Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Every Dog is "As Good As Gold" : A Review

Can we all agree, every dog is "As Good As Gold" !

I had the pleasure of reviewing a few children's books by author Patricia Furstenberg a while back.  I loved those books with their colorful and quaint illustrations.  The stories were cute as well.  If you want to know more about those books you can read my review right here.

Now Patricia Furstenberg is back with a whole book of poetry that just makes you relax and smile.  Here is my Review:


As Good As Gold is being launched today May 23rd and I'm so pleased to be part of this massive roll out!  This book is light hearted and a delight.  Humans who have had dogs often wonder what their dogs are thinking.  As Good As Gold may give you just a little inkling of what is going on in that mind!  Dogs who are cared for seem to have minds that are always sharp and ready to find the "new and different".  In this book Ms. Furstenberg gives those dogs a voice.  I'm sure when you are reading these words, you will agree, quite possibly, this is exactly what my dog was thinking.


https://www.reviewthisreviews.com/2018/05/every-dog-is-as-good-as-gold-review.html?spref=fb

The poems in As Good As Gold, will make you smile and think to yourself, "Ahhh, that's what was going on in my fur baby's mind!"  

I really enjoyed seeing all things from snowflakes and autumn leaves, to other creatures in the garden, through all these dog's eyes.  What we consider normal and everyday for our puppies and our older dogs, may not be so ordinary and normal.  Maybe we could learn from the excitement of our dogs, a new "wonder" in all the things around us.  Like children our fur babies are busy learning about their world.  

How many times do our fur babies find themselves in "trouble" of some sort?  With the heart of an innocent, these poems written by Pat Furstenberg, bring a small modicum of understanding when they get into something they don't understand.  Meeting frogs and birds, snakes and cats, and many other animals in their "world", makes their innocence even more poignant.  Dogs often they get into mischief or mishaps, just because they are curious.  When that happens, maybe we should stop and think, putting ourselves into their paws (so to speak). Reading this book of poetry reminded me to never lose that sense of exploration or learning something new.  Dogs are masters at teaching us to enjoy the simple things in life and the beautiful things around us.

Some beautiful Haiku at the end of the book will make you settle down with a loving sigh......They are the diamonds to keep you smiling long after you are finished reading.  This is a great book to enjoy with children.  I'm so sure that the children will relate to learning new things just like the dogs are doing.  It's a fun and enlightening read.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Clicking on the blue As Good As Gold in this review will take you to the Amazon link where you may purchase this book if you like!


                                                          OCEAN
                                              Undecided water
                                   Moving between sky and sand.
                                            Lullaby, hush, hush.

                                                                P. Furstenberg (from the book)
as good as gold, pat furstenberg, grammie olivia, review this
                                                                                             picture courtesy of Pexels.com







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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Magnolia Table Cookbook Reviewed

Delightful Recipes To Cook

cooking
Cooking For Family
Joanna Gaines can do more than decorate a home! I would like to review her cookbook Magnolia Table for you all today.

I received this cookbook for Mother's Day this year and was thrilled to get it. I am a huge fan of Joanna and her husband Chip. I have probably watched every single episode of their popular television show "Fixer Upper" at least three or four times. Sure, I love to see how the two work together to remodel a house for a client into a home that the new owners will love for years to come. There is more to it than that, though. I love the example the two give in each episode of two people who love each other. Through each episode they show how a couple can and should be partners in life; they have taken it further by actually being in business together for an even stronger partnership. Their love of family is apparent, too. I greatly admire both of them. 

It amazes me that with all of the different little businesses that Joanna has going plus raising her children (which by the way is about to grow) that she has time to cook at all. Cook, she does and from the recipes in the cookbook I would say she does it well.

Not only does Joanna share recipes that she cooks with love for Chip and the kids but she adds little messages about each recipe. For instance, she tells about how she kept trying to perfect the biscuit recipe until she finally got it right...she knew it was right when everyone in the family voiced their approval. There is a sweet little message about her oldest son Drake going to summer camp and writing home telling her that he missed her and asking for her to make a certain dish when he got home. She shares that Chip loves breakfast and wants the entire family to start their day together sharing breakfast every morning. So, this is way more than just another cookbook!

I haven't had time to try many of the recipes yet but I am working on it. This weekend I fixed the Three Cheese Quiche recipe. Oh my word it was delicious! It was extremely easy to make and filled the kitchen with a scrumptious aroma as it baked. The final test was how would my husband like it. You see, he is a strong "meat and potatoes" kind of guy. He wrinkled up his nose when I said I was making  a quiche so I had my fingers crossed. After his first bite, he remarked that it was good but not with a lot of enthusiasm. I thought, "Well shoot, I guess this will be a recipe that I will make when the kids come home." Personally, I thought it was a slice of heaven. So, when he finished the first piece and asked for a second; I almost fell out of my chair! He actually loved it! I have to admit my eyes leaked a little.

I highly recommend this cookbook for your kitchen. I think you will enjoy making the recipes inside but most of all you will enjoy eating them! This cookbook would be an excellent gift for a new bride or someone who is moving into their first home away from home. I know I love my copy which is even more special because my family made sure that I got a signed first edition. Wasn't that sweet? They know how much I admire Joanna as a woman so they took that extra step as an act of love. Something that I share with Joanna is the love of my family and the joy of cooking for them. 



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Monday, May 21, 2018

Tips for Better Hummus at Home

Smooth and creamy hummus.
I like hummus. I like hummus a lot. A lifetime ago, a friend who was vegan introduced me to hummus. But I could never make my own and have it turn out right. Frankly, I had given up trying. Then while living in Baltimore, my roommate brought home a tip about hummus. Cook the chick peas. Since then, I use that tip to make the kind of smooth and flavorful hummus that I like to eat.

Hummus is a spread made of chick peas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and garlic. Tahini is a "Middle Eastern paste or sauce made from ground sesame seeds" (online dictionary). Think peanut butter made from sesame seeds. 


Tips for Making Better Hummus at Home


Cook the Chick Peas.  A few years ago, my roommate came home with exciting news. A person had shared their delicious hummus with him. When he asked what the secret was, the person told him that it was boiling the chick peas and mashing them when they are still warm. I use two cans of chick peas. I dump them into a sauce pan and simmer them until the juice has simmer away. Be careful not to burn the beans (that stinks up the kitchen and is hard to remove from the pan). I then strain the remaining juice off before mashing the chick peas.

Use Fresh Tahini. Tahini comes in a can and is much like peanut butter but with oil floating on top. I only just now learned that oils can go rancid, and this includes the oils in Tahini. Which explains why I once made hummus - using a can of Tahini I found in the back of the cupboard - and it tasted terrible. I thought it was just because I'm not good in the kitchen and the odds of me messing up even the most simple recipe are high.  But in this case, it was the old Tahini. Make sure you have Tahini that was recently purchased. Stir the layers of paste and oil together before scooping out the amount you want.

Use a Food Processor or Nutri-Bullet. If you like extremely smooth Hummus, use a food processor. I use my Nutri-Bullet.  I first use a potato masher to mash the chick peas and Tahini together. I add the additional ingredients and give it all a spin in my Nutri-bullet. The Hummus turns out very creamy and easy to spread or dip. 

There are days that I want more coarse Hummus and on those days, I just mash with a potato masher and stop there.


I don't do recipes. 
For a recipe that is the same as how I make my hummus 
check out this Easy Hummus Recipe by inspired taste. 


Basically, I simmer the chick peas (two 15 oz. cans). Strain the remaining water off. Add around a 1/2 cup of tahini, a squirt of lemon juice, a pinch of garlic salt, and a squirt of olive oil. Tonight I added a can of black olives. I mashed the mix with a potato masher. Then I added the mixture to my Nutri-Bullet with about a 1/4 cup of water. Blend briefly. Tonight I served with a few drops of sriracha and baby carrots. 

Customize Your Hummus


Add the ingredients that you like. I really like to add a can of black olives to mine. I also use a splash of water and use less oil.

Other Hummus flavor ideas are:

  • sriracha
  • cumin
  • roasted red peppers
  • mushroom
  • spinach


Additional Links About Hummus


I like the taste of Hummus. I think it is a great light meal or snack. I eat it on bagels, tortillas, chips, carrots, or pita bread. I don't eat it because I think it is a super food. Some people believe that Hummus is a food that is high in protein, helps with digestion, and is an anti-inflammatory. Others say that claims of high protein are inflated and that Hummus is only high in carbs and fats. If you are looking at Hummus for it's health benefits, please consider both sides of the debate.  Dr. Axe writes on the side of hummus being a very healthy food with many different health benefits, including being a good source of protein. While Jessica Cording writes for Shape Magazine that hummus not only is not high in protein, but IS high in fat and carbs. 

My thinking about the health benefits of hummus are somewhere in the middle. I do know that I love the taste when I make my own and it has to be far healthier than that entire bag of M&Ms I'd eat as a snack if I didn't have hummus. 

Intro Photo: Hummus courtesy of Pixabay under CC0 license




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Sunday, May 20, 2018

How to Use Color on the Walls or Ceiling in an Open Concept Room

Notice the Kitchen Ceiling is in the Same Color Family as the Walls Outside of the Kitchen Area
They've Provided Continuity by Bringing the Main Room Colors into the Kitchen Design
Photo Via Pixabay
Most newer homes are designed so that the main rooms combine or flow directly into one another. Although popular, it can be a challenge to decide how to create a cohesive color scheme.

Here are Three Tips to Review:

1. Choose Your "Neutral Color" and Use it On All the Rooms that Open to Each Other

A neutral color doesn't have to be white, beige, gray or tan. When we think about a neutral color, we tend to think 'light' colors, however, your neutral color can also be a bold color.

The main tip in choosing your base color is to use it on all the rooms that flow together in an open area.

Once you've established your base neutral, you're free to create separations in the space using elements or furnishings in the room.

As an example, if a living room opens up to the kitchen, establish your base color for the walls in both rooms then define the spaces using color in other décor aspects. The couches could be lighter and more neutral with darker walls, while the counter tops could be darker if the kitchen cupboards are lighter.

Once you establish a base color for the walls and floors, the rest of the room becomes an effort in matching and binding the elements together.

Notice the Wall Color Between the Two Spaces is the Same
Check out the Ceilings - Because of the Dividing White Beam, a Different Ceiling color Works
Photo Via Pixabay
2. If You Prefer Different Wall Colors in Each of the Defined Spaces that are Open to Each Other Choose Colors in the Same Color Family or Color Temperature

If choosing just one color flowing between your open space rooms is simply not to your liking, then consider choosing colors in the same tones.

As an example, choose a darker shade of a particular color for one aspect of the room, and a lighter shade of the same color for the other open area.

Don't forget the ceiling. Rather than going with a standard white ceiling, depending upon the design of your room, you could use an even lighter shade of your chosen color for the ceiling.
As an example, in a living room kitchen combined space, you could use a dark grey for the living room walls and two shades down for the kitchen color. For the shared ceiling between the two spaces, bring the grey even lighter, perhaps four shades down from the darkest shade you've selected. With this example, you've stayed in the grey family, yet provided distinctive color differences between the two rooms and tied them together using the ceiling.
With a cohesive floor and ceiling flowing through the space, walls in the same tone but different in shade still work nicely without leaving one feeling overwhelmed.

This Design Opens to Several Rooms
They've used Various Shades in the Same Color Temperature
to Create Cohesiveness and Separation - Photo Via Pixabay
3. When You're Not Sure Whether a Room Flows from One to Another

One of the difficult things people find about an open concept space is, are the rooms in fact, open to each other.

In other words, a room is open to another yet not visible from every angle and thus you're unsure if it's considered a separate space.

The solution to this is 'Sightlines". Stand in a room, and determine what other rooms can be seen when you're in it and repeat this for all rooms. If there's an open connection to another room, then you need to be cognizant of color flow.

If you're standing in a room and the only way you can see another room is through a door, that doesn't count as 'open to the other space'. It doesn't mean you should go hog-wild with color differentials, it merely means you're not obligated to consider the flow as carefully as you would with adjoining rooms.

The bottom line, don't be afraid of color. Take your time to determine how your rooms connect together, then decide what system works best for your open concept spaces; one color connecting all walls or various shades in the same family.


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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Reviewing Smoothie Bowl Recipes

Smoothie Bowl Recipes
Taken by Louanne Cox
Here at Review This it seems that a few of us enjoy our smoothies.  I have been having a smoothie nearly every morning since I first did a 30 Days to Healthy Living and Beyond plan*.

I do like to take my smoothie up a notch some days though (especially on the weekend) with a smoothie bowl.   My very first smoothie bowl was essentially just a chocolate one topped with hazelnuts and it was like having a delicious chocolate treat ... that was healthy - how much better does life get?

What is a Smoothie Bowl?


Essentially a smoothie bowl is a thick smoothie served in a bowl with different toppings and it is delicious.  You can have a myriad of different flavors and there's really no rules as to what you can pop on top - I have seen some amazing looking ones on instagram.

Smoothie Bowl Recipes


The smoothie bowl that I have the most for breakfast is a chocolate cherry one.

200 ml water
2 scoops vegan chocolate protein powder (I use the Arbonne one as it's the only one I really like the taste of)
1 scoop greens balance (this powder contains fruit and veg goodness and gives me energy during the day)
1 scoop daily fibre
1 tsp cacao powder
8 frozen cherries
1/2 avocado

Chocolate Smoothie Bowl
I blend all of this together and the combination of the avocado and 50ml less water than I use for my 'normal smoothie' makes this into a lovely thickness.

I serve it into a bowl and then add toppings.  Sometimes I add fresh raspberries and chopped nuts, sometimes I sprinkle coconut on it as I love cherries with coconut.

We couldn't get frozen cherries for a couple of weeks so I would use frozen strawberries, frozen blackberries or a combination of the two and this was also delicious.

I sometimes don't feel like chocolate, but I've never been sure what avocado would taste like in a vanilla smoothie.  As I was looking through my instagram feed I came across a recipe that used zucchini in a smoothie so I reached out to the person and asked about it.

This next smoothie bowl was delicious ..

200 ml water
2 scoops vanilla protein powder (the Arbonne one of course!)
1 tsp acai powder
6 x frozen strawberries
6 x frozen blackberries
1/2 zucchini

Berry Smoothie Bowl
I blended this up and it made a vibrant delicious looking smoothie (that tasted delicious too by the way).  I topped it with chopped mixed nuts and some fresh raspberries.

Now the zucchini added a thickness and creaminess to the smoothie, but you couldn't really taste it which was good.  I wanted it a little thicker the second time I made it so I added a whole zucchini - big mistake!   Zucchini has a high water content so if you want it thicker than this one reduce the water to 150 ml do not increase the amount of zucchini!

On Mother's Day my daughter took me out to breakfast where I had a smoothie bowl that was out of this world.

Decorated with not just fruit, seeds and coconut, but flowers too!

I don't have their recipe, but I really need to up my game as you can see here -

vegan healthy smoothie bowl recipes
The Ultimate Smoothie Bowl!


Check out some of our other smoothie reviews -


Tropical Fruit Smoothie Recipe ReviewedTropical Fruit Smoothie Recipe Reviewed
The tropical fruit smoothies taste really good and they are very easy to make. Simply gather your favorite tropical fruits and the blender and you have a quick and healthy snack for breakfast, lunch or after dinner!

Reviewing Chocolate SmoothiesReviewing Chocolate Smoothies
Enjoying your chocolate is easy when you make it into a smoothie. Yes, I have gotten into smoothies lately. And since I can't not have chocolate as part of my day, a chocolate smoothie sounded great.

Healthy and Delicious SmoothiesHealthy and Delicious Smoothies
Some time ago I began trying to eat healthier foods and cut things from my diet such as soda. One of the things I've enjoyed are green smoothies.


*By the way if you're interested in finding out more about my 30 days to healthy living and beyond plan please message me via my facebook business page or instagram. Personally I have lots more energy, my hormones are balanced, the inflammation from my rheumatoid arthritis is non existent and I've lost 13.4kg over the past 6 months.

Back to smoothie bowls - have you ever made your own smoothie bowl and what was your favorite flavor combination?


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Crooked House Movie (2017) Review

Agatha Christie's Crooked House - 2017 Movie Reviewed
Agatha Christie never disappoints!  Crooked House is an awesome mystery. 

As always, Agatha Christie held me spellbound until the very end.  I had no idea who the murderer was and the ending was completely unexpected.

I don't know how I previously missed seeing one of the movie versions of Crooked House.  Apparently, there have been several.  I was thrilled to discover an Agatha Christie book plot that I had neither read, nor seen a film adaptation of the story.   

If you love a great mystery, if you are an Agatha Christie fan, or if you happen to be seeking a wonderfully suspenseful movie, I highly recommend Crooked House.   I don't know about any of the other movie versions, but I do know this 2017 version is phenomenal and Glenn Close is superb as Aunt Edith.  


The Plot of Crooked House by Agatha Christie


Crooked House Movie (2017) ReviewedWhen Aristide Leonides dies at the age of 85, every member of his family and household are murder suspects.  He was extremely wealthy and each family member had reasons why they would want him dead.  Since they all lived together in his mansion, they all had opportunity and access to his medicine, which was mixed to create a lethal poison.

The family was not sad over Leonides death.  In some ways, it was a relief to several of them because he was a controlling patriarch who enjoyed playing games with their lives.  He used his money and their dependence upon him, to wield power over them.  Now, they were free from the overbearing, oppressive bully in their lives.

Everyone thought they knew what would happen to his estate in the event of his death, but they were all wrong.  Unbeknownst to his sons, his grandchildren and his first wife's sister, Leonides had neglected to sign the will that left them all heirs.  Because there was no legal will, his young wife stood to inherit everything by default.  

Even before they knew about the unsigned will, family members were not particularly fond of his wife and they were more than willing to cast the blame for his murder on her.  Even the police suspected that his wife, Brenda, and her lover had poisoned Leonides.   

As you would expect, Brenda did not like the family either and was thrilled to find out she would inherit everything.  She did not hesitate to show her happiness over this turn of events. 

Leonides granddaughter, Sophia, hired her previous lover, who also happened to be a private detective, to investigate the murder.  She worries that Scotland Yard will not be respectful of the families privacy and she wants Charles Hayward to protect them from unnecessary probing. 

You now know the basic plot.  Two sons, two daughters-in-law, three grandchildren, a sister-in-law, a young wife and her lover all living in the same house, who all have means and motive to kill the head of the family, Aristide Leonide.  Scotland Yard is even depending on Charles Hayward to figure out which one is the murderer.  See if you can figure it out before the last 10 minutes of the movie!


Glenn Close in Crooked House

Glenn Close stars as Edith de Haviland in Crooked House.  As always, she is fabulous.  I can't imagine any other actress ever coming close to her performance.  She was totally and completely believable as Aunt Edith.

Edith was Aristide Leonides sister-in-law by his first marriage.  Therefore, she was his children's aunt and his grandchildren's' great aunt, but they all call her Aunt Edith.  She is a bit eccentric, self-assured, intelligent and strong willed.  I loved her!  

In my opinion, Glenn Close as Edith made what is clearly a wonderfully suspenseful book plot into a phenomenally superb movie.  



House of Sylvestermouse




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Thursday, May 17, 2018

DIY Mason Jar Bird Feeder - Tutorial and Product Review

One of my favorite things in all the world is to spend time observing and photographing wild birds.  Most avid bird-watchers and photographers know that providing food is one way to ensure a steady stream of visitors and photo moments.  For some time now, I have wanted to make a new feeder for the birds that bring me such great pleasure.

Right away I knew that a mason jar bird feeder would be perfect for my country home.  Who doesn't love the charm of the ever-popular mason jar?  I thought I would share this project and a few tips for those out there who might also enjoy treating their feathered friends.  It is likely you already have most of what is needed for this easy do-it-yourself craft.  Let's get started.






Supplies Needed

  1. A regular mouth canning jar.
  2. A chick feeder base.
  3. A bowl or plate for the canopy over the jar.
  4. E6000 glue (or another super strength clear adhesive).
  5. Birdseed.
  6. Chain or picture wire (plant or basket hanger).
  7. Optional: Decorative knob.
Step One:  Acquire a regular mouth canning jar and proportionately sized dish for its canopy.  You can find inexpensive mason jars at thrift stores, any of the dollar stores, craft stores, etc.  Though I already had some canning jars at home, I fell in love with The Pioneer Woman's embossed Betsy mason jars.  In addition to being especially lovely, the jars are 32 ounces, which means you won't have to fill your bird feeder as often as with smaller containers.

Step Two:  Buy a screw-on chick feeder base that fits a regular mouth mason jar.  Most feed stores will have them, or you can purchase one online.  I get mine locally from either Tractor Supply Company or Big-R.  Typically, I pay $2.99-$3.99, depending on whether I buy a plastic or a galvanized metal feeder.  There are usually a few colors from which to choose.  My store has red, green, yellow, purple, and the galvanized silver feeders.


Step Three:  Determine if you are going to hang your feeder or place it on a post.  If you plan to hang your bird feeder, you may wish to use a decorative knob on the canopy (to provide an anchor point for a chain or hanging wire).  The ceramic knob I chose couldn't be glued on, so I used my Dremel and a tile bit to drill a hole in the center of my canopy dish.  The bit worked perfectly and created a very neat little hole for the screw that holds the knob in place.  Tip:  Keep the surface wet and go slow while you are drilling.  Angle the bit slightly.


Step Four:  Insert a screw and use two washers (one for the interior screw and one for the exterior knob) to protect the bowl's surface.  I used a 3/4-inch long machine screw (#8) that fit the thickness of the bowl and the knob threads.  Tip:  Be careful not to over-tighten the screw.  You wouldn't want to crack that beautiful bowl (part of the vintage floral pasta bowl set by The Pioneer Woman).  *You can skip steps three and four if you choose a scalloped edge bowl and hook your plant hanger chains between the rounded curves.







Step Five:  Apply E6000 glue on the bottom rim of the mason jar (around the entire rim).  Follow the instructions on the glue label to ensure the best adhesion results.














Step Six:  Center bottom of mason jar inside canopy bowl and apply gentle pressure while the glue is bonding.  Set aside for the glue to cure.  Depending on the temperature and weather conditions, curing time can take 1-2 days.  It's important not to rush this step.

*In this photo, you are looking down inside the open mouth of the jar.  You can see how it is centered over the screw for the canopy knob.  Tip: Use a flathead screw so the jar rim can sit flush on the bowl.










Step Seven:  After the glue is fully cured, fill mason jar with birdseed.  I used safflower seed.  Supposedly, squirrels won't bother a feeder with this kind of seed.  It is also said to keep bully birds from hogging all of the seed.  Safflower seed attracts the kind of birds I am hoping to feed.  I plan to hang my feeder, but decided to wait one extra day to ensure the glue is totally cured.

Because my hummingbirds are attracted to red feeders, I am thoughtfully considering the best location for this bird feeder.  You can see from the introductory photo on this page that the first bird to check out my new feeder was a hummer.

I love how my DIY mason jar bird feeder project turned out (so much so that I am making more than one feeder).  In addition to the Betsy mason jars, the dishes I purchased for the canopies are a part of The Pioneer Woman Collection.  The pattern on the red bowl matches the embossed pattern on the glass jar.  I bought everything at Walmart.


Now I'm excited to see who shows up at the feeder today.  More photos to come soon!



















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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Catnip by Valerie Tate: A Book Review

Catnip: A Hilarious Cat Mystery


What happens when a cat does really run the house? If, in fact, the cat owns the house? Find out in this first book of the Dunbarton Mystery series that stars the orange cat named, of course, Marmalade.

 Catnip by Valerie Tate:  A Book Review
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay, Text Added in PicMonkey
Though the title of this book is not unique, the book is.

The Characters 


Lawyer Christopher Mallory narrates the story, which begins in his office in the fictional city of Dunbarton on the shores of Lake Huron, as he reads a will. The family of longtime widow Amanda Dunbar has gathered to see how rich they will become. All that remains of the family are son James, daughter-in-law Alice, and granddaughter Alicia.The one most concerned about the inheritance is Alice. She had pressured Mallory to read the will right after Amanda's burial.

The deceased, Amanda Dunbar, had been widowed for twenty-six years. Her husband had been a prominent citizen and financier, descended from the town's founder. Among other assets, he had owned a furniture factory. Robert Allen Dunbar had been very wealthy and had left everything to Amanda. When he died, he had meant for his sons James and Robert to take over the factory.

Robert was as talented as his father in handling finances and James loved creating the fine furniture. Then Robert died in an auto accident and James had to handle everything. He was not good at business and the factory was not in good financial shape. James was hoping his inheritance would help save it.

James had married Alice against the  wishes of his mother, who couldn't stand  her. Alice dominated him, but James still adored her. Their daughter Alicia had gone off to college as a strong independent woman and came home broken, a shadow of her former self. We later find this was because of unrequited love.

The family had lived with Amanda and her cat Marmalade for twenty-six years. When she became crippled and confined to a wheelchair, they had to help out with her care. From Alice's point of view, she had waited on Amanda hand and foot while Amanda made Alice's life miserable. There was definitely no love lost between the two. Alice also hated Marmalade. Alicia loved Marmalade, and Marmalade at least tolerated her.

Those are the major characters, all of whom will suddenly find their lives changing after the will is read.

The Plot (without spoilers)  

The Reading of the Will


Amanda knew her family well. Christopher (henceforth called Chris) described Amanda this way as he remembered the day she called him to her home to witness her signing a new will she had written. He sized her up as "an autocratic lady with a shrewd expression and an underlying core of steel... a person not to be trifled with."  She had insisted her new will must be kept secret from everyone -- especially her family.

At the beginning of the book when Chris describes the family members entering his office, he recalls that James "seemed to fade into the wallpaper beside his more flamboyant spouse." He recalls that Alicia "drifted in behind her parents, gazed around with a disinterested air, and melted gracefully into a chair by the wall." Alice had "sailed into his office...with the assurance of the flagship of the fleet...about as warm as a Huron January....A gleam in her Ice Queen eyes...said she was about to get everything she had been waiting for." She showed no signs of grief.

 Catnip by Valerie Tate:  A Book Review


Chris knew an emotional storm was about to break in his office when he read the will. The old lady had made him executor and trustee and explained what his duties would be when she died. She had made her intentions very clear. He knew she was using the will to tell her family what she really thought of them. She admits in the will that living together had been uncomfortable for all of them.  She stated it was a wonder "That I have chosen to tolerate the chronic irritability of my daughter-in-law, the infuriating ineptitude of my son, and the vague placidity of my grand-daughter (sic)."

Chris proceeded to read the will. Here's what each got:

  • Alice: two gallons of vinegar with the hope it would sweeten her disposition
  • James: a can of starch to stiffen his backbone that hadn't been firm since he married Alice
  • Alicia: her jewelry "in the hope that one day she may prick her finger and awaken from that perennial slumber she now enjoys."
 Alice had then turned purple with rage and exclaimed with fury: "That old witch!...She made our lives a living hell for almost thirty years and now this...outrage!....When I think of how I waited on her!"

At this point, Chris called his secretary to bring in the last beneficiary -- Marmalade, who immediately spat at Alice, scratched his way out of the secretary's arms, and proceeded to rub against Alicia's leg. She stroked his head. He seemed totally in command of the proceedings. And he actually was. After all, he, as Amanda's "only true friend," was inheriting the entire estate.

 From the will: "since I know my family only too well, should anything happen to Marmalade that even suggests foul play" that anyone in the family had a part in, the estate will go to the Animal Protection Society. The will further stipulates that if Marmalade should die of natural causes, the estate would revert to Alicia "the only member of my family I have any use for."

Amanda appointed Chris as executor and Marmalade's trustee. The family would be allowed to continue to live in the house and care for Marmalade (who would have full run of the house) with all house expenses paid. Each person would get  a monthly allowance which Chris would determine. Chris would check on Marmalade at both scheduled and unscheduled times to make sure he was being cared for properly. If anyone mistreated him, they would lose their allowance and have to leave the house. Then Chris would hire a new caregiver and companion.

Living With Marmalade

 Catnip by Valerie Tate:  A Book Review
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


As you can imagine, the Dunbar household was very tense living with a cat who was the boss. Nowhere in the house was off limits for him. He seemed to delight in destroying things Alice valued. The last straw was reached when she was carrying a family heirloom tea service that had belonged to her grandmother to the table during one of Chris's visits. Marmalade tripped her, and the china broke spilling tea all over Alice's gown. She grabbed him, intent on doing him violence when Chris shouted a warning to remember the will. She told Chris to get the cat out of her sight for a while.

Before the death of Amanda, Marmalade had been a cat-about-town visiting his neighbors at night as he pleased. He had usually let himself in and out through the window in Amanda's room.

When Amanda died Chris took Marmalade to the vet to get a microchip inserted and obtain a DNA sample from him.  For obvious reasons the family and Chris were reluctant  to let him start roaming free again.  But the cat was getting into so much mischief indoors, they decided his confinement in the house might be a contributing factor. So they began to let him roam when he wanted to again. That seemed to help calm things down in the household.

Marmalade Goes Missing

Once the information got out to the public that Marmalade was rich, he was in danger. Although he was pretty good at defending himself, he finally was abducted. This put the family into a panic, since family members were the first suspects. And if Marmalade wasn't found safe and sound, they would lose their home and their allowances. Chris did not believe they were guilty, and he and Alicia began to search for him with help from some of their friends. You will have to read the book to see what happens to Marmalade and all of them. 


My Review and Recommendation


I loved this book! It's not just about solving a mystery. It's about how people can change when they are motivated. Amanda's strange will was intended to help her son become all he could be by motivating him to take leadership. Amanda also hoped it would help Alicia regain her spirit and independence. And Alice? I don't know if Amanda had any hope that she would ever be good for James. But even she changed for the better by the end of the book.

I laughed all the way through this book as the characters interacted with each other and the cat. I enjoyed watching the romance begin to develop between Chris and Alicia. Although the book is a mystery, I felt the development of the characters was the heart of the book. And, of course, Marmalade behaved as you might expect a pampered cat to behave. He seemed to know he was in control and flaunted it.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves cats or mysteries and likes to laugh. I was glad I was able to discern who kidnapped Marmalade by using the author's clues. This was just the book I needed to read when I didn't feel up to working and wanted to completely relax. I think you will find it a fun, relaxing read, as well. Why not get it now?







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Laxanip For Cats Reviewed

When Kitty Struggles With Elimination

Laxanip works well for your cat when struggling with hairball elimination or if he or she has a constipation problem. Our older cat has begun to have some issues with relieving her bowels. So, I have begun giving her this product with her meals. 

I know this is a bit of a yucky topic but when your feline companion struggles you want to do something to relieve their discomfort. Laxanip is easy to use and has helped our cat with her problem. She is an icky, picky little thing when it comes to eating but she does not seem to mind having this added to her food bowl. 

The first time I added a little squeeze of this to her food, I held my breath. I didn't notice any sort of smell at all but I don't have the enhanced ability of smelling that a cat does. She sniffed around the food and the bowl, turned and looked at me and then started licking the product. I was relieved! She was going to eat it! It probably helps that this hairball/constipation remedy has catnip in it. She does love her catnip!

It took about a week before I noticed that her stools didn't look as hard and she wasn't yowling when she used the litter box. She seems to be feeling some relief and I am so thrilled that I was able to offer her some comfort.

The substance is pretty thick and a little hard to squeeze out of the tube but it isn't too awfully bad on that count. The ingredients are not anything that will hurt you or your feline. Petroleum, corn syrup, malt syrup, molasses, soybean oil, mineral oil and catnip. It must taste pretty sweet but I am not going to taste it to find out! She seems to like it and it does appear to be working and that is what matters.

So, if you have a cat or cats that seem to have a problem getting rid of their hairballs or are struggling in the litter box; try some of this Laxanip for cats. I think you will be pleased with the results and your cat will feel better. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Reviewing Vetericyn Antimicrobial Ophthalmic Gel for Animals

The best relief for Dog's eyes.
It is spring allergy season. And our allergies are raging this year. I'm struggling. And poor Willy, my dog, is struggling. This is always a rough time of year for him. Fortunately, I have found something that helps alleviate his eye irritation. Vetericyn products are recommended by farmers and homesteaders as a brand that is reliable for the treatment of their livestock and pets. It was from these recommendations that I learned about Vetericyn Antimicrobial Ophthalmic Gel.


Vetericyn Plus Ophthalmic Antimicrobial Gel


Willy has very sensitive skin. Every year we struggle with his allergies. He looks like he has mange, we go to the vet and get him tested, and we learn that it's allergies. 

Willy gets itchy and scratches until he loses patches of hair. Shampoos and creams alleviate some of the body itching. However, his eyes are often extra sensitive. When his eyes are itchy, he ends up rubbing the hair off from around his eyes.

It is very difficult to treat a pet in areas near their eyes. The creams and shampoos that provide the most itch-relief are usually not safe for use near their eyes. The prescription eye cream from the vet is the only other thing that is safe for use on and in the eyes - and it is expensive and comes in a very small tube. It runs out very quickly.
click to enlarge

Because of his allergies, and my frequent rubbing him down with something-or-other, Willy hates for me to approach him with any cream, spray, or gel. Hates it. I have to follow him to catch him. I typically take him to the bathroom to decrease the chance of his escape before I am able to administer whatever it is I have to administer.

But, when he sees me with this little blue bottle he dances around and whines. He wants to avoid me and yet he wants the relief in his eye. It's easy to see by the way he dances around, finally approaching me with his head down, that the Vetericyn provides relief. 

I keep Vetericyn eye gel on hand for poor Willy's itchy eyes. But even if his allergies end some day (fingers crossed that day comes), I will always keep a bottle on hand for as long as I have pets. Vetericyn is a brand I've come to trust.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.