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
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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

YOU

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

Setting Some November Goals

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November Goals. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Guess who’s back?!? YAY! It’s good to be back. I just wanted to say a huge thank you to those who have stuck around.

It has been a long, hard two months being back at work full time, but now I am finally free. I’ll be working part time doing supply teaching so I’ll have so much more time to spend with my family and to blog. For me, giving up my secure job was a tough choice to make but one that needed to be made. When you start a family, your priorities shift greatly. Compromise is no longer an option when it comes to those you love the most. So I have many things planned in the coming months when it comes to spending time with my little family. We’ve recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary so we made sure to make it a special one that included our beautiful little girl. Zosia’s first Christmas is fast approaching and we want to make it one to remember, even if she wont! We’re planning more days out and about and I plan on attending more mum and baby groups in my local area.

Blog wise, I have so many posts to catch up on but to start lets think about setting November’s blogging goals.

  1. Catch up on brands posts and correspondences (sorry if you are a brand that’s reached out and I haven’t got back to you, you were always in my thoughts I promise!)
  2. Catch up on Bullet Journal things and blogging about it
  3. Write an update post for Zosia
  4. Christmas ideas for baby and you
  5. Baby Led Weaning – our experiences so far (possibly some recipe ideas too)

That’s only five points but it is a lot of work. I am looking forward to getting on with some things now as I have been chomping at the bit. Along side these blogging goals I would like to work on a few personal goals too.

  1. Cook food from scratch so that Zosia can eat what we eat.
  2. Start doing Yoga regularly again, either at home or part of a group.
  3. Get organised for Christmas – including hand making gifts and decorations.

So,  that’s it for me, what have you got planned for November? Are you as excited for Christmas as we are?

Much love,

Monsterful Mama

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

 

 

 

An Interview with Chloe Lee – Wedding Photographer

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If you know me personally, you’ll know that I don’t make friends easily. So, about a year ago I joined a little group in my borough. Most of the people in the group were older, by quite a bit. There was a few people nearer my age but admittedly I do tend to judge a book by its cover (I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t but it is an easy way to spot people who may have common interests). So when I first saw Chloe, with her big glasses, tattoos and quirky attire, I knew I wanted to get to know her.

Long story short, were now very good friends. We have a lot in common so get on really well. I knew I wanted her to do our photography the moment I saw her website. It’s full of great images that are bright and colourful. So after doing a bit of on-line stalking, we finally asked her to be our photographer. But, Chloe wasn’t just our photographer, she also had a place at our wedding as a friend and was involved in a lot in the build up to the big day and even helped with my hen do and the morning of the wedding. We’ve spent many hours together sorting the creative aspect of it all, hand making a lot of the decorations. My hubby and I consider ourselves very lucky to be able to call Chloe a friend.

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Copyright of Chloe Lee Photography

‘I prefer to document the day as it happens. I’ll still capture all the little details that you’ve planned and made, the family photographs for your nan’s mantelpiece and of course awesome portraits of you having fun and being super loved up.’

Whilst sipping coffee and having a catch up, I decided to do a little interview with Chloe. Having the chance to interview a friend is a strange thing, but it’s a great experience. I took the chance to ask her some questions about her work and life, so I’ll stop gushing about our friendship so you guys can get to know Chloe for yourselves.

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Chloe and I. Copyright of Monsterful Mama and Chloe Lee.

About Chloe

Chloe Lee (26), born and bred in Essex, is a Harry Potter obsessed wedding photographer. She studied photography at college and went on to do it at degree level in Bristol. Having dabbled in fashion photography for a while, she then found her calling as a wedding photographer and has been for two years. Her image style is alternative, fun and quirky, and is pretty relaxed and informal. Chloe becomes apart of your day with her insane ability to mingle yet be invisible so that she can catch those candid photos of your big day. You can find out more about her here.

What hobby would you do if money was no object?

If I had all of the money, I would love to get into property developing. I love up-cycling furniture but renovating a house would take that hobby to a whole new level!

What skill would you like to master?

I would love to play the piano, especially classical piano. I think when played right it is so beautiful and such a hard thing to master. Although I maybe would say it’s much like art in that I do think it’s a lot about having musical talent than simply learning a skill.

What are some small things that make life better?

Chocolate, tea, cheese, Netflix…

When did you first know that you wanted to be a wedding photographer?

After I photographed my first wedding! I helped a friend on a wedding as uni term was nearly over and I wanted to get out with my camera and it was like I’d stepped into another universe and literally was that cliché light bulb moment of “Wow! This is so much more than I thought it would be,” and from then on, I spent a few years doing the occasional wedding or assisting job to build up my portfolio.

What are you most looking forward to in the next ten years?

Hopefully buying a house, travelling and meeting lots of awesome couples!

What habit would you like to unlearn if you could?

Nail biting… it’s my worst habit.

What has been your favourite experience?

Ah there’s been so many! Going to France to shoot a wedding was pretty awesome though!

List five things you always carry with you.

Phone, pen, notepad, lipstick and business cards.

Who would you have photograph your wedding?

I’m super lucky to have lots of talented photographer friends but from the moment I discovered Camera Hannah’s work a few years ago, followed her journey and then met her earlier this year so, it would definitely be her without a doubt!

How would you describe your photography style?

Alternative, Fun, quirky, informal, creative, and colourful!

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So, if you’re getting married, Chloe is available and doesn’t mind travelling the extra mile.  I would definitely recommend her to you all. You can check out her gallery here.

Chloe on Facebook

Chloe on Instagram

Thanks for reading.

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

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