Gratitude

Gratitude is a word that gets thrown around a lot. People claim that without it, life passes you by. If you aren’t truly grateful for the things you already have, you will constantly be seeking more. Be it possessions, friends, love, looks, marks, money – you will always want more. I personally never really bought into this idea. How can something as simple as an idea really change anything? But, much to my fascination, it can. It did. It continues to.

This one is for all you cynics out there that don’t believe in gratitude, mindfulness or happiness, which, it may shock you to learn, go hand in hand. It is quite rare to have one without the other.

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I took this photo on a warm afternoon with my friend, sitting on my couch. The afternoon sun was filtering in through my balcony window, and the steam from my freshly made cup of tea curled upward in the shaft of light. Without gratitude, I would not have loved that moment as much as I did – simply sitting with the love of my life, drinking my favourite drink on an afternoon with no worries. Moments like these are what make our lives worth living.

How present are you, truly? Are you skimming over this post because you’re bored? Or are you absorbing every word? What are you doing, feeling, thinking, right now? How does each individual part of your body feel? Are your thoughts controlling you?

Pause. Breathe deeply. Again. Be present. What can you see? What can you hear? What can you smell, taste touch? Presence in the moment is the first step to being grateful. Trust me, it takes time. You have to train yourself. But without being present, you can’t truly find your gratitude for the things that surround you. How could you, if you aren’t really paying attention to them?

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This is one of my favourite photos. My lovely candle burning on a bedside table I put together. Something so simple may not bring you joy if you are not adept at being grateful, but when I see this candle lit I am grateful for the beautiful smell, the way the flames flicker in the gentle breeze, how I am able to light whatever candle I want because I am able to live alone. The moment you stop treating the world like it’s out for you and treating yourself like its victim, you can find such perfect, hidden moments. 

You can feel gratitude in your body. When you think about something you are truly grateful for, be it time, family, your pets or friends, try and pinpoint that exact warm feeling in yourself, and try to replicate it as much as you can.

I like to write my gratitudes down when it becomes too hard. Taking a moment to actually put ink on paper and not pixels on a screen is one thing, and using that ink to pen what it is you’re grateful for and why is on a whole other level. You don’t need a fancy notebook for this; scrap paper will do. This journal is from Kikki K. 

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When was the last time you watched the sun set? Can you remember how the sky flares up gold and blood orange and intertwines with the oncoming night sky? Take ten minutes out of your evening and watch the sun disappear. Accept that another day has passed, and another will begin again. 

Try and create gratitude as a habit. Build it into your daily routine. There are always things to be grateful for, and you can always start small. You are grateful for the sunshine or the rain, your bed, your friend, your favourite TV show. Begin at things you are easily grateful for, and progress into things that are more difficult to feel gratitude towards.

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When you realise what an insignificant spec you are in the scheme of the country, the world, the infinite universe, the easier it becomes to see your worth and wonderfulness. 

 

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What is it that lights you up? What sets that spark alight in you? Every time you do that thing, feel the gratitude that you are able to. Do the thing more. Repeat. 

To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kindness that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude. — Albert Schweitzer

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It can help to have a gratitude centre. Here, I have a map of my favourite place in the world, Hong Kong, some fairy lights, a picture of the stars, a plant and some of my favourite books. Whenever I look at it, I can truly feel the gratitude rising up in me, which stimulates me to feel it more throughout my day. 

Remember – gratitude is a skill. You must hone it and practice it as much as you can. Maybe this seems too much like hard work, but trust me when I say, the beauty of it can change you.

 

Zoe x

This post was a bit different from my usual content, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know if you would like more in this style. Love you all.

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Gratitude

Work Makeup Routine

I get up reasonably early for work, so I have needed to streamline my makeup routine. I can’t sit around, playing with eyeshadows and deciding whether I should wear blush (note to self: ALWAYS wear blush, you want to look alive), so I’ve come up with a fast and easy routine that makes me look fresh and put together, but without being too much for a 9 hour work day in front of a computer (sometimes longer)

One of my top tips is to have it all packed the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning. I switch around the products I use a few times a week, depending on the day, what I’m wearing etc, but will always have an entire face of makeup in my makeup bag for me to use in the morning. I’m telling you – this is a LIFESAVER.

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I start with a clear primer, I’ve been using the ELF Acne fighting primer for a while now and it’s really good. Whatever you choose has to depend on your skin though, and how long you plan to wear the makeup for. My skin holds onto makeup reasonably well, so I can get away with a primer like this.

I then colour correct with NYX Colour Corrector, then use a beauty blender to buff no more than 4 half drops of NYX Total Control foundation on my face. I like to use concealer more than foundation, so I’ll then go under my eyes with something like the Smashbox BB concealer, and then around my nose and on discolourations with Essence Camouflage Concealer.

Cream products last longer, so I take the Be A Bombshell cream blush stick in Southern Belle on my cheeks, then set it all down with ELF HD Setting Powder (ELF needs to sponsor me real bad). Of course, you can always set your face with a setting spray to make it last longer, but I find for a regular day I’m okay with just powder.

To warm up my skin a bit, I use a bronzer like Hoola by Benefit, then highlight my high points with Smashbox Spotlight Highlighting Palette in Turn it On.

To define my face, I’ll run a bit of ABH Brow Wiz through my brows, then tightline my eyes with Chi Chi Eyeliner in Bronze Ambition. For long days, I’ll use a liquid eyeliner and so a small flick – my favorite for this is Kat Von D Tattoo Lockit Liner. I’ll top off with Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara.

I rarely wear lipstick to work as it just comes off, and liquid lipstick is too uncomfortable for the day to day. I’ll run a bit of lip liner around my lips (Rimmel make a great nude one) and just apply lip balm.

This takes me about 5 minutes total and I’m good to go!

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Hope you enjoyed!

Zoe x

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Work Makeup Routine

My Skincare Routine

I have recently changed up my makeup routine a fair bit, and thought I’d share it with you guys! I’ve been having a few issues in regards to not drinking enough water, changing my diet, hormones, etc, so I have tried to listen to my skin more and have built this routine up from there. For example, I loved the Simple cleansing oil, but although it worked really well, smelt great and made my skin feel smooth, I ended up with clogged pores all over my chin and had to stop using it. So, I’ve taken it back to basics, gone with products that I love and am definitely seeing a difference!

My first step is removing my makeup with the Garnier micellar cleansing water, which I obviously don’t have to do in the mornings though I sometimes do just to freshen up a bit. I squirt a bit of this onto a makeup round and soak my face in it till it’s feeling clean.

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My next step it to cleanse, which I do in the morning at the sink and at night in the shower. I use my Vanity Planet ultimate spa system brush for this, with the Simple Face Wash. I tend to opt for the silicone brush head, but occasionally use the exfoliating one or the general one when my skin is feeling sensitive. I like the silicone one as it doesn’t harbor any bacteria. I will also use the St Ives Green Tea Scrub in place of the Simple wash a couple of times a week to give my skin a proper exfoliate every now and then.

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As soon as I get out of the shower, I tone with Witchazel, which I have decanted into spray bottle to make it easier for me to use. I try to do this immediately, as the sooner you tone after cleansing the better. I’ll then use my acne treatment (clindatech), and then when that has sunk in, I’ll go in with the Simple Light Moisturiser. I used to love using the NUXE oil and I still like it, but I feel it’s a bit heavy on my skin these days, so I’ll only use it occasionally.

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If needed, I’ll do some extra things. If my skin feels particularly disgusting, I’ll use a homemade sugar scrub (see the recipe here), and follow up with a face mask or pore strip. Read about my favourite face masks here! I’ve also really been liking this Kmart branded one with charcoal, jojoba and clay in it recently. Tip: always use a makeup brush to apply a facemask – minimizes wastage, is more hygienic and goes on smoother!

If I go with a pore strip, it will usually be a Biore one.

A love of mine recently has been the Mario Badesco drying lotion, which I apply overnight to dry out spots and it really does work! Buy off beautybay though – shopping for Mario Badesco in Sephora or Mecca in Australia is very expensive.

I’m really bad at remembering, but if I do, I like to put eye cream on at night. Literally any one I have at the time will do!

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Is your skincare routine any different to mine?

Zoe x

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My Skincare Routine

Makeup For Bad Skin Days

When we have days where our skin isn’t looking the best, it can be so easy to want to load on the foundation and hide away from the world. Doing this, however, tends to worsen the breakouts and prolong their life span. Also, the last thing you want when you’ve got spots is to spend an hour looking at yourself in the mirror. So, I’ve developed a fast makeup routine for my bad skin days that makes me feel more confident but also helps my skin breathe a bit. It’s very simple, and all it does is even my face out a bit and help my confidence. I’m not trying to cover anything up, as spots are normal and if anyone thinks otherwise, they’re not living in the real world.

So, let’s get started!

After applying my usual skincare (updated skincare routine coming soon!), I use a combination of primers. One is the Elf blemish control primer to help my skin recover, but I will also use a pore filling primer to help even out the bumpiness of my skin.

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Products Used:
-Maybelline Baby Skin Pore Eraser
-Elf Blemish Control Face Primer
-Chi Chi Super CC Cream
-Smashbox HD Concealer in Fair
-Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in Light
-Maybelline Green Concealer Stick
-Tarte Amazonian Clay Pressed powder
-Benefit Hoola Bronzer
-The Balm Hot Mama Blush
-ABH Brow Pencil in Medium Brown
-Chi Chi Eyeliner in Bronze Ambition
-Two Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

Because I like to let my skin breathe, I use a CC cream, then concealer. If my breakouts are really bad I’ll use a green concealer first, but I’ll just dab a bit onto the back of my hand then press it onto the spot with my finger. I don’t go too heavy as you can see, I don’t really mind that you can still see I’ve got spots – everyone gets them. All I’m doing here is trying to make them appear a bit more calm while also helping them heal on their own.

I like to use a good quality powder on days like these that’s quite finely milled, as it sits nicer and makes all that concealer last longer. For bronzer, I will only use a matte as to not emphasise any texture, and for blush I like one with a sheen to it so I don’t have to apply highlighter for the same reason.

I’ll then fill in my eyebrows, throw some eyeliner in my tightline and load on the mascara – nothing fancy, just a basic look. I choose to have nothing on my lips except lip balm for two reasons:
a) I never really wear lipstick anyway
b) a lot of my breakouts are hormonal on my chin, so I don’t want anything near them to aggravate them. You can’t really tell in the images, but I have a split lip as well, so lipstick wouldn’t have worked even if my skin was clear!

Here you can see the before and after’s for yourself – there’s nothing fancy going on here, no heavy coverage or cake face. All I want to do when I’ve got some spots is not wear makeup and cover my face in spot cream, but I’ve got to go to work and therefore look somewhat presentable. So, unless I have a huge event on, I’ll stick to my theme of letting my skin breathe, while also eating well and drinking a lot of water.

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Don’t forget your hair can also play an important part. Although it might be scary to tie your hair up when your skin is looking bad (we tend to hide behind our hair), if it isn’t the cleanest you might want to consider doing so to not antagonize your skin! Luckily in these photos I’d washed my hair the night before, so I was fine to leave it down – but it’s definitely something to consider!

*Disclaimer: I know that my skin isn’t the worst out there! I am lucky with relatively clear skin and I work hard at eating right, drinking enough water and using a good skincare routine to keep it that way. However, I still get the odd period where my skin says ‘fuck that’ and decides to ruin it all for me, and this is how I cope with it. Not trying to say you need to cover up any imperfections or that my skin is the worst there is*

What do you do when your skin decides to be ~problematic~?

Zoe x

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Makeup For Bad Skin Days

Evening Routine

My evenings are the time I take for myself. Of course, my evenings aren’t always the same. Sometimes I come home straight from a long day at work and crash, sometimes I go to my second job as a school tutor. I hang out with friends, go to dinner, hit up Thursday night shopping or go for a walk.

For the most part, however, I like to use my time to reenergize myself for the day to come, and these are the steps I take to make that happen.

The first things I do when I walk in the door are essential for me; I turn on my salt lamp, play some music through my bluetooth speaker, and take my makeup off. If I’m not working out, I’ll immediately put on some comfy clothes too.

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I’ll then set up my clothes for the following day. I do this every night and it honestly takes the stress out of mornings for me! I grab my workout clothes and do a workout after a doing this and a bit of tidying if my flat needs it. I try and tidy for 15-20 mins a day to make sure it’s always beautiful. Tidy house = tidy mind.

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Weights, resistance bands & shorts, Kmart | Sports bra, Forever21 | yoga mat, Cotton On Body

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After I finish a workout, I’ll eat something. I tend to meal prep or food prep, so this takes me 5 minutes to whip up. I’ll also tend to make a bit extra of whatever I’m having so I can take it to work the next day for lunch. Tonight, I had a salad with chicken, rocket, sweet potato, ricotta, pine nuts, parmesan and balsamic glaze. Sometimes I’ll have a protein shake after a workout, and if I do it’s a LUXE Fitness vanilla shake.

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I’ll take my time eating my dinner to chill out, watch some TV or YouTube, and make sure I’m drinking enough water.

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I’ll then pop into the shower before doing my skincare and brushing my hair. I’ll definitely be doing an updated skincare routine sometime soon!

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After this, I’ll turn off all electronics and read something, or write in my bullet journal. A blog post all about my bullet journal is coming super soon 🙂 I’ll also tend to make a cup of calming tea. This night it was chamomile, in this gorgeous one-cup teapot from T2.

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When I’ve properly chilled out, I’ll brush my teeth and go to bed. Some nights I meditate, some nights I stay up till 1am on my phone even though I said I turned off my electronics… life is about balance, haha.

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Sweet dreams!

Zoe x

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Evening Routine

How To: Get Up Earlier

For my job, I have to commute two hours each way. And do you know what that means? My alarm is set at 5.25am. I have never been an early riser, and I have to admit, when I got the job I was worried. Now? It’s fine. I have my initial freakout when my alarm goes off but as soon as I’m up, it’s all good. So, from one girl who used to get up at 10am on a good day to another, let me help you get up earlier.

This first tip is all about the alarm. We’ve all heard the trick of putting your phone on the other side of the room – but that does not work at all for me. I tend not to use my phone just before bed (more on that later), but it charges next to my bed. So, I got told about this ad – Alarmy – and it is the only reason that getting up at five am is possible. You can customise how to turn off the alarm – doing maths problems or shaking it, but mine is set of taking a picture of a cereal box in my kitchen. So, as soon as it goes off, I roll out of bed, grab my phone and go into the kitchen to take my photo. By the time that’s done, 30 seconds later, I’m completely awake and think “now I’m here, I may as well put the kettle on”. And so, my morning starts, and it’s as easy as that.

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Another thing I do is wind down. Every night, about half an hour before bed, I put my phone on charge and face down. Then, I wind myself down. Have some chammomile tea, brush my teeth, moisturise my body, write in my bullet journal and have a read. Soon enough, I’m sleepy and relaxed, so I’ll do a meditation session and drift off into a good quality sleep (this is very important if you’re getting up early, trust me!).

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I also tend to set everything out for myself in the morning. I mean EVERYTHING. All my skincare, makeup, clothes and food (I meal prep for the week and pack my snacks the night before). In the morning, this is a lifesaver.

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A way I kickstart my day is to skull a heap of water. I try and get down a half litre before I eat anything, to get a load of my water intake out of the way, to help my metabolism and to help me stay hydrated and therefore keep my energy.

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I also love having a good breakfast to look forward too. It makes it a hell of a lot easier to get on with your morning if one of your tasks is to prepare and eat something delicious. I love avocado toast with feta and mint, with a cup of english breakfast tea.

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NB: If I don’t finish my tea, I tip what’s left into my takeaway cup and carry on.

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I hope this helped someone out there! Getting up early isn’t easy, but just remember WHY you’re doing it, and the rest seems to fall into place 🙂

Zoe x

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How To: Get Up Earlier

My Haircare Routine

My hair used to be dry as fuck – and that was before I dyed it. It got to a point that I was at a hairdressers getting a trim and she was genuinely surprised at how long it was as “it is so dry, how is it still growing?”. Talk about embarrassing, I swear the old lady next to me was giggling through her dentures.

Anyway, I decided right then and there that I was going to a) dye it. Counter-intuitive, I know. I figured though that if it was already dry and unhealthy, bleach couldn’t make it much worse and I was always scared of making my hair unhealthy by dyeing it. And hey, I was right. In fact, because I was so scared of bleaching it, it really made me reevaluate how I looked after my hair.

I was using heat on it a couple of times a week, and washing it pretty regularly. Now – I’d be lucky to wash it twice a week, and it’s healthy and getting wavier, growing healthier and all round shining. You may not think it from the photos, but to me this is a HUGE improvement and I’m loving the way my hair is looking these days.

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Let me tell you though, this is no ‘do-it-once’ type of situation. I have been trying to get my hair from fried to somewhat presentable for almost three months now, and it’s only recently I’ve started seeing an improvement. Patience is key here. So, without further rambling, let’s get into my step-by-step haircare routine.

IMG_1719.JPG1. Washing & Drying

I tend to use whatever is cheapest as my shampoo and conditioner. I know, I know, so bad for me, ruining the planet etc etc, but buying a $50 conditioner really isn’t in my budget right now. Forgive me, but I’d rather be fed. Just saying.

Anyway, I only wash my hair once a week, maybe twice if it’s getting all gross from the gym. I wash my scalp with shampoo, really massaging it in, and then use conditioner on my ends and leave it for a couple of minutes before rinsing. Then, I always follow with a mask. May seem a bit extreme, but I do wash my hair so rarely I can get away with it. I’ll use any mask, but leave it in for a solid five minutes and then rinse out with cold water.

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2. In Between Washes

I brush my hair every morning and put in some dry shampoo if I feel like I need it. I then, usually morning and night, put an oil through my hair. I have become addicted to hair oil – it’s becoming concerning. I find the best one that doesn’t leave my hair looking greasy is the Argan Oil one, but really I’ll go depending on whatever I want to smell like that day/whatever is in arm’s reach at 5.30am.

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*Batiste is good, don’t get me wrong. I like the coconut one. But I also think the Pantene and VO5 ones are just as good and A LOT cheaper. Just a tip.

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Clockwise:
NUXE Huile Prodigieuse
Kmart Coconut Oil Conditioning Spray
Body Shop Shea beautifying oil
Kmart Argan Oil Treatment oil
Argan Oil

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I also only use a tangle teaser (this is a kmart dupe) when I brush my hair, and try to only brush it when it’s dry.

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Hope you learnt something!

Zoe x

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My Haircare Routine