Illustrated Teacup

Family | Lifestyle | Food | Motherhood | Tattoos

Monday, 31 August 2015

FOOD: Testing Jamie Oliver's 15 minute chilli con carne meatballs

Jamie Olivers 15 minute chilli con carne meatballs

In our home we love the Food Network. We put it on in the background when we get home, and usually have a watch whilst cooking dinner.
We have our firm favourites - Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten - and we have our little jokes about their cooking styles and techniques - Ina uses an insane amount of butter and dill in almost all her recipes, not necessarily a bad thing, and Jamie throws food around all over the place from a great height, and is like an excitable puppy about food; though it is quite fun to watch and quite infectious!

The thing we like about Jamie Oliver is his love for easy to make, quick food for the whole family. Currently we're a little addicted to Jamie's 15 minute meals. I mean a meal for four in 15 minutes! Unbelievable right?!?

Well a week or so ago we decided to put him to the test - ok Dann di, I'm no chef, but I did take the photos!
We both loved the idea of Jamie's 15 minute Chilli Con Carne Meatballs so thought we'd try it. 

Now - before I go through the recipe and how it went, there is a little disclaimer. Jamie doesn't count prep into the 15 minutes - i.e. boiling kettles, getting all the equipment and ingredients out... so have everything you're going to need, out and ready, before you start the timer. We timed that as taking about five minute to get all the surfaces ready and all the ingredients on chopping boards etc.


Sunday, 30 August 2015

LIFESTYLE: A weekend spent decorating

A weekend of decorating

So we've been decorating for goodness knows how long (well it's since March 9th actually, on and off, just you know, that doesn't have quite the same ring to it!) and we're coming into the final stretch. All of downstairs is now done with just a few odds and ends to get, such as a new dining set for the conservatory, but we have a set that is perfectly fine for the time being.

Upstairs we have finally completed all three bedrooms! A couple of weekends ago we blitzed through the box room and got it looking pretty just in time for our BBQ (which is actually happening today) with some of our friends and family. As we have two sets of siblings staying over, we figured we had a deadline to get the room looking nice.

Now don't get me wrong, this room is far far from complete, as it is essentially empty most of the time, but it feels more like ours with a lick of paint. It still amazes me how something as simple as painting some walls can completely change the feel of a room and make it feel more like it belongs to you.


Friday, 28 August 2015

FASHION: Flats over heels kind of girl

I never thought I would say this, but I love flat shoes more than I love heels. This is a fairly big deal for anyone that knows me.
I was always the one in skyscraper heels for any occasion, work, casual or partying. The higher, the better.
But in recent months I've been rediscovering myself and settling into the more reserved casual Rachel that I am now. And from that, I've found that really I love being comfortable.

Us girls know the pain of a day or evening in killer heels. They can be tight, cause cramp and altogether just painful and uncomfortable. We've all seen the girls dangling their heels from the fingers at 1am after they just couldn't hack it any more, or the ones falling head of heels (ha, did you see what I did there!) in stilettos up to their armpit.


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

LIFESTYLE: 15 things only cat owners will understand

As a cat owner I've come to learn rather quickly that the little fur babies can bring so much joy, and so much aggravation.
Our boys (Archimedes and Dante) are like my little babies and I love them dearly, but you quickly come to realise that cats can cause total anarchy with the swoosh of a tail. But us cat lovers do love sharing our tales of woe and the funny quirks from them that put them solidly in your heart forever.

Here's a few things only cat owners will understand


Monday, 24 August 2015

LIFSTYLE: Patience is a virtue

Patience is a virtue

Honestly I never thought I would be writing a blog post about patience.
Anyone that knew me previously would almost certainly say I have little to no patience. Queues would leave me stressed as I hated waiting. In fact having to wait for anything would bring me close to tears in frustration. I wanted everything now!

Now don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean I was some spoilt little kid who would through a strop at the first signs of not getting my own way. But I was more of an instant gratification kind of gal, so sticking with anything that takes time to see results was always pretty tricky for me. Possibly why I never stuck with any kind of club or fashion.

But in recent months, from pretty much nowhere I've developed a true resilience and quite an impressive amount of patience. Queues no longer faze me. I either wait my turn quietly, usually with phone in hand for a twitter update, or chat with a fellow blogger, or if the dreaded happens, and there is no signal (this happens way more than it should for it being 2015!!) I make mental to do lists or come up with ideas for blog posts, or marketing initiatives for work, or a food shop list.... I could go on.
As for all those frustrating little things in life that would infuriate many, I have grown to just let them go by and not concern me too much. Waiting in hospital for Dann whilst he had his nose reset wasn't the most amount of fun I've had, but I was a lot less stressed than the old me would have been.

I have more patience for people, ones I know, and complete strangers. I don't mind waiting. I don't mind that some things don't happen straight away.


Saturday, 22 August 2015

LIFESTYLE: Why I'm ok not being pregnant right now

So earlier this year I wrote one of the hardest posts I've ever written. I had a miscarriage in 2014 and it very nearly broke me. Anyone who knows me well will know I'm probably one of the broodiest people on the planet, so that loss was huge for me and for Dann. But I did get through it with support and love from some very special people, and they all know how grateful I am for what they did for us.

But since then I have moved on leaps and bounds, and I've come to the realisation that actually I'm ok with not being pregnant, right now. 

I know it's assumed that as soon as you get married you will start a family, and to be honest, that was totally the plan. I mean I fell pregnant six months after getting married. But something's just aren't mean to be. And I've grown to accept that, with some help from my husband and some amazing friends and family.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

LIFESTYLE: "You Time" habits

I'm focusing a lot on myself and my happiness at the moment - not in a selfish way, but in a 'improving myself' kind of way.

I was thinking the other day of the little things I like to do, or should be doing to create some 'me-time' to make myself happier, or relax me after a long or stressful day.
We all have our own little coping techniques, so here's some of mine.


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

BEAUTY: #spaoftheworld event with The Body Shop UK

The Body Shop Spa of the World

How is everyone's Tuesday treating them, now we've gotten over the shock of being back into the working week!
I've got another beauty post this week (I know I'm on a roll here, go me!) and from another event (really go me!). You'll remember a couple of weekends ago I attended the Soton bloggers meet up (read here) and got to spend the afternoon with some crazy awesome local blogging girls.

Well one of the girls kindly invited me to a semi-last minute event at The Body Shop for the Spa of the World launch, so with no other plans, I went along for a mini pamper and a blogging girl catch up.

The brand new Spa of the world collection focuses on luxurious at home pampering with a range of scrubs, oils, and creams inspired with scents from around the world.
The new collection is beautiful and a real treat if you want some spa goodies for your bathroom at home. Personally I'm keeping my eye on the radiance oil, perfect for skin and dry and damaged hair - which I am very guilty of!


Monday, 17 August 2015

LIFESTYLE: A summer fire pit with Smores

A summer BBQ and fire pitA couple of weeks back we were invited to a birthday party of one of my friends - who it turns out I've known for about six and a half odd years which is a slightly scary thought!
We tend to see each other at her birthday each year as she almost always has a summer BBQ party at her house to celebrate.

Thankfully the sun held out and third times a charm for us and BBQs, we actually successfully had an outdoor BBQ!

Copious amounts of food and drink later, we cracked out Marie's new fire pit! As a USA lover, we had to have American inspired Smores over the fire pit, and they went down a treat with everyone.
I'm now literally yearning for a fire pit for our back garden to do our own Smores parties, especially as the evenings start to cool in early Autumn.


Sunday, 16 August 2015

LIFESTYLE: A morning of chilli and cheese

Chilli and Cheese Festival Winchester

This was a last minute trip as we only found out about the event two days beforehand, but as food lovers, and particularly cheese and spicy stuff we knew we just had to go to the Chilli and Cheese Festival in Winchester a couple of weekend's ago.

Held in the Devils Hall - behind the River Park Leisure Centre and with beautiful sunshine for the day, this is a must for any food buff. Lots of local, and small business owners had stalls at the event including cheeses, chilli's, fudge, sauces, and drinks. This event particularly catered to families with children with an array of inflatable activities and mini fairground rides.


Friday, 14 August 2015

TATTOOS: An interview with Stag and Raven co-founder Hannah

Do you ever see a brand and just think, yep they're for me? Well, I recently started chatting to the lovely girls over at Stag and Raven and these girls are definitely in charge of a store that is 100% for me. Stag and Raven is a brand new online store that specialises in homeware and artwork from artists and tattooists. Being a big art of tattoo culture, I knew this brand was for me, especially when I saw they had collaborated with a number of my absolute favourite tattooists. 

So we decided to hook up and put a little interview up with one of the co-founders Hannah, all about her new venture, her tattoos, and advice for tattoo lovers everywhere and to offer an exclusive discount to Teacup readers!.

^^the lovely Kate (left) and Hannah (right)^^

Tell me about Stag and Raven - what is it's history, why was the brand created?
Kate and I have been mates for years and she was looking for a career change. After talking for a while we came up with the idea of Stag & Raven, a business which uses both our skills and talents so we decided to become partners!

What is your favourite item you have for sale on the store 
Easy, it’s got to be our tote bag. I get goosebumps every time someone buys one. The fact that someone wants to spend money on a product that we created is so exciting. 

Best achievement so far for Stag and Raven?
Launching at Liverpool Tattoo Convention this year and getting loads of positive feedback from artists and tattoo lovers. A highlight at Leeds Convention was Kate getting her first tattoo - she's joined the dark side!

Where will you be taking the store in the future?
We really enjoyed being at Conventions this year and are already looking at 2016 events to take part in. We also want to support more artists and charities, lots to organise for the next few months.

What are your ultimate plans for the store?
Ultimately we want to be the go to place for tattoo lovers when shopping for gifts or things for their home. We don't want to dilute what we offer by having too many products and it's really important it's all artists and items that we love and would have in our own homes. Basically we don't want to sell out.  

About You:
What was your first tattoo, and how old were you? 
I was 19 and went with a friend while she had hers, I didn't think it through, its a large cherry blossom style that went half way up my back, another artist added to the top - and then I had a third tattoo artist in Nottingham try and match it all up when I was in my mid twenties - then last year had another artist touch it up. Ergh, don't do it kids! I like it now, but don't love it like I love my other tattoos.  

How many do you have now, and what are they? 
I have seven in total, including my back, one on my hip, my wrists and my arms. 

Who is your favourite tattooist? 
Ohh hard call. I love Rebecca Decadorette (@decadorette ) who's done both my arms - she's a newbie so I've been lucky. I really want a tattoo by Dale Sarok and Joanne baker - both of whom have created limited edition prints for the shop.

Do you have any tattoos planned for the future? If so, what? 
I want a small one of a dinosaur done by a local Manchester Artist, but I'm waiting for them to get back to me. I've got a piece in mind to work with Joanne Baker on the top of my leg, then I'm still deciding where I want Dale to mark :)

Do you have any 'no-go' zones? 
I've heard the ribs are a bitch so will probably hold off that. I'm really keen to get my neck, but waiting till I can think of a design I'm happy with. I can't see me ever getting my face tattooed, but never say never :) 

What is your favourite  thing about tattoos and tattoo culture? 
For me, its art - so it’s all subjective. It shouldn't really matter if anyone else likes your tattoos - I like them so who cares what anyone else thinks.  It's nice to get complimented on them, and even nicer when you know it has a story behind it or love the artist. 
^^this is so true! As long as you love your artwork, then no one else should matter. And if you don't like someone's work, be kind and keep it to yourself!^^

What do you think of the increase in tattoos as a 'fashion statement'? 
I understand both sides of the argument. I think it's fine - Stag & Raven as a brand wants people to appreciate tattoo artists and the culture, It's not about judging but support!


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

BLOGGING: #sotonmeetup - meeting the Southampton Bloggers

Southampton Blogger Event

^^photo from Hairfinity UK^^

On Saturday I attended my very first event as a blogger - the #sotonmeetup, for Southampton Bloggers - add I've definitely caught the blogging bug and made some amazing new friends!

If you'd ask me when I started blogging, or even a year ago if I thought I would be this happy with blogging, I don't think I could have said yes. But I am, because some of the opportunities coming my way, and the overwhelming feedback, just makes me over the moon happy. And this event really did secure my fate of blogging for the foreseeable future, and that the new direction of my blog was the best thing I've done for myself!


Monday, 10 August 2015

LIFESTYLE: Re-finding my inner happiness

Re-finding my inner happiness
I have a somewhat fiery temperament generally. I've always had a flair for the dramatic, even from a young age, and for many years as a teenagers would go from one extreme to the other in personality. I haven't had the easiest, or the toughest of lives. I was always an intensely private person. Some things have been awful and some things have been great.

However, recently I've found that I really didn't like a certain side of myself, and that I wanted to be a better person, both for other people and for myself.

I'm happy to say I'm a much happier person right now. I feel more mellow and easy going. I feel more relaxed and at peace with the person I've become.
A lot of this I realised after seeing family that I haven't seen for a while, who remarked that I had changed in recent months, and seemed more open and happier in general.
And that was both slightly hard to hear, but also good to hear. I'm taking it as a positive however. I've worked hard to learn about myself and to develop myself. And it's a continual journey, but right now I'm happier.

I thought I'd share some personally things - reasons why I think I'm happier now than I've ever really been.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

LIFESTYLE: A Thursday trip to London for work and pleasure

With a new job comes new adventures. And lucky for me, it involves some trips into one of my favourite places, London.

Having meeting rooms and events in London means trips into London! Woo!
So whilst I was there last week I met up with one of my fave girls from my old work for a little explore and dinner!

After a spending my afternoon at our offices by Liverpool Street, and a short stop in a coffee shop, we met at London Bridge. A little walk later we headed down to the Tower of London, where we ended with dinner at Zizzi's (who do a fab gluten-free menu if you wondered).

Here's some photos of our little early afternoon trip around the London water!


Friday, 7 August 2015

FASHION: Three date night outfits - wishlist

I love a good wishlist, even if it does make me wish for more money to go on a little shopping spree.
Focusing on love a lot this month, so I thought I would share some ideas for date night outfits, and create a little wishlist for me to go back to come payday!

Date Night Outfits


This outfit is channelling the inner rock chick in everyone. Plus I'm totally in love with that denim dress. Sass it up with those rocking knee high heels and you'll be sure to be having your dates eyes only on you! With those heels, the outfit is kept simple with a chunky necklace and tassle bag.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

LIFESTYLE: A peek inside our living room

After such an amazing response and lovely comments about my kitchen renovation, I thought I'd share some of the other parts of my home as we are steadily working our way round and making our house into our home.

As you will have seen recently on the blog we moved into our newly bought home back in March, and since then we have been on a mission to overhaul it and make it our own. We actually completed our living room makeover before our kitchen - read about that here - but the change in the kitchen was so much more apparent. However, our living room is super cute and cosy and we really do love being in it so thought I would share some photos of the make-over and where some of our key items are from.


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

BEAUTY: My make-up staples

My make up essentials

I'm no beauty blogger. Far from it to be honest. Sure I know my Benefit from my Rimmel, and I lust after every Mac collection like every good beauty blogger does.

But my beauty regime is far from the traditional beauty bloggers. I keep it simple as possible. And I don't spend a bundle either. But it works for me. However I will admit to putting in a bit more effort for a night out or event! If course!

So my daily make up pretty much consists of four main items with the occasional extra.


Sunday, 2 August 2015

LIFESTYLE: Life lately - July

July has been an insanely busy month, and has genuinely brought me so much happiness and love. It's been a wonderful month with lots of photos and memories, and most of all it's helped me realise just how happy I can be and how fortunate I am to have the life I have.

I'm slightly changing my 'month in review' posts to life lately, just so I can post more photos! Ha ha!

This month has been filled with trips and visiting people which has just been lovely.
I'll start with July's biggest event - my brother in law's wedding. I posted more about it here, but here's some unseen photos from the wedding day, and from the day before!

^^taken my Erin-Mai and Dann themselves!^^

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