nine cool things on a tuesday

1. A lovely way to brighten your day: pictures by Israeli artist Jenny MeilihovLove her gentle, whimsical style. There’s a sweetness and innocence about her little people and animals that’s very comforting. Of course I can’t resist teacups and cake. 🙂 

Jenny studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art & Design in Jerusalem, where she majored in illustration.

To purchase original gouache paintings, prints, postcards, sketches, and mobiles, check out Jenny’s Etsy shop behappynow. Keep up with her latest creations at her Instagram.


2. New book alert: Just released September 7 is Partly Cloudy by Tanita S. Davis (Katherine Tegen Books, 2021)!

From award-winning author Tanita S. Davis comes a nuanced exploration of the microaggressions of middle school and a young Black girl named Madalyn who learns that being a good friend means dealing with the blue skies and the rain—and having the tough conversations on days that are partly cloudy.

Lightning couldn’t strike twice, could it? After a terrible year, Madalyn needs clear skies desperately. Moving in with her great-uncle, Papa Lobo, and switching to a new school is just the first step.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though. Madalyn discovers she’s the only Black girl in her class, and while most of her classmates are friendly, assumptions lead to some serious storms.

Papa Lobo’s long-running feud with neighbor Mrs. Baylor brings wild weather of its own, and Madalyn wonders just how far things will go. But when fire threatens the community, Madalyn discovers that truly being neighborly means more than just staying on your side of the street— it means weathering tough conversations—and finding that together a family can pull through anything.

So excited to read this — Tanita’s sixth novel (her second middle grade)! Kirkus called it “a timely novel full of thought-provoking questions.” Partly Cloudy is also a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. 🙂

Books of Wonder will be hosting a Virtual Double Launch Party via Crowdcast with Tanita and Janae Marks, author of A Soft Place to Land (Katherine Tegen Books, 2021) on Sunday, September 19, 2021 at 1 p.m. (EST). Click the flyer below to reserve your spot!

Congratulations to both Tanita and Janae!


3. How do I love thee, Paul? Let me count the ways. First, a brand new picture book coming out October 5, 2021: Grandude’s Green Submarine (Random House, 2021):

Celebrate the fun that grandparents and grandkids can get up to in this action-packed undersea adventure—a companion picture book to Paul McCartney’s #1 New York Times bestseller Hey Grandude.

Grandude’s inventions are the stuff of legend, and his new green submarine doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it flies as well as submerges! Grandude whisks the grandkids off on another adventure, but he and the Chillers soon find themselves in a pickle. Suddenly, it’s Nandude to the rescue! Nandude is an explorer as courageous as Grandude, with an amazing accordion-ship to boot! Between Grandude’s magic compass and Nandude’s magical music, everyone arrives home safely. But not before enjoying a parade, dancing rainforest animals, and a narrow escape from a grabby octopus. This tale is perfect for little explorers and Paul McCartney fans alike! Artist Kathryn Durst returns with glorious, humor-filled illustrations that are as beautiful as ever.

Looking forward to reading this one, as I enjoyed Hey Grandude! Fun nods to the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and Octopus’s Garden, too. About this book, Kirkus said: A refreshing change from so many other celebrity titles…Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight.” A good choice not only for kids, but diehard Beatles fans. 🙂


4. Second, Paul now has his own postage stamps! The Royal Mail has issued a special collection of stamps “honoring the most successful songwriter of all time.”

Choose from uber cool Presentation Packs, Framed Sets, Limited Edition Fan Sheets and Prestige Stamp books, First Day Covers and more. 

Zoom over to the Royal Mail site for all the deets!


5. And third, Paul and his daughters Mary and Stella have just published a new cookbook in tribute to Linda, who was quite a food pioneer as an early advocate of vegetarianism. Check out Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen: Over 90 Plant-Based Recipes to Save the Planet and Nourish the Soul by Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney (Little Brown, 2021):

Join the McCartney family for a feast of nearly 100 sustainable, plant-based recipes to save the planet and nourish the soul, in this deeply personal cookbook from Paul, Mary, and Stella honoring their late wife and mother, Linda McCartney.

Linda McCartney was a trailblazer of meat-free cooking, and she shared with her family the pleasure that eating compassionately could bring. Now Paul, Mary and Stella have reimagined Linda’s best-loved recipes, in a modern collection that fits perfectly with how we want to eat now.

Family favorites such as French Toast, Chili non Carne, Sausage Rolls, Shepherd’s Pie, Pulled Jackfruit Burgers and Crunchy Pecan Cookies are just some of the many simple, nourishing and sustainable vegan recipes included in this stylish book.

Complete with personal stories and intimate family photos spanning three decades, Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen is not only good for you, but for the planet too.

I’m looking forward to the personal stories and photos just as much as the recipes. I’ve been wanting to incorporate more plant-based recipes in our diet for a long time and welcome the delicious suggestions featured in this book. Added to my Wish List!


6. Perfect respite from this crazy busy world: Nicolas Fairford. Nicolas is a 30-something YouTuber whose eponymous lifestyle brand is all about making each and every day more beautiful.

His channel features artfully filmed, thoughtfully presented content on a variety of subjects such as home decorating, hosting dinner parties and picnics, floral arranging, cooking/baking, and spring cleaning.

Nicolas in his Edinburgh flat.

Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Nicolas also takes his viewers along on his travels, whether to Castle Howard in Yorkshire or the Goring Hotel in London. And wherever he goes, he has afternoon tea. 🙂

We also get an intimate look at his personal digs; he’s a self-taught interior designer who did a beautiful job of decorating his own flat. His soothing voice and calm demeanor inspires, uplifts and delights. He’s definitely a rare bird, almost as if he stepped out of another century.

Kitchen area in Nicolas’s flat.

Do check out his channel if you love British accents, teatime treats, and all things beautiful in a relaxing setting.

In this sample video, Nic offers a quick tour of Greywalls Luxury Hotel and Gardens (an Edwardian Country Home in Scotland), with afternoon tea, of course. He also makes Lemon Poppyseed Cake in his flat at the end.

Much more at the Nicolas Fairford Website and YouTube Channel.


7. Shopping Fix: Recently spotted these charming bone china mugs at The Bee’s Knees (one of my favorite British imports shops). It features the artwork of English author/illustrator Anita Jeram, whom you may know from her Two Bad Mice greeting cards or the illustrations she did for Sam McBratney’s bestselling classic, Guess How Much I Love You (Walker Books, 1994). 

The mugs come in two sizes; some are 10 oz., while other designs are 13.5 oz., showing Anita’s dogs, cats, rabbits, and mice busy doing wonderful things. Naturally my favorites are the foodie ones. 🙂

Three of Anita’s Two Bad Mice cards:

Visit The Bee’s Knees to see the full line of Anita Jeram merchandise, as well as all the other fabulous items available, including not only china, but tea towels, tins, melamine ware, textiles, and kitchen accessories from a variety of British brands.


8. Ooh-la-la! Look what just popped out of the oven: Wepop’s 3D bread shaped pillow! Yes, now you can cuddle, sleep with, or simply loaf around with your very own soft baguette. Oui!

It’s made with a skin-friendly, toxic free plush fabric stuffed with silky hypoallergenic cotton. The outside cover has a zipper so it can be easily removed for cleaning, and the pillow has bounce-back construction. 

Available in three sizes: 24”, 32”, and 40”. May also be used as a bolster or back cushion. Might be the greatest thing since sliced bread. 🙂


9. New Poetry Book Alert: Check out Penny Harter’s latest collection, Still-Water Days (Kelsay Books, 2021):

In this new collection of intensely spiritual poems, readers find a kind of compressed storytelling that speaks both lyrically and narratively to our place on history’s timeline. Characterized by textured emotional centers, clarity of form and expression, and a strong closeness to the natural world that is buttressed by the human spirit, these poems create a poetry of relationships that often points to a particular truth or leads readers to think more deeply about their own truths. Written during the Covid pandemic, Harter’s poems embrace all that is haunting and all that is hopeful. ~ Adele Kenny, Poetry Editor of The Tifferet Journal

You may remember when Penny visited Alphabet Soup about a year ago to discuss her previous book, A Prayer the Body Makes, as well as the daily poems she was writing and sharing on social media during the pandemic. She called it her “poetry ministry,” and so many of us were grateful for the comfort and solace her words provided. How wonderful that these poems are now published in a book we can return to again and again.

Thank you, Penny, and Congratulations!


♥️ BONUS COOL THING: A little blue clarity à la Grant Snider/Incidental Comics (hat tip to Tanita S. Davis):


And now, to sing us out with our blue song for this week, the one and only Patsy Cline, a native of Virginia, and the first female to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (1973). She’s considered one of the most celebrated, respected and influential vocalists of the 20th century, having paved the way for women in country music. “Lovesick Blues” was written by Irving Mills and Cliff Friend and was first performed in the Tin Pan Alley musical “Oh! Ernest” (1922). It’s fun to turn the clock back to a time when a purer form of country music was the gold standard.










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**Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

10 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. Woohoo and congrats to Tanita!❣
    What a very soothing afternoon tea video!
    Penny’s poetry ministry and Paul’s green submarine sound like just the ticket.
    Thanks for all the goodies, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats to Tanita. Her book sounds so good! And yea for Paul & last, Patsy, big grins for them, Jama. I love the tiny characters by Anita Jeram, of course, & every bit is a welcome back to you! Thanks, and Happy Week to you, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome back, and thanks for the new book alert! I appreciate that! Almost as much as I appreciate learning about the existence of one Mr. N. Fairford. All that gracious living and loveliness and he’s in SCOTLAND. *swoon* I will be watching ALL the videos… ::sigh:: And now I need tea…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. His videos are a much needed balm in this insanely crazy world. He recently moved to a new flat in Edinburgh and will share how he’s decorating it in future videos. 🙂

      Congrats again on the new book!!


  4. Oh those Anita Jeram cups are so wonderful!! This last year I discovered her rubber stamps at Colorado Craft Company. I have a limited budget and it is so hard to choose from her wonderful designs!

    The Nicholas Fairfield video was lovely and filmed in my favorite place I’ve never been, land of my ancestors. There is something so soothing about his voice – I felt my blood pressure go down! I’ll be watching more of his videos! He’s cute, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. His voice is definitely very soothing and I always feel calmer after watching one of his videos (and yes, he’s cute too). 🙂

      I’ve been an Anita Jeram fan for a long time, but mostly because of her greeting cards. I’d never seen any of her designs on china before so I was excited to see the offerings. I didn’t know she’s also on rubber stamps (I have a big rubber stamp collection but need to pare down, so it’s best I don’t buy any more . . . )


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