AyalahList: Top 5 Paris Tea Shops


Since the weather has gotten a bit cooler recently, it is officially Autumn now and all, I’ve been revisiting my tea stash and thought I’d share some of my favorites. Which also just happen to be from my favorite city.

1. Mariage Frères

Really the most amazing tea shop. The staff (all men?) meticulously dressed, black canisters fill the walls up to the ceiling; the selection is unmatched. The last time I visited, I picked up some green tea with cherry blossoms, and a little white tin to store my jasmine pearls. A friend of mine came over once and thought the tea container was a perfume bottle! Their packaging truly superb. And the cherry blossom tea smells like candy. So good. In the summer, I often make iced tea with it and it is amazing. Amazing.

2. Kusmi

My mom and I visited here together and I think this might have been her favorite. Much more casual, Kusmi has a colourful tea shop in Paris, though the company originated in St Petersburg. Though I got their green tea sampler some time ago, I am still slowly working my way through it. There is such a great variation among green teas – I was surprised at their selection, which includes an Almond green tea, as well as a Buffalo Grass green tea. I also picked up a pink anniversary London tin filled with their Anastasia tea: Earl Grey, Lemon, and orange blossom. It was my go-to tea last winter.

The clerk in the shop was very nice. When he found out we were visiting from Canada, he gave us a few I heart Kusmi buttons – mine currently lives here.

3. Le Palais des Thés

I did not visit in person, though we did walk by it in Paris. Truth be told, I had already amassed a large quantity of tea, and could not face going into another shop! Months later, back in Toronto, I bought the lovely Thé du Hammam at La Merceria as a gift. It is a green tea with flower petals in it (rose, sunflower, mallow). It smells beautiful, tastes great, and comes in a special blue tin.

These last two shops are more bakery than exclusively tea, but they do have lovely tea and so I’ve included them.

4. Fauchon

Airport security didn’t love this loose tea so much, but did let me through after examining the sealed hot pink tin to establish that it was indeed just tea – thanks! The suspect was Célébration (Birthday) tea, which is a black tea, with vanilla, orange, and mandarin. It will be perfect for this winter – with cake, as recommended (by them – not just me!).

5. Ladurée

Ladurée is a completely beautiful and very French place to go for tea while in Paris – a definite must! I am still working my way through their trio of cocoa, herbal tea, and special blend (earl grey with orange, cinnamon, caramel, blackcurrent, bramble leaves, rose, bergamot, and vanilla) – all so good! I am very curious to try the Thé Marie Antoinette. If you happen to be visiting anytime soon, let me know so I can put in an order! xo

Hand Quilting




I had to hold off on posting this until I finally picked up a pillow form this weekend.
(If you’re curious, the back looks like this)

Not to be extreme or anything, but since the pillow was hand-pieced and hand-quilted, I decided the entire operation should be free of any machine work, so I hand-stitched the zipper in place, and backstitched the whole thing together, by hand.

A second pillow is almost finished too, but it might be a gift, so I haven’t decided whether or not to post it yet…we’ll see!

Portrait No.10 : Nadia Litz


This is the last weekend of TIFF 2010 – which means the neighborhood will be getting back to normal soon. Normally I’m really into TIFF one year, and the next generally do not get involved at all. This year was pretty exciting – for the first time I was able to contribute some illustrations – and even some writing on the topic!

This portrait of Nadia Litz is up today on The Style Notebook. It was the first TIFF-related illustration I did this year and was published last. Go figure. Nadia is a Canadian actress who directed the short film, How to Rid your Lover of a Negative Emotion Caused by You!, that debuted at TIFF this year. I didn’t get a chance to see it, but it sounds amazing, doesn’t it? She talks about the film and about her experience directing for the first time here in her interview!


AyalahHutchins_swan 06 480

This week I finally saw Black Swan! Well, it’s only been playing at film festivals for a couple of weeks but it feels like forever! It’s been months if not years since they announced that Rodarte was doing the costumes, and then recently the trailer came out – so good!

The movie is sooo Darren Aronofsky, and if you like him, you’ll like the movie, and if you don’t, you won’t. BUT if you love Rodarte and ballet and Darren Aronofsky, then you will feel as do I about the film!

My second attempt at writing has now been published on The Style Notebook – I did a movie review! Pretty crazy. There is a bit of a synopsis, and a bit of fashion. And of course an illustration! Since it was pretty detailed, I decided to post a little cropped piece of it here on the blog. The composition is pretty sparse here, but to see the rest, check it out on The Style Notebook, or on my Flickr.

TIFF Pretty


I recently had the pleasure of meeting the lovely team at Brill Communications PR firm.

On assignment for The Style Notebook, I got fancied up by the Donato salon team at a pop-up salon for TIFF in the Brill Building downtown. Beside fashion editors (including an editor in chief!), fashion bloggers, and a vintage designer clothing boutique owner, I sat, sipping Prosecco and trying to keep a cute Pomeranian away from my double chocolate chip cookie!

Covering this before party make-up session was super fun, and also marks my first attempt at writing (non-school-related at least!) To accompany the writing, I did an illustration inspired by the popular Gaga-esque nail colour by Deborah Lippman called Bad Romance. Looking at it now, the illustration turned out a little saucier than intended?

If you’re feeling kind, here is a link to some self-portraits taken at home at the end of the night, and more importantly, here is a link to the article!

Fifi Lapin Contest


A little while ago I came across a post on the fifi lapin blog about a most fabulous contest she was holding – to draw an outfit for her to wear at an upcoming book launch. I decided to enter because drawing outfits is super fun for me. I put together an original design inspired by an apron dress I made this summer, along with some fun and practical accessories (note the sharpies!)

Contests are always a gamble. For someone who draws for a living, it’s basically doing work for free. And if you win, some publicity might come your way. If you don’t win, at least you get some content for a blog post!


It Is So Hot Right Now


I choose to believe my brother brought these back from Tokyo because he thought I looked like the cute girl in the illustration. And not because I need them.

In other weather-related news, I have just started an official Twitter page (there is a link to it on the right column of this page) and I have posted a link to the recipe of some AMAZING looking popsicles. So pick up some yogurt and fruit today and enjoy!