nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Hello, November! Enjoying Katie Daisy’s art is the perfect way to celebrate this month of gratitude. As a longtime fan, I can’t get enough of her beautiful illustrations and hand lettering. Wildflowers, forest animals, sea creatures, celestial bodies, and inspirational quotes grace everything from greeting cards and prints to sweatshirts and mugs. 

Her style is unmistakable; you might have seen her work without knowing her name. Uplifting, lovely, nature-rich, joyous, life-affirming, feminine, always a pleasure. It’s feel good stuff.

So, what’s new? She just published her latest book, How to Be a Moonflower: A Field Guide (Chronicle Books, 2021), in August.

I also like that she’s doing tea towels now (just ordered this one). 🙂

There’s never a shortage of wonderful prints — she always chooses the best quotes to illustrate. 

Wild Beauty, her 2021-2022 17-month weekly planner, is gorgeous. It’s overflowing with her beautiful art, and contains pages for notes and gratitudes to keep you moving forward day to day. (It also includes the November quote by Lucy Maud Montgomery shown at the top of this post.)

For lots more, visit Katie’s Official Website and Etsy Shop, The Wheatfield. If you’re in holiday gift shopping mode, this is the place!


2. New picture book alert: Coming out November 16, 2021: Love is Everything by Charles Ghigna and Jacqueline East (Schiffer Kids, 2021):

Music, silence, mountains, summer. Love is everywhere! This quiet, reassuring anthem reminds children that the world is full of love, kindness, and beauty. All you have to do is stop and look around. From the sunrise to the sunset and the winter to the spring, love is everything! A universal language filled with joy and wonder that promotes a sense of togetherness and inclusion. Through the soothing repetition of the theme “I believe in the good of all things,” Father Goose brings the world a message of hope and encouragement perfect for reminding kids to believe in themselves.

The Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers are especially excited to read this one. After all, the best books feature bears. 🙂 Ursine partiality aside, we do need more books with a positive message, encouraging kids to look for the good in others and the things around them. We live in very combative times, when it’s easier to criticize and complain than support and praise. Charles’s gentle, soothing rhyme is welcome balm for troubling times.

Congratulations to Pa Goose and Jacqueline!


3. Heads up, Tasha Tudor fans: This 2022 wall art calendar would be a lovely way to mark the days in the coming year.

It features 12 (11″ x 14″) pages with illustrations from Tasha’s whimsical world. The illustrations were taken from First DelightsA Child’s Garden of Verses (both the 1941 version and the 1981 version), A Brighter GardenGive Us This DayBetty Crocker’s Kitchen GardensSprings of JoyThe Tasha Tudor Cookbook, and The Night Before Christmas. 

Order yours at the Tasha Tudor and Family website. Find out more about Tasha’s life and work, with two recipes from The Tasha Tudor Family Cookbook in this post.


4. Ceramics Fix: Happy to stumble upon Justin Rothshank’s work recently. Based in Goshen, Indiana, he’s been working as a studio ceramicist since 2009. 

All his pieces are handmade; he creates his designs using ceramic decals that are applied to his pots after a liquid glaze firing. Some of the decals are designed and printed in-house, while others are sourced from commercial manufacturers around the world.

He sometimes applies gold, silver, or platinum luster or China paints, and likes to layer decals with 3rd, 4th, or 5th firings for a collaged effect. I like the delicacy of some of his compositions and several of his bird designs have an Asian vibe to them. And yes, there’s an alphabet mug! 🙂

All his pieces are meant to be used (hand washing or limited dishwasher use recommended; items with metallic lusters cannot be put in the microwave).

What first caught my eye was his political pottery, featuring the likes of RBG, the Obamas, Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams and Gavin Newsome, to name a few. Also fun to see Dr. Fauci, Mr. Rogers and Amanda Gorman.

The political mugs are available plain or with floral designs as shown here. Pretty unique!

Do browse his online shop to fully appreciate the range of his talents. You’ll also be able to see his collaborations with other artists.


5. “How you doin’?” Could you be any hungrier? Good thing this came out last month: Friends: The Official Central Perk Cookbook by Kara Mickelson (Insight Editions, 2021):

Gather your friends on your favorite couch and prepare over 50 recipes inspired by the iconic Central Perk café from the beloved hit sitcom Friends. Friends: The Official Central Perk Cookbook offers a variety of recipes for chefs of all levels. From appetizers and small bites to drinks and desserts, each chapter includes iconic treats from the show and café. The latest in Insight Editions’ best-selling line of Friends products has more than 50 recipes and beautiful full-color photography, as well as classic stills and iconic quotes from the show. This will be the year’s best home cooking companion for fans of the show that has always been there for you.

So, are you a Friends fan? We certainly were. Never missed an episode; it was something to look forward to every week. I’m glad the show is in syndication now, as I’d miss the ugly naked guy, Phoebe’s “Smelly Cat,” Joey going commando and wearing all of Chandler’s clothes, Monica’s Friendsgiving Feast, Rachel’s perfect hair and her on-again-off-again relationship with Ross, and who could forget Janice’s “OH. MY. GAWD”?

It certainly was cool to hang with these characters at the Central Perk. I did like that Monica was a chef, and I think this was the first time I’d seen latte mugs (the polka dot one was my favorite).

This new cookbook is a nice companion to Amanda Yee’s, Friends: The Official Cookbook (Insight Editions, 2020), which was published last fall. Both make excellent holiday gifts for diehard fans.

A Moist Maker sandwich or Joey’s Meatball Sub anyone?


6. Any Janeites out there? Better stock up on Jane Austen’s Pride and Peppermints:

Phoo! Phoo! No ordinary comfit will do. Those who have a better natural taste will like Jane Austen’s Pride and Peppermints best. Take them along when you are upon the gad, for these most generally pleasing itty mints will refresh your spirits.

Just the thing after a filling Regency supper to aid digestion and avoid biliousness. Best to have these on hand at all times, ready to pop into your mouth should Mr Darcy approach. Sweet tête-à-têtes!

And, while you await his proposal, pass the time with this 1000-piece Jane Austen Literary Lines jigsaw puzzle.

Each quote is rendered by hand, charmingly filigreed, and ornamented to pleasing effect.

You’ll lose yourself for hours in this captivating puzzle – a new way to surround yourself with Jane Austen’s words – her wit, her empathy, and her still-brilliant observations about a party.

Minimal puzzle dust. Reduced glare matte finish. Each has its own mini poster with puzzle art inside. 19¾ x 27½ (50cm x 70cm)


7. Paul McCartney time: Remember when I featured Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen (Little Brown, 2021) in September’s Roundup? Recently Paul and his daughters Mary and Stella sat down for a casual conversation with English actor and comedian Romesh Ranganathan (streamed live October 6). They discuss favorite family meals, food memories, and some of the dishes they cook at home. It’s interesting that when Paul and Linda became vegetarians back in the day, they were in the minority when it came to concerns about environmentalism and animal cruelty. As Paul says here, people are finally catching up; veganism and vegetarianism have now gone mainstream. Plant-based recipes are the way to go!

This video is a pleasant way to spend an hour, if only to observe Paul with his daughters. Also enjoyed hearing about Paul’s sandwich-making prowess (he’s quite proud of it).


8. Fun and charming picture book alert: Check out Gwendolyn’s Pet Garden by Anne Renaud and Rashin Keiriyeh (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2021):

Gwendolyn longs for a pet. What kind? Any kind! How many legs? Two, four, ten–she’s not picky! But her parents have other ideas, and instead they give her . . . a box of dirt. “It smells of swamp,” Gwendolyn says–but her parents say it smells of possibilities. And once Gwendolyn gets savvy about seeds and soil, sun and shade, she finds they are right. The dirt starts performing some amazing tricks, and soon she has a whole pet garden of her very own–it might not have “any legs at all, but it was alive, and Gwendolyn could talk to it, care for it, and watch it grow.”

Dynamic illustrations full of funny details show the love Gwendolyn puts into caring for her “pet,” and her enthusiasm and pride are sure to inspire gardeners and aspiring gardeners alike.

Sounds like a cute twist on the ‘I want a pet’ theme that may inspire kids to take up gardening. After all, plants are alive too, and just like two or four-legged pets, they require care, feeding, nurturing, and a loving heart to help them grow and flourish. Besides, Gwendolyn sounds like a spunky, irrepressible character — just the kind kids love reading about. Score a copy of this one soon! 🙂


9. We must have poetry! Wanted to give you the heads up about Diane DeCillis’s latest poetry collection, When the Heart Needs a Stunt Double (Wayne State University Press, 2021):

Who wouldn’t want a metaphorical stunt double to take the perilous fall that comes with the pain of loss or profound disappointment? The poems in When the Heart Needs a Stunt Double by Diane DeCillis consider resourceful ways in which we become our own stunt double and explore through a poet’s eyes the anatomy of the mind, body, and soul. 

Although many of these poems investigate loss and heartbreak, this book is not about being a victim. It’s about how we not only survive our most challenging moments but how we thrive in spite of them. These are poems about all of the ways our hearts both help us and betray us during major life events: dealing with divorce, the death of a loved one, separation from those closest to you, or with the agonizing experience of memory loss. The speaker appreciatively observes “how hard the muscle has worked / lifting and lowering the weight of love and sorrow.” DeCillis writes that loss can feel like your heart is limping “like a wounded animal / before you sink into the shelter of your own shadow.” But with every loss in these poems comes rebirth-a beautiful, sensory-rich wildflower garden of new breaths and experiences. The character of the heart is depicted as a piece of human anatomy at the same time it’s portrayed as its own world; an entire planet. DeCillis personifies the mitral, aortic, and pulmonary valves, describing our bodies as blooming with vegetation, a recursive image of living things thriving inside living things. 

When the Heart Needs a Stunt Double takes us on a journey of what it means to be fully human. It touches upon the gifts we find in humor, nature, art, food, and how we celebrate the beauty of our scars. These are love poems: to others, to the self, to the body. DeCillis makes it clear that wounds need attention and care, but that loss always strengthens us. This collection will be admired by poetry lovers of all kinds, and those who enjoy modern and corporeal love poems.

Just received my copy and can’t wait to dig into it. I’ve been a fan of Diane’s poetry since reading her first book, Strings Attached (Wayne State University Press, 2014) — (see my review with hummus recipe here).

Pain and loss are part of life, and it’s helpful to find poems that reinforce the notion that grief and suffering make us stronger. Poetry is also the great healer, giving voice to the ineffable.


For our blue song this week, a country classic by Crystal Gayle. “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” is her signature song, released as the first single from her 1977 album, “We Must Believe in Magic.” Apparently, the composer Richard Leigh wrote it because his dog had one brown eye and one blue eye.

The song became a worldwide hit and Gayle’s album went platinum, the first by a female country singer. She also won a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1978, and in 1999, ASCAP recognized it as one of the ten most performed songs of the 20th century.

Has any performer ever had longer, silkier hair? And yes, her eyes are blue.



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

17 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. A wonderful, wonder-filled post! Thank you, Jama. I am completely in love with the Katie Daisy art. I might need to pop over to that etsy shop. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything.” That about sums it up . . . though I suppose I’d add loved ones . . . and baked goods (and coffee). Always enjoy these Tuesday round-ups. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love seeing all these good things, Jama, & to end with Crystal Gayle, a wonderful start to the day! I hadn’t thought of that song in a long time! Thanks, & best wishes for a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A brilliant batch of cool things, Jama! I just went and favorited Katie’s shop on Etsy (and sent the link to my daughters). Yay for a new book from Charles! I love Tasha’s delicate October, Justin’s robust poppies, and the idea of having a stunt double for your heart. I can totally relate to Pet Garden, as I basically treat mine like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oooooh! I LOVE Katie Daisy’s art, and just put Moonflower on request :). Thanks, Jama.

    And RBG, Fauci, Amanda Gorman & Mr. Rogers’ mugs–yes, please!

    Liked by 1 person

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