some like it scot and a blog birthday

Happy September, Mah Bonnie Lads and Lassies. Yes, we’re back!

Hope you had a nice summer doing whatever it is that makes you happiest, and that you’ve stayed safe and well. 

Please help yourself to some waffles in celebration of our 14th blogiversary. Did you know the first full week of September is National Waffle Week (not to be confused with National Waffle Day on August 24, or World Waffle Day on March 25)? 

When it comes to waffles, the more the merrier. We love that there are so many cool waffle makers out there to ramp up the fun. Mr Cornelius just scored this aqua mini waffler that makes yummy flowers. Pretty cute, no?

So, 14 years of blogging — 4 years at LiveJournal and 10 years here at WordPress. LJ wasn’t so much a platform for public-facing blogs as it was a water cooler environment for writers. I’m glad I started there because it enabled me to gradually find my voice in a very supportive community and connect with like-minded authors, some of whom have become good friends.

Ten years at WordPress has helped me refine the content of Alphabet Soup and expand its reach beyond the kidlitosphere. As long as there is more to learn and interesting people to “meet,” I’ll keep blogging. Besides, what better excuse to play with my toys and dishes? 🙂

So, what was my summer like?

I can pretty much sum it up in three words:

Men in Kilts

Call it the ‘Long Scot Summer.’

Outlander stars (l to r) Sam Heughan (Jamie), Grant O’Rourke (Rupert) and Graham McTavish (Dougal).

One evening I innocently clicked on “Outlander” in the Netflix menu and I haven’t been the same since. I was hooked from the first episode, and proceeded to binge-watch the next 66 episodes in Seasons 1-4. 

Then of course I had to research the actors (all new to me) and spent hours on YouTube watching interviews, Comic Con panels, and all manner of promo videos. I had a lot to catch up on. After all, the series debuted in 2014, and I’m probably the last person on the planet to become a fan.

Blue-eyed male lead Sam Heughan.

Which brings me to this question: YOU out there (yes, I’m talking to You), who’ve been Outlander fans these last seven years — why didn’t you TELL ME? I could have been dallying around Lallybroch and downing wee drams long before now! I guess this is what happens when you spend most of your time hanging out in Downton Abbey land. 😀

On the off chance you haven’t yet gotten your Scots on, the series is definitely worth your time. A brilliant adaptation that’s beautifully filmed and well acted with exquisite set design and costuming, it truly has something for everyone. I loved learning about Scottish history and Highland culture; what a perfect antidote for the pandemic blues!

Blue-eyed female lead Caitriona Balfe as Claire with Sam Heughan as Jamie.

Based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels, “Outlander” is historical romance, fantasy (time travel), and action & adventure all rolled into one. Love the strong, independent-minded female main character Claire Randall and her enduring romance with dashing Highland warrior (“King of Men”) Jamie Fraser. Although their aspirational relationship drives the series, a bevy of interesting supporting characters in both 18th century Scotland and Colonial America feature in compelling (and oftentimes heartbreaking) storylines. Brutality and tenderness coexist on an epic scale.

I was surprised to learn Gabaldon is actually American. Before she wrote the first installment of the now 9-volume series, she’d never been to Scotland or known much about Scottish history. Seems a Dr. Who character — a tall, red headed man in a kilt — initially inspired her to write that first book in the late 80s, which she claims was “just practice” to see if she could write fiction. 

Seven books later (25 million copies sold) and a hugely successful television series with probably the world’s most rabid passionate fan base ever attests to her masterful research and storytelling skills. She’s truly a reader’s writer. 

The other central romance in the series: Richard Rankin (Roger) and Sophie Skelton (Brianna).

Right now I’m finishing up the first book before diving into Season 5 on DVD. The ninth title in the proposed 10-book series, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone (Delacorte Press, 2021), will be released November 23, 2021, and Season 6 of “Outlander” will premier in February 2022 on Starz. 

Though I still love English accents (hello, Colin!), now I am totally besotted with Scottish accents. Yes, Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser is extremely easy on the eyes, but it’s his voice in Scottish English and Scottish Gaelic that truly slays me.

Blue-eyed Richard Rankin plays Roger Wakefield.

I also love Richard Rankin’s real life accent. It’s actually thicker than his character’s, and I’m endlessly fascinated by it, as I generally am at how the English language — words we’ve known all our lives — can sound so new and different with its own brand of musicality depending on who is speaking. 

Did you know 86% of women deem Scottish accents overall as the sexiest, with the Glaswegian accent in particular the sexiest of all Scottish accents in the UK? 

Well, Rankin is Glaswegian. Need I say more? I could listen to him talk all day. Ordinary words never sounded so wonderful. *fans self*

Swoon-worthy, right? 🙂

About those men in kilts. I hadn’t thought too much about them pre-Outlander, but now that I understand a bit more about clans and tartans, honor, bravery, and pride in heritage, I get why they set so many hearts aflutter. 

After seeing all those Highlanders galloping on horseback, getting stabbed, shot, beaten and tortured on the battlefield, and trekking through coille and glen in miserable weather, I agree with those in the know who say a kilt is one of the most masculine things a man can wear. 

Richard Rankin loves wearing them: he finds them “fresh,” “free,” and “breezy;” Sam Heughan wears them in real life for special occasions, admitting he owns “a fair few,” and Graham McTavish (Dougal) likes to tell the story of an aggressive fan who lay on the floor during one of his panel discussions so she could see up his kilt.

When asked why women find kilts so sexy, Caitriona Balfe, who plays Claire Randall, simply said, “Easy access.” 😀 😀 😀

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In other news:

Summer Reads I Loved

1. James Herriot’s series: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All, Every Living Thing.

The new PBS TV series motivated me to finally read the books. Pleasantly surprised at how good the writing is (again, I’m one of the last to know). And escaping to Yorkshire is fabulous any time of the year.

2. Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

3. When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller (2021 Newbery Medal winner)

4. The Fran Lebowitz Reader (her new Netflix series prompted me to read it)

5. Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

6. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

7. The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard, edited by Ron Padgett

8. The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara, edited by Donald Allen

9. I is for Immigrants by Selina Alko

10. Art from Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter by Kathy Whitehead and Shane W. Evans 

11. Darling Baby by Maira Kalman 

12. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonsen 

13. The House by the Sea by May Sarton (reread) 

14. Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish. 

Sam Heughan and blue-eyed Graham McTavish (are we seeing a pattern here?).

After becoming friends while shooting “Outlander,” Sam and Graham co-authored this delightful travel adventure. It’s based on their new Starz series, “Men in Kilts” (what else), which premiered earlier this year. Clanlands is a real hoot: personal, engaging, informative, surprising, hilarious and irresistible. The two play off each other so well. And it will make you really want to visit Scotland. When you’re hot, you’re hot!

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Not Forgetting Colin

I hope my secret husband is not getting too jealous over my current Scots obsession (remember how peeved he was when I went “all Irish” on him with Aidan Turner as Poldark?).

Colin as Johannes Vermeer (2004)

I finally got around to seeing two of his older films that I’d been wanting to see for a long time: “Girl With a Pearl Earring” and “The Railway Man.” Loved both. He didn’t have much dialog in “Pearl,” but I swooned over all his smoldering gazes (a brilliant study in restraint). I didn’t realize “The Railway Man” was based on a true story. Hard to watch the atrocities of war, but the story was very moving and ultimately hopeful.

I think another celebratory waffle is in order since Colin will turn 61 on September 10. Sing him an early Happy Birthday song. Each year he gets better and better, and he certainly deserves this title:

Sigh.

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Things to Look Forward To

1. Author/Illustrator Chat with Ashley Wolff (How to Help a Pumpkin Grow, Beach Lane Books, 2021).

2. Author/Illustrator Chat with Cynthia Cliff (Pie for Breakfast: Simple Baking Recipes for Kids, Prestel Junior, 2021).

3. Blog Tour: For Every Little Thing: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day, selected by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Helen Cann (Eerdmans BFYR, 2021).  Blog Tour stops here on Friday, October 8.

4. Poems by Frank O’Hara, Joe Brainard, Mary Oliver, Jack Prelutsky, Robyn Sarah, Allan Chochinov, Darren Sardelli, and more.

5. Artist/Illustrator Spotlights: Sara Pulver, Mary Fedden, Clementine Hunter, Marcella Cooper, Karen Hoepting

Picture Book Reviews: 

6. Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak and Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Yuko Jones

7. We Love Pizza by Elenia Beretta

8. ABC El Salvador by Holly Ayala, illustrated by Elizabeth Gómez

9. The Fabulous Tale of Fish and Chips by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Omer Hoffmann

10. Cool Things Roundups

11. Autumn, my favorite season

12. Hosting Poetry Friday on October 22

13. Outlander foodie post

14. More Pie

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Jama’s Alphabet Soup in 14 Bites

A Paddington for each year of blogging.

After 14 years of trying out a few different “recipes,” I’ve decided that these 14 ingredients, carefully prepped and blended by hungry bear chefs, make a flavorful soup that I’m happy to serve each week.

1. tasty picture books and recipes

2. fun, whimsy, beauty

3. china and crockery

4. tea and treats

5. lots of images

6. accessible poems that resonate

7. handmade, heartmade art

8. quirky abc books

9. playful props

10. all things British

11. blue

12. boomer friendly music

13. desire to inform, entertain, and spread joy

14. YOU

Of course, when it comes to sustaining this blog, the most important ingredient is YOU. 

Although I’ve said it many times, this definitely bears repeating: thank you for reading, following, commenting, and supporting Alphabet Soup. Your feedback is invaluable and I truly appreciate your attention and encouragement.

Welcome to the new subscribers who signed on while I was on blog break. We have plenty of room at our table for you; I think you’ll find your fellow diners are a smart, friendly, curious, literate, ravenous, generous bunch. 🙂

Don’t forget to mask up!

To all those who have started in-person learning: our best wishes for a safe, healthy, productive, non-combative, joyful school year. May the masks be with you.

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Fourteen Lines

We leave you with “A Sonnet Upon Sonnets” by Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns. Written in 1788, this was his first attempt at the form, and we love how he ruminates on the number 14. Wonder what guid auld Rabbie would have thought of “Outlander”?

Original manuscript held by the National Trust for Scotland
A SONNET UPON SONNETS
by Robert Burns

Fourteen, a sonneteer thy praises sings;
What magic myst’ries in that number lie!
Your hen hath fourteen eggs beneath her wings
That fourteen chickens to the roost may fly.
Fourteen full pounds the jockey’s stone must be;
His age fourteen – a horse’s prime is past.
Fourteen long hours too oft the Bard must fast;
Fourteen bright bumpers – bliss he ne’er must see!
Before fourteen, a dozen yields the strife;
Before fourteen – e’en thirteen’s strength is vain.
Fourteen good years – a woman gives us life;
Fourteen good men – we lose that life again.
What lucubrations can be more upon it?
Fourteen good measur’d verses make a sonnet.

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*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase something using a link on this site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support.

*Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

61 thoughts on “some like it scot and a blog birthday

  1. Jama, I’ve missed your posts. Welcome back to fall. It’s good to see you’ve had a lovely, fun and funny summer. If you enjoyed Outlander…there’s quite a few more shows set in Scotland (less kilts…same accent) on Acorn TV through Amazon Prime. I love shows and books set in Scotland!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Linda!! It’s so nice to be back. Hope you had a nice summer too. I’ve been curious about Acorn — is it better than BritBox? Good to know you’re a fellow Scotland fan!

      Like

  2. Congratulations on 14 fabulous years of blogging! We’re the richer for your detailed posts, be they be about food, children’s books, poetry, or easy-on-the-eyes/ears actors! I’m an Outlander outlier. Still haven’t watched. Hubby just finished reading Clanlands, and claims to have no interest in the series. However, I may have another excuse to start up the Netflix account again! Welcome back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mary Lee — you and Franki are ongoing inspirations as you started blogging a few years before I did (I like your new digs at WP too).

      Since you haven’t watched Outlander yet, I don’t feel so bad about being late to the party. I probably wouldn’t have watched any of it if it hadn’t come to Netflix last year (I don’t subscribe to Starz, which is Outlander’s true home). Len enjoyed the series even though some of the violence and gore were hard to watch. The time travel aspect makes it fascinating — it moves from Scotland to France to the Caribbean to America.

      Looking forward to more posts at A Year of Reading!!

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  3. Hey, BRAVA! 14 is a lovely number indeed. And I too just saw the Railway Man on Netflix, thought of you and really enjoyed the film. CF used a lot of restraint in that as well.
    I look forward to meeting later this month!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy September, Ashley!! Glad you also liked The Railway Man. Colin has made SO many movies; it’s hard to keep up with all of them. The Minister of Handsomeness still has it going on . . . 😀

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  4. Wow for fourteen, “Fourteen good measur’d verses make a sonnet.” and have made a special blog for pleasure every week! It makes me happy to read of all the delights of summer that you shared, Jama. I am an “Outlander” in that I haven’t seen or read any of it. But I do know those books still fly off the shelves at the bookstore. Your enthusiasm made me mark the Clanlands book, however. Maybe it’s time to give it a try. Welcome back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You and Mary Lee have made me feel better about not knowing about Outlander till recently. The books are long and densely written. I imagine it was a big challenge to adapt Gabaldon’s work to the screen. Clanlands is a fun read — quite different from my usual. Humor is always appreciated. S&G have a second book coming out in November: The Clanlands Almanac. Yay, more kilts!

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    1. Season 6 will only be 8 episodes, but I hear they’ll make up for it with a 16-episode Season 7. I may have to break down and subscribe to Starz, since I also want to see “Men in Kilts.” So many shows, so little time . . . Hope you’re doing well and enjoyed your summer, Margo.

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  5. I found your blog this summer and did sing up while you were on a break — I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed exploring, reading your archives, and generally just soaking up all the goodness and joy to be found here. You’ve created something really lovely. That’s all I wanted to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sarah!!! Thanks for subscribing and welcome! So glad to hear you enjoyed exploring the archives; thanks for taking the time to do that. Happy September — be well, stay safe, read good books, and eat pie. 🙂

      Like

    1. Dash makes a bunch of those cute mini waffle irons and they’re less than $10 each! What a bargain. You can find them at Target, Walmart or Williams-Sonoma (seems Amazon is selling them for more). Besides the flower pattern, they have a rabbit, a heart shaped one, pumpkin, snowflake, gingerbread man, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have missed you so much Jama! the world is made right again now! I have not succumbed to Outlander, but you certainly make it appealing, and I adore men in kilts.
    I have been watching “Season Hotel” –it’s in Danish–and I do think you’d like it tons!!! The Danish seaside light is so gorgeous!

    Happy to see all those yummy books you’ve been reading. .. I shall explore! I have been polishing my “Her Joy Becomes” manuscript which I am so excited for you to see in 2022!! yay!

    Love you Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Missed you too, Andrea (though I didn’t appreciate your cozying up to my secret husband while I was distracted by Sam Heughan et. al.) 😀 I’ll have to add Season Hotel to my watchlist. If you already like men in kilts you’ll be a total goner if you start watching Outlander (be forewarned). It’s addictive. Pure crack for romantics. Can’t wait to read Her Joy Becomes. You are on such a roll!!! Congratulations yet again!

      Like

  7. You have the best blog ever! Welcome back. Early on, I had no desire to watch Outlander. I had assumed it was akin to the movie Highlander. Then, after my husband and I watched The Last Kingdom–which I loved, we decided to watch the series. I am now watching it again for the third time. Couldn’t live without Netflix during the pandemic!

    My husband and I motored through England and Scotland for three weeks during the summer of 1972. It was the best vacation that we’ve ever taken. I must admit that there were times when I found Scottish speakers hard to understand. BTW, my husband is part Scottish: MacLeod from the Isle of Skye.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elaine. When Outlander first came to Netflix I wasn’t compelled to watch it either – I knew it would be a big time commitment (kind of like Game of Thrones, which I still haven’t seen). But with the pandemic, Netflix has been a life saver (I saw Barbra Streisand in a recent interview mentioning that she, too, got hooked on Outlander because she had more time because of the pandemic). Your vacation sounds heavenly! I visited Scotland briefly with my mom (we took the train up to Edinburgh and Inverness), but I’m sure you saw a LOT more driving around. Fascinating that there are so many different kinds of Scottish accents (and yes, some would be hard to understand). Oh, you’re married to a Macleod (very cool). I’ll have to see The Last Kingdom now. Thanks for the kind welcome back words, Elaine. Wild Rose Reader was one of the first blogs I followed all those years ago (along with Blue Rose Girls). 🙂

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    1. I think you deserve a mini waffle iron. I blame my lack of Outlander awareness on not being a Starz subscriber. Lucky that Netflix started showing the first four episodes last year. Thanks for the happy wishes, Buffy!

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  8. Happy anniversary! “Minister of Handsomeness” — love it!
    I have been studying Scottish Gaelic since January for no particular reason except I like it. A YouTube Scottish Gaelic teacher has videos that are especially for folks who study it because of Outlander.
    A while back, I watched Monarch of the Glen …. you might like that, if it can be found anywhere!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re always on the cutting edge with languages, Tabatha! Gaelic seems hard to pronounce and understand. I’ve seen a couple of short Outlander oriented Gaelic videos and they are fun. I love Monarch of the Glen (at least I didn’t miss that series). Been a fan for a long time; glad they’re still showing the reruns. I especially like the kitchen scenes — pretty rustic. 🙂 My favorite character is Duncan. Also, MOTG was the first time I saw Julian Fellowes as an actor. Who knew he would go on to write Downton Abbey?

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  9. Yay, Jama! So happy to celebrate your blogiversary! I’m very glad to have your blog in my life, and not just because Colin Firth fans have to stick together. A few minor notes about Scotland: There are McKenzies and McCunes in my heritage. Also, I recently came across a few YouTube clips of Scottish people trying to say “purple burglar alarms.” It’s not easy! They’re very cute clips.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, how exciting to hear about your Scottish background, Kate! I’ll have to look for those purple burglar alarms videos. Should I change my name to McJama :D?

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  10. HAPPY BLOGIVERSARY! {{hug hug kiss kiss}} You’ve been missed, and Mr. C. too… What a way to start a new bloggie year! Daughter Morgan has read/seen every Outlander a zillion times. When we were in Scotland in 2018, we got to visit some of the filming sites! Years ago, I met Diana Galbadon in the speakers rooms at a couple of writers conferences. Um, guess which one of us was the headliner? ;0) Glad you also discovered the STARZ Men in Kilts episodes – our fam loved them. And, of course – James Herriot! Adored that series as a kid, and loved the new PBS first season. Jeff & I just enjoyed listening to Nicholas Ralph (coming to your hunk wall soon, perhaps?) reading ALL THINGS BRIGHT & BEAUTIFUL on audio. Recommended! (Not sure why I couldn’t find his reading the first book? Didn’t seem to be an option. So there’s a spoiler or two in B&B if you haven’t already read the series.) :0)

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    1. Thanks for the wonderful comment, Robyn. Mr C missed you and sends big hugs! SO jealous you visited some of the filming sites when you visited Scotland, and wonderful to know Morgan is such a big Outlander fan. I’m not familiar with Nicholas Ralph but must check him out. Cool that you also met Diana G. — quite an amazing writer, and I’ve been enjoying seeing her in past interviews, etc., on YouTube. Great sense of humor. Haven’t actually seen the Men in Kilts series since I don’t subscribe to Starz. I may break down though since Outlander Season 6 is coming, and it’ll be ages till it comes to Netflix. Hope you had a terrific summer!

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  11. Hi Jama! Many congratulations on your 14th blog-iversary!! I have been reading your posts for about a year and absolutely enjoy them. Thank you for sending me deeper into the “kidlitosphere” which is my happy place!!

    I hope that you will enjoy all things Outlander-I read the books about 20 years ago followed by a trip to Ireland and Scotland to “find” the Jamie who existed in my head to thanks to Arizona resident (like me) and amazing author, Diana Gabaldon. I must say that she knows how to write THE BEST “intimate” scenes between Jamie and Claire-*fans self*!! I cannot say that I will watch the television version of these books because I see things in my head as I read and I doubt the tv series will be as good, if you know what I mean.

    I will be in the Highlands of Scotland walking the Great Glen in July 2022 and all of the best of the Outlander series will come back to me. Can’t wait!

    One last thing, YES to all things Colin FIrth!!

    Have a great day and thanks again for such a wonderful blog!

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  12. Hi Julie — so nice to hear from you. Good to know you’re enjoying the blog, really appreciate your taking the time to say so. 🙂

    I know what you mean about not wanting to risk disappointment over the Outlander TV series after having loved the books so much. I have heard many diehard book fans say they were very skeptical too — what on-screen version could possibly measure up to Gabaldon’s fabulous prose? The majority say they were pleasantly surprised to see that the TV adaptation was top notch in every way and that they enjoy comparing differences between it and the books. Gabaldon herself often says the series surpassed her wildest dreams.

    I’ve come to Outlander backwards because I wish I had read the books first. Now when I read them, I have the actors’ faces in my head instead of being able to imagine Jamie and Claire for myself. Still, I do enjoy reading the full measure of the stories since the TV scripts had to leave a lot out.

    How wonderful that you’re going to Scotland next year! I am definitely jealous. Be careful around those standing stones . . . 🙂

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