30 Dec 2014

year two, term one essentials and review

This term, my essentials were as follows:

Leuchtturm 1917 A5 notebook, Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine, Zebra Mildliners, Muji 0.5mm gel pens, Uniball 0.7mm Signo gel pens and Muji 0.5mm retractable gel pens.
Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Notebook 
This notebook is used for writing up my revision notes that will come in handy for exam time. If you follow me on Instagram (@paperl0vestory), you may have seen a few photos of it. The narrow rule is beautiful and the hard cover keeps it protected from any scuffs or light damage.

Zebra Mildliners, Muji 0.5 Gel Pens, Uniball Gel Pens and Muji Retractable Gels
These pens have been used in my Leuchtturm and also in my group work notebook. I'm a big fan of gel pens as they write well, especially when left out in the open for a few minutes - such as in lectures, and because of the wide range of colours they usually come in. A bit of colour also breaks up the monotonous blue ink - something that is essential for maintaining my concentration. The slightly washed out colour of the Zebra mildliners is easier on the eye as the fluorescent tones of normal highlighters shine a bit too bright when staring at notes for a prolonged amount of time.

Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine
Almost everyone I know who is in the medical field recommends this text as a must-have. It is easy to carry around whilst on placement and is concise enough to have a basic bit about the most common conditions seen in most specialties. For that reason, it has become an essential text for me this term because this academic year is more about merging together patient presentation with differential diagnoses and then what investigations I would do and how that would affect the management.

Overall, this first term has been more enjoyable than first year where there were no clinical placements. Moreover, the stationery I have chosen to use is so pretty that it definitely makes studying much more interesting. Pretty stationery can make all the difference :)


28 Dec 2014

my week #141 - christmas week!

Christmas week! I finally managed to stop doing uni work on Christmas (about time, considering my first term ended on the 19th!) and had some festive fun with my family. My sister and I spent most of the day preparing the dinner and I definitely skipped lunch to ensure that there was enough room in my belly for the extortionate amount of food that we'd be serving!

It's been snowing in some parts of the UK but unfortunately, there was none where I am - not that it's a bad thing; everything comes to a standstill when snow falls here.

How was your Christmas week?

26 Dec 2014

book review: dangerous girls by abigail haas

This book has been on my Kindle for quite some time and I can't believe me it took me so long to actually read it. The blurb reads as follows:

"Elise is dead. And someone must pay. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise and a group of close friends set off on a debaucherous Spring Break trip to Aruba. But paradise soon turns into a living nightmare when Elise is brutally murdered. Soon Anna finds herself trapped in a foreign country, fighting for her freedom. 

As she awaits the judge's decree, it becomes clear that everyone is questioning her innocence. To the rest of the world, Anna isn't just guilty, but dangerous. And the truth is more shocking than you could ever imagine..."

Image credit: Amazon
Dangerous Girls follows the story of a group of friends who push the boundaries of having fun and boy, do they (apparently) know how to have fun. Until it ends in disaster for one of them. 

Tate is the popular boy with his good looks and status as captain of the high school sports team; Elise is the fun-loving free spirit party girl who appears to lead everyone around her astray and Anna is the girl who has transferred from another school and seems to be perplexed by her good fortune in her status as Tate's girlfriend and Elise's best friend. And if I'm honest, I didn't like any of them - they are un-relatable (at least for me), self-centred and the type of people I would avoid being too friendly with.

I was pulled in as soon as I read the first chapter - it is written in such a way that it flits between a variety of memories that belong to Anna. It is essentially written from Anna's point of view and although stories that go from the past to the present don't really work (in my opinion and experience), it is very effective in telling the story in Dangerous Girls. It is a good way to drip feed the reader with information that stuns and shocks - and let me tell you, there is a twist virtually every chapter or so.

The more I read, the more I thought it sounded like the Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher case and that the book was probably based more on that rather than on an original idea the author had. Whilst not a bad thing, this may ruin the story for some readers. Personally, I was fine with it because the book is very well written and we often see the plot of Pride and Prejudice re-hashed in modern day novels (e.g. the Bridget Jones series) so to me, Dangerous Girls is no different.

Overall, Dangerous Girls is a thriller that is ridiculously well written and considering I read it in two days, this can only be a good sign. Especially as, at the time, I was on a busy university week! I give it a 9/10 because the twists were unpredictable and the ending is exceedingly shocking. Without spoiling it, you'll have to read it to see what I mean but the book is totally not what I expected and I don't think I'll be the first, or last, person to say this!

I know that Abigail Haas has also written a book called Dangerous Boys but I have yet to start it as Rainbow Rowell's Landline is my current read so it'll have to wait until 2015.

21 Dec 2014

my week #140

This is the 17th week of my second year at university and it's finally the last week of the first term. It's been a long term and I'm not going to lie - it was stressful trying to balance studying with two jobs that don't have guaranteed hours, blogging and also a social life. Anyway, I've survived (just about) and am trying very hard to relax but it might take me a day or two before that actually happens properly.

For those of your university or school, how are you guys finding it? Grateful for a break? Are you totally relaxing or are you using it as an opportunity to catch up on work? 2015 is just around the corner now so it's also a good time to review 2014 and see what things you may want to improve on (for me: I need to stop being such a workaholic and relax!).

How has your week been?

18 Dec 2014

my 2015 planner: the chosen one

Back in July, I posted about a planner I just had to add to my bookshelf: The Planner by Seeso (now sold out but here is a link to other cute planners!) from The Fox and Star. I have a soft spot for the colour orange and who can resist a Korean brand that designs cute and functional stationery? Having used a binder for years (Filofax, Kate Spade, Smythson were the brands I've worked my way through!), I wanted to use a bound planner again. Back in 2011, I used a Moleskine but this time, I wanted something a bit more chic and different.

The year planner has already been marked out with birthdays already. I've yet to make a note of other events but I will get round to that. Or not - I don't tend to use year planners so it might stay this way for the next twelve months!

Monthly planning pages are something I've tried and failed to use in my binder so hopefully, I'll have more success with this one. I'm not holding my breath but it's always useful to see my month at a glance so here's hoping that these pages see a lot of use! I've filled in the important things already and I'm hoping my social life gets more exciting so I can write more things in!

The weekly planning pages are a completely different layout to anything else I've tried before. It is a vertical layout and there are blocks for each hour of the day, from 6am until 8pm. So far, I've colour coded my general practice placement and I'm hoping to carry on colour coding when I return to the lectures and group work block.

Some stickers were included and I've already utilised the month ones to mark out the start of each month within the weekly planning pages. It looks pretty cool from the side if I do say so myself! :)

At the back, I have some stuff I need for my placement and also some stickers that came with the planner. I love having a pocket as it's just so useful for those bits that may otherwise fall out of my planner.

Overall, I'm really excited for the start of 2015! Only another two weeks to go though :) The idea of a bound planner is something different to what I'm used to and a change is always a bit exciting.

Are you getting excited for 2015? Are any of you trying something different too? :)

16 Dec 2014

adding your own personal touch to a home on a budget

Being 24 years of age and a student still living at home with parents may sound like a nightmare to some. However, I'm quite lucky in that my parents are very lax and treat me like an adult (as they should, I'm 24! And I am capable of living out on my own if it weren't for finances) but the one thing I do miss is adding my own personal touch to the house. The only place I can really do that is my bedroom as it's also my study space and the place where I probably (sadly) spend the most time (most likely studying) when I'm at home.

Anyway, as a student, my budget for all things is never big. As a graduate student, the money situation is worse and I have to be pretty tight, especially towards the end of term. However, there are still ways you can add little personal touches on a budget.


Candles are an easy way - smell is such a powerful sense so this is a simple method of adding some character to your house. I'm currently using the Enchanted Forest from the House of Fraser brand, Linea.

The set consists of a reed diffuser set and two candles - one that has a sixty hour burn-time and a smaller one that has a fifty hour burn-time. They all share the same fragrance: "cool peppermint with nuances of warm woods" - sounds perfect for this time of year where the nights are long and dark, with Christmas just around the corner.

With regards to the fragrance, I don't really get any of notes of peppermint but the warm woods do come through, albeit a bit subtly. The fragrance is natural and not overpowering and I love how the candle looks when it is burning. However, the only negative I have is that the bottle part of the reed diffuser set is a bit clunky and unsightly. The bottle shape looks a bit too medicinal to me and I much prefer the shape of this one from the Moroccan Rose set.

Bookshelf Refresh

An Expedit bookshelf means that I can jazz it up at will and on a budget too. The box inserts are a few pound a pop each and instantly brighten up your room if you switch them out on a regular basis. At the moment, I have these floral and pastel green ones in and they add a nice, girly, fresh touch to my room.

Pinboard and Upcycling!

A pinboard is an essential in my room and always has been, even when I lived out for my first degree. A good way to decorate a boring pinboard is to repaint it - I'm thinking of doing painting the borders white when I get a spare moment. Furthermore, I up-cycled some tissue paper I received from an online clothes order and what could have been a boring corkboard now has a cute pattern to it.

Washi Tape

Washi tape can be used for almost anything and it can be a cheap way to add your own touch to everyday items if you have a roll or two knocking about. Whilst a roll can be expensive, one roll can last you a while as most come in ten metre lengths.

Another thing I've done is use an Ikea candle holder (on the right) as a pen pot. I know others have used it to store make-up brushes amongst other things so they can be used for almost anything as they are the perfect size to hold things.

Shoebox Upcycling

Wallpaper samples are free from most warehouse stores such as B&Q and Homebase here in the UK and when we were redecorating the house, we accrued many samples. They were just kicking about and instead of recycling them, I took some and wrapped old shoeboxes in them. We also lined our kitchen cupboards with them. This is, literally, a free way to make your own storage boxes - all you need are some old shoeboxes (clean!) and wallpaper. I don't recommend taking wallpaper samples for the sake of it as there are people who genuinely need/want them but as I was redecorating at the time, it was just something that I had kicking about.

I think I may have mentioned some of these things before but it's always nice to remind yourself that 'redecorating' on a minor level can be cheap and doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

Have you got any tips for adding a personal touch for very few pennies?

14 Dec 2014

my week #139

Not much to say apart from the fact that I came down with flu symptoms late on Wednesday night and it escalated into proper flu on Thursday and Friday (peak temperature of 38.8 celsius! New record!). It calmed down a bit yesterday but there's now an annoying cough! I did have my flu vaccination back in late September so it appears that it might have helped with making this flu disappear quicker than it may have otherwise done (the last time I had flu, I had a fever for four days).

Other than this, only one more week of uni to go until the Christmas holidays! And boy, do I need this holiday. The fact that my immune system is shot shows just how much I need a break - it's been non-stop for me since April (my last proper break).

How has your week been?

11 Dec 2014

what I write in my planner

Each Sunday, I post a re-cap of how my week looked in my planner and I blur out a fair bit but today, I am going to reveal what some of those blurs hold. In this post, I want to show and tell what I write in my planner and why.

My Smythson binder holds my current planner and within it, I write down a vast array of things: university-related things (such as lecture times), social things, work-related things and financial things. In essence, it is my life but on paper and this is why I felt the need to blur our some more personal things (especially when it comes to financial things) but I feel this means in each weekly post, blurring out so much detracts from why I started posting my weekly spread in the first place.

So, let's start with the obvious things I write down. At the top of the right-hand side, I write down which week of the current module it is and also what that week's case is as the we do case-based learning at the medschool I am at. In each day, I write down what time there is teaching and this includes anatomy sessions, lectures, group work amongst other things. Sometimes, my friends and I opt to do some extra group work amongst ourselves (where we go through things we aren't so clear about) and this is denoted by a Martha Stewart teardrop sticker.

I also write down any financial outgoings or incomings in my diary - in the example below, I splurged on Escentual and blagged a bargain on eBay - and also where the outgoing/incoming would be going from/into. On the flip side of this, I also keep track of any returns I send back to online stores - most notably to ASOS and House of Fraser. ASOS because of their amazing free delivery and free returns service they do (so I can feed my shopping fix from home) and House of Fraser as I get vouchers for them on a regular basis.

In terms of work, I note down which shift I am meant to be doing according to a weekly rota and at the back of my binder, I also make sure I keep a record of the actual hours I did and the expected pay as a result.

Sometimes, I also decide to keep a record of what book I am currently reading and in this example, I used a strip of washi tape to help me do this.

In terms of to-dos, I note down anything and everything I want to have done by the end of that day. Sometimes, it isn't the end of the world if I don't manage to get something done - for example, in a picture above, I have 'book eye test' unchecked but that is because I had an eye test abroad in December and know that, although I am due an eye test with Specsavers here in the UK, this can wait until I am less busy.

Another thing I like to write down are TV programmes I want to watch and one of my favourite ways to do this is to draw a TV box around the name of a TV show.

Grocery lists and recipes I want to try out also make it onto my weekly pages. 

Social events usually stick out like a sore thumb as they are so few and far between! Studying obviously takes precedence, and then work because, unfortunately, money is essential to survive, which means socialising usually draws the short straw when it comes to allocation of my free time!

Blogging to-dos crop up from time to time and they usually appear in the form of 'blog: title' or 'content blog post'.

One of the things I want to improve on in the next year or so is to go to the cinema more. My list of films I want to see is pretty long and I know that I don't go often enough for my liking. Baby steps have already been taken in that I now note when films are coming out and also when to go and see them! 

If there is space in my planner, eBay sales are recorded so that I know how much I sold that week. I only sell clothes that are sitting in my wardrobe and aren't being worn on a daily basis so these sales are usually few and far between. 

Birthdays are, of course, written down in my planner! 

It has taken my quite a few years to get to this stage of knowing what to write down in my planner and what to write in my journal (which I do once a week) so I hope you've enjoyed this peek into the reasoning behind the content on my planner pages.

Are there things you record in your planner that is unique to you? Or are there things you miss out on purpose for one reason or another? :)

9 Dec 2014

what's in my bag #16 : placement edition

Whilst on placement, I only carry around a small cross body bag as it is inappropriate to tote around a massive bag with the kitchen sink in it. Here is what I carry around:

From top left, clockwise: an Iconic A6 essay book, two pens, a bottle of water, a pocket textbook that is ridiculously useful, an ASUS tablet (university-issued and contains an app where I have things needed to be signed off whilst on placement), mints, a snack bar and a box of Graze snacks.
The eagle-eyed of you will notice that the Iconic notebook was featured in a post where I talked about some additions from The Journal Shop. In that blog post, you can see the layout of the essay book and it has been ideal for placement use (I will talk more about this in a post towards the end of this year/at the beginning of 2015).

Snacks are essential as lunch breaks aren't guaranteed and fainting during a long morning clinic or ward round isn't a good idea when there are already numerous of patients to care for on a ward. You don't want to add to that list, even if it is for a few minutes!

The tablet is a hassle to carry around. It is university-issued as all procedures and tests that are done need to be signed off electronically now.

You can never carry enough pens around: people are always asking to borrow pens and when they do, don't expect to get it back.

The Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine is a great book to have on hand when on the wards. I know that a lot of medics call it 'the bible' and I'm definitely seeing why they do - the information in it is perfect for clinical medicine and it covers an extensive range of topics.

Being on placement is definitely a shift in the way I learn things. Whereas in the past, I was used to sitting in lectures, I have found that I've had to be more assertive in my own learning; using my initiative to visit other wards to see patients with a variety of reasons for being in hospital. After all, patients are interesting to talk to!

7 Dec 2014

my week #138

This is only the second week of group work and I am already bored of it. Placement was so much more fun - patients are the best way to learn and spending a day on the wards is a lot better than sitting in a lecture theatre for hours on end. Ah well - only another few weeks to go before I start my general practice placement; a placement that has had mixed reviews from my colleagues who have already done the placement or are current on it.

In terms of my diary pages, it is quite a blank week. I've not had many to-dos to do but I'm sure that will change the closer we get to Christmas.

How has your week been?

4 Dec 2014

an inspiration journal: home

During the summer, I began thinking a lot about my future. Having spent three years living away from home whilst at university, and now ending up back in the parental home as I embark on a second degree, I'm itching to get back out there so that I can decorate and furnish my own place. Growing up in Scotland, I have many happy childhood memories and would like to relocate to Edinburgh (as opposed to the Highlands of Scotland where my memories lie) so I thought I'd take a look on Rightmove at the current properties on the market.

As I did this, I may have found my perfect home: a two bedroom flat in Edinburgh New Town that is beautifully decorated with pictures that allow my imagination to run wild. 

I promptly printed off the pictures and then took notes on the sort of things I'd want in each room to try and create a homely feel. The thing that I loved the most, however, were the period features in each and every room - the beautiful coving, the sizeable sash windows: it's the stuff of my imaginations and to see that it actually exists has left me aspiring to the day where I can earn enough to afford a mortgage on a place, hopefully, not too dissimilar to this flat. 

I don't know about you but for me, spending some time jotting down my hopes and dreams is somewhat therapeutic. It's nice to have something that keeps the fire in my belly alight so that I feel like I have something to work towards.

Do any of you keep an inspiration journal? If so, what sort of things do you record and note down? :)

2 Dec 2014

book: isla and the happily ever after by stephanie perkins

I first discovered Stephanie Perkins through the lovely Zoe from zoebee.co.uk. She recommended Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door to me and well, I do love a slushy love story (or two... or three in this case!). Isla and the Happily Ever After is the last of this trilogy and if you've read the first two, you can pretty much guess what will happen in this book.

Picture credit: Booktopia

The blurb for this book reads as follows (credit):

"Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, √Čtienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins's beloved series."

What did I think of this book? Well, I enjoyed Anna and Lola's stories and although I read this book just as fast as I did the others (two days!), I still think Anna and the French Kiss is my favourite of the three. Although Isla and Josh are likeable enough, I did find Isla a bit annoying at times. The storyline is cute enough and is realistic but I found it a bit bland though that could be explained by the fact that I spent my summer reading thrillers by Gillian Flynn.

Overall, I'd rate Isla and the Happily Ever After at 6.5/10 - it is a nice easy read that has a happy ending (always a bonus) and if you've read the other two novels already, then this is a must-read, even if only to complete the trilogy. Stephanie Perkins is a fantastic writer who knows how to draw a reader in and her books are perfect for the long, winter nights which can be a bit depressing.

30 Nov 2014

my week #137

It's been a weird week. Whilst it seemed to go by exceedingly slowly, it also seemed to pass by in a blink of an eye - hard to explain but when I look back, I do think 'where has the time gone?'. Maybe I've just managed to keep myself busy without even realising it.

Now that we're almost in December, I have my Christmas cards at the ready! It is also less than four weeks until Christmas and I am totally excited for a bit of R&R. I spent yesterday tidying and decluttering my room and I still have a long way to go. Although I threw out three bags of things to be recycled and two bags of rubbish, I feel like there is still more I can get rid of and having already bookmarked a date during the holidays to declutter again, I am sure I will be able to purge more non-essential items.

Today, my plan is to get some studying done as I did none yesterday because we all need a day that is completely unrelated to what we do on a daily basis :)

How has your week been?

27 Nov 2014

term one's group work notes

I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to keeping organised and for group work, I like to use bound or spiral notebooks if I can. I try and keep the notes within them as tidy as possible because they will be used as revision notes nearer to exam time so here is a glimpse into one of them that was used for the first term of year 'three' (technically my second year but it is actually the third year of medical school).

The notebook itself is from Artbox and I bought it over a year ago so I'm not sure if they still stock it. It is quite minimalistic in design with a red cover, spring green spine and back. Inside, the paper is cream in colour with is ruled. On the first page, I've made a contents page so that each week can be found easily and to aid with this, I've also placed a round sticker (folded in half) at the top of each new section.

I try and keep the notes as neat as possible. There are diagrams present too and although I use coloured gel pens to highlight things, I keep these to a minimum and instead, opt to use Zebra Mildliners where possible. The pastel nature of the Mildliners are easier on the eye and are easily my favourite highlighters ever.

That said, I still use colours when they are appropriate - an example is when it comes to 'staging' things and in diagrams.

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into my group work notebook from this term. Would you like to see more of these notes or others that I take? If so, let me know and I may make this a more regular thing :)

25 Nov 2014

little bits of happiness

Having started a happiness journal earlier this year, I thought it would be fitting to write a post on the little bits of happiness that surround me on a regular basis. The number one happy thing in my life has to be my network of family and close friends - they keep me sane through difficult and stressful patches and without them, I'm not sure what kind of person I would be!

1) Cute notebooks

Notebooks that are a joy to look at on my bookshelf make me happy. Another happy thing is that you don't have to splash out to make notebooks aesthetically pretty on a shelf, you can washi tape spines in a DIY project.

2) Adorable cushions and house furnishing

These cushions are usually on my bed but sometimes, they are forced to migrate to my bookshelf if I there is something I want to hide (in this case, a medicines and first aid box!).

3) Positive posters

This cute poster from Nina and Other Little Things is something that is on my bedside table. During stressful times, falling asleep is easier said than done so I try do as much as I can to create a relaxing environment and beautiful illustrations like this help.

4) M&M Pretzels

These are seriously hard to find in the UK and when I found a supplier based in London, I quickly placed an order. I eat one packet every one or two weeks as a treat as I find them a bit too sweet to eat often (sometimes, one pack lasts me for two days) but I like the balance between sweet and savoury flavours.

5) and 6) My happiness journal and Hong Kong journal of memories

I started this happiness journal to try and just document things that happen each day. My worst fear is looking back in ten years' time and not remembering those little moments that brought a smile to my face so this journal is perfect to write down three lines of happiness that occurred each day.

My Christmas holidays were spent in Hong Kong and during that two week period, I took loads and loads of pictures. I wanted a way to remember this precious time in my life because this may be the last time I visit Hong Kong in a long, long time; so, I decided to create a memory journal.

7) My favourite scent at the moment

Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb is my current perfume of choice - it is feminine but not too girly, and playful without being too immature.

8) Reading in bed

There's nothing better than snuggling under a duvet with my Kindle! I love reading and often wish I had more time for it, so I try and read a chapter or two whenever I have a spare moment.

9) Pens that are a pleasure to use

Muji gels will always have a special place in my (stationery) heart but these Pilot Juice pens are definitely well on their way to being my joint favourite gel pens.

These are the little things and moments that make me happy - they aren't expensive or hard to come by and I think that is the most important thing to remember: happiness does not have to cost you anything or much financially. Although a new and luxurious purchase can bring joy; generally, happiness cannot be bought so crack a smile and enjoy each moment :)