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Hunting for Birthday Treasure…

This past monday, my husband celebrated his 31st birthday, and we got an extra special present in the form of our nephew being born! So as birthdays go it probably is pretty high, but hopefully last years birthday still holds a special place in his heart as it was the ‘Year of the Birthday Treasure Hunt’! We had just moved to NYC, away from family and friends, it was a ‘big’ birthday and well, David can be a bit funny about birthdays in general, so I knew I had to do something special. At some point I had come across yet another adorable idea from Oh Happy Day and her great birthday surprise and it had stuck in my head as a great way to involve all of David’s family and friends back in England. Logistics, timing and various scenarios meant this project snowballed into quite a different project which worked out in a way I never could have expected…an adventure birthday hunt around the city, with clues and presents along the way ending with a poster of birthday messages from around the globe. This day/project/birthday had a lot of elements to it, none of which I want to fall by the wayside, but it’s all a bit of a mouthful so please bear with me as I try and go through it all. I’ve included a full rundown at the end, not for the faint of heart!

The Adventure Hunt, Messages & Poster (aka the setup)

1. I setup a topsecret email address away from prying eyes about a month and a half before the big day and set out begging for peoples memories, stories, pictures, drawings…ANYTHING to make David’s day better. Then I sent email after email chasing submissions!

2. Meanwhile I was arranging ‘the day/advenutre’ portion of it…David’s parents were making the trip over to the US for his birthday, so I also invited my dad, stepmom, brother and sister-in-law from the surrounding states to make a day trip up. This turned David’s birthday into a small reunion for people who don’t get to see each other often, a tourist trip for people who don’t live in NYC as well as a birthday. Whew. I started brainstorming EVERY day on the way to and from work about what people would like to see, where they would like to go and how I could link them all together. I think in some sort of post-traumatic-stress disorder from it, it all it goes a bit hazy after that, but after much to-ing and fro-ing I settled on locations and started researching facts and clues about each place (useless knowledge and trivia about cities, or well anything, is like catnip to me, so this portion was sort of like a present to myself).

3. With about a week to go, I started compiling all the submissions from family and friends and started laying out on an A1 layout (for US’ers thats approimately 8 pieces of letter sized paper). It was all going to get cut up, but I ignored where all those lines would be so it would be puzzle-like. In a separate document I started making my clues and hints in a completely different colour pattern so the two sides wouldn’t get confused as they were two separate, albeit parallel things. I made the clues (see above) in all different shapes and sizes but filled each design page completely.

4. At the time I didnt have a printer, so I took it off to Staples for an unnecessarily eyewatering cost considering the lack of quality, but it came out acceptable. Of course right after I had it printed, I had three of David’s best friends FINALLY return their submissions. I couldn’t afford (or wouldn’t!) to get it reprinted but also didn’t want to miss out on these messages which actually led me to one of my favourite parts of the poster-3d pullouts (see above)! I found areas that were filled with lines or deadspace and created fold out cards to hold the extra messages!

5. I now had 8 pieces of A3 paper, so I glued the clues pages to the back of the poster message pages and then holding my breath started cutting out the clues, ignoring what I could be cutting through on the other side on the messages side. Now I had a bunch of irregular clues pages, with abstract bits of message on the other side, but when arranged formed the poster of messages!

The Day

David’s parents were staying with us and I had informed David we would be going out to see New York City with them and gave them a time I wanted to be out of the house by…just five minutes after the time I had given my Dad & Stepmum to arrive at our apartment! This is where slight behind-the-scenes pandemonium ensued. Unbeknownst to David, my family was having MAJOR issues finding a parking spot (it was marathon weekend) and had been circling the neighborhood for over an hour and a half. In fact both parties had driven by us when we were out with the dog! It hindered timing slightly but all things considered it was the only minor blip! Anyway, after surprising David at the door, we headed down the street to the location that ‘Deals in the currency of the celebrities’…I’ll give you a second. Currency: Bucks. Celebrities: Stars….Starbucks! I know heading to Starbucks on an adventure hunt…how exciting. BUT it was exciting that my brother and sister-in-law were waiting inside (in the warmth!) so David walked by doing a double take and then finally our little group was all present to get started.

From there we walked from movie location spotting on the Upper West Side into central park, receiving clues and riddles along the way. Occasionally the clue was ‘for a pie piece’ (a nod to Trivial Pursuit) and those resulted in a gift (which I was carrying in my totebag of tricks). Eventually we found ourselves outside Top of The Rock (Rockefeller Center) with tickets for all of us to go up to the observation deck. Lunch around the corner and then outside to find a limo waiting for us to transport 8 people painlessly around the rest of our journey.

David was tested on his special agent skills when forced to ‘crack a safe’ at a local bag drop to find his gift from me, a watch. From there he had to use the time on his stopped watch, to get the address of a location on 5th avenue ( my work) and use his new binoculars (a gift from his parents earlier) to see into the seventh floor window. ‘The Bronx is up…’ and the Battery is down! And that’s where we headed to show off David’s work area and then finally a drop off back home for tea and cake and the final surprise. David finally got all his completed clues back to turn over and complete the puzzle for a big birthday message!

Thanks to everyone who was involved, it turned out amazingly well and David was so pleased! Of course my 30th next April is looking a bit daunting for him and who knows how I’m going to deal with his 40th?!?! Around the world in a hot air balloon?! Currently accepting ideas at hello@pillarboxpost.com

 
 
 

Owl do anything for you…

Happy Valentines Day to you, and you and you! I’m ashamed to say that our household doesn’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day…we aren’t ‘anti’– we just don’t put a lot of stock in any particular holiday (which is in contrast to my general love of details, decorating and gifts…but does fit nicely in with my too busy to do anything life. sigh). Thankfully, I have a husband and doggie that I love everyday and a stepmum who sends me lovely vintage valentine’s goodies so I can rest easy and just enjoy. Oh I feel loved!

This vintage garland which is now hanging from a very happy Rhino in our house is from RawBoneStudio and sports a lovely assortment of vintage Valentine’s Day cards reproduced on wool felt. My favourite bits of love are of course the owl, who says ‘Owl do anythig for you–why not wise up and say you’ll be my valentine?’ Not too shabby… but if sweets are more your speed you might enjoy the donut and cup of tea who pleads, ‘ Please Do-nut say No, be my valentine!’. Oh too cute! But, whatever you do this Valentine’s Day…follow the word of the little space cadet (top picture, on the left) and think, “Why should I keep this a secret?” Of course she says this while wearing her odd bell-jar-esque space helmet, little red skirt and looking through a ‘secret codes’ book. Be still my heart.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

Nom Nom Nom…Crunchy Groceries!


I love a brand with personality (especially if it doesn’t take itself too seriously-hello have you seen the hedgehog wearing a bowler hat and a monocle on this site!?)…It could be in the tone of voice, or illustrations or a whole number of other ways. So when I spotted this Crunchy Grocer concept last year, I thought ‘that’s how it’s done’. It’s professional, but still full of life, whether it’s in the type (which was drawn onto construction paper and cutout…or in the nibbles taken out of edible and non-edible objects…the name or just the whimsy in the typography. I. Love. It.

 


 

It’s all been done for a new concept natural food store, which hasn’t appeared to have opened YET, but will hopefully open soon in Colorado in an old school building. It’s a fabulous concept, which you can read more about here and grab yourself a crunchy grocer sticker by signing up for their newsletter here. Good luck to Crunchy Grocer and a big kudos to them and their collaboration with Tenfold Creative on such a well executed brand!

 
 
 

Uptown Girl

Uptown girl…we’ve been living in our uptown world! Been so preoccupied with our move that Pillar Box Post…well got lost in the move. Things are starting to settle a bit now, which is very welcome at this point!

So….what has been happening? Well we made the big move in early August, spending the first week and a bit seeing the sights of our new hometown. We made the charming Ace Hotel our first stop…LOVED the typography and all the little details–everything has been tended to with love and care. Shame that the staff haven’t had as much love and care…and the music in the lobby made me feel old. Why is everything in NYC soooooo loud? Has everyone gone deaf from the noise?

We did a handful of tourist things like a harbour cruise in the pouring rain (spending the trip eavesdropping on two american teenagers who couldn’t tell Manhattan from New Jersey …and didn’t seem to have an understanding of the September 11 attacks. However they did have 4 smartphones between the two of them, so at least something next to us could be labelled ‘smart’.

Most of all we did a lot of walking…blocks and blocks and blocks. After the Ace we moved into our first sublet on Bleeker street in the West Village, right off Perry Street –the home of loads of movie ‘homes’ like Carrie from Sex and the City. All in all there were lots of complications with the move, nothing awful just annoying–internet not working, phones not working, bills not going through etc. but they reach breaking point at 4 am less than two weeks after arriving. It was a call from our family in England…Olive, our lovely 2.5 year old french bulldog, was very ill in the hospital and we had to make a decisions immediately whether or not to undergo an expensive surgery or to put her down. She had what they thought was a slipped disc and could be paralysed. We went for the surgery and crossed our fingers…and toes and legs.


The next few weeks were rough…Olive was in hospital and then in recovery at my in-laws…my husband was in a job hunt that didn’t seem very positive and I must admit I was a bit homesick. We didn’t have a place of our own, our goods were stuck in shipping purgatory. On the lovely side, we were getting to see someone from my family more in a few weeks than I probably did in the last two years…and then slowly, gradually things started picking up!

We were able to secure a longer sublet in the upper west side ( by forking over 4 months rent at once, eek!). An empty apartment, but at least it wasn’t full of someone else’s junk! And then the turning point — a job for my husband! It was a super quick turnaround and the pieces started to fall into place. Olive had hydrotherapy in England and was finally able to fly over and join us in October. Our shipment of clothes, books and my home goods arrived shortly after and bit  by bit we are getting things into place.

Thank you all for stopping by after such a long time away and I really appreciate the comments in my absence. I truly never thought anyone would notice and it was very touching to know someone out there did!

Now, onwards and upwards and I promise future posts will be a bit shorter, more colourful and a bit more exciting! The red British post box has been officially  moved to Manhattan…the post is in!

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About the images…I thought it was fitting to ‘restart’ Pillar Box Post in the way that it originally came about, with a shop window photo! I spotted this fabulous window display on west 20th street (and 6th avenue) around the corner from my work. It appears to be for a ‘bag manufacturer’ who create shopping bags and advertisements. Their recreation of New York out of paper bags with adorably detailed paintings is inspired. I don’t have a use for this idea, but I know there is one out there somewhere. Perhaps we DO need a two bedroom apartment after all… for a village of pillar boxes made out of paper bags!?

Photos by Pillar Box Post

 
 
 

Mix.Match.Wrap.

P

Perhaps this is out of season, but just came across this selection of double sided wrapping papers from Turnstyle Studio and had to bookmark them. I’m such a sucker for clashing/coordinated wrappings like this. Bit of mix and match never hurt anyone…unless of course they were mixing and matching violent weapons. Then not so much. When in doubt stick with illustrated birds, pinecones and a dashing of patterns and textures!

thanks to the dieline

 
 
 

Burrilliant…

Taking over from Rob Ryan in the ‘artist’s studio’ of the Pick Me Up fair was Anthony Burrill. I was tempted to buy a newspaper or postcard set as it looks incredible as wallpaper! Nice simple graphics and messages.

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For more work from this years Pick Me Up fair, check out these cardboard creations…or work from Paul Blow

For more from 2010 Pick me UP fair, click here