Is it too early for a tubful of Christmas cheer?

Dear Mustardistas,

What a fine crackly Autumn we’re having!

I'm writing this from a little cottage in the hills. Ashdown Forest is just around the corner and there's nothing to worry about but me and the pups. Feeling very spoilt. I’ve two warm dogs on my lap and a cup of tea with hot cross bun on the table. If only I could just reach them.

We’ve had two VERY busy weekends at The Gift Centre and Gallery in Abingdon, and the Framing Workshop in Norwich. Six hour stints at the ole signing table. Dedicating prints, drawing in books, having me photie taken, meeting lots of people. Thanks so much to all who came along. PHEW!!!

I’ve got lots to say, so forgive the long email. May as well get yourself a cuppa and the biscuit tin.

Are you all sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

I think I mentioned before that I am opening a shop? It was one of those Sunday morning Bright Ideas, but this time I decided to actually go for it. I hadn’t really thought beyond playing shops really and it has been quite a learning curve. And I’m so pleased I decided to do the phoneboxes as well... they’re the icing on the cake!

There’ve been the usual round of blips along the way. One spectacular weekend a Council van backed into the shop smashing the front window, and some not very artistic person covered the newly decorated phoneboxes with black graffiti. Hopefully most of the drama is over now. We’ve just got a mushy front step, last minute decoration decisions, and a few delays on the stock (in that I haven’t made it yet). All the right things but not necessarily in the right order. You know the thing.

THE DOG AND BONE GALLERY

We are looking for submissions for the New Year on the theme of Dog and Bone. Do you have a burning desire to show your work in a lit-up, locked-up phone box? I thought so... well follow us on Instagram, email us at dogandbone@samtoft.co.uk or come see us in the shop.

The phone boxes themselves look absolutely smashing. I’m hopefully doing the planting tomorrow and if I do I’ll post a pic. White cyclamen, variegated ivy and heather, underplanted with scented Narcissus and stunning Muscari. The grand plan to create a free community gallery space in a charming little used Brighton Square is almost complete. The Dog and Bone Gallery will be lit up from mid November with Christmas lights going in from December. We have two brilliant artists who will launch our first season:

Anna Wilson-Patterson with her wonderful paintings of Hounds

I love her sensitive portraits of lurchers and sighthounds, landscapes and seascapes… quirky, fun, inventive, captivating, wistful, mesmerizing. I absolutely love them. This Winter she is promoting her new self published book Hounds and a limited edition calendar. Her cards are to die for. Her Christmas cards are ALL I am sending this year.

Innis McAllistair with his black and white photographic compositions

Artful, thought provoking and beautifully composed. A selection of photographs of dogs form his travels. He should really make a book. These pictures are awesome. And he is also available for commissions. When you see this strikingly sensitive work, it may get you thinking about having a photo shoot with your own pooch. The kind of Christmas gift that would last forever... can’t wait for mine, Innis.

Details about each artist and submission forms for 2018 exhibitions at Dog and Bone can be picked up at the shop, or email dogandbone@samtoft.co.uk

LITTLE MUSTARD SHOP

It’s a dream come true for me.

If you’ve been following us on Instagram @littlemustardshop you will have seen our astonishing revelations. From a former local sandwich shop with boxed in plastic signage we uncovered an original late 1800s fascia. Lots of work still to be done, so check us out on instagram if you are interested in that side of things… otherwise please be invited to come visit our little shoppe!!!

We are going to open mid November I think. Totally dependent on whether the works are finished on time. But DEFINITELY from Saturday 25th November where we will be part of the Brighton Christmas Open House Trail. We will remain open Thursdays - Sundays, 12-6pm, until Friday 22nd December. I’ll be there myself on the weekends of 25th and 26th November, 2nd and 3rd December, 9th and 10th December, but I’ll be popping in at other times to deliver supplies. It's a tiny shop with no store room so I’ll be renewing stock every day.

I fondly hope that Little Mustard Shop will become a Destination Boutique. It's in a beautiful uncommercial area of Brighton that tourists don't often visit. It's not on the high street. If you didn't know where it was, you'd never find it. I’ve tried hard to make it unique and special. The kind of little independent shop I like to find myself. And there’s only one. We will have small things and favourite things. New things and old things. A few tiny originals not seen anywhere else.

It’s a lovely area with a friendly pub opposite serving nice lunches: www.thecrescentpub.co.uk There's a new coffee shop opening soon, next door but one. 7 Dials is two minutes walk away with a selection of Cafes and Shops. There's a taxi rank opposite if you don't fancy the ten minute walk back to Brighton Station. And five minutes down the hill there’s the seaside. So it'll be a grand day out whichever time you choose to visit.

We’ll have old favourites and things you won’t have seen before. Exclusive items, one offs, not very many of most things, always something new to see.

As we have no store room we can’t house the entire stock. Nowhere near. But we can point you towards MustardShop online at www.samtoft.co.uk where Nan handles all the mail order. There is no mail order from the shop. There’s not enough of anything!

We’ll be closing for a couple weeks in January to take a breath, then open again for the New Year. Details to follow in a post Christmas email!

Opening stock in the shop to include:

  • Hawkes Hounds … I only have two, but these handmade pups are something to behold: Everybody. Loves. Them.
  • Dog lamps from Madeira … I have imported two from a chance meeting on a recent holiday. They are amazing. I want one.
  • Carolyn's Cushions … this lovely woman has raised nearly £8000, as ALL of the income goes DIRECT to the NSPCC. Aside from this, they are absolutely gorgeous. Can never get enough. Each one individually made. She even does stripy buttons.
  • Paintings on wood by Joe Ramm
  • Jig Dolls by Cadi Froehlich
  • Exclusive enamel badges from myself, Eve and Emma. Dogs and Mustard obvs.
  • Stickers
  • Writings sets
  • Sketch books
  • Christmas cards
  • Calendars
  • Both my books
  • Framed original paintings from my soon to be launched card range with www.artpress.com Larry and Pidge
  • O GORGEOUS essential oil, organic, palm oil free candles and soaps handmade in Cornwall
  • Brighton Rock
  • Tunnocks
  • Humbugs
  • Hand knit Mustard scarves
  • New bone china mugs
  • Limited edition prints, canvasses, prints on wood
  • Cotton bags
  • And Mustard Stockings...

THE STOCKINGS

I have been totally overwhelmed by the Facebook Group response to this little idea of mine. Surprise Mustard Stockings!

A lovely indulgent little stocking with exclusive gifts. You’ll have an idea of the type of contents =Mustardy stuff= but not exactly. So you can buy one for yourself, get Santa to put it at the end of your bed, then have a lovely surprise Christmas morning!

I will be making all the lovely Mustard Stockings for the shop myself. Containing £27.50 worth of exclusive wrapped Mustard Goodies (including a little framed signed picture and other items not available elsewhere). Plus £5 worth of lovely Xmas fillers and one free stripy sock to make a hand puppet with. These will be priced at £30 each. No mail order. No pre-order. I will make 20 for each weekend at my shop before Christmas. 80 in total, 10 on Saturdays 10 on Sundays. Exact contents are a surprise. The first ones will be on sale from 25/11/17 when the shop opens at 12 noon.

Well this was my plan until I put the suggestion on my Facebook Group to see if it was an idea anyone was interested in… We immediately got over 300 people who said they wanted them!!

So here’s where my sister Louise and her daughter Serafina stepped in. They volunteered to make 500 totally lovely surprise Mustard Stockings to their own recipe. All containing almost £30 worth of exclusive MUSTARD items, £5 worth of fillers and splendid wrapping. And let me tell you, Louise is the BEST stocking maker. I know because she always makes mine.

MustardShop online stockings will be available from 1st December.

You can buy one for yourself or we can send one directly to a friend for you. Your Stock-in-a-Box will be labelled Don’t Open Until December 25th, so it’s the ideal surprise gift.

We can send them anywhere in the world...

Stockings will retail for £30 plus postal costs. To give you an idea, one stocking sent anywhere in the UK would be £5.

To buy (or to make an enquiry) please contact my sister Louise direct at mustardgoodies@samtoft.co.uk These items will not be available directly through Mustardshop or poor Nan would get swamped!

And for a unique, indulgent, and totally Mustardy experience, Louise will be making TEN Great Mustard Hampers. They will be the ultimate in Mustardy Christmasiness, and are fully customisable. Each will include a handmade cushion, a Christmas card from yours truly. Over £300 worth of items... a real treasure box! These are available ONLY ONLINE, only while stocks last, and only if you’ve been VERY good ALL YEAR. For each hamper sold we are donating £30 to the NSPCC. Retailing at £250 a pop plus postage, they are an IDEAL gift for a whole family, or even just one extremely lucky, totally dotty individual who might just love being spoilt rotten. If you know anyone like that. Contact my sister Louise direct at mustardgoodies@samtoft.co.uk to reserve you hamper before 1st December. We have the stock for just ten.

And lastly but not leastly:

A HUGE THANK YOU to all those lovely knitters who made scarves for me to sell to raise funds for Sussex Pet Rescue. It would be lovely if you could send them soon so I can label them up for the shop opening 25th November. It would be great if you could include a name you are willing for me to share with the purchaser and a little bit about yourself. For example, Where you live, Your favourite colour, Your hobbies, The names of your pets… something silly or serious but brief so I can write it on a luggage tag and tie it with a bow around your donation. For example, “This scarf was knit by Ernest of Brighton. He loves humming, walking and his little dog Doris.” If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should join us on our Facebook Group some time... we have plenty now but keep your eye open for next time...

Send to MUSTARD HQ, 313 Ditchling Road, Brighton, BN1 6JJ, to arrive in a week or so.

Well just time for a second cuppa before you book you bus ride/ train ticket/ tandem or Steamer trunk for your visit to Brighton. Why not make a weekend of it?

A warm welcomes awaits

Sam

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