Monthly Archives: January 2011

geek chic for 2011 design & blog conferences

Normally at this time of year I’d be starting to freak out about trade shows. Atlanta just passed, NYIGF is going on right about now, and the National Stationery Show is coming up in just a few months. In years past, I’d be a hot mess right now, trying to finish up collections, make travel arrangements, scrape together pennies, design my booth, and schedule meetings on the other side of the country, all the while juggling running my business, design projects, and family life.

This year I’ve decided to take time off from the shows. That’s right: Delphine will not be exhibiting this year. A lot of factors went into this decision, but the major one was my sanity. I was a little worried that I would feel left out as the tweets started pouring in from Atlanta and NYIGF, but instead I just feel relief. I really can honestly say that I don’t miss the shows at all. I do miss seeing my friends, but the shows themselves: nope.

Not doing the shows left me with time to fill my calender with some of the things I’ve always wanted to do: like enjoy lectures and design conferences. This year quite a few are right here in San Diego (BlogHer, Engage11, and my favorite conference: the Y Conference). I haven’t decided if I’ll go to all three yet, but for sure I’ll be at two of them.

In preparation for the Y Conference, I am hoping to splurge on a few things I’ve been needing wanting for a while now: 1} a brand new field note book from russell+hazel, and 2} a bright yellow Caran D’ache pen to record all the genius things I learn at the lectures. Nobody will want to be near me if I’m not properly caffeinated, so 3} a new yellow travel mug for coffee (Crate and Barrel) is in order. I swear we used to have a dozen travel mugs and they’ve all managed to disappear. Does that happen at your house? Where do all the travel mugs go?  It has been a few years since I got a new pair of glasses, and I’m totally in love with everything about 4} these Warby Parker frames.

It can get chilly in lecture halls, so a bright yet cozy scarf like 5} this lightweight yellow and white scarf from J. Crew would be lovely to have stashed in 7} a chic and understated waxed canvas tote bag (also from J. Crew). John, I can hear you … and the answer is no, it is NOT POSSIBLE to have too many tote bags. Besides, I don’t have anything as cool as this one. For real.  When attending design conference, there are almost always swag stations sponsor rooms. For these, it is imperitive to have a supply of up to date business cards. Plus, it’s always nice to be able to hand a new friend a fresh card from a 8} swanky metallic leather business card holder, not a beat up one from the bottom of your tote bag that’s covered in gum, pen marks or cracker crumbs. It goes without saying that 9} new shoes—stylish but comfy ones by Tom’s—would be super nice to have, too.

A friend has convinced me to join the Greeting Card Association. I was on the fence about it, until I realized that the annual conference will be in 6} Austin this year. My two best friends in the whole world live there, (surpise R + D! I’m coming to visit this summer at long last).

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week in review: january 24 2011

I can’t believe it’s Friday already. The week was a bit of a blur, as I’m recovering from a double whammie of a painful kidney infection AND a cold (and allergies to my beloved mimosas, which are in bloom on our property now … so I guess technically it’s a triple whammie). But work in the studio went on …

In case you missed it, here’s what happened on the blog this week:

• I shared the final post about our son’s Root Beer Kegger 7th Birthday party (promise I’m done chatting about that now). 

• Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and I laid out the perfect Valentine’s Day date outfit (now if only I could convince  my husband to take me on a date!)

• I shared images of one of my very favorite graphic design projects of all time: seed packet packaging designs for Isabella Smith. This project was a joy to work on!

• Christian Dior inspired me with some truly fantabulous gowns. So dreamy!

• Kathy and I started working on plans for North County Graphic Design (NCGD) for 2011. I’m super excited about what we have in store for the year! If you’re interested in helping out, joining, or just have suggestions please comment or contact me directly : )

This weekend there will be mad work done on the Delphine website, so if something is buggy please let us know. We’re adding new designs all the time — to spot them first check out the Save the Date section of the site. I’m most excited about making Valentine’s Day cards with my first grader. He’s not fired up about it, even though I promised glitter, glue, scissors, pretty papers and doilies. I have a feeling I will be doing all the crafting. Any ideas on how to get a 7 year old boy excited about Valentine’s Day? He’s supposed to make 20 cards for his classmates, and I have a feeling I may need to resort to bribery (candy).

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north county graphic design group: planning committee

Hello, Hello … attention fellow North County (San Diego) graphic designers and creatives. Our NCGD group is planning for 2011. Any ideas on what you’d like to see in the group this year? Wednesday morning meetups once per month? More? Should we start movie nights again? How about Happy Hour? Interested in attending (or hosting or teaching) a lecture, presentation or workshop? Have suggestions for topics for discussion? WordPress? SEO? Advanced WordPress? Learn how to get more clients? How to present? Color theory? Just want some eye candy? Portfolio review? Want to go on a field trip?  Please leave a comment here or on the LinkedIn Group, or email me directly (erika at delphinepress dot com). Would love to hear from you as we plan events for 2011!

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inspired by: christian dior spring 2011 couture

I’m feeling inspired by these ethereal looks by John Galliano for Christian Dior (from the Spring 2011 couture runway show). I love the pretty forties vibe, and think these gowns would make amazing wedding dresses. I can totally see the third one (far right) at a fancy, formal winter wedding in Aspen — perhaps with some leather boots (for the outdoor ceremony, and a sexy pair of nude sandals for the reception), a bouquet of lily-of-the valley, and an uber-handsome royal groom (tall, dark, handsome, foreign). I see a horse drawn sled ride to the ceremony, and lots and lots of champagne cocktails.

Visit to see the full runway report and a slide show with lots more photos. Photos: Yannis Vlamos /

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seed packages designed by delphine for isabella smith

These seed packet packaging designs were one of my favorite projects of all time. Pretty flowers, spring colors, clean design, interesting type (all in Danish) and the most lovely client you could imagine all combined! So far I’ve designed 22 varieties. They’re available in Isabella Smith Country Store shops and catalog, and on the Isabella Smith website.

Seed packages designed by Erika Firm of Delphine for Isabella Smith.

UPDATE: Isabella just sent over this photo from their latest photo shoot for their Spring catalog:

image courtesy Isabella Smith

Reminder: you can click on just about any image on this blog to see it larger.

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style file: sexy valentine’s day outfit

Sexy Valentine’s Day outfit: {1} Sleeveless white blouse with ruffles from Ann Taylor  {2} Pretty pink and nude lace panties from Nordstrom  {3} Diamond heart necklace from Robbins Brothers  {4} Super sexy pink suede high heels by YSL from Nordstrom  {5} Plain and simple, well fitting blue jeans from Levis  {6} Classic pale pink nail polish by Scotch.

I don’t recall ever going out on a date on Valentine’s Day. But if I did, I’d wear an understated, simple and sexy outfit like this. Okay, so the shoes aren’t so understated, but they are classic, right? I reallllly want them. I think the simplest outfit, like classic Levis, a pretty white shirt (with some ruffles for Valentine’s Day) and a great pear of heels, is the sexiest.

Normally I’m totally against any cheesy heart jewelry, but I make the exception for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Tip for the guys: keep it as understated as possible when it comes to heart jewelry. I like the look of a simple diamond heart necklace.

We will stay home for Valentine’s Day. Boring, I know. I’ll probably make some cookies or cupcakes with our son — he loves pink frosting. What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

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root beer kegger part 6: 7th birthday party!

Our son just turned 7 and we had a Root Beer Kegger! See part 1 for the inspiration; part 2 for the color palette; part 3 for party decorations/inspiration; part 4 for root beer kegger food ideas; and part 5 for root beer party prep.

The Root Beer Kegger was super fun! The kids got all sugared up, played Legos until the entire city was destroyed (all in good fun), ran around the house like maniacs and had a great time. Of course I did the typical party host thing, and totally forgot to take photos. Many thanks to all our guests, who picked up my camera and snapped nearly all of these shots for me!

I know it sounds a little nutso, but we made two cakes. The chocolate frosted one at left is a gluten free vanilla cake with fresh strawberry filling (several of the guests have wheat allergies); the Bûche de Noël at right is my mom’s masterpiece. She used Grand Marnier to flavor the mascarpone frosting. Delicious!



The buffet table. The big empty plate at front is where the Paninis were placed. It’s crazy, but all of these props (the wood stump boxes, the cardboard 3-d stars, the owl, the acorns, the faux moss) I already had in my collection, props from my trade show days.


Favors for the kids: I found cute glass mugs, filled them with root beer barrel candies, and also gave each kid a bottle of root beer to take home. I tied a green and white striped paper straw, with their initial on the tag. Tip when preparing candy bags for kids: make sure each bag has EXACTLY the same number of candies in each bag, or tears may ensue. Photo at right is my breakfast treat day after the party: a root beer float. I was so busy chatting at the party I forgot to make myself one!


I created these custom root beer kegger birthday party invitations, along with the matching coasters, tags, place cards, flags, cake toppers, stickers, favor bag labels, etc. Lets just say I get carried away with paper stuff. Of course I forgot to take photos of most of these things! Whoopsie!


The kids, getting a heavy dose of sugar with root beer floats, before tackling the cake.


Morning after the kegger, he had the breakfast of champions: leftover root beer from the keg, and day old cake.

Overall, it was a great party. A few problems: invites got lost in the mail, took us a while to figure out how to operate the keg (stop snickering… it’s different from the ones we had in college. I swear), and I totally forgot to take photos. But everyone had a good time, especially the birthday boy, so this root beer kegger was a smashing success!

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week in review

Another week flew by. It was sort of an insane week for us here at the studio. We slowly recovered from the root beer kegger (our son was wound up for days). Also, lots of exciting magic in the works for our company: big deals, surprises, website revisions, new design launches, contracts, collaborations, ideas flying around. On the other hand, I was down with a bad kidney infection, slightly delerious before meds, quite loopy after, so for me it was also a week of missed deadlines (sorry!) and an ever-growing to-do list. How is it that if you miss one day of work your to do list triples? I missed two days of work, so I’m essentially cooked.

In case you missed it, here’s what happened on the blog this week:

• I shared two cool package designs. FISHNACKS from one of my “secret” sources of inspiration: Ranch 99, and a stunning dark chocolate bar from my favorite grocer, Trader Joe’s. 

• The new Winter issue 2011 of Stationery Trends hit the desks of paper geeks everywhere, and I am thrilled that the editors chose Erika Firm (that’s me!!!) one of 10 Designers to Watch.
• Thursday, while I was stuck in bed I dreamed about escaping to the gym, and what I would wear with my Zen Workout Outfit wish list.


Thanks for reading! Hope everyone has a safe and relaxing weekend. Posting may be a bit light next week, as I recover from this infection, but I do promise to share some photos from the bday party.

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wish list: outfit for a zen workout

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution type of girl. Never have been. However, January really does feel like a good time to re-dedicate myself to one of my true loves: working out. My very first job, where I actually got a paycheck, was at a gym. I feel really comfortable at a gym. I’m not one of those gym rats, who hang out all day and chit chat. In fact, I’ve been going to my current gym for about six months and have yet to say more than about 10 words to anyone. I like solitude in my workouts. One of the things that annoys me the most in life is people who talk during workout classes. My favorite workout used to be swimming (go figure) but these days I just don’t have the time. My mom introduced me to spin classes, and I’m hooked. Although it’s a class environment, it’s truly a solitary type of feeling I get in that class. I usually close my eyes during much of the workout, so it’s peaceful, like swimming.

Here are a few items on my wish list … things that would make my workout a little more chic, a little more comfy, a little more cool: Green jacket from Athleta; Shimano cycle shoes from Zappos; cute graphic grey tank top from Old Navy; capri workout pants from Old Navy; ta ta tamer bra from lululemon; and a pretty AND functional water bottle with filter right in it by Bobble (designed by Karim Rashid) from A+R Store.

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nice package: trader joe’s chocolate

Although my shopping cart was already completely overflowing, I HAD to buy this amazing looking chocolate from Trader Joe’s. Isn’t the packaging marvelous? I love the bold graphics. Although they didn’t need to, they carried the design inside the package, to the inner wrapping. Little surprises and attention to detail like this are part of what make this store so special. (By the way, the chocolate is pretty amazing, too.)

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