nine cool things on a tuesday


1. It’s always nice to see new prints in Katie Daisy’s Wheatfield Shop — bright colors are just what we need to get us in the mood for Spring. Of course I have a weakness for hand lettered alphabets and I couldn’t resist the reminder to “Be Kind to Others.” These inkjet prints of her original watercolor and acrylic paintings come in three sizes. Lots more to choose from!




2. New Book Alert! Look what’s coming out next Tuesday, March 22Let’s Go to the Hardware Store by Anne Rockwell and Melissa Iwai (Henry Holt, 2016)! This is the same team who created the wonderful picture book Truck Stop (Viking Books, 2013), about a family who runs a diner and gets ready to serve a nice hot breakfast to all their regular customers (blueberry muffins! pancakes! bacon and eggs!).


This time, a family who’s just moved into a new house needs to do some fix-ups, so they visit the hardware store to get some tools and supplies:

When the new house needs fixing up, it’s off to the hardware store to find the tools and materials needed to get the job done―a hammer, a screwdriver, a shiny tape measure, and even a stepladder.

This family outing explores a familiar errand that fascinates plenty of young children: the hardware store. Anne Rockwell’s perfectly pitched story and Melissa Iwai’s child-friendly illustrations make this book ideal for the preschool audience.



Anne Rockwell is a household name to picture book lovers; it’s such a treat whenever she publishes a new book. And of course Melissa Iwai won me over big time when she published Soup Day (Henry Holt, 2010). 🙂 Love her cheery palette and engaging details (such a fun way to introduce kids to some basic tools). Her pictures make me miss the small neighborhood mom and pop hardware stores. Everything’s a big superstore these days. Click here to read Melissa’s post about doing the illos for the book.


3. The 50-something resident Paddingtons were ecstatic to hear that the Paddington Movie was the UK’s biggest grossing film of 2014 — pulling in a whopping £179 million! A sequel featuring the same cast is in the works even as we speak. Hooray!!


And some more nice news for author Michael Bond (who turned 90 in January) — he’s been asked to write a special birthday tribute for the Queen’s 90th birthday service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in June. You may remember that he’s already been awarded an OBE and a CBE for distinguished service to children’s literature. His task: 500 words on the Queen’s life and interests (she likes marmalade and chocolate biscuit cake!). Having served in the Royal Air Force and the British Army during WWII, Mr. Bond will likely mention the Queen’s longstanding involvement with the Armed Forces.

(click for Mr. Bond’s 90th Birthday post)

Just like the Queen, Paddington celebrates his birthday twice a year — on June 25 and December 25, which in turn inspired me to celebrate quarterly birthdays: March 21, June 18 (like Paul McCartney), September 2 (also our wedding anniversary), and November 20 (my actual birthday).  I highly recommend this practice as you get more presents and there are 4 days in the year when people have to be nice to you instead of just one. Best of all, with each quarterly birthday, you get one year younger! 😀


4. Exciting news for Julie Paschkis fans! She’s just designed her first scarf for Dragon Threads and it’s called “Summer Birds.” This beautiful limited edition accessory is now available for pre-order at Julie Paprika for delivery at the end of March. The 20″ x 70″ scarf is 100% silk with a hand rolled hem. Nice Spring gift for that special someone, or as a treat for yourself! Click here to read Julie’s post about how she created the design and to see a pic of someone modeling the scarf in real life. 🙂




5. If this year’s presidential race is wearing you down and making you totally crazy, you need . . . no, you MUST read President Squid by Aaron Reynolds and Sara Varon (Chronicle Books, 2016)! 

President Squid Cover

President Squid hilariously explores the ideal qualities of a President. Squid knows he’s perfect for the job because he lives in a big house, does all the talking, bosses people around and wears a tie. That’s all there is to it, right? 🙂

Hmmm, sound familiar? Publishers Weekly calls the book an “antic extravaganza,” noting that “savvy readers will not miss the startling similarity between the megalomaniacal squid and a certain presidential candidate.”

Seriously, this book made me laugh out loud. That’s really saying something because I’m a grump through and through and it takes a LOT to make me laugh all the way through a book. But this one was hysterical. I can see it sparking great classroom discussions, and it will provide some much needed comic relief for disheartened, cynical grouchy grown-ups (could that be you?). Click here to listen to Matthew Winner’s fun Let’s Get Busy Podcast interview with Aaron and Sara at All the Wonders.


6. Have I mentioned Missouri artist Catherine Holman before? I think I featured her charming personalized storefront paintings awhile back. She’s recently added a number of lovely dessert prints to her collection. They have the same warm and cozy feeling of days gone by. She enjoys celebrating simpler times and advocates slowing down and taking time to be with family and friends. I’m on board with that.





Prints of her original acrylic paintings are available in two sizes and come signed and dated. Zero calorie sweetness!


7. Speaking of sweet treats, have you heard about these wonderful soda fountain stamps? The USPS is supposed to start selling them sometime during July (National Ice Cream Month). These charming Forever stamps may inspire me to write more snail mail letters. They feature 5 illustrations by NY artist Nancy Stahl: hot fudge sundae, egg cream, root beer float, double-scoop ice cream cone and banana split. Want!





8. Attention, Attention! New Maira book alert! Also out on March 22 is The Lucky, Plucky Chairs (Vitra Design Museum) written by Rolf Fehlbaum and illustrated by the one and only Maira Kalman:


When a set of eight classic old No. 14 Thonet chairs are threatened with certain doom, their ingenuity saves the day. Together they discover a way to escape, and encounter a world of the most wonderful and imaginative chairs from around the globe. The Thonets discover, too, that they have a talent for the stage. This charming tale by Rolf Fehlbaum, with delightful illustrations by Maira Kalman, is accompanied by a brief and informative glossary of 22 of the most innovative chairs created in 150 years. Rolf Fehlbaum (born 1941), a critical figure of design entrepreneurship, led the Swiss furniture company Vitra from 1977 to 2013. In the early 1980s he began to assemble a collection of modern furniture, which led to the foundation in 1989 of the Vitra Design Museum.



As you probably know, I automatically purchase all new books with Maira’s name on it. I enjoyed her other art/design books featuring vintage photographs from MoMa and favorite items from the Cooper-Hewitt, and am looking forward to this one. Chairs? Why not? I always learn so much and enjoy enhancing my appreciation for interesting objects that have a practical function. Please take a seat!


9. Finally, it’s time to shrink into teeny tiny versions of ourselves. Have you been watching any of the miniature food/tiny kitchen cooking videos from Japan? There are several different channels/content producers on YouTube but the concept is similar: using miniature stoves, cooking utensils and ingredients, these clever chefs create edible meals for very small people in just a few minutes. They’ll do Japanese dishes such as sukiyaki, tempura and sushi, and also things like cheeseburgers, puddings and cakes.

These videos contain no narration whatsoever and are positively addicting — there’s something very relaxing about watching someone slice tiny pieces of potato or carrot with a tiny knife, slowly sauté everything and then make a gravy for it, something fascinating about watching someone cook a teensy pot of rice that couldn’t contain more than thirty or so grains. Everything neat, precise and efficient; quiet except for the sound of slicing veggies or oil sizzling in the pan.

Naturally Mr. Cornelius is wild about the whole thing because those meals are the perfect size for him!

Here are a couple favorites, one for a Japanese child’s lunch, and the other for quail egg pudding that’s fed to an adorable pup:



Well, that’s one way to cut back on calories! Think I need to visit Japan and shop for some of those cute furnishings and kitchen supplies!

Happy Tuesday!! Be Kind!


Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

17 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. How oddly fascinating those miniature food videos are! I am all for President Squid — looks like a blast. And I *must* get those soda fountain stamps when they are available.


    1. Can’t wait for those stamps . . . will be fun to find excuses to use them. Those miniature food videos can become addicting. I marvel at the patience and detail.


  2. I would ADORE a picture book about hardware stores; I loved them from time time I was small anyway… all those tubs full of nails and nuts and bolts and things to sort and touch… I love that someone else loves them!

    Really gorgeous artwork and tiny food!!! So cute!


  3. A delightful springtime smorgasbord indeed. But – you a grump through and through? I hardly think it so.


  4. Whenever I read your Tuesday posts, I try to choose some favorite things to mention Jama, but too, too often I cannot choose. These are marvelous, you’ve added to my book list again (ah-Maira Kalman!), and I cannot wait to show off the tiny food videos to my family. It’s almost time for your next birthday celebration, so have a tiny cupcake on me! Thank you!


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