nine cool things on a tuesday

1. You know how it is. You stumble out of bed, reach for your phone, turn on the TV, or if you’re old school, check the headlines on the front page. There is this urge to find out if the world is still intact.

Even though you don’t want to, you check Twitter. Which of our allies has been insulted by the highest office in the land? Who’s been given a new nickname and attacked? What lies have been told?

Mornings are hard enough, but all this is . . . unbearable and demoralizing. For survival sake, we all need a little levity. Why drink your first cup of java in a ho-hum mug when you can brace up, smile, and be a little naughty? 🙂

Check out the cool camping mugs at pnwenamelco (Pacific Northwest Enamel Company). I love owner and designer Karen Simpson’s irreverence! Political humor not your style? She’s got designs for outdoor lovers, nerds, Harry Potter fans and more. These make a fun novelty gift, or if you’re in the mood, treat yourself!  Nephew cracked a rare smile when he received the Covfefe mug for his birthday last summer . . .


2. So, as the joke goes, “How do you like your eggs?” Answer: “In cake.” 😀

But if you’re Michele Baldini, your answer would probably be, “Fried up as a work of art.” The 20-year-old medical student from Mexico makes breakfast magic with his eggstraordinary yolk and white creations.

Using a plain black frying pan as his canvas, he’s done people, a little Van Gogh, countries, animals, symbols, whatever comes to mind.

His wolf howling at the moon is a fan favorite, but I’m quite partial to the kitty face. Wonder how many yolks he’s broken in the process? Lots more at Michele’s Instagram, “The Eggshibit.” Omelet you go now . . . 😀


3. New Book Alert! Just released February 8, The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates (Paula Wiseman/S&S, 2018).

In the tradition of Alison McGhee’s Someday, beloved illustrator Amy June Bates makes her authorial debut alongside her eleven-year-old daughter with this timely and timeless picture book about acceptance.

By the door there is an umbrella. It is big. It is so big that when it starts to rain there is room for everyone underneath. It doesn’t matter if you are tall. Or plaid. Or hairy. It doesn’t matter how many legs you have.

Don’t worry that there won’t be enough room under the umbrella. Because there will always be room.

Lush illustrations and simple, lyrical text subtly address themes of inclusion and tolerance in this sweet story that accomplished illustrator Amy June Bates cowrote with her daughter, Juniper, while walking to school together in the rain.

Been a fan of Amy’s work since she illustrated Minette’s Feast by Susanna Reich (Abrams, 2012). Love that she and her daughter created this picture book together. 🙂

Check out this interview with Amy and Juniper at Romper, where they discuss how a tense atmosphere at Juniper’s middle school following the 2016 election inspired this story of love and acceptance. Positive stories and beautiful art are a powerful form of resistance!


4. You know me. I’m a sucker for novelty kitchen stuff. Have you visited Ototo Design yet? The studio was founded by two students at the Ascola School of Art and Design in Tel Aviv. They, along with other members of their team, now design clever and whimsical functional household items for the kitchen, office, and bath.

Naturally, I’m partial to the kitchen things. Nothing like infusing a playful spirit into everyday objects. Love the witty names for their creations too.

See the entire line at the Ototo Design website.


5. Look what’s coming out March 6, 2018: Backyard Fairies by Phoebe Wahl (Knopf, 2018)!

Fairies are real, and they’re all around us! Award-winning author-illustrator Phoebe Wahl offers a fanciful and beautifully illustrated peek into the hidden world of fairies, sprites, and other magical creatures.

A girl searches for fairies in her backyard and the woods beyond, following little clues and traces of magic. Fairies and other magical creatures can be found on every page, hidden among the flowers, trees and pebbles. But although readers can see them, the girl keeps searching, just one step behind… In the end, it is clear (both to the girl and readers) that there is magic all around, even when it’s hidden in plain sight.

Phoebe Wahl takes us deep into the world of fairies, and her vibrant, multi-textured woodland scenes are every bit as enchanting as the creatures therein. A gorgeously illustrated paean to imagination and the natural world.

Love, love Phoebe’s work! Her debut picture book, Sonya’s Chickens (Tundra Books, 2015) won the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award. Can’t wait to see this new one!!


6. Snarkity snark snark: You have to laugh to keep from crying. Some fun stuff featuring the Orange Menace from The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild:

The UPG is a fun place to procrastinate browse stay out of trouble enlighten yourself. Don’t miss the wind-up Trumpzilla, the National Embarrassmints and Impeachmints.

Wonder of wonders, my magnetic puppet collection keeps magically multiplying. Amazing . . . 🙂


7. Especially for haiku lovers: Lovely Issa haiku mini poem cards! The beautiful and talented Robyn Hood Black is offering a gift pack of four seasonal cards at her Etsy shop artsyletters.

She hand lettered the haiku (as translated by poet and scholar David G. Lanoue), and then had them printed in a brown-black ink on a portion of a vintage Rand McNally World Map (section featuring Japan). Different colors to represent each season.

These poem cards can also be purchased individually. Small poems on small cards — perfect for tucking into greeting cards, carrying in your pocket or handbag, or surprising a special someone who might need a sprinkling of loveliness to brighten their day.

Here’s the Spring haiku:

the mountain sunset
within my grasp …
spring butterfly

Imagine visiting a friend for dinner and finding a haiku card at your place setting. 🙂


8. Talk about right up my alley.  Look what’s coming out April 10, 2018 The Little Library Cookbook: 100 Recipes From Your Favorite Books by Kate Young (Sterling Epicure, 2018)!

Would you like to taste Paddington Bear’s marmalade? Or a clam chowder from Moby Dick? Drawing from her popular food blog, The Little Library Café, Kate Young has created more than 100 recipes inspired by beloved works of fiction—classics and contemporary bestsellers alike, including stories for all ages. The appealing cookbook offers delectable dishes to serve for breakfast, family dinners, holiday meals, midnight feasts, and parties and celebrations. You’ll learn how to prepare the afternoon tea served at Manderley and decadent tarts the Queen of Hearts would love—all while reading food-related excerpts from your favorite books.

Ooh-la-la. Want! Like that the recipes are for both children’s and adult books. Of course, any cookbook that includes Paddington’s marmalade is fine by me (*cue in spontaneous bear applause and smacking of lips*).

And — until I saw this book, I hadn’t heard of Kate’s blog, The Little Library Café. Again, ooh-la-la!


9. Have you seen the beautiful embroidered houses created by Seattle-based textile artist Theresa Lawson?

Oh, the intricate and exquisite detail!

I know some folks like to have a painting of their homes, but an embroidered piece is especially unique.


Theresa’s embroidered houses are all done by commission, and she completes about 15 pieces per year. Twice a year, she advertises openings on a first-come-first-served basis. She works closely with customers to create just the piece they want. Find out more at her site The Monsters Lounge.


Finally, it’s time for a blue song. This duet by Tony Bennett and k.d. lang is sooooooooooo smooth. A gorgeous rendition guaranteed to transport you. Take the time to internalize the beauty and enjoy!



Be good, be kind, embrace positivity.

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

22 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. I got side-tracked looking at Theresa’s embroidery site. I’ll bet my parents would like an embroidered version of their house. Thanks for sharing all these goodies, Jama! I’m happy the umbrella is big enough for everyone.

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  2. You’ve made my Tuesday so bright, Jama. And always add to my book list. I ordered The Big Umbrella, will love it I’m sure. I chuckled over the ‘small hand soap’, how could anyone resist? And loved seeing Robyn’s haiku cards. Then, Tony Bennett, Wow. He is a long-time favorite, & with K.D. Lang! Happy Tuesday to you!

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    1. I love the haiku cards. Had fun giving some away for Valentine’s Day. 🙂 Once saw k.d. lang in concert. Singular talent, and Tony is amazing, still singing (and his voice still sounding great).

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  3. Oh, I love them all! I laughed and nodded and pined my way through this roundup, Jama – the mugs and soap and such brought life-extending chuckles; the beauty of each of those books and those amazing embroidered houses made me sigh; and those egg artworks are something else! Thanks so much for including my haiku cards in the bunch. XO

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