Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Thank you, Thank you!

          Today I’m feeling purely grateful.  Yes, I know this is a humor blog, but it’s also a blog for readers of my books, to give them a peek into my often hilarious life. So I have to press pause on the humor button this week, just to express my gratitude for the frequent sources of that very humor—my husband and kids.  We have so many laughs together, and tons of love.

Here are three photos from their Christmas visit this week.  Yes, we welcomed Brandon’s Great Dane, Odin, into the house as well.  Here are Richie, Brandon, Cassidy and his wife, our adored daughter-in-law Tiffany, and Nicole. These pictures show us at church on Christmas Day, at Top Golf, 

and at Beat the Room here in Rocklin.

I love you guys, and I miss you already!  
Start the New Year off right, and order my books for those chilly winter days when you just want to stay in with a cup of hot chocolate, a blanket, and a great story!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

House of Mirth

          I think we can agree that Christmas traditions vary from family to family.  But in our house, they vary a tad more off the beaten track.  In the Hilton house comedy seems to reign supreme, and from the required Christmas Rat window painting (which was supposed to be a cute little mouse, sleeping in a wreath), 
to one son always arranging the letters, “NOEL” to spell “LEON,” we have a way of twisting traditions.
          Possibly our worst tradition is the Annual Collapsing Gingerbread House.  Begun by accident, this so entertained our boys when they were younger, that it has become a required part of our holiday festivities.  Luckily, this is easy to duplicate year after year.  All it takes is a lack of patience, precision, know-how, and talent. 
          So, while the annual Rocklin Gingerbread House Contest fills our Event Center with beauties like these:

          the Hiltons continue to produce results like this one:
          But we have a grand time, nobody swears in frustration, and we feel no guilt whatsoever in gobbling up the results.  So I guess it’s a winning house after all.

          You need something to do after all the Christmas hoopla dies down.  I recommend a cup of hot chocolate and a good book-- perhaps one of mine?  Order ‘em here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cane and Unable

Do not try this at home.  Do not try this anywhere.  Not with a fox, not in a box.  Especially not in a box.
Folks, you know I’m famous—okay, within my own family—for taking on RIDICULOUS craft projects that always bomb out.  Somehow my brain is magnetically drawn to the impossible and you’ve read about many of my disasters right here in this blog.
So for Christmas this year, I got the idea to make homemade candy canes. How tough can it be when you see boxes and boxes of them at the store, for mere pennies?
All I can assume is that there is one amazing factory, undoubtedly in China, where they have figured out how to do this quickly and cheaply.  You cannot duplicate this in your kitchen.
You decide to look up some recipes online.  Your eye scans the ingredients. You see things like “Heat-retardant gloves,” 
and “a bench scraper,” along with corn syrup, sugar, and other sticky items. You also notice you have to make two separate colors that you will then wrap around each other.
Then you check the instructions and you see phrases like, “Working quickly…” and “pulling hard candy can be tricky,” and “don’t let children work with scalding liquids.”
You read a caution about glass candy thermometers being breakable. When it talks about pulling, doubling, and twisting the hot candy it says, “Enjoy the upper body workout.”
And here is where, in an unprecedented holiday miracle, Joni stops reading, closes the link, and decides candy cane making is not for her.  You see?  She can be taught.
And if you want a truly memorable Christmas gift—one that won’t blister your hands, strain your muscles, or leave a sticky film on your kitchen counters that you have to chisel off—just check out my 24 books on my website.  So much easier, right?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

15 Ways You Know the Lines are Too Long

          You did it again. You forgot to buy everything by November, and now it’s December and you’re stuck in holiday shopping lines.  I love Christmas, but here’s how you know you’re in a line that’s just too long:
1-       Your chewing gum has gotten old.  Twice.
2-      You’ve exchanged email addresses with the people next to you.
3-      People’s relatives are standing in for them, in shifts.
4-      A catering truck pulls up to service your group.
5-      You’ve taken off your coat to allow for the change in weather.
6-      Your roots need a re-touch.
7-      People are sitting in lawn chairs, using their lap tops.
8-      One lady is stamping her Christmas cards.
9-      A man calls home to tell his kids goodnight.
10-    Your cell phone has become obsolete twice since you got in line.
11-     You consider calling neighbors to feed the dog.
12-    You’ve heard the same Muzak Christmas Carols eight times.
13-     You’d be willing to pay double, if they’d just open another register.
14 -    The store has put a Porta-Potty nearby.
15-     They’re throwing a baby shower for a woman who wasn’t even pregnant when you first got in line.

But you can save all this aggravation by purchasing my books online!  With 24 to choose from, there’s something for everyone, trust me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

More Than a Little Hair-Raising

          Today I am blogging about my hair.  Okay, it’s not really about my hair; it’s about my brain. But my hair played a key role this week.
          First, we must acknowledge that our brain does not operate the same way other people’s brains do.  By saying “our” I feel less lonely in this trial.
What happens to me is what happens to two of my friends, one of whom calls herself on the phone and the other of whom used glitter glue on her shoes, thinking it was shoe polish.
          Except these women have excuses. One survived a brain aneurism and the other survived major head trauma from a car wreck.  So it’s like they have “Get Out of Jail, Free” cards in Monopoly.
          For the rest of their lives, people will sympathize and smile.  After all, they’re lucky to be alive.  A little forgetfulness here and there is to be expected.
          Not so in Joniopolios.  Joni has no such excuses for the many times she has called herself on the phone, hunted for her phone while talking on it, or tried dozens of times to get into the wrong car in parking lots.
          Which brings us to my curly hair.  Sometimes I straighten it, and sometimes I wear it curly.  Viewers of my Youtube Mom videos have weighed in on this, all of which I appreciate, basically because I’m just glad they’re watching my channel.
But this week was a curly week, so I was standing before my bathroom mirror, spritzing it with water to make it curlier, and suddenly realized I had picked up the sprayer of cleaner, not the water spray bottle.  In my defense, they are about the same size.  BUT NOW MY HEAD IS COVERED WITH CONCENTRATED DEGREASER/CLEANER.
And today it is raining, so the chances are that my hair, now glopped up with a cleaner much stiffer than any hair product you can buy, is going to foam up like a cappuccino machine. This foam will then obey the laws of gravity and run straight into my eyes, burning them and causing me to drop to my knees in agony.  
So if you see a woman out in public, drenched, screaming, crumpling to the ground, and foaming from the top of her head, you’ll know who it is.

Or you can avoid this possibility by staying inside, Christmas shopping online, and buying my books here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Laying the Blame for Daylight Saving Time

          For a couple of weeks now, we’ve all been trying to get used to Daylight Saving Time. Just after lunchtime it looks like evening, and by evening it looks like night.
          Shortly after lunch people are seeing the long shadows, the sinking sun, and assuming it’s time to knock off work.  They think about going home and having dinner. Their brains stop whirling and if our brains made sounds, you would hear their motors slowing and even shutting off in some cases.
Everyone I know wishes we could keep the summertime system in place, drive home when it’s still daylight out, and get more use out of the day.  Instead, we all get sluggish, sleepy, and unproductive.
And guess who I found out is responsible:  Ben Franklin!  I know, I know, he’s been your hero and mine not only for his role in our nation’s founding, but for coming up with public libraries, the U.S. postal system, the fire department, the first public hospital, the lightning rod, bifocals—we could go on and on.  He was like a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci.
          But when I heard he was the first advocate for DST, he completely fell off his pedestal.  Well, and the story about his pushing for the turkey as our national symbol.
          So I checked it out.   Turns out he wrote an essay to the editor of The Journal of Paris in 1784, suggesting Parisians could economize on candle usage by getting up an hour earlier and making use of natural morning light instead.
          But here’s the thing, folks: He was joking. No matter—people with impaired senses of humor didn’t get the satirical slant of his work and the next thing you knew, this concept was sweeping through all of Europe and Great Britain.  A guy named Robert Garland brought it over to the U.S. where President Woodrow Wilson tried it (it was repealed) and then Franklin D. Roosevelt made it a year round institution in 1942.
          Seriously!  When you see Ben on a half-dollar coin or a fifty dollar bill, imagine him running around today, saying, “It was a joke-- I was only kidding!”
          This same nonsense happened when Jonathan Swift wrote a sarcastic bit of satire in 1729, mocking the lack of care for the poor in Ireland, and publishing A Modest Proposal, wherein he suggested they actually eat their children. People who didn’t understand irony went ballistic. But at least the Brits finally realized he was kidding, whereas Franklin’s silliness was actually adopted into law.

          Makes you want to tippy toe around some folks, and certainly think twice next time you jokingly say, “There oughta be a law…” 
Better yet, just enjoy the humor in my novels.  And, all kidding aside, they make lovely Christmas gifts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Living in a Ziggy World

          Most of you have heard cartoon character Ziggy’s famous line, “Accept that some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue.”  Ziggy always made us feel better about days when everything went wrong, because at least there was someone else out there having the same experience, even if he was fictional.
          But I think I’m channeling Ziggy, or maybe living under his cloud.  Last week both our car batteries died on the very same day.  Has this ever happened to anyone else in the universe?  Okay, First World Problems, I know—we should be grateful we even have cars.  But honestly, I can’t think of a single soul who has had this happen to them.
          Both St. Bob and I had dead cars, with no living car to jump start either one of them.  Even worse, when we finally got them going—after much ado—we took them in to mechanics who said our batteries and alternators were just fine.  This means we are living in the Twilight Zone, and this could happen again at any moment, with no rational explanation whatsoever. Like I say, a Ziggy world.
          Invariably both of us will have injuries at the same moment.  I’ve even blogged about numerous times.  Bob fell into a post the same day I did a face-plant in the garden.  And when Bob had cancer surgery I got kidney stones. 
          I’ve heard of married couples becoming more like each other, but this is ridiculous.
          And now, our son Richie seems infected with the Ziggy virus as well.  Just as he got the keys to a three-story townhouse be bought, and began to move in, he sprained his knee.  
          And his bedroom is on the top floor.  One day later, Bob came down with a high fever and is lying in bed as we speak.  Okay, as we read. I’m scared to make a move, for fear I’ll trip, hit my head, fall into a coma, and top them both.  Why can’t either of these guys just win the Publishers’ Clearing House Sweepstakes?  That kind of luck would rub off quite nicely.
Stay inside where it's nice and safe, and read one of my books!  You can find all of them here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

If I Were a Cop

The other night Richie was planning to load a piano into his Jeep.  It actually fits, except the hatch back door has to remain up.
“You can’t leave the lid up or you’ll get a ticket,” I said.
He just stared at me. “That’s not illegal,” he said.
“What! You can drive around with your trunk lid up and that’s okay?” I was flummoxed.  (Finally! I got to use the word, flummoxed).  “But it looks dangerous.”
“How?” Richie asked.
“I don’t know; it just does,” I told him.  “If I were a cop I would totally pull you over.”
“And I would say, ‘but this is legal.’”
“And I would tell you it just looks wrong.”
Welcome to the world of Joni’s Laws.  I would be giving tickets out right and left, for things that just shouldn’t happen.  Teenagers being rude to their parents in the mall.  People leaving clothes in dressing rooms.  Drivers taking two parking spots. 
Parents ignoring their climbing kids who are about to fall out of grocery carts.  I could do this all day.
And, on the other hand, I would probably never ticket someone parked in the wrong direction, on a curb.  “That’s illegal?” I would blurt out in the Police Academy.  And “You have to make brownies in a state certified kitchen to sell them—are you serious?”)
Worst of all, if pulling someone over for a traffic violation, I’d probably let them off with a big smile if all they said was, “Are you even old enough to be a cop?”  It would make my day and I would reciprocate by making theirs. 
Certain careers just shouldn’t be open to all of us, you know?

Have you read my latest book, Golden, yet?  Hurry and buy it as a Christmas gift, and then you can read it before you wrap it up!  Find it in paperback and on Kindle, then check out my other books and videos here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Real-Life Candyland

          When I was little I wanted to be Queen Frostine.  She lived in Candyland which is wonderful enough, but specifically in the Ice Cream Sea.
          Her world included a Candy Castle, Gingerbread Plum Trees, Gumdrop Mountains, Lollipop Woods—basically a sugar kingdom.  Not only that, but she had flowing blue hair and a blue ballgown.
          I had no idea this actual location has been recreated in Provo, Utah. Well, minus the blue hair and ballgowns. I don’t think it was intentional, but merchants there have amped up the sugar consumption enough to make you wonder if it could be the Type 2 Diabetes capitol of the world. Just take a look at one sign that made me swerve right into the cafĂ©:
          Our daughter, Nicole, attends BYU there, so we thought we’d visit.  Within two days I told St. Bob, “I have got to get out of Provo or else buy a new wardrobe consisting entirely of caftans.”  It literally seemed as if every other store was an ice cream shop or a bakery.  Even the trucks driving by had “cookie delivery” written on the side, as if part of an emergency response team.  
          Salt Lake City has its share of dangerous pastries
          but Provo takes—and sells—the cake.  Maybe it’s because its largely LDS population doesn’t drink, so goodies become the vice of the day. Truly, you cannot walk downtown without tripping over frosted sugar cookies, 
a chocolate-tasting bar, milkshakes, waffles, candies, and cinnamon rolls. You can’t even go hiking without seeing a hot chocolate truck.
          Even on campus, there seems to be a constant flow of calories. After doing a German dance in the JFSB building, performers handed out free servings of apple streudel to all the students.  Elsewhere the BYU Creamery offers huge samples of Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.  
And then a few steps away in the Wilkinson Center and at Brigham Square, you find almost constant offerings of free donuts, cookies, popcorn, and cotton candy.  No wonder those kids bicycle by whistling Disney tunes.  
 Resisting temptation seems futile, so the only thing we could do to save ourselves from Sugar Rehab was to waddle out of there as fast as we could.  Well, maybe bring along a few cupcakes for the road…

          It’s okay if you get crumbs in my book.  Snacking and reading are perfectly acceptable.  See which of my books whets your appetite here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cave Man Spanish

          For years I have spoken beautiful, fluent Spanish.  Spanish that can bring you to tears.
          Or so I thought.  I learned a teeny bit attending Edith Bowen Elementary, a laboratory grade school.  Emphasis on teeny.  I retained numbers, colors, and three or four body parts.

          But I thought I spoke Spanish, so I never took it again in the upper grades.  Wrongo.  Incorrecto. 
          Fast forward and I have decided that an English/Spanish dictionary is all I need.  I am now looking up every word I want, and using it to speak with native Spanish speakers in Los Angeles, where I lived for twenty years.
          And here’s a bulletin about Hispanics: They’re too polite.  They tell you your Spanish is great, and they understand you perfectly. Okay, maybe they understand you, but trust  me: If you are speaking Spanish you taught yourself with a dictionary, you are speaking Cave Man Spanish. You are saying, “Me like this. I have happy. Here is you book.  Me go now.”
          But Latinos are basically nice. They don’t want to hurt your feelings, and unlike we English-speaking grammar fanatics, they have no need to correct you every time you open your mouth.  So they smile and nod, and you are led down the path to linguistic hell.  Okay, maybe not hell, but at least heck.
          Fast forward some more.  I am volunteering to help out in stores and all over the place, when someone speaks Spanish and a translator is needed.  I am totally happy to lend my expertise.
          And then a bit more fast forwarding and our son, Cassidy, returns from his LDS church mission to Argentina and says, “Mom, your Spanish is terrible.  You don’t even use soy.” 
          Soy?  As in edame?  I certainly do use soy! 
But now I suspect this is a critical Spanish word that has been missing from my repertoire (should have studied French), and sure enough, I look it up online and soy means I am.  Imagine speaking English without that auxiliary verb!  
And that’s not all.  There are all kinds of conjunctions and phrases missing from my Spanish and I realize now that when dozens of Spanish speakers have asked me where I learned my Spanish they weren’t meaning, “Wow, I’m so impressed,” but “Where on earth did you learn such dreadful Spanish?”
          Like I said, it can bring you to tears.

Fortunately, my books are available in English.  Find them here and get started early on your Christmas shopping!