My Tattoo Experiences – Hints and Tips and Photographs

Lifestyle Week on Severn Wishes

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My Tattoo Experiences

Tattoos, a lot of us have them, and a lot of us are happy to share our experience about it, be it good or bad. The vast majority of my experiences have been good ones though, and with so many of mine having specific meaning behind them, I wanted to share those with you today.

My first ever tattoo ended up being covered up a few years later, that wasn’t down to the design I chose but down to a bad artist who had convinced me he would do a good job. After he had inked me I realised how uneven it was and vowed that once I found a competent artist I would get it redone. Two years later I got a much better artist to do a cover up of it, keeping the design it just had to be made larger in order to become a cover up. Here is my before and after image below, including the fresh ink and fully healed. This Triquetra has family meaning for me.


This experience didn’t put me off having tattoos, in fact I have ten, and I would have more one day too. Having always been a very creative person and artistic, it was something I wanted to happen from a young age. I waited until I was over eighteen to have my first inking, but after that I had a new tattoo roughly every six months for the next four years.

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What My Tattoos Mean To Me

Now I am going to tell you about a few of my tattoos, and some information about the sorts of things most people would ask. Such as how long it took and whether or not it was painful in that area.

1. Teal Butterflies (2 of them) In Memory of my two Grand Fathers who both adored Nature and Gardening. They are either side of my Lower Back.

2. Pisces Symbol – My Star Sign – One of the Pisces Traits is to be Indecisive and that is most definitely me! This Tattoo is on the outside of my Right Leg.

3. My Number 7 – I got this tiny and minimal tattoo after I had my Triquetra covered up, the artist was kind enough to do it as part of my sitting. Number 7 is my Lucky Number and my Birthday too! Right Wrist Tattoo.

4. Sparrow – Symbolising New Beginnings, A Fresh Start and Freedom. This Tattoo is on the outside of my Left Leg.

5. Cherry Blossom Branch – My favourite Tree and my first ever memory as a child was of the Blossom Tree in our Garden. I have always loved and adored pink blossom. This Tattoo is situated on the inside of my Right Leg.

6. Daisy Flowers – I have always loved nature and nature reminds me of home. I wanted these tiny flowers to remind me of that. The colour has sadly faded a little over time… Situated on my Left Hip.

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Photographs of my Tattoos


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Time Taken Per Tattoo

1. Butterfly 40 minutes (for each butterfly on separate sittings)
2. Pisces 45 minutes
3. Number 7 5 minutes (same day as my cover up was done)
4. Sparrow 30 minutes
5. Blossom Branch 2 Hours
6. Daisies 35 minutes

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Price Per Tattoo (Correct at the Time 5+ years for most)

1. £40 (Each Butterfly Each Sitting)
2. £45 (Pisces)
3. £0 (Done As Part Of My Cover Up Which Cost Approx £60)
4. £130 (Sparrow and Blossom were the Same Sitting)
5. £130 (Blossom and Sparrow were the Same Sitting)
6. £40 (Daisies)

 

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Pain Level Per Tattoo On A Scale Of 1-10 (10 Being Worst)

1. Butterflies – Near Kidneys and it did ache during the outline – 6
2. Pisces – Leg Tattoo – Barely Felt It – 2
3. Number 7 – On My Wrist Near Nerves, Bones and Blood Vessels – 3
4. Sparrow – Leg Tattoo – Barely Felt It – 2
5. Cherry Blossom – Leg Tattoo – Barely Felt It – 2
6. Daisies – Near Hip Bone – Vibration Of Outline Hurt A Little – 5

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Sabrina’s Top Tips and Hints

Here are my top tips and hints for deciding if getting a Tattoo is the right thing for you. I believe you should be asking yourself most (if not all) of my points below. My tip is to write down the pro’s and con’s and make sure you do consider some research too.

Consider Timing, there is no point in getting a foot tattoo in the middle of freezing weather when you would have to cover it and therefore not letting it air and heal. Or getting a Tattoo right before a holiday in the sunshine, this can ruin the tattoo or cause infection to the healing skin.

Start Small with your first Tattoo, committing to a full back piece isn’t usually a good idea if you aren’t certain how you or your skin may react to the procedure, think about if you have sensitive skin or eczema for example (your tattooist will also need to know this and any medication you are on). Of course many people “go big or go home” and decide to do a large tattoo or commit to a sleeve for example. This of course is your choice, and is something that only you can decide upon.

Do you know your Pain Tolerance? This is a good question to ask yourself. Most people don’t realise that getting a tattoo has nothing to do with a phobia of needles or if you may have had many injections in your lifetime, it’s a totally unique experience and should be treated as such.

Choose Wisely both with your Design and Artist. Do your research and look into local artists and further afield, because if you want a good tattoo be prepared to travel for the artist. With regards to your Design, once you’re happy with it stick it in a location where you will see it every single day for a month. If at the end of that month you still love what you’ve chosen, then the odds are that you will still enjoy looking at it when it’s on your skin, in many years to come.

Use either Savlon or Bepanthen for After Care and apply regularly. Make sure that you keep the area clean and dry and air as often as possible to aid the healing process. I always used Savlon on all of mine, they healed beautifully and the colour has also remained in them all.

Visit your chosen Tattoo Artist, book an appointment to talk to them, ask them any Questions you may have before you book an actual inking appointment.

Take a friend or partner with you when you go, you may feel tired or uneasy after the inking is finished. You shouldn’t drive immediately after a tattoo or a piercing, give your body time to adjust to what has happened.

Make sure you’ve drank something and eaten before you get inked, and take water with you to sip, especially if its in a warmer month of the year.

Consider your bathing and sports when the tattoo is in the healing stages – no hot and forceful water can touch it and definitely no swimming because of the chemicals. Consider contact sports, if your tattoo could become easily knocked or bumped or is at risk of getting dirty and then infected.

Be aware that your tattoo placement might cause you some inconvenience, you may need to be shaved (for example on your lower leg even if you’re a man), and you might be swollen for a couple of days afterwards as well. Make sure the tattoo won’t hinder any job role or uniform that you need to wear.

 

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Thanks for reading this lifestyle post, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Why not let me know what you thought by leaving me a comment! I would love to know if you have a tattoo that you love…

✩ Sabrina ✩

 

A Weekend Away Checklist and Packing (Before Baby Arrives)

Lifestyle Week on Severn Wishes


A Weekend Away Checklist and Packing (Before Baby Arrives)

Everyone will say that packing for a short time away is a relatively easy thing to do. However when you’re expecting a baby or you have a medical condition for example, you may need to bring more than most people would. I always think about things I could possibly need and always bring one entire extra outfit too. Bring pregnant you aren’t always comfortable in something you perhaps wore a week ago due to growth.

I thought I would outline in this short post today, exactly what I do take with me currently, and I hope to do a follow up post later this year tailored around what I take with me once baby has arrived! (I have no doubt the list will double in size!)

Here is my Top Packing Tip though… sometimes and especially at different times of the year, you may need things you don’t usually pack, such as Sun Cream! So I always make a list on a notepad or on my phone, so that I don’t forget anything.

My next Tip is to always have a toiletries bag that is packed for going away with spare things inside, just in case you need to go somewhere quickly.

My final Tip is to always check your use by dates on the items that remain in your suitcases and overnight bags and replace them if need be.

So for now, here is generally what I have to pack for a weekend away… this doesn’t include things that might also reside in my handbag such as a small makeup case or things like jewellery that I may bring with me if it’s a special occasion.


✩ Toiletries ✩

Deodorant
Travel Size Shampoo
Travel Size Micellar Water
Cotton Wool Face Cleansing Pads
Travel Size Toothpaste
Toothbrush
Eyedrops
Lip-salve
Face Cream / Moisturiser
Hand Cream
Mini Perfume
Mini Hair Brush
Compact Mirror
First Aid Items – Plasters etc
Paracetamol and Imodium Tablets
Feminine Hygiene Products
Packet of Tissues
Hand Sanitiser
Small Bottle of Water

✩ Clothing ✩

Underwear – with at least one Extra Spare
Comfortable Socks – in case you need them at night
Nightwear – including a jumper in case it is cold at night
A Complete Outfit For Each Of The Days Away – Tops and Bottoms or Dress etc
Spare Travel Outfit – Comfortable Clothing
Spare Footwear – you never know if you might need them

✩ Other Items ✩

Pregnancy Pillow
Slippers with Gripped Soles
Long Warm Cardigan

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As a woman you generally find that we come prepared for every eventuality. I am a very organised person who always thinks ahead. I may not use everything inside my toiletries bag on all my visits away from home, but I would much rather have something with me than have the embarrassing scenario of needing to head out and find what I require!

Thank you for reading this post today, is there anything that you always carry with you that I might not have listed? Have a wonderful start to your week, and I hope you like this weeks blog posts genres – Lifestyle!

✩ Sabrina ✩

3 Delicious Recipes Suitable for Pregnant Women including Homemade Egg Free Ice Cream.

FOOD WEEK ON SEVERN WISHES


Sabrina’s Delicious Recipes for Pregnant Women and their Families.

I have always been a cook, and from a young age too. But what I didn’t bargain for was all the things I couldn’t eat or had to alter or avoid during pregnancy. These included runny eggs, smoked meats and processed foods. I decided almost a year before I had gotten pregnant that I would make some changes to my diet. Less processed foods, less chocolate and snacks, more fruit and vegetables and definitely more healthy recipes. I swapped my bacon twice a week for just on a Saturday morning, cut down red meat to one night a week and ate more lean white meat instead.

Trying to do this for just one person is difficult, and it took a number of weeks to convince my husband to swap with me to certain items. I told him we could have everything in moderation. You could still eat a bag of crisps at lunchtime, you could still have a pudding after your evening meal, and we still had a takeaway delivered every fortnight on a Friday. But in between we would snack on healthier choices, eat more vegetables with our evening meal and cut down on the amount of processed meats we were eating.

It took about a month, but I began to feel better for the choices that I had made. And once we were in fact expecting, I looked through the internet and my cookbooks to find recipes that I could adapt to our new regime. This included changing minced beef for lean pork mince which is a healthier alternative, removing meat altogether from a recipe in some cases and putting in two vegetables instead, and even making my own cakes and ice creams that didn’t contain any eggs.

Depending upon whether or not you’ve been unwell during the first trimester of your pregnancy or not, can determine what and how much you’ve been eating. I certainly made up for missed nutrients in my second trimester and it’s also when you should have more energy and appetite so you will enjoy it more. However come the third trimester there isn’t a great deal of room for you to indulge, so smaller portions, little and often became my way to go.

The remainder of this blog post will outline three of my favourite recipes that I have made during this pregnancy. It includes a starter, a main course and a dessert and if I know any nutritional information I will include them. And I will also include how long the prep and cooking took me so you know the details of each recipe and the rough amount the quantities of it will make too.

STARTER

✩ Chicken and Bacon Salad with Egg ✩

It may be light but it is very flavoursome, the salad portion is one of your five a day, and you can choose to add a dressing or sauce of your choice as well. You should be able to multitask through the prep so long as you keep an eye on the things you are cooking while chopping the salad for example.

Serves 4
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

You Will Need;

✩ A Grill Frying Pan with a little oil
✩ A nice deep bowl per person for serving
✩ Colander for Washing the Salad
✩ A Sharp Knife for preparing the salad
✩ A pair of Kitchen Scissors for cutting the chicken and the bacon
✩ A deep saucepan filled with water for boiling the eggs

✩ Ingredients ✩

✩ Mixed Salad Leaves – your preference – 50 grams per person
✩ Chicken Breasts – 1 small breast per person – cut into shreds
✩ Streaky Bacon – 2 Rashers per person – cut into shreds
✩ Eggs – to Hard Boil – 1 egg per person
✩ Cherry or Plum Tomatoes – your preference – washed and halved – several per person
✩ Cucumber – Washed and Sliced into Chunks – 3cm of Cucumber per person
✩ Croutons – You can use shop bought ones if you want to save time
✩ Grated Parmesan or Grated Cheddar Cheese – your preference

✩ Method ✩

1. Boil the Water for the Eggs and Hard Boil
2. Grill the Chicken and Bacon together until cooked
3. Wash the salad and chop accordingly
4. Arrange the salad at the bottom of the bowls
5. Arrange the other ingredients on top of the leaves making sure the chicken is last
6. Grate some cheese over the top and finish with any dressing you may want
7. Serve immediately

TOP TIP – In order for a Salad to be classed as one of your five a day you need to eat 80 grams or more of it. By combining the grams of the salad leaves with the cucumber and tomato you should achieve the correct amount for it to count!

MAIN

✩ Sabrina’s Mild Spicy Meatballs in Tomato and Pepper Sauce with White Rice ✩

My family friendly Meatball Recipe is mildly spicy and tasty, it also contains two of your five a day with all the vegetables contained in the sauce… You can choose to remove or up the amount of spice dependent on your own tastes.

Serves 4
Prep 1 hour
Cook 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours

You Will Need;

✩ A Large Saucepan with a Lid to cook the main sauce
✩ A Wooden Spoon
✩ Rice Cooker OR Large Saucepan with a Lid to cook the rice
✩ A Small Frying Pan
✩ Small Bowl
✩ Bowls to Serve the Meal in

 

✩ Ingredients ✩

For Meatballs

✩ Lean Mince Beef (10% Fat or less – 500 grams)
✩ Salt and Pepper To Taste
✩ 1 Egg
✩ Italian Mixed Herbs (1 Tablespoon)
✩ Onion Powder (1 Teaspoon)
✩ Garlic Powder / Dried (1 Teaspoon)

For Sauce

✩ Chopped Tomatoes (1 Tin – 400 grams)
✩ Large White Onion (2 Onions – Finely Chopped)
✩ Carrots (2 Carrots – 200 grams approx)
✩ Plum Tomatoes (1 Tin Chopped – 400 grams)
✩ Red Pepper (1 Pepper Sliced and Diced)
✩ Beef Stock Cube/Stock Pot – (Pots Do Melt Quicker)
✩ Mild Chilli Powder – 2 Tablespoons
✩ Oregano Herbs – 2 Tablespoons
✩ Basil Herbs – 1 Tablespoon
✩ Tomato Puree (50 grams)
✩ Garlic Powder / Dried / Fresh (1 Tablespoon)

✩ Method ✩

1. To make the Meatballs add the binding ingredients to a small bowl and mix. Using clean and dry hands roll small amounts of Mince Beef together into meatball sized shapes and put them through the mixture to coat.
2. Fry off the Meatballs in a pan with a little oil, sealing the flavour in. Then add them to the saucepan ready for cooking within the sauce.
3. Fry the Onion and Peppers together once all the meatballs are done.
4. Once cooked through add the onion and peppers to the saucepan, then add the other vegetables ingredients including the tomatoes and carrots.
5. Stir these thoroughly and then add one beef stock cube/pot.
6. Add all of the Herbs and Spices listed next, stir through until dissolved.
7. Simmer on a low heat stirring occasionally for up to an hour, until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are cooked all the way through.
8. Serve on a bed of Rice and if you want to, a sprinkle of cheese on the top! Yum!

TOP TIP – Always add the spices last before starting the simmering, they will dissolve into the liquid and really marinate over the hour as the liquid is absorbed. This also gives the meatballs time to cook through too and absorb those delicious flavours!


DESSERT

✩ Egg Free Vanilla Soft Scoop Ice Cream 

A delicious homemade ice cream, the vanilla stands out just enough and because it’s soft scoop it’s easy to eat and can be paired with so many things. Alternatively just eat it on it’s own…

Serves – 12 people
Prep – 5 minutes
Cook – 5 minutes
Chill Time – 3 hours
Total Time – 3 hours and 10 minutes
Nutrition – Egg Free, Vegetarian and Gluten Free.

You Will Need;
✩ An Ice Cream Churner Whose Inner Pot Has Been Frozen Prior To Use (Overnight)
✩ A Large Shallow Saucepan
✩ A Wooden Spoon
✩ A Tub For Freezing The Ice Cream In Afterwards

✩ Ingredients ✩
✩ Double/Heavy Cream – 2 Cups
✩ Milk – 3/4 Cup
✩ Salt – 1/8 Teaspoon
✩ Sugar (White) – 3/4 Cup
✩ Vanilla Essence – 2 Teaspoons

✩ Method ✩

1. Add all of the ingredients to a large shallow saucepan.
2. Heat them on a Medium Heat until it begins to Bubble.
3. When Bubbling starts Turn Off the Heat and Mix until all the Sugar is Dissolved.
4. Allow the Mixture to Cool down to Room Temperature.
5. Pour the Mixture into a previously chilled Ice Cream Churner according to fill level and follow the manufacturers directions for quantity and times.
6. Once Churned properly carefully Spoon the Mixture into a Tub and Freeze for 3 hours before Serving. This is a Soft Scoop Ice Cream and is easy to remove.

TOP TIP – It’s a good idea to serve some fruit with this kind of ice cream, it always turns out so soft and delicious it’s nice to give some texture to it.

I hope that you will enjoy my recipes from this blog post, or that it has perhaps inspired you with some healthy eating options to try! You can enjoy this food whether you’re pregnant or not and I hope you’ll consider trying this delicious food!

Thank you for reading, this has been Food Week on Severn Wishes Blog!

✩ Sabrina ✩

Healthy and Nutritious Snacks for Pregnant Women

FOOD WEEK ON SEVERN WISHES


Healthy and Nutritious Snacks for Pregnant Women

If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt so far during my pregnancy it’s this, you cannot always know what you’re going to want to eat! Snacking is fine providing you have a healthy and balanced diet with enough of the Vitamins and Protein that you and your baby need.

I’m now into my third trimester and I’m supposed to be consuming the extra 200 calories a day. However some days I find this quite difficult. Guidelines suggest that these calories are made up from low-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds, extra portions of fruit and vegetables, lean meats and wholegrain.

For my size and current weight I was advised at the start of my pregnancy to aim for between 2000 and 2250 calories every day. That can now be increased to between 2250 and 2500 calories but maintaining my healthy choices.

I have been monitoring my daily intakes using my Fitbit app on my iPhone. This allows me to see several things including the amount of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats I’ve consumed for that day. It’s a good way to keep track and is fairly accurate.

As my next image will demonstrate, most days begin in the same way, usually I eat cereal with milk so that I maintain a good fibre and calcium intake first thing. But then it really depends on what I feel like as to how much I eat at lunchtime. Sometimes it’s bread related, sometimes a whole hot meal, but other times it’s a mixed salad with added proteins… what I’m getting at is every day is varied. It also depends on how busy I am and if I’m working or at home. As you will see from these statistics from the first few days of May, my calories had an average of 2,400.

One thing I do maintain is eating between 3 and 6 fruit and vegetable portions in every 24 hours. Some days that is easy and others not so much. Although one trick is to drink a glass of orange juice or smoothie, this counts as 1 of your 5 a day and also contributes to your liquids intake which should be between 2 and 3 litres.

I’m going to be doing a blog post on some of my favourite healthy recipes that may help you if you struggle to get your recommended daily amounts. Lots of these are meals that I have eaten while being pregnant too.

One thing I’ve been pretty reliant upon is healthy snacks. I’ve eaten a lot more yoghurt and a lot more fruit related portions since my pregnancy began. For a time I went off sugary snacks which in a way was great, as I was only eating naturally occurring sugars and not processed ones. Though occasionally now I find myself reaching for a snack sized chocolate bar, but that’s still okay! Due to all the other more healthy snacks I’ve been consuming.

Here is one idea, why not keep a food diary if you don’t have an app so that you can keep track.

Here is a list of the things that I’ve been eating regularly and also a couple of other ones that pregnancy books and apps have recommended! I have included a few images of some of my foods too!

Low Fat Yoghurt with Fruit / Seeds

Scrambled Egg on Wholegrain Toast

Plain Porridge with Fruit

Smoothies – Banana and Raspberry is tasty and so is Strawberry and Mango!

Popcorn – Not the sugary sort but plain

Low Fat Yoghurt and Granola / Oat Cereal

 Crackers with Cheese and Grapes

Bread Sticks and Cheese

Grapes and Apple Slices (80-90 grams is 1 of your 5 a day)

Banana Bread / Banana Cake / Banana and Dark Chocolate Chip Cake


Baked Beans on Toast

Fruit – I love Berries like Raspberries in a bowl with two pieces/squares of shaved dark chocolate grated on top (only the good stuff!)

Mixed Salad Leaves and a Tablespoon of Grated Cheddar Cheese

 

You’ll notice that many of these snacks could be considered breakfast related, and they are all pretty simple and quick to prepare as well.

I will admit I do enjoy cereal and yoghurt related snacks the most. But I have also enjoyed discovering new things these past few months too.


I hope that this blog post has inspired you with some healthy eating snacks whether you’re pregnant or not!

Thank you for reading!

✩ Sabrina ✩

Delicious Recipes That I Love To Cook – Time Saving Ideas For Healthy Eating And Tasty Eating

FOOD WEEK ON SEVERN WISHES


Delicious Recipes That I Love To Cook – Time Saving Ideas For Healthy Eating And Tasty Eating

My Culinary Background

If there is one thing I love, it’s eating food and cooking food. I was first taught how to cook by my grandparents, I was very young at the time, and it began with simple things like Omelette and decorating your own homemade Pizza dough. Then we moved on to more complex things like Lasange and Pies. But as I got older I carried on with my interest in cooking, I started to experiment with flavours, and I also liked various parts of my heritage to come through in the meals that I cooked.

When I went off to University my Nan had written out some of her basic recipes in a little book for me – just in case I forgot anything. It is kept safely away now in case I ever need it, but most of it is now cooked through memory. I am forever grateful for her teachings, and she still tells me about new things now and again more than twenty three years since we began cooking together.

I met my husband at University, and at the time he couldn’t believe how much I ate! I was this tiny petite women and everyone in my family used to say I had a hollow leg! I won’t ever forget when I first cooked for him, I introduced him to a whole new world of flavours when we first met. There were foods he had never tried before, and there were things we also tried together too. And since then I have branched out into cooking even further, into both his background and his culture, and even into some more diverse parts of the world after going travelling with him. We both love to try something new!

My husband does suffer with an array of allergies, the majority of which are food related. This was problematic when we went travelling. Since we began living together (almost ten years ago now!) I evolved my ways of cooking to exclude the things he couldn’t have and simply substitute them for something else.

One thing I do like to do is eat healthily but by making sure its tasty and enjoyable. I often pass my recipes on to family and friends, but I wanted to share some of my favourites on my blog too. Because they can be adapted for whether or not you eat certain meats, or are vegetarian, the possibilities are endless, if only you know what goes together. And that comes with years of experience in the kitchen.

What I wanted to achieve by writing and sharing this blog post was to help you cook, give you new and easy to follow recipes and if you love what I’m putting out you can tell me and then I can write more posts like this one!

So for now… Let’s talk Time Saving in the Kitchen!

Time Saving in my eyes is this, you don’t have to cook everything from scratch every night of the week. It means you either have leftovers in the fridge or a batch of something in the freezer that can either be cooked in the oven straight from or defrosted during the day and then heated on the hob later…

All you need to ensure is that all the ingredients you choose to cook with haven’t already been pre-frozen. So don’t defrost raw meat, cook it in this recipe and then freeze it again. Use fresh foods and then have some bags or tubs at the ready to freeze your leftovers if that’s what you plan to do. If storing in a fridge Glass is best, the amazing Glass Pyrex range of sized dishes with lids are an excellent investment to make. I have the set that can go straight from cold to hot such as fridge to oven.

Let’s Make Some Tasty Food!

Today I am going to share three of my favourite time saving recipes with you. This will either do you 8 portions to eat, refrigerate or freeze. It’s up to you!

Sabrina’s Tasty Italian Ragu

My Meaty and Tomato Ragu can be used for any of the following meals; Spaghetti Bolognese, Lasagne, Chilli Con Carne, OR simply Ragu Sauce to eat with Rice, Pasta or Potatoes.

All you would need to do is add additional herbs and spices to the Recipe below in order to make one of the meals above. Or leave the sauce as it is, and you can serve it with a wide variety of side dishes. If you aren’t sure how to turn this Ragu into one of the above meals leave me a comment and I’m happy to respond with that you’ll need.

✩ Ingredients 

Mince Beef – 400-600 grams (10-20% Fat is best)
Pork Mince 250-500 grams (Low Fat is best)
Lean Bacon or Lardons 250 grams – Diced (not Smoked for Children)

Tomato Puree – 100 grams
Chopped Plum Tomatoes – 3 Tins (400 grams each)
Carrots – 4 Large – Diced Fine
Large White Onion – 2 Sliced or Diced Fine
(Optional) Celery Sticks – 4 Diced Fine

Fill the 3 Empty Plum Tomato Tins with Boiling Water, then add these contents to a jug (careful the tins will go hot!) and add a Beef stock cube/pot to this and then stir through.

Vegetable Oil – 1 Tablespoon
Pepper – To Your Taste
Salt – To Your Taste

Oregano – 3 Tablespoons
Basil – 1 Tablespoon
Rosemary – 1 Teaspoon

✩ TOP TIPS 

You are aiming for around 1kg of Meat in this Ragu and it will then Serve Approx 10-12 Portions of Food.

If you have a Food Processor Use It! Blitz the Onions and Carrots together on Dice for a quicker start to your Ragu. Add your Optional Extra’s after this stage too so everything is the same size!

 

✩ Recipe ✩

1. In a large saucepan brown the meats together. You need very little oil due to the fat and then drain half of the fat off after around fifteen minutes.

2. Make sure your meats are cooked through and then add your tomato ingredients and then the jug of stock.

3. Simmer for twenty minutes with the lid on the saucepan.

4. Add all of your herbs and the diced vegetables, and mix well.

5. Simmer the saucepan now with a lid on top for around 1 hour. The liquid should reduce down and the sauce begin to thicken.

6. You know when your Ragu is ready because it will taste “together” with all the flavours having marinated as one and it will have thickened up nicely.

7. You can serve this with a range of side dishes, or freeze it all!

✩ Storage ✩

You can store this meal in freezer bags or in tubs, it will keep for a month! Remember to defrost a portion before you reheat it, and then you can also add other spices into it once it is chilled too!

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Sabrina’s Tasty Chicken Curry

My Curry is a mixture between a Chicken Tikka and a Chicken Bhuna. It isn’t spicy but it isn’t mild either, and it has a few vegetables in it as well. You can choose to leave these whole for adults or dice them finely for children who might be a little picky…

It’s also nice to consider adding other things to curry to bulk it out, peppers and onions work best but so do a variety of other vegetables. You can also bulk it out with additional tomatoes that aren’t just made for the sauce but left as chunks.

If you don’t want to use Chicken you could use a vegetable such as Cauliflower. Or Pork Belly is a nice meat for Curry, but it would need to be left in to Simmer for longer to make it tender.

If I am eating a portion of my curry alone I cheat by using one of those microwave Pilau Rice to go with it! They are Super Tasty and convenient! If you’re doing Rice for a few people though and on a regular basis then I highly recommend you invest in buying a Rice Cooker. They save you loads of time and you don’t have to stand their making sure your rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Ours is from a simple one from Argos!

✩ Ingredients 

Chicken – Diced 400-600 grams (Portions 4-6)
Tomato Puree – 100 grams
Chopped Plum Tomatoes – 1 Tin (400 grams)
Plain Yoghurt – 100 grams
Large White Onion – 1 Sliced or Diced
(Optional) Yellow Pepper 1 Sliced into Chunks
(Optional) Red Pepper 1 Sliced into Chunks

Vegetable Oil – 1 Tablespoon
Salt – Pinch
Pepper – To Your Taste
Sugar – Pinch
Paprika – 1 Teaspoon
Garam Masala – 2 Tablespoons
Cumin – 1 Teaspoon (Mild) / 1 Tablespoon (Medium)
Chilli Powder – 1 Teaspoon (Mild for Children) / 1 Tablespoon (Medium)
Lemon Juice – 1 Tablespoon
Garlic – To Your Taste
Coriander Leaf – 2 Tablespoons
Curry Powder – 1 Tablespoon
(Optional) Ginger – 1 Teaspoon Sliced Thinly and Diced
(Optional) Coconut – Dried or Raw or Shredded – 1 Tablespoon

50ml of Warm Previously Boiled Water

✩ Recipe 

1. Fry the Onion and Chicken in a Pan until Browned in a little oil. Add the Chunks of Pepper and Fry until Softened.

2. Start Making Your Sauce In Another Larger Saucepan that has a lid, by combining the tinned and packet items first such as the Tomato ingredients and yoghurt.

3. Then add the spices and herbs in to the saucepan one at a time, stir the pot thoroughly after each one.

4. Once all ingredients are combined add the browned chicken and onions to the mixture and stir through until all the pieces are coated.

5. Finally add the Water and Simmer the Pan for up to 1 hour. Stir every few minutes to avoid sticking and stirring through the flavours.

6. The Curry is Ready when the Sauce has Reduced down and Thickened, and the Chicken is left tender and moist and cooked through.

7. Serve with Rice and perhaps a Naan Bread which is also delicious to mop up any sauce!

✩ Storage 

This meal can be cooled and stored in the fridge for two days or it can be frozen in portions once it is cooled and can be used within one month. Defrost thoroughly in the fridge over night before reheating.

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Sabrina’s Tasty Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Bake

One dish that I love to make that also contributes to two of your five fruit and vegetables a day is my tasty Mediterranean Veg Pasta Dish!

What you will need for this tasty dish is a selection of your favourite vegetables that pair well with a tomato based sauce. I will firstly explain my main ingredients for this dish and then outline the other things you can choose to put in if you want… This also includes a choice of Topping as well!

✩ Ingredients 

Pasta 80 grams per person – the Shape is your decision

Tomato Puree – 50 grams (100 grams if you like a rich sauce)
Chopped Plum Tomatoes – 1 Tin (400 grams)

Large White Onion – 1 Diced
Green Pepper – 1 Sliced and Diced into Chunks
Yellow Pepper 1 Sliced and Diced into Chunks
Red Pepper 1 Sliced and Diced into Chunks
(Optional) Courgette – 1 Sliced
(Optional) Cherry Tomatoes – 3 or 4 per person
(Optional) Small Red Onion – 1 Diced

Oregano – 1 Tablespoon
Basil – 1 Tablespoon for Sauce 1 Tablespoon for Top
Garlic – As Fresh or Granules or Salt or Diced – 1 Tablespoon
Black Pepper – To Your Taste
Salt – To Your Taste

✩ TOP TIPS ✩

Use a Glass Tray for Pasta Bake, it makes it so easy to transfer from appliances!

De-Seed your Peppers before dicing them to ensure no seeds in your meal.


✩ 
Recipe 

1. While you boil a pan three quarters full for your Pasta to become cooked in, preheat an oven to 180’c (160’c Fan).

2. Place your chopped and diced vegetables into a tray, coat with a little oil and oven bake for 25 minutes. (This includes the peppers and onions and any of your optional extras etc). Stir after this time and put on for a further 15 minutes.

3. To make your sauce combine in a jug the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and herbs and spices. Stir thoroughly. Season it to taste and place to one side.

4. Cook your pasta on a hob while your vegetables soften for their final minutes in the oven.

5. Once cooked strain your pasta. You then want to add it to the Roasting Vegetables in the tray. In order to do this remove the tray from the oven, place on a heat protective surface and stir the contents of it together.

6. Then quickly add your sauce from the jug and stir, followed by the pasta and stir. Your sauce should coat all of your ingredients, if it doesn’t seem like enough fill halfway up the now empty tomatoes tin with partly cooled boiled water. Add in 1/4 of the amount in the tin at a time, stirring constantly until all of in the tray is coated in sauce. You don’t want your pasta swimming!

7. Shake the tray from side to side gently allowing the contents to settle flat. At this stage you can add some cherry tomatoes on to the top and a sprinkle more of some basil if you like basil. These tomatoes will bake on the top nice and soft.

8. Put the Pasta Bake into the oven at the same temperature as earlier (160’c) and leave it for around 15 to 20 minutes. If at this stage you want to add some grated cheese on top, carefully remove the tray, wobble it and stir at the edges to make sure it isn’t sticking. If it is sticking then stir it all thoroughly before sprinkling on your cheese.

9. Bake for more 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browning. Serve in bowls with Garlic Bread on the side! Yum!

✩ Storage ✩

This pasta will keep overnight in the fridge for leftovers the next day. Ensure it is heated through thoroughly in smaller bowls when you come to finish it off.

✩ Additional Tips 

You can choose to add meat to the Vegetarian Pasta Bake if you wish, just remove one of the vegetables from the “you choose” part and keep the same amount of grams. For example, 100g of Chicken Breast Chopped OR 100g of Bacon Lardons (Avoid Smoked and Limit Portion for Children Due To Salt Content).

If you don’t like one of my ingredients remove it and substitute it for something else. It could be a herb or a spice or a vegetable. It will of course alter the taste slightly, but we’re all different at the end of the day.

Adding a little Grated Cheese on top of your food is definitely allowed in my house!

Don’t be afraid of just putting your favourite vegetable next to the meal on the plate, you don’t have to put it inside a meal if you don’t want to. Do that fresh every time you cook and that will count towards your five a day too.

Delicious!

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Thank you very much for reading this post, I hope you have enjoyed it. If you cook any of my recipes please leave me a comment and let me know how you get on! And if you want to republish any of my recipes then please credit me as the original recipe creator! Thank you!

✩ Sabrina ✩

Pregnancy Items – What I Have Purchased And What I Would Recommend

Pregnancy Items – What I Have Purchased And What I Would Recommend

Being well over half way into my pregnancy now, I have began to purchase some items. So I thought I should start to give my opinions on a few of them, and whether or not I recommend them. I shall score review the best ones!

Here is what bump and I currently look like, it’s going so quickly!


Pregnancy Pillow

The one item that I knew that I wanted to buy from the beginning was a pregnancy pillow. I have heard friends say they’re great and others say they couldn’t get on with them. But being small and already suffering with back and hip aches, I wanted some support at night. I actually bought this at around twelve weeks gone, and I began using it at around sixteen weeks.

I have not only found it supportive but it’s also helping me to get a better nights sleep in general. I have always suffered with a lot of mucus, especially when I lie down flat and during the Spring months of the year when I get hay fever. But since becoming pregnant it is three times worse, and you literally cannot do anything about it. So I use my three regular pillows to lay the pregnancy pillow against, and at night I lean on the pillow, one arm over the top and one underneath. The rest of the pillow bends around above my head and extends down my back. It isn’t easy to roll over at this stage of pregnancy anyway, but it’s the stage where I need to be lay on my left as long as possible, the pillow definitely helps me to do this.

I managed to get my pillow on a deal through the Bounty App on my mobile phone. Pregnant women can make the most of a range of discounts that regularly come around through the app and through emails. The company is called Online 4 Baby and they do a range of great pregnancy and nursing items.

This pillow can be used during pregnancy and for nursing too. It can easily be shaped to fit behind a person sitting or lying down.

Here is a photo of one of my cats leaning on the pillow when I wasn’t using it. Cheeky! But it really is comfortable.

My Top Tips are to buy a pillow that will fit around your height, I am classed as the high end of Petite, so a 6ft Pillow was more than adequate for me. Because they do a range of sizes you should consider which would be better for you.


This is a close up of the fabric I chose, and the pillow shape without a cover on below.

Colour: Grey with White Stars (other colours available such as grey or cream.
Price: £14.45 (RRP £59.95)
Dimensions: 6 ft (also available in 9ft and 12ft)
Cover Quality: Very Good Cover that is both Removable and Machine Washable.
Pillow Quality: The Pillow itself after several nights needed to be plumped up reshaped.
Overall Rating: 4/5 ‘s

Pillows at Online 4 Baby

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How Many Weeks – Frame

I purchased this gorgeous frame so that my husband and I could count down the weeks until we meet our little miracle. And funnily when I was searching online, those were almost the exact words etched into the wood of this particular frame. I bought this one from Amazon from a Seller called Hello Baby who sell the Bambino products, it currently costs £7.49 (As of the date of this post).

What I like most is the ratio between the frame aspects, the space for the photograph is 4×3″ and then it has both beautiful words and a chalkboard heart for you to write the numbers inside. The quote reads “_ weeks until we meet our little miracle”. The frame itself is cream and free standing, with grey details of stars and the writing.

I purchased this one because of the smaller dimensions, I had a specific shelf I wanted it to fit upon. There are many choices for Sonogram Photo Frames on the internet, though I liked this one the most. My Top Tip when buying a frame online is to look at dimensions and whether or not you want a wall mounted one or a free standing one. There are even some that say “Grandparent” or other quotes on them, making them more personal.


Colours: Cream and Grey
Dimensions: H:15 W:15 D:2 cm
Details: Free Standing
Quality: Very Good, Well Made and Presented
Rating: 4/5 ‘s

If you want to purchase this or take a closer look at the link to it here it is under its title;

Bambino little miracle’ Scan Sonogram Countdown Photo Frame ‘… weeks until we meet”


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Maternity Leggings

Something that I couldn’t live without now that I have them, are Maternity Leggings. They are not only versatile but super comfortable. You can choose to dress them up or dress them down too. My favourites are from George at Asda (I reviewed them already just search for Maternity in my categories), and they wash and wear well. I have several colours now after ordering twice, and I would buy more in a heartbeat if I begin to wear these ones out. So far so good though after a dozen or so washes already!


Thank you for reading this blog post today, I do hope that you have enjoyed it and perhaps you’ve gotten some ideas for purchases for any loved ones or yourself who may be expecting this year. The frames can make great gifts!

When I purchase more items and find they are good quality I will review them. And I have gotten some items for help when our baby arrives, I hope to review these too when I have the time. Look out for these pregnancy related posts as the summer weeks go by.

 Sabrina 

How Blogging And Gaming Help With My Anxiety


How Blogging And Gaming Help With My Anxiety

I’ve been living with anxiety for a number of years now, and there are some things that really help me. Of course breathing slowly and staying calm, focusing on one thing and allowing the moment to pass is the best way. But when I’m struggling there are a few other things that really help me.

Today I will be writing a short blog post outlining what those things are, you never know, they might help someone else get through a hard time too.

Games

Be it Games on my PlayStation or Games on my iPhone, I enjoy playing them and they often help me in times of crisis. Such as when I am feeling overwhelmed, I open apps like Candy Crush for example, and play for a minute or two. It allows my mind to focus on something other than the anxiety that is sending it haywire.

It’s by no means easy, and I have to accompany what I’m doing with slowly breathing deeply and usually drinking cool water as well. I carry water with me everywhere that I go, because I never know when anxiety may strike.

By playing games my mind is occupied on something else, even if it’s just for a moment or two. I also have days where I want to play on my PlayStation and I don’t want to socialise with anyone, those are what I call the bad days. I am glad that I have the option to do this, and games allow me to take out any frustrations I am having with life on virtual reality. When I am focused on a storyline or a scenario I forget what is troubling me for a few moments.

Of course I enjoy gaming generally, and I played a lot before I suffered anxiety. Some days I play a game regardless of how I may be feeling. I may just feel the need to lose myself for a few hours, but either way, it helps me.

Blogging

When I find myself at a loose end I often blog, I have so many ideas floating around in my head that I make notes all the while, on paper and on my phone. Then when my anxiety is bad I try and focus my attention on one idea, and make some headway in the writing part of it. When I am writing I find that everything else in my head dissipates for a few moments because I concentrate so much on what I want to say and about getting it right.

I started blogging as a way to help myself when I was stuck at home recovering from life changing surgery. I needed something to keep my mind active, because I couldn’t leave the house for a time. And my anxiety had already been bad for some time before I needed the surgery, so it was a way of me coping with the long days in the same four walls. It allowed me to write about positive aspects of my life as well, and review things that made me happy. This in turn improved my mood and made my days seem more productive. I had began my blog and website just for me, but when people began to subscribe and tell me they were looking forward to reading my posts, it gave me more confidence in what I was sharing with the world.

Two Years On

So this is where I am up to today, as of February it’s been two years since I started Severn Wishes. Two years on since my surgery too, and I feel I am beginning to take back control of my life. Of course my family and friends have supported me, and this has been paramount in my recovery, but I have also been able to help myself, through doing what I love, and creating the time to do something positive and productive.

I wouldn’t say it’s been an easy road, in fact some days have been very hard. I’m lucky that I have these avenues that are able to help with my current state.

I also have cats, and they are therapeutic for me at the best of times, they really help me to be calm at times. Pets can mean so much more to us and my fur babies certainly are family to us.

Thank you and Advice

This post is a thank you to all of you who support me and my blog and my social media too. You are helping a woman become stronger day by day… you are helping me to feel like me again… slowly but surely…

And I have just one piece of advice. I see anxiety as this, there is no such thing as a good or bad day anymore because I live with these feelings every day. So what I do is remain positive and take something good from each day, focusing on a positive is always the start of remembering the great things in your life. Be grateful no matter how small it is, you’ll soon realise that anxiety won’t win, and that deep down you’re still you, and you do matter.

Be brave and find ways that help you, I did, and slowly but surely I’m beating my anxious feelings. It’s not good every day, and some days I really struggle, but for every one like that I do have, I strive to have less of them. It also helps that I have some understanding family and a few close friends around me, they support me through the bad days. And when I’m alone I use my methods above to bring me back to a calm state.

Thank you for joining me for this honest post today. I hope that if any of you are going through a difficult time then you can find an outlet that helps you, just like I have.

 Sabrina 

How I Am Beating My Morning Sickness, Pregnancy Health and My Top Tips


Welcome to Today’s Post – How I Am Beating My Morning Sickness

So first of all it should never have been called “Morning Sickness” and that goes for double for me. I feel worse in the middle of the day and right up until bed time. When it’s bad some days it even wakes me up in the night, although the increase in bodily fluids such as mucus really hasn’t helped! They don’t tell you any of this though.

I know that some people have morning sickness so badly that they get dehydrated and end up in hospital. Luckily for me I haven’t been that bad, but it’s taken it’s toll either way, I have never felt so exhausted and unwell. So I wanted to write this post and put out some ideas and tips on how I’m currently beating my awful sickly feelings.

The first few weeks were definitely the hardest. I couldn’t go anywhere outside of my house without a cold bottle of water, a packet of Sugar Free Polo Mints and a box of salted biscuits in my handbag. I have to say though, the sickness was worse for me the more hungry I got, so I tried to not get hungry by snacking little and regularly. Grapes were a great idea, seedless and cold right out of the fridge, followed by Salted Biscuits or Crackers.

My Top Tip is Water! Water always helps if you sip it slowly and especially if it’s cool, the mints and peppermint flavour in general can also help with the feeling of being nauseous, and the salted biscuits were what I snacked on between meals. I found that if I got even remotely hungry I would feel terribly sickened. So by not letting myself get very hungry, and eating smaller meals more often plus the snacks I slowly began to beat the sickness. The trick is to breathe and tell yourself you aren’t going to be ill, take a sip of water and eat something like a mouse, nibble and take your time.

After week eight I even purchased some “Sea Bands”, they are sickness bands that work by using the pressure points on your wrists. I know that they don’t work for everyone, but when my sickness was so bad that I couldn’t even lie down flat to sleep, I found that they did help me. I had the feelings by this point in pregnancy but wasn’t actually sick. I would press on the pressure point while sipping cold water and breathing slowly but deeply. Like I say it works for me, and even when I am having the odd sickly day now, I wear the bands. I also wear them in the car because I find motion has often contributed to the feelings more so than before I was pregnant.

At week twelve of my pregnancy I had good days and bad days, and it would often depend on what I came into contact with. Some strong aftershaves or perfumes knocked me sick, as did any kind of raw meat smell, dog poop on the pavement or a smelly public toilet were my worst. The best advice I have at this stage of pregnancy is to breathe through your mouth and make sure that you have plenty of water around you and to hand. If you’ve gone off some foods or are avoiding spicy foods due to risk of indigestion continue to do so while you feel this stage of nausea. I had to live off basic meals that were not spicy or rich, like tomato pasta and plain vegetables, stir fry vegetables and noodles, plain cooked rice with minced pork or chicken breast…

Don’t forget that if you’re struggling to eat a lot now in these first few weeks, that you can make up for it when you’re feeling a lot better. You will need to take a supplement that your midwife should recommend you anyway. But after you begin to feel more like eating you should establish a healthy routine of snacks, such as fruit and vegetables to make up for any unhealthy snacks you eat when feeling bad. Trust me when I say that some days all I want and do eat is a bag of crisps or a bar of chocolate, but I also eat grapes and other easy to eat fruits that can be carried with me or taken to work in portions. Reach for the good stuff if you can, and don’t forget that a glass of juice or smoothie will count as one of your five a day too, and that is easy!


I’m now approaching the half way point in my pregnancy, and I cannot believe how quickly it’s going. I still have days that I’m feeling rather unwell, and usually it’s to do with my food choices. You soon learn what works for your tummy and avoid the things that upset you. My
top tip is to keep a food diary from early on, or if you keep a daily diary anyway then make a note of what you’ve eaten. Then if you’re not well you can put it down to that and avoid that for a week or two and then try it again.

I have been eating a lot of dairy because of how important Calcium in take is, but some days my stomach doesn’t like how much I’m giving it. Carbohydrates are also important but in moderation along with vegetables. Drink as much water as you’re able to, I also have a glass of fruit juice a day, and sometimes add squash or flat lemonade into my daily drinks when I feel fed up of water. You will find out quite quickly that fizzy drinks are not practical in pregnancy and just exasperate certain things that are happening inside you… Do you think it’s rather windy today?

Just because you have limitations on what you can eat and drink, it doesn’t mean you can’t have treats in moderation, and it also doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying your food. Once your morning sickness is getting better you may find your appetite returns and for me, it even got better! I have had to stop myself reaching for more foods some days. Another Top Tip of mine is to use an app for your phone, I use my FitBit App because you can add into it your Drink and Food daily. It will calculate a rough estimate on how many calories you’re in-taking with your food. I find it very very useful for keeping track of everything!

I bought my Sea Bands from Amazon, but you can buy them at your larger local Supermarket Pharmacy Counters too. They come in a few sizes and colours which is nice and you can even put them in the washing machine – very handy if you end up wearing them frequently.

I hope that you’ve either learnt something today or just enjoyed reading about the ups and downs of the start of my pregnancy. If you have any questions I’m happy to try and answer them, if you do then please leave me a comment. And remember that the UK NHS website has loads of advice for expectant parents, and your midwife or GP are the best people to talk to if you have any pregnancy related questions, problems or illnesses.If you would like to read more about my pregnancy journey, including recipes and reviews on maternity wear, then you can read the whole category by clicking here for my Pregnancy only category.

Thanks for reading today’s post, have a lovely day.

✩ Sabrina ✩

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A Short List Of Things I Did In 2017 To Make My 2018 Better

✩ Things That I Did In 2017 To Make My 2018 Better ✩

There were many things during 2017 that I decided to change or make plans ahead of time to make my life easier. This may seem like a lot of effort but really, a lot of it was just common sense. I also saw several programs last year that made me contemplate some of the lifestyle choices I was making.

Here is one example. I would often pop to my local supermarket on the walk home from work in an evening, and although I carried a rucksack I would nearly always buy too many items to fit inside it. So I invested in a reusable bag from the pound shop, and it is consistently folded up now inside my work bag. That way any occasion that arises that I need some extra carrying space I will have it. It saves on both money and on plastic too!

I have also adopted this for my big fortnightly shop, my husband and I only use hemp and cotton recyclable bags now. They are easy to use and easy to stand up in the boot of the car being similar sizes. Invest in one and keep it in your car!

Let me show you roughly how much you would save… If you usually buy five 10p bags every time that you shop, and say that that shop is once a week, that equals 50p a week. So if you use a reusable bag that costs anything from £1.00 to £4.00 (for a decent one) then you could save… a whopping £26.00 a year! Plus these bags that I have, some are three years old now and still going strong.

Another change I have made, which is more of a Lifestyle one, is to stop using any cosmetics products that contain plastic micro beads inside. I watch a lot of documentaries and nature programs, and what I kept seeing was the overwhelming evidence of how plastic is damaging our oceans. I am hugely into nature and support it in any small way that I can, so making this change was not a big deal for me, but will hopefully help the bigger picture globally if more of us make this change too.

Finally I made the decision to continue eating more fruit and vegetables in my diet. As an Endometriosis sufferer I can have really bad skin, and no amount of water helps me with it. But cutting down on saturated fats, greasy foods and things like eating too much chocolate have really helped me. So this year I am making the choice to stick to the dietary decisions I put in place at the end of last year. Don’t get me wrong I still eat whatever I want, that includes a takeaway once a fortnight, chocolate most days, a fry up once in a while, cakes and other things, just all of those in moderation. Smaller amounts and then substituting some of my snacks for more fruit.

Everything in Moderation 😉

I plan to do a post this Spring about some food that I eat and some of my own recipes too. If I can help others to eat more healthily but still enjoy their food then I will definitely try and share my opinions if people think it may be useful!

Thank you for reading this relatively short Lifestyle post today. I hope my words have given you something to think about, some changes are just so easy to make, but they can in turn make a big difference to your life and the lives of others. As well as sometimes the environment and your surrounding area. When we took our recycling in today, our local place had their January statistics up and they managed to recycle a grand total of 78% of what was brought to them, this is what we need to aspire to help.

Have a great week everyone! And if you need any tips on how to recycle more in your home I’m happy to answer any questions!

✩ Sabrina ✩

My Personal Experience with Smear Tests #SmearForSmear and Living With Endometriosis The Facts

My Personal Experiences with having Smear Tests, in support of the #SmearForSmear Campaign.
And Living with Endometriosis, my Diagnosis and Treatment with Facts.

As a woman, I feel very strongly about the facts that have come to light in the UK news recently, and that is only 3 in 4 women of Smear Testing age are attending their tests! If you are in that percentage who have been putting it off, for whatever reason it might be, I need you to consider what I’m going to talk about today.

I am here to give you my opinions and to talk about a member of my family who is currently and bravely fighting Cervical Cancer after a diagnosis from a routine smear. Not only is she an inspiration to us as friends and family but she is raising awareness and keeping a diary of her treatment between receiving her chemotherapy sessions.

In this blog post I will be talking about my smear test experiences, and later on my diagnosis of Endometriosis and what it is like to live with. How this disease has some similar symptoms to Cervical Cancer and how having my routine smear helped me realise I needed to get more help with my issues when my tests came back normal.

I will be including some Smear and Cervical Cancer statistics throughout my post. But first I encourage you all to read my two accounts, and to consider booking or attending that test. Because do you know what? It might just save your life.

My First Smear Test

When I had my first smear test aged 25 I remember feeling rather anxious. The main reason for this anxiety was due to what pain it might cause me. I had always suffered with painful periods and other nasty issues, and I was undergoing a series of tests at the time of this first smear. My doctor was trying to determine why I was having so much pain in my abdomen. Despite this pain it was so important that I had this first routine smear to rule out anything like cervical or ovarian cancer. There are several conditions in women that share symptoms, and it is imperative that Doctors find out the root cause and distinguish what the problem might be.

The smear test itself was simple, after removing your clothes from the waist down you lay on the bed, place your feet flat together and bend your knees off to the sides. You place a sheet over your modesty and you await the nurse. My nurse was lovely and put me at ease. She was aware of my anxiety because I made it clear when I walked in – honesty is the best policy with nurses!

I first asked her to talk me through what she was doing so I could prepare myself. Trying to relax and not tense is the most difficult part. A speculum needs to be inserted into the vagina and then a light is shone on you so the nurse can see enough to take the sample. However I became rather tense and found the speculum made me very uncomfortable. The nurse could see I was distressed and she changed the size and tried again, this one was better but still hurt me.

The sample taking itself is like a quick scratch, and the nurse will let you know when they are about to do it. The cells are gathered on the implement and placed into a tube for testing. The speculum is then slowly removed and you are left alone for a moment to get dressed.

After the smear some people have 24 to 48 hours where they feel a little sore, and I did spot a little blood afterwards but nothing that a basic panty liner wouldn’t catch. Overall I was glad that I had gotten the experience over with. And less than two weeks later I received a letter in the post that told me my cells had come back as normal and I would be scheduled another routine smear in approximately three years time.

After seven trips in and out of hospital and several failed doctor tests, I found out almost two years after this smear that the reason the insertion of a speculum hurt me so much (and the reason for my other symptoms too) was because I was suffering with stage 3 Endometriosis. I was only 27. This had spread throughout my pelvis including on to my bladder and bowel and compromising my left ovary, it had grown to Stage 4 before I had surgery to remove it in 2016.

Endometriosis is an incurable condition where the cells and tissue that normally covers and grows inside the uterus grows outside of it. This often happens on the Ovaries, the Fallopian tubes, and other surrounding tissues. This can include the bowel, the bladder and other organs found inside the female pelvis. In much rarer cases it may also occur in other parts of the body such as the lungs and the brain. Once removed Endometriosis gradually grows back when hormones are present in the woman’s system, sometimes effecting the same areas as it had done before.

Endometriosis is not detectable on a Smear or a Scan, and is only diagnosed by exploratory Laparoscopy surgery. Endometriosis shares lots of Symptoms with other abdomen related problems, including some cancers. So having a routine smear test can tell you if you have any abnormal cells that need to be looked at in more detail. I cannot stress how important this test is, and if you are worried there is something wrong you must go to your doctor. I will include some more facts later in the post.

My Second Smear Test

My second smear was taken only eight weeks after I had had my Endometriosis surgery. The experience was much better the second time around, and I was less anxious of course because I knew what was going to happen. However I was still apprehensive that I would encounter the same pain as the first time. Although having the speculum inserted was still an uncomfortable process for me, the nurse managed to perform the test as quickly as possible, now knowing about my condition.

Once again the test results came in two weeks and I was very relieved to have a negative result and all my cells were fine. After having surgery only a few weeks prior to this smear, the result was something that I was a little more concerned about this time around. Lucky for me it was clear of anything sinister, and I knew I would just have the Endo to deal with. I was still coming to terms with my recent surgery, however I still kept my appointment for my smear because of how important it is.

After all that I went through, I know that I am truly one of the lucky ones, and for something that makes you uncomfortable for just a minute, it is more than worth it to perhaps save your life. One of the reasons I personally found the smear uncomfortable was purely down to having Endometriosis, and I will talk more about that in a moment.

Now For Some Facts

Cervical Cancer

• Cervical Cancer is the most common type of Cancer in Women under 35.
• 1 in 4 women do not attend their routine Smear Test.
• 75% of Cervical Cancers can be prevented through regular screening tests.
• Symptoms of Cervical Cancer Include; Pain During Sex, Lower Back Pain and Irregular Bleeding (During or After Sex and In between Periods). However sometimes there are no symptoms and some people are symptom less when they get diagnosed.
• 9 out of 10 People who have a Smear, have Normal Test Results back.
• A Smear Test takes minutes to complete, and early diagnosis of Abnormal Cells could Save Your Life.
• The UK age for Smear Tests is currently 25, but if you are worried about any symptoms you may be having then please talk to your Doctor.


Endometriosis

• There is currently no cure for Endometriosis.
• Symptoms of Endo include; Pain during Sex, Pain with the Bowel and Bladder, Bleeding between Periods, Constant Fatigue, Unexplained bouts of Extreme Pain, Unexplained Infertility, Painful and Heavy Periods and Lower Back Pain.
• 1 in 10 Women in the United Kingdom have Endometriosis.
• Infertility is a main concern for the women who have it.
• 80% of Endo sufferers frequently miss work due to the pain and other symptoms.
• It takes on Average 7.5 years to get a Diagnosis in the UK.
• 43% of women were wrongly told that the symptoms would go if they got Pregnant.
• Only 20% of the general public have heard about Endometriosis and most are women.
• Many young women are told they simply have a low pain threshold and that some symptoms are made worse by their own minds. 33% were told it was all in their head and just a case of “Bad Periods”.
• Endo is the 2nd most COMMON Gynecological Condition in the UK.
• The only Official Diagnosis is Laparoscopy and the only Treatment is Surgery.

Living with Endo

I heard a saying once that really stuck with me, it was this. “Pain is Inevitable but Suffering is Optional”. This really hit home for me, after I had struggled for almost fifteen years being told by doctor after doctor that I just had painful periods and a low pain threshold. It wasn’t until my husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for a considerable time that my GP began to run more tests. It still took two years for me to be believed by someone, and that was actually a cancer doctor at my local hospital. He listened to me and my list of symptoms, and said he would take me in for an exploratory laparoscopy before passing me on to the relevant department. It turned out that I was right all along, it was Endometriosis. The one reason I had concluded this was the fertility issues I had been having, the fact that other tests such as my smears had come back normal, and the other reason was because Endo already ran in my family.

I wouldn’t wish the Endo pain on my worst enemy. It is exhausting for day to day activities and causing fatigue, but on your period it’s 10 times worse. I have had to stay at home for days, vomiting because of severe pain and shaking from the shock it puts my body through. There have been times where I have been doubled over screaming, times where I have crawled to my bathroom, and times where I couldn’t even comprehend the pain that was happening. It has also caused me fertility issues and I have had to have surgery and treatment to get back to a normal daily life.
I cannot thank my specialist and surgeon enough for giving me my life back, they even managed to save my left ovary so that I could have fertility treatment. And although every day is hard, I am better knowing how to monitor my condition. There is no cure, and only surgery can remove it, so you have to learn what works for you. Hot Water Bottles and Strong Pain Killers have become staples in my house to get me through the rough days.

Having Endometriosis has meant I have cancelled social plans knowing my cycle would clash with it, I rearranged important events and even changed plans with very short notice to people. After a few times it became difficult for some people to understand, that you are not being awkward but you cannot be in a social environment when you are so ill. Endo has also caused me to suffer with anxiety. It all made me realise who true friends were and I am grateful to all of those who have stood by me through some rather difficult years.

Remember Endometriosis affects people in different ways, like any medical problem your body size and severity of the condition plays a part. I was actually told I must have a high pain threshold for withstanding what had been occurring inside my body, though at the times it was bad I thought I was the weakest person. Sometimes you have to believe in yourself and that the bad times will eventually pass. Thankfully for me I got help and it has gotten better.

Luckily I am now doing much better, but with an overall prognosis and time frame given to me by my specialist. I try and live every week to the fullest, although that is hard to do some weeks. But I have to say there is now light at the end of my tunnel and I am a stronger woman for the journey that I have had to overcome.

Endometriosis Awareness Month is March.

Thank you

Thanks for reading this blog post today, I know that it is a lot more open and honest than some of my previous ones, but I think that it’s so important that people support one another. I wanted to be honest about what I have gone through so it may help someone else.
I may do a more in depth Endometriosis post in the future if people would find my experiences useful. If you would like to read more about this and my ways of coping, please leave me a comment.
As women we need to support each other through the things that we go through. Talk to your best friend, your mum or a female nurse if you need some further advice on Smear Tests, but please, don’t put off having your Smear.
And when you think there is something not quite right, listen to your body and go to see your Doctor about it.

Thank you for reading Severn Wishes today,

 Sabrina 

x This post was written for Hayley, and everyone currently fighting Cervical Cancer x