Thursday, December 30, 2010

Aunt Ruth and 2011

I am very grateful that Aunt Ruth will continue to teach me in 2011.    Photographing her for loving aunt ruth has been an education ranging from life in the Depression to organizational tips for kitchens, pantries, and closets.  New recipes have been added to my file and a deep appreciation for family, faith, and friends grew in ways that I didn't know possible from listening to the importance the 3 "f's" play in her life.

Aunt Ruth is now 91-and-a-half, as she likes to say, and she is the most social person I know.  As I write this blog, she is preparing for another New Year's gathering of lifelong friends.  Real friends.  Lately, I have found that my friends are more often than not contacted when I pick up my Blackberry or click the mouse on my Mac.

For 2011, I resolve to be more like Aunt Ruth.  Here is her wish for 2011:

If you would like to send yours to Aunt Ruth, please leave a comment here, or send it to my email address:  Aunt Ruth enjoys hearing from you!

Happy New Year from Aunt Ruth and Me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Maya Angelou and Aunt Ruth

Aunt Ruth served our country in various jobs.  As part of the "greatest generation," there was a lot more service than there is today, and Aunt Ruth's involvement impresses and humbles me.  She drove military vehicles, worked as an accountant during the war while her husband was in London.  Her accountant's job was to  ferret out inappropriate naval expenses.  During the Carter administration, she was one of two women chosen for a 12-person committee to review applicants for federal judgeships in the state of Ohio.  She had a reputation from her years of work in the Women's Auxillary of the Ohio Bar Association.

Yesterday, I asked her which of her achievements gave her the most pride, and without hesitation, she said, "when I read resumes for the federal court.  That is a lifetime appointment, and while on the committee, I noticed a common pleas judge who had said he had never been divorced on his application.  He lied.  I knew his first wife!  I reported the lie knowing that if he was dishonest about his marital status, he was not someone who should be a federal judge!  He never got over being rejected, but I like to think I saved a lot of people from rulings handed down by a dishonest man."

Maya Angelou says, "People show you who they are the first time."  Aunt Ruth says that she never met Maya, but I wonder....

Thanks, Aunt Ruth for standing by your principles.  (we could sure use her now!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Home for the Holidays

I have come to rely on Aunt Ruth for recipes and rules by which to live what Oprah would refer to as "my best life."  Holidays can find me quite reflective about the past, so I spent a sumptuous Sunday with my favorite mentor and asked her just how she lives life with optimism, determination, and humor.

Here's what she told me, and it is our joint offering for a life lesson and a wish for a joyful holiday:

"I have faith.  I get comfort from my religion, but most of all, I understand that life is not easy.  You must have a will to live, and that will comes from loving people.  Otherwise there wouldn't be much sense in living."

with love from Aunt Ruth and me....

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Baking with Heart

The table is set for a party, and you will note that the cookies are marked "sugar free" to insure having a sweet offering to those who need to avoid sugar.  Aunt Ruth cooks the way she lives; thinking of others, and today, I was sitting in her kitchen with a menorah behind me talking about Christmas cookies.

Aunt Ruth grew up in a neighborhood that didn't have any other Jewish families, and her mother baked delicious Christmas fare to deliver to everyone.  My grandmother's home was kosher, so you might not imagine her to be cutting out cookie dough with Christmas tree cutters and stars.   My grandmother loved all people, and she taught Aunt Ruth and her sister, my mother, to feel the same way.

In the spirit of the holidays, compassion, and cookies, Aunt Ruth offers her favorite cookie recipe on the blog that doesn't use eggs in case someone needs an eggless delight!  She says they are delicious and passes this onto all with her sincere wishes for your good health, happy holidays, and her appreciation for your interest in her.

Cookies without Eggs for Any Occasion
2 C flour
8 heaping teaspoons confectioner's sugar
2 sticks of margarine
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 C walnuts, finely chopped

Put all the ingredients in the processor EXCEPT the nuts.  You'll add those at the last minute.  For the dough into a ball and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.   Add nuts and roll into little balls.  Press them with a fork to make a criss-cross pattern.

Bake at 375 for 13-15 minutes

When cool, sprinkle with sugar in red, blue, green, or any holiday color!  That is the point!

If you have any questions or requests for Aunt Ruth, please leave your comments here, on Facebook, or email directly to me at

See you in the kitchen!

Monday, November 29, 2010


In this technological age, when we use our iphones, ipads, laptops, blackberry devices at the same time we are driving, knitting, exercising, cooking, or listening to a lecture, I notice that many of us cannot remember where we put our keys, with whom we just made a date, or exactly when we put the pie in the oven!  And this is not about being of a certain age....

Aunt Ruth uses the Internet and the phone but not simultaneously.  There have been questions on this blog or in email regarding her organizational skills.  It is true that Aunt Ruth ran many civic and religious organizations, raised two children, entertained, and has a legion of friends, but she is not often confused about who's coming when or with whom let alone our current political climate.  She doesn't read the paper when she's with friends, and if she had an iphone with a New York Times app, I think she'd look at it when she was alone.

She says the secret is simple; do one thing at a time.  Cliche?  Certainly!  Do any of us live by this mantra?
Not likely!  I found myself repeating her advice while preparing to serve turkey to 16, work on the blog, edit the book, pack photo gear for a shoot, wrap Hanukah and Christmas presents, address holiday cards, and make beds and couches for arriving guests.  Each time I lost my footing or felt my heart race or wondered what exactly I was doing standing in the middle of the laundry room with my Blackberry in my hand, I thought of Aunt Ruth.  Do one thing...

I tried her idea, and it worked.  Today, we call it mindfulness, but even before it had a zen spin, Aunt Ruth was chanting her secret to success.  Aunt Ruth says that, "Doing one thing at a time allows you to enjoy the holidays...and your life."


Monday, November 22, 2010


Twenty years ago, I created a Book of Thanks, a journal that holds a yearly question for each Thanksgiving guest to answer.  Loving Aunt Ruth, the photo project on which this blog is based, was not a thought six years ago when the book's query asked to name something you did for another person, draw your hand, and write your name and age.   I wasn't paying attention to the generous and gracious way that Aunt Ruth conducted her life, but the evidence was clearly right in front of me.  "...three friends in nursing homes..."  

Aunt Ruth has opened her oven door to an inestimable population, and she does it without an announcement, without fanfare, or awards.  She entertains, delivers, and spends each week cooking to stay connected to others in the most delicious of ways.  Aunt Ruth didn't need an expert to advise her that friends and food had value!  

Influenced by Aunt Ruth, I make double the amount of food necessary for my invited guests.  Each of my family members and friends brings a bag of empty containers in order to take home all the leftovers they can tote, because the joy of the meal is meant to linger and most importantly, to be shared.

I have this year's question already logged into the journal.  I look forward to all of the answers but most especially to Aunt Ruth's.

Aunt Ruth and I wish your family, friends, and you a delicious holiday.  We thank you for reading our blog and leaving comments.  Aunt Ruth delights in answering any of your questions, so please feel free to continue asking.

Bon Appetite!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


On a quiet Sunday, I am looking over the hundreds of images taken over the years to comprise, Loving Aunt Ruth, and I find myself coming back to this photo array.  These unobtrusive frames hold Aunt Ruth's mother, her husband, her children, cousins, great nieces, great-great nieces, and her siblings.  They welcome a visitor's gaze and even questions, but they are on display as reminders of what matters most to Aunt Ruth not necessarily to arouse curiosity.   Her family is and always has been the most important part of her life.

I have referenced this technological age with more friends on Facebook than any of us really know,and I think that the family photo might be at risk for living only on a computer rather than in plain view.  Aunt Ruth's choice of interior accessory, her family, has kept me connected to many sweet memories that I might have forgotten without those tiny framed reminders.

As  the holidays approach, I think of the maxim, "Never forget who brought you to the dance."  Or as Maya Angelou said, "Never forget that you've been paid for."  Aunt Ruth has definitely brought me to the dance.  She has taught me the importance of remembering all who "paid for me" along with all the laughter, recipes, and Sabbath candles we have shared.

I think I'd better dust off some of my own framed loved ones before I open the doors for this year's Thanksgiving dinner.  Aunt Ruth is bringing the pumpkin pie.  I will be taking photos.

We will remember this year for sure, but we will also mention those missing from our table as well.

Please leave a comment here for Aunt Ruth.

Happy Thanksgiving....take pictures and print them!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Test Kitchen

My Aunt Ruth is more organized than I can ever imagine being.  These are all new recipes waiting to be tested and rated.  Yes, she rates them as "good" or "bad" and files them.  The reason the lackluster ones get a place is that she might not remember her displeasure and make it by mistake.  When you are 91, labels help.

Being organized is another lesson I am learning from Aunt Ruth.  It isn't my reflex, so I spend far too much time looking for things.  She never does.  Really, she knows where all of her things are, because there is a place for everything, and everything in its place.

With the holidays approaching, cards being written, tables being set, and deadlines for work pressing in on me, I am wondering where I put my glasses, placed my coffee, laid my grocery list, or even if I remembered to extinguish the pumpkin pie scented candle I had burning in the kitchen.

Paying attention to small things that make life easier is one of the many ways Aunt Ruth influences me every single day.  Maybe, she can do the same for you.

A reminder...please leave comments on subjects you might want Aunt Ruth to address on this blog as well as any remarks that might be great in the forthcoming book, Loving Aunt Ruth are greatly appreciated.  And..if you'd like some holiday recipes, send me your postal address.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I'm Just Too Busy Right Now

Another holiday season is upon us, and just when I wanted to gasp, sigh, and whine, I thought of Aunt Ruth.  At 91, she is still spending most of her days in her kitchen going through her collection of recipes to find just the right ones to prepare for friends.  That's right....for friends.   She has several dinner and lunch dates in her apartment during the week, and if a dear one can't make it to her place, she brings the meal. 

I find myself saying the same thing that I have been hearing all to often; "I'd love to, but I am so busy right now."  Aunt Ruth has never been too busy for her family or her friends which is probably why she had 165 people at her 90th birthday party.

Of course, I have more than 165 friends on Facebook.  Right?  One of the many lessons I have learned from Aunt Ruth is the importance of socializing, caring, listening, and, yes, cooking and serving with love.

I hope to make her proud this Thanksgiving.  If you'd like to send a message to Aunt Ruth, please leave your comment on this blog.  She does read this!

Back to the kitchen....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Appreciate Everything

Aunt Ruth has taught me many lessons during the years of photographing her for loving aunt ruth.  I have asked her for advice on subjects ranging from how to make a brisket to staying the course when life continues to challenge me.  

Aunt Ruth has lost her husband, siblings, and her children. She offers her wisdom of experience with compassionate understanding.  Her perpetual refrain, "appreciate everything," seems generic.  Not much of an "aha moment." is surely easy for me to forget the simplicity of appreciation.  

As I write, I am staring into the Pacific Ocean, and I am thinking of just how lucky I am to have picked up my camera and asked Aunt Ruth if I could photograph her, because in between all her parties, hair appointments, doctor appointments, and neighbor visits, were the quiet times when a wise woman leaned back to share thoughts with an eager listener.

I will be home soon and can't wait to hear more from Aunt Ruth, but for now, I am certain she will be thrilled to know that I definitely appreciate everything.

Thanks, Aunt Ruth, for the reminder.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Precious Objects

Aunt Ruth moved from the house she loved more than 20 years ago and decisions were made about what to leave behind, as her husband and she moved to an apartment.  Today, I watch as she goes through her things deciding whether the library would want her books, a neighbor might need a serving piece, or a relative would treasure her baby shoes.  (Yes, I would be that niece.)

Aunt Ruth is currently busy culling her favorite pumpkin pie recipes, so please don't get the idea she's packing the final suitcase, but she is showing me the importance of tidying up, keeping what is useful while understanding that it is nice to see what mattered to you matter to someone else.  It is quite a lovely behavior to observe and adopt.

This weekend, I channeled for my inner Aunt Ruth.  My niece was visiting me from New York, and I gave her the watch my mother had given to me.  I like knowing that she has it, and I am grateful for Aunt Ruth's role modeling  that informed my own desire to "pass on" and "let go."  It is a good lesson.

Thanks, Aunt Ruth.  

Saturday, October 16, 2010


These gloves belong to Aunt Ruth and her sister, Leah, who was also my mother.  The stacking represents how I see the sisters.  Aunt Ruth beams as she says, "My sister was older than I, smarter than I, and more beautiful than I.  She is not diminishing her worth by admiring her sister.  In fact, it is quite the opposite.  She is proud of her sister without an ounce of jealousy.  (I'm sure they had disagreements, but the adoration always seemed seamless to me.)

I am one of three girls, and Aunt Ruth has had to stand in for our deceased Mother, and like many sisters, we can vie for favor.  She doesn't give it.  She loves us in equal measure just as she loved her brother and sister.  This is not to say she doesn't offer us counsel, and believe me, she is the first to point out a typographical or factual error on the blog, but editorial commentary and advice are part of an aunt's job.  She loves each of us equally.

She has taught me to see my sisters like the pile of gloves;  pairs of hands to applaud each other's triumphs and hold each other when life is unkind.

Thanks, Aunt Ruth.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Woman of Independent Means

My mother was 39 when she was widowed with 3 young daughters.  I always thought that this circumstance was the reason she counseled us to make certain we "kept our own money" when we married.  When I began photographing Aunt Ruth for loving aunt ruth, I discovered that it was my grandmother who gave this advice to her daughters.  They listened to her, and throughout their lives, they kept "a little something" for themselves.  They were careful and cautious women who learned from the Depression and from young widowhood that nothing is certain.

I photographed Aunt Ruth leading a meeting discussing her taxes, because I admire her business acumen and confidence when it comes to taking care of herself beyond the kitchen!  She is 89-years-old in this photograph!  Aunt Ruth is definitely a woman of independent means, and she means to stay that way.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Always A Baby

My Aunt Ruth and I are the third born children of three in each of our families, which means, we are the babies in the family.  This explains why my mother never stopped reminding me to send a "thank you note," brush my teeth, or dress warmly.  For too many of my adult years, I resented my mother's reminders, and I won't mention the scoldings, but as I aged, I settled into enjoying the role of being her baby.  My older siblings might suggest I liked the role a little too much.

My mom has been gone for 9 years, and her baby sister has stepped up to the plate to let me know if my letters have typos, my sense of direction needs adjusting, or to drive carefully on my way home from seeing her.  (I live 45 minutes away from my beloved aunt.)

There is a very good chance that my own grown sons could add paragraphs about the advice they endure from me, but the point I wanted to make today is that I am deeply grateful to be Aunt Ruth's baby.  May the rest of you babies out there, and you know who you are, be glad to have a shoulder on which to rest.

Thank you Aunt Ruth for taking good care of me.

The wonderful photograph of Aunt Ruth and me was taken by the very talented Elizabeth Glorioso,

Monday, October 4, 2010


Photographing for Loving Aunt Ruth turned out to be delicious and somewhat fattening.  Well worth the pounds!  Aunt Ruth is a marvelous cook with a recipe collection.  Yes, these are her cards lovingly protected in plastic, because she is either cooking for friends, a temple function, or she is being asked for one of her treasured selections.  She has been on countless charitable cookbook committees and served her family for more than 70 years.

But, that isn't why I am writing today's blog.  It is to remind you to ask for recipes from people you love or even like as a way of gathering data that will keep people close to your heart in ways that allow you to cook and serve and create memorable moments of your own that tether you to someone else or your past.

Aunt Ruth and I will happily send you her recipe for Pecan Pie, if you send us your address to my email.

Here's a recipe from the above collection that Aunt Ruth marked as "very good."  Let us know if you agree!

Corn Pudding
12 oz vacuum packed can of corn
3T flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk or non dairy creamer
1T vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
4T melted butter

Combine all ingredients in the order listed making sure to stir the mixture while add the hot, melted butter.

Pur into a 1 1/2 qt. casserole and bake at 425 for 35 minutes or until golden.

Aunt Ruth says that it serves 4 if you're lucky.  If you double the recipe, she asks that you remember to increase the baking time...maybe even up to an hour.

Invite some friends.  Take it to friends....Enjoy!

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Stories are told in various ways.  Aunt Ruth and I are ladies who had charm bracelets.  On hers was her baby ring replete with teething marks along with trinkets from years of travel with her beloved husband who is now deceased.  My mother bought mine.  (note the bee hive)  My mom brought me a little charm from her travels along with a couple that marked some of my childhood milestones; confirmation and learning to drive.  They are all dear, and I always knew it.  Fourteen karat gold and kept in a special box to this day, but their value to me outweighs monetary measure.

I spent the night with Aunt Ruth, photographed the story telling, and listened to the charmed tales emanating from her golden goodies.  I left with her baby ring.   My gift from her history.

Aunt Ruth has sold the gold, but the memories will linger in my photographs and heart.  Thanks to Aunt Ruth, I am keenly aware of the many ways to remember.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I had a brilliant photography teacher, Mary Jo, and she theorized that we take many of the same pictures over and over again despite the contents appearing to be different.  I did a project called The Portable Universe that was about the things women carry in bras, pockets, laundry bags, and so forth from cradle to grave as a way to bind women's lives without prejudice, since most women leave the house with a portable universe of things.  

Photographing Aunt Ruth, I noticed that I was drawn to her photo array, her recipe box, and her giraffes.  Most of the giraffes are gifts from friends and family, and they have become her signature.  They make her laugh.  In telling her story, the giraffes must be included.  

I collect bees.  No surprise with a name like Honey, and most of them have been presents.  I have yet to have bee shoe ties like Aunt Ruth's giraffes.

Maybe, your Aunt Ruth would like to tell you about her collection.  It is a nice way to get to know someone.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I have wonderful memories of riding in the car with my mom, as she pointed out front yards dotted with blooms or freshly mowed grass.  She'd always say, "Honey, you can tell how happy someone is by the way they take care of their yard. "  She was talking about attitude not finances.

Life has been a tad heavy lately.  My terrace looks exactly like my mood which brings me to Aunt Ruth's terrace.  I don't remember a summer when her yard didn't sing, and now that she's in an apartment, her terrace is always decorated with flowers.  No matter what.  Her husband and children are gone, but her life is filled with friends and family and an underlying optimism fueled by her faith and her attitude towards staying the course.

As you can see, I bought mums.  They were my mom's favorite flower, and she adored her baby sister, Aunt Ruth.

To the sisters who taught this daughter and niece that mustering courage to plant flowers during tough times helps hope bloom, I send my deepest thanks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Be Prepared

By mid-century, people over 55 will outnumber those under 18 for the first time in history.  As I face my own senior citizenship, the importance of learning from Aunt Ruth deepens.  She is teaching me that caring for others through small acts of generosity and kindness make all the difference.  She is always prepared to be of help.

In her building, Aunt Ruth is known as The Pharmacy.  She keeps shelves stocked with bandages, aspirins, cough medicines, and various over-the-counter remedies that neighbors and friends might need but not be able to leave home to get.  Her hours are 24/7, and the price is right!  

Imagine the comfort of knowing that Aunt Ruth is upstairs!

Another lesson learned.....thanks, Aunt Ruth.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Honey Cake and Breaking the Fast

With the honey cake in the oven, early morning is spent looking ahead to Yom Kippur and breaking the fast.  Just when I thought that having grown children exempted me from cooking, Aunt Ruth has taught me that sharing holidays makes them sweeter.  She is right, of course.

Photographing Aunt Ruth for Loving Aunt Ruth is teaching me how to live fully.  Aging is a universal experience, so the separation between the photographed and the photographer seems quite blurred these days as appreciation deepens.  Aunt Ruth and I hope that you are enjoying this project and are inspired to call some friends, have a gathering, and enjoy this day.

We appreciate all comments left here or on Facebook.  Thanks, honey and Aunt Ruth

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rosh Hashana

It is not easy at 91 to be making kreplach soup and brisket, but Aunt Ruth manages to delight us with her culinary skills, her welcoming hugs, and her commitment to family and friends.  May you all have a sweet New Year, and if you are interested in a recipe, please send an email to, and Aunt Ruth will happily send you one of her favorites.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Taste of Aunt Ruth

Would You Like a Recipe?

Aunt Ruth is committed to friends and family.  I am lucky to have enjoyed holidays, birthdays, and ordinary days with Aunt Ruth.  She has taught me to make my home a welcoming place with something in the freezer just in case.

As her story unfolds on this blog and in  Loving Aunt Ruth, I am aware that she would want her recipes in others' kitchens.  

If you will send me an email to,, with your address, I will send you a taste of Aunt Ruth.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Aunt Ruth and Me

This is me in my dad's darkroom which was built in 1950.  My father died in 1954, and we moved away from this house 3 years later.  The new owners were photographers, so they kept my dad's darkroom in tact.  Wasn't that lucky?
My good friend, the talented Elizabeth Glorioso, took this photograph of me.

I spent much of my youth looking at my dad's pictures and grew up believing that taking pictures of everyone in my life would keep them close.  I haven't changed my mind, so it was natural for me to begin photographing Aunt Ruth not only to get to know her better but to make certain my children and their children would remember her.  Hats off to my dad for leading the way.

May these posts inspire you to discover your way of remembering.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kuchen for the Holidays

"Whenever my family sits at my table, it's a holiday."
                                                                       Aunt Ruth

Plum Kuchen
serves 9

1 1/2 cups fork-stirred all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs 1/4 cup cold water
1lb (18-20 small) fresh prune-plums, quartered, and pitted
1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1/4-1/2 t each ground allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt.  Cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar, beat in eggs well.

Add flour mixture and water; stir only until dry ingredients are moistened.   Spread over the bottom of a buttered 9" square cake pan.

Lightly press plums, skin side up in rows over batter.  Sprinkle them with spiced sugar mixture.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean-about 40 minutes.

Cut in squares and serve hot.

(for other recipe ideas, try

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Looking Back with Aunt Ruth

"I think it is a good idea to keep pictures of family and friends close at hand, so your memories remind you how of how lucky you are."      
                                 Aunt Ruth

If you don't have enough of your own fun photos, check out my parents were awesome .  Aunt Ruth would approve!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Introducing Loving Aunt Ruth

My name is Honey and I am a photographer, living and working in Cleveland, OH.
Welcome to my blog!

Take a look at my recently completed series titled Loving Aunt Ruth.

I can't wait to hear what you think!


Additional photographs from the series are available on my website