free union country school

every year we pick and choose lovingly where to donate our dollars/merch in the community. this year (and the last 2 i think) we have donated a nice gift to an auction at the free union country school.
i think once all was said and done the bag from highway and it's "green" inspired contents were worth over $350. goodtimes for someone out there, wish we knew who?



at the

Mission Statement

Free Union Country School provides a strong and supportive academic and social environment for children from preschool age through fifth grade.

With the cooperation of parents, students, teachers, staff and friends, Free Union Country School is a community where learning is valued, individuals are respected, diversity is understood as a strength, and teamwork is rewarded.

The school's program develops independence, responsibility, self-confident decision-making, and each child's natural desire to learn.

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scout loves o'suz

so there's a gal in town, susie matheson, who of late has made hunting and pecking for gems in charlottesvile her pride and passion. be they restaurants, shops, realtors, artists,winemakers and the like, susie "scouts" out the reasons we love charlottesville and have chosen to make it our home. you can subscribe to and read her blog scoutcharlottesville , as it posts almost daily about something she loves in this wonderful place. today she posted about us, thanks susie!!

SCOUT PROMISE
On my honor, I will try:
To serve locals and local businesses,
To help people at all times, And to live by the Scout Law.

I will do my best to be:
honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Scout.

july love it...amy noel!

this month we're excited to feature one of our local artists, amy noel, who makes the hands-down cutest cashmere critters you've ever seen. it's always a pleasure when amy visits the store (usually with her equally adorable younger daughter in tow) with a new bag of animals for the shop. she has made bunnies, elephants, pigs, owls, chickens, mice, and other forms of fauna, all from reclaimed cashmere. they're even stuffed with cashmere scraps! whenever someone comes in in search of a one of a kind (literally) baby gift that will be both functional and a keepsake, i always show them amy's work. who wouldn't want a locally and lovingly made little creature, perfect for little ones of all ages. i love telling our customers that amy's older daughter often contributes to the "art direction" by telling her mama where to put certain parts or her signature stitched heart. of course, the appeal of amy's work extends beyond wee ones, and many a critter have been purchased for a slightly older demographic. here's o'suz regular nicole's masked buddy in her home, photographed by good pal melissa (check out her blog!):


when we were thinking about how to best feature amy, we knew the best way to convey the appeal of her work was to show it with its ideal audience, and who better to complement critter cuteness than red fisher himself. i spent a day with red while suzannah rocked it out in the shop, and it was good times all around when i handed over the bag of goodies:

pulling them out, one by one...

decisions, decisions.

calling attention to monsieur elephant.

maybe this one?

hmmm, this rooster is rather nice.

red and rooster have some face time.

how are you today, rooster-roo?

yup, he's the one. for sure.

many of amy's creations are visible in these photos, but you really have to feel these little softies to understand how amazing they are. so come check out the menagerie in person at the shop! amy was kind enough to answer our usual questions, so please scroll down for her responses. thank you, amy!

what was your first job and how did you end up making your adorable creatures?

At eleven, I took on the hardest job that I can think of...babysitting. I took on not only one, but three children under the age of five, and was attempting with the best of intentions to replace their mother for four to six hours every day in the summer. Wow, have the times changed. I am a mother of two now and can only hope that I am doing the best that I can. In a way, I feel honored, for my babysitting went on for years and sometimes over weekends as I got older..these parents trusted that I was a good replacement for them while they were away and I did the best that i could. I feel now that this was a good basis for owning my own business and raising two children without the stress of a 9-5 job.

As far as how these creatures came to life, I feel this could be a long and drinking wine kind of story, so I will keep it "simple." I was a traveler before I gave birth to my first daughter five years ago, and I found metal objects on the XX tracks and began making mobiles, rather large and clumsy, but with a raw beauty nonetheless. Then the leather came to me free to recycle from a local boot/saddle maker, from which I began and continue to create books, bags,and baby moccasins...If I want to make it, I will give it a whirl. This giving of leather reminded me of my childhood and all the "hand me downs" I had received and altered to fit my tastes at the time, thus pushing me toward this desire to create things that had little or no waste to them and a bit more function than metal trash mobiles (my heart still loves thee). Granted, one cannot realistically keep every thread that comes from something before, but I can try to impact this world without crushing her with my feet. So, these creatures, with the help of the babe inside, gave thought to all the cashmere sweaters I had found at a frequented thrift store...reinvented and stuffed with the leftover cashmere and just a bit of thread...no choking hazard and pretty edible if so inclined.

what is your favorite piece/group/series in your work?

So far, I have a hard time with a favorite choice of the animals I have made... maybe the green rooster, the pink bunny, the black owls, I can't make choices like that.. [ed. note: you can see a black owl in one of the above photos.]

who or what inspires you?

They are inspired by children. My children, five years and six months, the man and father of my children, who I am crazy about..they are my greatest inspiration. Not only to be a better woman and mother, but also to love and follow the beautiful things I see and find in life. For children see the world with this indescribable beauty and honesty that for us over time becomes a bit jaded if we let it, and they do not discriminate unless taught or told to be so. I find myself learning more acceptance daily just by watching my babes see people and things uninterrupted by the daily obstacles. I also find myself inspired by life itself, but music, dancing, and timeless textures are my other inspirations.

this is a new lavender rabbit. (or a jumbo mouse if you prefer)

closer examination reveals extreme cuteness.

what three websites do you visit daily?

The three websites I frequent often, besides google for my need for information DAILY, are etsy and an informative blog on nature's child (written by a friend and mother ). Being a new cyber space gal, I am still finding my way around...or stumbling, but it's fun no less.

describe your ideal sunday.

The day of sun is my most cherished day, an end and a beginning in one day. To start fresh again and remember the week previous. My ideal sunday is spent with my family, for it is hard to get us all together in one moment. So, as we get to know each other, these times are often spent at sugar hollow (a close and beautiful river hike waterfall berry picking paradise) in the summer or lying blissfully around the woodstove in the winter. The day of sun is really set aside for recuperation in my house, even if that means exerting tons of energy and having fun.

critters inspire hugs all around.

what do you see outside your studio windows?

Outside my studio windows, which is my sunroom, are these two giant quince bushes that bloom twice in the year..once in Janurary (even through ice storms) to remind me that spring is on its way, and then again in early May. And then there is my garden of strawberry, tomato, yellow squash, melon, basil, thyme, mint, and rosemary plants and the occasional cardinal or finch roosting in the rose of sharon. This rain that we have been getting has cast an almost luminescent green quality to my country living. In reading this, it almost sounds a bit surreal, but I feel that my life is just a bit enchanted. I don't have much for possessions, but I sure love making something out of nothing. Enjoy this life for all that it is. Thanks for viewing.

life is pretty sweet.