Happy Halloween!

“Potiron” or Cinderella pumpkins

Wishing everyone a most spook-tacular day! Best wishes from Niko & Nonnie for a ghoulishly fun time filled with ghosts, witches, vampires, frights, tricks and treats! We’ll be handing out glow sticks and candy to trick-or-treaters and taking our little queen and pirate out in the neighbourhood for all the Halloween festivities. How will you be celebrating where you live?

Happy Halloween!!!!
Niko & Nonnie

From Here to There…

<<Écrire est un acte d’amourS’il ne l’est pas il n’est qu’écriture.>> 
-Jean Cocteau

I’m still here. Still packing. I’m becoming more and more shark-like in my old age: if I don’t keep swimming, I’m gonna be a goner…

Today I felt like I could barely keep my head above water. My husband and I have been surviving on just about 3-4 hours of sleep per night lately and I think it is slowly taking its toll. He comes home late from work, we put the children to bed, and try to have a bit of time together. I work on the shop, my writing, whatever seems most pressing, then to bed and up early again to take our daughter to school.  We have started going out for coffee or breakfast in the mornings with our son, which has helped to give us a bit of clarity before being washed away by the day’s activities.  Lately, all the phone calls I make seem to disappear into the telecommunications ether… there are a lot more people away from their desks or mobiles at any given time than seems reasonable. Messages and emails head into the void where they’ll be trapped in the mythical “cloud” of virtual computing…

The thing about moving is that once you commit to the inevitable, you just need it to hurry up and be done with it.  I am sort of at that point…the other day I was thinking about how the world could stand to be more like Harry Potter’s Floo Network – just toss a bit of silvery, glittery powder, state where you want to go, and bang! You’re there. Instead, my days resemble more like his tireless search for horcruxes minus the winding plot.

Switching countries again is not short on bureaucracy, but the good news is that I am starting to get the hang of it. The trick is paring down your things to simple essentials with a bit of nostalgia thrown in, and to think about what you most likely will read, wear, or want to re-visit again in your new dwelling.  I also keep an old tea canister filled with impossible treasures and photos that are essential traveling companions. Anyone who knows me will attest to the magical gleam I get in my eyes when I am given the chance to rid the house of whatever clutter is gumming up the works. Rushes of adrenaline come in many forms you know!

When we last moved, from Montreal to Vancouver, we shipped 5,000 lbs of furniture, personal effects and books.  Books weighed in at a whopping metric tonne! While we adore the collection we have amassed over these many years, we simply cannot do with lugging around 2,000 extra pounds. Not to mention the kids’ collection! At last count they had over 400 books … Now each time the city of Vancouver opens the blue BOOK DROP donation bins scattered across the eastside, they will find many volumes of well-read tomes from which we have parted ways.  The wonderful thing about books is that you can read them, love them or hate them, “devour” them, pass them on to a friend, borrow them, share them in a discussion group, admire them in your bookcase…my most favourite part (after owning them and reading the stories they have to tell) is donating them, the momentary lapse and wonder at what books someone will find when they open the box…

Bearing all of this in mind, my clever husband bought me an eReader yesterday. He’d already promised me a meyer lemon tree once we arrive in Austin, but an eReader takes my desire for pared-down living to a whole new extreme.  Which one did we get? The Kobo Touch.  You can read about it here. I’ve just bought Murakami’s new release entitled “1Q84,” Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus” and also found many free volumes ranging from classics from the literary canon to Children’s Literature from the 1920s. At present I’ve loaded 88 books onto my Kobo, and have space for about 900+ more. I’m thrilled!

Tomorrow is Friday, a welcome end to the week and the start of a very exciting week-end! Our son is turning three years-old on Saturday and Halloween is Monday… I am swimming in preparations, but it’s that good ol’ shark thing again … you’ve just got to keep going…

Time for tea, stories and the not-so-melodic stylings of my roll of packing tape.

Grab bag surprises and big changes…

S-p-o-o-k-y  Ghost Jingle Ball from N&N

There has been some wonderful news for our family since my last post.  My husband has been offered a promotion and transfer with the Four Seasons Hotel to…*drumroll, please…*…Austin, TX! We discussed the idea of Austin as a family, going back and forth, making lists, calculations, comparisons, and in the end, packing up and starting on our next adventure is the right choice for our family.

We knew we were going to have to move at some point, we just were not sure when or where precisely.  Opportunities would come and go, and we’d say to each other, “Leave it for now. Something good will come along.” In the end, I’m very pleased that we weighed our choices carefully and made this decision together.

Austin or bust…

Austin is an incredibly vibrant and youthful city. To my great joy it is the “Live Music Capital of the World,” home to the South by Southwest music festival, and an eclectic center of art, culture and technology.  It is the birthplace of Whole Foods (yes, two hippies started it there in the 1970s), so incredibly hot your skin sloughs off like roasted chicken (slight hyperbole!) and sunny almost year-round.  I’ve been told it is so warm at Christmas, many people host Christmas bbq’s! Imagine that. My husband will be working downtown on the banks of Lady Bird Lake and vows to eat authentic, mouth-watering Mexican food every single day. We’re up to the challenge!

To my great dismay, Austin is also home to the largest urban population of bats in North America, numbering 1.5 million! While everyone tells me not to worry, that the bats are instrumental in keeping things like mosquitos and other gnarled flying insects to a minimum, what they don’t know is that I am terrified of these creatures. I saw enough of them on vacations in Italy and Greece to say with confidence that a bat population in the millions will freak the living daylights out of me! That being said, the nightly exodus of Mexican free-tail bats from under the Congress Street bridge in downtown Austin is pretty incredible, and tourists flock to the city just to watch this amazing event night after night between March and November….just check out these videos here and here. Holy phenomenal, Batman! Let it also be said right now that I do not wish to get pooped on by bats, so I hope the colony is listening up! If they aren’t, I’m borrowing Commissioner Gordon’s telephone and calling that red batphone right now…

Niko & Nonnie is still in full swing and will continue to be through the very busy upcoming holiday season.  One of the reasons I started this little business was because it is something that I can do from anywhere in the world; the more moves and adventures we do around the world, the more techniques and materials I will amass, hopefully resulting in a truly unique children’s shop. I will literally be conducting business out of my suitcase for the months of December and January – my carry-on is already stuffed with wool, felting needles and beads!

If you live in Vancouver, Niko & Nonnie’s needle felted vegetable and fruit baskets are now available at a lovely eco-friendly shop for kids called Little Earth located on East Hastings.  Here are some examples of what you might find there:

Tomato, eggplant, string beans, pumpkin, potato

Strawberries, pear, apples, orange, kiwi, lemon

Carrot, cauliflower, tomato, squash, cucumber

Halloween is almost here and I am frantically trying to finish up the trick-or-treat bags I am making for my kids, along with a needle felted princess crown, birthday presents for my son  (although there won’t really be a party considering our house is flooded with moving boxes!)… There will be much making of pumpkin pie, painting of miniature wooden cars and trucks, crayon-making, and baking in a very special new tin I absolutely could not resist…

Recycled stackable crayons

Fabulously huge acorn baking tin

Last but not least, on today’s excursion to the craft store, my son and I picked up a grab bag. Basically, it was a great big sack with what was advertised as $100 worth of fall decor for only $2. We waited to open it until my daughter came home from school and this is what we found:
$2 Grab Bag Loot
Can you spot the irony in this picture? I got a massive chuckle at the inclusion of a banner that reads: Home Sweet Home. Yes – we hope to hang it up…someday!
Stay tuned! xoxo
ps: WIP for the holiday season…

Needle felted Christmas tree ornament

Blog with a dynamic view **

Needle felted fruits + veggies, fresh from the N&N farm!

Regular readers of this blog will probably notice right off the bat that the format for Niko & Nonnie’s blog has changed in a pretty dramatic way! I am currently trying out some new templates which may allow for better interaction with blog posts, pictures and content – and avoid scrolling!  As you can see in the menu bar above, there are seven (7) different “dynamic” ways to view. Please feel free to click between them and see the results!

At this point, I am not entirely convinced by some aspects of the dynamic view; functionality and web links have been lost and customisation is virtually non-existant.  Concurrently, I quite like the clean aspect as well as the fact that social media has been integrated into every post. It will be interesting to hear what all of you think! What are your reactions to the changes? Should I revert to Niko & Nonnie’s former blog look?

Secondly, and perhaps even more important than the aesthetic changes: Niko & Nonnie’s blog address has changed. If you look up in your navigation bar, you will see that the address is now http://nikoandnonnie.blogspot.com The old website (nikononnieboutique.blogspot.com) is no longer.  I am actually quite pleased about the change – it definitely makes things more consistent! Be sure to update your bookmarks and address books with our new address… we wouldn’t want to lose any of our very dear (and far-flung) readership!

While I am up writing, I also wanted to share some exciting news. If you live in the Vancouver area, you will (in the very near future!) be able to purchase N&N’s needle felted fruit and vegetable baskets at a wonderful, eco-friendly retail shop called Little Earth. I feel lucky enough to have Little Earth as a lovely, local shop in my neighbourhood – I know of many people that drive from all over Vancouver just to shop there, so we’re pleased about being displayed on their shelves this season 🙂

In addition, there have been many more new items for sale in the shop! Shop online at Niko & Nonnie or drop by our Etsy shop. With Canadian Thanksgiving only days away and Halloween imminent, our needle felted pumpkins have been a very popular item! There are several options available, from jingle toy pumpkins, to pairs and groups of pumpkins – and remember that all needle felted items are fully customisable and handmade to order.

Group of needle felted pumpkins – available now!

I had given you all a sneak peak of some WIP items in an earlier blog post.  This pillow cushion was one such example, and is available for sale! http://www.etsy.com/listing/82232778/ellie-the-elephant-pillow-cushion

Features handsewn wool felt accents + organic lambs’ wool

The star of the pillow is Ellie the Elephant and she is made from cut and handsewn charcoal wool felt, with a magenta wool felt heart accent and heart button. Her eyes were needle felted as a finishing touch – and met with my daughter’s approval, thank goodness! The organic lambs’ wool I used for this particular pillow is called polworth. It’s difficult to describe how lovely it feels to cuddle up with a pillow stuffed with pure wool…absolutely divine!

Looks like it’s time for me to find a pillow of my own! The fairies are arriving to sprinkle dust in my eyes and lull me to sleep…

Thanks for reading! Til next time… ❤