nine cool things on a tuesday

1. How about a pop of color and whimsy? Love the charming crochet assemblages created by Finnish textile artist and teacher Tuija Heikkinen.

A far cry from the kitschy crocheted doilies of yore, Tuija’s designs and illustrations consist of separate crocheted elements arranged in fun, pretty, cheerful ways. Nice to see how she’s reimagined the craft!

See more at her Instagram, where you can also check out her sewing and embroidery projects.


2. Coming Soon! Look out for Margo Sorenson’s YA/crossover adult novel Secrets in Translation, to be released October 19, 2018 by Fitzroy Books.

In this celebration of Italian life and culture, seventeen-year-old Alessandra returns for the summer to Italy, where she grew up. Pressured by her parents into babysitting a rebellious twelve year old—ruining holiday plans with newfound American friends—Alessandra resigns herself to a tedious summer in Positano. Her babysitting gig, however, turns out to be anything but boring! Not only does Alessandra fall for the handsome son of the Bertolucci family, renowned for their limoncello production, but when a body mysteriously turns up on the beach, the influence of organized crime in Positano becomes frighteningly real. As Alessandra is drawn further into an elaborate conspiracy, she must risk everything to protect herself, her family, and those she loves, and in the process finds herself—and her Italian heart.

I read this one over summer break and loved it! It was the perfect escape from all the madness. I’m still sighing over Margo’s beautiful descriptions of Positano and enjoyed meeting the interesting and intriguing characters in her story. Happy to report that Margo will be doing a guest post here at Alphabet Soup during pub week. Limoncello, anyone? 🙂


3. Pad Pad Paddington! Mr Cornelius and the 70-something resident Paddingtons are thrilled that the Royal Mint is now offering special commemorative coins featuring our favorite bear from darkest Peru.

This is the first time Paddington has appeared on a UK 50p coin, and it was struck to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of his first book, A Bear Called Paddington.

Choose from brilliant uncirculated UK 50p silver or silver proof (gold proof coins sold out). The silver proof coins come in two designs, available in a Limited Edition Presentation of 60,000. This a wonderful keepsake for Paddington fans as well as a beary promising investment for avid coin collectors.

I have the Paddington at the Station silver proof coin and it’s gorgeous. Only problem is, now Mr Cornelius thinks he should have a coin with his picture on it too . . .

Visit the Royal Mint to get your furry paws on one. They also have a Beatrix Potter range. 🙂


4. *Yawn* Don’t take it personally, but I’m ready for a little nap. Especially if I get to snooze on a comfy bread bed!

Made by Japanese sofa manufacturer Cellutane, this toasty tempter is actually a sofa bed. Loaf or lounge around for awhile if you like — or fold it out for some serious slumbering.

These are handmade with memory foam to guarantee cozy softness. Now your dream of being enveloped in a warm loaf of homemade bread can come true. Only caveat: If you’re over 5’4″ tall your legs will dangle over the edge. 😀

Still, a fun choice for kids or short grown-ups with a penchant for pan (Japanese for bread). Available via Rakuten for about $145.


5. New Book Alert! Just released September 4, 2018: We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson (Crown BYR, 2018)!!

Fifty of the foremost diverse children’s authors and illustrators–including Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson, and Kwame Alexander–share answers to the question, “In this divisive world, what shall we tell our children?” in this beautiful, full-color keepsake collection, published in partnership with Just Us Books.

What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? With 96 lavishly designed pages of original art and prose, fifty diverse creators lend voice to young activists.

Featuring poems, letters, personal essays, art, and other works from such industry leaders as Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming), Jason Reynolds (All American Boys), Kwame Alexander (The Crossover), Andrea Pippins (I Love My Hair), Sharon Draper (Out of My Mind), Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer), Ellen Oh (cofounder of We Need Diverse Books), and artists Ekua Holmes, Rafael Lopez, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, and more, this anthology empowers the nation’s youth to listen, learn, and build a better tomorrow.

Wow! Much needed and eagerly anticipated, this timely treasure trove sounds like a must have for home, school, and public libraries. It’s already earned **starred reviews** from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus, which called it, “A love song from children’s literature’s brightest stars to America’s indigenous children and children of color, encouraging them to be brave and kind.”

Can’t wait to get my copy and bask in all the goodness.

Congratulations to Wade and Cheryl. Thanks for putting this together!


6. Time for my novelty kitchen gadgets fix. I like to check out Fred and Friends every once in awhile to see what’s new.

This pasta-licious spoon rest caught my eye. Mamma Mia, rest on the ravioli!

Mr Cornelius spotted these bear oven mitts right away. Actually, they scared him a little since they’re huge compared to him. Ever the fashion forward ursine, he noted that the mitts perfectly match my bear slippers. He likes to keep everyone stylish in the Alphabet Soup kitchen.

But my favorite is the donut pin cushion. Too cute! Appropos since Len’s new nickname for me is “Pin Cushion” (I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist). Stick me!


7. Hooray, a new Andrea Potos poetry collection just came out in July! Check out A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Press, 2018).

This collection exults in images of luminous earthly beauty – a blue scarf lake, Greek bread that tastes of heaven and salt, cobbled streets shining like jet in the rain – that also hint at the inevitability of loss. In these poems, Potos prepares to watch her daughter leave home and then takes us with her and the daughter on her journey to Greece and into the mountains of her ancestors, where eventually they arrive to the ruin that was once the home of her beloved grandfather. There is a sense of resilience in the talismans she evokes – fresh cut lemons and olive oil, stars in the sky that light up the stones at night, and of course, the stones themselves – that image by image bring past and the present together to offer a deep sense of home.

You may remember Andrea stopped by not too long ago for a chat about Arrows of Light, and we featured several poems about her mother. Prior to that, we shared a poem from Yaya’s Cloth, with a family recipe for Baklava. Always a pleasure to read more of her work. 🙂


8. Heads up ice cream lovers! Don’t you want an ice cream sandwich purse? Now you can get your frozen dairy fix without ever worrying about any of it melting. 🙂

I’ve packed away many an ice cream sandwich in my time, and like the idea of ice cream fashion accessories.

You can get a matching ice cream sandwich card holder and wallet too. Bags and wallets both come in neopolitan or plain vanilla. 🙂

More info at The Shoe Bakery (check out their wild and wonderful yummy footwear too).


9. Finally, something to make you want to reread a classic and lick your chops: A Literary Tea Party: Blends and Treats for Alice, Bilbo, Dorothy, Jo, and Book Lovers by Alison Walsh (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018).

Tea and books: the perfect pairing. There’s nothing quite like sitting down to a good book on a lovely afternoon with a steaming cup of tea beside you, as you fall down the rabbit hole into the imaginative worlds of Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit, and Sherlock Holmes . . .

Fire up your literary fancies and nibble your way through delicate sweets and savories with A Literary Tea Party, which brings food from classic books to life with a teatime twist. Featuring fifty-five perfectly portioned recipes for an afternoon getaway, including custom homemade tea blends and beverages, you will have everything you need to plan an elaborate tea party. Cook up and enjoy:


  • Turkish Delight while sipping on the White Witch’s Hot Chocolate from The Chronicles of Narnia


  • Drink Me Tea with the Queen of Hearts’s Painted Rose Cupcakes from Alice in Wonderland


  • Eeyore’s “Hipy Bthuthday” Cake with Hundred Acre Hot Chocolate from Winnie the Pooh


  • Hannah’s Sweet Potato Bacon Pastries and Jo’s Gingerbread from Little Women


  • Tom Sawyer’s Whitewashed Jelly Doughnuts from Tom Sawyer


Accompanied with photographs and book quotes, these recipes, inspired by the great works of literature, will complement any good book for teatime reading and eating.

You can see why this new cookbook has my name written all over it. I was not familiar with the author’s website, Alison’s Wonderland Recipes, before I accidentally stumbled upon this book. I have it on reserve at my library and can’t wait to take a look. Meanwhile, I’ll be checking out Alison’s site. Looks delish!


To wrap everything up, two blue songs from the one and only King of Rock ‘n Roll. Elvis was quite a big part of my musical adolescence. Saw all his movies at least twice and used to act some of them out with my cousins. Biggest thrill, though, was seeing him in that powder blue convertible on Kam Highway while they were filming a scene from “Blue Hawaii.” Traveled that road maybe thousands of times with its red dirt and pineapple fields.



And this one should get your blood pumping:

Can you believe his gyrations were once considered obscene? Good times. 🙂







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

15 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. Love that pin cushion and the ice cream sandwich purse! Looking forward to hearing more about Secrets in Translation (and will you be sharing any recipes from the literary tea party?).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bello Positano!! That does sound like great escapist fiction, Italian style!

    Thanks for sharing Tuija Heikkinen’s textile art–love how vibrant it is! I’ll look for her on IG.

    I have the Hudson book on request–we need it!!

    Thanks, Jama–so good to have you back with all of these pick-me/us-uppers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You add to my book lists every time, Jama, & then there’s that donut pin cushion, oh my, and a Paddington coin! As you write, I have no favorites, they are all ‘cool’! It is fun that you traveled that blue road shown with Elvis.Thank you for being back on Tuesday!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hah! Pincushion. That’s adorable — and hey, if it works, Len can laugh all he wants! I totally love my Mom’s old tomato pincushion, but now I’m looking… at doilies and a pincushion AND a book… Glad to have you back, despite the grumbling of my wallet.

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  5. My son acquired a plush ice cream sandwich from Five Below over the summer; it looks like a bunny or cat – it’s very cute. I’d show you a picture but apparently it no longer exists according to the internet. 😛

    The Paddington coin is adorable – although the train in the background feels too modern. Paddington always had a bit of an older, nostalgic feel for me, given when it was written. (And now I want to re-read Paddington in general. :-D)

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