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I had pretty much the perfect weekend last weekend. My family came to visit and we had ourselves a little Canberra adventure! 

We started our weekend at my usual Saturday morning spot, the Farmer's Markets. While I gathered my weekly stash of veggies my sister picked us up some pastries, such a yummy treat! If you are a local (or find yourself visiting) I recommend you give them a try, just delish!

Our next stop was Floriade. Floriade has to be one of my favourite Canberra events, it is just beautiful and I have to confess that I have been a very bad Canberran and haven't gone for the last two years. But I am so glad I was not only able to visit, but show my family around too. My niece and nephew were just mesmerised (my nephew is a little too fast to be caught on camera it appears...) and the weather was incredible, well done Canberra!

I also promised my brother-in-law a good burger so we headed off to Brodburger for lunch, one of my favourite spots to grab a great burger, my favourite is the beef and brie but my sister tells me the chicken is great so I think I need to go back soon to check it out... 

As much fun as all the adventures were, the highlight for me was spending some quality time with my family. I am so grateful to have such wonderful, supportive people in my life, I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have that.

In other news I am now on school holidays! I am so excited to have some time to myself to relax and catch up on some me time. I'm heading to Melbourne for some time with friends and just generally do tourist things. I will update you on those adventures shortly.

How was your weekend? Do you have any must-see Melbourne destinations for me?

Zoe xx
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I've had a few really interesting chats to people over the past few weeks about jobs and careers and long term plans. Needless to say they have really gotten me thinking. As some of you may already know, I have been a high school teacher for the past four years. I went straight from school to uni and then straight back to school again. All very sensible and low-risk...

It is fairly expected that people have more than one career in a lifetime, I read that in Australia our average is around the four mark, and people are working in jobs that didn't even exist a few years ago. In my staffroom this afternoon, the question "Are you a lifer?" (someone who is going to spend the rest of their life teaching) was asked, and I could not have honestly answered yes. I don't think I will be in a classroom for the next forty years. It is a great job and I love it, but I don't think it would be fair to me or my students for it to be the only thing that I do. Being a teacher is something that takes a significant amount of time, energy, commitment, and while I have these things now and am willing to put in everything I need to, I get tired sometimes and look forward to a break. And I think that's ok.

There seem to be so many pictures on various social media sites encouraging people to find their passion and dream and follow it and leave all sense and reason behind... While I agree with the sentiment, my sensible self can't seem to believe that it's so easy to put into practice. Just a little warning, I am now going to discuss the very taboo topic of money, if this offends you in any way avert your eyes... But income is something that has crossed my mind when thinking about a career change. I like my stable, reliable income and I have a mortgage, I think it's important to think about what taking a pay cut will mean for me financially. At the same time, I also think that maybe this is the most sensible time to do something else and see how it all goes, I don't have any dependents and I really only have myself to look after.

So what would I do..? I've been trying to think about the things that I enjoy and the things that are important to me. I really enjoy working with people, particularly women, I'm just a girly girl at heart! During my time as a teacher I have had the opportunity to run a self esteem and body image workshop for young girls and I really enjoyed that. Also, if you are a regular reader of my blog (or know me in the real world!) you will know that I have quite a lot of love for beauty products. I am thinking there might be something in that... I really don't know where all this is going, I have just been doing some thinking about it all lately and wanted to get my thoughts down, and who else to share these thoughts with than my lovely blogging friends!

I'd love to hear about your jobs! Are you doing something that you love? Have you thought about leaving something sensible for something a little more adventurous? Do you have any advice for me..?

Zoe xx
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I am writing to share some really exciting news with you today. My lovely and very talented friend Vanisha is partnering up with Masha Zaric to run a Blogging and Photography workshop called Blogging with Soul. If you are thinking about starting a blog, already have a blog but are not sure about how to take it to the next level, or just need some guidance about the purpose and direction of your blog, I highly recommend looking into it.

When I was thinking about starting this blog, Vanisha was one of the first people I approached for advice. She was so supportive and we spent a significant amount of time emailing mini essays back and forth. She was a wealth of knowledge on everything from working out the audience of my blog to how I wanted it to look and who I could approach to designing it.

I have never had the pleasure of meeting Masha but her photographs speak for themselves. I have just spent maybe the last hour looking through her website, her pictures are beautiful, they are unique and creative and I feel like each of them tells a little story. If you want to see some of my favourites check out her portraits page here. Here is a picture she took of Vanisha which I just love.

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The workshop is running on Saturday the 2nd of November in Canberra, all the details are all found on the website. There are limited spots available but you still have until the 4th of October before bookings close so if you think this is something that could help your blog reach its full potential make sure you secure your place.

I hope you are all having a beautiful weekend and enjoying this amazing weather! Happy blogging everyone.

Zoe xx

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I have a confession to make. I'm a shopper. A big one. Interestingly enough, I am also a minimalist and I hate clutter and excess things that I don't use taking up space in my house. This has meant that over the past twelve months I have probably done three or four big clean outs and gotten rid of things that I don't need/use, I even had myself on a shopping ban for a while there...

I now feel like I am making much better decisions on how I spend my money. Particularly when it comes to beauty products (which used to be my downfall), I am shopping smarter, and really love everything I have bought lately.

Here are some of my shopping tips for buying beauty products:

1. Know Your Skin:
This probably seems fairly obvious but if you are really familiar with your skin, choosing products that suit you will be so much easier. The most obvious example would be buying skincare, but it also helps if you know what kind of formulas that will work with your skin when buying makeup. Whether or not you need oil based or water based, if your skin prefers liquid, cream or powder products, how essential a primer or setting powder is for you, the list goes on... If you are unsure here is a quick quiz that will help you work it out. 

2. Keep an eye on ingredients:
Knowing which ingredients your skin likes/dislikes makes shopping so much easier. If you are unfamiliar with what all the ingredients mean, just start making a list, or easier still, taking photos of the ingredient list of products that your skin doesn't like so you can see if there is some common things in them that might be irritating you. I have managed to narrow mine down to a few key ingredients, and there are some products I will just now avoid, Eve Lom and MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation, I'm looking at you...

3. Do Your Research:
For me, this is the exciting part! Read blogs, Google swatches of makeup products you like, watch YouTube videos, ask the lady who gives you your facials, and do all this well before you hit the stores.  Having an idea of things that you think you would like to try makes navigating the sometimes overwhelming beauty departments a whole lot more enjoyable. I also find it makes me slightly (and I mean very slightly) more resistant to the friendly sales staff...

4. Talk to the people selling:
This may seem to contradict my last point a little, but once you are in whatever store you're headed to, if you find yourself unsure, ask for advice. I don't mean to say that once the sales lady tells you that you will look amazing in blue mascara and fuchsia lipstick that you should throw all good sense out the window, but having a conversation about products and colours can make you a little more open to trying new things, some of the best products I have ever tried have been at the recommendation of sales staff and I am very glad I listened. At a recent Hourglass event I ended up getting a lipstick colour unlike anything I own. It's a bright coral/orange (see my face chart from the event above) and without the advice of an experienced make up artist, it would have been a colour I never would have dreamed of putting on. And I love it!

5. Know where to spend vs. splurge:
This will be different for everyone as each person's priorities tend to differ a little, but deciding the things that you are willing to spend a little more money on and the products you want to save on can be really useful. I plan on doing a more in-depth post on this but, for me, the splurging generally happens with skincare and foundation, and the savings is generally with eye makeup, lip products and hair/body products, with the exception of my new lipstick which was a little treat to myself... And I definitely support treating yourself sometimes on something totally gorgeous that will make you feel amazing!

6. Ask for samples:
This is something I have only started doing lately and now I am wondering why it took me so long to do. If there is a product that you think you would like to try but are not quite willing to commit to, ask for a sample pot. If it is a liquid product, it can go in a sample pot, and I mean everything; cleaners, masks, moisturisers, foundations, eye creams, primers, the options are endless! This is also a nice way of getting out of committing to something expensive if you're not sure, a smile with an "oh that looks great, could I get a sample pot to try over the next few days?" is a great way of avoiding committing big $$ as we all know some beauty products are... And usually the sample pot is enough for you to decide whether or not it is something worth you going back for.

8. Return/Exchange:
Sometimes, even the best researched products can not work out the way we plan. If your skin has a reaction to a product and you can't use it, take it back. This was not something I had ever dreamed of doing but during a facial at a Mecca Cosmetica store one day I was mentioning to the girl that I had recently tried the Eve Lom cleanser and reacted badly. She was amazingly helpful, she gave me two full sample pots of another one she thought I might like and told me that if it worked I should bring the other one back and swap it over. Outstanding customer service! Obviously this is not the ideal situation and I do try to avoid it but sometimes the skin wants what it wants and it's nice to know that this option is there.

I feel so much better about my spending habits recently. I really like having less things taking up space and knowing that I use and appreciate the things that I do have.

What are your beauty/fashion/accessory shopping tips? I'm always trying to make better decisions with my money, I think I might be growing up...

Zoe xx

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I love this time of year. The days are getting warmer and longer and everyone just seems to be a little happier!

Over the last few months I have most definitely been in hibernation, living alone for the first time combined with the Canberra cold has kept me safely indoors. While it was so nice to enjoy my own space and rest up while work was exhausting me, I can't wait to make the most of the nicer days.

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