Category Archives: Tools & Garden

They Work! – Easy Install Monkey Hook Hangers

Monkey Hook Hangers – Heavy-Duty

[Rating: 5/5]

Pros: no tools required, simple to install, creates small hole, each hook holds 50 pounds

Cons: not designed to anchor into wall studs (if this is important to you)

We had a large, very heavy whiteboard to mount on the wall.  I felt trapped in a joke …. How many engineers does it take to install a whiteboard?  Ideas, disputes, levels, measuring tapes, more discussion.  Finally someone said, “Monkey Hooks!”  That is how I became involved with using these Heavy Duty Monkey Hooks.


Monkey Hooks are designed to hang wall-mounted items in drywall.  The hooks are constructed from steel and have a unique curve to them.  The tip of the hook, which enters the wall, has a sharp tip.  No tools are needed to use this product.  All you need is firm hand-pressure to insert the hook.  Each Monkey Hook is advertised to hold up to 50 pounds.

Our Experiences

We had been procrastinating the whiteboard project.  The board is huge and heavy, and no one wanted to tangle with the job of how best to hang it on the wall.  Our engineers pooled together for discussion during lunch, and one person mentioned how they had helped a relative hang heavy items using Monkey Hooks.  He had never seen the product in action before then, and he was impressed with the results.  He convinced us with this enthusiasm for the product, so we bought a package of Heavy Duty Monkey Hooks.

Since each hook is rated to hold 50 pounds, two hooks will hold 100 pounds.  We used two hooks for our wall-mounting project.  The most difficult part of the procedure was determining the board was level and where to place the hooks.  A measuring tape and level solved the problem.  Since the board was so heavy, we required several people to support the board while the best position for the hooks was determined.

The hooks are super easy to use.  The pointed end is pressed into the wall and twisted a bit, almost like drilling a pilot hole to ease the hook insertion.  Simply determine where you want the hook placed and use steady hand pressure, along with a twisting motion to slide the hook through the drywall.  When the hook is fully inserted, about a 1/2-inch upright metal piece is left extended from the wall.  This 1/2-inch hook is where the item is hung from.  No tools are necessary.  After all that discussion and dithering, we had the whiteboard hung in minutes.  The hooks are holding the weight with ease.

One thing to consider: These hooks are meant to slide directly into drywall.  They are not intended to be inserted into a wall stud.  Before inserting the Monkey Hooks, make sure a wall stud is not located where the hooks is being installed.

Suggested uses for these hooks are to hang wall-mounted items such as photographs, framed artwork, mirrors, home décor items.  We successfully hung a large whiteboard with ease.


I would definitely purchase these Heavy Duty Monkey Hooks again.  I like that no wall stud is needed since the hooks are designed to even distribute weight across the wall surface.  Just insert the Monkey Hook into the drywall by pressing and twisting.  The hooks hold a lot of weight and are incredibly simple to use.

I hope you found this review useful.

Enjoy your day,

Copyright 2015 Dawn L. Stewart

Click on image to view product on Amazon.

Monkey & Gorilla Hook Combo Pack                   Monkey Hook 4-Pack
                                                           Monkey Hook — Home & Office              Cast Iron Monkey Tail Hook                                            

Replacing Screen in a Window with Phifer Spline

Phifer Spline .160 x 25-feet

[Rating: 5/5]

Pros: one bag finished two screen door windows, durable and flexible spline, how-to instructions on bag

Cons: a spline roller needs to be purchased separately to install the spline

Lesson One – Not every screen window uses the same size spline to hold the screen in the frame.  Pet Peeve – Why are there so many different sizes of spline!  Two of the three screens I needed to replace used one size of spline, while the other needed a different size.  That is how I came to buy Phifer Spline (.160 x 25-feet).


The plastic bag holds 25-feet of this flexible spline.  The spline resembles a rubbery piping that fits into the channel (groove) of a window frame to hold the screen in place.  The .160 size is not the smallest diameter spline, nor is it the largest.  If you aren’t sure of the spline size, remove a piece of the old spline from the window frame and take it with you to a hardware store.  A nice thing about the Phifer spline is that the bag has an “actual size” graphic of the spline, so if you place the end of the spline you brought against the image, you can see if the spline will be the right size.  The back of the bag includes step-by-step instructions for re-screening.

My Experiences

Having re-screened a sliding door, I was pleased that replacing the screen in a window was easier.  Both the front and back door screens had holes in them.  At first I thought I could use the same size Phifer spline that I used in the door … but, no, the windows required a larger spline size.  The spline needs to fit snuggly into the groove in order to hold the screen in place.

The door screens are larger than my house window screens.  One bag of the .160 spline finished both windows with hardly any left over.  I had watched a YouTube video so that I could visualize the steps in the screening process.  Simple!

First I removed the old spline from the window frame.  I was then able to pull the old screen free. The aluminum door frame was dirty, so I cleaned it with some spray cleanser.  The old screen was metal, and I was replacing it with a fiberglass screen.  Using masking tape, I affixed the screen door (with the groove up) on the work table.  I rolled out the screen, and taped it to the frame before cutting the screen from the roll (make sure to leave a few inches of screen overlapping the window groove).

Next comes the Phifer spline.  I started at the bottom right of the screen, laying the spline along the groove.  You will need a spline roller to push the spline into the grooved channel.  The spline roller is plastic and looks like a rotary cutter.  It has a handle so that the wheel runs inside the groove to push the flexible spline in place.  I gently rounded the spline around each corner of the window frame, using the tool to push the spline in place as I worked around the frame.  When I neared my starting point, I laid the spline along the groove and cut it to size, and then used the roller to push the spline into position.  I used the edge of a flat-head screwdriver to gently press the spline into the four corners, since the roller couldn’t roll all the way to the frame edge.  The last step was to use a utility knife to slice the extra screen from the frame, being careful not to slice the screen now covering the window opening.


I liked using Phifer spline.  It is constructed from a durable material that was flexible and easy to work with.  One bag of spline finished both windows.  Note that the spline does not come with a roller, so you will have to separately purchase the spline roller.  Another project done!

Enjoy the day,

Copyright 2015 Dawn L. Stewart

Click to view product on Amazon:

Spline Roller                           Spline Roller                             Spline Roller
            Screen Kit with Roller                   Clear Advantage Replacement Kit

Big Hole in Screen of Sliding Glass Door – Using Phifer Spline

Phifer Spline .125 x 25-feet


Pros: durable product, flexible spline easy to use, 25-foot length, installation instructions on bag

Cons: spline roller needs to be separately purchased

Now I had no excuse.  I told a friend that a critter had clawed a giant hole in the screen of my sliding glass door.  The next day he handed me a roll of fiberglass screen, a roller tool, and said, “Now you just need the spline.  I want to see a photo of the finished screen door.”  That is how I came to purchase Phifer Spline (.125 x 25-feet).


Spline is the flexible piping that fits inside the groove of a screen in order to hold the screen within the frame.  This particular Phifer spline is a small diameter at .125.  Each plastic bag contains 25-feet of spline.  An actual-size image of the spline is pictured at the bottom front corner of the bag so that if you have a piece of spline you need to match, you can hold the end of the spline to the image to see if they are an exact match.  The back of the bag includes 5-step instructions for how to use the spline to rescreen a window frame.

My Experiences

Procrastination was a thing of the past.  With a roll of fiberglass screen in my hand, and a spline roller tool grasped in nervous fingers … I had no choice.  I bought Phifer spline so that I could do the project.  First I examined the existing spline holding the screen within the door.  There are a lot of different diameter spline sizes, so make sure you either know the size or bring a sample of the old spline with you to a hardware store.

Never having rescreened an entire door before, I watched a YouTube video of the process.  Once I had the visual steps in my head, I felt confident to tackle the project.  Perhaps I was a bit overconfident when it came to removing the latch pull from the side of the door.  That latch would not come undone!  I consulted the internet and followed the minimal instructions I located.  After what seemed like forever, the latch finally came apart in my hand.  Still not sure exactly how it disassembled itself.

I removed the old spline from the aluminum frame groove, and pulled out the old screen with the picturesque hole in it.  I used an all-purpose cleaner to wipe the door frame clean.  I set the door frame on a large work table (groove side up), and used masking tape to adhere the frame to the table so that it would not shift.  I unrolled the fiberglass screen over the frame, allowing a few inches of overlap.  I taped the screen to the frame sides and cut the screen piece from the roll.

Inserting the flexible spline into the groove to anchor the screen in place was easy.  I started at the bottom right side edge.  I placed the spline over the groove, and used the plastic spline roller (which looks like a rotary cutter) to press the spline into the groove.  I gently rounded the spline around each corner, continuing to press the spline into the groove.  When I neared my starting point, I measured out the spline the rest of the groove length and used a pair of scissors to cut the spline.  Then I used the roller to press the remaining bit of spline into the groove.  I took a flat-head screwdriver to gently press the spline into each corner.  Carefully, I used a utility knife to cut the excess screen from the frame.  I made sure not to damage the screen I had just installed.

Again, the most difficult part of this project was the pesky latch pull handle.  I could not reassemble it.  I spent an hour fussing with the latch before giving in and phoning my neighbor to see if the husband-wife team could figure out how to reattach it to the sliding door frame.  It took a bit of maneuvering, but the latch pull is in place.


The Phifer spline was easy to use.  The spline was flexible enough to easily round the corners in the window frame.  The 25-foot length was plenty long enough for the screen door project with some left over.   And, yes, I emailed a photo of the finished door to my friend.  Project completed!

Enjoy the day,

Copyright 2015 Dawn L. Stewart

Spline Roller:              Fiberglass Screen Kit:          Replacement Screen:

Click to view at Amazon

Chubby, Portly, Just Plain Round

Evergreen Enterprises Bluebird Portly Garden statue


portly (2)


Pros: Weather Resistant, Indoor Outdoor usage, Fun item

Cons: None Noted

Evergreen Enterprises Bluebird Portly Garden statue, measuring 7 x 9.25 x 6.25 inches and weighing about 1.5 pounds, this portly is a striking addition purchased with thought to add to the oasis critters already in place below the trumpet vine climbing upon a tall mulberry tree. This little chunky is too cute to leave outdoors in the cold!

Prepared of high quality poly resin composite this hand decorated, multi-hued, polystone bluebird makes an excellent garden decoration or a splendid mantle deco. Devised to be weather resistant, resin is non-porous to avert cracking, fragmenting and flaking away of the piece. Gamboge, resin, is an extensively used material readied via use of synthetic or natural polymers. Resin is often employed for creating objects, ingredients and items to be shaped, cleaved or liquefied prior to being formed into a final form.

Resin polystone items can be successfully displayed indoors or out. Whether placed outdoors in the garden, on porch or patio or on the mantle; these charming chicks can be expected to remain attractive and in good shape for many seasons to come.

Evergreen Portlys continue to be consumer favorites. The chunky figures defined by stout, plump bodies are inimitably sculpted and hand-painted creating an appealing, natural in appearance, resin figure.

Sitting with the appearance of a youngster just learning to fly, on a chilly morning when resting for a moment to catch her breath and puff out her feathers for warmth; this little birdlet appears as many of the fledglings I see each spring. Feathers have appeared, mom and dad are nearby encouraging flight and the little stalwart is tired but game to try the tricky business of flight.

Each miniature feather is delineated, across head and shoulders down the back and to wings and tail we see blue. Chest is orangey with each feather standing defined. Bright eyes, seed eating beak, one more wee denizen of the air is all but ready to set out into the sky and into the life nature foretold when she first broke through the shell holding her. That mom and dad have done their job well is seen in the portly appearance of this small avian.

Evergreen Portlys presented in a multiplicity of bird and critter forms appearing with signature, rounded plump physiques are charming whether exhibited indoors or out.

 Happy to recommend Evergreen Enterprises Bluebird Portly Garden statue.

Other portlys available Amazon and a diversity of other online sites  includes birds, frogs, and even raccoons.


I like knowing something of the companies from whom I make purchase.  Internet search indicates:


In depth Time line appears on Company website:

 1993 Evergreen Enterprises was born when Company President Ting Xu and her parents started creating flags in their garage and sold them at the Virginia State Fair.

1994 Evergreen growth continued with 10 flag kiosks in Virginia and North Carolina and participation in 40 trade shows. Ting Xu’s brother, James Xu, joined the business and dedicated the next two years to helping build the company.

1995 Evergreen expanded product offerings and entered the ceramics business. Frank Qiu, Ting Xu’s husband, sold his successful insurance agency and came onboard to spearhead the company’s advancement.

This was a year of several key milestones including first wholesaler show, first gift show in Atlanta, first catalog and first warehouse (5,000 s.f.)

1996 The company continued focus on developing inventory, product design, importing and distribution and broke the $1 million mark in sales.

1997 Evergreen continued expansion by hiring more office staff and salespeople. Logistics and quality of product materials were key focus areas, and the company introduced three-dimensional flags to the marketplace.

2000 phenomenal growth led to Evergreen Enterprises doubling staff and cultivated more relationships with manufacturing facilities abroad to accommodate customer demand.

2002 The company established a new logistics facility in China.

2003 Evergreen broke ground for a new warehouse storage facility at their corporate headquarters in Richmond, VA. The Cypress Home brand of ceramic kitchen decor was launched.

2004 acquisition of Ashford Court, home textile manufacturer, brought Evergreen into a new product arena including bedding, pillows, throws and tabletop textiles.

2005 Working with local artists and the city of Virginia Beach, VA, Evergreen aided in the design and manufacture a massive statue of King Neptune to be displayed on the Virginia Beach boardwalk, commemorating the long-running Neptune Festival. It is the largest bronze statue built since the Statue of Liberty.

2006 With a commitment to quality products, Evergreen acquired Cape Craftsmen, LLC and planned to grow the Cape Craftsmen business beyond its foundational accent furniture with the addition of textiles and other home accents.

2007 The company introduced its newly renovated business – to business online resource center providing consumers access to over 5,000 items available online 24/7.

2008 West Coast showroom at the World Market Center in Las Vegas opened, Evergreen partnered with full line distributors to sell products in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

The Just the Right Shoe line launched with the help of its creator, Lorraine Vail, and under Evergreen’s brand expanded its distribution worldwide.

2009 Evergreen continued to move forward, with acquisition of New Creative Enterprises.

2010 With more than 100 territory managers nationwide and an expansion of the Atlanta showroom Evergreen growth continued with the acquisition of Plow & Hearth, a multichannel retailer with Virginia roots.

2011 creation of Evergreen Enterprises Canada established Evergreen’s first direct sales force outside the U.S.

Acquisition of Team Sports America more than tripled Evergreen’s licensed sports product offering. Evergreen opened a new Memphis distribution center as well as renovated and expanded its Richmond headquarters.

2012 Evergreen further expanded its licensed sports portfolio with the acquisition of the SC Sports product line.

2013 marks Evergreen’s 20th anniversary.

Evergreen expanded its accessories and jewelry line into a new brand called Blossom Boutique. The Evergreen Enterprises Careers page was given a design and content upgrade.

Other portlys available include birds, frogs, and even raccoons.

Snip, Snip, Snip


Gilmour® Ltd, a division of Robert Bosch Tool Company  Anvil Hand Pruners.




Pros: readily available, cost under $20, good sturdy tool, easy to use

Cons: none noted

Gilmour® Ltd, a division of Robert Bosch Tool Company offers a wide range of garden supplies including  short handled, handy anvil and by pass pruners.

This is the time of year when the long handle and shorter hand pruners are getting a work out as I work to ready our gardens for the winter. I like both anvil and by pass blades, each has its own job and each have a place in my tool bucket.

I especially like the Lifetime Replacement Policy provided by Gilmour: A Gilmour® product will provide complete satisfaction for the life of the product or it will be replaced free of charge (Industrial and Commercial uses are excluded.) Look for the seal on most Gilmour products.

This useful  8 inch, Gearlever ™, pruner is dandy for removing dry, hard to cut wood. Gilmour offers a range of nearly 20 pruners including by pass, anvil, long and short handle, garden scissors, home and commercial use, basic, mid-size and large as well as traditional models. This review is offered for the traditional short handled, anvil pruner having ¾ inch cutting diameter, cushioned grips, plastic lever lock and adjustable tension. Hardened, tempered non-stick steel blades are precision ground; brass anvil is replaceable.

The Gearlever cutting action provides twice the robustness of conventional tools, cutting diameter is ¾ inch. Anvil pruners sever using compression along with a somewhat chopping effort as opposed to the more scissors type motion of the bypass pruners. Anvil pruners are designed for chiseling through more sizeable, woody shoots and branches as opposed to the less substantial stems presented by flowering cultivars. Because the blade does not tend to slide off a branch once the device blade has bitten into the cane; gardener’s hand is shielded.  Anvil blades can be expected to crush stalks or mangle the canes rather than producing the sliced by pass blade cut.

I find the plastic lever lock is something even my arthritic fingers can manipulate with little difficulty.

A good bit of my pruning is one into green wood, my by-pass pruner is used for those branches, however the past two winters have been especially cold, icy and miserable. As a result I am seeing more, hard, dead wood appearing especially in my crepe myrtle. Unlike Rose of Sharon branches, Crepe myrtle canes tend to be particularly hard when dead.

The by-pass long handle or short handle pruners are not up to the job, and were not meant to be. Anvil pruners are actually designed to cut away the hard dry dead canes.

A semi lightweight, robust tool having sharp, rust thwarting stainless steel blades, is a real plus as I work in the garden. I find the strong anvil design having precision-ground stainless steel blade retains the sharp edge rarely, if ever, needs sharpening, is excellent for removing dead growth during pruning episodes and is easy for my arthritic hands to use without becoming achey and tired. I enjoy gardening and have no intention to stop simply because the hands are becoming gnarly, bent and feel repetitive action more than in years past.

Since this implement is an anvil pruner it can be expected to stay in place without slippage as I am cutting out that dead, hard woody material. Due to the arthritis in my hands weight of hand tools is most important as I ponder a new gardening gizmo.  I am more able to manipulate the shorter handle of the smaller hand tools than the longer handled pruners I also have. I do reach for the longer tools now and then, but have learned to improvise and rely on whole body for leverage rather than trying to simply grab the handles whack and cut. I am petite, arthritis reduces the strength in hands and shoulders, so longer handles are gripped with my right hand while the left handle is pressed against my side and pressure exerted both with arm and with body. If all fails to remove the large, dead branches then Husband is asked to intervene. However, I enjoy the challenge and the gardening including the occasional bruise or scrape on arms as rough branches snag.

While many tools are designed particularly for the right or left handed user I find the handles provided with this particular pruner can likely be used with either the right or left hand. I am right handed, however, there are times when it is easier to move the pruner to the left hand as I am whacking into tightly grouped branches, I am

Unlike many pruners this Gilmour pruner does not have a hang hole molded into the handle, not a problem, I do not hang small hand garden tools. I keep mine in a bucket. At the end of a work session I spritz blades and opening close mechanism with WD40 and put the tool into the bucket. I find tools cleaned and oiled at end of work sessions tend to last longer and do not become difficult to open or close. Note: to lessen danger of cuts to hands, care should be taken if wiping the blades clean at end of pruning period is undertaken.

Because the cutting blade is quite sharp; I keep the clip closed when the pruner is not in use.

Span across handles is not quite 4 inches, and is easily held and manipulated by my hand despite the arthritis. Tools have broader span do cause me some problem if I have a longer work session planned. My hand are small and arthritic.   While I do not experience a lot of crippling yet in time I may have to say goodbye to these pruners and move to others my hands can manipulate more easily as the arthritis continues to progress.

From spring into summer I tend to do a good bit of continuing pruning of living wood as I shape and thin crepe myrtle, rose bushes, and Rose of Sharon, as well as shearing of minor branches found at base of various of shade trees in the yard adjacent our house. My anvil blade pruners are used more for fall into autumn, end of season, pruning and shaping.

By tradition, pruners tend to be offered as one of three fundamental types including by pass, anvil and rachet; each has a place in the tool bucket.

Cutting blades of anvil pruners tend to be heftier than is found with those of the bypass pruners; the anvil cutting blade, sharpened on both sides thumps straight down against the anvil. The flat lower edge is designed to separate the branch from the body of the bush or tree being pruned.  Slashes made by anvil pruners are not as tidy and will not mend as rapidly as cuts made by a bypass blade should green wood be pruned back.


I like to know something of the companies from which I purchase goods. Internet search including noting the Gilmour web site indicates:

From the Gilmour webpage:  The plant that makes “the last hose you’ll ever buy” was a much different business when it was founded in 1947. Although they were plastic, the products were injection-molded parts for everything from can opener housings to pantyhose containers and car parts.

Gilmour is an innovative developer and manufacturer of four full lines of American-made lawn and garden products. Focused on the gardener’s needs, the company creates tools that are efficient, effective, comfortable and easy to use.

Watering changed forever in 1949 when Robert Gilmour began Gilmour Manufacturing Company and introduced the first pistol grip nozzle. A new owner would continue the focus on quality and innovation. With a focus on garden hoses, the company set the standard for quality with the introduction of its patented Flexogen hose. Gilmour now is headquartered in Somerset, Pennsylvania, home of the original Gilmour plant, with additional manufacturing in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.

With a rich history of gardening innovation, Gilmour constantly challenges itself to meet the needs of gardeners for today and tomorrow.

TRADEMARK NOTICE All-Seasons, Dial-A-Mix, Flexate, Flexogen, Foamaster, Full-Flo, Gilmour, Grime Blaster, Handi-Sand Blaster, Pattern Master, Perfect Cover, Select-A-Spray, Snap-Cut, Spray Doc, Super 75, Trim-EZ, and Water Weeper are registered trademarks of the Gilmour Group. Easy Reach, Flow Guard Plus, Gearlever, and WoodMaster are trademarks of the Gilmour Group. Gilmour is now part of Robert Bosch Tool Company.

Gilmour Group

P.O. Box 838  492 Drum Ave  Somerset, PA 15501

Robert Bosch Tool Corp.

One Sprinkler Lane Peoria, IL 61615
Gilmour Ltd.

6975 Creditview Road, Unit #3

Mississauga, Ontario Canada L5N 8E9

Put up the Squirrel Lunch Box then watch the squirrels party!

Stokes Select 38079 Squirrel Lunch Box

Squirrel Feeder


Pros: Great color blend, compact and easy to fill. Works as intended

Cons: Plastic plate gets chewed up too easily. Constant refilling due to its smaller-than-average size.

Squirrels! Squirrels! Squirrels! Put one of these suckers up in your yard and that’s exactly what you’ll get in abundance!

We were looking for a squirrel feeder that would both fit our budget and be sturdy enough to last in Lufkin’s extreme weather, be it storms or tropical heat. I didn’t like the look of the wooden squirrel feeders but I didn’t mind the appearance of the Stokes Select 38079 Squirrel Lunch Box. It looked sturdy and had a big enough platform for a squirrel to sit on; after all, we weren’t looking to invite all the neighborhood squirrels to the party. Did I tell you we were new at this?

Squirrel Feeder
This is ours newly installed and stocked.

Amazon currently sells this little feeder for under $28 and I have no idea if this price is either cheap or expensive, as this was our first. We ended up finding this exact feeder at PetSmart while we were in there looking for other things. We paid the same price as Amazon offered.

The Stokes Select 38079 Squirrel Lunch Box has a little bit of weight to it. It appears to be made of a galvanized metal of some descript and the edges are all folded so as to reduce the carnage if you happen to scratch yourself on it. Well, actually the corners are smooth enough that I can’t cut myself at all on it. Yes I tried (don’t ask!). I believe the metal is painted with a rust-proofing paint of some kind, as ours shows no signs of rust after some pretty nasty weather.

For the dimension nuts, here you go: 8.5” x 7.1” x 9.5” and it only comes in Hammered Copper tone.

What do you get? Well you get the feeder of course, with the hinge lid already attached. The removable clear Perspex shield is also inside. Inside the feeder you find two Philips-head wood screws and a small instruction paper that tells you that you can affix the feeder to either a tree or a pole. It didn’t actually tell you how to do it, but it’s simple enough to attach. I tossed the instruction paper away as it was kind of useless.

I put ours on a large tree in our backyard about four to five feet off the ground. It is said to keep squirrel feeders at least 15 feet away from bird feeders, but our bird feeder is much closer than that and the squirrels leave it alone unless they run out of food.

Squirrel Feeder Screw
Note the perforated drainage holes in front of the pesky screw!

The screws are kind of long and would be a pain to screw in with a screwdriver, so I used our cordless drill with a Philips-head tip. The tip was very short and the bottom screw was a real pain to get to with the drill, as it is inside the feeder at the back. Some maneuvering made short work of it though and it was screwed into the trunk in seconds. It’s doable, but it’s difficult to get that bottom screw in. The top screw was much easier as there was nothing obstructing it.

The clear Perspex shield slots in the front to hold the food in and so the squirrels can see it. It will fit in the grooves both ways, but really it’s only supposed to be put in one way; so there is no gap between the plate and the feeder. This is to make it harder for the varmints to figure out and keeps them at the feeder for longer! They will chew through it in no time unfortunately, and there isn’t a solution to that problem.

Squirrel Feeder Damage
This is what they will do to the plastic plate cover!

Although it doesn’t say how much food it holds, I would guess a couple of pounds. That seems to fill it right up. The “squirrel dock” platform as I like to call it is a metal platform that will hold one squirrel. If a second one attempts to board it, they will be chased away by the angry squirrel already perched on it!

Note there are 30 tiny perforated holes in this platform and they succeed in draining away water that accumulates after a heavy rain. Where we live, storms are frequent and fierce, but I have never seen the food inside get soggy or clumped due to the rain. The lid keeps it fairly waterproof.

As to the food, I use standard squirrel food that we buy in 20lb bags from WalMart. They can also be bought on Amazon. Usually it contains a mix of corn kernels, sunflowers and whole unshelled peanuts. They literally go nuts for this stuff!

I love this feeder, but I have two issues with it. The first issue is I wish it held more food. We started off with two squirrels until word got around the squirrel vine that there were squirrel lovers in the neighborhood. Now we have eight! (Yes, we are new at this). We seem to be refilling it every day or two as it goes down so fast. They do take turns however, and the birds even sneak in a few pecks of food, as the food will overflow onto the sitting area. Which brings me to my second beef…

The Perspex shield that keeps the food in will get gnawed to pieces. Especially when there are only a few morsels left inside the feeder where the squirrel can’t get them. They will chew the bottom of the plate so they can get leverage to lift it far enough to scrape out the last few sunflower seeds or corn kernels.

Squirrel Feeder Damage 2
This is what they will do when you use both ends of the shield cover!

Once the shield is damaged like that, more seed/food will pour out onto the platform (and sometimes on your toes); hence it gets emptier more often. You can reverse the plate if this happens. I did this, but reversing it will still leave a gap between the plastic and the platform, so food will escape anyway. They will then proceed to chew that end to pieces too! (see photo above) Oh yes, they will create a BIG mess on the ground too, from discarded seed husks and corn and will become unsightly if left too long.

You can probably replace the shield by buying some plastic from a hardware store and cutting it to fit. After one month of use, our Perspex shield is about ready for the trash and we may have to choose that option! I only wish they would learn to lift the hinged metal lid to get their food out. They are supposed to learn to do that, but our squirrels never did. They prefer to chew the plastic up to “release” the food. Oh well, I use it instead for refilling it every second day, so the hinges will never get rusty!

Squirrel Feeder Cheese
This squirrel was like, “Make one wrong move, human and you’ll live to regret it!”

All in all, the Stokes Select 38079 Squirrel Lunch Box serves its purpose. We see squirrels at the feeder all day which is what we wanted. Yes they will chew the plastic plate to pieces, as that seems to be the only replaceable part on the contraption, but they provide us with enjoyment and that’s all that matters. I would recommend this feeder; it’s small and looks quite nice and blends into the colors of the tree nicely so it doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. Worth the money in my book, but just be prepared to replace the plastic plate before too long!

Enjoy the squirrels!

Strawberry Cream

Liliaceae Lilium Tango Lily




Pros: Easy Grow, Beautiful Cultivar

Cons: None Found

Liliaceae Lilium Tango Lily, Strawberry Cream is hardy in planting zones 4 through 9. Growing to heights of nearly three feet; lilies like almost any type soil including clay and poor soils so long as it is free draining. Sun to partial shade is suggested for peak growth in most climates with more shaded time during very hot summers. Spacing is 8 – 12 inches with triangle formation with bulbs placed about 3 to the square foot to allow for spread and optimum blossom impact. The old lily garden rule; feet in the shade, faces in the sun, remains pretty accurate today as it has been from those earlier cottage garden days.

I use a step on bulb planting device for digging holes for planting, damp soil is easier to penetrate than is cement hard clay. I place the Lily bulb about three times as deep as the bulb is high in a hole with pebbles, topped with compost in the bottom to help provide drainage and growing medium for young roots. Feeding the Lily cultivars in early spring as new growth thrusts upward and again buds begin to color and before the blossoms open.

Testing soil for potassium may be done if desired to assure best bulb and root growth. Muriate of potash, or a fertilizer high in the nutrient is available from most garden shops and where bulbs are sold.

While nearly all Lilies favor full sun most will flower in partial shade. Because our Oklahoma summers are often quite hot and dry I plant lilies where they will have good shade during afternoon into evening. I find my shaded blossoms tend to retain color better when summer sun is hot in the sky.

Cooler climes allows planting lilies in full sun, I don’t want to take the chance I will singe my pretty cultivars. I generally water once a week during droughty periods.

Because Lily bulbs are never entirely dormant, blubs should be planted pretty quickly following purchase. Bulbs are available from local Lowes and big box stores, online sites, White Flower Farm and Brecks are two, and Hirt’s Garden Lilies are offered online by Amazon. The Lily Store online, as well as many of the various catalog and other sites offers suggestions, guidelines and helps for those new to raising Lilies. Local garden clubs and neighbors are also a source of bulbs for trade and for sales and for information regarding raising Lilies in the area in which you live.

Should need arise; storing bulbs for 14 – 21 days in a cool, about 34-40° F, area is about the longest time and temp to consider before planting or risk damage to the bulbs. Lily bulbs do best when they are put into the garden where growing new roots is begun straightaway.

Asiatic Hybrids recently introduced for garden aficionados, Tango Lilies are early bloomers; blossoms appear at the peak of stout stems standing a tad shorter than earlier variety Orientals. Plant in an area sheltered from strong winds, and plan on staking the taller types.

While Iris remain my absolute first love in the garden; Lilies are a close second among blossoming cultivars. I particularly enjoy cultivars producing large, showy blossoms. Both Iris and Lilies fall in that category. Lilies yield outstanding trumpet petaled blossoms rising from bulbs contrived of non-overlapping scale shaped sections.

I like that these elegant beauties work well in the perpetual border and may be effectively grown in pots. Lilies are often used for bouquets even a single stem in a vase creates a definitive declaration. Stamens may be removed to circumvent contact with pollen; pollen stains tend to be stubborn to remove.

One beautiful feature of these lovely additions to the lily family are the blossoms having a central contrast color area at the throat of each flower with petal tips appearing in another color. The Strawberry Cream lily tends to feature magenta centers with strawberry pink petal tips. Attracting birds, bees and butterflies these gorgeous beauties provide lovely summer color when the Iris has come and gone and the garden is needing a pick me up.

Asiatic Lilies are among the first to blossom during the lily blossoming season.

I like to mulch during most of the year, winter to protect the tender bulbs from the snow and deep cold we have begun to experience over the past several winters, and during spring into summer to help retain cool and damp, not muck, but damp and cool helps my Lilies remain strong and blossoming.

I particularly like to use leaves during fall, and leave them in place until spring when they are raked up and added to the compost heap. Commercial mulch, cedar shavings and the like tend to help keep weeds down and soil cool during hot summer days. Be sure to mulch bulbs in cold climates if a good winter snow cover is not expected. Likewise, in more temperate areas, cold saturated soil will rot lily bulbs some years, so a raised area and fast-draining soil is recommended.

Although more moderate climates only require enough mulch (one to two inches) to reduce winter weed germination, colder climates need a bit more attention, in the same way that roses and other “softer” perennials are protected.

As a rule, to date, I have not seen much pest or disease problem with my lilies. Keeping the planting bed open to allow foliage to dry between rain or irrigation helps to keep incident of fungus to a minimum. Ferns and other shallow rooting cultivars planted in proximity help cool Lily roots during long hot summer days.

For more robust bulbs, blossoms should be removed as they fade to prevent the formation of seedpods. Energy is directed back to the bulb and not to forming of seeds. When all flowers have come and gone the stem should be cut directly below the stems, and foliage left to feed the bulb.

As Lily bulbs go dormant during late autumn is the best time for moving or dividing the clumps. Split the clump taking care to handle the chubby bulbs gently before replanting at the same depth in well-draining, crumbly soil. Smaller offset bulbs if present, can be replanted at a depth three times their height. I tend to lift clumps, separate and replant about every third year.

Once foliage has died back at the end of the growing season, stems may be cut off at ground level. If desired a few inches can be left above soil line if you plan more planting in the area. I add old foliage, mulch, clippings and the like from the garden to the compost heap.

All in all Lilies are a lovely addition to the planting bed and garden as a whole.

I like my yard to have pretty color for as long as is possible. Iris set the state followed by Lilies in myriad heights and colors, and then blossoming shrubs and vines including Rose of Sharon, Crepe Myrtle and Trumpet Vine.

Lilies are a majestic and beautiful addition to the garden, and best of all, they are easy to grow and even those with brown thumbs can plant and enjoy lilies. I have some in soil, in beds and tucked here and there, and I have some in pots.

I find Asiatics to be a lovely addition for my garden. And these wonderful Strawberry Cream are gorgeous.


Cost varies by when and where purchase is made

Fire-Fun – Without Burning the House Down

Alfresco-Olympus Stone Fire Pot


Pros: Cozy, controllable flame, attractive

Cons: May be too small  for some tastes

I’ve spent thousands of hours in various camps, hunting, hiking, camping, and so forth, but come evening, when everyone else is looking forward to sitting around a camp fire, I can hardly enjoy myself for fear of setting the woods on fire. I see embers rising, or someone putting one more large piece of wood on the fire,  and (usually sooner than later), I get nervous. Which is really a bummer because I love a fire, too!

That’s why I love this Olympus Stone Fire Pot. I can enjoy all the ambiance of fire, without the worry of it getting out of control.

The Alfresco-Olympus Fire Pot is handcrafted and made of real stone. It’s squat design (only about 4″ tall), and wide, elliptical shape make it stable, and easy to see over so you can converse with your companion without blocking the view.

The stainless steel burner mechanism operates on gel fuel providing approximately one hour of burning time per ounce of fuel, and comes with a snuffer-cap to extinguish the flame when you’re through using it.  You can also add citronella to help keep any buggy-biters at bay.

The overall dimensions of this particular pot are 11.8 ” (L) x 11.8″ (W) x 3.7″ (T), and weighs six (6) pounds.

At the date of this review the price is $36.99. It also comes in Black Granite at a slighty lower price of $31.99.

Perhaps one of these are more your style. .


This Baltic Fire Column is made of painted fiber-concrete and steel and offers five hours of uninterrupted burning on just a 1 lb. tank of LP – liquid propane that sets behind a hidden door.

It’s overall dimensions 33″ (H) x 13″ (W) x 13″ (L) make it perfect for corners or compact areas.

It comes with decorative brown lava rock, a protective cover and lid.  $247.98.

These, and many more can be viewed at

Omaha, Nebraska

What a Beauty

World Premier Iris

world premier

Graphic as appears in Schreiner’s Catalog

  Scroll Down to find ordering information


Tall Bearded Iris World Premier is an eye-catching member of the amenoa, white upright standards standing above colored falls, variety of iris available for those who enjoy these beauties.

The World Premier features semi ruffled, blued purple hued falls having just a touch of white at the site of the beard with white standards.

I am especially delighted that this particular iris variety is one often producing more than one blossom standard per fan.

While research, internet, word of mouth via other iris enthusiasts, and books available on the subject, indicates planting in full sun is best for the bearded, I have noted after years of living and growing iris that depending upon the iris itself and the gardener many varieties tend to flourish wherever they may be found.

I often see iris scattered along fences once delineating a house yard, the house has been long gone, the yard may now be pasture or a weedy enclosed area, and the iris are thriving. I find iris blossoming under trees, in good soil and in the clay muck making up much of my yard.

While the clay soil may keep the rhizome too wet, causing both deterioration of the root, and loss of blossoms and plant itself, I find adding organic matter including leaves, coffee grounds, compost, whinny poo and the like all tend to incorporate into the bed nicely, improving drainage and assuring that I will see blossoms year after year.

A good loamy soil with good drainage is suggested for best results.

World Premier is a onetime, midseason bloomer, mid May to early June, rises to heights measuring about 35 – 40 inches, first appeared in the late 1990s and has quickly become a favorite for many, I see them in yards all across the mid to east Kansas – Oklahoma border region where I live. The only thing I could wish for to improve this particular cultivar is fragrance, some Iris are scented, World Premier is not.

Bearded iris are categorized by height into several classifications including 8 inch or less miniature dwarf, with 1 to 2 inch blossoms, the standard dwarf standing at 8 to 15 inches, the intermediate standing 16 to 27 inches, and the tall reaching about 28 to 38 inches. As a rule the shorter type iris will blossom first followed by the taller and taller types.

To assure longer range of beauty, beds may be set out with tall in the center bordered by shorter and then dwarf heights at the edge of the bed. I dead head spent blossoms, to maintain beauty of the bed. Each blossom stem tends to produce several buds which open one by one.

During especially rainy years as we are experiencing this year in Oklahoma I do pull leaves and the like away from the rhizomes often to help prevent soft rot problems.World Premier is not one of the re-blooming type cultivars, this is a second change I would like to see take place, bloom and then re-bloom later is a real plus.
Iris blossoms are found in nearly every tone, tint and hue imaginable with single petal colors, both standards and falls the same tint, or standards one shade and the falls another available. New combinations are always in the offing as aficionados work to develop new beauties.

Most bearded iris blossom in spring, however some of the newer cultivars blossom in late spring to summer and then again in fall. The second display of color tends to not be as spectacular as was spring, however it does extend the display into fall, and for those who love the beardies that is a good thing. Many of the newer, re-blooming iris are fragrant, and that too is a good thing.Most years here in Tornado Alley I do some watering of the iris beds heat and no rainfall to speak of causes fans to appear pale and wilty. I clip the fans following the removal of the last of the blossoms, cut plant material is added to the compost heap to be used again to amend soil as needed during re planting.

Lifting and replanting rhizomes is done about every third to fifth year to assure the plant retains vigor and blossoming remains strong. Bearded iris are so called due to the line, beard, noticeable yellow fluff at the throat of the fall.

I have found bearded iris tend to pretty critter resistant, I’m not sure that the taste of the fan is unappealing, or what it is, however, neither cattle nor horse, Hossenfeffer and her group, Ardillo the squirrel and even Bambi and her family all browse on grasses and other plantlife alongside the iris and never give the fans even a passing nibble. Foliage is herbaceous, and parts of the plants may be poisonous to children, care should be taken assure children do not ingest portions of the plant.

As does other bearded iris varieties the World Premier tends to naturalize quickly producing an abundance of blossoms on sturdy stems and burgeoning fan clumps. I add a few World Premier to the developing, multi-hued beds, and replant the lifted rhizomes into the single variety bed.

I like to see 3 type beds in my yard, single variety, color compatible, all blue, all pink etc., varying varieties, and multi-hue filled with every color and variety cultivar imaginable.

Planting with taller varieties in the middle of the bed and shorter in either side does help to keep blossom stems upright, however, wind in Tornado Alley does tend to roar down the plain. Most years I do need to add blossom stakes to help assure the taller stems remain upright.

Whether used as the primary or only cultivar in the bed, World Premier is an outstand selection for their lovely shade, design and powerful, vivacious growth proclivity.

I generally place rhizomes with the upper portion of the tuber showing the roots spread across the soil below. I cover the lower portion of the corm and the roots with compost material including some commercial product mixed with the composted.

While I find rain does not cause too much damage to blossoms, wind and hail both ruin blossoms very quickly.

World Premier is available from a variety of online sites, garden shops and the like. Corms are shipped at the proper planting time for the zone in which customer lives. My own rhizomes were obtained in a rhizome swap with another iris fancier.

Happy to recommend this full-bodied, dazzling and remarkably hued Tall Bearded Iris, World Premier. Product Details and Shipping Information please click the see it on Amazon Button: Schreiner’s, and others are some of the sites offering catalogs with iris cultivars for sale. Scroll down the online listings, click on and order iris.

Monkey Hook Drywall Hanger

An As-Seen-On-TV Product Keeps Big Stuff Hanging Around on Drywall



Pros: Weight-transfer system, No tools required, Confidence

Cons: Overkill for small, lightweight wall hangings

A recent dilemma, hanging a display case filled with collectible miniature cars, had me re-visiting an earlier dilemma — hanging a 29-pound, 44 x 50 inch framed horse print on drywall. To resolve the earlier project I pulled out the Monkey Hook Drywall Picture Hangers recommended by an elderly, experienced clerk at a local Ace Hardware store. He said it works and didn’t leave huge holes. He said people loved it and returned to let him know how much.

I Love Strong and Easy to Use

Monkey-Hook2The Monkey Hook is a picture hanger for drywall and it’s unlike any product I’ve ever seen. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a very large, heavy gauge fish hook. This thin-gauge, springy-steel hook fits through a self-made small hole in your drywall. The hook is worked through the drywall and secures against the back of the wallboard using what they describe as a weight-transfer process. You can feel it catch.

No Tools Required

Intrigued I was eager to give it a try. My lines on the wall were drawn and my level reassured me the lines were level. I had marked where the two hooks would be inserted on that line. I resisted the temptation to initially punch a hole in the wall with a small nail and instead pushed the tip of the steel hook into the wall.  It required minimal wiggling and back and forth twisting but with a little effort before the tip slipped through the wall. Then I continued working it through until only the exterior, small hook remained visible and the small “cradle” behind that hook rested on the drywall. I also felt the slanted tip curve around and securely push against the drywall on the inside.

Nervous, it took two of us to raise the framed print high enough (ten feet off the floor) for the hanging wire to slip over the two Monkey Hooks.  I waited, truly apprehensive about this delicate-looking hook, but nothing slipped, fell, dropped, or shifted. Several years later the print is still in place.

I weighed the picture first—it seemed much heavier than 29 pounds. monkey-hook3This Monkey Hook had been tested and rated for 35 to 50 pounds so that made me feel somewhat reassured. It’s made with “high-carbon spring steel.” The hook is not visible behind the framed object and the low profile doesn’t make it hang at an odd angle—the hook is flush against the wall. The “self-boring tip” allows easy installation without the use of tools and it wasn’t necessary to locate a wall stud. When we move from this house it’s possible to just pull this out, fill the tiny hole, and paint over it with a fingernail polish brush.

Even Humans Can Do It!

Packaging claims this “As Seen on TV” product is “so easy…even humans can do it!” The online site for Monkey Hook claims the response from consumers has been “Wow” and I might add my wow to their list of responses. This cost less than some of the other options. This is available with two, four, ten or more packs. A pack with 50 hooks costs $45 and a pack with four costs $3.99. If I had students going to college, either in a dorm or apartment, I’d send a package of these for hanging anything framed and relatively heavy. I wouldn’t go to the expense for small wall hangings and I will continue to use standard picture hooks for lightweight objects. However, if considering heavy framed objects, mirrors, or unique artifacts this will win out over trying to find a stud and drilling in a larger hook. Tiny holes are so much easier to patch than those of the destructive traditional dry wall hangers.

This works and this human could install the Monkey Hook. If you’re moving or redecorating, check it out. My display case holds nostalgic cars from my recently deceased father and I certainly don’t want to risk this falling.  If you’re worried about the cost, these hooks are removable and reusable.