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Boxclever Press

  • Balancing busy life with motherhood

    As I was handed my second bundle of joy, Grayson Wolfgang Hopkins, I was both enamoured and daunted by the prospect of life with two kids. After just a few days of giving birth, my older boy, Sebastian, was getting himself dressed, ready to start his first day of reception year at primary school already signed up to after school clubs and with his own busy social life to keep up with. Meanwhile, my husband and I were preparing to buy a new house, with work needing doing to it and our current house needing readying to go on the market.

    With two emails a day from Seb’s school arranging various needs and events from library books and homework to P.E kits and wellies on one side, emails and phone calls to make for everything from kitchens to lighting on the other and the much-needed recovery from cesarean-section, I found myself overwhelmed. My brain was all over the place from all this and sleepless nights with Grayson’s breastfeeding.

    As a child, I always wondered about my mother (mum of 3)’s oversized handbag, brimming with notepads and diaries for various areas of her life. Then, I thought it looked messy and unnecessary. Now, I get it.

    I needed to get myself organised with space for itineraries for the whole family (what day does Seb need his P.E. kit again?), notes on what I want for the new house (those tiles, that paint the landing) and who I need to call next (has my husband sorted the plasterer yet?). The Family Life Book gives me control back. That isn’t to say I am still all over the place, but at least I always have clue as to what might be bombarding me next.

    This week, it’s kitchen design *EXCITING* and house clearers to be organised *boring* and right now? Chilli night with the family.

  • Home Educating Mum Kirstie on the Family Life Book...

    Blogger and Wellbeing Mentor Kirstie Anne is a long time fan of the Life Book. With a new business and a packed family schedule to manage, Kirstie swapped from Life Book to the Family Life Book. She tells us how she uses the Family Life book to organise a busy work and family schedule and how the columns can be used for more than just names...

    "As a busy Home Educating Mum I've used and loved the Life Book for several years, it was basically my brain and I would be lost without it! When I launched my own business working from home, I found that I ended up with scribbled notes all over the place and I needed something to streamline everything onto one page. The Family Life Book looked like the perfect solution to my expanding post-it note problem.

    I thought the columns would be super-useful for separating all my jobs, so I could see clearly what needed to be done and break down larger projects into daily tasks to make things more manageable. I started off using each column separately but then settled into a 'half 'n' half' double spread like this which worked better for me. Sort of diary appointments on one side and to-do lists on the other...

    The meal ideas section is a feature I love since I always meal plan for the week to save both time and money. The ample notes and holiday planning sections are perfect for jotting down ideas as they come to me. These pages have held everything from detailed termly Home Ed planning to ideas for a Minecraft themed birthday party (I got carried away on Pinterest!)

    I also really love the big pocket at the back; not only is it stuffed with stickers, name labels and coupons but it's where I stash my 'emergency teabag', (It's my favourite tea and they only sell it at Christmas!). Throughout the diary I use a combination of the handy stickers that it comes with and also Pusheen stickers, to satisfy my inner child!

    After years of using the Life Book it took a little time to adjust to, but now I'm just as in love with the Family Life Book as the Life Book. It's my papery ally, helping to share the burden of the maternal mental load, holding all the information that my brain is too tired to remember! "

    Head over to Kirstie's blog for wellbeing advice and an insight into busy mum life! https://kirstieannewellbeing.co.uk/

  • How you can add more art into your life for less than £10

    International Artist’s Day is set to be celebrated on October 25th 2018. The purpose of the occasion is to celebrate the work carried out by painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians, actors, writers and more. Without art, our lives would carry much less meaning and we would struggle to find ways to fill our spare time. Art helps us make sense of the world and has proved to be a powerful tool for positive change. If you are considering adding more art to your life-but are on a limited budget, there are many steps you can take to be more creative and knowledgeable about art, even on a limited budget.

    Support your local art community

    One of the purposes of International Artist Day is to support the artists in your local community. You can do this by purchasing their works and therefore help them continue to make a living with their talents. The art that you acquire can add real value to your environment and bring more beauty to it. You can also mark the occasion by visiting your local museum or art gallery.

    Museums and art galleries

    Many local museums and galleries run classes for members of the public wishing to become more creative. Chances are there are many art classes in your local community that you can join for a modest fee. If you live in a rural location and don’t have such a facility close by, you could join an online art class or a social media group dedicated to art and supporting emerging artists.

    Making art at home

    If you are keen to bring more art into your life, why not start creating your own artworks at home? You don’t need to invest in incredibly expensive resources to get started, and you could quickly find your skills developing faster than you expect. Another step you can take if you’re determined to become more creative is to hold an art evening with your friends or family members. You could ask each guest to bring along around five items that can be used to make a piece of art before swapping and sharing your materials. If you’re struggling for inspiration, why not suggest a theme prior to the event?

    Don’t let finance hold you back

    Adult colouring books have become increasingly popular over recent years and can help you not only relieve stress but boost your creative skills at the same time. You could even take the step of framing your design and showing it off to your friends and family once it is completed. Some people source materials for new artworks from bric-a-brac and charity shops when they want to make art on a budget. Photos, deep frames and cut-outs can also help you create a stunning piece of art even when funds are low. Some of the most impressive art in history has been produced by people on shoestring budgets, so don’t let a lack of finance hold you back when you want to be more creative.

  • How to cut food costs and still eat a healthy diet

    Eating healthy and improving your diet doesn’t need to cost as much as you might think. There are all kinds of resources available to you such as our Menu Planners that can take the fuss and stress out planning meals and saving money in the process. The best way to cut the cost of eating healthy is to plan meals in advance and source your ingredients from affordable retailers. You can also save money by setting a realistic weekly budget and sticking to it. Read on to find out more about planning nutritious meals when funds are limited.

    Cook from scratch

    You can save a considerable sum of money by cooking from scratch rather than buying pre-made food and improve your health by avoiding processed ready meals and fast food. If you’re not as skilled in the kitchen as you would like to be, now could be the perfect time to enhance your culinary credentials. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says the average UK household spends £56.80 on food every single week, but by taking steps to reduce this you can make your budget go so much further.

    Eat less meat

    One way to reduce the cost of feeding yourself and your family is to cut back on or avoid meat. If you don’t want to give up meat, you can always start opting for budget cuts, which can be just as flavoursome as premium cuts. It’s also wise to write a shopping list and stick to it, rather than making impulse purchases when you make your way around the supermarket. If you buy frozen fruit and vegetables, you can make them last longer and avoid throwing them away when they have started to rot. Loose vegetables tend to be much cheaper than pre-packaged veg. You can also save money by opting for cheaper brands. This doesn’t always mean making sizeable compromises on quality when it comes to food, and many people say they can’t tell the difference between products from premium and low-cost brands.

    Take advantage of happy hour

    Freezing leftover bread is also an incredibly sensible move that will help you save money. Fresh products such as bread are often heavily discounted during supermarket happy hours. This is because it is better for retailers to slash the price of goods that have reached or are about to reach their use by date than simply throw them away. Many supermarkets sell discounted goods at certain times of the day. This is often during in the evening or in the middle of the afternoon. Find out when your local supermarket tends to reduce goods to make considerable savings.

    Control your portions

    Portion control can also help you make your food go further, so don’t cook more than you need unless you can freeze it and consume it later. Think carefully before you opt for certain supermarket deals such as ‘buy one get one free’ offers as they are not always what they seem. They can lead you to making unnecessary purchases and don’t always represent great value.

  • How to throw a killer last-minute Hallowe'en party for less than £25

    Hallowe'en can be incredibly fun, and you don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds to throw the perfect party to mark the occasion. There are many things you can do to create magical memories even if your budget is limited, so let’s take a look at some of the most useful tips on throwing a killer Halloween party for less than £25 right now.

    Decorating for Hallowe'en

    One of the best things to do if you do want to save money on a Hallowe'en party is to hold the event at home. You can buy budget decorations from a wide range of discount stores including pound shops and more – simply by sticking to the classic colour scheme or black, white and orange you can make your home fit for the occasion. Making decorations is super-fun too! It's amazing what you can rustle up with some crepe paper and old fabric. Pinterest is packed with great decorating ideas you can try!

    The perfect Halloween playlist

    You don’t need to spend hours on end selecting the music if time is of the essence. Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have a large number of readymade Hallowe'en playlists that you can easily load up and play within moments. There are also various suitable compilation albums on these services.

    Halloween treats

    You can also opt for pre-prepared party food from pretty much any supermarket you can name if you have a big group to feed during festivities. Popular culinary treats for Halloween parties include pizzas, potatoes, pumpkin slices, pumpkin cakes and toffee apples. Treats like Rice Krispie puddings, chocolate cobweb tarts, and no-bake spider cookies are also common offerings at Hallowe'en events.

    Sending out invitations

    It’s also possible to save money by buying cheap invitations and handing them out to your guests in person or posting them yourself. Ask your guests to confirm whether they will be attending as soon as they can so you don’t buy more food and drink than you require. This will help you avoid wasting your budget.

    Creating a Halloween costume

    Save money on Hallowe'en costumes by making your own using everyday items or by hitting the charity shops. You can come up with ideas by thinking about your favourite scary films or TV shows. Create fake blood with water, syrup and red food colouring – you can produce outfits using old bedsheets, bin bags and various other materials found around the home.

    Hallowe'en drinks

    Whether you’re catering for adults, kids or both, there are many great Hallowe'en drinks ideas for you to experiment with. Frequently enjoyed by adults on the 31st October are treats such as blood orange and blackberry rum punch, black magic margarita and Hallowe'en pumpkin punch. For the kids, why not serve up something like blood punch, a fusion of cranberry, apple and grape juice with frozen strawberries and cola? Pumpkin smoothies are also a suitable option and consist of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and milk.

    We are confident you can hold the ideal Hallowe'en party even with a budget of less than £25. Why not start planning the event today?

  • International Coffee Day 2018!

    Celebrating International Coffee Day 2018

    International Coffee Day is set to take place on October 1st 2018. The event is overseen by the International Coffee Organization, with this year's theme being ‘Women in Coffee’. The theme has been chosen to celebrate the vital role that women play in producing, distributing and serving coffee all around the world.

    Coffee comes in many forms, and a lot of people still don’t know the difference between the main types of coffee available to them. Read on to learn about the main characteristics of the leading coffee drinks on the market.

    Espresso:

    The espresso is also known as the ‘short black’ and normally comes shot form, served in a small cup. However, it also forms the basis for many coffee drinks.

    Flat white:

    Particularly popular in Australia and New Zealand, the flat white is similar to a cappuccino, though it is foamless and is not served with chocolate on top.

    Latte:

    A latte is an espresso-based drink which includes microfoam and steam milk. It is known for its sweet taste.

    Cappuccino:

    A cappuccino is not dissimilar to a latte. However, cappuccino drinks have chocolate on top and extra form. They are also made in cups as opposed to tumbler glasses.

    Mocha:

    A mocha is a fusion of a hot chocolate and a cappuccino. Mochas include chocolate powder, an espresso shot, steamed milk and microfoam.

    Espresso Macchiato:

    Derived from the word 'Macchiato' which, in Italian, means marked or stained, the Espresso Macchiato is mainly espresso 'marked' with a dash of steamed milk.

    Latte Macchiato:

    Along the same lines, the Latte Macchiato is also 'marked' but mainly comprises of steamed frothy milk with a dash of espress0.

    Milks for coffee

    Dairy milk:

    Dairy milk is the most popular option amongst coffee drinkers and is a source of various nutrients including calcium, vitamin D and potassium.

    Soya milk:

    Soya milk is lactose-free and often used as a substitute for dairy milk. A valuable source of protein, it can help people with certain intolerances avoid vomiting, gas and so on.

    Coconut milk:

    Coconut milk is often used as a creamer for black coffee. It can help you lose weight, promote heart health and aid your immune system.

    Oat milk:

    More and more coffee lovers around the world are adding oat milk to their coffee. Many drinkers say it helps them avoid problems such as curdling and coffee flavour being compromised.

    Glossary:

    Not everyone knows the true meaning of the terms they frequently encounter when visiting the coffee shops and cafeterias of the UK. Let’s take a look at some of the key terms right now.

    Barista

    A barista is someone who is employed to serve espresso-based coffee drinks to you. ‘Barista’ is the Italian word for ‘bartender’.

    Bean-to-cup:

    Bean-to-cup machines do everything for you, grinding your beans and preparing your drink, automating the process of making your drink.

    Ground coffee:

    Ground coffee is made fresh from coffee beans, unlike instant coffee.

    Instant coffee:

    Instant coffee is concentrated coffee that is dried and brewed again when water is added. Though instant coffee is generally of inferior quality to ground coffee, it remains popular due to factors including cost and convenience.

    Water filter:

    Water filters are designed to take contaminants from and purify your water, improving the flavour of your coffee.

  • Meet Meg - Senior Designer at Boxclever Press :)

    Meg is our designer of all things beautiful. Here's a little look at life as a designer; the highs, the lows, the inspiration and the journey...

    How many years have you been working for Boxclever Press?

    Nearly two years.

    When you are asked to design a new product, what is the first thing you do?

    Usually, the first thing I do is a mood board or at least absorb myself into researching trends and find images/techniques/colour palettes that really inspire me. Even if the final design doesn’t end up looking like the mood board I find that for me the best thing to do is just make a start and see where it takes you.

    Where do you look for inspiration?

    Design blogs, fashion, trend websites/blogs, homeware, social media, shops, galleries. Everywhere!
    It sometimes depends on the product; for example when I started the food Journal and fridge list designs I looked at food bloggers.

    Which product are you are most proud of?

    That’s really hard because every time I design something new it is the best feeling holding that final product in your hand!
    If I had to choose I would probably have to say the 2018 Everyday Diary as that was the first diary I ever designed and it was a learning curve but I absolutely loved the challenge of applying my surface pattern background designing a whole diary.

    What made you decide to become a designer?

    I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to do a creative job (work experience at hairdresser’s reinforced that dream!) I just never really thought I could actually make a career out of it.
    I had a wonderful Art teacher at school who was really supportive and guided me in the right direction. My parents also told me to go for it, so I did!

    What is your personal favourite colour palette?

    I do love a mushy pea green! (Or as Sarah (Sadler) would say ‘Meg loves a mucky colour’).
    I really like the palette for the Academic Block Wall Chart; I think it is really pretty and I love the fresh red colour pop of the text.

    As someone who has lots of deadlines, which product do you use to stay well planned and organised?

    My Everyday diary of course! I live for writing lists so the notes section for every week is a Godsend.
    And a Wall Chart keeps me in check with deadlines. You can’t ignore the deadline it if it is staring you in the face every day!

    What inspiration is behind the new 2019 Everyday Range?

    I had quite a good idea in my head of where I wanted to take this range so it was quite an organic process when we were developing the designs. I knew I wanted to keep it fresh and bright, I was desperate to have some foil on there somewhere!! I love Scandi design so that was definitely an influence, I just got my sketchbook out and started drawing shapes and experimented with line work and pattern.

    We wanted it to be an item of stationery that you could carry around with you which would aid you in day-to-day life and also look beautiful.

    We meticulously chose every detail of this diary – the two ribbon page markers, the pocket, the pen holder. Every page layout design was chosen with care.

    What is your favourite feature?

    The 'To-do' pages we have on the Desk Calendar - bloomin’ love a list! (saddo).

    What advice do you have for any budding designers out there?

    If you go around shops stroking lovely stationery and wondering how it was made then design is probably the job for you!
    I love learning new things and there is always something new to learn. May it be from your fellow designers or something you have read online or in a book. Have your ears and eyes open and be ready to take it all in.

    I would say if you are right at the start of your journey then create at least one thing every day, even if it’s just a doodle, that doodle could end up being transformed into something wonderful.

    And don’t be too hard on yourself if a design doesn’t quite go your way, just learn from it and move on.

    Just go for it!

    Final words...

    Also, drink lots of tea, trust me it helps.

    Thanks Meg - lovely insight and tips on becoming a designer. We can't wait to share Meg's next creations with you...

  • How to throw the best birthday party ever!

    Organising a birthday party is never easy but it can be fun! It doesn't matter who you are organising it for, you are going to want to make sure that you have everything that you need, and that it is going to make a great impression. To help you to hold the best party ever, we have put together a series of quick tips to help you pull off the ultimate celebration.

    Always think about your party budget

    One of the first things that you should consider when it comes to organising a party is your budget. Be realistic and don’t go crazy! This is going to have an impact on what you can organize, where you hold your party, what food you eat and how many people you invite. When you have set your date put money aside each month and stay on track by buying little and often. Use a budgeting tool such as our Budget Book to help you monitor what you’ve spent and to keep your receipts in order. There’s nothing worse than spending a fortune you haven’t saved for – you’ll b sure to end up with a post-party sore head!

    Plan, plan and plan some more...

    Planning a party can be super fun. What do you want to achieve? Do you want a theme? Where would you like to hold the event? Take time out, build an aspirational list of things you’d love to have at your party, compare it to your budget and narrow it down to what you can afford. Then, it’s helpful to write a ‘to do’ list and to allocate dates wherever possible so you can tick things off as you go. If you are struggling for inspiration, head to Instagram and search #partyplanner. Problem solved.

    Create delicious food and drink and wow your guests!

    So, even though many of us are embarrassed to admit it, a vol-au-vent does go down rather well, but why not be a little more creative with your catering? If it’s a party at home, think of food and drink which matches your theme. Perhaps you’d like to hold a beach-themed soiree so you could make some coconut curry and pineapple cocktails, or perhaps you’d like to host a 70’s theme with classic prawn cocktail, advocate and gateaux. If possible, try to cater for a range of diets, there’s nothing worse than going to a party only to be left with a bread roll with butter! One great source of quirky recipe inspiration is https://www.facebook.com/buzzfeedtasty/ There are thousands of recipes collected from around the world. You are bound to find something that works for your theme!

    Make sure your event invitations have all the information that they need

    Your invitation will set the tone. It doesn’t need to cost much and actually, there are some great designs online. You could make them yourself and get your friends involved too. Be sure to reflect the theme of your party, but most importantly be sure to include the essentials – the time, the place, the method of response, diet specifics and any dress code. Plus, if you are holding any fundraising at your party, let your guests know in advance so they can collect their pennies in advance. A Google Image Search is a great place to start, simply type in ‘invitation ideas’ followed by your theme and be prepared to be inspired!

    Don’t forget about gifts for the guests

    Depending on the party, it’s often the host who is in receipt of fabulous gifts, but it’s lovely when guest have a little surprise themselves. Perhaps a themed gift such as a beach ball or a disco ball key ring. Who said it has to be serious? Head to Instagram for some serious gift inspo’, search #giftideas and you’ll be away!

    We hope these quick tips have helped you to get started with planning the perfect birthday party. We’d love to hear more ideas so we can share them with our followers on social. Contact us on Instagram @boxcleverpress or via email to hello@boxcleverpress.com. Have fun!

  • How to keep school uniforms in top condition!

    School uniforms can be expensive, so it makes sense to do all you can to prolong their lives before they need to be replaced, especially if you have multiple children to clothe. There are many cleaning, storage and repair tips you can follow to cut your school uniform bill and avoid frequently replacing the garments your children wear, so let’s take a look at some of the most useful advice for parents hoping to keep uniforms in good condition right now.

    1. Cleaning

    Separate your wash load into whites and colours. You can also use a colour-friendly detergent to prevent fading and treat mud and grass stains with washing-up liquid before you put the garments in the washing machine. Fabric conditioners can prevent bobbling. Don’t wash at a higher temperature than recommended. You can also save time and energy by purchasing easy-iron trousers and shirts.

    2. Storage

    One of the best ways to store school uniforms is to hang them up when they are not in use. It’s also wise to buy two or three uniforms and alternate between them. This will reduce wear and tear. You can also prevent fading by keeping the clothes away from direct sunlight. Don’t leave sports clothing in bags for longer than you need to because the resulting odours and mildew can be very tough to eliminate. Another valuable tip is to ensure name tags are sewed into everything. This will vastly reduce the chances of garments being lost or ending up in the wrong home.

    3. Repairs

    Purchase a basic repair kit including hemming tape so you can resolve problems as soon as they appear. Repairing uniforms is generally much easier than repairing them, and many fixes are easier to implement than you might think.

    4. Removing marks

    It’s common for parents to find themselves dealing with marks from paint, pens, grass and more. Let garments soak in cold water before you apply stain remover and put them in the machine. If white garments are part of the school uniform, invest in an in-wash whitener which will stop them from turning grey.

    5. Drying

    It’s important to take care when drying uniforms to avoid discolouration and wear. Air dry the garments as soon as you take them out of the machine. If you do use a tumble dryer, dry the clothes on a low heat setting to avoid shrinkage. Some parents take the clothing out of the machine before it is completely dry and let them finish drying out naturally.

    6. Encourage kids to get changed at home

    You can reduce the chances of uniforms being ruined by asking your children to change out of them as soon as they get home. Chances are they’ll want to continue playing when they arrive home, so instruct them to change into suitable clothing, especially if they’ll be heading outside. This also gives you more time for cleaning and ironing their uniform whilst reducing wear and tear and helping it retain its shape.

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