Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Not With a Goat, Not in a Boat

          Sorry, Dr. Seuss, but there is something even worse than eating Green Eggs and Ham.  It is eating bugs, and I will not do it, Sam I Am.
          Incredibly, our daughter, Nicole did. And I am an eye witness.  We were in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, in a shop where a young man was clerking, who convinced her to try a dried cricket and a dried meal worm. 
          They were highly seasoned with chili and lime, but there are not enough chilis or limes in this universe, to make me put one of those creepy creatures in my mouth.  Even as a child, when my friends would make Creepy Crawler candies, I couldn’t do it.
          I might add that we asked the clerk if he had tried them and he said he was a vegetarian.  Right.  That’s also what I would say if I worked there.
          And yes, I know millions of people in the world eat bugs, they're loaded with protein, and this is currently A Thing.  I'm still not doing it.
          Until now, I considered myself an adventurous eater. In fact, I would think sneering, judgmental thoughts about people who wrinkle their noses and say, “Ewww” about things they’ve never even tried.
          I watched people say this about chocolate-dipped strawberries back in the early 80s, and then again about putting watermelon or peaches in salsa just a few years ago.  And, of course, both of these are wildly popular today.
          In the 90s, I won a glorious trip to Patricia Wells’ cooking school in Provence, France.
          St. Bob and I toured an olive orchard and spoke with the folks making olive oil. Well, I don’t win these trips for nothing—it’s because I think outside the box and look at food and say, “Hey, what if we went vertical with this?” Or “What if we added vanilla instead of cayenne?” In fact, I suggested lacing creme brulee with lavender while I was at Patricia Wells' house.
          So I said to the olive oil proprietors, “Have you ever considered flavoring your oil with basil? Or maybe garlic, or peppers?  Even lemon or truffles would be wonderful.” And so French, right?
          “Oh, no, no,” he said.  “Why try to change something that’s already perfect?”
          Alex Guarnaschelli (who went on to become a celebrity chef, “Chopped” judge, and restaurant owner) was Patricia Wells' assistant at the time and said, “Because we’re Americans, and that’s what we do.”  (I will love her forever, by the way, even if she did get me to eat an entire fried anchovy, with the head still on it.) 
          And, of course, now you can find flavored olive oils everywhere.
So, despite thinking of myself as being a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to foodie matters, I have now discovered my limit and it has six legs.  Or eight.  Or none, but it’s slimy and it slithers. I cannot eat an insect.
          This did, however, teach me not to judge the nose-wrinklers. Because now I’m one of them.
If you like cooking-- or just crazy people-- you MUST read my novel, Sisters in the Mix.  And check out my newest novel, Golden, in paperback or on Kindle.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Olympics, New and Improved

          Someone recently pointed out to me that I have not blogged about the Olympics.  Yes, they took place in a city virtually begging to be blogged about with rampant crime, warnings about swallowing more than two tablespoons of river water, athletes renting cruise ships to sleep and eat on, rather than take their chances in Rio, and virus-carrying mosquitoes that made some athletes stay away altogether.  It was like a disaster movie set.
          And, of course, there were champions to cheer for and exciting moments as well.  BUT… what I think I’ll blog about are my vast and varied ideas for Olympic events that ought to be. My list is more inclusive than the Olympic Committee’s, and could involve people of all cultures and ages, even you and I. Herewith, my 15 suggestions:
1.       Uneven parallel bathroom wallpapering.  

2.      Wrestling a resistant child into boots, parka, gloves and hat.
3.      Speed shopping.
4.      Running cross-country after the garbage truck.
5.       Balancing while putting on pantyhose.
6.      Diving into holiday decorating.
7.       Synchronized sandwich making.
8.      Tug o’War Gum removal from a child’s hair.
9.      Curling one’s nostrils during in-law’s visit.
10.     Shot-putting cell phones.
11.     Dry Cycling Laundry folding (extra points for contour sheets).
12.     De-bathlon :Bathtub scrubbing after teenager works on his car.
13.     Triathlon Diaper changing (of triplets).
14.     Freestyle Leftovers disguising.
15.     Computer Diving: Your monitor gets to dive off the board into a very deep pool.  You know you’ve dreamed of that.
And then, as all good athletes must rest and renew, you can put your Nike-sponsored feet up and enjoy my latest novel, Golden.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Best Baby Name EVER!

I have the best idea EVER for a baby name.  You get a corporate sponsor, the same as a stadium or a theatre does.  And you also make a million bucks in the process.  Hey, how do we know this is not how Gwyneth Paltrow wound up with a kid named Apple?
          I hit upon this idea when St. Bob recently sold the naming rights for the new, gorgeous amphitheater here in Rocklin, California.  It took me no time whatsoever to extrapolate this concept to the naming of a child.  Yes, that is how my mind works.
          Think about it.  Do we not all know babies with crazy names, already?  I even collected them and once tried to sell a book called, “You named your baby WHAT?”  but couldn’t get any takers.
          We’ve all heard of the wild names that really exist—Ima and Ura Hogg of Texas, Saran Rapp, Chanda Lear, Orangejello and Lemonjello.  In fact, I spent the majority of my childhood in Utah, which has now become the Crazy Name Capitol, with parents inventing names right and left. In fact, if Tylenol were not already a product name, twenty-five people would be named that right now.
          But this idea is even better because you make money in the process.  And you can raise the rates if your child does well in life.  Graduates high school? Another ten thousand.  Graduates college? Fifteen thousand.  Tack on a few bucks for every award, and for going into a prestigious career.  “Yep, that’s my son, the neurosurgeon, Beano.”  Sure, the name would be ghastly, but the bucks would be worth it
          Although that does bring up a bit of a problem.  Somehow I can’t imagine someone growing up well-adjusted and staying out of jail if their name is HoneyBuns Bakery.  Or Dulcolax. Even Fatburger presents problems. 
          What if you were sponsored by Depends?  Or Roto-Rooter?  You’d definitely have to make sure you could live with the name. 
          There’s an entire city that did this, too, you know.  In fact, St. Bob became a big part of it all.  Back in 1950, Ralph Edwards announced that he would air his 10th anniversary radio quiz show in the city that would change its name to “Truth or Consequences.”  That’s how the city of Hot Springs, New Mexico became Truth or Consequences—still its name today.
And since my St. Bob replaced Bob Barker as host of the national TV show, he went to “T or C” every May for years, to host it on stage in the city’s annual “Fiesta.”   We often took the kids, rode in the parade, 
and have many fond memories with Ralph and other celebrities he brought to town for the event.  
So if an entire city can do it, why can’t you?  I’m just saying, if you’re pregnant and you’d like your child’s college paid for…

Have you read my latest novel, Golden?  You can order it in paperback or on Kindle.  And definitely visit my website for more to watch, see and do!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Rockin' it in the Desert

          What are kids for, if not to scare the living daylights out of their mothers?
          And this seems to have no age limit.  Last week I told you about my visit to Las Vegas with eldest son Richie, meeting up with son-who-lives-there Brandon, and Nicole, who came down from Provo, Utah to join us.
          But today you will see why many a mother has gray hair. Brandon decided to show us scenic Red Rock Canyon, just a few miles outside Las Vegas.  He also brought his Great Dane, Odin, along. 

          Did I mention that it was approximately 8,000 degrees outside? And no, you couldn’t fry an egg because any creature capable of laying an egg would be dead of heat suffocation. But there we were, determined to see the iron-rich cliffs and rock formations. (We also did not run into official “spokestortoise” Mojave Max, who was probably buried as deeply as he could possibly dig.)
          And what was the first thing the boys conspired to do?  Climb a cliff IN FLIP FLOPS.  Here they are, surely conspiring (Odin is probably an innocent bystander):
          Before you could say, “Is it hot or is it just me?” they were scuttling up the sandstone, and then waved from the brink of death:
          And, of course, it was only upon leaving that I noticed this sign:
          This is the real reason desert life gives you wrinkles.

          So stay inside, where it’s nice and cool, watch my YouTube Mom channel, and buy my new book, Golden, which makes a wonderful gift, in paperback or on Kindle.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dueling Siris

          It seems the entire world has forgotten how to get anywhere. The minute folks get in their cars, they are programming their GPS systems and relying on a stranger’s voice to guide them to their destination.
          And sometimes this works, and sometimes you go in circles.  But recently, we had a war. 
Along with eldest child Richie and youngest child Nicole, I was visiting our second son Brandon, who lives in Las Vegas. We had seen the amazing Perseid Meteor Shower at 2 a.m., toured through Red Rock Canyon the next day, and now we were hunting for a downtown restaurant.  So OF COURSE everyone had to pull out their cell phones and help.  This created a cacophony of southern accents, British accents, and bossy non-accents filling the car (and no, none of those were any of us). 
Naturally, not one of them could agree with the other two.  It was as if we had filled the car with demanding children. “Turn right in half a mile,” one said.  “Turn left at the next intersection,” another said.  “Return to the designated route,” said another. We could have stepped out of the car and left these GPS guides to have their own conversation. Or, in this case, argument.
How can they possibly all be right?  Or is even one of them right? Well, it turns out Nicole was relying on Siri, which means Apple maps, which are based on typical traffic patterns, whereas Richie and Brandon had Waze, which includes current road work (and perhap should be renamed Maze).  And did I mention that Las Vegas is always packed to the brim with road work?  So the route that worked best last week might be completely closed off this week.
My dashboard GPS is unreliable as well, and has literally sent me in loop after loop, as if taking pay-offs from the gasoline industry. Last month I asked it for directions to Vacaville and a voice said, “Zachodniopomorskie Poland, approximate driving time forty-two days.” Yes, that’s right.  Poland is where I’m heading.  In a car.  It’s Zachodniopomorskie or bust, I tell you.
          I miss the old road map days, where the only tension in the air was aggravation from trying to get the thing folded up again.

Maybe you should just stay home and just read a good book.  I suggest my latest one, GOLDEN.  I promise it won’t steer you wrong.  Order the paperback or the Kindle version on Amazon.

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.