The Country Bunny

My parents have always worked hard to make Easter special. For many years, they hid my Easter basket and sent me searching for it with a trail of clues that were written in rhyme.

When I was very small they started making Easter baskets for my grandparents too. While my grandparents are now gone, we still each get an Easter basket filled with candy. Not many families give Easter baskets to grown adults but it’s a fun tradition and who doesn’t like getting candy?

My most vivid Easter memory doesn’t come from candy though. It involves sitting on the porch swing one beautiful Easter morning and reading this book.

The Country Bunny And The Little Gold Shoes is a classic that has never been out of print since its first publication in 1939. Du Bose Heyward wrote this book based on a story his mother made up and told him when he was a child. He told it to his own children as well before putting pen to paper.

If you recognize Heyward’s name, he wrote the novel Porgy and worked with his wife to adapt it into a play that would later become the Gershwin classic opera Porgy and Bess.

Heyward’s Easter book was beautifully illustrated by Marjorie Flack, an experienced illustrator of children’s books.

I don’t recall exactly what it was about this book but I was taken with the story, the illustrations and even the pretty pink cover.

It tells the story of the Easter Bunny and how there are actually five Easter bunnies. These five bunnies “must be the five kindest, and swiftest, and wisest bunnies in the whole wide world, because between sunset on Easter Eve and dawn on Easter Morning they do more work than most rabbits do in a whole year.”

Cottontail is a small brown bunny who wants to be an Easter Bunny. She applies but is met with scorn and disrespect. “Big white rabbits who lived in fine houses” told her to “go back to the country and eat a carrot.”

She eventually married and had 21 little bunnies of her own but she never let go of her dream to be an Easter Bunny. Long story short, the little brown mama rabbit from the country went back, tried again and got the job.

Today, I like this story for a couple of reasons. As a person who grew up in rural Appalachian Ohio, I have encountered plenty of snooty people who probably would like to tell me to go back to the country and eat a carrot.

Some of the best aspects of life in America can be found in rural areas but our society tends to associate rural with inadequate.

The book is also hailed for its feminist themes. She not only joined the workforce as a mother to 21 babies, she became famous for her work. This was a progressive statement for 1939.

It’s a neat old book and I would encourage you to pick up a copy for the kiddos in your life. The romance of the Easter Bunny never goes out of style and the book seems as relevant today as it must have upon publication 83 years ago.

The copy I own is pretty ragged and there are even some pages missing. Perhaps I’ll pick up a new copy for myself before next Easter!

I hope you have a beautiful day wherever you are. May your day be filled with warmth, beauty and peace. Happy Easter!

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!

Easter Sunday At Venice Beach


I’ve missed Easter dinner with my family just once in my life. I was away on a work assignment, covering the Miss USA pageant for my newspaper back in 2004.

We had a local girl competing and people were really excited about it so we wanted to make a splash with the coverage. Lauren Kelsey Hall, the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, was representing the great state of Ohio in the pageant which was held in Los Angeles.

My then fiancé went as my assistant and we flew out and stayed in a hotel with about fifty others from our community. We did some things together as a group and had some time on our own between working. Since the hotel was just a few blocks from Grauman’s Chinese Theater we were able to walk to several fun things.

But on Easter Sunday we all loaded up in a big bus and went to services at the Crystal Cathedral.


Afterward, while the group went out for a nice meal, my fiancé and I caught a very expensive cab ride to Venice Beach. Neither of us had seen the Pacific Ocean so it seemed like the thing to do.

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It was warm and sunny and the pier was sort of like a circus. The only thing that made it feel like Easter was the presence of the Easter Bunny posing for pictures up and down the pier.


After blowing so much cash on the cab it seems like we ate burgers at a fast food restaurant to conserve a little money.

I can’t say that it was my best Easter but it is the most memorable! By the way, Kelsey didn’t make it through the first elimination but that’s ok. She will always be a winner in our eyes.

Happy Easter, my friends!