nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Check it: alphabet soup made with Rice Krispies! This crunchy bowl of fun was created by NY-based food artist Jessica Siskin, a.k.a., Misterkrisp, who spends her days crafting all things wonderful out of Rice Krispies, my favorite childhood cereal. 🙂

Several years ago, she was asked to bring a dish to a potluck birthday party. The only thing she knew how to “cook” was giant heart-shaped Rice Krispie treats. Discovering she could add food coloring to the treats recipe, she was inspired to make a giant cheeseburger. Of course everyone loved it, so Jessica continued to experiment — creating portraits of cartoon characters, famous people (including Kim Kardashian’s rear end), animals, designer bags, and different foods all made with Rice Krispies.

In 2013 she started Misterkrisp, and this summer her first book, Treat Yourself, is being published by Workman.

She shares her creations at her Instagram account and takes custom orders through her website. Talk about snap, crackle, pop!

Mr. Cornelius’s favorite

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a fond farewell to downton abbey

“All this unbridled joy has given me quite an appetite.” ~ Violet

The soufflés are sinking, the puddings are pouting, the meringues have taken to incessant weeping.

I fear much of our “unbridled joy” is rapidly dissipating — Downton Abbey is ending its 6-year run on PBS with the series finale on March 6!

Only one more episode to go. No! 😦 😦 😦

Treated myself to a Crawley family Spode Stafford White cup and saucer just to drown my sorrows.

I’ve been hooked since Season One, Episode 1, only too willing to spend my Sunday evenings with the entire Crawley family at their opulent digs in Yorkshire. Not since the original “Upstairs, Downstairs” (1971-1975) have I been so emotionally invested in the lives of an aristocratic British family and their servants. I find the entire class system fascinating, rooting for those who would dare defy the established social order, sympathetic to characters grappling with changes beyond their control.

Today serving Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea: “This decadent dessert tea has the homemade flavors of vanilla cake drizzled with rich caramel sauce.” Good afternoon tea, a perfect pairing with puddings, scones, and shortbread.

Indeed, when I first started watching Downton, I was instantly reminded of “Upstairs, Downstairs.” The time periods somewhat overlapped, with UD beginning about a decade before the sinking of the Titanic and ending in 1930. Both series revealed interesting aspects of post-Edwardian social life set against significant historical events. Instead of Mrs Patmore there was Mrs Bridges, instead of Daisy, there was kitchen maid Ruby. Bellamy son James marries his secretary Hazel as Crawley daughter Sybil marries chauffeur Tom Branson — both compelling, frowned-upon liaisons championing the triumph of true love over all impediments.

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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”
“ABCXYZ”

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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.

Love his shoes.

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.

“ABC’s of Sweetness”
“PopTarts That Should Exist”

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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:

MARGIE CULVER!

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.

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

friday feast: a little downtown abbey valentine

Today serving Mrs Patmore’s Pudding Tea

Mr. Cornelius, a diehard Downton Abbey fan, was beside himself the other day when four members of the Crawley Clawley family accepted his invitation to tea.

He’d been going on and on about how much he’s enjoying Season 5 because it’s mainly about love, romance and secrets. He likes the warm and comfortable relationship between Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, is happy Isobel is hooking up with Lord Merton (nice digs!), is relieved Tom Branson said goodbye to annoying Miss Bunting, loves that handsome Atticus is eyeing up Rose, and is tickled pink about Dowager Countess Violet’s secret past with Russian Prince Thing-a-ma-jig. 🙂

While Lady Mary’s hotel assignation with Lord Gillingham had Cornelius tsk-tsking for a few days (scandalous! loose woman! how risqué!), he gradually came around and revealed his own secret: he’s had a crush on Lady Mary since Season 1 (boy can she rock a pair of opera gloves).

He’s not intimidated in the least by either Tony Gillingham or Charles Blake. They can jostle all they want for Mary’s affections. Cornelius will charm her with his secret weapon.

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kitTEA: in which we nibble on tuna and meow about chris kelly’s Downton Tabby

What are you looking at?

You’ve been here almost three seconds and you still haven’t complimented me. Does silky grey fur mean nothing to you? Ill manners are terribly middle class.

*tail swish*

Mr. Cornelius humors Jellylorum.

Oops, how did Jellylorum get hold of my laptop? Mr. Cornelius invited him over for a kitTea so we could discuss Chris Kelly’s  Downton Tabby (Simon & Schuster, 2013).

I hate tea. Give me milk.

We had fun noshing on this whisker-twitching 80-page parody about the upper clawst Clowder family and the downstairs cats who work like dogs waiting on them.

Everyone knows cats are the aristocrats of the animal kingdom. Downton Tabby offers us the privilege of seeing them in all their stately splendor, doing what they do best — looking good, ambling around, being fed, setting a fine example, being admired.

But alas! Their traditional role in society — providing work for others — is being threatened by the “tides of history.” Yes, fur will fly.

Wait, I’ll take tea. No, milk. No, tea. Tea with Milk!

Check out these feisty felines: Robert, Earl of Grimalkin; his beautiful Chat-elaine, Korat; their three daughters, Minxy (the pretty one), Serval (the prettier one) and Lady Etcetera (the other one); heir presumptive Matthmew; and of course, the one and only Dowager Catness, Vibrissa. Let’s not forget Catson the Butler, Mrs. Mughes the Housecreeper, Thomas Farel (Evil Foot Cat), Tom the Chau-fur, Laisy (Kitchen Maid) and Mrs. Catmore the Cook.

Got bacon?

It’s all here, every joy and catastrophe:

Their lives, loves, births, deaths, marriages, affairs, prides, prejudices, senses, sensibilities, mills, flosses, cakes, ales, high teas and fun fairs, car accidents, scandals, bouts of Spanish influenza, and war with Germany.

I will now proceed to languidly shred your upholstery.

We daintily nibbled on our tuna sandwiches as we chuckled over the whole kitten caboodle: the non-stop tom foolery, witticisms, sight gags, revised “history,” bon mots — all essential advice for preserving the gentry’s “Golden Age.” After all, any one of us may someday find ourselves among “Those Who Have Things Done for Them,” and we must follow a solid Code of Conduct. What is the proper way to sleep, feed, groom, feed, loaf (“in a decorative and highly charming manner”), feed, cast a withering glare (to communicate both affection and disapproval)?

Why aren’t you withering?

 

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