Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Are We Really Eating This?

         I live in the produce capital of the world.  Not to brag, but California honestly supplies this nation with 99 percent of artichokes, 99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, 69 percent of carrots… the list is almost as endless as the fields out here. Despite its reputation for green-haired skateboarders and suntanned surfers, California is really teeming with farmers.
          So you wouldn’t think we’d resort to eating weeds.
          But you’d be wrong.  At the famous Ferry Building Farmer’s Market in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, I ran across a crate of Purslane for sale.  Hey, isn’t this the same stuff I pull out of the stone path in my back yard?
          Yep. Not only that, but this booth was also selling dandelion leaves, another tangy addition to many a salad.
Just to whet your appetite, they were also selling Dragon Tongue Beans
and Chioggia beets, which are pink and white striped, extremely cool:
          But back to the weeds.  Did you know you can safely eat more than a dozen irritating invaders?  Among them are lamb’s quarters, kudzu, clover, elderflowers, watercress, garlic grass, sorrel, and chickweed. And many of them claim amazing health benefits.  Best of all: they grow like weeds!  So if you’ve never had much luck gardening, these will thrive for you.

I just have one question: Does this make me a weed-eater?
You can be a weed eater AND a bookworm: Order my latest novel, Golden in paperback or on Kindle, and check out my other books on my website!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

10 Signs That You Need to Quit Gardening

 You know I love to garden.  If you're a regular reader you've heard me wax sentimental about everything from rhododendrons to bananas. But, like many hobbies (and like many vines, actually), it can take over your life.
So let's make a pact with one another and agree to quit when any of the following happen:

 1.         A neighbor says when you bent over to pull weeds, she thought you were one of those plywood lawn ornaments (of a fat woman’s rear end). Although, if you're smart you will then decide to write a play called, "Does This Show Make My Butt Look Fat?" and see it produced to rave reviews and then published.  Ah... revenge. 
2.         Your heart rate increases when a bulb catalog arrives in the mail.
3.         Your home grown carrots actually cost six dollars each.

 4.         Your friends and family are tired of getting bushels of zucchini from you.
5.         You know your snails by name.
6.         You actually don’t mind the smell of fertilizer.
7.         You stop in the produce section of the market and yell out, “You call these tomatoes?”
8.       You subscribe to eight publications, and six of them are about gardening.
9.       You wake up in the night to look for slugs with a flashlight.
And the worst one of all:
10.       You overhear your husband saying your hormones have turned to horticulture.
So switch to a new hobby: Buying Joni's books.  Check out my brand new novel, GOLDEN, in paperback or on Kindle, then browse for others on my website.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How is that Spelled Again?

Here is a typical conversation at the Hilton house: 
St. Bob, Richie, and I are sitting at the kitchen island enjoying dessert, when Richie calls his sister, Nicole.  He asks what she’s doing, then turns to me and says, “She’s making chard brownies.”
          I swallow my piece of coconut cream pie and ask, “Why would anyone want to char brownies?”
          He tells her I’ve asked this, and I can hear her voice through the phone, saying, “No; chard brownies.”
          “You do realize this is a homonym, right?” Richie says.  By now we all realize that my organic/locally grown/traceable daughter meant chard, not charred. But I cannot imagine why anyone would want to put chard in an otherwise delightful treat.  It seems even worse than charring one.
          Finally I decide she’s just ultra-organized, and she’s already working on April Fool’s Day ideas.
Enjoy a regular brownie (or a piece of pie) and order my new book, GOLDEN, available in paperback or on Kindle.  And scroll through my website, where you'll also find my YouTube Mom videos.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Can I Ask You A Cheese Train?

          A couple of weeks ago my brother-in-law shared the photo of a Great Blue Heron that he took at his beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  I thought it was so amazing that I shared it on Facebook.  And what did Auto Correct say, instead of heron?  Heroin.  That’s right, HEROIN.
          Just what you want to post: “Look at this beautiful Heroin at my brother-in-law’s beach house.” Here is the actual bird:
          And last week Bob sent a text to a business associate, where the word “happy” was changed to “Hotoyama.”
          We’ve all had it happen. Flight becomes Fight. Dear Mother becomes Dead Mother.  Sheet of Paper becomes Cheater Hater.  And worse.  Unprintably worse.
          But I think there’s something more sinister at work here than the mere flubbing of sounds by a recorder.  I think there are techie nerds giggling wildly, in between sips of Orange Crush, as they assign absolutely ridiculous words to the common ones they know darn well we said.
          I mean, seriously, how can you get from “Happy” to “Hotoyama” and why would a computer program pick the incredibly uncommon Japanese name for the very common English adjective? 
          I think they’re gathered around their monitors, going through lists of vocabulary words and assigning crazy substitutes (as a substitute teacher, I’m not sure I like the phrase “crazy substitute,” but whatever).
          This explains getting “I will claw you” instead of “I will call you,” “His wife is Morbid” instead of “His wife is Morgan,” and the Frat House humor words I cannot print here, which always pop up when you’re writing to your bishop or your boss.
          So thanks for wretching my blog today.  My husband, Bra, is taking me out to lurch now.
Don’t text—sit and read my new book, instead.  You can get GOLDEN in paperback or on Kindle!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Perfect Fit

          Sometimes people ask me when I find time to write.  And it’s pretty much when everybody else is at the gym. 
          If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve read my thoughts about visiting a gym here, and trying a spinning class here. From the time I was a wee child—okay, a teenager in high school—I have been finagling my way out of gym class, even getting a doctor’s note one time. But now (drum roll here) I am thinking about opening my own fitness place!
          Here is my plan:  First of all, we rename it.  Joni’s gym will be called FITLESS CENTER.  It will only cost ten bucks a month, and you do not need to buy workout clothes, a gym bag, or special shoes. You just need to walk in the door and sit down.
          All the stools will spin, and you can spin round and round without working up one drop of sweat.  You will notice these stools are very close to a dessert bar where you can enjoy any number of donuts, pastries, and ice cream confections. 

           Instead of a yoga mat, you will be given a place mat.  Instead of free weights, you will be given free waiters.
          Behind the waiters will be a mirrored wall where you can see how happy everyone there looks. 
           You will immediately notice the stark contrast to the expressions at the “other gym” and you will smile. You will even think how CrossFit makes you Cross and Fit, a combination that is not worth it.
You can wear ear buds if you wish, but then you might not hear the specials (Meyer lemon cheesecake, salted caramel truffles).  There will be lots of lively conversation, because this is a happy place filled with happy people.  When you leave, you will not have to wipe down any equipment or take a shower.  No one will make you feel inferior by talking about how much they lifted that day, or when their next marathon is. Instead, you will all recommend delicious dishes to one another, and feel the joy of sharing a great tip for next time. 
You will drive out onto the street, and somehow no other drivers will irritate you.  The sun will shine brighter, the trees will look greener, and all will seem well with the world. I think I'm onto something here.

And then you can go home, read my new book, GOLDEN, and the day will be perfect.  Order it in paperback or on Kindle.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Scream, You Scream

          It’s summer.  It’s hot.  It’s time for ice cream.  Those three sentences follow in absolutely logical order, if you ask me.
          And I once had the thrill of a lifetime, by getting to tour a Dreyer’s Ice Cream plant in Texas.  This rich ice cream is labeled “Edy’s” in the East, so you know we’re talking crème de la crème, folks.  And it all happened thanks to our son, Cassidy.
          First, in case you’re new to this blog, I must tell you that I often enter recipe contests and cook-offs.  And it’s been an absolute kick to win trips, appliances, furniture, and cash.  So a few years ago, one of our sons (then age 10) followed in his mom’s footsteps and entered a Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream contest called “Invent Jeff’s Next Flavor,” one Jeff Gordon of Nascar, would personally select.  Dreyer’s listed the basic things Jeff liked, and Cassidy came up with Cool Fuel, a “cool minty ice cream with streaks of fudge and injected with almonds.”
          Out of 8,000 entries, Cass was selected as one of five finalists!  And the only child in the competition.  He was able to bring a couple of friends and we all got to tour the ice cream plant in Texas.  Oh. My. Goodness. 
It turns out that the peak moment of flavor is just before they freeze it for shipping, when it’s still soft.  They let us sample wonderful flavors, using the lids as a spoon.  Once it’s in the supermarkets, it will never be at such a perfect, soft state again.  This is the stuff of heavenly dreams, folks. 
          Then they allowed each contestant to whip up their idea in the kitchen.  It was glorious.  

That evening Jeff went down the line.  After he had tasted them all, he pointed to Cassidy’s, and said, “I really like that one,” at which point the man in charge pulled him aside and soon Jeff was choosing a similar one, but not Cassidy’s.  When I inquired about this later, I was told that the public doesn’t always like “particulate matter” in ice cream, and the “other” one was virtually the same as Cassidy’s, but without the almonds.  I chose not to make a stink about it, declaring a moral victory as it were, and then we were whisked off to an actual Nascar race.
          Well… it turns out you can’t enter the pit area if you’re underage, so there we were, disappointed again.  We had to wander around the parking area where drivers kept their motorhomes, as the other contestants got to see things up close.  But then—as if heaven decided to make things right—we happened to be near Jeff Gordon’s gigantic trailer and his top mechanics let us have a complete tour of his digs!  It was awesome.  I was particularly impressed with drawers and drawers of perfectly organized, labeled tools for the mechanics to use.  They showed us the whole place and even opened the fridge. This was a VIP tour unlike any the other contestants were experiencing. We were in Jeff Gordon’s home on wheels! The boys’ eyes twinkled with delight.
          So, even though Cassidy’s picture didn’t end up on an ice cream carton, we had a fabulous time and an unforgettable taste of this glorious confection at its absolute best.  I call that a win-win.
          Speaking of Cassidy’s picture, here’s how he looks today, hosting That Late Show, which you can watch here.
And, while you’re enjoying a creamy bowl of frozen wonder, why not read my latest novel, GOLDEN, which you can order on Amazon or Kindle.   And if you’re out of ice cream, make your own in a baggie!  Watch my YouTube Mom video here, where I show you how.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  I love it when a new book comes out, but particularly when it’s a book I wrote.
Allow me to introduce GOLDEN, my latest novel. 
While many of my books are for the mainstream market, this one is for Latter-day Saints-- however, anyone could read and enjoy it.  In fact, whenever I write Mormon books, I write them with that in mind.  I picture someone handing this book to a non-Mormon friend, and then the friend reading it and gaining some insights into what we’re really like (and how funny we are).  I read Catholic and Jewish literature, and shame on you if you don’t love Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. 
But back to GOLDEN.  This is the story of a completely normal family with three challenging children, two parents who are doing their best but are terrified of their new church assignments, and what happens when they take on The Witch House, a local spooky mansion, as a project.  It has everything life offers—tricky relationships, life and death moments, spiritual anguish, consequences of terrible decisions, moments of faith and redemption, chances to grow, even surprises and laughter.
I hope you’ll click on thislink and order it—and then order it again to give as gifts! (Kindle readers can find it here)