Date Archives December 2016

Cozy at Café Verlet

Creativity requires a certain amount of coziness. Particularly in winter. What steaming cup sustains your reading/writing sessions when you’d rather be hibernating? Coffee? Tea? Hot chocolate? And where do you go to get out of the house, but get in from the cold, and carry on?

Café Verlet, Paris, is one place I love to get cozy. Here, they import the finest coffees and teas from around the globe and serve them up with decadent French pastries (like this pear-hazelnut tart topped with vanilla bean cream). Most delicious, though, is the ambiance.


Outside Verlet, an array of fruits confits gleam like jewels through the front window. Inside, the feeling is just as luxurious, from the smell of roasted arabica to the warm glow of a lamp-lit wood interior. IMG_1096

To ensure yourself a table, it’s best to arrive before noon. From lunch time on (sandwiches & salads served until 3pm), the ground floor fills up fast!

IMG_1094You can always wander upstairs for extra seating, and if you’re lucky, perch yourself near the window. What better way to sip, read, write, and watch passersby in the Rue Saint Honoré?


Wherever in the world you’ll be spending your creative moments this winter, I wish you coziness, and plenty of it!


Verlet, Coffee Merchant since 1880

256 Rue Saint Honoré

75001 Paris

(closed on Sundays)

Homemade Nutella

Did you know that the luscious stuff (pronounced nooTELLa) hails from Italy? But making it at home is cheap/easy/delicious and naturally healthier than buying the palm-oily, processed version. Fill up mini jam jars as gifts or as a twist on”place cards” for your holiday table this year.


Preparation time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (for 1 cup of spread)

3.5 oz chopped hazelnuts

1 cup heavy cream

7 oz chocolate of your choice


  1. Toast the chopped hazelnuts in a non-stick pan for about 3 minutes over medium heat. Put them aside.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.
  3. Add the toasted hazelnuts and turn down the heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool just a bit.
  5. Coarsely chop the chocolate and put it in a separate bowl. Now add in the cream, which should melt the chocolate as you stir until well-blended.
  6. Pour into a sterilized jar (as you would with jam) and seal immediately.



Books from Abroad

We’ll be peeking inside the following international picture books this year. My hope is that you’ll discover a wonderful foreign children’s title that you never knew existed! 

from Italy:

Cioccolata per te by Satoe Tone (2013)

from Canada:

Le Lion et L’Oiseau /The Lion and The Bird by Marianna Dubuc (2013)

from France:

Fox’s Garden by Camille Garoche (2015)

Un Petit Chaperon Rouge / A Little Red Riding Hood by Marjolaine LeRay (2014)

La Grande Fabrique de Mots by Agnès de Lestrade & Valeria Docampo (2009)

Moi, J’attends by David Cali & Serge Bloch (2005)

Ti Boudin by Benoît Charlat (2013)

from Korea:

Crispy Crispy, A Seagull / La Mouette aux Croustilles by Mingle Mingle (2014)

from England (with a French flair):

The Truffle Hunter by Inga Moore (1985)

from the U.S. (with a European influence):

The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee (1988)

The Young Hans Christian Andersen by Karen Hesse & Erik Blegvad (2005)

Lucia and the Light by Phyllis Root & Mary GrandPre (2006)

Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb (2015)


PrizeBox was a game my sister and I invented as kids. Old shoeboxes in hand, we’d each raid our closets for treasures (a highly secretive, no-peeking operation). When our prizeboxes were filled, we’d take turns, closing our eyes and reaching into the other’s box to discover our “new” loot. We got to keep whatever we found, of course, and we revelled in surprising one another. For a 9 and 5-year-old, this was recycling at its most thrilling. What my mother meant by “Clean out your closets”? Probably not.

Flash forward to today, and it’s my children’s book collection that is begging for a round of Prizebox. As I have little access to children’s titles in English, I am always ordering new American books to stay up on my “native” market. But apartments are smallish in France and I simply cannot keep them all. My books are in new condition, though, and I’d love to mail one off to you! Check back each month to see what I’m giving away (be it a children’s book or a French flea market find) and maybe your mailbox will become the next prizebox.