There was the time, I was probably 9 years old and made Nana’s recipe for whoopee pies. Her recipe called them Black Moons. The yield was four dozen. And you know, there are two cakes to each, so there were 96. They smelled delicious and looked just right as they cooled. My brother, Russ, took the first completed one and instantly spit it out into the trash can.

Jody Rich finds out that arnica gel and toothpaste may look alike when she doesn’t have her glasses on, but they are definitely not the same thing. Photo courtesy of Jody Rich

FYI: If you substitute baking soda for the required baking powder, the result will taste just like soap.

I still have the video in my head of Mom scraping 96 chocolate soap cakes into the trash. I cried in the bedroom.

• Lesson Learned: Just because I didn’t know the difference between the two, I could have trusted that the recipe knew there was. In my defense, though, they look the same. White powder.

• Life Lesson: Read for detail. Follow the instructions.

Then there was my first Thanksgiving with Rosemary’s family attending. Making a special pumpkin pie, with a recipe that had a cheesecake layer. I was listening to great music. Singing into the spoon and dancing around as I measured and poured.


I poured the filling into the crust, oh so proud. I set the empty mixing bowl on the counter and saw the opened, now much-softened cream cheese block. I wanted to bang my head onto the counter, but I seriously cussed instead. What to do?

I poured the filling out of the crust and back into that mixing bowl, added the dang creamed cheese, blended it all with a fury and poured the mixture back into the crust.

• Lesson Learned: Only instrumental music while baking.

The pie came out fine. No one in Rosemary’s family ate it. They only like traditional pumpkin pie. No cheesecake layer, it causes too many questions, like: Do you put Cool Whip on it or not? Pumpkin pie = yes. Cheesecake = no. I made it too complicated.

• Life Lesson: Don’t try to impress on the first anything. Fly below the radar and just get through it without doing something stupid.

Now, just this morning, I reached into the drawer by the bathroom sink and grabbed the toothpaste. I knew something was wrong when there wasn’t any foam or minty taste.


FYI: The backs of many white tubes, with tiny writing, look the same, especially if I’ve just woken up and haven’t put on my glasses yet.

I brushed half of my mouth with arnica gel. In my defense, they look alike. White gels.

• Lesson Learned: Read for detail. Put on my eyeglasses as soon as my feet hit the floor.

• Life Lesson: Store everyday items close by so I can simply grab them without thought. Store once-in-a-while items (like arnica gel for bruises) somewhere else!

I didn’t cry in the bedroom, or cuss. I laughed out loud. I called my sister Deb to ask if I was in any trouble because of the arnica in my mouth. She knows all kinds of stuff. After she stopped laughing … What am I saying? She’s been laughing off and on about it all day.

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