nine cool things on a tuesday

Copyright © 2017 Mary Engelbreit


1. Been a Mary Engelbreit fan for decades, especially enjoying her greeting cards and calendars. Happy to see her social justice pieces in recent years — like this lovely “Humanity” fine print. It’s available in two sizes, 11″ x 14″ and 16″ x 20″ (signed or unsigned). This design is also available on a t-shirt (50% of proceeds to benefit the ACLU). Nice Valentine’s Day gift, but the sentiment is a good one year round. Check out her online shop for lots more – – books, bags, apparel, games, puzzles, mugs. I am especially loving this Sweet Sipping Cocoa Box. 🙂


2. New Book Alert! Just released January 8: The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung by Samantha R. Vamos and Sebastià Serra (Charlesbridge, 2019):

This is the bilingual story of the farm maiden and her cadre of animals, who crafted a festive piñata for a surprise birthday party. A beautiful and lively companion to the award-winning The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred (2011).

A young girl sets out on errands for the day, and while she’s gone, the farm maiden prepares a piñata from scratch with help from a boy, horse, goose, cat, sheep, and farmer. After they all fall asleep in the afternoon sun, they must scramble to finish preparations in time–just as the girl arrives back to her surprise party. Key English words change to Spanish as the cumulative verse builds to the celebratory ending. With the familiarity of “The House That Jack Built,” the tale cleverly incorporates Spanish words, adding a new one in place of the English word from the previous page. This book makes learning the language easy and fun. Back matter includes a glossary, definitions, and directions for making a piñata at home.

Sounds good, no? It’s already earned a *starred review* from Foreword Reviews. Check out this recent audio interview with Samantha at the publisher’s site.

Congratulations to Samantha and Sebastià!


3. Many of you know I’m a big fan of handmade-heartmade objects, and being a book lover, I’m especially blown away by Susan Taylor Brown’s beautiful handmade books.

Recently, Susan posted this Journal Flip video on her YouTube Channel, showcasing a custom Feathers-themed journal she recently made for children’s author Debbi Michiko Florence. It’s just gorgeous in every way. Love all the eco-dyed pages, journaling cards, flip outs, tuck spots, pockets, vintage fabrics, and carefully chosen ephemera. See for yourself:

Debbi intends to use it as a travel journal. What a beautiful way to record precious memories and impressions!

Susan says she’s currently taking commissions, but as you can imagine, there’s quite a queue for these wonderful books. They’re definitely worth the wait, though. 🙂

Meanwhile, check out and/or subscribe to Susan’s YouTube Channel. You can see other Journal Flips (she recently did a lovely Romantic Journal) as well as process videos and even a tour of her studio. It’s also a good way to learn about any new items she may offer for sale in the future.


4. What’s soft, fluffy, cuddly, totally adorable and calorie free? Squishable Comfort Food!!

Just the thing when you’re in the mood to caress your cheese, pet your pretzel, or stroke your sushi. Talk about cuteness overload (yes, there’s pie!).

There’s a Squishable to satisfy every craving, from toaster pastries to ice cream cones to waffles to snow cones to pickles and cinnamon buns. They also come in three sizes — standard, mini, or micro. Imagine hugging your hamburger after a long day at work, or playing donut toss with your kids. Use them as pillows or projectiles — great tactile therapy!

What’s also cool about Squishables (besides food, there are animals, mythological creatures and other miscellaneous objects) is that over half of them were designed by fans. Audience input is a big part of the business; you can submit a Squishable design or vote on those submitted by others. Fun!

Of course the biggest problem is trying to decide which Squishable(s) to purchase. Check out all the other awesome designs at, and start cuddling!

❤️ Hat Tip to Andrea Potos :).


5. Another New Book Alert! Also released earlier this month, MEET MISS FANCY by Irene Latham and John Holyfield (Putnam/Penguin, 2019)!!

A charming and significant story set prior to the Civil Rights Movement about a boy who finds a way to challenge segregation laws.

Frank has always been obsessed with elephants. He loves their hosepipe trunks, tree stump feet, and swish-swish tails. So when Miss Fancy, the elephant, retires from the circus and moves two blocks from his house to Avondale Park, he’s over the moon! Frank really wants to pet her. But Avondale Park is just for white people, so Frank is not allowed to see Miss Fancy. Frank is heartbroken but he doesn’t give up: instead he makes a plan!

Frank writes to the City Council so his church can host a picnic in the park, and he can finally meet Miss Fancy. All of his neighbors sign the letter, but when some protest, the picnic is cancelled and Frank is heartbroken all over again. Then Miss Fancy escapes the zoo, and it’s up to Frank to find her before she gets hurt.

Always exciting when Irene Latham publishes a new book, whether it’s poetry, middle grade novel, or picture book. Such a talented and versatile writer!

MEET MISS FANCY has already received a *starred review* from Booklist:

“Meet Miss Fancy should be savored for its joyous, vibrant renderings of Avondale’s African American community and families, so full of movement and light that they often resemble stills from an animated film. This is a gem of a story.”

I do love elephants, and think this title is the perfect read for Black History Month.

Congrats to Irene and John!


6. Hug me, hug me, hug me! When you’re too far away to hug the ones you love, why not send them a Bear Hug by mail?

Love these Bear Hug notecards. They’re blank inside, so great for any occasion, but especially good for “thinking of you,” encouragement, or “just because.” You get four each of four different designs in a box (cute envelopes too!).

Mr Cornelius spotted these online and immediately ordered them. He plans to surprise a few friends with personal notes. He’s a big fan of snail mail and thinks everyone should send more of it! 🙂


7. Who’s the best reader of all? Oprah, of course. Have you seen her awesome reading of The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen at Storyline online?

This book was written by Thelma Lynne Godin, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, and published by Lee & Low in 2014:

A spunky girl has a hula-hooping competition with her friends in Harlem, and soon everyone in the neighborhood—young and old alike—joins in on the fun.

Kameeka is confident that today she will finally beat her rival, Jamara, and become the Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street. But then Mama reminds her that today is their neighbor Miz Adeline’s birthday, and Kameeka has a ton of chores to do to get ready for the party they are hosting. Kameeka’s disappointed to be stuck at home and can only think about the hoopin’ competition. Distracted, Kameeka accidentally ruins Miz Adeline’s birthday cake, and has to confess to her that there won’t be a cake for her special day. But then Miz Adeline confesses something too: she’s also got the itch—the hula-hoopin’ itch! Her fingers start snappin’. Her hips start swingin’. Soon everyone’s hips are swinging as the party spills out onto the street. The whole neighborhood’s got the itch—the hula-hoopin’ itch!

With vibrant illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen is a charming celebration of family and community ties. Set in Harlem, this intergenerational story shows the importance of staying young at heart.

I loved my hula hoop when I was little, so enjoyed this story a lot when I first read it a few years ago (besides, there’s cake!). Oprah’s reading renewed my love for this book. Enjoy!


8. Trick or Treat, smell my feet! Wait. Wrong season. But truly, you can smell my feet if you want to. Chances are good that when you see these socks, you might also want to EAT my feet.

Hooray for Pizza Socks!

PIZZA SOCKS are unique socks created from high-quality products confirmed by Oeko tex certificate. Hand kneaded combed cotton, baked with fresh ingredients in our oven guarantees that your legs will luxuriate every time you wear them. Thanks to their natural components of the floral origin, skin can freely breathe and be protected at the same time from cold and overheating. On the other hand delicate ribbing and a flat stitch Rosso makes socks more enjoyable and comfortable. PIZZA SOCKS not only entertain by its rich flavor but also by its super original look. Interesting setup of ingredients on each pizza will definitely not make your shoes look boring.

Made by a small family business in Central Europe, these come 4 pairs per box in different flavors: Pepperoni, Italian, Hawaiian, Capriciosa, and Vegetarian. There’s also a pair of plain dough socks in each box. You can get all one flavor or a mixed box, or buy just one pair in an individual slice box.

Fun gift for pizza lovers; comes in both women’s and men’s sizes. Some extra parmesan, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, a bottle of wine, and you’re all set! Available here.


9. Finally, let’s get civilized. Always fun to score a culture fix at the Met Museum Shop. Recently spotted these lovely French Teacup Notecards:


Evoking the charm and romance of 19th-century France, our teacup notecards are adapted from details of an album of porcelain designs. The album, by an unknown artist, features 20 pages of designs for teacups, teapots, sugar bowls, and creamers. The whimsical notecards included here are sure to bring a pinch of delight to daily correspondence.

There are 18 die-cut cards (3 each of 6 images) in a keepsake box. Like that the envelopes are pattern-lined. Surprise someone special with a pretty teacup in the mail this winter. Get yours here.


Now, to kick off 2019 with a great BLUE song: “Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino was an international hit in 1956, and ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine as the 8th greatest song of all time. I remember hearing this rock ‘n roll standard on the radio when I was little. Hope you find your thrill this year!











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** Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

27 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. Oh dear, Jama. This one is gonna cost me money, as I definitely need bear hug and teacup notecards. And how great to see that sirens has a new book out. And I love love love Susan’s journals—she’s done several other flip-throughs and I’m in awe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Susan’s books are beyond amazing! And you definitely need bear hug and teacup notecards. 🙂 Winter is the perfect time to stay cozy indoors and write personal notes to friends.


  2. Irene’s new book is wonderful, I agree, & I’ll look for that hula hoop book, Oprah did it beautifully! The plushies are darling, as are the hug notecards. My grandson wears all kinds of socks, think he would love the pizza ones. And, love Susan’s gorgeous journal. She is so creative! Thank you, Jama for a grand Tuesday!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so very much for the shout-out, Jama! You always find the most interesting cool things and I am thrilled to be a part of the round-up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so in awe of your many talents, Susan — enough to be a very talented writer and photographer, but also such a creative, inspiring artist (and may I add homebuilder/designer/gardener). You seem to do it all!


  4. These are all great. My favorite is the handmade book, such detail. You know there is a lot of love in that book. We used to sell Mary Engelbreit in the store I worked in. I was and still am a big fan of hers, her colors and art work always make me smile. Thanks for another great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting again! Susan’s handmade books are something else, aren’t they? Treasured keepsakes, every one. Happy 2019!


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