Tag Archives: Molly’s Reviews

Dogs don’t lie

Lyin’ Like a Dog


dog cvr

See it at Amazon 


Pros: highly appealing, well written, fast paced, fun read

Cons: none noted

Richard Mason’s Lyin’ Like a Dog opens in a burst of words on 23 September 1945 as we find Richard sitting with his hound Sniffer, and musing about his birthday. In reality, it is the lack of festivity which is causing Richard such musings. With the awareness of lads his age, 12 today, Richard ‘fesses up that he is bent outa shape and sitting around feeling sorry for himself.

The framework for down home fun is set and actually is launched a page or so later on December 1944 when it snows on Christmas and Richard and his friend John Clayton Reed got to spend some time Christmas Eve with Uncle Hugh. Hugh was not their uncle, he was an old colored man living in a small cabin in the nearby woods. The boys carried groceries to from the store in town Hugh because he had trouble walking.

Plundering around the woods and down along the river bank, going to school, reading and re reading comic books, visiting Uncle Hugh and maybe, just maybe, getting to listen to a ghost story, Vacation Bible School and an evening revival highlighted with a truly unforgettable baptismal service conducted using the church baptistery; underscore some of the complications, troubles and unanticipated mischief a twosome of enthusiastic lads can get themselves almost without trying move the narrative along and keep the reader turning the pages.

Saturdays spent at the movies with other kids from school, perched atop the breadbox down at the grocery store jawing with friends are all a part of the chronicle. Scheming with best friend John Clayton to gain ownership of a hoped for one of a kind funny book having an upside down front cover to sell for big bucks, camping out in the woods when they were supposed to be camping in one or the other boys’ back yard, as well as angel food cake with pink icing and licking out the icing bowl are all a part of the tale.

Helping Daddy put in and, care for, the annual vegetable garden, embracing a bad miscalculation regarding a red pepper fresh from that garden, tug of war, gathering as a family around the radio to listen to Walter Winchell announcing the end of WW2, and, when one money scheme ends in disaster, another is quickly hatched; are sure to appeal to lads aged 11 and 12 years along with the generation who were themselves kids growing up and playing outside without TV and hand held game devices during the 1940s and 50s here in the US.

Running into trouble and facing possible harm to themselves during one of their forays into the woods culminates with the Richard and John Clayton become town heroes; while the work culminates with unease. Daddy has come home liquored up, again, and while Mama does not tie into him; Richard cannot quite put his finger on it, but he does recognize that there is something not quite right about the situation.

I definitely appreciated reading the escapades two pre-teen lads transmitted in the youthful jargon of storyteller, Richard Mason. The shenanigans and hijinks perhaps actually taken from the author’s life in rural Arkansas bring to this reader’s mind the tales my Daddy shared many evenings at the supper table concerning his growing up, in part, in rural Arkansas as sisters and I were growing up in rural California.

While my own growing up years was lived in the San Joaquin Valley, California during the 50s where we lived surrounded by cotton fields, grape vineyards and fruit and nut orchards and not swamp or woods; the big irrigation ditch carrying water needed for farming was the site of many adventure for 3 little girls and their friends as we too played outside without much supervision, or baby sitters and the like. We share tales told to parents only after we were grown and enjoyed watching Mama’s hair turning grey before our eyes.

The eleventh year of the lives of Richard and John Clayton introduced in book one of the Richard the Paperboy series, their friends at school and the little town of Norphlet, Union County, Arkansas takes place in the area just north of the Louisiana border where Union County, LA meets Union County AR. The setting is the troublesome WW2 period December 1944 to September 1945; time repeated during the 1950s as families gathered around the radio to listen to the evening news. Richard’s family listened to Walter Winchell report the war news WWII. During the 1950s families listened intently as Edward R Murrow told us of the events far away in Korea.

Lyin’ Like a Dog told in the first person, using local parlance, is a work having appeal to a broad spectrum of readers. This is a book reminiscent of Twain’s writings. While teaching 4th grade I read aloud daily and found girls and boys alike listened raptly as I read Twain and his Tom Sawyer adventures. Lyin’ Like a Dog will be placed in my Sub bag for reading a chapter aloud to students; should I received a call for classroom subbing in a classroom of 4th graders rather than my usual K 1 preference.

I had no problem visualizing or believing the antics Richard, John Clayton and others in the area experienced. Trying goofy, to adults, schemes generally centered on how to get rich, i.e. maybe bring home as much as $100!, beginning to notice girls, as well as the you can’t be serious!, activities including Vacation Bible School, revivals, a still out in the woods, jars of ‘shine, going barefoot, Big Chief tablets, a kid with a newspaper route, even the term colored man indicate another time and place many readers experienced during the early years of their lives.

Characters are well fleshed, locations are filled with imagery, names of the kids, John Clayton … both names used rather than just first name, Connie, Rosallie, plain simple names, and nick names Tiny for the big kid, Ears and the like are right for the time and place. Readers will be drawn into the tale from the opening lines as the storyline hijinks hold reader interest and keep the pages turning right on to the last when Richard ruminates over the carryings-on during his eleventh year and ponders Heck, I’m twelve now, and maybe I’m old enough to keep outta trouble…. But, naw, I can tell you right now if I told you that, I’d just be lyin’ like a dog.

 Highly comprehensible text, Lying Like a Dog will have a place in the home, library, school library, classroom and as an item in a gift box for birthday, Christmas or anytime.

Above all, I like the old photo c 1940s of a skinny kid, hands on hips, down at the calf pen, farm house in the background used as cover art.

I received a paperback ARC for review.

 Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend

 Amazon: About the Author

As a young boy R. Harper Mason lived on a small farm in southern Arkansas. He is able to vividly capture an era of American history, before air-conditioning, television and modern technology. His story reflects a time of brown sunburned feet, shirtless summers and very special country Christmases.

Mason earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in geology from the University of Arkansas. He worked for the King Ranch in South Texas, followed by an overseas assignment on well-sites deep in the Libyan Sahara Desert. Thirty years ago Mason started his own company, Gibraltar Energy in El Dorado, Ark. of which he is CEO and President. In the early 1990’s he was the president of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation and wrote a monthly column for them covering state environmental issues. Mason also wrote an environmental column which ran in newspapers around the state and hosted an environmental radio show, both called Natural Solutions.


Reviewed by Molly’s Reviews

molly   martin


Product Details and Shipping Information from Amazon

TITLE Lyin’ Like a Dog

AUTHOR Richard Mason

GENRE reminisce

 Product Details

Paperback: 200 pages

Publisher: Createspace (Feb. 22 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1439271399

ISBN-13: 978-1439271391


Well Worth The Read

Something Is Rotten in Fettig  a satire


fettig jpg

  not yet on Amazon


Pros: well developed characters,  excellent writing,  fun writing style, highly readable,  caricatures abound;  this one is a keeper, and I rarely enjoy satire

Cons: none noted

Interesting read               Recommended                 

Jere Krakoff’s Something is Rotten in Fettig is a satire comprised of some 265 PAGES of prose offered as 60 chapters, a page with acknowledgements, a list of the cast of characters, a table of caricatures, and an Epilogue.

Something Is Rotten In Fettig wittily satirizes a legal system that is very similar to our own and is practiced in a fabricated nation simply called Republic. The author adroitly names and uses a varied assemblage of distinctive player including lawyers, witnesses, the court system and judges, as well as trials and jury behaviors to deride countless of the activities we often see played on the evening news, or during trials themselves thought so noteworthy that they must be filmed in real time for the nation to consider.

The narrative begins with reader’s introduction to Leopold Plotkin around whom the tale unfolds. The infamous kosher butcher has been accused of Crimes against the Republic. From his pro bono lawyer, Bernard Talisman, right on to parents who have already packed his personal possessions, to his uncles who have promised to visit him in prison every third weekend and to The Monthly Contrarian a little read journal who, while considering Plotkin a hero, however had declared in editorial: “Regrettably, there is no realistic possibility for an acquittal” right to Plotkin himself; it appears that everyone seems to think Plotkin will be convicted.

Krakoff presents the travesty wreaked by local legal officials upon one of the neighborhood kosher butchers, Leopold Plotkin, a fellow who harbors a nearly pathological distaste for strife when the man unintentionally foments a predicament of such magnitude that he is propelled into a clash with every area of government.

To complicate matters Plotkin rebuffs every effort undertaken to force him to disengage his supposed transgression. Plotkin and his family are introduced and some of the background for Plotkin’s behavior is presented before the reader becomes a courtroom spectator as Plotkin is put on trial by a deceitful Prosecutor General.

The reader learns more of Plotkin and the varied characters peopling the work: there is Prosecutor General Umberto Malatesta’s Opening Rant, Plotkin’s Childhood Education under the tutelage of librarian Hinta Gelb and his Venturing out with Ana Bloom before the reader embarks on a whirlwind in which Plotkin is Conscripted into the Butcher Shop, gets Arrested, is Imprisoned in Purgatory, is visited by family and friends and is Exiled along with Chicken Plucker.

Indicted by a Secret Blind Jury leads to Plotkin’s arrest by the National Constabulary, before he is delivered to the infamous Purgatory House of Detention where he is to be housed with lunatics and other miscreants of the state until such time as his trial and expected guilt are determined.

The reader becomes an onlooker into the Trial of Plotkin as the Jury is selected and empaneled, opening Sermon and Rant, umm statements, are offered, witnesses testify, Prosecution and Defense offer closing Diatribes and the jury deliberates and finally offers a verdict.

Interspersed throughout the book are marvelous, author drawn, pen and ink caricatures of many of the characters introduced in the work. My personal favorites of the caricatures are those of his uncles Moishe and Misha Plotkin and the one of Ana Bloom.

Characters are well developed, many are despicable, again something many may think of some of the so called experts we may hear talking, perhaps as rants about a particular case in the public view on television.  This fast paced work is filled with good writing, presented in highly readable prose. The author has woven a thoroughly enjoyable view of some of the behind the scenes machinations we may have thought do take place as we read of cases in the morning news or we may have watched when one or another case is thought to be of earth shattering, public must see, necessity to broadcast via TV.

On the pages of Something is Rotten In Fettig the plotting and maneuvering taking place by the prosecution, authorities and others in their determination to find Plotkin guilty of something, whatever that might be in or out of what the laws of the society may be; tends to remind the reader of some of the shrieks of guilty, and justice must prevail as a suspect is all but tossed over a cliff before ever actually being arrested for the particular crime which has so outraged the populous.

All in all I found Something is Rotten In Fettig to be a very enjoyable, easy to read, simply fun work.

I received an ARC for review; I do not keep all books I receive, this one is a keeper.

Happy to recommend Something is Rotten In Fettig for readers who enjoy satire, and for those who may never have read a satirical work; this one may whet the appetite for more!

I hope writer Krakoff is busy working on his next satirical offering, and creates more of his marvelous caricatures.

About the Author  : From the book’s back cover:   Before writing Something is Rotten In Fettig author Krakoff was a civil rights attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project in Washington DC, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Mississippi and a legal aid program in Pittsburg.

Something is Rotten In Fettig, says the author was inspired by people, places and events he encountered while litigating, and a lifetime of observing both the best and the worst of the human condition.


Reviewed by Molly’s Reviews

molly   martin


Product Details : I do not yet find Something is Rotten in Fettig listed on Amazon

Title: Something Is Rotten in Fettig: A Satire

Genre: Satire

Author: Jere Krakoff

Illustrator: author

Pages: 276

Line/Publisher : Anaphora Literary Press, 2015

ISBN-10: 1681141973,

ISBN-13: 9781681141978


Available     Paperback

So Pretty in Pink

Hoppity  Ty®  Beanie Baby®


hoppity bunny

See it at Amazon

[Rating: 5/5]

Pros: Ty product,  collectible,  cute as can be

Cons: none noted

Ty® Beanie Babies®’ Hoppity Bunny measures 8 x 3.7 x 0,8 inches of plushy polyester fabric. Hoppity is a honey of a sugar pink rabbit having bright black eyes, triangle pink nose and pink whiskers. Around her throat is a small pink ribbon tied in a bow.

Hoppity is especially appealing in pink. Only her tail is presented in white. Her large flappy ears indicate she is a lop type rabbit with ears drooping on either side of her head rather than standing erect.

Hoppity a popular Beanie for collectors and her companion Beanie Babies Floppity and Hippity make up the Bunny Trio. Surface wash only.

Born 3 April 1996, Hoppity’s poem reads:

Hopscotch is what she likes to play

If you don’t join in, she’ll hop away

So play a game if you have the time,

She likes to play, rain or shine!

All in all she is a perfect addition to my growing collection of Beanies.

For several years I used Beanies in my First Grade Classroom, as theme setters for holidays and the like. And, Beanies were used as sentence and story starters for Little Folks who might be stumped for what to write about.

As with other Ty Beanies I find the plush used to be soft, eyes are bright shiny, seams are well sewn, arms, legs, ears are secure and well attached. Pliable, poseable toy is filled with small pellets, and can be set on desk where Hoppity will sit, gazing, and will not tumble or sag.

Ever since 1993 Ty Inc., has fashioned 400+ different Beanie Babies in a diversity of sizes from wee softies appearing as a McDonald’s happy meal toys, to large Beanies measuring about 8 inches.

Hoppity holds appeal for boys and girls, and adults alike. Hoppity is intended particularly for those like and perhaps collect bunnies as do children and many adults.

Hoppity with the wee plastic eyes and nose is not recommended as a pet toy or for small children.

Ty Inc., established in 1993 when Ty Warner of Illinois produced his initial small critter shape, cloth bag, packed with small white, pellets sent to the market place has become a key contender in the toy race.

Beanies are available on Amazon, and I find them often at thrift and jumble shops as well as garage sales. If buying at jumble shop, yard sales and the like be careful to always check to be sure the Trademark Ty Beanie, heart shaped tag is in place to guarantee purchase is a genuine Ty product.

Recognized the world over; Beanie Babies, some might say they are filled with joy as well as pellets, are an over-the-top iconic, well-loved character in the toy market. Well made, sturdy seams to assure no bits on the floor, and for most of the softies having sewn nose and eyes, no pieces to swallow or otherwise cause harm, then again they are not indestructible. Ty Beanie Babies are some of the best loved toys adored by children and collected by adults everywhere.

Happy to recommend Ty Beanie Babies’ Pink Plush Hoppity.


Reviewed by Molly’s Reviews

molly martin


NOTE: Ty® Inc. is an American PLUSH ANIMAL Toy Company based in Westmont, Illinois.

The most famous line of products produced by this company are the BEANIE BABIES®, on the other hand, Ty also manufactures other lines of stuffed toys. The Ty logo is a red heart with the lower-case letters “ty.” A tag is found affixed to all Ty stuffed toys, and inside each tag is the name of the toy and a 4 line poem about it.

Since 1993, the year when Ty Inc. was founded; the company has mass-produced nearly 400 assorted Beanie Babies.

My personal introduction to the world of Beanies® was 1996 when long lines of adults could be seen extending across the restaurant and out the door, and at times down the sidewalk of local McDonald’s® eateries. Teenie Beanie Babies® Smaller, fun versions of Beanie Babies were included in McDonald’s Happy Meals®.

Several subsequent promotions took place with various wee Beanies available.

The lesson taught by Ty Warner, sole owner of Ty Inc., the company behind Beanie Babies may be do what you enjoy, do it well, promote and diversify.

My personal favorites continue to be the Teenie Weenies gathered from McDonalds children’s meals.


Ty Inc

280 Chestnut Ave

Westmont, IL, 60559 United States

And Mighty Tasty Too

Annie’s™ Organic, Bunny Fruit Snacks  BERRY PATCH flavor 



See it at Amazon


Pros: tasty, not sticky in hand or packet, non GMO, gluten free, organic ingredients, no artificial colors or flavors

Cons: none noted

Annie’s™ Organic, Bunny Fruit Snacks BERRY PATCH flavor  generated using real fruit juice and no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors are a mouthwatering, fun to devour, treat that are more nourishing than some of the more sugary nibble treats available for adults and children alike.

Even the package on the shelf is attention-grabbing. Bernie, Annie’s beloved pet bunny, emerging from a lemony yellow circle is found at the top of the front panel. Words Homegrown and Organic appear above and below the name of the product.   Flavor type is found midway on the panel above the signature cutout bunny located at the bottom of the pane.

Researching the Annie’s website I find Organic Berry Patch Bunny Fruit Snacks are a delicious mix of strawberry, cherry and raspberry flavored bunnies.

For those who are vegan; Annie’s Bunnies do not contain gelatin; are certified organic.

While I have no problem with gluten; I like having these snack items available to share with sis who must avoid gluten.

I do prefer food that are non GMO, do not rely on artificial colors, preservatives and flavors; these tasty little morsels made with real fruit juice provide 100% of the Daily Value of Vitamin C

Major Ingredients Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic White Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin.  Color includes Black Carrot Juice, Flavors are natural.

Note: Ingredients, Nutrition Facts, and Allergen Statements can change. Always refer to the actual package for the most complete and accurate information.

I first was introduced to Annie’s tasty, healthy products while teaching First Grade. Each month the snack calendar was sent home, with each child’s name written in one of the boxes and Mrs. M’s name in the first two.

Parents often sent nice healthy, tasty snack items including Annie’s bunnies both gummies and crackers.

This attention-grabbing, purple card stock paper package filled with assorted peach, rose and magenta toned bunny fruit snacks features the traditional cutaway bunny revealing a ration of the tasty fruit flavored treats to tempt shoppers as they travel the aisles of the local big box stone.

I like the consistency of the gummies, soft; not hard, mushy or sticky in the box or the hand. Flavor is berry not strawberry, blackberry or raspberry; but berry nonetheless. The grape juice adds a little piquant tang that I find tasty and pleasant, rather than too sweet

Happy to recommend Annie’s™ Organic, Bunny Fruit Snacks BERRY PATCH flavor. 

Available on Amazon $12.75  4 cartons 5 pouches each


Perusal of the Annie’s website I find :    It all started with Annie

In 1989, Annie Withey co-founded Annie’s Homegrown, Inc. with Andrew Martin with the goal of making a healthy and delicious macaroni and cheese for families.

She wanted to show by example that a successful business could also be socially responsible.

Annie chose Bernie, her pet rabbit, to be the brand’s “Rabbit of Approval,” and she put her own address and phone number on each box to encourage customers to connect with her.


Annie’s Homegrown

1610 Fifth St

Berkeley Ca 94710

Thistle logo, gotta be great

Strathmore® Paper  3.5 x 5 inch, 300 series Sketch Pads


300 series


Pros: inexpensive, smooth texture, readily available

Cons: none noted

Strathmore® Paper  3.5 x 5 inch, 300 series Sketch Pads are one of a series of quality, Made in the U.S.A.,  artists’ materials available from a well respected paper company providing quality papers for over a century for those who enjoy writing, sketching, or other artistic endeavors.

This pad is crafted with a sturdy board back, wire bound sheets and textured, lemon hued cover filled with information offered in English, French and Spanish extolling the virtues of the sheets of sketching paper.   A pencil sketch by Rovan Yu, centered, provides a notion for possibility for using the papers, company name and website are included, number of sheets is provided at the bottom of the cover.  Size of sheets, type of paper, and surface are all addressed on the cover.

Wire binding is double wire, heavy enough to keep the book intact without snagging the wire binding on whatever I may be carrying in my briefcase along with it.  Series number, the Strathmore thistle logo and the word Sketch in larger font all clearly indicate the product and intended use for novice sketch artists should there be question regarding best usage of the pad.

Sketch Paper is created as a lighter weight  paper providing a surface that is dandy for practicing, experimentation and perfecting skill. 300 Series is an economical, superior paper designed for student, beginning artist, as well as the artist who is often noted sitting, pencil or pen in hand while producing what he/she sees in the world around.

400 Series, 400 Series Recycled and Windpower™ Series are better-quality sheets having the firmer surface often chosen by the advanced artist.

Acid-free, the reasonably priced 50 lb. white sketch paper is dandy use for dry media to include pencil, crayon, charcoal, and the like. The 3.5 X 5 inch size is handy for tucking into purse or briefcase to have the pad nearby as inspiration presents itself.

While free sheets and glue bound papers are available; I prefer the wirebound.  Perhaps in time, should I actually become proficient with pencil sketching, something I am just taking up as a new hobby interest; I may try other type sketch pads, however at the moment all of mine, large and small are wire bound.

Strathmore offers wirebound pads in sizes ranging from the 3.5 x 5 inch size, subject of this review to larger pads including 9 x 12, 11 x 14 and larger and glue bound 9 x 12, 11 x 14 on up to 18 x 24 inch.

I find this pad of acid free paper having smooth texture in white to be well-matched for pencil sketching, detail work. For now I am confined to sketching with pencil; in time I may try pen, colored pencils, ball point pens and or charcoal.

The 3.5 x 5 inch pad provides 100 sheets, accepts pencil, does not fall apart, create crumbs or pills when erased, and is working well as I apply more enthusiasm than artistic prowess at the moment.  I find the paper to be nicely suited to my ability and hopes for sketching.

I realize that an accomplish artist likely can take a brown paper lunch sack and create a stunning rendering of whatever the eye beholds, on the other hand, as a novice to the world of pencil sketching I suspect choice of papers may be an important decision as I endeavor to create something worth doing.

An accomplished artist will likely realize their ability, and whatever the medium, feel comfortable.  For the novice, myself, I like that the sketch pad helps me feel more like a possible artiste in old age.   Confidence can always take a boost as we begin new things.

While I purchased my 3.5 x 5 inch sketch pad from Michael’s Store in Kansas City, online check shows the product to be available at Hobby Lobby in Oklahoma, and is available from a diversity of online vendors including Amazon.

My heritage includes Scotland in my genealogy: the thistle is a favorite of mine

Happy to recommend  Strathmore® Paper  3.5 x 5 inch, 300 series Sketch Pads

As always I like to know something of the company providing the products I purchase: I prefer Made in America:  © 2015 Strathmore Artist Papers™, a division of Pacon Corporation ®, ™ used under license from Mohawk Fine Papers Inc., an online visit to the Strathmore website indicates:  Strathmore Paper Company began on St. Patrick’s Day in 1892 when founder, Horace Moses, opened the Mittineague paper mill in West Springfield, MA.

Not long after initiation of the first mill, Mr. Moses trekked to the Valley of Strathmore in Scotland where the thistle was in full bloom.  The magnificence of the location so awed Moses; that he commenced using both name and the thistle as an icon of excellence in art and printing papers.

The Strathmore brand name was inaugurated in 1899, initially with Charcoal papers and soon after with Bristol.  The Strathmore brand promptly became celebrated as one of the premier quality art papers used by many leading artists around the world.

Strathmore has preserved their repute as a purveyor of fine art paper for over a century.  And, currently makes available for artists of all levels the ultimate surface for producing striking works of art.


Historical Timeline:

1892 – Mittineague Paper Company opened in West Springfield MA by Horace Moses.

1893 – Strathmore Drawing Board is first manufactured.

1894 – Horace Moses visits the Strathmore Valley in Scotland and begins using “Strathmore Quality” and the thistle symbol on his highest quality papers.

1899 – Charcoal Paper, Patent Office Board and Illustrating Board are added to the art line.

1905 – Horace Moses acquires the Woronoco Paper Company and runs it as a separate company.

1911 – Mittineague and Woronoco Paper Companies are consolidated and becomes the Strathmore Paper Company.

1929 – Student grade papers are introduced under the banner Alexis.

1950 – First pad is introduced as Alexis Drawing.

1952 – Blank Greeting Cards are introduced.

1962 – Strathmore is purchased by Hammermill Paper Company.

1972 – The first recycled sketch pad is introduced and called Shelburne Phase II Sketch.

1974 – The 300 Series is developed, Alexis becomes 400 Series and Artist 500 Series.

1986 – International Paper purchases Hammermill Paper

2004 – Mohawk Paper purchases Strathmore

2006 – Pacon Corporation purchases Strathmore Artist Papers™

Per the website I read The symbol of the thistle may have taken on a different appearance throughout the years, but the quality of Strathmore Artist Papers has remained second to none.

For lasting works of art, Strathmore is the artist’s choice.


Strathmore Artist Papers
2525 N. Casaloma Dr.
Appleton, WI 54913

Gorgeous Coppery Beauty

Iris germanica Copper Classic


Note:  while i do not find Copper Classic on Amazon, I do find many other varieties


Pros: easy to grow, lovely, hardy, returns year after year, does not need a lot of care or attention

Cons: My favorite flower; wish blossoming time were year round

Botanical Name for this lovely Iris germanica : Copper Classic.  One of the Tall Bearded Iris varieties, Copper Classic, is a stunning, welcome, member of the sunbeam toned Iris I have growing in my golden hued planting pocket.

Over the years since moving to the Kansas Oklahoma border region I have done my best to eliminate grass from the yard surrounding our house and develop a number of planting areas filled with Iris and Lilies and some perennial cultivars to assure as much colorful blossoming as possible.

Some beds are color toned, and others are diverse shades and would be hard pressed to say which I prefer.

Blooming from mid to late spring this cultivar produces blossom stalks standing about 35 inches tall from a fan of green spiky leaves atop a thick hearty Rhizome.  While well drained loamy soil is preferred; iris tend to be pretty tolerant of a wide range of soils.   The thick muck of this clay muck in our yard, and ancient sea bed according to history books has been accepted by most of the iris I have set into it.  I continue adding mulch, leaves and etc each season, however I do not expect to ever see any true loam suddenly appear at the base of the corms.

I am happy neither Bambi, Ardillo the squirrel nor Hasenpfeffer show any interest in this Deer Resistant cultivar.  I like every Iris I have ever seen from Dutch and Louisiana, however my all time favorite is the German, Bearded Iris.

Perennial Hardiness  in Zones 4-9 is optimum, however, I plant Iris wherever I go and have yet to have any refuse to thrive.

I find partial sun to be a good site for my more delicate toned blossoms,  full sun is tolerated most years if summer does not blast into hot too quickly.  These beauties offer a mingle of melony,  coppery russet, and ginger shades with the standards, upright petals showing more melon and the falls, downward drooping petals presenting more of the ginger.   Foliage comprised of verdant, sword-like fans of firm upright leaves will experience some dying back in colder climates during winter.

I trim blossom stalks when blossoms are spent and cut the leaves into short straight topped fans during fall, detritus is added to compost pile for adding to soil come spring.

I find excessive heat,  rain  and/or shade will reduce or prevent flowering.  Good soil drainage is essential to prevent rhizomes from rotting; this year has been an excessively rainy one here in the middle of the continent.  It has been an uphill battle to keep rhizomes in good condition.   Raised beds at least 6 inches high to aid proper drainage may have to be considered for future.   The tight clay soil has been keeping rhizome very wet despite organic matter integrated to develop better drainage.

Iris blooms materialize in an extensive spectrum of colors from white, yellows, pinks, reds blues and very shade in between; with new types being introduced yearly.  Avid aficionados of Bearded Iris try their hand at producing a new color, ongoing.   Most bearded iris flower in the spring, and the lovelies are showy for a while and disappear all too soon.  I am excited that some of the newer cultivars are beginning to re-flower in the summer or fall. While the second flowering may not be as profuse as was the spring display it does serve to prolong the blossoming into the fall.

As an added plus; many re-blooming iris are fragrant.  Rhizome clumps should be lifted and broken apart for replanting every 3 – 4 years.

Bearded irises are classified by height: miniature dwarf – height 8 inches or less, and having 1 to 2 inch diameter flowers, standard dwarf -height 8 to 15 inches, intermediate -height 16 to 27 inches, miniature tall -height 16 to 25 inches, border -height 16 to 27 inches, and tall – height 28 to 38 inches.

The shorter Iris blossom first, followed by the intermediate, and finally the taller cultivars.

I like to fill my planting beds with many fans having blossom stalks of varying height to assure as much blossom display as possible.  As I begin a new planting area I like to place taller Iris varieties as the focal point of the display along with taller daisies or other sturdy complimentary cultivars or against a wall where pummeling wind will not cause so much damage.  While the blossom stalks are sturdy nothing much can withstand the winds here in tornado alley whether during tornado season or not.

I use a variety of wire devices for holding stems upright and I like to center my taller blossom stalks to assure they will not break during wind events.  I find placing shorter specimens around the taller ones too helps to keep the taller stalks upright and blossoms safe.  Nothing can save fragile blossoms should hail accompany the wind.

While really strong winds and/or tornados tend to appear during times other than Iris blooming time; as a rule I begin an Iris/Lilly bed near trees or bushes as an added safety measure during all wind.

On the whole I place rhizomes with a part of the crown of the corm showing and roots spread across amended soil below. I cover roots and lower portion of the tuber with deteriorated compost material, potting soil, wood chips and the like.  NOTE: often should Rhizomes be planted too deeply they will  tend to produce abundant foliage, however they may not blossom well.

Iris germanica Copper Classic is available from a variety of online sites, Brecks is one, as well as from garden shops and stores offering rhizomes during season.  Rhizomes are shipped at the proper time for planting in the particular planting zone from which it is requested.

I find that while rain does not cause much damage to blossoms; pounding wind or hail will do a good bit of damage particularly if the planting bed is in the open without some sheltering of buildings or trees near by.
Happy to recommend this full-bodied, dazzling and sunny tone Tall Bearded Iris, Iris germanica  Copper Classic.

Recycled Fiber

O Cedar® Cotton Deck Mop


deck mop


Pros: well made, inexpensive, easy to use

Cons: the string ends will fray with use

O Cedar® Cotton Deck Mop featuring an innovative design  fabricated of absorbent 100% cotton, 99% of which is recycled material is constructed to the product standards regarding quality, durability and usefulness.

Most floors in our rural  farm house are painted cement; a wiser choice for us, one easier to keep clean than carpet in a house shared with several rescue critters and set on an acre surrounded by pasture.

I find daily mopping to be the quickest method for keeping floors tidy and free of cat hair, mud walked in or other debris as might be expected in a rural setting.

Cotton string, wire wound, provides a head permanently attached to a 48 inch metal handle having a hang up end for easy storage when not in use. I like that the mop can be used on various flooring including wood, laminate, vinyl and painted cemented.

The strings themselves are crafted of strong four-ply filament for durability, wear resistance and absorbency.

String mops, also known as wet mops are designed to be used by dipping the mop head into a bucket or other container of water to which cleaner, I use Pinesol®.

I like the ‘cut end’ method of attachment, wherein the strings of the mop head hand loose rather than looping back to the head. Laundering is not recommended for cut end mops; the mop head cannot be removed and the handle prevents placing the mop in most machines.   On the other hand I find rinsing well, dipping into a solution of bleach and water keeps the mop head clean and does not lead to mold or unpleasant odor.

Wet mops can be used for cleaning floors and for applying floor finishes, oil or other water based material to flooring to protect the surface.

Because the mop head is permanently attached to the handle, the head cannot be replaced; on the other hand the mop is inexpensive and replacing the whole things is not a problem. I find the metal handles are easily removed from the worn head, a small metal saw does the trick quickly.   The handles work well in the garden as support for climbing morning glory or other vining cultivars.

I recommend this highly, for those who  want a good mop, and are not into all the gizmos and etc. of modern technology.

I find O Cedar products listed on Amazon site and on other online sites as well.  On the other hand when I need a new mop I stop at a small local grocery store, Marvin’s in Dewey, Oklahoma and pick one up.

As always I like to know something of the products I use and the company making them.

Reading company information on the O Cedar site I find: The Channell Chemical Company commenced as a producer of waxes and wood polishes, which were sold door to door in the early 1900s.

One of the main elements in the polish was cedar leaf oil, leading to the product being called O-Cedar Polish.  Over time brand awareness grew as the company expanded, and the name became synonymous with the products.

O-Cedar Makes Your Life Easier!® has been the business motto for years as the company continues to provide a wide array of cleaning products to make like easier for those who will be using products for household and business usage.

O Cedar Parent Company, FHP is a division of the Freudenberg Group headquartered in Weinheim, Germany. The company’s Household Products Division is a major transnational producer of branded materials including cleaning products, laundry care products, and household cloths.

The Freudenberg Household Products Division employs about 2,300 employees globally and is best known in the US for its O-Cedar® brand and signature tagline “O-Cedar Makes Your Life Easier!®”

I appreciate that O-Cedar®, is committed to green manufacturing and eco-friendly products including the use of recycled materials. O Cedar states that the company is committed to the use of recycled and sustainable materials that create less waste and require less energy and water during manufacturing including the 72 million plastic bottles recreated into 2 million pounds of broom bristles and biodegradable cotton mops crafted of 99% recycled post-industrial materials.

Happy to recommend O Cedar Cotton Deck Mop


Product Details and Shipping Information  found on Amazon Site

Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds

4.2 x 47.6 x 6.1 inches




O Cedar

2188 Diehl Road

Aurora, IL 60502

No More Ouch

Magnetic Needle Case





Pros: magnetic, keeps needles in one place, handy

Cons: none noted

DMC® offers a nifty Magnetic Needle Case as an aide for all hand needle workers; it is proving especially handy for myself as I age and no longer see quite so well as in the past.

This small teal container measuring 2.75 x 1.58 inches is a metal case with lid that slides with no trouble, is magnetized to hold needles securely and opens and closes without difficulty and firmly to provide peace of mind for needle artists who no longer need fear stabbing fingers from dropped but not seen needle during stitching activity.

I like that the case embellished with peach toned roses is small enough to slip into needlework bag or basket, but is large enough to be easily located in that bag or basket, and because it is metal, I can use my dandy magnet wand doo dad and locate the can if I cannot see, rummaging has not yet brought it into view. The wand doo dad was originally purchased to help me locate screws, spilled nails etc, on the other hand, I find it works quite well in the sewing basket too.

DMC’s Magnetic Needle Case helps needle workers keep needles contained and close at hand. This attractive container has a strong magnet mounted inside to keep needles in place to prevent needles from creeping all over the inside of the sewing box to lay in wait where they should not be. The raised magnet is secured to the bottom of the box, needles are held firmly until I remove.

From earliest times needles and something to contain them have been a part of the daily lives of much of mankind. Today’s household peopled with younger parents may not really have so much need for needles; many women today do not make their own clothing, and may or may not darn, repair, or replace buttons; however a generation or two ago found many women plying their trusty sewing machines to make most of the clothing worn by the family and as little as 75 years or so ago few if any of the clothing worn was ‘store bought’, most was made at home, and often was made without use of sewing machine either.

Needles, problematic, labor demanding to create of bone, slivers of wood and the like were cared for, treasured and kept close for making and repairing of clothing, embellishing clothing and household goods.

During antiquity people kept needles in ornamental cases and boxes. During the Victorian era needle cases were created of pewter, silver, bone, wood, and were often shaped or embellished with decorative carvings, etchings and the like.

Handmade needle books, including the ‘housewife’ of the War Between The States’ carried by soldiers both union and Confederate have been used to effect repairs to clothing by the men in the field. Handmade, embellished with embroidery, created of a piece of husband’s favorite dress worn by his wife, or a baby’s dress; men marched off to war keeping a little of home and family close.

Fabric pin cushions for holding needles have always been a mainstay for the needle in use or to be used next. However, storage of a selection of needles presents another problem. I remember when needles were sold in printed cardstock holders which could be kept in the sewing basket for easy access and protection of fingertips and needles themselves.

While I do not collect needle cases per se, I do have a few gathered from here and there, most are small wooden tubes with lift off lids for holding needles in the sewing basket. My DMC magnetic metal holder is one of the handiest I have. Even if the lid should be left open and the case turned over, my needles stay where they should clinging fast to the magnet.

Happy to recommend DMC’s nifty, teal metal Magnetic Needle Case for those who enjoy needle work.

This case will make a nice tuck in gift in a basket of this and that for those who sew, do needle point, tapestry, counted cross stitch and the like.

Products available on the DMC store site and in walk in shops include items for crafting crochet, punch needle, embroiders, knitting and more crafts and needle arts.

A diversity of scissors, and scissor case for holding scissors when not in use, chair and door hanging storage organizers, hoop lap stands, gizmos for holding floss, threads, needle organizers, metal craft rings, yarn and thread cutter, a diversity of needles, needle threader, bobbin winders and more are all available.

About DMC: I like knowing something of the companies from which I purchase items.

Per the DMC website: 1746, Artist, Jean-Henri DOLLFUS, 23 years old, began a cooperative hand painted fabric endeavor with two correspondingly youthful European impresarios Jean-Jacques SCHMALZER and Samuel KOECHLIN. For many years the business was conducted as a fabric printing enterprise and was operated by Dollfus brothers, Jean-Henri and Jean.

The name DMC came about following the 1800 spring marriage of Daniel Dollfus to married Anne-Marie MIEG. Joining his wife’s name to his own, as was a custom in those days, Dollfus gave the company the new trade name of DOLLFUS-MIEG & Compagnie, or D.M.C.

While finishing his studies in Leeds, England Dollfus junior learned of the development of chemist JOHN MERCER – “mercerising” – the process of passing strands of cotton thread through caustic soda in so doing modifying the cotton and improving its métier, durability and giving a silky appearance.

Nowadays the DMC® Group continues as an global industry manufacturing consumer threads, industrial thread and textile related products. For nearly three centuries, generations of needle arts enthusiasts have selected DMC needlework threads for creating memorable family treasures. DMC continues to be committed to color, quality – and consumers.

DMC products have been advertised in the U.S. since the 1920s, before the company was incorporated, in 1934, in the U.S. The DMC® Corporation. Initially established in New York City, the enterprise moved to Elizabeth, NJ, during the early 1960s for simplified entrée to Port Elizabeth, the port of access for DMC products into the USA.

As a result of numerous years of remarkable expansion and growth, The DMC® Corporation, in the 1980s, moved its administrative offices and warehouse facilities to a new edifice in South Kearny, NJ.


The DMC Corporation

10 Basin Drive, Suite 130

Kearny, NJ 07032

Be careful what you say, More careful what you Write

Hidden Impact




Pros: fast paced, well written, interesting, First Novel by this writer

Cons: political thriller, will not appeal to everyone, I liked it very much

Charles Neff’s Hidden Impact opens with the forward door of the narrator’s Atlantic Airlines flight swinging out to allow dank humidity to leak into the cabin.

Bored, khaki clad customs men gave the narrator’s day pack and larger bag a cursory glance.

Not much had changed during the 32 years the narrator had been gone.   Immigration officer glanced at the passport, Senor James Norberg, resident of Maine, United States. And how long will you be staying.

Mid June in Nicaragua, a 90 day tourist card meant Norberg could stay until the middle of September 2004 and NO liquor, tobacco, drugs and firearms, and he was on his way.

Hotel del Parque, the same place where Norberg had stayed during Peace Corps days. The long day of travel from Bangor, connecting flights to Boston, Miami and Managua. Norberg was ready for a good meal, quiet evening and an early bed time before setting out for La Prada, the village where he had worked during those Peace Corps days.

Meeting with old acquaintance Kris Behr set in motion grist for the tale woven into this work. Discovery of a plane crashed 17 years ago has been found near La Prada. Behr believes a journal kept by himself back in the day when he was working with CIA in Nicaragua during the Sandinista/Contra fighting may have been aboard the plane. Behr is convinced the pilot stole the journal from his desk during a meeting with CIA operatives. Behr wants Norberg to find and bring the journal to him.

Locating the journal after it has been lost nearly 2 decades is fraught with danger as others, as determined as he, are also searching for the diary, and are willing to kill to uncover its whereabouts.

I enjoyed this well written thriller, characters are often multifaceted, well developed and believable. The bad guys are filled with machination, stealth and not much to recommend them, and many of the characters fall into the ruthless, bad guy group.

I especially enjoy a storyline that is well crafted filled with twists and twists. I enjoyed meeting each of the various characters through the eyes of Norberg as he assesses those he had known before as well as those who are new to his experience on this trip. Peopled with CIA operatives, committed American colleagues, Nicaraguan and radicals, often underhanded millionaires, and their callous cohorts the cast of players are credible, believable and trustworthy.

Settings are deftly created, humidity, sweaty odor and all set against a backdrop of intrigue, scheming and machination help propel plot twists as they merge into one another smoothly. Narrative offers a peek into many locales from the small village of Norberg’s Peace Corps days, into the jungle forest and beyond; the tale moves at breakneck speed. Managua and its population, a pricey country club, and even the U.S. Embassy figure in the work.

Writer Neff has crafted a fast paced, page turner sure to keep the reader engaged from the opening paragraph as Norberg disembarks from his plane begins and full gallop to the finishing paragraphs as he plans wrapping up his affairs in the United States and then a return to Nicaragua where he plans to begin a new, productive life filled with hope, friends and perhaps even a companion with whom he can share his life.

It is easy to identify with Norberg, he is the everyman who fights a good fight, often unsuccessfully, and keeps believing there is some innate good out there worth fighting for. A feeling of genuineness encompasses the work. Jim Nordberg is a likable character filled with much of the same warts, foibles and mishaps as seem to befall us all.

I found Hidden Impact to be well written, enjoyable and worth the read, happy to recommend.

Interesting read     Recommended         4 stars

 Available on Amazon and other online sites Hidden Impact can be purchased from the writers website, from AuthorsDen and other online sites as well as from various walk in shops.

I was sent a paperback ARC for review

 Title: Hidden Impact

Genre: Mystery, Political Thriller

Author: Charles Neff

Paperback: 316 pages

Publisher: BookSurge Publishing

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1594579423

ISBN-13: 978-1594579424


Available Kindle   Paperback


Reviewed by: molly martin    

Destiny Awaits

The Girl From Kosovo




Pros: well written, fast paced, holds reader interest

Cons: not for everyone, depressing premise, however hope fulfilled in the end


Graham Whittaker’s The Girl From Kosovo a narrative of some 69 chapters, Acknowledgements, an Epilogue, Synopsis, Author Biography and The Butterfly Effect across some 449 pages commences late in 1960 and continues some 50+ years.

 Inspired by actual events; towns of Withernsea, Winestead, Patrington and the area around East Yorkshire as described in the tale are genuine.   On the other hand, the reader should understand writer Whittaker has taken some liberties with street names and locations.

A special family, the Lunns of Withernsea, are mentioned in this work with Love and respect; it was Mr Lunn, the writer tells us who was especially responsible for leading Whittaker to his career path and ultimately to the writing of The Girl From Kosovo.

Head down, bottom up, Andy’s snow powdered hair, frost reddened nose, and ears were set against a backdrop of snow clouds overhead, and the incline his bicycle traversed. Just another mile or so and he would be home; the account originates on Christmas evening in East Yorkshire, 1960. Soon he would reach the corner where the long downhill slope began. That was the easy part of his journey, no hard pedaling, just sit and cruise down to the last corner, past the lighthouse and his house where his comfortable bedroom faced the street.

Darkness has fallen, each of the wee shops and the pub were closed, Patrington village street was deserted. The dark cold surrounded him, if only he had taken the easy ride up to Big Hill and had not stopped to visit Gran and Grandad, and Uncle Frank. Driven by the wind thin, sleety snow coming from the dark cloud overhead slapped the lad in the face.

From that commencement the chronicle transfers 19 years to 24 March 1999 where nothing in the cold black world stirred. Kosovo resident, seven year old Nikita Tarasov Kosovo once more felt the dreadfulness of a recurring nightmare filled with terror and shelling and quiet and demise and damage. The world was dark, cold and dark, first had come a thump, and everything fell. Nikita heard screams begin and suddenly cease, things were falling, a crushing weight across her chest and legs, the rasp of dust and dirt in her throat and her world filled with dread of a recurring nightmare.

And unexpectedly in the core of the ache, and distress and anguish, a quiet voice, one that Nikita thought might only be in her own head comes to reassure the terrified child that help will come. ‘Be Calm’ The voice tells Nikita that his name is Andy.

Andy tells Nikita about his childhood and pedaling his bicycle home in the snow long ago on Christmas evening and a lighthouse and the town in which he lived as she drifts in and out of consciousness. ‘I’m really real, Nikita, I promise.’

Nikita ponders when she rouses in the hospital and is told that she was found alone in the collapsed building, no one else was there.

And the story goes again to 1960, Withernsea, 29 January and ten year old Andy, whose father when home on leave, bullied his wife and child. Andy feared his father home on leave as he tormented his wife, and insisted his wife polish his buttons in advance of his wandering the house to run his fingers over ever spotless surface prior to his insisting the house was filthy.

The saga continues with 17 year old Robbie, and East Yorkshire, and a girl who is currently the darling freed from the awfulness of a buckled building. The little girl who lost her mother to the combat causing a building to crash upon her has been taken in by a benefactor, Max Lomax. Lomax who is becoming prosperous, to some extent, as a result of the popularity of the brave little girl, Nikita, rescued from the rubble some 15 years ago has come to England where Nikita is enrolled in school.

In 2008 Max deeply involved in so called ‘rescue’ of many who found their lives all but destroyed by the war in Kosovo is growing rich through his so called ‘rescue’.

Nikki begins a journal filled not with girlish chitchat, but rather, her diary is the dejected description of a young woman who apprehends that her theoretical sponsor is in actual fact a devious individual who has ripped from herself of any façade of childhood and has brought her into the grip of viciousness.

To all apparent appearance Nikita’s life seems sublime, she is the darling saved from the horror of Kosovo. Actuality is, her life with Lomax is anything but sublime. Ensnared in the horror of a world filled with human trafficking, prostitution and drugs Nikita is determined to escape the Guardian the world views as her protector. Serbian Nationalist, Max Lomax has made it very clear that he will never release Nikita from the debt she owes by his rescue of herself when she was just a little girl.

The tales Andy told to her during the time she spent trapped in the blackness of the fallen building, and the lonely little boy who told her those stories, and the image of a lighthouse serve to guide the troubled girl. With Lomax’ leading Nikita is brought to Withernsea, enters school, seems to find the location where Andy lived and meets a youth who soon falls in love with her.

Robbie believes her talk of the lighthouse and Andy, she is once again searching for Andy, and the hope that someone cares for her and soon the quest for locating Andy himself begins to impact their lives in ways unexpected.

The narrative leads to Bosnia Herzegovina, China, Yorkshire, London, escape, hiding, capture, and safety at last.

Opening in 1960 and flowing forward and back from the little boy biking home in the cold Christmas evening to the fighting in Kosovo and an adult man attempting to dispel the qualms of an injured child and the life hers became following her being saved by a brutal, merciless broker in women and drugs, this spellbinding chronicle transports the reader forward on an eye opening overview into a reality seldom seen by others.

The Girl From Kosovo is tale of conspiracy, plotting, and maneuvering with all moderated by true caring and affection as Nikita is led to her destiny.

Available as Hard Cover, eBook and Paperback