lovin’ on mr. brown (who’s got a lovely daughter)

“Direct yourself to greatness. Answer your calls. Answer to yourself.” ~ Warren Brown, founder and owner of CakeLove

Far be it from me to seek out certain cupcakes just because the baker happens to be extremely dishy  fair of face. *cough*

I’m all about serious research, focus, eyes on the product, heart in the food. Remember Bakeshop owner Justin Stegall? I only found out how cute he was after the fact (and six divine cupcakes). While I love researching the backstories of all these bakers, in the end, it’s supposed to be about the cupcakes. Right?


I didn’t know anything about CakeLove’s Warren Brown before embarking on these Cupcake Capers back in March. I had not seen him on Food Network’s Sugar Rush (2005-2007), nor did I know about his popular cookbook, CakeLove (2008). I actually learned about Mr. Brown because of the recent Washingtonian Cupcake Cup (Georgetown Cupcake took top honors yet again).

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sara lewis holmes booksigning!


Had a lovely time at Sara Lewis Holmes’s booksigning yesterday at Hooray for Books in Alexandria, Virginia. It was a gorgeous day — warm and sunny, in the 60’s, and lots of folks strolled in to meet and congratulate Sara on the publication of her second middle grade novel, Operation Yes (Scholastic, 2009), which, BTW, was just named one of Booklist’s Top Ten Art Books for Youth!

Sara signing books for my contest winners, Marjorie Light and Jeannine Atkins.

Of course Cornelius came along (he has a big crush on Sara). Happily, there were a lot of little green men about for him to play with.

Above is the awesome book Sara’s agent (Tina Wexler) made from LGM photos.

Sara gave an interesting presentation about the genesis of the book, referring to a tack board full of newspaper clippings, drawings, and notes. These bits and pieces of inspiration, along with high school memories of memorizing Shakespeare, a real-life incident of little green men, and of course, first-hand experience with the kinds of challenges kids in military families face, all served as fodder for her imagination.


Audience members were given lines to read at Sara’s cue.

She then read a chapter from the book, during which time something you don’t normally see in a bookstore happened — Sara dropped to the floor (in tight jeans and heels no less), effortlessly breezed through ten push-ups, then jumped back up and continued reading without missing a beat. She wasn’t even out of breath. Aren’t you impressed? Now there’s one beautifully toned, fit writer — a fine specimen of athletic prowess. Yes! I want her to be my bodyguard. ☺

Meanwhile, Cornelius was busy checking the bookshelves for more copies of Operation Yes.

Mmmmmm! Trish made brownies again!

And he got to meet Sara’s husband, the ever famous Mike Holmes. Cornelius was thrilled and proud to pose with a real-live Air Force fighter pilot!

As always, a nice event at this wonderful indie bookstore. With all the friendly people, loads of great books to read, and an endless supply of brownies, one could just about live there. Congratulations again, Sara. I’m sure your book is inspiring lots of readers to think about their lives a little differently, and to definitely say YES! 

To Sara’s right is the board containing some of the things that inspired Operation Yes.

If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, order one from your nearest indie bookstore! ☺

Copyright © 2009 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

kristy dempsey booksigning!

Hello again!

What a fabulous booksigning Kristy had at Hooray for Books yesterday in Alexandria, Virginia!

Anne Marie, Kelly, Kristy, Kathy, me and Sara.

It was a lovely gathering of friends old and new, marked by screams of delight, lots of hugs, and homemade brownies ☺.

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a grand adventure, part two


So, with our faces still aglow from the Dylan concert, we decided to spend Saturday doing what I’ve we’ve always wanted to do in New York.

For years I had been hearing about Books of Wonder, the oldest and largest independent children’s bookstore in the city. Years ago, I had ordered some lovely Wizard of Oz editions from them via mail order, and now I was anxious to see the store in person.

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look who rolled into town!

Earlier this week, Len and I headed over to Tysons Corner Mall in McLean, Virginia.

Laurie Halse Anderson was in town, promoting Chains (Simon & Schuster, 2008), which was recently named a National Book Awards Finalist!


She gave a little talk before her signing, condensing 35 years of her life in 30 minutes, touching on her writing process and inspiration for both her Young Adult and historical fiction novels. Then she graciously answered questions and basically wowed everyone with her enthusiasm, energy, and deep, deep commitment to telling our nation’s story, and opening up a dialogue about difficult or painful topics.

It was pretty surreal to meet someone in person whom you only "know" online. Laurie was only the second writer/blogger I’ve actually seen in the flesh (Sara Lewis Holmes was the first). Way cool!

   Hopelessly out-of-focus shot compliments of Len.

Check out Laurie’s tour schedule to see if she’ll be rolling into a town near you, and don’t forget to read Chains!