Holiday shopping begins in Leslieville

[attach]2901[/attach]In honour of Leslieville’s annual Holiday Wanderlust evening shop hop event Nov. 18, a pal and I take a stroll along Queen East to check out some of the strip’s newest arrivals.

We begin by stepping just slightly outside of what I believe are Leslieville borders to a new pop-up shop on the cusp of Jimmie Simpson park.

Craisy’s has been open for only a few weeks and has no phone number or website, being a pop-up shop and all. The owners, I’m told by a sweet and helpful sales associate, typically do the accessories show circuit. This retail location will be open to Dec. 31, and I’d advise starting your holiday shopping engines here.

The temporary shop carries mostly Fair Trade items from Peru, Mexico, the Philippines and more — meaning the prices rock.

I salivate over the leather-bound journals made in India, whose paper is apparently tree-free and instead made with cotton remnants from the garment industry. There are varying sizes, starting at $26 and going up to $80 for the large photo album, some bearing a pretty gemstone in their centre.

Gorgeous long-haired Alpaca wool capes in solid brown, black or magenta are a mere $150. I bag a chic brown beret made from the same for $15.

There’s some kid’s stuff like knit mittens but my money’s on the bling, especially for the gift-giving season —the maple leaf pendant necklaces dipped in silver for $25 are a super steal (I pick up an oak leaf one in a bronze tone); there’s also fresh water pearls and farmed coral from the Philippines.

My shopping partner buys me a pretty purple long wool cardi that’s uber soft, $59. Call it an early Christmas present.

888 Queen St. East

[url=]Majesteas[/url] is my cup of tea as all of its 100 or so loose tea varieties are on display in jars — that means you can pick them up, take a whiff and try ‘em if you like.

[attach]2902[/attach]Open for about six months, the shop is owned by Ian Macdonald and Robert Gignac, both of whom, Macdonald tells us, had grandparents who were tea-and-toast enthusiasts.

A photog in a former life, Macdonald has framed pics of the Queen he’s shot himself all over the shop (one of his photos of Her Majesty graced the cover of the Toronto Star recently, he tells us) – he’s met the Royal a few times and there’s even a tea spoon framed in a shadow box behind the counter that belonged to the Queen.

The business partners took a tea sommelier course at George Brown College, and Macdonald regales us with useful tea facts – for instance, did you know if you pour boiling water over green tea the leaves will burn and the taste will be off?

The shop, he tells us, stocks different blends others don’t have, like the Royal Wedding blend, a white tea with peach and roses, and a vanilla mint pu-erh tea that the Chinese drink with fatty food to help break down the fat.

You can buy the tea in tins or pouches or sit and enjoy a cuppa in the tiny café area. And if you’re a budding tea enthusiast you can pick up a number of tea books for sale, or inquire about attending a tea seminar offered on a by-request basis.

950 Queen St. East, 647-350-4646 [url=][/url]

Our last stop: [url=]Dorly Designs,[/url] where owner, designer and fashion enthusiast Dorly Jean-Louis has been open since May.

Jean-Louis stocks accessories and clothing from about 40 independent designers from Toronto and across Canada, and many of the items are handmade and one-of-a-kind.

True to the cubby-hole concept that’s been cropping up in the city for similar such concepts, jewellery is neatly displayed in clear box-like displays, and there’s plenty of fun and different holiday sparkle for the picking.

A healthy selection of ladies’ clothing and accessories, along with a small section for kids and babies, comprises the bulk of the store, but I like that Jean-Louis has made an effort to carry men’s clothing and accessories as that’s often what seems to be missing in shops of this nature.

The bamboo and organic cotton long-sleeved tees for men by Coy Clothes are a hoot: one, $50, has a couple with “We drink because we have to!” on its front. I’ve been at some couple pals’ houses when the kids are screaming at 5 p.m. and the wine’s already on the table — think they’d get a chuckle out it.

The house label by Jean-Louis is comprised of sexy cocktail dresses and sweet jumpers. What’s even better is they’re available in sizes 2 to 16 and can even be altered by the in-house seamstress.

I may just have to go back for the blue sequin mini dress by Broken Doll, $132 — it’ll be my saucy Santa Baby outfit.

1173 Queen St. East, 416-778-0009 [url=][/url]

Thanks to Nathalie-Roze Fischer of Leslieville indie designer boutique, [url=]Nathalie-Roze & Co.[/url](1015 Queen St. East, 416- 792-1699), for giving me a heads up on a couple of these shopsy arrivals. Fischer will be holding her signature event, Crafternoon Tea, on Nov. 27 at the Queen St. East Presb. Church. The craft show and tea party will showcase 35+ local vendors of handmade goodies (all under $50), with tea room proceeds benefiting Leslieville charities.