Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Puzzle Me This

I have a puzzle problem. There.  I’ve admitted it. Just like an alcoholic and booze, I need to stay away from puzzles.
And I recently fell off the wagon.  Years ago I missed an entire Thanksgiving because I was absorbed in a zillion-piece jigsaw puzzle in a three-day binge.  I have forbidden my family and friends ever to give me another jigsaw puzzle.
But none of us knew about cryptograms.  I was recently on a flight home to Sacramento, and a woman came down the aisle carrying a little magazine that said, “Cryptograms.”  Wouldn’t you know she’d sit right beside me?
I watched her open the pages.  Hmm… some kind of word decoding game.  I waited as long as I could stand it—approximately seven seconds—and then asked her what it was.
And she couldn’t have been nicer.  Not only did she explain it to me, she even let me look over her shoulder and suggest letters.  Fast forward twenty minutes and now you see me working feverishly on my fold-down lap table, with her book and her pen, while she sits beside me reading a novel. I had completely usurped her puzzle book and was compulsively solving the phrases as if this were an SAT exam and my entire future depended on it.
Had my kids been there, they would have been nudging one another and whispering.  “Look at mom.  She’s doing it again,” just like they used to call to their father when I would take over their homework.
Shameful.  That’s the only word for what I did and I am as guilty as a dog with whipped cream on its face, an empty pie tin beside him.  If there were a Puzzles Anonymous group, I would sign right up. 
But I have a feeling I’d sit in back and download apps recommended to me by other attendees.

No guilt needed for clicking here to buy my books or subscribe to my YouTube Mom videos.  In fact, it will do you a world of good.  You’re welcome.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Grab That Bag!

          I believe in balance.  I rarely achieve it, but I still believe in it.  For example, I recently had a birthday, and my dear friend, Cynthia Horst, gave me this incredible, handmade gift:

And look at all the interior pockets:

          Let me just say that Cynthia, as near as I can tell, does NOT believe in balance, because she is waaay at the end of the quilting/sewing bell curve, where few other humans dare to tread.  She is nowhere near the middle, where most of us who sew find ourselves.
          We average sewers (sewers? What a horrible homonym, right?) do not attempt tricky projects, nor do we design our own.  We make pillows and curtains and stay in the realm of forgiving gathers and prints that do not have to be matched.  The seam ripper is our favorite tool because we so often goof and have to rip out our stitches. 
Cynthia Horst, on the other hand, has a jaw-dropping blog called dreamquiltcreate that will make you pity her grandkids’ other grandmas.  She makes intricate, smocked and embroidered blessing gowns with royalty-worthy bonnets and scallop-edged slips. She uses silk from France and ribbons from some heavenly source I cannot hope to find.  Then, apparently because she has no need for sleep, she also makes dolls and doll clothes, doll houses, doll bassinettes, princess costumes—all from beautiful fabric.   This, in addition to drop-dead gorgeous quilts.
And then, as you will quickly see from reading her posts, she is also a genuinely warm and loving person.  You could search the world over, and never find someone so sweet and generous.  She was raised in Montreal, and even speaks French.  Somehow, this just puts icing on the cake for me. She and her husband, Ricky, are expecting their 12th grandchild soon.  Can’t you just imagine the little unborn spirits in the premortal world, fighting and clawing to get into that family?
So I am particularly honored to have a Cynthia Horst creation, especially one so customized for me, as a writer, with a typewriter on one side!  I might add that she tucked chocolate and other goodies inside.  I would post a picture of those, but surely you didn’t think they lasted long enough to be photographed.
So now I have to decide, of all the possible choices, how to use this phenomenal bag.  Makeup? Too messy.  Office supplies?  Too pointy.  Jewelry?  Don’t travel enough.  Coupons? Please.  Teaching tools for Relief Society?  Possibly.  There are a zillion ways this fantastic organizer will be put to use.  Number One, of course, will be to show it to one and all, so I can brag about my talented friend.
Thank you, my friend, for setting the bar so high and being so wildly talented.  Balance, it seems, can definitely be overrated.

If you’d like to read about a character who's unbalanced in another whole direction, check out the main character in my humorous book, Sisters in the Mix, about an OCD woman with a cooking show.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Diller A Dollar

            Many of you hold a cherished spot in my heart, because you are readers of my books and attenders of my plays.  May you live long, happy lives and may the Bluebird of Happiness nest in your trees, but never poop on your head.  Or your car.
 Meanwhile, I shall gratefully cash royalty checks. I hope. 
            Unless there’s a problem.  Such as the snag that recently surfaced when I tried to cash a check for 75 cents.  Yes, this is such a tiny amount that there is no “cents” sign on the keyboard, so I have to spell it out. 
            It is also such a tiny amount that PayPal will not deposit it into my bank.  Nope, it will sit on its teeny little haunches, all three quarters stacked up like a little order of pancakes for a fairy, and it will wait.
            If ever this publisher sells more of my products, it might—MIGHT! (I can pray)—tip the scale over an entire humongous dollar, and then PayPal will release the ransom to my bank. And so it sits, my money, like a dog in quarantine awaiting release to its master. 
            How quietly can you whisper, ka-ching?

             Imagine the joy, the elation, you could feel (and the power!) if you were the person to launch my little coins into the air and push the total over the 100 penny mark!  Your chance at heroism awaits at jonihilton.com, where you can subscribe to my YouTube Mom videos, and buy my books and at least one of my plays.  Thank you from the bottom of my grateful heart.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It's All Relative

           My church has a cool new online gizmo that can tell you everyone famous you’re related to.  You just plug in your name, and find out you’re related to Jesse James (in my case) or Bill Gates (not in my case.  Dang.)
People are even having parties where they find out if they’re related to their friends, neighbors, and church members-- often with surprising results. Granted, many of the names you find will say 6th cousin twice removed, but sometimes you get a direct hit.  It’s called Relative Finder, and anybody who has joined Family Search can use it. 
          Imagine my surprise to learn I am related to more than a dozen U.S. Presidents!  In no particular order, I can claim Adams, Arthur, Harrison, Fillmore, both Roosevelts, Truman, Ford, LBJ, Kennedy, Nixon, Coolidge, Garfield, and Buchanan.  And even more presidents’ wives.
          The English royalty in my line includes Mary Stuart (my 12th great great aunt), George III, James II, and Queen Victoria.
Some other famous folks I unearthed on my tree are John D. Rockefeller, Buster Keaton, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Charles Lindburgh, Susan B. Anthony, Walt Disney, and Orville (but apparently not Wilbur?) Wright.  Plus several signers of the Declaration of Independence and of the U.S. Constitution.
As a Latter-day Saint, I was particularly excited to learn I’m connected to dozens of Mormon leaders and historical figures, including the Prophet Joseph Smith, as well as many early pioneers and members of the Mormon Battalion.
There were no Salem Witch Trial folks, which was mildly disappointing.  But remember, I do have Jesse James, just to liven things up.  And now you have a brand new party game to try out.

Entertain your guests with another super idea: Show them some of my YouTube Mom videos!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Best Workout Ever

          I know a lot of you work out at a gym, and still others of you train for Ironman Triathlons.  Some of you run the Boston Marathon, two of you are fitness instructors, and one of you (yes, you, LoriWindows) is the World Champion Horseback Endurance Rider.
          I am proud of my friends who love exercise, and prouder still that they remain my friends when I do not share their love of muscle pain.  You know the phrase, Fitness Craze?  Well, to me the operative word is “craze.”
          But I applaud your interest in such things, and even support you by coming along when invited.  For example, my good buddy, Rose, recently invited me to check out a local gym with her.  They were offering a free visit, so we put on exercise clothes and off we went. (I may not like yoga, but I am okay with yoga pants.)
          Soon I noticed I was the only person there carrying my purse around, on a shoulder strap.  As I visited each machine, I placed it nearby.  Then I looked for the instructions on how to use each device.  And there were WARNING SIGNS on all of them.  ALL OF THEM.

          This does not happen in a bakery.  I’m just saying.
          I sat on one machine and pulled two handles, which were supposed to lift flat weights up from a stack.  They did not work.  You had to pull out the pin entirely, before it would move.  And it made loud, clanging noises.
          There was one machine where you put your feet behind a padded bar, and then tried to lift it.  First I sat and thought about when I could possibly need this skill.  After several minutes I decided the answer was “never,” so I moved on.
          Each implement of torture—I mean each exercise device—seemed more complicated than the last one.  Finally Rose turned to me and said, “What do you say we call it a day?  I have some chocolate cake at the house.”
          I was able to respond with lightning speed and agility.  We lost no time zipping over to her home, where we enjoyed a delicious treat, both of us smiling more than the gym folks would smile in a week.
And that, my friends, is how to have the best workout ever.  You’re welcome.

And, in case you pull a ham string and cannot go to the gym for awhile, curl up with one of my books, available here.  And, of course, some chocolate cake.