9 Cool Things on a Tuesday

1. You might think this PB&J sandwich is a photograph, but it’s actually an oil painting! This amazing piece of art was created by Mary Ellen Johnson of Hartsville, South Carolina.

“My work explores the deep connection that food has with humanity. I find the subtle and yet not so subtle power it possesses fascinating, The main focus of my work is to capture this deep connection. My paintings delve into the complicated and curious relationship that we have developed with food throughout our existence. Food has a direct link to our survival and has bound its roots deep within our cultures, societies, and families. It’s everywhere we go and it has worked itself into a pinnacle part of our everyday lives. It’s like a language really because we charge it with so many connotations and meanings. The smell can take you back to a time long ago, the sound of things like bacon frying in a pan can perk you up in the morning, and the sight alone can make your mouth start salivating. Food has great power over us and I’m interested in showing this power in my work. I want the viewer to be confronted by these lofty monstrosities of food and ponder their own relationship with the food that they eat.

Wow! Love her work. Absolutely stunning and calorie free. Feast on more at Mary Ellen’s Artodyssey blog and Facebook Page. One more for the road:


2. New book alert! Check out Monster Trucks by Anika Denise and Nate Wragg (HarperColllins, 2016) — just what you need for Halloween reading, right? Yep, I’m always looking out for you.🙂

Readers will delight in this lively read-aloud story with a clever and surprising twist at the end—perfect for Halloween and year round!

Ready, set, go! The monster truck race is on in this frightfully delightful picture book.  On a spooky speedway, Monster Trucks moan! Monster Trucks grumble! Monster Trucks groan!

Join Frankentruck, Zombie Truck, Ghost Truck, and more as they race to the finish line. But one of these trucks isn’t quite who you think.

Yes, there’s a trailer🙂.

This one’s already earned a **starred review** from Publishers Weekly. Read Anika’s blog post for some cool backstory about the book!


3. If you’re a Beatrix Potter fan, you already know her 150th Birthday is being celebrated this year with collector coins from the Royal Mint and special children’s books (I reviewed The Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig and The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots). Did you know about the Royal Mail special issue stamps and stamp sets?🙂

I simply couldn’t resist and ordered a set of postcards, a first day cover, and a BP Presentation Pack. You can order a first day cover personalized with your address (love the Near Sawrey postmark). I received my order in about a week and shipping was less than $3.00. So cute! More info at the Royal Mail Beatrix Potter Page.


4. Who’s my favorite Star Wars droid? BB-8 of course! Is there anyone rounder or more adorable? I think not. Was SO excited to see that ThinkGeek is now offering a BB-8 waffle maker! It makes waffles 5″ across by 6-3/4″ tall. When the fork awakens, there’s nothing like BB-Ate!!

Perfect holiday gift, no?🙂


5. Are your spatulas getting a little stained or grotty around the edges? Time for some new ones! Love these No Kid Hungry® Chef Series Celebrity Spatulas from Williams Sonoma. These have a BPA-free oversized silicone head that won’t crack, stain or absorb food odors and ergonomically shaped beechwood handles. Featuring original designs by the likes of Ayesha Curry (“The Talk”), Chrissy Teigen, Trisha Yearwood, and Giada de Laurentiis.

Ayesha Curry
Chrissy Teigen

A delicious way to help fight childhood hunger!


6. In the department of Blogs I Love to Read is “Illustrated Memory,” by children’s author/illustrator Aram Kim. You may remember my mentioning Aram before — she created a Cat’s Bakery blog banner for Alphabet Soup not too long ago, and she’s just published her first picture book, Cat on the Bus (Holiday House, 2016).

For Illustrated Memory, Aram writes about some of her favorite food memories and creates an illustration for each post. Aram currently lives in NYC, but she grew up in South Korea. Some of my favorite posts are about how she and her middle school classmates shared their “banchan” (Korean side dishes) at lunchtime, how she craved a comforting bowl of her mom’s chicken porridge when she had the flu, and some of the meals she and her sister had on trips (Istanbul, Tokyo).

“Lunch Boxes, Anyang, South Korea, 1995”
Chicken Porridge

There’s just something about her spare, unadorned, earnest prose that I find calming and reassuring.  Take a look and you’ll see what I mean.


7. Speaking of memories, treat yourself to a beautifully written personal essay by Northern Virginia author Frances Park. “Kiss-Kiss-Kissuni is about when Frances, age 7, visited the outskirts of Seoul with her family and was left in the care of her grandparents’ maid, Kissuni.

A poignant piece that will tug at your heartstrings:

To me, a mere girl of seven, my grandparents’ maid was a big-boned, strapping woman, always barefoot, always moving. Her feet were cracked clay, her face a rock. With mandatory bows, she led a back-breaking life of cooking, cleaning, ironing and, like it or not, looking after me that summer. If I was thirsty, she brought me cool barley tea. If I needed to use the toilet, she carried me piggyback up a steep path that led to a church. If I couldn’t find her, she was scrubbing dirty clothes in the river, chasing lepers from the front gate or taking a meal in the closet where she slept.

You may remember when I interviewed Frances and her sister Ginger, who’ve co-authored children’s books, a YA novel, and a memoir about their chocolate shop in Washington, D.C. Frances has also published two adult novels and is currently working on a collection of essays.


8. It’s always cause for celebration when Terry Border publishes a new picture book. I had the pleasure of interviewing Terry when his second children’s book, Happy Birthday, Cupcake came out last year, and I love Milk Goes to School (Philomel, 2016), which was just published this summer.

First days of school are tough, and making new friends is even tougher. Milk’s dad gave her a sparkly new backpack and told her that she was the creme de la creme, but most of the other kids don’t seem to agree. In fact, some of her new classmates think Milk is just a little bit spoiled. . . .

In this latest hilarious picture book from Terry Border, our food friends go to school and learn that it’s not just Milk that’s the creme de la creme. Some other food can be just as sweet.

Happy to report that once again, Terry included alphabet pasta in his story. Check out this fun interview with Mr. Pig and Milk at The Little Crooked Cottage.🙂


9. To top off your day, enjoy this time-lapse process video of Two Cupcakes by favorite food illustrator Kendyll Hillegas. Is there anything better than watching such deliciousness materialize before your very eyes?



Alrighty. Have a Happy Tuesday!

Don’t forget to smile and be kind.🙂

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

9 thoughts on “9 Cool Things on a Tuesday

  1. Hooray for Monster Trucks!! It’s such a cute book, Jama!!

    And I’m looking forward to Cat on the Bus.

    Those oil paintings look so real and edible. You always manage to find very cool things indeed!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love all your posts, Jama, but I think these “cool things” on Tuesdays are simply marvelous, every.single.week! The bookmarks I’ve marked from your sharing are many, and today’s is no exception! It really is hard to believe those first pieces are oil paintings. Wow! And I love the new books of course, and the cupcake illustrations, too. I may need to order some Potter postcards-so darling. Thanks for making a morning full of smiles!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your blog so entertains me, Jama, and it leads me to other fascinating sites and books. Setting up my Christmas giving book list. Thank you again!


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