HHDD #21: Ice Cream Tiramisu

Hello! Ever had one of those times when you have a fantastic weekend filled to bursting with just the right combination of good food, great friends, naps, spots of reading, and word-game hilarity, after which you pat yourself on the back for a weekend well done? Then only to find yourself thrust into a hectic work-week which you should have known was coming yet catches you by surprise that before you know it it’s the middle of the week and you have missed the deadline of your favourite blog event? Anyone?

If this sounds familiar to you, or even similar to your current situation, (and heaven knows no one is a stranger to busy-ness) this is the recipe for you. If you have sudden guests after a long day of going through 500 company analyses, this is the recipe for you. If you like tiramisu but only have 2 spare minutes to make some, then pull up a chair my friend, because this is the recipe for you.

And in case you are thinking that this is a sneaky shortcut cobbled together to make it to this round of HHDD, I’ll have you know that this recipe comes from Miss Donna herself :)

Ice Cream Tiramisu
Instant Entertaining by Donna Hay)
  • 2 tablespoons espresso coffee
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur
  • 8 small ladyfingers (savoiardi biscuits)
  • 4 large (or 8 small) scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate flakes to serve

- Combine the espresso and the liqueur.
- Place 2 ladyfingers on a serving plate, spoon over some of the espresso mixture, and top with ice cream. Spoon over remaining espresso mixture.
- Top with chocolate flakes and serve. Serves 4.

You can really make this in just two minutes and it’s easy to control the portion size and number of servings. The quantities above should just be used as a rough guide...let your own taste and tummy decide on the size of each serving. If you don’t have any liqueur (as I didn’t) just increase the amount of espresso and sweeten with a bit of sugar. This has the essence and flavour of a tiramisu with a fraction of the effort, which is not to say that you should replace a traditional tiramisu with this. I wouldn’t even suggest it. But when you have to produce a dessert in a hurry, I’m sure your guests will be duly impressed when you come trotting out of the kitchen with these prettily plated desserts in tow :)

It’s two days after the deadline of Hay Hay It’s Donna Day but our gracious host Alexandra of Addicted Sweet Tooth has generously let me send my entry in. Thank you Alexandra for leaving the door open and for hosting this round of HHDD: Tiramisu! Hay Hay It’s Donna Day is a food blog event celebrating Donna Hay’s special yet simple dishes (I love Donna!) and was created by Barbara of Winos and Foodies, and is now under the expert care of Bron of bronmarshall.com.

Homemade Carabao (buffalo) Milk Ricotta

I am quite pleased. Really, smug as a bug with a jug (or however you want to say it). I feel light, happy, content.

I made cheese.

No, not some hunk of aged goodness that was made to sleep for months in order to develop layers of complexity. But certainly a step above my straining yogurt! This time, I strained curds...curds that I can say I coaxed into being all on my own. Innocent looking, soft, dreamy, blindingly white curds. Curds a certain Miss Muffet would love to have. You see I used carabao’s milk (carabao is our native water buffalo). It contains less water, more total solids, more fat (50-60% more!), and more protein than cow’s milk!

Nestled in cheesecloth, these super-rich curds looked so the embodiment of tranquility that I wanted to curl up beside them in a tuffet and take a nap.

Ahem. Back in the real world, there was work to do and dinner to make, so I gathered the cheesecloth and made a makeshift drainer (tied the cheesecloth with cooking string and tied the ends to the handle of a small bucket so the cheesecloth with the curds were held suspended in mid-air while the curds drained in the bucket – it doesn’t make sense I know but Mcgyver would be proud) and placed it in the fridge. And while I worked all day, my happy thought was my homemade carabao’s milk ricotta, tucked away and ready for breakfast the next day.

(from Donna Hay Magazine issue 35, page 153)

  • 6 cups full cream milk (I used carabao/buffalo milk)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

- Place the milk in a sauce pan and heat until it reaches 80C (use a candy thermometer). When it reaches 80C, remove from the heat and add the vinegar. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes or until curds form (mine took longer than 10 minutes).
- Line a colander with fine muslin or cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Using a slotted spoon carefully ladle the curds into the colander. Allow to drain for 5-10 minutes.
- Spoon ricotta into a glass or ceramic container and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week. (I kept mine in the draining contraption I put together until the next day)

The recipe didn’t yield as much curds as I hoped it would, but they were rich and creamy and delicious. I had it for breakfast on a thick slice of sunflower bread, topped with fig preserves. The lack of a tuffet to sit on did not detract one bit from the heavenly experience of eating my own homemade ricotta.

Next time I’ll be trying this recipe...also done here. I hope this method of heating buttermilk and regular milk together will give me more curds to enjoy :)

We escape the muggy city tonight with a group of good friends for a weekend of relaxing by the pool, easing some well-deserved cocktails into our work-worn bodies, and, of course, enjoying good food. I may even find myself a comfy tuffet in which I can burrow with a good book :) Happy weekend everyone!

Our First Paella

No recipe today. Just an exuberant rejoicing that finally, finally, we have managed paella! So please pardon me while I say...yay!!!

We have been wanting to make paella for a long time now. Well, C wanted to. Too many people in my family make paella, and make it well, that I never felt I had to...or perhaps I was always too scared to try for that very same reason. But C loves paella and every time we have some, or pass a paellera in a store, or one of my uncles talks about cooking one; his enthusiasm to make our own grew. It was a foregone conclusion that C would be the skipper in our paella adventure...I always believed that cooking was about passion and C has more passion for paella than I do, truth be told. So for this dish, I was to ride sous.

The road to paella wasn’t a short one. We started preparations through the most obvious route – harvesting the knowledge and collective years of paella-making experience from my mom and uncles. We badgered them with questions, and C stood by and watched while they did their magic. We once rushed from out of town to be extra early for a family lunch, so C could stand in a smoky kitchen taking mental notes while my godfather (whose paella in my humble opinion is one of the tastiest I’ve ever tried) made his paella.

Now, it must be said at this point, that none of my family have a recipe for paella – it’s all by feel. They have their techniques (the secret’s in the stock), their ratios (liquid to rice), their timing (when al dente, stop heat, cover paella, take a shower, it’ll be done when you are), which we somehow patched together to make our own roadmap. Armed with a small/medium paellera we found, that perfectly fits out biggest stove-top burner, we were finally ready.

Like I said, no recipe yet. As this was our first try, nothing is set in stone. And perhaps, as we learned by feel, a rough sketch (continually being tweaked by necessity or mood) is all we will ever have. This is how it went (more or less)...

We used seafood (which is the flavour we like) and chorizo (to add punch). I bought prawns, squid, fish, and clams. Cooked the clams in garlic, parsley, and wine – saved the liquid from this for the stock. Made a fish stock from some bones I had in the freezer. In the paellera we heated olive oil, cooked chorizo until the nice orange oil was rendered, set chorizo aside. Added chopped garlic, onions, parsley (including stems!) to the pan and sauté until onion is soft. Cooked seafood one by one (squid, prawns, fish) and removed from pan. Added pimenton and some paella spice mix to the onions and fried a bit. Deglazed pan with wine. Added rice and sautéed. Added stock, smoothed surface and let cook...mind that it doesn’t dry out! When it would look too dry but the rice was still raw we added a bit more stock. If it looked to be drying up too fast we would lay some foil across the top. When it was almost done we placed the seafood and chorizo back in the pan and added some roasted red pepper on top...then cooked until it was finally done!

Whew! We couldn’t believe our eyes...it looked and smelled just like paella! And as we sat down to our (late) lunch and had our first mouthful we sighed happily...it tasted like paella too! In fact it was not half bad for a first attempt if you would be so kind as to let me say so :) It did not lack for seafood flavour and the rice was cooked through well (something which I was worried about). My mom stopped by to have lunch with us so we have a witness!

Some little mishaps: If you hadn’t already noticed I used too much rice! The pan was almost in danger of overflowing...lesson learned for next time. Also, my clams were sandy so we couldn’t use all of it and I had to strain the stock a million times through paper towels (sorry Earth!) :(

This was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon – creating something delicious with someone you care about. Enjoying your success with a wonderful meal and lots of high-fives and “go team!”. There are many milestones in a partnership. Different couples will mark different events as important on their conjugal calendar. This paella is definitely one of those for us!

Breakfast #22: Risotto Patty with Prosciutto and Egg and Pesto

I am the world’s lousiest recipe name giver.

When I think about food there is always a fantastical backdrop, the stage is littered with metaphor and simile, and sometimes reckless exaggeration trips the actors up (although they don’t mind). The colors are vibrant or soft, the textures play tricks on my tongue, the smells bring me backwards or forwards in time, and the flavours...they make me see stars, and other worlds, and limitless possibilities, and sometimes if I’m lucky, a bright green fairy that grants three wishes. This is what’s in my heads and under my skin when I think of food.

When I write this all down and have it sorted into a recipe, the fanfare suddenly quiets. I have successfully captured all the essentials to be able to repeat the experience, but none of the tra-la-la is left for the recipe’s name.

Which is why it reads like a list of ingredients instead of something more exciting.

This could have been:
  • Italian Eggs Benedict (which was really my peg and inspiration for this breakfast)
  • Arancini con Prosciutto e l'uovo (I could have gone down the fancy foreign language path – since I am irrationally attracted to recipe names that I don’t understand anyway)
  • What to do with Leftover Risotto Breakfast (Explanatory title)
  • I’m too Lazy to make real Arancini (really, deep frying is such work...especially for breakfast...especially for leftovers)
  • ChichaJo’s Breakfast Special (um, one of those titles that say nothing really about the dish itself...until I reach my magnum opus this will never happen...perhaps not even then)

I guess I just don’t like titles.

Risotto Patty with Prosciutto and Egg and Pesto
  • 1/2 cup leftover risotto
  • 2-3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  • 3 slice prosciutto
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon pesto

- Form the risotto into a patty. I like to pack it into the measuring cup as it comes out formed into a nice uniform shape that I just have to flatten a bit. Coat this all over in the breadcrumbs. Keep it in the fridge until you are ready to fry it.
- Prepare your pesto. I use my basic recipe for basil pesto, substituting the pili nuts for pine nuts and almonds. In truth, I just stick (more or less) to the quantities and use any herb/nut combination I want, many times using the pesto as a final resting place for little bits of nuts and herbs! Store in a jar (tightly covered and in the fridge) with a thin film of olive oil to cover the top surface of the pesto.
- Bring a saucepan of water, with a small glug of vinegar, to a rapid simmer.
- While you are waiting for your water to simmer, heat oil in a skillet. Once oil is hot lay risotto patty in the pan and fry until the bottom is golden. Flip patty and fry until the other side is golden and has developed a nice crust. Set aside.
- When the water in the saucepan has reached a rapid simmer, it’s time to poach your egg. Say a prayer (this is how I poach eggs). Crack the egg into a small bowl. With a wooden spoon make a little whirlpool in the water. Now gently (gently!) slip egg into the center of the whirlpool. Don’t freak out as alien strings of egg white churn wildly in the water. I’ll keep my egg in there for about 2 minutes (you can keep it in for more – whites should be firm and yolks done to your liking). Turn off the heat and gently (gently!) pick up egg with a slotted spoon. Brush off alien egg white strings and pat excess water off with a paper towel (Sorry Earth!).
- Arrange prosciutto slices on risotto patty. Top with egg and pesto.

These are the quantities that will serve one – you can multiply it all you want to make a breakfast for two or a brunch for 12. Despite my longish explanations above (I just wanted to be thorough), it is very simple to make and can easily be put together in the morning. You can shape and coat the risotto patty the night before and the pesto can be prepared in advance as well.

Suffice to say I have an inordinate amount of leftover risotto lying around so I will be making more of these patties. They are a bit simpler to prepare and cook than arancini (which is another reason why I dare not call them so) and can be served with many things. Try them as a side for meat or fish...or make smaller patties and place them in a salad. I think mini-patties topped with a smidgen of pesto or salsa verde would make a great appetizer.

I love Eggs Benedict but this has definitely given it a run for its money among my list of breakfast favorites. The combination of creamy risotto and salty prosciutto, bound with the richness of a runny egg yolk and punctuated by the zesty pesto is definitely worthy of a title to match any Italian aria...too bad I'm the one writing the recipe. I guess the food will have to speak for itself. Which is actually the way I prefer it :)

It's so hot, hot, hot!

It is hot, hot, hot outside! Peony is from my mom's garden again. I love this color and the flowers are so lovely and delicate.
I am trying to focus on updating my website and blog. See that flickr badge over there? Yeah, I am behind the times when it comes to this but I am learning!

I have enjoyed the process of creating a lot more. I am currently knitting something to actually gift to someone. Haven't done that in a while. Usually I am up to my eyeballs in making book/magazine samples!

Speaking of knitting, I stopped in at one of my favorite and inspiring spots in NJ. Here's Justine in all of her pregnant glory. She owns Angelfire Studios in Basking Ridge. Justine, you look awesome! On the one hand, I envy her because I loved being pregnant; on the other hand, I can't imagine being pregnant with the heat. I always comment about the color and inspiration that she has going on in her store. The best way to describe her store is to say that it's colorful, funky and tasteful all rolled up in one.

summer adventure.

Took advantage of the amazing summertime weather here yesterday and went on the longest walk ever... Walked down under the bridges, sat along the water and watched the boats going by. Checked out the skate park and went to a sushi places where the sushi comes around the table on a train set! Stopped at a thrifting spot and found some excellent jewelry pieces, rented a great movie (Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth) and called it a day!

Salsa Verde

Going green...everyone seems to be heading in that direction. And a good thing too. Our little planet is straining a little more everyday under the pressure of the zillions of children (that would be us) she holds to her bosom. We use her gifts with no regard to what’s left in the larder. We clutter our playrooms with our toys and forget to pick up. We play mad scientist while the fumes from our experiments burn holes in the umbrella she holds up to protect us. Naughty, naughty children.

Slowly but ever so surely though, we are wizening up. All heads are unquestionably turning towards the one common goal of helping Mother Earth. Awareness, resources, and necessity are at different levels in different places -- so the pace of change is sometimes slow, sometimes fast -- but change is undeniably in the air. We are picking up after ourselves. We recycle. We lug our own bags to the grocery. We compost. We try to educate ourselves. We try to consume less and waste less.

We dream of a sustainable pig farm...ok, that’s just me. Anyways.

I am not a green goddess by any stretch of the imagination...the Earth has her own bone (or two) to pick with me. I use more than my fair share of paper (I love stationary and notepads...and paper towels). Ziplock and I are inseparable. I use too much dishwashing liquid and love to keep a plate under a stream of running water until I am 500% sure that there isn’t a trace of soap left. I smoke (oh wow. True confessions!).

On the upside, I do lug my own bags to market (I even have one for wine bottles!). I recycle as much paper as I can (not the paper towels). I try to support enterprises that are working towards this same goal (looking for locally-made Earth-friendly cleaning products? See here! They smell fabulous too!). So I hope I am not that errant of a child.

But just in case...here’s a small, green bit of deliciousness in her honor...

Salsa Verde
(adapted from Donna Hay Magazine issue 23, page 70)

  • 1/2 cup dill leaves
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon capers in brine, drained (original recipe had 2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed, but I can’t find any here)
  • 1-2 anchovy fillets (original recipe had 4 fillets, optional, but the anchovies I had were salty enough)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

- Place the dill, parsley, mint, capers, anchovies, garlic, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process in short bursts until roughly chopped.
- Add lemon juice and olive oil and pulse a few times until just combined.

There are many versions of this herb sauce out there – Mexican (which would have things like tomatillos and jalapenos in it and is usually thinner/smoother in texture), French (sauce verte), Italian (gremolata is just one famous example), and German (Grüne Soße). This roughly chopped version I’ve made seems closest to Italian in origin.

I loved the chunkiness of this version along with its incredibly crisp and leafy flavour -- robust and clean at the same time. It goes amazingly well with fish...especially fish that is both fatty and flavourful like salmon. I also added it to some deviled eggs – yum! I imagine there must be heaps of other ways to use this as it is delicious!

I realize that that (up top) was quite a long-winded and perhaps a bit way-off introduction to a salsa verde recipe, but both in appearance and in taste, this was so brilliantly green and fresh and bright that it did turn my daydreams towards a world that could be the same way. Plus, everything in this gorgeous sauce is really a gift from a planet filled with life. And besides, anytime is the right time to talk about going green and saving the Earth :)

New Book Magic

It's magical to me when a book I illustrated arrives in the mail!
After months of sketching, revising, painting and packing up the art ... it arrives back transformed into a BOOK. The process itself is not at all magical, it takes lots of hard work by lots of people. Yet the moment I hold it and read it, I find myself, each time, marveling at the results.

This time the package that arrived in the mail is an anthology, and it has brought a NEW kind of magic ... because I'm one of the AUTHORS! Now MY WORDS have been transformed --and for the first time illustrated by another artist.

Hamsters, Shells and Spelling Bees: School Poems, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, with pictures by Sachiko Yoshikawa.

I love the art and I am thrilled to be rubbing pages with such great poets!
If you pick it up be sure to check out pages 22 and 23! ; )

New Signature Tags!

I'm very excited to announce that each of my necklaces will now come with a petite ship charm by the clasp as a Paper Treasure signature!

Banana Bread with Streusel Nut Topping

One more time...with streusel!

I know what you are thinking. I am a blog-post repeater. I could tell you that the rotting bananas were causing such a scene that People Asia was knocking down my door demanding to know what the smell was. I could tell you that oh no, I haven’t posted about banana bead before, nor banana muffins, oh no not me. I could tell you that this isn’t banana bread at all...but that would be a lie. And a shame too because then I wouldn’t get to tell you about the streusel.

Yes! That burnished blanket of crumble and nuts that is valiantly trying to disguise my blog-post-repeater-ness. It’s a wonder what the right accessories can do!

I love the humble banana bread, and in all likelihood this isn’t going to be the last time you see it on this blog is one form or another (eep!). I can’t help it! And I can’t say that I feel totally to blame for it either. I mean, I’ve already got one go-to recipe that has served me well, but food bloggers everywhere just keep coming up with more and more convincing classics and enticing variations! How can I resist?

Maybe I should just make a separate category for my banana bread exploits? Hmmm...

Anyway, enough chatter and on to the streusel! I had bookmarked the recipe way back when from my good friend Christine’s blog, Ramblings From a Gypsy Soul. I had been meaning to try her definitive banana bread recipe, but when my bananas were on the brink and ready for cake there were only 3 left. I used this recipe from Elise of Simply Recipes that I have used before. It uses 3-4 bananas and makes one loaf so it was perfect. Because I was making only one loaf I halved Christine’s streusel recipe.

This mixture of flour, sugar, butter, and walnuts is deceptively simple but high on deliciousness. It adds a sweet crunch and moist chew that is ideal...especially as I am a firm believer in walnuts in banana bread, even if making this for my brother always involved forgoing the nuts. Plus, it makes your banana bread look gorgeous! It came out of the oven looking transformed by its high golden crown of goodness. You know what I’m talking about...this is the same glow you get toting that fabulous bag on your elbow, or feeling the swish on those new drop earrings on your shoulders...the right accessories can do that.

This domestic-goddess look that the streusel gives goes over very well with friends. My best friend K gave a heartfelt, “Oooh! That looks so nice!”, when she saw it...and after tasting it complained that there was “too much cake”. A better testament to a streusel topping I have yet to hear :)

If you are in search of a quick pick-me-up, accessories can do the job – go put streusel on your banana bread...or buy some pretty earrings! Good accessories are the saving grace for both blog-post-repeaters and outfit-repeaters! ;)

Happy Independence Day!

Happy fourth of July! I just returned from a trip to Washington, DC, Annapolis, Maryland and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. The Smithsonian Institute in Washington is truly a national treasure. The exhibits are first rate and they're free. The walk all around the entire area from the Lincoln Memorial back to the Air and Space Museum is quite a hike but worth the effort.

I love to walk around Washington and wish that I lived in an urban setting with lots to see and do for the family every weekend. I have NYC and Philly nearby and appreciate them but I do miss city living!
I remember when I first went to Washington. Dh was doing some work with the FBI and I had two days to explore the city. I stumbled upon the Itchiku Kubota exhibit and I was inspired for a lifetime. I sat in front of the breathtaking landscape of 45 hand-dyed kimonos and I cried. The passion and dedication that he had for his work was beyond words. Mr. Kubota developed what he called Itchiku Tsujigahana.
I just discovered that there will be an exhibit of his work in San Diego, CA and Canton, OH at the end of this year and early next year. You wouldn't want to miss this if you live in either city.

Chori-Gamba Pasta

We all have our favoured pasta sauce camp. There is the cream sauce camp. The tomato-based camp. And the olive oil-based camp. Although I am mostly an equal opportunity pasta enjoyer, I pretty much stand with the olive oil-based sauce camp (greedily taking butter-based and pesto-based in with me as “sub-camps”). C meanwhile is steadfastly entrenched in the tomato-based camp...a pasta sauce monogamist.

Now, we all know that marriage is about give and take, about finding compromises and happy mediums. People talk of the “big commitment”, and the “big decisions”, and the “big changes”, and yes, that is all definitely important and should be given a good amount of thought. But don’t ignore the small things. Not even the itty, bitty, tiny things. Oh no. These are important as well. Teeny tiny bits swept under a rug grow into nasty creatures I tell you.

So in the spirit of compromise amongst the little things, I put together this pasta dish. Pairing chorizo and gambas in pasta in not that novel an idea over here, but it’s usually done as an oil-based sauce, not a tomato-based one. I added the tomato thinking to make a version more to C’s liking (although chorizo and gambas is already much to C’s liking...and mine!) and ended up loving it myself!

Pay attention to the little things. They can lead to the most delicious resolutions.

Our Chori-Gamba Pasta Sauce
  • Olive oil
  • 150 grams shrimp (weight peeled without heads and tails)
  • 130-150 grams chorizo for cooking (your favourite type), taken out of its casings
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped (this is supposed to be garlicky but feel free to reduce the number)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, leaves and stems
  • A glug of red wine (about 1/8 cup)
  • A scant 1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la vera
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1 400-gram can crushed/chopped tomatoes
  • A small handful of basil leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt

- Sprinkle shrimp with some salt.
- Heat olive oil in a saucepan. When hot add garlic, onions, parsley, and chilli and sauté until onions are soft.
- Add shrimp, pimentón, and pepper. Toss lightly until shrimps are just colored then remove shrimps (leaving everything else) from pan and set aside. Do not over-cook the shrimps!
- Add chorizo to the pan and sauté (making sure to de-clump the meat) until cooked. De-glaze the pan with wine.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer until thick and pulpy. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Remove from the heat and stir through shrimp and basil.
- Serves 2. We prepare 200-250 grams (uncooked weight) spaghetti or linguini noodles for this.

The tomatoes make this dish less oily-feeling than the tomato-less version and the greens give it a sharp, bright flavour that brilliantly cuts through that richness of the chorizo and the pungency of the garlic. I use all the parsley, leaves and stem. Parsley stems are so underutilized! I never throw them away. The chopped up stems can be used in sautés (add them with the onion and garlic – they give a nice bright “green” punch) and the whole stems in stocks. Freeze them if you’re not using them immediately. If I don’t have parsley, I have also used gotu kola stems in this recipe and they worked fine.

I still make oil and pesto based pastas (of course!), but usually for lunch, when C is at the office. I’ll sometimes spring one on him, and he’ll give the requisite MMM although I can tell that it’s different from his tomato-sauce MMM (or his adobo MMM). But that’s fine. Give and take can taste good with a little creativity :)

This pasta’s for you C! There is more where this came from so watch out...I’m planning to get a lot more MMM’s out of you yet! :) There is no one else I’d rather be give-and-taking with! Happy birthday!!!

A Walk On The "Wild" Side

I was in Toronto a couple of weeks ago and I enjoyed a "me" day. I love to wander around with my camera and go to my favorite little hangouts.

Check out the banner above. Queen St. West is one of my favorite areas in Toronto. There are lots of funky shops and the biggest yarn shop, Romni Wools, you can ever imagine. Years ago when I designed greeting cards, the paper place was known as The Japanese Paper Place. It was a wonderful store with such character. The store has new owners and it's still an inspiring place. I must admit that my first love is paper and this store is addictive!

Next door is one of my favorite book stores, TYPE. I love the atmosphere and I can, without a doubt, stay there for a good period of time just browsing the kids' section.
A few doors down, there's this cool architecture. Isn't it great how they blended the old with the new? Did I ever tell you that I thought about being an architect when I was young?
I love the orange colors that decorate the outside of this cute gardening shop just a few doors down the street.

I hope that you enjoyed the tour as much as I have. I've got a few more pics and then some of my trip to Delaware, DC and Maryland this week. xo. L