22 December 2014

Christmas Inspiration 2014 // Creative Living

It's Christmas! And what better way to spend the run up to the big day, than browsing through some festive inspiration, and trying your hand at some homemade treats; simple and sweet decorations, gorgeous gift wrap, delicious treats and clever handmade gifts for family and friends...

You can find all of this and more on our Pinterest board, to really get into the spirit of Christmas.

From our family to yours, we wish you all a very merry Christmas, and look forward to sharing more inspiration with you in the New Year.

Roasted cinnamon almonds Southern Fairytale, pine cone bow decoration Make It & Love It, DIY gift box (unknown source), cinnamon candles (unknown source), Christmas cookies The 36th Avenue, gingerbread sugar scrub Mommy Musings.

15 December 2014

A Special Commission // In the Studio

We are currently working on a special commission for some wedding stationery - the couple are marrying in a castle and dining in a treehouse.

We have been exploring the charm of rough illustration, the softness of watercolour, the delightful effects of papercutting, and the exuberance of modern script typography - inspiration for which you can find above.

The playfulness of the start of a project is always the most exciting, with it's endless possibility. We will look forward to sharing more as the project unfolds.

Autumn palette (our own), ink drawing Johanna Basford, typography Jessica Hische, paper work Sarah Louise Matthews, robin watercolour Jean Haines, tree house sketch Squirrel Design.

08 December 2014

Winter is a Season of Slumber // Creative Living

It is official, we have entered the deep dark months of winter - a season of slumber. Lazy mornings in bed, festive tipples, tasty treats and plenty of soft light and warmth.

Join us as we browse through winter inspiration over on our Pinterest board, to make the most of it this season.

Decorating inspiration Decorology, apple-cinnamon winter sangria Better Homes & Gardens, kahlua hot chocolate Damn Delicious, homemade winter lotion Frugally Sustainable, comfy & neutral Posh Home, winter tea cookies Seventy Nine Ideas.

01 December 2014

Self Promotional Notebooks // In the Studio

Since launching our new brand, we have been working around projects to finish some really special promotional material. Part of the packages for this self promotion are beautifully bound notebooks, which we are giving as gifts.

We really wanted to capture the sense of possibility that a beautiful notebook brings; of what big ideas and inspiration could fill it. You almost form a relationship with it and embark on a recorded journey.

Our books were litho printed using Pantone ink, onto uncoated, recycled stock, and specially bound using the singer sewn technique, in contrasting thread.

Design Leaff Design, printing Lemon Press, binding Allsopps.

17 November 2014

Studio Revamp Inspiration // Creative Living

As we have begun to turn our attention to revamping our studio space, we have been taking inspiration from some irresistible finds. Like the work we produce, we want our studio to be laced with detail - each item being something of beauty in it's own right - to create a space brimming with exciting colour pops and inspiring finishes.

You can find these ideas and more over on our Pinterest board.

Desk lamp Studio MOSS Design, desk chair (unknown source), gold scissors, pins & clips Nate Berkus for Target, stapler Present and Correct, sellotape (unknown source), rulers Hay.

10 November 2014

Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten - The Signage // In the Studio

We last posted about the brand and materials that we created for Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten a couple of weeks ago - if you missed it, catch up here. Since then, we have been working our socks off on the completion and on-site installation of their signage, which we not only designed, but made too.

When we say we are a family company, we aren't kidding, and woodwork is a speciality. Jay's dad is an expert woodworker - he was taught all he knows by his father, who was a professional carpenter - and those skills were passed down to Jay too. Between them, they are capable of fantastic things, and as you can see from this signage for Nurture, their skills really show.

After the hard graft of the woodwork was done, it was into the studio with the huge, sweet smelling signs, for a more delicate touch. We hand painted every detail using eco paints, which are as natural as the kindergarten itself.

03 November 2014

Bonfire Night 2014 // Creative Living

Remember, remember the 5th of November - and how could we forget with such inspiring ideas for food, drink and decor.

We are thinking about how we can celebrate our bonfire night in style, and with all the necessities covered - exciting food, comforting drinks, warmth, and of course fire. This is just a small selection of the stylish ideas that we have gathered over on our Pinterest board, so do head on over for more inspiration.

Warm butterscotch dipping apples BBC Good Food, chunky knit mittens (unknown source), pumpkin bonfire (unknown source), marshmallow milkshake Yum Goggle, hot apple cider Om Nom Nom, basket of blankets (unknown source).

27 October 2014

Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten // In the Studio

Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten needed a brand that reflected their umbrella brand, Nurture, while being able to stand alone as a separate part of the business.

We created a memorable, playful suite of logos and a natural, earthy palette, to compliment and use with their umbrella palette of light bight shades. Being an outdoor kindergarten, the idea for the brand stemmed from the great outdoors and what you might find there. Marching ants and scattered leaves, are but a few of the charming illustrations that interact with and bring to life their special promotional mailer, which marked their forthcoming launch of the Kindergarten in January 2015.

To find out more about Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten or to enquire, pop on over to their website, www.nurturekindergarten.com.

We are currently working on their on-site signage, which we will have up on here very soon!

22 October 2014

A drink not to be sniffed at... // Creative Living

It's that time of year for colds and flu to creep in, and we have just the thing to soothe away those sniffles. Packed with essential anti-viral, immunity boosting ingredients, this is the perfect companion during those chilly, achy nights on the sofa. In fact, it is so comforting, that we have been known to enjoy it sniffles or no sniffles.

You will need...
A thumb of root ginger (washed and peeled)
1 small lemon (washed and halved)
1 tbsp runny honey
1 cinnamon stick
Hot water

Grate the root ginger finely into your favourite mug. Squeeze the lemon in and add the honey too. Pour boiling water over to fill the mug and add your cinnamon stick, which you can then use to stir it all up. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes, and voilĂ , it's ready to enjoy (just strain it if you'd rather not have the bits).

The glass mug used for this recipe held 200ml of water, and so remember to adjust the quantities according to your own mug's capacity.

15 October 2014

Halloween 2014 // Creative Living

As many of you already know, Autumn is our very favourite season; it's the colour, the crisp mornings, the low afternoon sun.

With Halloween just around the corner, we are beginning to think about how we can bring creative living into our home, to celebrate this enchanting occasion. This is just a small selection of the stylish ideas that we have gathered over on our Pinterest board, so do head on over for more inspiration.

Coconut covered apples Country Living, pretzel pumpkins About Food, pumpkins as vases (unknown source), copper striped pumpkins Homey Oh My!, bat table setting Colin Cowie, pumpkin cushion Take Flyte Farm.

06 October 2014

A New Leaff

Here we are at last! Welcome to our new Leaff.

Where we are now with the business looks very different to where we were 4 years ago, and we needed our new brand to reflect that. During our 4 years, we have grown massively in our skill set, knowledge of what we want and of where we want to be heading as well. Our new brand certainly reflects the decisions and direction that we have taken, as a natural development to our business, which we are so proud of.

In line with the rebrand, and having now found our feet with what we enjoy about our blog, we have restructured it to focus more specifically on a couple of key areas. There are now two defined topics 
that we will be covering on here, with weekly posting, which are In the Studio, and Creative Living.

In the Studio will cover new projects that we have been working on, bits of inspiration, any news that 
we have, and any know-how that we think would be good to share from in the studio. Creative Living will cover visual delights of inspiring interior design, exciting products and textiles, occasion-specific styling, and even special food & drink.

Lastly, we are now on Pinterest, so do pop over for a look. For those of you who don't already know, 
you can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedInTo receive quarterly updates straight into your inbox, do sign up for our new Newsletter, which you will see in the right hand column.

We hope that you are all as excited as we are about our new look, and our sharp vision for the future 
of Leaff.

29 September 2014

A Changing Leaff

It has been a while since we last posted, and that is down to something rather large and exciting, which we have been waiting to share with you all for quite some time. I think it was even right back in the new year when I first I mentioned that we had a major rebrand on the cards, and it has taken a whole 9 months for that plan to come into fruition. 

We have been absolutely flat out with restructuring Leaff, rebranding, and developing, which has been so essential for us. It has been a long slog, but it has been totally worth it, and we are so incredibly excited to begin the countdown to the new look Leaff, which will be launching Monday!

7 days to go...!

18 August 2014

Studio Time: Emily Steel, Brand Development

Emily Steel is an up and coming Independent Funeral Celebrant, offering bespoke non-religious and semi-religious funeral services, tailored to the individual needs and wishes of families and their deceased.

She needed a brand that would communicate how professional, warm and approachable her business is, as well as keeping her image as calm and respectful as possible to her bereaved audience. Emily needed a brand that would make her stand out from her competitors, and win the attention of her target market at the same time.

The design idea for Emily's brand flowed along the idea of the natural world - a logo that offers stability and comfort, an earthy and calming palette, and organic, natural surface patterns.

28 July 2014

It's Our 4th Birthday!

Saturday just gone marked our 4th Birthday here at Leaff, and we made cake!

It has been a year of thinking, a year of planning, and a year of action. A reflective year, a very busy year, and a very exciting year. Change is coming, and we can't wait to see how this next year pans out.

Thank you to all of you who continue to follow us, and support us.

04 July 2014

Studio Time: Nurture, Brand Development

Nurture are childcare, play and education specialists, who came to us last Autumn to set up their exciting company with a knock-out brand.

Nurture needed a brand that would be unique, friendly, approachable, warm and sensitive. They needed to get across their expert, dependable and supportive approach, while allowing their open, fun and exciting nature to shine through.

The design idea stemmed from their company mantra, 'nourishing and nurturing by stimulating curiosity and offering opportunities to explore, experiment, and understand', coupled with inspiration from shape-sorters, and how they look to do just this.

26 June 2014

For Joseph? For James...

If you can cast your minds back to December last year, we had announced how much we had raised for locally abandoned baby Joseph (catch up here), during our campaign in August of that year (catch up here).

Since then - yes, a whole 6 months later - after countless emails and phone calls, we had still come no closer to getting the money to Joseph, and the battered blank cheque sitting on our desk was a woeful reminder of this. It became very apparent, very quickly, that there had in fact been no account set up for him like we first thought. We had been through all the red tape, and even located his social worker, but no matter how hard we tried we just couldn't get the money into his account. We were frustrated, disappointed and somewhat anxious - what about the public, who had all been so kind enough to give their money? It had to go somewhere...

So, we hit the net in search of a children's charity, who we thought would be a good alternative to donate it to. Obviously there are a lot out there, all worthy, but then we came across one that particularly caught our eye - The James Bulger Memorial Trust. As soon as we landed on this site, I became completely overwhelmed; James' little face staring back at me, not too much older than Charlie. This was exactly where we belonged.

The James Bulger Memorial Trust was set up in March 2011, which coincided with what would've been James' 21st Birthday. The objectives of the charity are: "To benefit and support young people who are disadvantaged by reason of having become a part of bereavement, a victim of crime, hatred or bullying. To reward those who are judged to have shown exemplary conduct, making a positive contribution to the welfare of others, or society in general." What a great idea to put James' name to something so positive and appropriate.

So to all of you who helped us with the campaign for baby Joseph, although sadly, the money never got to him directly, we did manage to give it to a very worthy home, which we feel sure you will agree.

Please show your support to James' amazing mother, Denise, and this wonderful charity, and head on over to their Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/JamesBulgerMT

21 May 2014

How to 'Have it All'

Since becoming parents, the things we cherish in our lives have become more and more difficult to balance. We strive to go above and beyond with everything we do, and to surpass our own high expectations of ourselves, and it's hard work - the hardest these days.

My life has become a constant juggling act - juggling being a full time mum to our little adventurer, being an attentive wife, and being a successful owner of Leaff, all while trying to maintain relationships with family and friends, and taking some time for myself (which is the hardest thing of all).

Its been the toughest lesson of my life so far to manage all of these things at the same time - with many dropped balls. Yet in the last couple of weeks, I have finally felt like I have worked it out - not only do we need to schedule work time, we need to schedule personal time too.

I never liked the idea of scheduling personal time before we had Charlie - it felt way too structured for our laid back life, and I always thought that if our lives ever became that busy, we would just have to make sacrifices. But there are none to be made in this situation, as far as I'm concerned - I have to have it all.

So I was thinking, I can't be the only one who has been struggling with this - there are heaps of mums out there in exactly the same predicament, and heaps of dads too, who run a business from home as well as looking after their children. So here is how I've done it...

The Daytime

During the day time, my full attention is on being mum. When I first had Charlie, I struggled so much with boundaries between running Leaff  and being mum. There is clearly huge responsibility with running a business, and keeping it moving forward, while at the same time, nothing is more serious to me than being the kind of mum I want to be. I didn't want to be in two places in my mind at once - in that situation, I couldn't give either my full attention, and so I would fail at both. So I quickly worked out that scheduling was key.

I check mail first thing in the morning while making breakfast, which Jay and I can then discuss before he heads off to work, and which also gives me chance to take action on anything pressing before he leaves. Jay often comes back for lunch, and when he does, I take the opportunity to check mail again then, to discuss over lunch. In between these times, unless Charlie is napping, the iPad is off.

Naps are vital. Vital for keeping the house tidy and clean, for food shopping online, and for cooking lunch. Now that Charlie is a little older and enjoys some time playing alone, I usually manage to tidy up straight after each meal while he is still in his high chair and entertained. So, the rest of the chores, and a little me time, have been scheduled for naps - though there is only one nap a day now, for a max of 40 minutes, so scheduling is essential...

Monday naps are cooking time, when I'll use the time to cook a double batch of the most time consuming lunch of the week. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are Pilates days, where I use the naps to keep in shape and maintain strength.

Wednesdays are shopping days, where I can focus on our health. I take food shopping very seriously - even more so since having Charlie and becoming veggie. It entails writing a meal plan for the week ahead, and ordering online. Seriously, thank goodness for food deliveries.

Fridays are 'deep clean' days. As long as I can get the 'chemical work' done while Charlie naps (polishing, bathroom cleaning etc), then i can do things like making the beds and putting washing away when Charlie is playing around me - he loves to help with these things!

The Evening

Every night, Monday through to Thursday, is focussed entirely on Leaff. Jay usually gets home just as I've put Charlie down, so I crack straight on while he makes supper, and after we have eaten, we come together and work really hard all evening. This sometimes means very late nights, but we really strive to at least sit down with a brew at the end of it, to wind down before bed.

Friday nights are all about our personal space. Jay kicks back with his guitar, and records, and I can be found in a very deep bubble bath, reading and pampering myself. Not only is it an essential time for us to properly relax, it is perfectly placed at the end of the week, as something we focus on all week to get us through.

Saturday nights are dedicated to us - whether we are alone or socialising with friends or family. We use these nights to enjoy something extra special for supper, grab a celebratory tipple, and chill out together in front of a movie - or just listen to music and talk. This is such valuable time for us and our relationship - with or without company, we can just be Jay and Kate, rather than Mum and Dad.

Sunday nights are all about sleep! Charlie still wakes during the night, so on top of our incredibly busy weeks, we are still juggling sleep deprivation! We used to find it so hard when it came to the weekend, because it felt like the sensible time to get early nights, yet that always made us feel robbed of time to enjoy some time out together. So with our allocated time to enjoy on Friday and Saturday nights, we dedicate Sunday nights entirely to sleep. On these days, we ensure that we have supper with Charlie at 4pm, and one of us cleans up while the other gets the routine prep done. This means that by the time Charlie has gone down at 6pm, we are free of all chores, and all that is left to do is have a brew and slip into bed, which sets us up perfectly for the new week ahead.

I hope that by sharing this new found scheduling system of mine, those of you reading this in a similar position, can take something from it. I would've loved to have worked this out much sooner than I did! It's regimented and it's anal, but it's a way to have it all.

25 March 2014

Studio Time: Andrew McCabe, Brand Development

Following the very recent launch of his website, we thought that we would share this with you - one of our most recent projects for Andrew McCabe Films.

Andrew is a wedding videographer, who needed a minimalist, contemporary and intelligent brand, which communicated who he was, while allowing the quality of his work to do the talking.

The design idea was based on classic style film, which we brought into modern day, leaving Andrew with a professional, familiar logo, and a minimalist brand.

This was a great project to work on, for a very talented guy. Andrew is a fantastic videographer - why not pop on over to his website to see some of his latest work. 

10 March 2014

One Year with Charlie...

In February, Charlie turned one. As well as it being the very first party for him that we have hosted, it
was also in some way a last hurrah in what was our very first home together, ahead of our big move
that same month.

I was ridiculously excited to party plan and design the theme across the table - I had been waiting
and looking forward to this moment (creatively), long before he was born!

Since it was his first birthday, and he hadn't been old enough to really be into anything massively,
we decided to base the theme on the day he was born. It was the depths of winter, and snow was
falling. We actually had to dig the car out of the carpark (with a window scraper no less) on the
day that we left the hospital. And so went the story of our Charlie Winters' First Birthday...

Big snow clouds hung threateningly over the table, bursting into snowfall, while cotton wool 'snowballs' lay strewn across the table in between the 'giant snowflake' doilies. I hand printed the table cloth in powder blue clouds, made little toppers for the food, party hats for our guests, and bunting for the mantle.

His birthday cake was a giant snowball, adorned with very pale blue buttercream and smothered in coconut, and we also carried the theme through the other food with things like white chocolate coated 'frosty' strawberries, and 'cloudy' lemonade.

To mark the day with a keepsake, I also made some folded hearts out of powder blue card, and left them out for guests to enclose some words of wisdom for Charlie to read when he is older. They are safely shut in his very fat first year baby book, for him to enjoy in years to come.

I hope that you enjoy looking through this small selection of pictures, and I hope that it inspires you
with whatever creative project you may have coming up.

Photography: Bill Benstead
Napkins, Straws, Pots, Cups: Pretty Little Party Shop
Lemonade Bottle: Next
Toppers, Hats, Bunting, Clouds, Tablecloth: Self-made

27 February 2014

Flying Our Leaffy Nest

Since our return to the studio after our little break in January, it has been non stop. And now, at long last, we have begun the enormous task of moving home and studio.

The biggest obstacle this currently causes for Leaff, is the loss of our phone number. We have now unplugged the phones, and we cannot take the number with us, so we are currently only contactable by email. As soon as we have settled and set up a new line, we will let you know, but please bear with us!

It is such an exciting time for us, but absolute chaos all the same, and while at the moment project work is all we can fit into our evenings, I really hope to fill you in on our recent adventures very soon.

For now though, from our make-shift workspace, goodnight!

09 January 2014

2014 - Here we come!

A very Happy New Year to you all! We hope that you each had a wonderful Christmas, and are feeling recharged for the new year ahead. How big a year will it be for you?

It has been a very busy start to the New Year for us already, and we have lots of things keeping us
very busy over the next few months in particular. So here is how 2014 is shaping up for Leaff...

Projects, Projects, Projects

At the moment, we are in the process of wrapping up a brand and website development for a very talented wedding videographer, as well as beginning work on some beautiful wedding stationery for
a wedding this Spring. We are also just beginning work on a very exciting brand development for an
up and coming independent professional childcare recruitment agency, which we cannot wait to share
with you all.

Moving On Up

Lurking in the background, is also our impending move in the Spring. Not only will we be moving
home, but studio as well of course, into what we have high hopes of being our dream purpose built studio. To what timescales we will be working to with this, only time will tell, but we will keep you
updated with news on this, and hopefully we won't have to work out of cardboard boxes for too long.

Turning Over a New Leaff

As if this wasn't all enough, we have been spending all spare minutes on our new website, and
refreshing our brand to reflect where we are now. Working on our own stuff is the hardest part of the whole business, because it always comes second to client projects. But excited just doesn't cut it
- this is a huge deal to us - and we are literally bursting to get it all finished! Hopefully this will
coincide with the completion of our new studio.

So this is clearly set to be our busiest year ever, in so many different ways, and it is easy to let the chaos overwhelm you. What a mountain to climb! But as I always say, 'if it is to be, it's up to me'
- I think we can reach any goal that we set our minds to. Don't you?
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