Illustrated Teacup

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

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Shopping made simple with Octer

Living with a baby makes life a little more complicated. You have to plan everything in advance and leaving the house is like a military operation.

Fortunately we live in a world which has Internet shopping which I'm not going to lie saved my neck a number of times in those first few weeks and days.

I was recently asked to review Octer* which promises a new online shopping experience, and with a little one I'm all about convenience right now.
Octer is basically a department store of the Internet and started life as a mobile site connecting shoppers with numerous retailers all in one place.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Mocktails for the summer mumma

Summer is almost here! And we all know what that means - cider, cold beers, BBQs, strawberries and cream, sparkling wine, cocktails, scones, jams and clotted cream, more cocktails and maybe fish and chips by the sea. I love summer but as a mumma-to-be, all that alcohol is a no-no, which is a little bit of a dampener.

So I've come up with a couple of at home recipes for you mum-to-be, breastfeeding mummas, and those who just don't like or fancy the champers.

I used to work in a bar and have trained as a mixologist so know a thing or two about cocktails and what makes a great one, plus I've definitely sampled my fair share in my drinking years!

Hopefully you'll find these as refreshing and tasty as I do, perfect for that summer treat, without the hangover the next day!

And if you fancy cheating, these Funkin Cocktail mixers (thank you Alice for donating) are pretty much perfect with lemonade or sparkling water. Plus they're great for taking on picnics or to take to a family BBQ. And we all know that mum wants to do everything the easy way!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

A sneak peak of our playroom

About a month ago I shared our nursery, so I thought it about time I also shared our playroom it's fast becoming one of my favourite rooms in the house.

We wanted to create a space that could be played in, but would also transition into a bedroom easily once our little/s are big enough. Luckily we have quite a large space to play with so have been making the most of it and we're really happy with the progress. Approximately 90% of the room is Ikea, but then who doesn't love Ikea?

We love hanging out in this space and planning out the future, thinking about all the little indoor adventures we're going to have - because let's be honest the British weather means we'll have a lot of indoor time in the years to come.
I've loved decorating this room, and I have to admit Pinterest has really inspired many elements here (you can see my playroom board here).

^^turns out our sofa bed from Ikea is actually quite comfy, a total bargain and fab for sleepovers. The cats also seem to like it.^^


Friday, 24 June 2016

Homely dinners at the Balmoral Inn Beefeater

I'm a definite food lover, and I really love homely pub-grub style foods, nothing to complicated, just tasty and filling! When we were recently invited to review the newly re-furbed Balmoral, Beefeater* in Southampton I was really excited as it brought back memories of my childhood family trips to Beefeater's for special occasions. We always went to our local one for big birthdays or large family get together's and we always had an amazing time.

We went along on the Friday before Henry was born (unbeknownst to us at the time, I was actually already in pre-labour!) for our last dinner out as a two.

The restaurant has the cutest theme, obviously being a Beefeater, they focus on beef and cows, but it's in a family pub/farm kind of style which I love. Check out the awesome cow cuts board!! The decor all round was like a modern day country pub which I loved.


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

My top Lush products

Top Lush Product must-haves
Over the post year or so I've been developing my knowledge of the beauty industry with a little help from my blogging friends. 
In that time, I've kindled a rather happy relationship with Lush, having attended a couple of events as well, and have developed a few all time favourites. 

One of the things I really love about Lush is there limited edition collections themed on different events and holidays like Christmas, Valentines, Mothers Day, Easter and Halloween. I love trying out new products that aren't going to be around for long - come at me Snow Fairy and Fluffy Egg! 

But after trying and testing out a mix of products, both on my own and from events, I've definitely found a few of my absolute favourites and go to products.

Monday, 20 June 2016

PARENTING: Welcome to the world Henry

I've finally got my bum in gear enough to share the news here....on the 12th June 2016 at 10:28 my little baby boy of 6lb 6oz entered the world at the New Forest Birth Centre in Hampshire.
Meet Henry Gordon Ian Bradford.

He arrived 8 days early much to our surprise, but I'll share details on that in a blog post in the future. For now we're enjoying that newborn smell and getting our fill of cuddles and sleep.
We're so in love!!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

LIFESTYLE: Happy Fathers Day - plus a dad-to-be gift idea

Happy Father's Day to all the great and amazing dads out there in the UK, and around the world too!

We're very lucky that Henry decided to arrive early in time for us to celebrate Father's Day,which made Dann one very happy daddy.

I'm a huge advocate of celebrating the people who impact your life positively. That can be amazing and loyal friends. Your mum that brought you up to be the person you are today. The dad-to-be who is going head on into a scary and exciting new time in their life. Or the man who stepped up and loved three girls who were betrayed.

This post is dedicated to three dads.


Wednesday, 15 June 2016

BABY: A late pregnancy update - weeks 37 & 38

I wrote this post at the beginning of week 38 with no idea that at 38+6 I'd give birth to my gorgeous baby boy Henry. I'm going to keep the copy as I intended so it's as open and honest as possible!!

I honestly can't believe I'm 39 weeks pregnant this week (on publishing - I started writing this post at 38 weeks). I know the end is in sight, yet it still doesn't really feel completely real.
Even with increased braxton hicks it still isn't completely in my head that I'm going to give birth soon, like in a maximum of four weeks!


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

FOOD: Personalised Chocolates for every occasion with Morse Toad

I love unique and thoughtful gifts. And I love chocolate, well I love boxes of chocolate anyway. I don't know what it is about a box filled with chocolates that just makes it taste that little bit better, especially if they are a surprise gift!

I've been working with Degustabox (recent post here) for a little while now, and as a thank you, they recently sent me a little box of Morse Toad chocolates (you can see them on my Twitter here). I have to say I was really intrigued.

So when I was sent my own little box of goodies from Morse Toad* that I personalised myself I knew I needed to tell you all about it.
My box is for me, because to be honest I feel like I'm really going to need the treat in the coming weeks! With Baby Bee's imminent arrival and the "fun" of labour to look forward to I thought why not get myself something cute and fun to help. Mine as you can see says "you can do this" which I hope will perk me up during the tough hours in labour, and I will of course try and share with Dann too, because he does have to deal with me, poor guy.

Not only can you personalise the chocolate itself, it comes with a little keepsake card which you can add a message to, or add your own photo! It's perfectly wallet sized too, so I've used one of our 4D scan photos, which I can then keep in my purse as a reminder.


Sunday, 12 June 2016

BABY: Affordable baby with Aldi's Mamia

It's no secret that becoming a parent is expensive. There is just so much on the market for babies. Some essentials, and some not so much. It's all too easy to get caught up in the excitement and buy everything in site, at the highest prices.

Some things I don't think need to be scrimped on, or at least you can feel easier spending out on a brand,such as travel systems, car seats and places for baby to sleep. But not everything has to be branded and expensive to be of use and safe for your new little one.

As a first time parent, we've had our fair share of advice handed to us, and to be honest most of it has been pretty useful, or at least not condescending. One of the best pieces of advice we received was to take a look at Aldi's Mamia baby range. Probably one of the best things we've done since finding out we were expecting if I'm honest.

Friday, 10 June 2016

FOOD: Hydration, Pregnancy & Stur Drinks

There are quite a lot of side effects of pregnancy, and to be honest some of them are pretty awful. Most are plain uncomfortable and mildly irritating but you can move on with your life. One of the ones that impacted me the most was water retention. Apparently I retain a lot of water, which progressively increased throughout the day, leading to some quite impressive cankles in the evenings.

Apart from keeping your feet elevated, there are a couple of other little hints and tricks I've learnt along the way to help alleviate the pressure. Much of them I learnt from dealing with foot swelling after my calf tattoo (read here) but I've picked up a few extras too.

Ice packs are an absolute life saver for swollen feet, especially in the summer when it's getting hotter. And I've found cool baths to be literally my favourite thing in the evenings. A slow walk is also really important for improving circulation which in turn helps with water retention.

But one of the most important things linked with helping water retention is hydration. Strange as it sounds, staying hydrated does alleviate the symptoms, plus it's hugely important in pregnancy in general.

To  help with this I've been trying out Stur Drinks* which aims to encourage drinking more water with natural flavourings to keep it a little interesting and tasty.


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

BEAUTY: Skincare for sensitive skin

Since falling pregnant my skin has gone a little mad.
It's common knowledge that pregnancy and the associated hormones wreak havoc on your body in any number of ways. For me, one of the oddest side-effects was my skin change. I developed really sensitive skin, especially on my legs and hands, and of course a dry bump.

Normally my skin is pretty resilient and can take the abuse of almost anything so it was a little bit of a shock to see my skin react to the cold weather and any bath products.

Luckily I found a few remedies to help ease my skin whoes, and alleviate the redness, soreness and pain.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

BABY: Maternity Leave plans for before baby

Next week I'm off on annual leave for a week and then go straight into maternity leave ahead of Bee's arrival (I cannot believe how fast this has all come round!!). I am so looking forward to a little time off to myself ahead of a what is going to be a hard few months.

Recently I caught up with My Petit Canard's blog (she's fab by the way) and was inspired by her to-do list for maternity leave, as at the time I really hadn't made any plans at all or given it much thought!

So to help keep me motivated in those last few weeks and keep me busy I thought I'd make my own list for maternity leave.

Friday, 3 June 2016

FASHION: Breastfeeding Summer Mama fashion

Summer is a coming, and so is baby, so I've been thinking about my summer wardrobe.
I need it to be practical, versatile and season appropriate. Plus with plans to breastfeed if possible I need some ease of access if you catch my drift.

I have to admit I'm really looking forward to getting at least some of my body back. Though I do love my bump, it is rather wardrobe limiting and I really really miss dungarees and high-waisted jeans.

So I've been scouring the internet for some inspiration for this summer's mummy wardrobe.


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

BABY: What's inside my hospital bags

We're getting so close to Bee's arrival and we are ready and waiting!!
As with many expectant parent's we are planning on a hospital birth (at home just sounds like extra hard work) so have been busily pulling together hospital bags for myself and Bee.

Personally I've loved ready other people's hints and tips on what they have packed to take with them, so hope that anyone reading will also find this useful.

So a bit about my birth plan (yes I know it could very well completely change on the day, but always nice to have a plan if you can). I'm hoping for a water birth at the New Forest Birth Centre, or at the very least spending some time in the birthing pool as I love being in water. I want to at least try and do it as naturally as I physically can with as little intervention as possible (fingers crossed guys and gals).

So this of course has added to what we needed in our hospital bag.
We've got two bags to keep us organised and make life easier, one for me - the wheeled mini suitcase, and our changing bag, for Bee's stuff.
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