Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Who Was That Masked Woman?

           Pretend you have a new product to sell. You have a Zoom conference with everyone involved, including the package designer. And this is the single best thing you can say about your product, so you put it on the front of the package:

         Seriously? You can throw this away? Not much of a high water mark, is it?  No bragging about the comfy fit, the effectiveness, the cute design, the washable fabric, the durability. Nope—this thing can be trash in a nano-second.

          Not only that, but isn’t EVERYTHING disposable? I mean, literally, everything?  So we have a redundancy issue as well.

          Some time ago I blogged about a product that claimed to be “Semi-Odorless.”  Semi?  Partially? Not quite?  If you can’t say it’s completely odorless, why bring the matter up?

          Tell me how well these items would sell:

          Jeans: Almost Comfy!

          Cereal: So soggy you won’t even need milk!

          Paint: Fairly Good Coverage

          Toothpaste: Four out of Five Dentists recommend  it (I want to talk to that fifth dentist).

          And how anyone sells a prescription medication with the crazy side effects they list is beyond me. They’re all worse than the malady they’re supposed to treat.  You’ve heard the same list: May cause suicidal tendencies, paralysis, cancer, blurred vision, abdominal swelling, and diarrhea, strokes, and tremors.

          At least the face mask won't send me to the emergency room.

          And you are totally safe buying my books. The worst that can happen is a cramp from laughing. (And be sure to order my VERY inexpensive Christmas short story, A Little Christmas Prayer. Makes a great gift!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Can You Do This?

           Hidden talents. C’mon, you know you have them. I’m going to share three of mine today, and hope you’ll tell me yours as well.

          First, I will share one of St. Bob’s. He has Scissor Toes. Actually, they’re more like plier toes, or wrench toes. He can literally pick up anything with them, reach over and pinch your calf with them, pull out a chair with them, and who knows—maybe he can do calligraphy with them! I figure he must be part monkey, with prehensile toes. This would also explain much of his other behavior.

          To qualify for this talent roundup I think we need one rule: Your hidden talent must be utterly useless, not anything that could earn money.

          Okay, my first talent is curling my tongue. Aha—but not just rolling it into a tube like many can do. Nope, I can turn mine over, and also make it into a cloverleaf. Here’s somebody else doing it because I decided not to take a photo of my own tongue, thank you:

          My next useless talent is remembering lines of dialogue from movies I haven’t seen in 20 years. Yep, nobody lining up to write checks for this.

          And last, I can pour a cooking ingredient into my palm and accurately know whether it’s a teaspoon, a Tablespoon, or any fraction thereof.

          Lots of people have useless talents. I’ve seen people who can ride a bike without using the handlebars, who can solve a Rubik’s Cube in record time, who can say the alphabet backwards, impersonate Donald Duck, recite dozens of numbers in pi, and fall asleep within seconds. (Of course, I don’t know anyone who can do ALL of these.)

          So what’s your useless talent? Pleeeease tell me it’s watching my Youtube Mom videos, or buying my books. Granted, you won’t get paid for it, but you’ll have inner satisfaction that you did the right thing. Check ‘em out at my website.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Death of a Hobby

           For years I've loved entering cook-offs.  Sometimes these are live events where you compete with other cooks. Or it may be a contest where you send in an original recipe, then expert chefs try it and award prizes.

          It was a blast. For one thing, I won more than a hundred of them. This meant fabulous trips (France, Hawaii, the Caribbean, New York, etc.), appliances, and cash.

          St. Bob likes to tell the backstory, which is that I make up recipes and send them in without first trying them out. But after umpty-ump years of cooking, I can tell when I read a recipe if it will work. And then, of course, if it wins I definitely make it! Here are just a few big winners, starting with a mini-cornucopia made from turkey, for Thanksgiving:

Then a Vacherin:

This one, from 1997, is why you see tortilla roll-ups at every potluck now:

Here I am being interviewed at the National Beef Cookoff: 

I definitely went through a spiral roll-up phase:

This Jazzy Jamaican Eggs Benedict one took us on an incredible trip to France:

And a layering phase:

And more:

And then social media happened. Suddenly the entries were not judged by experts, but voted on by your friends. And if you worked in a big office building, you could get 1,500 votes, easily beating the measly 285 votes of the home hobbyist.

          Companies didn’t care that it was now a popularity contest; the advertising they got from all the postings and likes were worth it.

          So, like writing jingles in the 1950s, or selling buggy whips in the 1800s, the legit recipe cook-0ff was dead. Or, as Billy Crystal said in Princess Bride, “mostly dead.”

          Every once in awhile I’ll still hear about a contest that’s judged by experts, and sometimes I’ll enter. But the glory days are gone. And let’s not bemoan it; let’s just celebrate the fact that it was such fun while it lasted. If you’d like a few of my original recipes, check out the “What’s Cooking with Joni” tab on this blog. Food is fun, and always will be.

          Two of my books are cookbooks, in fact. Check ‘em out right here. And be sure to subscribe to this blog!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Treaters and a Trick


          Yikes. Halloween just happened but I made a HUGE mistake. I’ll explain.

          A couple of weeks before Halloween I always buy candy I don’t like, so I won’t be tempted by it as the big day approaches. But this time I decided the local kids have been through enough with Covid, so I’ll get the chocolatey candies I love.

          I dumped them into a basket.  Late in the afternoon my neighbors (the ones I have hijacked as grandkids) came over to show their cute costumes before heading across town to Trick-or-Treat with their cousins. I happily handed each of them a big candy bar.

          Then Bob and I had dinner, and settled down to watch a movie. Suddenly, at around 8:30, I gasped, “Hey! Our doorbell hasn’t rung once!” Was it because of the pandemic?

          “Oh,” St. Bob said, “That’s because I didn’t turn the porch light on.”

          WHAT? So everyone thought we weren’t participating? Oh, no! Not only do we look like the Halloween equivalent of Scrooge now, but I am stuck  with a mountain of candy I LIKE.  This is not good. I do not have that kind of willpower. All I can say is, if you run out of sweets, come to my house and I’ll be happy to replenish your stack with whatever’s left (don’t wait too long)!

          And you get double if you buy my books right here. Or watch my Youtube Mom videos filled with life hacks and DIY ideas!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

It's a Tie!

           It looks like Joniopolis is contagious. At least for Richie, our eldest son. Yep, he definitely stepped into my realm of crazy when he decided to wear this tie to church:

          I complimented him on it, and he said, “Thanks. I got it in Scotland.” Wow—that makes it even cooler, right?  But then he sat down and noticed the upholstery on the pews blended right in with his tie. 

Nicole and I tried to muffle our laughter, but the bench was shaking and our faces were turning red. Richie was not amused. And, of course, this made it even funnier.

So I thought I’d point out that Richie is not alone in this clothing-matching-your-surroundings thing.  Here are five more pictures of other people with similar predicaments:

           This used to happen to me in restaurants-- for years it seemed I always chose clothes that matched the tablecloths and napkins,  and I would wipe my mouth with my own shirt. But now I'm not alone. So welcome to Joniopolis, all of you. And may the farce be with you.

Hey, I wonder if any of my books will match your curtains or walls. There's only one way to find out--  go to this link.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Can You Give Me a Hand?

           Confession: I have never successfully high-fived anyone. This may seem a simple task, but I lack the hand-to-eye coordination to make this work. I usually swipe through the air, missing the other person’s hand entirely.

          The same thing happens when I try to hit a golf or tennis ball. In fact, there is literally no sport involving a ball where I add value to the team. And, of course there is an explanation.


          I have dyspraxia (formerly called Clumsy Child Syndrome until they realized how judgey that sounded). One of my sons has it as well, and when invited to dance at a wedding or someplace, he simply explains that dance is a language he cannot speak.

          It isn’t that we don’t try (although we do learn pretty early on that it’s wasted effort, so yeah, we stop trying). It’s that we cannot coordinate our body like other folks. I marvel at dancers who can make their bodies into artwork. And athletes who can throw, catch, spin around, and leap.

          How I wish I could go back in time, explain this to my P.E. teachers, and then get a pass to go to the library instead. Okay, I worked that out anyhow by not putting on my gym suit, and then getting sent to the library as punishment. But I would rather have gone from compassionate understanding on their part, than being thought a defiant rebel.

          Luckily I didn’t have to ride my bike there. I still can’t put my left foot on the closest pedal, balance as the bike takes off, and then swing my right leg around. Nope. I do it 5-year-old style by sitting on the seat, putting one foot on the far pedal, and then hoping I don’t fall over anyway.

          Can’t we just play a board game, instead?

Or read a good book? Find all of mine here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Embracing Crazy

          The whole world is crazy, you know. And I’ve decided to embrace it. Here’s proof: Every October, everyone in the U.S. buys pumpkins. We turn them about to select the right shape, get excited about taking them home, and we see them in someone else’s cart and gush, “Oh, pumpkins!” the way some might say, “Oh, puppies!”

          Then we decorate with them. Same with gourds. We don’t consider eating these items of produce. Nope, they must be displayed for Halloween and then Thanksgiving. Sometimes we paint or carve them into jack-o-lanterns, adhering to this ritual as if it’s a religion. Not to have pumpkins on our porches makes us feel we’re committing a felony.

          The same is true of decorating eggs for Easter, and wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day. Many of us follow these rules more rigidly than we obey speed limit signs. We’ve grown up doing it, and no matter how much a rebel you are, casting off old traditions, you will still feel the urge to talk about groundhogs, pull April Fools pranks, ask kids what Santa is bringing them, and sing along with Christmas music. Our holidays have wriggled into our DNA.

          Imagine if, instead of pumpkins, we celebrated with, say, heads of cabbage. We would stack them up, carve them, admire them—because we would know no different. Millions of dollars would be spent for Cabbage Day decorations, and little kids would draw pictures of cabbages. No one would question this because it’s just what we do.

          And I’m on board. No matter how ridiculous a holiday is when you stop and think about it, I like these times because they unite us. Your politics, your faith, your age, your gender, your race—none of it matters. We gather to run through the same pumpkin patch mazes, we hand out candy to little kids in witch costumes, and we put scarecrows up-- even if we have no gardens to protect or crows to worry about. This is how we belong. We’re part of our culture, we’re team players, we have fun looking forward to the next excuse for candy. It gives us sameness for a little while, and a mutual goal. Happy Halloween, my fellow Americans. 

Check out my Youtube Mom channel for great pumpkin ideas!