Sweet Escape: The Orient Express

Sweet Escape: The Orient Express

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stopped the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train was surprisingly full for this time of the year. But by the morning there was one passenger fewer. An American lay dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside…

From Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Nothing like a blustery fall night of high winds to make you want to curl up by the fire with a good murder mystery! But last fall, I got to go one step better than a book by a fire, I had the incredible privilege of actually taking the famed and luxurious train, The Orient Express, from Venice to Paris! Yes! Can you believe it? Little ‘ol me on such a once in a lifetime adventure?!

Being one who positively shudders with glee over simple things like the ambience of low lights and candles in my own living room, the opportunity to ride the Orient Express was pure indulgence, beyond my wildest imagination!

Sweet Escape: The Orient Express

Sweet Escape: The Orient Express

My sister and I shared a cabin on this famed train, and absolutely reveled in the whole experience. We imagined the murder mystery played out around us, we summoned our personal cabin attendant, Ian, over and over again (just in fun between ourselves, he had no idea we were calling him, we aren’t that cruel!) for a fresh cocktail, tiny sandwiches, slippers, you name it we imagined him at our beck and call.

We watched the Swiss alps fly by with snow flurries in the air and castles in the hills, and dined on delicacies in the dining car. And, we even got a little motion sickness as we tried to change into our formal attire riding backwards in a cabin so small only one of us could stand at a time. It was the best of times!

Sweet Escape: The Orient Express

I know it seems a little outrageous, but I like to imagine life as charming and full of ambience as that railroad car! I try to recreate those feelings for everyday, at least in my mind. Now, granted, most of my days don’t end up as fanciful as that, but in my deepest imagination, I am dressed up in my finery tonight riding the Orient Express once again.

“Oh, Ian, fetch me my slippers! And my book! Ian, could you please light my heater! Ian, could you fluff my pillow? Oh, and Ian, I could use a hot toddy!”

The Blissful

The Blissful

Oh my dear blogging friends, I am so delighted and privileged to be able to share with you a wonderful French-inspired shop in Canton, Ohio and its equally wonderful proprietor, Abby! The shop is appropriately called The Blissful! Can you imagine a more dreamy name? I love it!

The Blissful is a lifestyle boutique of French-Inspired Finds & Furnishings Established in 2005, the shop will launch online commerce at its website in January 2008. Isn’t this the most exciting of developments?! Now not only can we be delighted by her charm and wit but we can actually shop directly from her website! That is blissful for us! Be sure to check out her website, it is really a fabulous design!

Now I know many of you may have had the pleasure of visiting The Blissful blog, and you have experienced for yourself how simply charming Abby is! She is one of the people I connected with during my first couple of months of blogging. She has been a voice encouragement to me, both personally and to other women who are working hard in their businesses. Her other blog is actually designed for women entrepreneurs, particularly other shop-owners, although I find her experience, advice, wisdom applicable to my business as well. The entrepreneurial blog, called A Boutique Industry, can be found here.

The Blissful

One of the things I really like about Abby is her dedication to making her dreams come true. I know we’ve discussed before that we should be creating the life we want (not just waiting for it to happen spontaneously!), and Abby is a superb example of doing just that. She has given up her home in pursuit of her dream and is doing everything it takes to make that dream a reality. You’ve got to admire that dedication! But if I was her, I would just move right in to the shop! Yeah, that would be very cool!

I snipped this little bit right off her blog (copyright of The Blissful!) so you could have a glimpse into her life right now with the holidays coming:

This is the time of year that strikes both exhilaration and trepidation into the heart of every retailer. It’s the beginning of the holiday season. If you’ve been out shopping lately, you’ve noticed this! The time is drawing nigh when, along with my fellow shop owners everywhere, I will begin burning the candle at both ends. Lord, let it be a scent I like.

I woke up spontaneously at 5:42 AM today, with one thought running through my head: oh my gosh, we have so much to do to get ready for the holiday party! Now just three weeks away, I have yet to mail the invitations, finalize my schedule of hostesses, firm up my menu (plus buy ingredients, prep recipes, and schedule baking days), conceptualize window displays and new holiday displays and how to zhuzh all the everyday displays in order to accomodate new seasonal merch and new everyday merch, plus figure out what the heck I’m going to wear! On top of this, we are still running the store, checking in new arrivals on a daily basis, etc., etc. The last week of October, we’ll be closed for four days before the party (well, three actual shopping days and one Sunday, on which we’re always closed) so that we can transform the shop into a holly bough-bedecked, glitter glass-encrusted, mercury glass ornament-adorned, twinkly light-spangled, hot chocolate and Joie de Noel-scented confection of wintertime merriment.

The Blissful

What fun to get a peek in to the life of a shop-owner! One thing I have noticed since blogging is that shop-owners are so friendly and fun, I think that must be a prerequisite!

Abby also shared with me what her customers are looking for right now now that fall is underway:

This is the time of year when my customers are starting to nest in earnest. They are picking up those furnishings and home accents they may have had their eye on for quite some time, wanting to complete the rooms in which they’ll be hosting parties and family get-togethers. People are more and more in search of the perfect fall or holiday candle. Spicy and food-related scents, such as Black Ginger or Crème Brulée, sell well for us at this time of year. I also see my customers purchasing more hostess gifts—a special set of drinking glasses, a cool serving tray, gourmet items, one of our great cutting boards, or a pretty apron.

The Blissful

I love shopping, wouldn’t it be fun to be one of her customers? If you live in Canton, Ohio, you are lucky indeed! I hope that you will visit The Blissful blog, and in January become a customer of her online shop. Even now she says if you see something on her site you want, you can give her an email and see what can be arranged! It is so great to be able to support other creative women in business!

Thanks Abby for sharing your blissful dream with us!

All photos copyright The Blissful. Used by permission.
The Blissful
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