50 - Christmas Cards

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Every year I make something a bit different for the Christmas cards that we send. This year I decided to do a card/gift combo and created a recipe card that had a cookie cutter attached.

We sent the posted ones in a clear box to give the postman something a bit different to look at and the hand delivered ones were wrapped in baking parchment.

The magazine which inspired the slightly Mad Men themed one is an original from 1958. I love the simplicity of old ads and tried to capture that feel in the card. With the other I went for a similarly aged notebook style, feeling that if ever the notebook has its day, it is now with Christmas "to-do" lists.

What do you think?

49 - Shaun of the Dead Extra

Monday, December 09, 2013

I've been under the weather to say the least over the past three or four weeks. Most days I've looked and felt like an extra for Shaun of the Dead (ah, how I do love Simon Pegg). I feel better today. So much better in fact, that I decided to get in to a fight with the AGA and a burning hot pan and I now have a line of burn blisters along the tips of the fingers on my right hand. You don't realise how much you use the end of your fingers until despite soaking them in iced water for 30 mins they still feel like they are on fire. I digress.

I have been running on a bare minimum of getting orders out and sulking back off to bed when I could and so haven't been blogging or getting much else done (thats a bit of a fib actually - I've re-read the entire Hunger Games set and slept A LOT). I have however just ordered lots of new materials for the coming year for the splendid new direction I'm taking the Alfies Studio brand. My smallest is at playgroup twice a week now and I'm starting to find my feet with business again. Next year will see some big changes as I begin to have 2.5 days (DAYS) a week to work rather than stolen moments and the twilight shift. I have already begun to shape my product offering and how I want to share my expertise and am excited about getting to work on some branding and event projects again now that I have more time. At the moment I have four spots open for large scale projects (wedding/event stationery, branding etc), if you have something coming up that you want to share with the world then do get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.

I fear that it will be the new year before I manage to cover some things I've been itching to post about (such as properly sharing the new Alfies Studio branding) as I'm working on something very close to my heart (Hunger Games styled invites!) but for now wanted to share a discount code with you in lieu of missing Small Business Saturday and everything else that has been happening of late. Use the code 15JUSTBECAUSE at the shop (http://shop.alfies-studio.com) before 9am on the 20th December for 15% off your order.

I hope you are all well and weathering the storms / colds / Christmas rush well. I'm so desperate for the colder weather now. Do any of you have snow yet?

Image from http://keithroysdon.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/movie-classic-shaun-of-the-dead/

48 - What "work" looks like

Monday, November 11, 2013

Last week was a great week. Most specifically Thursday. I got to dress up in my "me" uniform rather than my "mama" uniform and head off to London for a private view at a shop that is stocking some of my Christmas cards (SMUG - read about it here and here).

On the train, speeding away from Leeds to London I looked down at my beautifully blood red nails glinting in the sun that was pouring through the window and fully evaluated that moment in time. I think to myself, I'm on a sunny train, wearing my kind of clothes, dressed how I like to dress, mixing business (private view) with pleasure (catching up with my long time friend who I haven't seen for a good number of years). I had a realisation in that moment "this is how work looks like for me, this is how a dream job (MY dream job) unfolds". Even now I sit writing (partially as a part of my "job" and partly for me) with blogger open in one window and a live stream of the Hunger Games premiere in another (regular readers will know of my love for J-Law and the Hunger Games) and I know that I am building my dream, I am in control of my path and my destination. Life is by no means perfect and I have a long way to go before I reach my goals, but the journey, it's a big part of it. I've been on a train speeding along to get things done before and started to realise I was missing the getting there. I love to travel and this is just an extension of that.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, take care of your journey, its just as important as your destination.

47 - Alfies Studio for SMUG / 007

Saturday, November 02, 2013

I have the good fortune to have eyes like a hawk for great finds when it comes to Pinterest and spotted a call for submissions from the lovely people at SMUG for their Christmas pop up shop.

You can buy this exclusive for SMUG colour way online (click here) or pop in to their lovely shop in Islington.


I've been working this evening on updating my shop / site / online presence and like to have a little bit of Spotify or a movie going on in the background. This evening I've had the lovely James Bond in the corner of my screen. Aside from feeling like an ultimate geek (looking at web code and having James Bond in the corner of my screen whilst I'm doing it makes me feel like an uber geek and I love it!) I have come up with a "conspiracy theory". Non Bond fans, please feel free to hop on over to SMUG now if you haven't already... My theory is this. It was always "assumed M was a randomly assigned letter", however, in Skyfall when Bond introduces her to Kincaid the reply is "nice to meet you Emma". Is this a slip on Kincaid's part for assuming Bond said "Em" rather than "M"? As it seems that in the world of Bond we are no longer travelling in a straight time line I am putting forward the notion that it is in fact E.M - Eve. Moneypenny. "M" says she always was a lousy shot and we know that Moneypenny shot Bond. I wonder...

Digression over. Feel free to let me know your thoughts and what your favourite Bond film is. I'm currently working my way through the box set so am still undecided. I like "The World is Not Enough" for sentimental reasons but would love to hear your suggestions on what I should be watching and who your favourite Bond is.

46 - Take a Look - United Visual Artists

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Chorus from United Visual Artists on Vimeo.

My love affair with UVA (United Visual Artists) began back in 2003 (wow, ten years ago) in an airfield in Liverpool as they headlined Creamfields. I was blown away by their collaboration with Massive Attack on their live performances (they have an ongoing relationship which I believe is still going).

I didn't blog back then (was blogging around then?) but if I had I definitely would have shared the love.

I encountered UVA in an all together different setting at Opera North back in 09. The whole thing was beautiful. I was pregnant with Dominic at the time and the whole "Chorus" piece felt a bit like I imagined life in the womb might be like (or should be) with the surreal lights and sounds. The video in this post is of that installation (albeit in a different setting).

What I always love the most about UVA is their ethereal presence and choice of light as a medium. The fact that they usually have an amazing collaboration going on with someone I'm pretty keen on only adds to the love affair.

45 - Talking to... Baker and Bell

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The (reasonable) camping season is coming to a close for this year sadly. As I'm already daydreaming of next years adventures and creating a wish list the length of my arm of camping gear for our adventures, I want to kick off my new series "Talking to..." with Andrea Stannah of Baker and Bell, a one stop shop for boutique camping.

About business...
What did life look like before your business and what inspired you to take the leap into being an entrepreneur?
Formerly in web development, I had always wanted to start my own web based business having helped lots of clients to do the same. Also, as mother of 3 young children I needed to find something that I could fit around them and do from home.

Describe your future vision...
Future plans include launching my own range of stylish camping kit starting with enamelware which can be sold as a brand through other retailers. I am also planning on repositioning the brand to cover stylish outdoor goods and gifts in general to make it less seasonal so will be adding sections such as sailing, skiing and other outdoor activities

Your glory moment...
Originally storing stock in our box room and a storage facility and posting out orders myself I realised within a matter of weeks that the number of orders had far exceeded my expectations and I was going to have to quickly outsource order processing to a great fulfillment company. After a few teething problems and ironing out processes it was a huge relief to have this part of the business taken care of.

Words of wisdom or advice to entrepreneurs starting out on a new business venture...
Outsource the things that you can't do well or don't like doing - it's often quicker and cheaper to pay an expert than use more of your precious and valuable time.

A couple of last questions...
Favourite camping product and why...
My lovely large vintage enamel teapot. It's always great on those chilly early mornings being able to provide tea to the whole camp.

Advice to family campers venturing out for the first time...
If you can, have a practice putting up your tent in the garden before you go so you can get it done more quickly on arrival. Take snacks and activities for the kids to keep them busy while you set up camp and it's also a great idea to prepare at home and take along first night dinner such as a stew that can be quickly warmed up and served.

Thanks again to Andrea. If you like what you see above then you should head over to Baker and Bell.

44 - North Wales Roundup

Monday, September 23, 2013

Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - The Beach
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Sailing Adventures
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Enchanted Tree
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Tram
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Natural Terrarium
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Moments of Discovery
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Hills, mountains, sea

A few final images from our North Wales trip in the summer.

The beach.
Sailing adventures.
An enchanted tree.
A tram to town.
Natural stone terrariums found on a ramble.
Moments of discovery.
Hills, mountains, sea.

43 - Growing The Sorting Office

Hello there. Again its been a while since my last post. I'm trying something new you see. I realised that I am in charge. I've forgotten that a lot over the past couple of years (when I've been up til 2am for a self imposed personal project deadline and up again at 7 with the small ones) but I keep reminding myself now that I set the pace and its no longer a race. I'm spending time enjoying the journey of what I'm trying to do rather than race on to the destination and miss the scenery on the way. I'll be posting a roundup of the summer holiday trip rather than a few more posts as its September now and that was July (if only August hadn't been spent being poorly mostly...). First I want to tell you about something I've been working on.

For a while I've been wanting to better my blog. Make it more interesting and serve a little more as a resource and wider reading rather than a retrospective. I'm battling the time demons so I'm still not promising to post every day as I'm starting to realise that rather than getting easier when the boy started school, theres actually more work to be done. At the age of 4 he's already bringing homework back and reading as well as the rounds of play dates and birthdays starting a fresh. I digress... However, I have come up with a couple of labels/categories and already have a couple of posts written and ready to go!

Talking to...  - Other entrepreneurs mostly but lets see shall we?
Take a look  - This is where my jaw drops at something and then I share it with you.
Soul Matters  - Kind words. We all need them sometimes, even if they are from a stranger. Bring an open heart and mind for some occasional philosophical discussion too.
Kiddos - Their world and everything in it.
Word - What it says on the tin. Sharing origins and oddities of the written language.
Real Life - Because sometimes its good to share a bad day and help others realise, that in this blogosphere of perfection and crafted imagery sometimes things are actually a bit crap. Literally when you have kids - a nappy with an exploda-poo that is still exiting your babies bottom, both feet are kicking in it and you have no free hands that aren't already covered and guess what - you're out of wipes. Yes. I've been there. If it helps you to know, then I don't mind sharing.
Wear - Honestly, I don't prioritise what I look like on the school run in the mornings as much as I'd like to. Whilst I'm working late in to the evenings (nights) I'm pretty lax about getting up early enough to pretty up. Have I lost my sense of style? No way, I just defer the time to execute it to extra time in bed.
Make - If you are itching to get started on something to make head on over to my Makes board on Pinterest. I'll be posting my own attempts at some of those projects as well as some new ideas here.

Sound good? Stay tuned.

42 - Conwy Castle / Catch-up

Monday, September 02, 2013

We visited Conwy Castle on our second day of holiday. It is both vast and perfectly placed and in many ways, quite humbling. The second image is taken from high up in the castle, what a beautiful vista to look out on.

I've been a bit lax lately on catching up on blog posts. Truth be told I've been a bit lax on lots of things business/work-life side and have enjoyed time out and spending summer holidays with my family.

Since Dominic turned up I've juggled babies and pregnancy and work to the point of finishing invites the week before having a baby in one case and having my foot bouncing a baby in a rocker whilst I'm working at my computer amongst others. I've been having a bit of a re-jig lately and am not too sure what my new life and business formula will look like as yet (we are looking at the feasibility of throwing it all in to run an eco indie camp site / venue and outdoors learning centre) but I'm enjoying the flexibility of both being my own boss (being able to take time out as it suits to count my beans and collect what I have together to evaluate it) and having had the foresight to decide to lead a moderate life to be able to take time out. I miss foreign holidays and travelling and nipping out to buy a new pair of shoes or splurge on cd's, I miss eating out more frequently than we do now and the freedom of two sturdy incomes but this past six weeks I've been pretty happy about making do with what we have and having a whole lot of family time and freedom. I've stopped trying to both have and do it all and where life is by no means perfect or without stress, it certainly feels good to not be trying so hard to live a double (sometimes triple) life all the time.

41 - Holiday

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We spent a week in North Wales at the beginning of the summer holidays. Its taken me this long to post about it. I have been laid up with a pretty savage chest infection for the best part of a month and am only just starting to feel better. Violin music moment over, I just wanted to add a foot note to the absence of new posts lately.

I have lots that I want to share. Lots of adventures had considering we only had a week and two of us were poorly (Dominic had the same thing I've had and coughed himself sick every night, I had the same trouble minus the sick, that an average night it's been taking around 40 mins for the coughing to settle when trying to sleep - yuk). I actually burst in to tears and had a melt-down on the beach of all places, it was that kind of poorly (anyone else had a melt-down in a public place they'd care to share?). Despite all that we found some really beautiful moments and have started to find a narrative that is more fitting of the life we want to carve out for our family than the one we have been living lately. It was always the plan to continue to adventure when we had kids but one thing and another has led us away from that path. We are slowly finding our way back home with it all. Some of the highlights are shown above and I'll be featuring more detailed posts over the coming week or so.

A couple of posts lined up for the coming week or two as well as holiday narrative - an interview with Andrea from Baker and Bell and some pictures from my birthday adventure getting to be Katniss Everdeen (even if only for an hour, sigh).

Hope you are all having a great summer holiday and managing to get the back to school shop out of the way without too much drama.

40 - Explorers

Saturday, July 20, 2013

We are heading off to the coast tomorrow for a week. I feel very fortunate that the weather is holding out and that our not very long at all drive to Wales may take us to a holiday that feels a little more further afield. This past week or so I've loved doing the school run and feeling like I've been exploring foreign lands (seriously, the dusty ground is a novelty round here). On the theme of exploring we are planning to tackle Snowdon whilst we are in that area (3,560ft alt) and I'm looking forward to that as its been a long time since we had any real adventures on our own (we'll be leaving the children with their grandparents for the day). I'm also looking forward to having mini adventures with the smalls each day too and have come up with a field explorer kit - which Dominic can't wait to get his hands on.

Feeling fully inspired by Moonrise Kingdom (seriously in awe of the list making and organisation skills of Sam and crushing on the style of Suzy) to be prepared for an adventure, I've curated a kit full of items that are great for camping (or a camp themed holiday) and exploring in natural surroundings. I have to say all the while I was also thinking "Adventure is out there!" and wanting to get a leather pair of aviation goggles on and put my thumb up (Up style).

You can have a go at compiling your own kit with a bug viewer, note pad and few other essentials or you can save yourself the trouble and buy one here.

39 - Dream collaboration

Friday, July 12, 2013

mmm...skyscraper i love you - Tomato/Underworld
mmm... skyscraper i love you - Tomato/Underworld
I featured in a post over at iamthelab.com (link here) on Monday and one of the questions posed was do I have a dream collaborator. I wanted to elaborate on my choices (having skimmed my answer for the post down significantly) and have written and re-written this post several times over.

I have gone over loving William Baker for his pure awesomeness, my long term love affair with Karl Hyde/Underworld who has provided for me on several levels for over a decade now and given me everything from typographic goodness to the soundtrack to my life and a few AMAZING festival/concert performances that have literally rocked my world. My respect for Victoria Beckham for standing for what she believed in/wanted and destroyed any stereotypical notions of herself to carve out a pretty great career doing what she loves and knows best to Vivienne Westwood. Who I love for creating one of my favourite dresses, for creating THAT dress in S&TC, for leading the way for so many years but mostly for her ethical views on fashion and the environment.

After a particularly awful day (two weeks) with my boy who seems to have turned in to someone else (and the baby who is no longer a baby who wants to be potty trained but just can't seem to muster up enough notice not to end up weeing on the chair/stairs/floor) it occurs to me that my real dream collaboration is my family, or at least the dream vision of them.

I want to make the transition from the daily grind to the stuff of dreams. To begin to write a better narrative for my home life, to work with my family at building the dream vision of having a family I had before I had children. I have no idea how to begin shaping this dream collaboration and life for myself. Every day is a lesson and an adventure.


Do you work from home to enable you to look after your children? Have you managed to shape a dream scenario out of being a stay at home mama? I'd love to hear from you...

38 - Base Camp

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Base Camp - Bell Tent

Welcome to our newest addition. We plan on calling this fella home over the coming summer weekends.

37 - Camp - 3am.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Yesterday after probably a year of "shall we/shan't we" we finally got up the courage to go camping.

No big deal to most and it never used to be to us. The last time we camped was at Glastonbury 2007. Pre-children and pre having a worry or care in the world.

Last night I lay in the tent (more on the tent in a future post) listening to every cough or shuffle, wondering if my daughter was too cold or if my son would wake up screaming from a night terror and wake the whole site. Wondering if by some freak of nature they'd both wind up with hypothermia over night and I'd wake up to critically ill (or worse) children in the morning. Over kill on the drama for most but when it comes to my children and keeping them alive I'm a bit tetchy (if you've been reading this blog for a while you'll get why). Fast forward past a lot of tossing and turning and not sleeping to about half three when we heard Dominic and the inevitable "I need a wee". We checked in to the kids "room" to get him out to see Eve totally out of the sleeping bag curled up tiny as could be, I was horrified. While Alan (my husband) took the boy out for the necessary I sorted a dithering Eve back in to her sleeping bag. After Dominic got back in we settled them both back in and zipped the compartment up to let them sleep and got back in to our own sleeping bags. On my part now even more worried about the baby (who is two now and no longer really a baby), when I suddenly hear Eve shout excitedly... "I'm two!" Since her birthday she's been fascinated by this info. Another excited shout "I'M TWO!" - cue Dominic giggling. "I'm like a FISH!" - no idea why this came to her but at this point all of us were giggling. A couple more "I'm two"s and "I'm a fish"s and Dominic got out of his sleeping bag, went over to Eve and gave her a kiss goodnight and got back in to his own bag almost as to say "there-there dear". Touched by this and still giggling to the point of crying now somehow things didn't seem like quite such a worry.

Now we are planning our next trip. Learning from the first and honing our experience. Planning adventures and looking forward to the next lot of 3am giggles. Learning how to be the family we always dreamed we would be.


Do any of you have any tips on camping with small ones to share? Would love to hear about them...

36.2 - Birthday / Stationery

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Greenhead Park Birthday Party - Bell Tent
The tent seems to hover as if by magic.
Greenhead Park Birthday Party - Paddling pool

The day itself was a blur of tiny figures streaking across the park, and enjoying the sunshine between making sure everyone was fed/watered and not wandering off from the party when they shouldn't be - 16 kids with their own agenda, in a park, joyfully we managed not to lose a single one!

The children had a great time, we had many total strangers ask where we had gotten the tent from (it was hired from Kirklees Council but we are so smitten we will be investing in our own 4m version) and most people in attendance said what a great time was had. We were also hugely lucky with the weather as the sun doesn't seem to have really broken through since let alone been paddling pool weather! I'm going to point out with the photos above that we are in the paddling pool and not the pond in the top picture - eew.

All in all we feel lucky to have such a great local park (Greenhead Park, HD1) and couldn't thank either warden we dealt with enough for being so good to us in planning and helping us set up on the day.

36.1 - Birthday / Stationery

Alfies Studio - Party Invitations
I wanted to capture a feel of cowboys and indians meets teddy bears picnic for a boyish rather than babyish aesthetic.
Alfies Studio - Party Invitations
As well as invites I created Thank You's, colouring cards, badges and bingo cards that had activities to do in the park that had to be done before getting a party bag, they seemed to be a hit and made sure everyone got involved. 
I've been meaning to open the doors on how the birthday invites for Dominic and Evelyn's joint party went for a couple of weeks now but seem to have been flat out doing rather than sharing. More about that on the weekend/next week when I round up the latest work I've been doing.

You may or may not have noticed that I've given this post a .1 in the title. I felt that I wanted to share the party stationery and the day itself but couldn't quite get right with putting them both in the same post for some reason. Party snaps to follow in 36.2 - Birthday / Stationery.

Off the shelf versions of these invites and more are available now at the shop.

35 - Party Bags

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Party Bags from Alfies Studio
Party Bags from Alfies Studio

Party bags are often filled with items that never seem to last the car ride home or are sugar loaded and set us up for a nightmare time of getting the kids to go to sleep, I figured it was about time there was a stylish and easy to buy alternative that contains toys that will last and a healthy but fun treat. I've been working on this for a while now and can hand on heart say it has been THE most fun thing on my desk for a while.

I have enjoyed the deliveries of toys that turn up and make average days feel like Christmas. I've enjoyed road testing things with the children and "working" with them to see what will be popular for the target age range and mostly I've loved having the kiddos involved with work. It's usually something that is kept completely separate (sticky fingers on freshly printed wedding invites or birth announcements would not be good) but I've actually really enjoyed blending work + kiddos together and getting them involved in the design and curation process and distilling down a list of over 50 toys (that I wanted if I'm honest) to a manageable and marketable number. Today I put the first batch of party bags out in to the world (my smalls are not so small any more at 4 and almost 2 and today was their joint birthday celebration). I'm still trying to come up with a catchy product name, and keep falling back in to loot or bounty bags - clearly I'm in a pirate kinda place right now - all contributions of the name variety will be joyfully accepted and considered.

I'm adding the listing to the shop soon so if you are interested you can pop on over and take a look.

34 - Mixing it up

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mixing it up - Alfies Studio

This past week was the Mr's 33rd birthday and to mark the occasion I thought I'd do something I don't do very often - paint. I decided to paint his birthday card.

I very rarely put paintbrush to paper these days but actually found the whole thing very relaxing and dare I say, enlightening. Blending and mixing, watching colours meld and change and join together to become something new and different. Such a subtle art and mix of patience and experimentation and perseverance to create something beautiful. I began to see the beauty in those moments of muddyness that come right before the clarity and perfect blend you've been looking for.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

I'm so looking forward to seeing "The Great Gatsby" and so over excited by the very Baz Luhrmann-ness of the whole thing that I designed a set (or two) of stationery in honour (and bought a new typeface - any excuse).

I took the general look of the era and aimed for a modern treatment. I was thinking more J-Z than J-Gatsby or at least that level of celebrity, wealth and fame. I had found a typeface that I had fallen in love with too and a Great Gatsby styled invite seemed the perfect excuse to buy it. The font is called Port and it just seems to exude the art deco feel in a very modern way with geometric curves, hairlines and an almost navajo (think Coachella coolness) feel to parts of it. I'm itching to work with this in a live project now so if any of you are looking for a Great Gatsby inspired wedding stationery set (or any stationery set for that matter) then I'm your girl.

Fallen for the Great Gatsby style too? Follow my Pinterest board here, I'll continue adding more to it as time goes by. Its a look and feel I think has a lot of mileage and can be quite beautiful and pretty in an un-assuming way as well as being all-out blow your mind glamour.

Great Gatsby invite - Alfies Studio
Great Gatsby invite - Alfies Studio
Great Gatsby invite - Alfies Studio

32 - Party House

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Today I am featuring a house designed specifically with parties and live music recording in mind. As far as houses on the market go, there aren't many cooler than this.

Since I got married in 2006 I have always had it in my mind that I'd like to own a wedding venue. Something a little, different. When we were venue hunting we were plagued by places that just weren't us (call us fussy but neither of us could envision ourselves getting married somewhere that it looked like several people had already been sick on the carpet - just don't get the fascination with over fussy carpets) and really just wanted somewhere that felt quite homely and un-pretentious. I'm chucking to myself now I read what I've just written as I think about where we actually got married - not pretentious but not un-assuming either, I'll post on this another time.

I digress. This house was designed by Peter Womersley in the 50's as a wedding gift to his brother (does anyone actually have relatives that generous these days?) and I just can't help have a nagging feeling thinking should I? Should I attempt to buy this beautiful place and host fabulous parties and gatherings and during the days open up to architecture students and design appreciators? Should I buy a home that would be begging for me to splash out on stacks of mid-century furniture? Should I begin to build a legacy that my children would one day be proud to take over? Could I be faithful to every detail of this time-capsule of a building?

I have dreams of a Smog Shoppe style space with living walls all around, or a renovated barn in the middle of nowhere with lights strung from the roof and and enchanting feel about it, I long to turn an industrial unit in a city centre into a hidden oasis that is part garden centre, part inner-city farm, part venue. Maybe this house is a beautiful idea, but not quite The Dream. Lately I've been trying to live by a rule that if something isn't high on my agenda or dreamy (to me) then I leave it to someone else who will appreciate it - whatever it is - and do it justice. The house is share-worthy though, and if any of you happen upon buying it, I'd like to come and visit some day. Click here to be taken to the sale site The Modern House (where I have taken the images from) or for more information on the building. The Modern House also promote some seriously cool holiday rentals, I'm eying up the one in Hunstanton, Norfolk and wondering if I dare risk the children there! 

Farnley Hey - 1950's modern house built by Peter Womersley

31 - Narrative

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The marvellous life of Ed Bloom in Big Fish

I've known since the days of sitting on river banks colouring in with my Nan whilst my Dad and Granddad were fishing that I wanted to do something creative with my life. I've been a graphic designer for a decade now (wowzers) and that feeling has never gone away.

Lately I've been thinking about the products I create (and am beginning to curate) and really honing in on what I already know and the process behind the knowledge and actions that get it all done. I want to transfer that greatness in to some other areas that I'm interested in and at the same time give an even stronger footing to whats already there.

I have realised that beyond design and creating, all of my true loves have a narrative quality to them. Magazines with photographic spreads that tell a story from start to finish in eight photographs. Books that weave a character and their tales in to my mind and heart from a first person point of view. Movies and TV that draw me in to their own colourful reality via a story-teller character. I'm even talking way back to Never Ending Story as one of my earliest film loves, I wanted to fly that luck dragon so so badly! I'm not a writer or an illustrator but I crave the feeling of telling it all larger than life in a way that is memorable, nostalgic, meaningful and has staying power.

Right now my hero is Ed Bloom in the movie Big Fish. The man who tells every story in his life in such a fantastical way that each moment is embellished and elevated to the stuff of legend. I truly believe that we all have the power to harness our stories and experiences and root them in nostalgia and a touch of magic to make our lives immortal.

All images taken from the film "Big Fish" - Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc - 2003


30 - New Blog Theme!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hello one and all!

I have a new blog theme! I'm pretty excited about it but as with all new things it needs a few tweaks and changes that I need to figure out and the images that I have previously placed are not quite a perfect fit, going forward I will make sure everything is properly sized.

I'm working on some pretty exciting stuff right now. I have unfortunately fallen prey to the excitement trap of starting (or having ideas for) so many fancy new ideas that I keep running between them all like a kid in a playground but not committing to (or finishing!) any one single thing yet. I always find that trouble when I do self initiated projects as there is no set deadline and no client to worry about disappointing. I also find that it's just. never. done. EVER! Anyone else have that same issue?

I have a new desk and re-furbed studio to post on (I love the desk so much but now need a new chair to go with - thinking of getting a Gym Ball as I like to fidget whilst I work and can't stand the idea of getting a stool or fixed seat), some recent projects to post up and... ah you know what, just you wait and see!


29 - How Alfies Studio came to be...

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

No Matter What by Debi Gliori
Image taken from "No Matter What" by Debi Gliori (found on notsupermum.com)
I often find that when networking and meeting new people when I mention what I do and I introduce Alfies Studio I am often asked "Why Alfies Studio?". They want to know where the name came from or (correctly) assume that it is the name of one of my children. Here is the story of Alfies Studio.

I have been self employed (sometimes whilst also having a "day job") since 2004 (nearly ten years, yikes!) and never really had a business name until a life changing event forced me to get serious about life, love, business, all of it, in 2008.

We were expecting our first baby, due date 7th April. We kept joking about the stork and Parcel Force and damaged goods and all of that, our stork must have been clumsier than we could ever have imagined. After a few issues for the baby being breech we had a scan on the 2nd April. The scan was to see which way around the baby was and if I may have to book in for a c-section as the consultant was not keen on the idea of delivering a breech baby. I was a little concerned about having felt a lack of movement the previous day too (after being out with a friend for lunch and a wander around Bath I thought my 39 weeks pregnant self was just tired out and hadn't noticed any kicks because of that) so they were to check on that also. After a Registrar, and another Registrar (worried at this point), and a Consultant (terrified and certain) and finally a Sonographer (white knuckles holding on to the bed and wanting to be sick with revelation of what was happening) tried frantically to find a visual of the baby's heartbeat I knew, before anyone even opened their mouth to tell us. Our baby had died. 

If I'm completely honest my memories from then on seem to be in the third person, as if watching myself. I have some views of my own, of sitting in the hospital garden watching a Robin whilst waiting for the induction medication to do its thing, of the Tiffin that we bought and shared in the hospital canteen (too sick to eat but just needing something) of being given an overnight room reserved for cases like ours away from the main labour areas full of new life (which we now "affectionately" refer to as "The Room of Doom"). I remember that this time five years ago we had a corned beef sandwich (all that was left from the dinner rounds) and were watching the new Dan Cruickshank series on the wall-mounted t.v which we had been looking forward to for weeks. I remember a haze of gas and air and contractions that would not progress during the night, Pethidine around 1pm which knocked me out completely as they had super-sized my dosage and being assigned our own midwife around 3 in the afternoon to help us through things. By 6pm I had gone through the only physical "birth" process I would ever go through (Dominic and Evelyn both being c-sections for being breech too). I was empty both physically and mentally. That night we drove home having left around quarter to ten, not with-child in any sense. I vaguely remember that there were flowers waiting for us from my good friend Sarah (these could have come the next day, I don't really remember) and the next morning I woke up and was so tired that for a second (only a second) I had forgotten what had happened in the previous two days. Then I realised and looked over at the crib in the corner of the room, already made up with boxes of clothes and nappies laundered and ready to be used in boxes underneath. The moments following, the next weeks (months) are all a bit of a haze. We moved across the country to the new home that we had bought for our new family. Our hamsters jumped ship too and died around the same time. It seemed like such a lonely place for just the two of us.

When I finally started to get it together again I decided not to go back to working for someone else full time (I always wondered a little bit if the stress and long hours in the final few months had contributed to what happened, no reason was ever found) and to throw everything in to making a real business of my own that I could call the shots with and could grow around a one day (hopefully) growing family. I felt like I owed it to our A.L.F (so called because the first time we ever saw a hand sweep across my stomach it looked like a little Alien Life Form) to achieve the greatness that they would never be able to achieve and so my business has been since then, and always will be, Alfies Studio.

Stillbirths happen ten times more frequently than cot deaths. I had heard of cot death and taken measures to prevent it such as a ventilated mattress and bedding and cellular blankets etc but knew nothing of stillbirths or that it could happen to us.
For more information go to http://www.why17.org/About-Sands.html or http://www.justgiving.com/why17 to donate to the research of Sands.


28 - 7 YEARS!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Killers at Manchester Arena 17th Feb 2013

Image from impretend.tumblr.com (my view wasn't quite this amazing)

The past couple of weeks have been pretty amazing (read as busy and amazing).
I've been working on some branding (which I'll be sharing soon) and some birth announcements (which I'll also be sharing soon...). Dominic had that last week before half term off  school, coughing like an 80 year old man and wheezing (he's better now tho we did joke we'd have to shelve him if his squeaker was broken, he wasn't amused) and we had our 7 year anniversary celebrations which included THAT re-scheduled Killers concert.

I've loved The Killers for a really long time and they seem to have had an album for every major event in our lives (Dominic was born to the sounds of Day and Age in the operating theatre having already been to one of their concerts in utero, the tickets for which I got the same day I found out I was pregnant...). The date was re-scheduled from the failed date in November and perfectly timed for our 7th anniversary weekend (thanks Mr Flowers, I owe you one). We spent the day at The Mere health spa (a much needed break from the children) and then on to the concert, which for me was emotionally charged right the way from Sam's Town at the start to Mr Brightside at the close. The whole thing was like a musical anthology of the last ten years of our lives together. Can you go another ten Killers? I can't quite imagine life without you.


27 - The Season of Love - Eames and the Unknown

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I can't stop gushing about chairs. It turns out that in this house we are chair obsessed to the point of having chairs in storage in the attic - its a crazy thing we are trying to break free from but here I find myself lusting after.... more chairs!

Not just any chairs to be specific though.

RAR Eames Armchair - Winter Special Edition
The RAR Eames Armchair - Winter Special Edition.
I love the mood that it exudes, that I could throw a sheepskin rug on it and read a book nice and cosy in the reading nook I'm about to create in the studio, the warmth of the special edition runners, the colours, just everything. I am crazy in lust for this chair and have been trying to think of stuff to sell to raise the cash for it, especially as its only available until March. Sigh.

Utilitarian plywood 1950's Chair
The Unknown

Plywood Vintage German Industrial Stacking Chairs on Ebay.
I am so tempted to charity shop or sell our existing dining chairs and get these instead or use them for the long desk we are planning for the studio. I love that they have a history and they have seen so much life. I love the blonde colour of the wood. I love the functionality and utilitarianism of them. Do I love them more than the Eames chair? I don't know. The name doesn't really make that much of a difference to me. After all, what's in a name? They do different things and so I guess they aren't really comparable. I'm in love lust with both equally.

26 - The Season of Love - Young and Norgate

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The season of love is upon us with Valentines drawing ever near and rather than get mushy and gushy about the man in my life I've decided to share a few things I love.

First up are Young and Norgate. I love everything starting with their brand (one of those classic "wish I had designed that" moments when I saw it) to their ethos and the well defined beauty of their products. Its been on my mind for a while about up-sizing my desk and renovating my studio/study to fit the expanding (!) business but I've hit a blank every time because of the sheer awkward nature of the room (and budget). A double sash window, two doors, an alcove and a wall with floor to ceiling shelving - try fitting something in around that, I dare you... Factor in that you have to go through from the front door to the rest of the house and its just a disaster.

These guys create seriously lust-worthy furniture as you can see from their Animate Desk which is my object of love/lust for today.

Animate Desk by Young and Norgate. Just beautiful.
I don't think the fox is included...

Head on over to Young and Norgate for a look at this and the rest of their collection here.

Another object of love/lust coming soon...

Image taken from the Young and Norgate Facebook page.

25 - Huraaaaahh!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Have hit 100 followers on Pinterest... hurrah!

24 - Girl on Fire

Monday, January 14, 2013

Creative and paid for it. I am the girl on fire
I have already spent a portion of this year wondering what I do, who I do it for and the worth in all of that. I feel that in a pecking order of things that are important to people (in England, I have a feeling it is very different in the US from the blogs I follow) that creative services are way down the list. I don't mean to sound negative, quite the opposite in fact. I'm hopeful that I can help people see the value in being well branded (and how it adds value to their business offering), the pride in announcing their little ones arrival with something a bit fancy (you created that tiny being, welcome them to the world in style) or setting the tone for an event with the invites (which are pinned on peoples boards and then kept as keepsakes, more important than a dress or flowers in that sense) and giving something special to someone who is going to spend a considerable amount on attending your event.

I recently took an ECourse with Braid (who I can not speak highly enough of) that is called "Dream Customer Catching" and it opened me up to the idea that my dream clients are out there. The projects I dream of and love to do and benefit from not only financially but personally and professionally too. I get more of a buzz from creating something that fits someone perfectly and enriches their being than I do watching the pound signs clock up (but hey, the bills still need paying right!). Its all got me thinking about what I want to do, and who for, and how I can do it best and continue to get better. All too often I hit on the dream client that has no budget (who I'd bet probably make more than I do as a result of the great branding job I did for them, perhaps I should work on a commission basis?!) or uninspiring jobs that pay the bills but leave me feeling like I lost a little bit of my soul while doing them. I have every faith that the right clients are out there and even though they may not have much of a budget, that they will see that really, looks are everything. I've spent time panicking that the downturn might mean an end to the branding projects I love so much and event invitations (etc.) but I think now, more than ever, its time to get the edge. To look more professional and clear on your product offering or service than ever before. To make your event or announcement sing from the top of the roofs and call people in like a moth to a bright light. At the same time I have realised the same thing for myself. I spend a lot of time helping others be great that I allow myself little time to see what I've become. In the coming months I'll be posting retrospective Alfies Studio projects that have really shaped what I do and who I do it for, and using my past to realise my expertise and what I am truly great at and take it to the next level. I am ready. Most of all I love that I get to be creative AND get paid for it... I am the girl on fire*.

*I have become a bit of a Hunger Games addict and read all three books in a week (had them for Christmas). I don't want to run around off-ing people to survive but I have a sudden desire to take archery lessons and become the go-getter that Katniss is. This year I plan on working on strength and determination and giving myself time and space to let those things breathe. It would have all looked very different had Katniss got two children in tow I'm sure...

23 - Hello 2013!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Happy New Year!

Christmas for us was all over the place as ever trying to fit everyone in and do all that we wanted to. Its very different now Dominic is in school (nursery) and we have to stick to term dates rather than setting off to do the rounds when it pleases. Dominic seemed freaked about the whole Santa thing rather than excited. He has an acute sense of security for a three year old. Christmas Eve he seemed really quite scared about this fella he didn't know being able to get in to his house in the middle of the night (no joke, it took us ages to convince him it was ok to go to sleep and he'd be safe) and then after he seemed even more freaked about how a bike got in to our living room - "but mama, how DID he get it in?". On Christmas day Eve seemed so overwhelmed by it all that she just kept standing with her back to us staring at the tree with her hands on her face looking like the world would end. Next year I'm sure will be very different again with a 2 and 4 year old, babies that are no longer babies. My boy goes to proper all day school this year, that's going to be pretty odd. Exciting times ahead I think.

Already off to a crazy start with working on Valentines and Mothers Day. I can't believe how quickly time is flying by...

I'm excited about the coming year and getting in to some great new projects. I'm so pleased to be helping some past clients welcome their little ones to the world with birth announcements (I kid you not, no less than 6 previous clients are awaiting new arrivals!) and get on with the up and coming seasons greetings. I'll also be consulting on the styling of a new venture or two.

Excited doesn't cover it. Bring it on 2013!

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