nine cool things on a tuesday

“Baby Bear Counts 1 Nuthatch” © 2017 Ashley Wolff

1. The perfect way to welcome Fall is with a beautiful giclée archival print by Vermont-based author/illustrator Ashley Wolff. Part of a small series based on the linocut illustrations from her Baby Bear Counts One picture book, this print has hand-applied gold accents, making it look like a gouache original. It’s 13″ x 19″ and comes signed, titled, and numbered (Limited Edition of 100 pieces).

Here’s another charmer from the same series:

“Baby Bear Counts 4 Bees” © 2017 Ashley Wolff

Shop for these and other goodies at Ashley’s Etsy Shop!


2. New Book Alert!!  Look what’s coming out on September 26! A new middle grade novel by Sara Lewis Holmes! Isn’t the cover gorgeous?

I first “met” Sara between the pages of her prize-winning debut novel, Letters from Rapunzel (HarperCollins, 2007), which revealed her penchant for fairy tales, quests, and happy endings. The Wolf Hour (Arthur A. Levine Books. 2017) sounds positively magical and compelling:

A girl. A wolf. A red cape. And . . . pigs? In the vein of A Tale Dark and Grimm, this gorgeously written, endlessly surprising retelling explores the stories and wildness that define us. Welcome, my little lambs, to the Puszcza. It’s an ancient forest, a keeper of the deepest magic, where even the darkest fairy tales are real. Here, a Girl is not supposed to be a woodcutter. Or be brave enough to walk alone. Here, a Wolf is not supposed to love to read. Or be curious enough to meet a human. And here, a Story is nothing like the ones you read in books, for the Witch can make the most startling tales come alive. All she needs is a Girl from the village, a Wolf from the forest, and a woodcutter with a nice, sharp axe. So take care, little lambs, if you step into these woods. For in the Puszcza, it is always as dark as the hour between night and dawn — the time old folk call the Wolf Hour. If you lose your way here, you will be lost forever, your Story no longer your own. You can bet your bones.


Prepare to be enchanted. I can’t wait! Congratulations, Sara!!


3. Attention Laura Ingalls Wilder fans! This past summer I read the most wonderful blog post by award winning author Sonia Gensler, where she describes how her mother and grandmother surprised her one Christmas by sewing a complete wardrobe based on Laura’s wedding trousseau in These Happy Golden Years. Wow!

Every day while Sonia was away at school, these two “mothers of invention” got busy adapting Barbie dress patterns by poring over dress descriptions in the book and cross-referencing them with the old fashioned styles in a reproduction 1900 Sears Roebuck catalog. They even made some undergarments!

What beautiful work, and I can well imagine how thrilled Sonia was when she opened her present on Christmas morning and saw these dresses. That they have stood the test of time — after being played with by many small hands — speaks for how well they were made and how carefully Sonia has preserved them. In her post, she describes everything in enchanting detail and includes the passages from Wilder’s book that inspired the dresses.

Her heartwarming post, a lovely tribute to her mother and grandmother, will definitely make you smile. 🙂


4. Recently, New Jersey-based author, poet, and artist Kelly Ramsdell, whom I’ve known ever since my early LiveJournal days, began selling her art via a new website.

She’s been giving us peeks of new pieces on Facebook and I simply had to share. She works with acrylics, mixed media, and collage on canvas, paper and wood. Love the gorgeous colors and textures, and the inclusion of text, making for creations of stunning whimsical beauty. Her themes of love and nature sing of a happy heart. Subscribe to her newsletter to be among the first to hear about new pieces for sale!


5. Tippy toes, tap tap. Who doesn’t love CUTE SHOES!? Have you seen the adorable styles at Hot Chocolate Design?

I admit I’ve always loved mary janes — so girlish and feminine. HC sells a slew of fun flats, platforms and heels for women and girls.

Choose from a matching pair, or a “mismatched” but complementary pair. And yes, I do love the foodie ones — bacon and eggs, cherries, popcorn, pineapple, strawberry.

For schoolish types, check out these:

Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth a trip to their website just to see all the possibilities. Perfect gift for the person who has everything. 🙂

You’ll definitely turn a few heads with these.


6. Couch potatoes may be passé, but hot dog couches are in. Leave it to the Europeans to elevate junk food into high art. Behold Studio Job’s newest creation:

So hot, it’s not even on the market yet. Being exhibited at a fancy art and design show in Paris even as we speak. However,  Italian firm Seletti will be selling them in the not too distant future.

Tube steak not to your liking? How about a hamburger chair?

Definitely WANT. I relish both pieces :D!


7. What do you mean you’re hungry? Again? Didn’t you just eat something yesterday?

Well, okay. Lego your egg . . .o!  Yeah, I’m a stop motion animation freak.


8. I’ve never been one to sew my own clothes, but I had a brief fling with embroidery in my youth. I loved learning how to make french knots and chain stitches, how to block and frame a piece of finished embroidery. Though my skills are nothing to brag about, I enjoy looking at the samplers I made years ago that hang in our home today. And I love watching films or seeing paintings of genteel upper class women sitting in their parlors doing needlework. 🙂

Recently “discovered” the work of Israeli illustrator and needlework artist Tamar Nahir Yanai via an Etsy interview this past July. Her backstory is interesting: after working as a graphic designer for years, she began illustrating children’s books. This led to selling paper goods featuring her illustrations, and after people started requesting permission to create embroidered versions of her art, she decided to try her hand at embroidery.

Now she sells wonderful embroidery kits and patterns along with her line of notebooks, cards, and prints. She views illustration and embroidery as complementary art forms and she obviously excels at both. Love her delicate, feminine style — so calming and pretty! Visit her Etsy Shop for more.


9. Last, but certainly not least, today is the official release date for Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s new poetry picture book, Read!, Read!, Read! illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke! Hooray!

Twenty-three poems capture the joys of reading from that thrilling moment when a child first learns to decipher words to the excitement that follows in reading everything from road signs to field guides to internet articles to stories. These poems also explore what reading does, lyrically celebrating how it opens minds, can make you kind, and allows you to explore the whole world. Ryan O’Rourke’s rich artwork beautifully captures the imagination and playfulness in these poems.

(You can take a peek at this book in Tara Smith’s post at A Teaching Life, hear from Amy herself at Irene Latham’s Live Your Poem, and read a wonderful review at Linda Baie’s TeacherDance.)

Can’t wait to get my sticky paws on this one. Heartfelt Congratulations to Amy and Ryan!!


Okey dokey. Wait. What do you mean you’re hungry? What, again? Weren’t those Lego eggos enough for you?

Well, I do have a pic to share that I saw on FB recently that made me happy: James Taylor making pizza. Sigh. It’s not enough that this multi-talented man makes delicious pecan pies every Thanksgiving. Pizza, too? Invite me over, please.


Well of course now we MUST hear a JT song. Turn it up!


Sigh again. Needed that.

Now, do have a good Tuesday, a great week, and Happy Autumn on Friday!

Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.







36 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. You, Jama, make this Tuesday bright! What fun to see Ryan’s cover of THE WOLF HOUR. I have become such a fan of his work since we were matched for READ! And on Instagram lately, he’s been sharing titles of popular fairy tales, all lettered and illustrated. Just so cool. Thank you for this roundup. I’m kinda dying to learn to embroider, get a pair of these shoes and join you for pizza at JT’s house. Thank you for featuring our new book…and for all you always offer us in your gorgeous, welcoming space. xxoo, a.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m a big Ryan fan too — I first encountered his work in Samantha Vamos’s Alphabet Trucks and Alphabet Trains. He does amazing maps too. I’m not on Instagram, so haven’t seen his fairy tale title lettering (btw, he said he didn’t illustrate the Wolf Hour cover).

      Sigh. Wouldn’t it be too cool to meet at JT’s for some pizza? One can only dream. Congrats on another published book! You have several more coming out next year too, right? Wow!


  2. Sometimes I get lost looking at your cool things and I barely make it back to tell you how cool they were. I just spent a lot of time in Tamar Nahir Yanai’s Etsy shop and looking at those Hot Chocolate shoes. So so cute! Sonia Gensler’s mother and grandmother are the best, oh my gosh!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know — those LIW dresses are so beautiful — truly a girl’s dream come true. Tamar’s embroidery makes me want to take it up again — it would be very therapeutic. Those shoes are too much fun. I’ve heard of several teachers who wear those school shoes to class and their students love it.


  3. I never know where to start in my thanks to you on Tuesdays, Jama. Like Tabatha, I click on all the links and sink into the beauty of each shop’s offerings. People are so, so clever and creative, I want to start collaging, and sewing and embroidering right now. The Wolf Hour sounds wonderful, will find it! Those shoes are on my list for a certain family member! Thanks for the shout-out and for all the beauty! Blimey, it’s a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you like today’s offerings, Linda. I keep a running list of cool things as I come across them on the web and enjoy sharing them here. I can see your granddaughters wearing those shoes. 🙂 There are a lot of positive reviews for them on the site and on Amazon, so they must be comfortable.


  4. So much goodness in this post, and I am blown away to be included in here! Looking forward to Amy’s and Sara’s books, and am now toying with picking up embroidery again – those are charming pieces.

    And I happen to own a pair of those Hot Chocolates you pictured – the heels, no less. I really want some of the Mary Janes, but need to find somewhere near me to try them on for size.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very cool that you own HC heels (I can’t wear heels anymore, so I’m jealous). I love your compositions — you have a natural flair for blending various elements, and of course the inclusion of words/text always makes me happy. I’ve known all along about your talent as a writer and poet, but art too? Okay, I’m impressed. 🙂


    1. Don’t feel so bad. My embroidery didn’t look anything like those either. I’ve always admired people who do needlework — whether embroidery or needlepoint. It’s such a genteel art form. 🙂


    1. Hi Maria! Must agree — Kelly’s art is very lovely. This is a side of her talent that I didn’t know about before. Just wow. I know I’m going to love Amy and Ryan’s book too :).


  5. And YOU are the tenth cool thing, Jama. Thanks so much for featuring Diana Sudyka’s fabulous cover art for The Wolf Hour. I love it so much that I’ve already framed some for my house. (You will have to come see sometime!). Great to see Kelly’s gorgeous art featured too–she does that words as art thing so well. As for JT—who knew? I wonder if he’ll do me a mushroom pizza—that’s my fav. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Since you have a new book coming out, I think JT should definitely make you a mushroom pizza to celebrate. Unless you’d rather have Colin bring you some tea and scones.

      Thanks so much for telling me about Diana Sudyka. She is new to me and I’m anxious to see more of her work. Love that you’ve already framed some for your house. And I’m really enjoying Kelly’s art too. Very cool that she has a new art website. 🙂


  6. Yay!! Looking forward to the blog tour!

    I DID think of you when I saw those shoes. In fact, I thought about you while doing this entire post. After all, it’s my job to make you spend your money. 😀


    1. …it seems to be. IT REALLY SEEMS TO BE. I’ve already been circling Kelly’s art posts, and I have a new embroidery hoop and threads, because it seems I’m DOOMED to keep trying with that…

      I’ll be broke, but at least quietly surrounded by other people’s art and good shoes!!! ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So much wonderfulness! Love it all. Ashley Wolff has been one of my all-time favorite illustrators forever, and I got to meet her at a Highlights workshop one year – she’s so terrific!
    The miniature wardrobe is amazing. I made a couple of Laura-inspired dresses (with aprons and hats) for Morgan growing up – Halloween costumes that doubled as play clothes for years.
    [And YAY to Amy for her new readableTREASURE!] XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ashley is so immensely talented — her work is swoon worthy and then some! Glad you got to meet her :).

      Love that you made Laura dresses for Morgan — what a cool mom you were/are. Homemade Halloween costumes are the best!


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