Illustrated Teacup

Family and lifestyle blog from a tattooed wife, exploring the big wide world

Friday, 30 October 2015

FASHION: Joules Design a Welly Competition - and some faves

I'm pretty specific on the fashions and brands that I like and the styles I wear.
Anyone that saw me last autumn and winter will know that my love for animal jumpers is a true love story. My collection is ever growing, and this season I've been eyeing up many of the animal jumpers from Joules. Actually OK, they also do many an item in stripes and checks too, which is another large weakness of mine. And the accessories?!?! Oh gosh - OK I'm secretly a real country lover, and Joules covers my love for country fashion, and unique style all in one place! My Christmas wishlist is definitely growing - sorry Dann!

Anyway, I was recently contacted by the team at Joules about their latest competition, and I think you lovelies are going to love it, especially as I know a few of you are budding artists already!

So first things first... have you seen the Joules Welly collection?? If not, why not? These little and large beauties make going out in the rain this winter seem like a dream come true.I honestly can't pick a favourite... but a few of my current favourites....

Joules Wellington

Joules Wellington

Mollywelly womens mid height welly - navy floral
Wellyprint womens print welly - navy engineered stripes
Wellyprint womens print welly - invite floral maya blue
Evedone womens premium welly - french navy
So basically, if you fancy yourself a designer, or even someone who can doodle, you should enter their competition to design a pair of Joules Wellies.

Competition Details
Win a luxury break worth £5,000
Three nights in a golden oak treehouse cabin plus lots more
10 runners-up will each receive a £250 Joules gift card.
The winning welly design will go on sale at
Submit a design and enter the competition here -
All proceeds from the sale of the limited edition winning welly will be donated to our charity partners via CHARITABLY JOULES.
Competition is open between the 4th October 2015 until the 4th December 2015.
All Terms and Conditions on the Joules Creative site above.  

Joules Design a Welly Competition

*collaboration post

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

FOOD: Top Winter Warmers

I'm a hot drink lover. Specifically tea. Hence half the blog name!
I never used to like coffee (I do now but that's a different story) so got used to finding new hot drinks, as tea over and over again can get a little boring, unless you like flavoured teas. Fortunately I do like a mix of teas, and other hot drinks, so thought I would share a few of my favourites. 

Chai Latte
This is a real favourite and one I discovered a few years back when I didn't drink coffee and worked as a Barista. Pretty much all coffee shops sell it, and you can pick it up in Tesco and online quite easily now. A Chai Latte is a cinnamon flavoured tea drink, made with hot milk (though you can use half hot water, half milk if you are that way inclined). You essentially make it the same way you would make a hot chocolate with milk - 3-4 heaped teaspoons, and pour over hot milk and stir! Simple! It's a real winter treat, and always reminds me of Christmas.

This is actually a favourite of Dann's from Whittards (you'll be seeing plenty from them as they are kind of my go-to place for at home alternative hot drinks, as you'll soon see!) Dreamtime is a peach and honey instant tea, which comes in a power form. Similar to instant coffee or hot chocolate, spoon 2-3 spoons of the powder into a mug and add hot water, then stir. This is a staple in our house, and really does help if you're struggling to get to sleep.

Creme Brulee White Hot Chocolate
This is a new one for me this year. A couple of years back a friend of mine bought me the Lemon Meringue White Hot Chocolate (now discontinued as far as I can tell). I was really skeptical, but it was lush, so when I saw the Creme Brulee White Hot Chocolate I knew I had to try it. You make it in the same way as a Chai Tea Latte but also with all milk - because let's be honest hot chocolate should always be made with milk. It's a really creamy drink, that's sweet, but not too sweet.

Flowering Tea
Another of Dann's favourites, and a total must everytime we go to Wagamamas. Flowering Tea can come in an amazing assortment. I bought our ones online on Ebay and they pretty much last forever. Just pop into a cup of hot water and let it work it's flowering magic. Works particularly well if you have a clear (heat-proof) mug. This is a great healthy option or if you want something a little lighter.  

Hot Chocolate Spoon
I love these, and plan on making homemade ones because they are so cool and simple. It's chocolate on a spoon! Grab a mug of hot milk and swirl the Hot Chocolate Spoon around, melting the chocolate. It's truly yummy! And great fun for kids too. 

What are your favourite hot drinks for winter?

Monday, 26 October 2015

LIFESTYLE: Why I love autumn

There's something about the autumn months that just makes me happy. I love autumn, and I have to admit that though we are getting through September at a rate of knots, and in some unexpected sunshine, I still love this time of year.

Part of it is because November is my birthday month, which always makes the season better. Plus we start the countdown to Christmas, which is always an exciting time.
Personally this season is just so light and fresh and warming, despite the temperatures dropping.

I love jumpers and scarves and woolly hats and wrapping up. I love the oranges, browns, navy, dark berry and greys that come with the season change and warm up the colours in our wardrobes. I'm not a pastel girl, so I pretty much wear a winter wardrobe all year round - just with less layering! So getting to layer up throughout autumn is just the best. Plus I am kind of in love with boots, and autumn is the season of the boot, am I right?

I love hot drinks - tea, coffee, lattes with syrups, hot chocolate with marshmallows and hot wine! Is there anything better than snuggling down on the sofa with your favourite book, a warm blanket and a hot drink? I thought not.

Then there's hot bubbly baths! I've always been a bath girl having grown up at home without a shower until the age of 18. So a bath was all I knew. And now with all those amazing bath bombs and bubble bars, and different scents and colours, bath time just keeps getting better and better.

And all those colours. I mean the whole place turns golden. And with a slight summery feel to the weather with plenty of blue sky and crisp windy air whipping up the brown, orange, red and yellow leaves, it’s kind of beautiful.

Plus, let's be honest. Autumn kind of gives you an excuse for being a little lazy, a little less frantic and allows you to just be. I mean the weather means you have to stay at home more, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. We all want some time to ourselves, or with our loved ones, but in the comfort of our own homes and without having to put too much effort in. Everyone's happy to chill and relax together - especially if there is a fireplace involved - and that is a great thing.

What are your favourite things about autumn?

Friday, 23 October 2015

FOOD: Nostalgic for Family Favourites

Lemon and Thyme Chicken Recipe

As you may have noticed I’m a bit of a foodie, especially for homemade food and recipes made from scratch, usually simple but effective meals or treats. I’ve collaborated with Wren Kitchens to bring you something a little new today.

The campaign #WrenFamilyFavourites is all about getting nostalgic. And nothing gets us kids more nostalgic than reminiscing about our favourite home cooked meals. Every mum, or dad, has that go to recipe that their kids love. My mum has a couple of firm family favourites, including this chocolate biscuit cake that I blogged a few months back! You’re welcome – it is yum!

So my mum makes a mean chilli con carne, but so does my husband! And they can take a lot of work, and I wanted to share something quite simple, but really tasty with you.

So I’m sharing my mum’s lemon and thyme chicken, with herb potatoes. This is kind of a winter staple and was a popular dinner when I was growing up – though I did always avoid the carrots (sorry mum). This is the dish that I taught my husband, and I’ll be honest he’s most definitely the cook in our household, so me teaching him a recipe is kind of a big deal (though things be changing as I get a bit more confident in the kitchen!).  

So what do you need?

For the chicken:
Skin-on Chicken Drumsticks
Fresh Thyme
Ground pepper

For the herb potatoes:
Fresh Rosemary
Olive oil

What to do?

Lemon and Thyme Chicken
Gently peel back the chicken skin and score the flesh. Squeeze lemon juice and pour a small amount over the chicken. Crack pepper over the top. Rub fresh thyme leaves into the flesh, including into the cuts. Cover the skin back over and place inside a deep dish. 
Place the lemon rinds inside the dish and cover with extra lemon juice and black pepper. Add a couple of thyme sprigs. 
Bake in the oven for 35minutes, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through and golden. 

Herb Potatoes
Peel and dice the potatoes, carrots and onions. Crush the garlic and add fresh rosemary into a dish with the potatoes, carrots and onions. Drizzle with olive oil and toss the mixture together. Roast in the oven until crispy, approximately 35 minutes. 

Lemon and Thyme Chicken Recipe

Lemon and Thyme Chicken Recipe

Lemon and Thyme Chicken Recipe

Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes

Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes

Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes

Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes

Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes

Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes

Read all the blogger recipes here!

*collaboration post with Wren Kitchens

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A STORY: A tale of the toys of Erin-Mai - and why I love the generation I'm in.

Why we should be thankful for social media

In a sleepy house, in a sleepy road, in a sleepy town, lives a little girl and her teddies.
When the sun is shining and the day is bright, they spend their days picnicking and playing in sheer delight.
When the wind blows and the rain pours down, they build forts and cuddle, and play dress up in Erin's favourite gown.
But when the moon comes up, and the sun hides away, it's time for everyone to wash up and say...
Goodnight all, I love you, sweet dreams for all.

But the story doesn't end there...
Whilst Erin is sleepy and cosy in bed, the teddies; Hop Hop and Mr B, Stripey Monkey, Ballerina Elicia and Theo the Bear, they shake their heads and rub their eyes. They want more story time.
They're heard the best stories, and have their own tales to tell, of the adventures outside and hiding inside. They whisper in the night, telling dreams for Erin of green grass, and tea and pink lemonade.

As night creeps on and dawn arrives, they rub their eyes, and wait for Erin-Mai to wake.
They know another adventure is about to start.

A special thanks to Jemma for this illustration of Erin-Mai's teddies as part of this little story. This will be finding its' new home with Erin-Mai, when Santa sends his elves to collect it ready for Christmas Day. 

Writing this little story for my niece got me thinking. She sat with my sister-in-law and read my blog, and then they sent me a message with Erin-Mai's thoughts and her story request. I mean I was kind of over the moon that they were even reading my blog together. And that she wanted to be involved just made me so happy.
And it made me realise just how lucky our generation and our future generation is/are. I mean, my sister-in-law and my niece live in Northampton. I live in Southampton. Mine and Dann's parents, and my sisters, and Dann's brother all live in Buckinghamshire. Sure they're not so far away that we can't visit, but you know, we're all busy, so we can't visit as much as we would like.
But we are lucky. We have social media, and whatsapp, and email. We can send messages to each other at any time of the day or night. We can call each other. We can describe our days in emoji's (by the way, my mother-in-law rules the world for her use of emoji's).

We're at the age now where our siblings and friends are all starting to have families. And it just isn't always possible to see them face to face. But our technology means a video can be sent in seconds. One of my closest friends sent me a video of her daughter who is two and a half, bouncing on her trampoline in her PJs after she escaped to the garden at breakfast! Those 30 odd seconds of footage were brilliant. A moment caught in time. And I get to share that moment, and it's an incredible honour.

When Erin-Mai asked me to write her story I was touched. But when she set up a photoshoot with her mum to help me, I have to admit, I was overwhelmed. So I'm going to share those photos... because to be honest they are spectacular. They show her amazing character, and she's part of my little family. And I'm thankful that blogging and technology and the generation that I'm living in right now means I get to see this wonderful little girl grow up, even if I'm far away. That means the world!

Why we should be thankful for social media

Why we should be thankful for social media

Monday, 19 October 2015

BLOGGING: Meet my October Advertisers

So this is all new to me, and a first time. And I’m not going to lie, I feel quite proud that I am actually in a place that I feel I can offer advertising!
I’m super pleased with this month’s advertisers. They say it is quality not quantity that matters and that is so true for these bloggers.

Jemma Dorkface Advertiser

First up is the one and only Dorkface from Jemma. I have to admit, I did a little squeal when she asked to be an advertiser because honestly this girl is an utter gem (did you see what I did there) and is such a supportive person in the blogging community. She is my go-to gal for a fun chat and a little love.

If you’re looking for kawaii goodness and an overload of unicorns, rainbows and kittens then I’m not going to lie, this is the place to be on the internet! Jemma blogs about pretty much everything, and is a fountain of knowledge for the blogger in need. Plus and also, she is a double award-winner!!

Find here on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – and make sure you visit her blog and pick up one of her custom illustrations from her Etsy store!

Natasha Bebebear Advertiser

BeBeBear is from a personal friend Natasha. I’ve actually known Natasha for about four years as I worked in the wedding dress shop that she bought her wedding dress from. In the last few months we’ve gotten to know each other properly and it has been such a joy.

She blogs about her little family in Hampshire, including all their adventures with two year old Oscar and seven month old Lottie. BeBeBear is a relatively new blog so I’m super pleased to be able to support her journey.

Find Natasha on Twitter and Instagram – and make sure you pop by her blog to see her great photography and new projects coming up. 

If you would like to become an advertiser with Illustrated Teacup, you can find all the details on my advertising page, or email me at – I am already taking on advertisers for November so get in quick as space is limited. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

LIFESTYLE: Visiting Isle of Wight Zoo

Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight Zoo

Anyone who knows me even reasonably well will know I am a massive animal lover, especially for cats. So if a zoo is on the proverbial cards, I'm there. As part of our groupon to the Isle of Wight we visited the local zoo.

It's kind of teeny tiny, but it is truly lovely. I think what makes it is the keepers and guides who are honestly so friendly and happy to talk. Out tour guide Georgie was just so lovely and so informative and you can see the love, care and dedication the staff have for their animals, which is very humbling.

Yes perhaps run down in places, BUT all the animals appear happy, chilled, safe and healthy, or at the very least cared for as some of the animals are quite old in age so are developing typical ailments due to ageing.

Plus for such a little zoo they have an outstanding collection of big cats, with more rescues from circuses due soon. We were able to hear the tigers 'talk' and chuff and the resident African lion have dinner - from the top of a tree.

We spent an entire afternoon wandering around enjoying really personal talks and laughing at the Meerkats. The work here is great and they support some amazing conservation projects abroad to help lemurs and Indian tigers.

Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight Zoo

Meerkats at Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight Zoo

Meerkats at Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight Zoo

Meerkats at Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight Zoo

Tigers at Isle of Wight Zoo

Tigers at Isle of Wight Zoo

Tigers at Isle of Wight Zoo

Tigers at Isle of Wight Zoo
^^a huge thank you to Georgie who took these photos for me through the bars of their enclosure... aren't these tigers just stunning!^^

Tigers at Isle of Wight Zoo

Lions at Isle of Wight Zoo


Friday, 16 October 2015

FOOD: Spiced Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Autumn is all about soup right... especially homemade soup.
We love making soup in our house, served with crusty buttery bread so I decided to make Spicy Curried Butternut Squash Soup. It's a variation on this Spicy Butternut Squash Soup as I love the curried flavour with butternut squash.

Recipe for homemade spiced curried butternut squash soup

Two tablespoon olive oil
Sprig of rosemary
Two bay leaves
Three garlic cloves crushed
One teaspoon mild curry powder
Half medium chilli (we used a whole one but we like it HOT!)
One medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
Two carrots, chopped
One large potato, peeled and cubed
Two celery sticks, chopped
One medium onion, chopped
Pinch cumin seeds
Half teaspoon chilli powder
Pinch smoked paprika
Two pints veg/chicken stock
Half tub of fat-free natural yoghurt

Get cooking
Heat oil in a large saucepan and add garlic, chilli, mild curry powder, paprika, bay leaves, rosemary and cumin seeds and heat for 30 seconds (do not colour, you only want to release the flavours).

Add all the remaining ingredients apart from the stock.

Saute the vegetables for two minutes until they are fully coated in the spices.

Add the stock, turn down the heat and allow the soup to simmer for about 45 mins.

Allow the soup to cool and then blend with a hand whisk, until free of lumps. If the soup is too thick add a little more stock until you have the desired consistency. Add yoghurt dependent on how much you need to cool the heat of the spice (we needed lots as our chilli was hotter than we realised! Woops.) This is healthier than cream and works just as well!

Reheat when ready to serve and eat with a big hunk of crusty bread and an extra dollap of fat-free yogurt, delicious!

Recipe for homemade spiced curried butternut squash soup

Recipe for homemade spiced curried butternut squash soup

Recipe for homemade spiced curried butternut squash soup

Recipe for homemade spiced curried butternut squash soup

Recipe for homemade spiced curried butternut squash soup

Recipe for homemade spiced curried butternut squash soup

Recipe for homemade spiced curried butternut squash soup
Leave me your favourite soup recipes in the comments below so we can try out some new ones!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

LIFESTYLE: An autumnal trip to the Isle of Wight

Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight

Every so often we like to go away for some alone time away from work, responsibilities and general life dullness. It's good to get away and just chill so we decided to do a short end of season break to the Isle of Wight.
No, not glam, but quite a lot of fun and we haven't been to the island for seven years, despite living so close, so thought it about time we did a return visit.

We were only on the island for two days, but managed to fill it with activities, even with colds brewing. Thank goodness for day nurse!

We started our trip at The Needles in Alum Bay and took a leisurely stroll to the beach at the bottom of the cliffs. Apparently the island is losing a metre a year from erosion, and the slips at this end of the island really make that apparent, though they are quite something to look at. For those with little ones (we're definitely doing this one day in the future) we recommend the sand bottles which you fill yourself with all the different coloured sands from the cliffs.

Illustrated Teacup Isle of WightIllustrated Teacup Isle of Wight

Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight

Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight

Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight

Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight

Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight

Illustrated Teacup Isle of Wight

We then took a drive to Godshill and a little visit to the Model Village which always reminds me of my childhood.

For the late afternoon we walked... boy did we walk! Is there anything better than walking on the beach? And walking in the sea is even better... even if it is FREEZING!

We finished off the day with dinner at The Steamers Inn at Shanklin. I'm not even going to exaggerate - the food here is second to none. It's a family favourite of Dann's as he used to come to the island and the Steamers with his family when they were growing up. The portions are INSANE and the food sooo good. I didn't grab any photos of our mains (too busy filling our faces) but check out the size of those bread wedges! Genuinely if you need dinner on the island... go there!

I've got a post all about the Isle of Wight Zoo coming in a couple of days!
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