Finding Relevance

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The concept of Niko & Nonnie — Handmade treasures for little dreamers began back in April of 2011. At the time, I felt a great impetus to open a little shop, and to offer handmade, organic items available for purchase. Alina and Finnlagh were getting a bit older, and I thought that I could portion off some of my time crafting for my own family and use it to create toys and jewelry to sell online. I conducted some research and concluded that there were many other like-minded consumers out there who valued quality materials over flashing lights and plastic.

The name of the brand came to me rather rapidly. I had always wanted to name a son ‘Niko’ but given my husband’s last name, it just did not meld well at all. We did manage to make it work at some level though, choosing ‘Nikolaos’ (meaning: victory of the people) as Finnlagh’s middle name, which also serves as a nod to my Greek heritage. ‘Nonnie’…well, that’s Alina, of course. From very early on, she ended up having the same nickname that I was given by my parents, one which she also shares with her maternal great-grandmother. Niko & Nonnie had a good flow to it, and felt like the right name for a shop dedicated to unique treasures for children. The photograph which became synonymous with the N&N brand? I took that one afternoon while Finnlagh was asleep on our couch in Vancouver, curled up with his favourite bear. We had just gotten a new DSLR, and he looked so angelic and lovely with those pouty lips and blond locks. Alina had been whispering to him and holding his hand, and it remains one of the most precious photos of the pair we’ve got.

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Next came the logical outpouring: an Etsy shop, a website + online store, and of course, this blog. In the beginning, the blog was intended to be solely about the business — to promote the shop, feature knowledge and background about my creative process and materials, and to engage in giveaways and other marketing-type initiatives. Over time, it grew and developed into much more.

I think that many people get it in their heads that they will open an online store and that it will be an instant success. The reality is that it requires a considerable amount of dedication and effort; at times, I felt the constraints of putting N&N out into the world. Many clients were lovely to deal with, while others, not so much. Some genuinely understood the realities of crafting everything by hand, others simply saw the business as a way to bulk order, thus receiving large discounts from me and then marking up the merchandise much higher when they re-sold it. I struggled with having to change my strategies and with feelings of frustration. However, this is normal and expected when you deal with the public, so I decided to lay down some tougher limits for myself and kept on.

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By profession, I am a writer, editor and translator. Since having children, I have maintained parts of my career, engaging in freelance and contract work, but with definite parameters. Therefore, it would seem that the blog aspect of the business was one which I found quite favourable — and, in fact, it became the very best bit.

As a family, we move around from place to place nearly every two years with my husband’s current employer, and this blog has become a valuable place for me to document our lives with a growing family and to keep record of our many adventures. As we all have been told more times than we can count, children grow up in the blink of an eye; being able to share our lives with them and to write about homeschooling, traveling, cooking, attachment parenting, and the beauty we find in our every day— there is simply no price I can put on creating this photographic journal.

So far, 2014 has been a year of tremendous reflection for us, and with it, re-evaluation of our ever-shifting priorities. For me personally, my commitments are first and foremost to my husband and our children, to Agave Magazine (which has taken off beyond our expectations), and to maintaining enough flexibility to adapt to the challenges of our itinerant lifestyle. With our third child, Reed, arriving in July 2012 and now our fourth, who we’ll be welcoming any day now, I am seeking increased relevance. I have become hyper aware of spreading myself too thin, and of being overwhelmed by things that are supposed to be sources of satisfaction.

On July 6th, the Niko & Nonnie website will be shut down. With it, the shop will close on a (semi-) permanent basis. What will remain is this blog…only as now you see, it is no longer Niko & Nonnie, but something quite different. I hope that this new space will continue to reflect all that we find wondrously relevant and to share with you visual memories and words to hold dear. I am in the midst of moving the entirety of the N&N blog over to this website, but with nearly 300 blog posts, it is taking longer than I anticipated. It will get done – I assure you. In the meantime,nikoandnonnie.wordpress.com will remain indefinitely on the web. {Please bookmark our new site or add it to your blog readers}

 
Welcome to DREAMS LIKE AIRIt’s lovely to have you here.

http://www.dreamslikeair.com

Write, photograph, embrace — cherish for always.

 

 

Friday Favourites

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Hello friends!

There are going to be some changeovers happening in this space, and I’ve been thinking long and hard about when they are going to go into effect. At the moment, I’m thinking a bit sooner than later, so please stay with us as things unfold in the very near future…

Friday has arrived once again, so here are a selection of favourites that stuck with me this week:

I’ve got too many phobias to try this, but kudos to Wales for a wicked idea.

We may live in the land of endless summer, but the Summer Solstice is here.

#FelonCrushFriday. Who knew?

Caring for an ill, 360-pound gorilla takes a great deal of dedication.

How the mighty have fallen: Day 9 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

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Happy week-end to all!

XO,

N&N

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A portrait of my children once a week, every week in 2014…

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//Reed: enveloped in soft, summer light — he could spend all day standing in thresholds, watching life in motion around him

//Finnlagh: our beach king splashing in the waves, and looking as though he is surrounded by thousands of shimmering diamonds

//Alina: never without a book — ever. She fell asleep (as she does each night) reading one of her favourites, which depicts a land where it rains lemonade and gold-horned cows produce soft-serve ice cream like milk.

//Baby #4: snapped on-the-go, geometric wrap dress and all, on an early Sunday afternoon… and I do believe the belly has dropped a wee bit  (36 weeks + 5 days)

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Wishing all the fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers of the world a most wonderful Father’s Day today! Hoping that you are all feeling sufficiently appreciated and adored.

XO,

N&N

Joining in with Jodi of Practising Simplicity

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The Waiting Game

Waiting for baby#4.2Waiting for baby#4.3Waiting for baby#4.1We’re playing the waiting game around here, counting down the days, and feeling pretty anxious as things go… Clothes are washed, ready and put away, and there are still more details to iron out as time gradually slips away from us. We are trying to be very practical about what we need for this little one, including things that will help save space over the long term.

We know that we won’t be living in this cottage forever, and we dream about a house that will properly fit all six of us one day… goodness knows where that will be, but it is definitely on our list. Til then, there will be welcoming arms, open hearts, and abundant heaps of love and affection to shower this baby. That’s all he really needs in the end, isn’t it?

XO,

N&N

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Friday Favourites

Brown-eyed susansHello friends!

It’s been a rather up-and-down week around here. We are in the throes of ‘June Gloom’ as they call it here in Santa Barbara: days start out grey, cool and uninspiring, until mid-afternoon when the sun burns through and the cloudless sky turns a brilliant cornflower blue. Strange to think of Southern California without constant sunshine, but we’re enjoying this change in the mornings and using it as an excuse to stay in bed just a tad bit longer.

Being nine months pregnant certainly knocks things off-kilter. I’ve been vacillating between bursts of energy (read: incessant nesting and toilet-scrubbing), coupled with bouts of intense exhaustion that leave me sat on our sofa or up in bed, streaming episodes of America’s Test Kitchen and The Good Wife. In an effort to really use up what is in our refrigerator, every meal period has felt like I am a contestant on the Food Network’s Chopped, and there are many texts to Chef Grant throughout the day exclaiming, “What is there to eat in our house? What can I feed the children?!” Thankfully, the kids and Grant keep me in good spirits, and entertain my many meals of rounded-up pantry fare. I can’t wait to get to the farmer’s market this week-end and fill our baskets with fresh produce and other delectable goodies.

Here are a selection of favourites that caught my eye this week (mostly in the wee hours of the morning when I can’t sleep and reach for my iPhone to keep me company)…

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On the road with Chris Burkard via Artifact Uprising. His travel photography will blow your mind.

These 2014 iPhone Photography award-winners will make you rethink your all-mighty DSLR.

Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, Lego-styles.

Unsure what to get your dad this Father’s Day? Esquire’s got some ideas.

17 bookstores that matter.

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Happy week-end to all!

XO,

N&N

 

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A portrait of my children once a week, every week in 2014…

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//Reed: snug-as-a-bug…asleep in his toddler bed for the very first time

//Finnlagh: digging with his favourite beach spade; he lost it in the ocean only moments later

//Alina: after the 2nd grade end-of-the-year picnic, she thoughtfully picked up some sweets for her brothers

//Baby #4: airy pregnancy silhouette taken in Week 35 by my dear, sweet Grant

XO,

N&N

Joining in with Jodi of Practising Simplicity

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