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Stepping Outside

We’re approaching another bank holiday weekend (yay!), and fingers crossed, the weather actually looks like it may be Okay, so it’s a great excuse to get outside!

We all know that sometimes, simply taking a moment to step outside, and take in a deep breath of fresh air, is enough to make us feel a little better. Having anxiety or depression can be crippling, and being outside can be helpful for calming the mind, and allowing us to have a mindful moment.

Sitting outside can also reduce blood pressure, and lower our heart rate, as when we’re outside, our body naturally slows down, and so it can give us a sense of peace.

Being outside, especially around nature, can help reduce our stress levels, boost our mood, and has been proven to increase brain function too.

It also gives us a reason to “unplug” for a while, both physically and mentally – it may be scary to leave technology behind…but it will all still be there waiting for us when we return!

Walking can be brilliant to help increase our focus, for those moments when we feel a little lost – a brief walk, can work wonders to help us regain our ability to focus and find direction. For a significant boost in concentration and creativity, maybe escape to a forest, or a beautiful woodland.

This week was the Chelsea Flower Show, and one lovely garden was designed by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate wanted to highlight the benefits of the natural world, and inspire children, families and communities to enjoy the great outdoors, and how being active in nature can positively impact our physical and mental health – so it must be true!!

So, find a little time over the long bank holiday weekend, to take advantage of the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Replace technology time spent on electronic devices, with a walk in the local park, or even, maybe, a bike ride…

Karen x

April 2019 – Parcel Contents

Well, it’s been a busy couple of weeks at TSP HQ, so I’m afraid I’m a little late with this parcel contents post – but don’t tell anyone – and I think, I’ll get away with it! Shh 😉

Our parcel theme for April was “Keep Growing”, and the contents were all about how we are all, always, growing, no matter how old we are, or what we’ve been through.

April Contents:

“Keep Growing” Pot –

Springtime is finally making an appearance, and this makes us very happy! We’ve gone all-out Spring themed this month, with “Keep Growing”. This little pot was a perfect fit for your first item, it is super cute too – and will hopefully come in useful, when you see your next item this month…

“Smile” Message Beans –

We loved these beans as soon as we discovered them – for obvious reasons! We’ve included a little instruction card with these too, to give you a head start, and explain more about them…and why they are “magic”! We’d love to see your photos as your beans begin to grow, so do send them over to us on Facebook or Instagram.

Sheep Box Frame –

Spring is known to be the season of new life and growth. Flowers and plants are starting to bloom, and if you live in, or visit the countryside, you’ll begin to see the new Spring lambs arriving in the fields. This lovely framed felt lamb is great for popping on to a shelf, to add a Springtime feel to your home.

Yellow Flower –

We’ve just mentioned above that lots of beautiful flowers are now coming into bloom, and our gardens are starting to turn green again. When it comes to flowers, our personal favourites, are yellow Gerberas. We wanted to include a bright artificial flower in your parcel – so this one was an easy choice for us, we hope you approve…

 “Keep Going” –

Our theme this month is all about growing, and is a reminder that we are all, always growing, no matter how old we are, or what we’ve been through. Sometimes we need a little push to keep fighting on, and that’s Okay. Life will always have something unexpected to throw our way, but if we want to make the most out of life, we need to learn to push through these barriers, and “keep going”.

The button badge is from ‘Colour Your Life Club’ who you can find here: https://colouryourlifeclub.co.uk/

The postcard is from ‘Katie Abey Design’.

Smile Cards

As always, there should be a couple of these little cards in your parcel, I’ve written one for you, and the blank one, is for you to write a short inspirational or positive message, and give to someone you know, or leave somewhere for a complete stranger to find – but this is of course optional, there’s absolutely no pressure to do this if you don’t want to.

Parcel Assistant

This month, your *Parcel Assistant is, Frank. Frank is a big fan of Springtime, and especially Easter – it may be a good idea to keep him away from any chocolate containing confectionery!

Karen x

*Parcel Assistants are cheeky little pompom chaps who help (or hinder!) us with packing your monthly parcels!

Let’s Do This!

Well, we’ve made it through the first quarter of 2019, and what a super productive one we have had!

As you know, I like to do little updates throughout the year, just to let you know what has been happening behind the scenes at The Smile Parcel, and what’s new.

We started off the new year, by making lots of changes to the website in January. We wanted to make it a little more user-friendly, easier to navigate, and generally make it look tidier and more organised!

Also, in January, we introduced our first “The Smile Parcel Select” range parcels. These are one-off purchase parcels, with set contents and themes, so there’s no surprises with the “Select” range. Customers have been asking for one-off gift parcels since we launched back in 2017, so we have been putting them together, as and when they have been asked for, so it seemed to make sense to include a range that are already, ready-to-go.

We currently have around 15 parcels available, all with inspirational themes including: “Keep Going”, “Stepping Outside”, “Take A Break”, “Time To Relax” and “You Got This!”.

With the introduction of the “Select” range, we opened a Facebook Shop, which we’ve been told by customers, makes ordering very easy! Simply click on the blue button on the parcel listing you’d like, which takes you straight through to our Facebook Messenger, where we’ll send you our new direct PayPal link, for one-click payment, so not even an invoice is required.

We opened an Etsy Shop for this range too. We are very new to Etsy, so we are still learning our way around, and how to make the most out of it.

We decided at the beginning of the year, that 2019 needs to be all about marketing for us, and trying different ways to get our brand known and reach new audiences. The world of marketing and advertising for small businesses seems to change at  a very quick pace, and if you’re not a marketing whiz (like me!), it can take time to understand new ways, and learn what works for a particular business, what doesn’t work, and what to try next – it’s definitely a bit of a mind field, and something we are always looking to improve and learn about – but I admit, we do find it to be a mission full of trial and error!

As part of the above, I revamped the Instagram account for The Smile Parcel, as I’m hoping to get to grips with using this more as a platform, and I’m also trying harder with Pinterest – which isn’t really a social media platform, but more of a search engine, and (like a lot of people!) I naturally gravitate towards Pinterest when I’m looking for personal ideas, so why not get more involved as a business tool too?!

I’ve been fortunate to work with, or be introduced to several very motivational business peeps so far this year, all female entrepreneurs, who are incredibly clued up on running successful small businesses, and they love to support others to do the same.

I think it’s so important to have role models, in whatever profession you are in, and running a small business, especially from home, can sometimes be a lonely place, after all, you need to be a Jack-of-all-trades (and I’m definitely a master of none!). I’m hoping to work more with these talented women during this year, and hopefully gain just a fraction of their knowledge and skills, and put them into practice!

On a personal note, I have now been volunteering as a Crisis Counsellor for almost 4 months – it’s gone so quick! I initially spoke about this back in December, when I was doing my training.

I wanted to talk about it for 2 reasons, firstly, I wanted to encourage others to become volunteers. The charity I work for (details below), are always looking for more Crisis Counsellors, so if you might be interested, do take a look at their website for more information.

I can honestly say it has been one of the toughest, but best things, I have ever done.

The second reason is because I believe whenever we get the opportunity to talk openly about mental health, we should, and in turn, this helps to normalise talking to someone about how we’re feeling, including seeking therapy and having counselling, which is so important. It’s never a weakness to ask for help or talk about mental health, in fact, it’s the opposite, it takes strength and courage to talk about your story.

I posted a blog post on 7th December 2018, which gives you more details regarding the training needed and what is involved, but you can also find their website here: https://giveusashout.org/

Overall, the first quarter of this year, has been inspiring, motivating and educational – let’s see what the second quarter has to offer…

Karen x

Keep Growing

Springtime is now definitely here, and we are loving it at TSP HQ!

The trees are beginning to turn green, flowers are starting to bloom, and if you’re lucky to live in or near the countryside, you’ll start to see the new Spring lambs arriving in the fields.

Spring is known as being a season of new life and growth, and regardless of how old we are, or what we’ve been through, we are all, also growing, all the time.

Personal growth is an important part of life, it gives us the opportunity to experience new things and learn about ourselves, about others, and the world around us.

We are always evolving as people, life is always changing, and we can choose to stay where we are, or we can continue to grow with it, keep learning, challenge ourselves and have new experiences.

Personal growth can be great for our overall well-being and mental health too, as it can make us more prepared and able to deal with the challenges that life will undoubtedly throw our way, and develop the skills needed to handle our emotions.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to keep fighting on, and know which direction we should be heading, and that’s Okay, but if we want to make the most out of life, we need to learn to push through these obstacles and barriers…keep going, and keep growing.

Karen x

March 2019 – Parcel Contents

We’ve almost reached the end of March, which means I can now tell you all about our parcel contents this month!

Our March theme was “Dream Big”, and they contained products all connected with the importance of getting a good nights sleep, and not only following your dreams, and making those dreams, BIG!

March Contents:

Notebook & Star Pencil –

Your parcel this month is all about ‘Dreams’, so what better first item could there be than a pretty notebook to write down all those dreams! A study in America actually discovered that when we write down our dreams, we are 42% more likely to achieve them – sounds like a good enough excuse to me! We’ve included a pencil to help you get started, with a very cute star design eraser.

Lavender Sleep Well Pocket –

We know that getting a good night’s sleep is so important to our overall health, both mental and physical. These little pockets contain pure dried English lavender, and are made to slip into your pillow, to help relieve the stresses from the day. Lavender has been used for many years to aid a restful sleep, due to its relaxing properties. These have been made by Kirri over at ‘Max, Ollie and Me’.

You can find Kirri and her lovely Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/maxollieandme

‘Love You To The Moon And Back’ –

We receive a lot of requests to include something with this quote, so it definitely appears to be a firm favourite. We love it too, and having it displayed on this lovely heart plaque, means it’s all ready to be hung in a prominent place!

Cloud Bag Charm –

As this parcel is all about dreams, we had to include a cloud somewhere, and this plush bag charm, with its adorable sleepy face, fitted the theme perfectly…great for customising your bag, or even your keys!

 ‘Dream Big’ –

This postcard is in your parcel as a reminder to not only have dreams, but to make those dreams, big. Life is short, too short to sit back and wait for the things we want to come to us – we need to go out there and get them! Dreaming big also gives us that little bit of “wiggle-room”, if we fall short of our “big” dream, we’ve still achieved so much, and gained a lot more than someone who didn’t dream at all. Postcard from ‘Katie Abey Design’.

Smile Cards

As always, there should be a couple of these little cards in your parcel, I’ve written one for you, and the blank one, is for you to write a short inspirational or positive message, and give to someone you know, or leave somewhere for a complete stranger to find – but this is of course optional, there’s absolutely no pressure to do this if you don’t want to.

Parcel Assistant

This month, your *Parcel Assistant is, Adrian. Adrian has been known to be a very lively character – hopefully he’s calmed down a little by the time he reaches you…fingers crossed!!

Karen x

*Parcel Assistants are cheeky little pompom chaps who help (or hinder!) us with packing your monthly parcels!

 

We’ve Got A Facebook Shop!

This is going to be a short and sweet blog post this week, as I wanted to quickly let you know that I’ve successfully (hopefully successfully!) created a Facebook shop!

This means you can now order our parcels directly from our Facebook page – the monthly instalment subscriptions will still link you through to the correct page on this website, to set up your payments, but all the one-off purchase ‘Select’ range, and lump-sum subscription payments, can now be ordered through Facebook messenger, followed by a direct PayPal link, so there’s not even any invoices involved, but you are still fully covered by PayPal’s payment security.

I’ve separated the parcels into categories, so it’s easy to see the available ready-to-go parcels (‘Select’ range), and the subscription options.

We wanted to offer this as an alternative, as we have an amazingly supportive community of customers and followers over on Facebook, so adding a quick and simple way to order, or re-order, without having to leave Facebook, seemed to make sense.

You can find our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TheSmileParcel

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new ‘Shop’, or anything you would like to see added and/or changed.

Karen x

February 2019 – Parcel Contents

Tomorrow is the first day of March, and that means that Springtime is one step closer!

Our parcel theme this month was ‘Love Yourself’, and they contained lots of products all connected with making time to put yourself first, and take some, well-deserved, self-care.

February Contents:

‘Love’ Word –

The first item in your February parcel is a lovely ‘Love’ word! Now, we know that the month of February is supposedly all about ‘Love’, however, to us, it’s not about our love for others, but more about the love we show to ourselves. This word can be free-standing on a shelf, or we’ve included a few sticker pads, if you’d prefer to attach it as a wall decoration. These have been made by Carol over at ‘U Can Name It’. Carol has a shop on eBay and creates lots of beautiful word decorations, plaques, signs and memory boxes. You can find Carol’s shop here: https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/blake7070

Mindfulness Charm –

  As soon as these charms caught our eye, they were a must for our parcels. Mindfulness helps us to take a moment to breathe, to catch our breath in a hectic world, and, just pause. Life can be so busy, that we forget how important it is to take a break, and invest in some self-care. These beautiful charms have been made by Claire over at ‘Little Gestures’. Claire makes lots of meaningful and inspirational gifts, you can find her Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Littlegestures

Clip Frame Print –

This quote is a great reminder that we can’t expect to help, or support others, if we don’t spend time looking after ourselves. Putting ourselves first is not something that comes easy to a lot of us, but it’s never been more important to make time for self-care, and ‘recharging our batteries’, whether that be watching our favourite TV show, walking the dog, or just sitting in silence enjoying a hot chocolate!

Spotty Socks & ‘Bee Happy’ Magnet –

Now, when we think about taking care of ourselves, there are few things more comforting than the thought of warm cosy socks! After a long hard day, socks are the first step to unwinding, relaxing…and putting our feet up!

We’ve included a bee magnet in your parcel too, for no other reason than it is super cute! – this is from Katie Abey Design.

 ‘Be Your Own Hero’ –

We’ve included another inspirational postcard from ‘Katie Abey Design’ this month, and ‘Be Your Own Hero’ seemed the perfect choice. This follows our parcel theme of putting yourself first, and by doing this, you become one step closer to becoming your own hero!

Smile Cards

As always, there should be a couple of these little cards in your parcel, I’ve written one for you, and the blank one, is for you to write a short inspirational or positive message, and give to someone you know, or leave somewhere for a complete stranger to find – but this is of course optional, there’s absolutely no pressure to do this if you don’t want to.

Parcel Assistant

This month, your *Parcel Assistant is Ted. Ted enjoys the peaceful life, he likes reading long books, drinking tea, and doing the occasional crossword puzzle…he shouldn’t cause you much trouble!

Karen x

*Parcel Assistants are cheeky little pompom chaps who help (or hinder!) us with packing your monthly parcels!

 

Mindfulness & Christmas Cards!

It’s time to give another big shout out to two lovely crafters who have contributed their fabulous products to our parcels!

We are lucky to work with amazingly talented crafters and handmade businesses, so today, I’m going to showcase a couple more of them – this time it’s the turn of “Claire Craft at Little Gestures” and “Kirsty’s Kreative Krafts”.

We asked the business owners to write a short description telling us a little about why they started their small business, and what it means to them.

Claire Holstead from “Claire Craft at Little Gestures” –

“Claire Craft at Little Gestures is absolutely delighted that the wonderful Smile Parcel have used my cards with one of my poems.

I have been creating little items with poems for several years now. The very first item I sold, was on eBay, and was a Rolo in a box, with a little poem.

I had to leave a full-time job after having a breakdown, and then after my husband had some cardiac issues, I decided to try and create a Facebook page to bring in a little extra cash.

I love trying to come up with unique items that can’t be bought from the High Street. Whatever time of the day (or night), an idea comes to me, it HAS to be tried there and then!

Fortunately, I have a very patient husband who is happy enough to take over the housework, while I sit ‘playing’ with my craft bits!”

You can find Claire’s products here: https://www.facebook.com/Littlegestures/

********

Kirsty Trathen from “Kirsty’s Kreative Krafts” –

“Hi everyone, I’m Kirsty from Kirsty’s Kreative Krafts, I’m 21 and I live in Cornwall.

I have been crafting for 5 to 6 years and I first found my passion for papercrafts, when I did Fundraising for my school, and it all blossomed from there.

A few years later, I was diagnosed with Autism, and I also have dyslexia and learning difficulties, which means I can never have a full-time job. Crafting is my creative outlet and what makes me happy, and puts a smile on my face every day.

I love to be able to create and set myself new challenges to broaden my horizon.

Flower pencils are my most popular item I have sold, I make a variety of items from cards, sticky tape floral shoes, gift bags and many other things. I’m now experimenting with vinyl, which is very exciting for me.

I would like to build my business up, this is happening slowly thanks to the people supporting me and sharing my page on social media.”

You can find Kirsty’s products here: https://www.facebook.com/kirstyskreativekrafts/

Karen x