9 cool things on a tuesday (+ penny and jelly giveaway winner!)

coolmonocle cat

1. A monocle, a top hat, a mustache? Definitely the cat’s meow! Am loving Vickie Liu’s adorable donuts and cookies. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Vickie calls herself an amateur baker and professional eater. She started baking in high school and studied architecture and interior design in college.





It was only after getting her degree that she was finally able to devote more time to indulging her passion for decorating sweets. She’s developed quite a following on Instagram and her future plans include launching a lifestyle blog and running a home bakery. Her creations fall into the category of “too cute to eat,” but I think I could be convinced. Yum.


2. Heads up, unpublished children’s book authors of color: check out the Roll of Thunder Publishing Contest sponsored by Penguin Random House in partnership with We Need Diverse Books.™


“In 1974, the Council on Interracial Books sponsored a writing contest seeking out diverse voices. Mildred D. Taylor was the winner of the African-American segment for the manuscript that became Song of the Trees (Dial, 1975), her first book. It introduced the Logan family and was followed by Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976), which won the Newbery Medal.

Forty years later, in partnership with We Need Diverse Books™, Penguin Young Readers celebrates this momentous publication by launching a debut children’s fiction contest to find talented, ethnically diverse authors writing for readers ages 8-14.

Submit your manuscript for a book about diversity for ages 8-14 and you could receive a publishing contract from Penguin Random House LLC!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:01:01 AM Eastern Time on April 26, 2016 and 11:59:59 PM Eastern Time on June 21, 2016. Open to people of color (or those who self-identify as other than white) who are residents of the fifty United States, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories and possessions, aged 18 and older.

PRIZE: The confirmed winner will receive a book publishing contract for the publication of a novel for ages 8-14 by Penguin Random House LLC, with an advance of $35,000, plus royalties as follows: (i) on hardcover, 10% up to 50,000 copies and 12.5% thereafter; (ii) on paperback, 6% up to 50,000 copies and 7% thereafter; (iii) on audio, 8% of net; (iv) ebook, 25% of net; (v) world rights/all subrights at a 50/50 split; and (vi) an option on their next children’s or YA novel.

Judging will begin on or about June 28, 2016, and one winner will be chosen from the final group of ten (10) submissions narrowed down from all entries received. Entries will be judged based on (i) overall storytelling; (ii) creativity; (iii) originality; and (iv) writing ability, with equal weight given to each criterion.”

Click here for more info!


3. New book alert: Exciting news for Jeannine Atkins fans!! Her new historical verse novel, Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science (Atheneum, 2016) , will be officially released on September 20, 2016 and is now available for pre-order.


A gorgeously written novel in verse about three girls in three different time periods who grew up to become groundbreaking scientists.

 Maria Merian was sure that caterpillars were not wicked things born from mud, as most people of her time believed. Through careful observation she discovered the truth about metamorphosis and documented her findings in gorgeous paintings of the life cycles of insects.

More than a century later, Mary Anning helped her father collect stone sea creatures from the cliffs in southwest England. To him they were merely a source of income, but to Mary they held a stronger fascination. Intrepid and patient, she eventually discovered fossils that would change people’s vision of the past.

Across the ocean, Maria Mitchell helped her mapmaker father in the whaling village of Nantucket. At night they explored the starry sky through his telescope. Maria longed to discover a new comet—and after years of studying the night sky, she finally did.

Told in vibrant, evocative poems, this stunning novel celebrates the joy of discovery and finding wonder in the world around us.

I’m a huge Jeannine fan in general and loved Borrowed Names to pieces, so I’m really excited to read Finding Wonders. Her books are meticulously researched and she is brilliant at excavating and fashioning telling detail to masterful effect, giving the reader an intimate, uniquely nuanced view of her subject(s). She has such a beautiful way of crafting words, whether poetry or prose. Don’t miss this one!


4. Need a little grammatical brush-up every now and then? Check out this clever grammar pencil set by Newton and the Apple. Makes a fun gift for English teachers, students, writers, or anyone who likes to let others know they’re (there?) on top of their (they’re?) game. 🙂

grammar pencils


5. Oh, something new from Boston-area artist/illustrator Kendyll Hillegas! She recently added a Breakfast & Brunch print to her Etsy Shop. These unframed 11×14 archival prints are a limited edition of just 25 pieces, and come signed and dated. Wouldn’t it look beautiful in your kitchen?


This one’s new, too — not a foodie illustration, but who can resist a Baby Hedgehog!?! Adorable!



6. Feet, feet, it’s all about the feet. The perfect antidote to boring sock drawer syndrome: sushi socks! When folded, these unisex socks resemble your favorite pieces — futomaki, tuna, California roll, salmon roe. No worries about fading, as the designs are sewn in. Think how much fun you’ll have on laundry day, folding these beauties back into sushi form. Hardest part is to resist the urge to eat your socks (do they smell good?). 🙂 I bow to you, Sushi Sock Chef!



7. While I like to eat my veggies, there are times when I wish I knew how to play them, just like the talented musicians cited in this recent NPR article, “Vegetable Orchestra Musicians Literally Play with Their Food.” Hollow out a butternut squash, reach for some bok choy or a tuber of your choice, and blow, baby, blow. When your instrument starts to look a little tired, just eat it. 🙂

While I like Linsey Pollak’s hypnotic carrot clarinet solo, the avant garde stylings of the Viennese Vegetable Orchestra, and Junji Koyama’s festive Christmas carol à la broccoli, I’m quite fascinated with the Chinese Nan brothers. They grew up on a vegetable farm and their father was a music teacher, so it’s perfectly logical that they would learn to play the produce. 🙂 Interesting how different vegetables have different scales and are suited to different melodies, and that factors such as humidity and air temperature can affect pitch. It’s all a good reminder to listen to at least 4-5 servings of vegetables every day. (Click through to the article for more videos.)


8. We’ve all done it at some point — misheard a song lyric. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense; we hear it one way and it becomes part of our DNA. Sometimes we can’t quite make something out, so we plug in our own words just to keep singing along. Case in point: Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” I got the part about “your hat strategically dipped below one eye, your scarf it was apricot.” But for years and years, I thought the next part was, “You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself a lot.”

Okay, okay. It’s supposed to be “you watched yourself gavotte.” I need to clean my ears. But “gavotte” never occurred to me. If it had been the minuet or the funky chicken I might have gotten it. But gavotte? Too high brow for me. 😀


Anyway, misheard or mistaken lyrics are often funnier than the originals, so why not put them on stainless steel tumblers to cheer us up? Thanks to the folks at Meriwether of Montana, we can drink away those mistaken lyrics and have a helluva good time doing it.




Check out the full line of Mistaken Lyrics Steel Glasses here. Ooh, they also have an enamelware teapot!



9. And now, chocolate. When it comes to food, the French take everything to the next level. My Paris Kitchen author David Lebovitz has posted several videos documenting his visits to high end artisan chocolate shops in Paris. Here, he speaks to master chocolatier Jean-Charles Rochoux, giving us a little behind-the-scenes peek. Everything is made on site in the workshop below the shop. That place must smell so good! Pass me one of those hazelnut bars.


🎉 PENNY & JELLY: Slumber Under the Stars GIVEAWAY WINNER! 🎉

Thanks to all who commented on Maria Gianferrari’s hotTEAs of Children’s Literature post.

We are happy to announce that the winner of a brand new, signed copy is

*drum roll, please*




♥♥♥ JULIANA LEE!! ♥♥♥

Congratulations, Juliana! Please provide your snail mail address so we can send the book out to you right away.

**Everyone, check out the Penny & Jelly Blog Tour for more chances to win free copies at every stop!! There’s still time to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for 3 copies at Pragmatic Mom, and on Friday, June 17, there’s another 3-copy giveaway at Writing For Kids (While Raising Them).


Did I mention you’re a cool thing, too? 🙂 🙂 🙂

Thanks for stopping by. Have a terrific week, cutie pies!

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

22 thoughts on “9 cool things on a tuesday (+ penny and jelly giveaway winner!)

  1. “Finding Wonders” has a gorgeous cover! Looks like a wonderful book. Vickie Liu’s donuts are incredible. And I got lost in Kendyll Hillegas’s shop — must get one of her prints!


    1. Yes, I love that cover!! I continue to be a big fan of Kendylll’s work. Have you checked out her Youtube channel? 🙂


  2. Hooray!! Congrats, to Juliana & thank you again, Jama!

    Where do you find all of this cool stuff, Jama?? I love the kitty donuts–they are so cute & so is that baby hedgehog!!

    I love Jeannine Atkins’s work, and am really looking forward to Finding Wonders–totally my kind of book!! Long ago I read & loved her tribute to Louisa May Alcott Becoming Little Women! I also have her adult novel on May Alcott, Little Women in Blue on my to-read this.

    And thank you too for the P&J Book BD wishes. You take the cake ;)!!


    1. Glad to hear you’re also a Jeannine fan. I enjoyed Little Woman in Blue and know you will like it.

      Happy Book Birthday again!!!


  3. Your excitement re Finding Wonders mean so much to me, Jama. Thank you! I’m especially happy to share space with that hedgehog — you know I’m more of a scone sort than donuts, but it’s hedgehogs all the time. And your last sentence about all of us being cool things made me teary. Of course I did just come up from the basement to find the door jammed — didn’t take to much banging, but there were those seconds contemplating crawling through slim cobwebby windows. So glad to be uncobwebbed and reading your so kind words.


    1. Sounds like you had a bit of unwanted “excitement” today. Glad you didn’t have to crawl through those cobwebby windows after all.

      Didn’t realize you had a soft spot for hedgehogs. I really hadn’t paid too much attention to them until I met Mrs. Tiggywinkle, and now of course, I notice them all the time. 🙂


  4. The donuts are works of art, to see and of course to munch, Jama. So sad she’s so far away! I love hearing about Jeannine’s book, have adored all her other ones and know this will be an illuminating and inspiring read. Thanks again for your Terrific Tuesdays! FYI- from an old church hymn, Bringing In The Sheaves, a young cousin for years thought it was “Bringing in the cheese”. I thought the foodie you would love that one! Happy Tuesday!


  5. Yah, Jeannine! FINDING WONDERS sounds fascinating!

    Love the carrot clarinet!

    I’m surprised that Mistaken Lyrics didn’t include what I heard was the most infamous one: “The ants are my friends. They’re blowing in the wind.” 🙂 The others did make me laugh, though.


  6. How do you consistently pack so much wonderfulness into one post?

    Thanks for the day brightener. : )


    1. The donuts with faces would be hardest to eat, I would think, especially the pandas (Mr Cornelius shudders at the thought of cannibalism). Glad you liked the post, Penny!

      Liked by 2 people

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