Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Is There Really a Lid for Every Pot?

          There is a strange phenomenon going on in every household across America, maybe throughout the world. And none of us question it, we just live with it.
          It’s the Mystery of the Tupperware Lids. That may not sound like the next riveting Stephen King novel, but believe me: It’s taking over the universe.
          We all have a stash of these plastic containers.  And maybe they’re made by Rubbermaid or Ziploc or some other company, but the problem remains: Our lids and bottoms do not match up.  At least not perfectly.  We either have too many lids or too many bottoms, many of which have no mate.
          How is this possible?  We buy them in matching sets, the math is perfect.  And then, within days, our world is in disarray.
          Imagine if this happened with your shoes.  Suddenly no two shoes go together—you have a Nike shoe, a dress shoe, and a slipper.  But no mates.  You’d call the police, right? And report shoe theft or something.
          What if one of your bedsheets was suddenly gone?  Or half your shirts?  Sure, we all joke about the lost sock in the laundry, but that’s one sock. Not one of every pair.
          Does plastic decompose faster than we’ve all been taught, and does it literally evaporate into the air? Is there a vast network of tiny elves who worship plastic, and who sneak into our homes (through the vents?) and then make off with various lids? Did someone melt them in the dishwasher, or try to bake them in the oven?

          It makes you want to install a tiny chain from the lid to its bottom, the way banks protect their ball point pens.  Or just use ceramic bowls and plastic wrap forever more.  Or disposable Chinese-style take-out boxes.  Meanwhile, I don’t recommend calling the police.  They’d have time for nothing else.

         Stay home and guard your plastic containers—curl up with a good book and keep one eye out for thieves.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

We Should Have a Nancy Johnson Day

          Last week I blogged about the ice cream man, and since we’re still in a heat wave today I’m blogging about the ultimate Ice Cream Woman, Nancy Johnson.
          No one knows exactly what she looked like, so I’m going with Marlene Dietrich.  Hey, who’s to say she didn’t look like this?
          What we do know is that she was a Philadelphia housewife, born in 1795, and that she invented the hand-cranked ice cream churn and that, in turn, made history.

          Before this ingenious invention, ice cream was made laboriously at home, with lumpy results. And usually only by servants of the ruling class.  But now, thanks to Nancy, quality ice cream could be produced and sold to the masses.  Even today, electric mixers resemble the one she invented, using cylinders, a paddle, a lid, and a crank.
           Flash frozen—I mean flash forward—to today, and we find out that Americans each eat more than 22 pounds of it a year. The most popular flavors, in order, are: Chocolate, Vanilla, Cookie Dough/Cookies & Cream, Butter Pecan/Swiss Almond, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Strawberry.
          Just in the U.S., sales average about $14 billion a year, and $77 billion worldwide. 
          Unfortunately Nancy couldn’t afford to manufacture her own invention, and sold it for just $200.
          I think the very least we can do is give Nancy her own day.
And nothing beats reading a good book while enjoying an ice cream cone.  You can order my books here.  The cone you’ll have to scoop yourself. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Ice Cream Man Cometh

          When I say “Ice Cream Man” you picture the guys driving the musical trucks around, right?  And little kids running out of their homes to catch him and buy some ice cream? 

          Well, I picture that as well, but I also think how cool it would be to have a giant mannequin made entirely of ice cream.  Surely there’s a festival somewhere, where they do this.
          In Los Angeles this summer, there was a pop-up Ice Cream Museum (tickets sold faster than hotcakes topped with ice cream), and one of my friends described her visit as a religious experience.
          But back to the ice cream man.  It occurs to me that these brave, hardy souls who traverse suburbia selling popsicles and ice cream sandwiches are to be admired for something else as well: They can tolerate the same tune, played loudly on tinny speakers, for hours upon hours as they make their rounds. In my neighborhood it’s “The Entertainer,” which was actually written by Scott Joplin in 1902.  If people in Rocklin ever attend a Ragtime Revue, every one of their mouths will water when that tune begins.  We’ve been trained like Pavlov’s dog.
          And every time the ice cream man goes by, I think of him with admiration for being able to tolerate repetition, the likes of which would drive anyone else into a screaming fit.  So today I pay tribute not only to the guy who brings cool, refreshing treats to the sweaty masses in this heat wave we’re having, but to the guy who can maintain his sanity when all others would be losing theirs.
Stay inside where it’s cool and enjoy a frosty treat while you read one of my books.  I don’t even mind if you drip ice cream on the pages.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I Married a Leprechaun!

          Well, the results are in for St. Bob’s DNA and he’s about 1/3 Irish!  Granted, they group Irish, Scottish, and Welsh together, so it’s a mix, but still.  This means I should get free Lucky Charms cereal for life I do believe.
          I am also now able to legitimately celebrate St. Paddy’s Day, make green eggs and ham, find four-leaf clovers, and expect to find a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow.  By marriage, of course.
          A few years ago Bob took our daughter, Nicole, to England and Scotland on a connect-the-dots trip of castles where his various ancestors have been born, ending with Hylton Castle, and they posed for this photo, unaware just how Scottish and Irish they really are.  Well, except for Bob’s obvious luck of the Irish in marrying me.
          He’s also almost 1/3 Scandinavian, which probably accounts for his height and coloring.  Oh, and his Viking daring-do. 

And the rest is “Western European.”  So, kind of a vanilla result with no shocking surprises or intriguing mysteries. But it was interesting that Ancestry.com also included a map of the U.S. where hundreds of near genetic matches are, and they’re all grouped in Mississippi and Louisiana. All this without knowing that Bob grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  With crawfish climbing up through his front lawn. 
But that’s another story.
Speaking of stories, did you know I have 25 published books you could be enjoying?  All kinds—literary fiction, action adventure, romance, comedy, chick-lit.  Check ‘em out here!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

10 Things I Will Not Do on My Next Summer Vacation

  1. I will not let the family comedian ride by the window where he can motion for the drivers of semi trucks to honk, thus scaring the rest of us out of our wits.
  2. I will not park a motorhome next to a gathering of people who are still mourning the death of Jerry Garcia.
  3. I will not allow a Boy Scout to navigate, just so he can get a badge.
  4. I will not allow a Boy Scout to navigate, just because he GOT a badge.
  5. I will not allow any chorus of children to sing songs about finding peanuts.
  6. I will not stay on a working ranch that doesn’t realize the word ‘working’ is just a figure of speech.
  7. I will not engage in any activity that involves oars.
  8. I will not go to a ‘cook your own food’ restaurant (isn’t this what we went on vacation to escape?)
  9. I will not wear knit pants on any ride that bears the sign: You will get soaked.
  10. I will not participate in hula stage shows if video cameras are present.
  11. I will not sign up for the city tour on a bus that also transports chickens.
  12. I will not buy musical replicas of national monuments.
  13. I will not pack any shoe with more than a one-inch heel.
  14. I will not allow shells containing live creatures, to be packed up and brought home.
One thing you can safely do is take along a beach read-- may I suggest one of my books available here?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Berry Surprising

          It’s summertime.  Okay, it’s summertime in the northern hemisphere.  And that, for many people, means strawberries.
 I’ve told you before that I live in the most productive area of the world when it comes to produce.  Farmers’ markets abound, and you can find juicy, gigantic strawberries red to the center.  In fact, California produces 75% of all of these luscious gems.
But did you ever wonder how they got that name?  It’s been around for a thousand years, before they were even cultivated, when they still grew wild. So the idea that the name came from the careful placement of straw under the berries to protect them, is out.
That leaves just two other theories.  One is that the little flecks on them (called achenes) are the color of straw.  
Pretty weak, if you ask me.  You could just as easily call them wheat berries.  Except wheat berries already exist.
          So the last theory is that it comes from “stray” or “strew,” describing the tendrils and runners that seem to spread across the ground. Maybe that’s the best fit, but we’ll never know conclusively.
          However, we do know several cool things about strawberries:
1.      They’re the first berry to ripen in the Spring (and maybe we should say the early bird gets the strawberry.  Or the worm gets the strawberry.  I don’t know.  Whoever’s up first.)
2.    They have about 200 of those little seeds on each one.  And they’re the only fruit with their seeds on the outside. (And each “seed” is considered its own separate fruit!)
3.     They aren’t really a berry at all, but members of the rose family, an “accessory fruit,” which stand to reason in my book, because they do kind of look like purses.
4.    One cup of strawberries contains just 55 calories—and more vitamin C than oranges—which is not cancelled out just because you served them with shortcake and whipped cream. Or dipped in chocolate.
5.     Like most fruit, strawberries taste sweetest when served at room temperature rather than chilled.
6.    They can actually whiten teeth, because the acid in them removes stains.

          So there you have it—enough information to entertain your friends as you serve up a delicious STRAWBERRY CREAM PUFF or STRAWBERRY DUMPLING—two of my prize-winning recipes you can find here.  Yummers.  You’re welcome.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Oh, That Surprising Ancestry!

           Last month, for Father’s Day, the kids gave St. Bob one of those DNA testing kits that reveals you are actually your wife's third cousin. Okay, maybe not.  But it tells you the nationalities that make up your ancestry. 
          He immediately sent it in, and now we are waiting for the results.  I, of course, cannot resist speculating and if “pirate” or “clown” were actual nationalities I can see a big slice of that pie chart bearing swords and red noses.

          We’ve traced his genealogy (back to Adam on several lines, actually), and it’s mostly from the British Isles.  But it dips in and out of Scandinavia, too.   His family—many of whom came to the U.S. in the 16oos before it even was the U.S., also harbors a rumor that someone was married to a Cherokee woman, so we’re hoping for some Native American percentage, as well.
          Of course I cannot resist making a game of this, and I invited our kids to join the guessing game.  When the results finally arrive I plan to gather everyone in a big conference call, the way people in our church do when someone opens their mission call.
          Meanwhile, they are to send in their guesses. Second son Brandon’s is “1/3 English, 1/6 Scottish, 1/3 Scandinavian, 1/6 French (since Bob is from Louisiana), and the rest is probably extra  terrestrial.”
          I texted right back, “Yes!  I’ll bet you anything he’s an alien from outer space!  I may change my guess to at least half that.”

          Brandon said, “Ha ha, exactly.  If the results get delivered by men in black, you’ll know you were right.”
          So stay tuned.  Meanwhile, visit my website and watch some of my YouTube Mom videos or buy my books.  It’s summertime and you need a break!