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For all things stationery & book related! 

Being more Eco Friendly

As you know I’m all about recycling and preventing waste. I have been looking at ways to see if I can improve my packaging – at present I mostly use bubble wrapped envelopes and wondered if there was a plastic-free alternative.

Lil Packaging produce environmentally friendly packaging using  FSC® certified environmentally sustainable materials on all their products and they kindly sent me some of their packaging to try out. I was keen to try their Bukwrap – you know the cardboard wraps that the likes of Amazon use, so I have tried two different sizes, along with their small parcel boxes.

First Impressions

First, I noticed the quality is really good. I have noticed with boxes I’ve bought from eBay, that the sides don’t bend easily when forming the box and that they don’t necessarily marry up. This wasn’t a problem with Lil Packaging.

To me packaging is equally as important as my products, so making sure my notebooks arrive safely is key. Immediately I felt confident that Lil’s Bukwraps would give better protection compared to a bubble wrap envelope. They’re just sturdier.

The bukwrap

I sent this Mini Notebook (bit smaller than A4) inside a C3 bukwrap. I was worried that because my notebooks vary in size they could slide around inside the bukwrap – but that wasn’t the case. The bukwrap has internal flaps that wrap around my notebooks, bending to the size of the book, therefore holding it securely in place. No sliding. No damage. Perfect.

To seal the bukwrap, you just fold the packaging around the notebook, simple! I really liked that it had the removable sticky strip – much easier than a normal cardboard box. I think they look really professional too, especially the extra finishing touches such as the “Thank you for shopping with us” message.

Cardboard boxes

I send most of my items by Royal Mail, first class, signed for and Lil Packaging have a special section on their website for Royal Mail’s Large Letters and Small Parcels – which makes ordering nice and easy. I knew quickly which boxes I could order that would fit within the small parcel range.

There are lots of sizes to choose from, and the Lil Mail Happy logos on the boxes are a cute feature too – because we all love to receive happy mail!

A couple of things to consider

My notebooks vary in size and weight. Books are heavy and I know my P&P is relatively high already because of their weight, but it is what it is. (Or what Royal Mail charge me!)

  • Bukwraps are heavier than bubble wrap envelopes

Although some of my notebooks are still slim enough with bukwraps to fit as a large letter, the additional weight of the cardboard meant that for UK postage they went from ‘up to 250g’ (£2.50) into the ‘up to 500g’ weight bracket (£2.97); an additional 47p.

  • The bukwraps are thicker than the bubble wrap bags I currently use

This meant that depending on the notebook, the thickness of the book and the cardboard together meant they were no longer large letters and became small parcels. A standard large letter (up to 500g) (£2.97) could become a small parcel (£4.45) – that’s a £1.48 difference!

How it will work for me

Getting a balance between the product and packaging is key.

Although the bukwraps may not be a suitable cost effective option for mailing my ‘large letter’ products at the moment, they are perfect for mailing my small parcels e.g. multiple book orders, where the size and weight is not as easily affected.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can remove bubble wrap packaging completely at this time, but who knows, if Royal Mail change their price / weight / size guides in the future it would be fantastic if I could make a complete transition to recyclable packaging only.

For now, I will start introducing cardboard packaging for my small parcels and encourage my customers (and to everyone reading this!) to make sure you re-use any bubble wrap envelopes and cardboard sleeves to help reduce waste and save money!

Disclaimer: this post is in collaboration with Lil Packaging, who kindly sent me their boxes to review. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own

Posted 12 weeks ago

My 5 favourite children’s books

I am sure that we all have at least one book from our childhood that we have fond memories of, and the wonderful thing about children’s books is that they can be enjoyed by all ages.

As I work with children’s books everyday I wanted to share with you some of my favourites. 

1. Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl 

It is probably of no surprise that Roald Dahl was going to feature in my top 5, and rightly so. Roald Dahl was an amazing author. I have fond memories of reading this book at Chigwell Row School. I think I must have been 8 years old. I was totally gripped by the story. I was fascinated about Danny driving his dad’s car and catching pheasants with raisins!

2. Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel - ‘The Journey’

This is a short story about a mouse that wanted to visit his mother, so he bought a car and drove it until it broke, so then he bought some roller skates and rolled as far as he could until the wheels fell off. He then buys boots, some trainers and eventually has to walk barefoot until his feet are too sore - so he buys some new feet! As you can imagine at the age of 6 or 7 I found this hilarious! Considering it was written in the Psychadelic Era (1972) it makes perfect sense! 

3. The Story of the Little Mole who knew it as None of his Business by Werner Holzwarth / Wolf Erlbruch

I first came across this book whilst on holiday in the Lake District, only a few years ago, despite it being first published in 1989. Basically a mole pokes his head out of the ground and a poo lands on top of his head! So he then asks a lot of animals if they were the culprits, each of them then giving the mole a sample to show they were not to blame! Eventually he realises it was a dog and gets his own back! This book had me in tears of laughter in what was, a very quiet book shop!

4. A Bit Lost by Chris Haughton

This comes in a gorgeous board version and I just adore Chris’ artwork. In my previous job running a museum, this book featured in one of my lesson plans for my monthly toddler groups. A baby owl falls out of a tree and starts to look for his mummy. A similar format to the mole story, a friendly but not very clever squirrel tries to help the baby owl by introducing him to a variety of woodland animals until he eventually does find his mummy, all thanks to a frog.

5. ‘Well-Loved Tales’ Sleeping Beauty retold by Vera Southgate 

In particular this 1970s version illustrated by Eric Winter. There is one picture in this book that stuck in my memory and it’s not because it’s beautiful, far from it! Although I should add that the illustrations are absolutely amazing, the detail is something else! 

Anyway, on page 31 there is a picture of a prince trying to make his way through the rose thorns and in his failed attempt, is covered in cuts and is bleeding. I don’t know why I remembered this picture so vividly but all I can think of it must have been quite a shock to see such a graphic image (with blood) in a children’s book. 

Nevertheless I love a fairytale and I do remember recreating this as a play in the reading room at my infant school and also mum making me a Sleeping Beauty birthday cake, so Princess Aurora was clearly my favourite!

I thoroughly recommend re-reading your favourite children’s books - it has bought back such happy memories for me, and I’ve had a good laugh too!

Posted 19 weeks ago

How I lost weight on Slimming World - my top 10 tips to success!

Last week I was delighted when someone I haven’t seen for over a year told me how well I looked!  I thanked them for the compliment and then I realised, I’m two stone lighter than when they last saw me!

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Left: June 2017 Right: Reaching target in time for my friend's wedding October 2017

And that’s thanks to Slimming World. Before you read any further, I just want to say that this post is in no way associated or sponsored by Slimming World, or any other product or company that I mention in this post. All information is based on my experience and personal story.

Okay, got that out the way!

Back in June 2017 I made the decision I wasn’t happy with how my clothes fitted and I wanted to lose weight. I was 12 stone 5 lbs and at 5ft 9″ that gave me a BMI of 25.5 = overweight.

So to get things moving I tried Slim Fast - I managed two weeks, and in that time I managed to lose 7 pounds, but it was hard work. And I was hungry. A lot. I’d done Slimming World before and I knew it worked.

So here’s how I lost that two stone with 10 tips for you to try! 

1. Sign Up to a local group  For me walking into a hall and sitting in a group, being handed books to take home and read, is what I really needed. So on July 7, 2017 that’s what I did, weighing 11 stone 12lbs. I set a target of 10 stone 7lb - something achievable and right in the middle of my BMI. 

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My Slimming World books

Being weighed at a group really spurred me on each week. I’m a little competitive and I really wanted to prove I could lose the weight! I am very proud to say that I never had  a gain and only maintained twice during my journey.

It was certainly a slow and steady process, I reached target on October 13, 2017 weighing at 10st 5.5 lbs. My BMI is now 21.6.

It wasn’t always possible but staying to group and listening to other people’s stories really gave me the encouragement I needed to do well. I certainly noticed that I always did better if I’d stayed to group.

2. Planning Meal planning was essential. If I didn’t plan ahead I could easily end up eating two healthy B choices by accident. I wrote everything for the week ahead in one of my meal planners, colour co-ordinated with A&B choices, speed foods, protein and of course syns! 

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My Meal Planner book

3. Inspiration - I got most of my inspiration for recipes, and motivation from instagram accounts - my favourites include:

4. If you bite it write it. Needless to say I HAD to write down EVERYTHING that I ate. As soon as I forgot to fill in my food diary, it all went wrong. Those are the weeks I maintained. I did Slimming World a few years ago and found the food diaries provided were awkward to write in and didn’t work for me - so I made my own. It is now my best selling upgrade - and so effective if you use it! 

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My Slimming World Food Diary

5. Stick to the rules - but don’t deny yourself your favourite foods Simple really. If you stick to what Slimming World tell you what to do - you will lose weight. By planning I made sure I could still eat chocolate every day (Cadbury’s Treat size buttons were a life saver!)  And I allowed myself one takeaway or ate out once a week. (Normally on weigh day, c’mon we all do it, right?! )

6. Weigh & measure Do not guess the weight of your food! Cereal is the perfect example of how you can massively get it wrong. The scales were out permanently in our kitchen and even my husband got into the habit of weighing my cereal for me!

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One of my favourite breakfasts

7. Eat more fruit and vegetables  Speed food certainly gets things moving! I started by adding raspberries (frozen, defrosted in the fridge) to my yogurts and cereal, and gherkins on my SW burgers (from Iceland), tomatoes in my omelettes etc..

8. Emergency Food I would always keep some HiFi or Alpen bars in the cupboard so that if I didn’t have time or needed to eat on the go I could still stay on plan. 

9. Accept you’ll have bad days Life is full of hurdles, if you can stick to eating on plan 24 /7 during the whole of your SW journey then you definitely deserve a medal! There will be times you can’t help but go off plan. Enjoy it. Tomorrow is a new day.

10. Celebrate those losses! Don’t be shy about losing weight, learn to accept compliments. I was definitely excited to receive my shiny stickers and certificates - they’re still up on the fridge! I’m really proud of what I have achieved.

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Those certificates really spurred me on and remind me today of how well I did

I haven’t mentioned exercise, and that’s because I didn’t change my exercise patterns whilst on Slimming World. I walk regularly and have a fairly physical job. However if you don’t exercise already, I would definitely recommend adding some gentle exercise into your day.

I hope you have found my tips useful. Whether you’re thinking about losing weight, or if you’re already on Slimming World or Weight Watchers, or a similar eating plan, you may like to check out my range of food diaries and meal planners here.

Posted 23 weeks ago
<p>I was recently commissioned to make some Guest Books for the wonderful @milliesbeachhuts<br/>
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Do check out Vicky’s page, her huts are amazing - I hired one last year for my husband’s birthday and it was such a lovely, relaxing day. He still says it was his best birthday ever and that I’ll never be able to top it! I really don’t think I can!<br/>
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They’re dog friendly and beautifully decorated - I’m priviliged that my Guest Books are to be sat amongst the Cath Kidston and Emma Bridgewater accessories - and everything has been thought of so you can have the most perfect day at the beach.<br/>
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#milliesbeachhut #guestbooks #peterandjane #ladybirdbooks #notebooks #guestbook #vintagebooks #retrofromscratch #visitorbook #beachday #dayatthebeach #thingswelike #holidays #beachhuthire #notebook #ladybirdbooknotebook #vintagenotebook #retronotebook #feedback #customerfeedback #visitorfeedback #oldschool #handmadenotebooks #custommadenotebook #personalisednotebook  (at Walton-on-the-Naze)</p>

I was recently commissioned to make some Guest Books for the wonderful @milliesbeachhuts
.
Do check out Vicky’s page, her huts are amazing - I hired one last year for my husband’s birthday and it was such a lovely, relaxing day. He still says it was his best birthday ever and that I’ll never be able to top it! I really don’t think I can!
.
They’re dog friendly and beautifully decorated - I’m priviliged that my Guest Books are to be sat amongst the Cath Kidston and Emma Bridgewater accessories - and everything has been thought of so you can have the most perfect day at the beach.
.
.
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#milliesbeachhut #guestbooks #peterandjane #ladybirdbooks #notebooks #guestbook #vintagebooks #retrofromscratch #visitorbook #beachday #dayatthebeach #thingswelike #holidays #beachhuthire #notebook #ladybirdbooknotebook #vintagenotebook #retronotebook #feedback #customerfeedback #visitorfeedback #oldschool #handmadenotebooks #custommadenotebook #personalisednotebook (at Walton-on-the-Naze)

Posted 24 weeks ago

New Online shop!

Yes, I am so excited to be launching my very own online store!

Now, buying my notebooks couldn’t be easier! To start, it is designed with a clear layout so you can find the books you want within a couple of clicks.

What makes my notebooks so special is that you choose how you want them to look. You still have all the notebook options that were available before, but now they’re presented to you in a simple format.

I wanted to streamline and simplify the ordering process making it quicker for you and give you confidence that you can search through all my items, knowing you’re not going to end up in someone else’s store! (This was a bit of a problem on Etsy)

So here’s how it works…

If you know what you’re looking for, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll find a search box where you can search the whole shop using key words.

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If you’d rather take a browse choose any of the shop sections. You can sort them by price, alphabetical etc… and scroll through.

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If you’re adding a printed upgrade to your notebook, you can tell me exactly which book it is for as you add it to to your basket.

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And shipping fees can now be accurately calculated on the weight of your books so you can feel assured you’re not being over-charged (or having to worry to ask for a refund - although refunds are always given on any shipping overages!)

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It has a really simple checkout system accepting Paypal and card payments.

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You can also now see what stock is sold out, and books are now categorised in more than one section e.g. A Ladybird Disney book can be found in both the Ladybird Books and Disney Book sections.

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And you can even shop through Facebook! But most importantly my new shop means I don’t have to put my prices up, and that’s got to be a good thing, right?!

This has been something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and now I’ve done it I’m asking myself ‘Why haven’t I done this sooner?’. It has been a lot of hard work, long days (and nights) but I hope you are pleased with it as much as I am!  I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Posted 25 weeks ago
<p>This morning has been mostly admin work… I have something new in the pipeline which is rather exciting, and a new challenge for me - I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until next week to find out what it is though!</p>

<p>What are you guys up to today? I’ve a lot of Ladybird books to make today and photos to take ready for a busy week next week!</p>

This morning has been mostly admin work… I have something new in the pipeline which is rather exciting, and a new challenge for me - I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until next week to find out what it is though!

What are you guys up to today? I’ve a lot of Ladybird books to make today and photos to take ready for a busy week next week!

Posted 26 weeks ago
<p>My half price sale continues for  #natstatweek prompt but there’s only a few days left before prices return to normal!</p>

My half price sale continues for #natstatweek prompt but there’s only a few days left before prices return to normal!

Posted 33 weeks ago
<p>Today’s #natstatweek prompt is #aplaceforeverything so here is one of my desks (the tidier one!) As you can see I do love a bit of peg board, and have many drawers for my pens.<br/>
🖊️Did you know in most cases it’s better to store your pens laying flat, not vertically?<br/>
My favourite pen storage has to be my Muji acrylic drawers. And although the IKEA pegboard doesn’t quite have ‘round’ holes it’s cheap and has loads of accessories to use with it.<br/>
After a day’s work I always make sure so hang everything back up again, so I can find it easily the next day!</p>

Today’s #natstatweek prompt is #aplaceforeverything so here is one of my desks (the tidier one!) As you can see I do love a bit of peg board, and have many drawers for my pens.
🖊️Did you know in most cases it’s better to store your pens laying flat, not vertically?
My favourite pen storage has to be my Muji acrylic drawers. And although the IKEA pegboard doesn’t quite have ‘round’ holes it’s cheap and has loads of accessories to use with it.
After a day’s work I always make sure so hang everything back up again, so I can find it easily the next day!

Posted 33 weeks ago

The A to Z of RFS notebooks! I’m often asked of I can make certain types of books, which has resulted in over 40 different upgrades available for my recycled notebooks!

This film shows some of them, and I had to be creative with a few letters 😂 but the full list is below. If there is an upgrade you think I should make then please tell me!

Upgrades - to fit all recycled books:
Address Book
Anxiety Diary
A to Z food values (syns) book
Appointments Book
Baby Record
Baby Feeding Book
Birthday Book
Blog planner
Book Review
Bucket List
Children’s Holiday Diary
Christmas Planner
Crochet Planner
Diary (week per view, vertical, weeknperp page, page a day)
Disneyland Planners
Diving Log Book
Dotted paper
Dream Diary
Exercise Planner
Family organiser
Food Diary (generic)
Garden Journal
Gift Book
Grocery List
Guest Book
Holiday Planner
Internet Password Book
Knitting Planner
Lines
Meal Planner
Money Budget Planner
Order Book
Pregnancy Planner
Recipe Book
Reading Record Book
Slimming World Food Diary
SW food diary for men (25 syns)
SW consultant’s Book
SW Consultant’s Account Book
Squares
Student planner
Things to Do
Teacher Planner
Weaning Diary
Wedding Planner
Weekly Planner
Weight Tracker
Weight Watchers Food Diary

Posted 33 weeks ago
<p>This is an old photo, one I’ve shared before, but the only one I have of me working at Woolworths, which I wanted to share for #workhappy for @natstatweek There I am on the left, behind the entrainment counter. It was the perfect part time job for me whilst at University, and a lot of fun. And as a kid it was almost like a dream job, to work at the place I used to go to, so excitedly, to buy my school stationery!<br/>
Don’t get me wrong, the reality wasn’t  quite as good as the dream, but I’m so glad I worked there, they were an important 4 years of my life.<br/>
I remember the thrill of spending your pocket money on a new pencil case, pens, pencils, did I really have to waste some of it on a maths set? I’d rather buy a pack of coloured ink cartridges instead!<br/>
My ultimate favourite pen was a heat changing fountain pen that changed from yellow to green. Or was it green to yellow? I’m sure I’ve still got it somewhere.<br/>
I left Woolies, a year after I got a job in a museum (yep I did a full time museum job and one day at Woolworths 🤣) and then after 16 years in museums I’m back working with stationery again!<br/>
Some people may laugh, I say you’ve got to do what makes you happy!<br/>
(I love museums still, it fulfilled all my creativity needs but it was time to move on)</p>

This is an old photo, one I’ve shared before, but the only one I have of me working at Woolworths, which I wanted to share for #workhappy for @natstatweek There I am on the left, behind the entrainment counter. It was the perfect part time job for me whilst at University, and a lot of fun. And as a kid it was almost like a dream job, to work at the place I used to go to, so excitedly, to buy my school stationery!
Don’t get me wrong, the reality wasn’t quite as good as the dream, but I’m so glad I worked there, they were an important 4 years of my life.
I remember the thrill of spending your pocket money on a new pencil case, pens, pencils, did I really have to waste some of it on a maths set? I’d rather buy a pack of coloured ink cartridges instead!
My ultimate favourite pen was a heat changing fountain pen that changed from yellow to green. Or was it green to yellow? I’m sure I’ve still got it somewhere.
I left Woolies, a year after I got a job in a museum (yep I did a full time museum job and one day at Woolworths 🤣) and then after 16 years in museums I’m back working with stationery again!
Some people may laugh, I say you’ve got to do what makes you happy!
(I love museums still, it fulfilled all my creativity needs but it was time to move on)

Posted 33 weeks ago