I've done it again. Every year, when the hot cross buns hit the stores on pretty much boxing day, I think to myself "NOPE".
Not until the week of Easter.
But alas....I've gone in and purchased a pack earlier than I had vowed. And they were good.
So good that I ate two and a half.
And could have gone another.
When my kids were little, I loved creating little treats for their class friends every Easter.
As said kids are now teenagers and are not focussing on cute little easter treats (unless they are featured on their favourite blogs or apps) - I thought I would share a little tutorial with my lovely readers!
So you can sit with you little cherubs and make these super cute little bunny chocolate bars to hand out to their friends, or even better - you can make them to give to your kids!
The file is easy to print out and you can purchase it here. So head to the store, buy the file and then get making!
Hate to state the obvious, but it has been while.
Don't get me wrong. I have a lot to say, and write - but finding the time to put actual pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) is escaping me.
I have been thinking a lot about my blog and how to better it - but it's a project for next year.... along with many other little side projects. My desk contains papers and rough notes full of ideas, then I start a folder and put them in there, then I forget about them and then start another folder until I have a clean out my studio and find the lost folders and all the ideas that may or may not have come to fruition.
That's why I am calling it early. In the new year - I, Emma Smith will be a lot more organised!
There's lots happening over here. We're moving premises (into a little factoryette!) and hiring another staff member. This little business is really starting to take flight! It's very exciting.
So hopefully wit staff to help, I can work more on my little business, and less in it. If that makes sense. And become a little more organised.
Let's bring this back to stationery (well it sort of already was but you know it's my tag line...)
One thing I am organised about is Christmas! Checkout our beautiful new designs with a fresh luxe scandi look. That's what I am calling it anyway.
I had the most wonderful time teaming up with Chantelle from Silk and Cedar Events to create a beautiful scene featuring my Christmas 2017 stationery. The stunning images were taken by Marzena Photography.
So if you are feeling a little overwhelmed by Christmas and a little unorganised, check out Chantelle's tips over at Life's Little Celebrations.
And guess what? Now it's time for you to get organised for your Christmas cards and stationery. Order now to avoid disappointment.
As for me.....I'm off to write a list or two in an effort to organise myself for tomorrow.
On Mondays, Miss 12 and I go to the library for an hour and a half when Miss 13 is at dancing class. It’s a great time for me to write a blog post or catch up on emails and for her to get some home work done. It’s hard work though.
You see, Miss 12 is an avid reader and the library is her preferred venue of choice, even over staying at home with dad or going to the shops. The hard work comes in getting her do actually do homework so she can peruse the books on the shelves and slip away into her utopia. Tonight she is making up all kinds of excuses to not do the homework and I am interrupted every couple of minutes with the following:
We’ve been here for 15 minutes.
It’s hard work for me to keep replying to her to just get it done, and it’s hard work for her because of all of the above. Because more than anything she wants to look at the books.
It’s hard work because I want to try and get some work done and am helping her, trying to battle the excuses.
There are so many things in life that are just plain hard work. Hell - getting out of bed some days is hard work! Parenting is hard work. Deciding what to have for dinner is hard work. Being in a relationship is hard work. Going to work at a job (part time or full time) is hard work and working for yourself at home is hard work.
I’ll say it again. Working from home is hard work.
Now to add a little bit of ‘Choose your own Adventure’ (another throwback to my 80’s life – Google it younger readers – they were great books). You either completely comprhend that line because you work for yourself from home and you need not read any further, or you don’t work from home.
I often hear people say or imply that I don’t have a real job, or because I work from home I have an easier gig than everyone else in life who leaves the house to work.
Let’s bring this back to stationery – ish.
I love what I do. And I mean LOVE! (They say if you love what you do you don’t work a day in your life – which I believe) But it really gets me when people don’t think I work as hard as them because I work for myself from home.
I created my dream job, and it came from passion, love and HARD WORK. Hours and hours cold calling and emailing people, getting quotes and sourcing suppliers, often until the early hours of the morning while my husband is snoozing away. All while battling with small kids, getting my design qualifications and diploma and working an out of the home part time job (until the accountant told me my business was financially viable and I could leave my part time job – one of the best days of my life by the way).
Working from home can be flexible and I may be able to grab a coffee and chat for half and hour or help at the school here and there. However, when the out of home worker gets home, and their kids are tucked in and asleep and they are relaxing (brain switched off not thinking about what your next business move will be) on the couch with their significant other, I am making up that time I took earlier in the day.
I know (and am extremely grateful) that I have the luxury of getting a load of washing on during the day, or preparing dinner early in the day, and that these luxuries came of hard work.
And to the “real job” commenters, I say this – I have a fully fledged studio at the back of my house, that I get up and go to daily, shut the door and because I love what I do, I often don’t come out of my studio until the kids come home from school – most days with washing still in the machine.
Please note – this is not to say that one type of work is harder than the other, I just want to say that working for yourself – from home is a “real job” and doesn’t mean you don’t work hard. ALL work is hard work. Whether it be outside the home or inside the home, paid or unpaid.
Otherwise we wouldn’t call it work, we’d call it play.
I remember the exact moment I told my little brother that Santa wasn’t real. (I know - I am a terrible human. Don’t judge me.)
It was a really, really hot day in the midst of the summer holidays, amongst a constant stream of Sunny Boys, Zooper Doopers, freshly cut grass and parents leaving you at home alone all day while they worked. We were doing that thing were you jump in the pool then get out and lie on the hot concrete until you get warm, and then jump back in the pool again. Hashtag eightieslife. Hashtag simplertimes.
We were in one of the concrete and warm up breaks (possibly without sunscreen, DEFINITLEY without rashies and hats. In fact, I don’t think rashies were even invented, or if they were they were, they were only for die hard surfies who lived down on the coast and certainly not those who lived in North Central country Victoria) and I was possibly feeling hard done by or ganged up against by my siblings so I used the one superpower I had as a 12ish year old big sister. The conversation went like this.
Me: “You know how Inspector Gadget it a cartoon and not real?”
Me: “Well you know that Santa is the same”
Sweet little innocent brother: “Santa’s not a cartoon.”
Meanest big sister ever: “No, he’s not a cartoon, but he’s not real either.”
End of conversation. And in one swoop I have devastated my little 8ish year old brother, destroyed his childhood and that was the end of Christmas for him forever more. And we still talk about that moment to this day, and he still hates me for it, and I still have guilt that will never leave me.)
Sometimes, things aren’t always what they seem.
Santa Claus, ‘Can do no wrong' big sisters, timeshare offers, the size of objects in your rear vision mirror, instagram photos….. you get the idea.
Now lets bring this back to stationery.
Foiling is so on trend in the stationery world it is ridiculous! Lets not beat around the bush, having a foiled finish on your invitation suite can be expensive. There's a reason for that. There foils and there are foils. There's the real Santa Claus, and the fake Santa Claus.
I am definitely NOT a foiling expert by any means, but I do know the difference between the two main types of foiling so let me enlighten you.
There’s toner reactive foil (or TRF) and there’s foil stamping.
TRF is a cheaper option that even crafters at home can do if they want to. There are products on the market that are readily available so you can foil to your hearts content. TRF uses foil that will react to toner (just like a laser printer would use), heat and pressure and it works best on coated or very smooth papers. As the name suggests, it “fuses” to the toner with heat and pressure.
The results when using TRF can be inconsistent and the quality is much poorer than foil stamping. I use TRF for my samples, small tags and cupcake toppers when the order is not very large.
I never recommend TRF to my clients for their invitation suites or larger areas of foil.
I much prefer the quality of foil stamping and I use this most of the time when you see foil featured on my products. I cannot do it in my studio, so I outsource it to a printer who specialises in foil stamping.
Foil stamping uses a metal plate with a raised and reversed image of your design (these can be made of several different metals). The plate is heated and then run through a press (there are several types of press that can do this). A thin roll of foil goes between the heated plate and the paper and the pressure from the press makes it all fuse together leaving behind a stunning foiled image that is evenly and completely covered in foil.
Foil stamping will work on so many more types of paper and cardstock too, enabling you to have a higher quality, thicker cardstock.
I guess that’s my little educational piece for the moment, which seems much more helpful than the whole Santa thing.
I was out walking today and saw some little toadstools and that little bunch of fungi bought back a memory from when my kids were smaller.
Side note - I sometimes wonder why “mommy blogging” wasn’t invented back then. I have plenty to say on my kids toddlerhood/early childhood. But then again, they were the dial up days and I had zero time to wait for that wretched screech noise to take over my ears whilst I waited for the internet to connect, How things have changed in 10 years.
Back to the story. When the toadstools used to pop up we often would see them and say “Look! the fairies are setting up a village – it must be time for someone to loose a tooth”. And as luck would have it the kids were always close to loosing a tooth or someone they knew had lost a tooth that day.
They would stop and wonder and look desperately around the toadstool patch to spy any sign of glitter or fairy’s fluttering that they could find. It took a good 5 minutes or so to realize that fairies don’t flutter when kids are around, that’s why the tooth fairy only comes at night and we would walk on.
To the contrary, on a recent trip to a well known large chain toy store (against my religion* - but we had a voucher to use) I was somewhat saddened to see that almost 100% of the toys and items for sale there (from gift wrap, to new baby furniture, to 1000’s of toy lines) featured a licenced character. Even the ones that encourage imaginative play were licenced (brands such as Lego included, along with art smocks, crayons and pencils and even themed easels.)
Not quite sure when this had happened – the take over of licenced products and the en masse licenced marketing that we as consumers are almost driven to buy through having no other choice. Rant over…..that’s a whole other post.
Now lets bring this back to stationery.
Those who know me personally know that I much prefer imagination and originality over licenced themes any day when it comes to kids play and kids parties. I know I know….it is hard to resist when you’re child has their heart set on a certain character. And because of that, I often get asked to do licenced invitations and stationery.
When I am asked, I have a standard line in reply.
“I do not hold a licence to print X, however I can use colours and fonts which will imply X theme”.
There a few of reasons for this.
So you certainly can ask, but you will hear my standard line delivered in return. I am hoping this post explains a little as to why I have the standard line. Let it be known though, I have created some beautiful pieces for licenced themed parties without having to use specific characters or titles. See below.
So I guess I’ll leave you with this.
As the late Muhammad Ali is known to have said, “The man who has no imagination has no wings”.
*religion – so you know I have no affiliation with any particular religion – just using this term to make a point.
Another side note - I am not 100% sure which spelling of 'Licence' is correct for Australia so please spellcheckers and grammar nerds out there, please feel free to correct me.
Some examples of work I have done which imply certain licences - however without using characters directly.
I went to a function recently where there was some serious negotiation happening around if and when to hold the next function.
VERY long story short, it was obvious, after many opinions and ideas, that it was going to be how the chairperson wanted it and no negotiation was going to be entered into. Regardless of how the mere members of the debate felt or what they wanted.
Life is full of negotiations.
Toddler tantrum negotiation - “if you stop I’ll….blah blah blah, or conversely, if you don’t stop I’ll – insert consequence here.
Tween/Teen I want X negotiation - “if you get me this I’ll - insert bargaining tool they are prepared to do here – more often than not in our house it is wash the dishes for a week, or keep my room clean (Yeah right! Mum’s know that one will never happen Do they even realize they just bought them selves a “no” using that one?)
Work negotiation – “Can you work Friday so I can take child A to the doctor and then I can work Tuesday for you…..”
You get the idea.
Now let’s bring this back to stationery.
I often get asked to negotiate on the cost of custom designs.
Sometimes yes, the price can be amended through a little negotiation and scaling down some of the requirements to meet a specific budget.
But most the time…and I think I can speak for most Graphics Designers here…no.
As a professional, tertiary educated qualified graphic designer, one thing I don’t negotiate on is the fee I charge (which compared to some is relatively inexpensive) for custom artwork and design.
Expertise costs money. You get an electrician to fix your electrical stuff, you get a plumber to fix your plumbing, you go to a shoe store to get fitted correctly for shoes, you go to a graphic designer to get something designed.
“But I could do it myself – how hard could it be?” I hear you saying. Yes maybe you could do some of it yourself, but there must have been a reason for contacting an expert in the field in the first instance.
Graphic design is more than opening Microsoft Word or Publisher and typing words and inserting a clip art. It involves a whole lot of elements and principles to get the look right. While every designer has a different they all use the same elements and principles of design. The knowledge and expertise to produce a finished item (using the right tools), takes time. And by time I mean sometimes hours in front of the computer, or paints or pencils.
When I do get approached to negotiate on price I find myself thinking, and have even questioned out loud to some, “would you go to work for two to three hours and not get paid?”
You would say “No, that’s not negotiable”. And you would be right.
A little look behind the scenes of the design process. A lot of thought and hours to get what looks like a simple little turtle.
I got up early yesterday to go out and get bread. One of our Little Misses had a friend sleepover and we were out of bread for their breakfast. So rather than sleeping in, I did the good mother thing and walk around to the bakery to get the bread so they could have toast.
When I stepped out the front door - right there opposite our house.....and I mean RIGHT THERE OPPOSITE our house....was the most surreal thing I have seen ever I think..... A MASSIVE hot air balloon. Just floating. Kind of slowly. It landed right at the end of our street. The things you see when you wake up early. I stood there and watched it land and thought to myself "I never realised you could balloon from here".
Turns out you can't balloon from there. The balloon was off course. Like WAY off course. I found out later that one of the other balloons it had been travelling with was off course too and went out into the bay only to be rescued by a civilian boat. Was on the news and all.
Funny that. The balloons were slightly off course but they ended up landing safely in the end. A bit like life sometimes really.
So the reason I was looking forward to the sleep in was because I often get up early. Like 5.00am early. I try to get an hour or so in before the rest of my family wakes up. Sometimes I walk, sometimes I fold washing or iron or some other quiet sort of house work, but more often than not I work. Cant help it. Love what you do and all that.
I love that quiet early hour or so. It seems as if it's a secret world that only a few enjoy while the rest of the world sleeps. And getting things done makes me feel organised. I love feeling organised.
Now let's bring this back to stationery.
It's a great idea to get onto your event stationery organised early. Especially if you want custom design. More often than not there are a few drafts back and forth and then it takes a little time to order in the stock. The earlier you get onto it, the more time we can take to get it right for you. And you feel organised.
Many times people contact me to see if I can "fit them in" by "fit them in" I mean there's a party in a only a couple of weeks that they need invites AND decor for. Most of the time I try to get the order done, but occasionally I need to say "sorry...no can do - if only you had contacted me earlier"
So how early is early? As a guide, incase you are wondering, hand out your invites about four weeks in advance if it is a party you are hosting, and then eight - twelve weeks before the date of your wedding is the ideal time to send out your wedding invites.
That is the sending out part.
So they (the invites) need to be in your hot little hands a few days earlier than that.
Then add on the three to four weeks a custom order can take.
I am hoping that handy hint helps you feel a little more organised.
Now I am off to bed early so I can get up early in the morning.
My name is Emma, and I design and make stationery.
That's who I am. I own it. It's me. And I am not afraid to say it just like an Alcoholic owns their alcoholism in an AA meeting. You may be thinking the two can't compare, and maybe they can't, however there are some similarities I've noticed along the way.
And by along the way, I mean referencing my faded memories of being a kid sitting in the back of AA meetings (mum had no babysitter and I guess we all just went along - there were other AA kids too hanging out through the meetings) in rooms filled with cigarette smoke (it was the 80's and that was normal) and cups of tea, coffee and teddy bear biscuits.
I ALWAYS remember that one line. "My name is (insert first name only) and I am an Alcoholic". Owning that statement trying to get back in touch with their authentic selves. I guess trying to get in touch with your authentic self is like peeling layers of an onion. Peeling back emotions like hurt, anger, shame or whatever emotion that got you out of your self (or forget your authentic self) in the first instance. And shedding a lot of tears (c'mon admit it - there is no known cure for tears when peeling an onion. I think I have tried them all - including swimming goggles).
It took guts and a whole lot of realisation for those words to come out of the speakers mouths. I didn't know it at the time, but I know it now. The amount of layers that person had to peel back to get to that point to admit that that's who they were and to love themselves enough to find their real self again.
Now let's bring this back to stationery.
There's a LOT of self doubt in being a creative person. As there is in the life of the alcoholic. With all this doubt and uncertainty I guess you lose yourself along the way and start to become what you think others want. I guess that could be part of the reason that a person drinks in the first instance.
So many times self doubt has been in my mind, thinking am I good enough? What do people think of me and my work? Should I keep going? Should I quit? But I love it. Is love enough?
Then there are the highs of "OMG look what I have created - it's amazing". I guess not unlike the 'pink cloud effect' an alcoholic goes through when they are a short time into sobriety. That feeling of everything is under control and I totally have this self employed creative business nailed. I am excelling at life. Just try and stop me.
Then the self doubt can come back in an instant, just one comment (darn social media) or one slightly unhappy customer and the process of starting over with new projects and trying to diversify into areas which are not being true to your authentic self and trying to see if this is where you really fit.
All I know is that the people in AA are trying their hardest to discover their real authentic selves. And similarly, I have recently been peeling the layers (or call it a mid life crisis - whatever) on my stationery journey and it has all come back to simplicity. I love stationery. I love paper. I love good design. I model my business on these loves.
"Keep it simple", "Love what you do", "The grass is greener where you water it", "Be brave" and all the other similar cliches have been resonating through my mind - and through it I seem to have reached a point of clarity and ownership. A point where it is not important what others think but I need to stay me and keep doing what I am doing with passion. Be my true authentic self in business (oh alright and at home too). Sobering really.
My name is Emma and I make and design stationery. Simple.
And as they say at the end of their speech in AA, thanks for listening.
Side note - I am not an alcoholic but did read a book recently called 'Mrs D is Going Without' (Written by - Lotta Dan) on beating alcoholism from which I could relate to many words in all facets of life. Her blog is called livingwithoutalcohol.blogspot.com.au and you can read it here. If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, this blog has many helpful hints and links.