Chubby, Portly, Just Plain Round

Evergreen Enterprises Bluebird Portly Garden statue


portly (2)

See it at Amazon 


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.

Rewriting American History, One Episode at a Time: AMERICA UNEARTHED

AMERICA UNEARTHED on the History Channel


See it at the History Channel website 

(3/5) decent

Pros: Interesting topics and much food for thought

Cons: Arguments made don’t entirely hold up to standards of logic

Premiering in late 2012 and playing in a similar manner to some of History Channel’s other speculative documentaries, America Unearthed chronicles the attempts by forensic geologist Scott Wolter to prove his theory that “the history that we were all taught growing up is wrong.” I first saw Wolter when he appeared on a two hour documentary special about the Templars in America that focused heavily on the Kensington Rune Stone that some people believe represents a pre-Columbian land claim. The entirety of the Unearthed series expands on the basic premise of that special, as Wolter travels across the country examining mysterious locations, deciphering clues and evidence, and attempts to make a case for various alternative theories of American history.

Scott Wolter and his trademark skeptical scowl.

Earlier on in the show’s run run, Wolter seemed determined to reinforce the idea that Christobal Colon (i.e. Christopher Columbus) wasn’t the first person to discover the “new world.” Frankly, one would almost have to be completely oblivious to history to believe the notion that Columbus actually discovered America – the Vikings clearly were on the North American continent well before Columbus ever gazed out over the oceans and there’s physical proof to back up the claim. In the first two seasons of America Unearthed, Wolter went much further, exploring the ideas that groups as varied as the ancient Hebrews, Phoenicians, Minoans, Polynesians, Templars, and others came to the Americas well in advance of 1492. Another major point of investigation in the program is the idea that the Freemasons have more to do with the founding of America than most people have been led to believe. It seems like the vast majority of the episodes of this show making some reference – fleeting or otherwise – to the institution of the Freemasons.

newport tower
Newport Tower in Rhode Island has been proposed by Wolter as being proof of the Templars coming to America.

As the program enters its third season in late 2014, there appears to have been something of a shift in the main goals of the show and a different approach is being taken. The first episode (initially aired on November 8, 2014) dealt with the idea that Davy Crockett (the “King of the Wild Frontier”) survived his supposed last stand at the Alamo and went on to live out his days quietly in Alabama. A land claim from 1859 which is signed by someone named David Crockett forms the basis of the investigation which reveals some intriguing archival news articles as well as some insight from actual Crockett descendents. The third season’s second episode dealt with the search in Arizona for the mysterious Lost Dutchman gold mine. By interviewing local treasure hunters, Wolter tracks down potential locations for the legendary mine which has long been pursued by those seeking fortune, and pursues the idea that the shaft is hidden in plain sight. I have to say that I’m a fan of the program branching out and focusing on more a variety of topics: the examination of pre-Columbian American exploration and settlement was growing a bit tiresome after two seasons, but I somehow doubt that viewers have seen and heard the last of it.

…yeah, but did he survive the Alamo or not?

Like the vast majority of television shows these days, America Unearthed is set up as a pseudo-reality show, following Wolter around as if a viewer is tagging along on his everyday activities. Some episodes of the show feature more obvious reality moments and seem heavily manipulated, particularly when Wolter’s family shows up, becoming key figures in the way the show plays out. Generally speaking, the show is edited in the same manner one would expect a mystery to, with text messages and phone calls appearing at opportune moments to provide a much-needed clue when the investigation hits a (potentially literal) brick wall. Clearly, there’s some level of scripting and planning going on behind the scenes – many of these situations seem a little too convenient to be representations of reality – and this leads to the major problem I have with the show.

Logic frequently doesn’t seem to be one of this show’s strong points.

As is the case with a indisputably interesting but untrustworthy show like Ancient Aliens, there’s simply no way I can buy everything presented in this show as being absolute fact. To the program’s benefit, there does appear to be some level of science being applied to the investigations here since Wolter makes every effort to authenticate various artifacts he finds. Still, his final conclusions at the end of most episodes very nearly seem to be pulled out of thin air with scant evidence used to back them up. In the case of the Crockett land claim, Wolter examines the handwriting between a known Crockett signature and the one featured on the claim, and even though the two samples don’t look identical, concludes that the same David Crockett actually signed both, explaining the differences in handwriting to the fact that Crockett would have been quite elderly by the late 1850s. I should say that I have seen Wolter straight shoot down some theories that he’s been investigating (his examination of Rockwall, TX proved that the massive underground “wall” surrounding the town is an entirely natural phenomenon and not the result of an ancient civilization’s construction program), but more often then not, he concludes the show by making an ambiguous claim that contradicts what most people would accept as being historical fact.

indiana jones
While he’s a forensic geologist by trade, Wolter more often comes across as a sort of bootleg treasure hunter, the Jeff Meldrum of the archaeological world.

In short, it seems as though the show’s underlying goal is to throw a wrench in the established history of the United States, and it often seems as if the logic used in getting to a point where an outrageous claim can be made is rather suspect (the same thing can be said about any of the arguments put forth in Ancient Aliens or the related In Search of Aliens). In some ways, this isn’t an entirely bad thing: it makes this show very intriguing for a viewer who has a working knowledge of American history. I also like the fact that America Unearthed gives the viewer a wide variety of enigmatic locations, artifacts, and ideas that he can then research on his own and make up his own mind about. I guess my point is that a viewer shouldn’t mandatorily accept everything and maybe even anything this show has to say…but that is pretty much par for the course on TV anymore.

The show’s producers seem to realize that some of their arguments aren’t exactly unflappable, and they’ve designed this show to be super slick and efficient. It’s photographed and edited very competently, and the use of dramatic music really heightens the impact of certain sequences. There’s a watertight organizational structure that acts to keep things straight in a viewer’s head: maps show the locations where Wolter’s investigation is being conducted and point-by-point lists establish the “facts” as Wolter has established them. Though, like The Curse of Oak Island, America Unearthed isn’t the most exciting program on television, I think the topics discussed in the show are rather fascinating and Wolter is an agreeable enough host/main character. The program as a whole definitely would appeal to history buffs, though perhaps not to those who are close-minded with regard to new ideas or alternate ways of thinking. America Unearthed certainly winds up causing more controversy than providing definitive, provable solutions and/or answers, but I think it’s worthwhile as thought-provoking television and would recommend it.

Lightweight, positive poetry

Bawb’s Raven Feathers by Robert Chomany

See it at Amazon 


Pros: Very upbeat, leaves you feeling lighter

Cons: Uncomplicated, simplistic, redundant

This is a collection of short poems by Robert Chomany. Most of the poems are one stanza in length, with four or six lines. A few are slightly longer. The book is just over one hundred pages long, with each page having a poem. There are also a few pages with just lines on them, I believe they are intended to allow the reader to attempt poetry himself or herself. The book is divided into sections on slightly different topics like Balance, Healing, Energy, and Positivity. At the beginning of each section, there is a brief introduction in prose describing what the next group of poems will be about.

If one looks at the technical aspects of the poems, the meter is clear and regular and the rhyming is strong without ever feeling forced. However, if one looks at the contents of the poems, several things become apparent. The main one is that they are highly redundant and repetitive. How many different ways can someone laud positivity? This book shows you dozens. The poems are not complex although they are somewhat more complicated than one would find in a greeting card. In my opinion, these poems would be excellent for thought-for-the-day calendars.

I think that I should have researched this book more after I was offered a free copy in exchange for an objective review. I think that I saw the word “Raven,” and hoped for something dark and gritty along the lines of Edgar Allen Poe. These poems are certainly not dark or gritty like one would get from Edgar Allen Poe and they are not as sophisticated or as complex as any of the masters like Poe, Whitman, Frost, or even Dickinson. This collection of poems would be great for someone looking for light poetry with a definite emphasis on positivity and related topics.


Ceremony In Death by J.D. Robb – very skippable

Ceremony In Death by J.D. Robb



See it at Amazon 


Pros: I liked Jamie, not that he sticks around

Cons: Uninteresting characters and story

In general, I enjoy J. D. Robb’s In Death series.  Set in the 2050’s, the series follows New York Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas.  There’s usually a homicide – or several – that Eve gets to investigate along with her partner and various co-workers, as well as her husband.  Along the way, there’s frequently some decent humor, a glimpse into some cool futuristic technology, and, of course, an interesting case to solve.

Ceremony In Death is the fifth book in the series.  And let me tell you, it is definitely not the best.  In fact, it’s one of the worst ones I’ve read.

The homicides, in this book, revolve around witches.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Good witches who practice “white magic” – mixing their herbs, reading crystals, and trying to do their brand of good in the world.  And then there are the bad witches – the ones who have taken the movement too far – practicing a much darker religion that involves sacrifices, illicit drugs, and sex that definitely crosses a line.

It’s into this world that Eve is thrust, trying to figure out who killed an ex-cop and his granddaughter.  And why.

Eve is as level-headed as they come, and doesn’t believe any of this “nonsense”.  As a result, I believe her judgment is colored and it shows in her investigation.  In fact, Eve’s aide, Peabody, has a much better handle on things than Eve does, simply because Peabody has broader horizons, and can keep more of an open mind than Eve can.  The resultant arguments between the two were uncomfortable for me to read.  Put bluntly, Eve was a real witch-with-a-B to Peabody.

Another uncomfortable scene involved an argument with Feeny, Eve’s long-time friend and colleague.  Having been placed, sometimes, in exactly Eve’s shoes, I know that Eve did what she had to do.  Worse, Feeny would have known it, too, if he’d just taken a few minutes to think about it instead of spouting off.

A complaint that I have with many of the books in this series is the amount of sex, and the level of detail given.  I’m happy for Eve and Roark that they’re married and in love.  But I don’t care to read about their bedroom romps – especially as they seem to occur every 5 minutes in this book.  And I feel Roarke is just a bit heavy-handed with Eve, when it comes to sex.  He needs a cold shower occasionally.  Luckily, I’ve read enough books in the series to know that he does “calm down” a bit going forward.  But in these early books, I have to wonder, sometimes, if Roarke doesn’t cross a line or two himself when it comes to sex.

One good thing about this book is the introduction of Jamie.  He’s a young kid, smart as a whip, with some remarkable skills.  I would have liked for him to show up in other books, but as far as I know he’s a one-time character.

Overall, Ceremony In Death is not a good book, and does not do a good job representing the series.  Definitely do not start with this one, if you’re first getting into the series.  And, frankly, even if you’ve decided to read the whole thing, you might consider skipping this one.

Other books in the In Death series

Born In Death
Celebrity In Death
Divided In Death  
Glory In Death
Haunted In Death
Indulgence In Death
Innocent In Death
Interlude In Death
Judgment In Death
Midnight In Death
Missing In Death
Origin In Death
Rapture In Death
Reunion In Death
Salvation In Death
Strangers In Death
Treachery In Death
Vengeance In Death


“No Theory, No Matter How Outrageous, Can Be Ignored:” THE CURSE OF OAK ISLAND

THE CURSE OF OAK ISLAND on History Channel


See it at The History Channel website 

(2.5/5) MEH

Pros: The Oak Island Mystery!
Cons: Reality TV moments; simply isn’t all that compelling

In 1795, eighteen year old Daniel McGinnis stumbled upon something off the coast of Nova Scotia on Oak Island. Seeing evidence of a recent dig, McGinnis and some companions began excavation of the site and eventually came upon a shaft which has become known over the years as “The Money Pit,” both because it’s rumored to have treasure at the bottom of it and because of the amount of money that various persons have invested in an attempt to discover said treasure. In 1803 and after having reaching a depth of 90 feet, a stone bearing a mysterious inscription (believed by some to have read “forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried”) was found in the pit but shortly thereafter, the entire shaft began to fill with sea water, as if the excavation had tripped a booby trap set by the original diggers. For the past two hundred years, Oak Island has been the site of numerous treasure hunting operations which have littered the island with holes, destabilized the ground, and destroyed most of the potential clues relating to the site, but this hasn’t stopped people from dreaming about what may potentially lie buried on the island.

one of the many holes on the island
One of the many holes dug into the island over the years.

In early 2014, History Channel premiered a new program entitled The Curse of Oak Island in which a multi-person team led by brothers Marty and Rick Lagina, who effectively own half the island, attempt to discover just what lies hidden there. Set up as a reality show that chronicles efforts not only to uncover the truth behind various legends relating to the Oak Island mystery but also detail the excavations and digs taking place there, The Curse of Oak Island revolves around the notion that the island is cursed. Six people have died while excavating in and around The Money Pit, and legend has it that one more must perish before the treasure can be uncovered. Can we expect high drama at some point in the show’s run? Only time will tell…

Marty and Rick Lagina. The show’s all about them – and they let a viewer know it.

During the show’s first season, Marty and Rick mainly went about draining a mysterious, triangle-shaped swamp and exploring a man-made cove on the island. While there wasn’t much progress in actually discovering any treasure, the team did make a few tantalizing finds – notably, a large amount of coconut fiber which apparently was used as fill material in the creation of the cove and additionally, a 17th century copper coin. Since there are no coconut trees on Oak Island, the fiber is an indication that perhaps the legends of Caribbean pirates traveling to the location may in fact be true, and the appearance of the coin seems to corroborate the story. Season two of the show picks off right where the first season ended, showing Marty and Rick preparing for another digging season on Oak Island. As expected in any reality show, there’s plenty of turmoil and potential problems relating to their operations, one of which is a piece of government legislation that would put an end to any and all treasure hunting on site. Furthermore, the team runs into problems when attempting to use a incredibly heavy drilling rig to find the location of either the original Money Pit or one of the many subsequent so-called “seeker shafts” that were constructed in an attempt to locate a supposed treasure vault that’s rumored to be situated at a depth of around 140 feet underground.

Memorial to those who perished while seeking the Oak Island Treasure, but will a seventh name be added?

Obviously designed to be entertainment on some sort of level and having a premise that is undeniably seductive and fascinating, The Curse of Oak Island is a well-produced and tightly constructed show, yet it suffers from being yet another program on a presumably educational channel that I can’t in good conscience entirely trust. The reality show format means that there seems to be an awful lot of manipulation going on with how the circumstances happening on the island are related to the camera and presented for the viewer, and the fact that no significant news stories have been put forth about this excavation only solidifies for me that much of what is going on here may in fact be fabricated or at least not entirely authentic. The lack of news coverage also makes it tough for me to believe that much of anything significant will ever be found on Oak Island, and therefore this show doesn’t so much seem to be working towards a monumental discovery as just serving as a semi-agreeable time waste.

what treasure?
What treasure lies at the bottom of these semi-collapsed shafts?

Keeping with the traditions of the many borderline ludicrous “documentaries” on the History Channel (I’m talking about you American Unearthed and Ancient Aliens), The Curse of Oak Island focuses a large amount of attention on some rather cockamamie ideas about what actually is buried on the island and who put it there. These theories involve everyone from the Templars, to famous Caribbean pirates, to the English government, to the ancient Phoenicians, and early in season two, Marty and Rick entertain an idea proposed by treasure hunter J. Hutton Pulitzer that treasures from King Solomon’s temple (such as the Ark of the Covenant) may have been hidden on Oak Island. Theories like these are a staple of programs like Ancient Aliens, and at times, it almost seems like the purpose in including ideas like this in History Channel shows is simply to name-drop and thereby give some sort of credibility to programs that in no way shape or form deserve it (not helping matters is the fact that Curse is produced by the same company as Ancient Aliens and narrated by Robert Clotworthy, who also provides the frequently goofy and obnoxious commentary for that show).

sludging away in the Oak Island swamp
Sludging away in the Oak Island Swamp.

I should at this point say that the most enjoyable thing I get out of this show is watching Marty and Rick Lagina (who aren’t especially compelling or even likable as main characters) fail in their efforts to find anything on the island. Millions upon millions of dollars have been blown at Oak Island over the past few centuries, and I’m not entirely sure that the Lagina’s money will be enough to uncover anything. That the Lagina’s whole problem-solving approach seems to be to throw boatloads of money at the issue until it works out only makes it even more gleefully satisfying to see when they don’t get the results they want. To be completely honest, while it’d be interesting to see what exactly the ultimate secret of Oak Island really is, I don’t at all wish to see a historical discovery be made by this group of whining and almost cocky treasure hunters who (despite their claims to be “respecting history and Nova Scotia”), have made no effort of adhering to archaeological standards. Hell, the group of people featured in this show (which also features several life-long Oak Island excavators such as Dan Blankenship and his son Dave) would probably be as likely to destroy something they found through sheer incompetence than to actually recover it.

endless money
Can seemingly endless cash reserves finally solve the mystery of Oak Island?

Having been rather familiar with the Oak Island mystery before watching this show, I find the most intriguing thing about it to be the brief historical segments relating to the discovery of the pit and the various excavations that have occurred on site. The Curse of Oak Island makes use of some wonderful archival materials and occasionally reveals some captivating stories from the island’s history, but nothing can quite make up for the fact that, when taken individually, none of the episodes of this program are all that exciting to watch. Painfully dull at times since there’s very little honest humor on display, the program also suffers from the fact that the situation featured here simply doesn’t have much tension despite the many, phony cliffhanger moments set up through a slick editing scheme. Though I’ll sit through most any of the current wave of documentary-like reality shows dealing with mysterious circumstances or phenomena since I enjoy these sorts of subjects, Curse of Oak Island has to be one of the most boring of the lot. I’d say it’s something that most people would be better off skipping – at least until something legitimately valuable is discovered.

A Rainbow for the Taking

Shur Tech® Brand, Duck Tape® Rainbow, Printed Duct Tape




See it at Amazon 


Pros: Kid Pleasing, good adhesive, ID possessions in the classroom

Cons: So many patterns, So little time!


Measuring 1.88 inches x 10 yards Shur Tech® Brand, Duck Tape® Rainbow, Printed Duct Tape is a cheery addition to the various tapes brought in for usage in Osage County First Grade. Each term I add duct tape to my class supply lis: I do not specify color, or pattern, and the like, rather I request a roll of masking tape and one of duct tape. Duct tape is used in our classroom for identifying student journals, notebooks, binder’s, folders, and the like as well as for repair of these items, or whatever needs repair.

I never know what I will find in student packs as we unload the various supplies. Duct tape is brought in in fun patterns and plain, as well as outlandish, daring and just plain amusing. Some parents send a single roll while others send more. At times I receive narrow tape, and at others the tape is wide. All is usable in our classroom.

One of the really enjoyable prints this year has been a roll of multi tint wavying line rainbow. This fun tape features varying shades including yellow melding into green, then blue, flowing into purple and then red, into orange and back to yellow. I like that the colors flow from one to the other, with red and yellow becoming orange, as we find does take place when Mrs M marks a reading sentence first with yellow and on second reading with pink. And that red and blue meet to form purple while yellow and blue do become green. This beginning understanding of color and how it changes and swirls is important stuff for the six year old set.

Each year several parents will send multiple rolls of tape, some duct and some masking in varying widths along with their child. At one time or another staff members or fellow teachers will come and ask to use some of the tape. It is nice that we always have an ample supply for ourselves and plenty to share as need arises.

I like Shur Tech Brand the tape is well made, adhesive holds well making the tape dandy as a foremost fix-all, in the classroom and elsewhere too. More than once one of the older students will come to get some tape to repair a torn flip flop or to cover a hole in the thigh of levis… against our school dress code.

The vari color or fancy print DuckTape® are accessible in a diversity of shades and decorative designs presented as team or sport, colors, college logos, prints including flames, pickles, paint spatters and mustaches, and more as well as tapes in varying widths and lengths and tape sheets. Ducklings are smaller rolls, handy for mending and tape sheets are dandy for creating imaginative projects.

I like that Duck tape is easy to use, can be cut or torn easily, bonds wells, will not twist or become unusable as often takes place with some of the tape we use. Even a longish length tends to remain straight, not twisted into a knot as we prepare to repair a book, bind up a journal or complete other mending work.

Manufactured having full-bodied presentation power and bonding features these tapes adapt readily to whatever surface or shape we apply the tape.

While Osage County First Grade enjoys pattern and color synchronization; the personal choice tape applied to various possession works nicely to prompt the owner of the notebook, binder or whatever we see left behind on the floor proves gently handy and entertaining too for swiftly ascertaining who has forgotten to put his/her journal on their desktop, or whose binder is not on the rack.

I like that this Made in the USA merchandise rips without struggle even by my arthritic hand to whatever length needed for use. I do keep scissors close by just in case, but rarely need to reach for them.

I like these fun tapes offered in handsome colors and many prints. These entertaining, ornamental sticky tapes deliver an exceptional reserve suitable for personalizing home, crafting and classroom supplies including binders and journals. Each year Osage County First Grade has enjoyed choosing a tape for identifying his/her binder, cubby, desk, homework can, journal, can and the like. Some Little Learners preferred using their own tape as their personal ID tape while others chose the left over tape brought by a previous term classmate. Some students bring more than one fancy tape, so we have had an ongoing good selection for each child to contemplate.

I particularly like that these tapes are presented in a broad multiplicity of colors and styles having abundant charm for boys and girls and all ages. So many items are designed to appeal to children or adults, girls or boys, and something for everyone.

Roll sizes include 1.88 inch width X 10, 15 and 20 yard lengths. Mini rolls measure .75 inch wide x 15 feet and 180 inches and 8.25 by 10 inch sheets.

Happy to recommend Shur Tech® Brand, Duck Tape® Rainbow, Printed Duct Tape.


ShurTech Brands   32150 Just Imagine Dr.    Avon, OH 44011

Beef & Dumplings — Yum

Campbell’s® Chunky™ Country Beef & Dumplings with Hearty Vegetables Soup



See it at Amazon 


Pros: Husband likes it, good taste, Campbell’s supports women’s heart health program

Cons: 800mg sodium

Campbell’s® Chunky™ Country Beef & Dumplings with Hearty Vegetables Soup that eats like a meal®. When you’re hungry, you need Chunky®.   Chunky It fills you up right®

Fall into winter I buy a good bit of canned soups. Husband enjoys homemade and canned soups and he particularly likes Campbell’s canned soups.   The 18.8 oz can is about the right size for him to heat up in the microwave while I am in the classroom and away from the house during the day.

I enjoy the advertising surrounding chunky soups; both Husband and I enjoy football, the various advertising campaigns set in place using football players and their moms are always interesting, fun and entertaining. And, they trigger the notion to get a can or two when I am shopping at our local Reasors Supermarket.

The label notes that Country Beef & Dumplings with Hearty Vegetables Soup offers a full serving of vegetables and is crafted using Lean Meat.

I find Chunky soup is eaten more readily in our house than are some of the less hefty soups available. Husband takes to heart the notion that 30 selections filled with good sized pieces of vegetables and meat allow a nice variety of tasty flavors from which to choose to fill his perhaps NFL size hunger.

Now and then I do take some of the Campbells soups in the smaller containers to school to heat for lunch in our school Microwavable, I find the chunky soups while being a dandy size for Husband who stands taller than I and weighs somewhat more than do I tends to be a larger portion than I need to assuage my hunger. I like that Campbell’s works to meet the needs of all consumers rather than just those with larger appetites.

Occasionally I do prepare noodles or rice and pour a can or two of Chunky Soup over it for a quick lunch or light supper on snowy winter days. I find The Country Beef & Dumplings with Hearty Vegetables to be a tasty topping for rice or noodles; filled with good sized pieces of carrots and celery, seasoned beef, diced tomatoes in Juice, and peas as well as tomato puree, for added flavor the soup adds just the right touch for a cold winter meal as we watch football.

For a good source of protein, potassium and vitamins A & C Husband and I enjoy flavorful soups filled with vegetables and lean pieces of meat.


Nutrition Facts from the Campbell’s website: Amount Per Serving = serving size 1 cup

Calories 130

Fat Calories 15

Sodium 800mg

Carbohydrates 20g

Dietary Fiber 3g

Sugars 8g

Protein 8g

* from the Campbell’s Website:  The nutrition information contained in this list of Nutrition Facts is based on our current data. However, because the data may change from time to time, this information may not always be identical to the nutritional label information of products on shelf.

This is a long lived, pantry shelf type product, store at room temperature, container is metal can, fully cooked contents, heat and serve. Can has pull tab for quick opening.

Ingredients from label include: Water, Carrots, Seasoned Beef, Eggs, Enriched Wheat Durum Flour, Salt, Spices, Celery diced Tomatoes in Juice, Tomato Puree, Peas

Contains 2% or less of the following: Food Starch Modified, Onions Dehydrated, Sugar, Salt, Beef Stock, Beef Flavors, Yeast Extract, Maltodextrin , Dehydrated Garlic, Caramel Color, Flavoring, Gelatin, Onions , Spices , Lactic Acid , Potassium Chloride, Sodium Phosphate, Citric Acid

Spaetzle Dumplings ingredients include: Water, Enriched Wheat Flour


I like knowing something of the company’s from which I buy products, internet search and Campbell’s website perusal indicates:

Launched in 1869 by New Jerseyites Joseph A. Campbell and Abraham Anderson. The slogan for the company since 1978 has been “Mmm Mmm Good.”

Campbell Soup Company, frequently known as Campbell’s, is an American manufacturer of canned soups and related products.

A worldwide supplier; Campbell’s headquartered in Camden, New Jersey products are sold in 120 countries

Internet search indicates: The Campbell Soup corporation  supports the ‘go red’ campaign to bring awareness to women and others that heart disease is the number one cause of death among women.

As part of Campbell’s mission to nourish people’s lives everywhere, every day, Campbell continues to offer a growing variety of heart-healthy products. “This year marks our seventh year supporting the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement, and we’ve never been more proud to be a part of the organization’s efforts to raise awareness of the risks of heart disease among women. Campbell is dedicated to making great-tasting products that help people eat and live better, and our pledge of $5.4 million to the Go Red for Women movement through 2015 is a critical piece of this commitment.” Ed Carolan, Vice President and General Manager, Soup and Simple Meals, Campbell Soup Company. To further this important cause, we invite you to join us in supporting the Go Red For Women movement.

Campbell Soup Company owns some of the world’s most powerful sauce, beverage, and snack brands, including Prego, Pace, V8, SpaghettiOs, Pepperidge Farm, and Godiva. Each of these brands is number one or two in its segment. Since its introduction over two decades ago, Prego pasta sauce has become a popular part of Italian meals prepared in American homes. Created more than 50 years ago, Pace Mexican sauces have built unwavering loyalty with consumers in western U.S. markets. V8 vegetable juice, introduced almost 70 years ago, remains on trend for today’s health conscious consumers.

Pepperidge Farm is consistently ranked by consumers among the top two percent of brands worldwide in brand equity. Pepperidge Farm has almost 5,000 employees and 3,000 independent distributors. Pepperidge Farm products are available nationwide and in 40 countries around the world. There are eight Pepperidge Farm production sites throughout the United States which produce indulgent cookies and treats, fresh breads, fun snacks, and meal solutions.

Pepperidge Farm has been committed to quality in all of its products for nearly 70 years.

Godiva is recognized around the world as the leader in fine chocolates. From its famous truffles to its European style biscuits, and gourmet coffees, Godiva Chocolatier has been dedicated to excellence and innovation in the Belgian tradition for nearly 80 years.

Campbell Place

Camden, New Jersey 08103-1701

United States

Vintage and works great

Alladin Stanley® Vacuum Bottle


See it at Amazon 


Pros: made to last, and it does

Cons: heavy for arthritic hands

My vintage, American made, Alladin Stanley® vacuum bottle is a well-made, dandy of a vaccum bottle. My dad carried a glass lined thermos bottle in his lunch box for years so my experience with the Alladin Stanley vacuum bottle was limited, I did see a few during childhood but had no idea what they were, or how handy.

Dad’s thermos suffered a broken liner now and again, the liner was replaceable.

My children are Lads, Boy Scouting became a major experience in our lives for many years, kids were cubbies and continued in the program through Webelo and Scouts. I became an adult Scouter and noticed many fellow scouters, generally older men carrying the Alladin Stanley vacuum bottles during troop campouts, Camporees and the like. It was during those scouting events that I came to recognize the utility of these sturdy, well built containers.

First appearing in 1913; the all-steel vacuum bottle invented by William Stanley Jr. revolutionized the container industry by corroborating that steel can be used in lieu of glass to insulate.

Stanley using public has long realized that Stanley products are fabricated to last the lifespan of the owner and beyond. Of course the better care we show these useful containers the nicer they will remain, the longer they can be expected to last and the better they are likely to accomplish.

Today I use both my sturdy Alladin Stanley bottle and containers made by thermos. I have foregone using most thermos having glass liners for the reason my dad needed to replace the liner on occasion; they break.

Newer Thermos bottles are all metal, keep hot coffee hot and are lighter weight, skinnier and easier for me to carry to school in my rolling case than is my more bulky Stanley.

On the other hand, my handy Stanley bottle is often found in the car during winter trips. I have never been snowed in, off the road or whatever, however, the BSA motto, Be Prepared, is well engrained, with the Stanley bottle I know the water I put into it will not freeze whatever the temp and water as liquid will be available for drinking  in case it is needed during the snowy trips north to see son and family during winter.

As I age and arthritis in my hands continues to progress I find my Stanley bottle is becoming heavy and difficult for me to maneuver. I have no intention to set it aside, we will continue to use my handleless bottle for water especially during winter. However, I do intend to avail myself of one of the bottles having a handle on the side. The bottle, intended to hold coffee during trips or campouts, will still be heavy, however, I will be able to lift it using the handle, and will not need help with the bottle for many more trips or excursions to come.

I like that suggestions and recommendations for making optimum usage of Stanley products, including suggestion regarding making oatmeal in the bottle, are available on the Pacific Market International, PMI Stanley® website. I even found a downloadable pdf regarding care presented on the website.

 Care & Use of Stanley Stainless Steel products data regarding how to best use Stanley products per the website includes several cautions including;

– Do NOT use in microwave, oven or dishwasher!

-Don’t overfill with hot drinks; overfilling may lead to spillage and searing. The fill capacity is planned to be complete just below the lid base.

-When filled with hot liquid Stainless Steel Mugs should be used with caution when children are in proximity.

-Stainless Steel Water bottles are not intended for usage with hot beverages.

-Bottle lid should be attached firmly to prevent spills, and possible harm from spillage against bare skin.

-In order to minimize bacterial growth, Stanley bottles are not recommended for storage of warm milk products or baby foods.

The Stanley website includes recommendations for CARE & USE OF STAINLESS STEEL PRODUCTS includes:

-Wash products before use. To clean, wash with warm water and mild detergent. Let product stand for five minutes. Pour out washing water and rinse with warm water.

-Should inner area become discolored, a concoction of baking soda and water can be used. Add solution, let product stand uncapped, open for 60 minutes then rinse meticulously.

-Caution: bleach or cleansers containing chlorine to clean should not be used with Stanley vacuum bottles.

-Pre-heating or pre-chilling the Stanley bottle by adding steaming hot or ice-cold water, as mother’s of my generation always suggested, does aide in keeping coffee or other beverages hot or cold for a longer period. Fill bottle with hot or cold liquid; let stand for five minutes, empty the contents, add coffee or other beverage to be stored in the bottle.

-Stanley, a brand of PMI offers replacement parts on their website including cups, stoppers or gaskets, as well as food, drink and spirit container, mugs and cups.

-I like that Stanley products are warranted to be free from any defect in workmanship or materials and to be Thermally efficient provided used according to the instructions.

Note: This warranty does not cover component parts or malfunction due to alteration, misuse, or accident. If you have any questions regarding this or any other Stanley product, please call our customer service department

-Please note do not return product to retailer.

 Happy to recommend my vintage bottle: Standing about 14.5 inches in height and about 4 inches outer diameter; my bottle is one of the green, hammered outer shell types.

 While New bottles and other Stanley products are available on Amazon and Stanley websites; I will likely check jumble shop before purchase.


2401 Elliott Ave. 4th Fl

Seattle, WA USA 98121


Timeline per the Stanley website:


1913 William Stanley Jr. invents the all-steel vacuum bottle and revolutionizes the industry by proving steel can be used in place of glass to insulate.

 1915 The Stanley insulating company begins mass production of the Stanley vacuum bottle, insulating jugs and beverage servers.

 1942 Stanley bottles are first carried on WWII B-17’s, beginning a long history of use on military aircraft.

 1953 The iconic hammertone green is introduced for the first time on a Stanley bottle.

 1960’s A majority of airlines, ocean liners, railroads, and hospitals around the country now use Stanley commercial products.

 1970’s Modernized Stanley vacuum bottles gain popularity with the American workforce, making it the most popular vacuum bottle in history.

 1995 William Stanley Jr., who had obtained 129 patents related to both electricity and insulation during his career, is inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

 2002 Seattle, WA based PMI purchases the Stanley brand streamlining the design and manufacturing process while staying true to the brand’s legacy of durability and relevance.

 2006 The Outdoor Industry welcomes the Stanley brand. Within a few short years, Stanley Outdoor products will have made explorations all over the world including Mt Everest, North and South poles.

 2008 eCycle®, our proprietary blend of recycled material is first introduced in the Stanley Recycled & Recyclable 16oz Tumbler, first to offer reusable, BPA-free recycled and recyclable coffee mugs.

 2012 Outside Magazine names the Stanley Vacuum Bottle as one of “The Most Influential Gear of All Time.”

2013 We turn 100.

Six Muffins at a Time – Wilton Muffin Pan

Wilton 6-cup Regular Muffin Pan

See it at Amazon 


Pros: evenly heats, non-stick coating, easy to clean, small pan is easy to store

Cons: cups not deep enough for popovers

I have been using this Wilton 6-Cup Regular Muffin Pan for about two years. My old muffin pan was looking rough from years of use, which prompted me to buy the Wilton replacement.


The Wilton muffin pan is designed to evenly spread heat through its heavy gauge steel construction. It has six cups for regular size muffins. Large curved areas at the end of each short pan side provide hand-holds. There are holes at each short end for hanging the pan.

My Experiences

I tend to bake either twelve or six muffins at a time. Usually I make six muffins since the household size has shrunk.

My preference is to make muffins from scratch, but I also have some muffin mixes for when I am in a rush. I always use Reynold’s paper baking cups inside the muffin pan. The paper liners make it easier to remove each muffin from the pan. The liners also make it easier to clean the pan since the batter stays in the liners and not on the metal pan.

The non-stick coating on this Wilton pan is a bonus since no matter how neat I try to be, inevitably a few batter droppings end up on the pan surface. Usually I am able to catch all the drippings and clean them before baking the muffins, but sometimes I miss a spot, or I overfill the liners and the batter touches the metal cup rims. The cooked batter easily wipes away with a sponge.

This is a very easy plan to keep clean. The one area that might need some extra attention is the pan edge has a rim with a crease where the two pieces of metal meet.

This Wilton pan is working great for simple muffin baking. It evenly heats and the pan is small, easy to store in the cabinet on a shelf.


I’m very happy using this Wilton 6-Cup Regular Muffin Pan. It was affordable, cooks well, is easy to clean and store. Even though this pan is two years old, it still looks great. I would definitely purchase another one.

I hope you found this review useful.

Enjoy the day,

Copyright 2014 Dawn L. Stewart


The 9th Judgment by James Patterson – one of the worst of the series

The 9th Judgment by James Patterson




See it at Amazon 


Pros: One of the stories was somewhat interesting

Cons: Pretty much everything else

Wow. In general, I like James Patterson.  In general, I like the Women’s Murder Club series.  But The 9th Judgment is pretty bad.

First of all, the entire concept of “the club” was supposed to be four strong women working together to solve crimes. Lindsay the detective, Cindy the reporter, Claire the medical examiner, and Yuki the district attorney.  But, lately, the books revolve around one or two women actually doing anything remotely related to crime-solving.  And the others just hang around for a scene or two.

Such is the case in The 9th Judgment.  Lindsay is busy working two different cases.  One is a cat burglar who successfully steals from the rich.  Normally nothing much happens except for the robbery, however in the last case, a woman is left dead.  The second case involves someone going around killing women and children in parking garages.

So Lindsay’s going nuts trying to solve these cases. Meanwhile, Yuki is simply doing her job and entering yet another new romance. Claire is doing her best to find clues in the autopsy process.  And Cindy is doing her reporting gig, and furthering her romance with Lindsay’s partner.

So, as you can see, these women have seemingly stopped being anything club-like.

Further, the two stories were both pretty awful. A cat burgler?  I’m just not that interested.  Especially since we’re given reasons for the robberies in an attempt to drum up sympathy for the perp.  However, the robberies went on far longer than necessary to achieve the goal, making me feel the perp is just selfish and getting a thrill from the danger, rather than attempting to solve a true crisis.

The other story was far more interesting, however, it is beyond gruesome. It’s one thing to read about murders in a thriller – evil is expected in this genre.  But killing the children alongside their mothers, that’s tough to take in.   And while Patterson (with co-author Maxine Paetro) tries to give us an explanation for the killing spree, it just didn’t ring true for me.

So, we have a decent series, but a pretty bad book.   For sure, don’t start with this book, if you’re just hopping into the series.  Frankly, even if you’re reading them in order, take this one for what it’s worth – not a lot.

1st To Die
2nd Chance
3rd Degree
4th Of July
The 5th Horseman
The 6th Target
7th Heaven
The 8th Confession