Dear Holly: Eating Culver’s Chocolate Frozen Custard for Breakfast, Thanks to Our Church…

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

As we exited through the front doors of our church this past Sunday morning around 9:20 AM, one of the executive pastors turned to our family with an unexpected solicitation: “Frozen custard! Right here! Chocolate for vanilla?”

There was no reason to even bother asking why our church was giving free Culver’s frozen custard to all the members and visitors of The Bridge. They are known for committing random acts of kindness; like during the first week of school recently, they gave literally every school teacher in surrounding cities a free cup of Starbucks.

Somewhat miraculously, Mommy and I were able to convince both you and your brother that it wouldn’t be a good idea to try and eat your ice cream during the 10 minute car drive back to the house.

But the moment we made it to the kitchen, the two of you set up shop. There wasn’t much conversation going on during your chocolaty breakfast. In fact, I don’t recall either of you saying one word.

Instead, it was simply a matter of how much chocolate ice cream you both could scarf down until the brain freezes started kicking in.

The answer? Not a whole lot, really.

You both made it about 5 spoons in when you realized that while it was indeed great stuff, it was probably a bit too much awesomeness so early in the morning; on a mainly empty stomach.

I noticed only as I was washing your face afterwards, that you had the perfect chocolate mustache!

It’s a rare thing to be able to start a Sunday morning off right, with Culver’s frozen custard. But thanks to our church, The Bridge in Spring Hill, Tennessee, everything lined up just right.

Now that I think of it, you and your brother are pretty lucky kids!

Love,

Daddy

What Ingredients Make Up the Flavors of Cola, Cotton Candy, Bubble Gum, and “Superman” Ice Cream?

Vanilla just got cool.

Should it remain a mystery or will finding out what gives these popular yet unquestioned items their flavor? Like a magician who actually reveals his tricks, so will I tear away the ancient veil.  Obviously, sugar plays a huge part in all these flavors, what what else is added to make these flavors so distinct, timeless, and magical?

Cola: Citrus oils (derived from the peels of citrus fruits: orange, lemon, and lime), tamarind, cinnamon, and vanilla.

Cotton Candy: Fruits, berries, honey, molasses, vanilla and maple sugar.

Bubble Gum: peppermint, spearmint, menthol, vanilla and fruit.

“Superman” Ice Cream: Vanilla (plus several different colors of food dye.)  Just vanilla.  Seriously. That’s all it is and has ever been.  The rainbow colors play tricks on our minds.

The common ingredient these mysterious flavors have in common, besides a whole lot of sugar, is vanilla.  The connotation of the word “vanilla” sometimes carries the idea of being plain and ordinary.  However, without it, these wonderful American flavors would not be the same.  Vanilla: who knew?

dad from day one: Pickles and Ice Cream

Thirty-four weeks.

So the legend goes, pregnant women get crazy cravings for weird food combinations.  The token pairing of pickles and ice cream has become so familiar that it’s now a swanky maternity clothing store.  But is it a funny cliché or simply a reality?  For us, it’s the real deal.

Though my wife has not once dealt with morning sickness throughout the pregnancy, she has definitely battled leg cramps.  Of course, I’ve documented how she’s overcome them, by giving her body a surplus of the nutrients the baby is taking.  Yet since then, as our baby has been getting much bigger, the discovery of pickles (which provide electrolytes) and ice cream (which provides calcium) has helped ensure those leg cramps are kept at bay.

And hey, I’ve got no complaints.  Last Friday night we had to make an “ice cream run” after dinner at the house.  She chose a box of fat free Vanilla frozen yogurt, while I chose a low fat French Silk Chocolate.  As usual, she liked mine better.  Her secret to eating low fat ice cream is this- add two spoons of peanut butter and a little Hershey’s Syrup.  Some might think this defeats the purpose of low fat ice cream.  We’d rather live in ignorant bliss.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

My Categories: Nostalgia, People, Storytelling, Spirituality, Writing, and Recaps

What’s my writing style?  Spumoni.


If I was smart, I would listen to the authors of “how to be a writer” and “how to have a popular website” books when they clearly tell me, “Find your niche and just focus on it alone.”  Then I could be like the fortunate clever-minded writers who all now have book deals simply because of the popularity of their WordPress websites:

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/

http://stuffchristianslike.net/

http://1000awesomethings.com/

Here’s the problem though- I’m not attracting just one type of reader.  I’m luring in several different types of people who are both completely unrelated to each other and yet at other times couldn’t be more alike.  It sort of reminds me of the way that MSN’s home page (http://www.msn.com/) is set up.  Their main categories are news, entertainment, sports, money, and lifestyle.

By default, I have ended up emulating that concept, only mixing it up with my own alternative, off-beat main topics.  Instead of the mainstream-friendly Neapolitan (chocolate-strawberry-vanilla) topics, my twisted version is more like Spumoni (chocolate-pistachio-cherry). *Ironically, Spumoni came first (from Italy), but by the time it became popular in America, it evolved into Neapolitan.

I have come to the conclusion that there are ultimately six main categories I write about: nostalgia, people, storytelling, spirituality, writing, and recaps (of TV shows, mainly).  (“Uncategorized” is an additional generic title given to all my posts as well.)

Of course I struggled with making “Jewish references” and “humor” their own separate categories, but just like a few other “should I make these their own categories?” categories, certain topics aren’t simply things I write about; they’re a part of everything I write.  It would just simply be redundant; stating the obvious.

Being able to read through an entire one of my posts without coming across the words “Jew”, “Jews”, or “Jewish” somewhere in there is about as rare as biting all the way through a Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookie without eating a chocolate chip.  And I would hope that there is at least a little bit of irony that comes across as humorous in most of what I write as well.  I shouldn’ have to label it “funny”, otherwise I may be defeating the purpose.

This is just a cool picture. In reality, I do not actually offer newsletters (unless you subscribe to this site; that would count), competitions, free ice cream, or much more.

So who am I attracting on a daily basis?

Fans of LOST, Dexter, The Bachelor, and/or The Bachelorette.  Jewish people.  Christians.  People who grew up in the 1980’s.  People concerned with healthy living.   People who found my website by searching one of those things and then saved my website in their “Favorites” and forwarded the link on to their friends.

In other words, my readers are as random as I am.  Random Spumoni.  Takes one to know one.  Welcome to the club.

Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It Vs. I’ve Already Got One, Thanks

Fighting the urge to the live by the new American motto: If it ain’t broke, get another one anyway.

Like it? Love it? Gotta have it!

I can almost remember a time when I was a kid, where it was normal to really really want something for a long time and then when I would finally get it, my heart was content.  The newly obtained item gave my heart rest, and I was happy, as any kid should be.  Whether it was a new Nintendo game like Super Mario Bros. 2, or a bicycle, or a rare Ninja Turtle action figure like Splinter, April O’Neil, or Ray Fillet, I got what I had wanted for so long.  And funny enough, I never wanted a replacement after I received my prized possession.

But somewhere along the way, whether or not we can blame it on “typical capitalist American behavior” or the mindset of Generation X (I just barely made the cut- it’s anyone born between 1961 and 1981), it became normal to want a “new one” though the old one still works just fine.  Maybe just an innocent desire to keep things fresh.  Or maybe a potentially dangerous pattern.

My Italian grandfather was one of the most influential people of my lifetime.  Having grown up in an orphanage in Kenosha, Wisconsin (his mother died when he was young, and there were 12 kids in the family), he lived a minimalist lifestyle, only spending his money on his few children and grandchildren.  Hardly ever buying a new (used) car, new clothes, or new furniture.  Never buying anything name brand.

This way of thinking definitely shows up in my everyday life.  My wife jokes that I have more clothes and shoes than she does.  And it’s true.  Because I don’t get rid of them unless they’re literally rotted.  Like my old red running shoes I have delegated to only use for walking and riding my mountain bike on my lunch break.

It’s true that I own over twenty pairs of shoes that still look less than a year old.  But most of them are indeed at least ten years old, in actuality.  Because I have certain shoes I wear only if I know I will be outside or if there’s a chance of  rain that day.  Those are my “outside shoes”.  By wearing them instead of my “inside shoes”, it keeps my newer shoes looking new.

While I’ll never be as frugal as my grandfather (who when my mom was a little girl, reused dried out paper towels multiple times before throwing them away) I subconsciously try to imitate his lifestyle.

I can’t see myself ever buying a brand new car, knowing that it loses thousands of dollars in value as soon as the first owner drives it off the lot.  And I can’t see buying a different car until my current one costs more to repair than it does to actually buy another used one.

Not that buying a new car is any kind of moral issue, or that going on a shopping spree for a new wardrobe is necessarily evil, though it’s probably not a wise decision if it involves a credit card (I’m a Dave Ramsey fanatic).  But for some of us, that strand of “gotta get a new one” serves as toxic acid in our DNA.

It gets tiring hearing of men leaving their wives for another woman.  That’s definitely a familiar theme this year already in the media.  And while some could say, “What does to me if matter if Tiger Woods or Jesse James cheats on his wife?  Why is that national news?”  Because it does matter.

Not because we’re nosey.  But because in some sense, the reflection of the lifestyles of celebrities causes a subconscious call-to-response for the rest of us:  “Hey look, it’s normal, he did it.”

We have to either say, “No way, that’s not for me.  No thanks!”  Or “Well, maybe that’s not so bad…”

It shouldn’t be that hard to be happy with what we’ve already got, even if it’s not perfect.  And really, that’s a mindset that is often difficult to accept and adopt: Near-perfect is as perfect as life can really get.

Is the grass really greener on the other side?  Yes, of course it is.  But the irony is this: You’re already standing on the other side.  Somebody’s else’s “other side”.

You’re already standing on the greener grass.

"I don't care how... I want it NOW!" -Veruca Salt