Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Reasons I love Halloween

Halloween is almost upon us and I for one am pretty excited. Halloween is probably my favourite seasonal celebration, as I've said a few times already, but last year we were in the process of moving house, with stress levels up to our eyeballs, and half our home packed into boxes, so didn’t really get to do a lot to celebrate.

This year I’ve already watched a variety of horror films, been to a pumpkin patch, made a pumpkin floral arrangement and even soup with my chosen pumpkins. It doesn’t stop there either, as my friends and I will be going to Prime evil on Friday and then for a spooky night out on Saturday.

As much as I know I get excited, I know also some people are really not bothered about Halloween, so today I’ll share the main reasons I love Halloween, and hopefully spread some spooky joy.

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1fGvOuG_hIvgUIY5EyUpEdnFsHLmzCVXQ

Dressing up
I quite enjoy being creative and making things, and Halloween is the perfect opportunity for that. The past few years I’ve made my costumes myself, so there’s a real build up to it which I love. This year we've gone with computer game characters, and I've chosen a character from Skyrim. It's been pretty good fun creating armour out of old yoga mats, although I have to say this is probably my least favourite costume. Purge last year was absolutely my favourite.

Horror films
Mike doesn’t really like horror films. He tries to work them out and starts to pick holes, meaning he ultimately ends up ruining them for himself. Luckily my friend Aston shares my love for horror, so we tend to go together for any new realeases, which most recently was It.

Decorating 
Another thing I love is decorating the house. As much as I also like decorating for Christmas I find it so much more fun to make the house look spooky. I even went so far last year as to change out the bulbs in our living room for red ones, which really changed the whole look of the room!

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1LGrqPJag6QXzIrFvis0lP87SbxEZv-yu

Engagement anniversary 
Mike and I got engaged two Halloween’s ago, and this year is actually our last Halloween as an engaged couple. Next year we’ll be married! I love that we can combine a time we love with a celebration that’s important to us. Plus it makes it easy to remember the date, so there’s that too! 

Food
I love food, but I especially have a sweet tooth. Halloween just gives me the opportunity to have it in the house and eat more of it, which I am totally on board with. The second toffee apples start hitting the shelves in supermarkets I fill my trolley as I absolutely love them!

Trick or treaters
I was never allowed to go trick or treating as a child. Not even once. Mum saw it as begging or scrounging to strangers for sweets, which I kind of get, but I do feel like I missed out a little bit. Especially when we'd have sweets in the house for other kids who were out trick or treating... It means that now I always go to a real effort to get loads of goodies in for the kids in my area so they can have fun and go home with a really good haul. Plus anything left over I get, so win.


Of course there’s loads more reasons that just this six, but if I carry on we’ll be here all day! Halloween is a time that my friends and I always make an extra effort to get together. It’s a time that I can spend with people I love doing something fun.

What are your favourite things about Halloween? 
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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Pumpkin and Tarragon Soup

October is the time that seemingly everyone rushes to their local shop or pumpkin patch to track down their perfect pumpkin.

In fact a couple of weekends ago my gal pals and I had a great day out together, driving out into the country to a place called Algys Farm Shop where we spent a good few hours trudging through the mud, laughing and tracking down our perfect pumpkins. Even if my friend Chloe did announce “what lovely pineapples!” when we arrived... bless her. 

Like most people we carved our chosen pumpkins in various ways. The others went down the traditional jack’o’lantern route, and I tried something new this year by turning my pumpkin into a floral centerpiece.

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1KNzsMNnRLYgi9cWQezMx5dXXP1V22bMN

One thing I’ve done every year in the past, which I didn’t want to do this year was waste the inside of the pumpkin. I’ve never had the time, or really known what to do with it so everything I’ve removed from the pumpkin has gone in the bin. This year I was determined not to be wasteful, so I’ve come up with a soup recipe for the pulp and even a use for the seeds!

First things first, you need to separate the two. I did the majority of this with my hands, putting the seeds in one bowl and the pulp in another. I set the seeds aside to focus on my soup.

I started by gently cooking chopped onion in a pan with a glug of garlic infused oil. Allowing the onion to soften but not brown. As the onion started to get soft I added half of my pumpkin pulp, bearing in mind I had collected from two reasonably sized pumpkins. 

I cooked the pumpkin and onion together for 7-10 minutes before then adding my chicken stock. I used two stock cubes rather than one in 750ml of water. Which the then let simmer on a very low heat for  about 5 minutes. 

The mixture was then transferred to my slow cooker, which was set to a low heat and I left it for the day to let the contents get completely cooked through and soft.

When I returned around 4 hours later, the mixture had broken down to a very soup like texture, without having been blended yet. I added a touch of black pepper, and three tea spoons of dried tarragon. Once that was stored in I added around 100ml of double cream, stores and left for another hour.

An hour later I gave the mixture a quick blitz with a hand held blender, and served myself up some steaming soup with some buttered toast.

There is a great level of satisfaction when tucking into a meal you’ve made from scratch, but even more so when it comprises of ingredients you’ve had to go and search for. I’d spent hours in a muddy field tracking down my favourite pumpkin, and I’m so glad it didn’t go to waste this year. 

I’m fact, I loved it so much, my friend has offered me the insides of her own pumpkins when she comes to carving them, so I can make myself more delicious soup! 

Do you use the inside of the pumpkin when you’ve done carving it? If so, what do you do with it? 
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Friday, October 18, 2019

Moi-meme Monthly | Calm & Cosy | October 2019

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1y8DZf4j_nugdJHgoN1DEgSuD3s4TfCLv


As we rolled into October, I was excited to see what Moi-meme had in store for us in this months box. The previous few monthly boxes have been excellent, and I spent the first few days of the month wondering if what we'd be getting.

When my box arrived I was overjoyed to find that the theme for the month was calm and cosy. Absolutely perfect for this time of year where we all want to hide away from the cold somewhere warm and chilled. That's exactly what this box is focused on, its the time of year to relax, and the contents will help you do just that.

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1jstBuojoJ5YWthY9xauUXPhAsW0jH10p


The first item I pulled from within the depths of my box was a pizza slice. A chocolate one no less! Every monthly box includes a sweet treat, but a chocolate pizza slice isn't something I've ever come across, so of course I was excited to tuck in.

The creators of this delicious slice, The Gourmet Chocolate Pizza Company, are based in Nottingham. As you would guess from the name, they specialize in artisan pizza and other unique items made from chocolate. The chosen slice for our box was a 70% dark chocolate, topped with marshmallows and crispy balls. It's even suitable for vegans!

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1pikubXF23YTuS8gJAwE2WtiuDUa8JnUC


Next up in my box was the beautiful blanket scarf from MSH. With the change of season, its time to break out the warm coats and toasty scarfs, and what better way to do it than with a little sparkle? This neutral grey scarf has little touches of silver woven within the fabric that are subtle but very pretty.

Being so large there are multiple ways this scarf can be worn, and you could even drape it over you as a straight up blanket is you so chose. It's beautifully soft, and something I really enjoyed was that it had picked up the scent from the last item in the box.

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=14bdsxaSvbGfFvp_k2B6rFFomhFACkw3i


My final item was the Skin and Tonic Calm Balm. Made from a blend of natural butters, oils, lavender and chamomile, this balm has a few uses. Not only is it designed to sooth dry and damaged skin, but the scent is also calming, to sooth the mind and assist with sleep.

I have to say, the scent is very relaxing, and is best used by applying to the wrists and temples to help get int a calmer mood. This balm couldn't have been better timed, because I start my new job next week and need all the help I can get to help me relax!

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1aEPyqHvJ6e13z6Ffnn2jscluQ3tWwaZc


This box really hit the nail on the head for me and encompassed all the warm cosy feels that come with this time of year. As usual each item was well thought out and fit beautifully into the theme of the box. I can't wait to see what goodies we get in the November box!

If you fancy getting trying out either the monthly or quarterly box use code EMSWORLD for £5 off your first box!
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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Floral Pumpkin Centrepiece

With the spirit of Halloween in full swing I’ve been excited to fully embrace the seasonal mood. On a trip to Urban Jungle earlier in the month I saw a class advertised to create a floral arrangement using a pumpkin as the vase. 

The class was a 2 hour session and includes a small drink and bite to eat, but at just under £50 it seemed a large amount of money to fork out, even if everything was supplied. I still loved the idea though, so I turned to looking online and found a couple of tutorials on how these stunning displays were created. 

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1b6lcWtuCzguCPHvaTe2Ler5tQacoqj2F


After watching a couple of videos and looking up inspiration on Pinterest I decided to have a crack at creating my very own pumpkin floral arrangement. So first things first, here’s what I needed;


Pumpkin 
Floral foam - pre-soaked
Cellophane
A sharp knife 
Flowers and foliage to decorate 



I ordered both the cellophane and the floral foam on Amazon and got my pumpkin on a trip to Algys Farm Shop in Bintree last weekend.  I then got the flowers in Sainsbury’s. I already had an idea in my head of what I wanted, so picked out my flowers mainly according to their colour. 

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=19Ztgz23nKa24Gbexripq3A-xuD2tcsaQ
The first step is simple; you take the top off the pumpkin and set about hollowing it out, which I found easier by hand and used a large spoon once I’d got most of the pulp out. I set the pulp to one side, as I intended to make soup with it.


https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1rcrzVmqvwRF5_MBDPaGsUaJc6EqhtFKu


Once the pumpkin is hollowed out, line in with the cellophane. This will help keep moisture from the flowers away from the inside of the pumpkin, which will help it last longer. To secure the cellophane, pop the floral foam into the pumpkin. I had to cut mine down to size. Note that I used pre-soaked floral foam, rather than dry like it had arrived.


Your vase is now ready! I started off by putting my greenery in first before then adding my flowers, leaving the roses until last. For a first attempt I’m thrilled with how this turned out!!

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Ip22pqBszPIbqvb2e0LFUjH06vrKX9PB


This looks truly beautiful in the center of my living room, and I’m glad after a lot of deliberating I went for a white pumpkin over the orange because it creates a stunning contrast, breaks up the colours, and really sets off the autumnal theme. 
With the beautiful feature in my living room I am well and truly getting into the Halloween spirit! 
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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Too Faced Natural Lust


I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve treated myself with a new eye shadow pallet. Other than Blood Sugar of course, but that was a birthday present so doesn’t count – even if it is among my favourites!
 
Too Faced are a brand who I can always rely on to deliver, their products always perform and I’m a massive fan of their beautiful and creative packaging. Consequently they are probably the brand I’ve got the largest stock of products from. For absolutely ages I’ve had my eye on the Natural love pallet (the sister to this one) but never taken the plunge to actually get it.


I find I’m always a little cautious with large pallets such as this one, because I fear I’ll fall in love with a shade, use it all and not be able to replace it without buying the whole thing all over again. Then the Natural Lust pallet came out and I had the same dilemma all over again, as now I wanted both of them.
 
Then back in August I got a bonus from work following our mid-year performance review and was like fuck it. I’ve worked bloody hard this year to progress and do well at work, so I deserve to treat myself to a little present that doesn’t involve saving, or our wedding fund or boring adult stuff. Something just for me as a little reward for myself for getting over what has been a challenging start to the year. I decided there and then to go for the latest of the two; Natural Lust, and ordered it next day delivery from Debenhams. For those based in the UK – I would recommend indulging in your Too Faced fix via Debenhams rather than Too Faced direct where you can. You don’t get stung with anywhere near as much on the postage so it works out cheaper, it gets to you faster and quite frankly Too Faced customer service if you do order directly from them and have a problem is pretty rubbish as I’ve discovered in the past.
 
Despite looking similar to its sister, Natural Lust is made up of 30 never before seen shades that lean towards a more sultry, darker mood that Natural Love which is comparatively lighter and I would almost say more subtle. So if you already have Natural Love in your collection, you don’t need to worry about needlessly duplicating colours. In fact, from seeing an image of the two side by side, I would say Natural Lust also has a slightly wider variety compared to Natural Love, hence it being the pallet I chose to purchase.
 


When the pallet arrived, I found it to be smaller than I’d thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it is bigger than the usual tin pallets, but not by as much as I thought it would be from seeing photos of it online. The shades in a pan are every bit as stunning as all the photos I’ve seen have portrayed, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and start creating some new looks.
 
I’d seen very mixed reviews when it came to this pallet, so was very keen to find out for myself if it would work as a new staple me, or be demoted to nothing more than a rather expensive photo prop…
 
The first time I used this pallet I dipped into ‘Buff it out’ as it was the lightest shade and I wanted to highlight under my brow. There was the tiniest bit of fall out in the pan, but I simply blew this away so wasn’t too fussed. Sadly this shade proved itself to be rather disappointing. I had dipped my brush with the same pressure I do with any of my other Too Faced pallets, but didn’t get any where near the pay off. In fact I could barely tell I’d applied a shadow at all. I did manage to build it up until I was happy but it took a little work.





My next shade was ‘Love Spark’ which sadly was also disappointing. A dry brush picked up a small amount of sparkle, but little more, and a damp brush didn’t make a huge difference either. I did manage to get a lot more payoff when using my finger to apply, but it still didn’t look as pigmented as I felt it should from the appearance of the pan. That being said, this shade does work quite nicely as a topper, to add some sparkle over the matte shades.
 
The second time I used the pallet I decided to use different shades, and picked out ‘silk robe’ ‘fall hard’ and ‘DM me’. These packed a lot more pigment and didn’t really require any building to get a good pop of colour. I decided to add a little sparkle so applied ‘Flirty pop’ over the top using my finger – as I usually would with a glitter type shadow. Again, this had good pigment although there was some fallout around the eye area.
 
I’ve since used a few more shades, and find the darker ones to be much better than most of the lighter shades which come out rather sheer. Although I did find ‘Peacocking’ to be difficult to work with. I found it to be rather patchy, and quite sheer and underwhelming compared to how it looks in the pan, although I appreciate this type of shade is normally a challenge to get right it didn’t make me feel less disappointed.
 



Overall there are some really lovely colours in this pallet that are pigmented, easy to work with and can be used to create some stunning looks. However, there was also a few that simply did not deliver to the standard I have come to expect from Too Faced. The formula used in the tin style pallets such as Sweet Peach or Chocolate Bar is by far better, and frankly a typical tin palette is cheaper than this was.

As much as I wouldn’t call this an outright waste of money, I do wish I’d splurged on a different treat for myself, as I won’t be getting anywhere near as much use out of this product as I’d thought and hoped. For those thinking of trying this for themselves, I would recommend trying to find it in a store to try out before you spend the money first. I’ll continue to try out different methods and techniques to get this product to work for me, but sadly its not one I’ll be looking to purchase again.
 
Did you try the new Natural Lust pallet? If so what did you think?



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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The nightmare continues │ Graveyard City

A little while ago you might have seen my post sharing my review of the NightmaresTruth, which I absolutely loved, and have now read a couple of times. During my review I gave a little bit of background as to why I was writing a book review in the first place, as book reviews are not within the usual scope of this blog – not at the moment anyway. If you missed it, the summary is that the book was written by an old friend and work colleague of mine, Luke Dalton. I’d known back when we were working together that he was slowly bringing his world to life in the form of his first book; The Nightmares Truth.

 https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1e2TNUrYdk1cugnbA8lIa6iFmYblOeJNQ

Now, at the time he gave very little away, but what he did divulge left me excited to see what was in store, so the moment The Nightmares Truth was released on Amazon I of course brought myself a copy. Whilst Graveyard City isn’t the sequel to Nightmares Truth as such, it does follow chronologically from the end of the book and it is set in the same universe.

Graveyard City is a short, bite sized story of the aftermath of the end of Nightmares Truth. From what I can tell it picks up fairly soon, probably a matter of weeks, after the end of the previous book, and follows a small group of newly introduced, interesting characters in their fight for survival in their changed world. Being a shorter story at only 76 pages long, I would say this book was much faster paced, but there was no loss of the deep, descriptive writing style I loved in the previous book. The character development was as wonderful as Nightmares Truth, and the combat scenes lengthy and detailed. The descriptive nature of Luke’s writing makes it easy to see the scenes play out in your mind’s eye.

Whilst comparatively short, this book still contains multiple twists and turns, some of which I didn’t see or predict at all – which is what I love. After all, no one wants a story where they can predict everything that’s about to happen do they?  

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1dsREkkrYaq1CUeCx1822iXF6QGPs5vg_


You do get to meet some of the much loved characters from the Nightmares Truth, and others are referenced at various points in Graveyard City. However, whilst it would provide some good context to who some of these people are and the stories behind them, I wouldn’t say its crucial to have already read Nightmares Truth prior to reading Graveyard City. I found it was nice to have the background already, especially as I’d already formed attachments with a few characters, but they are introduced as if totally new.

The story kept me gripped, and at many points at the edge of my seat, especially towards the end as the story builds pace. I did not want to put this book down, in fact I didn’t. I got through the whole thing start to finish in a single sitting, which is quite unheard of for me as I tend to dip in and out of regular reading.

I truly enjoyed reading Graveyard City, and found it a lovely way to get my fix, pending the release of the sequel to Nightmares Truth – which I have been assured will be in 2020! I would highly recommend this for those who want a taste of the main story, without committing to a lengthy book.

Now comes the impatient wait for the sequel!
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Thursday, October 3, 2019

October Goals 2019

September was a hard month for many reasons, but like with my look back, I don't want to focus on negativity, I want to look at the positives. I didn't do anywhere near as well as I'd have liked with my September goals, but you know what? That's okay. We all have times where things don't go as we'd like, we can't undo whats been, but we can have an impact on what will be.

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1bOVDeJQ8mzlA5TFFJ2-G3XBZEuHIJpfX

I did managed to get some of my goals done, so lets look at those first;

Photographer. My main goal for September was to sort the photographer for our wedding next year, and I did! This was a big thing on our wedding 'to do' list so I'm glad to get it ticked off. Everything seems to now be falling into place.

More walks. I always start with good intentions to get outside in the fresh air, but it normally ends up on the back burner. In September I did manage it a little though. My longest and most enjoyable walk being when we went woodland camping.

Wedding Dress. No progress here sadly...

Candles. This was supposed to be an easy one, but I didn't buy a single one.

Get on the bike. I had one or two trips out on the bike, but I've struggled to find the time for it. Sadly when I have had the time, the weather hasn't been in my favor. I have no intention to ride a motorbike in the rain or the cold, so its likely that I wont get a lot of miles under my belt until the Spring.

Start saving for Christmas. Our friends aren't doing Christmas presents this year as we all need to save money, but I still want to  make sure Mike has something to open on Christmas Day. I've managed to move a little money into my saving account and over the next few pay days I'll add a little more.

Halloween Costume. I've still got some bits to get, but the bulk of this is put together. I just need a few more materials, and an afternoon of crafting and it'll be finished.

Halloween themed activities. I haven't booked anything, but the girls and I have found some things we'd like to do, so I guess I get half points on this one!? Luckily, my friends are also massive Halloween fans so we've all come up with various ideas of little outings we can go on together.

So, its a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to what I did and didn't manage to get done. It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either. I'm glad to have got the photographer booked, as that was something that had rolled on from the prior month.

I want a positive month, so its with that mentality that I've based my upcoming goals;

Candles. It was my goal last month, and if I'm totally honest it was always going to be a goal this month too... because I love candles, especially seasonal ones. Which is kind of strange because I used to be really picky about what scents I had, so didn't like getting anything that wasn't suited to being used all year round. Over the past few years however I started to really appreciate changing the scents to suit the time of year and my mood, so now I really can't get enough of them!

Photos. I've run dry on photos again. This time round I want a few creative days to really get a good stock of them. Getting enough to last a few days is great and all, but if I could get a few weeks worth I'd be really pleased.

Work clothes. My work wardrobe has pretty much run down to an outfit for each day of the working week, and not much more. I've also started to move into the territory where its questionable as to if I'm even wearing office attire. For example, I'll have a smart enough skirt, but I'll pair it with a simple tee that I wear out of the office too. I want a fresh start, and I want to take on board the quote 'dress for the day you want' (or however it goes). Either way, I want to grab a few more work bits.

Wedding dress. This one is pretty self explanatory... I need to get one!

A positive list. I've been down, so I want to put together a list of what makes me happy. Both things in my life, and things I can do to make me feel more myself again. The inspiration kind of comes from the Self-love tag I did a little while ago, which I found really enjoyable to do.

Make time to just chill. I know it sounds pretty straight forward, but I'm on the go all the time, and my mind goes at a million miles a minute. I don't feel, especially of late that I've made a lot of time for me. I guess this is kind of on the same train of thought as the list I just mentioned, but I need to actually do the actions once I have a list together.

Halloween! My goal last month was to think up some activities. Now that we're in October I need to get out and do them! I'd love to go and hunt for my perfect pumpkin out on the fresh air, and of course, come home, carve it and maybe even learn how to make soup with the rest of the pumpkin? That's just one of many ideas floating around inside my brain that I want to get out and do!
 
Read some horrors. I love reading, and have recently started to make time for it again. Now that Spooky month is upon us, I feel it's only right that my chosen genre be horror.


My number of goals this month is small, but I want them to be achievable. I want to get out of this negativity and get back to myself again. From there I'll be able to think about more, or more complex goals but for now, the main aim for October is to enjoy it. It's my favorite month of the year, and I think doing things that make me happy, is by far the best goal I could ever set myself.

Do you have any goals for the coming month?
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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

September Look Back 2019

There’s no two ways about it; September was a massive roller coaster for me. Full of ups and downs, and quite frankly I’m glad to get off.

It’s not been a month full of negativity, there’s absolutely been great times, but September has probably been the hardest month of my year so far. My anxiety has been at an all time high, and I feel that my mental well-being has taken a massive step back. I don’t want my look back to negative or gloomy, plus I haven’t quite got my own head in order enough to articulate everything. So I’ll be leaving the bad times for now and focus on the positives from September. 

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1KkHmJSV99W74jopJpFeKJEvDDJqIV1qI

Toward the beginning of September my friends and I went on a camping trip together. We wanted ‘proper’ camping, so rather than going to an actual camp site we went into a woodland owned by a friend of a friend. It meant we could dig a fire pit and have the whole woodland to ourselves. I love being outside, and there’s something very therapeutic about sitting in a beautiful woodland in the dark with a roaring fire in front f you.

We cooked on the open fire, drank hot chocolate, and of course had smores. All while chatting away and being perfectly content in each others company listening to the various sounds of the woodland around us. I'm hoping we still have a couple of warm (or at least dry) weekends left so we can go again before winter sets in.

I got to go see various films throughout the month, which having not been to the cinema for a long time was a nice change. Our entire group went to see Rambo, and then later in the month a couple of us went to see the now 'It' film. I enjoyed thoroughly enjoyed both and it was nice to get out of the house doing something a little different.

My brother had some good news to share too. He and his girlfriend will be moving in together in a few weeks time, which was exciting to hear! He really deserves happiness and I'm so glad that he's found it.

At the end of September I got some really positive news, which should come to fruition in October. I won't say much more on the subject as I really don't want to jinx it, but hopefully it'll be something I can share and talk about in my next look back.

This month put a lot of things in perspective for me, but one thing that really stuck out is how lucky I've been when it comes to my friends and my loved ones. At the point in my month when things were at the hardest, they all really pulled through for me. My gal pals secretly arranged a girls night as a surprise, where we just watched films together, ate snacks, drank wine and chatted the night away. As someone who hasn't typically had a group of supportive female friends I was really grateful for them in that moment, and still am.

This month has been hard, but its the hard times that show you who your true friends are, and I'm so grateful to have such a fantastic group to rely on when I need. The negativity of September is behind me and I'm looking forward to a much happier, more positive October. 
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