23 February 2018

Review: Confessions of a Funeral Director

Confessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My LifeConfessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My Life by Caleb Wilde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this at a book signing Caleb was at. I went to support a local guy, a fellow Octorara graduate, and because I have been following his blog of the same name since early on. I have to admit, until I stumbled on his blog, I didn't really know Caleb. His parents, I knew. His grandfathers, I knew.

I love his style of writing. In some aspects, it's like we're sitting down talking. In other aspects, I feel like I'm reading his journal. It fits as I read through stories of his own struggles as to if joining the family business was the right decision for him.

His words gave me a mixed sense, I have to admit. There were some parts I cried, like the mother who sat holding her young cancer-afflicted child on her lap. There were some parts, I muttered in disbelief, like when he was called to remove a man in a seedy hotel and the police warned about needles all over.

For better or worse, I had held on to his book for awhile before I actually sat down to read it. The night I picked it up was the night I came home from talking to his father about my Dad's final arrangements. His book made me appreciate the work and the mental anguish that funeral directors also go through on a daily basis.

Thank you, Caleb.

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(c) 2018, Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman

27 January 2018

Review: Midnight by the Piazza

Midnight in the PiazzaMidnight in the Piazza by Tiffany Parks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a girl who grew up on Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, I personally enjoyed reading about 13 year old Beatrice Archer and how she solved the missing turtles and other woks of art. Tiffany Parks does a great job visualizing Beatrice as she follows her instinct and the clues.

Parks did an excellent job capturing the feel of a 13 year old girl, who was being torn away from everything she knew and set loose in a new place. She also convinced me that we were in Italy. My one issue, more as a parent than a potential young adult reading this, is that I would never allow my 13 year old daughter to wander free in a new country with such a language barrier. I also doubted that a university professor was not more computer literate.

That said, all in all I enjoyed the book and would suggest it to any young adult who enjoys mysteries, or travel.

The book I read was a paperback not an ebook but I did not have that option. I did acquire the book through a giveaway here on Goodreads.

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(c) 2018, Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman

15 January 2018

Book Review: You Can Compete!

You Can Compete!: The Retail Doctor's Tools to Double Your SalesYou Can Compete!: The Retail Doctor's Tools to Double Your Sales by Bob Phibbs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A must read for anyone in business. Great explanations and examples of how to train salespeople, how to treat customers, and how to grow your business. I'm looking forward to trying out a few ideas I had while reading Bob Phibbs' book .

Key points
- Building a relationships with your customers is vital. (Seems like a no brainer and kind of sad that we need to be reminded of this point).
- Employees are a company's most valuable asset. (I totally agree).
- Scripts are a helpful tool. (Yes, winging it often leads to forgetting things or giving away the milk for free)
- Training checklists are a great training tool (I'm not quite their yet although I do have writer's guidelines which is essentially the same)

Phibb's also offered several great marketing and advertising ideas. I intend on implementing quite a few. Some have to be altered to suit my business ... which, by the way, is Therapeutic Thymes Magazine. We are a quarterly magazine dedicated to promoting a more natural, therapeutic, and sustainable way of life, bringing the experts to you! Our website is http://therapeuticthymes.com.

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15 June 2016

2016 Reading Challenge Update

This Challenge was put up through Goodreads and I originally posted back in January on the 21st. Today is just an update. Halfway through the year, I thought it might be a good idea to review my progress!

Read a book that takes place on each continent, or is written by an author from that continent (fiction or non-fiction)
1. North America - Spanish Dagger by Susan Wittig Albert
2. South America
3. Africa
4. Antarctica
5. Europe
6. Asia - Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge by Ovidia Yu
7. Australia

8.   A book on Pennsylvania history
9.   An award winning book (Pulitzer, Hugo, Man Booker, etc.)
10. Memoir/Autobiography/Biography
11. A dead author's last book
12. An Irish genealogy related book
13. A book your favorite author loves
14. A retold fairytale
15. A Young Adult book
16. A history book (fiction or non-fiction)
17. A book where you have seen the movie, but not read the book
18. A book from the NYT Bestseller list
19. A book with the point of view of an immigrant
20. A controversial book
21. The first book you see when you walk into a library or bookstore
22. A classic
23. A debut novel
24. Published this year (2016) - Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge by Ovidia Yu
25. Based entirely on the cover
26. Own but never read
27. A book by an author you never read before - Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge by Ovidia Yu
28. A book recommended to you by a friendly librarian
29. A book by a Nobel Prize winner
30. Mythology (not just Greek)
31. A book written by someone born the same year as you
32. A business book - Miller's Bolt: A Modern Business Parable by Thomas Stirr
33. Reread of a favorite book
34. A book about books
35. Book published the year you graduated high school
36. A book a child/teen/someone younger than you loves
37. A book about/set by the sea Widow's Tears by Susan Wittig Albert
38. A book with two authors
39. Author from your own state, province, or country
40. A book about a trip (road, cruise, around the world)
41. A book with the name of a person in the title
42. Science Fiction
43. Fantasy
44. Wild card - Spanish Dagger by Susan Wittig Albert
45. Wild card - Cat's Claw by Susan Wittig Albert
46. Wild card - Mourning Glory by Susan Wittig Albert
47. Wild card - Widow's Tears by Susan Wittig Albert
48. Wild card - Death Comes Quickly by Susan Wittig Albert
49. Wild card
50. Wild card
51. Wild card
52. Wild card    

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

30 May 2016

Review: Death Come Quickly by Susan Wittig Albert

Death Come Quickly (China Bayles, #22)Death Come Quickly by Susan Wittig Albert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great little China Bayles mystery by Susan Wittig Albert. She kept juggling this time round with two murders years apart yet related, some government bribes and blackmail, and art fraud. Several plots all mixed together nicely.

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(c) Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

19 May 2016

My New Venture: Therapeutic Thymes

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Do something every day that scares you." Well, yesterday I did something that both scares and excites me ... I officially, legally began Therapeutic Thymes. 

Therapeutic Thymes will be a zine that will be dedicated to a more natural and therapeutic way of life. Subjects will cover essential oils, herbs and gardening, crystals, healthy recipes, and healthy living in general. 

The Facebook page is set up at https://www.facebook.com/TherapeuticThymes/. Other social media will be set up once I decide on an email that I like. I am still laying out the website as well so stay tuned! This is only the beginning of our healthy, natural, therapeutic time together!

(c) Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

16 May 2016

Lancaster East Side Market Opened for Season

The Lancaster East Side Market opened for its 2016 season yesterday. The Market, located in Musser Park in Lancaster City, will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday through 16 October.

It took some effort getting there yesterday. There was some Streets festival going on which literally had the city cut in half. Traffic was even more horrible than usual. I would have given up and gone elsewhere after the cops waved me past the park. Parking was also difficult since Chestnut Street was closed but we found a spot in the alley, though to be honest I am not sure our spot was actually legal. Fortunately my husband was driving because it was a nice time.

Vendors were: The Baker's Lover, BeeBee's All Naturals/Stoudt's, Renewal Kombucha, The Raw Spa, GMO Free Lancaster, Fresh Starts Nursery, Whistlestop Café, Horseshoe Ranch, Fudge-o-lutely, Calicutt's Spice Co, Lancaster East Side Market stand, Neighbor Made, Isabelle Cuisine, and The Global Kitchen.

Renewal Kombucha, based in Lititz, offered probiotic natural iced tea. They had a couple different types there to sample. My husband enjoyed the White Tea with Lemongrass while my daughter preferred the Hibiscus Mint Green Tea. Their website is www.DrinkRenewal.com.

GMO Free Lancaster had an information stand at the market. This coming Saturday, the 21st, GMO Lancaster will hold its annual March Against Monsanto. The March will begin at noon at Penn Square in the city.

Fresh Start Nursery
Fresh Starts Nursery had a limited supply of plants for sale. The vegetable plants were just $3 each. My husband selected a couple Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomatoes and Purple Beauty Bell Peppers. While we were there, Brendan also mentioned an initiative in the city for roof gardens! Their website is still under construction but you can read more about them on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/freshstartsnursery/.

Horseshoe Ranch is a small organic farm in Willow Street. They offer vegetables and eggs for CSA as well as local markets, like the one yesterday. We spoke with Brittany and Bryan (only Bryan was there Sunday) last weekend at the Herb & Garden Faire at Landis Valley and she explained CSA to us. CSA is Communtiy Supported Agriculture. In a CSA people buy a membership into the program and that gives them a share of the farm’s products each week during the season. They do a great job explaining how a CSA works and how to take part in it on their website,  http://www.horseshoeranchpa.com.

Who can go to Market and not eat, right? Well, we certainly could not especially with all the delicious temptations that The Whistlestop Café had to offer! The Café itself is located at 16 E. McGovern Avenue. After sampling some of their goods yesterday, the Café has definitely made it on my “to visit” list. Check out their website at http://www.whistlestopcafe-pa.com/ for a list of their goodies!

You can follow the Market at https://lancastereastsidemarket.com/ or on its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LancasterEastSideMarket/.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016