The First Daffodils

The daffodils are finally blooming. Spring is near.

I have been stalking them for the last few days, waiting patiently for the first of these frilly little flowers to turn their faces toward the sun. That’s my cue to participate in my annual tradition to pick the first few blooms of the season.

Like my dad and my grandfather before him, I look forward to gathering up a few to bring inside.

Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of bringing flowers in from the yard because it almost seems like torture to rip them from their natural surroundings and force them to live in my stuffy house. While flowers brighten my surroundings I just wonder how they feel about it.

I sometimes wonder if this is how my grandma felt or if she just liked to see her flowers outside. Either way, she was never thrilled when my grandpa picked her flowers. It was a true joy for him though and he looked forward to it.

When I was small, he would enlist my help because he knew she wouldn’t complain if it was me committing the offense. I was a really cute accomplice and it’s hard to be mad at a little girl with her hair in pigtails when she presents you with a fistful of flowers.

My dad loves to pick flowers to bring inside to my mother and she enjoys it too. From the first daffodil blooms of spring until the last roses of summer, he makes sure she always has a vase full of flowers.

Scout also enjoys daffodils in the house. Unfortunately, daffodils are poisonous to cats, dogs and horses and I didn’t realize this until he put his rabid determination to work in trying to get to them last night. There literally is nowhere safe or out of his reach inside this house except behind a closed door. I’m already regretting having them.

While it’s a nuisance, it is kind of sweet the way he enjoys fresh flowers as much as the rest of the family!

It’s true what they say. Happiness is in the small things.

Grandma’s Cake

My Grandma Betts made a cake that was kind of special because I remember only having it at Easter. It’s light and fluffy and tastes like spring.

It’s the simplest recipe in the world and I’ve seen it called a lot of different things, often on a Cool Whip container or magazine ad for canned pineapple.

We call it Mandarin Orange Cake.

She’s been gone for more than 25 years now. I was a freshman in college when she passed so I’ve lived more years without her than I did with her. It’s strange to think of it that way but she’s still with us when we have her cake.

Somewhere along the way. I picked up the tradition and always make it for Easter. I get a little heavy handed with the icing but that’s the best part, if you ask me. In fact. I like to make extra and just eat it off a spoon.

Yes, it’s that good.

Anyway, it’s not a state secret even if I do consider it a kind of family heirloom. If you’re interested, read on and give it a whirl for yourself.

Grandma Betts’ Mandarin Orange Cake

For the cake:

1 package of golden butter cake mix (any brand)

4 eggs

1 small can of mandarin oranges and their juice

1/2 cup of oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients by hand until oranges are broken up and mixed well into the batter.

Grease and flour three 8″ cake pans. Split batter equally among the three pans.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

* the recipe doesn’t specify but I mix the wet ingredients first before adding the cake mix.

For the icing:

1 large package of instant vanilla pudding mix

1 can of crushed pineapple (drain off about half of the juice)

1 large tub of Cool Whip

Mix all together.

Note: A three layer cake is a relatively tall cake. I bake the cakes the day before Easter and mix up the icing to allow the flavors to marry nicely. However, I assemble the cake on Easter morning so that it isn’t monopolizing fridge space for a long time.

We all have those flavors that represent a special time, place or person. This is mine. Hope you enjoy yours, whatever it may be.

Happy Easter!