six cool things on a monday (including giveaway winner!)


1. JULIE PAPRIKA is here! If, like me, you’re a fan of award-winning painter and children’s book illustrator Julie Paschkis, the good news is that now some of her work is available for purchase online as archival prints. I just ordered “Eat Pie,” which I’ve loved for several years because, well, PIE! 🙂 I love the shop name too (“Julie Paprika: Art Adds Spice to Life”). See more here. (Julie will be stopping by soon to talk about her new book, P. Zonka Lays An Egg, which is gorgeous!)

“Baskets Full”

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2. New book alert! Jeannine Atkins’s adult novel, Little Woman in Blue: A Novel of May Alcott (She Writes Press, 2015) is now available for pre-order!

May Alcott spends her days sewing blue shirts for Union soldiers, but she dreams of painting a masterpiece—which many say is impossible for a woman—and of finding love, too. When she reads her sister’s wildly popular novel, Little Women, she is stung by Louisa’s portrayal of her as “Amy,” the youngest of four sisters who trades her desire to succeed as an artist for the joys of hearth and home. Determined to prove her talent, May makes plans to move far from Massachusetts and make a life for herself with room for both watercolors and a wedding dress. Can she succeed? And if she does, what price will she have to pay? Based on May Alcott’s letters and diaries, as well as memoirs written by her neighbors, Little Woman in Blue puts May at the center of the story she might have told about sisterhood and rivalry in an extraordinary family.

As a big fan of the Alcotts and Jeannine’s books (especially Borrowed Names), I simply can. not. wait. to read this one. It comes out in September 2015, and till then, I’ll be drinking many cups of anticipation tea, daydreaming about Concord. Click here to read Jeannine’s post about the book (isn’t that a stunning cover?), and here to pre-order!

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3. New bears in the house! We now have three additions to our growing Paddington family! A 6″ Paddington “Little Bitty” magically appeared in the Alphabet Soup kitchen one morning, and I won a giveaway for an 8″ Movie Paddington from Movie Mom’s blog.


Biggest surprise was a knock knock knock at the front door, where I discovered this charming 20″ Rugby Paddington, made by Gabrielle Designs in England back in 1985. He was a tad tired after his long journey from California via Denver, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, but quickly revived with marmalade toast and tea. He still won’t tell me what’s in his duffel bag.

And speaking of Paddington, he made this list of the All-Time 100 Greatest ToysHe’s included in the 70’s decade with the nerf ball, Rubik’s Cube, and Magna Doodle. It was fun looking through the entire list to see which toys I had or longed for (Chatty Cathy, Barbie’s Dream House, Easy-Bake Oven). As an adult, I acquired Teddy Ruxpin and a Care Bear, and have very fond memories of hula hoops, Play-Doh, Mr. Potato Head and Gumby. 🙂

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4. Love these CakeSpy prints: “ABCs of Sweetness” and “Pop Tarts That Should Exist.” She always comes up with the coolest ideas! Click on each image to purchase at Etsy (zoom in to see the fine details). You may remember that we previously featured both of Jessie Oleson Moore’s books, CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life and The Secret Lives of Baked Goods (autographed copies available). My interview with Jessie is here.

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5. And now, the winner of our CHINESE FAIRY TALE FEASTS GIVEAWAY! 

Once again, we called upon the services of the dashing, erudite, elegantly mustachioed, ever-reliable Monsieur Random Integer Generator. When he heard the book featured Chinese food, he insisted on a big feast before picking a winner. To satisfy his enormous appetite, we ordered 105 pieces of his favorite dim sum, 34 bowls of rice porridge, 568 platters of stir-fried beef and baby bok choi, 43 pounds of shrimp fried rice, 69 gallons of egg drop soup, 5,478 pieces of crispy won ton, and 54 salted duck eggs.

Naturally the cozy but pedestrian Alphabet Soup kitchen didn’t seem like quite the right venue for such a feast, so we had the food delivered to the Great Wall at Badaling (Beijing Province) where he could enjoy his meal al fresco (now that’s what I call Chinese take-out!). 🙂


Fully sated, M. Generator was finally up to the difficult task of selecting just one winner from among a bevy of beauties and one always-hungry stud muffin. He cracked open 18 fortune cookies before one name called to him. It was:


Congratulations, Margie!!

Please send your snail mail addy to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com so we can send out your book pronto.

Thanks, everyone for entering. Maybe Margie will invite us all over for dinner when she makes some of the recipes from the book. 🙂

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6. Sigh. It is definitely not a cool thing that Season 5 of Downton Abbey is already over. Seems like it just started — why don’t they make more episodes per season? There’s a Christmas episode and then we’ll have to wait till January 2016 for Season 6 (an eternity). And Season 6 is supposedly the very last. Sigh.

So before full-blown DA withdrawal sets in, enjoy this cool little video featuring several of the cast members describing their characters in 5 words:

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Sigh. Have a nice week. Sigh.


Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

[cookbook review] the secret lives of baked goods by jessie oleson moore

“Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.” ~ Barry Lopez, Crow and Weasel


Call my name, brand new cookbook! I’ve dallied between your covers and I’m under your spell. You speak my language: Animal Crackers, German Chocolate Cake, Alice B. Toklas Brownies, New York Cheesecake, Lemon Meringue Pie.

Yes, I’ll marry you. 🙂

Recipe for Old Fashioned Doughnuts included.

I’ve just had the best time devouring Jessie Oleson Moore’s, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America’s Favorite Desserts (Sasquatch Books, 2013).

Like she says: “everything tastes better with a backstory.”

Think about the hundreds (okay, thousands) of doughnuts you’ve eaten in your lifetime. Who invented the holes? And did you know “the hole is so the calories can fall out”? (I feel so much better now.)

You probably already know that Ruth Wakefield invented the chocolate chip cookie at Massachusetts’ Toll House Inn, even that Nestlé gave her free chocolate for life in exchange for permission to print her recipe on the back of their semi-sweet chocolate bars. But did you know it wasn’t until after the cookie became a national superstar (featured on a Betty Crocker radio show), that Nestlé invented chocolate chips?

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ta da!: cakespy presents sweet treats for a sugar-filled life by jessie oleson

As Cakespy herself would say, “Like OMG!”

Prepare yourselves for the ultimate SUGAR RUSH: Jessie Oleson’s very first cookbook, CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, is officially out! Can you think of a million ways to say ADORABLE!?

Longtime readers of this blog know I’ve been a big Cakespy fan for the last three years. It’s been such fun (a decidedly

photo by Paul Hipple

delicious vicarious thrill) to follow Jessie’s ever-burgeoning career as an author, artist, “adventure” baker, gallery owner, savvy businesswoman and primo blogger.

As Head Spy of her very own Dessert Detective Agency, whose mission is “Seeking Sweetness in Everyday Life,” Jessie has proven that following one’s passions, working hard, consistently cultivating a positive outlook and transmitting mega-watt joy can reap sweet, sweet rewards.

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sweet talk with cakespy jessie oleson

                She’s here! She’s here! Let the sweetness begin!


When I decided to devote the month of March to Cupcakes and Bake Shop Treats, I immediately thought of Jessie Oleson, a.k.a., CakeSpy. After all, her sweet and scrumptious blog is where I get my daily sugar fix. There, I feast on delicious interviews with bakers and pastry chefs, read about fun baking experiments, learn about bakeries all over the country, and of course, drool over the neverending stream of recipes, stunning photographs, and whimsical Cuppie art.

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