How to Leave a Comment on BKE

A couple of Becky Knows Everything readers told me they were having a hard time figuring out how to leave a comment on my blog, so I thought I would type out some quick instructions. At the bottom of each entry you will notice a blue "Comments" link. It looks something like the picture below. In this example, you will see a "2" in front of the "Comments" link, which indicates that 2 people left comments on my "Spring Smiles" entry.

After you click on the "Comments" link another box will pop up that allows you to enter your comment. Once you have entered your message (thanks by the way - I love hearing from you), scroll down and choose the "Name/URL" option, as shown below.

You only need to enter your name - the URL box is optional. Then just hit the orange tab labeled "Publish Your Comment". See that wasn't so bad!

Your comment may take a few minutes to actually appear on the blog. It will appear in two places - within the blue "Comments" link on the entry you left the message as well as on the right side of my blog under "Recent Comments".

If you leave a comment, I will be sure to write back to you! Keep your feedback coming.


Spring Smiles

Easter and spring are both rapidly on their way (thank goodness) and I have a few suggestions on how to get that “springy” feeling back in your life.

First, let’s talk candy. Get out your bunny candy dish and fill it with foil eggs. Try not to eat one every time you walk by, but place the dish where you can see it and enjoy the colors. Order yourself some candy (I am partial to solid chocolate bunnies – those ears are YUM) from a place with good candy, like See’s. They have a great, colorful catalog filled with seasonal treats. Get the catalog delivered and you will be so happy. Or better yet, find yourself a wonderful sister like mine who sends candy for every holiday and sometimes just because. You need to find your own sister since mine is taken.

Change out a candle or two. If you usually use plain beige or even a dark color, buy a soft pink or yellow one. So what if it doesn’t match your décor? It’s a holiday thing and anything goes. While you are shopping, buy a new tablecloth or placemats that say spring. Again, they don’t need to match anything else, just make sure they sort of go with your dishes so we don’t have a bad color clash.

Buy some wonderful, floral cocktail napkins and put them on your table next to the candle. The colors and patterns out right now are terrific and inexpensive.

Buy yourself a special floral treat. This time of year the grocery stores are full of heavenly smelling hyacinths in a wonderful array of colors. The periwinkle ones are gorgeous but so are the pink. Or buy a bunch of daffodils, tulips or iris or one of each and mix them all. They will absolutely brighten your day.

The stores like HomeGoods and Tuesday Morning are filled with reasonably priced Easter and spring merchandise. There are wreaths for your door and planters galore. Not to mention the tablecloths, bunny figurines, dishes and candles.

While you are cheering yourself up and brightening your own life, reach out and do the same for someone else. Call a good friend you have lost touch with, send an Easter card with a sweet message or surprise a co-worker with a flower. Bring spring smiles to everyone!


Manners "R" Us Part II

Well, I did it – I completed my three long days of being polite and super friendly, even under some extremely trying circumstances. I was quite excited to begin, truly wondering how my life would change without any impatience showing – no sighing, groaning or moaning or rolling of the eyes. Here’s what happened:

DAY 1: Very windy here in Rochester, I mean super high blowing winds on Monday morning. As many of you know, I have some really bad hair days almost everyday and this was no exception. The wind literally blew me and my hair into my store, Tuesday Morning. My manager’s first words were “Wow, look at that hair – looks like you just rode in on your broom.” I HADN’T EVEN TOLD HIM ABOUT THE PROJECT AND I WAS ALREADY IN TROUBLE. I had to bite back the smartass remark I was ready to say him (and I am sure he expected). I just smiled and said “Thank you Dave. You are always so nice.” He really did have a shocked look on his face. OK, one incident down, how many more to go?

I was charming and polite and so friendly to everyone at the store and didn’t have any trouble until lunch time. Dave went out to get sandwiches for us and EVEN THOUGH I wrote out exactly what I wanted, somewhere along the way my order went south. I just smiled pleasantly and picked all the crap off my sandwich that wasn’t supposed to be there. The horseradish dressing was supposed to be on the side, but it wasn’t and this caused a major problem – SOGGY BREAD. Tough, tough to be happy after that.

DAY 2: I have a friend with a daughter about to be married so I went to purchase a gift at a store that will remain nameless – even though it has 3 of the same initials in its title and EVERYONE registers there. Nothing easy about this. They want you to go to the Registry Department where they will help you pull up the list EXCEPT there are three people waiting and only one salesclerk. THEN, when you finally get waited on, before you go to the register to pay, they want you to come back to them so they can be sure the gift is off the list, thus waiting in another line. WHY DO THEY MAKE FINDING THINGS ON THE LIST SO DIFFICULT? When I finally decide on something in my price range, of course it is only available online. Man, this really tested me since ordinarily I would be muttering under my breath and would disband the whole operation. I decided to send money to the bride and groom and got out of there with my humor intact.

The only thing worse than this is going to Babies “R” Us for a gift hunt. That place is NUTS and why is it that my children grew up perfectly well without every gadget known to mankind? The amount of stuff available in that store really is overwhelming.

DAY 3: SO HAPPY this will all be over today and I can go back to my cranky self. I get to work and on the displays I created the day before my co-workers have placed random items for the sole purpose of annoying me. On the lovely spring towel, candle, flower display is a GIGANTIC, UGLY FROG. I have worked on displays for Tuesday Morning for the last 5 years in two states and EVERYONE gets a charge out of putting oddball items on my displays. In Washington it was usually some weird stuffed animal or freakish clown. In any event, they all get a good chuckle out of it. Today there was also a pair of simply the MOST UNFORTUNATE LOOKING purple satin pillows with eyelet ruffles. I would use some other term, but Dave says we are not allowed to call things ugly anymore. He takes all the fun out of it. Anyway, the rest of the day was OK, until the drive home when someone honked at me! There was a stalled car in my lane and as I moved around it, I allowed the person if front of me to move also and the lady behind me just couldn’t bear it. Maybe SHE should try the manners project. Hope all your days are full of nice people who smile back when you smile at them.


Mom's Busy Week

As if turning 85 a few weeks ago wasn’t enough, Mom’s social calendar is packed again this week. As always in our family, every event revolves around FOOD.

Monday: I assume Mom stayed home to rest since she knew the rest of the week was booked so nothing to report.

Tuesday: Mom’s work friends from 25+ years ago meet once a month for lunch. Today it was at one of their favorites “Olive Garden.” Mom loves this place because she says their lasagna is terrific and the portion is huge. Of course Mom is tiny and can only eat a small bit but the rest comes home for another meal, although usually leftovers sit in her fridge for a week or longer (this is a conservative estimate) and then always get pitched. I think she did have some for dinner.

Wednesday: Mom belongs to two churches and she is in a group called “The Sisterhood” at the Macedonian church. The group had 50-60 members when I was growing up but now has about 10. For the members' birthdays they all go out to lunch to celebrate. So, Wednesday was Mom’s birthday luncheon and she chose “Red Lobster.” She was going to choose “Olive Garden” again but even she knew that was lasagna overkill. She ordered the jumbo, deep fried, breaded shrimp, which comes with 12 shrimp. This is so funny since she can probably only eat about 3 or 4. She also ordered the loaded baked potato and had a few of the cheddar biscuits. BUT, never fear because Mom’s friend Olga belongs to “The Sisterhood” and she lives with her brother Bobo and her favorite thing is to take home leftovers. So she took home Mom’s shrimp and the rest of the biscuits. Apparently none of these people have anything resembling a cholesterol problem.

Thursday: Senior day at the other church, St. Mary’s. Lunch last year was $2 and this year has been raised to $5 which is keeping some of the seniors away. I can’t believe you can buy a lunch anywhere for $5 let alone $2. The menu included swiss steak with mushrooms, canned corn and canned beans and of course rolls with butter. Mom said it was all very good. The entertainment was an Irish dancer.

Friday: Each Friday Mom goes “for her hair” then to the Slovak Home for the wait wait,
you guessed it...THE FISH FRY WITH FRIES. She picks up her friend Alice and they go for the perch and coleslaw and fries. And of course, rye bread with butter.

Saturday; Mom is going to St. Mary’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and ROLLS WITH BUTTER and green beer. She will then get the chance to do her favorite thing besides eating – dancing!!

Top of the morning to you, Mom and may the luck of the Irish bring you another healthy year.


Manners "R" Us

I took myself out to lunch today and along with myself I took my April issue of Ladies Home Journal for some easy reading. There is an article in the magazine entitled “The Politeness Project” and the author decided to try a “niceness” experiment. Instead of road rage and handling rudeness with greater rudeness (think crabby servers), she decided to be polite to EVERYONE in EVERY SITUATION for a week and see what happened.

Well, I am going to take that challenge myself. Not for an entire week (let’s not get crazy) but for THREE WHOLE DAYS I promise not to honk my horn, snap or sigh at any salesclerks (even the idiotic one), and most of all I promise to handle returns at the store where I work with unimaginable kindness. If the lady at the bank is nasty, I will smile and compliment her necklace. If the horrible, slow driver in front of me doesn’t know what he is doing I will think to myself of my mom and hope someone shows her the same courtesy when she drives the way only an 85 yr. old can. And when the MAN in front of me at the quick checkout line limited to 10 items puts 25 on the belt I will not sigh heavily and make a comment. I capitalized MAN because it always seems to be a man who cannot read the signs.

Anyway, I will let you know soon what happens. Hopefully I can last three days. Should be interesting!


Milestone Mom Turns 85

My wonderful Mom turned 85 last week and I wanted to write a blog about her birthday. After mulling it over I decided to share a few small stories with you.

Mom had 5 children and each morning she would wake us all up in the most gentle manner – she would rub my forehead softly and whisper “Dolly, honey, wake up now”. (Mom has called me Dolly my whole life and is still doing it). Even as a small child I knew how special this was and continued it with my own children, waking them each day in a gentle manner.

Mom could take a giant Hershey’s candy bar and break it into five completely equal pieces and no matter how competitively we all examined it, it was always equal.

When I was named to the Homecoming Court in high school, Mom took me to buy a dress at the grandest shop in our town – “The Style Center” and even though the salesclerks were snooty to us, Mom rallied and bought me the most beautiful cream and green crepe dress which I still have today. I will never forget how proud she was of me that day and how happy I was in my beautiful dress.

On my wedding day, I returned home from helping to decorate the hall and Mom was in the living room ironing my wedding veil and softly crying. She was so happy for me and so emotional.

Mom loves to dance and nothing made her happier than a big ethnic party at the Greek Orthodox/Macedonian church. Mom would lead the dancers, waving a hanky in the air just as she did at my daughter’s wedding two years ago. Each time I see the video I smile broadly – my 83 year old mother dancing all night, waving her hanky in her pretty pink gown.

My mom loves what she calls her “scandal sheets” – the “National Enquirer” etc. and she never misses “Entertainment Tonight” either. She really does know all the famous gossip and love to share it. I swear that show “The Bachelor” makes her so happy she can hardly stand it, although she is NOT a fan of the recent Vienna choice. Mom also gets three newspapers a day along with countless magazines – my sister calls her house “The Library of Congress” and it truly is. When I visit Mom I don’t even bother to bring a book, she has so much there for me to read.

Mom’s social life is amazing. Each week of the month brings “dates” – the senior luncheon, bingo at The Moose, lunch with the girls she worked with 40 years ago – they call themselves the “J and F Cuties,” and she actually meets once a month with her HIGH SCHOOL FRIENDS. They celebrated their 65th reunion two years ago and of course Mom was on the committee. She goes “for her hair” each Friday and to church along with countless church events as well as to a weekly fish fry at the Slovak Home. She also goes to The Moose on Sundays in the fall to cheer on the Cleveland Browns. I am not actually even sure they are still called The Browns.

I know, as well as do my brothers and sister that we are truly blessed to still have such a healthy active mother. She is very funny, even when she isn’t trying to be and always, always interested in the life around her. Love you, Mom, you’re the best!


Beef and Mushroom for Family and Guests

My dad sent me this recipe when I was a new bride (almost 37 years ago) and I have been making it for that long. It is perfect for family and for guests, just like the title says.

I would make it for my in-laws when they visited from Wisconsin - it makes the house smell fab and needs very little attention so you can serve it whenever it suits you. This feature also makes it perfect for guests, especially people who arrive late (never be late for a dinner party by the way it is too rude) because you can leave it in the oven or crockpot for a long time. Here you go:

3 lb. beef roast ( I have used eye of round, boneless rump roast and even sirloin tip roast. It need not be exactly 3 lbs. and since it will braise for so long it can be a very inexpensive cut too, although I would stay away from using a chuck roast since it is so fatty)
One envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix
One can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
One soup can of dry sherry (go to the liquor store and buy a bottle and don’t spend more than $6.00).
½ can beef broth (save the other ½ in case you need to thin out the mixture the next day if there are any leftovers)
12-15 mushrooms sliced thinly

Cut the meat into bite-sized chunks – don’t make them so big you cannot fit them in your mouth. Place meat and mushrooms in a crockpot or dutch oven pan. In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Pour over meat and mushrooms and stir.

If you are using your crockpot set in on low for about 10 hours. Sometimes I mix it all up, refrigerate it and then put it in the crockpot early the next morning.

If you are using a dutch oven pan, cover and bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours.

Serve over noodles or mashed potatoes with a nice green veggie and salad.

The best thing about this recipe is you do not need to brown the meat first as you do with so many crockpot meals – I mean if you have to go to all the trouble of browning the meat why bother with the crockpot anyway? Seriously, try this recipe. I know some of the ingredients are ones you may have used before, but adding the sherry and broth make this very, very good.