I can be overly sentimental about the things I love; collections or bits and bobs of things that evoke a certain memory or glimpse of a bygone era. I am especially fond of those things handed down or gifted to me by family members – pieces given out of love and the desire to pass along a good story or two.
I have written about my Aunt C before and her knack for choosing just the right gift for me. We share the same birthday and she seems to know this innate part of me that few others see. This year, for my birthday, she sent me the most dear ceramic spice shakers from her own kitchen. Also included was a compendium of recipes and stories from a local Philadelphia bakery called ‘Brown Betty’. Lastly, she included her own family recipe for old-fashioned lace cookies from her mother’s kitchen.
I keep my spice shakers together with other special gifts from my Aunt C – a decorative light plate (Aunt C has small bits of whimsy like this throughout her California bungalow), a knob for a drawer to hold all those beloved bits and bobs, and a vase shaped like a bunch of radishes (to honor my passion for gardening).
I’ve made the “Plain Cake” recipe out of the cookbook several times now – a cake that was born from a Brown Betty family recipe shared at Sunday dinners and yearly birthday parties. The flavor of the cake, buttery and golden, tastes like home, like family. You feel sated and enfolded in warmth as it melts in your mouth.
If we are to accumulate “things” in this life, I am glad to have such a collection of things that lovingly speak to me of family and tradition and history when I use them.
This past weekend, I flew to Madison, Wisconsin to visit my cousin A.
A is the youngest of the cousins on my mom’s side of the family. I remember getting a call from my mom (who was present at her birth) on the day she was born. Despite being 8 years older and living on opposite coasts, she has come to be more like a sister to me. A reminds me to not take life so seriously sometimes, to treasure my friendships, to smile widely and laugh often, and to love with all my heart. I truly relish the fleeting time that we get to spend with one another.
Our family was pretty surprised (and proud!) when this southern CA girl decided to make Madison her home for college. My college experience was very intimate with only 2,300 students on the Barnard campus and I’ve been eager to see what life is like in Madison. The University of Wisconsin at Madison is home to the Badgers – the school’s immensely popular and successful football team. October seemed like a good time of year to see A, catch a heated game between UW and Minnesota, and try cheese curds (FYI – cheese curds are tasty little morsels when fried but will feel like lead pellets in your gut later).
Airplane goodies? Check!
Having your red gear is a MUST
Bascom Hall after a trek up Bascom Hill. It was quite the climb
Babcock Hall is where a lot of agricultural research takes place. More importantly, they also make ice cream here.
Lake Mendota on a cloudy morning
Displaying one’s Badger pride is very important. Note that those are W’s not M’s.
Camp Randall – aka where the football stadium resides
A sea of red in the student section
All smiles after UW won 38-13