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Welcome to the Printing Palace...


Here you'll find my sporadic (and sometimes nonsensical) musings about what we're up to here at TQE Headquarters, including special offers, competitions, new products, and up-to-the-minute info on which expensive piece of office equipment the kids have broken this time. (In the event of a lengthy silence on the blog front, you can safely assume they've set fire to my laptop, and resign yourself to the fact that you won't be receiving that splendid print anytime soon...)


Enjoy the madness, feel free to leave comments, share posts, or send cake.  We like cake.


By thequeensenglishprints, Dec 18 2015 06:00PM

It’s finally arrived – the last day of school before the Christmas holidays are officially in full swing, and we’re all sentenced to an intense week of scraping our children off the ceiling at least three times a day, in anticipation of a very important visit from the big guy in red.

At The Queen’s English Prints, we’ve been so busy getting everyone’s orders out and into the hands of Royal Mail’s finest red-suited deliverers in time for December 25th, that the whole festive build-up has whizzed by in somewhat of a blur.

But now that the last Christmas order is complete and the rush is over, it’s time to sit back and smell the Baileys. There’s still a whole week left to dive headfirst into all the mince-pie-based madness, and truly embrace what is supposed to be the most magical time of year!

So if you too are ready to get stuck into Christmas, then here’s a few tips on how to reignite the magic, and truly do December justice, before January rears its ugly head…

1. The Letter...

If your little ones haven’t yet penned their wish lists, then now’s the time to sit them down with a hot chocolate, a gingerbread man, and a good old-fashioned Argos catalogue! A word of warning here – I recommend you attempt a spot of incredibly subtle mind control to ensure they remember to request all those must-haves they mentioned (and you ordered) three weeks ago. I whole-heartedly endorse using The Force, if it is strong in your family, or alternatively a good old-fashion verbal cue should suffice: “Do you need any help spelling ‘Skylanders', darling, or are you alright?” You can then hang them on the tree or place them in the fireplace for the elves to collect overnight, or get down with your standard self and just put them in the post box! You could even write a letter of reply and leave it for the kids to find at the end of their bed or on the doormat outside, the next morning... or place it with their presents on the big day itself.

2. Put Together a Christmas Eve Box...

These are becoming more and more popular, and let’s face it – Christmas Eve is, in a lot of ways, more magical than Christmas Day anyway! It’s filled with all the excitement and anticipation of the big jolly elf’s visit, and in my experience, the children literally do not know what to do with themselves – enter the Christmas Eve box. You could put new pyjamas, a Christmas DVD and a bag of marshmallows inside, ready for a snuggled up Christmas Eve evening, or you could include an activity book, a jigsaw, and even a treasure map (why not hide some chocolate coins around your home for them to find and feast on?) if you want to keep them occupied for longer.

3. PROVE Santa's Real...

So whilst researching this post we stumbled upon this amazing website, which will produce a photo of Santa IN THE ACT! All you have to do is provide them with a photo of your living room (or wherever Santa will be making his deliveries) and they’ll place Santa in situ, getting on with what Santa does best! Show it to your kids on Christmas morning as a still shot from your in-home CCTV ("Oh you didn’t know we have invisible in-home CCTV, sweetheart? Well we do! Remember that, next time you promise me that you DIDN'T hit your brother over the head with my Yankee candle, ok?")

4. Track Santa...

In the age of tablets and smartphones, everyone’s tracking Santa these days, so don’t miss out on a piece of this completely free action. There are a number of websites that will enable you to track his journey on Christmas Eve, - Norad is a great one - as well as this one, that’ll keep you up-to-date on how the reindeer are doing too! And don’t forget about the International Space Station - if the skies are clear on Christmas Eve, you should be able to spot it from the UK, rising in the west, passing low in the sky and setting in the south east at around 5:20pm… right about the time Santa's sleigh may or may not be hitting the area, if you catch my drift!

5. ‘The Night Before Christmas’...

Smartphones and tracking apps aside, let’s get old-school for a second. When I was little I had a copy of this book, and every Christmas Eve - without fail - someone would read it to me. It was the only day of the year the book ever saw the light of day, but I can still remember how ridiculously magical it felt listening to that story, and imagining the Santa so beautifully described within it. If you don’t have a copy of this book in your house – now is the time to invest… go on, GO!

6. Just Enjoy It!

Tiny people are only tiny for such a short time, and if you can soak up even 50% of their excitement at Christmas, you’ll have an absolutely magical holiday. Oh and don’t forget the Baileys... if all else fails, it works like a beautiful little glass of Christmas catalyst… trust me!

Merry Christmas from us all at The Queen’s English Prints!

By thequeensenglishprints, Sep 3 2015 06:30PM

So it’s finally back-to-school time, and most work-at-home mums are breathing a massive sigh of relief and cracking open the Pimm’s (by cracking open the Pimm’s, of course I mean knuckling down and reacquainting themselves with the home office).

But for some of us, it’s not as easy as all that. Some of us have to share our workspace with a small person or two every single day, because try as we might, the governors of mainstream education just won’t take them off our hands until they’re 4! So if you think that working from home is lovely, luxurious – or just downright lazy – please spare a thought for those of us who are trying to juggle tantrums and tax returns simultaneously.

These days working mums are expected to do it all – and we do. At The Queen’s English Prints, my boss is an entirely irrational pint-sized sociopath, with a penchant for felt-tip graffiti, complete lack of emotional stability, and unlimited energy resources. Whilst I’m answering emails and making orders, I’m also wiping spaghetti off the walls and cleaning the latest Crayola masterpiece off the dog.

So, if you’re one of those very lucky ‘mumpreneurs’ basking in the glow of complete and utter back-to-school tranquillity today, I cannot wait to join the club. If however, like me, you’re leaning over your laptop whilst blowing on your dictator’s beans on toast until it reaches the optimum tantrum-free consumption temperature, then check out these top tips on how to make ‘doing it all’ just a little bit easier…

One: I Think I’ve Dealt with the Great ’Vegetable’ Debate…

My kids are the fussiest eaters on the planet. The hours and hours I have spent trying desperately to get half an ounce of hidden pureed carrot into them (‘Mummy… this sauce is… WEIRD’) I cannot count. Tricking them didn’t work, begging them didn’t work, bribing them didn’t work and punishing them wasn’t worth it for a slice of cucumber. Then it hit me: competition. My two boys are fiercely competitive over everything so, with absolutely nothing to lose apart from 50 pence-worth of veg, I made healthy eating a competition.

I laid out each food item with a label next to it stating how many points they could earn if they ate a piece; I then gave them a points card each, with their name written clearly at the top, for them to record each momentous victory as it occurred. Quite simply, whoever earned the most points at the end of lunchtime was declared undisputed champion of the world.

I didn’t have very high hopes but I thought, if nothing else, it might be fun. And would you believe, they LOVED it! I’ll admit, they didn’t wholly enjoy every single mouthful, but it proved to them that eating vegetables is not as apocalyptically awful as they had previously envisaged… and it even meant that I could pop the odd spot of salad on their plates from then on, without them flinching.

I know it’s a bit hypocritical... but I treated myself to a big bag of Maltesers that night in celebration of what a 5-star mother I’d been THAT day.

Two: We’ve all said it… “Just go AND PLAY!”

Why is it that when you have absolutely nothing to do, the kids will happily entertain themselves for an hour with no more than a paperclip and a clothes peg – but the minute you need to get half an hour’s work done they have never been more bored and incapable of independent play in all their lives?

Well, I stole this idea from Channel 4’s The Three-Day Nanny, but honestly, it works! It’s based on the idea that a child’s attention-span is only 20 minutes or so long, and involves you setting up ‘play stations’ (no, not the ones you need to plug in) around your home, so that they can independently bounce from one to the next, without needing to moan at you when they lose interest in something.

So you might set up a lego corner, a musical instrument corner, an action figure corner, a Play Doh corner… I could go on but unless your living room is octagonal that’s probably enough corners to get you going. All of a sudden, the room looks pretty exciting to a small person, and you’ve encouraged independence, creativity and imagination, all whilst getting your order book up-to-date!

Three: “But I’m NOT TIRED!”

Oh… yes you are. Bedtime is non-negotiable in this house, because the moment you show weakness to an overtired pre-schooler, they see it, and they run with it, and you can kiss those evening hours of precious distraction-free productivity goodbye.

Develop a nightly routine, and stick with it; my children get a warm bath, a glass of milk each, two bedtime stories and cuddles-all-round. For children, predictability and routine is settling, and a nice settled bedtime has got Pinot Grigio written all over it. (And when I say Pinot Grigio, I obviously mean a solid couple of hours of online networking, filing and creative brainstorming.)

Good luck! x

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