Illustrated Teacup

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

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

BEAUTY: Creating special fragrances with Jo Malone

There's a science behind smells and their significance to us. An odd or unusual smell, or even a really familiar one can bring back long lost memories, or remind of someone or something special to us. Our sense of smell is very closely linked to memory, in fact it is the closest sense compared to our other four senses.

Perfumes play a huge role in bringing back certain memories, or reminding us of certain people. DKNY Green Apple always reminds me of my mum for example.

So when I visited Jo Malone a little while back with the girls I was really intrigued by their service as they aim to find a scent/s perfect for you, and they even do a service to find your perfect wedding fragrance, especially for your big day. What better way to be reminded of one of the biggest days of your life than with a gorgeous scent or two.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

LIFESTYLE: Summer bucketlist 2016

Summer is definitely the season for adventures am I right. This year is the first summer as three of us, so I kind of want to make it a special one. Yes I know it's going to be a hard one with a tiny one in tow but I want to start creating memories as early as possible, even if they are just for Dann and I.

So this summer I'm creating a little bucket list that I'm going to share with you all in the hopes that I will tick them all off by September (maybe the end of September as we always seem to have nicer weather then!)

Friday, 27 May 2016

FOOD: May Degustabox - trying new foods

We love trying new foods, and one of the highlights of the month is receiving our Degustabox* in the post.
Each month it is literally packed with new foods and snacks, with a mix of healthy and naughty bits and pieces, as well as drinks and ingredients to try in your own cooking.

Plus you can learn all about the brands and the items with their information sheet which gives you a little snippet into each product, before you try.

I can't advocate trying new foods enough to be honest. Luckily both myself and Dann aren't choosey eaters and will try pretty much everything once. And frankly we've not really hand anything from Degustabox that we haven't liked at least a little (bar peanuts for me - but Dann loves them, so it's a happy household).

Inside May's Degustabox.....

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

BABY: Pregnancy update - May - weeks 32-36

Wow is time flying by now. I can't quite believe I'm 36 weeks pregnant now! It feels like only yesterday that I saw the words 'pregnant' on my test!! It's been a real mix of activity over the last few weeks as we get the final bits and pieces sorted ready for Bee's arrival. I actually think we are fully ready for Bee's arrival now having bought EVERYTHING on our list and collecting our travel system last week. You can see our nursery in this post.

I also had my baby shower at the very end of April which was so lovely. You can read all about it here.

I'm really quite proud of how much we're prepared - well as much as you can be for a baby and a huge change to your life. But I'm so so ready for this next chapter. I'm ready for the ups and downs. The sleepless nights. Bringing up a human being in a harsh and difficult world. But most of all for all the adventures, laughter and memories waiting to be made. I've never been more certain about anything in my life, I'm going to love being a mother.

I've had my 34 week check up with my midwife and all is looking good with baby, measuring at 34cm, 141bpm heartbeat and 4/5 engaged. Yes there is a chance Bee could move in and out of being engaged over the next couple of weeks but baby has stayed put for the last few weeks so fingers crossed we're getting ready to come out!

We also visited the New Forest Birth Centre in Ashurst, Hampshire as part of our antenatal classes. We were already pretty sold on midwife-led units but the visit really settled my mind and convinced me 100% that it is where I would like to give birth (if possible). The birthing rooms felt really calming and a nice environment, far from the clinical feel of a labour ward, but still safe, which is important to me as I know a true hospital feel will make me more anxious. I also really like the idea of being able to move and hate the idea of being tied down with wires. I know natural/water births aren't for everyone, and things could certainly change on the day but I'm feeling a lot more confident going in!

Some photos from the last few weeks.

Monday, 23 May 2016

LIFESTYLE: Summer Travel Essentials with Babies

With baby Bee on the way we've been really focusing on stuff around our home, and how a baby is going to impact our lives. We've sorted the nursery and playroom, and been working on making sure the rest of the house is baby ready and safe.

We've recently been thinking about our car and travel over the summer, especially with a baby on board. We have family dotted and friends dotted across the South of the country so will likely be doing a few trips in the car to visit people with Bee. That in mind, I've been getting organised to make sure we are safe and ready for travelling with a little one, particularly ahead of Bee's arrival - must have a car to get us to the hospital right!?!

I've collaborated with Point-S to talk about car awareness and making sure you are safe on the roads this summer.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

LIFESTYLE: Oh I do love a wedding

Last weekend we took a trip up home for a little visit with my sister.
She's getting married next year which is kind of super surreal for me. My little sister is all grown up and getting hitched. Anyway, as a lover of weddings - oh my gosh I love weddings - I could not turn down the opportunity to go wedding dress shopping with her and her best friend.

I used to work in a wedding dress shop many moons ago and it has always been a favourite place to work. There's nothing happier than helping a girl find her dream dress. Plus being surrounded by all that prettiness!

Thankfully with my baby bump I wouldn't have fit in anything so the desire to try everything on too was kept to a minimum.

We spent the morning at Ivory and Lace in Toddington, Berkshire which is a stunning collection of beautiful gowns and a great one-to-one appointment only consultation service. The customer service from Donna and her assistant I have to admit was second to none, which I know is incredibly important when your customer is planning on investing a lot of money.

Of course I had to take along my camera and grab some photos too. Wedding dress shops are just too pretty to pass up a photography session!


Friday, 20 May 2016

FOOD: Summer Lamb

Lamb has to be one of my favourite meats, even if I do feel a little guilty eating it sometimes. I love it as a roast dinner - smothered in mint sauce of course! And it also makes a great winter dinner option, like in this mustard lamb recipe I blogged earlier this year.

When I was asked by Tasty Easy Lamb to share a lamb recipe that proves lamb isn't just for roasts I knew exactly what I wanted to make.

Lamb may be considered an autumn/winter meat, but with the right ingredients it's a fab summer meat too.

Inspired by Greece, I'm sharing my Lamb pittas, perfect for a sunny weekend lunch, or add wedges and buttery corn on the cob for a simple and easy dinner option on a hot day.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

BABY: A look around our nursery

I'm so excited to share this post with you as I've worked really quite hard on our nursery for the last few months. I adore interior design anyhow, and I am loving creating little spaces for my soon to be little one.

With Bee due to arrive with us next month, it's been all go in the Bradford household to get everything sorted. I'm an organisational freak and hate leaving things to the last minute if they don't have to be. It just makes my life easier if I'm prepared. So our nursery is ready!

As we don't know what Bee is yet (oh my gosh I'm so excited to see if Bee is a boy or girl!!) we have obviously chosen a gender neutral theme for our nursery. It also means the room is all sorted for future babies down the line (I want a big family) so in the long run is so much more cost effective.


Tuesday, 17 May 2016

LIFESTYLE: Feeling thankful

Today I'm feeling thankful.
I've a lot to be thankful for if I'm completely honest, and although I've certainly been dealt my fair share of crappy days and unhappy endings, they're counterbalanced by some amazing things.

Today Dann and I celebrate three years married. Three whole years since I wore that huge ivory netted dress (which I still adore, but DEFINITELY do not fit into anymore) to marry the man who makes my life whole. It is still my favourite day of my life so far, very closely followed by telling Dann I was pregnant!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

BABY: Bump Photoshoot

A few weeks back I went along to the Photo Rooms in Southampton for a baby bump photoshoot bought for me as a gift by one of my close friends.
I've done quite a few shoots in past, so was looking forward to a different kind of shoot to celebrate being pregnant.

Friday, 13 May 2016

FOOD: Summer time squid recipe at home

Squid & Chorizo with greek style couscous
Squid & Chorizo with greek style couscous

This might be a little early, but I just had to share this absolutely delicious squid and chorizo dish, perfect for summer time at home. We'd never cooked squid at home before this recipe, but after finding a mass of prepped squid at the supermarket in the reduced aisle, we just had to take the plunge (don't worry, we froze the squid).

As I'm pregnant I'm not allowed shellfish which has been rather difficult as I love prawns and crab, but squid being seafood is aye-ok.

This fun summery dish is the perfect starter for those wanting to experiment at home with cooking squid, and is really easy once all the prep is done. So thank you Jamie Oliver for giving us the confidence to cook out of the ordinary at home.


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

BABY: A gender neutral baby shower

Over the Bank Holiday weekend I celebrated my baby shower with my friends and family in Southampton. With a little help from a couple of my closest friends, and lots of food prep with Dann, we had an afternoon filled with sandwiches, cakes, bingo and baby guessing, all in lovely sunshine (for the most part).

To be honest I really hadn't expected so many people to come, and definitely did not anticipate the amount of beautiful gifts. I had such a lovely and chilled out afternoon with so many of my favourite people, and lots of food! 

**this post is very photo heavy**

Monday, 9 May 2016

LIFESTYLE: Afternoon Tea Party at Grand Cafe

The bank holiday weekend for Mayday was a pretty hectic one, but one of the best in a long time. Alongside my baby shower, we also celebrated one of my closest blogging girls 21st birthday, Jess at Life of JKS.

Jess is the groups Disney fanatic and a total princess lover so we decided to treat the birthday girl to afternoon tea at the Grand Cafe in Southampton. The venue was kind of perfect and oh so great for photos. We were served unlimited tea, alongside sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and many little cakes. The perfect Sunday afternoon treat.

Friday, 6 May 2016

FOOD: Food delivery with Degustabox

Another month, and another subscription box. 
I really truly love getting these boxes delivered home. We all love post right? And it's even better if it is food related in my book, so this is kind of the near perfect post to get each month.

The thing with subscription boxes is you never know what you're going to get until it arrives. Yes that can be a little risky as you don't know if you're going to like the entire contents or not, but I think that is half the fun of the boxes. You get to try lots of things, that you might not have picked up otherwise. Since trying Degustabox* I've tried a huge range of different foods, drinks and snacks, and some I've really loved and have gone on to buy separately. Yeah some things have been a bit of a miss, and unfortunately I've not had any of the alcohol products due to being pregnant for 90% of the deliveries, but I think Dann is secretly a little pleased about that!

Oh and did I mention that the boxes are great for cats?? 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

BABY: Becoming a dad for the first time (special guest post)

Today I have a special guest post. 
Dann is really heavily included in my blogging being such a massive part of my life. He's featured in posts, and he's played photographer for me more times than I can say. But today he's written a blog post. I've had no say in the direction he's taken apart from the title to help him just a little.

So here it is, pregnancy from the dad's perspective:


Sunday, 1 May 2016

BABY: A gender neutral wishlist #2

I haven't done a wishlist for a little while, but thought it would be appropriate as my baby shower is just round the corner.
Many people think that shopping for gifts for a gender-neutral baby is hard work, but I've actually found it easier than I thought. Yes sometimes the clothes can be a little tricky, but you can see from this wishlist that nice baby clothing is easy to find.

So here's my gender neutral wishlist for Baby Bee.

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