Spring? My word! It’s here!

Yes, I start my welcome to spring mentality well ahead of the calendar date. Fall of 2012 saw me planting a whole lot of anticipation for the debut of the current season. It’s a wonder I haven’t looked the new bulb shoots right into the ground. Initially it appeared as if all I had to show for my backbreaking labor were HOLES. The ones I had dug in preparation for new tulips, crocuses, and dozen of other newbies from the Dutch collections. I could just picture the year-round resident rodents eating fresh green dollar bills. A BIG pile of them. To my delight, and despite the feasting–free to the squirrels–green shoots continue to poke up between the snows–a couple in the past three days.

It was not a harsh winter, but no matter, my patience had taken leave early. Imagine my shock and awe at seeing a cluster of purple blossoms–weeks ahead of March.  A new variety to me, blossoms daintier in size and resembling a bouquet.

SpringCrocus

Even with the snows melting–again–the giant crocus alongside my driveway have not yet surfaced. But as the inspiration for my first, ever, nationally published work for pre-school/kindergarten children, here I share my 6-line ACTION TIME featured poem which appeared in the March 1998 Turtle magazine as a 2-page spread whimsically illustrated in full color.

SPRING SECRETS

by

Mariam Davis Pineno

______________

Whoever would know

That buried in snow

Lie secrets to make a heart sing?

Yellow, purple, and white–

My, oh, my, what a sight

Are the pop-up flowers of spring.

I never get tired of unearthing that issue of Turtle and seeing how beautifully the poem and the artist’s illustration worked together. Over 300,000 subscribers read my work, I received ten “contributor copies” (at $1.25, each) and a $45 check which I copied to frame and hang beside my computer desk. When shortly afterward I happened onto a teapot with matching cup and saucer, you can see why I couldn’t resist that $60 permanent porcelain reminder of my arrival as a children’s author.

I’ll save my second Turtle poem for a blog in April, the month (same year) in which it was published. What’s not to love about ducklings and puddles–JUST for FUN?

Crocus20Teapot

A Tasty Cake Topper

If you were expecting an old-time cake recipe, stop reading now. What I want to show you is a bit of history and the end result of a few hours work back in the 40s when folks had no choice but to bake and take church-affair offerings made from scratch. My mother was expected–every time–to show up with this tantalizing beauty–as tasty as it looked.
So she did.

I found a cookbook photo so like her finished cake–missing only Mom’s signature “flower” on top for decoration. Edible, of course. The fresh orange segment photo’s mine, the fruit from CA available year ’round, unlike when I still lived at home and oranges were a luxury.

OrangeFilledCoconutCake

Here I’m including only the two recipes which made a plain two-layer cake a standout: The filling and the icing. I’m guessing a box mix of either white or yellow cake would be a fair substitute for the original which called for sifted cake flour.

CLEAR ORANGE FILLING

Mix together in saucepan . . .
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. grated orange rind
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. butter
Bring to a rolling boil and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Chill before using as a filling between cooled cake layers.

DOUBLE BOILER FROSTING (7-minute)

Combine in top of double boiler . . .
2 egg whites (1/3 cup)
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/3 cup of water
Place over boiling water and beat with rotary beater until mixture holds its shape.
Fold in . . .
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

When cool enough, spread over sides and top of cake which has orange filling between layers. Gently press flaked or regular coconut into icing all over. Arrange fresh orange slices on top for garnish/decoration.

OrangeSwirl

 

 

Oh, My! My INSPIRATION’s Crushed

My blog writing has splattered to a stop. My fingers have refused to pick up a pen I’d use for long-hand drafts. And herein I’m giving away behind the scene secrets of my writing style. Tablet and pen, first. Always.

Spontaneous is NOT me. I avoid the keyboard right to the end. Whatever might appear off-the-cuff will have rattled around loosely in my head for days, weeks, or months before I give my words permission to go to type–finally.

This short essay came to me quite by chance. Actually, by accident, for my small inspiration was a gift of a fellow flower lover (longtime friend) and resembled a goose egg in size and shape. My little garden enhancement, edge-etched to look like a turtle, featured what appeared to be etched in stone one simple word: I-N-S-P-I-R-A-T-I-O-N. And unwittingly, I crushed it. I wish it could be replaced but I’m not optimistic.

Alas, the fate of a Pennsylvania winter–the snow, ice, and freezing rains–I had ignored. All of the above had repeatedly covered a couple of abandoned summer flower patio pots whose latent seeds often reward me in spring or early summer even for having been so neglected. My “stone” had been carelessly and unceremoniously set atop the dead foliage. I didn’t see it so at the time for appearances can be deceptive.

Imagine my shock and horror the day my bare hand shot out to remove the ice crust and came up with one gushy gray glob. Too late for my ill-timed rescue!

All that remains (SEE PHOTO) are the letters I-R amidst a sad pile of plaster-of-Paris.

May Inspiration rest in peace. Reincarnation, welcome.

GardenStone GardenStone1

Here lies my I-N-S-P-I-R-A-T-I-O-N with nothing showing but the middle I-R.

Leafcrete

My original, hand-crafted Leaf-‘crete piece (real concrete) will never, ever, leave the safety of the inside of my house.