Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cottage Nest Cross Stitch Kits Have Arrived!

It's a start!  Cross stitch kits are made for my top three sellers including Downton Abbey!  This seriously took forever, but now that a system is in place, i.e. I got a bit organized in regards to this project...I can pull together a kit without too much effort in the future.

Here's are my first editions:

First is my first pattern...Down with Downton Abbey and still my best seller.  You'll receive a full color pattern, floss arranged in a very Type A caddy, the right sized cloth and needle...but wait there's more!  Included with each pattern I've included some basic instructions and definitions; just in case this is a gift for someone new to cross stitch and embroidery.

Next up is my Happy Hollydays Fleur de Lis; all kitted and ready to go!  This one has been really popular in the brick and mortar shop.  Again you will receive the same items as detailed in the Downton kit and this makes a super gift...especially as it stitches up fairly quick!

For the gingham embroidery kits, I've included a full tutorial, pattern, needle and floss plus a choice of gingham colors.  I know some customers were having trouble settling on just the right sized gingham and this is what I use and recommend. 

For those that prefer digital downloads, everything is still available thru Etsy and Craftsy plus you can always retrieve the file!

I have had some initial request to wholesale these kits; I am happy to provide a discount to qualified shops (i.e. you'll need to have a physical address that I can view from online and provide a sales tax ID #); also, I have a minimum order requirement but we can hash all that out - if you would like to contact me: nestinteriorsllc {at} yahoo . com

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Day Off...

In retail, you never truly have a day off but despite being in business for 5+ years our store's top complaint is "you're never open."  I've stuck to a pretty consistent schedule thru the years minus the one year I was treated for cancer and its kind of perplexing to us.  When you prod a little bit, most customers admit they have passed by at 8 in the evening or early on a Sunday morning before church.  So, yeah, we're typically closed when everybody else is in our small town.  Currently, we're closed Sundays and Mondays with the most requests (oddly) for a Monday opening.  Honestly, I would love for our little store to open its door an additional day - but unfortunately, our town of Ponchatoula just isn't growing and therefore - we aren't.  So even tho our doors are shut for a couple days, it doesn't mean I'm not working.

This Monday was one of those manic ones, beginning with a dental cleaning (yay - no cavities) and then back home to start a merry-go-round of projects.
  • clean sink for silkscreening
  • prepare screen for image - coating with a photosensitive green goop that will take about 2 to 3 hours to dry in absolute pitch black.
  • take out yesterday's dough and shaped into tonight's bread - it will be done in an hour
  • fix myself lunch so I do not eat said bread right out of the piping hot oven.
  • clean sink again to prepare for soapmaking
  • take screen out and burn new image for silkscreening - only takes under 10 minutes but after the wash out I'll need to wait another 3 hours for it to dry
  • clean the table and assemble everything to make another batch of Honey soap - it's really popular in store, so I need to prepare enough in advance for Christmas as this will need to sit for 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Take bread out - still want to eat it despite a really yummy lunch of homemade hummus - but I wait.
  • Make jewelry, yep I do that too...
  • Finally C arrives home with some seafood gumbo and you know what goes perfect with that...homemade bread!
  • Feeling full...I grab my now dry screen - do a quick test print - it looks good (this is my second attempt, as last week's was a fail) and make a small run of six towels.
  • While I'm on a roll, I grab another set of towels and repeat one of popular designs (towels are drying ALL over the house at this point)
  • It's a little after 7pm and time to rest...a bit.  I pick back up where I left off on a crochet afghan for C - it's her birthday in two weeks.
I remember, shortly after we first opened, an elderly gentleman (probably conned into going in the store by his wife) shuffled over to the counter and grumbled "what are your hours?"  I told him, explaining our two days we close and he huffed "that's too much" and walked off to collect his wife.  Back then, I probably was a puddle of despair from his rebuff - wondering if I wasn't working hard enough; now a days I don't get too ruffled but I do wish I could sort of school people on how much actually goes into running your own business - especially when you are 98% of it.  I guess you can't really know until you find yourself on this crazy train.  It certainly not a bad ride - I wouldn't want to be doing anything else - just please never tell me I'm not working hard enough.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Featured Friday Fabric - Calico Blue

Right now, we have such a wonderful array of vintage stock that I am adding to my Etsy shop daily.  I wanted to highlight this really sweet calico cotton fabric I acquired last week.

It's a lovely small scale floral in a steely blue gray AND the best part is I have four yards to offer!  As luck would have it, I found it quietly folded on a shelf and tucked inside was this original yardage receipt - I probably am the first person that unfolded it since the day it was cut from the bolt so long ago.

It sort of has become my mission to find it a new home.  Someone must of loved it so much that they never wanted to cut into it!  And as beautiful as it is - it really should be made into something - I think it's asking for not only for a new home but finally a purpose, don't you think?  I have several other 1 yard vintage pieces to be listed that are just lovely too, so please keep watch!

Also, I restocked everyone's favorite Moda Bake Shop Mini Honey Bun Quilt Kits.  Right now, I've kept them at the sale price - be sure to grab one for yourself and another as a gift!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Store I Want...

I talk a lot online about running my indie boutique in the small town of Ponchatoula.  Some days, it is just lovely, as I'll be closing up after a busy day and I look over and see the setting sun through the big live oak that borders our property and canopies main street.  Other days, someone walks in without shoes and wants to use the bathroom.  I guess that happens anywhere...right???

Beginning this month, I received my shipment from Go Gift Box...such an awesome service for gift retailers, sending a box of products to review each month.  In it was, by far my most favorite item of any month.  Fortune Keepers.

These amazing handmade double sided necklaces - a lovely image on one side and a place to hold a Chinese cookie fortune on the opposite (or, really any inspirational message).  Besides being well made (in Brooklyn, NY) it's packaged in the cutest, reusable tin with and inspirational note inside based on the image used in the necklace.  I was seriously sold.  But for everything I examine for the brick and mortar shop - I have to play devils advocate - or better yet, I have to be the lady in socks that just needs to pee.

So I asked myself - is there anyway my customers are going to "get this"?  I kept hearing in my head a lot of questions of "What is it??"  "Do you have one with Justin Beiber on it?"  and most likely - "I don't even eat Chinese"  So, after some soul searching and a request of the really nice people at Fortune Keepers to lower the minimum, I decided this was a product for the store that I actually want.  I see a customer that takes their time in the shop, makes careful and meaningful decisions and when purchasing something it is more than just buying into another commodity, it's a lifestyle choice or affrimation.

Happily, they arrived this week - I was able to price and merchandised them yesterday and no sh*tting - within two hours in this sleepy town, I had sold two!  I hope that's not it, but I'm delighted.

Honestly, the final push to order came from the strangest of places.  Anyone watching A Chef's Life on PBS?  It is a reality show featuring chef Vivian Howard who ventures back to her hometown in rural North Carolina to open an upscale restaurant.  In the first episode she describes a place similar to Ponchatoula where $2 for ice tea is scoffed at and most people think she's crazy for trying to execute a fine dining on a level similar to New York City, but somehow - someway, they've held on for over 5 years (just like us).  I wish these small towns would wrap their arms around their sons and daughters that return home and continue to encourage them to aspire to great things.  I don't think any of us small town visionaries aspire to turn our towns into metropolises - just smart, well-loved local havens...that wear shoes, please.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

With Love From Babalu...

We needed a day trip STAT and I went for one of my old standbys - a road trip up to Jackson, MS.  It's a quiet drive and just happened to be a clear and beautiful day.  We found some incredible, I mean, INCREDIBLE thrift items from books, yarn and fabric!  Be sure and watch my Etsy as I'm stocking new large quantities of yardage everyday - YAY!

After over 3 hours of hardcore shopping we paused and stumbled on Babalu, a tapas restaurant in the historic Fondren district.  I kind of, sort of had an inkling it might win over C, being that she's a Costa Rican native but a part of me thought - it's Jackson, Mississippi - this could be an epic fail.

Fortunately, it was amazing in every aspect.  From the clean lines of the interiors to the sensational menu - we were floored and honestly think driving 2 and 1/2 hours to just eat there again is totally conceivable.  It was sort of humorous when the waiter asked if we knew anything about the restaurant and we answered "no" - I thought I might get a descriptive history of how it came to be in of all places...Jackson.  Instead, he gave this sort of rehearsed narrative of what Tapas food is and be forewarned its on tiny plates and comes out separately...I guess it was their declaimer to anyone that ventured in from a Golden Corral?  We were it, now give me this, this and that!  The plates actually were not tiny at all...we ordered empanadas, lamb sliders, and the most incredible hummus - get this, made from black eyed peas!  I sort of promised myself I would attempt to make it myself soon - but I might just gas up the car and head North when the craving strikes again. 

Anyway, if you do find yourself lost in Jackson - find Babalu.  I really admire the level that they run their business and I always appreciate Southern renegades who buck against those tired stereotypes and norms that life down South has to taste, sound and be a certain way.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Awkward Much...

Goodness, I don't like this week!  C and I are taking off on a day-trip tomorrow and just in time.  I still have this ratty cold but oh my, the customers have been misbehaving this week.

Early this week, gosh, the prettiest lady game in - long thick brunette hair, dressed in skinny jeans (and actually was skinny), cool leather boots, a trendy peasant top and probably a $300 leather tote.  Unfortunately, she opened her mouth and despite her efforts and expense regarding her appearance, I discovered she was a pretty ugly person.

Today, one of my oldest customers that I just adore came in for a couple goodies and while we were chatting she had to offer up..."I don't have a problem with gay people but..."  Spoiler alert, she does have a problem with gay people.  But the awkward part really was that she was talking to one.  Maybe I should of made it a teachable moment but I knew it would most likely end a relationship that has supported my business for a number of years.  I think I'll probably just donate her sale to the Trevor project and hope she comes to terms with something she finds uncomfortable (even tho she apparently can't identify it).

I guess the difficulty is when you open a store - 2 versions will exist: the store you want and the store that you actually have.  You'll spend all your days trying to marry the two but because we deal with an outside force - customers - that you'll need to please.  Your ideal may never be truly actualized.  Right now I think I'm having a little trouble letting go of the store that exists in my head rather than the one I exist in day to day.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Flying Solo and Keeping Busy...

It's been a super busy week and a 1/2.  The shop is really picking up with most purchases being early Christmas presents (gah - it's only October!)  I've been handling most of it solo as C flew to Maryland last week for a family obligation.  She came back with lots of pressies for me - this was my favorite:

The sweetest owl salt & pepper shakers from a yard sale!  I scored some great fabric and the new edition of Domino - it's back (love but still can't afford much of anything in it's glossy pages.)  The thing I like the least that she brought back is a cold...ugh.  I'm trying to shake it off but with so much to do I'm basically dragging.

Before I got icky sick, I was on a roll - I finished my Heidi Kenney Halloween Cut and Sew Bunting.  I even made an extra to sell, if anyone is interested:

It's adorable!  I wish the pattern had had a true 1/4" seam allowance - it sort of varied as she squeezed 24 flags on the fabric.  It was manageable but a little more time consuming.  I also interfaced each flag as I wanted them to have a little stiffness.

Also, I made this cute little guy!  Specifically, The Little Bun crochet pattern from The Humble Carnival.  Every time I see this guy, I smile!  I sort of want to make hundreds and jump in a pile.  I think I'll make a couple more for the pups with squeakers inside and sans beaded eyes. 

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hooray for the Hoo Dat!

It's been 2 to 3 years since I first released my Hoo Dat owl design; originally inspired from a cute chubby owl pillow a friend made me and further tweaked to be a play on words - "Who Dat" the favored chant of all New Orleans Saints fans.  So, I thought I'd refresh you what I've done with the design over the years and show off a new product introduced this summer! 

My Hoo Dat tees are available at my brick and mortar, Nest Interiors.  They are a gender neutral 50/50 blend shirt - keeping it's size very well when washed.  I silk-screen these myself and keep to this nice golden yellow shirt; silk-screening dark on light seems to work the best with water based silk-screening.  Each is then heat set and now that I had a few of these tees for a number of years, I can attest you are more likely to collect a few stains on it than the design fade out on you (which reminds me I need a new shirt this season!)

For other colorways and styles of tees, I have made the design available at Cafepress.  Also - check out the super cute messenger bag and pajama set!  Hootie cutie!!

If you know me, you know I had to have Hoo Dat fabric!  Exclusively thru Spoonflower, both variations on the black and gold are available - plus some alternate colorways in pink, blue and a fun orange & black combo perfect for Halloween.  You might remember the cute tote I made last year with it in this post.  Besides many different fabric options - Spoonflower offers this design on gift wrap and wall decals!

This year I partnered with a local print company to put my Hoo Dat owl on durable frost flex cups.  We love them - top shelf dishwasher safe and the design is double sided.  It's 12oz and that just perfect for a beer (or whatever!)  They are packed 6 to a set and come wrapped in cellophane with a bow - a perfect gift that they'll call you a Saint!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

BOO-tiful upgrade!

October!  Yay!  Wait, how in the world is it already October?!  I'm trying to renew my enthusiasm since I had a head start celebrating a couple months ago preparing projects and stocking shelves in our brick and mortar, Nest Interiors.

So, I decided, to get in the spirit, I would dress up one my existing Boo Y'all Chicken Scratch Bat Pattern with a crochet edge embroidery hoop tutorial featured over at Heartmade Life.  It's a great, very descriptive tutorial and I love combining a couple of my hobbies in one beautiful project.

More good news!  If you want to stitch your own bat, I've reduced the price on the pattern.  The embroidered hoop only shows part of the pattern - you'll actually receive the pattern and info on the full pattern seen here:

If you do wish to stick to just the hoop - I opted for an 8" wooden embroidery hoop and it fit the pattern perfectly using the noted gingham fabric listed in the pattern.  For the crochet edge - one skein of a medium worsted weight cotton works perfect - I used this.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quilts in the Sky...

Quite by chance I happened to hear about the Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Championship Festival right before all the festivities began this past weekend.  Only in its second year, I wasn't sure what to expect - it definitely didn't disappoint!

I love hot air balloons; they are sweetly nostalgic and beautifully colored like patchwork quilts in the sky.  We arrived just in time for the last race of the day.  A Fly In and Out challenge over the tree line to maneuver over a target and drop a weighted ribbon.  We noshed on boudin (BOO-dan) balls while the crowd oohed and aahed!

Near sunset they began to inflate all the balloons in the field to set up for a night glow.  C even volunteered to help set up (my personal favorite) The Purple People Eater with a crew from Florida.

The "Glow" was hands down my favorite event of the night.  Once inflated and tethered, we could walk up close through a menagerie of balloons, each alternating with a surprise whoosh of their burners lighting the night...including the sweetest pig balloon "Ham-let"

Late into the night and once the balloons safely were removed from the field they could begin the fireworks show.  It was a bit of a wait (say 45 minutes) but I suppose propane and sparks don't mix so we were okay for the precautions.  It gave us just long enough to wait in the longest line EVER for funnel cake...however, it was the BEST piping hot funnel cake I've ever had and just in time for the show! 

--Lisa LeBlanc

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