Our Autumn Bucket List

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Happy Solstice!

What a lovely day this is. Summer has gone! At last. I know this is will be a wildly unpopular opinion but I hated this summer so much. It was quite literally like living through the Nicolas Cage film – The Knowing. I was wondering if we were all done for, if this beautiful earth of ours was about to ignite into a massive ball of fire. To be fair, the way we are treating the planet we probably deserve such a horrific end.

Autumn is the most beautiful of all the seasons. The colour changes in the trees have to be one of my favourite things of the entire year. There is a journey that we often take, a motorway surrounded by countryside. As you come down into the valley you are greeted by swathes of oranges, reds and yellows. If you’re lucky, there will be mist deep in the valley. It is quite magical. Even as a child I would try to take mental pictures every year. I’ll have to see if I can get a proper picture one day.

“Listen…
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.”

Autumn by Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914)

The air changes. It becomes crisp and fresh with an earthy dampness to it. Temperatures drop but the sun still shines. Sun rises and sun sets glow like the sky is on fire. Red berries burst from bushes and creatures scurry about in preparation for winter. Pumpkins grow fat, hay is baled and harvest is celebrated. I couldn’t imagine a better season. Sure, I know by the time it comes around again, spring will give autumn a run for it’s money but after a long, dry summer, autumn is a refreshing reprieve.

Personally, I long for a woolly jumper, a wonderful cup of hot chocolate, lazy afternoons in front of our new log burner with blankets and Netflix. I want to make stew again, and bake apple pie. I want to scuff my feet around in the piles of leaves and snuggle down deep into my coat against the chill air. I long to climb into bed with a thick duvet and cold sheets, to stretch my chilly feet out across the bed and warm them up on my husband. I’m looking forward to creating autumn inspired pieces in my bullet journal. October is our wedding anniversary too, so we will also be celebrating that somehow.

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A & M. Copyright of Chloe Lee Photography

As a family, we have many things planned for Zosia to experience. I am looking forward to picking our own pumpkins and taking cute pictures of her wandering around the pumpkin patch. I want her to experience walking through puddles and kicking up the leaves. I can’t wait to buy her some wellies. I want to see her amazement at all the wonderful things that autumn will bring us, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes. I want to take her to her first fire works show and to create autumnal works of art with her. Being a winter baby, I hope she likes the colder seasons as much as we do. Having a child makes the seasons come alive. I cannot wait to explore autumn with Zosia, to teach her about conkers and learn about the creatures and animals.

Our top 10 Things to do this Autumn:

  • Visit a local farm
  • Make our own autumnal wreath
  • Go to a ‘Pick Your Own’ Pumpkin patch
  • Craft with fallen leaves
  • Collect Conkers
  • Make a pine cone bird feeder
  • Make apple or pumpkin pie
  • Explore a local woods or forest
  • Use the new wood burner
  • Splash in puddles and run through crunchy leaves

The best thing of all, is that autumn leads to Christmas and winter and I cannot wait for that this year! I’ve created an autumn bucket list and I hope to get as much of it done as possible. What do you like most about this time of year? How many things do you think you’ll get ticked off? Drop me a comment below.

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Thanks for reading.

Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama

JakiJellz

”My

An Interview with Surface Designer Vicky Webb AKA Crumpets and Crabsticks

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My sister and I haven’t always been that close. I wasn’t the best of sisters as a kid. It has taken a lot of growing up (and hundreds of miles) for us to be the way we are with each other today. Motherhood can and will change your relationship with your family members and it certainly has changed ours. For the better of course. Our relationship is stronger now than it has ever been and to be honest, I am a very proud big sister. I mean, I don’t wanna be all soppy and stuff, that’s not our jam, but I am proud of the things she has been able to achieve and the lessons she has learnt from my mistakes. She has worked hard to be where she is now.

It’s not everyday that you get to interview your little sister. Sounds strange saying it out loud but here I am. So let’s find out who the woman behind Crumpets and Crabsticks really is.

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Brighton Fun. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

About Vicky

Vicky AKA Crumpets and Crabsticks (30) was born in Kent but now lives in the Isle of Man with her husband, daughter and cat. Her interests lie in British culture, general anthropology and watching people, the environment, mathematics and pattern. She largely uses water colour, acrylic, and computer based image making software. She is also a maker of ethical and recycled products.

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What is the meaning behind your name?

Back at uni, we had a day of working on branding and self promotion, and one of the suggestions for coming up with a name was thinking about your favourite things. Crumpets and crabsticks are two of my favourite foods from my childhood. It kind of rolled off the tongue. It just stuck.

Why did you become a designer?

I didn’t see any other possible outcome in my life. I would not be happy doing anything else, so there was never really any other option.

What exactly is a Surface Designer?

The brain gets a rush when you notice a pattern and successfully predict what is coming next, whether this is aurally or visually. I always remember as a kid looking for the repeats in fabrics and I still do it today, almost as a little test. I designed my first repeat pattern in my last year of uni for a screen printed tote bag fundraiser and since then I’ve been hooked.

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Goats- Copyright of Crumpets and Crabsticks

Since graduating I have tried my hand at many different creative avenues, but pattern was always the most rewarding for me. I now apply my repeats to any surface that can take them. I’ve found PoD (print on demand) websites to be the best outlet for this as I can cater to the largest of audience with the largest product selection.

How would you describe yourself/your style?

Chameleon-esque? I don’t limit myself to one style. I’ll draw inspiration from anywhere and try to put my own spin on it.

Which of your own designs is your favourite?

Surprisingly, none of my best sellers. Probably the ones where I’ve surprised myself, either due to a particularly difficult technique or repeat, rather than an appealing aesthetic.

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What skill would you like to master and why?

Networking. I find the whole thing rather embarrassing (I blame being English) and things like social media get a bit neglected, but it’s a necessity in any industry these days.

If money was no object, what hobby would you like to start up?

It’s a toss up between pottery and jewellery making, as they both definitely have a paywall – but I couldn’t be happy making things that their only purpose is ornamental. Therefore pottery would win.

What are you looking forward to in the next 10 years?

Watching my Daughter grow up and seeing how she influences my designs.

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Nursery Prints – Copyright of Crumpet and Crabsticks

What does a typical day in your life look like?

A year a go it would have been – Coffee, staying in PJs, firing up the PC. If the zone can be found – I stay there until the end of the day. Now things have changed, we have a daughter now, during the day baby duties have replaced design ones. ‘The zone’ has not adapted, it still requires commitment – so I work in the evenings where I can set aside a few uninterrupted hours.

If you could live in any fictional world, which one would you choose?

Probably Discworld, because even though bad things will undoubtedly happen to you, at least they will happen with a sense of irony, and maybe a bad pun or two.

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Pressed Flower Pin Badges – Copyright of Crumpets and Crabsticks

If you could only have 2 pizza toppings for the rest of your life, what would you have?

Pineapple. Yes I know. Mushroom. – You didn’t say I had to have them together though right?

Any words of wisdom for inspiring designers?

  • Don’t give up. Your work will be terrible at first. That’s to be expected.
  • Don’t worry too much about what others think – there are so many people out there now seeing your work (thanks internet) that there is bound to be some people out there that will like your work. Be patient.
  • Design for yourself – don’t concern yourself too much about what will sell, you’ll beat the fun out of it, and you’ll have sold out before you’ve even made a sale.
  • Diversify – if you’re taking the route of PoD sites to fund your art habit make a store in all of them, they all have good days and bad days, and they all attract different types of customers. Just because Society6 worked well for someone – doesn’t mean it’ll work well for you. Don’t be too proud, Zazzle might make you more money than the top end fashionable sites if you play your cards right.

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If I am honest, it’s pretty cool and inspiring to have such a talented and creative little sister. Naturally, she challenges me to get creative, even if it is just for typical sibling rivalry. Let’s just say she helps to bring my best creative side out of me.

You can find more from Vicky on the following links:

Instagram

Facebook

Blog

Shops

Hope you’ve enjoyed the read. Let us know what you think. Do you have somebody who helps you to be more creative? Drop a comment below.

Thanks.

Peace and love,

Monsterful Mama

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I’m taking part in the #MummyMonday linky with Becca from Becca Blogs It Out

JakiJellz

Our Top 5 Netflix Shows

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Now I know you’re all thinking ‘Not another Netflix post!’ but hey. Since becoming a mum and a part time supply teacher (especially as it is the summer holidays too), I’ve had some time to catch up and binge on some great TV that I missed when I was working full time. So without giving away too much, I’m sharing our five favourite shows on Netflix. This list represents some of the shows that we as a couple have enjoyed the most and is in no order. Oh and this is not a sponsored post.

Our Top 5 Netflix Shows

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Gotham Series 1 to 4 – 8/10

This is a story about a teenage Batman, before he is Batman. You’ll watch as Bruce Wayne fights puberty and villains. The show is mostly centered about Jim Gordon and the GCPD which makes it more interesting to watch.  It is a great, action packed take on early Gotham and the characters of the Batman series but be warned, by season four you may want to give Bruce Wayne a slap!

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Brooklyn 99 Series 1 to 5 – 9/10

A group of cops in New York hilariously fighting crime and kicking ass. This show is a load of laughs. It’s light hearted and witty and will have you in a binge session before you know it. It is so easy to watch. The relationships between the characters is pure genius and you will love to watch them as they unfold. We have binged this show hard. We cannot wait for the next series to come out later this month.

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Stranger Things Series 1 and 2 – 10/10

Of course I had to mention this one. If you haven’t seen or heard of this series already, you must have been living under a rock.  A group of kids who play Dungeons and Dragons suddenly have their world turned upside down (pun intended) when one of their group (Will) goes missing. They spend the whole of series 1 trying to find him with the help of a girl named Eleven and a dodgy cop called Hopper. It’s all a bit trippy with flashing Christmas lights and funky eighties hair do’s but Stranger things is a great show and has definitely kept us entertained whilst we wait for GoT.

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Santa Clarita Diet – 8/10

This has got to be one of the funniest things we have watched in a while. I was totally not ready for the zombie/cannibal Drew Barrymore. As a successful realtor and mum Drew battles a hunger for human flesh on top of the usual problems women face on a daily basis. It was nice to have a different spin on the usual sci-fi undead stuff.

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Atypical – 9/10

This show is just simply about a young lad with autism as he faces life in an American high-school. To top it off, not only is he trying to cope with the social complexities of puberty and high-school but his family also seem to be falling apart around him. It is a standard coming of age story but with a difference. As a teacher and a parent, I loved this show. It gets a bit emotional towards the end so make sure you have some tissues at the ready. I am so looking forward to the second series.

So what do you think? What have been your favourite shows so far this year? We’re looking forward to a few of these coming back with another series in the coming month and I am looking forward to seeing what Halloween and Christmas films Netflix will have up soon (hopefully).

Thanks for reading.
Peace and Love

Monsterful Mama

JakiJellz

I’m taking part in the Mummy Monday linky with Becca from Becca Blogs It Out

18 Months of Zosia – An Update

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So, I missed the one year update (sorry Zosia!) so I thought doing an eighteen month update would be a good idea. There is plenty of things to catch up on as she has gone from baby to toddler in the blink of an eye. As usual, time has flown by.

18 months
78 weeks
547 days
13140 hours
788401 minutes

Or there abouts.

It is madness. When you’re a kid you spend all of your time wishing time would hurry up so that you could do loads of ‘cool’ adult stuff. When you’re an adult you spend your whole time wishing for the weekend or your next pay day. When you’re a parent you wish, no you beg time to slow down. You ask it not to take our babies away from us, for them to not need us anymore. You don’t want them to grow up so fast, you want to relish every single little thing they do, all the new things they learn every day. Yet time ignores you, laughs in your face and before you know it, that tiny little bubba that you gave birth to, who would just lay there and do nothing much at all, is now walking around your house, grabbing everything, throwing a wobbly every time you change their nappy or move them away from the telly so that it doesn’t fall on them. Your darling angel baby is now a darling little terror or a toddler and through frustration and the distinct lack of communication skills will scream, shout and stomp their feet at you because they don’t want that drink bottle. You still smile politely though, as if they would give you a bad review on Trustpilot or something. You spend hours singing along to Hey Duggee and Tee and Mo songs because they make them laugh. You love them relentlessly. Eighteen months when you’re younger seems like a lifetime ago. Eighteen months of your little ones life seems so short.

As a mother, you have mastered many things. The swift nappy change, the one handed hold, the one handed tasks and the hip balance. People marvel at your apparent baby whisper skills, your ability to clean anything with a wet wipe and your inability to finish a cup of coffee before it gets cold, your multitasking skill has levelled up ten fold, (your arm strength also) you can now carry a baby and ten shopping bags (okay, slight exaggeration) in one hand whilst opening and closing car/front doors and if you weren’t a tidy person before, you are now. To the childless, you are a domestic goddess who is to be feared but also revered. To other parents, who smile at you knowingly (as long as it’s not your child screaming the place down) and who are just glad to see another adult, to them you are doing well so long as your child is still alive.

So, what about us as parents?

It has been, quite simply, the best year of our lives. It has been hard, don’t get me wrong. Some days are harder than others, especially when your baby is teething or poorly but every day is a blessing. There have been days where I could have murdered my husband and there have been days where if it were not for him, I’m not sure what would have happened to my sanity. Our relationship has changed. We rarely have time for just us. We haven’t been on a date night since before Zosia was born. We’re no longer a couple. We’re a ‘throuple’. Like I’ve said a hundred times before, being parents is hard and so there are bound to be things that tip you over the edge, especially when sleep deprived. This doesn’t mean we don’t love each other more than we ever have. As much as we have disagreements, we are still so happy and love our little family.

I guess we just kind of miss being able to just go out on the fly and the recklessness of not being parents. We miss the lay-ins on the weekends but love the snuggles and giggles with bubba too. We miss a table for two in pretty much any restaurant we like. Now we have to preplan a meal at a family friendly restaurant that will have highchairs that we have to clean before putting Zosia in. Despite this, it is such a cute thing sharing a meal out with her at the table with us. She gets to try different foods and although at times said restaurants charge an extortionate amount of money to feed your child (even though you asked for plain, boiled vegetables only and get charged £4 for it) it is worth seeing her process new flavours. There are many things that we used to do and miss, but they have been replaced with things we now do with Zosia and we love it.

The update:

During the last year Zosia has grown so much. In size and personality. Just reading back through the 6 months update makes my heart go funny. Time can be unforgiving if you don’t allow yourself a moment to just stop and take it all in. It’s been 12 months since the last update so I am sure you can guess, so much of her has changed.

‘The tiny creature that regularly kicked me in the ribs, has become this adorable babbling, giggling, chunky monster that wants to grab and eat everything.’

Watching her grow up is such a delight but damn, it was so much easier when she was little. She is still the same cheeky little monster. She still wants to eat everything. Everything gets tried and tested in her mouth first. If she can’t eat it, it gets discarded, thrown away. She is so vocal now too. Although she hasn’t learnt many words she is becoming the master of her voice. She plays around with sounds and pitch. She has the cutest toddler babble. Her favourite thing to say at the moment is ‘Oh dear!’.

Personality:

Her hair is so long we have to put it up so she can see. She looks so cute with a little pineapple ponytail on top. She is a cheeky little wotsit. She laughs at her cartoons. Giggles when we chase her and loves tipping her drink upside down so her ‘leak proof, chew resistant’ cup drips water everywhere. She loves her baths and playing with bath toys. She marvels at new things and for a short while will become fixated on them. She loves trying to work out how the world works. Like me, she is quite chilled out. She doesn’t get distressed when things change or faced with new challenges but is still quite shy when people come round. Even if they have been round in the last week. She can sometimes get upset seeing people for the first time in the week and although rarely, she can cry at them. I think we need to work on getting her out to more baby/toddler groups to increase her confidence in socialising. She is a little book worm. Books are one of her favourite toys and she will often bring one over to you on the settee. She’ll climb up and get herself comfortable and have a flick through. It’s all very cute.

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Christmas Reading. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

She is a happy little bubba but recently she has been getting frustrated when we stop her doing what she wants and has begun throwing tantrums. Proper leg kicking, scream the house down, flop on the floor tantrums. They said it was terrible twos, not eighteen months! She hates having her teeth brushed. We have to pin her down almost to get at them but as soon as you are finished, she will happily take the tooth brush and chew the bristles. I’ve taken to just putting her on the floor (off the settee or out of our arms) when she is having a tantrum. She soon forgets what has annoyed her and finds something to play with. She has only had a few melt downs and even those haven’t been that major. She is learning to deal with her frustrations and hopefully when she starts being able to verbalise her emotions a bit better we can work through them together. The plan will be to deal with our emotions in a positive way giving her plenty of time and space to talk about them with us when she is older. We want her to feel like she can tell us anything when she is older and not feel like she has to hide certain feelings or be embarrassed of anything at all.

She likes to play in sand and had her first experience of the beach when we visited my sister on the Isle of Man in May. She had fun and kept patting it like it was a dog. She hates having her face cleaned after each meal. She has just started to make eye contact and it is the cutest thing.

Food:

She loves watching her cartoons whilst eating. We do try to restrict her screen time to just meal times. Sometimes you just need to get s**t done. She loves to eat toast but if you give it to her too regularly, she will get bored of it and throw it on the floor. She loves fruit. Enjoys little tortilla pizza’s and eating cereal out of a bowl like a big girl. She is working on using a spoon effectively. She is getting there. She enjoys a fish finger every now and then, loves cream cheese, yogurt and drinking water. Recently we have been giving her some fruit smoothies type things as a treat. We don’t want to give them to her too regularly, we don’t want a little sugar addict but we did put them in fridge during the heatwave and it was a good way to help her stay cool. She also loves frozen yogurt which has been really good in this heat. Again, not too keen on giving her ice lollies or anything that is essentially pack full of refined sugar and chemically made sweeteners so are finding ways around it. We also suspect that she is allergic to watermelon as every time she has eaten some she has been sick in the night.

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Chicken Curry for Dinner. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.
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Healthy Breakfast. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Recently we have tried to move her into a more grown up food time. This means that she has her own grown up plate and we have been trying to get her to use cutlery. The problem we have had is that she throws a lot of food on the floor, so by giving her control of all of her food at once, although scary, seems to be the best option. She throws a lot less food now that she has it all. With the cutlery, our biggest problem has been the high possibility that Zosia is a left-hander. We have tried several sets of cutlery but to no avail so far. She can use her spoon if you preload it but hasn’t quite got the coordination to scoop yet. We’re not giving up though. Practice makes perfect.

Milestones:

She has lots of teeth now. At least sixteen including the most recent four cutting through at the moment and is currently waiting on the the last four big teeth at the back (they mostly come in pairs). She hasn’t been too bad with most of them but the back ones caused so nasty nappy rash. The dribble is excessive. She has had one big cold. The snot is unreal! The poor little thing was sick a few times (big girl sick now, not just milky sick-up) due to the phlegm running down the back of her throat. She soldiered through it though. She is such a little trooper. She has had her jabs. The last set (12 months) gave her a nasty rash but again, she barely even noticed. We we’re more concerned than she was.

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Walking with Daddy. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

She now walks (like a drunk little old lady) and we were surprisingly unprepared for this. We’ve had to buy a stair gate because she suddenly decided one day that they were great things to climb despite seeming to be intimidated by them before. Unfortunately this also means more trips and bumps than we would like but we’re also thankful fo no A&E trips yet. We have just bought her a little rucksack with lead so we can take her for walks. However, it has been far too hot to actually leave the house. Luckily for us, when we do leave the house she still loves to chill out in her push chair. She never complains about being in it or cries to get out of it. She is quite relaxed when it comes to a trip out.

Her vocabulary is getting there. A few new words since the last update but I think she has been focusing on being able to do other things before talking. We try to read to her as often as we can but she likes to keep turning the pages before we can finish reading the page.

Routine:

We are finally getting into some kind of routine with her, although this recent heatwave has not helped to maintain it. She wakes up at a regular time. She has her morning milk, a little play and then some breakfast. She then has free play until she starts to get tired and we notice she is ready for a nap. Bedtime can vary and seems to be quite late but she rarely fights it. She still sleeps through the night with the odd exception of course, nobody is perfect. She doesn’t always go down for her nap. She fights it. She now mostly sleeps alone in her cot (thank goodness!) and even goes into her cot when she has a nap, giving us some time to catch up with work, housework or just some down time.

It’s not perfect but we’re getting there. Going out tends to put her routine all out of whack but she goes with it. Like I said, she is a chilled out little girl (unless you take her toy off her).

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Exploring Ikea. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Are you a parent? How have you been coping with the tantrums? Let me know in the comments below.

I think that is about it. If you’re keen to keep up to date with the ins and outs of Zosia then make sure you are following me on Instagram as thats where I post most regularly. Thanks for reading guys.

Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama

JakiJellz

”My

Musings Of A Tired Mummy
I’m taking part in the Mummy Monday linky with Becca from Becca Blogs It Out

Blog Post Ideas for Blogmas 2018

Blogmas Post Ideas 2018
Copyright of Monsterful Mama

 

Yes. I know. It’s August still. I am not about to let that dampen my Christmas cheer and so in the spirit of all things festive, I have decided to take part in Blogmas this year. For those of you wondering, Blogmas is this thing where bloggers go crazy and commit to posting a festive blog post every day of December. Obviously I will be trying to keep it as family friendly as possible with ideas for keeping the toddler entertained and how not to lose your mind after hearing Jingle Bells for the millionth time, but that doesn’t mean I wont have the odd random post.

The plan is to get as organised as possible as early as possible. As a family, we have a lot of stuff going on in the next few months so it will be vital for me to get as much content written as soon as I can. So naturally, my first thing to do was use my blogging bullet journal to brain storm post ideas. I need to make sure I have enough to post for at least twelve days (depending on decision about commitment) and so I came up with thirty post ideas. Even if I can commit to all thirty one days of December, that gives me enough content for the whole month with one extra post as a 2018 roundup or New Year kind of thing like I did at the beginning of this year. You can see that post here.

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Copyright of Monsterful Mama

I’ve decided on twelve of my post ideas to share with you guys. Some of the posts I am really excited about, including one where I have already planned with my BFF’s who are fully supportive of my extra festive activities. So, without further adieu, here are my top twelve blog post ideas from my list which I have ordered with excitement levels in mind.


12. Christmas on a Budget.

Like my post (link) 1stbirthday on a budget, I aim to help my readers with some tips to keeping costs down over christmas.

11. Favourite Christmas Films

This is an obvious post really. I’ll be going through some of our favourite Christmas films some mainstream and some obscure.

10. Be Mindful this Christmas

A post about staying mindful during the most materialist holiday season. I aim to share ways to be grateful and how the gift of giving (not spending) can really help boost our happiness.

9. Festive Gluten Free Recipes

Seeing as Hubby has become gluten intolerant, I am planning to try out some simple alternatives to some of the most iconic Christmas Recipes.

8. A Bloggers Christmas Wishlist

A gift list for the blogger in your life.

7. Family Traditions to Start

As Zosia become older and more aware of the festive period, we are planning to create some new family traditions into our Christmas that will help her to be more mindful. I will be writing about different traditions that you can introduce to your family that will not mean spending more cash.

6. Tips for Shopping with a Toddler at Christmas

We all know that this festive period can bring the worst out in our kids. As a teacher, Santa is a great way to keep children in line. In this post I’ll be looking at ways to take out the stress of shopping with the toddler.

5. Christmas Eve Box for Zosia

As one of our new traditions this year, I will create a post about what will be in Zosia’s Christmas Eve box.

4. Christmas/Winter Themed Picture Books

This one is going to be awesome! I’ve been wanting to do a post on children’s picture books for some time but I can never chose a small selection. I always end with hundreds of shortlists. This will help me to create a small list (no more than 10) of my favourite Christmas and winter themed books.

3. Gift Ideas for Toddlers

For this post I will be looking into a range of gifts that we will be considering for toddler’s this year and I’ll be looking into some gender neutral/plastic free gifts too. I will be breaking it down into a few categories like I did for my (link) top 10 gifts for new mums post.

2. Santa’s Grotto Visit

We plan to visit a local Santa’s grotto again this year (possible more than one!) and I will be writing a review of it for this post.

1. Visit to Local Christmas Market

Having scheduled in a day with the girls, I will be having a blast at a local Christmas Market. Expect amazing pictures from Chloe Lee Photography of all things festive.


There are a few more ideas to work on too, but I cant spoil it all too much right. I plan to get started on writing the simple posts as soon as September and will have them ready, edited and scheduled by the middle of November, giving me plenty of time to get the rest done during December.

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Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

What are you most looking forward to this year? Any post ideas you would like to see from me? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Peace and Love

Monsterful Mama

JakiJellz

25 Little Things

Seeing as I’ve had quite some time off of late, I thought it would be good to have a little catch up. I recently read a post by Dorkface and loved her answers and you should totally check our her blog. She’s pretty awesome. So I thought this would be a nice way for you guys to get to know me better. I will say though, I am quite boring so trying to think of 25 little things about me has proven a bit tricky.

25 Little Things

1. I’ve only just started watching Greys Anatomy. I know! I know! I am currently watching season 3 and OMG! It’s like Ross and Rachel all over again!

2. I absolutely hate the recent weather (heatwave) and long for autumn and snow.

3. I play far too many phone games. Most of them I only play to get ‘free’ gold for my main game. I love cooking games, word and puzzle games but mostly willing to give any game a go. Unless of course it promotes the mass production of chickens or any other animal for that fact.

4. I currently feel like I have lost creativity somewhere. I think I must have lost it somewhere between the hospital in London and the stressful day job. I have tried to pick it up again since mum was discharged but it has been slow progress. It still feels a bit too much like a chore at the moment so I am just working on digital stuff to keep me going. Ive just started to use my bullet journal again so that is helping.

5. I have been wanting to set up a little business from home but I just don’t know where to begin. I have started selling a few little designs on some websites but I haven’t really published anything yet. I will do when I have a better idea of what it is I want from my business.

6. I recently went to visit my sister and her family on the Isle of Man. It is a lovely little island with some lovely beaches and we were lucky that this was just before the mad heat kicked in so it was still a pleasant few days. We had a great time catching up, trying lots of ice-cream and a lovely few meals.

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Visiting Family. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

7. I have a degree in photography but I am a terrible photographer. I don’t remember half of what they taught me and it to be honest, it was a bloody expensive bit of paper. It did help me get onto the PGCE that I needed to become a teacher though, so it is not all bad.

8. Science is my jam, especially earth science. To become a teacher I had to resit my science GCSE and I loved revising for it.

9. I used to dye my hair a lot. My appearance used to be incredibly important to me. Not so much now.

10. I hate mushrooms. The smell of them, the texture, the way they look when they’ve been cooked. YUK!

11. I wrote a political thing here but decided it was probably best to keep my political views out of the blog. Just know that I hate Donald Trump and Theresa May and think that it is a joke to leave the EU. That is all you need to know.

12. I don’t do religion. If I had to label myself I’d say humanist.

13. My favourite ‘colour’ is black but secretly I love a bit of pink too. Not to wear mind, just ever since I had my little girl I am enjoying pale shades of pink more and more especially if it features super kawaii designs. SSSH! Don’t tell anyone that though, It doesn’t really go with my image.

14. I love, love, love well illustrated children’s books, even more so since becoming a teacher and a mother. Oliver Jeffers books are great and I love how they are now available in board books for toddlers! I am currently making a list of my top picture books for a blog post so I you have any to add, do let me know in the comments.

15. I once met (paid £20 to stand next to and get his autograph) Milo Ventimiglia from Heroes and other stuff. He signed a picture of himself and took a selfie of us both whilst my husband waited with his mate. It was a great day.

16. I love nap times. I often waste them browsing social media and playing those silly phone games but sometimes I like to get s**t done too. Like today, Bubba has just gone down for a nap after finally falling asleep on daddy (first time all week) and here I am, writing this post.

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Bullet Journal and Stationery. Copyright Monsterful Mama

17. I have a mild stationery addiction. I love pens. Brush pens mostly, despite having zero skill in using them. I love washi tape but again, rarely use it to its full potential. It currently just hangs up on my desk making me look mildly creative. I also love collecting (and not using) pretty note books, buying (but not reading) books about mindfulness, drawing and mum stuff. Actually this one should start with ‘I have a substantial addiction to buying stuff and not using it.’

18. My music taste seems to be stuck in the 90’s-early 00’s. I’ve tried liking current music but most of it is crap and sounds the same.

19. Despite being a crap photographer, I love putting up pictures on the walls of our house. I love coming down in the morning and being greeted by beautiful memories. It is a great way to start the day.

20. I love my little Instax printer. I love being able to print off pictures from my phone at any time and I plan to use them in a scrapbook that I am going to make for Zosia.

21. That reminds me! Everyone always asks about Zosia’s name. It is so difficult coming up with a name that you love when you’re a teacher. Then when you share it with your husband and he doesn’t like it either it can become quite a chore. When I was casually watching TV one evening after work, slobbing out like a pregnant mess (surprisingly I had not yet fallen asleep. The hubby heard a name on the telly and from that we decided that it would be her name. It means ‘Wisdom’ and originates from Poland and for those who always mispronounce it: Zosh – a.

22. I absolutely hate drinking coffee that has gone cold but love iced coffee.

23. I made most of my wedding decorations myself with the help of my BFF and sister.

24. Before Zosia, My hubby and I used to play a lot of World of Warcraft and League of Legends.  I even created our own guild with over nine hundred members. We are currently missing playing WoW and I am having to convince my hubby why we should not buy the last two expansions that we have missed, each.

25. I love swimming but hate the fuss of changing rooms, lockers, the thought of the dirty floors and water etc.

That’s it. I made it out alive I hope you did too. If you would like to know anything else drop me a question in the comments. Thanks for coming along for the ride, no matter how boring it was.

Peace and Love

Monsterful Mama

ethannevelyn.com
Musings Of A Tired Mummy
JakiJellz

 

Why you Should be Using a Journal to Improve your Mental Health

 

Using a journal

When I was a kid, about eight or nine, my nan gave me my first diary. A simple weekly spread to manage the supposedly hectic life of a primary school pupil. I began to use it as a way of documenting the little things I had done during the day; woke up, brushed my teeth, watched Pokemon, annoyed little sister etc. I kept things very simple. As I grew up my diary morphed, changed. It grew with me. As I became a teenager dealing with my parents separation, puberty, first ‘loves’ and being unpopular at school, my diary became incredibly important to me. I took it everywhere. As a teen I was so angry at the world and writing all of that down helped me to process my emotions. Of course, this didn’t suddenly make me a better person. I was still a terrible daughter, sister, friend but slightly less so. I felt so very alone growing up, as I am sure we all did but my diary was the only thing I could be truly honest with. I would pour my heart out to it. No holds barred. The great thing was, it never judged me.

As I ventured into adulthood, as I began my journey into serious relationships and discovered my own ideas of womanhood, my diary changed again. I started to include pictures, memories. Growing up my diary was a place to vent, rant, a place to be angry and sad. Now it had become a place of love and happiness. I had made it a document of the good times. Naturally, being only eighteen/nineteen it didn’t last long. Yet I knew that when I was in a better place, it would be something I could look back at with a smile.

Move into my early twenties and my diary (now a proper notebook, with lined pages and referred to as a journal because that’s more grown up) it went through one of its darkest phases. The anger I had felt as a teenager was nothing compared to what was happening to my mind at this point. I had gone from updating it a few times a week to writing in it daily, sometimes several times a day. I would write page after page about how low I was, what (or who) was causing it. It was a very negative place. I knew this would not be a thing that I would want to look back on. It often took me into a darker place as I became overwhelmed with emotions and as I processed the person I was becoming, hurtful, unfaithful, nasty. I no longer recognised myself. However, being able to express myself through writing, during this darkest phase is probably what saved my life.

The journey to recovery was not easy. It took years. A part of that recovery was during an emotionally abusive relationship where I allowed him to strip me back, to break me down and uncover this horrible woman I had become until I was no longer that person and unfortunately, I was no longer a version of me that I recognised. Despite of all that, it was writing at this point which allowed me to re-evaluate who I was and who I wanted to be. At my lowest point, it was my diary that was my salvation.

Then I met my hubby, my light at the end of the tunnel, my knight in shining armour. It wasn’t long before I didn’t need to write things down. I didn’t feel like I needed to furiously scribble down every emotion or vet the things I wanted to say. I could be myself again. Slowly (although he may not realise it) he allowed me to rebuild myself as the person I am today. After a while, I no longer needed the diary and I stopped writing. This isn’t a negative thing. Not needing to write has been refreshing after so long. I still write today but not because I need to. I write because I want to. I write to keep myself and my family organised and to process events out of my control. I write to vent things around the world that upset me but it is no longer so personal. But why did I start in the first place? Why did I feel that need, the need that at points felt so desperate? Personally, I think it was out of frustration, desperation and possible even self-preservation. To save my sanity, to minimise damage.

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” – Oscar Wilde

Keeping a diary or a journal to document the good, bad and the ugly is no new thing. As early as human kind could write, they would document their daily life, the things they had learnt, seen, done etc. There is research from the University of Lancaster that suggests keeping a journal of your experiences can help keep your mind healthier as you get older. Expressive writing can be a way to get a clear perspective as you take time to reflect on something. It stops to obsessive loops we can get ourselves into when dealing with negative situations. It can make us happier and more successful. With this in mind I have come up with some of the benefits of keeping a journal and why you should be using expressive writing to help improve your mental well-being.

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Setting Goals. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

1. It Doesn’t Have to be Articulate:

It doesn’t matter if the spellings are correct or the grammar is perfect. Nobody is going to read it but you, and even you don’t have to read it once you’ve finished it. It doesn’t have to even make sense so long as it allows you to deal with things in your own time. You could try making a mind map if that helps you.

2. Offload the Negative:

You can use it as a brain dump, a way to empty out all of the negative stuff we have to deal with on a daily basis. You are quite literally just offloading some of the things that you either don’t have time to deal with or the things that need more of your attention. You can write the basics down for now and move on. Come back to it when you are ready to deal with it.

3. No Regrets:

Too often do we react on impulse to a negative situation and too often do we fell like crap after. We know we have said things we now regret and we continue to let the loop go round and round in our head. By writing it down, you can say all the things that are bothering you without fear of repercussion and free from the worry of upsetting someone. Once you have all of that out of your system you have time to re-evaluate the situation and approach it in a calm manner. Pouring your heart out on paper can help you to form rational responses to negativity.

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Reviewing the good. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

4. Don’t Just Focus on the Negative:

The process of writing things down, doesn’t have to be solely about the negativity in your life. I use a bullet journal to not only help organise my life but to help me regain control. Yes, there are times when you need to offload the negative but there are also times when you need to remind yourself of the positive. I have often kept a page in my journal to help me focus on the things I am thankful for and keeping a gratitude log is a great way to help you can a little perspective. I made a page about all the things I love about my husband so that I can focus on that when he is driving me mad.

5. Change a Habit of a Lifetime:

You can use your journal as a way to help change some of those habits which are leading to these negative emotions. Tracking habits and moods allows you to see what it is holding you back and means you can find ways to help you move on. Whether you are tracking how many times in a month you have exercised or how many days you have felt sad, you will be able to see what is happening and hopefully address any triggers.

6. Achieve your Goals:

By using a tracker like above, you can begin to work on achieving your goals. Documenting what you want to achieve, whether it be today, this week, this year or even in your lifetime is a great way to help you to actually achieve your goals. Writing the goals down makes them real and thus you feel more accountable for them. Achieving the goals you set yourself allows you to feel more successful, no matter how small the goal was.

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Goals to work towards. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

7. Unleash your Creative Side:

Writing of any kind is a creative outlet, but why stop there? Using a bullet journal is not just a better way to get organised or even to improve your mental health but it is a great way to brush up on other creative skills. I am not just talking about our drawing or painting etc. We also begin to learn a more creative approach to dealing with the pain, disappointment and difficult relationships. Plus you can have a good doodle.

8. Because it Feels Good:

Using expressive writing to help us process life can really make us happier and achieve positivity in our lives. As we go on this journey of self-discovery we can begin our personal transformation. We can manage stress better, we have a feeling of fullfilment. The less stressed we are, the happier we are. The happier we are, the better our mental health is. The better our mental health, the more successful we can be. It sounds quite obvious when you put it like that.

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Inspirational Quote. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

I am by no means an expert on this topic. I am merely sharing what has worked for me in the hope that it can help you. We all know that improving our mental health in todays often chaotic and stressful world is so important. If you ever feel like life is just too much to bare please remember that there are a number of channels out there willing to help you through the dark days. You are not alone. Nor do you have to suffer alone.

If you have any other tips to help with expressive writing or keeping a journal, or if you have used this method to help you during a difficult time, let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,
Peace and Love

Monsterful Mama

JakiJellz
3 Little Buttons
Musings Of A Tired Mummy

July’s Update of Goals for 2018

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As some of you may know, 2018 has not been going to plan. After a steady rise in blog traffic earlier on in the year, things were looking up. However, if you follow me on social media you will know that my mum, who had been in hospital since December 2017 took a turn for the worst at the beginning of March. I mentioned this a bit in ‘My First Year as a Blogger.’ post. Long story short, the blog took a massive hit as I was either working or travelling to the hospital every chance I had. The numbers dipped to an all time low. I wasn’t posting on social media, I wasn’t writing and I wasn’t even using my bullet journal any more. As she began to recover, I did start listening to some podcasts to try and inspire myself to write again and although I wasn’t posting anything, I was getting through the block. When Mum finally came home earlier this month it finally lifted completely. It has helped that I’ve had less work due to it being the end of the academic year.

So, just a little over half way through the year seems like a good a time as any to have a little catch up with the goals I set myself back in January. It seems like a lifetime since I wrote them. Looking back at ‘Goals for 2018’ hasn’t helped my confidence in the blog or even life really. I am nowhere near completing half of the goals that I set. I originally set my goals into different categories: Body, Mind, Creativity, Home, Finances and Blog. In each category I gave myself some goals to work on and broke each goal down into targets to make it more manageable. Let’s take a look at how I’ve done so far.

Body:

I am not sure this will make for an interesting read but let’s get started anyway shall we. Many of these goals are going to be hit and miss.

Fewer Take Aways

  • No more than one takeaway a month

Outcome:   Did not make a tracker for this but have managed to reduce take aways each month. We are not quite down to one a month yet but as our local Chinese has shut and been replaced with a (dodgy looking) pizza and pasta place, I don’t think it will be as difficult in the coming months.

Make better food choices

  • Start cooking meals from scratch again
  • Make time to cook

Outcome:   This went completely out of the window when mum was in a coma. Something to continue working on.

Make sure you eat all three meals, no skipping lunch

  • Stop making excuses, get up and do it.

Outcome:   Doing okay -ish on this one. Most days I manage all three. Every now and then, especially during the recent heat wave, we have skipped a few dinners. We have started to meal plan in the hopes of reducing waste and getting ourselves more organised. So far so good but it needs work still.

Drink more water

  • Get a glass of water (or squash at the very least) when you make your first coffee

Outcome:   Until recently I was doing well with this. Lately we have had a bit of a fizz thing. It is an addiction and yes, we are working on it.

Start Yoga at home

  • Get a yoga app
  • Make a yoga tracker in my bullet journal
  • Use yoga at least 3 or 4 times a week
  • Get up early to do it (even if you’re working)

Outcome:   So, I did restart doing the yoga but it didn’t last long. Zosia started getting up earlier and earlier and I found it hard to find time before work. I think I will need to start doing it in the evening instead. I did get an app though, does that count as a completed goal?

Exercise More Frequently

  • Create a tracker to monitor exercise
  • Go for walks with Zosia
  • Complete a ‘fun’ run for charity

Outcome:   Okay, so Zosia and I have been on some walks. Some days we took friends and Daddy. We walk down to town now instead of driving and fighting twats with no children in their cars for child parking bays. But as for ‘exercise’ no. just no!

Remember why you are doing this!

  • Zosia
  • Hubby
  • YOU

Outcome:   Yeah. I need this written on a yoga mat or something so when I want to cry during exercise I remember why I am doing this.

Mind:

Think this one is going to be a lot more work needed. The mental health has been taking a battering but as with many things, a few patches here and there and we will be all good again.

Avoid drama

  • Don’t create unnecessary drama
  • Don’t get sucked into other peoples drama
  • Remain calm in difficult situations
  • Try not to over react to the little things

Outcome:   Drama has been reduced. Trying to stay calm, not always successful but hey.

Be thankful

  • Remind yourself of the things that keep you going every day
  • Help others in need more

Outcome:   Trying my best to remember the good things in life despite having faced a lot of disruption in my life lately. We have been doing a massive clear out of the house, a de-clutter to make room for more memories. I have used this as a way to help others more and have been sorting the things we do not want anymore to give to charity. We have done a few runs already but there will definitely be more.

Meditate

  • Regular meditation time
  • Spend less time plugged in. Step away from social media for at least 10 minutes a day (to start with)

Outcome:   Tried a few meditation classes on an app. Didn’t manage to stick with it. I will try to get back to it soon. It is just a matter of time and lack of motivation at the moment.

During the early months of mum being in intensive care, I rarely used my phone other than to contact people. As she got better I did start listening to a few podcasts. However since she has been home and I have been back into blogging my screen time has sky rocketed again. I think my next step here would be to schedule time away from my phone (and not just when I am asleep). I just need to find a way to keep track and find different rewards than using my phone.

Be more positive

  • Think happy thoughts
  • Keep a list of all the things that make you happy in your bullet journal

Outcome:   Staying positive has been one of the hardest things about this year. A lot has happened. Things turned out alright. I will be working on this more for the rest of the year.

Learn to love yourself

  • Accept the little slips and move on
  • Remind yourself that nobody is perfect
  • Stop making negative comments about yourself
  • Be kinder to yourself, you know if you’re doing the best you can do or not

Outcome:   This seems to be an impossible task. I cannot remember the last time I felt like I was happy with me. I think that before I can allow myself some love, I need to kick myself up the arse and be harsh. I am a fat cow. End of. Nobodies fault but my own. Nobody can change this but me. Until I begin to start working on the outside, the love for myself (inside and outside) should naturally begin to fall into place. Sometimes you have to be honest with yourself. Tell yourself you look good in an outfit that is clearly not made for you body type is not doing you any favours. Convincing yourself that you’ll go for a walk tomorrow to burn off that pizza, is not helping. Trying to convince yourself that it is okay to be fat – not good. That’s what I need, honesty. Not a few white lies to make myself feel better. I don’t feel better at all. I need to get up, get on and be real.

Creativity:

I think it is safe to say that I am failing miserably here.

Write a children’s picture book

  • Start with a book for Zosia this year, then go from there
  • Work out how you want it to look
  • Think about what the moral of the story is
  • Make time to get this done

Outcome:   This has just not happened at all. I’ll come back to this later. There are more important things to be getting sorted.

Start Zosia’s scrapbook

  • Enlist the help from bestie
  • Don’t be afraid to commit to it
  • Make note of all the important milestones

Outcome:   Again, I have plans to do this still, just not yet. I am saving lots of bits for when I am ready to start this up.

Keep going with the bullet journal

  • utilise the blog journal more
  • Make sure it is as practical as it is pretty

Outcome:   Right, the biggest problem here is I cannot seem to open my bullet journal at the moment. The last page is from the week before things happened with mum. I can’t find the motivation to commit to those same pages in that same book. I think the best thing to do would be to get another notebook and start again fresh when we have the money. I just can’t face that one anymore.

Create more things to sell on Etsy

  • Scan in work you have already
  • Create a calendar for 2019
  • Scan it in to make a digital copy of it
  • Finish setting up Etsy shop
  • Share the s**t out of it on social media
  • Create digital planners for bloggers to use
  • Write more blog posts about my creative side

Outcome:   Although this one may seem like another fail, and it is in the sense that I have nothing for sale in my Etsy shop, it is actually not a complete fail. I have begun to make things, prints to sell but on other sites. Sites that will be revealed later when I have more things to sell. I have chosen these sites instead of Etsy as I do not have the time or the money to be printing things out and shipping them off myself. There will be more on this later. Also, I need a new scanner as the one we have is no longer compatible with MacOS. I have been trying to create some things with the help of the hubby teaching me to use Illustrator. So I am hoping things will pick up here soon too.

Believe in yourself more

  • Remind yourself that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to.
  • Remind yourself that if people get paid millions for calling stuffed sheep and upside down urinals ‘art’ then your few pounds for a hand made print is reasonable enough

Outcome:   I’m getting there. Work in process still. Always.

Home:

I would say this is becoming my biggest success at the moment although, as with everything else, it is still very much still on the to do list. We are making baby steps on most of these goals.

De-clutter the house

  • Go room by room and clear out stuff that either hasn’t been unpacked since we moved in or hasn’t been used in the last 6 months

Outcome:   The process began last month. We’re getting there slowly. Box by box. Shredding old files has begun, packing up our memories to store away and we have been binning or charity shopping old bits we no longer need or use.

SPRING CLEAN THE S**T OUT OF THIS HOUSE!!

Outcome:   Mostly done. Few bits left to do but that will be finished next month. We suffered a major bathroom leak which came down into the kitchen so we need to finish off those two rooms and hopefully that’ll be sorted soon.

Sort Zosia’s room

  • Go through the boxes and clear out the rubbish
  • Buy and assemble new furniture
  • Move crib in after 1st birthday
  • Put up wall decorations

Outcome:   Okay, so Zosia is still in our room and her room is still full of boxes. In the next few months there will be a massive transformation you’ll see, I promise!

Buy better storage and new furniture

  • Book shelf for under the stairs
  • Organise kitchen cupboards better

Outcome:   This too will be sorted in the coming months. I am very much looking forward to writing up about this all again later!

Create a cleaning schedule for the house and put it up in the kitchen

  • Try not to use the word ROTA

Start washing up after every meal.

  • Make this a habit not a chore
  • Stop only tidying up or cleaning when people are due to visit

Outcome:   This is a bit of a sore point at the moment. We are working through some teething problems with housework but as we finish the big declutter and spring clean I hope that it will all be ironed out and sorted.

Finances:

It has taken some time but this has been one of the more successful of goals.

Spend less on the things you don’t need

  • If you do go shopping take your time to think about the necessity of the purchase.

Start putting more aside for Zosia’s future

Outcome:   We have been saving but work for me hasn’t been as helpful as I would have liked. I have had issues getting work when I have needed it, anxiety with early morning (or late) calls and dealing with some unpleasant schools. However for these points we have been mostly successful. We have held the purse strings quite tightly. Yes, we could have held on tighter but we’re working on this too. We have made swaps to the cheaper brands and are working harder to reduce our outgoings.

Blog:

So, by now you should all know what’s been going on and why I have been MIA. I won’t repeat it. The blog has suffered, but I am back and determined more than ever to make this blog a success. I am taking steps towards all of these goals. Some are little steps, some are bigger.

Start seeing this as a business, not just a hobby

  • Think about why you started this
  • Think about a plan of action for 2018
  • Be a full time blogger by 2019

Outcome:   So this might still be achievable, but maybe the end of 2019. There is still hope for this goal yet.

Raise viewer and visitor numbers

  • Promote more often
  • Join more Linkies

Outcome: With my first post back I have already achieved this. The numbers are on the up and although I have not been able to match February’s numbers, I have managed to beat some of last years monthly statistics. If you know of any relevant linkies for me to join, drop me a comment or DM on social media.

Start writing content to cover busy periods so that you always have something to post

  • Compile a list of potential blog posts

Outcome:   I’ll give myself a big tick on this as I already have two more on the go and near completion!Man that feels good to know too. Takes out the stress a bit. I will be trying to get as much content ready for work to continue in September too. I have also thought about ‘Blogmas’ and how I can be prepared for blogging everyday throughout December.

Create a list on brands that you would like to work with

  • Create assets to promote yourself to brands

Outcome:   Bit of a sore point again. I have seen some great small businesses I would love to work with, and some big ones too. However, the other day as I was trying to make my media kit, the time off I have had off has utterly destroyed my numbers and if I am honest, my confidence a little. This is still something to work on. I have begun a list of brands to work with so hopefully soon enough when the numbers pick up again I can start planning my approach.

Work with Hubby to begin migration to self-hosting

Outcome:   We have both been very busy with work and life. This is still going to happen, there is no doubt about that but it is on the back burner for now.

Learn how to create your own subscription emails

  • Set up email list
  • Add ‘Subscribe Now’ pop up

Outcome:   I will need to look into some courses on how to set this up but I know my husband can help me with creating the emails once I have set everything up.

Learn more about SEO

  • Get Hubby to teach you how to code for yourself

Outcome:   On this one I have been trying to teach myself a few bits. Hubby has helped me with some of the small blog bits that I have been working on recently. I am thinking about doing a course on Udemy at some point but that all depends on the finances and my schedule after I return to work in September. I am always looking out for little bits to build the website when the time comes. I am working on making some of the assets myself and hopefully come the new year, I should be fully self-hosted on my own website.

Keep working on your ‘Mummy Rants’ Series

  • Open it up to guest bloggers??

Outcome:   Despite not opening this up to guest bloggers, I have been on this one. I have recently rebranded the series to be’Mama Rants’to help keep the theme of the blog. My February post on Valentines Day (a bit of an anti-Valentines Day rant) has been the most popular out of the series so far. There will be more coming. If you have any things that as a Mama or a Papa that really bugs you in the parenting world, please let me know and I can take a look into it. I think that will also help me to open it out to guest bloggers too.

That’s a Wrap!

That’s it. They are the goals I set myself at the beginning of the year and although I know someone will be sitting there wondering why I have even bothered to update you when I haven’t really completed or achieved any of them, I am glad I took the time to go through this process. Holding yourself accountable for your own failures is a brilliant way to help you move on. We all make mistakes, life gets in the way, s**t happens. It is about how you deal with it that makes you stronger (or not). Life tried to knock us down. We did not let it. I will rebuild. I will be better. I will achieve these goals, one way or another, eventually.

Thanks for sticking with it. If you have had similar set backs let me know in the comments below. It would be nice to hear how you worked through them.

Peace and love,

Monsterful Mama.

JakiJellz
3 Little Buttons

My First Year as a Blogger.

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Can you believe it’s been a little over a year since I started on this journey as a blogger? I can’t, that’s for sure. So much has happened in those twelve plus months. To say that the last six months or so have been manic (what with Zosia turning one, Mum being in hospital for nearly eight months, work and other general life stuff) would be something of an understatement. If you hadn’t noticed, I have been pretty MIA for a long time. Life has thrown some major curve balls at us so far this year, but we keep on batting them off into the distance. Sometimes you realise just how much a person can take before they break and what truly matters in life. But I guess that’s life for you.

So what’s been happening?

Well, firstly we had a lovely little party for Zosia’s first birthday. The night before was very busy. I spent all night cooking, cleaning and decorating but it was worth it in the end. Budget wise we did pretty well and I think that writing the blog post Six Simple Steps to Planning a First Birthday Party on a Budget before hand really helped. She was of course, spoiled by all of our friends and family and she loved playing with the other babies and toddlers which was so lovely to see. If you follow me on SM you would have seen some of the pictures from the weekend. I’ll go into more detail about this in another blog post later.

The biggest thing that has stopped me from doing pretty much everything has been my mum. In December she was admitted into hospital. She has only just been discharged. Growing up and as a teenager, my mum and I never really got on too well. I think that is because we’re too similar. We get on a lot better when we don’t live together. Seeing her in a coma, fighting for her life made me realise just how much time we had wasted over silly, petty arguments and dramas in the past. Being the eldest in situations like this does make you realise that being an adult can really suck at times. Seeing her fight so hard to get back to some kind of normal hasn’t been easy.  Now that she is home we just remind her of how proud and grateful we are that she didn’t give up. Every night I would come home and give Zosia an extra squeeze. She makes everything seem better.

On a lighter note

So after a year or so of blogging, what have I learnt? I have had to think about this quite a bit really. Especially as out of the twelve months, I’ve only been really active for about eight. I’ve condensed some of the biggest lessons that I have taken out of this whole experience so far into seven points. I think for anybody considering becoming a blogger or influencer you definitely need to consider some of these before you start.

1. Make sure you have time

Time has been one of the biggest issues for me. Being a working mum means a lot of things need to be juggled and often that meant something wasn’t getting done. It took me a while to work on the balance of life as a parent, a teacher and a blogger. Too often did the washing pile up higher than the Empire State Building or the toys on the floor make an assault course during the midnight feeds. Of course my husband helps where he can , but he works too and it is easy for us both to be tired at the end of the day. We’re currently in the process of trying to set up things so that we can be more organised. We have a meal and chore planner in place which were hoping will not only help with keeping up with the work around the house but also keeping our finances in check. It also helps keep an eye on who is doing what which should help with the silly arguments about washing up! I try to get blog related things done in the evenings or on the weekends so that the hubby can focus on his work. That way I can keep up with the housework on my days off too.

I was most productive when I had a plan in place. I used my bullet journal to make a note of blog post ideas to use for the future. I would track what I was posting to the blog and when so I could see how many things I had posted each month. I have to admit that since Mum was ill, I’ve not been keeping up with anything, not even my bullet journal. The plan will be to start integrating all of the things that worked slowly but surely so that I can get back in to regular blogging again. I think I might start making a digital tracker as I don’t have the time to manage the drawings and creative side of a paper bullet journal at the moment. Keeping a planner and a tracker is definitely a useful tool for bloggers.

2. Know your niche

It is important that you know what you want to write about. Have a clear idea about where you fit in the blogging world but also make sure you know and care about what it is you’re writing. There is absolutely no point in writing about make-up if you only wear it on special occasions. Keep your content down to a few subjects that you’re really passionate about. For me it is parenting first and foremost, with a dash of creativity and a hint of education. There may well be the odd post about other things from time to time and some may over lap into other areas and that is ok. The point is don’t try to write about ten different subjects at once. ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none’ kind of thing.

3. It’s okay to have a break

I think that this was one of the hardest lessons to learn. In the first year I have had at least six months off in total. Returning to work as full time cover teacher at my old school just sapped the life out of me. I was no longer enjoying teaching. I couldn’t wait to leave. Every evening I would come home exhausted and I would just want to snuggle my little girl on the settee all night. I wasn’t a very good house wife during this time. The blog went on hold as did most of my life and friendships. What was difficult to accept was that it is okay to take a break from the blogging world and I had only had about a month off. This time around I’ve had about five months off but I wasn’t worrying about the declining statistics or anything. I had a week or so where I was facing the possibility of losing my mum. The blog become nothing to me. I was just trying to get through each day as it came. Each day a gruelling trip into central London, through blizzards and cancelled trains. Each day clinging on to the tiniest bit of hope. It was sad to think something so unimportant had taken up so much of my time before now.

As I am ready to process such events now, I can begin to focus on rebuilding what I have lost but also remember that it is not the end of the world if I am not present online. Family must always come first. This blog is about an outlet for me to process a great many things that I have, I am and I will have to experience in the future. That is what I must remember.

4. Try to make friends with other bloggers

This is one of the hardest things to do when you can be a bit of an introvert like me but having someone who knows what things you go through to keep your blog going is good for your well-being. Having a blogging friend can help you when motivation is low, being able to sound off ideas and someone to share your content is a massive bonus. Plus you get a cool new friend.

5. Social Media is a must

Having accounts on the big four social media sites is an absolute must. There are so many positives to having them all set up as your blog. Depending on your niche, you might also want to set them up as business accounts. Instagram is great for sharing the images you create for your blog but sharing links is a massive pain. Facebook is great for supportive blogging groups and setting up a page for your blog content should be on your to do list if you’ve not got one set up already. Twitter is has a great community amongst the bloggers but watch out for some sneaky, bitchy trolls. It is also great for sharing your content. Pinterest is one of my favourites and I have been working really hard on making sure this site reflects my brand. You can pin your content images and link them straight back to your blog. You can join group boards as well as pin lots of inspiration things to come back to later. Social media is your ally when it comes to getting people to your blog so make the most of it and although it can take up a lot of your time, it is such a valuable tool.

6. Don’t expect to become famous over night

I am sure at some point, we have all sat staring at our statistics expecting fame and glory to appear in a the blink of an eye. One of the hardest things I found was checking my stats almost constantly meaning I was always glued to my phone. Statistics are not everything. I know it is important keep an eye on them but they are not the only thing that is important about your blog. Not everyone’s blog is about becoming famous either. Sometimes I need to remind myself why I started this blog in the first place and if one day I can make any money on the side then that would be amazing. Sure when I started this blogging journey I thought it would be an easy way to make some money on the side but in fact it hasn’t been like that at all. It is incredibly hard work. It requires a lot of effort for little outcome and that’s where my last point comes in.

7. Don’t Give Up!

Sounds so simple right? Don’t let yourself get down hearted when a post isn’t as popular as you were expecting. Analyse it. Look at post similar to yours. See if you can spot what went well with their post that you may have missed in yours. Do some research. Have other bloggers had the same problems as you? You may well find that somebody has written a blog post about how to get more traffic to your site or ways to improve your content. The biggest lesson to learn of all, is to keep learning lessons. Make progress, no matter how slow. We learn best from our mistakes so of course, it is okay to make a few along the way.

What’s Next?

Well we are expecting more challenges throughout this year including a major move with a one year old but I hope to be able to get back into something more regular in terms of the blog. Change is not something we shy from in this household so we will try to keep a positive outlook on life. There are more posts in the line up and with the summer holidays coming up, I should have plenty of time to get through the back log of unfinished blog posts. I also have quite a few creative ideas that I am beginning to process as well, including learning to build and creating my own website for the blog, so keep an eye out for those updates.

I think that’s about it really. What would you add? What lessons were hardest for you to learn in your first year of blogging? Drop me a comment below and don’t forget to follow me on the four big social media sites for more regular updates.

Thanks for reading guys.

Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama.

JakiJellz
3 Little Buttons

Mama Rants 4: Valentines Day

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Earlier this week I wrote a new blog post. It was a post about Valentines Day and the gifts that a man can buy for his Mrs. A post about the gifts a baby/child could buy their mothers. That post won’t be published, despite the fact that it was ready to go. Since I finished writing it, I couldn’t bring myself to make it live, to share it with the world. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It felt so fake. A post of gift ideas just because. The gifts were cheap and tacky, thoughtless and pointless, and the post became a bid to earn a few extra quid. Every day that has passed since has made me feel guilty for having even thought about creating such a trivial post. That is not what Monsterful Mama is about. It’s not why I created this blog. I didn’t start this blog to make a quick buck. So instead I’m writing what might be considered a controversial post. It’s not an anti-Valentines Day post as such, more like an anti-commercialism post. Blog suicide? Maybe but honest in every word.

Since I was little, about 8 years old, I’ve understood that Valentines Day should be about spending money on the ones we love. I’ve bought presents and cards because that’s what we’re told we should do. Even at a young age at school, we give children activities around the day, making your mum or dad a card, maths activities about how many presents Tiffany received one year etc. but that’s another post altogether. I’ve gone to restaurants that were full to the rafters and so loud that you couldn’t actually hear the person you chose to spend the day with talking. If I wasn’t in a relationship, I would feel like crap. Like I wasn’t worth real love. Clubs and bars would put on singles nights with girls going free or something similar because on Valentines Day all girls are desperate for love. We’re made to feel like we’ve somehow failed. Failed to procure a mate, a life partner as is our basic natural instinct supposedly. As I grew up, each year spent as a single person became even more depressing. No red roses arriving at my work place, no box of chocolates in the shape of heart, no jewellery, no marriage proposal of the grandest declaration of love. It can be heartbreaking for someone who is not in a relationship, but why? Why do we spend a fortune proclaiming our love for that special someone only one day out of 365? Why are we made to feel like crap if we have nobody to spend it with?

Did you know (according to evolutionmoney.co.uk) that on average, men spent at least £40 last year on their partners? Whereas the average spend for women was £24. What on earth is costing so much? For the average heterosexual couple that’s at least £64. The UK spent nearly £1bn in 2017 alone. It seems like it is not a simple card and flowers/chocolates anymore. It’s not a day to proclaim your love but to proclaim how much money you can spend on unnecessary rubbish. It is becoming (or maybe it’s always been this way and I’ve been to blind to see it) a sordid affair. The idea of a day of love is fast becoming more about a day of lust and commonly shops are selling more tacky and sexual gifts. When I first bought into Valentines day I don’t recall seeing gift cards/vouchers referring to a ‘quick blowie’. Spending money on vouchers for sexual favours says nothing about your love for your partner. To me, it says more about how desperate a person is to hold onto that partner, for what I can only assume is the fear of being alone this Valentines Day, by being sexually ‘easy’.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a prude, I’m just not sure how this Christian holiday became so horrid. You may not know this but I am an atheist. I don’t believe – full stop. That being said I truly wonder how many ‘youngsters’ (I hate that word. It makes me feel so old!) actually know the true meaning behind the day. Do they really know why we celebrate Saint Valentines Day?

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Saint Valentine was a roman priest during the Emperor Claudias II time (268–270AD). The emperor wasn’t exactly a champion of the christian faith and had prohibited the marriage of young people based on one simple idea. Unmarried men made better soldiers. He believed that they would fight better because they had no worries back home. No wife and children that would suffer should the soldier die. Unfortunately for the emperor, Valentine was all about marriage and was encouraging people to get married in secret. For this he was imprisoned, tortured by being beaten and stoned and eventually beheaded. There were many stories surrounding the man, stories of healing the blind through prayer. February 14th 269AD, Valentine was made a martyr, not for love, but for the holy sacrament of marriage. Marriage was something very different back then, love often wasn’t a feature. Later, he became the saint we celebrate every year. Now, I know this isn’t quite the romantic story you were all expecting but that’s commercialism for you. Beheaded saints won’t sell cards or gifts emblazoned with red hearts. Now, we celebrate this mans death with sexual favours vouchers, teddy bears, flowers and chocolates. I’m not religious in the slightest but I am pretty sure he would be a bit miffed by this.

Of course, this post could quite easily become a rant about commercialism, and it kind of is in its own way already, but instead I want to focus on other ways we can celebrate the day. I know people who know me personally will probably be reading this and screaming at their screens because they know me, and they know I do still celebrate this day. I have bought cards for my husband from my daughter and I this year as it is our first Valentines Day as parents (another way they get you drawn into it!), I even buy him gifts and I always write a soppy status. However, what I do do, is buy into the gifts that are made specifically for this day. I buy my hubby things he actually likes or wants. This year was Monster Hunter Online ( a cheeky gift as I wanted it too!) and a Venom comic. I know he would much rather I buy him things like this than silly teddy bears etc. He isn’t much of a card person, and I do have to remind him to buy me one but I thought it would be cute to get him a card from Zosia this year. I know he hopes that he will be the only man in her life (no dating till your 30yo kind of thing!) I spend every day, a hundred times over, telling my husband that I love him, showing him by trying to keep a tidy house and a happy daughter whilst he works hard for our family. I don’t NEED one day a year to let him know I love him because he know I do, I said ‘I Do’ in 2016.

What I am trying to say (I think…) is that it doesn’t have to be about splashing the cash, it doesn’t even have to be about just you and your partner. There are a million ways you can ‘spread the love’ to those who might need it a bit more. Be mindful of others. Be grateful for what you have. Share what you can. Spend time with those that matter but most importantly, make sure your little ones know that Valentines Day isn’t a big deal. Make sure they understand that we don’t need one day to say I love you to each other.

Thanks for reading,

Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama

JakiJellz