nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Molly Hatch is always good for a pottery fix. Though I enjoy her other collections (heritage, vintage farm, bluebird), I’m partial to her ‘good thoughts’ pieces. No surprise, since I have a decided weakness for dishes that talk to me.

Words + ceramics = bliss.

Molly Hatch ceramics = charming, optimistic, refreshing, classic + contemporary.

Visiting her website to check on new arrivals is decidedly dangerous, since there will always be something I can’t live without, whether it’s a mug, gift book, muffin pan, cute throw rug, or piece of stationery. Remember when I featured Bouquet in a Book and the Teacup Collection Note Cards? Yep, I’m a goner.


2. New Book Alert!! Eight big cheers for Love, Agnes: Postcards from an Octopus by Irene Latham and Thea Baker (Millbrook Press, 2018)!! Just released October 1st, this unique picture book features interesting facts about the giant Pacific octopus in an engaging story told via a series of postcards.

Agnes has a beak that can crush bones and arms and stretch wide as a car, —but that doesn’t make her a monster! After she comes across a postcard, Agnes, a giant Pacific octopus, strikes up a correspondence with various other creatures below— and above —the waves. Readers will delight in this unlikely introduction to the octopus life cycle.

Love, Agnes has received a glowing review from Kirkus, which deemed it “the most engaging of the recent wave of octopus stories, for reading aloud or reading alone.”

Irene is celebrating all month long with octopus poems and art at her blog Live Your Poem. Check it out!!

Congratulations, Irene and Thea!!


3. Heads up, Julie Paschkis fans!! She has created another gorgeous calendar to benefit the ACLU. HOPE 2019 is a one page poster (11″ by 17″) printed on heavy stock. The watercolor and ink drawing celebrates the values of the United States, and shows the struggle to preserve them. Each calendar costs $12: the entire $12 for each calendar sold goes to the ACLU. Get yours at Julie Paprika.

Perfect way to support a good cause and THINK BLUE!! 🙂


4. Royal Watchers: Check out Together: Our Community Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2018)HRH the Duchess of Sussex’s first solo project is a charity cookbook created with the Hubb Community Kitchen. It sold out via pre-order before its official release last month and is a #1 bestseller.

Together celebrates the power of cooking to connect us to one another.
In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, a group of local women gathered together to cook fresh food for their families and neighbors.
Over the chatter and aromas of the kitchen they discovered the power of cooking and eating together to create connections, restore hope and normalcy, and provide a sense of home. This was the start of the Hubb Community Kitchen.
Together is a storybook of this West London community, showcasing over 50 delicious recipes from the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen and including a foreword by HRH The Duchess of Sussex.

The women invite you to make their favorite simple dishes—many handed down over generations— from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean for you and your loved ones.
Every dish tells a story of history, culture and family, and each has been developed to use few ingredients and easy methods so that anyone can cook these personal recipes.
Together features mouthwatering recipes including Green Chilli and Avocado Dip, Coconut Chicken Curry, Eggplant Masala, Persian Chicken with Barberry Rice, Caramelized Plum Upside-Down Cake, Spiced Mint Tea and lots more.
This stunning charity cookbook is a homage to life, friendship and togetherness.

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will help the Hubb Community Kitchen to strengthen lives and communities through cooking.

Love how this project encompasses many of Meghan Markle’s longstanding passions: cooking, cultural diversity, female empowerment, fostering communities, global vision.

She and Prince Harry hosted a luncheon at Kensington Palace to launch the book on September 20. Nice that her mother Doria also attended.

See Meghan in the kitchen with this newfound community:


5. New Book Alert for Poets! Check out The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics, the latest craft book published by Terrapin Books. Just released on September 25, 2018, it is edited by Diane Lockward and is a notable follow-up to Diane’s popular Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop (2016).

Organized into ten sections with each devoted to a poetic concept, The Practicing Poet begins with “Discovering New Material,” “Finding the Best Words,” “Making Music,” “Working with Sentences and Line Breaks,” “Crafting Surprise,” and “Achieving Tone.” The concepts become progressively more sophisticated, moving on to “Dealing with Feelings,” “Transforming Your Poems,” and “Rethinking and Revising.” The final section, “Publishing Your Book,” covers manuscript organization, book promotion, and presentation of a good public reading.

The book includes thirty brief craft essays, each followed by a model poem and analysis of the poem’s craft, then a prompt based on the poem. Ten recyclable bonus prompts are also included. Ten Top Tips lists are each loaded with poetry wisdom from an accomplished poet.
The Practicing Poet pushes poets beyond the basics and encourages the continued reading, learning, and writing of poetry. It is suitable as a textbook in the classroom, a guidebook in a workshop, or an at-home tutorial for the practicing poet working independently. The craft essays, poems, and top tips lists include the work of 113 contemporary poets.


6. Attention Janeites!: It is a truth universally acknowledged that one benefits greatly from organizing one’s stuff. 🙂 Behold, this new Jane Austen zipper bag:


Measuring 5″ by 9″ with a 2″ gusset, it’s perfect for keeping small essentials close at hand (including smelling salts should Colin Firth as Mr Darcy come calling and you find yourself in a swoon).

With fun quotes from the novels, you’ll be in a literary frame of mind at all times, even able to impress your friends at the drop of a bonnet.

Add this one to your holiday gift list, and remember, “There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.”


7. Are you familiar with British felt artist Lucy Sparrow’s amazing exhibitions? I first heard about her several years ago when she had her first major show in London’s East End, “The Corner Shop.”

Funded via a Kickstarter project, she exhibited and sold 4,000 handsewn felt objects — candy, cigs, condiments, magazines, what have you. People went nuts over how realistic the items looked — there’s a certain childlike charm to felt pieces — soft, fuzzy, colorful, durable (no fraying!).

In 2017 Lucy brought her felt madness to America, with a NYC bodega (9,000 items), and this year to Los Angeles – a full blown 80’s style supermarket with 31,000 items! This was her largest project to date and she spent an entire year working on it.

I love that she’s made art accessible to everyone. If you’re lucky enough to attend one of her shows, you can purchase favorite pieces in a variety of price ranges. The LA “Sparrow Mart” ran for the entire month of August. I hear she has her sights set on Chicago, Dallas, Melbourne, Hong Kong or Tokyo next.

She started out making everything herself — from cutting the felt, to stitching, stuffing, then painting finishing details — but due to high demand she’s recently had to hire 4 full-time assistants and outsource 15 other helpers (31,000 objects is a heck of a lot of sewing!).

Enjoy meeting Lucy in this video. Wouldn’t you love to shop at the Sparrow Mart? It’s like living in a dream world.

More about Lucy at her website.


8. Look what’s coming out on November 6, 2018!! Another Gilmore Girls Cookbook!

In the first Eat Like a Gilmore book, fans of the Gilmore Girls were treated to 100 recipes for the decadent, delicious, and comforting foods that fueled the science-defying metabolisms of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. But that was only a tease. Now fans can make all those other foods that they crave every time they watch an episode: things like pizza, Chinese food, pop tarts, and pies! Here are more favorites from Luke’s diner menu, Sookie’s eclectic inn fare, and Emily’s fancy Friday Night Dinners . . . plus Korean “health” foods, soda shop favorites, foods for wallowing, and hangover survival food.

Here’s a taste of what’s inside:

  • Luke’s Cherry Danish
  • Mrs. Kim’s Eggless Egg Salad from the Dance Marathon
  • Taylor’s Butter Brickle Crunch Ice Cream
  • Tacos, burritos, tacquitos, and quesadillas
  • Jackson’s Raspberry Peach Jam
  • The Fiesta Burger from Al’s Pancake World
  • A whole chapter of just pie

And so much more!

With beautiful photos, helpful kitchen tips, and fun tidbits about the show, Eat Like a Gilmore: Daily Cravings is a must-have for any Gilmore Girls fan. Easy-to-follow recipes make it possible to cook and eat your way through Stars Hollow―and satisfy your own cravings!

I enjoyed featuring Kristi Carlson’s first book, Eat Like a Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of the Gilmore Girls (2016), and making the Pumpkin Pancakes, so it’ll be fun to see what this new cookbook is like. And thanks to Netflix, I can watch GG episodes to whet my appetite any time. 🙂

Eat Like a Gilmore: Daily Cravings (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018) is now available for pre-order.


9. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favorite picture books of 2018: Grace Lin’s luminous A Big Mooncake for Little Star (Little, Brown, 2018). It was released back in August, when I was still on summer blog break, so I didn’t have a chance to make any noise about it then.

Pat, pat, pat…
Little Star’s soft feet tiptoed to the Big Mooncake.

Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble?

In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon.

It’s adorable and of course I love the foodie element — what a brilliant way to explain the phases of the moon and celebrate the Mid Autumn Moon Festival. The mother-daughter bond is so endearing too. With five well deserved **starred reviews**, A Big Mooncake for Little Star is definitely on its way to becoming a modern classic.

In this Book Chat, Grace provides backstory and offers some timely thoughts about the importance of diversity and inclusivity in children’s literature.





Hats off to the mighty Pen and Ink Brigade, a group of women illustrators who’ve joined forces to help get the vote out in the critical midterm elections (and beyond!) with their awesome BLUE WAVE PROJECT!

Blue Wave by Maria Carluccio


They’ve created original blue waves to help turn the tide. You can support their efforts by purchasing original blue waves, postcard sets, pins, or t-shirts. All proceeds will be donated to and Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office.


Blue Wave Project postcard set



Blue Tsunami Pins


For more info, visit the Turn the Tide Vote Blue website!

You can also learn more about the project in Julie Danielson’s Kirkus interview with Carin Berger.




Now, here’s Joni Mitchell to sing us out. “Blue” is THE quintessential blue song, written by arguably the most gifted female singer-songwriter of the 20th century. It’s the title track from her groundbreaking BLUE album (1971), regarded by many music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time.

Intensely personal, intimate, raw, and ultimately universal, many of the lyrics from the songs on this album can stand alone as poetry. “Blue” contains references to James Taylor, her significant other when the album was recorded.

Joni turns 75 on November 7.







Hand printed letterpress card by Molly Hatch (click for info)

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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. It’s rather serendipitous that Laura Vaccoro Seeger’s book “Blue” has come out this fall, too! I have voted and am so hopeful! Thanks for this, Jama. You make my Tuesdays wonderful every week. I love each part, but Lucy Sparrow’s supermarket–Wow! I have Grace Lin’s book & need to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. BLUE!!!! You do find the coolest things, Jama. Tea is always a good idea as far as I’m concerned.

    Excited to read Love, Agnes–it looks adorable!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, beauty abounds in this post! I am particularly enamored of the Austen pouch, and these words: “There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.” And what tenderness I have for you, dear Jama — thanks for including AGNES in your post today. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jama — there’s so much sharing in this post. I feel like I need to come back and focus on one wonder at a time. My mother bought Duchess Meghan’s cookbook for me. Have you tried any of the recipes yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Meghan’s cookbook is on my wish list — haven’t seen it yet. I love the idea of all those international dishes. Maybe Santa will get it for me . . . 🙂


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