31 Aug 2014

my week #124

It was my first week back at uni after the summer break and boy, was it a busy one. I'm still trying to find a balance between my job, study and a social life at the moment. It's going okay so far and I feel fine with how things are going but of course, it is only the first week. This year is long (in terms of academic weeks) and I need to pace myself to ensure that I don't burnout!

I spent bank holiday Monday baking biscuits. Biscuits aren't really my forte (I prefer baking cakes) so although they didn't turn out great, they weren't too bad either. Last weekend, I found a duck-shaped biscuit cutter in TK Maxx and with ducks being my favourite animal, I just had to run to the checkout with it.

How has your week been?

28 Aug 2014

the organisation of my expedit bookshelf - help!

I've had this Expedit for over a year now and I'm never 100% happy with how it is organised. Although it is a bookshelf, the number of actual books is quite low (most of our books are on a bookshelf downstairs) so I have filled my Expedit with university notes, notebooks and other little bits and bobs. 

Starting from the bottom left and going anti-clockwise, at the bottom are boxes of university notes and toiletries (toiletries in the blue fabric boxes and notes in the pink ones). Then there are more folders with other notes, such as bank statements and other important documents that need to be kept for future reference. I also have a box of pen refills (in an old Valentino perfume set box) and some Chinese books, Lucozade (for those study periods where I feel too tired to work) and old diary inserts.

On the other side, there are loads of blank notebooks and then some medical handbooks. The Cath Kidston box on the right hand side holds my school certificates and various other certificates of achievement.

Moving up to the next two shelves, there are more notebooks and stationery. The teddy in the Skubb box is actually a microwavable heat pack - a gift from my sister a few years ago for my birthday.

And then moving left, there are more files and folders and A4 notebooks (writing this blog post has made me realise just how many notebooks I have). There is an empty shelf and I intend to use this as an in-tray for things that need sorting at the weekend when I have time.

At the top, behind the Rilakkuma cushion lies the Martha Stewart x Staples x Avery drawer. In it holds paperclips and other random bits of stationery and things that I couldn't find a place for - I will sort it eventually!

To the right of that shelf is a medicines and first aid box and another shoebox that holds washi tape, cards and receipts.

And finally, the other two shelves hold more notebooks, pens, make up and other random bits. Then there is a Kiiroitori cushion which is hiding a Rilakkuma 'bin' that holds plastic bags.

I'm not overly happy with how things are organised but I know where everything is and I know that if I were to re-organise it, I wouldn't know where to find anything.

Any suggestions? Things are all over the place at the moment!

26 Aug 2014

starting university or college this autumn?

Starting university is an exciting, but also nerve-wracking, time for most people. I remember when I was 18 and armed with an unconditional place at university after results day - my first feeling was excitement but then as the beginning of October drew nearer and nearer, as did the nerves and uncertainty of what this new stage in my life would bring.

Having been a student for pretty much all of my adult life, I thought I'd re-visit some of the university-related posts I have done in the past.

There is a 'Preparing for University' series that I wrote last year and these comprise of three posts:

1) Preparing for University: Finances, Forms and Accommodation
2) Preparing for University: Diary, Textbooks and Stationery
3) Preparing for University: Timetabling

I have also written a few blog posts about university in general too:

Lectures and Lecture Notes
University and Money Saving
University and Money Saving Part II
University and Effective Revision
Revision Timetabling (#1)
Revision and Exams (#2)

And there is also a blog post about balancing your work and social life.

And what if you're interested in using a Filofax at university?

Finally, some more personal posts than advice ones (if you're interested!):

Preparing for Exams (term two)
How I've Kept My University Notebooks
Term Two Lecture Notes
My Desk During A Study Period
Revising My Lecture Notes
My Binder And University
All Ready For A New Course and University

Any questions or requests for university/college-related blog posts? Let me know :)

24 Aug 2014

my week #123

This week is the last one of my summer holiday before I head back to university on Tuesday. Nothing has changed dramatically over the last few weeks - I'll still be living at my parental home due to financial and practical reasons and I will be maintaining my job alongside my studies (but with decrease in the number of hours I do).

It's been a nice summer and although I've been working during it, I still feel refreshed and ready to take on another year of medical school. Having received my timetable for next week, I am excited to get back into the swing of things!

How has your week been?

21 Aug 2014

my favourite additions this summer

This summer, I added a few new items to various parts of my life and I thought I'd share my favourite ones with you all. Let's start with stationery!

I came across these Midori metal duck paperclips on ASOS while browsing their website one day and with my 10% student discount, it would've been rude not to add them to my vast collection of stationery. They complement the paper index clips I purchased last year and ducks are my favourite animals so that made it equally hard to resist buying these.

Next up, my wardrobe. I added these Swedish Hasbeens to my shoe collection and I justified this purchase because I don't have many pairs of summer shoes. They are flatforms which are perfect as they don't add too much height (I'm not exactly short...) and are so comfortable and easy to walk in. They go with everything - jeans, dresses, floaty summer skirts - and so are perfect.

Adding a bit of luxury to my beauty routine through this Ren Hot Cloth Cleanser. I love how soft it leaves my skin and the hot cloth step makes me feel like I'm experiencing a luxury treatment rather than just cleansing my skin once daily.

Finally, another addition are these pretty Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks. I love the colours and just how cute they look on my bookshelf. I cannot wait to get stuck into them next academic year!

So, these are my favourite additions this summer - it's so nice having had a few weeks off but I go back to uni in a few days. Hard to believe that these items were bought back at the end of May or end of June... Where does the time go?

19 Aug 2014

introducing: nina and other little things

My main gripe with UK stationery is that the range isn't as extensive as what can be found in Hong Kong. Over the Christmas holidays, I was spoilt for choice with at least one little family-run stationery boutique in pretty much every street with all items priced extremely cheaply too - notebooks were less than £1!

Anyway, when I was introduced to Nina and Other Little Things, my first initial thought was just how cute and beautiful the illustrations are. When the package arrived, the packaging didn't disappoint - the illustrated address sticker and the cute red dot pattern complement the equally beautiful products inside which held a notebook, three postcards and a postcard-sized poster.

Each and every item is illustrated beautifully with, for example, one of the postcards showing Nina sat on top of a pile of books. There is a line of text that accompanies the illustration above it and the other side is just as beautiful too.

The notebook came with a postcard sized leaflet that adds a story to the character behind the brand - a neat little touch. The notebook has a hand-stitched detail in the form of Nina on a swing and the notebook is hand-stitched together too.

The first page is just as beautiful as the outside:

All too often, I've found that beautiful notebooks are let down by the poor paper quality but I'm happy to report that on this occasion, this is not true. The paper is thick enough and exhibits no show through with the majority of pens (with permanent markers being the exception) and unless you are using a particularly wet nib, there is no bleeding either.

Earlier, I mentioned that the package included a postcard-sized poster that is made of thick cardboard (about 0.5cm in thickness!) and is designed to be hung up. I thought the quote lent itself quite nicely to a place on my bedside table so I've placed it against my lamp.

Personally, I think all of the products are fantastic. The quality of them back up the amazingly beautiful illustrations and would make brilliant gifts.

Thank you, Eloise, for sending me these samples - I think Nina and Other Little Things may well be my new favourite character and brand at the moment!

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

17 Aug 2014

my week #122

It's just over a week now until I head back to uni for the start of three clinical years! Having now received my placement information (my hospital and speciality allocations), the butterflies that were fluttering around in my stomach have now been banished. The specialties I will be gaining clinical experience with are ones that I'm very happy with - I just hope they live up to my excitement!

On Monday, I decided to do some baking and so I delved into my kitchen cupboards to see what ingredients I had. Based on what I found, I made cheesecake brownies and I ended up being a bit too generous with the dark chocolate. The end result was a slightly bitter brownie that had a sweet kick from the cheesecake mixture.  

How has your week been?

14 Aug 2014

two years with my Kindle

I've now had my Kindle for two years (it was a graduation present from my parents) and it has seen plenty of use. I have read more books in two years than I probably have done in the last ten years and the fact that it is so light and easy to carry round means I have no excuse not to be reading more.

Last year, I didn't quite manage to reach my goal of 52 books read in 52 weeks but I did end up with a respectable 43 books in 52 weeks. I think one of my main problems is continuing with a book as some books just didn't seem to draw me in as much as I would have liked.

My 2014 list is nowhere near as impressive - the amount of studying I had to do and juggling an active(ish) social life along with that meant I am averaging one book a month. I don't tend to read short books either so I think one book a month is pretty good going for someone who barely has time to relax, let alone read! I'm hoping to have read about 14 by the end of this year - I'm currently on twelve so I'm well on target.

Overall, my Kindle has completely put the joy back into reading for me. Long gone are the days of lugging around a heavy book and showing everyone on public transport just how poor my taste in books is! From time to time, I do miss the physicality of holding an actual paperback but then I pick up my Longchamp bag that I use for uni and realise just how much extra weight that would add to my (already) sore shoulders. 

12 Aug 2014

what's in my bag #15 : summer edition

This summer, I will be carrying around my Mulberry (unless I'm going to work) and also significantly less than what I would usually tote around with me on a day where I head to university. Here is what I will be carrying around:

From top left, clockwise: Rayban Wayfarer sunglasses, Luella purse, my keys on a lanyard, Strepsils, Soap and Glory hand cream, Cath Kidston travel card holder with my Oyster in it, Evian water, Tempo pocket tissues and an umbrella.
So why these items? Well, an umbrella is present as you never know when it's going to rain. A necessity if you live in the UK! Hand cream as my hands have been damaged by alcohol gel that I've used on an almost daily basis whilst at uni for the past year.

Strepsils (and eye drops which aren't pictured) are required due to my hay fever - which seems to have, annoyingly, got worse this summer. And finally sunglasses as the bright sunlight makes me squint a lot and I'd quite like to put off the development of wrinkles if at all possible...

Do you find that you carry less in the summer? Or are you the opposite - do you end up carrying more due to allergies and sun protection, etc?

10 Aug 2014

my week #121

This week, I was working for six of the seven days, but they were only single shifts so weren't too tiring. On Monday evening, I caught up with one of my closest friends and it was nice to see him as during term time, I'd see him five days a week and now that it's the holidays, I've barely seen him at all!

How has your week been?

7 Aug 2014

compiling a travel journal of memories

So, you know that feeling where you've got a brand new, blank notebook in front of you but you have no idea what to do with it for the fear of doing something 'wrong' and then messing up a notebook that had the potential to be neat and organised? Yeah, that's the feeling I had with my Paper Republic notebooks. When I first posted about these notebooks, I didn't mention the quality of the paper but now that I've cracked open one of them and put it into use, I thought it was a good time to re-visit them. 

I had two to choose from: a blue one with gold dots or an orange and gold striped one. I opted for the latter - it is just so cheerful and was perfect to remind me of the awesome time I had in Hong Kong over Christmas and New Year earlier this year.

The unstructured nature of plain paper in this notebook makes it perfect for journalling.
In this travel journal, I stuck things in using washi tape instead of glue. For each day of the holiday, I wrote a bit about what I did and whatever else I wanted to remember. When I was in Hong Kong, I kept a mini-journal in note form of what I did each day so I guess that helped me make this journal as complete as possible.

I printed off photos taken on my phone (my printer isn't great but it does the job) and stuck those into the journal.

I added in a few stickers - some sensical (the snowman to denote how cold it was even though it wasn't snowing in Hong Kong) and some non-sensical (the bunny). I included the above picture of the Christmas tree as I haven't been to Hong Kong during Christmas since I was about six years old so naturally, Christmas trees and other festive decorations had me excited (quite a few double page spreads were dedicated to decorations I had seen whilst on holiday!).

There were also a lot of pages dedicated to food and my particular favourite double page spread has to be the one referring to the time I tried out a Triple O's White Spot burger. I even included a sticker of a girl in a pig suit as that was definitely how I felt after that meal...

The final few pages were about the return journey home so there were pictures of Hong Kong airport, airplanes while at the airport and also my return ticket. I was really sad to leave as Hong Kong is a place that has a special place in my heart - it is where my heritage is, where the majority of my family are and, let's not forget the amazing shopping opportunities there too.

In my opinion, the only thing missing from this notebook is gilt-edged paper. That would have been a nice touch for a notebook that has the potential to be luxurious but has fallen one step short. I used my Kuretake Cocoiro brush-tipped pen Muji gels, Papermate Flair felt tips and also Muji Erasables in this journal. There was a tiny bit of feathering with the Kuretake Cocoiro (very little but noticeable if you look closely), Muji gels didn't write as smoothly on this paper and the Erasables and Papermate Flair pens were ok. Showthrough was pretty much non-existent with all four pens.

Hope you've enjoyed this peek into my travel journal - I finally got round to making this journal after exams ended and I had a lot of fun doing it!

5 Aug 2014

hot cloth cleanser cleanse-off

Recently, I've gotten into the trend of hot cloth cleansing. This is by no means a new method and it is actually quite a popular trend - you'll see it featured on many beauty blogs. Having managed to blag a free sample of Liz Earle's infamous Cleanse and Polish, I thought I'd give it a go. The reason why I am blogging about hot cloth cleansing is because Liz Earle's offering didn't give me the positive results that most blogs out there say they've experienced. I've also purchased Ren's version and so I thought I'd also compare these two while I'm at it.

The first difference between the two is the cloth used - Liz Earle's comes with a muslin cloth whereas Ren's version comes with a cotton flannel. Personally, having used a flannel to clean my face with all my life, this method was by no means a new thing to me. I prefer to use a cotton flannel as it felt softer on my skin but the muslin cloths did feel more exfoliating and rougher in nature so I use it once a week for a deeper cleanse.

The infamous Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser - a staple in many bathrooms across the country and world. 
Let's begin with Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. Countless of people have said that it has brightened up their skin, cleared up their acne or just generally done a world of good to their skin. I used this for a week and during this time, my skin did look clearer and smoother... At least, half of my face did. The right hand side of my face was perfect and clear but the left hand side... Well, on day two, I felt two lumps come up on my right forehead. Because I had exams at the time, I thought it was purely due to stress but then another lump appeared on the bridge of my nose on day four. And another bump on my left cheek on day five. This was too much of a coincidence.

These bumps weren't normal spots - they were cystic in nature and they hurt. The slightest pressure caused an extraordinary amount of pain. Usually, during stressful times, I'll get one or two spots but nothing cystic in nature. As soon as I ceased using this cleanser and reverted back to my previous one, my skin cleared up and no more cystic bumps appeared.

This cleanser did a good job of getting rid of all the built up dirt as when I toned afterwards, I checked the cotton wool pad and there was little/no dirt.

Apart from that, I found the smell ok (I know others have commented on not being a fan of the smell), the consistency was decent and one pump worked on my whole face. I used the cleanser once daily before bed and like I said before, it did make half of my face look brighter and clearer. The price is on the higher end for a cleanser so I do recommend trying to get hold of a free sample before committing to a purchase. I was offered my sample through an email direct from Liz Earle (I was previously signed up to their newsletter).

Ren Rosa Centifolia Hot Cloth Cleanser - each pump bottle comes with a new cotton flannel.
So now, onto the Ren Rosa Centifolia Hot Cloth Cleanser. I much preferred the smell of this cleanser - there is something herbal about the Liz Earle one but this one smells more feminine and just sweeter. Again, one pump is enough for the whole face and I prefer to use a cotton flannel as it holds the heat of warm water better and just feels kinder on my face. Cost-wise, it is slightly better value than Liz Earle's offering (£16 for 150ml, each bottle comes with a cotton flannel).

Now, what effect did Ren's offering have on my skin? Again, I used it once in the evening for a week before passing judgement and I found that it was just as effective as Liz Earle's version in removing dirt and dead skin. It made my skin look brighter and no cystic spots developed - hurrah! I also like how with Ren's hot cloth cleanser, they recommend putting a warm cloth over your face for a minute or so to open your pores. This made it feel like I was pampering myself every evening before bed and overall, I have no bad words to say about this cleanser.

My verdict? Ren's version has won me over. They were both effective in cleansing my skin but the fact that Ren's didn't cause me to breakout wins; plus, the price is every so slightly in its favour too. Having had blemish-prone skin since I was 16, I'm prepared to pay a bit more for skincare that works and in this case, Ren's Rosa Centifolia Hot Cloth Cleanser really works for me.

It's important to note that with skincare, one thing that might work for you might not work for someone else. I think the perfect example is Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish which gave me huge, red, terrifying bumps on my face whereas many others have sung its praises.

Have you tried hot cloth cleansing? If so, what's your verdict? If not, are you tempted to try?

3 Aug 2014

my week #120

I've been putting in many hours at work this week and so, it has felt like a ridiculously busy week. However, I can't complain as it's a good way to prepare myself for the long hours I will need to put in on the wards in the future, if all goes to plan.

This week, I added in a printable that I found on Google Images a few months ago - it's of a girl being led by a kite that is in the form of a bird. I feel like I need to be a bit more like her in that I need to be more spontaneous and allow myself to be 'blown around by the wind'.

How has your week been?