What You Never Knew About Wine Bottles

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, Mrs. Joe Neanderthal decided to throw a Fancy Dinner Party. While she cooked a large Rump of Mammoth, she sent Joe down to the corner to buy a couple of bottles of a nice wine.

The Complete and Total History of Wine Bottles...More or Less. DearKidLoveMom.comUnfortunately, Joe couldn’t count up to “a couple” and returned home with only one bottle. Mrs. J. N. immediately sent him out for more. Joe immediately decided that getting ready for a Fancy Dinner Party was not his idea of Fun and he spent the rest of the day at the pub, drinking beer with the guys. When he finally staggered home, Mrs. Joe clonked him on the head with the wine bottle to express her concern for his misspent afternoon.

After that, the history of wine bottles is a little murky owing to the bodily risks of preparing for a party involving alcohol.

Eventually (and by “eventually” I mean a really, really long time ago), glass was invented (primarily so that people could throw stones, but also to make bottles). At first glass bottles were très brittle, but then people discovered that they could make thicker bottles by super-heating the glass.

Glass bottles were blown round (because that was easiest) and were blown to exactly one lungful of the glassblower’s air. Which meant every bottle was its own size. (In England, it was illegal to sell wine by the bottle because of the inconsistencies in size. Wine had to be sold by the barrel, after which it could be decanted into bottles. It wasn’t until 1860 that the law was changed.)

Not only weren’t bottles standard, they were round. (NOTE: Round bottles roll. Generally off the table.) Since most wine makers preferred to keep their wine inside its container rather than having it decorate the floor, round bottles were not used for wine. So longer (non-standard) bottles were invented and people started aging wines.

In 1979, the US of A set the standard size for a glass wine bottle at 750 ml. It seems like it would have been longer ago than that. But it wasn’t.

Love, Mom

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Weekend Recap | Bengals, Coffee, Storm, Coffee, Snoring, Coffee

Dear Kid,

To recap the weekend.

The Bengals. Painful. Just painful to watch. In case you missed it (be thankful), there was fighting—as in it looked like a hockey game broke out on the field (no, I don’t think it looked like mixed martial arts). People were ejected. Commentators had explosive coronaries.

Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of coffee. ~Stephanie Piro DearKidLoveMom.comSpeaking of painful to watch, I was on TV (I do not like to be in front of cameras). David (from La Terza Coffee) and I got up at (insert ungodly hour of the morning) and went down to WLWT to talk about the Cincinnati Coffee Festival. Dad said we were awesome, so I’m going with that. Of course, we were followed by puppies (seriously—tiny balls of fur were showing off their adorableness before their adoption event) and it’s pretty much impossible to compete with puppies.

I did not adopt one. But it was a struggle.

I’m going to be on TV again today on a different channel with a different coffee vendor. Hopefully no puppies and no struggling to walk away without taking one home.

Equally as difficult was sleeping. There was a storm. Complete with warnings (Flash Flood Warning, Severe Thunderstorm Warning, Tornado Warning, Unhappy Puppy Being Walked in the Rain Warning—you name it, we were warned).

On the plus side, it was clock changing weekend. I love having an extra hour. I usually spend it doing something wildly self-indulgent. This year, I spent it watching the Bengals implode. That was not self-indulgent. It was more ex-dulgent.

Also on the plus side: snoring Puppy. It is one of the most wonderful sounds in the world. And since he snored on and off all day, it was more than enough to satisfy my extra hour happiness quota.

Hope you enjoyed your extra hour.

Love, Mom

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Cincinnati Coffee Festival and Weird Coffee Facts

Cincinnati Coffee Festival and Weird Coffee Facts

Dear Kid,

We’re busy getting ready for the Cincinnati Coffee Festival (the world’s coolest event November 11-12 at Cincinnati Music Hall–buy tickets here). Which means we are thinking about….wait for it….coffee.

Coffee can make people do, um, interesting things.

That about sums it up, doesn't it? What I learned about Bulletproof coffee. DearKidLoveMom.Napoleon Bonaparte asked for a spoonful of coffee while on his deathbed, and his autopsy revealed coffee grounds in his stomach. He once said, “I would rather suffer with coffee than be senseless.” That’s pretty much how I feel every morning.

Coffee is used in all kinds of sayings. In baseball, a player with a “cup of coffee” is one who has played only one game in the majors as either a pitcher or a batter. (Did you know that? I didn’t think so.)

Some people drink coffee. Some people drink a lot of coffee. Some people drink a LOT of coffee. Like Honoré de Balzac (the early 19th century French author) who reportedly drank 50 cups of coffee a day. Most people would agree that is a ridiculous amount. It’s a good thing Balzac didn’t get $9 lattes.

Some people drink coffee black. Others don’t. Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, drank a lot of coffee. He would pour sugar into the coffee cup until it was piled up above the rim, then add incredibly strong, black coffee, which slowly dissolved the sugar. Then he’d gulped the whole thing down in one go. Have a little coffee with your sugar.

And some people think coffee is more than coffee, it’s their own personal canvas. 

Love, Mom

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The Truth About Peanut Butter and Jelly

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as peanut butter and jelly. This was known as the Pre-Lunch Period.

Even once peanuts were invented no one really cared or paid attention until the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Initially, peanut butter was a très trendy treat and one ate it on toast triangles while one called oneself “one.” One sometimes at it with watercress just to show that one was sophisticated enough not to spit out the watercress.

Meanwhile in 1901, Julia Davis Chandler invented the recipe for peanut butter and jelly. (All hail the first Ms. Julia.)

Peanut butter and jelly DearKidLoveMom.comThings really picked up for pb&j when Otto Rohwedder invented the bread slicer. Yes, he most certainly did, and he marketed it as “the greatest step forward in baking since bread was wrapped. (Later the slogan became “the greatest thing since sliced bread.”—I am not making that up.) The bread slicer meant that people (and by “people” I mean children and klutzy adults) could make sandwiches without having to handle sharp implements.

With pre-sliced bread readily available, people needed things to put in between slices.

Enter Mr. Paul Welch and his love of smooshing up grapes into jelly, which wasn’t nearly as good as strawberry jam, but Paul didn’t care about that at all.

Meanwhile, the peanut thing was happening. Fact: Peanut butter was not invented by Dr. George Washington Carver. He just popularized all things peanut. Peanut butter was probably invented by Dr. Ambrose Straub who thought peanut butter paste was a good thing for patients who had trouble swallowing (or fewer than the standard number of teeth). Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (you know him as the inventor of boxes of cereal) figured out how to manufacture peanut butter. Kellogg and Straub went to the Fair (the St. Louis World Fair) and it was a hit. A smallish hit, but a hit nonetheless.

Enter sugar added to peanut butter (yum), creamier peanut butter that didn’t stick to the roof of your mouth as much (yay), and The Great Depression (boo). Peanut butter was satisfying, high in protein, and cheap, all of which helped boost its popularity.

Then (this part should be accompanied by an amazing soundtrack), We the People entered WWII and pb&j went right along with us. Peanut butter and jelly was (were? was?) part of the rations given to soldiers—and it was better than much of the food they were served. And with that, peanut butter and jelly became the quintessential American lunch.

Nothing much happened on the pb&j front for many years. Then came the Era of Commercialization and Mistakes Were Made. Like combining peanut butter and jelly (and blech) in a single jar. And inventing a shelf stable way to make peanut butter slices (think individually wrapped American cheese slices but with peanut butter) which avoided all that spreading and bread ripping. Bad ideas all around.

These days, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a staple of most homes that have people living in them. There is much controversy in the world about whether creamy or chunky is the correct version (as if it’s even a question!) but that’s a different discussion for a different day.

Love, Mom

P.S. Guess what I had for dinner last night?

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Coffee, Caffeine, Hashtags, and Don’t Talk to Until I’m Alive

Coffee, Caffeine, Hashtags, and Don’t Talk to Until I’m Alive

Dear Kid,

Some things seem obvious.

The problem is that there are some things that are obvious AFTER coffee that are not so obvious BEFORE coffee.

Good morning. Time for a lovely cup of coffee. DearKidLoveMom.comLike not wearing a black shirt to cuddle the Puppy.

Because the Puppy insists on shedding.


Or not experimenting with a breakfast that takes 30 minutes to cook—on a workday when you hit snooze three times.


This leads to our Lesson Of The Day: Do not make major life altering decisions until you are sufficiently caffeinated. Do not Operate Machinery until you know how the appropriate amount of caffeine affects you.

Dad does not always remember this Important Lesson. He has never (to the best of my recollection) snuggled the Puppy while wearing a black dress shirt. On the other hand, he often tries to talk to me before I’m alive.

This is not practicing Safe Communication.


Beware the Uncaffeinated, my love. We are vicious.

Once we wake up.

Love, Mom

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