my week #119 - blog four year anniversary!

Can you believe that today is this blog's fourth anniversary? I don't even know how I've been blogging this long or how this has happened. It feels like yesterday that I sat down, as a 19 year old, and started blogging properly.

Anyway, I've been busy working this week! Having worked a few long shifts in a row last week, I felt a fluey/cold coming on Monday. As a result, I dosed up on Echinacea, curled up in bed for the day and then woke up on Tuesday morning feeling a lot better. I've been working hard since then and ended up spending a fair bit of my wages on a pair of Nike Airs as I spend 90% of my shift on my feet. Not complaining though as all of the running around is definitely keeping me fit!

I finished reading 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn yesterday and I'm left feeling quite perplexed by the ending. It was a good book that kept me hooked and eager to read the next chapter so I would recommend it. There's a film version coming out later this year and I'm glad I managed to finish the book before seeing the film - always the best way to do things!

How has your week been?

my beauty routine

I thought I'd do something different today by writing about my beauty routine. Now, I've never had perfect skin - I've always had an oily T-zone and combination skin that is prone to a blemish or two (especially if I don't cleanse properly before bed) so I've been trying to find the perfect routine for my skin. I think I may have found it and as my blog is about an organised life, I have to be organised to ensure that I maintain this routine. This beauty routine is only half of the story though because I try and keep up a healthy lifestyle (minimal refined sugars, no fried foods and sweets (but if I do, it is on a very rare basis) and exercise on a regular basis).

Before I begin, I just want to say that this isn't a sponsored post and I'm not being paid to write this - all products featured were paid for using my own money.

First off, in the mornings, I wash my face with warm water and a clean cotton flannel. After this, I wipe all over using Garnier Micellar Cleansing water. Once my skin is dry, I apply La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo [+] all over and then moisturise using Eucerin Dermopurifyer Hydrating Care.

In the evenings, I used to use No 7 Soft and Soothed Gentle Cleanser which I applied to a dry face. I then wet the brush of my No 7 Cleansing Brush and massage the cleanser in, 30 seconds in each zone (each cheek, nose and chin and forehead). This is followed by a wipe down using a Clean and Clear Sensitive Skin Deep Cleansing Lotion but this product has now been replaced by the previously mentioned Micellar water as I found the former too harsh. After this, I apply Eucerin Dermopurifyer Active Concentrate to problem areas (or areas of enlarged pores in my case) and then some night cream from Nivea.

For a 23 year old, I have skin that loves to act like a teenager. This means that sometimes, I get those annoying under the skin spots that go red after a day or two. Once I see or feel one coming up, I apply a dot of Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, using a cotton bud) to each bump. This is left to work overnight while I sleep and more often than not, the bump has gone down or the redness is decreased by the morning. During the day, I apply Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel directly onto the spot and it usually works its magic pretty quickly.

Recently, I've replaced the No 7 Gentle Cleanser and cleansing brush with a hot cloth cleanser. I've found that this is equally effective as the cleansing brush I used before but I like how much more luxurious this feels. I use a new flannel each evening (to try and minimise dirt transfer that using a dirty flannel could do). I've tried Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish (I received a free sample instore a few weeks' ago) and the Ren Rosa Centifolio Hot Cloth Cleanser and at this moment in time, I prefer Ren's hot cloth cleanser (the smell is nicer and I get more for my money too) and a full 'cleanse-off' review will be coming in due course to explain why.

Each week, I use a mask and I have been using a tea-tree mask from The Body Shop. However, I am about to run out of this and will be trying the Avene Cleanance Mask because I have seen some great reviews for it, especially from people who say they have similar skin to myself. Another one I want to give a go is the Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Oil Control Cleansing Mask so we'll see which one works better for me and my purse.

Overall, I have noticed that although the amount of time I spend cleansing my skin each morning and evening has increased ever so slightly, my skin is softer and clearer than it has been for years if I stick to the regime that works for me. I know that each person's skin is different and it has taken my years of trying different products to see what works and what doesn't. I'm still not 100% sure that this routine is 100% effective but I am willing to give it a try for a few months to see if it does. I also know that (supposedly) using products from the same brand can give a better effect, however, I see that as a marketing ploy by companies trying to leech more money from their customers (the skeptic in me!).

preparing for a new academic year with Viking

With just over a month until I start back at university again and working full-time, I don't have the luxury of being able to spend a day buying new stationery to prepare for a new year. The internet has been a God-send in this sense and Viking is definitely a place where you can find all that you need to be adequately equipped to do some learning and studying.

Each year, I struggle to find A4 lever arch files that fit all of my notes from a single module so this year, I'm going to try out a Leitz lever arch file and an Elba one.  

Leitz is a brand that I've not personally come across before but I like the curved design of the file and also the elastic fastening to ensure that the file stays closed. On the inside left of the folder, there is a pen loop and a few pockets to store those loose bits of paper.

Leitz's offering manages to hold an entire module's worth of notes and it does look as if it could hold a bit more too! However, I'm aware that overloading rings is never a good idea so I'll happily leave it to hold one module's notes. The rings seem very sturdy and the lever is not too weak, nor too strong - just right and time will reveal how good these rings really are but they do offer a five year guarantee on their lever arch files - could this be an indication of the amount of confidence they instil in their own organisers?

Aaaand, onto Elba's lever arch file. Although it doesn't seem as spacious as the Leitz one, it actually has 80mm rings (whereas Leitz possesses 75mm ones) and boasts a potential capacity of 800 sheets. This should be ample room for my biggest module then, right?

Extra labels for the spine is included with the file - always a nice touch as you never know when you might want to switch out the contents of the folder. My only problem with the Elba file is the design - it is too simple with its white exterior and purple interior and I don't find it aesthetically pleasing at all.

Notebooks are something I get through quickly during term-time and next year, I want to use a mix of A4 and A5. I'm also going to try a thing where I don't use the lecture notes and take my own notes instead - here's hoping that falling asleep in boring lectures will be a thing of the past and that things will enter my brain quicker and more efficiently!

I chose an A4 notebook from Foray and an A5 offering from Moleskine. Moleskine is a brand I haven't exactly been complimentary about in the past - their paper being my main gripe and I just find them a bit overpriced and lacking in quality. Here's hoping they've improved since 2011 when I last bought a Moleskine product...

Foray is another brand I've yet to come across but this notebook does look impressive. It comes with a pen loop on the right hand side, a secretarial pocket in the inside left cover and a full length pocket in the inside right cover. The cover isn't rock hard but it isn't soft either - it kind of feels like PU leather and is mildly pliable but still sturdy enough for me to feel confident that it won't bend and shape-shift in my bag.

The rule is feint against the cream-coloured paper and has an air of luxury to it. It feels smooth and of a decent thickness too - I'm guessing 80gsm or 90gsm. In its product description, it states that the paper is partially recycled or from an FSC forest - always a positive but in a world where we are becoming more and more electronic, I do wonder how long this sort of thing will influence consumers. Just playing devil's advocate there...

In terms of performance, the paper does well with ink that isn't too pigmented or wet - the only pens shown here that I wouldn't use with this notebook are the Kuretake Cocoiro brush tip, Uniball Eye Needletip and any fountain pen.

The Moleskine notebook design is as minimalistic as always with its black hardcover and feint narrow ruled cream paper. It is classically stylish and is designed for pretty much any purpose.

It seems that my post back in August 2012 may no longer ring true... If you want to see what inspired that post, see this post here.

Anyway, compared with the ridiculous show-through experienced when I used a Moleskine diary back in 2011, the paper seems to only have trace amounts of show-through. There is a tiny bit of bleeding with a few of the pens but not enough for me to complain about so I definitely think the quality of the paper has increased significantly. I'll definitely re-visit the notebook once it is in full use to see if it really is true but this brief pen test is definitely promising.

Finally, pens are an important part of my university life - the type of pen I use can determine how neat or messy my handwriting is. Muji Erasables have come in super handy in my planner but seeing as I decided to give Moleskine a second chance, I opted to also give Pilot Frixions a second chance. I first reviewed them in 2011 and I wasn't really that impressed - the rubber didn't rub the ink out cleanly and the flow of ink just wasn't as good as the Muji Erasables.

Fast forward a few years and there are now Pilot Frixion Clickers that have 0.5mm nibs! In my original review, I had a 0.7mm Frixion and I didn't like how thick it was so there's one thing I already like about the Frixion Clickers. Another thing these Frixion Clickers win on is the fact that they are retractable - no faffing about with pen lids and also, the rubber is much better this time round.

You can see that the 0.5mm nibs aren't as thick and gloopy and the rubber left no residue behind (you can just about make out the 'test test' bit at the bottom which has been rubbed out.

With all of these items, I definitely feel more prepared for the new academic year. Thank you, Mark of Mediaworks and Viking UK for sending me samples to review :)

NB: Although I received these products as review samples, I have reviewed them just as I would have if I had paid for them.