9 Cool Things on a Tuesday

1. Author and Poet Charles Ghigna, aka Father Goose, aka Our Favorite Alabama hotTEA, has some new books out! The Tiny Tales series (four 64-page early chapter books published by Picture Window Books/Capstone, 2015), was inspired by imaginative play with his adorable granddaughter Charlotte Rose.

Kids will enjoy following the adventures of Lucy Goose, Cuddle Bunny, Adeline Porcupine and Bobby Bear. Each title contains 4-5 stories of family and friendship lovingly illustrated by Jacqueline East (Mr. Cornelius was especially excited about Bobby Bear). Read more about Charles, Charlotte Rose, and the genesis of this series in this heartwarming post.


Charles’s new board book, A Carnival of Cats (Orca Books, 2015), was just released at the beginning of September.


There’s a purrrfect little carnival coming to town, filled with adorable cats of all different kinds! In this hint-and-reveal board book, babies, toddlers and cat-lovers alike will enjoy discovering (and guessing) what breed of cat is hiding on the next page. With playful rhyming text from award-winning author Charles Ghigna, aka Father Goose®, and beautiful illustrations by celebrated artist Kristi Bridgeman, this exuberant board book will have everyone guessing what cat is that!

Sounds like a fun feline feast for whisker-lovin’ PreSchool and Kindergarten munchkins. Me-wow!


2. Some of you may remember when a certain gray silicone tea infuser named Mr. Tea cavorted in the Alphabet Soup kitchen in search of the perfect teacup.


Lo and behold — Mr. Tea has joined the ranks of the politically correct. He’s gone diverse! Behold the family of different colors, perfect for parTEAing anytime, anywhere in the world.



For two years now, the resident leprechaun and I have thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Tea’s company. Very daring and extremely playful, Mr. Tea no longer confines himself to teacups, but can be found balancing perilously atop gooseneck water faucets, hanging plant pots, wooden sculptures, and window ledges.

It’s a little “dangerous” to leave anything with a rim lying around, as Mr. Tea will appear out of nowhere just to hang out. We highly recommend adopting your own Mr. Tea. Other than a few rascally antics, he’s quite well behaved, doesn’t talk back, and won’t eat all your cookies.



3. Fancy dining with royalty for breakfast? Check out Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast (Sterling, 2015), a rollicking and decidedly toothsome new picture book by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney:


A thoroughly delicious picture book about the funniest “food fight” ever! Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast have a beautiful friendship—until they discover that there’s ONLY ONE DROP of maple syrup left. Off they go, racing past the Orange Juice Fountain, skiing through Sauerkraut Peak, and reeling down the linguini. But who will enjoy the sweet taste of victory? And could working together be better than tearing each other apart? The action-packed rhyme makes for an adrenaline-filled breakfast . . . even without a drop of coffee!

Sounds like my kind of meal. To whet your appetite even more, check out this hilarious interview with Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast conducted by Mr. Pig at The Little Crooked Cottage, and this wonderful interview with Josh and Brendan at Librarian’s Quest.

Enjoy the official book trailer and pass the maple syrup:


4. Good news for Boston-based artist Kendyll Hillegas fans. She’s now selling archival prints of her gorgeous color-coded food charts. Select green, red, blue, purple, orange, pink or a colorful variety of produce/food items.


Each unframed food illustration is available as an 8×10 open edition or an 11×14 numbered edition of 25, all signed and dated and shipped flat in a protective, acid-free cello sleeve and rigid mailer with added cardboard backing. Visit Kendyll’s Etsy Shop for more of her food and botanical prints and her official website to purchase original works. Her incredible work has recently been featured in Anthology Magazine, Apartment Therapy, and Uncommon Goods, and we thoroughly enjoyed featuring her in this Indie Artist Spotlight interview, where she generously shared info about her process.


5. Hee. This cool thing is probably much cooler to me than to you, but I hope you’ll indulge me a little. A link to my review of Jon J Muth’s picture book adaptation of Blowin’ in the Wind appears on the “Hype” page at Bob Dylan’s Official Website. It’s been there awhile, a couple of years, maybe, and every now and then I get some nice traffic here because of it. Even though it’s a three million degrees of separation thing, I still feel that much closer to the man. 🙂

(Click to view webpage — scroll down to the second to the last line.)


6. Just in time for Fall, behold Monica Wellington’s  My Leaf Book (Dial, 2015):

With her trademark bold, graphic style Monica Wellington has created a picture book about autumn, trees, and leaves. When the seasons change, a young girl visits the arboretum to collect fallen leaves and make a book with them. Brilliant illustrations show each variety of tree the girl encounters, from the common oak to the lesser known gingko. Spreads silhouetting leaves up-close help young children learn to identify them. Like the girl in the book, young readers will be eager to make their very own leaf books.


What a wonderful way to celebrate the season! The mixed media collages are vivid and vibrant; the tree elements consist of colorful cut paper shapes, and real “Autumn leaves were collected and used for prints, rubbings, and photocopies following the steps described at the end of this book.”

Infobits with leaf identification tips are included on each leaf close-up page. Trees included are ginkgo, sweet gum, honey locust, oak, birch, willow, cherry, sassafras, and maple. The combination of realistic leaf shapes + basic information + fanciful collaged tree renderings make for a cheerful and delightful visual feast. Pair this with Monica’s Apple Farmer Annie (Puffin, 2004) and you’re all set!


7. When you’re in the mood for a little company at tea time, consider inviting a few artists, fashion designers, rock musicians, peacemakers or movie stars to sip a cuppa with you. Just a quick dunk and you can brew up a lot of fun with these cool novelty character tea bags from Donkey Products. Sold in sets of 5, choose from Afternoon Tea, Pret a Portea, Genious and Insanitea, Democratea, and Give Tea a Chance, among others.








Some of you may remember when Mr. Cornelius met the Queen — we used the Royaltea set in that post, which includes not only the Queen, but William, Kate, Harry, Charles and Camilla.



8. I’ve just ordered this beauty that came out this past Spring: Monet’s Palate Cookbook: The Artist & His Kitchen Garden at Giverny by Aileen Bordman and Derek Fell (Gibbs Smith, 2015):


For the first time in history, Monet’s Palate Cookbook: The Artist & His Kitchen Garden at Giverny brings Claude Monet’s beloved kitchen garden back to life. Written by filmmaker Aileen Bordman and garden writer Derek Fell, the book includes sixty recipes linked to Monet’s two-acre kitchen garden near his home at Giverny, France. Included is detailed information about the vegetables he grew, plus photographs and descriptions of the house interiors and gardens capturing Monet’s extraordinary lifestyle. Meryl Streep has written the Foreword and the recipes beautifully photographed by Steven Rothfeld.

You may be familiar with Aileen’s acclaimed documentary “Monet’s Palate: A Gastronomic View from the Garden,” which has aired on PBS and is available on DVD. It’s narrated by Meryl Streep and examines Monet’s passion for art and beauty from palette to palate. I’m glad there’s now a cookbook to extend my enjoyment of this film. Find out more at the Monet’s Palate website.

9. Even though Season 6 is still a few months away (airing in the U.S. in early January), it’s not too early to get our Downton Abbey on with this teaser trailer. It will be very interesting to see how Julian Fellowes ties up all the loose ends. Most of us are emotionally invested in the characters and it will be sad to see this series end.


Mrs. Patmore and the rest of the Alphabet Soup kitchen staff wish you a very happy week!



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

18 thoughts on “9 Cool Things on a Tuesday

  1. Congrats on the connection to Bob Dylan! 🙂 I think Audrey Hepburn is my favorite to hang out with, teabag-wise.
    I went to the Monet’s Palate site and liked this quote: “I was not surprised to discover that Monet was a gastronome; I imagined he would be a lover of all the seductive arts.”


    1. I love Audrey too — I think she’s my favorite actress of all time. 🙂

      Just received my copy of the Monet’s Palate Cookbook and can’t wait to dive in. I own the video and need to watch it again.


  2. You feature the coolest stuff, Jama! I think Mr. Tea is going to make an appearance under our Christmas tree this year – I have several tea lovers in my family that will get a kick out of him. Thanks for sharing the bounty of cool! =)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! I’m glad you’re thinking of adopting your very own Mr. Tea! He’s the only one I know who’s made wetting your pants politically correct. 😀


  3. #5, the link to your review of Dylan’s picture book, is very cool!

    I’ve bookmarked #7, the Donkey Product tea bags. Not only is there Audrey, there is also Bogie! I may have to get them… 🙂

    You always find the coolest stuff, Jama!


  4. Late, late, but thanks for all the wonderful ‘things’ & ‘news’, Jama. I know the grand-girls will love Charles’ new series, and have a few tea drinkers in the family who will love some “tea” gifts for Christmas. Fun to see your name on that fabulous list!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Been sitting here for an hour reading this post. So fun for everyone. Yes, Mr. Tea is a winner in my book. The children’s books are fabulous. Thanks again, Jama!


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