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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Mother's Day

I'm Sunday was Mother's Day. The day that Mum's are supposed to be celebrated and thanked for all of their hard work over the years. I'm not really a fan of these hallmark holidays to be honest. Plus, the kids are so small they don't really understand what's going on and why exactly I want to be fed grapes whilst laying down and fanned with a large feather whilst sipping a Mojito.

So, this year, I decided to do something a little different. My Nan also happens to live in Spain too, about 2 hours away, which is also coincidentally about 30 minutes from the sunny town of Javea,
 which is where I went to school. Javea has the best beach and a long promenade full with restaurants and bars. I had a little google, and found a lovely hotel and booked a room.

Myself, my Mum and my Nan went and had a girls day and hit the town. Three generations of us, celebrating Motherhood, sisterhood and family. It was so great spending some quality time together. We went for lunch with a few sangria's. We mooched around some shops. We went back to the hotel to get pampered ready for dinner and drunk wine and chatted about everything under the sun. We did our make-up and our hair and snacked on crisps.

We put on our glad-rags and headed out for dinner. We ate, and talked some more and laughed, and then we went to a bar and drunk cocktails until the wee hours. We eventually got a taxi to the hotel, got in our pyjamas and drank some more wine and chatted even more.The three of us didn't get to sleep until the early hours of the morning, and when we eventually woke up, we went for a lovely breakfast.

I honestly had the nicest time. What a lovely way to spend Mother's Day - with the two beautiful Mother figures in my life. I got to talk to my Nan about thing's we've never spoken about before and I got to ask her questions about her life and find out all of the things that I've always wondered about, but never had the opportunity to ask.

I'm lucky to have these strong women in my life. I hope I grow up to be as amazing as them one day.


Friday, 24 March 2017

Five Things I Never Thought Would Happen When Breastfeeding

Rori is going to be two next month. TWO!? Excuse me whilst I go and weep quietly in the corner. When they say that time flies, you never fully understand that until you have kids. They grow up in the blink of an eye. They grow taller, their hair grows longer, they say new words and string a sentence together, their faces change literally all in the space of a week.

Not only is my youngest baby turning two a cause for celebration in it's own right, but it will also mark two years of breastfeeding. I breastfed Logan for only 4 weeks, and I was too busy worrying and stressing about it, that I didn't get the chance to enjoy it and marvel in how miraculous it is.

Breastfeeding has been an interesting journey to say the least. There are things that NOONE tells you about breastfeeding. As an avid supporter of breastfeeding in general, especially in extended breastfeeding and normalising breastfeeding, here's a little list of five things I never thought would happen when breastfeeding.

You literally become Floozie in the Jacuzzi
Fellow Birmingham dwellers will know what I'm talking about. For those of you who haven't been lucky enough to visit Brum, Floozie in the Jacuzzi is a huge water fountain in the middle of the city centre by the museum. A big brass statue of a woman laid back in the water. Ok, so she doesn't have water squirting from her bosom, but you kinda get what I mean.
In those early days of breastfeeding, your let down is FIERCE. So fierce and powerful in fact that if your sweet babe should decide mid feed to unlatch and have a little look around, milk will squirt forth from your nipple with an incredulous force. Nobody in a 6 foot radius is safe. Milk will rain down on all innocent by-standers should they choose to be close by at that particular moment. Having to apologise for squirting somebody with your milk, is never fun and possibly the worst thing you'll ever
have to do.

You become a healer.
Literally, breast milk is MAGICAL! once you discover that the best medicine for your baby's nappy rash is breast milk, you'll literally start dousing everything in the stuff. I remember when Logan and Rori both got taken down with conjunctivitis and I had to try and squirt milk in their eyes. It was hilarious. Rori kept trying to catch the milk in her mouth.
Got a burn from a pan? Breast milk. Sunburn? Breast milk. Ear infection? Breast milk. You get the picture.

Your breasts become a hot topic of debate.
From strangers berating or applauding you to stuffy extended family members asking you, rather red-faced, to put your boob away and 'when are you gonna give that up?'. Literally everyone decides they have the right to have an opinion on what you do with your milk and your baby. It took me a while to gain the confidence to breastfeed Rori in public. I remember one of the first times really clearly. I sat at a table at a coffee bar in the middle of a busy shopping centre. Back then I would wear one of those covers in public, just incase I flashed a boob. I didn't have one that day much to my dismay, but I sat and fed her anyway. When I got up to leave, two elderly ladies who must have been about 70 and were sat a couple of tables away, stopped me to tell me how discreet I had been feeding my baby and that they thought I had done a wonderful job and had two beautiful children. Not gonna lie, I did a little ugly cry as I thanked them for saying something so kind to me.

You may need to be milked like a cow.
Imagine this: Your wedding anniversary is approaching. Your baby just turned 1. You arrange a romantic getaway complete with an overnight stay, and ask Nanny and Grandad to babysit. You imagine all the wonderful things you can do whilst childless for a whole day and night. Top of the list being a great  nights sleep, undisturbed. No routine. Peace and quite! You pack your breast pump and away you go.
Nothing's that easy though is it? Your boobies are magical things. Mine are so magical in fact that I think they must be psychic. So psychic are my breasts that they can tell the difference between a breast pump and a baby.
There we were on our romantic getaway and like a stubborn toddler, my boobs were not cooperating. My milk would not let down with the breast pump that I had so considerately packed for myself. I tried and tried and all that happened was a little hickey appeared on the end of my nipple, turning it a rather strange shade of purple. Not wanting it to ruin our weekend escape, We carried on with the things we had planned anyway. When we headed back to our room to get ready for dinner, my breasts resembled watermelons in both size and weight. Now they were too sore and full to even get the pump on them. Bugger. So I did what any desperate and engorged woman would do, I asked my husband to milk me.
We don't talk about that weekend much...

I never thought breastfeeding would change my life.
For me, breastfeeding has been life-changing in more ways than one. Not only am I amazed frequently at the magic of breast milk and breastfeeding, but I've managed to turn it into a business.  Finding all of the highstreet nursing bras I came across pretty boring, uncomfortable and uninspiring is what pushed me to design the first nursing bra for myself, and the rest is history. Now I've made hundreds of nursing bras and they've been sent all around the world. None of that would have happened if it wasn't for breastfeeding Rori. I've even had a picture of myself feeding Rori on a poster for a breastfeeding support group in Southend. That's pretty darn awesome.


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Another Hobby To Add To My List

Like I'm not busy enough, I just had to go and find something else that I can sink my teeth into to take up my abundant amounts of spare time, right?


SO, what is my newest hobby? It's leather painting! Leather painting is something I've wanted to get into for a loooooong time. From back in the days when I was a wee teen at school drawing on my t shirts with permanent markers, I've been obsessed with customising my clothes. Sewing placates this obsession with customising every garment I own, as sewing it from scratch is in itself, customising it. It's a garment nobody else has because no one has used the same sewing pattern+fabric combo as this particular item.

I had a little money for my birthday burning a hole in my pocket, so I decided to treat myself to some proper leather paints. We obviously have an abundance of leather jackets and boots in the house because of the bike club roots, so finding canvases was no issue.

I wanted to paint statements on the jackets, rather than pictures. Lettering is something I've been practicing recently with some brush pens that I got a few months ago but this was still a little daunting painting directly onto the leather. As JLS said, 'You only get one shot...!' (excuse that terrible song quote, it's the only one that popped into my head!). Luckily, the painting has been going better than I expected! And I'm finding it incredibly engaging and fun.

Here's my first 3 attempts:

1. 'Runs With Wolves' on my genuine leather cut.

2. 'Lucky Muthah' on my studded faux leather jacket.

3. 'Not Phased' on my genuine leather brando jacket

I'm thinking of doing a little tutorial on leather painting, and showing you how it works and how I go about it, and also the difference between painting on genuine leather vs. faux leather as there are some advantages and disadvantages to both!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Five Photos of My New Life

For this weeks Five on Friday, I wanted to share with you 5 photos from my new life that make me incredibly happy. It's hard when you run a small business to let work take over your life and to live in your head a bit. It's easy to forget to be present, in the here and now. Taking in the good bits of life. The bits that stop and make you smile.

Ultimately, we moved here to change our lives for the better. Sometimes it'll come to the end of the week and I literally haven't left the boundaries of our garden. No bueno. I've been making a conscious effort on days when I'm working to snatch some time outside with the womb-fruits, even if it's only 5 minutes to go and check on the chickens. And I feel so much better! I know when the house build commences that I'll be outside all of the time, but at the moment I'm so consumed with work and trying to build my business up to something sustainable for us, that I forget to live.

But, I must remember - 'We work to live, not live to work'.

So, here are five pictures, all snapped at various times, that make me incredibly happy.

Rori helped us re-pot some tomato plants that had outgrown their seedling pots, and into some upcycled pots made from recycled plastic water bottles. Rori loves to get her hands in the dirt and telling the plants as she tucks them up in their soil duvet 'Na-Night!'
Rori watering the tomato plants

Rori up at the crack of dawn to let our chickens out of their coop and give them their breakfast in the Community Garden we have started in our village.
Rori feeding the chickens

Two eggs from our chickens. Look at the size difference! The littlest egg was a first lay for our chicken Polly, now she's laying huge eggs like the ones on the left consistently.
A couple of eggs from our chickens

 Logan and Rori love having more freedom to run and play. The village we live in is so small and secure, they have much more freedom to play outside. I managed to capture this recent cuddle they had outside the one and only shop in our village - it only sells bread and cakes!
Sibling love

We've wanted chickens for as long as I can remember. Back when we used to day dream about the 'good life' we would have 'one day', it always involved the countryside and chickens. That was our measure of the good life and happiness. So every time I spend with our chickens, I find something else to love about them. First and foremost, it's because to us, they equal freedom from our old 9-5 lives, but recently it's also been their little scaly feet. I love them!
scaly chicken feet!

I hope you've all had a great week so far and are looking forward to the weekend. We've got a lot of repotting seedlings and plating out to do over in the communal garden. We also need to build something around the veg beds to make them more secure, the chickens have decided that the seedlings are especially for them to feast on!


Monday, 13 March 2017

Design - Haters Lactate

That dreaded thing happened to me the other day. 'Storage almost full' flashed up on my phone. Bollocks. I guess the 8000 pictures I have on my phone should probably be moved off and stored somewhere safe. I've ordered an external hard drive to transfer them to, and I decided that in preparation for it's arrival, I'd make a head start on deleting all the unnecessary snaps from my phone. You know the ones...screenshots of funny memes, pictures of your dinner and a hundred pictures of the floor that your kid took when they stole your phone and run away with it shouting 'MIIIIIIIIIINE!'.

As I was flicking through my gallery, I came across pictures from my sketchbook of when I first started to doodle the 'Haters Lactate' design. It's pretty interesting to see the design process. To see the concept sketches and then how it evolved and morphed into something that looks like the finished design that I use now.

Although I've always loved art - drawing, painting, sketching - the whole shebang, it's not something that I find comes easily to me all the time. It's like I'll get an idea for a design, and I have to run with it then and there. I can only get a sketch down when the idea is in my head, otherwise it seems like my brain and hands can't quite connect. So, I've learnt that when these little bursts of creativity happen, I just embrace it and go with the flow. Much like the Lioness.Queen.Empress design - that all came together in one afternoon.

To think that this design was drawn up so long ago, and how popular it's been is pretty amazing. I started off with patches and last month had it made into our first enamel pin which sold out within a month. We have now restocked those and released a glittery pink version for summer! It's incredible that so many women can relate and choose to wear their pin and patches loud and proud!


Friday, 10 March 2017

5 Things You Might Not Know About Me

I'm going to (try) to join in each Friday with the Husband's new blog bit - he's going to be hosting the Five on Friday blog round-up, and I figured I'd best join in too!

For my first Five on Friday, I thought I'd join in and introduce myself with 5 things that you might not know about me. Here goes!

1. I like to have my fingers in ALL the pies. No really, it sounds jokey, but it can be a bit intense! I'm a massive over-thinker and get completely consumed by things that pique my interest. Anything that is a little creative, and I just wanna get in it and be it. So as you'll probably know, I sew as my job, but sewing is also a hobby. Other hobbies and interests of mine currently include - hand lettering, illustration, graphics design, watercolour painting, leather painting, pyrography, embroidery, pattern design....and that's not even including the long list of things to do with our up-coming Eco straw-bale house build such as upcycling and recycling materials, landscape design,  interior design, cob sculpture. This list is not exhaustive but can be exhausting!

2. I wanted to be a famous musician when I was a teenager. I learnt how to play the flute for a few years in middle school and then was gifted a drum kit one Christmas much to my delight (let's ignore the failed guitar obsession in between those - damn you short fingers!). I was then a little disappointed that I didn't immediately morph into Keith Moon or look/sound like the bloke in the video for the Arctic Monkey's 'A View From the Afternoon' when playing my drum kit. Maybe putting the musicianship on the back-burner, I was adamant that when I grew up I wanted to be a music journalist and work for NME magazine. Not gonna lie, I would still like to do that when I grow up one day. Since school I've had a lot of different jobs and none that I particularly liked.  I started fresh out of school at 16 as a Beauty Salon Junior, I've since worked in a call centre, been an office administrator, been an evening cleaner at a mechanics, and was a tattooist before I had the kids and whilst heavily pregnant with Logan. I never really enjoyed work back then, and always wished I didn't have to work. But now I LOVE work. Maybe I just disliked working for other people and like being able to make decisions for myself. Plus, sewing is the best job ever, obvs.

3. I never wanted to get married and I never wanted to have children. HAHAHAHA! Excuse me while I laugh at that for a minute or two. In all seriousness though, I didn't. I always said I would live in a camper van with 4 or possibly 5 cats and never be tied down. Plus, kids? Ew. So sticky and gross. Worst nightmare. Now I'm 26 and have been married for coming up 7 years with two sprightly womb-fruits. Would I change it? No. But kids can still be a bit 'Ew' sometimes though. And I would still like a camper van, I'll just need a larger one than initially thought.

4. My all-time favourite animal and ultimate pet dream would be a pig. I REALLY want a pig. I'm not sure why I love them so much. I remember quite a few years ago when Rich and I were first living together and we were watching some kind of vet programme. They showed little piglets being castrated. It was traumatising! I cried. A lot. I've loved pigs ever since. I will have a pet pig one day, I WILL!

5. I treat dyeing my hair like another form of art that requires full planning and practice like all of my other hobbies. I've had my hair every colour under the sun and it's been green/blue for the last 18 months or so. I went from using one shade of Green, to now using a blend of 5 different colours including green, blue and purple to get it to this colour. Luckily the blue sticks to my hair really well, so I only have to touch up the dye every 8 weeks or so. I literally cannot wait until the kids want to have their hair coloured! I keep asking Logan if he would like a little blue in his hair but he says he likes his hair just as it is. Me too, kid, me too.

 I leave you with a few pictures (of my hair) taken on the Shoreditch Photoshoot in January with Mr Adam Robertson, Dilan and Me and We Are Enough Co <3


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Design Evolution - Lucky Muthah Nursing Bras

It's pretty interesting looking at the design process - from concept to completion. Looking at how an idea evolves over time. Looking through my sketch book the other week, when I came across the original design sketches for the Haters Lactate design, I also came across my initial sketches for Maternity/Nursing bras.

I knew I wanted something that would be different from your standard basic nursing bra. BASIC NO MORE!

As you can see from my initial sketch, I played around with adding the central straps and also the inside frame-work and support for nursing flap.

This second sketch shows how I continued to play around with the central straps. This one got a bit too 'cage-ey' though and would have made attaching the nursing clips difficult.

So, for the third and final sketch I went back to the first design with the simpler 'Y' shaped central straps. I also played about with adding removable jewellery to the design (which would clip from one gold ring, hang across the decolletage and clip onto the gold ring on the other side). The idea being that the bra could be dressed up if desired. We decided to not go with the removable jewellery as having dangley chains close to a baby probably isn't the best idea. Although I do want to play around with this on a night out and see what it looks like. 

In the end, I guess the first sketch is the most accurate representation of what the final design looks like.

I'm so proud of this design. I spent a lot of time sourcing the correct fabrics and elastics that would give the right amount of support that's needed for milk-filled boobies. Now the design is complete, I love being able to play around with it aesthetically and coming up with new things to do to it (like our new limited edition sets with the lace!). Although sewing is my number one love, designing is a very close second!

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