nine cool things on a tuesday

1. So of course the first cool thing for 2018 is a teapot. January is National Hot Tea Month, after all, and there are those who simply cannot resist handpainted pottery (who me?). 🙂

This beauty is made by Ceramika Artystyczna in Boleslawiec, Poland, and sold via Slavica Polish Pottery. They have a brick and mortar store in Prague, but you can also purchase their pieces online. They have a full range of tableware and bakeware — teapots, plates, bowls, mugs, serving dishes, etc.

Everything is hand decorated and microwave, freezer, dishwasher safe, chip resistant and lead and cadmium free.

And so pretty! Love their patterns.

Enjoy this video showing how their pieces are decorated.

Check out all their offerings here.


2. Look what’s officially out today: Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen: The Story of Six Novels, Three Notebooks, a Writing Box, and One Clever Girl by Deborah Hopkinson and Qin Leng (Balzer & Bray, 2018)!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers.

But before that, she was just an ordinary girl.

In fact, young Jane was a bit quiet and shy; if you had met her back then, you might not have noticed her at all. But she would have noticed you.

Jane watched and listened to all the things people around her did and said, and locked those observations away for safekeeping.

Jane also loved to read. She devoured everything in her father’s massive library and before long, she began creating her own stories. In her time, the most popular books were grand adventures and romances, but Jane wanted to go her own way…and went on to invent an entirely new kind of novel.

Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen includes a timeline and quotes from Austen’s most popular novels.

Art © 2018 Qin Leng

Who can resist a lovely new picture book biography about the incomparable Jane Austen? I’m a big fan of both Deborah Hopkinson (Fannie in the Kitchen, Independence Cake) and Qin Leng (Happy Birthday, Alice Babette). So happy they teamed up for this one!


3. Always exciting to see a new Julie Paschkis print! Check out “Apple Babble” — this giclee print of a painting is available in 3 sizes.

Don’t get addled as you wander through the alphabet — starting with an Apple and meandering all the way through to Zilch. The words and images have a loose conversation: a scallion is near a stallion, the moon is near noon, a vireo is up a tree.

We love alphabet themed stuff! Order yours at Julie Paprika.


4. For over a decade, Swedish artist Ulla-Stina Wikander has been collecting cross stitch embroideries mostly made by other women. About five years ago, she began using them to cover ordinary household objects from the 70’s — telephones, irons, hand mixers, etc., that she found at flea markets.

This unique idea has breathed new life into both the objects and the embroideries. Very cool way to upcycle vintage stuff!

Old things made new again, seen in a different context. Brilliant and fun! Check out her website for more.


5. New Book Alert: One Fun Day with Lewis Carroll: A Celebration of Wordplay and a Girl Named Alice, by Kathleen Krull and Júlia Sardà (HMH, 2018).

The wordsmith Lewis Carroll is famed for the freewheeling world of Wonderland in his beloved classics Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. In this gloriously illustrated picture book, Carroll’s childlike love of life is showcased alongside his brilliance at creating and adapting playful words and phrases. From brillig and uglification to frumious and chortle, the award-winning author Kathleen Krull uses many of Carroll’s own words to tell the story of a man who wanted to make children laugh and whose legacy continues to entertain and delight.

Callooh! Callay! When it comes to wordplay, few can top Lewis Carroll. I used to read “Jabberwocky” to my Freshman comp students as a lesson in diction. Can’t wait to chortle and galumph through this one. Sounds like frabjous fun!


6. What’s that? You’re hungry? Why am I not surprised? You’ve never been able to get through an entire cool things roundup without a good serving of vittles.

Have you seen Chris-Rachael Oseland’s An Unexpected Cookbook (CreateSpace, 2017)? Subtitled “The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery,” it’s sure to sate your great big hobbity appetite (I won’t tell anyone you like to eat 6 meals a day).

When a second generation geek with multiple degrees in history grows up to be a professional cookbook writer, it’s no surprise you end up with a lovingly researched book of Hobbit cookery.

Inside these pages you ll find one chapter for each traditional Hobbit meal. In addition to being based on historic recipes revised to fit Tolkien’s specific vision of the Shire, the dishes have the following themes.

– Breakfast – hot, fast, traditional morning food – Second Breakfast – cold, sturdy pies full of meat, veg and fruit to fuel a small adventure

– Elevenses – a hearty selection of breads to tide you over until Luncheon

– Luncheon – lighter fare appropriate for a pub

– Afternoon Tea – sweet biscuits, cakes and buns to accompany a caffeinated pick-me-up

Supper – a hot meal of meat, veg, and mushrooms with a sweet finish

– Dinner – slow cooked roasts and puddings that take hours to make, but are well worth the wait.

I’ve always liked the idea of a second breakfast. 🙂

Oseland adds:

In addition to the recipes, I also tuck in historical details about Tolkien’s life, what real people ate in his aunt’s home village (his inspiration for the Shire), and the way World War I and II shaped his writing and his relationship with food.

Small Adventure-sized Mincemeat Pies
Shire-tastic Seed Cake

Oseland’s book originally came out in hardcover in 2014, and this past September a second edition was released in paperback. This looks like a fun book for foodies, history buffs and of course, Tolkien fans. Comfort food, Bilbo Baggins style. Recipes are indexed to accommodate vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo/primal diets too. You can preview 10 recipes from the book at Oseland’s website,


7. Menus, menus, I love vintage menus! Have you checked out the Love Menu Art website?

These old menus are a great combination of kitschy art and restaurant history. Fun to see what dishes were popular in past decades and how much (or how little) they cost.

You can purchase prints (in several sizes) of these old menus, which are categorized mainly by the eateries’ geographical location: New England, Las Vegas, Chicago, Pacific Northwest, New York, New Orleans, the UK, etc.

Do you remember kids’ menus that were cool masks?

They also have menu art from private collections (Culinary Institute of America, Miss Buttolph British Library), some kids’ menus, and some from Diners and Drive-Ins. Each print comes with a copy of the interior menu when available. You can also purchase printed kitchen towels. Fascinating and delicious flavor of bygone days!


8. Another book to look out for: School People, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Ellen Shi (Wordsong, 2018).

Welcome to school, a building of brick “full of soul and heart,” eager for students and staff to fill its halls with sounds. This anthology of fifteen poems celebrates the grown-up people that children encounter throughout the course of their school day: the school bus driver with her morning smile, the teacher who inspires imagination, the rarely seen, yet caring custodian, and the nurse who heals hurts, big and small. There’s even a poem about the school building. Award-winning poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins has compiled this marvelous collection featuring a variety of brand-new works by well-known poets and beautifully imaginative artwork by illustrator Ellen Shi.

Can’t wait to read this one!

* Lee has a couple of other poetry anthologies coming out this year: World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum (Abrams, March 6, 2018), and, A Bunch of Punctuation, illustrated by Serge Bloch (Wordsong, August 7, 2018).


9. Finally, here’s something that will change the way you look at avocado pits (stones). Avocado Stone Faces!

Ireland artist Jan Campbell had an epiphany back in 2014. After enjoying an avocado for lunch one day, she noted that the stone was particularly beautiful. She decided to save it, carrying it in her pocket like a secret talisman. On a break from a bike ride awhile later, she took the stone out and noted that its surface was scratched and an orange pigment had settled  in the crack.

Was her pocket pet waiting for her to release him? She gathered some craft tools and slowly began to carve. A unique face emerged and from then on, she was hooked!

For awhile she sold her original stone carvings online, but according to her website, she’s no longer doing that, in order to create enough pieces for an exhibition.

But — she is selling bronze castings of some of her original carvings. Check it out! Lots more at Jan’s Instagram too.



To play us out, Elton John’s “Blue Eyes”:


Hmmmm, I think I’ll post a “blue” song with each Cool Things Roundup this year . . . 🙂



*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase something using a link on this site, Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support!

**Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


30 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. I just got the Lewis Carroll book from my library! It is exciting to read that one plus look forward to Jane Austen, too! Deborah Hopkinson’s books are so good! There is much to love here, Jama. I just grew an avocado plant from a pit, and I save peach pits, too, but those carvings are amazing. Another ‘cool thing’ to me is the Hobbit cookbook, maybe a ‘must have’ because Tolkien is another favorite. Thanks and Happy Tuesday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Both books are great. And I agree, Deborah’s books are so good! Sounds like you’re going to have to start carving your avocado and peach pits, Linda. 😀 I have the Tolkien cookbook on my Wish List.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic collection, Jama!! So much to love here. I was just looking to buy some Polish pottery recently. Love the colors and intricate designs. I’m excited about the Jane Austen book, and absolutely in love with the upcycled cross stitch! (Speaking of the Hobbit…the other day Elena was describing what kind of college she would like to go to, and I said, “You’re describing the Shire!”)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a shire-like college she could attend? Just as fun as going to Hogwarts, probably. 🙂

      The cross stitch woman is amazing. Can’t imagine trying to cut up needlework pieces to cover all those 3-D objects. How many people would even think up such an idea?


  3. First of all, thank you for sharing the news about “School People!” But there are so many other cool things here, too – my wife would love the pottery. my ex would love the Jane Austen book, and I’ll be on the lookout for the Hobbit Cookbook!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Polish pottery, but can’t afford it! However, I do have a square bowl like the one pictured, except the decoration isn’t as elaborate. What a fun blog! And yes, a “blue” song each Tuesday would be fun!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. At least you have one Polish piece. I haven’t made any purchases yet; most of my $$ is spent on English china/pottery. 🙂


      1. Thanks for mentioning that, Valerie. Haven’t been to Tuesday Morning in awhile. Sounds like I need to check it out again.:)


  5. Oh, NO! Teapots and-painted Polish bowls… oyyyyy, I don’t need any such thing!!! But they’re oh, so pretty. Welcome to the 2018 version of Jama Breaks the Bank. Le sigh.

    I’m holding off ’til March; I’ve been trying to do the No Shopping thing for a total of twelve weeks since Black Friday, and you’re not helping, with these embroidered telephones and avocado stone art. (Those faces are just precious!!!!!) However! I shall persevere!

    (It just may require bookmarking some websites, but I’m sure no one could possibly object.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. LOL. Twelve weeks is a long time to go without shopping. I admire your fortitude! I’ve been very good, haven’t bought any Polish pottery yet. And you needn’t worry about the embroidery stuff — not for sale, just for looking. Tee hee . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a gorgeous teapot!! I had no idea this was hot tea month–tea fan here :).

    And those avocado carvings are adorable–such creative people.

    The Jane Austen PB is in my library queue.

    Happy 2018, Jama 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For people like us, EVERY month is tea month. 🙂 I’ll never look at an avocado pit the same way again, now that I know there’s a little person waiting to come out. Happy 2018, Maria!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jama, this post is bursting with love and creativity, as ever… thank you! I love inventive artists, and the embroidery is amazing. Lots of good books, too.. thank you for sharing. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jama, there is so much here to wonder about. The tea cups are lovely ad the painter so patient. I spent a good deal of my life collecting antiques. Among the artifacts were old menus that I would share with my students to wonder what life was like at the time the restaurant was in business.The books sound wonderful especially the one about Lewis Carroll.

    Liked by 1 person

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