Wish Betty a Happy Birthday!


I’ve been talking about my mother Betty being 80 years old for the past 5 years. I’ve been lying. The truth is, Betty isn’t 80 years old yet. She turns 80 on Sunday. Betty Jean Bertelsen turns 80 years old on Sunday.

Betty !

This is Betty at a jewellery making course we took last year.  Betty is donning her “I’d rather be quilting face.”.


This is Betty on an elephant in Thailand.  Betty is donning her “I’d rather be making jewellery face.”.


Betty Jean Ledger, as she was known, prior to marrying the handsome Norman, was a bit of a handful. A wild child who jumped out of bedroom windows in the middle of the night to meet boys and even more frightening for her parents, almost became a nun. Those two things, being wild and being a nun, might seem counterintuitive, but when you think about it, nuns are pretty out there.   They wear all black, pray an extraordinary amount and definitely don’t spend a lot of time drinking martinis at the Casino.   Betty recognized early on she wasn’t cut out for the nunnery or any other occupation that would frown upon drinking and swearing.

So she became a switchboard operator.

She’s hung up her telephone several decades ago but based on the amount of times she calls me during the day I think she misses it.

So her 80th birthday.  Betty did NOT want a party. So no party.  There will be no 80th birthday party for Betty.  Just a BBQ with myself and my sisters and Betty’s closest friends, many of whom were also switchboard operators.  I’ll have to ask them how many times a day they call their children.

The party is at the house of Pink Tool Belt’s (who you can see here helping me build my chicken coop) because she has the biggest backyard. Not that we need a big backyard since this is a tiny BBQ and not a party.  I’ll be making some of the food and she and Fish Pedicure will be making some as well.  For whatever weird reason, Betty decided she wanted Back Ribs as her 80th birthday dinner.  How are we supposed to put on any kind of classy affair when everyone at the shindig is going to be sucking on their fingers and wiping BBQ goo out of their eyebrows. Do you know how difficult it is to have a normal conversation with an 80 year old man who has BBQ sauce in his eyebrows?  It’s hard.  It’s very, very hard. I mean it’s understandable they’d get a bit of sauce in there, what with 80 year old men having 2 foot long eyebrow hairs but it doesn’t make it any easier on the person looking at them.

Betty also wants Bacon wraps as an appetizer. So it’ll be your basic festival of pork. L’chiam and shalom.

I put myself in charge of the back ribs since I’m the only one in the family in possession of a bona fide smoker and an award losing BBQ sauce recipe.

I’m also going to make bruschetta appetizers and …. the cake.

The. Cake.

I started making the cake today.  If I do one element a day for the next 3 days I should be in good shape.

It’s a 9 layer, Naked Lemon Verbena sponge cake filled with homemade lemon curd, whole raspberries and vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream icing.   So that should be gross.

I came up with the cake with the help of chef Signe Langford. We talked it out over email.  I wanted something seasonal and fresh and preferably something I could use my strawberry jam with.  But I’m not using my strawberry jam. I’m making use of my lemon verbena plant instead, which is fine. I like lemon flavour over strawberry anyway and I’m REALLY excited to actually make something out of my lemon verbena plant as opposed to just walking past it, ripping off some leaves and shoving them up my nostrils.

I was thinking of making a potato chip cake actually, but 80 year old men also nose whistle when they’re angry and I didn’t want to get into that after the whole eyebrow thing.  80 year olds don’t want potato chip cakes. They want cake cakes.  With icing and a lot of beer.

The cake will be decorated with lemon verbena leaves, raspberries and fresh flowers from my cutting garden.  If you haven’t heard of a naked cake it looks something like this …



Basically it’s a cake with no icing.  Not on the outside anyway, there is on the inside.  It was all the rage at weddings last year, so I’m nothing if not up on wedding cake trends from 2014.  Can’t call me out of touch.  This particular cake is a bit too much for me. It’s very LOOK AT ME I’M A CAKE COVERED WITH STUFF … ALL KINDS OF STUFF … I’M VERY SPECIAL, I AM!!  I’d like my cake to be a little more reserved. A little cooler.  This cake is trying too hard.  This cake is  Katy Perry.  My cake will be Lady Gaga thank you very much.

Something closer to this maybe …



I think maybe this cake is more Audrey Hepburn now that I see it.


If I have time I’ll photograph it for you, but I imagine Sunday is going to be a bit of a shitshow trying to get everything ready, the ribs smoked, the cake assembled, the appetizers made, plus I’d like to get to my sister’s house early so I can laze around and kind of make fun of her while she cleans her already clean house.  She cleans her potato bin all the time.  This is a woman who has a perpetually clean potato bin.  If I get around to photographing the cake, I’ll put it up next Friday.  I’m off on Monday because it’s a holiday in Canada and although I did consider blogging on Monday I decided you all can suck it, I deserve a day off. For those of you who don’t speak Canadian, suck it means, You’re super special, but I need some time alone away from you.  You know. Where you’re not here, and I’m just alone and you are away.  From me.  

Since Betty’s birthday is on Sunday (when I don’t have a post going up) I thought I’d give those of you who are fans a chance to wish the 80 year old Betty (who passed her mandatory, “I’m really old and maybe should walk places instead”, drivers test today!) a Happy Birthday.

And for those of you who aren’t fans or don’t know who the hell this Betty person is, you can learn a bit about Betty  here and here and here in her 75th birthday post where you’ll learn more about the nun thing and also see a photo of her with the handsome Norman.

Let the birthday wishes commence.

Have a great weekend and keep your eyebrows clean.