Penny Marshall, one of our favorite actors – talk about a nut – recently published My Mother Was Nuts: A Memoir (New Harvest 2012). The title alone sold us on the book. In fact, we loved it so much that we created our first Little Nutthings V.I.N. (Very Important Nut) as a tribute to Ms. Marshall. The design is based on the book cover. As always, the figurine is a real nut that was transformed in the LN lab. Following is our book review.

Penny Marshall - 2nd Generation Nut

Penny Marshall – 2nd Generation Nut

We read it on a digital platform and are kicking ourselves for not enjoying this experience as an audiobook. It’s just that kind of story, because Penny is that kind of person.

The memoir tells of Penny’s childhood growing up in the Bronx with two older siblings, a largely absent father, several dogs that came and then quickly went (“to the country”, her mother said), a grandmother in residence, a grandfather who moved across the hall to live with two other elderly ladies, friends and neighbors who variously believed the family was Jewish and Catholic, and a rather distinctive, dare we say nutty, mother.

Her requirement that Penny attend classes at mom’s dance studio was not a welcome one, and the relationship would not be described as a close one. Still, the Penny’s mom was clearly an enormously influential force in the girl’s life. She worked outside the home at a time when that was a rare thing, hated cooking (and did it poorly), divorced her husband, pursued fame, however modest, with a passion, and generally seems like a pioneer of mandatory feminism. Though the portrait Penny paints of her mother is not unremittingly sunny and doesn’t give her much credit for her parenting skills (the funny bits here have an edge of sadness to them), it is illuminating and thought provoking.

The highlights, and a few lowlights, of that fabulous career are sketched out in this 320-page book, including an appearance on The “Jackie Gleason Show” in 1955 to her breakout role on “The Odd Couple”; her friendship with John Belushi and wrestling matches with Cindy Williams; marriage; divorce; marriage; the ground-breaking spinoff show “Laverne & Shirley”; and gallivanting with Carrie Fisher, Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert De Niro, and Whitney Houston.

Penny’s rules: “try hard, help your friends, don’t get too crazy, and have fun.”

Words to live by, Ms. Marshall. As for our nutty readers, please let us know your thoughts on the book.

Live Well … and Out of the Shell™ in 2013!


Nut-trition from the Health Nut

Florence Nutingale

Florence Nutingale

Nuts can, and we believe should, play a key role in a healthy diet. A recent Google search on “nut studies” showed 27 million results. Enough to drive you nuts. Here’s a concise summary from Flo, our resident health nut and inspiration for the Little NutThings® Health Nut t-shirt.

Little Nutthings Health Nut  t-shirt
Why are nuts good for us?

They’re high in plant protein, anti-oxidants, monounsaturated fatty acids (the ‘good’ fats), vitamins and minerals. They’re cholesterol free and a great source of fiber. Studies show a variety of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. Peanuts are so nutritious they’re a major ingredient in Plumpy’nut™, a ready-to-use therapeutic food that has revolutionized the way childhood malnutrition is treated and prevented around the world

Pretty impressive, any down side?.
On average, nuts have have 9 calories per gram, making them the most calorie-dense nutrient. So unless you want to gain weight, don’t add nuts to your diet without subtracting a similar number of calories; for example, substitute nuts for chips or cookies. Second, remember that many processed nuts that are so handy for snacks are fried in oil and/or laced with salt, which can raise your blood pressure.

 Are the benefits the same for all nuts?
No, according to data from the University of Toronto all kinds of nuts are superfoods – but their primary health benefits, and calories, vary. Most studies indicate that walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds provide the most healthful benefits. Personally, we love them all. Here’s the calorie count for one ounce of the 10 favorites. Note that one ounce is not very much; one ounce of Brazil nuts is only 6-8 nuts.

  1. Almonds: 169 calories
  2. Brazil Nuts: 190 calories
  3. Cashews: 163 calores
  4. Hazelnuts/filberts: 178 calories
  5. Macadamia nuts: 204 calories
  6. Peanuts: 166 calories
  7. Pecans: 196 calories
  8. Pine Nuts: 160
  9. Pistachios: 161 calories
  10. Sunflower seeds: 165 calories
  11. Walnuts: 185 calories.

Not to mention coconuts, cedar nuts, and so many more. We could go on and on about the benefits of each. The bottom line: nuts are fun and good for you! Go shell out for some soon. Just eat them by the handful, not the can full.

And as Flo says “Live Well … and Out of the Shell™”.

One nutty resolution fits all

The new year is just a few days old, so how are your resolutions going?  Have any? Too many? Primed for a let down? Maybe Little NutThings can help whatever the situation with just ONE resolution!

Mixed nuts_ out of the shell_colored nuts

Mixed Nuts

Simply put, live well and out of the shell. “Live well” … take good care of your body, be kind to yourself and everyone else. “Out of the shell” … I wish I knew.  I’ve been working on this for a long time. Take a look at these real nuts.

If I were a plant nut, I’d like to be the colorful green one in the middle – note the crack developing on the bottom of the shell. Or I’d choose the beautiful almond beside it with the even bigger opening. Truth … I’m more like the almond on the bottom right, breaking out but undercover of the bigger walnut and near the tough Brazil nut.

Quartet, a new movie directed by Dustin Hoffman, opens January 11. Directing a movie is a first for him, though something he says he wanted to do for years. When asked what took him so long, he replied that it was his own ” private nuttiness that stopped him”. parade.com

We love that he said nuttiness in his explanation; but more, we love the idea that even Dustin Hoffman has trouble getting out of his shell. Of course, it’s all a matter of degrees. Some people want to direct a movie, others just want to dance with abandon.

So, who inspires you to pursue your dreams? We’d love to hear.
Now, please, be good to yourself this year. Live well. Spend some time out of the shell.

New Years Can Make You Nuts

academia nut

Mac, the academia nut

by guest blogger, Mac

Happy 2013 in a few days to all!!  And a happy new year retroactively to those who might follow the Hebrew calendar whose year 5773 started on September 16, or the Muslim calendar which started year 1434 on November 14.  And a happy Year of the Snake this coming February 10 to those nut lovers in China.

Thinking about calendars, we’ve just figured out that one of our peanut farmer Presidents, George Washington, lived through a day of true nuttiness when he woke up on the morning of Thursday September 14, 1752.  Why?  Because when he had gone to bed the previous night, it had been Wednesday September 2, 1752, an 11 day difference overnight!

This happened because England and its colonies had finally decided to adopt the Gregorian calendar, which most of Europe had switched to in 1582. The old Julian calendar year was based on 365 and ¼ days, which turned out to be about 11 minutes too long, which over the years put the old calendar 10 days behind our true yearly cycle around the sun.  Pope Gregory’s people fixed this by skipping 10 calendar days and taking “leap days” out of future years that are divisible by 100, but leaving them in for those divisible by 400.  (Are you nuts yet?!?).  The British had to lose 11 days in 1752 because they had accumulated another extra day in 1700.

(This is the first of occasional posts by Mac, our resident history and esoteric nut. Mac asks lots of questions and has come to know that life has been nuts since the beginning of time. You have questions? Ask Mac.)

A Nutivity Story

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, gifts just don’t work out as expected. This happened to my sister, Anne, a nature nut, animal lover, award-winning artist and the top artist at Little Nutthings®. Most of the nutty figurines featured on the blog are her creation.

A few years ago, she created a one-of-a-kind gift, a piece of art, for her godfather, Uncle Frank. The base was slate, the stable was a coconut shell. Mary and Joseph knelt beside baby Jesus, who lay in a walnut shell manger. A sheep, cow and donkey rested peacefully around them.

Uncle Frank and his wife, Carroll loved their unique Nativity [aka, Nutivity] set…until the following year. It was then a wholly different scene when Carroll opened the storage box, which had been visited by mice.

A Nutivity Story

untitled for now

Jesus was gone! Joseph … just a shell of himself. The scene had become beautifully, oddly, different. It’s now a piece of art that we doubt human artists could duplicate unassisted.

We’re having trouble just naming the new piece. The working title is Bad Day at Bethlehem but we are definitely open to ideas.  We’d also love to hear other stories of gifts gone bad, or gifts oddly improved, however you see it.  It’s all part of life and being nuts.

So please, live well … and out of the shell.


Call us nuts (anytime) but we’re changing  today’s blog. Our original post, Part Two of our Soup to Nuts holiday posts, was an original recipe for Cinnamon Spice Pecans – easy to make, so tasty and make perfect gifts. But it turns out, our recipe to share wasn’t so original after all.  A quick google search for Cinnamon Spice Pecans yielded 650,000 references. So, we reviewed bunches of them and tried several. Following is our favorite.

First though, a few nut bytes

  • Technically speaking, pecans are drupes and not true nuts. Walnuts are also drupes. However, we’re all inclusive when it comes to nuts or their friends.  Plus, we love the word “drupe”. It’s so vague yet distinct. Sounds like an insult.
  •  As you may have figured out, we’re all about nuts at Little NutThings; not only as a philosophical inspiration … but as food, too. Please send us your favorite nut recipe and we’ll post some here for fellow fans to savor.  Just be sure to include the source of your recipe if it’s not your creation.
  •  Speaking of nuts, we hope you like our tribute to the many Santas out and about this time of year. Like all of our characters, these start with real nuts, even if technically legumes, as the peanuts in this case.
Sanut Clauses

Sanut Clauses

Now, from Food.com http://www.food.com/recipe/sugar-and-cinnamon-spiced-pecans-105682 , our pick:

Cinnamon Spice Pecans   Servings:  5

1 lb pecan halves
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup margarine or 1/2 cup butter

1. Whip egg white until frothy.
2. Add water, sugar and cinnamon.
3. In a 13×9″ cake pan, melt the margarine or butter.
4. Pour pecans in egg mixture, stir well, then pour into pan.
5. Bake at 250 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.

‘til next week, live well… and out of the shell.

Soup to Nuts and Nuts to Soup

Happy holidays from our house to yours.

Today, Nutty Notes is serving up some fun info to nourish your mind, as well as a fabulous recipe to nourish your body. (We’ll tackle your soul another day.)

One of our favorite phrases here at Little Nutthings® is “from soup to nuts.” An American English idiom that conveys the meaning “from beginning to end,” it’s derived from the description of a full course dinner, beginning with soup and ending with a dessert of nuts. Other languages have similar phrases, such as Latin’s ab ovo usque ad mala (“from the egg to the apples”), describing the typical Roman meal.

Notable uses of the phrase:

  • From Soup to Nuts, a 1928 short comedy film starring Laurel and Hardy as butlers hired for a high society dinner party
  • Soup to Nuts, a 1930 feature film starring the trio who later became the Three Stooges
  • “Duck Soup to Nuts,” a 1944 Looney Tunes animated short featuring Porky Pig and Daffy Duck
  • “Soup to Nuts”, an episode of That’s So Raven
  • Soup2Nuts, a production company known for its animated comedies
  • Soup to Nutz, an American comic strip launched in 2000

Thank you, Wikipedia! Now on to our recipe …

PEANUT SOUP  (Serves 10 to 12)

¼ c. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
3 tablespoons flour
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 ¾ c. light cream or half-and-half
12 ounces diced ham

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes longer. Pour in the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Whisk the peanut butter and the cream into the liquid. Warm over low heat, whisking often, for about five minutes. Do not boil. Grill the diced ham and sprinkle some on top of each serving.

(From A Taste of Adventure with Reed Hellman, “When the Frontier was Near”, reprinted in Recreation News (December 2008).

Bon appétit, fellow nut-lovers.

Live Well … and Out of the Shell™!


Nuts in marketplace in Spain

Lots of nuts in Granada marketplace

This NuttyNotes gem is by Eliza, super nut, author and researcher.

The French language has no equivalent word for the generic English word “nuts”. Sure, there’s “noix” but that doesn’t quite cover it. (See http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2155538.)

Can you believe it? Those French have named every single nut under the sun individually but have no general word.

Walnut: Culin noix
Hazel nut: Noisette
Almond: Amande
Peanut: Cacahuète.

This raises a bigger issue. We at Little Nutthings want to be your complete source for all things nuts. But we know our language limits. Do you know the proper food term for “nuts” in another language? Please share. And always, please

Live Well … and Out of the Shell™ (coquille de noix?)