes the work easier 🙂

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you actually had time to enjoy visiting and catching up with your friends and family, knowing that everything was running smoothly “behind the scenes”? Plus, after you’ve said your good byes to your last guest, imagine the feeling of walking into a clean kitchen … as opposed to a pile of dirty dishes to do and bags of trash to take out.

Hire Tracy Helps You as your assistant hostess for your next party … you won’t be sorry 🙂 

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 🙂

My Recipe for Stuffed Shells

Monday’s Menu ~ Recipe I Made Up for Stuffed Shells

A while ago, I decided I wanted to expand my recipe repertoire. For meal planning, I usually rotate my family’s favorite meals. I have about a dozen or so “go to” dishes that I make so often that the recipe is etched in my memory. We also have some seasonal favorites ~ soups and stews for cold weather months / salads and grilled meals for summer time. There is a fine line between “routine” and “being in a rut” … I was starting to feel like my dinner menus were in a rut. So, since Monday is usually the least busy day on my schedule, I came up with the Monday’s Menu idea. When my schedule allows, I try out a new recipe that I found on Pinterest, Facebook, in a magazine or an “old school” cookbook 🙂

Yesterday I made Stuffed Shells. I’m calling it my own recipe, because I sort of took bits and pieces from a few recipes (cookbook, Pinterest and pasta box) plus some shortcuts from the pantry and created my own version. Continue reading

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 🙂