Monday, March 23, 2009

Vernal Equinox

Oh don't you love the spring? And the word vernal? It just has the greenest sound to it, even though that's probably because I'm mixing it up with verdant. But still. The hyacinths are pushing out the ground like alien pod life, and the cardinals are flirting in the forsythia (everyone in my family calls the female my "girlfriend," and says teasingly, "Hey Mama, your girlfriend's at the feeder!), and the evenings are long and lit. It is a glorious time. So maybe (brace yourself for the lame segue), you were thinking of making biscuits? Have I got the recipe for you!

I also wanted to say something here, which is this: I love FamilyFun magazine. I do. I have been writing for them since 1992, when, as my friend Ann and I love to recall over a few drinks, I sent in my bird-feeder prototype, and the tester who unwrapped it promptly cut her hand open on the decorations I'd cut from a Coke can. Classy! (Note: I have refined my ideas over the years. I swear.) Every year I look forward to writing the Valentine's feature; every year I look forward to making the April Fool's Day gag meal for the kids (last year it was meatloaf-and-mashed-potato "pie"! Bwa-ha-ha.); every year I get birthday cake ideas and holiday ideas and craft and game ideas. And I am only mentioning this here, now, because look--I know it's a totally different magazine from Wondertime, and nobody is as heartbroken about Wondertime as I am (with 1 or 2 possible exceptions), but if you open up your mind to FamilyFun, you might just love it. That's all I'm saying. Even though I know it's annoying to get that "Oh, by the way, we switched magazines on you!" card in the mail (I actually got one too! I was like: Yes, hello missing livelihood, I noticed.).

To inspire you: the dinner "pie" (tinted with beet juice!). I made the kids real strawberry pie for dessert so they wouldn't feel tricked in the bad way.


  1. My mom kept her subscription to FamilyFun magazine in the years between having young children and having grandchildren just because she loves it so much. True story.

  2. Vernal always makes me think of vernix.

    I think I like your connotation better:)

    Okay, I am dying, by the way, at the pie picture. And I will henceforth be known as a fan of Family Fun. Just because of you.

    And speaking of missed livelihoods and switching things up, I am just putting on the record right here and now that the weblog:
    that was just launched by moi (and my good friend Alison) will someday be persuading you to come share your fantastic recipes for us one day. You know, when we make more than, um, nothing. We'll even pay extra for those lovely photos (thinking pot roast here) you take..:)

    Truly though, I'm happy to pick up any magazine where your name is found!

  3. ps-- Moi is me-- Kate-- since Blogger says I am Cluck and Tweet, not Kate of the blankie chronicles, at the moment.

    Happy Spring:)

  4. But I already GOT Family Fun! I used to get both! And now I miss my Wondertime! Sob. Sniff.

  5. Family Fun is my favorite magazine in the world. I've been subscribed constantly since I had The Girl, although she wasn't so much into crafts back then. BEST magazine ever.

  6. Hmm, now I want pie!

  7. April Fool's Day gag meals? I'm in!

  8. Anonymous10:35 PM

    Catherine, thank you so much for the kind reply to Olivia's letter last week. She was thrilled to get a reply from you. I finally picked up a packet of ranch dip mix to season our chickpeas, so expect another fan letter soon ; )

    And I too am a fan of Family Fun, especially their ideas for fun April Fools day pranks. My kids still talk about the frozen milk & cereal from 2 years ago. They think I'm a genius prankster, but really it was Family Fun. Shhhh...


  9. Anonymous7:05 AM

    I've loved Family Fun since my 7 year old was a baby. There are fantastic ideas in there, and I always look for your contributions first :)

  10. Hi Catherine,

    I've been following your blog since the babycenter/parentcenter days. In fact, I subscribed to Wondertime only because I knew you were writing for them. I've read your book and sometimes this blog too. I've already susbcribed to Family Fun too...I can't wait to read you over there too. Do you think it's possible that you could write a cookbook? You have such amazing recipes and I would feel better about buying the recipes than just printing them off for free...not that I'm doing that you understand. Wondertime will be missed at my house. I'll be sure to check in here as often as possible. Thank you for your wonderful writing.

  11. Anonymous6:01 PM

    The thing about your recipes, and this is not a bad thing, but yes, there is a thing: see, the thing about them is they're so quaint. I mean, rolling biscuits out and using cookie cutters. My life just doesn't have room for flour all over my kitchen, and where on earth are the cookie cutters? Do we still have any, or did we try to sell them at the last garage sale and then give them to GoodWill because I just couldn't stand to put any of that stuff back in the house. And the oatmeal cookies. My, I can practically smell them, they read so good. But, see, to make them I'd have to make a special trip somewhere for the coconut. And I think I've got corn syrup in the cupboard, but Lord only knows how old it is. I have been meaning to make the chickpea snacks for weeks but I never have a time when I can stay near to the oven for an hour to stir them every 10 minutes. I've got to chase the children, and do the laundry, and oh, my! how I could really use a nap! And if I sit down for as long as 10 minutes the cat ends up on me for some desperately needed lap time, and how can I work up the heart to move him?

    So, yes, tempting, desirable, and tantalizing as your recipes are, I just don't end up making them. Our lives, I think, are farther apart than I would care for them to be. But I do enjoy reading them.

  12. Anonymous10:48 AM

    You know,I still haven't gotten anything from Wondertime saying that they will not be delivering the three years worth of magazines that I so hopefully had prepaid for. And thank you for your plug for FamilyFun, but if I was the crafty type, I would have subscribed already, because I know that you write for them.

  13. My son, just-turned-nine, was due 3/21. To this day, one of my friends calls him Vern, even though he got impatient and arrived 3/5.

    Having grown up on a Midwestern farm, I am acutely aware of, and really enjoy, the change of seasons. I hope I am instilling that in my family, too. It amazes - and saddens - me how few people know what/when the equinoxes and solstices are these days.

    Been following you since babycenter and you always say the right things!

  14. Anonymous12:44 PM

    I recently subscribed to FamilyFun for the first time (quite outside of the Wondertime situation), and so far I love it. The first issue we received had your at-home vacation article. We'll be doing one of those this spring, and I can't wait to try some of your ideas! I was so excited to find out what you wrote when I got that first issue, and I wasn't disappointed. Thanks!

    Anita Jo

  15. Anonymous1:19 PM

    regarding the beginning of Spring,
    I am the dork who always says 'Look, the sun is rising & setting exactly in the east/west. And it won't do that again for another 6 months!' hopefully, it is instilling a small wonderment into my 6 year old boy! Of course, we also like to go somewhere and watch the sunset on the longest day of the year. The next day is when my father-in-law starts saying, 'the days are getting shorter ya' know' :-)

  16. Anonymous2:58 PM

    Oh, I do love Family Fun. Not as much as I loved Wondertime (sniff) but it's a good magazine. There's not really a comparison between the two, because they have (had) different purposes. But I like FF enough that I got a friend a subscription, and she loves it too.

    Count me among those who A) love spring (even though it's officially only my third favorite season), B) have been following you since the BabyCenter days, and C) subscribed to both magazines because I love your writing!

  17. Yep - been reading family fun for as long as I can remember... it was always at my sister's house, who has children older than mine... it is a very fun publication.

    Spring is finally here in Ohio, as we are sprouting blubs and perennials all over the place. I went to a garden center yesterday and splurged on some new mint, basil and rosemary - just because it was there!

    Spring makes me feel better... hopeful... and ready for more.

  18. I've read you over the years when someone at BabyCenter gave me your link. I just got laid off from BabyCenter after writing there for 3 years. I totally get the weird transition deal. But times change. And now I'll follow you at Family Fun!

    I also write a three/week column at Good Housekeeping on marriage and sex. Different than your genre, obviously, but if I can give you a link in some way, don't hesitate to ask. I really love your stuff. (And if you check out Good Housekeeping, via the link at my personal blog, you'll see it's pretty tame.)

    Anyway, good luck at Family Fun!

  19. A friend got me a subscription to Family Fun and renews it every year---it is a great magazine with lots of fun ideas and I am always tickled when you have something in there.

    Happiest of Springs to you!

  20. Anonymous8:21 PM

    No worries, so many of us love FamilyFun. The problem is that those of us who are saying so here are the choir that you are preaching to. It's great that we love it and have subscribed to it for years, but the people we need to convince are the other wonderful women who want their Wondertime in the way that I want MTV to start playing music again.

    I just bought my 4th copy of your book. I buy it for every friend who has a second baby. This time I bought it for a co-worker who really doesn't like me. So I guess this one was really just to support you! I know she will love it just as much as I did, and maybe she will actually smile once in a while.

  21. Anonymous11:54 AM

    I get (used to get) both magazines, and my opinion is that Family Fun is junk food, while Wondertime was a source of real nourishment...