Tag Archives: spring

Tornado Photo Credit - Batavia Patch

Tornado Touches Down / Stormy Spring Weather in Illinois

Spring has arrived in Illinois with a vengeance. Last night, a huge tornado touched down in several small towns about 75 or so miles west of Chicago. The town of Fairdale (with a population of less than 200 people) was decimated. The news reports are saying that every building in the town was damaged, if not totally destroyed. Close by, the towns of Ashton and Kirkland were also hit by the massive tornado. There was a lot of damage in Rochelle, IL too.
We actually have friends who live in Rochelle. I was able to “talk” with them via text about an hour after the tornado touched down. They assured me their family was safe, but asked us to pray for some of their friends that were trapped in the basement (where they had wisely taken shelter from the storm) of a nearby restaurant called Grubsteakers. This restaurant is (was) a local landmark located at the intersection of Rt. 64 and 251 in Rochelle. It was a staple in the community – people have been eating there for decades … my own husband was there a few months ago.
I don’t know why, but I have always liked stormy weather (from the safety of my home). I think it’s because I love the sky. It is amazing (and sometimes frightening) to see a huge flash of lightning and then wait for the accompanying clap of thunder. The sky produces innumerable variations of colors and shapes. Sunsets are probably my favorite though … so many awesome color combinations. I also love star gazing on a clear night.
However, that same sky that gives us amazing sights to see, can also produce very angry and scary images too. The sky can darkened so quickly during a storm, especially when that storm hits late in the evening just as it is getting dark for the night. I can’t even begin to imagine how scared those people were …
I’ve never experienced a tornado … have you?

Mothers Day Special

Give a Tracy Helps You Gift Certificate to Your Mom This Mother’s Day

It’s May in Chicagoland ~ we are slowly but surely starting to get a taste of spring time warmth 🙂 May also means Mother’s Day to us Americans.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the observance of Mother’s Day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

We honor our mothers with gifts and cards. Flowers seem to be a particularly popular gift. Many families treat Mom like a queen on Mother’s Day … treating her to breakfast in bed and a day of relaxation by taking over her usual household duties for the day. Many families go out to share a meal together.

Speaking as a mother, and I’m pretty sure I speak for most (if not all) mothers, I think one of the most wonderful gifts to receive is the gift of time spent with my family. Just spending time together, reminiscing and making new memories together is the best way to spend the day <3

This week, while you are making your Mother’s Day plans and choosing the perfect gift ~ remember that your Mom deserves to be pampered and treated more often than just on the holidays. While you are with her this weekend, maybe helping her out with some chores around her house, give her a Tracy Helps You gift certificate. It’s like giving her the gift of free time. Everyone needs some free time / me time, especially Mothers. Sometimes, Moms can sometimes feel a little guilty about taking some time for themselves in their busy life. There is always so much to get done. While I am taking care of stuff on her To-Do List, she can be relaxing without worrying about things not getting done … she will love it 🙂

This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, I’m offering a special rate for Gift Certificates ~ 3 hour for $50 … contact me 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂 

Garden

7 Standbys You’ll Always Find in My Organic Garden

Spring weather is in the air this week, we’ve had quite a few days that have been sunny and in the sixties 🙂

I’ve started my vegetable garden seeds indoors over the weekend. Now I patiently wait to see signs of life. I get so excited when I see tiny bits of green coming out of the soil.

This year I got seeds from a company that specializes in Heirloom Non-GMO seeds. I want to try to save seeds from this years harvest to plant to next year … wish me luck 🙂

Here’s my list of the 7 vegetables I’ll always have in my garden … my standbys for having fresh produce for summer and fall.

  1. Tomatoes ~ I just love fresh tomatoes … there’s nothing like the first bite of a vine ripened tomato of the season … I’m planting Roma and Grape tomatoes
  2. Peppers ~ Green Bell Peppers and Jalapeño
  3. Broccoli ~ Lots of broccoli
  4. Green Beans ~ I like the kind that climb up a trellis
  5. Cucumbers ~ I like the burp-less variety
  6. Carrots ~ I’m actually planting these in large planters, they seem to grow straighter in the softer soil … no rocks means less resistance
  7. Potatoes ~ This year I’m trying these in a large container as well … hopefully, I’ll be able to just dump the container and pick up the taters

Spring is my favorite time in the garden … planting is fun ~ weeding and watering ~ not so much 🙂

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 🙂

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” 🙂

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
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 … 
Plastic Tupperware Containers to Sort and Organize

Update on My Tackle Spring Cleaning Early List ~ Kitchen

It has been a week since I posted my list of tackling spring cleaning early goals. During the week, I worked on re-organizing my cabinets. I started with my Tupperware cabinet … it was a mess.

  • First, I emptied everything out on my table.
  • Next, I matched each plastic container with its lid. I have no idea how this happens, but I seem to have a few bowls with no lids and a few lids with no bowls … again, I really have no idea 🙂 So, I got rid of them (recycle bin). I also got rid of a few that were in really bad shape … they get all stained and pitted, yuck.
  • Then, I decided I wanted them to belong in a different cabinet. They were shoved onto a top shelf before. Their new location has more room. Also, I now have the lids stored in the same cabinet as the bowls. I had them stored in a drawer and they kept falling behind and getting jammed. I used a wire basket to stack all the lids to (hopefully) be easier to find.

    Newly Organized Tupperware Cabinet

    Nice, neat and tidy plastic storage containers and lids.

  • I also decided to divide the containers into everyday leftover/storage size and the larger/serving sizes and stored them in a different cabinet.
  • I then took out all my dishes and glassware to wipe down the shelves before putting them back. I tossed a couple of coffee mugs and a plate that had a chip in them.

    Newly Organized Dish Cabinet

    My neat and tidy dish cabinet … now that I look at it, maybe I’ll raise the coffee mug shelf up another notch 🙂

Boy … on my list it was only a couple of sentences, but it sure was a lot of work 🙂  I’ll work on scrubbing and de-greasing the outsides of the cabinets another time, after all, we still have another 5 or 6 weeks of winter left (if you can believe the groundhog). I’m happy to have my plastic containers more under control … now if only the other members of the family will help in keeping the cabinets organized 🙂

How are you doing on tackling your spring cleaning chores? What is on your to-do list? Give me an update … we can encourage each other 🙂 Let me know if you’d like Tracy Helps You to … help you.