1. Let’s travel to the UK, shall we? We can “visit” the English countryside and seaside thanks to Thatcham-based mixed media and acrylic artist Jo Grundy, who is largely inspired by nature, patterns, textiles and ceramics.
In addition to acrylics, she uses oil pastels, paper, texturizer, PVA glue, stitching beads and buttons.
Don’t you just want to enter the world of her paintings? Pretty, serene, peaceful. Love the delicate details.
Of course I especially love how she uses BLUES in her work. 🙂
See more at Jo’s Etsy Shop, where you can purchase mounted and canvas prints, greeting cards, tote bags, and cushions. She’s also happy to take commissions.
2. New Book Alert! Just in case you missed it, must mention that The Ups and Downs of the Castle Mice by Michael Bond and Emily Sutton (Bodley Head, 2019),was released in the UK back in September.
It is the sequel to The Tale of the Castle Mice, which came out in 2016. Ups and Downs is one of the last (if not the last) picture books Mr Bond wrote before he died in 2017. As you know, the 70-something resident Paddingtons absolutely adore Mr Bond, and now that he’s gone, we cherish his final works even more.
Of course, these Castle Mice books are even more special because all of us here are also huge Emily Sutton fans. Her work in Ups and Downs is breathtakingly gorgeous. Do you see those teacups on the cover (why, yes, yes you should)?
Here’s a quick synopsis:
From the creator of Paddington Bear comes a tale of dastardly villains and unlikely tiny heroes.
The Perk family live in a doll’s house in a castle. The castle is their home – but when someone new with devious plans comes to rule the roost, will our family of mice come up trumps?
Full of humour and warmth, this nostalgic tale by Michael Bond is brought to life with exquisite detail by Emily Sutton.
LOVE. You. need. this. book!
3. Speaking of Michael Bond, here’s a new novelty book just released today in the U.S. by HarperCollins: Paddington’s Post is based on Michael Bond’s original stories and was illustrated by R.W. Alley.
A brand new Paddington adventure with real mail to open and enjoy!
This funny interactive picture book explores Paddington’s new life in London after travelling all the way from Darkest Peru and meeting Mr and Mrs Brown at Paddington station. Open the six envelopes inside and find out all about his new home, family and friends. These include Paddington’s first letter to Aunt Lucy, a half-price voucher for his favourite buns, a very special birthday card – and more!
Oh boy! Who doesn’t love to receive and open real mail?!
This book reminds me of The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Totally love the concept of envelopes and discovering the goodies inside. I am unabashedly pro-all-things-Paddington, and of course, a big fan of R.W. Alley, who’s been illustrating Paddington books since the 1990’s. Paddington’s Post is the perfect gift for fans of all ages!
4. What’s that? You’re thirsty? Can’t say I’m surprised. Not to worry, it’s tea time!
If you’re a discerning tea drinker, you’ll probably enjoy Rosie Lea Tea, a small family business run by Julie Cavey in Broadstairs, Kent, England. She sells bespoke, traditional, and unusual loose leaf teas. Loose, loose, loose! Don’t get your knickers in a twist — if you must have it in a bag, she also offers pyramid teabags. 😀
But mostly, Julie’s all about LOOSE — black, green, mint, white, and decaf. Throw in some fruit and herbal infusions.
Her blends include the intriguing Gin and Tonic, Purple Fizz, Cherry Bakewell, Gingerbread, and Banana Nut Loaf. You’ll find the familiar English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, etc., but best of all, she has a very cool line of Literary Teas — everything from famous novelists (Austen, Holmes, Bronte, Christie) to children’s classics to Shakespeare.
She also does fandom teas, so if you’re a Dr. Who, Harry Potter, or Game of Thrones aficionado, Julie’s got you covered.
Julie explains that the name, “Rosie Lea Tea” comes from the Cockney rhyming slang: “Rosie Lea” stands for “tea.” So one might say, “Let’s have a lovely cup of Rosie.” Julie started her business in honor of her Dad, a true Cockney who always had a cuppa in his hand (and her Nana read the leaves in the bottom of the cup). Her family always drank loose tea, no bags for them!
Take a look at Julie’s shop. It’s fun just to browse all the different items. All her recipes are unique, hand blended, hand weighed and packaged. Her goal is to offer customers premium quality tea at a fair price. Besides, who else has a line of Cake Inspired Teas? Sip, sip.
5. Here’s an artist to take you to a happy place: have you heard about Lili Scratchy? She’s an illustrator from Montreuil, France, who does children’s books, oodles of ceramics, and designs for toys, games, clothing, accessories, wallpaper, and more.
Lili’s real name is Frédérique Bellier-Reboul, but she goes by Lili Scratchy. And why not? So much fun! Her work is quirky, eclectic, cartoony, colorful, odd, surprising, even frenetic and explosive. You just never know what she’s going to do next. I like the spontaneous feel of her pieces — imagination gone wild.
She seems to be a compulsive doodler, whose drawings translate well into ceramic pieces.
I’m thinking the expression, “joie de vivre” was invented just for her. Can’t be sad when Lili’s around. Seriously, how could I not love someone with a book entitled, “La Soupe de Bébé”? Or an artist who creates a team of spoons?
6. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my favorite Paul recently published a picture book called Hey, Grandude!, illustrated by Kathryn Durst (Random House, 2019).
From Paul McCartney–an action-packed picture-book adventure celebrating the fun that grandparents and grandkids can get up to.
See the compass needle spin, let the magic fun begin!
Meet Grandude–a super-cool grandfather who is an intrepid explorer with some amazing tricks up his sleeve. Grandude is a one-of-a-kind adventurer! With his magic compass, he whisks his four grandkids off on whirlwind adventures, taking them all around the globe. Join them as they ride flying fish, dodge stampedes, and escape avalanches! Brought to life with gloriously colorful illustrations from talented artist Kathryn Durst, it’s the perfect bedtime story for little explorers.
This isn’t Paul’s first children’s book. He published High in the Clouds with Geoff Dunbar and Philip Ardagh back in 2005, but at 96 pages, it was more suitable for an older audience, perhaps beginning chapter book age. Hey, Grandude! is just right for the littler munchkins in the house, who delight in fun read alouds with lots of action. I guess when it comes to what grandkids would like, Paul knows of what he speaks — since he has 8 of them.
Enjoy these videos — Paul introduces the book, is recording the audiobook, and the third one was taken at his booksigning at Waterstones in Piccadilly back in September. I can’t imagine casually walking up to him and having him sign my book. I would probably faint . . . I’m always struck by how “normal” and down to earth he seems to be.
7. Mr Cornelius’s Choice: Meddy Teddy! Have you met Meddy Teddy yet? He’s a fully posable plush bear who loves to help kids learn about yoga, mindfulness, and meditation.
He looks adorable, and with his closed eyes, he’s a very calming presence. And boy, does he have all the moves! Yes, there’s a companion book:
He’d make a nice holiday gift — a teaching tool, a cuddly take-along companion, and something non-electronic!! Kids need help with de-stressing and relaxation just as much as adults do.
Find out more about him at the Meddy Teddy website.
8. From the Department of Whoa the Books Were Way Better Than I Thought They’d Be: Have you read the Call the Midwife trilogy by Jennifer Worth yet?
If you’re a fan of the PBS series, you should check out the books by Jennifer Worth. I’d been enjoying the series the last several years and didn’t think I needed to read Worth’s books. But then this past summer I decided to spend less time on social media so I could read more books that were on my radar but never got around to picking up (we all have long TBR lists, right?).
Isn’t it amazing how much one can actually read when spending less time online? 😀
Since the series is so good I thought the books would pale by comparison but I was SO wrong. Jennifer was indeed a midwife in postwar London during the 50’s, but how good a writer could she be? She went into much more detail about the events featured in the series, providing lots of medical information as well as a fascinating chronicle of East End social history, and in the second book, the horrors of the workhouse (eye opening!). She captured all the pain, heartache, untoward circumstances, close calls, and the many ways people coped with poverty, familial challenges and oppression.
But — there was also the unparalleled hope and joy of bringing new lives into the world, the amazing resiliency of the human spirit, the strong sense of neighborliness and community that carried everyone through those times.
I was impressed by Worth’s sense of recall, her medical knowledge and compassion for the people she encountered. Her memoirs are beautifully written and so compelling — and if you love the characters, you’ll learn what really happened to Sister Julienne, Cynthia, Chummy, Trixie, and Sister Monica Joan.
If you’re squeamish about graphic descriptions of childbirth or other medical conditions, you may wish to pass. But otherwise, a must-read trilogy!
9. Just to make sure you don’t go away hungry, savor these delicious works of food art courtesy of Connecticut-based multimedia artist Kristen Meyer.
Using natural materials to create geometric flat-lays in circles and squares, Kristin indulges her love of order and precision.
She uses everything from sticks, pebbles, shells, leaves, and flower petals, to book pages and feathers for her unique designs, but of course I’m most excited about her use of edible materials — crackers, pasta, fruit, cheese, and veggies.
In a crazy, chaotic world, somehow looking at Kristin’s art makes me feel calmer. It’s reassuring to see everything arranged just so. Kristin has worked in floral and window design, prop styling, and interior decorating. You can purchase Kristin’s prints via her website, Salvage-Design, and see more on her Instagram.
Now for our BLUE song: “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” was written by noted songwriter Fred Rose. Early versions were recorded by Hank Williams, Sr. and Charley Pride, and it’s been covered by many artists over the years, most notably, Willie Nelson, whose rendition on his iconic album Red Headed Stranger (1975) earned him prominence as a singer and recording artist.
Today I’m sharing Vince Gill’s performance of this classic country tune. If you’ve never seen Vince perform live, you must — even if you think you’re not a big country music fan. He simply has one of the most beautiful alto/tenor voices ever, regardless of genre, not to mention his incomparable guitar playing chops.
Maybe the best thing about Vince Gill is how humble and unassuming he is; he’s been described as “a reluctant superstar.” None of the glitz, glam, or puffed up ego stuff for him. He’s simply brilliant at what he does, and constantly works to be better.
I love that he said this:
Kindness would solve everything. It would solve everything if people were kind and fair-minded.
Enjoy him bathed in blue light.
HAPPY TUESDAY, HAPPY WEEK
DO UNTO OTHERS, AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU
TAKE A WALK
WHISTLE IN THE DARK
DON’T GIVE UP
BELIEVE IN BLUE
and today’s Election Day, so —
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** Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.