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My dream

My dream

When I was just 4 years old I started work. My auntie ran a newsagents though it was so much more than just a newsagents. She sold everything and always told me that if they didn’t have what someone asked for they’d find an alternative. My dream even then was to have my own shop. I just didn’t realise it.

I was always quite good with numbers, it runs in the family. I’ve always kind of felt guilty about it. Fellow pupils at school who seemed to work so hard for their maths exams and I never had to. Numbers just made sense and it doesn’t seem fair but that’s life and there are countless other things I am not good at that they were. Anyway, because of my ‘gift’ my auntie used to show off when I was as young as 4 by getting me to serve the customers and give them the right change. There were no contactless payments or automatic tills, if the sums were very complicated it was added up with a pen and paper.

Image by Shirley Hirst from Pixabay

I loved everything about that shop. From stocking the shelves, seeing if I could squeeze just one more packet of crisps on to the rack to making up 10p sweetie lucky bags (10p of sweeties in the bag, about 20p in my mouth!).

As I grew I got to know more of the business. I helped with stock taking each year and my favourite bit was sitting in the freezing cold stock room out the back in front of the electric bar fire with notepad and calculator adding up endless lists of numbers. We’re all a bit weird in one way or other right?!

When I grew up

I thought I’d become an accountant but a desire to ‘make the world a brighter place’ drove me in to engineering. As I began my university life studying civil engineering, so my auntie retired and so ended my dream of running that little shop.

I could have taken over the business, never gone to university. But then I’d never have gone to Africa and worked as a water and sanitation engineer and helped a few to improve their village life. I’d never have met my husband either, moved to the beautiful Isle of Lewis and had 4 children and made the choice to give up my career.

…and then I might not have started working from home, selling things.

My dream come true?

Funny how you can look back on your life and see choices made without realising the true reason for making those choices. It was only after selling from home for about 5 years alongside being a full time mum that the penny dropped. I loved retail! I wanted a shop!

But times have changed since I was 4. We now have internet, supermarkets and global imports on a scale never seen before. Newspapers and sweeties are still sold in shops but even newspapers have gone online and sweeties are no longer a ha’penny. My personal opinion of newspapers has also changed, perhaps why I sell the Happy Newspaper!

So I never thought a physical shop was a reality now. Too many high street stores are short lived, too many empty town centres. Times have changed. Furthermore, living in a fairly remote location in the Outer Hebrides I knew I had to embrace the online market. And I have. Combining some local fairs and events with a growing online presence I have built up my Cards and Gift Wrap business slowly, year by year, reinvesting everything back in while raising my 4 children. Always with a pre-school child by my side, ‘helping’ mum.

And then, just a small thing, covid-19 happened. My online business thrived but the fairs and events were gone. My shop-in-a-basket that served many local workplaces vanished. Time to think outside the box. On top of that my husband started working from home more and we were homeschooling all in the same room that I had hoped would be my ‘stock room’. Something has to change.

Maybe, just maybe…

We’re lucky to have a big garage which is already in two sections. Maybe, just maybe…

Could we convert one part in to a pop up shop?

That’s why I’ve launched a Kickstarter. Not just to raise the money for the materials to make the garage dry and waterproof but to see if there is enough local interest for me to have a physical presence. To see if 40 years on I could have my own ‘shop’ and realise my dream.

Help me realise my dream and satisfy your stationery addiction by supporting my Kickstarter
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Just A Card

Just a Card

I took the Just a Card 5 day social media challenge and shared what Just a Card means to me and my business.

I’m Janet and this is my wee independent biz, Cards and Gift Wrap.

Day 1 My Story

Cards and Gift Wrap started because I am a full time mum at home with 4 children, now aged 2 to 12. I seemed in constant need of birthday cards and wrapping paper for the children and their class mates parties. Other friends were in the same position. Always having to go shopping at the last minute for a card and constantly feeling disappointed at what was on offer in the shops but having no other choice. Now they too are wise and keep a stock of my cards because they are nicer, more afforable, better quality and because it’s just so much more convenient than the last minute panic.

I became an Independent Flamingo Partner (formerly Phoenix Trader) in 2012. I fell in love with the bookmarks and then the notecards, then the gift wrap and eventually the whole kaboodle! I’ve expanded my range to include other gift wrap and accessories, including monthly themed subscription box and I now design my own notebooks and have plans to develop that range and others in the future.

I love seeing others grow and encouraging them. One of my children now makes her own cards and runs her own little business as a result of Cards and Gift Wrap. Over 30 other women across the country run their own Flamingo biz in my team and that’s growing monthly. My notebooks are designed to encourage and boost self confidence. These things alone are motivation enough to keep running my business. It’s never ‘just a card’.

That’s kind of me…oh and my husband is a self published author so that also motivated me to build a business that would allow him more time to write and market his business.

Well done if you’ve read this far!

Day 2 What ‘Just a Card’ means to me.

Funny cos what it means to me is the exact opposite.

When you send ‘just a card’ it’s never ‘just’ a card. It’s a smile, it’s a hug in an envelope, it’s an ‘I care’.

When you receive ‘just a card’ it’s never ‘just’ a card. It’s a warm glow inside, it’s a wow someone thought of me, it’s a heart pounding boost.

When you buy ‘just a card’ from me it’s never ‘just’ a card. It’s showing that you appreciate quality design and not the mass produced. It reminds me that it’s worth the effort running my wee biz cos you need it. It supports a family of 4 kids to do what we do, which is spend as much time together as possible.

Here is one of my favourite Flamingo Paperie cards and it’s soooo much more than ‘Just a Card’

Day 3 share the love.

Here are some of the places I get my own cards from and others where I get supplies from.

Meanwhile here’s the tagline that the Greeting Card Association agreed on for the card industry…I think it pretty much sums up what happens when you send ‘just a card’ don’t you?Just a Card

Some of my gift wrap comes from Flamingo Paperie too but most of it comes from Deva Designs, including the ribbons, bows, tissue, gift bags and most of what goes in my monthly subscription box. If you see something in Deva that I don’t have in stock, just ask and I’ll add it to my next delivery from them.

All the colouring in tablecloths now come from Eggnogg, they do some fabulous other products too. My favourite tablecloth is the party one because it has cake on it!

Day 4 What’s new and how do you get hold of my stuff

I have recently added notebooks, designed by me, to my stock. There are new designs in the making all the time. My first one was the So Flamboyant flamboyant

You can browse all my items in my shop. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please just ask.

Day 5 Happy Dance

Every time you buy from a small business a real person does a little happy dance. I am no exception. Even when you buy ‘Just a Card’ from me I do a happy dance. You’ll have to nip over to my Facebook page or Instagram profile to see this one.

So you see really, it’s never Just a Card!

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Multi-tasking – is it really that great a skill?


Apparently as a woman I’m very good at multi-tasking. Why is then that I’m not that proud of my ability?

Multi-tasking, an ability or a necessity?

I just ask because I’ve noticed that if I’m sitting at the kitchen table trying to write a blog post surrounded by 4 children all demanding food, drink or answers to really important questions like ‘why do you have to whack fish when you catch them?’ simultaneouly that I am expected to just juggle it all. At the very worst I’m supposed to drop the blog post and deal with the rest. Only once everything else is satisfied do I feel allowed to return to the blog. And of course everything else is never satisfied.

So much research tells us that multi-tasking isn’t actually a good thing. It is far more productive to focus on one task at a time. Multi tasking slows down our overall output. Yet women seem to have no choice but to get on with it. We’re told women can multi-task, men can’t but I think the truth might be that women don’t have the luxury of not multi-tasking.

Why are there different rules for him and her?

However, when he is writing a blog post, or typing a comment in to Facebook and someone else dares to talk to him, usually me, they get at best a grit of the teeth and at worst told to leave him alone he’s trying to work.

If we are both in the kitchen and a child wants something they will immediately ask ‘mum’. A friend of mine told me recently about when she was out at work all day and her husband had the children. She returned home to find him playing computer games while the two young children sat playing quietly…until they saw her. Then it was ‘mummy, I need a drink’, ‘mummy, what’s for tea?’. How do men get away with it?

Do women expect to multi-task while men have a right to focus?

Are we women at fault for just coping with it all so well? Should we shout ‘leave me alone’ more often? Or does that go against our instincts especially when it’s children that are demanding our attention?

Even as I write this I can hear huffing an puffing from him further along the kitchen table as he juggles holding a sleeping (not demanding!) baby while trying to edit an email. The only reason I’ve surrendered the body is that my back is too sore to hold the bundle any longer. Normally that would be me typing away one-handed with a softly snoring darling snuggled into my shoulder. You should see how good I’ve got at typing with me left-hand only.

Perhaps women are their own worst enemy. Or perhaps our children in particular are just too precious to us to demand the extravagance of single-tasking as it would inevitably mean turning their demands and needs away.

What does this mean for women, especially mothers, who work from home?

I don’t have the answers to this question? I want the answers! My own experience is that I constantly feel like I’m juggling everything and everyone. The task is never finished. Consequently I’m often tired, irritable and downright miserable. Of course I love my children etc etc and sure I wouldn’t have it any other way. No wait – actually I might. If I could just tweak things a little to allow time to breathe for myself now and then, perhaps I wouldn’t feel quite so washed out.

How do women, mothers in particular, cope with working from home? According to a previous blog post I wrote apparently I do, and of course yes I still agree with everything I wrote but sometimes it just feels too hard. If you are one who manages it, please let me know how you do it as I don’t think I do and I could do with some advice.

Of course since starting this post the adorable sleeping bundle woke up, demanded mummy and has returned to me. Oh well, back to the one handed, cack handed typing it is…


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Why committing a crime is appealing

Motherhood like prison

Do you find motherhood like prison but fear it would be wrong to admit it? Well you’re not alone – me too! In fact I’ve recently discovered that I would have significantly more liberties if I committed a crime.

5 ways I find motherhood like prison. Or put another way – 5 things I could do if I was locked up.

1 Bed

I’m guessing that when it’s lights out in prison then that’s it lights out. It’s not ‘please can I have another story, even though you’ve just read me the same story every night for two weeks and you don’t even need to look at the words any more’. Or ‘I need a drink of water, mummy.’ It’s not ‘I need the toilet, mummy.’ It’s not ‘I can’t find my stuffed toy that I haven’t looked at for months but I really need right now or I’ll never be able to get to sleep.’

It’s just ‘lights out’, sleep. Bliss.

2 Newspaper

From the little research I’ve done in to prison life (oh yes, you thought I was kidding, no I’ve looked this up just to see how well off I’d be), all inmates can have a newspaper in their cell. A newspaper? Can you even remember the last time you read a newspaper? Sometimes I grab the local free newspaper, just to see what child friendly screenings might be coming up at the local cinema, or what ‘family’ events might be on. ‘Family’ of course meaning ‘for children’ with nothing particularly that adults want to do. Well there is – there’s a bouncy castle but when do they allow the parents on these days?

Every day I could read a newspaper, uninterrupted!

3 Sweets

Apparently all inmates are allowed spending money, it varies on the crime committed but as I’m not planning anything too major I reckon I’d have quite a big allowance. I could spend all that on sweets. There would be no need to hide them, or share them. I wouldn’t have to eat them on the sly while only eating fruit in front of anyone else.

Pure sugar, all for me.

4 Music

Prisoners are allowed a device to listen to music on and presumably this means their own choice of music too. I wouldn’t have to listen to the Singing Kettle’s version of 1 potato, 2 potato on endless repeat. I wouldn’t even have to make up a zillion verses to it in the car because I wouldn’t be in the car, I’d be in prison, in my own room, listening to my music.

Just T-Rex and me.

5 Toilet

Now here’s the biggy. I would actually get to go to the toilet ALONE!

So is motherhood like prison? Nah, not really. Prison has many more liberties.

Have I forgotten anything?

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What to do when your team isn’t growing as much as you’d like and you think you’ve tried everything

Motivate your team

Do you have a team of people who aren’t doing as much as you’d like? You want your team to sell more, recruit more, produce more. You’ve tried everything and you’ve run out of ways to motivate your team.

You need some new ideas

It may be that you’ve been doing everything right in your own business. Your own sales are growing and maybe even your own recruitment is going well. The trouble is that your team don’t seem to be following your lead. You feel like you’re saying all the right things but they’re not responding.

Before I tell you what I started to do to motivate my team let me tell you what I stopped doing. I stopped spending time on the people who simply weren’t doing anything at all. There will always be people who, for whatever reason, don’t do anything. There is little point wasting your time and energy trying to move them. Instead focus on the people who are doing, even if they’re only doing it in small bursts.

Here are 4 ideas to motivate your team so they will grow.

These ideas are simple, low-cost ideas that you can use to say ‘well done’, ‘keep going’, ‘nice one’ in order to make your team members feel special. They don’t take a lot of time to do but will encourage those who do, to do more.

Shout outs

What do you do when someone joins your team? Or when they make their first sale, or sign their first recruit or complete their first project? Did you let everyone else in the ‘office’ know? Or did you say nothing because after all they’re only doing what they were meant to do anyway?

Giving a ‘shout out’, especially when someone starts new, can be a real boost. People need to feel valued. Even though your team member is responsible for their own business and if they work hard they will get the rewards of the company, it helps to get a virtual pat on the back. If you want them to grow then you’re going to have to give credit when they make achievements.

A simple mention on Facebook, on the office noticeboard or wherever others will see your ‘welcome’ or ‘well done’ will not only make them feel noticed and valued but may encourage others too.


While getting a mention on Facebook is nice, getting a handwritten card through the post is much better. It carries with it so much more than a quick text. It doesn’t cost much in time or money to write and post a card to say well done, keep going, thank you or whatever.


Has your company just brought out a new product? Do you have some company business stationery that could be useful? How about rewarding your team member with some such freebie. Not only will it be a lovely thought but it will save them a few quid buying the new product and they’ll be able to use it productively in the business too.


There are lots of low cost gifts you can send to motivate your team. Depending on the achievement attained you can choose an appropriate gift. My upline has sent me a small bar of chocolate, a personalised mug and a bunch of flowers on different occasions. Other ideas include a personalised bar of chocolate or even a small hamper.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to motivate your team. You do need to stop wasting time and effort on those who aren’t doing and focus on rewarding those who are. A little encouragement goes a long way.

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When you get a proper job

What do you want to do when you grow up and get a proper job
So, over the last couple of days I’ve been doing something a little different and to be honest a bit out of my comfort zone – but that’s how we grow right?? I’ve come the closest in a long time to having a proper job.

What do I do?

I’ve been at my children’s school for their ‘career – workplace’ week along with other parents and local businesses. We’ve been talking about our jobs and why we do what we do.
I was really impressed with the questions asked, especially by the older children. I also felt kind of humbled by their understanding of why I do what I do.
When the letter came home the previous week asking parents if they were willing and available to come in for a sort of ‘careers fair’ I half jokingly put my name down for ‘Direct Sales’. To be honest I didn’t think anyone would want me as I don’t work full time and for so many it’s not a ‘proper job’. Would teachers really want me to tell children that I don’t work much because I’m a full time mother and the business I have just fills the gaps?
So I ticked both days meaning I was available for either and expecting to hear nothing.
Well that’ll teach me! They asked me to come in both days and I was the only person who did do both days!

What do you want to do when you grow up and get a proper job?

I know when I was young parenthood wasn’t a viable career option. Looking back on my education I feel a bit lied to. I grew up feeling empowered and encouraged to change the world. No one explained that if I had children I couldn’t actually have it all. On the contrary I had to make choice.
So I told the children that I used to have another job but gave it up when my children were born. Then I wanted a business that would allow me complete flexibility of time and allow me to earn some money even if not a full time income as it’s not a full time job.
I thought they’d all be more interested to ask what my ‘proper job’ had been before my children were born. Yet not one child asked me that question. Instead they all seemed to get it. Perhaps because our children value the time we spend at home with them, even when we don’t or when we don’t realise how much they appreciate us just ‘being there’.

What did they get out of it?

I don’t know the answer to that. Most of them seemed to want to join the police (he did have much more interesting gadgets and equipment compared to my bookmarks and birthday cards!). Though their eyes did all light up when I explained that my job involves eating a lot of cake.
But I was reminded how clever and astute our children are. When I was 6 it was a visit from a missionary couple that sparked something in me to work overseas. That never left me and was the basis for my previous ‘proper job’. It’s still something I’d like to go back to. But for now my children appreciate me just being there for them. Even if they and I don’t always realise it. So I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, blogging about and selling cards and eating cake.
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Make your Dream come True

Make your dream come true day

Have you ever had a dream come true? I have but more on that later. What do you need to do to make your dream come true?

What do people dream about?

I don’t mean those horrible dreams about your teeth falling out (I’ve had so many of those!) I mean what are people’s ambitions?

If you Google something like ‘how many people want to work for themselves’ you’ll get a range of articles suggesting anything from 45 to 72% of people would rather be self-employed. Those who do want to work for a company want that company to be ethical and responsible. But how many people have managed to do either of those things?

According to Investors in People 60% of workers are not happy in their jobs. That’s a lot of unhappy people and as we all know – a happy workforce is a productive workforce.

What Choice do I have?

Seems there are a few options available to you.

1 – Do Nothing and put up with it.

After all 60% of people are in the same boat why should you be different. Maybe the planets will align better next month and things will improve.

2 – Change your company from the inside.

I’m sure it has been done but not that often. However, if you can then go for it. Not only will you improve your life but the circumstances of your fellow employees too.

3 – Change job.

Start looking around now. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side but you have to open the gate to find out.

4 – Start your own business.

I tried no.1 for a few months and decided life was too short. I found I couldn’t do no.2. The ‘machine’ was too big and powerful and I was too insignificant to have a voice. I tried no.3 and would still go for that option but when I had children I had to give up work and no.4 is working for me just now.

Make Your Dream Come True

I think to do this you need to ask yourself some questions.

  • What do you enjoy most?
  • What sort of work/life balance do you need?
  • How much money do you need (and then how much do you want)?

(As my father-in-law says ‘Money can’t buy happiness…but it helps.’)

Phoenix Trading Christmas wrapping
Wrapping demonstrations are one way I weave my longing to be creative into my work!

When I had children I needed something flexible that I could do in the ‘gaps’ of life. Something with no targets, no expectations or pressure from anyone else. I enjoy selling things and I love mentoring people. I’m a bit crafty though not very good at it but I enjoy making things on my own and with my children. I thrive on making others smile.

So for me, starting my own business selling beautiful, exclusively designed greeting cards and stationery ticked my boxes. No targets or pressure, my business my way. I get to buy and sell which I’ve been doing all my life (family business I was born into). My team are also self-employed and doing the same business but their way and I get to support them and see them grow. I do gift wrapping demonstrations and make decorations out of wrapping paper and paper chains. I get to send lots of cards and make people smile.

What will you do?

Has your dream already come true or do you still need to make some changes?

I guess I’ve had more than one dream come true. When I was 2 my mum and I were staying at a friend’s house for Christmas. I was sleeping on the floor beside mum’s bed and I distinctly remember dreaming that my dad was coming to see us on the train. The next morning I woke up and there he was asleep beside mum in the bed next to me having come on the train overnight. I guess I was probably told he was coming but I didn’t remember being told, just the dream and waking up thinking ‘wow, my dream came true!’. My other dream – to spend as much time as possible with my children, while they are young, now.

Sometimes our dreams seem impossible but in the words of Benjamin Disraeli, “Through perseverance, many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.”

Make your dream come true disraeli

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Dare to dream

Well what a week that was, feel like nothing will surprise me anymore! Wonder what this week will hold for us all?
Whatever your dreams are; dancing, presidency, and shortly before all that Ireland beat New Zealand at rugby for the first time in 111 years (OK – that might not interest you but being married to an Irishman, it was big news in our house!)….anyway with a big Supermoon in the sky tonight I think it might be time to dream big and reach for the stars.
What are your dreams?
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10 Gift Hampers I’d like to receive…I mean give (obviously!)

Pamper basket Phoenix Trading card gift hampers

Have you always loved wicker baskets and have always dreamed about receiving a hamper gift? However, you have this idea that they are really expensive. Well here is a list of some gift hampers that I’d love to send (and receive!). Gift hampers that seem afforable, as well as quirky and lovely.

Here are 10 gift hampers with something for everyone.

(Confession – most of the links in this article are links that I will receive a small payment from if you choose to buy anything. However the opinions expressed are my own. I decided which hampers to include by doing my own research.)


London in a tin!

Not actually a hamper but a London Bus or Telephone Box from M&S and let’s face it – we all love London don’t we?


This Deluxe Golden Tower is a bestseller at Hampergifts. Their top-of-the range chocolate tower is a soaring 50cm tall and features 8 golden gift boxes, each one filled to the brim with a vast amount of chocolates, cookies and other sweet treats. This is pure indulgence on a grand scale! The contents include sugared almonds, award-winning ginger & chocolate cookies, honey roasted nuts, Belgian truffles, chocolate coated Brazils, fruit cake, fudge, flapjack, caramels, hand-made honey biscuits and a huge amount more. The sheer number of goodies mean this gift is perfect for sharing – either in an office or for the whole family. have some other amazing hamper combinations too, worth checking out.


Cadbury Team HamperThere are lots of chocolate hampers on the market but this one from Cadbury Gifts Direct caught my eye because it was aimed at work teams. I’m all in favour of boosting morale in the workplace. I think gifts to the ‘team’ like this are a great idea for Christmas, or any other occasion for that matter.


I did have a look at wine hampers but couldn’t choose between them and as I was looking at them and picnic hampers I saw this Amethyst hamper – it’s purple, what more do I need to say!?

Food Glorious Food

This was a difficult choice – as you can imagine there are loads of food hampers out there but I plumped for the Breakfast Hamper. Don’t you think it looks versatile and could be sent just as a gift. It suits a wedding, anniversary, birth of a grandchild or just for a special couple. To be honest I just can’t resist smoked salmon!


I love the idea of a party pack, and Cadbury’s have a great one. Very affordable and with Oreos!


I like cake, I also like cookies so imagine my delight to find a hamper that contains cake and cookies and flapjacks! This is another choice from and I think an affordable choice too.

Pamper Hamper

I love the idea of a non-food hamper to spoil someone. M&S have the perfect healing hamper. Send some real tlc with this Aloe Vera hamper. The hamper contains hand wash, hand cream, diffuser and an aloe vera plant.

You might also like Christmas Eve Boxes.