Friday, September 6, 2019

Sad, Scary, Heatwarming and Fond: Secret Subject Swap

Welcome a Secret Subject Swap. This month 6 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. Read through mine and at the bottom you’ll find links to all of today’s other Secret Subject participants.

Secret Subject Swap, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics

My subject is: What is your fondest childhood memory?
It was submitted by: Rena of Wandering Web Designer.

Memory? What memory? 

Fondest, that's a difficult concept. Not only because my memory fails me, but because of the ones I do retain, it's hard to pick one over the other. 

Now if you asked me what my saddest memory from childhood is, I can answer that. I went to a private preschool and I just hated it. We carpooled, I can't even remember with who, but I do remember sitting in the back of someone's car, crying the whole way there. I'd try to think of some reason to get that poor woman to take me back home. In my childish way, the most important thing I could think of was wailing through my tears, "I forgot to tell my mommy something." Didn't work. And I wouldn't be surprised if that poor lady hit the cooking sherry on carpool day. Sorry lady, my bad.

The scariest memory comes from the summers. We belonged to a private pool club and I was probably 7 years old. I wanted to dive from the high diving  board but it was terrifying. Hell, even climbing up to the board was terrifying. When I did get the nerve, I'd dive from a sitting position, not standing up. And if I didn't dive far enough out to enter the water at an angle, it really hurt the top of my head. 

Conquering that fear was intense, and I wanted my mom to see it. I remember her sitting in the sun with a bunch of friends, me coming over and telling her she had to watch me, I was going to dive from the high board. She would talk to her friends as I walked over, glancing at me now and then, same thing as I climbed to the board. Then I got to the top, looked over to be sure Mom was paying attention. And then, as I always did, scared to death, I sat. And sat. And sat. And sat. 5 minutes trying to talk myself into going, peek at Mom (still watching). 10 minutes, trying to talk myself into going, peek at Mom (watching intermittently). When finally, sometime in the next century, I got my hands above my head and scushed my butt over the edge I took one last peek, sailed through the air, broke through into the water, swam to the edge, got out, stomped over to mom and scolded her profusely for not seeing my feat of bravery.

A proud moment was winning a race at that same pool club. All the kids were older and we were to swim freestyle from one side of the pool to the other. These kids knew how to race. I didn't. The whistle blew and they skimmed the water in their sleek racing dives. I only knew one way to dive, straight down. They were all 1/4 of the way across the pool before I came back up. But I swam my little heart out and at the other end found myself lifted from the pool by the ref as the winner. I got a cool trophy. I think I still have it. I know that for a week after that I stood in my driveway daily in a bathing suit holding that trophy. 

There are heartwarming memories too. Rarely, but every once in a while, Mom and my sister and I would go to a local diner. We'd order a giant banana spit with 3 spoons and that would be our dinner.

And there were the family business's box seats to the Red Sox, right by the dugout along the first base line. They were given out to clients mostly, but we got our turn too. My grandfather (alav ha- shalom) instilled my love of the Red Sox that lives as a tribute to him to this day.

Mom was and still is a great cook. But she is the family baker. She wanted us to remember coming home on Friday afternoons to the smell of something baking in the oven. Didn't happen all the time, but I can tell you that whenever there was a function of any kind, Mom was assigned dessert. And everyone would just about tackle her on the way in the door to ooh and aah at whatever she'd brought.

Lemon Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream Frosting starts with a lemon cake mix with strawberry swirl and topped with fresh strawberry whipped cream. | Recipe developed by | #recipe #cake

Lemon Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream Frosting
Lemon Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream Frosting starts with a lemon cake mix with strawberry swirl and topped with fresh strawberry whipped cream. | Recipe developed by | #recipe #cake

I would have to say though that some of my fondest memories were those visiting my (great)aunt (alav ha-shalom) and uncle (alav ha-shalom) in West Palm Beach. My aunt was my grandmother's (alav ha-shalom) identical twin sister and they were as close as could be. The family all vacationed at their home and it was always a whirlwind of activity. The house itself was huge, a mansion. With exquisite grounds. I remember my great grandmother, who lived there at the time, would putt around in the kitchen with the pet parrot on her shoulder getting in the cook's way. Bobbe (alav ha-shalom) was constantly going outside forgetting about the parrot who someone would inevitably have to coax out of the tree. On a regular basis.

The older cousins would live, dorm style, in the maid's quarters upstairs off the kitchen. I'm not sure where I slept, it probably depended on how many people were there at any given time. But I do remember getting lost in that house but never being worried about it, someone would find me eventually. And there was so much to explore, a favorite being the room with the little toy piano, and any of the warm sunny decks. 

The yard featured a lake where I was allowed to swim as long as someone was with me, and the grounds featured bush mazes which treated you to a serene bench area in the center. There were large palm trees and I remember the gardeners shimmying up to grab me a fresh coconut. They'd tap it so I could drink the milk, then slit it open so I could gnaw at the fresh fruit.

West Palm beach | Picture property of and featured on | #family

I don't know why the only pictures I have are these two, old black and whites from before my time.
Back of the house

West Palm beach | Picture property of and featured on | #family

My great aunt holding my cousin in front of the house.

In the front, there was a long, long rock driveway that eventually ended at the road. Getting the mail was going for a walk. And I remember one day when the driveway was the edge of a sun shower (something new to me), standing in the rain, taking a step to the right where it wasn't raining and moving back to the left where it was.

That was also the house where I got the Chicken Pox, and gave them to my sister, the day before Mom was supposed to fly out to the Bahamas for a mini vacation. But I suppose that's a story for another day.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Lemon Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream Frosting

3/4 cup fresh strawberries
1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam
1/2 tsp strawberry extract

1 box lemon cake mix
3 eggs 
1/2 cup lemon yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp lemon extract
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam
1 tsp water

2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar

OPT: Sliced strawberries for garnish

*Clean, hull and finely chop strawberries. Mix them with 1/4 cup strawberry jam and the strawberry extract. Mash together until the jam is smooth and coating the strawberries. Set aside on the counter.
*Grease and flour a 9 X 13 baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Beat the cake mix, eggs, yogurt, sour cream, 1/4 cup water and vegetable oil for 3 minutes. Pour into prepared pan.
*Whisk 1/4 cup strawberry jelly with 1 tsp water. Dot over the cake batter and, using a toothpick swirl into just the top of the batter. Bake cake for about 25 minutes, just until the center springs back to the touch. Cool completely.
*Using a fork, food processor or blender, mash the strawberries.
*Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and strawberry mixture and beat until stiff peaks hold. 
*OPT: Remove about 3/4 cup of the strawberry whipped cream and store in a sealed sandwich bag in the fridge if you want to pipe it onto the individual pieces for serving. 
*Spread the remaining strawberry whipped cream over the cooled cake. 
*To serve, garnish with the reserved strawberry whipped cream and/or sliced strawberries if desired. 
*Store, covered, in refrigerator.


  1. Congratulations on your swimming achievements! I like to think that diving from the board was actually the greater one than the trophy, but that's just me.
    Dessert for Dinner, your Mom rocked!

    1. Oh, that diving from the high, high, high board was without a doubt the greater achievement. It was terrifying. Every single time.

  2. Man you have lived quite a life! You need to write a book one of these days! I love learning about the younger you. (Rena)

    1. I think if I were going to write a book, it would have had to have been before my memory got this bad. At this point I've forgotten more than I remember.

  3. Oh my word! The beautiful memories! I always think of the line from 'Field of Dreams': "The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces!"
    Now I want to hear all about these stories. In detail!

  4. You did a nice job with those memories. I was told my Mom was an excellent cook, also. I guess I was too young to really appreciate her cooking before rheumatoid arthritis started to take her hands and her mobility. I know I've lost a lot of memories, too, in the messy file cabinet that my mind has become, but the West Palm Beach "mansion" is a good one - thank you for sharing the recipe, too. Alana

    1. Yeah, I think we both need to get that internal file cabinet cleaned out.

  5. Wonderful memories...thanks for sharing them with us.

  6. Fondest childhood memory?????????????????????????
    Leo me think................
    Helping Dad run power to the shed or wall paper the kitchen

    1. Spending time helping your family is a great choice for a fond childhood memory.

  7. That house is absolutely beautiful! Lucky you.
    My fondest memory--
    Going on a family trip to Florida. Me-knocking on the small set houses at Disney World:make believing.

  8. I am just very glad I didn't get this prompt. haha. beautiful memories!

    1. You've written some about your childhood so I know, sadly, it would have been a very different post.


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