happy 4th birthday, alphabet soup . . .

And Hello, Shiny New Blog!

Welcome, new readers, and thank you, old friends, for following us here (I imagine you were lured by the aroma of sugary buttercream, decadent dark chocolate and shy strawberry). I’ve always admired your incomparably keen olfactories. ☺

Can’t think of a better way to celebrate a blog birthday than by moving into a brand new cyber kitchen. The fur-clad sous chefs and I are having fun practice-cooking and sniffing out all the shiny new buttons and toys features here on WordPress. As much as we loved our LiveJournal kitchen, things over there were getting a little too hairy, so we decided it was time to find a new place to play.

Hard to believe that since 2007, I’ve written over 1000 posts, uploaded over 7000 images, and consumed 3,457 a few cupcakes. Yes, many sacrifices were made along the way — visiting bakeries and restaurants, trying out poetic recipes, stalking meeting cookbook authors, and scientifically analyzing the correlation between dark chocolate and writing productivity.

Ah, but it was worth it, every last guzzle and crumb, because it was all for YOU — the best looking, hungriest smartest, most congenial readers in the entire blogosphere. Thank you for everything you’ve taught me. Writing for a blog audience is quite different from anything I’ve ever done before. It’s an ongoing challenge to maintain the discipline needed to cook up palatable content on a regular basis, and I’ve learned the importance of trusting one’s instincts. In the end, you have to simply be yourself, be honest, and have faith that it will be enough.

Only through blogging could one encounter dancing chickens, discover teddy bear bento, taste Olivia Walton’s applesauce cake (there’s booze in the frosting!), and ponder those intriguing bumps on the surface of French macarons. I still get a little giddy thinking about interviewing rock star children’s lit people like Lee Bennett Hopkins and Marla Frazee, and continue to marvel at the untold generosity of the kidlit community.

It’s been a blast meeting some of you in person — food was always part of the plan, of course! The world’s best baker made a lemon cake in the alphabet soup kitchen last year, while his wife, a notable Coretta Scott King Honor author, pranced about with reckless abandon in teddy bear slippers. Recently I shared some mini carrot cake cupcakes with a brilliant author/poet in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley, and had dinner with another dear writer friend in the 18th century tavern where Thomas Jefferson held his inaugural ball.

Food, history, books, people — ingredients that continually spice up my life soup. Blogging has piqued my passion for seeking out more food in fiction. What are those characters eating and why? (I don’t fully trust a character who never eats anything.) And what was the author eating while he/she was writing the book? A simple bowl of porridge, with its socio-economic, cultural overtones, tells a story all its own, and I love tracking down each and every spoonful through time and space.

An enthusiastic observer, chronicler, fledgling food historian and detective, I am lucky to be so well fed, but will always hunger for more. And how I love to dish it up! The table is set and I see you’re wearing a killer bib. Have as many cupcakes as you like, thanks again for the company, and bring on the 5th course of alphabet soup!


Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

44 thoughts on “happy 4th birthday, alphabet soup . . .

  1. Happy blog birthday to you! Happy blog birthday to you! (This new place looks fantastic-the tabs at the top almost have a “Recipe box” feeling) So glad to have found your blog, Jama. It’s a delightful feast, and you are a delightful host. I hope you are really going to eat those cupcakes… 🙂 Big hugs!! XOXO


    1. Thanks for the birthday wishes x 2! I never thought of a recipe box, but I like that observation. I’ve already eaten a couple of those cupcakes. Sinful they are, just sinful. The flourless chocolate had me flying through space.


  2. Great “New Digs,” Jama. Your cupcakes look yummy. I know where to visit when I have a hunger pang. 🙂


  3. Happy anniversary, and the table looks gorgeous! Love the header. You are an inspiration: hate to leave LJ, but also frustrated, and Peter is helping me look into wordpress as a new blog home.

    It was nice to read the review of some of the wonders of past years, and I was most tickled to see myself with carrot cupcakes. That was a good afternoon with you.


    1. Yes, we all hate to leave LJ, but I’m not *really* leaving. Plan to keep sharing some personal stuff over there.

      Meeting you and Peter has been the highlight of the summer so far! What a beautiful area you live in — perfect for all those motorcycle rides.

      I’m glad you’re considering a move to WP — it’s quite easy to import your LJ blog. It took me awhile because I had to re-archive a lot of stuff, and being an old dog, I’m still practicing and getting used to the software here.


  4. Congratulations, Jama! I’m realizing now that I’ve been around for more than half of your blog’s life; I read Dumpling Soup nearly 3 years ago, and found your blog shortly afterwards when I was looking for a way to thank you for writing such a marvelous story. 🙂

    So – many happy returns, and may there be many more books, cupcakes, recipes and other delights. 😀


  5. Congratulations, Jama! Happy blog birthday! Those are some fantastic-looking cupcakes. I have trouble with frosting. Did you make those yourself? If so, tips welcome!


  6. I love your new digs. And I’m looking forward to seeing what comes forth from this evolved version of Jama’s Test Kitchen. New poetry! More sweets! Booky goodness!

    Btw, I was looking at cute serving dishes the other day, and thinking: if I were Jama, I’d buy that. But since I was me, who just unpacked fifty million boxes, I didn’t. I’m on a house diet. 🙂


    1. Those serving dishes sound dangerous. It’s better I don’t see them — I have no resistance when it comes to china and crockery. We are out of storage space and sometimes I have nightmares about having to pack everything if/when we move.


  7. Jama,

    It was great to meet you (and Len, and Cornelius) in June, and share cupcakes and conversation.

    (Sorry about my mispronunciation of your first name!)

    Your new blog looks very spiffy.

    — Peter

    P.S. I tried to put an image into this comment, but could not figure out how to do that. So I put it here:


    instead. (Not sure why Livejournal insisted upon the big white space above it, but…)


    1. All three of us enjoyed meeting you and Jeannine very much. In fact, Cornelius (who’s had a longstanding crush on Jeannine), can’t stop talking about her — has nothing to do with those carrot cupcakes either. 🙂 Or so he says.

      I haven’t figured out how to put an image in a comment either. I think the big white space in LJ is because the image width exceeded the main column width, crowding the sidebar. Cornelius is flattered to have his picture anywhere at all. 🙂

      Enjoy the rest of your summer! Len still hasn’t gotten his motorcycle yet.


    1. Oh, there’s that adorable girl in that userpic again. So glad she wandered over here!

      Your blog is self-hosted, yes? Looks like CSS was involved. Wish I were more tech-savvy.


  8. 🙂

    Someone else set up the new blog and did the migration for me. That kind of thing is altogether beyond my lack of technical expertise.


  9. Gorgeous! I’m just now back and my webmaster is working on my WordPress blog, too. It won’t be as pretty as yours–love the pages and Cornelius and overall design! But I am SICK of LJ’s nonsense and can’t wait to make the shift.

    I have you bookmarked in your new home!


    1. I’m liking WP so far. Good tech support, love the search engine, also nice to know that drafts are really auto-saved! Can’t wait to see your new blog!


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