Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Raven Lunatic

         The other day I saw an online post that said, “The Difference Between Ravens and Cows.” 

          WHAT?  If you can’t tell the difference between a raven and a cow, you have more problems than not knowing the difference.

          And then, of course, I looked closer.  Yes, it had said ravens and crows. Oops.  I blame my eyesight. But, just in case I have piqued your interest, here is some information about these two birds.

          They’re hard to tell apart. Websites will tell you ravens have longer bristles atop their beaks.  I assume you need to gather both kinds, pull out a tape measure, and hope they hold still for your analysis.

          But ravens are also larger, the size of hawks. They travel in pairs, while crows prefer groups.

          Both are smarter than any cat, and than most children. Their IQs are about that of a 7-year-old. They make tools, they play, they communicate, and they can deliberately deceive you. They can do abstract reasoning, problem-solving, and group decision-making.  Hey, I know plenty of humans who can’t do that.

         So next time you need to solve a problem or an equation, look outside and hope you see one of these feathered friends, and hope they take pity on you. Meanwhile, check out my Youtube Mom videos for other invaluable life hacks.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Peeling Back the Layers of a Writer's Brain

         I must not have enough to worry about. My latest concern is that I will die, someone will look up my internet search history, and everyone will think  I’m a deranged killer. Was a deranged killer. (Are there other kinds of killers?)

          Here’s the thing. When you’re a writer, you look up ways people can die. Involuntarily, that is. You explore the methods of bringing about such a fate for your characters.

You also look up how many roaches are in chocolate bars, how to melt a penny, the wasp count in figs, disgusting fertilizer options, and exploding weeds.

You research food poisoning, burglarizing, snake bites, bear attacks, outright lying, rare diseases, and blackmail. You look into mummies, embezzlement, falling into volcanoes, getting covered in ink, and how to make hair stand on end.

Your interests appear bizarre. Your husband kindly mentions that you change topics like a TV remote control. You stare off into space like a cat does, and then you research why they do that.

A recent glance at my “history” online would be enough to convict many a suspect, although I stay mostly indoors, which is a wonderful alibi.

You can find some of this research in my books and this blog, but only life hacks at my Youtube Mom channel.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Four Eggs on My Face

          Well, you’ve got to hand it to me: When I embarrass myself it’s in front of hundreds of people.

          The other night St. Bob—wait, make that Just Bob, and I were co- emcees of a large banquet for the Freedoms Foundation. It grants scholarships to student leaders and even sends some of them to Valley Forge. They also award local charities for helping the community.

          It was time to bring four teenage boys up to the stage for their award. After, I said into the microphone, “We have four boys--”

          At which point Bob said, “WHAT?  FOUR BOYS?”

          Okay, this is not true. What possessed me to fumble the family facts I do not know. “Oh, yeah,” I said, like someone muttering in a padded cell. “We have three boys and a daughter.”

          Bob was laughing so hard he was giggling. The audience was laughing as well.  Roaring, maybe?  “Name them,” Bob said, to keep the challenge going.

          “I am not going to name them,” I said, bristling at the idea that he would quiz me. (Here's a shot including our daughter-in-law, Tiffany):

          Well, the audience loved my embarrassment. Imagine their glee if they simply followed me around all day and witnessed multiple blunders like this.

          I explained that we had just invited four boys up to the stage, but really, can you explain a mistake like this? It’s like the time I called Cassidy’s school and was told “Cassidy doesn’t go here anymore.” In my defense I had just moved him to a different school and had three children in yet three other schools. But I suspect that school's office personnel laughed for a very long time at that one.

          There’s really no getting out of these kinds of whopper flubs, so all I can do is plead with you to watch my Youtube Mom videos and buy my books. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023


           For years I have been masquerading as an actual grandmother, even though I have no grandkids (yet).

          I told you I’ve hijacked the amazing and adorable kids across the street, and whenever I run errands I stop and chat with little ones. I’ll admit it: It makes my day.

          I have drawers full of clothes, costumes, books, and toys that I’m saving for my grandkids.

          I have a fairy garden:

          And now I have completely devoted one of our bedrooms to Christmas.

          Anyone who sleeps in this room gets a plate of warm cookies and a gift. An electric train circles the tree and plays Christmas songs. There are still a few touches I need to add, and then I’ll make a Youtube Mom video about it.

          Someone suggested I rent myself out as a grandmother. Hey, I thought: Rent-a-Gram!  Except I’d probably pay them instead of the other way around!

          Meanwhile, St. Bob and I are enjoying the electric train, the cuddly teddy bears, and the twinkling tree.  Maybe I’ll make us a batch of cookies!

          Be sure to watch my life hacks here.  And tell your friends to subscribe!    

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

An Open Letter to You Math Types

 (This blog first posted 10 years ago, but bears repeating. It's also my way of reminding you to scroll through and read bunches of my old  posts. Make it a whole day of chuckles.)

            I am hereby calling for the return of all the letters of the alphabet that you math types have stolen.  Yes, you heard me.  I discovered this blatant disregard for property in the 8th grade when I found a little lower case y hiding under a line, next to a 4.  Shivering, probably.  The teacher, who should have been dialing 911 if they’d had 911 in those days, hadn’t even raised his eyebrows at this wrongdoing, and was in fact urging us to guess what number it stood for.
            And why a y?  Was he trying to make a pun?  Math types are not known for clever puns (though they think they are), and this possibility only served to introduce another distraction to math class, next to a rattling air vent, underarm stains in the teacher’s shirt, a tapping pencil three desks back, and a tiny fleck in the window (possible bullet hole?).  Wasn’t it hard enough to combine numbers the right way without having yet one more reason to jump off the track and think of something else?
            It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of symbolic substitutes.  You could use hearts, stars, squiggles, and a plethora of other graphic options before resorting to sacred letters!  Above all, why use x so often?  X means “multiplied by” and thus slipping it in where you don’t mean that seems especially cruel.  Soon there were m’s, a’s, b’s, d’s-- virtually a dozen evidences of larceny on one page alone. 
            You people cannot come riding into Alphabet Land like masked marauders, snatch a little lower case n from her crib, and then gallop off into Math Land and stick her next to an equals sign.  Not on my watch. So I’m blowing the whistle. Put all the numerals you like in brackets and label it a set if you feel better.  Do not mix this set with alphabet letters.  This is akin to pouring ketchup on ice cream, or frosting on a steak.  They do not go together any better than your plaid, polyester pants and your cotton gingham shirt.  And if you can’t group like objects, don’t you need to go back to kindergarten?  Even they can tell you not to wear an orange shirt with a maroon tie.
            Admit that you made a mistake.  Apologize to the word people.  We are forgiving types.  Well, mostly.  We certainly don’t substitute numbers for letters, if that’s any sign of character, and I think it is.  We don’t talk about Alice in 1derland.  We don’t write 2morrow or 4ever.  We follow the rules and leave you in one peace.  We also make better puns.
Have you watched my Youtube Mom videos, yet?  Lots of great life hacks, check 'em out and subscribe!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Make This for Tonight!

           Happy Valentine’s Day! No hilarious disasters to share today, just a fun idea for you to try. A bundt cake with a surprise inside!

I made one of these for the adorable kids across the street (the ones I have hijacked as my pretend grandkids). 

          There are lots of recipes online, but the one I used is super easy. I made it in a heart-shaped bundt pan.  First, you bake the pink part in a separate loaf pan, then slice it and cut out hearts with a cookie cutter. Nibble on the scraps, obviously.

Next, mix the white or, in my case, lemon cake batter. Pour a bit into a greased bundt pan, then top with hearts, point side up. 

Pour in the rest of the light batter and bake. 

                                                     Invert and let cool.

 I chose to drizzle it with cream cheese frosting, then sprinkles.  And I’m already thinking about other cookie cutter shapes I can use in future creations! 

          If you still need more Valentine ideas, check out my Youtube Mom videos. Just search for Youtube Joni Hilton Valentines.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Trouble with Mummies

           Last week it was criminals; this week it’s mummies I’m curious about.

          Dozens of movies have been made about them and fans know all their “rules,” the same way vampire devotees know about sunlight and garlic.

          I’ve never watched an entire mummy movie, but I’ve seen short clips of these “undead” staggering along in rags, looking for people to drain of their life force.

          I want desperately to suspend my disbelief, but I have the same problem with them that I did with Guardians of the Galaxy (which I did love for its humor). The problem is that I start to wonder the following:

          Who makes their costumes? And where is the dry cleaners for same?

          Who cuts their hair? Do they pay taxes? Do laundry?

          Do they go to the dentist? What kind of insurance plan do they have?

          Are there schools in this neck of the galaxy? Pharmacies? Shoe stores?

          Where do they get the fuel for their vehicles?

          Do they eat? Cook? Wash dishes? Shop for groceries?

          In short, WHERE IS THEIR TOWN?

          What do mummies do when they’re not shuffling about? Do they sit down with a remote control and watch TV?

          I shared all these questions with a mummy aficionado friend of mine recently, and she slowly admitted she’d never thought of these things.  “Thanks for ruining my life,” she said.

          Wait. Isn’t that what mummies and vampires want to do to you?  Maybe I could have a whole following!

Or at least a bunch of people buying my books, right?