28 Sept 2014

my week #128

I can't believe I've been back at university for five weeks now and with exams coming right at the end of the year (in May 2015), I'm still trying to find the right way to study to ensure that I don't burn out too soon. Considering last year was really intense (two years in one really was as insane as it sounds), going from studying almost all of the time to having a considerable amount of spare time now is something I'm still adjusting to.

In terms of decorating my pages - I've toned it down a lot. I'm still a sticker fiend but washi tape is used a lot less now as I tend to use that in my journal instead.

At the beginning of the week, I was on snack duty for the twice weekly group work sessions and I decided to bake some cookies. The first lot I made were rosewater shortbread cookies and I got the recipe from Kulinary Adventures of Kath. I'm not great with icing so they look a bit messy but they tasted pretty good. I was slightly too heavy handed with the rosewater but they still tasted okay. The second lot I made were lemon butter cookies from the Jamie Oliver website - I used a duck-shaped cookie cutter for these and slathered lemon icing on them (the slight sourness from the icing worked well with the butter and sweet taste of the cookies themselves). All in all, both batches of cookies were a success and considering I'm not exactly a keen baker, I was pretty pleased with the end result.

How has your week been? Are you going back to uni soon or have you just started back?

25 Sept 2014

routines, routines and... routines

Routines are a huge part of my life and they ensure that they keep my life organised and a bit more structured. I know that in the future, if I make it through medschool, my days will be anything but structured - night shifts, the unpredictability of the work and also the difficulty of balancing work and play can mean that I end up wishing I was back at university where the days were at least a little bit predictable.

In this post, I will talk about my morning, evening and weekly beauty routines. At the beginning of this year, I really bought into the idea of having a proper beauty routine and my skin has never looked better as a result of some trial and error with various products.

My morning routine consists of cleansing and then applying some products designed for oily-combination and blemish-prone skin. I will talk more in detail about this routine in a few weeks' time :)

At night, it's a whole different story. The routine takes a bit longer than in the morning - I cleanse first using Ren's Rosa Centifolia Hot Cloth Cleanser (I used to use my No 7 Cleansing Brush and No 7 Soft and Soothed Gentle Cleanser which worked equally well but I'm really drawn to the smell of the Ren cleanser), and then I tone using the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water and this is followed by Avene Triacneal cream applied to my nose and cheeks. 

Any spots that are coming up are dotted with Clinique's Anti-Blemish Clinical Clearing Gel or Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion. Sometimes, I use the Mario Badescu offering at night (as it is very visible and thus, unsuitable for use during the day) and Clinique's gel in the morning (as it is clear) if the blemish is still there when I wake up. 

Once a week, instead of using Avene's Triacneal, I use Vichy's Normaderm Night Detox serum. 

I follow all this up with a moisturiser - currently, I use Nivea's Q10 Anti-Wrinkle cream but I'm thinking of switching that to Eucerin's Dermopurifyer Night Care once it is finished. I don't think I need anti-wrinkle cream at the age of 23 but it was worth trying as I had bought it for less than half price at the time.

I keep some of my toiletries in this Ikea basket - it currently holds Batiste dry shampoo, Aussie leave-in conditioner, Simple toner, Eucerin day cream, Sudocrem (emergency spot treatment!), cotton buds for applying the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion with, a tube of Freederm spot treatment (apparently works in 3 hours but I'm a bit skeptical of this claim), dental floss, eyelash curlers and Estee Lauder mascara and also some night and day cream from Nivea and Garnier respectively. 

Finally, once a week, I use a mask. At the moment, I've been using the Avene Cleanance Mask which seems to help brighten my skin up for a few days after its use. Once this is finished, I intend to give Clinique's Anti-Blemish mask a try - I hope it works just as well, if not better, as it is much more purse friendly in comparison to Avene's offering!

I shell out for new skincare products once every six months because I find that these products last me for quite some time. Personally, I do believe that investing in my skin is worth it because I've struggled with blemishes (but, fortunately, not full blown acne) since I was 16 and it has affected my confidence. I've never been a heavy make-up wearer - in fact, I don't really own any make up apart from mascara, blusher and BB cream! Because of this, having clear skin is even more important to me :)

Another thing is that adding a bit of luxury to my life through skincare and beauty routines gives me something to look forward to at the end of a long and hard day. The fact that these products actually work is another factor that brings a smile to my face and this, in turn, helps me relax before I head to bed.

23 Sept 2014

new additions from the journal shop

Can you believe this order is my first from The Journal Shop? I was after a thickish A6 notebook that I could carry around while on placement so I could jot down things that require looking up when I have a free moment or things that are of interest to me. At the same time, I also wanted to try out some products from Iconic: a Korean stationery brand with a range of beautiful products. 

My order consisted of an A6 Iconic notebook, a set of three Iconic double-ended pens, Midori turtle clips and a roll of Midori stickers (useful for marking out where each 'chapter' of my university notebook starts). 

The pens are cute in design and are fine-nibbed at 0.4mm. The colours aren't the prettiest (red, blue, green, brown, black and orange) but I like them because these are more 'professional' colours and would be useful for colour coding notes on placement. They write well and the flow is decent but I have to admit that these pens are more style than substance. However, there isn't really a benchmark for double ended pens like these in the UK so it's hard to comment objectively on the quality.

The Midori stickers are circular, patterned and about 2.5cm in diameter each - so pretty big! They are versatile and could be used for a variety of things, such as gift-wrap, craft projects or just labelling things as each pattern is repeated numerous times throughout the roll.

The Midori turtle clips are made of a plastic material and can hold about 5-6 sheets each. This is perfect for notes that need to be held together temporarily as staples leave awkward holes when removed. The range of colours used for the clips are lovely and I love how cute they are. I'd be careful of overloading the clips though as they can be quite stiff and, in my opinion, easily broken if you try and fit a few too many sheets in.

Iconic are a brand synonymous with minimalistic, yet pretty, stationery. This A6 notebook comes in a variety of colours and I chose the pastel pink one. On the outside, I love the gold embossed lettering. Inside, there are pages with a variety of layouts and I particularly like the fact that most of the double page spreads feature a plain page on the left and a lined page on the right because this lends itself perfectly to the potential medical notes that I will take. I can draw a picture of something anatomical or in a diagram format before annotating that with notes on the right - perfect!

Overall, I am happy with these products because they will come in useful in the next academic year and that is why I bought them. However, these products, and other similar ones, can be found for a cheaper price on other sites if you know where to look and are willing to wait patiently for delivery (namely, online stores that are based in Hong Kong) and I think that is why I've not ordered from The Journal Shop before. That, and the fact that I have an affinity for anything Hong Kong-related due to my heritage.

NB: All products were paid for using my own money in this blog post.

21 Sept 2014

my week #127

So far this academic year, the workload has been significantly less than last year and I'm finding myself with more spare time. As a result, I'm not quite sure what to do with myself once I've got all my work done! The result are some planner pages that are filled with empty white spaces.

How has your week been?

18 Sept 2014

my work area - revamped and revisited

I've showed off my desk during the revision period before exams and I've found that with the addition of my iPad, my desk is organised differently now. For the new university year, I've done a few tweaks to try and maximise productivity and here they are.

So the desk still looks similar - quite minimalistic but the iPad is propped up so I can watch a bit of Netflix when I need a break. It is also at the ideal angle for me to scroll through textbooks for reference or use an anatomy app to visualise a nerve or muscle. In the above picture, I was watching a guilt-free episode of Black Books :)

Above my desk is a pinboard where I've pinned up things from university (such as a list of the Top 100 drugs I need to know), inspiring quotes and also cute labels or cards from friends and family. I also have a picture up of my second cousin who I spent a summer looking after when I was 16 - she's now nine years old!

To the right of the desk is my other Expedit. There is a free shelf, ready to hold folders of notes and textbooks, and also space for notes that need filing away (bottom left shelf with the mini-shelf in it).

I like how much more zen this set-up feels but I still have a way to go as the bookshelf is still more cluttered than I would like it to be.

16 Sept 2014

the importance of recording work hours

Earlier this summer, I started some shift work. Starting this job meant that I also started a new section in my binder - one that recorded the hours I worked and the amount I expected to be paid for that shift. Come pay day, I was then able to compare and contrast to ensure that I had been paid fairly for my work. This is something I would encourage all shift workers to do as it is quite easy to not be paid for overtime!

I do all of this in a variety of ways: in each weekly spread, I note the number of hours that were done that week. Each scheduled shift I do is written down on the relevant days but of course, quite often, these hours aren't stuck to for one reason or another.

Towards the back of the binder, I have a page where I record the number of hours I have done each week and then the expected pay. As I only get the minimum wage, each fraction of an hour is important to me! Pay day comes at the end of each month and so, I draw a line under that month to denote that I have been paid correctly.

Keeping a record as I go along means that I don't have to scratch my head at the end of the month to remember what hours I had worked. And now that term has restarted for me, my hours will inevitably decrease at work but recording them will be more important than before as I now have to juggle work, study, play and this blog but with a much smaller budget as I receive less funding this year compared to last year.

14 Sept 2014

my week #126

This week at university was significantly lighter than any other week I've experienced thus far. As a result of this, I started some clinical revision in preparation for my first placement in a few weeks' time.

How has your week been?

11 Sept 2014

an updated Smythson binder tour

Now that I'm properly back in my Smythson, I thought I'd walk you all through the set-up with an explanation for each section. It's not much different from the last post about it but I'm focussing more on the pages towards the back in this post (whereas in the previous one, I focussed more on the pages towards the front).

At the front is the quote page shown in the previous post. I found it through a Google search but it says 'designed by Francesca Ramos 2010' at the bottom so all credit to her for making it. There are also page markers on the flyleaf.

I'm still using the Filofax white week-on-two-page layout. I'm still debating if I want to continue using it this academic year but seeing as the year has already started, I don't think I'll be moving to another planner anytime soon.

Once the planner pages end, I have another page of quotes from Leonie Wise - again found on Google images. I love these inspiring quote pages as all too often, being the workaholic that I am, I find myself not allowing enough time to relax or unwind at the end of the day. These quotes give me a few minutes to read through them and just not think about work for that time.

Now, onto the bulk at the back. I have a post-it note with ingredients for a fruit cobbler which I want to make sometime during this summer.

To-do lists are all over the place and I should've made a better effort to ensure that they were separated into categories rather than mix them up. On the above pages, there are films I want to see, beauty products I want to buy and try, thing I want to bake, places I want to eat at and also things I need to study. Having written these things down myself, I know exactly where to find what to-do (my memory is pretty decent which can be a bit of a hindrance sometimes).

I make quite a few notes but the notes I will be showing you seem to be more lists.

There is a list of books I want to read at some point...

And a list of all the restaurants I've been to in the last two years. I'm trying to reach 100 before the end of this year and I think it is safe to say I won't get there as I've only eaten at 54 in 104 weeks. I don't even want to consider how much money I've frittered away on dining out...

And finally, at the back is the return of my clear pocket which has pictures of sentimental value. In the secretarial pocket, there are some stickers that I use to mark things on my weekly pages.

For 2015, I may well be in a different planner - with The Planner by Seeso being the most likely one. However, I still have a few other options to peruse so we'll see...

9 Sept 2014

book review: paper swans by jessica thompson

I recently joined Bookbridgr after seeing Katie talk about them over on her blog and being a big reader (thank you, Kindle!), I thought I'd join up to see what the fuss was about. Let's just say I'm so far impressed with the whole concept - reading books and then reviewing them is fair trade to me! 

Let me introduce you to the first book I received through Bookbridgr: Paper Swans by Jessica Thompson. I received this book towards the end of August and I finished it in a week. Pretty good going considering for half of that time, it was term-time (hello, nine to five days where I leave the house at half seven in the morning and don't return til half six in the evening...).

Anyway, Paper Swans is a love story intertwined with mental illness. Without giving too much of the plot away, the book follows Ben's journey through the skeletons in his closet that arose from one unfortunate incident earlier in his life. It's all a bit cliche to begin with - a guy who seems arrogant and irresponsible and a girl who has no bad bone in her body. However, the fact that I read the book in seven days says it all - the plot, though nothing really that special, kept me interested enough to want to know what would happen next.

What I loved about this book was the sensitive way Jessica Thompson tackles the subject of mental illness. Though some parts were a bit unrealistic (in my opinion), the majority of it was relatable to the average Joe. We all go through periods of anxiety but for some of us, it can be more severe and chronic that for others and I think this book highlights this point very well.

Although the book is a bit of a slow starter, I would still recommend it. So far this year, I've read a lot of Lucy Diamond books and other chicklit books and if you have similar taste in books to me, I think you'll enjoy this book.

Overall, I give Paper Swans 7/10 (which is pretty decent as books rarely make it passed 7/10 when I rate them!).

7 Sept 2014

my week #125

My second week back and it has been a busy one! I'm still trying to find a balance between study, work and my social life and I think I'm getting there. 

My aim this weekend is to sort out my room and Expedit bookshelf - thanks to some very helpful comments, I think I have some ideas about what to do. Thank you to all of the helpful suggestions :)

I redeemed a free Graze box two weeks ago and my second one arrived (with some money off) this week. Although I love the concept of receiving 'healthier' snacks through the post, I don't think it is something I can afford to fork out for on a regular basis so this will be my last.

How has your week been?

4 Sept 2014

balancing university and 'life': my own experience

It's really easy to let university take over your life and in fact, I think I was guilty of this in my first year at medschool. In this post, I will cover work and play (or at least, try to!) so I'll begin with work.

Firstly, I try and work whenever possible. Sometimes, I'm really not in the mood for study so I'll take that evening off or a few hours off and that's okay with me. I do feel a bit stressed and guilty for not doing work but then I think about how important it is to have a balance and I don't feel quite so bad. Occasionally, I get into a mood where I feel super productive and it's during these times that I take advantage and get a lot of study in (but with study breaks every hour!).

As my commute is an hour and a half each way, I try and make use of this time. I'll spend half of my journey relaxing and the other half going over things with flashcards. Flashcards are something that I count as an essential when it comes to studying and that's particularly true for me when I could potentially end up wasting 15 hours a week doing nothing whilst on the bus.

During particularly stressful times, I will light a candle a few hours' before I am due to go to bed. I leave the candle on my bedside table and when I tuck myself under my duvet, I get a faint smell of vanilla which aids relaxation. I think the tea lights shown above were only £1.50 (for the whole pack!) and although the aroma isn't the strongest, it does the job.

Make time to wind down and relax with friends... Once every few weeks, my friends and I will get together and do something that doesn't involve work. One of my favourite things to do is laugh and make other people laugh so it's safe to say that one thing that keeps me balanced are my friends.

Do more of what you love. For me, I love cooking and baking so once in a while, I'll spend a afternoon in the kitchen cooking and baking. Although I love hanging out with friends, I do love being in my own company too and this 'hobby' (if you can call it that...!) allows me to do just that.

Finally, the most important thing you can learn to do is to say 'no'. I know it's hard when a friend decides to arrange a night out as it might feel like you're missing out but on a few occasions, I've declined invitations as I'm aware of my own limits. Burning out is not fun and it's not worth risking it for 'fear of missing out'. 

Overall, I think it is quite easy to get caught up in studying 24/7 and not allowing yourself to let go for fear of guilty or anxious feelings. I appreciate this - I've been in that boat earlier this year - but each time I felt guilty or anxious, I'd remind myself that by having these breaks or times where I just focus on play instead of work, I'm allowing myself to stay sane. And I think that's the most important thing to remember: that by having this balance, I'm keeping my sanity and balance as an all-rounded human being. There's more to me than just studying and letting it define my personality is not how I want others to see me.

2 Sept 2014

how I re-wrote my lecture notes in year one, term three

Lectures play a role in the most university courses and on my course, it makes up a significant portion of the teaching. The majority of exam content is based on what we are taught in lectures (with the rest based on self-directed learning) and so I have tweaked the way I re-write notes so that they are more useful when it comes to revision time. 

The first thing to note is that I try and write in bullet points - this breaks down the information and makes it easier to take in. I also try and only write down things I think are relevant because the lectures are often padded out with statistics that don't need to be learnt and sometimes, it is quite obvious what the lecturer wants us to know at this stage and I take every hint I can get during the lectures themselves. 

In terms of colour, I try not to overload the paper with too many colours as I find that it can be distracting. It's nice to have beautiful lecture notes but the main thing is function here so minimalism is key.

Medicine isn't just all about words - anatomy is very visual and it's all very well writing notes on an organ/the Circle of Willis (a network of arterial circulation in the brain)/the GI system but without being able to visualise things, it makes learning everything that bit harder. This is why I draw out as much as I can and then annotate to my heart's content. Drawing things out by hand is another way to help things sink into my brain - there's a reason why there are 'draw it to know it' anatomy books out there on the market!

Occasionally, I integrate hand-drawn diagrams with lecture notes. In the next picture, I transferred the lecture material into a diagram I came up with myself. Doing this allowed me to compartmentalise the massive amount of information provided to us in the lecture and make it easier to learn.

This is essentially how I wrote out my revision notes and I hope to carry as much of this on as I can this year. However, I will try and put it all into one A5 notebook so that it is easier to lug around with me on a daily basis and because I really want to use my Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks!