from left to right: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, lemon, and mixed berries — enjoy!
Happy Birthday alphabet soup!
So glad you’re here today. Make yourself comfortable and help yourself to a cupcake!
I can’t believe it’s been a year since my very first blog post. As I mentioned back in February, this whole blogging thing was an act of great courage for me.
Over the past year, I’ve participated in Robert’s Snow: Blogging for a Cure, Poetry Friday, Nonfiction Monday, and two Carnivals of Children’s Literature. I’ve interviewed authors and illustrators I’ve long admired, tested some new recipes, posted lots of my favorites, reviewed some picture books, and ladled out celebratory bowls of alphabet soup. Most important, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of meeting you!
As of today, I’ve written 363 public posts and received over 3600 comments. I’d say that’s pretty good for someone with limited computer skills, social anxiety, and a big old case of writer angst. Blogging is liberating, but scary. I’ve still got a lot of growing and learning to do here, but I’m proud to have taken the first step.
Recently, Becky Levine asked me why I decided to do monthly themes. The answer to this is related to why I decided to focus on food in addition to children’s books. I don’t consider myself a great cook, by any means, but I needed some kind of hook so people would remember my blog. In the kidlit blogosphere, there are so many outstanding book review blogs, industry info blogs, agent/editor blogs, and a million trillion personal writer blogs. Even if someone doesn’t like to cook, everyone has to eat. Even if someone doesn’t know me from Adam, they just might remember the blog with all those dang recipes that I have to keep scrolling through.
I didn’t realize until recently how much of my reading and writing naturally seems to revolve around food. Since my first book was called, Dumpling Soup, alphabet soup seemed a good name for a blog. My current writing projects include a chapter book about a girl who orders an uncle via mail order for her alphabet museum, and an easy reader/picture book series about duck and panda chefs. This year, as I blogged my way through soup, chocolate, chickens, eggs, tea, and pie, I collected all kinds of tasty ingredients for new projects.
Besides feeding my other writing, the monthly blog themes keep me on track, and reduces some of the “what am I going to blog about today?” stress. I stay flexible, though, and without prior notice, will “lapse” into such topics as Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and my muse, Tom Selleck. It’s always good to add spice and stir the pot.
What are some of my favorite posts, aside from the interviews? Well, I like this photo blog, this bookish one, and this Poetry Friday post. Blowing off steam with my official 2008 No Soup List, felt good. As for food posts, I salivated the most writing this one.
Surprising things I learned:
A lot of writers and artists don’t cook.
Often when you think you’ve written something interesting or worthwhile, nobody comments. Yet you can throw something random out there, like a meme, and lots of people comment.
Just when you feel like your blog is a total failure, someone will say or do something really nice.
If you are brave enough to ask, most people are more than willing to help.
I don’t think any earth-shattering changes are in store for alphabet soup in the coming months. I’m still trying to find my sea legs. Previous to coming online, I had lost touch with the children’s publishing world. Because of health issues, I had stopped writing and submitting for at least 7 years. When I returned, I found it was a whole new ball game with different rules. So I’m starting from scratch. I think trying to rise from the ashes is more difficult, emotionally, than breaking in as a new writer. That’s why I’m grateful for all the resources available online, especially the blogs of teachers, librarians, and, of course, other writers. alphabet soup is more than just a blog, it’s my coming-out party.
Since I don’t have a sitemeter on this blog, my only indication that anybody (other than my devoted father) is reading anything are your comments. I know how many wonderful blogs there are out there to keep track of. So if you’ve taken the time to read any of my posts and/or leave a comment or two, thank you very, very much. You alone helped me get through this first year. And thanks for your blogs, which continue to inspire and delight.
Now, since you’ve been such great guests and didn’t drop any cupcake crumbs on my keyboard, here are some photos of the official alphabet soup kitchen, the first kitchen I actually designed all by myself!
The cabinets were custom made in New Hampshire and trucked down to Virginia. They are painted maple and stained birch and cherry. I had to draw all of them on graph paper to scale (a very hard thing to do for someone who isn’t good at math). I was SO afraid everything wouldn’t fit together in the end. Although this is my favorite room in the entire house, I’d love to have a personal chef working there instead of me!
I named every room in the house, using stand-up letters. Kitchen = patty cake.
Len, aka sous chef, busy grating carrots at the sink.
Eating and sitting area opposite the island (Albert and Ursula at the table.)
Behind me = baking center. Special tea corner cupboard on the counter, right of sink.
Close-up of baking center, inspired by the cupboard in the Waltons’ kitchen!
We’re having spaghetti tonight, if you’d like to stay.
If not, thanks again, and see you next time!!
Special thanks to:
Sara Lewis Holmes of Read*Write*Believe, for inspiring me to blog, and for commenting every day when I first started out.
Jules and Eisha of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, for mostly everything I’ve learned about interviewing, and for setting the gold standard for in-depth, passionate, spontaneous reviews. Their reviewing is an art form, taken to the next level.
61 thoughts on “it’s my first blogiversary!!”
I’m glad you’re here. 🙂
Your blog is warm, memorable, thought-provoking, and sweet as cookies! A highlight on the computer! Thank you, thank you, and yes, I’d be happy to join you for spaghetti!
Re: Happy blogiversary
That was me, Jama — too busy tasting your cupcakes to log in…Jeannine
Seems like we’ve been having these Paul, Dylan, Beatles conversations for more than a year. But that’s probably cuz we packed it all in — like a dozen chocolate chips for every cookie!
Well, glad we met and Happy Blogiversary!
Happy, happy blogiversary! We’re so happy you’re here! I look forward to your posts, and even though I’m a lazy commenter, I still read every day.
Best wishes for another great year.
I’ve always enjoyed your blog, and I look forward to celebrating more special occasions with you! 🙂
I have so much to say!
1) HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
2) I’m so glad Sara inspired you to blog.
3) I LOVE LOVE your interviews and was about to say that when…
4) I read your thanks to us, which just about made me cry. Boy, did you just make my day! If we helped you in ANY way learn about interviewing, as you say, why then, I’m amazed. ‘Cause I love everything you do here, but I particularly love your interviews.
5). May I move in?
I am BEYOND glad that you are here. Grover and I are going to celebrate your Blogiversary ALL DAY.
You make everyone’s lives so much better.
Thank you for being here and for all that you do. xoxoxox Carrie
Happy blogversary to one of the bestest blogs out there!
Happy Blog Birthday! I love reading your posts…and I love your kitchen even more. I would never leave that place. Ever!
I love your blog. It’s cute and fun, warm and inviting, just like that BEAUTIFUL kitchen with your smiling face. 🙂
Happy Blogiversary! Your kitchen is quite lovely, by the way. I love to cook and bake, and so I enjoy reading your blog – it’s in my blogroll. Your cupcakes look yummy. They make me want to pull out my decorating tips and do some cupcakes of my own. Mmmm…
Happy HAPPY Blogiversary! I’m so glad you’re here in LJ-land! Your posts are always fun and informative! You do a great service to lovers of children’s lit! 🙂
I thoroughly enjoy visiting your blog. May I say, I love Albert and Ursula. I feel compelled to show you who sits at my dining room table.
I don’t know how to post a photo in the comments. I’ll do it on my blog. See what an inspiration you are?
Yummy! I love checkboard floors.
What an amazing kitchen. You know, you’re not to far away when I’m on my way to meetings in DC. We should meet face to face in you kitchen over a plate of… cupcakes!
Happy Bloggiversary!! We’re so glad to have you here. Your kitchen is lovely, just like your words… and YOU!
Happy Blogiversary!!! And thanks for the props, and for always being supportive of my Monkees fixation. You are just as sweet as those cupcakes.
Thanks; I’m glad I’m here too!
Re: Happy blogiversary
OH, good, a spaghetti guest. The sauce is made with locally grown plum tomatoes. Thanks for all your sweet words :)!
I’m very glad we met too — I mean, without you and Barb, I would be like talking about these guys to myself. I like how Paul and Bob are color coordinated today :).
Thanks, Tricia. Really appreciate your support! I recommend your blog to all the teachers I know 🙂 . . .
Thank you, Julie. Same here!
You may definitely move in, especially if you read lots of stories to me and bake pies every day.
Yes, it’s true. I learn something new from you guys every day, and marvel at your boundless energy and zeal for books and artists.
Let’s face it, you guys really know how to blawg!
Love your sweet words. Thank you so much. The first time I read your blog, I thought, “Wow, what a voice. What an original. How engaging. How funny.” Aside from wearing socks that don’t match and licking people’s feet, do you lead a fairly normal life? 🙂
You are too kind. Thanks! How’s the kitty? Making any more campaign visits?
Thanks for reading, commenting, and liking my kitchen. It was hard work putting it together. Now I need somebody to help me clean it. Volunteers?
Re: Happy Day!!
Thank you, Lisa. Yours was the first bowl of soup I made with alphabets, but it was split pea because it was before I did the writer soup poll. Looking forward to your next book, when I can properly laud you with tomato!
Thanks for the good wishes, Kristi. Must confess the bakery made the cupcakes . . .
Thanks so much, Debbi. I love all the positive vibes I get from your blog, and how supportive you are of your friends and fellow writers.
Just saw your bear post. Glad I’m not the only one with an ursine at the table :). Your heart is definitely in the right place! Thank you for reading. Ursula and Albert are thrilled you like them.
I’ve always loved checks, but don’t think I’d do another black/white floor. Very hard to maintain. EVERY little scratch shows, especially on the black squares.
Re: Happy, Happy!
Just give me a shout when you’re up this way. The bears and I would love to meet you :)!
Thank you, Liz! Your art is always a feast for the eyes. Hope you do more food paintings :)!
You’re the best, Eisha! I meant what I said. The jury is still out — does Peter Tork really like cilantro? I’m thinking of writing him . . .
I had no idea. When I came across your blog, it seemed like a very sophisticated one–from someone who’d been doing this for a while! Happy blogiversary. 🙂
Wow. It’s only been a year? It seems much longer somehow, because I read you so often and it feels as if you’ve been around for more than a twelvemonth.
It’s only been a YEAR????
You are a champ, Jama.
I looooove to read what you write and I am always inspired and uplifted by your constant kindness to everyone out here.
You’re the real thing, my friend, the real thing.
Happy, Happy Birthday! Thanks so much for gracing us with your presence!
And I love your kitchen. I’ve been toying around with mixing a dark wood island with off-white cabinets, for the one day if I ever get to do over my 60’s kitchen.
Thanks so much, Becky. I’ve never been called sophisticated before. You made my day!
The year did pass very quickly. I learned (and continue to learn) a lot from you and your blog. You’re such an inspiration — you make me want to sit up straighter and be a better person.
BTW, just saw “Becoming Jane.” What did you think of it?
Oh, wow, what beautiful words. They mean SO much coming from you. I love reading your blog — you are so wise and strong and balanced, and one heck of a poet and writer! I’m counting the days until All the World is released!!
Thanks for the good wishes, Vivian!
Glad you like my kitchen. What a huge learning experience it was. I got a lot of ideas from browsing through English kitchen magazines — hence the apron front sink, baking center, and open shelving. I love the old kitchens where every cupboard/table is freestanding. It’s fun to match woods, colors, stains, just like you’re thinking of doing. Also I varied counter height — island/stove is lower than standard for easier cooking and rolling out dough, etc.
Anyway, the thing to keep in mind is that Europeans are always at least 10 years ahead of Americans regarding design. So if you’re looking for fresh ideas . . .
Happy blogoversary! I’m so glad you took the plunge into cyberspace.
I loved reading your list of surprising things you’ve learned, and seeing your sparkling kitchen!
Only a year?! Happy blogiversary (yesterday). I think my two-year one is today, August 5.
I’m sure your kitchen is superduperdeluxespiffy, but, unfortunately, I can’t see the pictures of it. 😦 (An LJ problem? A PhotoBucket problem? Don’t know.)
Happy Blogiversary to you!!
So sorry to hear about the photo problem. Wonder what’s going on. Have you checked the LJ or photobucket message boards to see if others are experiencing the same thing?
Thanks, Janet. Hope you’re doing okay after your surgery yesterday . . .
Happy First Blogiversary!
So sorry I’m a day late in wishing you a happy first blogiversary. It seems as if your blog has been around much longer. I always enjoy reading your posts–altough I don’t always comment.
I L-O-V-E your kitchen. I would kill to have such a spacious and attractive cooking and eating room as yours. You did a fine job as the designer.
Re: Happy First Blogiversary!
Thanks so much, Elaine! Having bloggers/muses like you out there is what really makes blogging worthwhile. Thanks for the kitchen compliments, too. 🙂
Happy Belated Blogiversary
Wow… this site is a wonder of inspiration. I am sorry I am late in wishing you well and congratulating you on the “Arte y Pico.” I have house guests this week so I’ve been a bit preoccupied. I love visiting your blog. It’s always fresh and fun. It’s warm and comforting, but at the same time it says “Get out there and try something new… a new recipe, a new book…”
I can’t even log on to PhotoBucket. Carrie was having problems posting today but I haven’t heard anyone else complain. I guess I’ll try tech support on LJ.
Re: Happy Belated Blogiversary
I appreciate your reading my posts, Ellen. Glad you are finding time spent here worthwhile! Thanks for your good wishes. 🙂
What a baffling problem. Hope it gets sorted out soon. It’s weird because if your photobucket account was corrupted, it wouldn’t necessarily affect your viewing other people’s photos. But not even being able to log on? Could it be browser issues? Maybe some damaged files? Do you have remote load software on your computer?
Ooh, the cupcakes! The kitchen! The dishes! The bears! You! Thanks for your “thank you” to me, but honestly, it was selfish on my part. I love how you think and the depth and breadth of your devotion to music and bears and food and books. And writing. And life. Your blog is much like your kitchen: intricately planned and filled with delicious detail and enthusiasm for good, good things.
Happy blogversary, and I continue to eat up each one of your posts. 🙂
Wow, what a feast of kind words! Thank you so much. And welcome back, you jet setter, lover of red shoes, you!
the weirdness continues
Another person on my Friends list couldn’t load a picture with PhotoBucket.
I’ve reported this and other issues to tech support and haven’t received an answer. In the meantime, I’ve bypassed PhotoBucket for my own pics. I’m still not seeing your pictures and those of many of my friends. My loading time for my Friends page is very slooooooooow.
Re: the weirdness continues
Sorry to hear the problem is not solved yet. Very strange indeed. Do you have a public or private account with photobucket?
Please excuse my tardiness
I’m so sorry to be late to this party, but SOOOOoooo glad that you jumped into the blogosphere! Your blog is one of my favorites and an inspiration in its creativity. I can’t believe you’re only one year old!
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love your kitchen! A baking center. A corner tea cupboard. *swoon*
Re: Please excuse my tardiness
Thanks so much Mary Lee, you are invited to a mad poets tea party any time you like. Like all visitors, you are welcome to pick whatever you want out of the tea cupboard :).
And thanks to you and Franki for A Year of Reading. I always love visiting!
Re: Please excuse my tardiness
Visitors to my kitchen, too, get to choose their tea, but also their mug from our collection hanging on hooks on a grid on the wall. It’s that corner cupboard that caught my eye. When I was a kid, I SOOOOoooo wanted a corner desk like my friend Rita’s. Something about corners. Or using every bit of space.
Jama, you have the most creative blog ever — Happy Almost 1 1/2 Year Blogiversary! I’m over-the-moon charmed seeing the pics of your kitchen — a lovely storybook dream. You know what your next book should be? A picture book featuring the Rattigan Household Bears & Co., photo-illustrated in their home setting. 😀
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