nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Happy March! We’re looking forward to spring and all things green and floral with Olivia Gibbs’ lovely art. So colorful and joyful!

Born and raised in Spain, Olivia is self taught and currently resides in Augusta, Georgia. She’s been smitten with drawing since childhood, when she’d spend hours creating stories in her sketchbook.

Since art didn’t seem like a viable career option, she studied Business Administration in college and then worked in banking for many years. But when her second daughter was born, she was able to stay at home and renew her interest in art, her true passion.

In addition to drawing and painting, Olivia loves traveling and exploring new places and cultures. She’s also keen on hiking, baking, dancing, finding the beauty in everyday life, and spending time with loved ones. 

Her client list includes American Greetings, Galison/Mudpuppy, Oopsy Daisy, Hallmark, Hobby Lobby, and Jo-Ann Fabric. 

She recently published this book:

For more, visit Olivia’s Official Website, Instagram and Etsy Shop, where you can purchase prints.


2. New Book Alert! Look what’s coming out March 15: Make More S’Mores by Cathy Ballou Mealey and Ariel Landy (Sleeping Bear Press, 2023):

Roscoe has his campfire going and is toasting the most perfect marshmalllow. He slides it onto a graham cracker, adds a chocolate square, and sandwiches it with another graham–the most perfect s’more–when Grizzly Bear shows up. Roscoe welcomes Grizzly–and bear after bear!–to his gooey forest feast keeping hungry (and grumbly) guests content by sharing s’more after s’more. What to do but make s’more?!

A raccoon, grizzly bears, melty chocolate and fun? Yes, please!! Does this book have my name written all over it or what? Look at those bears’ adorable expressions on the cover, that look of pure bliss on Roscoe’s face! And don’t you love the title, with its white marshmallow letters?

This charming story about sharing and kindness has received a glowing review from Kirkus, who said, “Enhancing the rhymed text, lively illustrations feature expressive faces and highlight Roscoe’s gregarious nature, Grizzly’s grumbling, and the cubs’ awkward enthusiasm. One of the few things better than a gooey s’more—a warm, fuzzy friendship tale (about s’mores).”

Can’t wait to take a big bite out of this one.

Congratulations Cathy and Ariel!


3. More Mark Hearld: You may remember when I featured Mark’s work here about five years ago. Inspired by the flora and fauna of the British countryside, he’s still one of my absolute favorite artists and continues to create stunning prints, paintings, collages, hand-painted ceramics, fabrics and wallpapers. 

Recently I stumbled upon a 2021 article at The Bible of British Taste (a very cool site that features the homes of notable artists and designers), where Mark shares loads of interior pics of his house in York.

I always knew he was an avid obsessive collector of all manner of things, but wow! His home is actually an art installation of its own. All that antique crockery (be still my heart)!

My all-too-practical mind asks: how does he keep track of everything? does he regularly pare down his collections in order to obtain more, or does he just keep adding? how in the heck does one dust all that stuff? 😀

It’s fascinating to get a peek into the place he lives and works. The best homes accurately reflect the personalities of its inhabitants, and here we get to see which objects have caught Mark’s eye over the years, impressing him enough to want to bring them home to beautify his surroundings. 

Enjoy scrolling through all the photos; he’s added brief captions pointing to an object or two along the way. His own work shares space with his many finds. And yes, even bathrooms and bedrooms are mini art galleries!


4. Bunny Love: ‘Tis the Year of the Rabbit and Easter will be coming up next month, so check out these adorable handmade needle felted cuties by Tepla Wool Workshop.

TWW is a craft collective based in Lviv, Western Ukraine, and all purchases support families affected by the war. 

Each piece featured in the shop is made by a different artisan who’s named in the item description. All items are made to order from the finest European merino wool and processing time is about 2-3 weeks. They are made in Ukraine, but being shipped via Poland.

In addition to bunnies, they make other animals, birds, home decor items and animal brooches. Browse the Tepla Wool Workshop to see all the delightful offerings. 


5. Another New Book Alert: Look what’s coming out March 14: Ramen for Everyone by Patricia Tanumihardja and Shiho Pate (Atheneum BFYR, 2023):

In this adorable picture book for fans of Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao and Bilal Cooks Daal, Hiro aspires to make a bowl of ramen as delicious as his dad’s—and runs into some surprises on his first attempt!

Hiro loves ramen. Every Sunday, Hiro’s dad makes delicious, perfect ramen for dinner, using a recipe passed down from his dad. There’s nori seaweed, briny like the ocean; nitamago egg, the yolk golden like the sun; and chashu pork so tender, it melts in your mouth. Yum!

Hiro’s dream is to make his own perfect bowl, and he’s sure he can do it after watching his dad and taking notes. But when he gets started, things don’t go according to plan. The seaweed crumbles! The eggs slip through his fingers! The pork falls apart! Hiro is worried he’ll never be a real ramen chef… but thanks to his father’s wise advice and his own creativity, Hiro discovers that every person’s perfect bowl of ramen is unique.

My mouth’s watering just reading the description. Who doesn’t love homemade ramen? A warm bowl of noodles always hits the spot, doesn’t it?

Ramen for Everyone is a Junior Library Guild Selection and has received glowing reviews from Booklist and Kirkus, who said, “Tanumihardja’s simple yet evocative prose draws readers into the drama and tension of the ramen making and brings to life Hiro’s loving, understanding family . . . A celebration of the complexity and care that go into making this Japanese staple.”

Can’t wait to slurp this one up!

Congratulations to Pat and Shiho!


6. Seeds Abloom: I’m a longtime Katie Daisy fan; her designs are pure happy-making and I’ve gifted many of her cards and journals over the years. She features the best quotes. 🙂

Recently I’ve been enamored of her new seed packet design, which features nine different flowers. So pretty!

These are available as prints, greeting cards, stickers, even on t-shirts and mugs. Perfect image as we anticipate the coming of spring. Find out more about these and the rest of Katie’s offerings at The Wheatfield. 


7. Hippity Hop! Speaking of Easter and rabbits, here are a pair of recently published Peter Rabbit books.

These are especially great for those who have read all the original Peter Rabbit books and are craving some brand new stories inspired by Beatrix Potter’s original characters. The artists have done a nice job of emulating Potter’s illustration style too. 

Peter’s Nature Walk (Frederick Warne, 2023) just came out February 9:

Push the button on every page of this Peter Rabbit story book to hear the sounds of the countryside!

Peter Rabbit and his family are learning all about nature! From dawn to dusk, the rabbits discover fascinating facts about the great outdoors, including the different types of insects and trees and the importance of pollination and hibernation.

With ten different sounds to press – from buzzing bees to singing birds – this interactive picture book adventure brings the sounds and wonder of nature to life for little explorers!

Peter Rabbit: Tales from the Countryside (Puffin, 2022), was published in December 2022:

With 24 new stories and activities, this book celebrates the natural world and all Peter’s friends within it. Join him harvesting apples in the autumn, stargazing on a crisp Winter night, finding a missing lamb in the spring meadows and enjoying a perfect picnic in the summer sun!

Inspired by Beatrix Potter’s original tales, and an activity to enjoy, this beautiful book makes the perfect gift to read throughout the year and will become an annual tradition for Peter Rabbit fans young and old.

I like the focus on the natural world in both books with their interactive features — sound buttons in the first book, and fun activities in the second. Either would make a lovely Easter gift for your favorite little munchkin(s).

I do love all things Beatrix Potter and was happy to purchase these new titles. Since they were first published in the UK and (as of this writing) are not yet readily available in the U.S., I ordered mine from Blackwell’s, which I’m linking to here. All prices are in U.S. dollars and include free shipping. Their prices are generally a little lower than places like Book Depository, and they arrive in a timely fashion (just allow about 2 weeks). 🙂

*Stay tuned for my review of Peter’s Nature Walk next month.


8. Ooh-la-la! Okay, where was I in 1996 that I missed The Secrets of Pistoulet by Jana Kolpen (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)? I guess this is a case of “better late than never.”

In Nicolas Fairford’s Valentine’s Day video, he mentioned what sounds like a charming treasure of a book – a story with recipe cards tucked into little pockets. Check it:

“Far away in the remote, untraveled southwestern French countryside, there is a small village which contains two homes, an eleventh-century church, and a very special farm known as Pistoulet.” 

Thus begins The Secrets of Pistoulet, a charming and beautiful little book filled with food, magic, and love. Part fiction, part cookbook, this richly illustrated book is reminiscent of the popular Griffin and Sabine, with its collection of letters to be removed from envelopes, and recipes tucked into their own little pockets. Drawings, photographs, snippets of diaries, and mysterious maps decorate this tale of Mademoiselle J., who arrives at Pistoulet with a broken heart. There she is welcomed by the farm’s tenants: Madame Claude; Monsieur Andre; the black dog, Marcel; and a chicken that lays golden eggs. 

Soon, such soul-strengthening dishes as Potage of Babble (guaranteed to cease excessive chatter), Potage of Passion (Cooks beware: this soup has been known to result in marriage proposals!), and Tart of Sunshine (sure to heat both body and soul) have Mademoiselle J. on the road to recovery. The Secrets of Pistoulet packs a lot of charm into a small package. Readers who love to cook will want to try these simple, tasty recipes, though it may be difficult in some cases to follow the directions exactly (“Go to the nearest fishing port and acquire moules from the fisherman with the largest pecs and most tattoos….). Those who don’t will be more than content to simply imagine these sumptuous meals as they, along with Mademoiselle J., attempt to unlock Pistoulet’s magical mysteries.

Just up my alley, says someone who was obsessed with Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine back in 1991 and will always love The Jolly Postman by Allan and Janet Ahlberg. There’s just something about taking surprises out of envelopes that I can’t resist. Maybe it’s the interactive element or the feeling that this is an extra special piece of art or something. In any case, I’m a sucker for cool, novel book design.

Of course I immediately ordered a copy. Can you blame me? I’ll let you know how I liked it in a future post. 🙂


9. Sip sip sip! Here a mug, there a mug, everywhere a mug mug!

You may have noticed that I’m someone who believes one can never have too many mugs. Nothing cheers me up faster than to discover a new-to-me UK brand that produces bone china mugs.

Enter Picturemaps! Their designs include historical and literary figures and history timelines. Love the hand-lettered look and detailed drawings – lots to look at on each piece, fun to read.

Found several cool ones at Bee’s Knees British Imports (my second home – a dangerous place because they’re always bringing in fantastic new things). Sharing my faves here: Kings and Queens of England, A Queen’s Royally Good Life, and the Bröntes. There’s also a few matching tea towels, tote bags and notebooks. One of each, please.


♥️ BONUS COOL THING: Look what’s coming out in the UK on March 23:

Click for more info or to pre-order.

Always exciting to see a new picture book illustrated by Emily Sutton! As you may know, I collect all of Emily’s books. Usually can’t wait until such books make it across to our side of the pond, so I’ve pre-ordered from Blackwell’s once again. 🙂


This month we’re tappin’ into the luck o’ the Irish with a fave Van Morrison tune. “Someone Like You” was included on Morrison’s 1987 album, “Poetic Champions Compose,” and has been featured in several movies, including “Prelude to a Kiss,” “French Kiss,” “One Fine Day,” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” There’s even a movie called “Someone Like You” (which I haven’t seen).

Do you remember the scene in Bridget Jones where Mark Darcy says to Bridget, “I like you very much – just as you are”?

That’s the swoony moment when Morrison’s song drifts in . . . 

“Someone Like You” furnished the framework for “Have I Told You Lately” (1989), another Morrison song coincidentally featured in a Colin Firth movie (“What a Girl Wants”). Both have become classic wedding favorites. Enjoy this Colin fix with Van’s music.











*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase an item using a link on this blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your continuing support.

**Copyright © 2023 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

12 thoughts on “nine cool things on a tuesday

  1. Good morning! What a beautiful way to start my day. I love bunnies and Beatrix Potter and everything English countryside and cities! Thank you, Jama!!! Happy March! It’s my son in-law’s 50th birthday today and my honey’s 71st on the 19th. He is Joe for St Joseph’s Day! We are planning on getting lots of St Joseph’s pastries, an Italian tradition, on his birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy Belated Birthday to your son-in-law!! Sounds like you have a terrific birthday planned for your hubby — Italian pastries: YUM! Happy 71st to Joe!


  2. Oh Jama – you are sweetness and springtime personified!

    THANK YOU for sharing Make More S’mores! I am roasting and toasting a perfect marshmallow just for you, with extra chocolate. One for Cornelius too!

    Happy, happy all things spring!


    1. I’m excited to see this new book. I only recently learned that there’s such a thing as s’mores marshmallows — perfect size and flat to make it easier to melt between two graham crackers. An upcoming post about Milton Hershey prompted me to get some. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s taken a while to get through everything, not unexpected however, Jama. It’s a beautiful post today. I love seeing about Cathy’s Make More S’mores & found it at my library, those bunnies are adorable & love hearing about nee Peter Rabbit stories! I found a copy of The Secrets of Pistoulet & ordered it. I too love The Jolly Postman & my daughter loved Griffin & Sabine! I’ve bookmarked the post in order to look again! Thanks for every little loving part.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Appreciate your taking the time to check things out, Linda. Glad you found Cathy’s book at your library and located a copy of the Pistoulet book! I still haven’t gotten around to reading it since I’m concentrating on Easter-ish posts right now. Also started rereading Jane Eyre. I still have my G&S books and need to take a look again. At the time they were published, they were very unique and I remember how popular they were.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I found myself humming “If I were a Rich Man” while looking at all the wonderful goodies I could buy on this post. Those lovely felt animals and all the cool mugs. I love the photos from Mark Hearld’s house. So much great stuff! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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