Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Thought You'd Never Ask!

Anne Russell has kindly indulged me by asking after the puzzle. Oh, this old thing? This thing that represents senselessly wasted weeks of my life? Voy-la:

Michael read something recently about how it's great to play board games with your children precisely because they're so pointless: it communicates to your kids a desire to spend time with them for no other reason than to spend time with them. Of course, that totally suits me, given my profound love of board games (Hi-Ho Cherry-O, Chutes and Ladders, and Candyland excepted). But I figure it's the same with puzzles. Only, it's just me. And therefore both narcissistic and schizophrenic. Alas.

Moving on:

Pancakes! The best pancakes in the world. Which I posted, coincidentally, the day before IHOP's famous benefit pancake give-away! The last thing I ate at an IHOP were blueberry blini when I was pregnant with Birdy. And I left them in the parking lot, if you know what I'm saying.



  1. Anonymous9:55 AM

    I don't have anything too profound to comment, I haven't made the pancake yet but it did make me search for a true sour dough recipe so I may start that week-long project, but when I had the opportunity to be the first to post I had to take it! Of course the usual 'love your writing' slightly stalkerish since Babycenter (hey, what did you do before that? I'd like to go see it) babbling too. Speaking of Babble - you should be writing there too, your style would fit. I still haven't received a Wondertime, it was to be my xmas gift subscription but no sign of one. Do you know if they're planning to contact subscribers?

  2. I just have to say how much I dislike that Disney Family site, but I'll jump through all their hoops, just to support you.

    Seriously, have you ever considered just creating your own blog, with your own content, and get your own sponsors? Yes, I know this is your own blog here, but I get the feeling that all your best content gets put up at Disney.

    Just my 4 cents.

  3. dear god i just want to EAT that puzzle. i have an unusual like for ribbon candy.

    now i think i'll dig out a puzzle to play with my 4 year old now...thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Oh good for the pancake recipe, because I'm having a mutiny on waffles over here, and I just can't seem to make a pancake that makes anyone satisfied...and don't even say the word "IHOP" around here. You have to drive, like six HOURS to get to one. sigh. And puzzles? they are like meditation, except there are pretty pieces to focus on instead of all those stupid thoughts that float around in your brain!

  5. Board them usually but with the wintry weather I have been playing Hungry Hungry Hippos, Hippo Flip and Match, and Diego 1,2,3 over and over and OVER and I feel like I am losing my mind!!!!

  6. Thanks for the delicious-looking pancake recipe. We'll be trying it soon, I can assure you. Have your kids played Camp? It's a fav at our house.

  7. Anonymous3:06 PM

    I just tried to get to the recipe from last week for chicken and all of the links from the Dalai Mama Dishes page seem to be broken. I couldn't find anywhere on the Wondertime site to report this problem, so I'm turning to you. I have white wine, chicken broth, and lemon (and chicken) so hopefully I can turn that into dinner on my own.....

    PS I am really enjoying the new cooking blog. I was really bummed about the change, but your great sense of humor and personality is all right there and we get a recipe, too. Thanks!

  8. We made yeast-raised buckwheat pancakes last night and once again I was reminded that I don't like buckwheat. Ick!

  9. Buckwheat, I know. It's kind of oppressive in a pancake.

    Kristina: the links are showing up and linking fine for me, but I will forward your email. . . Thanks for letting me know!


  10. Hannah Anderson should pay you comission for all those comfy looking stripe pajama photos.. assuming they are Hannah when in fact they could be from someplace else.. Thanks for your delicious recipe.. I just want to make pancakes and play boardgames for the rest of winter now..

  11. The other day I made your chicken recipe, and yesterday I made the corn chowder. If you take a peak at my fridge, you'll see I have leftovers from several of your recipes: the soup, chicken, ham dish, and the amazingly delicious black beans. I think I'll give the pancakes a go on Saturday, even though it's not Christmas nor my husband's birthday. Thanks for sharing these recipes!
    Much love.

  12. I find it a little funny how you beg and plead for us to leave comments singing your praises and such over at, but then you ignore and don't accept as "friends" on Facebook these same people. How endearing do you think it is to be ignored with no explaination and then expected to get excited about freaking pancakes? I've been a loyal reader for years and I just have to say it hurts to not be valued as I thought I was. I was happy and considered it a privilege to leave you comments even on recipes that I didn't think looked good, just to help you. And now it turns out that we're nothing to you. Not even worth of being "friended" on FB. Nice, Catherine. Real nice.

  13. Meg, I am so sorry that you're so hurt and angry because of me. I have struggled a great deal over the issue of which parts of my life to make public, which to leave private. Facebook is made extra tricky by the fact that my friends and family are involved--friends and family who have, I know, felt like I've often opened their lives up to my readers in ways they weren't always comfortable with. That's why I do what I do here, where it's just me and you, and I don't have to worry about it. Nonetheless, it is a hard balance and one that I, new to Facebook, dealt with badly--by procrastinating and dithering, rather than responding in the grateful way that I had intended. I really am sorry. And sorry that you felt like I've badgered you somehow into commenting or caring. Still, I am glad you wrote, even if it's hard for me to bear, and especially grateful that you had the courage to sign your name. Thank you.

  14. Anonymous9:41 AM

    Catherine, that was a nice response to Meg. (whom I thought was a little too fiesty) I have seen you on fb also, but decided it was not even right of me to even ask to "friend" you. Maybe you could do a business/fan page that we could all 'become a fan of'. just a thought. hope that you are seeing a few glimpses of spring up there. Shari in nc

  15. Anonymous9:56 AM

    It has been a million years since I have come out of hiding and commented.

    Is it strange for me to say I want to eat your puzzle? Do my eyes deceive me or is that hundreds of pieces of ribbon candy. YUM!

    I haven't told you how sad I am about Wondertime, and yes, Disney is annoying, but it is always worth it to read your beautiful words.

  16. Anonymous10:56 AM

    One summer my grandparents had a puzzle that was something like 2000 pieces and it was completely white with a black border!! Talk about insane. It was left out all summer long and if you were in the mood you could struggle with it for a few minutes and then move on. I was pretty young and never managed to put in a single piece. According to my father, when the puzzle was finally completed months later, there were a couple of pieces missing!! Whenever I do puzzles with my kids they always ask me to tell that story of the totally white puzzle. It is legendary. I wish we had a table we could completely devote to puzzles. Unfortunately we have to do them on the floor and then after a few days, put them away.

  17. How hard to be in your situation Catherine! But I think you made the right decision; FB reveals too much information. I haven't accepted some friend requests even from a few of my husbands' own friends and associates because I don't really know them, and I don't want some information open to anyone.
    It would be fun to have you on FB, I don't deny that, but after all, people not always are what or who they seem to be on the internet, and you need to draw the line somewhere after all.

  18. I too think you made the right decision Catherine.

    I too am new to Facebook and have the same issues (although on a much smaller scale). I have had friend requests from people at work (who I like, but they aren't my friends) and I'm not sure what to do about it. So far, I've just ignored it. It really can cause a problem since it doesn't just open up your information but that of all your friends, family, and group members if you're not extremely careful. Even if you try to set high privacy, you can easily leave things open to view inadvertantly.

    I really liked anonymous's suggestion. Someone should start a "fans of Catherine Newman" group. I'm sure a lot of us would be happy to join.

  19. yuup, face book is difficult, i've turned down people from school who, if I wanted to be in touch with still I would be! But maybe you should send a message when fans apply to be a friend and just say you keep facebook for family and close friends.

    Are the links fixed at wondertime, the only way I got to the full pancake article was through this blog, couldnt get to it from anyway at wondertime x

  20. Anonymous12:25 PM

    Try this address:

    I don't know if it will post as a link or if you will have to cut and paste it to your address bar.

  21. Anonymous12:55 PM

    Unrelated to the facebook issue, if you're looking for a new 'board' game, try Blokus! We've become addicted. Even the 5 year old loves it...

  22. Thanks, Catherine. I figured as much, but it would have been nice for you to send a little message explaining that. There are a lot of people in your friend list that work at Disney. It's ok for those people to know about your family? Also, on Michael's massage site that you linked us to, it has your home phone number! How much more do you think is gonna get out?
    Anyway, thanks for a response. Sorry for being so fiesty.

  23. Anonymous2:23 PM

    I just have to say I've never felt like you've begged in any way for us to comment. You just simply said that if we reply here on the blog to please also do it on the website. Don't let it get to you (easier said than done, I know).

    Loved the completed puzzle picture! The last puzzle I completed was a 24 piece Veggie Tales...had to make sure all the pieces were there!

    Great recipe too!!

  24. Anonymous2:38 PM

    The whole Meg/FB thing is kind of creepy/weird. MYOB comes to mind.

    I love the recipes... now a huge fan of fried tofu!

    In regards to blockus... in addition to being a great game, it is also fun to just create patterns with the pieces... the 3 and 4 year old in my family can do this for hours it seems!

  25. We're a big board game family and it is a great way to spend time with your kids, but it also teaches them tons of stuff like taking turns, math, and how to be a good sport. I was just read something recently how puzzles were a great way to get older kids to spend time with parents. I know this guy (my hubby) who wrote a great article including reviews of kids' games. Email me and I'll send you a copy.

  26. We have recently discovered the game Ruckus at our house. Lots of fun. I blogged about it a week or so ago. Great fun! Will be trying your pancakes tonight. Mmm!

  27. Anonymous5:37 PM

    I don't know about you, but suddenly I have a hankering to watch Single White Female.

  28. Jumping out from lurker world...

    I think it was nice of you to apologize to Meg. I don't think you needed to, but it was nice.

    My husband, who I often read this column and the posts to... had only this to say in regards to the FB rant "psycho"...

    He loved the SWF comment BTW.

    I post because my husband always says facebook is nothing but trouble, so he finds Meg's comments both amusing and well, frightening. (As he does when someone asks me to be their friend and I don't know them.) I mean here I am searching yearbooks, business cards, etc. trying to figure out who this "friend" is, trying not to be rude, because face it, when somebody doesn't want to be your friend it probably does cause hurt feelings, but at the same time I am thinking, if I don't recognize the name or face, then they probably aren't a friend... and why would they ask me to be a friend?

    So as of late I have adopted the if I have to look them up, they can't be my friend, because well I do know who my friends/family are.

    Just my two cents...

  29. Anonymous6:35 PM

    yikes, hope you have caller id... anyway, on the game front, we have been playing a lot of Bendomino's. They are quick games and we can decide ahead of time if we are going to play for a set time or just a couple of 'hands'.

    The last puzzle we did was a 500 pc zebras in grass puzzle. I cannot even imagine taking on a 2000 pc puzzle. Way to go!! shari in nc

  30. Very funny. I'm not a stalker or creepy. I am just a fan who thought it would be really cool if I could also get updated on FB like I do with all the other blogs I read. That's all. Then, to not even get a response and feel like such a loser, I got upset. Let's see, you blogged and made a living off of writing about your family. Then you get shy about people finding out things about your family? If you want to keep it for your personal friends, that's fine and I do understand that. I just think a messag to that effect was in order.
    Catherine, sorry if this is coming across as creepy. I think a lot of us have felt a certain sisterhood with you through reading your blogs and book. That's all. If you others can't understand where I'm coming from, who cares.

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Okay, I love you guys, love it when you leap to defend me (like the old babycenter days!), but feelings are real, and can't really be argued with. Meg, I hear you. Loves of my life: let's cultivate peace among ourselves. Compassion. I'm not sure this is a conversation that should extend outside of our own hearts at this point.

    your grateful,

  33. p.s. But what I really wanted to say was: Blokus! Tell me about it! We take turns picking games at our house, and Ben always picks Buccaneers (an old British game), Birdy always picks Match of the Penguins (a pretty good Gamewright game, though not their best), Michael always picks Qwerkle, and I always pick Blokus. Unless I'm mixing it up, and then I pick Bananagrams or Yahtzee, which I still love.

    What's Ruckus, though? Do tell!

  34. Anonymous9:48 PM


    Did you know there is blokus 3-D?

    Have you tried sequence?

  35. Ok. Sorry for the mess. I wasn't offended that she didn't want to be my friend as much as the fact that she never responded. I'm not psycho and I'm not obsessed. Just pointing out how much she had put out there. I would never CALL that phone number! I just noticed it on his site and was surprised she'd put it there, that's all. And, for the Disney people in her friend list, I thought that isn't much different than having one of us read her updates. Those people are only workmates and probably online workmates. Whatever. We don't need to be FB friends. And just because FB calls them "friends" doesn't mean I thought we'd really be friends. I didn't know it was weird to want to "friend" a blog person that you read. Every other blog that I love is on FB and they have a lot of their readers as friends. That's all. Nothing creepy or weird.
    And, in the past, I've been one of the readers crying out in indignation that someone would dare to say an unkind word to you, Catherine, so I understand the people defending you. I am a little shocked at the name calling, but I guess you people have to live with yourselves.

  36. Maybe the last comment on this thread can be about board games...Blokus rocks, as does yahtzee-- just please, please no more Sorry! in my house!!! I would echo Joy's joy at the game of Camp though-- it's an outdoor/wildlife trivia game with different levels for different ages, so that everyone can really play....Oh and if you ever order from blank books, they have blank board games you can buy-- the boys got one and we know have the wonderful game called "barfopoly."

    Okay-- so there we go. Back to games, which, if I might be so bold to say, is where we should end this comment thread. Hope you all are staying warm-- the return of winter has blizzarded its way into these parts...sigh-- definitely a time for puzzles, board games, and firesides.

  37. Barfopoly! It's so good, I'm dying! (Kate, I was going to post that comment on your blog, but it seemed the wrong fit to that gorgeous tribute to you little Lizzie.)

    You will have to describe it at some point. My kids have blank board games too, and haven't yet decided how to make them (Toiletworks, loosely based on the excellent Waterworks, is a contender. . .)

    Sorry I secretly love. But maybe only because it's such a grand occasion to learn to laugh at yourself while you're being totally and utterly screwed.


  38. IHOP. Shudder. I used to love that place. Then I worked there for two years. Just as a HOSTESS even, not cooking or waitressing, but just having to pass through the kitchen on a regular basis to get my free meal was enough to turn me off to them forever. The greasy smell of bacon is seared in my nostrils... And not in a good way.

  39. My four-year-old and I are constantly doing puzzles together (right now, nothing more than 100 pieces). This is a tradition now -- my little sister and I used to build puzzles with our mom all the time. We get them at thrift stores and then hope all the pieces are there (they usually are).

    I love all of the board game suggestions here. I am not a fan of Candy Land, either, so we pretty much let our daughter sort through the cards until she finds the face pictures (she doesn't care if the card makes her go back). I appreciate my parents that much more for playing these kinds of games with us.

    Oh, and I have to agree with someone way up in the comments that I'm glad your voice still comes through even in your food posts. Yours is the first blog I ever read (Bringing up Ben...and then Ben and Birdy) and you are still my favorite blogger. Thank you for continuing to share with us.

  40. P.S. Note that my profile picture right now is, in fact, a puzzle. I got this as a white elephant gift and everyone laughed because I actually put it togehter. (It's missing a couple of pieces but it glows in the dark!)

  41. I'm currently being treated for breast cancer, and in the infusion room they always have a big puzzle going, a different one each week. They frame them when finished and have them displayed in all of the halls, waiting rooms, examining rooms, etc. There's a big sign that says DO NOT TAKE PIECES! I was squinting at it, trying to make sense of it (who would take puzzle pieces, and why?), and the nurse said that they have had patients who pocket a piece so that they can be THE one to finish the puzzle when they return! Silly cancer patients - got to find pleasure somewhere, I guess. But anyway, if you're done with a puzzle and don't think you'll revisit it, I imagine an oncology center near you might appreciate it!

  42. Suzannah, that's a great idea! But, oy. You are in my thoughts.

    Wishing you godspeed in your recovery.

    xo Catherine

  43. Anonymous9:18 PM

    hi catherine. i'm a long time fan but first time commenting... i tried the pancakes and it was a grade A profound experience. i didn't want to be making pancakes at 7 this morning but my son has been asking for them. i was so cranky mixing up the batter when i wanted to be reading the newspaper. but then i tasted the first one and the clouds parted and the angels started singing. i have never had pancakes like them, even at all the various favorite breakfast places, even from scratch at home.

    they were light and spongy and tangy and fluffy. i sent our 5 year old upstairs with one to wake up my husband, i was so astounded at how amazing they were. the texture was so tender and perfect i ate them plain, no butter, no fork!

    your writing has often moved me to tears and i think it is hilarious that the first time i actually comment, it's about pancakes! but, that's how good they were.

    ps. used the vinegar in milk trick b/c didn't have buttermilk and it was amazing. didn't let it sit and curdle, just mixed the wet and dry right away. am wondering if it was the vinegar reacting with the baking powder that made the batter so bubbly and light? but that just happens with vinegar and baking soda, right? anyway, many thanks.

  44. I wrote a bit about Ruckus here:

    We played it again yesterday ... so much fun! We played Blokus at a friend's recently and loved it too. Will have to add it to the list of games to get.

    The buttermilk pancakes were delicious by the way. Yum! Buttermilk does make all the difference.

  45. Catherine,
    Thanks for the hint on putting the pancake batter in the squeeze bottle - wow, that decreases on mess! LOVE that idea and I love your blog. I've been reading since you were at Wondertime.


  46. OMG ME TOO!!!! I'm commenting about the salty snacks. I can't wait to try the chickpeas. I bake cookies and muffins and quick breads for the kids all the time, and I can always resist eating them. Crunchy salty snacks? Must eat immediately. I had to stop buying them, because they would inevitably last less than an hour in my salty hands! Sisters! Under the skin!

  47. Anonymous10:13 PM

    I have an account on Disney, but I forgot my password and then when I got it, it turned out I needed to create a 'special name' of sorts and the ones I created weren't accepted and...

    I LOVE your granola. It is so incredibly crunchy and delicious and I gave each of my friends' families a large yogurt-containers worth for Christmas. My husband, 3 year-old daughter, and I can't even pace ourselves to make one batch last a week.

    If you never accomplish another thing in your life, please know that you have exponentially improved the quality of life for another family.

    Thank you.

  48. Just wanted to let you know that I tried the pancake recipe this weekend and we loved it!! All three of my boys couldn't get enough! I tried to post on the Family website, but couldn't get through!

  49. runswithscissors0073:57 PM

    ok, this is long over due... can't believe no one commented on the Austin Powers "bong and blintz?/ Schmoke and pancake?"
    evocations in the photo of Ben(?) in this post!!

    feeling profound today obviously.

  50. Hey Catherine,

    I started reading your archived babycenter blog when I had my first child in 05. Posters we're still ranting and raving because they lost you. I can't tell you how many stories I've printed or forwarded as you are such an inspiration. I've continued to follow your blogs around but admit I'm a hopeless cook and find cleaning the toilet more rewarding. Sorry!
    I'm glad to find this blog and have been reading prior entries , love the book suggestions!

    I guess the real reason I'm writing is to suggest you customize your facebook profile to super duper private!