Friday, July 31, 2009

My Love-Hate Relationship With My Lawn

You know when Summertime has arrived at the 1SweetMama household when my Friday night date is usually with someone who can be a little loud and obnoxious and is a little gassy and hard to turn lawnmower.

And by "lawnmower", I don't mean a sexy groundskeeper who manicures my lawn, shirtless, and cracks open a Diet Coke like that construction worker some years back that drove all the women wild in that commercial. "lawnmower", I mean my non-self-propelled, well-worn, pull start "Lawn Boy" push mower.

Now, I will set the stage by telling you that my backyard is, roughly, half a block long and 1/4 of a block wide yet when I mow it, it feels roughly the size of the National Mall in Washington DC. Oh...and one very important feature of my lawn to note is that even Jef Corwin - the wild animal guy on the Discovery Channel - would turn green at the number of snakes who have chosen to live in my yard. Yes, they, too, appreciate my lovely yard yet none of those rat ba$#ards have received the memo that if they live there, they have to step up and help out with the yard work. Oh, sure....they eat crickets and grubs and various 6- and 8-legged creatures what I hate just as much as snakes....but I say - "Not good enough. Get out of my lawn!!!"

I digress.

So, despite the heat and humidity, the lack of a self propelled (or riding) lawnmower, and sexy Diet Coke drinking groundskeeper....each week I trudge out to the garage, don my brown yard/work gloves and set to work on my lawn. I hate doing this.

I often joke about how I inherited my anal-retentive approach to lawn care from my father. My father - God love him!! - walks slower than any human I have ever seen that isn't actually standing still to very slowly and methodically mow his lawn. "If you walk too fast," he explains, "then you don't give the mower enough time to mulch up the grass!" It is for this very reason that we do not have (we share a lawn mower) a self-propelled mower.....because it will go too fast for his liking.

I am thinking it might be time to break from the communal lawnmower and purchase a self-propelled or a riding mower of my very own. Maybe one that is green and yellow with the initials know what I'm talkin' about!!

I also grew up watching my father hand-trim (with those little garden scissors) the lawn. It is for THIS reason, that, while I own an electric weed-whacker, I chose not to use it. I know I cause physical pain to my neighbors when they see me going around the yard after mowing it and hand trimming the grass blades around the edges of my house, trees, and flower garden with hand shears. Years of therapy has not allowed me to let go of this OCD behavior of mine.

But......and this is my saving grace......when I am done mowing and trimming and weeding and step back - after 2-3 hours of grounds keeping efforts - and look over my yard that my hearts swells with pride.

Years of annual investments into a fabulous yard care (chemical applications) company and weekly mowing and trimming with love have produced a lush and weed-free lawn. One of the finest on my block, if I dare be so bold.

While my ultimate dream is to own one of those 0 degree riding mowers that they use on Major League Baseball fields that lay the grass blades in wide strips so that you have alternating tones of green.....for now, I will settle for the old Lawn Boy...and I do not mean the guy who drinks that Diet Coke. is a labor of love. A job I love to hate and an end result that I love to show off. Truly, when I reflect on my beautifully manicured lawn.....I can appreciate another aspect of "The Sweet Life" in "The Ice Cream Capital of the World(R)".

Until next time, I remain....1SweetMama

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

It is late and I just wanted to get a quick post in today before I tuck myself and my boys into bed.

This morning, I set off on another road trip with Bud and Peanut at 6:15 a.m. Our ultimate destination was a business event that afforded my the luxury of being able to bring them along with me. The evening event was a customer/client appreciation/networking event at a Twins game vs. the Chicago White Sox that culminated in a very exciting "Twins Win! Twins Win!" ending.

Taking my young boys to a ballgame has always been very exciting for me as I feel that it is a passing along of my family's love of the game to the next generation. I have written in previous blog posts how much I recall my father's careful teaching of baseball to me and to my fellow siblings.

Score keeping.

Knowing the traditional rally cries.

Appreciating the fine art of the shell (like my dad did) or peel the shell off?

Understanding the importance of root-root-rooting for the home team (because that is what the song says!).

...and so much more.

So after several innings of careful teaching and informational, yet entertaining, commentary from me, my boys and I watched the Minnesota Twins ultimately defeat the Chicago White Sox in a very exciting game. The sweetest thing of all? Hearing Peanut, somewhere between the 7th inning stretch and the top of the 9th inning, comment...."Wow! I really DO love baseball!"

There are many things that will make me proud of my children as I raise them into happy and well-adjusted adults. Teaching them the love of baseball is definitely right up there.

We are all exhausted and have to be up early again tomorrow to return home so I will make today's post a short and sweet one. Until next time, I remain.....1SweetMama

Friday, July 24, 2009

Christmas in July in Copenahgen

It is 87 degrees in “The Ice Cream Capital of the World®” and I am laughing this afternoon because I just read that a “Santa Congress” was held in Copenhagen this week.

I was compelled to write about something a little more significant today…something with a little bit of substance….but was distracted by this sparkly object of news-worthiness.

According to the allthingschristmas website and news reports from Yahoo!, the congress is a proud tradition, conducted since 1957, that provides a venue for the coming together of Santas from all over the planet to gather for networking and merriment-making.

Besides Christmas itself, this is the Santas’ most important event and the only time they can meet to discuss important issues such as better rooftop parking conditions and standards of chimney-cleaning. And of course, they have to fix the date for Christmas Eve. Not sure what that is all about… I wonder, too, if the “Little Helpers” find this a good place to lobby for better working conditions and bigger pay for smaller people.

Congressional events also include a parade, an obstacle course (complete with chimney climbing), visits to local children’s hospitals, seminars discussing the challenges facing Santas in today’s economy and world situation, and…of course…..sight-seeing.

Maybe next year, they should consider a fashion show to share all the latest in Santa fashions…..maybe even invite chefs from around the world to offer up delicious cookie delicacies of what only the “coolest Santas" are eating this year??

Ahh….only in Copenhagen.

And, really….why wouldn’t there be a “Santa Congress”?

Until next time, I remain….1SweetMama

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

Settling back into the routine of living in Northwest Iowa after being completely engulfed by the hustle and bustle of The Big Apple has been a nice transition for me. It has enabled to me to, once again, review the reasons why I live where I do. I need to take a mental inventory every now and then when I am romanced by the light of the city.

Always a fan of big city life (I grew up in St. Louis), I miss a lot of the cultural and social activities that a city provides. It is also nice to be a small fish swimming in a big pond and not feel like you are living a life under a magnifying glass. There are museums and diversity and lots of great things to experience.

Having said this, there is much to be said for living in a place where you can walk to the farmers market and the grocery store on a sunny Saturday morning. One can also send your kids to the park without fear or know that if you forget to set your garbage can out the night before trash pick-up….your neighbor will remember to do it for you.

It means that, come August, your co-workers bring bushels and bags of vegetables that have grown in abundance in their garden… “Please! Take them! They will go to waste if you don’t!” It also means sweet corn being sold on the side of the road out of an old pick-up truck by teenagers (usually the farmers’ kids) – the sign, painted in orange paint on a piece of 4’ x 8’ particle board that reads, “SUPER SWEET CORN” – while another pick-up truck 30 yards away is advertising on their own particle board sign, “SUPER CANDY SWEET CORN”. How does one choose??

Living where I live provides free concerts in the gazebo on Wednesday nights, county fairs, kids selling home-made pie at the 4-H stand, driving through country roads surrounded by the smells of earth and growing things and farm-fresh air.


It is a place where my children are being raised by a community who cares about growing kids up to be strong, patriotic, and responsible citizens. It is a place where family members live within walking distance and Sunday nights in which dinner, dessert, and/or a card game is the order of business. It is where I can sit on my mom and dad’s front porch swing and watch the world go by, waving at folks walking past on the sidewalk.

It is wide green spaces and no traffic jams and just about the only thing that makes you late for work is the 7:55 a.m. train that crosses through town.

It is chilled Pinot Grigio on the back porch, road trips to the lake, and Sunday church service. It is ice cream in the freezer 365 days a year.

It is life in “The Ice Cream Capital of the World®” – where, while it may not be over the rainbow, it is where life, truly, is sweet.

Until next time, I remain…..1SweetMama

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Making New Yorkers...and me!...Smile

So, a post on Friday was not possible for me so you are getting it a couple of days late....
Our fabulous week in NYC promoting National Ice Cream Month was a rousing success. Thursday proved to be an exciting challenge as we gave away - if I am to understand correctly - 41,000 (yes, that is forty-one thousand!!) pieces of product at the corner of 50th Street and 7th Avenue. The morning sampling event included our givng out the new Blue Bunny(R) Sedona(TM) Frozen Yogurt Granola Sandwich and the aternoon event included the Blue Bunny Caramel Lovers' Champ!(R) Cone.

The BEST part of the sampling events over the past three days was making people happy by giving them ice cream. It is truly amazing to me that we all are different in terms of background, economic and social status, religion, nationality, and beliefs....yet something like an ice cream cone brings us together. Everyone loves ice cream....well, except those who are lactose-intolerant or suffer gluten allergies!.....and everyone smiles when they are given one. Young and old alike would smile and their eyes lit up when you offered them an ice cream cone.

And with the arrival of Friday, our mission to distribute thousands of pieces of ice cream drew to a close and we had a great time not only getting to know our consumers but each other.
Since there were so many great experiences in the City, I will give you my top 10 memories:

10. Trading hats with an NYPD while in line at "Good Morning America"

9. Eating my lunch and people-watching in Central Park, pretending like I have lived in NYC all my life

8. Setting out on my own to find really great sushi

7. Eating a "black and white" (cookie) every night

6. Dinner of PIZZA at John's slices!!

5. Crying at the end of "Wicked" - what an unbelievable story...who thinks of that stuff??

4. Running my fingers through Lonnie Quinn's hair (read my entry on 7.14.09)

3. Seeing two more original Gustav Klimt original paintings at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)

2. Eating at an off-the-beaten-path, "open to the street" restaurant/cafe with three FABULOUSLY interesting friends.....we fed crackers to the passing pooches!

1. Making New Yorkers smile with Blue Bunny ice cream!

So there you have it. What a great trip. I am richer for it.

Remember that TODAY is National Ice Cream DAY. That is right, in 1984, Ronald Reagan declared it so. Make your own people smile by making sure to feed them lots of Blue Bunny ice cream.
Until next time, I remain....1SweetMama

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Hair-Raising Encounter With Lonnie Quinn

(me, pre-hair encounter..."OMG!!! That is Lonnie Quinn!")
Well, here I am in New York City with my fellow Blue Bunny(R) buddies. We are working a Public Relations event in which we are giving out 50,000 Blue Bunny Champ! Cones at the corner of 50th Street and 7th Avenue, right underneath our "Devour Them" ad. It has been so fun. Our crew is a total blast and every step is a new adventure.

This morning was our big debut on a couple of the morning shows. A colleague (I will call her J-Gal) and I were up at the crack of dawn to dress in our "uniforms" (Blue Bunny t-shirts and kahkis) and head off, each of us wearing an ice cream cone hat, to the "Good Morning America" Show. After 45 minutes of networking with the crew and NYPD, we deduced that we were definitely going to be a hit on the show. It was our job to get in-studio to tell them about how we were celebrating National Ice Cream Month (July!) by giving out our product in Times Square today through Thursday. Our hats and winning personalities won over the staff, crew, and security and that gave us the confidence that not only were we going to BE on the "Good Morning America" show, but we would probably get our own segment. OK, that is a slight embellishment but we thought we could at least make an impression. We filed, along with about 150 other tourists, in line to the entry point of the studio. We were finally singled out and pulled out of line by the audience coordinator person (I am sure there is a much more official title than that one but I cannot remember it) and asked to come with her.

This is it! They ARE going to give us our own segment!

Not exactly. We were called out of the line because we were obviously promoting something and we were not allowed to pull any kind of "PR Nonsense" (not her words) in-studio. With a few kind words about how she loves ice cream, we got the New York "Get the heck outta here" Line and a friendly bit of advice about how we should try The Today Show because (and I quote)...."Over there it is just a free-for-all."

Dejected but not discouraged, we trotted over to The Early Show, instead, to meet up with the rest of our troupe who had also gotten up early and dressed in THEIR uniforms and had gone on ahead to loiter around the gates of Harry Smith (very dashing, in person) and Lonnie Quinn, handsome-est weather guy ever, and....the hair!! Need I say more??

Well, needless to say, The Early Show folk were much more receptive to our Blue Bunny PR Antics and our uniformed group of 30+ were not only appreciated but were encouraged by the crew. We made it on several times during the hour and a half that we stood there and, despite having to share the stage with fake-bearded Santa Clauses wearing dark socks and red swim trunks and the Snickers(R) "Bar Hunger" PR pack, had a rousing good time and scored a wonderful "win" on the show.

The best part??? Yours truly made her national debut this morning! Yep! It is true.
To set it all up for you.... I have often joked about how I admire the hair of CBS weatherman stand-in, Lonnie Quinn. He covers the weather for The Early Show on weekends and fills in for the usual weather guy who works the Early Show during the week when regular, Dave Price, cannot be there.

So... Lonnie is handsome in a super-hero kind of way and has this gorgeous hair. Duirng a station break, our eyes met at one point and he was intrigued by my ice cream cone hat that I was wearing (it is always a conversation-starter). He came over and commented on the hat. We shared some "blah-dee-blah talky-talk" and then I shamelessly confessed that I watch him on the weekends and could I just touch his hair??

Stunned (but not offended), he obliged and was so friendly about it. He let me run my fingers through his lovely locks to which I relished every moment. Our group laughed, snapped a few photos, and he went on about his business. By the way - a little hairspray-ish but, otherwise, very soft. :)

So how did I make my national television debut? Goodness loves Lonnie Quinn....would you believe that he came back over to me during his live broadcast and asked me to reinact our hair encounter?? Twice in one day???? I felt faint. He was a great sport about it and, at the end, he planted the nicest kiss on my cheek. Two words: hubba hubba.

On our way back to the hotel, I decided to set a new goal. If I could run my fingers through Lonnie Quinn's hair, what would Matt Lauer allow me to do?? Maybe I will ask him the same question and make a morning show personality comparison of scalps.

By the early afternoon, our Blue Bunny crew DID gave out 15,000 Blue Bunny Champ! Cones in less than 2 hours - the first of three sampling days in Times Square - and it was a total blast. It is so great to make New Yorkers and their guests smile on a hot July afternoon.

Can't wait until tomorrow's adventures. Until next time, I remain....1SweetMama

Friday, July 10, 2009

Blue Bunny® Takes A Bite Out Of "The Big Apple"!

(I will be right there!)
Today’s blog entry is relatively short and sweet but I wanted to let my readers know that next week is going to be a really cool (no pun intended) week for myself and several of my co-workers.

Monday morning, our group will depart for New York City….The Big Apple….where we will be giving out nearly 50,000 Blue Bunny® Champ!® Cones all week in Times Square, beneath our ad (see photo). In addition, Yours Truly will be attempting to get on camera (I actually have two “in-studio” tickets) at the Good Morning America Show on Tuesday and my other co-workers will be sweeping the other morning networks shows, The Early Show (on Tuesday), and The Today Show (on Thursday). Be watching for us on your favorite morning show!

You can follow all of our activities on Twitter, too, at . I will also be writing about our fun in my blog entries next week.

So…start spreadin’ the news…..I’m leavin’ on Monday…..I’m gonna be a part of it…New York! New York!

And…they say that if you stand in Times Square for 7 minutes, you will run in to someone you know. I plan to be there for 4 days so….hopefully I’ll see you there!

Until next time, I remain…1SweetMama

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Garanimals For Guys

Men, forgive me. I do not mean to stereotype. In fact, several of you out there are quite snappy dressers. Belt matches shoes; socks match shirt. You dare to wear the occasional paisley with a gentle “windowpane” print. For those of you who serve as Master of The Wardrobe in your domain, you are excused. We will chat next Friday.

For those of you, like the guy I sat across the aisle of the airplane from on Saturday…you need serious help. You do not wear a yellow polo shirt with blue and black horizontal striping with brown and green plaid shorts. I am not sure what he was thinking when he reviewed his ensemble in the mirror on Saturday morning before heading out the door for the airport but I am fairly certain it surely was not, “Wow! Now that is the look I am goin’ for!!” Or, maybe it was. His only excuse could (possibly!) be that, as he informed everyone sitting around him – yes, he was a “plane talker” – was that he was on his way to visit his fiancĂ©. This, in my opinion, screams, “My fiancĂ© coordinates all of my clothing choices.” Because she was not there to assist with dressing him that morning, I will allow him a “mulligan” – a do-over. Mr. Airplane-Talking-Bad-Dressing Guy, you are excused just this once. From now on, make smarter wardrobe choices and save yourself from publicly humiliating yourself.

But here is my million dollar idea. If any of you reading this blog happens to come up with a business plan and actually takes this idea to market, all I ask is that you please remember me with some tiny monetary compensation – or a dinner on the town. Okay, entrepreneurs, here it is:

Garanimals For Guys

Remember those cute little hippopotamus-es, and elephants, and other jungle creatures that adorned the tags of kiddie clothes a thousand years ago? Where have they gone and why can’t we resurrect this wardrobe tool for men? Garanimals! Of course! The hippopotamus tie goes with any article of clothing from the hippopotamus family: pants, jacket, socks…you name it. The tiger shorts coordinate with any shirt from the tiger family and so on and so forth.

Brilliance. Women all over the planet will be relieved of their “Honey, will you help me pack for my business trip?” duties. After the launch of the “Garanimals For Guys” clothing line, women can holler over their shoulders, in response, as they are headed out the door for martinis with the gals, “Honey, you can do it! You are a big boy now! Just match up your tigers and elephants!”

No room for error – unless they decide to match up the tigers with the hippopotamus-es. Sigh!

Now, all I need is the mojo to get this project off the ground…and maybe a good endorsement from Stacy and Clinton (TLC’s “What Not To Wear”).

Until next time, I remain….1SweetMama

P.S. It’s the countdown to the “Blue Bunny Ice Cream In Times Square” event! Read about it in my upcoming “The Sweet Life” blogs and follow along next week on Twitter. Follow us on

Friday, July 3, 2009

"Cash"-ing It In For The 4th of July

I just heard on the radio that 40 years ago yesterday, July 2, that one of Johnny Cash's songs hit #1. Being a bit of a fan of the man in black, my ears perked up. Awaiting the announcer to tell me which one it was, I guessed, "Walk the Line"? No, no...what about "Ring of Fire"? No, that can't be it. Then the radio DJ played "A Boy Named Sue". WOW!! 1969 was the year he recorded it. Live at San Quentin Prison. The song became Cash's biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, spending three weeks at #2 in 1969; it also topped the country music and adult contemporary charts that same year.

Johnny wrote this song with American author, poet, musician, and songwriter, Shel Silverstein ("Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "A Light In The Attic", just to name a couple of his most loved works - of course!). I LOVE "A Boy Named Sue". It is so quirky.

The best way to describe it is to just take the description from Wikipedia, who details:

"("A Boy Named Sue") tells the preposterous yet moving tale of a young man's quest for revenge on an absent father whose only contribution to his entire life was naming him Sue, commonly a feminine name. The name was the cause of endless ridicule as the young man was growing up. As the years went on, Sue grew big, strong and fearsome from all the fights he got into with bullies.
At the climax of the song, Sue finds and confronts his father, and the two get into a vicious brawl. After the two have beaten each other almost senseless, Sue's father admits that the name was given to him as an act of love: because he knew he would not be there for his son, Sue's father gave him that name to make sure that he grew up strong. Learning this, Sue forgives his father and they have an emotional reconciliation.

With his lesson learned, Sue closes the song with an announcement: "And if I ever have a son, I think I'm gonna name him . . . Bill or George, any damn thing but Sue! I still hate that name!"

Late 1960s public decorum being what it was, the word "bitch" in the line "I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you Sue!" (declared by Sue's father) was censored in the radio version, and the final line was edited to take out the "damn". Both the edited and unedited versions are available on various CDs."

They played the bleeeep for the b-word on the radio station that I listened to - but they left the d-one in. Times have changed...

And speaking of Johnny Cash....his "Ragged Old Flag" brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. I know this will make today's entry VERY long but, in the spirit of Old Glory, please bear with me - it is SO worth it:

Ragged Old Flag - by Johnny Cash

I walked through a county courthouse square
On a park bench, an old man was sittin' there.
I said, "Your old court house is kinda run down",
He said, "Naw, it'll do for our little town".
I said, "Your old flag pole is leaned a little bit",
And that's a ragged old flag you got hangin' on it".
He said, "Have a seat", and I sat down.

"Is this the first time you've been to our little town?"
I said, "I think it is"
He said "I don't like to brag, but we're kinda proud of
That Ragged Old Flag.
You see, we got a little hole in that flag there,
When Washington took it across the Delaware.
And It got powder burned the night
Francis Scott Key sat watching it, writing
'Say Can You See'
It got a rip in New Orleans, with Packingham & Jackson
Tugging at its seams and
It almost fell at the Alamo beside the Texas flag,
But she waved on though.
She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville,
And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill.
There was Robert E. Lee and Beauregard and Bragg,
And the south wind blew hard on
That Ragged Old Flag.
On Flanders Field in World War I,
She got a big hole from a Bertha Gun,
She turned blood red in World War II.
She hung limp, and low, a time or two,
She was in Korea, Vietnam,
She went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam.
She waved from our ships upon the briny foam."

"And now they've about quit wavin' back here at home.
In her own good land here She's been abused.
She's been burned, dishonored, denied an' refused."

"And the government for which she stands
Has been scandalized throughout out the land.
And she's getting thread bare, and she's wearin' thin,
But she's in good shape, for the shape she's in.
Cause she's been through the fire before
And I believe she can take a whole lot more."

"So we raise her up every morning
And we bring her down slow every night,
We don't let her touch the ground,
And we fold her up right.
On second thought
I *do* like to brag
Cause I'm mighty proud ofThat Ragged Old Flag."

So celebrate the holiday weekend with adding Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" and "Ragged Old Flag" to your MP3 list and play it loud and proud this 4th of July.....because is there anything much more American than Johnny Cash??

Happy Birthday, America!
Until next time, I remain....1SweetMama