Needle Felting & Contest Giveaway!

Our stay-cation ended yesterday and I must admit, I am feeling a bit deflated today. My husband is back at work, cooking up a storm and hosting a wine dinner this evening, and the children and I are trying to find our daily routines again.  While we are certainly not a household of routines (and probably never will be), there are particular things like preschool, cooking and afternoon tea parties that give shape to our days together.  The children and I have spent much of today sailing the high seas in a laundry basket, watering the garden, watching Pocoyo and reading stories. We made quesadillas for lunch, waffles with hazelnut spread and pumpkin spice tea for our snack and by the time I finish typing this I’ll be back in the kitchen preparing our dinner.  I have no inspiration for what that might be but I’m hoping to open the refrigerator and find some lovely protein defrosting in the meat drawer. It really is the little things that keep one’s day running smoothly!

Cookies from N&N at our afternoon tea party

During our time off, my husband and I were semi-productive in attacking our list of things to do. As far as the ruthless organising of our storage that I mentioned in my previous post…we gave it a good go, and did a fairly decent job, but ultimately got very distracted by bbq’ing, enjoying the city and HOCKEY. If you haven’t heard all the yelling coming from our house or seen our Canucks flag flying proudly through the streets of Vancouver – the Canucks will be in the Stanley Cup Final. They have never won, and frankly, they really ought to take it all this year. The hockey finals also mark a special time because my husband and I met during the championship some 7 years ago now, and we are really looking forward to celebrating our anniversary in just a few days.

In Niko & Nonnie news, I will be adding needle felted items to the shop this week.  The shop will feature needle felted play food, jewelry and figures. If you are not familiar with needle felting, it is a technique whereby you sculpt 3-D forms out of raw carded wool using a very sharp barbed needle.  Each needle felted piece is jabbed thousands and thousands of times in order to create a finished product.

Here are some examples of our creations from the past week:

And now… details for the **NIKO & NONNIE GIVEAWAY***

*****One lucky winner will receive a needle felted teddybear along with 2 needle felted cookies*****
(See pics below for the teddybear, currently very much a WIP!)

Here’s how to enter:

Send an email to NikoNonnieBoutique@gmail.com
Be sure to include your name and mailing address

Deadline for the giveaway is June 8th!

A needle felted teddy is born – still very much a WIP!
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*Living Simply*

*New* eco-friendly stuffie, Amandine the deer

Hello readers! We’re currently on stay-cation, or holistay as some like to call it. It’s actually very similar to a regular vacation, only closer to home and slightly less ambitious. Our stay-cation feels more like a long-weekend at the moment, but another few days of sleeping in and eating my husband’s famous Meyer lemon and sour cream pancakes … I could get used to this!

How will we spend this time off? We are feeling quite optimistic and are planning to use this time off as constructively as we can. To date, we have done just the opposite, enjoying guilty pleasures like playing Wii and watching films til the wee hours of the morning. In the evenings, my husband and I, each with a snuggly child in our laps, settle down on the sofa with a warm chenille blanket and a pot of tea or coffee; it feels like bliss to me.

I’ve also gotten started on some custom orders and new designs for Niko & Nonnie. There are several wonderful cotton-linen blends I’ve been eyeing and I am having a difficult time choosing at the moment. I will say that I am leaning towards a more masculine direction for the new fabrics at the moment, as there is already quite a lot for girls available in my Etsy shop. Speaking of which, I’ve listed some new items and will be adding more this week…

It’s important for me to share that I am really enjoying the collaborative nature of writing this blog and having a readership. It turns out, apart from North America and Europe, I also have many blog readers from Malaysia, Australia, Japan, Lebanon, Sudan and even Georgia in the southern Caucasus. It’s been a rewarding exchange of ideas and impressions so far, and I’m grateful to everyone who has welcomed Niko & Nonnie into their homes.

At a personal level, in the interest of preserving our sanity, it also seems like this stay-cation will involve some work.  Ho-hum…

We have decided to whittle our belongings and furniture down, pack storage boxes and re-evaluate our essentials for living well in our space. We are an itinerant family and are hoping to capitalize now so that the next time we have to move, it won’t be a complete panic. The added bonus will be a more efficient space that is easier to manage on the day-to-day.

I vacillate wildly between the options of nesting and building a family home versus ditching everything we own and starting fresh – I find it an odd and impractical stance to navigate.  I tend to shift objects and pieces of furniture around very often. I am not sure if it is my way of trying to revitalise our home, to provide different visual interests or just another way to cope with the ongoing needs of our family. I assure you I am not an insufferable perfectionist; I am merely a Libran woman who is always thinking of aesthetic value – and how! It is true that in an imagined parallel universe I would excise the following from the world’s collective furniture vocabulary: linoleum, sharp edges, particle board and laminate flooring. I’d call upon George Clarke and Mike Holmes to design a highly efficient and eco-friendly home which I would then pay for with the pot of gold I found at the end of the rainbow.

While I close my eyes and dream of the idyllic, I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of some very lovely plants in our garden. I mentioned that the weather has been dreadful, but these persistent flowers have found a way to take in every bit of rare and glorious sun!

Rhododendron

Lily-of-the-Valley & Forget-me-nots

Scalliwags, spring and some new items…

The weather this spring in Vancouver has been pretty uncharacteristic. Cold, rainy days with overcast skies and a chill in the air – it all has felt a bit grim.  On the odd days when the sun peeps out from behind the clouds, the general mood seems to lift and I have managed to press on with collecting materials for the shop.  Each day I take to my list of inventory ideas and jot down notes – the list is longer than I am able to tackle at the moment, but I have set myself a goal of one item per day…
There are many things that are coming out of this process of evolving a shop and making things with my own two hands that are surprising and wonderful.  My children, in between bouts with sniffles and coughs (it really has felt like we are constantly fighting one thing or another), show great alacrity for the project. They’ve got so much enthusiasm for every little bit of fabric, bead, batting or ribbon – it’s an absolute joy. Once an item has been finished, whatever I have made is then scooped up and given to this stuffed animal or another as a naptime friend or playmate. Bracelets cover their forearms up to their elbows, and faster than I can catch him, the cat has stolen something out of my supplies and is on the run.
My daughter crafts and draws virtually all day long, taking breaks to read books and write labels for various things around the house.  I woke up one morning to find that she had even labelled our various pets in their respective baskets, cage and fish tank…large sheets of paper with CAT, BIRDIES, GOLDFISH written out in red crayon. She explained to me that the pets couldn’t label their homes themselves so she thought she’d do it for them – bless her heart. My son has discovered my pinking shears and practices on sheets of paper, with his big sister’s tutelage, of course! We adore that they are best friends and we hope this will stand them in good stead as they grow up together.
In other news, I have added a new felt doll to the shop – it’s a Pirate Cat! For the moment, he is lodging in my son’s pirate ship and sailing the seven seas…but he’ll be made to order for anyone who’d like to order him!  

And another WIP…

Lastly, I wanted to point out the link to My Etsy that appears in the upper right-hand corner of the blog. It features a small selection of items and if you click on the link it will take you directly to the N&N shop. I have also added an Etsy rubrique on the left-hand side of the FB page, so you can access inventory and link the store there as well. 

**GRAND OPENING** We’re finally here!

Hello to everyone!

I am proud to announce that Niko & Nonnie is officially open for business on Etsy! Today is the day!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/nikoandnonnie

I’ve been working very hard over the past few days to finish up some new pieces and I hope that you will love them just as much as I do! Here are a few pics to whet your appetite…

Wishing all you mamas out there a lovely Mother’s Day with your families! May loads of kisses and hugs from your children abound today! Thank you to all for the wonderful messages and support – I’ve never felt so loved as I do today ❤

Creativity, re-imagined…

I’ve made an unforgivable mistake: I rescued a train using a dinosaur tail.

The other evening my son came into the living room to fetch me, explaining that his beloved green train was trapped beneath a chair. He was quite agitated about it all, so I put down my sewing and rushed into the children’s bedroom. The floor was covered in a carefully constructed scene of trains, figurines, bridges and tunnels. I got down and peered under the chair – indeed, there was Percy, funnel to the floor, coal cart askew…he was “trapped” in the far reaches of the room.

I must add here that the actions that followed seemed completely logical to me at the time, and I feel certain that, had I not been (quite literally) struck in the head, I most likely would have repeated them in the future.

My son’s frenzy was rising and I was feeling the pressure to rescue his friend as quickly as I could. I sidled up to the chair and stretched my arm as far as it could possibly go. I slithered on my tummy, swatting at the air: I simply couldn’t reach. I am not the tallest of women and so this is never surprising for me; I’m forever corralling chairs and other precarious bits of furniture to stand on, muttering under my breath about the ridiculous limitations of height. My daughter shouted, “You need something longer to help you! Get a stick, Rescue Mama!”

I turned around, my eyes scanning the room for something I could use to help me. A dinosaur! A velociraptor with a long, curved tail would be just the thing to hook the coal cart, rescue Percy and put an end to my son’s misery. I grabbed the dinosaur by the head and swung it around wildly under the chair. The tail worked like a dream. Percy was free!

WHACK! I had been struck in the head. My two-year-old was furious. Tears were streaming down his face and he was stomping his feet, looking to strike again.

“Mama! You don’t understand! Mama doesn’t listen. Mama! Mama!” WHACK!

This was madness. His most favourite train was stuck under a chair and I had rescued it. Peace and tranquility had been restored in the world and we could all continue having a fun evening. What was I not comprehending?

As I threw my arms around him and kissed his tears away, I realised I needed to assume a toddler’s point of view. My son had asked me for my help and of course, I was earnestly prepared to help him. But my error was in entering the make-believe world, bashing about and not remembering that his imagination provides something that is very real to him. Even his rough and tumble dinosaur, who frankly is usually quite aggressive in the world of make-believe, needed to be treated in a certain way. It was clear to me now.  In many ways, coping mechanisms are difficult not only for toddlers who are building their communication skills, but also for adults. Our responses to situations become increasingly automatic and it seems we can skip directly from A to C without batting an eye, forgetting that B is essential in the process.

Indeed there are many friends circulating around our cozy house, from ponies and giraffes, dinosaurs and trains, to bunnies, lions and even sock monkeys. We have now gotten to the point where I am making accessories, food items, Easter baskets and all matter of things for my children’s stuffies and dolls. A request from my daughter led me to design the little bunny and carrot playset that you see below, and I will be making this a permanent item in the shop.

This little bunny can be fully customised for a boy or a girl…satin ribbon suspenders, accent ribbons, hearts and colour of trousers can all be varied as well as the colour of the bunny itself. This particular bunny is for a girl (more specifically, it’s a friend for Rutabaga the Bunny, the most important stuffed animal in our house), but the ribbon detail can most certainly be removed for a boy. Like the bunny, the carrot is made of Eco-fi & wool felt, hand-stitched with cotton embroidery thread and filled with organic lambs’ wool batting.

And just a reminder: *GRAND OPENING* will be this Sunday, Mother’s Day! Please remember to visit Niko & Nonnie at http://www.etsy.com/shop/NikoandNonnie

I will be listing a variety of items in the shop for the opening and adding new stock weekly. We are also very nearly at the magic number on FB for businesses. Thank you to everyone who went online and showed their support.

Dinos, jewels and…an announcement!

Hello readers! I think we can all agree that the past few days have been an absolute media frenzy for news and global events, so in this post I will address … none of that. I shall leave the commentary to the political experts and instead, make an exciting announcement!

Niko & Nonnie will officially have its online *Grand Opening* on May 8th, Mother’s Day! After consideration of several online venues, I have selected to use Etsy for my shop. Etsy is a fantastic supporter of handmade, vintage and re-purposed goods, and I am delighted to share my enthusiasm with both Etsy and its community worldwide.

While I still have a lot of work to do for the initial shop opening production-wise, I have managed to secure the actual web store for N&N on Etsy. I spent much of yesterday getting that organised (goodness, trying to use Photoshop while juggling 2 kids on one’s lap is as hairy as it sounds) :::*Phew*::: For now, the framework is online, I just need to have a think about things like shipping costs and store policies and how much I will be charging for each item.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/NikoandNonnie

While I won’t be listing any items on Etsy until this coming Sunday, I thought I’d share another glimpse into N&N’s “production studio”…

T-REX!
Juxtaposed hues of purple and graphite
Wraparound bracelet in “Jubilee”

                                    
Lastly, a big thank you to everyone for all of your support! I deeply appreciate all of your feedback and messages! If you haven’t yet headed over to N&N’s Facebook page, log on and show your support by clicking “LIKE” and be sure to send me your suggestions for the giveaway item. ‘Til next time!