My garden memories are often about my grandparents. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I was thinking of my mother and realized that she’s had a bigger influence on some of the things I do than I have admitted.
It used to be embarrassing, but my mother picks up stems from plants in stores that have fallen on the ground if they can be rooted. Succulent leaves, vine plants, herbs — just to name a few — end up in her purse. If the floor or shelf around the plants have stray pieces, she takes them.
I was wandering around Lowe’s last week and realized I had pieces of fallen plants in my hand, too. Apparently, this is a family tradition.
My adult children recently sent me pictures of the plants they have “saved” from a sure death when they found them separated from the mother plant. It’s not thrift that motivates us, but a sense of duty to let the little pieces of plants live their best life.
Another compulsion, it seems — I water other people’s plants, just like my mom! My sister could care less that I pick off the brown leaves and water her plants right after I hug her and her kids. My family is used to my plant watering.
Strangers, on the other hand, usually have one of two reactions. They either think I’m the hired gardener or they just back away, shaking their heads as I empty my water bottle on an outdoor planter that looks thirsty.
I volunteer. My mother has macular degeneration and doesn’t see as well as she used to. She used to sew little dresses for care boxes to be sent overseas. Now she’s able to cut the fabric for the dresses but can’t see well enough to sew. Her solution is to partner with another lady who does the sewing. With all of our moves, I have always found that to become part of my community, I needed to find a place to serve. I don’t sew dresses, but I am involved in beautification of our town.
I put honey in my peanut butter. In case you don’t know, honey is necessary in peanut butter sandwiches. Honey keeps the peanut butter from sticking to the roof of your mouth (Mom said it, so it’s truth). There’s no negotiation, it’s a must-have.
I lick the spoon. Spoiler alert: If you’ve received a homemade treat from me, know that I licked the spoon in love. I just want to make sure you’re getting something that tastes great. Plus, it makes me happy.
Licking the spoon was one of the best reasons to behave. My mom would leave a little extra in the bowl and would let my brothers and sisters and I lick the bowl squeaky clean-ish. The mixer beaters, the spoon, even our grubby fingers were fair game to scoop the remnants from the bottom and sides of the bowl.
At Christmas a few years ago, my sister and I split the mixer beaters after our mom made mashed potatoes. It doesn’t seem that we are going to outgrow this habit.
I was surprised to realize that just like seeds that fall from the plant, things my mother does are things I do, and have become things my children do.
I recently read that we spend 45% of our day thinking about the past. Almost half of the day is spent looking back. Make sure what you spend doing today will be a memory that makes you smile.
I feel that it’s important to find micro-pockets of things that bring you joy, even if it makes you like your mother. Your happiness quirks may be different from mine — although you must put the honey in the peanut butter! Your joy is contagious and makes life sweeter for everyone.
So don’t forget: Life is short; lick the spoon!
This recipe is easy to make and only takes 20 minutes; but is totally lick-the-spoon-worthy.
DeeAnn Rivera is a Spring Hope resident who blogs at VictoryGardenGal.com. Email her at VictoryGardenGal@gmail.com.
20-Minute Texas Sheet Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound of powdered sugar
1 cup toasted pecans (optional but so yummy!)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray or grease 18-by-13 jelly roll pan. Put butter, water and cocoa in a medium saucepan on the stove and bring to a full boil for 30 seconds. Take off heat. Mix in flour, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon; stir well. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Then pour into your slightly cooled butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared jelly roll pan and bake for 15-20 minutes.
While cake bakes, make the frosting. (Bonus: You can rinse your saucepan and use it for the frosting, too.) In a medium saucepan, melt butter and cocoa. Take off heat and stir in milk, vanilla and powdered sugar.
Once the cake is firm in the middle, take warm frosting and pour over the hot cake (yes, ice the cake hot). Sprinkle with toasted pecans if you like them. Cut into squares and — ta da! The best ever chocolate cake that really only takes 20 minutes to be ready to eat!
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