Mom's Latest Crazy Talk

I am beginning to be a firm believer in the fact that growing old can make a person more critical (dare I say MEAN) and certainly rude, if comical at the same time. I know volumes have been written about the dynamics of mothers and daughters and mothers and sons etc. but I have my very own special take on this via my own mom, who, since the age of 60 has been telling me “she can say whatever she wants, no matter how rude because she is old.” Well, now she is 87 so that means we have all put up with 27 years of crazy.

Here are a few of her latest - I am typing these quotes in caps since she is hard of hearing and everything is delivered in a shout no matter where we are.

She is having a conversation with me over lunch - ‘WHEN DID YOUR TEETH GET SO CROOKED?

WHY DON’T YOU GET A REAL HAIRSTYLE AND WHY IS YOU HAIR SO THIN? The response to this is simple - I get my terrible hair from HER!

In the massively crowded Denver airport where we are in the waiting area seated next to a family with twin girls - “THOSE ARE THE UGLIEST TWINS I HAVE EVER SEEN AND WORSE YET THERE ARE TWO OF THEM.”

Continuing, before I could wheel her away - “AND THEIR NAMES ARE STUPID TOO.”

About my sister and me as we walked in front of her in Las Vegas “NEITHER ONE OF THOSE TWO GIRLS HAS PRETTY LEGS LIKE MINE.”

About the Food Network of which she is an avid viewer - “WHY DO THEY ALL MAKE SO MUCH FISH CRAP AND MEXICAN CRAP?”

And my favorite of Mom’s crazy talk on the subject of Jennifer Aniston when she was all over the news whining (according to Mom) about Brad Pitt leaving her-“SHE MAKES MY ASS TIRED.”

And there you go, another aspect of my always entertaining MOM.


Flowers to Make You Smile

I am sitting here in the intense heat and decided to stop complaining about it and Google one my favorite subjects – FRESH FLOWERS. Of course there are a zillion and one ways to combine flowers to make all types of different arrangements, but let me narrow it down a bit.

Let’s talk about just plain pretty arrangements for any table – not gigantic, showy arrangements but pleasing ones you can place anywhere. I really love the look of different flowers all in the same color family. It makes for a cohesive arrangement that is more subtle but has depth when you examine all the different varieties. If you ever watch the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network, you will see she is a fan of solid color arrangements, usually in all white or orange. She will often use the same flower over and over in a large cluster, but I prefer different flowers.

You can really use any container, from plain glass where you see the stems, to a pottery piece or my favorite – something different you own, like a small tureen or pitcher or even your gravy boat you haven’t had out since Thanksgiving. Use your imagination. Fill the container with water, arrange the flowers in your hand to gather a perfect bouquet, freshly cut the stems, then place them in the water. You may need a few adjustments, but you can do it!

Here in Cincinnati, we have a number of good florists, but a truly special one is Robin Wood. Visit her amazing website to order, get amazing ideas and view her photo gallery. The pair of photos on this page are from her website and perfectly illustrate the single color theme.

Keep cool and think “flowery” thoughts!

Photos from Robin Wood Flowers


A Super Side Dish

I recently saw a recipe made on the Food Network, tried it at home (with a few adjustments) and it was so unique and delicious I wanted to share it with you!

Savory Spinach Bread Pudding

6 slices bacon, fried and chopped in small but not tiny pieces

1 ½ c. shredded swiss cheese

2 c. fresh baby spinach, chopped

2 shallots you have chopped and softened in olive oil

3 slices French or Italian bread, cut in cubes, crust on

Combine all these ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 4 ramekins with a non-stick spray (I used my larger ones – they hold about 12 ounces or use 6 small 6 ounce ones)

Custard: In a large bowl, whisk together 6 eggs and ¼ c.whole milk Add combined ingredients above and make sure all the bread is coated in the custard. Spoon mixture into the prepared ramekins and bake 30 minutes for the larger ones and about 20-25 minutes for the smaller ramekins. When the tops are golden and a bit bubbly, remove from oven. They can be served in the ramekin or for a pretty presentation, run a knife around the edge, flip them and the bread pudding should come right out.

Becky Knows Everything: Here are a few important tips – Gruyere cheese is a great substitute for the swiss, but as it is a lot pricier I opted for the latter. I purchased a loaf of unsliced French bread that was soft, not a crusty baguette (which won’t accept the custard as well), then sliced three medium thick slices and cubed from there. I served these as a side dish with a nice grilled strip steak, but they would also be great for an interesting brunch or ladies lunch dish too.


An Enchanted Evening - Sara & Walt are Married

One of Adrienne’s closest friends from high school was married recently to her sweetheart, Walter in an enchanting, magical manner. The natural beauty of Lexington, KY, home of rolling hills, bluegrass and manicured horse farms, was the setting for the ceremony and reception. A beautiful day, a soft breeze and the amazing landscape made everyone feel truly blessed to be there.

As guests arrived they were directed through a large manor house to the backyard setting, where the ceremony chairs were set up under a huge draping tree from which were hung small origami birds, made by a friend of Sara’s. The breeze caught them and they swayed and added a special touch to the area. When the ceremony began, the bridesmaids, dressed in perfect pink dresses, carrying lovely bouquets of roses and greens in all the soft colors, pinks, peaches, creams and yellows came through the lawn, followed by the spectacular sight of Sara on her father’s arm beaming with happiness matching Walter’s waiting smile. Sara’s dress was a beaded, fitted top with a drop waist that went into the most lavish confection of tulle and satin roses beneath layers of lace and a train. To say she was beautiful simply doesn’t capture it properly.

The reception tent was adjacent and it was a truly magical sight. The entire ceiling of the tent was hung with giant paper lanterns and flower balls in the floral colors, made by the bride’s family. Martha Stewart should get this creative group on her team without a doubt.

The tables were draped in pale green silk with floral centerpieces that were garden fresh and included all the soft colors in roses and stock and lisianthus, hydrangeas and green bells of Ireland. Surrounding the main centerpiece were multiple tiny arrangements in silver julep cups (we’re in KY, remember) with smaller cut versions of the main flowers and twinkling votives. As the evening continued, the lanterns were lit, the delicious food was eaten and the cake presented. As a guest, you truly felt you had been part of a loving family event.

Sara and her family are so welcoming and everyone felt included – relatives, friends, children, horses and even a blind, deaf dog, their beloved family pet. It was a truly enchanted evening.


Disappearing Mushrooms

Yes, that’s right. I made this new stuffed mushroom recipe twice and both times, they were all gone before I could even take a picture of them for you. The ingredients aren’t all that unusual but the flavor combination is great.

Pecan Stuffed Mushrooms

16oz. fresh mushrooms – I often buy these individually so I can select ones that are large enough to stuff but not so gigantic they are difficult to eat. The smaller mushrooms just don’t hold enough stuffing and that simply becomes annoying, as the stuffing falls all over the place.

½ tsp. salt

2 shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbs. olive oil

1/2 c. parmesan cheese

1/3 c. panko bread crumbs (these crumbs are lighter than regular, but regular crumbs can be used)

¼ c. pecans, chopped (I use pecan halves and chop them myself so they are a bit larger pieces)

6 tsb. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

The first thing you need to do is remove the mushroom stems, clean, chop and set aside. I believe mushroom caps need to be cooked in some way before stuffing or they just taste raw and their inherent moisture makes them too wet. The Barefoot Contessa sautés hers in Marsala wine. I tried a new idea where you salt and pepper the caps, then place them on a rack on a cookie sheet and bake them for 10 minutes – this got out all the moisture but they were so rubbery and tough and ugly you didn’t want to use them. My best method is to simply sauté them in a combo of olive oil and butter (a few tablespoons each) until they are getting soft and golden and pretty. Drain on paper towels and they are all set.


Sauté chopped stems, garlic, shallots and salt in a combo of 3 tsb. olive oil and 3 tsb. butter until tender. Add crumbs, cheese and pecans and stir to combine. If mixture is too wet, add a few more crumbs, and if it is too dry, add the remaining 3 tsb. butter until melted. Stuff the caps, place in baking pan (I use my pie pans) and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until golden. I promise, just like mine, yours will disappear.


Outdoor Funscapes

I have been out researching some deliciously colorful tabletop acrylics and cloths to brighten and freshen your outdoor or indoor summer entertaining. Pretty much all the home merchandise stores that carry accessories have wonderful selections this year and I spent an entire morning taking photographs for you!

I visited Pier One (charming as always but a bit pricey), HomeGoods, Steinmart (again pricey and not a great selection) and I hit a home run at Macy’s. They have an amazing selection and a large section devoted to tabletop, beachy accessories like totes and sandals and a cool collection of beach towels. Good old Martha Stewart is up to her magic again and offers an array of colorful patterns and solids.

HomeGoods has a vast selection of pretty chair pads for outdoor furniture as well as a nice group of teak tables, chairs and benches. They also offer a colorful and inexpensive chair grouping made of woven plastic mesh with metal frames that come in bright orange, blue, red and yellow.

So many accessories can go into making your deck, sunroom or porch a fresh retreat. If you like soothing stick with neutrals, but if you want to have some fun try crisp white with the bright solids and always throw in a pattern or two or three. Buy some inexpensive jar candles – the little ones are about a dollar and come in so many colors and can be grouped on a table or at an individual place setting. Buy paper cocktail or luncheon napkins in solids if you have patterned plates or buy a two color patterned napkin – like a solid with a polka dot! A classic polka dot can make anyone smile.

Get your flowers planted and your hanging baskets purchased and you are on your way to beautiful summer fun.


Love You Forever, A Mother's Day Tribute

I am sure most of you out there have read the very beautiful and moving book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. It was originally published in 1986 when my son was 9. I purchased one a number of years later and recently found it when I was pulling from storage many of the books I had kept from when my children were young. Andy and his family were coming for a visit and I wanted their son Jackson to be able to see his daddy’s childhood favorites as well as share it with Adrienne and her son when they visit in June.

I had forgotten what an emotional tale this was and I also discovered I had written Andy a note on every page reminding him how much I loved him like the mother in the book loved her son. To say I became tearful as I read the words I wrote 25 years ago is an understatement.

The story follows a baby boy from birth into his adult years when he has his own family. His mother goes into his room at night, and when she is sure he is asleep, she takes him from his bed and rocks him in her arms while she sings “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

Throughout the book the author mentions all the funny stages little boys go through from the terrible twos, messy sports and the crazy teenage years. All through these stages, she still creeps into his room and sings him the song as he sleeps. Finally he is grown and married and she is elderly and ill and she calls him for help. He comes to see her, picks her up in his arms and sings the same song. When he returns home later that night, he picks up his own newborn child and sings her the same lyrics. I wish I could express how touching the story is. The illustrations by Sheila McGraw are lovely and add so much to each page.

My wonderful mother turned 87 in March and someday when she needs help all five of her beloved children will rush to be there. We all know how incredibly blessed we are to have had her this long and for her to be able to still live alone, drive, cook, attend meetings, go to lunch with her friends (by the way she LOVES the Olive Garden) and just be so healthy. Mom still says the funniest things, although often times she doesn’t mean to be funny. She gets all dressed up for appointments, has her hair done every Friday and for very special events gets a pedicure with “diamonds” glued onto her toes, with the polish always a bright, happy pink.

Very soon in early June, our family will all be celebrating the marriage of my niece, Stephanie to her husband-to-be Morgan. We will be traveling to Colorado for a great time and of course, Mom is coming. As this is a very special event, you can bet the pedicure is already scheduled and Mom’s suitcase is open on the guest room bed a month early all ready to be packed!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you and especially to you Mom. We will all “love you forever.” If any of you have not read Love You Forever you must, because remember Becky Knows Everything!