9 cool things on a tuesday


1. With the world going mad, we need someone easy on the eyes to lift our spirits. Who better than Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark? Season 2 of the series is not coming our way for awhile, so in the meantime, indulge your fantasies about this fine specimen of manhood with the 2017 Poldark Calendar by Andy Rose Photography. Aidan Turner month by month, all year long! Ooh-la-la. Calendar images are also available as prints, or on mugs, fridge magnets, throw pillows, and tea towels. Imagine a Poldark mug full of warm Irish Breakfast tea! Mmmmm.

poldark calendar2


2.  Heads up Wizard of Oz fans! The first four books in Debbi Michiko Florence’s new Dorothy and Toto early reader chapter book series published by Picture Window Books are now available for pre-order! The series officially launches in August for library editions (trade paperbacks out in October), and the stories look adorable. Here’s the synopsis for Dorothy and Toto: What’s YOUR Name?:

Dorothy’s made a new friend in the Land of Oz. But every time he sees her and her little dog, Toto, he calls her by a nickname, much to Dorothy’s dismay. With its sweet, gentle tone, this title is a reminder that the best friendships are built on honesty and trust.



The other books are Dorothy and Toto: The Hunt for the Perfect Present, Dorothy and Toto: The Disappearing Picnic, and Dorothy and Toto: Little Dog Lost. Can’t wait to read them!


3. New poetry book alert! The Doll Collection, the first themed anthology published by the newly established small press Terrapin Books, was just released at the end of March. The first anthology to focus solely on dolls, it contains 88 poems by such poets as Gail Gerwin, Adele Kenny, Michael Waters, Susan Rich, Kim Roberts, Charlotte Mandel, Andrea Potos, Richard Garcia and Jeffrey Harrison.


Why do dolls compel us so much? What are their meanings? What lessons do they have to teach us? The Doll Collection explores these questions. This wonderful anthology of poems asks us to rethink dolls. Not just toys, dolls signify much more than childhood. Dolls shape our thinking about the female body, about race and class. Dolls influence our understanding of childhood. Symbols of perfection, they both comfort and terrify. Dolls represent, as Freud would say, the “uncanny.” They are replicas, simulacra, souvenirs and secrets. They are objects we recall with intense nostalgia but also bodies we dismember and destroy. They might be made of cornhusks, clay, rags, paper, cloth, wood, porcelain, celluloid, bisque, plastic, or metal. For centuries, dolls have taught us how to understand our world and are windows to other worlds. Dolls are portals to our pasts and to ourselves. Dolls open the doors to our imagination. (from the Introduction, by Nicole Cooley)

You may remember my mentioning that Terrapin Books was founded by New Jersey poet Diane Lockward, whose poems have been featured here at Alphabet Soup many times, along with poems by several other poets featured in this anthology.


4. Looking for a unique party favor — maybe for a special birthday, anniversary or graduation party? What about cookies that look like the guest(s) of honor? Check out Parker’s Crazy Cookies! The all-natural vanilla-flavored cookies are low sugar, low fat, and contain no trans fats or high fructose corn syrup. All you have to do is pick a ship date and send them your artwork or photo. You’ll receive a rough draft (open to revisions) within 24-48 hours. Once they receive your approval, your cookies will be freshly baked on the day you requested shipment.




This looks like a fun, novel idea. You can also order pet look-alike custom cookies or choose from their all occasion Cookie Collections.


5. I’m a big fan of stop motion films and love “Fresh Guacamole” by PES, where familiar objects are used as ingredients. This film was nominated for an Academy Award back in 2013 and is the shortest film ever nominated for an Oscar. Brilliant!


6. And now, Star Wars fans, behold Darth Grater, a silicone cheese grater that’s “an elegant kitchen implement from a far more civilized age.” Now you can use the unlimited power of the force to add flavor to your cooking. Looks ‘great’ doesn’t it (tee hee)? Coming to a galaxy near you in October 2016. Available now for pre-order. May the cheese be with you.



7. Here are several beautiful lampshades you definitely wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) want to wear on your head, but they sure would dress up a special lamp perched on an end table in a favorite room.



The Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Tea Party shade was the first to catch my eye, but I also love the Woodland Wonders and Bright Birds. All are designed and handmade by Katherine Lainton of Genie Lampshades in the English Cotswolds. They come in several sizes and are suitable for ceiling pendant light fittings or lamp bases.




8. What’s in your tortilla? How about pens and pencils? Check out this fun tortilla pencil case! This tasty beauty holds 12 writing implements and rolls up for convenient storage in your bag or backpack. Nice way to keep things organized. About 10.6″ in diameter. Now, that’s a wrap!




9. Finally, I’m addicted to the wonderful “Life Where I’m From” videos. They feature 9-year-old Aiko and her family, who are originally from Canada but are currently living in Japan. Aiko’s father has produced a number of videos to show kids around the world what everyday life is like for them. There are videos about preparing dinner, doing the laundry, showing their apartment, and eating at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, among others. Aiko is adorable and has an endearing screen presence. Her mom is Japanese and her dad is Canadian. Fascinating and educational for all ages, pleasant to watch, easy to get hooked. Here’s the Sushi Restaurant video, which made me wish we had these in the U.S.:


All for now, have a good week!

Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Alll rights reserved.

the pomegranate inn: a haven of sassy sophistication

The stately classic facade of the Pomegranate belies its crazy-cool interior.

The Pomegranate Inn — funky, whimsical, eclectic, fun, beautiful, sophisticated and surprising — is the art museum of your wildest dreams.

Not only can you feast your eyes on sumptuous prints, paintings, textiles, mosaics, sculpture, antique furniture, rugs, murals, mirrors, lamps, and fetching objets d’art, you can live, read, nosh, daydream, and sleep in their midst.


Did you ever think an innkeeper could curate fantasy and imagination in the name of comfort and hospitality? Or blend classical art with contemporary, East with West, throwing in a bit of vintage chic to stunning effect, making you feel like you were house-sitting an artsy friend’s very cool digs?



This distinctive gem of a boutique inn, located on a quiet residential street in Portland’s West End, doesn’t feel like a typical small city hotel, and it’s certainly not your grandmother’s Victorian lace doily B&B. The Pomegranate is Alice in Wonderland meets Aubrey Beardsley and Matisse meets Duncan Phyfe and Architectural Digest with a twist of the Eastern Han Dynasty. And that’s just one room.

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zero calorie macarons and smarties, or, why i need to move to paris

It is well established that Paris has the best pastry.

*kisses fingertips*

Not too long ago, I rhapsodized about the mighty macaron, a wonder of airy-crisp almond flour, egg whites, sugar and buttercream. Très delicieux!

It is good reason, along with a fortifying pain au chocolat or sweet crêpe, to flee the States and embrace the Seine.

Macaron Petit Sac

Until that happens, I can always get my French fix by visiting Bonjour Mon Coussin, where luscious food images adorn pillows, purses, scarfs, pencil cases, aprons, mugs and jewelry.

Porte monnaie-Smarties
Foulard Carré Hot Choc

These oh-so-fetching, eye-popping products are created by Claire Eglizeaud and Paul Moreau, a designer and graphic artist from Bordeaux, who are inspired by vintage postcards and advertisements as well as objects found in their own modern world.

Of course their designs encompass more than food —  I LOVE this book bag:

Sac V. Books

and these earrings,

Boucles d'oreille Lapin

and this pillow,

but I always come back to things like this (cutest pencil case ever):

Tr. école Fraises

I love the whole retro-pop/vintage/Parisian vibe. Anyone have a few Euros to spare?

♥ Feast your eyes on more goodness at their website.


Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.