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.



  1. Ev Wilcox says:

    With all the preparations-smoked back ribs, appetizers, naked cake (which sounds great), and the cleaning, too bad Betty did not want a party! That would have been fun! You know, with special food, special cake, and lots of attendees, etc! You’re a good daughter, Karen. Have a great time and enjoy Monday off! Prob will need it!
    (Hope like crazy we get a look at the cake)!

    • Phyllis Kraemer says:

      Any bets that Betty is getting a party whether she wants one or not? I’ll take odds on “Yes there is a party!”

  2. Mary says:

    Happy Birthday Betty! Hope it is wonderful in sprite of your smart-ass daughter. :)

  3. Roxanne says:

    Very Happy Birthday, Ms. Betty. I hope the weather is fine, the cake is better, and (even if it’s not a party) you are surrounded by family and friends. You have raised an amazing daughter, so you must be very special. Cheers.

  4. Lynn (really spelled w/ an "e", but somebody else already has that spelling on here) says:

    Happy Birthday Betty! You do NOT look 80, you look much younger!!

  5. Lily MacBloom says:

    Happy Birth Day Betty, enjoy your day!????????

  6. Barb says:

    Wishing Betty the most spectacular 80th birthday ever!

  7. Jenny says:

    Happy birthday, Betty! You look fabulous! Enjoy your not-a-party BBQ!

  8. Ella says:

    Happy birthday! I hope I will be riding an elephant too, when I’m almost 80! You rock!

  9. Judi. McLeod says:

    Happy Birthday Betty. I love your menu choices.

  10. christine hilton says:

    The sneaky old seniors in the Golden Horseshoe all know your home town has the easiest seniors drive test. They flock to it so tell Betty to get in line early! Have a wonderful party with your super hero mother!

  11. Thera says:

    Happy birthday Betty!

  12. chris says:

    Happy Happy Birthday to Betty!

  13. Jane S says:

    Happy Birthday Betty. Have a great day day with your family and your cake.

  14. Mike Flegle says:

    Happy Birthday, Betty! The event Karen has planned for Sunday that resembles a party but is definitely NOT a party sounds like great fun!

  15. mickey says:

    Happy Birthday, Betty. Enjoy your not a party on Sunday.

  16. Lynne says:

    Happy Birthday Betty!!!
    Wishing you the happiest of celebrations with family and friends :)

  17. Sue says:

    Betty!! The Happiest of Birthday wishes being sent your way! I hope your celebration is as special as your daughter makes you out to be. Happy 80th!!!!!

  18. Heather says:

    Happy 80th, Betty. Looking forward to a picture of Betty with the cake,

  19. Susan says:

    My father is having his 91st birthday on Sunday, so he and Betty share a special day. I am beginning to understand your sense of humor, growing up with a parent who is a Leo.

    Good luck with your cake, cooking and event! Oh, and happy birthday, Betty!

  20. Tigersmom says:

    Happy Birthday, Betty! You are always a most welcome addition/topic of your daughter’s posts.

    I’m probably not quoting exactly, but “you can edit this later, right?” is one of my favorites.

  21. Lori says:

    Hope you have a fantastic birthday Betty!

  22. Edith says:

    Hi Betty,

    I hear you’re turning 80!? That’s great! Let your kids spoil you for a day and enjoy your friends on Sunday. Happy Birthday and lots of happy years to come !!!

  23. Jeannie says:

    Happy Birthday, Betty!

  24. jainegayer says:

    Have a WONDERFUL birthday, Betty! And thank you for giving birth to Karen. My mornings would be so dull without her.

  25. Kim says:

    Happy Birthday Miss Betty!!!!! You are awesome. I love your spunk! I see where Karen gets it from :-) I hope you have the very best of birthdays.

    Karen, Enjoy your day off but please do try to get at least one pic of the cake! I love seeing what you’re doing. You are simply fabulous dahleeng and your ingenuity and creativity never cease to amaze me. :-)

  26. Deb Miller says:

    HaPpY bIrThDaY, Beautuful Betty! Sooo obvious where Jaren gets her spit and spunk! Thanks for gifting us all with the delightful Karen!

    • Deb Miller says:

      Damn, shouldn’t try to type while scrambling breakfast eggs and cleaning up mountains of stuffing from the 400 millionth dog toy destroyed in my kitchen floor! Karen. Karen. NOT JAREN! Sheesh!

  27. Vanessa says:

    Happy Birthday, Betty, mother of Karen the Krazy…and many more!

  28. Suzanne says:

    Happy New Year to you, Betty! Happy Birthday!
    I would seriously consider crashing your un-party if I were in the area.
    Sounds like fun!
    Have a wonderful day.

  29. Lindsay says:

    Happy birthday, Betty!!!

  30. Sabina says:

    Happy Birthday Betty!

  31. Clara says:

    Birthday Greetings from Jefferson City, MO!
    Happy 80th, Betty! Fabulous :0)

  32. Su says:

    Have a Fabulous birthday Betty!

    I cannot get the mental image tho of 80 year old men with BBQ sauce in their eyebrows out of my head…..

  33. Becca says:

    Happy Birthday, Betty! Have a lovely day and enjoy the quiet, family pork festival.

  34. Ileana says:

    ¡Feliz Cumpleaños! Have a wonderful day, Betty!

  35. Pam says:

    Happy Birthday pretty Betty! Enjoy your ribs and special cake!
    My mother’s name was Bettie Jean, so you must be wonderful. :)

  36. Joslynne says:

    Happy 80th!!! All the way from Japan, tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu!!!

  37. Stephanie says:

    A very Happy Birthday Betty, and many happy returns! Enjoy your not-party, and ribs are an amazing choice, you go girl! Your daughters should be thanking you for passing on your fantastic genes (“Jeans”?), you look about 50! All the best, Stephanie

  38. Beckie says:

    Happy Birthday & many, many more!

  39. Meg says:

    Happy birthday, Betty! Enjoy your family and friends and the CAKE!

  40. Spike says:

    Happy birthday Betty! I always enjoy hearing what you are up to–Karen’s version anyway! :) And you should definitely call her more.

  41. Sideroad 40 says:

    May you all have a great birthday bash celebrating 29,200 days of making the world a more adventurous place to grow up in!

  42. Gwennie says:

    “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive more you-er than you!” Dr. Seuss.
    Happy Birthday, Betty. “Let us know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.” Ausonius

  43. AnnW from the US says:

    Happy Birthday Betty! You have raised one heck of a family! I hope you film your special day, because I love your videos. You are one of my favorite blog personalities. You would be #1, but Aunt Peaches, and Blonde Cleaver Lady are ahead of you. I hope you get lots of interesting presents from your clan and your fans. Maybe you’ll get your own pizza oven, chicken coop, or koi pond. Ann

  44. Karol says:

    Let the shitshow begin! L’chaim.

  45. Teresa Jennings Richardson says:

    Happy Birthday, Betty! Hope your day is fun, fabulous, full of fantastic food, friends, family and a few surprises.

  46. Betsy says:

    Happy birthday Betty!! Enjoy your special day and PLEASE remind Karen to take a picture of your cake to share with us. I’m very curious and excited to see it!!

  47. Kim says:

    Have a fantastic birthday Betty! All the best to you and many more!
    Will miss you on Monday Karen but enjoy your long weekend!

  48. Tara says:

    Happiest of Birthday’s Betty! My grandmother’s name is Betty Jean too so now I feel like you’re in my own sweet family!

    Have a fabulous time surrounded by your absolutely precious daughters and loving friends! :)

  49. Karen C says:

    Happy Birthday Betty, wishing you the best on your 80th Birthday. Enjoy your little get together (not party) with your family and friends. You are a great Mom and have a beautiful family. Cheers.

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