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The Blog - the latest news and interviews

Women Following their Dreams: Ashleigh Furlong of Haru Home

Women Following their Dreams: Ashleigh Furlong of Haru Home

Today, as part of our "Women Following their Dreams" series we have the ever lovely Ashleigh Furlong of the divine textile homewares brand, Haru Home.  Ashleigh is talking to us about what, how and why she does what she does, all out of her tropical island home on Magnetic Island, North Queensland.

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A Box Of Guide to The Art of the Hand Written Note

A Box Of Guide to The Art of the Hand Written Note

"Letter writing can be seen as a gift because someone has taken the time to write, and think and express love" for these reasons we want to encourage the art of the hand written note. Here are some helpful hints on how to incorporate it back into your life.

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Women Following their Dreams: Kyla Flanagan of Designed & Collected

Women Following their Dreams: Kyla Flanagan of Designed & Collected

I'm delighted today to have Kyla Flanagan of Designed & Collected on the blog telling us about what, how and why she does what she does. (BTW Kyla is the talented designer behind the gorgeous stationery pack we sent out as part of our April Stationery Subscription Club & her cards goes with some of our gift boxes too, her Mothers Day ones are divine).

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Women Following their Dreams; Keren Natalia of Beyond Latte

Women Following their Dreams; Keren Natalia of Beyond Latte

From the beginning I knew I wanted the blend to be spicy (so that it'll wake me up!) so ginger was always going to be the in the blend. The Ginger Latte Mix contains a blend of ginger, turmeric and cinnamon because the flavours works really well together to make a nourishing spicy blend that's not only delicious to drink but are also powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agents.

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The Act of Having a Cup of Tea

The Act of Having a Cup of Tea

Are you a tea lover? I can't start the day without my cup of tea, it's followed with a coffee but for me it's always tea first, Earl Gray. I then have copious amounts of herbal teas through out the day. Given this tea obsession I have been reading up on whether the act of having a cup of tea really does make a difference to your state of mind like I think it does. What do you think?

I'm not going to go into the supposed health/medicinal benefits of tea, which I do believe there are many, but it's more about the ritual of brewing, serving and drinking tea.  Tea was being offered as an emotional comforter long before any research was done on it.

"Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world, after water.  It's the only beverage commonly served hot or iced, anytime, anywhere, for any occasion" (so says the Tea Association of the USA Inc but I'm inclined to think it's true not just because the tea association says so!).

When we think about tea we usually associate it with soothing and relaxing and also for the first one in the morning alertness too!  When a friend is sad or feeling down we genuinely offer a cup of tea to comfort them don't we?

To quote A.A Milne

image source

It's my belief that the act of having a cup of tea really does soothe and relax as to why I have have curated so many gift boxes around tea!. Tea + Kindness, Tea + Sleep, Book & Tea Lover, Love for You, Love for You Big Time Pamper Pack ......you see what I mean! 

We were on a warning alert for Cyclone Debbie this week and drinking tea really did help calm the nerves. It was quite scary waiting for something awful to happen, we were fortunate enough to be spared from the worst of it but my heart goes out to those who had to live through it and have had awful damage done to their homes and property. 

The ritual of making tea, by it's nature, slows us down. You have to wait for the water to boil, you have to wait while the tea steeps, you have to wait while it cools a bit, you  can only drink hot drinks slowly. You have to walk slowly when you carry it. While our lives these days are so busy rushing, making tea is a short moment of time in the day to be slow and interestingly it never seems to be a frustrating slowness, at least in my experience. The act of making a tea creates space in our day.

A Cup of Tea Solves Everything

In many countries around the world the "tea ceremony" forms part of the culture. I liked this article which describes the tea culture from 15 different countries. 

Having a favourite pot, cup or as popular these days a Tea Flask (yep, you can buy our beautiful glass ones individually) also helps ritualise the experience. The vessel that you use if it's the same one all the time can become a trigger for a state of relaxation and comfort.

Even the act of making "iced tea" still creates time to pause. My current favourite Iced Tea recipe is here

From now on I'm going to try to make sure I practice "mindfulness" while I'm making a cup of tea and savour the time it takes, to step off the busy wheel even for just a few moments a day. How about you? 

Does the act of making tea calm you? Are you a tea lover? What's your favourite type of tea? 

 

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Ice Ice Baby - Minty Iced Green Tea Recipe

Ice Ice Baby - Minty Iced Green Tea Recipe

Is it still warm where you are?  It's hard to say on any given moment for a lot of Australia isn't it!? Crazy weather. In North Queensland, where we are, you can pretty much guarantee it's hot or hotter!

Keeping cool and hydrated is a priority for us and while water is perfect as it is sometimes mixing it up is good too and makes life a bit more interesting!

A Box Of Minty Iced Green Tea

I've been experimenting with different iced tea recipes and this one has become a favourite, Minty Iced Green Tea. Of course our bespoke tea flasks are perfect for Iced Teas but a tea pot and cup will do just fine as well. 

What you need:

1 green teabag or 1 tTbsp of green tea leaves

1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves

5 cm fresh lemon grass, bruised (just press the side of a knife onto it & flatten or "bruise" a bit

Boiling water & ice

Minty Iced Green Tea

What you do:

Put all the ingredients into the tea flask infuser or into a tea pot and fill the flask / pot with boiling water. Steep for about 8 - 10 minutes and then remove the teabag etc and allow to cool.

Once cooled add some ice and drink up!

Can be stored in the fridge or enjoyed on the go!

Are you an iced tea fan? 

If you want your own insulated tea flask or as a gift for a friend we sell them individually through the shop and we also have them as a key part of some of our gift boxes too. 

Keep hydrated and enjoy your tea.  

 

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Women Following their Dreams: Interview with L & T Design Co

Women Following their Dreams: Interview with L & T Design Co

In creating "A Box Of", not only do I want it to be the "go-to" place for beautiful, unique & thoughtful gifts but also a place that supports women who, in following their dreams, are making their dreams their reality.

Today I'm chatting with the lovely & talented Kathy Holden of L&T Design Co. Kathy is the creative designer who we collaborated with for our first Stationery Subscription Club Packs. We also have many of her gorgeous products in our gift boxes. Kathy is a North Queensland local & her path to digital design has come via a very interesting route. Meet Kathy...

Tell us a bit about yourself

Originally from the Sunshine Coast, my career has been in education, initially as a kindy teacher and then as a primary school teacher. Our identical twin girls were born in 2004 at 27 ½ weeks, which, while amazing, was a very tough introduction to parenthood. The girls’ start to life made me reassess my career and prolong my leave from the education department until my return in 2012 in a part time capacity at my base school in Brisbane.

 

 

From teaching how & why did you get into digital design?

As well as loving being a stay at home mum, my creative drive has always been strong and has taken many turns. I have always loved making my own classroom resources, which I was often asked to make for friends classrooms as well as my own. I then started making greeting cards using stamps for friends and family, this moved into selling them at markets in Brisbane and in my own online store. I had designs published in Australian Crafting Magazines, and also taught weekly classes in card making in Brisbane at a popular Scrapbooking Shop.

In 2013, we made the move to Townsville chasing a quieter lifestyle to raise our girls. As my greeting cards became more popular locally, I made the decision to move over to digital design. For the first 6 months, I was printing all of my cards at home, cutting the cardstock, scoring the card, handfeeding each card separately due to the thickness, it was a big job. As the orders got bigger, I made the decision to trial my printing through a local printer and am so glad I did. Since this change, my range has increased to include stationery items, Baby Milestone Cards, learning resources, décor prints and a much larger greeting card range.

All of our items are printed locally in Townsville which is something I am pretty proud of, to be able to support other local businesses in doing what I love, especially in our current economic times, is a pretty awesome feeling. All the folding and packaging is done by me…and occasionally the girls until they get too bored, which is natural when folding and bagging up 1000 cards at a time!

 

 

When did you decide that it could be a viable business for you?

Testing the waters in a new town can be a little scary, in 2014, a dear friend that I made through teaching at a local school encouraged me to take some samples of my cards to a local baby boutique in Townsville. It was good advice, as they loved them and became our first ever stockist, and still exclusively stock our cards, décor prints and Milestone Cards. This gave me the confidence to branch out and market our range to other businesses, as well as participating in the local Renegade Handmade Markets on a monthly basis where our range has been very popular. Our designs are now stocked in various locations around QLD and NSW, as well as online in our own store. We have also had some interest in our designs from International stores.

 

Where do you find inspiration for your beautiful products and designs?

I get inspiration from the every day… a fabric that I see, a flower, sometimes just an idea to do something that is different, a favourite saying. My style is very minimalist, I like clean lines and order over chaos. Less is more.

Do you have a favourite from your product range?

I love our Milestone Cards, all of them, I can’t pick a favourite set. Milestone Cards weren’t around when my girls were born, they are such a beautiful way to keep precious memories. When my customers share their photos of their little ones alongside our Milestone Cards on Instagram and the like, it just makes my day.

How do you manage all your personal and business commitments? Any tips?

I don’t sometimes! 2016 was a particularly tough year on many fronts, with a lot of juggling taking it’s toll. 2017 is all about new beginnings for me and mine. I have stepped away completely from my teaching role this year after a less than ideal experience, and am taking a little breather from teaching while I focus on nurturing my family, myself and the growth of my design business. I have a sign up in our kitchen which has become my mantra, “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”. It’s the reason we moved to Townsville in the first place. I am making 2017 about focussing on the things I love and so far, this has made the juggle of both personal and business very easy, as I am doing what I love. A patient husband and children is helpful too.

 

What advice would you give someone starting out in their own business?

Don’t compare your idea of success to others….I actually need to listen to this myself! Try and enjoy the little moments of success, they are yours and yours alone, the first sale online, the first stockist, the first market, they are all pavers on a much bigger path.

What's next for you?

If 2017 continues to behave, I intend to focus more energy into building my range and retailers within Australia, and hopefully internationally.

As a Townsville local what's your favourite part of Townsville?

We love The Strand, Saturday lunches at The Watermark are almost a weekly event!

 

 photo source

What are you currently reading at the moment?

You may not want to publish, but I believe in complete honesty… I am reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F#$@” by Sarah Knight. It’s a great little read, as well as being helpful in giving you tips at assessing what is important in life and what isn’t, it’s good for a laugh;)

Thanks so much to Kathy for sharing her story with us, she is quite an inspiration  plus we love that she is 100% a local small business.

If you would like to see more of what Kathy does her gorgeous online shop is here, and you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

To check out our interview with Who'd Have Thought the duo behind the fantastic Sprout Pencils we stock have a read here.

Are you following a dream? 

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A Box Of Stationery Subscription Club - what's it all about anyway?

A Box Of Stationery Subscription Club - what's it all about anyway?

So who is a stationery lover? I am! In fact I love it so much I've started up the "A Box Of Stationery Subscription Club".

My aim is for ABO (that's A Box Of, to the uninitiated) to become not only your go-to place for thoughtful and unique gifts but a place that also showcases talented designers and creatives in both the products that go into our gorgeous gift boxes and the stationery that we use. I was finding that when I was looking for cards to accompany the gift boxes I was getting lost down glorious rabbit holes of stationery delight.

It seemed like the next logical step was to create a gift box purely of just stationery, because I know that I'm not alone in my love affair with stationery.  Am I? Rather than be a one off box that someone received I wanted it to really be part of our gifts that keep on giving ethos and the annual subscription club idea was born.

How it works is that you sign up for an annual membership, which is a once only fee of $125 including shipping within Australia), and in return you or the person you have gifted it to will receive a pack of beautiful "mystery" stationery on a quarterly basis.

When you sign up or gift someone a subscription we will send a card in the mail letting them know that they are now part of the ABO Stationery Club.  Then all that needs to happen is to wait for each quarter to roll round and a stationery pack will arrive in the letterbox ready to fill you or your friend (or both of you) with joy!

 

The first packs for 2017 were sent in January & they were divine. It's ok to still sign up now as your year will start from whenever you sign up.

We collaborated with the talented Kathy Holden of L&T Design Co (watch out for our interview with her coming up soon) to create an exclusive, to ABO, range of "Thank You" cards for the January set. (These can now be bought as a pack of 6 from the shop for $20 including postage).  We decided on a pretty tropical theme and continued the use of pineapples because we love what they represent; friendship, hospitality & all forms of social kindness (even though I don't like the taste so much!)

We also included some other pieces from Kathy's pretty collection that we thought our subscribers might find handy, (Valentines Day is coming up, hint, hint and you can never have too many gift tags can you?) we also added our favourite Sprout pencil (read our interview with the Australian duo behind Who'd Have Thought who are the exclusive importers) so that we can help spread the seedling love around. 

So for what works out to be $31.25 per quarterly pack you get a whole lot more "bang for your buck" but you can't put a price on surprise happy mail now can you?!

Because the January packs went out in school holidays I had some "little helpers" assist me with the packaging (!), "many hands make light work" but not so much in this case!

We are now busy planning for the April packs & will be showcasing the products of another local designer, which for now, we will leave as a surprise for you! It's been wonderful being able to collaborate with such talented women, I only wish I was half as creative but at least in my way I can help showcase that talent to the world too.

If you want to be part of our special club we'd love to have you.  Pop on in to the shop here and get ready for pretty, happy mail to arrive.

Yours in stationery, 

Vicki 

 

 

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Launch Giveaway!

Launch Giveaway!

Hello!  A Box Of ... has been up and running for 2 weeks now and we are loving every minute of it.  There are going to be some lucky teachers out there this year as the Teacher Gift Boxes are proving to be popular which gives us such joy too.  Also there are lots of little babies about as well - an unexpected upside of this business is being able to be in the know of some of the most popular baby names going around!!

To help celebrate the launch of A Box Of.. we are running a little competition.  Starting from now, midday Wednesday 23rd November be the 5th or 10th person to sign up to our quarterly newsletter and receive a pack of our exclusive Christmas cards designed just for us by the talented Designed & Collected.  If you are the 20th person to sign up you will receive you very own "Tea & Love" gift box.

All you need to do between now and then is sign up ( you can do this at the bottom of the page).  The competition will close on Sunday 4th December and the winners will be notified by email.

In signing up to our quarterly newsletter we promise that there won't be any spam but you will receive details of any special offers, new products, interviews with our product collaborators and more.

This is a game of chance and there is no skill involved. Entrants must be Australian residents for this particular competition.

Good Luck

 

 

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The Faces behind "Who'd Have Thought" importers of Sprout Pencils

The Faces behind

Today we have the first of our series of interviews with our product collaborators. Jane & Meryl are the entrepreneurial women behind "Who'd Have Thought" & the sole Australiasian distributors of the fabulous Sprout Pencils that feature in some of our gift boxes.

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