Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Some Like It HOT

If you like it a little or a lot hot, check out Cajun Corner. Specializing in products from Louisiana this little shop has all types of spices, sauces, mixes and rubs to make you sweat when you eat. This is THE place to go if you are looking for the Zatarain's line of products or Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasonings (his picture on the packages makes him look a lot like Dom DeLuise).
They also carry Mardi Gras supplies and offer authentic Louisiana take-out and delivery.

920 Queen ST E, Toronto www.cajuncorner.ca 1-800-459-9588

Knit One, Purl Two

The Purple Purl is now open on Queen St E near Jones. Even though I’m not a knitter (or crocheter) this store caught my eye, mostly due to the Purple sign and large “ball of wool” hanging over the entranceway.
Their website mentions they are a cafe and this brought to mind images of people purchasing coffee then proceeding to spill it all over expensive skeins of yarn. Now that I've visited the store, and found they do not serve hot caffeinated beverages, I realize ‘cafe’ refers to the comfy seating area at the front of the store where you can sit and knit and chat with other knitters.
This cozy store is stocked with lots of cotton yarns, as well as those made from bamboo, soya and corn – my favourite being the wool, silk and bamboo blend with mini sequins! They also carry beautiful crystal beaded stitch markers as well as needles and books. The friendly staff are more than happy to help answer any questions you have or help you find the perfect yarn for your next project.
1162 Queen St E, Toronto

For the Cook In You

Opened just last week, The Inspired Cook, is sure to be a hit with cooks who don’t like cluttered stores. This shop sticks to a minimal aesthetic so it’s easy to spot exactly what you’re looking for, but if you can’t find it, the cheerful staff are more than happy to help you. The silk-screened dish towels are on item that caught my eye right away.
They carry Le Creuset enamel cast iron pots, Pullivuyt white ceramic dishware, Lampe Berger , lead free crystal stemware and an assortment of small kitchen gadgets.
1378 Queen St E, Toronto

Organic Chocolate Truffles

Handmade, organic and fair trade truffles is what you’ll find at Kakayo Chocolate Company. The truffles are handmade in small quantities every few days to ensure freshness. A small sheet of paper saying when the truffles were made and what each truffle contains is included in your purchase. I tried the Hot Tamale (just a slight spicyness), Pumpkin Pie (heaven!), Raspberry Nipple (disappointing as the raspberry was very subtle) and Trailer Park (peanut butter) truffles.
You can purchase wooden gift boxes of truffles or select any number of truffles that are then packed into a Chinese takeout carton.
Buying truffles as a gift sometimes is a little challenging, as everyone has their own chocolate preference – milk, dark, white, so Kakayo offers a gift voucher that entitles the bearer to 8 truffles of their choice!
They also make chocolate truffle and chocolate mint lip balm.
1584 Queen St E, Toronto

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lush Life

You either love’em or hate’em. I’m very sensitive to smells but LUSH is one ‘smelly’ place I can actually stand to be in. I find the secret is not to handle too many items, or you end up transferring the mix of scents to everything.
My favourite things at LUSH are definitely the bath products – bath ballistics and bubble bath bars. They’re colourful, have great names and make taking a bath that much more enjoyable with their moisturizing ingredients.
Holiday season is a great time to visit as they come out with their limited edition Christmas items. Their Christmas angel bath ballistic is chocolate mint scented; Green Green Bath of Foam bubble bath bar is a grapefruit and cedar leaf scented tree shape; Mr. Butterball emits the yummy scent of vanilla as he fizzes away in the tub. For those who like sparkles or glitter, choose from Twinkle or Jingle Spells bath ballistics, Greenwash soap or Bling Crosby bubble bath bar.
They make is easy for the time-pressed shopper by offering gift boxes containing anywhere from two to twenty great items, all beautifully wrapped and clearly labelled with their contents.

http://www.lush.ca/ (for store locations or to shop online)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Winter Woolies

ENDS discount warehouse is overflowing with winter wear at hard to beat prices. Whether you need warm inner wear or outer wear, this is a good place to visit.
You can get men’s sweatpants for $9.99, longjohns for $8.99, wool work socks $11.99/6pairs, and ultra suede button down shirts for $12. Finding kid’s clothing here is hit and miss, but right now they have Hot Paws mitts and hats for $2.99 each.
There’s lots of stylish stuff to choose from for the ladies. Flannel pajamas, in fun prints, by Twisted Wear are only $15 a pair; quilted vests are $12, velveteen coats are a great deal at $39.99; hooded zip-front sweaters with faux fur trim are $8 (available in blue, white or pink). If you have the time and the inclination, rummage through the four bins of faux fur mitts, hats, collars and shawls all priced at $7 each.
For both men and women there are Misty Mountain snowpants for $49.99 and leather gloves in assorted colours for $12 a pair.
1930 Queen St E, Toronto (2 blocks east of Woodbine)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

More Than Just Fabric

Fabricland is a great place to buy ribbon (organza, satin, wired) and trimmings (rickrack, tassles, crystals) for gifts or holiday decorating. If you’re not a sewer, they do sell already made holiday placemats, table runners, tree skirts, napkins and stockings. They also have round and square charger plates in gold, silver, red and green. There’s a tiny section of tree ornaments that include clip-on birds for $3.20, large felt snowflakes and my favourite, the frosted acrylic shoes and purses with marabou trim - $21.98 for a package of six. Fabricland members save 50% on regular priced holiday items.
In their home d├ęcor section you will find comforters, sheet sets, throws and cushion covers in all sorts of colours, designs and fabrics. (not all stores may carry these items)


Beddington's get in a small selection of holiday items, but they’re also a great place to buy gifts such as duvet covers, sheet sets and cozy bathrobes.
On the holiday side they have brown and bronze pillar candles, coco doormats with reindeer or snowman on them, dish towels, wash cloths in sets of 6 for $10 with an assortment of snowmen, reindeer, Santa and trees embroidered on them, ball shaped silver oil lamps, and Reindeer Collection ceramic dishes (platter $30, serving bowl $15, set of 4 mugs $10).
More gift ideas: throws from $30-$80 in a variety of colours and fabrics; washable microsuede placemats in beige, brown or red 8/$19.99; to cut down on morning bathroom time, get your man a Zadro fog free shower mirror $40. There are lots of Upper Canada body products to choose from. They carry four of their product lines – Fresh Cut, Naturally, Gardeners and Body Truffles (these sound good enough to eat!).
Warm Buddies look like stuffed bears, cats or dogs but they have removable pouches that can be heated in the microwave. A cute, cuddly alternative to a water bottle.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Mark's Work Wearhouse

Mark's is having a customer appreciation event on Saturday, December 8th from 5pm-11pm. Save 20% on all regular priced and sale merchandise. I really like the colour pallette they've chosen for winter (it includes purple, yeah!). Check out their women's pajamas, vests, hoodies, sweaters and boots. You wont' be disappointed.
(some stores only open until 9pm; discount cannot be used when purchasing gift cards)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Popcorn Balls

4 tbsp unsalted butter (plus more for hands)
1 bag (10oz or 283g) white mini marshmallows
¼ c packed brown sugar
3 quarts popcorn (12 cups)
1 c Smarties, M&Ms, pecans (optional)

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat then add sugar and marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat and add popcorn and candies/pecans (if using) and toss until well coated. Butter your hands and shape mixture into 2 ½ inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let cool for 30 minutes (do not refrigerate) then place in airtight containers. Will keep for up to a week.