My Momma Used To Say

My mom used to say a lot of things that all mothers do, like – brush your teeth, pick up your wet towels, do your homework, clean your room.

More often she would say, “Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to do it.”  That was always a tough one to hear, especially as a teenager when you would do almost anything to fit in.

She also used to say, “You are getting my dander up”, when she had just about enough of whatever rambunctious and inappropriate stuff my siblings and I were doing.

When we heard, “You are going to send me to the boobyhatch and she shook her hands over her head”,  we knew we better settle down or our world might just come to an end.

But, the #1 thing my mom used to say when I was growing up that made the biggest impression was…

You gotta have style!  Spunk, charisma, gusto, charm!

Diana Vreeland Quote

This is exactly what my mom preached to us every day.

She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and worked in Manhattan before moving to Philadelphia to work. That is where she met my dad and then settled down.


As kids growing up in suburbia, we would get embarrassed sometimes when we were out in public with her. She didn’t dress or drink like Auntie Mame, and was not quite as worldly, but she was very much like her in spirit.

Not shy to get the attention of a sales clerk, she would step on her tip-toes, raise her arm and wave her hand in the air as she would call out, “Miss…Miss…” for all to hear.  As kids we would just want to shrink, hide, and pretend she was not our mom.

She never apologized for what she called, “her New York ways”. It was just her style.  We knew going into an event that she would be the first one standing and enthusiastically applauding while the rest of the audience stayed seated.

When my siblings and I were older and brought home pop music (in the form of vinyl records), she loved listening to them.  She would dance around the living room trying to get one of us kids to dance along. She would call the songs – “numbers” – like they were in a Jukebox, not by the song’s name.

One of her faves was Sara Smile by Hall & Oates. She would always say, “I like that number, play it again.”


On Mother’s Day we knew better than to buy a purchased stiff floral arrangement at a florist. She truly disliked them. She much preferred cuttings from the wildflowers in the field across the street from our house or a vase filled with the forsythia and lilacs that she had planted in the yard.


Step-by-step tutorial:  How to Decorate a Frame with a Necklace

When we were older, we would buy things using our own money – say a pair of new shoes that we were all excited about.

She would always say how nice they were, but then add – “You have more shoes up in that closet than you can shake a stick at”.  She always wanted us to save and spend our money wisely. It was her way of saying we didn’t need the item.

Way before it was popular, my mom loved white as the base for everything. We ate off of white dishes, had white drapes and white walls in most rooms except the bedrooms where we were allowed to decorate to show our style.

When she picked out a colorful wall-to-wall striped rug for the open concept living/dining room that resembled a Dash & Albert rug, it was the talk of the neighborhood.

Dash and Albert Rug

I thought it was so cool.  It was so different from what anyone else had at the time.  She could put anything in the room and it would work.   She moved things around constantly.

It was always fun to come home from school to find the living room completely rearranged.  My siblings and I would jump all around and sit on every piece of furniture, just to see how it felt in its new spot.

Now looking back on these moments, I can only smile as they were what made my mom, my mom.  We are all individuals, but are shaped and influenced by our mothers in one way or another.

My mom lived as authentically as she could. It was what she wanted for her children the most – for us to live with style and gusto, to just be ourselves and go out and live the best life for us alone.

It is what I try to do and teach my own daughters.  You can tell how much I was influenced by her, by what I named my blog – In My Own Style.

A country Farmhouse

Photo: A Country Farmhouse

My mom is no longer living, but her words will stick with me forever.  This photo is one of the last photos of her before her health declined.  I blow her a kiss every time I see it. XO


I am going to head out to the garden center to pick up flowers today – lilacs – her favorite. Seeing them in a milk glass vase on my kitchen island will be one way I can fondly remember her this Mother’s Day weekend.

I know if my siblings are reading this – they are smiling now!

What did your mom always say to you? Happy Mother’s Day!


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  1. I love the memories you wrote about your wonderful mother!

  2. Susie Moll says:

    I loved the beautiful words you used to describe your mom. I think she would have been the kind of woman to get to know.
    This is something I always said to my three children; “Do it anyway, it builds character!” One day while at their home I said I didn’t want to do whatever it was that was suggested ~ in unison, all three said; “Do it anyway, it builds character!” They had waited a lifetime to say those words:)
    Enjoy your trip to California and your family.
    Susie Moll

  3. Very nice tribute to your mom Diane:)
    My mother was a realist & had 2 great sayings that my sister & I remember fondly… “No job is bliss!” & “Everyone has their own bag of 💩” LOL
    Happy Mothers Day to you & all your readers💐

  4. What a beautiful tribute to your mother…it brought tears to my eyes. My mother went to heaven 17 years ago and I thank God for all of her wisdom, faith and love she instilled in me and my 6 sisters (and 1 brother!). Your daughter (Amanda, I believe) reminds me of her in the photos. Thank you for a wonderful post!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nanette – I do miss my mom and dad often, being able to write about them is one way to make them feel like they are still here. My younger daughter, Amanda or Mandy as we call her does look like my mom. I have a few photos of both of them and they look very much alike.

  5. Gretchen Booth says:

    Just read you reminiscing about your mom. I so enjoy your blog. I too was born and raised in Brooklyn NY, and 5 years ago my husband ( of 52 yrs.) and I took the plunge and moved to quaint Southport, NC.
    I, much like your Mom would move furniture around and actually turned the dining room into the living room in our 100 yr. old Row House in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. Always confusing our 4 kids and hubby when they came home from school/work.
    Since moving South, I’m addicted to Thrift Stores. Changing things up without breaking the bank.
    Keep doing what you’re doing- you are an inspiration and Love your Style!!!

  6. Wow. What a sweet post. You definitely became much of what your mom instilled in you. Love it!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kathy – Thank you. XO

      Hearing this would have made my mom happy. She was still alive, but failing when I started my blog and couldn’t understand the concept of it. I know if she had it would have made her smile.

  7. Boy, if those old sayings didn’t bring back memories, I don’t know what would! I especially remember the one, “Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to!” And what about this one…. “Eat those peas whether you like them or not as kids in other countries are starving!” I always wondered how my eating habits would help those poor starving kids in other countries. LOL But oh to have those good old days & have our Moms back, huh? Most often now, mothers rarely cook, whereas mine cooked most of the day, and today’s Moms are working outside the home, unable to give their kids the time & attention we had. I was from R.I., practically a next door neighbor to N.Y. state, and I think the things you stated about your Mom were just our ways in that area of the country. I think most would agree that their Moms were like a Mame, too, as people were so real, & let come whatever may, with a smile and a good hearty laugh. Oh yes, we were taught to be proper…. We never went to a dinner at someone’s home without bringing a small gift of candy or flowers, and we never left our dinner table without asking to be excused. And if we didn’t say thank you when we should have, that was enough to send us to our room for days! But the truth is, in hindsight, we wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way! The one thing I’ve done for many years now, as my mother has been gone for almost 50 years….. Each Mother’s Day I pick out an elderly woman in my church and bring her a little Mother’s Day gift of a plant or corsage, or a small box of candy, as a way of honoring my own mother. And yes, I’m now one of the elderly women myself, but like the rest of us who were robbed of our Mothers too soon, I still miss her. Thanks for digging up pleasant memories for so many of us on this Mother’s Day. And BTW, you look just like your Mom!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tegmapat11 – Ahhh yes… I heard the one about the starving children in other countries too. Every night at dinner :-) So funny! What a nice thing to do for the elderly women at your Church. That must put a very big smile on the lucky chosen one’s face when you give the gift and corsage. I do look like my mom a little. My brother looks exactly like her, while my sisters and I have a bit of my dad in our looks, too.

  8. Linda Weeks says:

    Your mother was lovely. Mine was too! It’s so nice that you can remember her this way! I love lilacs as well… so Happy Mother’s Day to you as well!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda – Thank you. When we were kids, our Moms were always around and we took them for granted. Now that they are gone you realize how much you miss them. I think of my mom in one way or another every day. I am sure you do, too. :-)

  9. Love this post. Very sweet and endearing.
    Hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day

  10. Linda A. Young says:

    Loved hearing about your mother! She sounds wonderful! Enjoy your happy memories, I know she’s so proud of you, and she will always be with you!

  11. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul by a loving daughter. Thank you for sharing with us.
    My Mum encouraged us to to embrace what each person we encounter will teach us. She believed that other people would be our greatest teachers in life. This has opened me to hear and share the most wonderful experiences in life. It is amazing what friends and strangers will share with you if you show that you are interested in them and that they matter in the scheme of things.

  12. Thanks for the memories.

    My mom was a native New Yorker too, from Manhattan originally, raised in The Bronx, worked as a secretary in Manhattan in the 1950s when she was single. She moved to Miami with her parents when they retired and met my father there.

    Her “city style” never quite fit in Miami and like your mom she was no shrinking violet.

    Even though she is gone I think I will make her a gift this mother’s day.

    Have a wonderful day yourself.

  13. Dear Diane, I’m not your sibling but I was smiling anyway when I got to the end of your post. How sweet. You made me think of what was one of my mothers most used sayings. She had so many but the one that first comes to my mind is “charity begins at home.”
    I’m so glad that I befriended you on Face Book a little while ago. I subscribe to you on Bloglovin also but its great to see you almost everyday on FB. I so enjoy everything you post.
    Have a wonderful mothers day! Vikki in Virginia

  14. Thanks for sharing your memories. What a beautiful tribute!

  15. What a lovely tribute to you mom. She sounds like she was an amazing woman. Way ahead of her time!

  16. What a sweet post! Thank you for sharing about your mother. I love the necklace frame. I plan on using my mother’s and grandmother’s jewelry to make one. My mother always encouraged me to look my best. Even if that means throwing on makeup five minutes before my husband comes home from work.

  17. Serena @ Thrift Diving says:

    Awww….Mothers Day has to be tough for you, since you’re mom is no longer living :( My mom has always said “Every new broom sweeps good.” That means, everything and everyONE is so wonderful when you first meet someone new, but eventually you end up in the same situation. something like that :)

    Thrift Diving

  18. Anne Boykin says:

    Diane, Thanks for sharing your Mom with us. My own Mother is gone too and I miss her so much. Happy Mother’s Day!

  19. Such a lovely tribute to a very good looking mama…:)
    Happy Mother’s Day.

  20. “Never tease a weasel!” That’s one of the ones I remember from my mom, Diane. It was the title of a children’s book that we loved about kindness and good manners. We said that one a lot! This morning I was also thinking about my momma and put on her sterling heart charm bracelet she received as a college graduation gift in 1960! Your mom sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for the little stroll down memory lane!

  21. Diane, My Mom had a lot of the same expressions, and my sisters and I have copied many of them. I hear my Mom come out of me in so many ways. When my kids were growing up I would even find myself repeating things that I hated hearing., like “Because I said so that’s why” , and many more. My mother is longer with us and on a weekend that she is so close to my heart and on my mind I am flying home because my Dad is ill. These two people made me who I am, my mother was very crafty and my cooking skills, gardening and my creativity I got from her. I hear my Dad is giving the nurses a hard time, so I think that is where I got my stubbornness from. Thank you for sharing this post, it took me back and made me feel close to my Mom again. hugs Tobey

  22. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    Beautiful story and it is obvious she taught you well.

    That is a beautiful frame and I will try to make it some time soon… it is just which necklace is pretty enough and that I don’t want to not have to wear any longer (even though I might not, I might want to later). lol

    Have a beautiful Mother’s Day Diane.

  23. Diane | An Extraordinary Day says:

    Your mom sounds wonderful! How blessed you were to have such a free thinking woman as your role model.
    Happy Mother’s Day, Diane!

  24. Therese @ Fresh Idea Studio says:

    Diane, That was absolutely beautiful! Such an amazing tribute “in your own style”. You’re mom did good! Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend.

  25. Beautiful legacy!

    My Mother died when I was 9 years old, but I remember her saying to me, “pretty is as pretty does”.

    My maternal grandmother and grandfather raised my sister and me. When we were exasperating, she would wag her finger at us and say, “someday your chickens will come home to roost, young lady!” Ha ha and boy, was she right…several times over!

    Happy Mother’s Day to you, Diane

  26. Linda Southworth says:

    I think I will wear a piece of my mom’s costume jewelry on Mother’s Day. I always feel she is close when I do. She never went out of the house without earrings and a necklace. My mom taught me to always hold your head high, look your best (a piece of jewelry always works) and if you take on a job, task, challenge then do it to the best of your ability.

  27. Laura @ Laura's Crafty Life says:

    Diane – Your mom sounds like she was a wonderful woman! I am sure she would be so proud of you and all that you do to help others find their own style. My mom passed away when I was only 8 and I don’t have a lot of memories of her. I do remember she was always there for my brothers and I even when she was battling cancer. Everyone loved her and she had the greatest laugh. Her sacrifices mean even more to me know that I am a mother myself. Mother’s Day is a hard one for me. It is easier now that I am a mother and I can focus on that rather than just missing my own mom.

  28. Hi Diane,
    Reading your comments brought tears to my eyes. I’ve also lost my mom, and like your mom Diane, my mom also taught me so many lessons. My mom was a high school English teacher. She taught me to read before I could walk (or so she claimed)! I was also so proud because I was always in the most advanced reading group at school (all because of my mama). Now math was a WHOLE other story. :(

    My mom was born during the Depression, was raised during WWII which my grandpa fought in and was shot down over Italy and was captured as a POW. Times were tough then, there was very little money so my grandma “made do” and stretched every dollar. My mom taught me the same lessons: use it up, don’t waste anything, find a new purpose for an item. My mom taught me to sew; she made all her own clothes and all her kids clothes (all gorgeous). She made bedspreads, curtains, drapes, tablecloths, and napkins, mostly out of remnants from the local fabric store bargain bin…and our house was gorgeous! When I was a toddler, I once took apart my mom’s sewing machine foot pedal and left it in a 1,000 pieces on the living room floor. My poor mama had to figure out how to put it back together..but she did it! My mom once sewed me and my “Irish Twin” sister identical Easter dresses made out of an old bridesmaid dress of hers. She always made us elaborate home made Halloween costumes and once me and my sister were out trick-or-treating and we got our pictures in the paper!

    Mom taught me to respect a dollar, something I do to this day. I drive all over town for bargains, love to thrift and love to haul home things I find on the street. I can’t say my mom ever thrifted but she like to bargain shop.

    What did my mom always say to me? She used to say “Can’t never did and can’t never will”. I didn’t always understand what that saying meant but now I do…she was telling me to TRY. Just try to do something…you may surprise yourself.

  29. Lovely tribute to your Mom. It’s interesting how much we adore them when we are older. I’m blessed to still have my mom with us! Happy Mother’s Day.

  30. I enjoy your blog and was going to print the saying above but it should say, “without it you’re nobody.”

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Carol – I fixed it :) Enjoy your weekend.

  31. That was a fantastic recount of your amazing mother. I wish I would have known her and seen her “New York ways” and her dancing to the Hall and Oates number. She sounds terrific. Thanks for sharing.

  32. LOVED THIS POST ABOUT YOUR MOM!!! My mom told me, “Don’t be afraid to leave a man at the altar!”