Sunday, 5 July 2015

LIFESTYLE: June in Review

Rachel Anne Bee and Dann


Another month is done and we're already over half way through 2015. It's been a busy month filled with new things and progress. Some sad and some happy.

One of the biggest things for the month is a life lesson I guess. A friendship ended, at least for the moment. There's a part of me that knew it was inevitable over the last few weeks, but I didn't want to admit it to myself as it is/was a huge loss. But I've learnt in my relatively short time on this planet that something's aren't meant to be and aren't meant to last forever. Sometimes a person is in your life for a certain amount of time to fulfil a purpose both for you and themselves, but it was never meant to be forever. Perhaps I'm just not very good at sustaining girl friend relationships, I'm not 100% sure. But either way it's a loss, but one I have to move on from because a one sided relationship isn't one I want to be in, and a toxic relationship even less so. So my advice to you, my lovely readers.... don't let a negative friendship pull you down. One that fills you with stress isn't a true friendship so walk away whilst you can, to save yourself, and the other person.

Anyway on to more positive things. 

Well my first week of June was spent in sunny Turkey having a relaxing and chilled week away. You can read all about my trip in this post, but a brief note here, just to say please do give Turkey a try if you've never been. It is a beautiful country, with really lovely people who are truly suffering from the lack of tourism. And it was genuinely felt like one of the safest places I've visited.

Bodrum Turkey


We're still working away on the house and garden. The garden needed a lot of maintenance as the previous owners left approximately 100 pots and plants for us to sort and get rid of. Four trips to the tip later, and some heavy graft from Dann and we have a relatively tidy garden.

Illustrated Teacup Garden Work


I also dabbled in some baking. This is an unusual habit for me. I'm not a house-wifey person but I did find baking quite cathartic.
We also had a mix of visitors and visiting so the baking came in handy. We took some to see some friends, and I baked ahead of my little sister visiting for the weekend.

Illustrated Teacup Baking


As always there was lots of work, and I've been getting my blogging back on track, which you can read about in this post.

For now I am looking forward to a very busy July! And I will definitely be making the most of taking lots of photos. In the meantime, check out my Instagram for daily (almost) updates on my life!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

TATTOOS: Interview with Mel from Raise the Waves

It's a new weekend and a new interviewee - this time I'm speaking to the lovely Mel from Raise the Waves....

What was your first tattoo, and how old were you? 
My first tattoo was “Love Will Tear Us Apart” on the inside of my right wrist. I got it when I was 18.

How many do you have now, and what are they? 
I currently have 3 at the moment. There’s the Banksy balloon girl on my left arm (which I now share with Justin Bieber so that totally makes me cool…), a ship in a bottle on the inside of my left forearm and the aforementioned Love Will Tear Us Apart. I basically have the most generic tattoos ever!

Who is your favourite tattooist? 
Nick at Old Town Tattoo in Edinburgh is probably my favourite. My brother stumbled upon him a few years ago and I have loved his work ever since. The ship in the bottle on my arm was actually tattooed by Nick and he did it as close as possible to the actual ship in a bottle my Grandad made.

Do you have any tattoos planned for the future? If so, what? 
I’m planning on getting Monopoly pieces for my Granny (an idea stolen from my brother but he stole my ship in a bottle idea, fair’s fair) and 2 rings for my Gran and Grandad. I’m still working on the placement and how I’d like everything to look so these tattoos won’t be coming any time soon.

Do you have any 'no-go' zones? 
I wouldn’t get my face, neck or hands tattooed. I love the look of neck and hand tattoos but I work in the corporate world so they’re just a major no go unfortunately.

What is your favourite thing about tattoos and tattoo culture? 
Generic answer time! I love the freedom tattoos give to express yourself. Sure your clothes and hair and whatever else hold elements of your personality too but tattoos are so much more personal and meaningful.

What do you think of the increase in tattoos as a 'fashion statement'? 
It does irritate me a little to see people using such a beautiful art form as a fashion statement but I’m hoping this is just a trend and will die out soon. I just hope anyone who gets a tattoo for the sheer hell of it is remembering that it’s permanent choice.


Raise the Waves tattoos

And lastly, some bits about you: 


Favourite food?

Pizza – I know, I’m so original!

Favourite film? 
Requiem For A Dream.

Favourite animal? 
Meerkat

Pet hate? 
People talking with their mouth full. Yuck!

Biggest achievement? 
As lame as it is I’m still proud of myself for getting an A in my physics exam. I failed every class test, mock exam and walked out of the real exam an hour into it without a hope in hell. Maybe I was given the wrong grade.

Dream job? 
Either a lawyer specialising in all of the gruesome stuff or a fashion designer. Major contrasts there.

Dream holiday destination, money no object? 

San Diego, California. I know that sounds so boring but I’m a huge American football fan and the San Diego Chargers just happen to be my team.


You can follow Mel on Twitter here - and check out her blog Raise the Waves too!

If you would like to be involved in this tattoo interview series, please email at illustratedteacup@gmail.com

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

LIFESTYLE: Why our cats are indoor cats






Meet my two boys - Archimedes and Dante.

They are like my cute furry little babies that cause havoc around my home.
Archimedes is three and Dante is one. They are not related. They are both boys. They are both indoor cats.
I know this can be a real bone of contention for some people, especially animal lovers who believe that all animals should be allowed to live and play outdoors where they originated; and to a certain extent I do agree.
I'm an animal lover, because let's face, it they tend to be better than humans. Yes I eat meat, I do however beat myself up about it on a monthly basis, but I also believe that humans weren't meant to be herbivores, or we wouldn't have developed teeth with the ability to chew meat, such is the circle of life.
I believe that captivity to a certain extent is required to keep some species alive, because unfortunately there are some wicked people in the world who will kill a species to extinction because of an unfounded belief in the properties of their organs - i.e. rhinos. Rhinos are still being hunted for their horns, yet the mineral properties and composition of their horns is the same as a human finger nail. So really the poachers should be donating their own finger nails for Chinese medicine.

Anyway, I do also believe that sometimes it is better for animals to live indoors rather than outside, which is why our cats are indoor cats. They have both always been indoor cats. Archimedes is quite happy about this fact as he is quite a cautious fellow and is mostly afraid of his own shadow. Dante is slightly more adventurous, but is also very daft, even within our home.

So why do we keep our cats indoors?

The main reason is their safety. We used to live very close to a busy road, with quite a few speeding cars. I have to admit one of my biggest fears is that we lose a cat to a car. As cats don't have to be registered, a car does not have to stop and find the owner of the cat in the same way as a dog. I'm a worrier by nature so this would play on my mind all the time if they went out.

There is also the added worry of poisons in gardens. Unfortunately an ex-colleague of mine has just lost one of their cats to anti-freeze poisoning, which caused fatal kidney failure.
On top of this is the risk of slug repellent, fertilisers and flowers that are all toxic to cats. And with cats being wanderers, you don't have much control over what they do and do not eat from someone else's garden.

We also like having our cats around our home. It is so nice to come home after a long day at work to two purring cats -admittedly they are most likely friendly to us because they want food, but that's a side point! Our two are reasonable cuddly boys and love a cuddle at night and first thing in the morning, which you are less likely to get with outdoor cats. Our boys are also really chatty, so it's lovely have a talk to them during the day and evenings. They also love to sleep with us - usually one sharing my pillow (Archimedes) and one on my feet (Dante).

They are happy. Or at least they seem happy. They purr everyday. They don't fight too much. They both have a clean bill of health - we have them checked by a vet every year, and their weight monitored every other month when we pick up their food from the vets. They are fleaed and wormed every three months, just in case. They sit for cuddles. They are rarely ill. They are friendly cats. The vets tell us they are happy and healthy cats, and that is good enough for me.




I'll admit that it isn't always practical to have them indoors all the time. 
Litter trays need to be cleaned twice a day. Planning room layouts with cats in mind, means glassware is displayed where they can't reach it to knock it off. Tidying is a must, rather than a nice to have, as they like to chew on plastic and hide hair ties. Moulting is an issue for carpets, curtains and clothes, so it is completely obvious to everyone that you own cats. And they can be completely annoying trip hazards as well, with a habit of laying at the top of the stairs.

But we love them. And we will take the downsides because the upsides completely out weight them. And I can't imagine my home without them.

Anyway, here's some photos of the boys loving their home! 





Sunday, 28 June 2015

LIFESTYLE: Tips for buying your first home

Buying your first home

So as you may or may not know, I've just bought myself (with the help of my husband of course) a lovely family home.
At 25 (Dann is 29) we're pretty pleased with ourselves to have our shit together enough to buy a place that is ours.
I'm not going to lie, it is a pretty scary thing, and we actually feel more like responsible adults in £115,000 of debt than we did when we got married! But it doesn't need to be a completely daunting experience.
I thought I'd share some of our hints and tip for buying your first home - and share some of the images we had taken by Radian who interviewed me for their blog about our buying experience.

Sign up with help to buy schemes
We signed up to Help to Buy South, and attended one of their open events. Initially we were only looking to buy a new house, or at least the full thing, however we ended up looking into shared ownership. Fortunately Help to Buy gave us lots of information on there scheme.

Look into all types of ownership
As I said, we started looking into shared ownership, and actually found that it could work out great for us. Shared Ownership means you own a percentage of the properties equity, and the housing authority or property builders own the remainder. Sounds a little iffy? Actually you get the same rights as a owner who bought 100% of their property, the only major difference is you need to talk to the other equity owners if you want to do something that will affect the structural integrity of the property, to ensure they are OK with it as well, i.e. knocking down walls.

Going down the shared ownership route has meant that we have been able to buy a three bedroom semi-detached house this year! If we had wanted to buy outright we'd have been saving for another year minimum to get the deposit alone!
So it is well worth it if you want to get your feet on the ladder asap.

Look past the decor on viewing
We really had to visualise our home on our first viewing. It was crammed with stuffed toys in the bedrooms, and the kitchen was reminiscent of an 80's council house kitchen (I should know, I had one as a kid!) but the bones (or bricks) of the house where what sold it to us. We could visualise how to have the house once it was empty and then filled with our stuff!

Shop around for your solicitor
As we bought shared ownership we were recommended a list of solicitors that have experience in dealing with this type of sale, but we still checked out a number of them before selecting them.

Patience is a virtue
Unfortunately I wasn't blessed with much patience, but buying our house both stretched it and tested it. Not only was it a shared ownership which of course has the added complication of another equity owner, but it was also a resale, so another family lived there! This meant waiting for a chain, which of course elongated the entire process.
Go into buying your house expecting it to take at least six months from your registering interest, as there is a lot of paperwork and back and forth involved. This way you won't be disappointed!

Resales can be a huge investment - as long as you have time
Our resale was a little dated in is aesthetics, so we had to invest! We stripped out and bought a new kitchen within three weeks of moving into the house, and actually spent the first three days of owning the house, redecorating the yellow living room into a grey and brown haven.
I'm incredibly thankful that we have and had the time to commit to making the house our own. It is completely different to how it looked when we bought the place, and I'm so proud of the work we have achieved in the last three months.

Buying your first home
Buying your first home

Buying your first home
Buying your first home




So that's my top tips for buying your first home.
Please share your experiences in the comments below!

*photos by Stephane Rocher

Thursday, 25 June 2015

TATTOOS: Interview with Jackie Redfern

This week I'll introduce you to Jackie Redfern, a friend from across the pond (from the USA basically).
She replied to my recent call on Twitter for some new interviewees for this little series....

Happy reading!


What was your first tattoo, and how old were you? My 1st tattoo was a small rose on my right wrist, done when I was 37

How many do you have now, and what are they? 
I now have 2 sleeves, chest, back & both feet tattooed. Also a tiny heart on my pinky, so 7 in all

Who is your favourite tattooist? 
I don't have a particular favourite tattooer; if I like their work, that's enough.

Do you have any tattoos planned for the future? If so, what? 
I plan to have some work done on my legs, when the funds allow.

Do you have any 'no-go' zones? 
I would not have my neck or face tattooed, or any large hand tattoos. 'Everlasting job stoppers'!

What is your favourite  thing about tattoos and tattoo culture? 
I have no opinion on so-called tattoo culture; my tattoos are personal to me.

What do you think of the increase in tattoos as a 'fashion statement'?
Tattoos as fashion statements mean plenty of work for laser removal clinics in the future!



And lastly, some bits about you: 


Favourite food?
Don't have a favourite food.

Favourite film?
Now Voyager with Bette Davis.

Favourite animal? 
Cat

Pet hate? 
Rudeness.

Biggest achievement? 
My 2 fabulous kids.

Dream job? 
Personal Shopper.


Dream holiday destination, money no object? 
To travel the USA in a Winnibago.


You can follow Jackie on Twitter too, here!

Email me at illustratedteacup@gmail.com if you would also like to take part in this series!