26 Feb 2015

a new 30 before 30

Getting into medschool was a game and life changer which meant writing a new '30 before 30' list was well overdue. I kept some from my old list but also incorporated new items too. Some goals are easier than others and some are pretty huge and may not be achieved until I'm after 30 but a girl can dream ('buy a house' is very ambitious!).

Here is the old list:

I'm still tweaking the list - the aim is to add something to it once something else gets checked off. When I was younger, I always thought that I would have my life sorted by the age of 25 and as that is only eight months away, this list shows that couldn't be further from the truth!

Have you written a '30 before 30' list? If so, link me up - would love to see yours :)

24 Feb 2015

term one's 'rough' lecture notes

Keeping my notes as neat as possible is something that I have a slight obsessive compulsive about but in lectures, writing things down as quickly as possible is more important than ensuring that the page is super neat. If you compare my lecture notes with my group work ones, there is a visible difference. I use cursive and join up my handwriting when scrawling in lectures and things are also all over the place with arrows everywhere and little illustrations too.

Multicoloured pens are perfect for lectures as it allows me to underline things of note or things that may be important. They also allow me to scribble and decorate my paper when I'm bored as you can see below. 

Aside from taking notes in lectures, I also do some self-study on campus that don't need to be written up in a neater way so I choose to write in cursive that is semi-neat and semi-messy. The most important thing there is to keep the page layout as neat as possible as I may want to refer back to the page at a later date. The sort of notes that these would include are things that we have had no official teaching on but things that are deemed important to still know about.

And what if I needed notes that were neater that would be used for revision and were part of the syllabus? Well, this is the end result:

Hope you've enjoyed this look at my rougher notes - most of my notes are actually pretty neat as the most untidy ones are ones taken in lectures as you can see above!

22 Feb 2015

my week #149

My week got off to an amazing start where I went to see George Ezra at Brixton Electric. It was a show as part of the Brits Week where other artists were also featured with George Ezra as the headline act. If you've never heard of him, definitely seek his songs out on Youtube; but I have to let you know that he sounds much, much better live.

Thursday marked the beginning of the year of the sheep - happy chinese new year to you all and I hope you all have a prosperous year with good health and advancement in your careers and/or studies :) I spent it with my family and friends which is always the best way.

How has your week been?

19 Feb 2015

term one's lecture notes turned into revision notes

Firstly, happy Chinese new year to you all! I hope you all have an amazing year of good health and see an advancement in your careers and study.

Now, onto the blog post itself. Term one had a few lectures that were ridiculous. Ridiculous in the sense that they had an extraordinary amount of content in for a one hour lecture and were almost as deep as the sea when it came to how much we were expected to know about a relatively small subject.

To try and combat any feeling of fear ('OMG how am I going to know all this by exams!?'), I decided to write out these lecture notes onto an A4 piece of paper each. Sometimes, I would fail and I would need two sheets (I blame the lecturer more than myself for that - just look how small my handwriting is!) but it meant that I had everything on a page or two, rather than on a lecture handout that had six slides to each page and still managed to span ten sides of A4.

Whilst writing out the lecture notes, I try and add in some colour (hello Zebra Mildliners, Muji gel pens and Pilot Juice gels!) whilst also keeping it as minimalistic as possible. Headers were underlined with the thin nib of the Zebra Mildliners and sub-headings were written or underlined in coloured gel ink.

Doing this ensures that the content I have to learn doesn't look so daunting - I lose interest quickly when flicking through pages and pages of lecture slides that aren't handwritten so this ensures that my eyes stay on the page and actually take things in. Usually, I end up making flashcards with these notes but only on the content that I am struggling to take in rather than everything on the page. I also transfer the more difficult bits onto a post-it note as that is another way to break down the material further.

17 Feb 2015

i have an iconic obsession

I've mentioned this Korean stationery brand quite a few times in the last few months and it's been quite a while since I've felt this way about a single brand. Having used an A6 Iconic notebook whilst on placement and with an Iconic Seize the Day planner waiting to be used, I found myself obsessed with trying out more of their products.

The natural choice was a journal notebook. I opted for two - one in Vermillion and one in Vintage Mint. In the next two pictures, you can see that they are still in their plastic wrapping.

On the inside of the cover, there is a line of text that says 'Pile up your memories' so I'm getting the impression that this notebook is designed to be a journal. However, that's not what I'm planning on using it for so we'll see how adaptable it is for other uses!

There is a year planner and also ample pages designed to be month planners. After that, we have some standard lined pages which aren't set up for a specific use and at the back, there is a 'scrap book' section. Finally, at the back, there is a pocket where you can store anything you like in (depending on its size of course).

Being a sucker for Iconic notebooks, I have no bad words to say about this journal. I can't wait to use it though I will need to have a think about how to adapt it for what I plan to use it for.

Have any of you tried any Iconic products? If so, what do you think? If not, are you tempted?

15 Feb 2015

my week #148

I've had a lazy week in terms of life admin: I've managed to get loads of uni work and studying done but barely any life stuff has been accomplished as a result! Guess it'll be made up for at some stage (things always even out as the weeks go by!).

A nasty cold decided to make its appearance on Wednesday afternoon and I've been feeling rotten ever since. I've tried to carry on studying but in hindsight, I should have probably rested more (though I did allow an afternoon nap on Thursday and Friday!).

How has your week been?

12 Feb 2015

the pressures of blogging

Blogging is a very dangerous pastime for your wallet or purse - it is so easy to purchase things with a view of reviewing it on your blog but this can leave you with a lot of things that never get used and a dent in your bank balance. Having something new in your hands is very addictive and can be a very nice, if short-lived, feeling and for a blogger, writing new content is the addiction. And this is fuelled by impulse purchasing of items that we wouldn't have otherwise bought. I think this post by Michelle at Daisy Butter explains things very well.

I used to see a lot of 'haul' videos and blog posts of stationery someone had bought from x or y store and I, myself, was guilty of this too in the past. It's nice showing off shiny new pretty things but to keep spending just to continuously come up with blog posts or Youtube videos isn't necessarily the best way to run a blog or channel.

I've not splurged on stationery for quite some time now - I buy what I need, not because I want to blog about it, and I've found myself a lot happier for it. It means I blog about other things instead and it has made me think outside the box when it comes to creating new content on here.

From top left, clockwise: too many washi tapes, a pen pot filled with Muji Erasables, Pilot Juice pens amongst others, Staedtler Triplus felt tips, more washi tape than I know what to do with, sticky notes from Artbox, a Masking Sticker set in pastel and MT washi tape.
In the picture above are some of the things I've regretted buying and some things that I utilise on a regular basis and were bought because I wanted it, not because I wanted to blog about it. For example, the washi tape in the box on the left are a mixture of impulse buys and calculated buys. The thin ones at the bottom and the ones in the top row were ones on my wishlist for a number of months before purchase and the ones in the middle were ones that caught my eye in Paperchase or in craft stores whilst looking for something else. These were bought at a time when there were many posts and videos about washi tape hauls and I definitely got sucked into the hype. I don't care much for it now and haven't bought a new roll for months now (I think it should be close to a year now).

I think what I'm trying to say is that you don't need to buy new things continuously to run a blog and that is is possible within a budget. It might mean more effort needs to be made when it comes to what to write and post about but a quick Google search can bring up ideas for every blog niche there is.

Struggling with ideas for a lifestyle blog? Just Google 'lifestyle blog post ideas' - sometimes seeing a list of ideas can set off a spark within your mind and you end up coming up with something completely new. That's how I came up with posting my diary pages once a week - fashion blogs would post their 'what I wore today' posts and with planning and time management being the focus of this blog, the equivalent I came up with were the 'my week' posts.

Are you a reader, a blogger or both? And what is your take on posting about hauls?

10 Feb 2015

book review: fangirl by rainbow rowell

Rainbow Rowell is a name bandied about all over book review blogs and Goodreads and having read Eleanor & Park and Attachments earlier this year, I knew that it was inevitable that Fangirl would be read at some point.

The blurb reads as follows (credit: Amazon):

"Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. 

Without Wren, Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.  

Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible..."

Cath and Wren are twins who could not be any different and I found myself really disliking Wren from the get-go. She's selfish and a Hedonist who doesn't think about the consequences of her actions, though she does redeem herself later on in the book. Cath was someone I warmed to immediately - she's shy, thoughtful and is a bit of a geek. Her 'geek' nature resonated with me completely as I do think I'm quite similar in that respect - I'd rather be at home in my PJs, or around a friend's than out in a sweaty club amongst lairy people who have had a bit too much to drink.

Anyway, back to Fangirl. I loved this book. I loved Reagan and Cath's friendship, I loved how it was written and I loved the storyline. Fangirl is an original book that will grip most readers and I can't think of a book like it - and that's a good thing! I found myself crushing on Levi, wishing I was friends with Reagan and not wanting the book to end. The concept of fanfiction can be unsettling to those who have never come across it before and if you don't understand it, this book might not be for you because it features fanfiction that is a bit unique, shall we say.

Overall, I thought this book was written very, very well. Rainbow Rowell has a knack of writing books that want to be read over the course of a few days, rather than a few weeks and just like Eleanor & Park and Attachments, I found myself wanting more at the culmination of the novel. I gave Fangirl 8.5/10 as I found the ending a bit rushed and didn't quite tie up the loose ends of the book as I would have liked (highlight it if you want to see the question because I don't want to spoil it for you!): what happened between Wren and Courtney? was a question I would have liked answered and also, there were just a few too many extracts from the fanfiction Cath had been writing - I found myself skipping over a few of them, especially the longer bits.

NB: Images updated 19th February 2015.

8 Feb 2015

my week #147

This academic year is passing way too quickly for my liking. I also had Friday off which was nice and it allowed me to catch up on some life admin and uni work.

In terms of the planner I'm using, I love the amount of space I have. It's also lighter than my Smythson ring binder that I used last year which makes it less of a chore to lug around in my bag. The allocated time slots make planning simple and mean I can see the structure of my days with ease.

How has your week been?

5 Feb 2015

how to choose your binder contents

Did you get a new binder for Christmas? Perhaps you snapped one up in the January sales? I remember when I got my first one back in 2008 or 2009 (not sure which year it was now) and it was such a novelty that I wanted to put everything in it. Though I'm not using a binder this year, I thought it would be nice to do a post on choosing what to put in your binder as I wish I had something like this to guide me through setting up my first binder.

With a wide range of inserts available from many brands, it can be quite overwhelming to decide on what you need and what you want. The best thing to do here is look at your current planner and write down a list of sections you currently have in it and used. If you don't use a planner, think about what you'd like in your planner, write it all down and then question yourself - would you use that section? Can that section stay at home instead?

This way, you can narrow down the stuff you really need to have with you when out and about. It's so easy to overstuff the binder which is, not only bad for the rings, but is also bad for your back as a stuffed binder can weigh as much as a brick if you're not careful. 

In the beginning, I would carry around a whole year's worth of inserts (week on two pages), a year planner, plenty of notepages (I'd guess at around 20-30), some addresses and some sentimental photos of my family. With experience, I've stopped carrying around the address inserts because I never used these when away from home, the year planner was redundant as I barely looked at it and I only needed about five sheets of notepaper at any one time! In terms of the diary inserts, I slimmed this down to just six months' worth which meant I could justify adding in a few sheets of inspirational quotes like I did last year.

Notepaper is an easy way to unnecessarily bulk out your binder so my advice here is to really think about what you're intending on writing down. Can you make do with five and then do a one-in-one-out policy? Do you have time for that? If you're reviewing your binder every week, this might be a feasible system but if you only have time to review it once a month, you may need a few more.

By removing bulk that you don't need to have with you at all times, you can personalise your binder by inserting quotes or inspirational pages. It can be quite monotonous only having the necessary inserts so it's nice to just add in something different.

To-do sheets are similar to notepaper inserts because it can be quite easy to put too many into your binder. I used to like having about fifteen at any one time but then I realised I only really used three lists: to buy (i.e. to save up for), to read and a blog post ideas list.

Something I really recommend is regularly reviewing your binder and its contents. I reviewed mine every three months where I would remove some diary inserts from weeks that had passed and hadn't been looked at for the last month or so - these inserts would be archived - and I would also review my notepaper and to-do lists at the back to ensure that everything in there was present because I needed it to be. Binders are heavy things - why make them heavier than they need to be?

It can be hard to guage how much you really need in your binder to begin with so maybe see how things go for the first two months and then tweak it from there. 

I hope you have found this post useful :) - I'm by no means an expert and can't give individual advice and a lot of this can be found through experience. However, a post like this was something I was looking for when I first purchased a binder so I thought it would be nice to pass on some things I've learnt over the years.

3 Feb 2015

book review: my heart & other black holes by jasmine warga

Maybe I've just been reading the wrong books in the past but in the last year, I've read a few books that have mental illness as its core theme. Like I said in my review of Now That I've Found You, this is no bad thing. My Heart and Other Black Holes is a young adult fictional book about depression, guilt and suicide in two teenagers.

"I'm getting higher and higher and I feel the swing set creak.

'Be careful,' he says.

'Why?' I'm not thinking about being careful. I'm thinking about one last push, of letting go, of flying, and of falling.

'You aren't allowed to die without me,' he whispers.

Aysel and Roman are practically strangers, but they've been drawn into an unthinkable partnership. In a month's time, they plan to commit suicide - together.

Aysel knows why she wants to die: being the daughter of a murderer doesn't equal normal, well-adjusted teenager. But she can't figure out why handsome, popular Roman wants to end it all....and why he's even more determined than she is.

With the deadline getting closer, something starts to grow between Aysel and Roman - a feeling she never thought she would experience. It seems there might be something to live for, after all - but is Aysel in so deep she can't turn back?"

Just to put things into perspective - I read this (300-page) book in four days. Now, in these four days, I wasn't at home for at least ten hours during the day so I only had a chance to read it in the evenings before bed or first thing in the morning during breakfast. This, to me, is the sign of a book that is written very well with a great plot.

Personally, I loved this book. I found myself empathising with the characters, especially Aysel as she's a bit of a science geek like myself. Jasmine Warga is a brilliant writer and I can't emphasise enough just how much I enjoyed this book. Although it didn't quite make me cry, it was close and to be honest, I can count on one hand the number of books that have caused my tear ducts to work overtime (read: it's pretty hard for a book to actually set me off).

To me, this book just emphasised that no matter how set someone is on suicide, there is a chance that they may change their mind and all they need is that reason to. And that's why I will echo what Warga wrote at the end of her book - that we must reach out to those we know who may be depressed as you never know, we may be the person who brings them back from the brink and enable them to see that light at the end of the tunnel. Social support is such an underestimated thing.

Overall, My Heart and Other Black Holes gets a solid 8.5/10 from me - tall praise considering I rarely rate books over 7/10! To put things into perspective, 6 out of the 29 books I read in 2014 received a rating of higher than 7/10. Basically, I definitely recommend this book.

1 Feb 2015

my week #146

My week was pretty chilled out - on Tuesday, I got the opportunity to make faces at two adorable twin babies whilst on placement.

However, on the blog front - it was a bit busier with the drawing of the Staedtler pen winners (congrats to the winners and thank you to everyone who entered!) and I've been working on a new blog banner. The new banner won't be revealed for another few weeks or so yet as I'm still tweaking it so don't expect a massive change anytime soon!

I'm liking the dedicated timeslots in my planner - it enables me to plan out my day though it does make planning the evenings and nights that bit more difficult as the last slot is for 7pm. Another thing is the day starts at 6am which means there is wasted space between the hours of 6 and 8am as during those hours, I'm usually getting ready to head to uni/am on the way to uni or placement.

How has your week been? And how are you getting on with your planner so far this year? Did you recently make a change like I did (as in from a ring binder to a bound planner or vice versa)?