29 May 2014

what's in my bag #14

Last year, I bought a new Longchamp Le Pliage to replace my old one which was becoming a bit too battered. I purchased this one with vouchers so I paid less than £10 for it! It is easily my most used accessory so it has been worth it to use all of the vouchers I had at the time to buy it. 

Having had one in the graphite colour, I opted for the bog-standard navy one this time. They have changed the material a little - this one is a lot shinier than the graphite one I had but the fabric does feel that bit thicker and sturdier. This one was also cheaper than the graphite one I bought four years ago!

With the Le Pliage being lightweight and waterproof, I can totally understand why it is popular among university students. You can cram an awful lot into it without the whole bag and its contents becoming too heavy and it is versatile - I have used the bag on nights out too!

Anyway, without further ado, here is what was in my bag:

Top row: The Body Shop almond hand cream, a Semikolon notebook and my pencil case.
Second row: Specsavers contact lens solution, Strepsils, Burt's Bees lip balm, medical tape (in case my shoes are hurting my feet), my student ID card, Tempo pocket tissues (the best! They smell of Applewood!) and a compact hairbrush and mirror in one.
Third row: Luella purse, Cath Kidston travel card holder which has my student Oyster and railcard in, a chocolate bar and Netter's and homemade flashcards.
Bottom row: paracetamol, eye drops, my house and locker keys and my medicines pouch.

My lunch would also be in my bag (I always take leftovers from the night before as my lunch - luckily, we have a microwave in the student union that I can use), as would a bottle of water. Sometimes, I still think I carry too much to uni. On the days where I opt to wear my glasses instead of contact lenses, I take out the contact lens solution; but even so, I still feel that I don't need to carry Strepsils around with me every day. However, a sore throat can strike at any moment...! I'm all about being prepared...

25 May 2014

my week #110

Another week down - where does the time go? I baked cakes for my study group last Sunday and I was hoping to get some more baking done for some friends this weekend too. However, I didn't bank on there being so much work to do and I think that plan has now been scuppered.

This weekend also marks the start of exam revision as they are just over four weeks away! I do feel like this week has been a good balance of work and play. I spent most of my time working (with breaks in between of course) but I also spent Friday evening and night doing nothing but hang out with some friends. It was lovely to just hang out and not have to worry about the enormous mountain of work that still needed to be done.

How has your week been?

22 May 2014

my own version of a baked blueberry cheesecake

I've been wanting to make a baked blueberry cheesecake for quite some time now and I thought my recent week's break would be the perfect time. However, I thought I'd add my own twist to it by adding lemon juice and zest to the cream cheese mixture and using Oreo biscuits for the base instead of digestive biscuits. Although I had looked up a few recipes for a baked cheesecake, this invention is one of my own (I've not seen one with this combination on the internet).

I baked the cheesecake over a tray of water but there was still some cracking visible at the surface. However, the cheesecake had a lovely brown colour at the edges and a lovely golden colour at the top. Being an average novice baker, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out aesthetically.

For the topping, I made blueberry compote and then poured it over the top of the cheesecake before refrigerating it.

The final result looks quite appetising and having to wait overnight before I could try a bite was excruciating agony. However, the wait was worth it and although there was a lot of waiting time involved with the making of this cake, I would do it all over again. Only during uni holidays though - I don't know when else I'd find a free few hours kicking about. Taste-wise, the hint of lemon added something extra to the sweet taste of the blueberry compote topping.

I adapted the recipe from a few I'd seen online - the most notable one being this Philadelphia one.

Baked Blueberry Cheesecake
with a hint of lemon, an Oreo biscuit base and topped with a blueberry compote.


for the base: 
22 Oreo cookies - crumbed,
40g of melted butter,

for the cheesecake:
400g Philadelphia Light,
3 eggs - beaten,
1 lemon's worth of juice,
1 lemon's worth of zest,
100g caster sugar,
1 teaspoon vanilla extract,
30g plain flour
a few blueberries

for the compote:
400g blueberries,
100g granulated sugar

1) Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

2) Crumb the Oreo cookies in a food processor (or use a rolling pin and bag if you want to relieve some stress). Mix the crumbed cookies in with the melted butter. Once thoroughly mixed, press the mixture into the base of a cake tin.

3) In a bowl, mix together the Philadelphia, caster sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest until smooth. Add eggs slowly (I added them in thirds).

4) Sift flour into the cheesecake mixture and mix.

5) Pour the cheesecake mixture over the base in the cake tin. Sprinkle over some blueberries (add as much or as little as you want).

6) Put into the oven over a tray of water. Bake for 1 hour 15 - 1 hour 45. I left mine in for 1 hour 45 but ultimately, I think it depends on your oven so keep an eye on it. Once it is a golden brown in colour at the edges, it is done.

7) While waiting for it to bake, it's time to make the compote! Stir half of the remaining blueberries with the granulated sugar in a saucepan, over a low heat. Once most of the blueberries have visibly disappeared, add the rest of the blueberries. Let it cook for 5 mins - you want some of the blueberries to stay spherical in shape.

8) Once the cheesecake is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool. Once cool, pour the compote over the top and refrigerate for at least four hours. I did mine overnight and it was perfect.

9) Enjoy!

20 May 2014

review: a selection of Go Stationery goods!

I am a sucker for notebooks and I am a sucker for cute patterns and designs. Merge those two together and you get... GO Stationery. Never heard of this brand? No, me neither until recently. With so many stationery brands out there, what makes GO Stationery stick out against its competitors? Well, they offer you the choice of stationery in a wide range of patterns and designs that will be appealing to most people. You'll inevitably find something that you'll find yourself drawn to - after all, I did and I am quite picky when it comes to notebook pattern and designs. 

A few weeks' ago, I was sent a few products to review from GO Stationery and here was the selection:

Aren't they so pretty together? So let's have a look at them as individual items. First up, an exercise book that is not A4 in size, nor is it A5 in size. It has a whimsical polka dot pattern on its exterior.

Inside, the cover has a micro-polkadot pattern and the pages are ruled. However, the quality of the paper isn't so good. It feels rough and reminds me of the recycled paper I used back when Woolworth's was still around and sold refill pads. A pen test with a Muji gel, a Lamy Safari fountain pen, a Papermate Flair felt-tip pen and a biro was done and every pen (save for the biro) feathered upon contact with the paper and there is some show through on the other side too. I think some work needs to be done as the paper quality definitely didn't meet my expectations.

Next up is an A5 Bound Notebook - doesn't the leaf print make it seem like it could be from Orla Kiely? It has an elastic band keeping it together and I think this notebook would make the perfect journal.

Inside, there is a cute polka dot pattern and the paper is ruled (hard to see due to the rubbish lighting). The paper is the same as the previous exercise book so it's nothing to write home about.

Next up is a To-Do List pad.

At the back, there is a magnet - perfect for attaching it to the fridge so you can remind your housemates/significant other/kids/yourself of what needs to be done.

Inside, the paper is of much better quality. I tested it out with my Lamy Safari fountain pen and found that there was no show through and no bleeding or feathering! Each page has space for 18 to-dos: so plenty of space for even the busiest of individuals.

This to-do pad is a product that supports the Woodland Trust which explains the hedgehog print and somewhat 'natural' design.

Finally, a set of three pocket notebooks.


Inside, you'll find that the paper is the same as the exercise book and A5 notebook mentioned earlier. This time, the paper is plain which means you could use these pocket notebooks for anything you'd like.

Overall, GO Stationery has got the design aspect of the notebooks right. Aesthetically, the products are designed well and appealing but the one big shortfall is the quality of the paper used inside the notebooks. If you're a fountain pen user, I'd steer clear of these notebooks for the time being as the paper is not fountain pen friendly.

What do you guys think? Does paper quality mean more to you than the design of notebooks?

Thank you, Edward from GO Stationery for allowing me to review these products.

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

18 May 2014

my week #109

Who knew the eye could be such a complex thing? For something that takes up so little space in your body, it has a majorly important role in the quality of life of most people in the world. However, it is an intricate little thing and I am spending this weekend working my ass off in an effort to try and understand the link between the eye and brain. Neural pathways are not fun.

How has your week been?

15 May 2014

how I've kept my university notebooks and why

So far this year, I've gone through two A4 spiral bound notebooks. These notebooks are used exclusively for the group work I do twice a week, for three hours at a time. Each week, we have group work - once on Monday and again on Thursday and during this time, we do a clinical case where we work out learning objectives we all have to go away and research for the next group work session. This is what I have used a spiral bound notebook for.

I thought I'd share how I've kept my notebooks because they show how I do 'self-directed learning' and also how I modify and add to things during the feedback sessions to ensure that I have a full complement of information necessary for exams and clinical practice.

So far, I've gone through two notebooks:

In term one, I loved using washi tape to highlight important words. I had a 'definitions' list for each week as I've found that this course is almost like learning a whole new language.

Later on, I also opted to highlight instead of use washi tape...

And I also took to drawing out diagrams too. Post-it notes are used during the feedback sessions to add to the notes I've made. If I've missed something or hear of a resource someone else has recommended, this all goes on the post-it.

I also draw out mechanisms (pictures are so much easier to learn than text). The last picture is from term two and at this point, I introduced a lot more blank space than I did in term one. The blank space has definitely aided my learning in that it breaks up chunks of text and doesn't make all of the information I need to learn seem so intimidating.

Colour is used a lot in my notes and I find this helps with remembering keywords or small nuggets of information.

For term three, I have tweaked my study techniques slightly again which I'm sure I will talk about in the coming weeks or months once I have some notes that are worthy of being shared.

Do you have any self-study tips that you'd like to share? :)

13 May 2014

a Rilakkuma display in Hong Kong

This is something I forgot to blog about after my Hong Kong trip and I know a lot of people are fans of this bear. Whilst I was there, Rilakkuma celebrated its ten year anniversary with a display at a shopping centre in Tsim Sha Tsui called The One Plaza.

The display was impossibly cute and I tried to take pictures of every single bit of it.

My favourite is Korilakkuma and to see him so big here was a bit of a surprise:

There was another bit of the display where people could take pictures but I won't wreck your day by showing you one of me in the middle of it all!

This whole celebratory display was clearly quite popular as there was a queue with security guards ensuring that the area was never over-crowded. Rilakkuma is quite unique in that it appeals to people of all ages and is a popular cuddly toy in Hong Kong. Merchandise can be found in many stores and I can't think of anything in the Western world that is comparable to this bear. The best part was that I wasn't even the oldest person taking pictures of this display!

11 May 2014

my week #108

In terms of workload, it has been a light and relaxed week. I'm definitely not complaining - I don't think there's been a week like this since September! I took this opportunity to revise and also practise clinical and communication skills for the OSCE (which will be at the end of June - that definitely doesn't sound that far away). 

The bank holiday Monday got things off to a good start as it meant I felt extra refreshed for this week. I even had time to catch up on some TV which was nice!

How has your week been?

8 May 2014

recent stationery finds and a Kuretake Cocoiro Review!

My credit card and the internet should be kept separate in times of boredom (revision, I'm looking at you) because this is the end result! I splurged on some new stationery from Stationery Art (a site I've talked about before) and... I do not regret it.

Top to bottom: Pentel Handyline retractable highlighters in pink and purple, Uniball Signo in blue, Zebra Sarasa Clip in light blue, Zebra Hper Jell 0.5mm, Uniball Signo in light blue and Uniball Eye Needle.
These were the pens that caught my eye on the website (and also the ones that were in stock - a significant amount of things listed on the site are no longer in stock). I've had my eye on these retractable highlighters for quite some time and as I go through highlighters fairly quickly, I thought I'd give these a whirl.

The blue pens were added to my basket for the sake of it and the best one out of that lot has to be the Zebra Hyper Jell pen. I love how thick the barrel is (not too thin, nor too thick for me though it is thicker than the average pen), the flow of the ink is smooth and amazing and it is super comfortable to hold. I have had a soft spot for the Uniball Signo pens for quite a few years so I added those to my basket, knowing that I had at least ordered a pen that I already love.

Pentel Handyline retractable highlighters in pink and purple and a Pentel Tradio barrel, which takes some refills I already have.
The retractable highlighters don't sound like they have been designed well but when you examine them, you'll see that there is a bit of plastic that slides to protect the nib from open air (when the pen isn't in use) and slides away to allow the nib to be exposed when you want to use the pen.

The Pentel Tradio looks nice in design but I don't think it has enough... personality for me? It's a dull beige colour and it just looks a bit too boring. However, I had been looking for a barrel that would last for a while as I have a stock of Pentel Energel refills that will be used in the coming months (I go through pens super quickly).

Pilot Coleto barrel that takes three refills.
I already have a four-barrelled Coleto but I wanted a three-barrelled one as it is thinner. Moreover, I wanted one in a different design to the green and black one I already possess and this one is cute and girly. 

Post It Sticky Flags and tabs.
I use tabs and flags a lot - in my diary, in textbooks, in my notes... Everywhere! These were at a good price so I added them to my basket. Plus, tabs and flags are always handy... right?

Kuretake Cocoiro Zig barrels in blue and pink, plus refills in black and red.
With my current obsession being mind maps and hand drawn diagrams as revision aids, I bought these Kuretake Cocoiro Zig barrels and refills to serve that purpose. I'll say more about this pen later on in this post.

Next up is the standard pen test:

They all flowed well on poor quality paper (the ultimate test?!) but the Cocoiro Zig brush pen took a while to get going. Understandable as the brush would have been completely dry to start with.

So now, the Cocoiro Zig Letter Pen:

Design: I love the minimalistic and ergonomic nature of this barrel. The refill pokes out at the top and I know that other reviewers weren't okay with this but I am. I'm not sure if I prefer the blue barrel or the pink one and I love the fact that I can chop and change this as often as I like because the refill screws into the barrel. This ensures that changing refills is an easy and tidy job.

Price: The Cocoiro Letter Pen is expensive if you use it as a normal pen but personally, I think it is reasonably priced for what it is. It is a brush pen and so is designed for calligraphy or more arty ventures so it isn't something that should be used as your everyday by-the-phone-pen.

Here is a diagram I drew using and labelled using this pen (the blue pen used is the Zebra Sarasa mentioned earlier, the red one is a Muji gel and the other colours are Papermate Flair pens).

I've yet to finish my first refill but I have only been using this pen for a month so far. Refills are quite expensive here in the UK (I found them on Cult Pens for £3.36) so when I run out of ink, I'll have to have a serious think about what to do next.

Overall: I love this pen for illustrating with. The brush nib make my diagrams look better than if I had stuck to using my usual black fineliner pen. Price-wise, it is a bit pricey but I always believe that you pay the price you think something is worth. The design is lovely and the barrel is comfortable to hold and for its intended purpose, I love it.

6 May 2014

my first Lamy... safari fountain pen in neon coral

Can you believe that this is my first Lamy? I'm a self-confessed stationery addict and cannot help myself when it comes to gel pens but it has taken me about three years of debate (with myself) to finally purchase a Lamy Safari fountain pen. To be fair, I think the range of colours in the past haven't really caught my eye or made me want to take the plunge but when I saw the neon coral colour (a limited edition colour for 2014), I knew that this was the one. 

I do like a finer nib so I opted for the Fine nib in this Lamy and I also purchased an Extra Fine one so that I could slot that in if I thought the Fine nib was actually too thick for me.

As soon as I picked it up, I loved the ergonomic feel of the pen. It was comfortable to hold and not too heavy either.

I tried out both nibs and thought I preferred the Extra Fine one. However, after using it for a while, I found it a bit scratchy and the flow wasn't as smooth with it compared to the Fine nib. In terms of thickness, there really isn't that big a difference between them - at least, I couldn't see any.

I could hold this pen for years and it wouldn't hurt one bit. Quite often, pens leave a dent in my fingers but this Lamy hasn't. I've been using it a fair amount ever since I got it and for pen made out of plastic, it is ridiculously comfortable to hold.

It isn't the most attractive pen out there but it is designed well and has all of the features needed for it to be a pen used continuously for a good hour or two without causing pain. The colour is a lot brighter than I imagined it would be - and any pictures you see on the internet of this pen won't be an accurate representation of just how bright it is. It really is a neon coral colour and I definitely expected it to glow in the dark when I first got it.

Price point and cartridge price
Lamy Safari fountain pens are incredibly affordable - you can get one for less than £15 if you look in the right place and opt for the right colour (Amazon, I'm looking at you). However, ink cartridges are fairly pricey. I've taken to buying them from online retailers (sorry, local shops) where I can buy them in packs of four for just over a fiver.

I don't think I'm accomplished enough to use a converter so for now, ink cartridges will just have to do. Bottles of ink will inevitably be cheaper than cartridges in the long run but I love the flexibility of using a blue ink cartridge one week and then a turquoise one the next. I think a bottle of ink would dry out quicker than I could use the ink itself.

Overall, I really am questioning why it took me so long to purchase a Lamy Safari fountain pen. Why did I um and ah for so long?! I used a Parker 45 while in sixth form at school and I liked it but it didn't compare to my mum's vintage Parker 45 as the nib wrote a finer line. Unfortunately, her vintage one broke and I think my fountain pen-loving heart died at that moment in time (or at least I thought it did... Until now!).

However, if you are like me - umming and ahh-ing over whether or not to buy a Lamy Safari fountain pen, I think you should take the plunge. Provided you can find one in a colour you love, there really should be nothing stopping you from acquiring one of these beauties.

4 May 2014

my week #107

After a week's break, I returned to uni feeling relatively refreshed. I had a relatively light week with only one lecture and also an afternoon on placement where we met some patients. I wish we could do a day on placement every week as I find them far more useful than lectures!

On Monday, I tried my first Honest Burger. I've wanted to try an Honest Burger for a long time so when an email dropped into my Inbox with a voucher to redeem a free burger and fries at their Oxford Circus branch, it would be rude not to. Anyway, the burger was amazing and definitely the best I've tried in London (I've not tried that many but I have tried a fair few!).

How has your week been? I hope you're enjoying the bank holiday weekend so far (if you're in the UK!).

1 May 2014

term two point five: university essentials

Term two was a funny one for me - we had exams in the middle of it and then term three technically started straight after that. Three weeks later, we got a ten day break before the craziness of term three restarted. Anyway, I found that I had a different set of university essentials (compared to this blog post) for this random three week period and I thought I'd share what these were. 

MT masking tape x2, Pentel Handy-line S highlighters and a Zebra Hyper Jell 0.5mm pen in blue.
First up, I love these retractable highlighters. I do believe that humans are inherently lazy (at least, that's my excuse) and pens with no caps were designed to exploit this. I'm beginning to really grow to love the Zebra Hyper Jell as the flow of ink is smooth, they make my handwriting look neat and I love how the barrel isn't too thin nor too thick.

Washi tape definitely make my revision notes (and everything else) one hundred times better. I've not used them as much this term as I did in my first term but towards the end, I started to introduce them more and more into my notes. Maybe I was just desperate to find a new way to procrastinate?

Netter's Anatomy Flashcards and my own anatomy flashcards.
Flashcards are my new favourite item to throw into my bag before heading off to uni in the mornings. The anatomy ones are so lovely that I find myself admiring the illustrations for longer than I probably should. They have proved invaluable for anatomy learning as our once-weekly sessions in the dissection room can be quite overwhelming as we cover a ridiculous amount of stuff in a ninety minutes!

This Semikolon notebook is something I carry with me everywhere. The blank pages are perfect for drawing diagrams, flow charts and mind maps; and are also great for when the lecturer shows up without copies of his slides. The navy and cream stripe print is somewhat nautical and summery and the paper is of a high quality too!

Above is an example of some lecture notes I took last term when the lecturer didn't have copies of his slides for the year. Normally, we are provided with a copy of the lecture slides but occasionally, this doesn't happen.

I wonder what term three's essentials will consist of?