Illustrated Teacup

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

Monday, 29 August 2016

My summer reading list

I've been a huge book lover all of my life. As a kid I read at a much higher level, and as a teen spent the majority of my time in the local library picking up books, usually from the adult section rather than the teens. I liked nothing more than sitting in corner with my nose in a book and a cup of tea in hand.

As I got older I spent less time reading for pleasure, especially with university and then diploma studies,as well as working and having a social life. I did however tend to read a lot whilst commuting though this slowed down whilst I worked and travelled with Dann. Last year I picked up reading whilst travelling again for work, and continued this year until Henry was born where I honestly didn't pick up a book for the first five weeks.

After many a discussion with a couple of girlfriends who are totally addicted to books I started to reminisce how much I loved a good book. I have a large collection of over 150 books in my home, which is always growing. And whilst I maternity leave I had a lot of spare time, but needed to do something that was easy to pick up and drop off quickly and without any fuss. Reading just seemed perfect,and I already had a stack of books hidden in my bookcase that I had yet to read, and a rather long, and ever added to, Amazon wishlist of books, plus recommendations a-plenty.

So I read this summer for the first time in a long time, purely for myself. It felt great to dive into a mix of different books and escape the world, especially when I'd had a particularly tricky parenting day or night.
I thought I'd share my reading list with you and hope that you too will be inspired to pick up a book and hide away from technology, just for a little while.


Sunday, 28 August 2016

A Summer Garden Party at The Spark

Southampton is a city so close to my heart. I moved here in 2008 to go to university and have never looked back. We've built a home and our lives in this fun and vibrant city, and one of the best things about the place is how it has grown and developed over the last eight years.

We've seen the beautiful transformation of the cultural quarter and Guildhall Square, and the current construction of Watermark WestQuay, as well as seen the plans for the waterfront and Ocean Village areas. It seems the city is always being added to and developed.

One of the first places in Southampton that I really fell in love with was my university, Southampton Solent. Being a journalism student I was always on the hunt for university news especially in my final year where produced our own university newspaper - I'm not going to lie I simply adored those days! Anyway whilst working on that newspaper we found out that the university had bought the plot of land next to the main building and were going to develop it into another building for the growing number of students attending. In fact whilst prepping this blog post I dug through my portfolio and found my clipping that covered the story back in February 2011 - I even interviewed the Vice-Chancellor for my front page piece, I was so proud!

Fast forward five years and I was lucky enough to be invited with the Sotonbloggers Network, to the opening of the Solent Conference Centre next to this site, inside newly built home of The Spark.


Friday, 26 August 2016

Denim Loving

I'm really enjoying getting my body back to my pre-pregnancy state. Now don't get me wrong I am overjoyed that my body was able to make, keep safe and produce a healthy baby. It had to go through a lot to get to that stage, so it's going to take some time for it to go back. But I'm pleased with the progress so far. Yes my tummy is still like jelly and isn't quite as firm as it was before I was pregnant, but my general size is pretty much back. 

Since giving birth my style has updated though. I'm no longer particularly interested in bodycon dresses and tight fitting tops. I'm all about the comfort and loose fit. Tops and dresses that will disguise my tummy, and allow me to move freely which is going to be essential for when Henry is on the move.  

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Owls, Chilli and Cheese, in Winchester

Last weekend was such a hit and miss weekend in terms of weather, but we still made the most of the outdoors. After visiting family, we popped over to the Chilli and Cheese Festival in Winchester

We went last year and really enjoyed it, and bought way too much cheese and chilli sauce.

Again this year the weekend was tailored for food lovers and families a like. We're so looking forward to this event when Henry is up and walking, so next year's should be a blast. 

We only managed an hour as Henry was getting restless towards the end, but we snagged a couple of great chilli sauces for our ever-growing collection, and of course stopped by the owl and falconry stand. I just can't pass up an opportunity to hold an owl, and Bertie the Eurasian Eagle Owl was too gorgeous to pass up on. He's one pretty heavy lad, but so soft and friendly - and those eyes!! He might look evil but he's a gentle giant. Also did you know that owls actually don't have that amazing eyesight?! They can see long distance amazingly well, but their close-up vision is terrible. 


Monday, 22 August 2016

Family visits

Living a little way from family means we have to make the most of our visits back home. Both Dann and I are from Buckinghamshire originally and moved to Southampton for University and work. We adore the city and county that we live in, and I honestly don't think we'll ever leave the area, but going back home does make me very homesick.

We recently did a couple of surprise trips home to visit family. 


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Modern Retro Prints

As a lover of photographs and taking photos our house is filled with pictures of us, and our family and friends. I'm trying to make more of an effort at the moment to take photos of our lives especially as Henry is growing up so incredibly fast. But what to do with all those photos??

Yes I share a lot of them on my social media, especially Instagram, but I wanted to be able to have them in our house too.
So after seeing the Polaroid retro prints from Alice's engagement party I knew I had to get some for our playroom.

Cheerz provides a photo service from your social media to create photo prints in an assortment of different styles and products, from retro Polaroid prints to magnets and albums.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Sunny Southampton

We spent a random Friday in Southampton just hanging out with a lot of walking around Old Town. It was such a beautiful sunny day, and made me really appreciate living in such a great city. We have the best mix of things in the city, with the historic parts of the city mixed with the new modern day.

We started our day in Mettricks for breakfast/brunch - probably my favourite meal of the day when I can have it! We love Mettricks (you can see my last post on them here), possibly a little too much, but you can't beat a great environment, even better coffee and excellent and locally sourced food.

We then took a little walk around Old Town, grabbed some photos - an actual "fashiony" post for once and I really love the photos too which make a change for me - and went Pokemon hunting.

We also stopped off in Guildhall Square for Henry's feed, and for Dann to get a large Cold Brew from Mettricks Guildhall. Dann's developed a new beverage love that cannot be contained!


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Henry's two month update

Can you actually believe that Henry is now two months old. Well I certainly can't! 
The last month since my last update has been so good. Henry has really developed as a person and is starting to get a personality which is so rewarding. Don't get me wrong a small part of me misses when he was really tiny, but I feel much more comfortable as a mum right now, and Henry is a delight.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Essentials for first time parents

I kinda wish babies came with manuals or some kind of guide but they don't and for every new, first time parent it's a huge learning curve.
You've probably read the books and searched the Internet for everything you need to know, I know I have!! 
In my short time as a first time mum I feel like I've learnt a lot!! 

So I thought I'd share some of my first time essentials and things to do!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Changing bags for little ones

Babies come with a whole host of extras, especially when out and about. I couldn't quite believe how much stuff you need with you at all times, particularly if you want to keep your sanity when in town or visiting people.

After my hospital bag post I thought I'd share what's inside our changing bag.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Sushi making at home

We love trying food from all around the world, and we adore making and trying new foods at home too. We're big Japanese food fans - with an inordinate amount of love for Wagamamas, and who doesn't love a Blue Monday at Yo Sushi? so when we were offered the chance to make our own sushi at home I jumped at the chance.

I've always loved watching sushi being made - one of the best things about Yo Sushi and many sushi restaurants is you can sit and watch it being made in their open kitchens! And I've always wanted to try and make some myself!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Memories on the walls

I really love photography and art. I mean that might be an understatement and for a lot of my readers it's also stating the obvious based on previous blog posts and the sheer number of photos I add to my blog posts (sorry I just really love lots of photos in blog posts).

I've written recently about sharing and keeping family memories but wanted to expand on it especially with our recent family developments.

Just before Henry joined our little family I had a little nesting session and rearranged many of the rooms in our house. This included rearranging the large number of photos, artwork and other framed items on our living room walls. (you can see the start of our collection in this post from our last flat) We have a large collection of artwork and photographs which I adore, but wanted to pull them all together better in the room and also create more space for new additions.
Part of why I love our living room is that it really showcases us as a family, including the cats. We have artwork that represents the cats and Dann and I, plus photos from our wedding and important life events, including our couples photo shoot and maternity photo shoot and newborn photo shoot.

Monday, 8 August 2016

The healthy cat food challenge

We're cat people. Any long time readers will know we are cat lovers, and our boys have been featured a number of times on this blog - such as this post on 15 things only cat owners will understand or this guide ahead of buying a cat.

Our cats are indoor cats (which you can read about here) and with that comes extra responsibility to ensure they are as healthy as possible, and most importantly not gaining too much weight. Because they are less active their diet is really vital to ensure they are as healthy as possible.

We were recently contacted by Vet's Kitchen* to take on their Healthy Cat Food Challenge. As part of the challenge we fed our cats the Vet's Kitchen grain-free hypoallergenic and sensitive digestion hypoallergenic dry food for one month.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

A Southampton Engagement

Last weekend was kind of a special one. We celebrated our close friends Alice and Arran's engagement with a little party in Mettricks Old Town. 

They got engaged on in early June (in fact both Dann and I were there when Arran proposed which was awesome, and being crazy pregnant I cried a lot!) so to celebrate they arranged a little get together of family and friends. 

For the perfect setting Mettricks Old Town was a must as we all spend an inordinate amount of time drinking tea and coffee, plus it's so beautifully decorated with old family photographs and is just the epitome of Southampton, and of Alice and Arran. 

It was Dann's and mine first proper night out since Henry was born too and we couldn't have asked for a nicer evening and Henry was pretty well behaved for the entire night with lots of cuddles for the happy couple before everyone arrived. 

And the evening was made extra special by Arran accepting the role of God Father to Henry alongside Alice who I had asked a couple of weeks earlier. We couldn't ask for a more perfect, inspiring and loving couple to help us guide Henry through life so we're over the moon. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

Summer in the July Degustabox

Summer is here!! We've finally seen some of that elusive British sun, and more heat than us Brits can handle in one go.
This month's Degustabox* arrived jam packed of goodness with a distinctive summer feel.

As always the box is filled with a mix of well known and lesser-known brands, with a mix of food and drinks. I love the new products from the larger brands and the smaller more unique items from newer businesses.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Breastfeeding, my hardest decision

Breastfeeding is a huge and hot topic in the parenting world. To breastfeed or not breastfeed, that is the question.

I breastfed for three weeks exclusively before taking the decision to phase it out and change to formula.
It has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. 

So I wanted to share my story and reasons in the hope it will help another new mum make her decision, whatever it may be.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Things to do with little ones in Hampshire during summer

Having lived in Hampshire for the last seven years you could say I've fallen in love with the county. One of the things I really love is that it mixes elements of my home county Buckinghamshire with three cities,which adds a fun bustle to the laid-back country feel. We basically have the best of both worlds. A couple of great busy cities surrounded by little towns and villages and picturesque scenery.

Now that we have Henry we are even more aware of our surrounding area and what we can do as a family, especially in the summer as we have a summer baby on our hands.
Of course he's a little young right now to do much of anything but it's been fun having a think about what we will be doing in the years to come in our little county.
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