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
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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

Goals for 2018

As we all know, a new year means new goals, or rather refreshed goals that we may not have achieved last year, or the year before. For the last ten years at least my New Years resolutions have featured weight loss of some kind. Some years have been more successful than others, but nevertheless my weight has increased. Most recently I had lost 2 stone in the run up to our wedding. Naturally, having a baby has impacted my ever increasing waistline and here I sit, writing this blog post at my heaviest. So what’s to be done? Do I repeat the same old goal of weight loss as I do every year, no matter how much I’ve failed? Or do I mask it as something else? ‘Stop eating takeaway food!’?

One of the goals that I have already set myself is positive thinking. So I’ll take a more positive spin on things, I’ll make my goals steps toward positive thoughts rather than remarking on the negative. Having glanced around google, I’ll try to make my goals SMART. They will be Significant steps broken down to be Meaningful and Measurable steps that are easily Attainable. These steps will be Rewarding and kept Relevant and of course I will find ways to make them Trackable in my bullet journal so I can measure the time it takes to achieve them.

To begin with, I’ve spent some time thinking about what is truly important to me this year. Determined not to get stuck in the monotony of the seemingly unachievable ‘lose weight’, I looked for ways to make my goals much more positive. I think this year will be more focused on breaking bad habits. Changing how I think about my goals and how I feel when I don’t achieve them. I’ll need to break down each goal into smaller steps that are easier to achieve. I will need to review the goals regularly to see how I am getting on.  The plan is to review once a month. I will also be looking at ways to incorporate mindfulness into the everyday, a kind of ‘Practice What You Preach’ sort of thing. I will need to think about how I can be mindful of the things I am doing or thinking that will have a negative impact on my progress.

What Next?

As I’ve said already, I plan on using my bullet journal a lot more this year to help me stay on track (keep an eye out for a post on how to utilise your bullet journal for goal tracking later this month). I am in the process of creating spreads to help me manage this. I recently read somewhere that writing your goals down will help to make you more accountable for them. As if having them written down makes you more aware of them, less likely to forget them. I also read that sharing them with people helps with this too. I always share my goals with my husband so that he can help to keep me on track and of course, I am now sharing them with you. I should also mention that my word of the year is discipline and I aim to remind myself of this every time I slip up.

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New Year Goals in Bullet Journal. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

So with all that being said, what are my goals for this year? To start, I’ve broken my goals down into six categories. I’ve chosen these categories as I feel they are areas that need the most work.

Body

Mind

Creativity

Home

Finances

Blog

Hopefully this will make it easier to keep organised, to visualise each goal and each step within each goal. So let’s begin.

Body:

I know my problem with food stems from my mindset. I see food as a comfort so I need to break the habit of binge eating, and reaching for the snacks when I am bored or tired. Just looking at the scales is upsetting enough yet still I reach. However, as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t want to set a ‘lose weight’ goal. Instead I want to focus on how I can lose weight by changing some bad habits. I began to compile a list of things that needed to change. I thought about the poor food choices I was making, the lack of water I was drinking, the lack of exercise I was doing and how often we rely on take away food. Then I thought about how to make it positive and achievable.

  • Fewer Take Aways

– No more than one takeaway a month

(Can I make a tracker for this…?)

  • Make better food choices

– Start cooking meals from scratch again

– Make time to cook

  • Make sure you eat all three meals, no skipping lunch

– Stop making excuses, get up and do it.

  • Drink more water

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

  • 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)

  • Exercise More Frequently

– Create a tracker to monitor exercise

– Go for walks with Zosia

– Complete a ‘fun’ run for charity

  • Remember why you are doing this!

– Zosia

– Hubby

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Mind:

How can I begin to change my habits? Habits I have had for most of my life. I think first of all I need to start thinking about my triggers. I already know all too well that my bad eating habits stem from three things; a lack of discipline, boredom and negative moods. Focusing on negative moods is where my mind goals will coming from.

  • 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

  • Be thankful

– Remind yourself of the things that keep you going every day

– Help others in need 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)

  • Be more positive

– Think happy thoughts

– Keep a list of all the things that make you happy in your bullet journal

  • 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

Creativity:

Last year my goal was to get creative more often and for the most part I was successful in this. I have improved my hand lettering and been braver using water colours more often. This year I want to take this a step further and hopefully start making some money out of it.

  • 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

  • Start Zosia’s scrapbook

– Enlist the help from bestie

– Don’t be afraid to commit to it

– Make note of all the important milestones

  • Keep going with the bullet journal

– utilise the blog journal more

– Make sure it is as practical as it is pretty

  • 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

  • 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

Home:

There are a lot of things that need sorting at home. With the arrival of a tiny human chaos has ensued. So these goals feature a lot of tidying up and organising rooms.

  • 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

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

  • 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

  • Buy better storage and new furniture

– Book shelf for under the stairs

– Organise kitchen cupboards better

  • 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

Finances:

With money, things are always tricky. Even more so when you have a child. Working part time is proving challenging so I need to think of other ways to save or make money.

  • 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.

  • Look for cheaper alternatives to the expensive brands

  • Start putting more aside for Zosia’s future

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Inspired by Little Coffee Fox at https://littlecoffeefox.com.

Blog:

My numbers are picking up again after a few months off due to work commitments. However they are still quite low. I will need to work on raising numbers before I can approach brands but I am hopeful.

  • 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

  • Raise viewer and visitor numbers

– Promote more often

– Join more Linkies

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

– Compile a list of potential blog posts

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

– Create assets to promote yourself to brands

  • Work with Hubby to begin migration to self-hosting

– Learn how to create your own subscription emails

– Set up email list

– Add ‘Subscribe Now’ pop up

– Learn more about SEO

– Get Hubby to teach you how to code for yourself

  • Keep working on your ‘Mummy Rants’ Series

– Open it up to guest bloggers??

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Motivational Quote.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

So, I know this makes your goals seem harder to reach as there are so many little things to worry about but trust me when I say that breaking them down into smaller more achievable goals as I have done above really does help. I still have the big goals in mind but I know that I will be able to complete them by creating little ‘To Do’ lists within each one. You will feel a sense of achievement if you are able to tick a box every now and then which ultimately will help with some of the other goals. Setting yourself goals is vital to stay proactive and productive in life and business. You don’t need to wait for the new to set or evaluate them either, it just feels good to start a new year with a fresh head on your shoulders.

What goals have you set yourself this year? More importantly how are you going to achieve them?

Thanks for listening,

Love and Peace,

Monsterful Mama

Midwife and Life

 

2017 – a review

First of all, let me start by wishing you all a very happy new year. I hope that, regardless of how 2017 has treated you, 2018 will be amazing.

For us, 2017 was an amazing year. In February I gave birth to the most beautiful little thing. She has guided our life in a new direction and although some days it feels like we’re holding on for dear life, other days we’re thoroughly enjoying the ride. Every day with her is a gift. She is growing up so fast and I’m sure she learns something new every day! She keeps us in our toes now that she can crawl. She’s quite speedy too when she gets going. Her turning 10 months on Boxing Day means that we are about to begin the frantic process of baby proofing the whole house. She can now wave and can even say ‘bye’. That takes her word count up to four (Mumma, Dadda, Bubba and bye). If you make a gesture to kiss, she’ll lean in so you can kiss her forehead. She laughs at everything! She has 7/8 teeth. She walks when you hold her hands and easily climbs up furniture and toys so that she’s standing. She talks to her toys/herself a lot. She can recognise herself in a mirror or camera and laughs when we play back videos of herself. She’s beginning to throw tantrums too. Little strops if you take something off her or won’t let her roam freely. Soon she will be walking and we expect all hell to break loose. In a few months she will be one and that’s a very scary thought. It’s such a cute stage in her development though. Time is just going by too quickly and if I blink I fear I may miss it all!

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2017 also brought about a change of direction in my career. Unfortunately, many employers won’t make space for mums who are returning to work after maternity leave and who are in need of more flexibility. If I have one regret for last year. It would only be that I didn’t take more time off, even if it meant less or no money. In May I made the hard decision to leave my full-time job because as many will know, full time work (especially as a teacher) and motherhood do not bond well together. Whilst I fully appreciate family’s that can make it work for them, I think I’ve always known that I couldn’t commit to full time work. The decision was made with a tear in my eye. I had made friends, worked with some great people, made it through my NQT with grit, determination and a lot of bloody hard work. As well as all that I think it’s fair to say that I owe my teaching career to a couple of amazing teachers/HLTA’s who, without their support and guidance I would have easily given up in that first year. Naturally I was sad to go but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t lose contact with these ladies. I also promised that I wouldn’t allow myself to be over worked and under paid anymore so in November (after having finished late October) I became a supply teacher. The money is good, the hours are massively better, I can choose when and for how many days I want to work. The positives far outweigh the negatives in that sense. Yes, there are some really hard days and some days I don’t know if I’m coming or going, but being able to leave at a reasonable time and get home to my family before dark is a real bonus. Knowing that I don’t have to continue work when I get home is good. It’s such a relief to enjoy teaching again.

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in October. We went to Greenwich Park as it was somewhere we used to visit a lot when we first started our relationship. I’ve always loved Greenwich so it seemed only right that we took Zosia out for her first adventure there too. She celebrated her eighth month a few days later so we made it a double celebration. We wanted to go back to a restaurant we often went to but it had been closed down. It was sad to see it gone but it was going down hill in our last visit. Instead we went to Jamie’s Italian a little down the road. Zosia joined us at the dinner table in her own high chair for her first proper restaurant experience. She was so cute holding her dads hand across the table. It will always be a fond memory.

Being married has been the easy part. Trying to change my name has been the difficult bit. You forget how many loyalty cards you’ve got until you try to change your name on them all! Now don’t get me wrong, my husband is as much a pain in the arse as he was before we were married but he is now, as he always has been, my biggest support. He is by my side through every tough decision, when I hit the 24hr+ marker of labour and the Doctors we’re trying to make me take some form of pain relief, he stayed true to my prior decision and reminded them that it was my body and thus my decision if I took their offer or not. He held my hand through every contraction, every push, every moment of my exhaustion and my sheer jubilation at having finally, 51 hours later, given birth to our beautiful little girl! We stood together by her incubator, hand in hand. He dried my tears as I blamed myself. He held me up just as I felt the initial weight of motherhood pushing me down and helped me push back. He is and will always be my pillar of strength.

We have also just celebrated our first Christmas together as a family and it was just so magical. Zosia made a trip to another of our old haunts (Bluewater) to visit Santa and his elves. Although she didn’t seem too fussed about the whole thing, we will treasure the memories. We took her Christmas shopping and to have her first lunch at Ed’s Dinner. She only had a salad of course!

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Our Christmas Elf. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

We had our first Christmas Day to ourselves in a very long time. We got dressed before presents – something I’ve never done before. I wanted to make sure the photos were good for the future rather than a messy Mum. I know that sounds daft but when I also love to share pictures with our families so I was not going to share barless, unwashed and undressed pictures of me with anyone! Zosia was spoilt over the two days of celebrations. Families were visited on Boxing Day. She now has a mountain of toys and books. My house is awash with toys. My living room is an obstacle course. Luckily I got some nice storage boxes from the MiL so we can at least store some away. She enjoyed her Christmas dinner with us too. There was lots of love and laughter all day. It was perfect.

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First Christmas. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

It’s been difficult to keep up with the blog. Trying to find time between working and being a Mum and a wife is hard work. I’m trying to remain creative too, using my bullet journal more again and trying to make some prints to sell. I guess we’ll just have to see how the year will pan out as it goes. I’ve got plans in mind to help keep up the posts. Keep your eyes posted for a post about goals for the new year both personal and blog.

Thanks for listening

Peace and love

Monsterful Mama

Midwife and Life

 

JakiJellz

An Apology

So, let’s start off with a small apology.  Since returning to work earlier this month, the blog has taken a massive hit.  Being a mum and working full time is as difficult as you’d imagine.  Despite not having the full range of teacher duties (marking, planning, data and assessment etc.) I still find that I have very little time left, and the little time I do have is spent with Baby and Daddy. The house is getting untidy, it is driving me mad but Daddy is also a full time worker so as you can imagine, it’s a struggle.  Of course it is about prioritising and unfortunately, a tidy house is not high up on the list.  That’s not to say that I live in a pig sty, this is purely my inability to deal with my interpretation of untidiness. We’ve barely got time for each other but our relationship is as strong as ever so we’ll manage as we always do.  We will soon be celebrating our first wedding anniversary, so that is something to look forward to.

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Anyway, like I said, sorry for not being so active at the moment.  I am hoping to be able to pick up the pace again after the October half term as I’ll be looking for a new job or, fingers crossed, already in a new part time job.  Life will always find a way over the bumps.  Perseverance is key.

Now, what should you look forward to between now and Christmas? Well, I have a few sponsored posts coming up, my first ever bloggers event, plenty of autumn, winter, Halloween and Christmas themed posts as well as a couple more in my ‘Mummy Rants’ series. I will also be looking at writing about our first year of marriage. I am planning on doing another spotlight post featuring my sister.  She is an awesome freelance illustrator.  I’ll also be doing a few other posts based around mindfulness, bullet journals etc. So keep an eye out for the next few months.

Again, thanks for sticking with me during this slight down time.  I will be back with a vengeance soon enough.  It means a lot to me that you’re all still here.

 

Peace and love,

Monsterful Mama

 

 

 

10 Things That Make Me Happy

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Copyright Monsterful Mama

I know that I have recently done a post about happiness, and those being the three main things so let’s make this one a bit of fun.  Call it a ‘getting to know you’ kinda blog post!

The Ten Things That Make Me Happy are…

  1. Family: So of course this is a given. My little family are my world. You can read about them in more detail here.
  2. Pens: Lots and lots of pens. Brush pens, fine liners, fountain pens, highlighters, bright ones, pastel ones, black and white ones. You name it I will happily buy it for the right price, which leads me on to number three.
  3. Bullet Journal: I love getting creative in my bullet journal but it is also a fantastic way to get organised. My motto before was that I was an organised mess. My style was organised chaos but now with my bullet journal I can manage appointments without forgetting them, track progression of my blog in my blog bujo and get to keep on being creative with the many challenges in hand lettering etc.
  4. Food: I have a love hate relationship with food. I LOVE to eat it … all… but it does not agree with my waistline. I love cheesy pizza, stringy, gooey pizza, salted caramel flavoured thing, peanut butter on toast, a good old fashion roast dinner, cake of many varieties, coffee flavoured things too, chocolate of course… the list goes on. It actually surprises me that I am not bigger than I am! I do have a bit of a sweet tooth. If we go out for dinner, I will often chose a vegetarian option because my husband is a vege-phobe!
  5. Washi Tape: There are sooooo many different varieties of tape out there in the world, and like in Pokemon, I want to catch them all! I use them quite sparingly in my bullet journal but I just love to collect them. They are just so pretty!
  6. Video games: I don’t mind which platform but would prefer the PS4 and PC over Xbox. I used to love Nintendo but they have made their consoles big and clunky and unnecessarily so. They had great consoles with the N64 and the GameCube so I dont know why they had to mess about with it all. I love to play games such as; Skyrim, Terraria, Minecraft, The Sims, Stardew Valley, Starbound, Anno, Don’t Starve, Legend of Zelda, Fallout 4, WoW, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Civilization, Life is Strange etc. I love a bargain on Steam or on the PlayStation Store especially if it is an indie game.
  7. Taking Pictures: I love taking pictures. I’ve been referred to as the happy snapper before. I won’t go so far as to claim I am any good at taking pictures, but I do okay. My degree is in Photography but again, there are no guarantees that, that means I am good. I mostly take pictures of my little girl now but the degree has helped with setting up a few flat lays for the blog. I am currently in love with using black and white film in my Instax Mini. I’m now very jealous of my best buds skills in photography, so much so I got her to do our wedding! Chloe is awesome at capturing the natural quirkiness at weddings. I have enlisted her help many times when it comes to my own photography.
  8. Travel: I haven’t seen much of the world but I have loved seeing the bits that I have seen. Japan has got to be the best place we’ve been. We love going somewhere with lots of history or culture. There are sooo many more places on our list but, what with having a baby, we know it will be a while before we can tick the big ones off. Meanwhile, seeing a bit more of the UK will keep us occupied until Zosia is old enough to fly comfortably.
  9. Self Care Time: Because I have spent so many years living alone, I do enjoy a bit of me time, alone time. It is great to get to grips with thoughts and feelings and sometimes just to clear some of the cobwebs away. I will often take a coffee break on my own (mostly with Zosia though) in a café in town. I will mill around town with no real intent to buy things, although that doesn’t mean I won’t buy anything! It’s not really about buying anything, it is about being by myself.
  10. Creativity: I have always been a bit creative but never really known how to channel it. I’ve tried performing arts, photography, painting etc. I still don’t really know what my creative ‘niche’ is but I am loving the process of trying to figure it out. My sister is an illustrator so I’ve always been jealous of her mad skills for drawing and using watercolours. At the moment I am trying to learn new digital creative skills with my hubby teaching me tricks on PhotoShop, Illustrator and CSS/HTML etc.

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little more. Here are my tags for bloggers that you should get to know!

  1. itsallzara.co.uk
  2. http://thismamacan.com/

Thanks

Monsterful Mama

Why I refuse to love my body as it is now.

“Your mum’s so fat, N.A.S.A mistook her for a planet!”

Today I saw myself in a full mirror for the first time since I gave birth and I did not like what I saw. In fact I was repulsed. What on earth has happened to my body? We we all know that after having a baby, your body can take time to adjust to the stresses of motherhood. Not all of us are able to bounce back in the first few weeks. Some of us even had a bit of a belly before we fell pregnant. Yet my body seems to have changed beyond recognition.

“I’ve always been a big girl.”

Having Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) has played a huge (pun not intended) part but so has my love of food. Sweets, crisps, ice-cream, fast-food and takeaways, all of which I enjoy regularly, have ultimately been the biggest contributors to my ever expanding waist line. Before I was pregnant I began a journey to size ten with Slimming World (other weight loss programmes are available). It was going so well. I was motivated by the fact I was getting married, losing on average three pounds a week. I lost two and a half stone and I was so chuffed! I felt good in my clothes having dropped three dress sizes. I was exercising and was happy to be doing so. I made a friend at ‘fat club’, we became gym buddies and now I consider her to be a bestie! Everything was going so well.

First Trimester

When I fell pregnant I decided to continue on with SW as a means to keep me on track but during the first trimester I struggled with nausea. I couldn’t eat anything without feeling sick, the smell of food alone was enough to set me off. I continued to lose weight in my first trimester which isn’t a bad thing just so long as its not too much. I continued to be happy with my progress. My bump hadn’t sprouted just yet so I felt good about my body.

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Including Zosia in the Wedding.  Copyright of Chloe Lee Photography and Monsterful Mama

Second Trimester

With the second trimester came the cravings. I was in Japan when the first one hit. I was desperate for carbs! I ate so much pasta in Japan I began to wonder if I should have gone to Italy instead. Garlic bread, spaghetti bolognese, spaghetti and meatballs; despite the heat and humidity of Japan in August, I wanted them all and an endless supply too. This was not so good for my waistline. I dreaded going back to the scales. Yet when I finally stood upon the scales of doom I had actually lost another three pounds. It turns out, growing a tiny person inside you is a lot of effort. That combined with endless walking and being a tourist also helped to counteract the calorie intake.

In my second trimester, I felt good despite being under a lot of pressure from work at the beginning. My appetite was back (with a vengeance) but I was seemingly able to maintain a healthy weight loss but it didn’t last long. The next week I went up a few pounds. I continued to go up at least one pound every week but I kept going. A little weight gain was to be expected. After all, I was growing a baby in my belly! The weeks went by, the weight went up and the eating habits I had spent so long working on went out the window. I craved sugar so much. I was extremely tired every day, working whilst being pregnant is hard work, especially as a teacher. Being on your feet all day every day takes it out of you at the best of times but as my belly grew so did my desire for a quick fix. Snacking on chocolate and high calorie foods kept me going through the day. Big lunches from the local café and even bigger dinners when I got home. My appetite was getting ridiculous. I was sure I would be the size of a blue whale before I reached forty weeks.

Third Trimester

By the time I got to the third trimester my healthy eating had gone completely to pot. I didn’t want to eat healthy food when I could stuff my face with calorific foods. I was so tired, every day I fell asleep on the settee even when company was round. I began to teach from the comfort of my desk chair. Getting up was hard work, navigating a tightly packed class was becoming hazardous. All I wanted to so was eat and sleep. When you imagine being pregnant, you imagine the glorious glow, the neat and tidy bump and the joy of growing a tiny human. You don’t consider the physical strain that it puts on your body. The back ache, the hip ache, the exhaustion, the hunger, the jabs in the ribs and… down there, the stretch marks! Oh the stretch marks! Being plus size before baby meant that I had stretch marks already but on my belly, they were minimal. Towards the end of the third trimester, my belly was the size of a house and the stretch marks were creeping up my stomach. It didn’t matter how much Palmer’s moisturisers I covered myself in or how many times a day I applied it, my belly was huge and the skin couldn’t cope.

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The Final Bumpie. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

After the Zosia was born, I felt pleasantly surprised at how quickly my belly went down but now as I think back, I’m sure that it wasn’t that quick at all. I’m not sure it even went back. The first two weeks of her life were stressful. In and out of hospital, living off Costa and Subway is not healthy. My body didn’t bounce back, I was just too distracted to notice that I didn’t have a huge bump any more! As the weeks went on, we went back to eating as we did when I was pregnant. I tried to go back to SW. It lasted all of three weeks before I gave in to sleep deprivation and ate my weight in ‘crap’ foods.

“It is my opinion that this is a bunch of BS

You read a lot about how women must embrace their tiger stripes. It shows how fierce we are as mothers, that we’ll do anything to protect our children. It is my opinion that this is a bunch of BS. I refuse to embrace them because it is not just the ones from being pregnant, they’ve just added to it. I will accept them however, as they helped me carry my beautiful baby. They are a part of me, I get that but no! I will not embrace them. I will not wear them like a badge of honour. I didn’t before I was pregnant and I won’t now. They are a reminder at how big my belly got. I only wish people would stop telling me that it’s a beautiful reminder. NO! I won’t embrace the saggy, empty boobs. I will accept them as they supplied food to my baby, they did a rubbish job of it but still. The fact they are slightly bigger does not help either. They don’t look like my boobs any more. My belly doesn’t look like my belly any more. It is loose and extra wobbly! My weight has continued to go up and up. I have no motivation to do anything about it despite hating my body every time I see it. How on earth my husband manages to call me beautiful every time I complain is beyond me. He tries to encourage me to do something about it but I just snap because I’m a stubborn moo and I don’t like being told what to do.

“SOD OFF!”

This post isn’t about me feeling sorry for myself, but rather a letter of complaint to all those who tell me to embrace my plus size/post baby body. SOD OFF! I’m fat. I’m over weight. I’m obese. The sooner I embrace that fact the better! My body is unhealthy and I have not treated it like a temple. Sure, my body is still in recovery from pregnancy and child birth but I wont be able to use that excuse forever. What I really need to do is accept that I am currently living an unhealthy lifestyle. The wrong food, the lack of exercise and society’s unhealthy obsession with promoting the acceptance of ‘plus size’ bodies is not helping any of us. Nor is the current obsession with unhealthily thin people. Size 4 (UK sizing) is not an acceptable size! I’m not shaming anyone here. If you are happy with your body then that’s great for you, it really is. I’m not here to lecture you about how unhealthy it is to be overweight or underweight, I’m sure enough people already feel its their business to tell you this. If we continue to promote obesity, then we are promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. I get that not all ‘fat’ people are unhealthy in lifestyle as they enjoy things like Yoga which is great for relieving the aches and pains that the extra weight puts on our bodies. It is not, however, okay to be obese (again, not shaming anyone here!). A healthy size 10, 12 maybe even a 14 (UK sizes) is where we should aim. We should not be dieting but seeking a healthy lifestyle of a balanced diet, balanced meaning that its okay to have a bit of the naughty stuff now and then so long as you are good 95% of the time. We must include regular exercise. Walking, jogging, running, swimming, yoga, team sports, sex! Its all enough to get your heart racing and thus burn some extra calories. I frustrate myself here, I know all of this yet I struggle to motivate myself to do anything about it. I had my breakfast this morning but I ate far too much. There were two cereals that didn’t quite have enough for one bowl so I finished both boxes off. That is not healthy and I know it!

The closer I get to the next stone up, the more I fear my weight will spiral out of control and guess what, it’s all my own fault. So here I am, not asking for acceptance as a plus size gal, not asking to be fat shamed either (I do that to myself enough thanks) but really just having a moan, because I am fat and I hate myself for letting it get this bad and feeling like I can’t be bothered to make the necessary changes. I need to remember that I have a little girl to live for now. I don’t want to be out of breathe just carrying her up the stairs. I want to be around for a long time, I want to see her grand children if she chooses to have some so change must happen. It is not a case of if but when. It is not healthy for my body or my mind to stay this way.

To my dearest Zosia, if you ever read this I want you to know that this is not about me hating my journey to motherhood. I loved every second of being pregnant. I loved every painful moment of child birth (I’m mad I know but it brought you to me!) I have loved and will continue to love every moment being your mother. There are days where I don’t like the way I look, and that is okay. I hope that you have your fathers metabolism so that you never know what it feels like to hate your body. We will tell you every day, just how beautiful you are, inside and out.

To my husband, who tells me I am beautiful every single day, I am so grateful for your kind words, for putting up with the self-loathing that happens nearly every day. Thank you for loving me the way I am but I hope you understand that, yes I am attacking myself, but I do it because you wont. I love the fact that you think I am beautiful, please never stop telling me this. I just need to be real with myself. My weight is unhealthy and if I am going to be the best mother and wife that I can be, then it is about time I stop hating myself and bloody well get on and do something about it instead of feeling sorry for myself.

Change WILL come!

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Change Quote. Copyright Monsterful Mama

Thanks for listening.  If you have experienced anything like this please let me know that I am not alone by leaving a comment below.

Monsterful Mama

Three Things That Make Me Truly Happy!

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Created by and copyright of Monsterful Mama.

So as life goes on, the things that makes us happy evolves.  Ten years ago I would have said something along the lines of; alcohol, sex, music, reading, video games, friends etc. Now things are so very different.  Firstly, I’m ten years older, the greys are beginning to show, I’m sure I am fatter than I was back then and I now drink coffee like it’s going out of fashion and smother most foods in garlic.  My life now is so far removed from what it used to be.  I was a confused girl back then.  I had no sense of purpose or direction.  I didn’t even know who I was let alone what truly made me happy.  You see those six things listed above are a lie.  Alcohol was damaging my relationships.  It skewed my understanding of what love was.  It replaced the need to be loved with this sickness for desire.  I yearned for someone to want me, need me, for them to not be able to function without me as I so often felt about someone else.  This sickness for desire corrupted a relationship I was in as I felt he didn’t want me enough.  You see it in the films.  A love and desire that’s so fierce that a person would do anything for you, including give up a dream job, because that’s just how much you mean to them.  I was becoming the kind of person I had hated so much as a teenager and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.  A few years later thing only seemed to be getting worse.  I was a mess and things were getting scarily out of my control.  I had lost myself in this other person.  I was no longer the bubbly, slightly in your face girl.

Now, ten years on, I finally have someone that gets that, that can provide all of that for me and has helped me grow into the woman I am not and that’s where number one comes in.

1. My soul mate:

We met eight years ago through a mutual friend.  We (my mate and I) went to the local pub for a drink as a foursome.  I remember the first moment I saw him as he walked past the floor to ceiling windows.  He looked kinda goofy.  All arms and legs with a mop of hair on his head.  I even remember the t-shirt he was wearing because it looked like a piece of paper with lines on it.  I spent the night getting a little tipsy on a drink that could’ve killed him (although I didn’t know that at the time) or at least caused a bit of swelling to the face. That evening I went home to stay at my friends house.  When we woke up the next morning, make-up round my eyes, hair askew, breathe a little stinky, I messaged him on her MSN.

‘Hello sweet cheeks!’ I wrote.

My friend and I giggled as I sent it.  We chatted with him for a while and then we went on with our day.  I didn’t speak to him much after that but I saw him again and my friends birthday party.  I spent the evening flirting with him and a week later we went on our first date.  I guess the rest is history as they say.  Eight years on this goofy, lanky, mop headed fool is my husband.  He has allowed me to be the best version of me.  He has given me the most beautiful and funniest little girl who is currently ‘singing’ to herself. He makes me laugh so hard I cant breathe and my laugh becomes a series of squeaks so high pitched that only dogs can hear it.  Yes, there are times where I could kill him but they are minimal compared to the good times, the fun times we’ve had together.  France, Belgium, Italy, JAPAN! The countless comic cons we’ve been to.  The endless hours of movie nights and the all nighter games nights.  Through all of the tears and tantrums, he has been my lobster.  Without him, the happiness I experience now, would not exist.

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Happiest Day of my Life pt 1.  Copyright of Chloe Lee Photography and Monsterful Mama.

2. My daughter:

I think it is safe to say that she is most definitely the apple of my eye.  My whole world revolves around her and her needs.  She is such a beautiful baby, inside and out.  She is only five months old but is already such a little character.  I could spend hours watching her sleep or play, listening to her test her voice with the sweetest coo’s or when she lets out a little giggle.  I love to see her reach little development milestones and I love being her mummy.  She makes me so happy that I swear I have ovaries growing on my ovaries and a heart the size of the moon.  This is a new kind of happiness though.  One I’ve never experienced before and I love every moment of it.  I cannot wait to see her become a more and more animated as she learns new things.  I am so excited for our first proper conversation and to start teaching her the ways of the world.  I look forward to seeing the woman she will become too.  It is all so new and exciting.

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Big Girls Lunch.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

3. Friendships:

Many times I’ve read that becoming a mummy means your social life will suffer.  Friends will disappear and family will only want to come round to see the baby, not you.  Yet, this is not true for me.  Since Zosia was born my friendships have strengthened.  The lads love to come round to see Zosia (they pretend they want to play cards but I know its cos they love our cheeky little monkey!).  I meet up with the girls regularly and it’s helped to rebuild bridges with a few old friends.  I am sure I will lose a friend or two on the way, I think that will be inevitable but I also look forward to making new friends, mummy friends, super nerdy, awesome friends!  Since I left my home town, I found it really hard to make new friends.  Sure, the lads are my friends too, but they were his friends first.  I was missing female companionship.  At university I made few acquaintances but nobody that would stick around for long.  So it makes me very happy that I now have a few gal pals to hang out and scoff ice-cream with every now and then.

What is happiness to you?  What makes you truly happy?  Leave me a comment and let me know.
Thanks
Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama

 

Husband, Father, Hero.

Not everyone is lucky enough to find their Mr Darcy.  Some of us have to get through many trolls before we do.  Now, I’m no Bridget Jones or Elizabeth Bennett but I sure do love my Mr Darcy. So much so, that I married him and had his baby.  Don’t worry, I’ll try not to get too smushy, I promise!

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Wedding Day. Copyright of Chloe Lee Photography and Monsterful Mama

If you’re reading this and know us personally, you will know what a great team we make.  I often use the analogy that I am the balloon and my husband is the weight.  Sometimes I need grounding, I am flighty and I day dream a lot.  My head is often in the clouds where as my hubby is practical and logical.  There are times where he needs my flightiness to help him let go of the control panel! This is why we work so well. We have many differences but also many similarities.  He is tall and slim, I am short and fat.  He is gorgeous, I am not so much.  He doesn’t like to read unless it’s subtitles to anime where as I would have my nose in a book all day long if I had the time.  We both love video games but where he loves games like Dark Souls, Final Fantasy, Blood Born and Nioh among many more, I prefer not to be terrified by grizzly monsters and play games such as, Skyrim, The Sims, Terraria and Life is Strange (other games are available to play!) where the monsters are less scary and more cuddly.  I need to leave the house every few days; he can go weeks without seeing the sunshine or breathing fresh air.  I take my time when doing the food shop, perusing every aisle; he is a grab and go kinda guy.  I could go on and on but you get the picture!

He is a wonderful husband, so supportive in all I do.  I have grown so much as a person since I met him.  I’ve put myself through university, teacher training, NQT year and beyond all of which was done with him by my side.  He is my best friend.  Through all of the laminating, marking, planning, summer fates, the snooty parents and days where you just want to flip the table over and run out screaming F**K YOU ALL, he was there.  And here he remains, through all the dirty nappies, the tears and tantrums (both from Zosia and I), through every inch of my self-loathing he has been there preventing my self-destruction.  He is an amazing father to our beautiful girl.  Sometimes I just sit and watch him interacting with her and my heart melts.  It even makes me shed a tear of happiness now and then.  To see a man being such a brilliant father makes you realise you’ve got yourself a keeper.

Don’t get me wrong, he has his flaws.  He winds me up so much I could scream.  He over-analyses everything.  He hogs the beds.  He doesn’t hang things up properly on the clothes horse so they go smelly and need rewashing.  He leaves his socks lying all over the place but he is still my perfect husband, my best friend and a wonderful father.  I would be lost without him.  My life would be empty without him; I wouldn’t have to do as much washing though, that’s for sure!  I know for certain that Zosia will idolise him as she grows up.  He will be the hero, the knight in shining armour that every little girl needs growing up and I cannot wait to be a part of it all.

Here’s to all the wonderful husbands, brilliant fathers and Mr. Darcy’s out there supporting their partners.  We are grateful, even if we don’t always express it very well.

Thanks for reading guys.
Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama