Tuesday, 30 November 2010

How we wrap our cards so beautifully

There is a lady called Jean who lives in Macclesfield and picks up all the cards from the printers, checks them, then packs the cards with a lot of love. I want her to wrap my christmas presents!!

Friday, 19 November 2010


What a mouthful, I had never heard this word until 18 months ago, but now it is part of my life 24 hours a day.

I have never spoken about my daughters genetic disorder in my blog, but I just feel the time is right to do so, to maybe help others in the same situation, it is always good to hear about someone who is going through the same experience as you.

Well where do I start.

Never in a million years did I think there was anything wrong with my daughter, she was a terrible sleeper, incredibly clingy and adorable. Then one day I just asked a friend of mine who is a doctor to look at my daughters birth marks, as my other 2 had molluscum and she was just checking on that. Ahhh she says these are cafe au laits, what a lovely name for a birth mark, what she didn't tell me, probably a bit afraid of doing so. Is if you google cafe au laits you world falls apart. I still remember that evening looking at the computer screen in floods of tears, saying no this just cant be right.

More than 5 cafe au laits is a pretty definite sign that your child has neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder, which unfortunately when googled brings up very scary images. So there I was devastated, but then I decided this can not be the case, so booked to see my GP deciding she just cant have NF. When they brought in a support worker into the consultation room I realised that she most probably did have it.

The next few hours were pretty damn awful, I will never forget how I felt and a horrible horrible (in nice words) man made things much worse. Picture this, a mum with 1 year old and 3 year old in floods of tears is approached by an old man who attacks her for getting her kids out of the wrong side of the car on a dead end street and calls me an irresponsible bad mother, I laughed about it afterwards, but he did get a huge mouthful from me at the time.

Anyway living with NF, she has had fantastic care. She is looked after by the geneticist at Manchester Children's Hospital who is incredibly knowledgeable on the subject of NF, a consultant paediatrician and the eye hospital. If anyone wants any info on these people just contact me.

But living with NF can be scary, we are flying to Manchester next week to visit the eye hospital for her regular check to see if she does not have any tumours behind her eyes, I am sure she won't, but it is still upsetting and she hates going, she can remember last time with all the tests. You always wonder if she is reaching her development targets as 60% of kids with NF have learning difficulties, but so far so good.

I think the scariest thing about NF is you will never know how bad it is going to be or how good, but my hubbie's attitude and mine, is if everyone had more than the most minor symptoms of NF everyone would have heard about it. We will ensure that she has the confidence and self esteem to deal with any of the symptoms she might get in later years. She will know she is beautiful even with the birth marks and fibromas, as beauty is from within and she is one beautiful little girl and we love her with all our hearts.


Chilly November in France

MY WEBSITE - I have had a few comments lately that I am not as user friendly as Hallmark or Moonpig, which I acknowledge is true. But my aim is to be a bespoke stationery service, where you can get the card that is perfect for you. I spend a lot of time and thought making sure the cards are just right for the client, from designing multiple proofs, to giving advice on the best photo to use. I also design matching items on request, for example prayer cards, order of service and love every minute of it. I do get some amazing feedback which makes it all worth it.

The big but is, do I need to update my site. If I provide an online proof service, I know by experience the cards just dont look right if you just place them straight on the card - I spend time altering text size, spacing, cropping photos, even changing the shape and style of the card to make sure it looks just perfect.

So the question is how do I change my website but still retain the CocoCards unique personal touch.

MY LIFE - france is still the place I want to be, it can be difficult sometimes running the business by email and phone, but with the great team I have it is getting better all the time. The problem is I enjoy my home life more here, so the temptation to cook beautiful food - no convenience food here! or dig my vegetable patch is much greater here. I even bake my own bread now (slight exaggeration here - as I use a bread machine!)

If anyone is ever tempted to emigrate, I say do it, the kids are happier, we are happier. You realise what is important in life when you move to rural France - family and friends. A life where you consider your environment, eat seasonal food, grown your own food, enjoy the countryside. I love it. My children see so much of their father now, he walks them to school every morning, picks them up every afternoon, helps with their french homework (as I can't), we all sit down and eat together two or three times per day.

It is all so simple but yet so good.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Christmas, Christmas, Christmas

I am in the process of designing some really lovely new cards for Christmas and all of my cards can be changed to suit each family's or business's needs. I have even had some christmas cards enquiries already.

So who has organised where they are going to be over xmas, I have and it is only September!!! It is always so hard deciding where and whose family to be with. Luckily I have very understanding parents, so we are staying in France with my hubby's second family for xmas. It is going to be my first French Christmas with 13 sitting down for dinner so far.

But Christmas without christmas pudding is a no no, so we need to get that from the UK, but will we be able to get it through customs in November, I tried to get philadelphia cheese through last time with no success!

Saturday, 18 September 2010


I just love these dragonflies Allie Pottinger drew for CocoCards, I would love to put together a whole stationery range - what do you think?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

New beginnings

I am hoping to revamp my website over the next few months, a friend is coming over to stay next weekend who is a computer whizz kid, I have so many new ideas, and I have enlisted the help of Camille Wesser to photograph my cards she is an excellent photographer. www.camillewesser.co.uk.

Allie Pottinger is drawing some christmassy things as we speak and has just painted some dragonflies, so new cards coming very soon

On French life, well all 3 kids started school last week, the little one cries when she goes in but it gets better every day, well I hope, as it is heartbreaking as every mother knows. My oldest is excelling, his teacher is amazed by his ability to learn, he even stood up in front of his class and recited a French poem the other day. My middle one is enjoying her class and her new teacher, it is pretty easy for her as in France they do not start school until their 6th year, so she is maternelle for another year, which is the french equivalent of pre school. So she has time to learn french before she starts 'real' school.

I have to say that yep sometimes it is hard and learning french for me is hard, missing my family and friends is hard but I would still recommend it to anyone. Cheap flights to the UK do help, we went to the UK end of August and my parents are coming over here very soon, cant wait to show them our new life.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Stylish and sumptuous birthday party ideas

On my twitter travels I found some really amazing sites, inspiring ideas for birthday parties.

I am going to expand my birthday invitations to cover some of these themes, but in the mean time just email me if you would like a specific card.

There is the most inspiring site in the US, called hostess with the mostess and her blog is just full of beautiful parties - different takes on princess parties, fairy parties, baby shower parties, everything really, see pics below and links.

Look at the links below for a dinosaur party, vintage toys party and woodland fairy party

Dinosaur partyVintage toy party,  Woodland fairy party

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Sheer luxe awards finalist

Sheer Luxe's 1st Annual Online Shopping awards - I am nominated, not sure if it means much but would be nice to win, up against some big companies.

Voting for the winners lasts until September 20th, and all winners will be included on a page of editorial in our upcoming magazine (running with subscriptions of InStyleGraziaHarper’s Bazaar, and The Times’ Style and The Telegraph’s Stella magazines).
If you have a minute please vote for me using link below


Saturday, 10 July 2010

Cherry compote

We made 6 litres of cherry compote today, which meant picking about 2000 cherries, well it felt like 2000, destoning all of them, then making the compote, but by golly it was worth it, it is just delightful, swapping it with my friend for some of her veggies as mine are very sad. The kids absolutely loved the whole process especially the messy bit.

It is funny how you move on and change, 1 year ago I would never have thought I would live in a small french village, making cherry compote and tending to a veg garden, but then 3 years ago I would never have thought I would have a business designing cards, which is doing pretty well even though I say so myself. I absolutely love every minute of it. I still enjoy personalising all of my orders and love designing new cards.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Settling in France week 2

Well we have a vegetable patch now, courtesy of my hubbies digging, with melons, tomatoes, herbs, pumpkin, cucumbers and courgettes, lets just see if they survive. I feel really good about my first ever veg patch, simple honest living is the way forward.

We have filled our paddling pool so the kids are very very happy and our table is under the cherry tree in the garden, so we can relax while they play - heaven.

As you can see suddenly lots of blogging, well that was one of my main aims along with developing my marketing skills when I moved to France, I also wanted to make it (hopefully) a bit more interesting by adding  little titbits from my new French life.

I am just loving assessing my site with google anlaytics - which pages most people go to, bounce rates, where they come from - what about Ribeirao Preto in Brazil or Sofia in Bulgaria, how come they find CocoCards - but the person from Sofia only looked at 2 pages, so not that good a site she or he thought and the Brazilian spent 5 minutes and 26 pages - but sadly no order.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Eh what did you say?

So learning new words every day, Birth announcements are called faire part naissance in France, El anuncio del nacimiento in Spanish, and geboortekaartjes in Dutch. Hopefully I will be designing some baptême invitations very very soon.

Some beautiful quotes

These 2 quotes I feel are so important in my life right now:

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless." Mother Theresa

There are always flowers for those who want to see them." Henri Matisse

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Bilingual birth announcements and bilingual christening invitations

Seeing as being bilingual is so relevant at the moment to me, I just wanted to say I have designed many bilingual birth announcements, even bilingual Christening invites. One birth announcement was in chinese, english and spanish and I designed a greek christening invite last week, which the lady loved. I cant proof read Greek or Chinese obviously but I can send it to you to proof read.

On the subject of being bilingual, my little daughter just sat down in the cafe with my hubbie and I today and said 'bonjour, jus d'orange please'.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

So we have arrived

We arrived in France on Thursday after a tortuous journey, 3 ½ hours in traffic jams around Paris, but we got to our friends’ house at midnight and woke up to a rainy day in France, but they live on a huge farm, so we woke up to strawberries from their garden and eggs from their chickens and of course fresh baguettes.
Then on to our new house which is so French, no carpets obviously, shutters, silk wallpaper, no shower and 2 bidets!!!
The kids went on a tour of their new school on Friday and like it up till now, there are 6 English kids there already – all girls though – sorry Jacob.
Everything is so much more expensive over here, a kitchen bin is 40 Euros – ahhhhh.
I think I am going to love it here, the village is so lovely, small but has everything a French person needs, but maybe not an English person, I already have a long list of things to buy in the UK.
Content and happy but very tired, I think this is the start of something great, we have always wanted our children to be bilingual and experience life to the full and we have just made the first big step, how good does that feel.
We will have broadband tomorrow, so CocoCards as normal from tomorrow morning. Just with a french twist.
I forgot to mention in my last post, the most amazing supportive loving people in my life other than my kids and Jeremy of course, my parents. They have been so wonderful over the past few months and are such fantastic grandparents. This post is really for you, we love you and will miss you with all our hearts, that is the only down side of moving to France the fact that we will be so far away from you, as your grandchildren and I love you dearly.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

New life

Not been near my blog in ages, incredibly busy with work , 3 kids and life in general. But hopefully things will get better now.

I am moving to France next week to start a new life with my hubbie and 3 kids and I cant wait, nervous but excited.

Dont worry CocoCards continues and will be even better as I have an employee now, a wonderful lady called Jean, who will be dealing with all the printing, packing and posting from the UK.  I will now be able to focus on my business - blogs, wedding stationery, marketing etc etc.

I have been through a very rough patch recently which I will not go into, but I believe in postive thinking and I have learnt a lot about human nature and by god people can be awful, but then others can be the most inspiring supportive people you could ever imagine  - allie and Gill you know who you are and thank you so much.

So in a month time when I am all settled in my beautiful French house in the most gorgeous little village in France, I will blog again.