nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Hungry for a little something? Why not feast on Samantha Lee’s food art? 🙂

This Malaysian mother of two first started playing with her food in 2008 while pregnant with her second daughter. She began posting her food art on Instagram in 2011, and soon became an internet sensation. What began as a hobby soon turned into a career. Her imaginative, whimsical creations are made with simple tools and are meant to promote healthy eating. Since 2013, she’s worked with the likes of Samsung, Barilla, Ben & Jerry’s, Holiday Inn, MasterCard, and ESPN, among many others.

Around the World series (click to enlarge)

Check out Samantha’s Official Website and Instagram for her latest plates. Yum!


2. Though his creator Michael Bond sadly passed away in June, good old Paddington Bear marches on. He recently partnered with UNICEF to become its Champion for Children! He will be helping UNICEF’s efforts to promote the rights of children all over the world. 🙂

Lily Caprani, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF UK, said: “We are living in a time when millions of children around the world are being forced to leave their homes, and to put their trust in the kindness of strangers. As such, it seems especially appropriate and welcome to be working with a partner like Vivendi, and to have a champion like Paddington, whose own story of leaving Darkest Peru and finding a new family and home in a strange country, resonates as strongly and freshly today, as it did when it was first published. With the help of partners like Vivendi and Paddington, we will be able to make sure that millions more people hear about children’s rights, and with their support, build a world in which every child, wherever they are, knows that there will be people like Mr and Mrs Brown, to keep them happy, healthy and safe.”

Paddington exemplifies the values of love, tolerance, kindness, and persistence in the face of adversity. We agree he’s the perfect choice, definitely up to the job. The 70-something resident Paddingtons are eating extra marmalade sandwiches to celebrate. Hooray!


3. Heads up Jane Austen fans: I love this Mr Darcy/Elizabeth Bennett mug by Joy Elizabeth Ceramics. This handcrafted double-sided mug features Mr Darcy on one side and Lizzy on the other, and holds 9 fluid ounces of your favorite brew. Dishwasher and food safe, of course.

It’s never too early for holiday shopping. JEC also ships internationally. Santa, are you listening?


4. Check out the 2018 Multicultural Children’s Book Day poster created by our favorite kimchi pancake author/illustrator Aram Kim!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day is an international online event where hundreds of bloggers shine the spotlight on diverse kids’ books with reviews, giveaways, and book-related activities. Visit the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website for more info (now you don’t have to be a blogger to participate as a reviewer). Click here to sign up to be a reviewer and to receive a free diversity book to review!

You can download the free 2018 MCBD poster here.


5. New Book Alert! Award winning illustrator Joan Waites has just published a new picture book, An Artist’s Night Before Christmas (Pelican, 2017)! Though Joan has illustrated more than 40 books for the trade and educational markets, this is the first time she’s both author and illustrator. 🙂

Follow Henri, the French artist mouse living in a French country house, as he tries to paint the perfect Christmas gift for a very special friend. When Henri begins to doubt his own ability, a certain Christmas visitor, jolly and round with black boots and a red suit, steps in to reassure Henri about what’s truly important. With a bit of guidance, Henri discovers the greatest gift he could give: friendship! A story of lost confidence and renewed determination, this picture book introduces young artists to real art terms, materials, and techniques, as well as to art’s masters, cast as Henri’s colleagues and friends.

Just in time for the holiday season, this title sounds perfect for creative types, and I do like the thought of a French artist mouse with art master friends. I shall have to nibble on a chocolate croissant while reading this one.

Read this recent interview at Cynthia Grady’s blog to learn more about Joan’s creative process.

Congratulations to Joan!!


6. What? Hungry again? This always seems to happen. You can’t get through an entire Cool Things Roundup without needing to munch on something halfway through. Luckily, we have just the thing. I toast you, O Famished One, with Adam Perry’s toast sculptures!

It all started because Adam (a British musician by day) wanted to cheer up his 10-year-old daughter Scarlett, who has severe food allergies (dairy, eggs, and nuts). Because of bad reactions in the past, she’s been afraid of trying any new foods. Her usual breakfast is two slices of plain white toast.

One day Adam made a London Eye out of toast while waiting for the kettle to boil. Since then, he’s made hundreds of toast sculptures (animals, robots, famous landmarks, reliefs), and Scarlett has been gradually overcoming her fear of new foods.

When Adam is on the road with his band (the Bloodhound Gang) he takes along his fine toast-sculpting implements (scalpel, green and blue plates, cutting board) and posts his bread sculptures on Instagram.

From a few crumbs of inspiration to much more: Adam is now working on a book project, greeting cards, and special commissions. What a cool Dad — there’ll be no loafing off for him. 😉


7. Who can resist a lovely tea types print? Not me. Awhile ago, I featured Paris-based artist Lucile Prache’s watercolors (illustrated recipes!). Recently she added this wonderful archival giclée print to her shop. It comes in four sizes and is signed in pencil.

Wouldn’t it look nice in your kitchen? Sip, sip. 🙂

Visit Lucile’s online shop, where you can purchase original paintings as well as prints.


8. New Poetry Anthology Alert! Looking for a way to find a little inner calm in these turbulent times? Check out Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, edited by Phyllis Cole-Dai and Ruby R. Wilson (Grayson Books, 2017).

Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems is a collection of poetry that provides a refuge of quiet clarity very much needed in today’s restless, chaotic world. Every reader will find favorites to share and to return to, again and again. The diverse group of contributing poets includes contemporary favorites such as Wendell Berry, Joy Harjo, Jane Hirshfield, Li-Young Lee, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Derek Walcott, as well as poets of the past such as Hafiz, Pablo Neruda, Li Po, and Rumi. Readers of the poems in this book will begin to find themselves becoming less stressed, more balanced, and more fully present in the world.

You may remember when I shared Phyllis’s poem, “On How to Pick and Eat Poems,” and pointed you to her wonderful poetry site, A Year of Being Here, where Phyllis posted a mindfulness poem by a contemporary poet every day for three years (2013-2016). She proved herself to be a brilliant curator; I find myself returning to the site often to mine its riches. So I was especially excited when I learned she had compiled a new anthology of mindfulness poems. My copy is on order and I can’t wait to savor it — one poem each day to keep me centered and in a positive frame of mind. Visit the Poetry of Presence website for more.


9. Finally, I have to thank cooler than cool author, educator, and former Hawai’i resident Margo Sorenson for sending me the link to this wonderful video. “Island Style – ‘Ōiwi-Ē Medley” was recorded live across 15 locations and features 1000 Hawaiian Charter School Youth and many of Hawaii’s top Mana Mele artists from across several genres (Jack Johnson, John Cruz, Paula Fuga). Love the acoustic guitar and ukulele, and all those joyous voices raised in song.

This awesome intergenerational collaboration will open your heart (oh, the warmth of humanity!). You’ll enjoy the scenic views of Hawai’i, the beautiful diversity of all the students, a bit of hula, and that unmistakable feeling of aloha. Read more about the Mana Mele Project, Hawai’i’s first Music and Multimedia Academy, here. You gotta love that cool silver bus, which is a state-of-the-art, solar-powered mobile studio!


On that note, I wish you a good Tuesday and a good week.




Be Kind



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

19 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. Elena would love that Darcy/Lizzy mug! And I am so touched by the dad and his toast sculptures. How hard it must be to avoid all those foods. I like all the participatory animals in the book day poster. xo


    1. Yes, very cool poster for sure. Severe food allergies for kids is such an overwhelming challenge. Easy to understand Scarlett’s fear of trying new foods.


  2. That Dad with his toast sculptures is a boss. His daughter now feels special, instead of a victim of circumstances. Go good parenting!


  3. Thanks, Jama. LOVE the food art, and I definitely need inner calm–will look for that anthology.

    Hooray for Multicultural Children’s Book Day too! Mia Wenjen, one of the co-founders, is fabulous!!


    1. Hi Maria,
      Glad you enjoyed the food art. Sometimes a visual feast is just what we need to lift our spirits. The anthology is nice to have on hand whenever you need a quiet moment to center yourself. And I agree — Mia is fabulous (where does she get all that energy)!


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