Our Autumn Bucket List

autumn-insta.png

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.

img_3375
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.

Autumn-Bucket-List

Thanks for reading.

Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama

JakiJellz

”My

July’s Update of Goals for 2018

July-update-insta
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.

1st-year-insta

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