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Top Ten Posts of 2014

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Hello everyone!

To welcome in 2015, I thought I would post a roundup of the most popular Bewitchery posts of 2014.  Despite the fact that I was less active on my blog, 2014 was another successful blogging year, so I’d like to thank all of my readers for their continued support.  The following ten posts were my most read of the year that were actually published in 2014, and I’m pleased to see a couple of my personal favourite posts in there!

10. Collective Haul: Thrifted, H&M, La Senza, Primark

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One of several haul/thrifty posts of 2014, this one features a lot of clothes that I bought for work, as well as a few carboot bargains.

9. CheckoutSmart App

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CheckoutSmart is still one of my most used apps, and to date I’ve got £67.63 back from it, which isn’t bad for a free app!  Definitely worth downloading.

8. Urban Outfitters Leicester Press Preview

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I had a great time checking out the new Urban Outfitters store in Leicester back in September, and I got some awesome photos.  See them at the link above.

7. Degustabox April 2014

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This was my second Degustabox and was definitely one of the best.  Visit the post for my recipe for Chocolate Ginger Tiffin!

6. Primark PS Love Lip Gloss

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Primark’s PS Love lip glosses are surprisingly good quality for only £1.50.  Perfect for Spring/Summer.

5. What I Wore: Rat Face

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Because who doesn’t love a slightly naff, oversized, animal face t-shirt?

4. What I Wore: Victorianesque

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I am so glad this What I Wore post reached the Top 10 as it is probably my favourite outfit post of 2014.  Check it out if you want to see more pics and find out where everything’s from!

3. Collection Gothic Glam Lipstick in ‘Revenge’

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Collection’s Gothic Glam Lipstick in ‘Revenge’ is a classic deep red, and an absolute steal at £2.99.

2. 2True 3 in 1 Concealer

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I use this concealer on a daily basis and I still swear by it.  Fantastic at only £1.99.

1. Swap & Save with Aldi – Lacura Skincare

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In January 2014, Aldi challenged me to Swap & Save my usual lotions and potions for their Lacura skincare products.  Find out my thoughts by visiting the link above.

Naomi x

Moving House

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This weekend is a big weekend for Charles and I, as we are moving into our first home together!  As soon as we both started our new jobs, we started looking for a house to rent, and luckily we found the ideal one really quickly.  It’s a gorgeous three bedroom terrace, with a lovely little yard, and it’s nice and bright inside which I love.  It also has a brand spanking new kitchen which I’m incredibly pleased about.

The only downside of moving house is the packing.  As I’m sure you all know, it is VERY time consuming, hence my lack of posting over the last couple of weeks.  I’ve already moved so much stuff out of my room, but it looks worse than it did before… What’s that all about?!

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One thing that has made packing easier, though, is the help I’ve been given from Eco Movers!  They kindly donated one of their packing materials kits for me to use during the move, containing eight medium boxes, ten large boxes, a roll of tape, and one hundred sheets of white packing paper.  They also included a sheet of moving tips, which has also been useful!  The boxes are a good size, and I’ve mostly been using them for shoes, bags and ornaments so far.  They can also be used over and over again if you open them carefully, which saves a lot of money in the long run.

We got a lot done today, and we’re hoping to have everything in the house and organised by next weekend. Exciting times! Check back soon for more house related updates.

Naomi x

*This packing materials kit was sent to me by Eco Movers for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*

#bodyUNashamed

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Turn on the TV, scroll through social media, or open any magazine or newspaper on any given day, and you’re almost guaranteed to find a negative statement about how someone looks.  Bodies and appearances are being shamed left, right and centre, and quite frankly I’m sick of it.  Too fat, too thin, too hairy, not enough hair, too much make up, not enough make up, bad fashion sense etc etc.  Basically, the media tries to sell us a completely unattainable and contradictory standard of “perfection”, and trying to achieve this impossible look just leads to unhappiness and low self-esteem.  So, when Penny of Lillies and Love launched her #bodyUNashamed project, I knew I had to take part.

Penny’s project is simple, and aims to promote positivity and body confidence in all of us, whilst trying to put an end to body shaming and bullying, and it starts with bloggers like myself.  Everyone taking part has been paired with another blogger, and must highlight three things about that person that are great, before highlighting three things about themselves that they love.  I’ve been paired with Jan Ennis of StayHappyBeaut, and as soon as I saw her Twitter feed I knew it would be easy to find three great things about her.

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1.  Jan’s bio states that she is “obsessed with the value of a positive mindset”, and encourages us all to “stay happy stay beautiful”.  Such infectious positivity is a really wonderful thing to have, and is perfect for this project as it promotes happiness and confidence, which can be difficult to achieve when we’re constantly being bombarded with negativity.  Well done Jan for being such a positive person, and for advocating positivity in the rest of us!

2.  Jan also has really pretty eyes!  They look so striking and kind in her Twitter profile picture, and her eye make up also looks fab.

3.  Her hair is gorgeous.  The colour, the length, the style, the way it falls – it just suits her so much, and she knows how to dress to make the most of it.  I wish I could get mine to look so nice!

A few years ago, I would have struggled to find three things about myself that I love, but over the past few years, particularly since starting this blog, my self-confidence has grown, and I’m now really content with myself.  So here are my three things…

1.  I really like my eyes.  They’re bright blue and a nice shape, and people always tell me they’re very expressive.  They’re definitely my favourite thing about my face.

2.  I’ve always been the “tall one” – at school I was taller than my friends and I’m one of the tallest people in my family, and it bothered me for years.  I always felt like I looked the odd one out and hated all the “wow you’re tall!” comments I’d get, but recently I’ve been embracing my height.  So what if I’m 5’10″?  If I want to wear heels, I’ll wear heels!  Admittedly I still have issues finding trousers and jeans to fit my 36″ inside leg, but at least I have the advantage of being able to see over everyone’s heads at the cinema/concerts/crowds!

3.  I’m also quite proud of my current level of fitness.  A few years ago I was slightly overweight, which in itself wasn’t a problem, but it was affecting my health.  I have mild asthma, but it was made a lot worse by my excess weight, and I got out of breath very quickly.  I worked hard to improve my diet and lifestyle, and have since lost weight, which has led to me becoming a lot healthier.  My asthma is now pretty much non-existent, and I can do so much more than I used to be able to.

If you want to join in with Penny’s #bodyUNashamed project, then please do!  Compliment people whenever you can.  Smile at people in the street.  Call people out for body shaming others.  Make a stand to the media for doing the same.  And most importantly, be proud of who you are!  Everyone is unique and that’s what makes us beautiful, so recognise your positive attributes and show them to the world!

Naomi x

Jobs and Jaunts

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Hi everyone,

I thought it was about time I wrote a little post about why I haven’t been blogging as regularly lately.  As you may or may not know, in January I graduated from university with a Master’s degree, and since then I have spent MONTHS applying for jobs and attending interviews, whilst at the same time also working at my old job.  As I’m sure you can imagine, that took up quite a lot of my time, leaving very little room for planning and writing blog posts.  However, yesterday, after my eleventh interview of the year, I was finally offered a full-time job that I think I’m going to love.  The job will start in September and involves working with and supporting university students, and I’m really looking forward to it.  Now that that area of my life is getting some structure again, I hope that means I will be able to add regular blogging back into my routine, so expect to see more from me in the not too distant future!  I already have quite a few posts planned, featuring lots of fashion and food, so check back soon for those.

I’ve also just got back from a little trip away with my fiancé.  We can’t really afford big foreign holidays at the minute, but we both love nature and walking and suchlike, so we decided to go to Malvern for a while so we could go walking in the hills.  We both had a brilliant time and spent hours and hours hiking, which was incredibly tiring but also relaxing!  Whilst we were there we stayed in a gorgeous little private house called Uplands, which was cheaper than a B&B or hotel, but a thousand times nicer.  We’ll definitely be going back, and I highly recommend it to any couples who like their own space when they’re away!

Here are just a few photos from our trip…

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Naomi x

 

Eclectic Eccentricity Giveaway WINNER

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Hello everyone!

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for not announcing the winner of my Eclectic Eccentricity giveaway sooner.  The giveaway closed last Friday, but I’ve had such a hectic week it just slipped my mind!  However, the time has finally come for me to announce the lucky winner of a You’re On My Wavelength Einstein Necklace, so without further ado, the winner is entry number 25, which belongs to…

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Chrissie Lea

Congratulations Chrissie!  Please email your postal address to bewitcheryblog@gmail.com, and I will post your prize out to you as soon as possible.

As usual, thank you so much to everyone who entered, and thank you to Eclectic Eccentricity for providing the prize.

Check back soon for another giveaway!

Naomi x

The Furry Friend Tag

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It’s been quite a while since I last posted a tag post, but when I saw Claire had shared this Furry Friend Tag on her blog, I just had to do it.  After all, I never pass up the chance to talk about my beloved ratties!  Plus it means I get to add a few recent photos that I’ve been meaning to share with you all.

So, without further ado, here are my two female rats, who are now over one year old, and have lived with me for eleven months!

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1. What are your pets’ names?

My two rats are called Miggley and Mog.

2. When did you get Miggley and Mog?

I got Miggley and Mog on 27th April 2013, when they were just seven weeks old.

3. What is something that Miggley and Mog do that annoys you?

I’ve had quite a few rats in my time and out of all of them, Miggley and Mog are definitely the most adventurous.  Especially Miggley, who likes to escape onto the floor and hide under my bed!  Her antics used to annoy me a little bit, but they don’t any more.  I just think it’s cute… rats will be rats!  But what does annoy me is when she fights with Mog.  Rats love to play fight, but Miggley can get quite rough and aggressive and sometimes hurts her sister, so I have to separate them for a while :(

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4. What type of breeds are Miggley and Mog?

Miggley is a brown and white hooded rat, and Mog is a black silvered Berkshire, but she has rusted a bit over time so she now looks brown.  Both have top ears, black eyes and standard coats.

5. Has Miggley or Mog ever had a near death experience?

No, I don’t think so – and I hope it stays that way!

6. Do Miggley and Mog know any tricks?

Both of them will chase paper and string, and they also know how to run an assault course around the living room.  They even jump across the gap between the armchair and the sofa.

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7. Do Miggley and Mog like to snuggle?

Miggley prefers to run around on the bed or the floor and get up to mischief, whilst Mog will happily sit inside my sleeve or cardigan.  Both of them like to snuggle at night though, and they both sleep inside my dressing gown for a few hours before I go to bed.

8. Where did you get Miggley and Mog?

I wanted to buy from a reputable breeder but I couldn’t find one nearby, so I settled for a local independent pet shop instead.  Luckily they are both healthy and have nice temperaments, but in the future I’ll definitely look again for a breeder.  I hope to breed rats myself one day too.

9. Do Miggley and Mog get along with other rats?

Well they get along with each other, and they were housed with two other rats when I bought them, so yes.  Once I have my own house I hope to get them a couple of friends.

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10. Do Miggley and Mog get along with strangers? 

Yes!  They both love it when my family visit or there are new people in the house.  They like to show off and perform their tricks, and will always accept fuss and treats from strangers.

11. How much do Miggley and Mog weigh?

I weighed them a few days ago and Miggley weighs 345g, and Mog weighs 330g.  Mog used to weigh more than Miggley but she’s overtaken her now.  They’re both a healthy weight though.

12. Do you ever dress Miggley and Mog up?

No, never.

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13. Have Miggley and Mog ever tried to run away?

Whenever they’re on my bed they’re constantly trying to get onto the floor, especially Miggley, but I don’t think they’d ever genuinely run away.  They don’t even escape when I leave their cage door open.

14. How did you come up with their names?

My dad used to tell me made up bedtime stories when I was a child about a frog called Miggley Mog.  I have fond memories of those stories and wanted to carry on the name!

15. How much do Miggley and Mog mean to you on a scale of 1-10?

10!  Without a doubt.

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Feel free to carry on the tag if you wish!  Please let me know if you do as I’d love to read about your lovely pets.

Naomi x

The Blogging Process: Stationery

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For me, blogging is so much more than just sitting down with my laptop and reeling something off in a few minutes.  It involves planning, making notes when the moment strikes, drafting, taking and editing photos, organising my time, and of course, writing and publishing the final post!  Over time I’ve noticed that I’ve hoarded quite a lot of stationery to aid these stages, so I thought I’d share with you my stationery essentials for the process of blogging.

Notebooks and Pens

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As a writer, and an Academic Support Worker, I always carry notebooks and copious amounts of pens with me at all times, as I need them for my work. But I have special notebooks that are dedicated to just blogging. I carry a little one with me in my handbag so I can make notes when I’m inspired whilst out and about, and I use a bigger one at home to roughly draft post ideas, make lists of upcoming posts, and doodle nail art designs etc.

Sticky Notes

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I use sticky notes a lot when I need to remind myself of something, such as sending invoices or replying to PR emails. My notebooks and bedside table are covered in them!

Highlighters

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I love to have a highlighter or two handy so I can highlight important points in press releases. It just makes getting all the relevant information into a post that little bit easier!

USB Stick

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After 3 years my laptop is well and truly on its way out, so just to be safe I like to back up my blog posts and photos on a USB stick. That way they’re portable too, so I can organise posts on someone else’s computer or laptop if needs be.

Paper Clips and Rubber Bands

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Not an essential, but I like to be organised, so I use these to keep press releases neatly together!

After all this planning and prepping, I like to settle down on the sofa with my laptop and a cheeky chocolate treat, and type away whilst I have something good on TV in the background.

What are your stationery must haves for blogging?

Naomi x

*This stationery was sent to me on behalf of Viking Direct for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*

Best Of 2013

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With only a few hours left of 2013, I thought I’d put together a reflective post of my ‘Best Ofs’ from the last twelve months, both blog-related and things that I’ve generally enjoyed this year.  2013 has been fairly eventful for me, what with getting starting to keep rats again after a five-year hiatus, finishing university, working more regular hours, and moving my blog to its own domain, thus growing its success.  Luckily I’ve also had a lot of time for leisure, and managed to fit in some exciting trips and weekends away.  So without further ado, here is my Best Of 2013.

TV Show: Breaking Bad

Now, I’m only three seasons in to Breaking Bad, so I haven’t yet seen the final one which aired this year, but Breaking Bad is easily my favourite TV show of 2013.  I’m not usually one for following series (I’m more of a documentaries kinda girl), but I started watching Breaking Bad a month or two ago, and nothing on television has ever got me as hooked as this has.  I genuinely have no idea what I’ll do without it.

Film: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Out of all the films I’ve seen at the cinema this year, ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’ stands out as the best.  There’s nothing like a good British film, and it had me laughing all the way through.  Admittedly, Alan Partridge as a character is an acquired taste, but I’ve always been a fan and I think the film did him justice (others I know would disagree, however).

Theatre: War Horse & Sweeney Todd

I was lucky enough to go to the theatre several times this year and I found it hard to pick a winner, so there are two.  After years of wanting to see it, I saw the stage version of ‘War Horse’ at the Birmingham Hippodrome, and it was more beautiful than I had imagined.  The puppetry was incredible and I shed many a tear.  I would love to see it again, perhaps in London next time.

War HorseSource: Birmingham Hippodrome

I also went to see the Curve Community Production of ‘Sweeney Todd’ in August, at the Curve in Leicester.  I’m not usually a fan of musicals, but I love the story of Sweeney Todd, and the quality of both the acting and the set were so high that I was instantly transfixed.  My fiancé’s sister was in it too!

Book: Stonemouth by Iain Banks

‘Stonemouth’ by Iain Banks was actually published in 2012, but I didn’t get round to reading it until this year.  I’ve been fond of Iain Banks’ writing ever since reading ‘The Wasp Factory’ when I was a teenager, and ‘Stonemouth’ is a classic Banks story.  The characters are well developed and I couldn’t put the book down, which is always a good sign!  I won’t say too much about it as to avoid spoilers, but I’d definitely recommend it to those who like fiction set in the real world.  Unfortunately, Iain Banks passed away earlier this year after a short battle with cancer (RIP), and I for one am really sad that he is no longer here to write any more brilliant books, but at least he can live on in his existing literary legacy.

Gig: Sleepwalk City by 65daysofstatic, Sheffield

I tend to go to quite a few gigs every year, and 2013 was no different, but the best gig of the year wasn’t a straightforward one.  It was actually a live sound and visual installation called ‘Sleepwalk City’, in an art gallery in Sheffield, performed by my favourite instrumental post-rock band 65daysofstatic.  In short, the idea was to become immersed in sound, and the 30 minute performance for a select number of people was one of the most interesting and overwhelming musical experiences that I’ve ever had.

Celebrity: Aaron Paul

Aaron Paul, aka Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, is my absolute favourite celebrity of 2013, for many, many reasons.  As BuzzFeed quite rightly said, Aaron Paul Was The King of 2013, Bitch, so visit the article to find out why!

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Eatery: Spanky Van Dyke’s & Cornucopia

Spanky Van Dyke’s is a bar on Nottingham which sells some of the best burgers I have ever tasted.  Their homemade fries and desserts are amazing too!  I’ve been there countless times this year (usually before heading to a gig), and I always enjoy it.  My menu recommendation is the Shroomaloomi burger, which is stuffed full of flat mushrooms and grilled halloumi, mmmm.

Another of my best eateries of 2013 has to be Cornucopia in Dublin.  I can honestly say it is hands down the best vegetarian/vegan restaurant I have ever been to.  It’s a little on the pricey side, but the atmosphere is relaxed, the food is all homemade and they experiment (and succeed) with unusual ingredients, so it’s well worth the money.

City: Dublin

In September my fiancé and I went to Dublin in Ireland for a short holiday, and we had an absolutely lovely time.  The city itself has so much to offer – so much to see and do, and I’d love to go back to see and do what we missed the first time!  Whilst there we did the touristy thing and went to Dublin Zoo, Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse and Croke Park, but we also spent a lot of time relaxing in the local parks (and pubs!)

Achievement: Becoming a Master of the Arts

After two years of studying hard and writing essays, and a summer spent writing my 20,000 word dissertation, I finally finished my Masters degree in Modern Literature in September.  I passed, with Merit, and I am so, so happy and proud.  Bring on graduation in January 2014!

Blog Post: Interview Review: Superdrug Colour Rewind Hair Colour Remover

After looking at my blog stats for this year, my most popular blog post, with the most views, is the Interview Review I did with my sister about Superdrug’s Colour Rewind Hair Colour Remover.

Giveaway: JollyChic $100 Fashion Giveaway

I’ve ran a few giveaways in partnership with several companies throughout the year, but the one with the most entries has been the JollyChic Giveaway to win $100 to spend on fashion.  The giveaway is actually still open, and is running until January 12th, so if you want to enter click here!

PR Product: Helvin DUO Boots

I received a lot of gorgeous PR products and samples this year, and I found it difficult to choose a favourite, but in the end these Helvin DUO Boots triumphed.  They’re top quality and look fantastic on – you can read my full review here.

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Fashion Item: Primark Winter Coat

The best fashion item I have purchased in 2013 has to be my winter coat from Primark.  As my review says… ‘Every year I end up trailing around shops for hours, trying on coats that just don’t look or feel right, before eventually settling for something that I don’t particularly like.  This year, however, was different.  I walked into Primark, picked up the first coat that caught my eye, tried it on and, much to my surprise, I loved it!  And, to make things even better, it only cost £25 – a third of what last year’s coat cost me.’

Beauty Product: INIKA Certified Organic Liquid Foundation

I struggle to find foundations to suit my skin tone, let alone ones that are natural, vegan and cruelty free, so when I discovered INIKA’s Certified Organic Liquid Foundation I was very happy, as it fulfils all of the above criteria!  You can see my swatches and read my review here.

Skin Care Product: Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Hand Cream

My favourite skin care product of the year is one I haven’t got round to reviewing yet – Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Hand Cream.  Every winter my hands get so dry that they actually crack and bleed, but this year I found the cure.  At £9 for a 75ml tube it’s not the cheapest, but it actually works and that’s what matters!  I’ll be reviewing it next month so keep an eye out if you’re interested in hearing more.

What are your 2013 ‘Best Ofs’?  I hope you all have a happy new year!

Naomi x

Dissertation = DONE

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You may have noticed that my blog hasn’t been as busy as usual over the last few weeks and months. That’s because I have been locked away in a room since June with a pile of books and my laptop, researching, writing and editing my postgraduate dissertation. I have been studying for a Master’s degree in Modern Literature since October 2011, and tomorrow I will be handing in a 20,000 word dissertation which signals the end of my time at university! Obviously I’m relieved that the dissertation is done and dusted, but I’m also sad that, after nineteen years in education, it has now come to an end. Having said that, I’m really looking forward to graduating and being able to think about the future. I’m hoping to find a graduate job as soon as possible so I can start saving up for a house, and of course I’m going to be dedicating a lot more time and effort to blogging, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of me!

But before all that, I need a little break, so on Tuesday my partner and I will be heading to Dublin for a few days. Seeing as I spent pretty much all summer cooped up inside, I can’t wait to get out and about doing stuff. We have quite a few things we want to do and see whilst we there, and I’ll be taking my camera, so expect to see a LOT of photos upon my return!

Have a great week everyone,

Naomi x

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