Monday, January 25, 2010

a trip to ann arbor

i was lucky enough this holiday to go on a looong vacation to spend some much needed time with family and friends. after the holidays in chicago, i visited one of my best friends, miss jhongz, who lives in ann arbor michigan. i used to visit ann arbor at least once a year when i was an undergrad. always a good time! this was my first time visiting since senior year and i was introduced to a whole new kind of ann arbor. i fell completely in love all over again with ann arbor and i wanted to share a few favorite spots in case you ever find yourself in the neighborhood.

first stop, found!  found is the prettiest vintage shop i've ever been in.  it's a crafters dream!  even the cabinets and tables used to display items are lovely vintage items.  i need to find an old mailbox cabinet like the one they use to hold vintage photographs.  as you peak into every little drawer and cabinet, you find everything from door knobs to milk caps to old ledgers.  when i was there, they had complete alphabet rubber stamps in all different kinds of type.  so... tempting... thank goodness my luggage was barely large enough to hold my clothes otherwise half of this store would have found its way back to boston with me.  they also put together these great themed paper packs.  they have game packets with bits from children's books and games, medical packets with incredible pages from old medical books and dictionaries, and language packs with vintage flash cards and pages from books in other languages.  lucky for those of us that can't make it to ann arbor too often, they offer a selection from their store on their website

spice merchants.  the smell alone can make you dizzy with joy.  the rich, spicy, herby, smell of spice merchants hits you before even stepping through the doors.  the space is so beautiful.  wall after wall filled with jars of various spices.  everything is neatly organized and labeled.  good thing too because you could easily lose your head with excitement.  you can get the standard cinnamon, oregano, and peppercorn but they also offer hand blended spice mixes.  you can get fish rubs, popcorn seasonings, chili seasonings, curries, soup blends, black truffle sea salt, and the list goes on and on.  i was having trouble deciding so the sales lady told me to feel free to open the jars and take a sniff.  that actually made things even more difficult because they all smelled SO GOOD.  don't live close by?  no worries!  you can order everything from their website

ann arbor is delicious.  it was hard to pick my favorite place to eat in ann arbor but i ended up choosing zingerman's for a couple of reasons.  zingerman's was born in 1982 and is a food market complete with specialty cheese and meats, coffee, teas, fresh bread, lovely olive oils and vinegars, and best of all, the best dang sides bar i've ever tasted.  they're famous for their mac and cheese (completely justified) and i loved everything i tried (i sampled everything they had in their case that day).  you can actually sample anything you want in the store.  we had a few samples of cheese, tried some oils at the oil & vinegar bar, and poked fun at the hairnet the bread counter guy was wearing  :)  this place would be great based solely on their food, but their staff... they're staff is incredible.  their food is hand selected by experienced staff who travel the country to find the best that's out there.  everyone was so friendly and was so enthusiastic about the food.  these people really know their stuff and they love it and want to share it with you.  my only regret... not trying one of their pot pies before leaving.  sigh.  until i can go back to ann arbor, i'll be trying out recipes from their website, all of which were created by their staff!

the next time i head out to ann arbor, i'll have to add another place to this list of favorites... lab!  lab is a coffee+tea+yogurt cafe that will be opened any day now by none other than miss jhongz and mr twac.  i've seen the space and even though it wasn't finished yet, it's already beautiful.  i can't wait to see you and lab again!

image from lab

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


not the painful kind. but the otherworldly, mind boggling kind. my first encounter with papercuts was when i stumbled upon papercutdiecut on etsy. i just kind of sputtered in disbelief for a few minutes, no joke. how how HOW can these possible be cut out of rice paper by human hands? i'm convinced that papercutdiecut is a fairy of some sort.

images from papercutdiecut. click on each photo to view their etsy listing.

and because i live in boston and because it simply rocks, i had to include this paper cut of the old boston city hall by papercutsbyjoe. i would never guess that this was a papercut! i can't imagine the thought process that must go into creating this out of a single sheet of paper and a craft blade. and one unexpected sneeze while cutting and it's game over.

image from papercutsbyjoe. click on the photo to view its etsy listing.

image from amazon
going along with all these beautiful works of paper art, i'm dying to read this book! i judge books by their covers and this one is so promising. i'm wishing and hoping that my library will order it soon. isn't it amazing how versatile paper is? and what's even more amazing is what the wonderfully creative people in this world can do with it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

doughnuts, i've got doughnuts

trying to decide if i should make a few to put up in the shop ...

 would you like a doughnut? :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

mini collages

i love the teeny tiny canvases that they have at my local blick. i've always wanted to do something with them so for christmas, i decided to make a few mini collages as gifts. these were about 2.5" x 2.5". one lesson i learned from this project: if you mod podge over red pigment ink thinking that everything will seal up nicely... that red ink will smear and force you to start all over -_-;;

Monday, January 4, 2010

my first blog award :)

woooo! i've been given a blog award! the ultra sweet jenny from jennylovesbenny passed this award on to me and i'm honored and thrilled :) she actually nominated me a little while back but i wanted to wait until after the madness of the holidays to nominate my fav blogs. if you haven't met jenny yet, she makes the prettiest teddy bears that blow my mind because i had no idea that people made plush toys like these by hand!
images from jennylovesbenny etsy
that little bunny is so cute i want to cry. which is why i'm so happy that she passed the award on to me!
So here are the rules for accepting the award:
(1) Thank the person giving the awards (2) Copy awards to your blog (3) Place a link to their blog (4) Name 7 things people don't know about you (5) Nominate 7 bloggers (6) Place a link to those bloggers (7) Leave a comment on their blogs letting them know of their awards 7 things that you may not know about me 1. i can down two pounds of strawberries in one sitting 2. my friends popped my appendix my freshman year of high school 3. one of my life goals is to see the northern lights in action 4. my favorite holiday movie is christmas eve on sesame street and i cry each time i watch it 5. my birthday usually falls on the first day of summer making it the longest day of the year... score! 6. i make rice in a hello kitty rice cooker 7. when my sister and i are in the same room, we clear our throats at the same time, in the same way, followed by us yelling "stop it!" in unison at each other and now the 7 blogs that i pass this award to 1. howie - 2. karen - 3. amy - 4. analise - 5. susan - 6. cathe - 7. leslie -

Friday, January 1, 2010

happy happy new year!

i hope you have a safe and happy new year! i won't bore you with my reflections on 2009 but i will say that i have no idea what 2010 will bring. i'm kind of at a crossroad and i don't know what to do right now but i hope whatever it is, it's where i'm meant to go. i'm so incredibly thankful for everyone who has supported the toki cafe. i love crafting but it's you who keeps pushing me to be creative and try new things. i promise to be even craftier in 2010 and to make new cute things to share with you. eat lots of rice cake soup! wish many blessings upon your elders and elders, tell your youngins to study hard and be healthy. happy new year and here's to new adventures and a fresh start!!
2010 is gonna be a great year!! can you feel it??