what today calls for

There are some days when you just need to make a spice cake.

Wait. That is probably not true. Let me re-phrase.

Today, I needed to make a spice cake.

This afternoon, while driving home from a trip to deliver a medication to the nurses at Paco’s assisted living unit and stopping to have a document notarized stating that my power of attorney for him is in effect, after a morning spent with him at a new specialist, I was seized with a desire to eat spice cake.

It’s not one of those things you can easily buy at the supermarket or bakery, so I pulled out my Betty Crocker cookbook when I got home and set to work.

Why spice cake? It is an old-time favorite that fills the kitchen with a wonderful aroma as it bakes. When B and I were married in the early ’80s, I chose a spice cake with buttercream icing as our wedding cake, a daring choice in the age of white wedding cakes with sugary white icing. I still love the taste of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove and find them comforting.

Spice cake stands on its own. It doesn’t need to be layered and frosted. A simple, square pan suffices.

A bonus bit of nostalgia was also involved today.

One of the things I brought home from cleaning out the kitchen in Paco’s apartment in independent living was a set of RevereWare metal bowls that Nana had used when we were growing up and kept all these years. While I had my own set from when B and I first set up house, my mother’s were heavier and the largest bowl of the three was larger than my own set.

It was this largest bowl that I used today to mix my spice cake.

It’s in the oven now.

I have several dozen other things I should be doing right now, but I am instead writing this post, thinking about my parents and home and the passage of time and what is important and the meaning of making spice cake for my family.

And breathing in the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.

another strawberry season

We are almost at the end of strawberry season here in upstate New York.

When I was growing up in rural New England, we always went strawberrying every spring and made lots of recipes with the fresh, flavorful berries. Back then, you only had access to fresh strawberries when they were available locally. Now you can buy them in the grocery store year-round grown somewhere far away, but we seldom buy them because they are never as good as local ones.

For many years, I picked my own from nearby farms, but now I buy them from the farmstands and embark on the annual strawberry binge.

This year, we had some of our old favorites – strawberry shortcake, fresh strawberry pie, strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry salad, strawberry sundaes, strawberries with yogurt, and strawberries on pancakes. We also tried some new recipes – strawberry spoon cake, strawberry-rhubarb muffins, fresh strawberry tarts, and strawberry bread pudding.

Wow! That looks like a lot when it is all written out.

I think it will tide us over until next spring, when I’m sure we’ll be ready to dive into strawberry season once again.

SoCS: dress

Our granddaughter, ABC, who just moved to London, has lots of cute dresses. Well, she has had many sets of cute dresses in a variety of sizes. She often wears them with leggings, which were not available when her mom was little.

When E (ABC’s mom) was little, she didn’t wear dresses often as an infant. For her first birthday, though, she wore a white and lavender striped dress. She had just recently started walking on her own. She walked into the dining room and sat herself down on the carpet, spreading her dress around her, as though she was setting herself up for a photo op for her parents and grandparents.

Beth's first birthday

Thanks for the prompt, Linda, which brought back this sweet memory, just as my firstborn child and her firstborn are settling into their new life on the other side of the Atlantic.
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “dress.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/10/25/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-26-19/

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley!
https://www.quaintrevival.com/

Re-oragnizing

Some of my faithful readers may have noticed that I have been scarce around here the last few weeks, even given that I have had to cut back significantly on blogging this year due to family commitments. While I have been spending time on family obligations, even more of the time in the last few weeks has been dedicated to re-organizing our house (for reasons that will be elucidated at a later date).

I am the first to admit that I don’t like housecleaning, but this re-organization went way beyond that. There was a lot of going through things, both our own things and things that we had brought to our home after Grandma died this spring. Some things got donated, some got packed and stored in the attic or basement, and some found their way to new places in our home.

Bonus:  We freed up the garage so the minivan can stay out of the snow.

The most difficult thing for me, though, was sorting through papers.

Some things were painful or poignant by their very nature. Obituaries. A note from a friend who has since passed away. The fiftieth jubilee mass for a long-time pastor who died this year. Copies of my junior organ recital at Smith, a reminder that I haven’t been able to play the organ for years now, due to orthopedic problems.

Other things caused a more wistful reaction. My daughters’ artwork, starting in preschool and going up through middle school. Some of their report cards and concert programs. Programs and liturgies from our years at Blessed Sacrament, before everything fell apart.

There were some things that had been gathering dust, perched on a high display shelf in our bedroom, that I packed away. My summa cum laude diploma. My Phi Beta Kappa certificate. A certificate naming me a Presser Scholar. All things that I earned thirty-five years ago, when I was quite a good student.

This sounds like I am bragging, but remember these were in our bedroom, not out on the mantel in the living room.

Some may also infer that I am very competitive person, but I am the opposite. My parents raised us to do our own best, without regard to what others were doing. I was fortunate that my best translated into good grades, but my motivation was not gaining honors but learning as much as I could.

Having these mementos was a good reminder for me over the years when I was feeling overwhelmed that I did have a brain in my head that could go to work and research and weigh options and arrive at a useful course of action.

Now, they are in a box in the attic.

I hope that, after thirty-five years of learning, living, and growing, I no longer need a visual reminder.