Illustrated Teacup

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

Sunday, 28 February 2016

LIFESTYLE: A birthday with friends

Danns 30th Birthday

Last weekend we celebrated Dann's 30th birthday. You may have noticed from this post last week.
We've always been quite low-key and the last couple of birthdays for Dann we have spent at Brighton Tattoo Convention. This year I wanted to do something a little more special for him, but as he's generally a fairly quiet and personal-type of person I wanted something intimate and fun.

As we're starting a family it only seemed right to invite our very best family friends for an afternoon.
With seven adults and six children all under 3.5 years old it was a busy afternoon. Occasional screams, lots of running and much laughter, so all round a very successful afternoon, plus we got full use of the conservatory as we have finally invested in a heater!

Dann's sister Sammie also made the most incredible cake for him. She has some amazing skills with icing, and to be honest the cake itself was yummy too. FYI its a Tae Kwondo badger and cat with a lego Dann in the background and lego tiles. All of Danns most favourite things. He has no idea about the cake until the day!! Surprise!!


Friday, 26 February 2016

FOOD: Very Lazy... the secret to becoming a smug healthy eater

Very Lazy Chopped & Speciality Ingredients

Very Lazy Chopped & Speciality Ingredients
As you guys all know I'm a pretty big cooking fan! And I'm also a fan of garlic, and chillies!! So when Very Lazy got in touch to talk about all their amazing products I just knew I needed to know more, and to try them out. 

You're probably like us and have seen these in the local supermarket, but perhaps haven't given them a try yet. I have to admit, we are the same, but they have really upped our cooking game. 

The range is a mix of ingredients which are pre-chopped or pre-prepared, perfect for use in cooking. Pop them in your favourite dish to spice up or give your food a little kick. Plus they last ages meaning they are a true cupboard staple. 

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

BABY: Pregnancy update - February - weeks 19 - 22

Pregnancy Update 19-22 weeks

It's been a fairly quiet few weeks in term of baby updates with a few semi-major reports but a few little developments along the way.
I'm currently 23 weeks + two days into my pregnancy and well into the second trimester, supposedly the easiest part of the pregnancy. Bump is starting to come in, but is still very manageable as not too big yet, although I do have days where I feel gigantic, even though I know I'm really not.

The biggest thing for the last few weeks was our 20 week anomaly scan. All is very well and baby is looking perfectly normal. As you may know from this post, we have not found out the gender, so will be having a little surprise come June. It was a tough decision especially after reading a few gender reveal blog posts, but I'm really happy with our decision. The scan wasn't all fun which was a shame as I had to have an internal scan to check the placement of the placenta, but all turned out absolutely fine in the end and no more scans required at this time.

Dann also got to feel Baby Bee move for the first time at 19 weeks + six days, and has since felt movement almost daily. I have to admit I was over the moon that he felt a kick, and has felt many more since as I think it makes it a little more real for him. We also saw my tummy move from the kicks whilst I was in the bath at 21 weeks + 6 days. Was a funny moment as I caught it out of the corner of my eye and called Dann to come look. Both of us staring intently at my stomach, but there was no mistaking it. Dann of course see's this as a sign that Baby Bee wants to take up Tae Kwondo just like Daddy!


Sunday, 21 February 2016

LIFESTYLE: Happy Birthday to my one and only!!

Today we're celebrating Danns birthday. He's turning that magical and scary age of 30, and I couldn't be prouder of him!

Over the last year he's done so much, and achieved so much. He's suported us (well me and the cats so far) and I can't thank him enough for his dedication and love.

This man has developed so much as a person in the last year, make me proud evwry day and I just know he's going to make an amazing daddy.

So happy birthday to my love, my one and only.
I'll love you always, even if you are 30!

Friday, 19 February 2016

FOOD: 15 Minute Feta Pork and Minted Courgette

Feta Pork and Minted Courgette
A few weeks back we started trying out some new dishes in the kitchen to broaden our food choices and make eating at home more interesting and food. You'll probably have seen lot of new foodie posts recently and I have another for today. 
This recipe is another Jamie fast meal, and is one of our favourites (though I don't think anything can beat the mustard lamb). Neither of us have really done a lot with courgettes, but this recipe impressed us both. And it's really simple and easy to make, and is one of Jamie's 15 minute meals which is actually really close to his timings, even on the first try. 


Thursday, 18 February 2016

LIFESTYLE: Eight years and stronger than ever

Celebrating 8 years

Today marks mine and Danns eight year anniversary. Eight whole years since Dann asked me to date him via text because he was nervous to ask to my face.

Honestly these have been the most amazing years of my life, and I'm so happy I got to spend them with the man I love.

We've had our rough patches, but then who hasn't, and been through things meant to tear us apart, but through thick and thin (and that kind of describes our current body shapes too) we've stuck it out.

I couldn't ask for a better partner in crime, and I'm so looking forward to the years to come with this man and our soon to be family.

So here's to eight, 18 or maybe even 80 more years together!


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

BABY: From a mother to another with Jojo Maman Bebe

From a mother to another campaign
Today I'm bringing you a little campaign which I think is so worthwhile and important, especially as a mumma-to-be. 
Jojo Maman Bebe have re-started their campaign this year to help provide vulnerable families in the UK and Syrian refugees with clothing for young children, and reduce landfill waste. 

This is such an important campaign as it works with a number of organisations, but also contributes to a wider problem that affects everyone, not just those with little families. 

So what exactly is the campaign? 
Jojo will be collecting good quality outgrown or unwanted children's clothing (ages 0-6 years) at their 72 stores across the UK. The aim is to reduce the level of clothing being dumped in landfills and provide clothing via food banks to the UK's vulnerable and disadvantaged families, and Syrian refugees in Lebanon. 


Monday, 15 February 2016

LIFESTYLE: Why it's ok to pay for a brand

This is a topic I've never really touched upon but recently came up in day to day life and I thought I would address it. Why it's totally ok to pay for a brand name.

As you probably know, everyone has an opinion on purchasing, whether its their own, or someone elses. You often see people condemning others on a shopping splurge, or congratulating on a bargain buy; and this is even more apparent for big life events such as birthdays, weddings and babies.

Some of you may know I'm quite thrifty. I was brought up in a low-income household (by nomeans did I go without, but money was tight) so I have a huge amount of respect for money and its value. I rarely overspend and will always look for a bargain. Most importantly I'm a savvy saver and a planner.

But to the point of this post, sometimes I do think it's perfectly ok to pay that little bit more for a brand name.


Sunday, 14 February 2016

BEAUTY: An evening in Lush

I'm not a huge fan of Valentines Day but Lush does make it seem like a worthwhile holiday.

So when Lush invited me and a big bunch of lushy Southampton bloggers for an evening of product testing, playing and loving I just knew I needed to be there.

As always I go more photos than probably necessary but Lush Southampton has some damn good lighting, and is just oh so pretty.

We tried out lots of the Valentines range and of course went and found our favourite Lush items, sharing our loves with the rest of the group.


Friday, 12 February 2016

FOOD: Super Easy Tagliatelle in 20 Minutes

Asparagus & Pea Tagliatelle

Today's recipe is actually a super easy and really healthy dinner from Jamie's 15 minute meals book, and actually is doable in less than 20 minutes. We did make some slight amends to the original recipe as we wanted to use up some bits in the fridge and freezer that we already had.


Thursday, 11 February 2016

BLOGGING: February Advertisers

It's a new month, which means new advertisers.
For February I have just the one advertiser, but she is an absolute cutie so I just don't care.
Meet Eloise of Eloise Loves Nature.

Eloise has a super lovely blog documenting her organic and natural lifestyle, including beauty and food, as well as motherhood. She's really a lovely person and has definitely been through her fair share, but has come out the other end and is learning and teaching all about her new way of life - you can read about it here.

I have to admit I have totally fallen in love with her blog.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

BABY: Pink or Blue.... It don't matter

Gender Neutral from Joules

I've been thinking about this long and hard. It's a tricky decision to make, especially when your gut says you might change your mind on the day, but here goes.... I had no intention of finding out the gender of Baby Bee at my 20 week ultrasound scan.

My instinct for a long time has said not to find out, and I have a number of reasons for my decision which I thought I'd share!


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

FOOD: Chinese New Year with Degustabox - plus win a box!

January Degustabox

It's that time of the month again, for a brand new Degustabox*.
January's box helps celebrate the Chinese New Year with a taste of asia across a mix of brands to make the perfect dinner to celebrate the Year of the Monkey.

As well as some dinner essentials, Degustabox treated us to a great mix of new products, including breakfast, lunch and snacks!

You can read about December's, November's and October's boxes too.


Friday, 5 February 2016

FOOD: Balsajo Black Garlic - a unique take on traditional garlic

Balsajo Black Garlic

Black Garlic, nope I'd never heard of it either. But as a massive foodie, I just knew I had to find out more! 

I was kindly sent a couple of boxes of their ready to eat Balsajo Black Garlic* to try out. 

For the first taste test, Dann ate some raw. He loves raw garlic anyway, so of course he had to try it as it markets itself as a sweet balsamicky garlic, with a milder taste than traditional white garlic. 
We're going to be trying this with olives to marinate them, probably with some chilli's and harissa - yum right!


Thursday, 4 February 2016

BLOGGING: Super easy tips to improve your SEO

SEO improvement tips for bloggers

I'm by no means a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert but I'm not too shabby having done a digital marketing diploma, and worked in marketing to some degree for the last three years.

Over that time, and especially recently with this blog, I've been learning and implementing new techniques that improve my SEO and ultimately increase my traffic and site views.

So I thought I'd share some super easy tricks and tips to improve your SEO and hopefully increase your blog traffic too.


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

LIFESTYLE: A bloggers night out

Bloggers beauty night out

It's been a little while since I've had a good little evening out, but last Friday I ventured out with some of the Southampton Bloggers for a beauty and food evening.

We started our evening at Clinique at Boots for their Pep-Start Eye Cream launch.
Now I'm no beauty blogger but I am growing to like trying out new products and learning about new techniques, innovations and brands.


Monday, 1 February 2016

LIFESTYLE: Why I'm happy I married young... and other stereotypes

Today is a bit of a personal post inspired by a couple of posts I've read recently.
The first is from Amie Hayward, who like me, married in her early 20's.
The second is from Alice. I know Alice in real life, we're even good friends. We're basically the same age (approximately seven weeks between us) and are incredibly like-minded, however our actual lives are polar opposites. In fact we often joke how completely opposite our lives are.

Alice recently defended her lifestyle in this post and it's honestly one of my favourite a blog posts. She loves a night out with drinks, has no immediate plans for marriage or kids and fairly regularly updates our group Whatsapp chat to 'Alice is getting drunk'. I love Alice's lifestyle because she loves it, she damn well chose it and she owns it.

Me, well you all probably know I followed the stereotypes. Met a guy, fell in love, moved in together, got engaged, got a cat, got married, got another cat, bought a house and are having a baby. I married at 23. I was engaged at 21. I moved in with Dann at 19. I met Dann at 18.
Our weekends and evenings are spent renovating our house, cooking together, planning for the future and binge watching our favourite shows.

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