Monday, 15 November 2010

Days off and such things...

The 'day off' has to be my new favourite institution. Sundays to be specific. Today was a rare, real day off (no traipsing around antique markets, muddy fields or grade II listed buildings, stocking and tidying our other stores). It is the end of car boot season too, which means Sundays shall henceforth be lie-in days. This morning I awoke to the sound of rain on the window and rolled over to savour the warmth of husband and bed and a cozy dog who had snuck onto the bed in the early hours of the morning and taken up temporary residence in the crook of our legs. Life can be sweet.
Then, after lolling I decided to make breakfast but soon discovered the cupboards were bare so pulled on my Ugs and jeans, a long knit wrap (is it just me or are long knits almost always a mistake?) and headed out to the Co-Op on the hunt for some sustenance, preferably of the french pastry variety. It was only half way there that I remembered I had gone to bed with damp hair and looked a sight. Oh well, nobody would be about this early on a cold rain swept Sunday morning, surely?
At the till, as I unpacked my contraband (supposed to be watching the waist line) I felt eyes staring at me then felt a tap on the shoulder, "Hi, aren't you Holly Nicholas-Steele, the lady who has the shop that I read about in the Darling Magazine this week. You are the one telling us all how to decorate our homes. It's so marvelous." Yelp. After a polite chat and fumble to pay I scarpered home only to find that not only was my hair the follicle version of the 4th of July but I had put my long knitwear on inside out. Now I am in no way claiming to be anything other than a 'nobody' but I will certainly have to improve my 'day off' look.

Here's the article which came out this week  in case anyone is interested. 

There is also a Youtube interview in which I was prompted to be rather animated in so please be kind. I am not normally prone to hamming things up (at least not that much).

Now let me introduce you to the most amazing artist. This is the lovely Domenica More Gordon with one of her creations.
Check out her website and biography. Domenica is world renowned for her needle, dry felted pooches. There is a queue the length of the equator to own one of her creations. Brad Pitt is in that queue (hopefully next to me.. he he) but take a look at some more and fall in love like I did.....


As you can imagine, you'd have a better chance of finding the missing Faberge eggs in your Christmas cracker than getting your hands on a Domenica More Gordon original, so I did the next best thing; I ordered one of her Dog kits online and set out to make one of my own.
 This is a very unusual technique and rather than bore you with the details, here is a photographic account of my attempt to make an Irish Wolf hound.

The Kit

The raw wool tops
The barbed needles

The first step- shaping a head

Now for the body

Many hours of needling and felting and......a hound is born.

Now for the face

Add ears
Finally, add grey fluffy bits and collar

and tadaa.....not too shabby.

Next I will guessed it, a boxer. Well the Wolf Hound deserves a mate. Roxy will forgive the flaws in my version of her I am sure.

This week we shall begin preparing for the Christmas Fair season as well as make our much needed run to The Maileg suppliers. We love their bunnies and hope to have a wonderful selection in, in time for Christmas.

New pieces of furniture have been lovingly up-cycled in Steve's workshop using some of the new techniques he learnt at the Annie Sloane paint course he attended last week.

Lovely cake stands which were purchased shortly after taking these photos by a local interior designer.

 ...and a lovely group of Children from Hollymount school came to celebrate a friend's birthday and painted their own versions of Van Gogh's Sunflowers.

As the days cool and the weather feels more on the wintry side of Autumn, we all reach for the woolens (even the long knits) and batton down the hatches for the long cold days ahead. Even Roxy and Moses (our warring cat and dog) have renewed their entente cordiale for the winter.

It is a time to look to the simple things that make life worth living; start a new crafting project, read that book that you have been meaning to read or just rearrange an old bookshelf but look to creativity for inspiration. There is nothing like the joy of feathering your nest for the winter so splash out on some lovely wallpaper or paint a wall in a statement colour. I promise, it is the little changes that will make all the difference. In the meantime, long live the day off. Happy Sunday everyone.
God bless

Monday, 1 November 2010

Ho Bloody Ho!

Two weeks ago, Steve and I went on a date, movies and The Spur in Wandsworth. Not exactly the high life but a night out nonetheless. On the way, we had to drop a rocking horse off (as you do) but on discovering our client wouldn't be home till late, we asked if we could do it after the show. After a good graze and a belly full of laughs we navigated our way to the address only to discover there were three possible no. 22s. Which door bell to ring at 11.30pm at night armed with a rocking horse? Fortunately there was only one flat with the light on and so I took my chances and sure enough it was the right one but on the way home we were discussing how the scene could have played out differently while looking out for a rival vintage shop which we had been meaning to spy on, when bright flashing lights and a siren flashed behind us. Doh! We had been pulled over by the police, not for speeding but for driving too cautiously. Steve was asked to step out of the vehicle and a vehicle check was run. He was told his over cautious maneuvers had alerted them a to the possibility that he was driving under the influence at which point he chose to inform them we were just delivering a rocking horse. (oh that makes it so much better I mean I have heard of drug mules but not drug rocking horses.) Luckily they finally got to the bottom of things and were satisfied that we were just going about our business, ever so slightly eccentrically. Needless to say they pointed us in the direction of the shop we were looking for and followed us a bit to make sure the 'crazy people' got were they needed to go - Ai chi chi we have got to get out more! (or not?)

Well we did get out a little more last week and to our shock and horror realised we had fallen behind with what all the other shops had been up to...CHRISTMAS...araaaghhhhh! We had secretly hoped we could wait till at least after Halloween but apparently we would certainly be missing a trick (and a treat?) by leaving it so our emergency Christmas rations, which I have been collecting since July, were dusted off and the shop treated to a complete move around.
Take a look.

The lost Christmas stock which we had to retrieve from the back of the lock up.

1950s boxes of glass baubles

The front window is full of original 1940's, 50's, 60's ornaments.

Even the not- so- perfect ones got a chance to fight another sweet.

Knitted Santa got to ride on a pushalong dog rather than a sleigh...

and the Grinch that stole Christmas...

Meanwhile, the large table in the middle of the shop had all the china tea sets relocated to a dresser

to make way for this... our playful country Christmas ornaments.

It was closing time so our lovely new friend Veronique came back to the shop and helped decorate the trees...
Her wonderful flair for design and her French elegance was an asset indeed not to mention she bought a wonderful Christmas air to the proceedings, even though we must remind ourselves it is only October!

By 9.30pm the shop had been transformed and I must admit to having a little tear in the eye ...our shops first Christmas....aaaaaahhhh.

So, what else was new at N&S this week.

Sue Board original Hats now in stock! Gorgeousness now comes in all knitted shapes and sizes! Take a look at these;

and these...
I have chosen mine which has already been widely admired by several friends and strangers alike.


A genuine Libertys of London hand painted vintage screen comes to live at N&S. Isn't it divine!

Several new bits of furniture which Steve has been slaving over arrived including another union Jack bureau which for some reason the photo won't load but it is stunning and already has been semi reserved for a client.

and finally, we get to the bottom of why so many of our parcels have been arriving in tatters and getting broken! Just look at the state of the packages in this courier's van. Hilarious if it wasn't costing us an arm and a leg in breakages.

and, finally today on our 'day off' we found ourselves familiarising ourselves with our bank manager followed by a spate of letterbox cramming in our local neighbourhood to promote our 10% off November special to celebrate National Antiques week. We dropped 250 of our 1000 postcards into letterboxes in the near vacinity and will do another 250 tomorrow evening in the village. (I wonder if Cath Kidston or Richard Branson had to do this?) Needless to say, it is on occasions like these, and 7.30am yesterday morning standing in a muddy field being rained on and brawling over a mirror and the other night when we were pulled over by the Old Bill that one cannot help but wonder; what have our lives come to? But then I calm down and imagine that one day, one day...... perhaps not too far off, we will look back and laugh. In the meantime, it's time to put on the Christmas music, say 'to hell with them all!' I am breaking out the Christmas spirit and bathing in good cheer and I won't say sorry....Lord knows we could all do with some good news in our lives.... anyway, who says Christmas only comes once a year!