Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Breath of Fresh Air

When I most need to look at and experience beauty it walks in my door.  This is Donna.  She came to visit a couple of weeks back from the Annapolis Valley and walked away with a new garden hat, but she also ordered a hand dyed, organic jersey cloche from me.  My challenge was to dye a paprika shade of red.  I believe I passed with flying colours.  (might look different on your screeen, so just take my word for it.)

The thought that this magnificent woman will be a walking advertisement for me is just too good to be true.  I suppose I should more consider her an ambassador of hat goodness.  I am going to grow up to be Donna.

Excuse the blurry photo, but THE SHOES!  Too bad I didn't photograph the heels.  They are just exquisite.  Most hat lovers also have shoe fetishes.  They are like sister addictions.  Would you believe that these shoes are hand made in NS?  The shoe maker's name is Fred Langtin and he lives in Granville Ferry.  Click HERE for his web site.  Donna even has her own, personal lasts.  I will be saving my pennies.  I don't need much of an excuse to head to Annapolis Royal (next to Granville Ferry)  A visit to a someone who does such beautiful work is all the motivation I need.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fancy Pants Cafe - Oh, Hello Bridgewater.

Last week a friend needed a ride to Bridgewater, so while she was at her appointment I decided to go see what was happening on King st.   Bridgewater is your classic story of a town that lost its main street to big box stores.  Somewhere along the road, some really poor planning choices were made and the town has had a bit of a down and out feeling for some time.  But something special is happening and its happening right before our very eyes.  Between a local council, making some wonderful decisions like the Take Back the Riverbank  project and  young families with vision and courage starting businesses, the town is coming back.  It's pretty exciting to watch.

I walked into Fancy Pants Cafe and I was simply blown away.  It was filled with young Moms, adorable children and even some people without kids who were there to have an amazingly good Latte.
 some very satisfied customers.

This place is any parent's dream.  Not only can you treat your child to healthy kid friendly food...

Your little ones can play to their hearts content while you stare off into space and try to remember what sleeping through the night feels like.  I so remember those days and I would have driven for hours to have an uninterrupted conversation and cup of good coffee with a friend. And for the record, I had the best bagel.  it tasted like an honest to goodness Montreal Bagel and was baked locally.

I'm always amazed by people like Michelle (the owner of Fancy Pants) who are brave enough to be Pioneers of revitalization.  Walking into a place that is struggling and being able to look at an empty store front and say, If I build it, they will come and then just doing it, is so inspirational.  It's people like Michelle that are The Change we are looking for in Nova Scotia.  So, as I sat, drinking my latte and staring out the window, I couldn't help fantasizing about that beautiful vacant building across the street.  Would make a pretty beautiful hat shop.  It was just a fantasy. For right now, I am in the perfect place, but I'm seeing a real open hearted, welcoming spirit in Bridgewater and property prices are still very affordable.  That's something to seriously pay attention to.  The Interval Cafe has also opened up down the road and there is also a wonderful new Thai Restaurant  a new co-working space and a pretty awesome shoe store

There's good stuff happening in Bridgewater.

Extra note: This link to a beautiful video that shows the vision of Bridgewater just came my way in a comment.  It brings tears to my eyes.  It's so hopeful.  Watch here.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

When Elegance Walks In

Yesterday I got a call from this lovely lady in Granville Ferry, NS, which is about 2 hours from Lunenburg.  She said she had an old hat that she just loved and asked if I could reproduce it.  I explained that this is something I rarely do, but the answer was maybe.  Sometimes I do fall in love with a shape and take the challenge on.  I suggested she send me a photo.  Oh, I would just love to have an excuse to visit the South Shore, she said.  I have the perfect adventure friend.  We'll see you Saturday.  Well, O.K., I replied, as long as you are prepared for me to say no.

She walked in to my studio with her travel companion and I felt, as often happens, that this was not a customer, this was a new friend.  She showed me the hat and I explained that I could not reproduce it, but she found two other hats which suited her needs.  She also brought her show and tell wedding hat made by the inimitable Karyn Gingras from Lilliput hats. (the one in the photo is the one she bought from me.)

She asked for a recommendation of where to have lunch and I directed her to The Salt Shaker Deli and I made sure to also let her know where our two bookstores are located,  Lunenburg Bound and Lexicon Books and since she clearly had a penchant for beautiful clothes, I directed her to Luvly in Lunenburg and also told her that while many tourists stick to Montague st., that Lincoln st. is filled with great shops like Jenny Jib.
I will need to custom make her second hat.  I offered to ship it to her, but she insisted that she would like the excuse to have to return this way.  Well, O.K., No arguments from me.  And best of all, she brought me some homemade Marmalade.  Nova Scotia is a pretty special place.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Married to The Lunenburg Furniture Co.

I do tend to talk about myself quite a bit and no one will attest to that fact more than my talented husband, Tony.  So, today it is all about the man.  It is no small coincidence that my spirit of generosity coincides  with Tony's announcement that it is time to build some beautiful doors for our own house. Tony is a pretty amazing woodworker and runs The Lunenburg Furniture Co. 

With the help of our friend, Anne-Christine, we are building him a proper web site. I had a lot of fun today writing Tony's "about" page.  He has so many great stories that it was hard to pick and choose, but hopefully you will enjoy this one.  Be sure to follow Tony's FaceBook page. We will announce his new web-site as soon as it is born.

Here's the About Page on his upcoming site:

My career as a wood worker began in 1962 when I was in the second grade at Star of The Sea Parochial School in Marblehead, MA. Before school, my gang and I, thinking we were tough, made a game of kicking out the pickets of the convent fence.  Our crime had not been well thought out and we were caught.  Our parents were called in and we were all summoned into Mother Superior’s office.  Scared and remorseful, it turned out we were not as tough as we had originally thought.  There were 12 of us delinquents and we were each on the hook for $11.60, the cost of replacing the pickets.  The task of earning this vast sum of money was squarely placed on my seven year old shoulders.
Luckily for me, Jimmy Sharbor, a kindly carpenter, was working in our home.  He was dismantling a screened in porch and putting on an addition in its stead.  Jimmy hired me for .50/hour to pull nails off of old boards, so that he could salvage them.   Every day I would run home from school, change into my working dungarees and proudly get to work.  After two weeks my debt to Mother Superior had been paid off.  I begged Jimmy to let me stay on, but I was dismissed. Down and out and out of work, I was forced to go back to playing in the woods, but I knew that when I was grown up I would be a carpenter.
At 14, I got a job washing dishes and what money I earned was spent on candy, tools and woodworking books.  I began to teach myself the trade.  I often skipped school to hang around with old timers in their shops.  I saw what it was that I wanted to build, but was frustrated at not having the skills to build it.  In 1974, I discovered the North Bennett st. Industrial School in Boston.  I enrolled in the traditional furniture making and design program and by the time I graduated in 1976, I had gained the needed skills to work in any professional shop.  From that time forward, I have been a full time professional woodworker. 
In 2008, I moved with my wife and son to Lunenburg, NS and in 2013 I established The Lunenburg Furniture Co.  I have never been happier.