29 Jul 2015

year two, term three essentials

EDIT: I just realised I've written two of these! (One earlier this month). I guess this post is more of my exam essentials and the other one was more of a project essentials. How weird!

Technically, there wasn't a term three in my second year but for the sake of my sanity, I pretended there was one anyway (with the Easter four day weekend being the separating point of term two and three). Term three was pretty much exam time and project time so my essentials are quite study and comfort oriented.

Exercise Books

Earlier this month, I talked about how I use my notebooks and one of the things I used them for this term included practice papers and writing rough notes in a quick and cursive scrawl. The ones shown above are from Artbox (the three from the left) and Semikolon (just the one on the right). Exercise books are cheap and cheerful and the lack of pages in them make them easy to carry around in my bag to university.


From top to bottom: Pilot Coleto, Pilot Kakuno in Fine, Zebra Mildliner, Kaweco Skyline Sport, Lamy Safari.
I used fountain pens a lot during revision because to me, they are more of a luxury pen than a gel pen or a biro. Also, look how cheerful the colours of their barrels are?! They were exactly what I needed during a tough and intense revision period. The Kaweco Skyline Sport is a new addition after a friend recommended it to me in March and I gushed about it earlier this month.

Now that there are three fountain pens in my stationery arsenal, I kind of want to try others but I just don't see a use for more expensive versions of them. Especially as I've lost a few pens already when running around on placement - but luckily only cheap biros (though I did also lose a Muji gel but they're not that expensive to replace). 

Comfort Clothes

I spent a lot of this term in sweatpants or sweatshorts and I have no regrets. Studying calls for slubby tanks and comfy loungewear because of how often I shift positions. Cross-legged, sitting on my legs, sitting with my feet up - I can't sit still for too long without moving.

For the rest of summer, I'm predicting my essentials will be:

- my Rayban Wayfarers
- a pair of comfortable flats for walking around in
- floaty summer skirts
- seeing friends I've not seen much throughout the year.

Let's hope the weather holds up this summer :)

27 Jul 2015

happy 5th birthday, blog (and a little giveaway)!

Five years ago today, this blog was born and I was a mere, nineteen year old who had just finished my first year of a university degree. Fast forward to now and this blog is still here and running (though there were some patches of inactivity during my first degree).

I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who's joined me on this journey: you readers (who I still can't believe actually choose to read my weekly ramblings), sponsors and companies/brands I've worked with and my friends and family for supporting me. Writing a blog is pretty nerdy but I've enjoyed every moment and I can't imagine giving this up. Though I may have to post less frequently in the next two years, I don't intend to give this up anytime soon.

Anyway, to celebrate five years, I've got a two sets of prizes to giveaway as sponsored by The Fox and Star.

1) A Weekly Times planner and a Livework clouds pen
2) A Monthly Times planner and a Livework clouds pen

To enter, all you have to do is follow the instructions below using Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

Terms and Conditions

This giveaway is hosted in conjunction with The Fox and Star and Angela (here at Paper Lovestory). 

The giveaway is open from the 27th of July 2015 at 00:00 hours until the 10th of August 2015 00:00 hours. 

You may tweet once a day for an additional entry, provided it is done through the Rafflecopter engine. Entrants must be aged 16 or over to take part. 

Entrants under 16 must have their parents permission to enter.

If you win, you are agreeing to send me your postal address so that your prize can be posted to you. 

You have seven days from the announcement of the winners to send me your address, otherwise a new winner will be drawn. 

There will be two winners - one for each prize. 

Only entries through the Rafflecopter engine will be valid. 

Delivery of the prize is the handled by The Fox and Star, not by myself (Angela at Paper Lovestory).

This giveaway is open worldwide. 

26 Jul 2015

my week #171

So this week, I got super excited as I'd written in that Paper Towns was due to be released on Friday. Imagine my disappointment when logging on to check film times to see that it's been pushed back again to the 21st of August! Although the book didn't impress me as much as some of John Green's other offerings, Nat Wolff is in the film and he's just too adorable not to see on the big screen.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon tweaking the blog layout. I hope you like the new, fresher and updated design - it's nothing special but I was trying to go for something a bit more grown-up and brighter. What do you think? :)

How has your week been?

23 Jul 2015

year two, term three essentials

This term started off with exams and then a five week project block. As a result, there weren't many physical essentials: most of them were on my computer (such as Pages, Numbers, etc).

However, revision and project time both have one thing in common: time management. It is essential to have a rough schedule to ensure that everything is done on time. Therefore, my essentials this month were a planner, a project notebook (an A5 exercise book from Artbox) and two black pens that saw a lot of use: a Kuretake Zig Cocoiro and a Uniball Signo.

No pretty colours this term but it's been a weird term! I was super organised and had all my notes written out by the end of my second term and that's why there are no Muji coloured gels or coloured post-it notes!

It's my two-week summer break now before I go back for the next academic year so I'll keep this post brief. Once term starts again, I'll most likely have more (and better) study pictures to show :)

21 Jul 2015

my study week #3 featuring a moleskine cahier

So, my third instalment in this new feature and this time, my Moleskine cahier is on show. It was purchased from TK Maxx back in 2014 where a pack of two was around £4.99 and it is the largest size cahier they do. I can't seem to find the twin-pack online anymore as they only seem to come in three-packs now.

On the inside cover, there are various post-it notes. The top one on the right shows the colour codes used for each topic so that I write my random notes in the right section and in the right colour.

Each page is dedicated to a specialty and the notes are derived from practice questions I've done or random things I've read online. Within each section, there are subheadings which are also written in the colour code seen above. I've divided a line down the middle of each page because I find the size a bit too large for me to write horizontally continuously an still keep things neat.

The Moleskine quality still isn't great and doesn't seem to have improved much and the only pens that seem to do well on it are biros, my Pilot Juice gel pens and pencil. However, they were the perfect size (and price) for what I needed at the time (not quite A4 but larger than A5) and the narrow rule is something I have an affinity for when it comes to paper.

19 Jul 2015

my week #170

This week was a hectic one: a lot happened in my personal life and also in my uni life. My project has been handed in now so my two weeks of summer has begun. I'm spending this weekend catching up with my life admin and then the next two weeks will be filled with family and friends fun. If medicine has taught me one thing, it's that I need to make the most of my time off.

Last summer, I spent it working and as a result, I was feeling pretty rotten eight months down the line. I hadn't anticipated there being no Easter break last academic year so we had a mammoth seven-month term which has only just ended! Next year is a little kinder but with it being non-stop placements, it'll still be hard work.

How has your week been?

15 Jul 2015

bound planners vs ring binder planners

When I first started blogging, I was a bit of a Filofax-obsessed fan. Ring binder planners were something that I never thought I would move away from and in fact, I used them for a solid five years before moving to a bound planner this year. I flirted briefly with a Moleskine back in 2011 for six months but inevitably went back to a Filofax. Then in 2012, I purchased a Smythson binder and my love deepened for ring binders.

Anyway, as someone who has now turned into a bound planner fanatic and with someone asking for my thoughts on bound vs ring binder planners on Twitter, I thought it would be an interesting post to write.

Bound Planners


  • Lighter in terms of weight.
  • You can have a new one every year (or even every six months with some undated planners!).
  • Look good on your bookshelf after the year is up.
  • Can be cheaper compared to a ring binder - prices and range from very cheap to very expensive (such as some of the beauties by Smythson!).
  • There are so many cute ones out there (especially from East Asian companies!).
  • Undated planners mean you can start using one whenever.
  • Available in a wide range of layouts and designs.


  • Not very flexible in terms of layout.
  • Have to re-write in information every year.
  • Limited by what you can have in it - probably not possible to have your address book in there too!

Ring Binder Planners


  • Flexibility in what pages you choose to have in it.
  • You get to choose what sections you have in your ring binder: don't want monthly planning pages? Not a problem, don't put them in. Tabs can be inserted or taken out to your fancy.
  • There is the option to design your own inserts and print them onto high quality paper.
  • No need to re-write in essential pages each year.
  • A leather ring binder feels very luxurious.


  • Limited diary layout choices.
  • Some of the paper quality out there is debatable (but at the same time, there are some very good ones out there too!).
  • Can be very heavy, especially if overstuffed.
  • Potential ring issues!
  • The worry of damaging the leather.
  • Expensive initial cost depending on what brand and model you opt for. Inserts also cost extra!

Overall, I think the main thing to consider is what you want to get out of it. If flexibility is a deal breaker for you, a bound planner probably won't be something you'll get along well with. If you've never tried a ring binder before, it might be worth starting out with a cheaper (possibly non-leather) model to see how you get on with it for a few months. Even though I'm more of a bound planner girl now, I still have my Smythson and Filofaxes stored away safely in case I decide to go back to them (which I may well do in the future - who knows!).

What are your thoughts? Are you one or the other? Or do you constantly flit between the two? Do you use both types simultaneously? :)

12 Jul 2015

my week #169

With less than a week to go until my project's deadline (eek!), I've been working hard on the final few bits. The project turned out to be a fair bit bigger than originally anticipated but the results are super interesting and this has made all the hard work that bit more satisfying. My diary has been quite boring for the last two months due to exams and this project but hopefully when uni starts again (in three weeks!), it'll look a bit more used.

Also, I managed to figure out how to fix the pictures on my blog so they are less blurry (yay!) so here's hoping this fix will work from now on.

How has your week been?

9 Jul 2015

too many notebooks? 22 ideas for their use

Raise your hand if you have too many notebooks than you'll ever need but you still can't stop buying more. Yeah, me too. I really do think this is a genuine medical condition but, in my opinion, there are definitely worse things to suffer from. Anyway, I thought I'd share a few things I use my notebooks for and also a few ideas if you're building up a collection of blank notebooks quicker than they can be filled.

1. Revision Notes

The obvious use if you're a student is to make a notebook of revision notes. It will be super handy come exam time when all your notes have already been condensed, giving you that much more proper revision time (where you're actually learning and revising the stuff and not writing up notes).

2.  Journal

An obvious choice again for the majority of us: a journal. Journalling is something I've talked about in the past and I've already explained my reasons for doing it. I'm pretty bad at doing it on a regular basis but I try and do it when I need to. It's a good way to get everything down on paper so that these things aren't taking up precious real estate in your mind and thoughts.

3.  To-Do List Notebook

I've mentioned these A6 Iconic Essay Books before and they are the perfect size for daily to-do lists. And isn't it just so satisfying to see all those tasks checked off?

4. Lecture Notes

Some people like loose leaf paper but sometimes, it's also nice to mix it up and use a notebook. I find it hard to track down loose leaf narrow-ruled paper of a decent quality so I've resorted to using Muji notebooks and Pantone grid notebooks from time to time.

5. Careers Notebook

A notebook is the ideal tool to keep track of your CV, achievements, previous addresses, previous jobs, etc. It's also good to keep track of jobs you've applied for and also write down future career goals to just remind you of where you want to be in a few years time.

6. Course Notebook

I talked about this notebook on Tuesday but you can use notebooks for each module of your course too. Or each subject if you're in high school.

7. Past Papers Notebook

During revision periods, I like to do practice questions from books and online sources. When I do them from books, I use a notebook so that I can track which questions I struggled with and also little notes from the answer section.

8. Diagrams and Sketches

Perfect if you have a plain notebook that needs using. I'm a visual learner so one of these always exist on my bookshelf at any one time.

9. Home Inspiration Notebook

This is such a nerdy confession but I love looking at flats on Rightmove. I have searches saved for various areas of Edinburgh and when a beautifully decorated property appears on there, I download the photos for future perusing. Sometimes, I print them out and make notes on them (like the complete nerd I am) so that I have some ideas ready for when I buy my first property (aspirations and all that!). 

10. Travel Journal

Holidays are a luxury for most of us (and especially for me) so recording them is something I make sure I do. In August 2012, Becca showed us her beautiful travel journal and I showed mine here in August 2014. Recording a lovely holiday is the perfect excuse to use your most beautiful notebook too :)

And some other ideas...

11. a book review notebook
12. a blog ideas notebook
13. food diary
14. expenses diary
15. dream diary
16. quote book
17. inspiration book
18. a notebook of lists
19. recipes journal
20. scrapbook for life memories
21. random ramblings/brain dump
22. make your own d.i.y. planner

Do you have other cool uses for your notebooks? These are only a few ideas off of the top of my head but the one brilliant thing about a blank notebook is that it holds a million possibilities. :)

7 Jul 2015

my study week #2: osce notebook

For this installment, I've chosen to introduce you to my OSCE notebook. OSCE stands for 'Objective Structured Clinical Examinations' and they are the exams I dread the most! They can be comprised of taking a patient's history, doing an examination on them or doing a practical procedure (such as cannulation or blood taking). There are loads of other things we can be assessed on and the most important thing is to practice, practice and practice. There are no other hidden tricks or quick fixes for OSCEs.

I opted to use a spiral bound B5-sized Muji notebook here and the narrow rule is perfect for my small child-like handwriting. It also seems to take Muji gels well too (I would hope so!).

Though practice is the most important thing in preparing for these OSCEs, that's not to say writing things down won't help - for example, I like to make lists of differential diagnoses for each presenting symptom, thus ensuring history taking is that bit easier. It helps make things more ordered in my mind and this can only be a good thing as it ensures that examinations and histories are that bit more slick.

Other things I like to make notes on are major features of each of these differentials: the ones you can see below are some of the differentials for jaundice. 

Like I said, no hidden tips for OSCEs aside from practice. I have formulated my own ways to tackle each station type and I'm sure each medical schools teach their own little tips and tricks too. I'm not sure I have enough tips and tricks to form a blog post though but once I do, I'll be sure to write a post about it. :)

One excellent way of gaining confidence and competence is to examine and talk to as many patients as possible on placement. Patients are interesting people and the more contact you have, the less daunting being a doctor will seem (though I am trying to convince myself with that as I'm now halfway through medschool and still sh*tting my pants at the thought of being a doctor in two years time if all exams are passed...!).

5 Jul 2015

my week #168

With only two weeks until my project's deadline, I'm trying to focus on my final submission now. All the necessary data has been collected and analysed so now, the aim is to present it all in a meaningful and simple way. I've actually enjoyed this whole process and though it took a bit longer than I had originally anticipated, seeing the results has made it all worth it.

On Friday night, there was an insane storm going on in my local area from about 11pm onwards and I found myself mesmerised and unable to tear my eyes away. The flashes of lightning were almost constant and the deafening rumbling of thunder was enough to remind us all of who's really boss (definitely not a human being!). Anyone else fascinated by storms?! 

How has your week been?

2 Jul 2015

may and june book reviews: girls on tour, the art of baking blind & the last honeytrap

During the exam period, I didn't finish a single book as I put started novels on hold. I read a little each day but not as fast as my usual pace.

Girls on Tour by Nicola Doherty

After exams, I wanted a book that was somewhat light-hearted and an easy read. Girls on Tour definitely fits the bill - just read the blurb:

"Four girls. One year. Five fabulous destinations.

Poppy is bound for Paris, the City of Life. Could this be her chance to end her epic dry spell?

Lily is en route to her cousin's wedding in LA, where she's willing to break a few rules to land her dream role.

Maggie can't wait for her romantic ski holiday in Meribel - until it goes seriously off-piste.

Rachel packs for a glamorous Roman holiday, but a blast from the past is about to sabotage la dolce vita.

The girls get together and fly to Manhattan. But someone's been hiding a big secret in the Big Apple..."

From what I understand, Girls on Tour is basically a few shorter e-novels put together to form a printed book.

Anyway, let's talk about the book. The plot sounded very promising and I'm a sucker for a slushy love story but I found every single character a bit wet and annoying, the stories a bit lacklustre and the writing quite juvenile. For all I know, it could've been written by a girl in their late teens - it definitely didn't read very grown up. The only reason I stuck with it is because I was sent it from Bookbridgr to review and also, because I dislike leaving books unfinished.

The characters were hard for me to relate to: they all talked like teenagers and were just very annoying.

Overall? I give Girls on Tour 5/10.


The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan

"In 1966, Kathleen Eaden published The Art of Baking, her guide to nurturing a family by creating the most exquisite pastries, biscuits and cakes.

Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the new Mrs Eaden. There's Jenny, facing an empty nest now her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife's death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it's like to have nothing and is determined her fa├žade shouldn't slip.

As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest choux bun seems the least of the contestants' problems. For they will learn - as Mrs Eaden did before them - that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it's very much harder in real life."

Okay, let me just profess my love for the Great British Bake Off (GBBO). Every year, I watch every episode religiously (sometimes even twice, especially if I've had a bad day) - it might be something to do with Mel and Sue's hilarious puns or empathising with a poor rise (no innuendo intended!) but GBBO is one television programme I look forward to watching.

The Art of Baking Blind isn't a short book - it's just over 400 pages long - but it does sound like a fictional, novel version of GBBO and this appealed to me instantly. However, I was a little bit disappointed. The judges are clearly based on Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry and I didn't really warm to any of the characters. Dan (the male judge) seemed like quite a slippery fella and I found the contestants annoying and fickle. They were all a bit 'wet', for want of a better word.

Unfortunately, this wasn't a book I found myself wanting to pick up at every free moment and although I finished it with ease, it wasn't as pleasurable a read as I anticipated. I decided to rate it 6.5/10 because I think it'll appeal to others but just not to me as, in my opinion, it was a middle of the road type read.


The Last Honeytrap by Louise Lee

"Scot 'Scat' Delaney is a world famous jazz singer. He has ample opportunity to stray and his girlfriend, Alice, needs to know she can trust him.

Introducing Florence Love, private investigator. Florence has just ten days to entrap an A-lister. Whilst sticking to her cardinal rule: 'One kiss, with tongues, five seconds - case closed.'

A master of body language, evolutionary science and nifty disguises, her approach is unconventional, her success rate excellent. But targets are rarely as beautiful as Scat. Never fall for the target. That is very bad form indeed.

The Last Honeytrap marks the energetic launch of a brilliant new series. Once you've met Florence Love, you'll see the world in glorious technicolour at last."

The blurb definitely drew me in and I was eager to start this book after it came through my letterbox. However, this is a case of 'don't judge a book by its cover'.

Florence, the main character, is thoroughly annoying. She loves herself a bit too much for my liking and I didn't really warm to any of the other characters either. If I had to choose a favourite character, I honestly wouldn't be able to.

For me, the book didn't really get exciting until the last 100 pages or so. The book is over 300 pages long so for it to only get interesting two-thirds of the way through, I can see some people putting it down well before reaching that stage. Anyway, the last third of the book was actually really quite interesting and I found myself eager to find out what would happen next. The end of the book was quite underwhelming - I know it's meant to be the first in a series but it left so many unanswered questions, I just felt really let down. And Florence isn't really a character I warmed to enough to want to read the next book just to find out some of these answers...

Overall, 6/10 (score brought up by the last one hundred pages).

* * *

All in all, I've not had much luck with books over the last two months. However, I am currently midway through a book that has me hooked so far so fingers crossed this is the beginning of a string of good books! :)