Monthly Archives: October 2014

Glowing Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns

Memories of Halloween

HAPPY HALLOWEEN !!!

Halloween was different when I was growing up. It wasn’t so commercialized ~ it wasn’t “big business” back then. Decorations, costumes and candy went on sale a couple weeks beforehand. At the store, there was a special Halloween display set up at the end of an aisle. This display did not take over multiple aisles in the store for months ahead of time. It was a much simpler time.

It was here that you could by your decorations which mainly consisted of printed cardboard jack-o-lanterns, witches and ghosts that got thumb-tacked to the wall or taped on the window. The main decoration was your hand carved jack-o-lantern – carved with a sharp knife and the pumpkin guts were scooped out by hand – no fancy sawing tools or scrapers. It took a lot of skill to scrap the bottom of the pumpkin flat so the (real) candle would stand up straight with the help of the pile of melted wax dripped in from the opening. I used to love the smell of the pumpkin while the candle was burning. There was always a big black burn mark on the lid. Continue reading

Tracy Helps You ~ Your Personal Assistant

A Personal Assistant ~ What It Is & What It Isn’t

 As I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed this morning, I came upon a status that very simply asked “would you rather have a personal chef, nanny, housekeeper or a personal trainer?”

It sort of got me thinking … Which would I choose? Since I have adult children living at home, I definitely don’t need a nanny – and my kids help out with the housework (a requirement of living here) … so I narrowed it down to between personal chef and personal trainer (btw, since it’s only a dream, why can’t I have both?). Anyway, I decided to choose the personal chef because – to my way of thinking, he or she would prepare healthy meals and snacks for me. I wouldn’t have to shop for food or even be in the kitchen with all its temptations 🙂 Also, maybe the idea of me actually working out might not be such a burden (again, in my dreams). Continue reading

Book Review & Giveaway ~ The Girl In Black Pajamas by Chris Birdy

R&B Investigations is under attack. Their employee is shot in the back as he enters the building, and a hacker is trying to compromise their secure network. While the Boston police investigate the shooting, Bogie McGruder needs to find the culprit who is trying to put them out of business.

Bogie and his partner Rose Jones can’t disclose their internet problems to the cops since Bogie is a hacker himself.

Bogie McGruder returns to Boston with his four- year-old daughter Isabella. He joins up with Rose Jones’ uncle Walter who is fresh for Lompoc Prison. Bogie and Walter strengthen their firewalls while they try to determine who is behind the invasion. As the R&B team hones in on the culprit, they uncover several murders and discover a plot to wipe out the financial institutions in Boston.

While Bogie is in Boston, his extended family in Palm Beach becomes enmeshed in a sex scandal that threatens to ruin lives and careers in the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.

Feeling like a wishbone about to snap, Bogie tries to handle problems in both cities while Isabella continues her quest for someone to teach her the Five-Point-Palm-Exploding-Heart technique as seen in Kill Bill Volume 2.

This tale of murder, revenge and greed takes the reader on a whirlwind trip from Boston to Palm Beach and back. Buckle your seatbelt!

My Thoughts:

 This is the second book in the Pajamas Series by Chris Birdy, and I think I liked it even more than the first one. I think the reason is because I already knew many of the main characters … and then I got to know them a just little better in this second book. You can read my review of the first book in the series here.

Bogie McGruder is a very busy man. He is still co-owner of R&B Investigations, his security company with partner and long time friend, Rose. He is now married to Bailey and is the father of Isabella and “the Hankster”. He is also a grandfather to little Riley Rose, his older daughter, Amanda’s, baby. I say older – not grown – because she is still so very childish. Suffice it to say that Bogie’s family life has definitely changed over the past year. He has learned to juggle work and family responsibilities.

Then he is called away to Boston to stop a hacker that is trying to break into R&B’s secure networks. The police can’t really help because Bogie isn’t exactly “law abiding” in his computer work. He brings Isabella along on the trip, giving his wife a bit of a break.

Meanwhile, back in Palm Beach, his daughter’s friends along with some of the officers in the Palm Beach Sheriff’s office are involved in a big sex scandal making “movies”.

Never a dull moment for Bogie while he’s trying to “handle” everything at the same time. I look forward to the next installment of the Pajamas Series 🙂

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Also available

The Girl in White Pajamas

When Officer Bud the PR face of the Boston Police Department is gunned down, his brother, Bogie McGruder, returns from Palm Beach for the funeral. Since the BPD is investigating the death of one of their own, Bogie believes his trip to Boston will be a short condolence visit and a chance to meet his secret love child.

But interacting with a family fueled by alcohol and mired in scandals, Bogie is reminded why he does investigations for his Boston based company from a computer in Florida. Although Bogie wants to contact his ex-lover, Bailey Hampfield, he’s reluctant to do so since Bailey dumped him four years earlier. Knowing that Bailey had his child after she cut him loose, Bogie ponders how he can establish a relationship with the three year old daughter he’s never met. While he thinks about it, Bailey gets in touch with him and asks for protection. Someone is trying to kill her.

By the time Bogie meets Isabella, it’s apparent that he still loves the mother and adores the child. Bogie tells himself that he’s not interested in the BPD investigation into Bud’s death, but he continues to be drawn into it while trying to discover who is attempting to kill Bailey. The investigations seem to parallel each other, then intersect and become intertwined. As the story develops, Isabella, a precocious child obsessed with martial arts, slowly becomes the focus.

The underlying theme of this mystery is lies. Everyone seems to be running on lies and half truths. The only pure and true character is The Girl in White Pajamas.

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About the Author

Chris Birdy was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school, she did a four year stint in the Middle East. When she returned to the States, Chris settled down in the Boston area and became a true Bostonian by collecting college degrees while raising a family.

For more than twenty years, Chris has been a member of the legal community performing investigative work for Boston law firms conducting business in rough housing projects and crack house neighborhoods.  Several years ago, while sitting in a courtroom with a client, Chris watched as a police officer was lambasted by an attorney. The attorney was defending a young woman who crashed her car into two other vehicles before she passed out drunk behind the wheel. The occupants of the other cars were seriously hurt and the cop, a former EMT, tried to assist the injured while waiting for ambulances to arrive. The attorney questioned the cop’s every move, shredded his testimony and made him seem inept.

Embarrassed, the cop returned to his seat beside me and muttered, “Everybody lies. The judges lie, the lawyers lie, the witnesses lie..” Chris wanted to tell him not to worry that in about five years he’d be just as good a liar as they were.

The seeds for The Girl in White Pajamas were planted in that courtroom.

Chris lives outside of Boston and in Palm Beach, Florida with her husband.

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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
 

 
1 Lucky Winners will win $25 Amazon GC or Paypal Cash (winners choice)
 
Ending on Sunday 26th October at 11.59pm EST Open Worldwide 
 

Enter Below and Good Luck !!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Customer Service Business Wisdom

Great Customer Service is #1 at Tracy Helps You

Customer Service skills have been a part of me for as long as I can remember.

I remember my very first after school job ~ at a dry cleaner ~ my manager, Elsa, told me to always be polite and treat each & every customer with kindness, patience and respect.

I’ve had numerous jobs working with the public since that first part-time job as a 15 year old. I worked in retail back in the day when “the customer is always right” motto was the rule, not the exception. I mean the days when the cashier actually punched the price in the register and counted out your change. I’m talking about the old days when a store clerk actually knew something about the department they worked in. The days when the employee would actually help you find the item you’re looking for, instead of just saying, “if you don’t see it, we must be out of it”. Please don’t get me wrong, I know there are some excellent retail employees that go the extra mile to give great customer service, but it saddens me that they seem to be so far & few between. When I find such an employee, I always make sure to thank them for their great customer service 🙂

I have also worked in several different venues of the travel industry. I’ve worked security at O’Hare airport (before 9/11, thank goodness) … I’ve worked the ticket counter, the gate, the ramp/bag room, and operations for United Express (a regional airline) at O’Hare. I’ve worked in the reservations department of Apple Vacations. I’ve been a online casino travel agent in several different agencies over the span of my travel career.

I also volunteer a lot. I’ve always been the person in the meeting that is first to raise her hand to help. Many times that urge to help has placed me in positions of leadership … like being the chairperson on the committee or being the Cub Scout leader when no one else wanted to take on the commitment.  

I’ve always worked with the public … all these positions require great customer service skills to be successful. All of this experience working over the years has honed my people skills, which of course, means that I have many, many (many – a lady never divulges such things) years of customer service experience.

As the owner of Tracy Helps You, I can assure you, my customer, that I (and/or my associates) will always do our very best to “help you” with kindness, patience and respect … a lesson I learned at my very first job, way “back in the day”.

How may we “help you” ??

Giant Chair at Fall Festival

10 of My Favorite Fall Activities

It’s Fall … or do you call it Autumn ? Either way, it’s my favorite season !

While I do like summer, heat and humidity are not my friends. I think what I like the most about summer is the longer hours of daylight and the relaxed, more laid back schedule.

I really enjoy Fall weather … warm, sunny afternoons with crisp, cool mornings and evenings. To me, Fall weather is perfect for outdoor festivals and activities.

Here are some of my favorite things to do:

1) Walking or driving through a wooded area (like a state park or forest preserve) to see the magnificent colors of the changing leaves.

2) Going apple picking at a local orchard. I love picking an assortment of varieties ~ they all taste so good. Speaking of tasting good, many orchards have bakery goods for sale … apple cider donuts … Yum 🙂

3) Going to a football game ~ NFL or a local college (more budget friendly and, I think more fun). The atmosphere is fun and exciting … and tailgating is so much fun.

4) Visit a pumpkin farm … most of them have fun activities like hayrides and corn mazes, besides picking out the very best pumpkin for Halloween.

5) Spending an evening sitting around a fire toasting marshmallows and sipping hot apple cider.

6) The weather is usually great for going to an outdoor Arts & Crafts show … I’ve been known to start picking up some Christmas gifts at these shows.

7) The cooler weather calls for comfort foods and freshly baked goodies … I just love anything made from pumpkin or apple cinnamon 🙂

8) Spending the afternoon raking all the leaves into piles with your family and friends and then jumping into them … then doing it again and again.

9) Fall Festivals are fun because it gives you one last opportunity for taste all the “fried everything” festival type food and ride some carnival rides before the snow blows and we have the long wait til next summer.

10) Handing out candy to the trick-or-treaters on Halloween … especially to the little ones … they’re just soo cute 🙂

What is your favorite thing about Fall ?