Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Rock Tournament

           Most families have a favorite game. Our family loves to play Rook. It’s a great card game, but only four can play, so we can’t play if everybody’s home. In those cases we love the hilarity of Telestrations and What Were You Thinking?

          On a train in Italy, we got laughing so hard at Telestrations that other passengers begged to join in.

          But for Mother’s Day we only had Richie and Nicole at home, so I sent them a text to let them know we’d be having a rock tournament. That’s right, a ROCK tournament, brought to you by Auto-correct.

          I can just see this—what do we do, throw rocks at each other?  Or is it a new Scottish game, like throwing Haggus? (By the way, Richie placed 2nd in a huge Haggus competition a few years ago, so no way am I playing that guy with Orangutan arms.)

          But he also shouted, “Bet you can’t hit me with a rock,” to his little brother, Brandon, when they were both young and innocent—at which point Brandon dashed up the beach to prove him wrong.

            Maybe they thought it was rock and roll, since I just attended the Ringo Starr concert with three girlfriends:

     But I doubt Ringo and his buddies would come over to meet the fam'.  So there will be no rock-based events at our next gathering. And I want a new rule for Mother’s Day: Moms get to win all card games.

          I don’t have a life hack that will help you win a Rook tournament, but I have hundreds of other life hacks right here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Talking to Myself

         Yes, I have reached the age where I mutter aloud to myself in public places. I’ll look at a price tag and gasp, “What!?” or “Hmm, that’s cute.”

          I’ve been doing it at home for years. All by myself I mumble, “Where’s the green spatula?” “How did the butter get over here?” and “Why doesn’t this lid fit?” Rarely do I get an argument.

In fact, if St. Bob’s doctor tells him he isn’t hearing as well as he used to, and asks if he misses my voice, I fully expect him to shrug and say, “Not really.”

But now that I’m talking to myself in public as well, I think folks will just assume I’ve lost my last marble and have created an imaginary friend for myself.  Or maybe they’ll think I’m talking to them and they’ll answer me.

So far I haven’t noticed anyone giving me strange looks. But maybe they’re talking to themselves as well, and just wish I would stop interrupting.

Hopefully no one will interrupt while you’re watching one of my life hacks here!

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Auto Correct for Speaking

           You'd think with Artificial Intelligence they’d have thought of everything, right?  Then riddle me this: Why aren’t people more intelligent? I wouldn’t even care if it was artificial.

          In fact, I’d like to volunteer to become more intelligent. Maybe they can use me to invent Auto Correct for Speaking.

          Oh, sure, we all gripe about what auto correct does to our texts. It changes “I will call you” to “I will claw you” and “His wife is Morgan” to  “His wife is Morbid,” forcing us to scan every word we speak before we press “send.” I’ve blogged about the horrors of auto-correct here and here.

          But I need this for my mouth. Just this week I heard a man speak, detected an accent, and happily asked what country he’s from. Ah, but he was born here. What he had was a speech impediment!  Yes, I am still embarrassed for being such a clod.

          Then I gushed over someone new, only to discover we had already met.  She frowned; obviously she hadn’t made much of an impression. I felt terrible. Remiss. Thoughtless. Stupid.

          So either I need a time machine so I can go back for two minutes and avoid such blunders, or I need to have more intelligence so I don’t make them in the first place.

However, you can watch my wonderful life hacks here, which (I hope) do not contain any foot-in-mouth examples.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Why I Failed Dog Training

           Okay, first of all, let’s agree that dog training is actually people training. If you can train the owner, the owner can then control the dog.

          But here’s what happened. All the owners stood in a circle with their dogs. The first thing we were to teach them was to sit on command.

          Maybe it’s my curiosity kicking in, but I kept thinking, “Why?” When do you care if your dog is sitting or standing? I say let them do whichever makes them comfortable. Seriously, have you ever seen a standing dog and thought, “Well, that won’t do! You must sit at once!”?

          Next was teaching them to lie down.  See above reasoning.

          Then it was to have them wait as you walk a distance away, then run to you on command. See above reasoning again.

          What possible scenario would require you to walk away from your dog, and then suddenly want him beside you?  As they say in British detective shows, “What are you playing at?”

          If you’re going to train your dog, why not teach him tricks that are fun to watch?  Singing, for example. Or playing the drums with his tail. Bringing you an object from across the room.  I’ve taught our little chihuahua mix to turn in a circle, run around the table, and do the “downward dog” yoga pose. All highly entertaining.

          Tell you what. Run a dog training class that teaches them to use the toilet, and I’ll sign right up.

          Be sure to watch my Youtube Mom videos for countless life hacks (and a secret something to do when training dogs is coming up)!

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Double Trouble

           St. Bob was just in Mississippi.  As executor of his brother’s estate, he had to fly there for meetings with bankers and attorneys, and naturally had to rent this car:         

         But if you look closely you’ll notice he promptly got not one, but TWO flat tires from a local pothole.  It also prompted our son, Richie, to text, “You shouldn’t drive if you’re two-tired.” 

          However, this problem pales in comparison to what happened next. The rental company brought him a replacement, but when he opened the door to get in, there was a gigantic spider in the hinge!

          It would quickly scoot back towards the engine area, so Bob could never capture it to get rid of it. He drove that car for days, always playing hide-and-seek with this spider.

          I would not get in the first time!  Nope, nope, nope.

           I would call the rental company and ask them to bring me a third car, a spiderless vehicle to swap out with this death trap. Had I been with St. Bob on this trip, I would have refused to get in and sit down in this already-occupied space.

          But, with my luck, they’d bring me a Batmobile.     

    Hey, if you're ever stuck on the side of a road, first get away from all spiders. Then tune in to my Youtube Mom videos-- there are hundreds of them!

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Traffic Jam? Here I am!

          I was stuck in one of those traffic jams that just seem to happen, like bees swarming. There’s no crash ahead, no construction. Just all of a sudden, traffic is tied in knots. Usually there’s a pokey driver up in front, holding up hundreds of others.

          Granted, I drive a tad faster than I should. So I sometimes wonder why we can’t just suddenly stampede? If everyone simultaneously pressed on the gas pedal, we’d all get where we want to go, right?

          Animals do this all the time. Okay, usually when they’re frightened or they want to escape a predator. Either way, they perceive a threat.  And I, humbly driving along on the freeway, perceive the threat that I will be late if we don’t get a move-on.

          This piqued my interest, so I looked it up.  The kinds of animals that stampede are usually herbivores, which is curious. This list includes buffalo, zebras, cattle, elephants, reindeer, sheep, pigs, goats, blue wildebeests, wild horses, rhinoceroses, and—get this: Walruses!  Whaat?

          If you couldn’t run any better than a walrus, would you stampede? I imagine I’d just sit my chubby ol’ self down on the sand, enjoy the sun, and await a fish dinner. Not only that, but they trample one another, so it’s a bad idea all the way around.

          And, I guess that would happen if someone in a helicopter shouted down through a bullhorn: Okay, drivers, GUN IT!  Maybe it’s because, like walruses, we aren’t really true herbivores.

Looking for something to give Mom on Mother’s Day? Do not give her a walrus. Instead, check out 12 great ideas right here on my Youtube Channel!

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Wagging Our Tongues?

          Today I’m blogging about a muscle we use all the time, but never sprain. It’s our tongue.

          Yes, I know I’m a bit chatty and use mine more often than is probably wise, but we take this weird muscle for granted, and I want you to know more about it.

          First, your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end. This loose connection seems rather risky, yes?  Maybe it’s why we tend to blabber on and on. If it were connected at the tip, I’m guessing we’d be very selective in what we choose to say.

          To be accurate, the tongue is more than one muscle—it’s made up of eight muscles. And on it we have 3,000 to 10,000 taste buds. It’s unique, like a fingerprint. Even identical twins have different tongue prints.

Flipping your tongue over or curling it into a clover are genetic abilities, however they pay nothing.

We can’t actually taste anything until saliva has moistened it, and since salt dissolves in water, this is what we usually taste first. The tongue keeps working while we sleep, too, pushing saliva into our throats to moisten them.

We should brush our tongue, just like we brush our teeth.

Fastest tongue in the west (or in any direction): The chameleon’s. It can go from zero to 50 in 1/100th of a second. Sorry, sports car fans.

          Weirdest Tongue Award goes to the giraffe, whose prehensile tongue can look purple or black. Scientists think this extra pigment protects against UV rays (and is certainly more convenient than rubbing sunscreen on your tongue every hour).

And now you can use your talented tongue to tell all your friends to subscribe to this blog!

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Death Knell Hotel

          St. Bob and I recently went to Salt Lake City to enjoy the General Conference of the LDS Church. That part went great. We also met up with dear friends and relatives. That part also went great. (You know what’s coming.)

          But we stayed in a terrible hotel. Unfortunately, we invited some friends to stay there as well, and their experience was equally dreadful.  We felt responsible because we were responsible.

          It’s fun to watch St. Bob’s irritation grow with each blunder, but then I’ve stayed in such awful hotel rooms that I find them funny now. He does not.

          First, the thermostat was wonky and unpredictable. The shower leaked onto the floor.  Then there were ultra noisy people above us. In the middle of the night. 

Next, they turned the lights off in the breakfast room, while we were still in there. Then the microwave didn’t work. Then the refrigerator didn't work. Then the ice machine didn't work. Then the television didn’t include the channel they advertised, on which we were hoping to watch said Conference. Then the phone to the front desk didn’t work, on which we were hoping to report these problems. 

           We ended up watching two Conference sessions on an iphone. St. Bob was ready to pound the counter and possibly the managers. Luckily several Conference talks were about avoiding contention, a timely message that kept us from visiting something called a precinct. So it was a lovely time for all.

Hey, check out my Youtube Mom travel tips, mixed in with the indispensable life hacks I share!

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

My Gracie Allen Moment

           Does anyone remember The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show? It was before my time, but I’ve seen recorded episodes, which you can watch online for free.

 It ran a year longer than I Love Lucy, and you have to admire this married couple’s comedic timing. We even have a book about them:

Gracie played the part of an innocent, ditzy wife, but I suspect she was much smarter than she was playing.

I did not suspect that I would be copying her illogical lines by accident last week.

          I’ll give you an example of a Gracie line. An interviewer asked her about her childhood. “Were you the oldest one in the family?”

"No, no," she replies. "My mother and father were much older."

So last week we were driving through a hospital complex and I saw the word “DELIVERIES” on a door near some trash cans and rubble.

“Oh, that can’t be for deliveries!” I said. “Who would want to have a baby here?”

Fortunately St. Bob was adept at playing George Burns and simply reminded me that this is where vendors delivered their packages.

Oh. Nevermind. (And now I feel like Rosanne Roseanna Danna.)

Take a look at the life hacks I share on my youtube channel. I promise it will be better than a drive through a hospital parking lot.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Falling for Bob?

         Well, well, well. Much has happened since you tuned into the last episode of Joni Baloney.  

          Two nights ago St. Bob, who thinks he’s still 18, decided to join in a volleyball game with teenagers at our church. That evening after he got home, he said, “I need to tell you something, but I don’t want you to say anything about it.”

          Oh, boy, is that ever a loaded request. I folded my arms. “What happened?” I asked.

          Turns out Bob’s shoe tripped him (yeah, right) and he fell. His palms were bruised, his neck was wrenched, and he landed on his unwilling hiney.  Which, I might add, is connected to his unwilling spine. 

          Oh—and he also hit his head but he’s sure he doesn’t have a concussion because he looked it up.

          “So, what were you worried that I would say?” I asked.

          “That I’m too old to be acting like an idiot and risking my health and maybe breaking something in a younger man’s game.”

          I smiled. “As long as you’ve heard the words, I don’t care who says them.” Just so we understand each other.

A much safer endeavor is to sit right where you are and click here for all kinds of life hacks on my Youtube channel.

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.