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.


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.


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, 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.

Write, photograph, embrace — cherish for always.




Bon Voyage!

LWK_livingroomWe’re readying ourselves to bid adieu to our apartment in less than a week’s time…and the process is being met with a mixture of anxiety and relief. Today, the stress well and truly kicked in, and suffice it to say, a long walk and a stop for ice cream were not only welcome on this hot, humid day — they were utter necessities.  We’ve lived in eight different abodes in the past nine years (not even counting the places we’ve lived for 1-2 months at a time). The process of getting from Point A to Point B, especially with three young kids in tow, can feel quite overwhelming. As we organise our departure and daydream about deep relaxation on the beach, I thought I would share with you a little bit of what has made our house a home here in Austin.





LWK_LR windows







LWK_Reading Nook

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LWK_piano trinkets



Moving on













We’ve officially booked a moving company so it would seem that we will be out of our apartment in less than a week’s time, once SXSW is finished.. We have very much enjoyed living in this townhouse – it really is a fantastic location – and will probably miss many aspects of it. Mind you, the past few months of renovations have really started to wear on us though, and we will be ever so grateful to no longer have the entire family woken up at 7am daily because of demolition. We hope that whoever has bought our place will enjoy it, and feel the good energy from our happy, loving family who lived in it, brought a brand new baby home to it, and were proud to call it home for the past 14 months. That is, if the good energy will still be inside once the builders have smashed it to bits and totally remodeled it. HA!

On the bright side, we have managed to find an apartment roughly 25 blocks north of our current location, in an equally good area where we can walk to even more useful shopping and amenities. Our  new complex has a fabulous outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, a lake with a large park and playground, and lots of conveniences for us. We’ll be able to walk to many of our doctors’ offices, pick up coffee at Houndstooth (our very favourite in Austin), shop at Central Market daily (also our very favourite in Austin), and maybe even go to Uchiko for a date. Top Chef fans may remember that Uchiko’s Executive Chef, Paul Qui, won Top Chef last year. He has since left the superb tutelage of Tyson Cole and is slated to open his own restaurant here in town sometime this month.

While there has been a whirlwind of packing and cleaning for days on end, baby Reed has been enjoying hanging out with Alina and Finnlagh, honing new skills (most often at night while crawling out of bed and looking to party). Simple things like rolling balls back and forth across the carpet between the children bring them all together in a way that is gentle and safe for the baby, and buy me extra time to get my work done packing. All of the moving distraction has actually proved quite handy in that I ordered many things online and completely forgot about all of them. Every day this week there has been a wonderful package (or more) awaiting us. Today it was a huge shipment of Easter and summer clothing for the children, yesterday a long-coveted Harry Potter Lego book for Finnlagh and more diapers and baby supplies for Reed… earlier in the week a wooden baby walker, dvds, more books to read for the grown ups, a new iPhone case… I must say, not that I wish to endorse Amazon terribly, but good gracious, do we ever love Amazon Prime. Free two-day shipping on absolutely everything along with loads of television and movies for only $80 a year…you can imagine how much we use this service since we live car-free, not to mention their Amazon Mom program which ships baby supplies according to our preferences and delivery needs. A virtual license to print money.

I’ve been trying to be good about blogging since once we move, it might get disrupted for a little bit of time while all of our services get set up. Incidentally, you have probably heard that Google Reader will be no longer; if this is how you have been following my blog, I don’t want to lose you, so please remember to bookmark Speaking of which, how do all of you keep up with your favourite blogs? I use the Bloglovin’ app which updates everything all in one place – very, very handy. You can find a link for Bloglovin’ and a Subscription on the column to your right –>

Hoping to have more for you as the week progresses…I do have a fair bit on my blog list I can’t wait to share with all of you!



Neighbourhood spaces & update

I wanted to begin this post by letting you know that I have put the shop on holiday until we are fully moved into our new place (which means that yes, we have finally found a new apartment!) Niko & Nonnie is currently in vacation mode, but you can receive an email letting you know as soon as I’ve re-opened, just by clicking the link above. I really do apologise for any inconvenience, but my hands are so full these next few weeks, I just didn’t think I could manage. All current orders placed through either Etsy or myself directly will ship out this week. I can’t wait to get back in the swing of things.

We’ve gotten a bit fed up with the packing to be honest. It interferes with the rhythm of our homeschooling, has to be done while Reed is napping (coinciding of course with my one-on-one free playtime with Alina and Finnlagh), and is just generally boring and exhausting. But we’ll get through it. We’ve done it so many times our boxes are packed like perfectly intricate puzzles – it’s a bit over the top!

This afternoon, as the sun streamed through our windows and the gorgeous day beckoned, the children and I threw in the packing tape and the scissors, grabbed keys, a couple of diapers, wallet and were out like lightning. We took our time admiring all the wildflowers in bloom, picked up some coffee and treats, and took turns snapping shots with my iPhone. Here’s what we turned up.