How to make Chinese Food from Scratch at Home for this Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year!
新年快乐

A great way to enjoy some tasty Chinese style cuisine this week is to do it yourself. To celebrate Chinese New Year I thought that I would share my own recipes with you all. Many people think it’s a complicated type of cuisine to make but if you’re good at following step by step recipe guides like mine, then you can create my delicious dishes in your own kitchen!

In today’s blog post I’m going to outline some of my own tips and tricks, as well as share my own recipes on how to make some flavoursome Chinese meals. Follow my instructions as much as you can, and substitute the meats for other meat or fish or a vegetarian alternative where I indicate you can with this symbol ⇕ . You can decide which of the sauces you’d rather make too, I will show you a few.

Why not give some cooking a go this Chinese New Year week! I’ve worked out that you can make 4 of my dishes for 4 people, plus a bowl of Sabrina’s Special Egg Fried Rice, for around £6.50 per person. That’s a heck of a lot cheaper than ordering in! On average a dish from a Chinese Takeaway comes in at around £7.00 in most parts of the UK. You can have 3 dishes and a rice for the same price! All you have to do though is cook it!

SHOPPING LIST

Stir Fry Pork ⇕ 500g is £2.75 at Tesco
Stir Fry Beef ⇕ 375g is £3.50 at Tesco
Chicken Fillets ⇕ 500g £4.00 at Tesco
Rice Wine Vinegar – £1.99 for 150ml
Reduced Salt Soy Sauce 65p for Tesco own brand or £1.30 for Amoy
Egg Noodles – Range from 80p to £1.40 – You need 150g for 2 people
Rice Noodles – Range from 90p to £1.80 – You need 300g for 4 people
Spring Onions – 55p for 100g at Tesco
Peas – Petit Pois Frozen at Tesco for £1.60 for 1kg
6 Free Range Eggs – Medium are 85p at Tesco
4 Peppers 2 Red 1 Green 1 Yellow 55p each at Tesco
2 White Onions – 85p per kg at Tesco
Carrots 59p per kg at Tesco
Jasmine Rice – Thai Jasmine Rice 1kg £2.00 at Tesco
Chinese 5 Spice Jar 85p at Tesco
Cornflour​ £1.30 at Tesco
Sunflower Oil 500ml 80p at Tesco
Seasame Oil – 250ml £1.80 at Tesco
Sweet Chilli Sauce – don’t have this at home buy supermarket own
Tomato Sauce – don’t have this at home buy supermarket own
Garlic – if you don’t have this at home buy supermarket own or jar
Ginger – fresh or jar or paste all work the same
Chilli – fresh or jar of flakes is fine but fresh taste better
Black Bean Sauce – Various Brands and Sizes Available

Remember that for some of these items you will have leftover amounts of them that you can use the next time that you cook Chinese food, such as the Petit Pois, the Rice Wine Vinegar, the Cornflour and the Soy Sauce.

Optional Extras

Bean Sprouts for the Stir Fry & Chow Mein Dish – 300g for 50p Tesco
White Cabbage are 79p each in Tesco
Water Chestnuts 225g Tin at Tesco for £1.10
Button Mushrooms – 90p for 200g at Tesco

I have worked out that your shopping list will cost between £27 and £30 depending on supermarket offers and whether or not you pick those offers or brands versus own brand. I shopped at Tesco but prices are similar else where when I looked online. For 4 people this equals approximately £6.50/£7.00 each, that is for the 4 people to have 3 Chinese Dishes and Rice.

TIME TO COOK

How To Make The Crispy Meat Element of the Dishes.

One of the most delicious parts of Chinese food is crispy strips of meat seasoned with Chinese spices. You can pick up a jar of Chinese 5 Spice for less than £1 in most supermarkets, and because it’s so strong in flavour it goes a long way.

Options for this type of meal are…
Crispy Beef in Sweet Chilli Sauce
Crispy Pork in Sweet and Sticky Sauce

Ingredients

Meat In Strips (your choice from Shopping List) Cut It If Not Already
5 Tablespoons of Cornflour
3 Tablespoons of Chinese 5 Spice

How To Prepare

You need a small saucepan that you pour oil in to until it is around an inch deep. You need to heat this on a hob until it’s very hot before you place meat inside to fry. The Meat Strips take around four minutes to cook through depending upon their thickness, so always test one piece before you do the remainder. You will also need several pieces of kitchen roll/towel to place your fried goods upon to drain and soak up any excess oil.

In bowl number one you need to place the cornflour and Chinese 5 Spice, mix it using a spoon. You need to coat each piece of meat in this mixture, by adding meat slowly a few at a time, once coated place them into the hot oil and time them frying. Remove them from the saucepan using a spoon or spatula with holes so as to drain the oil. Dry the strips on some towel until they are ready to mix with your chosen sauce.

A great way to use up those Takeaway Sauces you get given is to use them like I did to make a Chinese Sauce. See my image below…

How To Make Chinese Sauces

Here are my recipes for some sauces and stir fry meals I love to make. They are easy to follow and take around half an hour to prepare and cook.

There is one sauce that I always buy because it is more expensive to try and make it, that is black bean sauce. You can pick this up in most supermarkets for between 35p to £1.50. Packets or Jars depending upon if it’s for a one off dish or for several if you wish to make it again. Black Bean Sauce is the Perfect accompaniment with Chicken.

Chicken in Black Bean Sauce
Serve this with chunky chopped Onions, ribbons of Carrots and sliced Green Peppers.

Crispy Meat in Sweet Chilli Sauce
Serve with Carrot Ribbons, Onions and a chopped Chilli Pepper.
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons of Tomato Sauce
4 Tablespoons of Sweet Chilli Sauce
4 Tablespoons of Rice Wine Vinegar

Crispy Meat in Sweet and Sticky Sauce
Serve with fried peppers and onions.
1 Tablespoon of Garlic
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons of Tomato Sauce
3 Tablespoons of Sweet Chilli Sauce
4 Tablespoons of Rice Wine Vinegar

Chicken Chow Mein Sauce with Onions
1 Tablespoon of Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Ginger
3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons of Sesame Oil
5 Tablespoons of Boiling Water
1/2 A White Onion Chopped Chunky & Fried
Add other Veg as Optional Extras

Add the Chow Mein Sauce to pre-cooked Rice Noodles or Thin Egg Noodles and your already fried and seasoned meat. If you want a richer flavour then marinate the chicken in soy sauce for an hour prior to frying it.

Homemade Sweet Chilli Sauce
Crispy Beef in Sweet Chilli Sauce
As Delicious As It Looks!

Sabrina’s Delicious Stir Fry

You need 2 pans. Once prepared fry all your Vegetables together in a little oil. In the other pan, take some of the garlic, ginger and spices and add them to season your main element while you cook it, don’t forget to season with pepper and salt.
Once everything is cooked combine the main and the vegetables. Add your noodles and a splash of boiling water to the pan. Stir fry until cooked, serve immediately.

Meat / Fish / Vegetable of your choice (Main Element)
Shallots OR White Onion
2 Tablespoons of Ginger
2 Tablespoons of Garlic
2 Peppers – 1 Yellow & 1 Red – Sliced Long Ways
1 Tablespoon of Chinese 5 Spice – Season Chosen Main
Noodles of your choice
Add Spring Onions too if you like Onion as much as I do for a pop of colour!

Fry all these tasty vegetables together to begin your Stir Fry.
Soy and Chilli Chicken Stir Fry with Onion, Yellow Pepper & Egg Noodles.

How To Make Sabrina’s Special Egg Fried Rice

Egg Fried Rice is relatively easy to make and is a great accompaniment to lots of Chinese dishes. You can partially cook this dish too to save time! Cook the rice either on the hob or preferably in a Rice Cooker if you have one. Then you’re ready to begin.

Ingredients

Jasmine Rice – 300g – 400g Cooked
2 Tablespoons of Oil
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon of Garlic
Peas or Petit Pois – 1 Small Cup – 150g approximately
Spring Onions – 4 to 6 Chopped Up – 100g plus
Scrambled Eggs – 3 Medium Eggs season with Salt, Pepper & Soy Sauce to your tastes

Method

In a large frying pan add oil soy sauce and garlic, then fry the Spring Onions and Peas together. Add the Eggs (previously whisked in a small bowl) and scramble together using a wooden spoon on a high heat. Turn the heat down and add the cooked rice. Mix thoroughly and add any more seasoning to taste. Fry until hot and all flavours are combined. Serve in a large bowl so people can help themselves and scatter some fresh spring onion on top.

The Final Dishes

Your final options for the Chinese Dishes are…

Main Dish 1. Crispy Pork with Sweet Sticky Sauce & Stir Fry Vegetables
Main Dish 2. Chicken in Black Bean Sauce with Vegetables
Main Dish 3. Chicken Chow Mein with Rice Noodles
Main Dish 4. Crispy Beef with Sweet Chilli Sauce & Stir Fry Vegetables
Main Dish 5. Soy and Chilli Chicken Stir Fry with Egg Noodles
Side Dish. Sabrina’s Special Egg Fried Rice
Side Dish. Stir Fry Vegetables

Thank you for joining me on Severn Wishes, I hope you enjoyed this lengthy food post! Let me know in my comments or tag me on social media if you make any of my recipes!

✩ Sabrina ✩

Our Experience of Baby Sensory Class and How I Teach My Baby At Home

Our Experience of a Baby Sensory Class

Beach Theme – Under The Sea.

Using textures, sounds, bubbles, bright colours, animals, music, voices, singing, shiny surfaces, sign language and toys… Baby Sensory has something for babies of all ages. This class that I attended was for babies of only a few weeks old right up to 13 months.

Our son Baby A has just turned 6 months old, so he was able to appreciate a great deal of what was going on. There were various mats on the floor for parents to sit upon and soft mats to lay babies upon in front. The class interacted with the children on many levels, be it laying on their back, sitting up, laying on their fronts, and sat upon their parents laps even!

There is always a hello and a goodbye section of the class, then in between is a theme plus a short break midway through for feeding and changing, or just more playing.

Sand was substituted for oats so that babies weren’t in any danger if they happened to eat any. I thought this was a great idea! A variety of textures were used doing the hour, silk, organza, bubbles and soft mats. Sign language is used during songs to make the babies think about the words being sung and said. This is also a really nice part of the group activities.

Baby A enjoyed some aspects of the class more than others, such as the objects and instruments that he could personally interact with, especially when he could hold and feel them. He very much liked the shells and wooden objects that were in the bucket I was given in this class.

I have paid for a course of classes for my son and I to attend. I feel it’s a good idea to introduce him to other babies, various sounds and activities that I cannot do very easily at home. Plus it’s a good reason to get out of the house and for my son and I to have some fun learning things together.

If there are classes in your town I recommend that you give this type of learning class a go! If you find a good one the activities can be essential to your baby learning things and experiencing things in a safe environment.

Baby Sensory Class
Bucket and Mat for the Under The Sea Theme

How and What I Teach My Baby At Home

There are many things that I teach Baby A at home, and also when we are out and about. Such as pointing out colours, numbers, weather and words as well as the basics like animals and objects. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on things, and you can use items at home to create sensory things.

I really enjoy showing my son real objects. Ones that make noises and have great textures are the best types. We often use toys and explain what in reality they are based upon. We try and expose him to educational television programs and we try and use books daily too. Ones with pictures are best at the moment but we always interact with the books with words and noises to help him understand further.

Young babies can only see Black, White and Red colours, so it’s a good idea to begin showing them shapes and every day objects and short words that are designed in this colour pattern. As baby gets older you can show them more colours and build upon it week after week.

Repetition is the best way of learning, and a baby will begin to recognise objects from an early age when shown them on a regular basis. Our son liked particular animals that were on flash cards, so we aimed to buy him other things that had these things as the theme. Such as he liked the image of a snail in one of the books and so we attached a snail hanging toy for the arch on his play mat.

My Top Tips for teaching your child things at home, are to incorporate a section of learning time into your routine so that once a day your baby is learning. Use repetition and do any teaching when your baby is most awake and alert. Making the learning fun means your little one is more likely to enjoy it and recall aspects of it.

Learning with your child should be an activity that you can both enjoy, you can always get other people involved too such as grand parents and friends. If there are babies of different ages in the room you can get everyone to do things in a way that they would all benefit. Such as explain colours and objects to the younger baby while getting an older child to spell the word for example.

Baby Sensory Light Display


If anyone found this post useful then please leave me a comment. I may elaborate on ways that I teach if people would find it beneficial. And also explain about the items that I have made and created for our at home sensory experience.

Thank you for reading my blog today and for visiting Severn Wishes, I hope you’ll stop by again soon. Have a great day!

✩ Sabrina ✩

Health and Well Being – Steps to Smarter Eating


Well Being and Health – Steps to Smarter 
Eating

Smarter Eating is something that we can all get into doing more often. Because some of these things are so easy to become good habits too, you just have to be patient. Try introducing them one at a time, and after some time why not do several on occasion and then give yourself a day off from them once a month? There are many ways in which you can look out for your health, and these are the ways I have found to be quite easy. Remember food should be enjoyed but some things need to be in moderation.

 

✩ Hydration ✩

So we all know that we should be drinking a minimum of 8 glasses of water a day. Depending on the size of the glass that you use, this can equate to anything from 1.5 litres to 2 litres each day. When they say “a day” they mean within 24 hours.

So here is my Top Tip – Keep a reusable bottle or glass by the side of your bed, make sure that when you wake with your alarm in a morning that you drink before getting out of bed. Not only are you having your first glass of water, but you are also helping your body to wake up and your blood pressure to regulate as well.

Another tip is to carry a reusable bottle of water with you everywhere you go. Not only will it remind you to drink, but it will also save you money because you won’t be buying drinks from shops or vendors.

 

✩ Embrace Your Favourites ✩

Favourites! We all have them! Embracing the ones that are good for you is definitely the way to go. And if not then why not try and add good things to your faves. Such as halving your bowl of ice cream and adding fresh fruit. Or you could add frozen spinach on top of your favourite pizza! Enjoy your foods but make them better for you.

 

✩ Boost Flavours ✩

Boosting the flavours of bland foods that are good for you but not entirely pleasant to eat is a great idea. Why not try and add low fat yoghurt to a bowl of fruit or to a bland (but good for you) cereal. You can try low fat versions of your tastier favourites such as cheese, or add fresh herbs to your meals.

 

✩ Eat More Vegetables ✩

It may sound easy, but sometimes we get lazy after a long day when we look at a pile of vegetables that need to be prepared. The trick and tip from me here would be to buy frozen. You waste less doing this and can only get out what you are going to use. It’s faster to measure up portions too! Easy to add two cups of mixed diced vegetables into a curry or a pasta sauce, for example, than counting out how many carrots you need to peel and then chop and then cook…

 

✩ Eat More Grains ✩

Dependent on your dietary requirements getting more grains could be difficult. However if you don’t have any allergies you should consider this. Getting more fibre through your diet. I love cereal, and my favourite happens to be high in fibre. Why not make a switch for a week if yours does not and see how you feel. Add fruit or jam if you require a sweetness rather than adding sugar.

 

✩ Try Something New ✩

We all get curious from time to time. My most recent example of this would be when I tried the new range of juice drinks from Tropicana – Tropicana Essentials. Although more expensive than my usual choices I wanted to try something that was meant to be better for me, and more beneficial to my health…  It is made of fruit and vegetables and I did notice I had more energy after consuming it on consistent days.

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Thank you for joining me for this next installment in my well being and health related posts today. I hope that you are able to take something from my tips and they can help you improve your lifestyle.

✩ Sabrina ✩

 

 

Well Being and Health – Easy Ways To Make The Most Of Vegetables

Easy Ways To Make The Most Of Vegetables

 

We often throw away a lot of fruit and vegetables that have a habit of going off before we get around to using them. In this post today I’m going to outline the ways in which I make the most of vegetables and how easily you can so to.

 

Sabrina’s Top Tip is to invest in a blackboard or a meal planner or even both! That way you won’t forget to use what’s in your fridge! Plan out one night a week that is a Treat Night where you can have something tasty like chips with your evening meal, but otherwise mix up your vegetables so as not to get bored with the weekly selection.

 

Buy Frozen

You often get a lot more veg for your money with frozen, and it’s just as good for you with most brands choosing to freeze hours after the vegetables are picked. Frozen often gives you more per kilo as well, with things such as broccoli because you’re not paying for the weight of its stork, or spinach for example which is frozen in far larger quantities than you find it in fresh packets. Frozen veg also has the added benefits of you only using what you need each time rather than you wasting with cutting sections of fresh veg up when preparing them.

 

Make a Soup or Sauce

Usually I make a soup or a sauce out of veg that needs using up, or left over veg that wasn’t all eaten during something like a roast dinner.

 

Use your Peelings – They are the most nutritious parts!

If you often peel potatoes, parsnips, carrots and sweet potato, but throw those peelings away, you should consider making your own vegetable crisps out of them.
A greatly tasty and healthy snack for children between meals or as a starter while the evening meal is cooking. Keep them for 48 hours in a clean lidded Tupperware box to keep the crunch!

 

Save Money By Using the Stems

If you prepare Cauliflower and/or Broccoli regularly, do you ever use the stems? There are a few options to save you throwing them away.
Make Cauliflower Rice by putting the stems and any left over florets into a processor to make cauliflower rice.
Make an easy vegetable curry by cubing the stems of cauliflower with any left over potato and cook them a little longer than you would usually to soften them up.
You can take broccoli stems and either shave them finely using a peeler and fry them with stir fry vegetables or dice them and add them to pasta dishes.

 

Buy Seasonal to Save Money

Look into buying Seasonal Vegetables that are on offer in Supermarkets. Some of the larger ones in the United Kingdom do weekly deals too! Make sure you plan your week around this and use up the items that will spoil first so as to ensure no waste.

 I hope you’ve enjoyed this short post and my vegetable tips!

✩ Sabrina ✩

 

Reviewing and Comparing Chocolate Chip Cake Bars

Reviewing and Comparing Chocolate Chip Cake Bars

So today I’m Reviewing and Comparing Chocolate Chip Cake Bars available from Tesco. Why? I hear you ask, well someones got to do it! Ha! Ha! No seriously though, I have been living off tasty snacks since my son was born. Including Cake Bars! I have needed sugary snacks to get me through long nights and early morning feeds.

I have shopped at Tesco for many years and I have always supported their own brand products too. Sometimes I would only purchase the branded version if they were on special offer.

Today I wanted to Review the two most similar cakes that I buy regularly and explain what I like best about each of them. I am going to score them after the product information has been shown, and tell you why I choose to buy them.



Here are the two types of chocolate chip cakes bars that I purchase on a regular basis. Exclusive to Tesco Ms Molly’s Treat Store and Mr Kipling Exceedingly Good Cakes.

 

This is what the cake bars look like out of the boxes.

 

✩ Cake Bar Product Information ✩


Ms Molly’s (Exclusive to Tesco)

Pack Size: 5 Cakes
Cake Bar Size: 26 grams
Values per 100 grams: Fat 5.4g Saturates 0.8g Sugars 5.9g Salt 0.1g
Energy 442 kJ / 106 kcal
Details: Each Cake Bar is individually wrapped in clear plastic, with the eat by date stamped upon it also.
Price per Packet: 47p (works out to be 9p per cake bar)
Suitable for Vegetarians. 

Mr Kipling

Pack Size: 6 Cakes
Cake Bar Size: 24 grams
Values per 100 grams: Fat 5.0g Saturates 2.0g Sugars 9.6g Salt 0.11g
Energy 456 kJ / 109 kcal
Details: Each Cake Bar is individually wrapped in a brown Mr Kipling wrapper.
Price per Packet: £1.60 (works out to be 26p per cake bar)
Suitable for Vegetarians.

My Opinion Of Each Cake Bar Brand.

Ms Molly’s: These are delicious cakes that have been individually baked so that the inside stays soft and the sponge is light. There are chocolate chips running throughout the inside of the bar that taste delicious and are a nice contrast in texture to the sponge cake itself. You can see from the image above that the cake bar is a nice shape and are always a good golden colour to show they are well baked. They are very affordable at 9p a cake, and I would happily put them in my trolley every time that I go shopping (and usually do!) The use by dates are normally around 2-4 weeks after the purchase date which gives you plenty of time to eat them. Overall I really enjoy the taste and texture of the Molly’s cake bars, a nice sponge and delicious chocolate pieces, to be honest the price is just a bonus!

Quality of Product 5✩

Value for Money 5✩

 

Mr Kipling: These cake bars have very tasty chocolate chips that are not only found inside the cake itself but also scattered on top of it. The Mr Kipling brand is very well known and I am fond of their cakes. The only downside with these particular cakes is that they are cut bars and not baked individually, so the sponges aren’t as soft as some other cake bars such as Molly’s. Even though I find the chocolate tastes nicer in these cakes the actual sponge itself isn’t as moist or as soft as its cheaper counterpart. For this reason I would honestly choose the Tesco own version of Molly’s over Mr Kipling.

Quality of Product 4✩

Value for Money 3✩

 


Here are what the two bars look like inside. As you can see the texture of the Ms Molly’s is more moist and is a bigger size. Where as the Mr Kipling bar is a lighter texture sponge but with more chocolate chips.

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Thank you for reading this review today. Don’t forget to follow me on Social Media to see what I’m up to on a more daily basis! I do love my food so I watch out for more food related posts in the future.

✩ Sabrina 

My Top 5 Tips For New Parents


Sabrina’s Honest Lifestyle Post
 

My Top 5 Tips for New Parents

There is always a vast array of advice that is hurled around when you’re pregnant or a new parent. Some of it I found wasn’t all that useful because it was either peoples opinion that was exaggerated or it was biased. Every parent and every baby is different, but I hope that you can appreciate my life honest post which is more about practical tips, rather than scare stories. I would never dream of telling someone how to parent, my tips are just my honest advice for what has so far worked for us. I hope that you enjoy my post.


Food and Drink 

You’re going to want to stock up on food and drink and snacks. Leaving the house is going to take a lot more effort from now on so take my advice, do a bulk shop to fill your cupboards, do some bulk cooking of basics for your freezer and make sure you’ve got a variety of snacks in too. You will find those early morning feeds a shock the first few days and tasty sugary things will be your new best friend. I recommend Mini Cakes or Dried Fruit, definitely sugar! Caffeinated drinks will also help, but be careful about your in take if you’re breast feeding.

My Top Tip – We keep a mini cool bag in our bedroom filled with snacks and bottles of water for those late nights and early mornings. It saves you from going downstairs when half asleep!

Muslin Cloths

I had a grand total of 4 Muslin cloths the week that my son was born. By the time he was a month old we had fifteen cloths! And some weeks it’s still not enough (with some being dirty or in the washing machine for example). My main tip is to always keep several at arms length. Then keep one at either of your bedsides, more than one in the area that you all lounge together, one where you change your little one and at least one in their changing bag too! There still won’t be one when you suddenly need it, unless you place a longer one over your shoulder while you’re at home. But on a serious note, these cloths are a godsend, especially when baby is having a sickly day, or is dribbling due to teething. The best ones that we found for absorbency were from Mothercare, the softest were from Tesco.

My Top Tip – Keep track of how many you’ve got so you don’t end up with them all in the wash and also purchase similar colours so they’re easier to wash in bulk!

Teach Your Hands Now!

So you’re Right handed, well you may want to try using your Left more. You will find that once baby comes along you will only have one hand free and sometimes not even very often! So train your hands now before your baby arrives. Make sure you can blow your nose, make a drink and eat – all with the hand you wouldn’t usually use! That will set you up if you can master at least something. After eight weeks I can prepare and eat things, plus fill the washing machine and start that off all one handed.

Support One Another

Before you have children you don’t realise what an overwhelming responsibility it is for most of the time. I kept hoping I would have the time to do things that I wanted, read a book, learn a new game, write a blog post… but the reality is nothing like that. Even if are lucky enough to have a baby who actually sleeps between feeds, there will always be clothes to wash, housework chores to do and getting yourself organised too! (Drink / Hot Meal / Shower and a Change of Clothes).

The thing that your partner who works must understand is that just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you get a break. Some days you will eat and even go to the toilet with your child in your arms, because that’s safer than putting them down and them screaming so loud the neighbours 6 doors down hear them!

Compromise is the key. If your partner needs a break to shower or even go for a ten minute walk to get some fresh air, you need to support them. It’s tough being responsible for a tiny human, they rely on us 24/7 and sometimes we all need a few minutes to ourselves, mostly so we feel like us and not just Mum / Dad.
Another way you can support one another is that one feeds the other winds, and keep swapping. Your baby needs to get used to both of you putting him/her to bed so that both of you can be a comfort.

Finally remember that you’re in this together, if you’re tired take it in turns to take a nap. If one of you is feeling overwhelmed then do something nice together as a family and turn it into a positive experience.

My Top Tip – Take things in turns and ask one another every day if the other is doing okay.

Every Baby Is Different So Trust Your Instincts

So I found that within hours of having my son my instincts were kicking in. I knew things that I didn’t before and I had ideas about how to cope that came through the living experiences with my baby.

Trust that you know what your baby needs, and after a few weeks you’ll know what their cries mean anyway.
Don’t be afraid of asking your own parents for their advice, and remember you don’t always have to take it from anyone especially if you disagree.

You will know your baby after only a short time, trust yourselves.

Thank you for your on-going support for me and my blog, please leave me a comment if you enjoyed this article. And don’t forget to follow me on Social Media to see what I’m up to on a more daily basis!

✩ Sabrina 

What I Put Into My Hospital Bag for Labour, My Experience with Tips and Tips From Friends


What I Put In My Hospital Bag, My Experience In Hospital and Tips from Me and from Friends

As the due date of my little one was fast approaching I had begun to compile my items for my hospital bag. I had done a lot of research because I didn’t want to be bringing anything unnecessary, and I also didn’t want to forget something either that I could have otherwise over looked being a first time mum.

One thing I knew that I wanted was a nice blanket to wrap our baby in. My husband and I wanted to personally choose a nice outfit to bring baby home in too. And other than the usual necessities of a hospital stay, I was clueless as to what other items I may need for baby.

When you sign up to various baby things you will undoubtedly get a list or two about what you do and don’t need for hospital. Of course every couple is different and you also have to consider the time of year too. The best ones we found were the Bounty one and also one that we had at a Mothercare baby event.

I also talked to friends who had had babies recently to get their take on what they used the most and what they may have wished that they had had with them. Here is what a few of them told me…

Pip Said; “My son was born with lots of hair and I didn’t consider I would need a baby brush or comb! I sent my partner out to buy one so that we could comb all the baby gunk out of his hair!”

Louise Said; “We used two separate bags for convenience. Consider that you might be in labour or in hospital for a while, so headphones, a book or magazine might be a good idea. Don’t forget to have a car seat ready for when you go home as the hospital need to see you with it when you leave with your baby”.

The image above shows all of the items that I got inside the bag that I ordered from “Goodies 4 Mummies Pre Packed Maternity Hospital Bags”. I wanted a new bag specifically for going into hospital, but one large enough to put everything inside. I did not want to carrying multiple things because they wouldn’t fit. I contacted this page via their Facebook messenger section and discussed what I needed. In the end I chose this gorgeous bird design bag. The contents you see were all included, and most of it is excellent quality. You can choose whether you need a specific gender of items or neutral. We already knew we were having a little boy so I chose the blue. This included a Muslin Cloth and a Hat that were blue in colour.

I would rate the bag and the contents a 5/5 for range and quality.
I would rate the service of this business a 5/5 as well, fast delivery too!

The one thing I had read online that my mind hadn’t even considered was a pair of disposable slippers for the ward and (because I was having a summer baby) a portable fan. The slippers were luckily included in the Maternity Bag that I had ordered.

Our son decided to make an entrance into the world on one of the warmest days of the summer so far. It was 30 degrees Celsius in the delivery suite room. It was at that moment I was so happy that I had purchased a portable fan!

This fan was only £11 on Amazon at the time I ordered it. The device can be charged up via a USB cable and then runs on a full charge for approximately 10 hours. With 3 speed settings as well it was rather handy. The fan has a fold-able handle that is situated at the back when not in use. Ideal size for holding and for transporting, and in my opinion not that heavy either. I would review this item as a 5/5 considering the price and convenience of it, it was used throughout my labour during the day and night, my lovely mum was in charge of holding it over me, and a great job she did too. Here is the link below if anyone is interested in purchasing one.

EasyAcc Handheld Electric Fans Mini Portable Outdoor Fan with Rechargeable 2600 mAh Battery Foldable Handle Desktop for Home and Travel – Black

Knowing that we also got an opportunity to have a photograph taken of our baby by the hospital Bounty Photographer, meant that I wanted it to be memorable. They suggest a tiny soft toy, blanket or comforter to be in this photo. My husband and I have decided a comforter with a soft toy attached, and a spare blanket are the right things to take with us. Although you can bring almost anything you can think of.

Here is a final list of exactly what I have put into my hospital bags. I eventually did one for our baby and one for me. Just so that it was easier to find items for either person on the day or days that followed in hospital. It turned out to be a very good idea too!

Here is the final list of exactly what I have put into the bag for our newborn baby.

2 Packets of Baby Wipes – newborn and sensitive skin friendly
Cotton Wool Balls
Nappies – Newborn and Smaller Baby
Baby Grow and Sleepsuits for while in Hospital – Mixed Sizes
Outfit for Coming Home In
Small Cuddly Toy / Comfort Blanket
Baby Blanket
1 Set of Hat / Mittens / Booties / Socks
Baby Changing Mat
Barrier Ointment and Nappy Rash Cream
Baby Hair Brush and Comb
Muslin Cloth
1 Bib

We ended up being in hospital for 4 days first of all after my sons birth. I was very lucky that my husband was able to go home and collect items for me including spare muslin cloths, spare outfits for baby and he also had to go out and buy some tiny baby clothes too after our little one lost some weight.

You are always better to have more than you need than not enough. I would say it’s a good idea to bring several outfits with you because you don’t actually know the size of your baby until they arrive. And the majority of babies lose weight in the first couple of days as well. Be prepared!

Here is the final list of everything that went into my Hospital Bag. This key will identify to you whether or not I used the item or I didn’t.
★ Used
✩ Didn’t Use / Need
After this list I will be briefly outlining what my most used items were and what I definitely couldn’t have been without.

Hospital Notes and Birth Plan ★
Maternity Pads ★
Breast Pads ★
Old Pants/Underwear (Several) ★
A Top To Wear In Labour or just Afterwards ★
Old Vests / T-Shirts ★
Nursing Top / Nursing Bra ★
Nightie (Staying Overnight in Hospital) ★
Hair Bands and Hair Brush ★
Deodorant ★
Toothbrush and Toothpaste ★
Toiletries – Face Cream / Shampoo / Eyedrops etc ★
Lip Balm ★
Glasses Case and Cleaning Cloth ✩
Towel (Old One) ✩
Face Cloth ★
Cloth for Other Areas ★
Bag for Dirty Cloths to go into ★
Money – Spare Change for Drinks / Snacks ★
Mobile Phone Charger ★
Disposable Slippers ★
Hand Sanitiser ★
Spray Bottle for Water ✩
Face Wipes ✩
My Expert Midwife – Spritz for Bits and Nipple Balm ★
Handheld Fan ★
Bottle of Water and Bottle of Isotonic Drink ★
High Energy Snacks ★

Overall there was very little that I didn’t use out of my bag. And what I didn’t was usually down to the hospital providing the items for me, such as towels for showering etc. Sometimes you would of course prefer to use your own which is understandable. Some things such as the Spray Bottle for Water I was recommended by so many lists to take with me, to spray water on to my body while hot in labour, and to spray on sensitive and swollen areas after to cool myself down. However it was forgotten all about during my labour which progressed quite quickly.

There were a few items I couldn’t have done without. The disposable slippers for one, a godsend on a busy ward recovering from birth. Another thing was the lip balm, you won’t believe how dry your lips get in that environment. And also the isotonic drinks I had brought with me were an excellent choice, and I have my midwife to thank for their recommendation.

I will be reviewing the My Expert Midwife items in a separate blog post.

Thank you very much for reading this blog post today. I hope you have found it interesting and I have to say I cannot believe I’ve brought this post to you after baby is born. He was definitely in a hurry to meet everyone. However it’s exciting! Thanks to my friends who contributed their ideas to this post and thanks to everyone for their patience while I adjusted to life as a new mum!

Come back soon to Severn Wishes for Reviews and Lifestyle!

✩ Sabrina 

Heavily Pregnant At A Summer Wedding, Reviewing My Outfit Choices And How I Coped


Being Heavily Pregnant At A Summer Wedding,

Reviewing My Outfit Choices And How I Coped During The Day

I very recently attended a family wedding, which was really lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the evening. However being heavily pregnant there were some precautions that I needed to take for my safety, and also some decisions I had to make that some people might not have considered for themselves.

I wanted to write this blog post for two reasons, one is to review the items that I bought for my outfit and why I chose them. And reason two is because I hadn’t thought about some things until I was being a sensible adult and realised that quite a lot could be over looked. So I am sharing my experiences with you all today in this honest post.

Firstly I want to talk about my outfit. I’ve been quite lucky in regards my pregnancy, I haven’t put on a great deal of weight and I am mostly bump! However this proved tricky for me when I was shopping for maternity wear dresses…

Most places have taken into consideration people who may have gained weight all over, especially on certain areas like the bottom and boobs! However this isn’t me, and I tried on several beautiful items that sadly just made me feel like a sack of spuds! They gave me no shape or were too baggy in most areas…

So… then I decided to do a BooHoo order of two of their Maternity dresses, and there was one dress that fitted me well and I finally got some of my confidence back. Any pregnant woman will tell you, your confidence goes down after the second trimester, because everything makes you feel like your bump is massive (even if it isn’t) and I just wanted to flaunt my great figure and my bump too! But I just had to find something that made me feel like that.

Out of the two dresses I had from BooHoo the first fitted perfectly when I had my shoulders back and I stood tall, it was however a little low cut with a v-neck style. I knew how I wanted to fix this and decided to take myself off to New Look.

New Look always have what I want, I very rarely go into the store and come out empty handed. What I wanted to buy was either a crop top, vest or cami top that was pretty and high neck, and something that suited the dress too! My plan was to wear the top underneath and it look like it was just part of the dress. I wasn’t disappointed when I found the perfect top, and not only was it a great price, but I also got into my pre-pregnancy size because (as I mentioned) I haven’t put much weight on on my chest at all…

Finally I needed a pair of shoes to go with the dress and a cardigan if it were to be a cooler day. It was a good job that I bought a nice cardigan in the end because it turned out to be a rather windy day! And as for the shoes… well I got these gorgeous pregnancy friendly flat ballet shoes half price! What a successful shopping trip.

My ensemble of these items ended up looking like this… and I was very happy and comfortable (which was my main aim!) with what I chose. This is the practice dress up, I had leggings on in this image but swapped for tights on the actual wedding day. I also decided to add a white rose accessory clip in order to hold the dress snugly to the top underneath it.

✩ Clothing Reviews ✩


Name: White Maternity Polka Dot Wrap Smock Dress
Details: Available in White, Black or Terracotta. This dress sports half sleeves and an all over Polka Dot style. Total length is 92cm (36.5″). Available in Sizes 8 to 16.
Materials: 95% Viscose and 5% Elastane.
Purchased: Online at BooHoo
Price: £15.00
Link BooHoo Website

Material Quality 5✩
Overall Design 5✩
Overall Fit 4✩
Value for Money 5✩

I really liked the overall style of this dress and I would most definitely wear it again. The material might be a little thin but it’s just what you need for summer. It’s soft and comfortable to wear and the skirt section flows just enough to make you feel feminine – even with a baby bump!

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Name: Pink Sheer Lace Bow Ballet Pumps
Details: These type of shoes are available in many Colours and Styles but the Pink has Low Stock online – check your local stores. Available in Sizes 3 to 8. Sheer Design with Bow on the front. Black still available online.
Purchased: In Store at New Look
Price: £5.00 – £8.00
Link New Look Website

Material Quality 5✩
Overall Design 5✩
Overall Fit 5✩
Value for Money 5✩

I really like the pretty lace on these shoes, they aren’t just attractive though they are so comfortable to wear too. The price was excellent and I would happily wear them throughout the summer with any outfit they would go with. I already own many different colours and styles of this exact fitting shoe, I always go back to New Look when I need new versions, usually this is to match one to an outfit that I don’t already have a pair for.

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Name: Pink Jersey Longline Cardigan
Details: Available in many Colours and Styles (online currently in Pink or Pale Blue). Available in store in Sizes 6 to 18. These cardigans are soft and have two nice large pockets one on either side. They are long sleeved and lightweight, ideal for Summer.
Materials: 96% Viscose and 4% Elastane.
Purchased: In Store at New Look
Price: £12.99
Link New Look Website

Material Quality 5✩
Overall Design 5✩
Overall Fit 5✩
Value for Money 5✩

These cardigans from New Look wash and wear really well. Would you believe me if I said I owned fourteen of these now? I have collected this style for over the past ten years, and whenever New Look release a new colour I usually buy it! I wanted this lovely light pink to go with my outfit and I am always pleased with this type of cardigan.

 

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Name:
 Black Crochet Neck Ribbed Cami Top
Details: Available in the Colours or Black, White, Olive and Pink. Available in Sizes 8 to 18. A pretty top that is ideal for Summer, Crochet is in this year. Wear alone on a hot day or pair with other clothing to add a textured touch (like I did with my dress).
Materials: 95% Cotton and 5% Elastane.
Purchased: In Store at New Look
Price: £8.99
Link New Look Website

Material Quality 5✩
Overall Design 5✩
Overall Fit 5✩
Value for Money 5✩

I was impressed with this cami top. Due to my baby bump I wouldn’t be able to wear it on it’s own this summer. However underneath other clothing to fill in gaps like I have done with my dress for this particular outfit, it works perfectly. It fitted really well and was comfortable too. Being mostly cotton I expected it to be of a good quality and it certainly was, it washed well too.

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How I Coped During The Long Day

My main tips for coping during long days out are to carry a water bottle with you. In the summer it’s even more important to stay hydrated. Make sure that you take regular seated breaks to avoid any unnecessary swelling of your feet and ankles, especially if it’s a warm day. Make sure those who are attending with you know how to help you if you need it.

It’s a good idea to bring your hospital bag and notes with you in your vehicle if you’re going to be a long way from home for more than a few hours. At my stage of pregnancy I could easily have gone into labour, better to be prepared. Also look up your nearest hospital or maternity unit just in case!

I made sure that my outfit was lightweight overall and that I was comfortable from my head to my toes. Nothing was too restricting or tight. Another top tip of mine is make sure you do a test run of the outfit before the day, that way you can see if there are any issues with it that you may want to fix.


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I hope you have enjoyed reading this post today. Have a great day!

✩ Sabrina 

 

Argos Home House Shelf Review and How I Am Customising It For My Own Needs


Recently while browsing on the Argos App during a clearance sale I came across a set of shelves that I absolutely fell in love with. The triple wooden shelves were shaped like houses and hollow inside, sporting a backboard and sturdy sides. The colours weren’t to my taste but upon looking up the materials of the product I was satisfied that I could modify them to my tastes.

Reduced to clear from £44.99 to just £17.99 I got an absolute bargain! The shelves are triple white houses that you screw together to form a solid block. What I wanted to use them for was our baby nursery. The theme we had chosen was yellow and grey, gender neutral and colours that could be easily adapted over time. One of the back boards of this shelving set was grey with white stars, which was perfect! But I needed to customise the other two. Luckily as well the grey stars was the largest one, so all I needed was to alter the smaller two, and this is how I did it.

On Amazon a while ago I was searching for good quality crafting card and paper. I came across a brand called Dovecraft, and purchased several packets from them in various colours and sizes. I was lucky enough to get some beautiful Yellow and Grey ones, which were reasonably priced at the time too. I began to figure out how I was going to fix and cut these pieces to fit the triangle back boards of the shelving. Eventually I completed my designs and began working on it.

Here are some images of me working on the pieces. As you can see I used very strong double sided tape, cutting the card before hand for size. Then I made sure it was fully stuck down once I was finished by leaving the wood panel underneath some heavy books for forty eight hours before screwing to the shelf.

The finished shelving with the Argos design would usually look like this…


My finished and customised shelving however, looks like this…


✩ Sabrina’s How To & Top Tips 

My Top Tips for making craft work for you are;

✩ Be clear on your design so you know what the end result should look like.
✩ Research what you will need to get the job done including things like time frame.
✩ Shop around to get the best deals on materials and products.
Take your time and do it right first time.

✩ Review ✩

Name: DoveCraft Collections Designer Paper Pack
Details: Yellow and Grey “Baby Steps”
12″ x 12″ (30.5cm x 30.5cm)
36 Sheets – 3 Sheets of 12 Different Designs on 150gsm Card
Acid and Lignin Free
Purchased: On Amazon
RRP Price: £6.99
Link to Dovecraft on Amazon HERE

Quality 5
Designs 5
Value for Money 5✩

 

✩ Review ✩

Name: Argos Home House Shelf
Details: White Wooden House Shaped Shelving Unit with Back Boards
Purchased: Argos (In April 2018)
RRP Price: £44.99 (I Paid £17.99)
Unavailable Now (This Was A Clearance Item)

Quality 5
Designs 4
Value for Money 5✩


Over All Opinion

I have loved how my shelf has turned out, I’m very happy with it and how I made it unique to our home. I would recommend items from Argos and always read the reviews on the website. The paper from DoveCraft is excellent too, and if you’re a keen craft person then I would highly recommend their products. They do a huge range of colours and also sizes of Paper and Card, so it’s definitely worth a look if you have been inspired by what I have done.
I plan to use the remainder of the card pieces as backgrounds for photo frames and for a scrapbook that I am making for our baby’s first year.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading this post. Have a great day and thank you for visiting Severn Wishes Blog today!

✩ Sabrina 

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 ✩