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Why I Still Love Magazines, Part One: Kinfolk

If you call me up and tell me you’re coming over in a few minutes, three things will happen. 1. I’ll frantically sweep up whatever pet hair I can in the limited time available. 2. I’ll settle my dog in the bedroom with a bone so he won’t herd you to death while you’re here. 3. I’ll try to stack and organize the mountain of magazines I have sitting on the coffee table, the dining room table and anywhere else I’ve left them scattered about.

You see, I have a magazine problem.

Some of my tastes are pretty mainstream. I fantasize about my (imaginary) tidy wardrobe and organized drawers while I flip through Real Simple. I plan vacations while reading about Tuscan retreats and Parisian cafés in Bon Apétite and Saveur. I happily receive cooking advice from smug New Englanders via Cook’s Illustrated, and I like to read up on the new restaurants coming to town in San Diego Magazine. I read The New Yorker religiously. Of course.

But where I like to get funky is with small press, independent publications; foreign magazines; thick-papered, inspiring art journals; hipster lifestyle magazines featuring gauzey photos and hints for making your own ketchup; literary and historical publications; and really, anything that’s gorgeous and substantial. I read them all, and I save most. They’re more like books, really, than the piles of consumer magazines I haul to the recycling bin or drop off at the coffee shop every few months. They get pulled out again and again, when I need inspiration, when I want to revisit a lovely photograph or recipe, or when guests need something engrossing to read at bedtime.

I believe in what these smaller publications are doing, primarily because I think that if more people knew about these creative little magazines, and more people bought and enjoyed them, there’d be more people out there feeling fulfilled and inspired by their work. And ideally, more people would express themselves and share something about who they are and what they do by producing their own publications.

To that end, I’d like to post about some of my favorites, starting today, with Kinfolk.

Kinfolk Cover

I have a special place in my heart for Kinfolk. I regret to say that I can’t remember how I found them, but I’ve been a subscriber from the beginning. It was through them that I found Marjorie, and spent a wonderful day shopping and cooking in Beaune, France at The Cook’s Atelier. It was a magical experience; her gorgeous, rustic flat and stunning kitchen were perfect locations for the food, friends and (of course) wine we enjoyed that sunny spring day in Burgundy.

But I don’t only love them when they’re setting me up with gorgeous experiences in the French countryside. I look forward to, and slowly savor, every issue when it arrives. Their aesthetic is a highfalutin take on DIY, cooking and leisure. Not to say that they espouse spending loads of money—they don’t. But there’s a certain assumption that their readers are well-heeled enough to travel, have weekends off, own homes and have the leisure time needed for cooking, crafts and projects. Hell, let Instagram show you. See what I mean? The whole project looks just like that—dreamy and aspirational.

They focus on the pleasures to be found while gathering people together for good food and shared experiences in beautiful, creative settings, and suggest that family, friendships and community are all strengthened in this way.  Taken at face value, it’s a place to collect cool ideas about entertaining. But it’s more than that—it’s a presentation of an ideal life, but one that feels crunchy and real enough to achieve. It’s best read with a hot beverage while wearing slippers, preferably in front of a fire. Take your time, read through all of it, and,  if you pay attention, they may well set you up with a sparkling afternoon of duck, peach tarts and white wine in some delicious location.

Subscribe or buy a copy here.