30 Jun 2016

(almost) a year with my rifle paper co planner

I used to think bound planners were bulky and hard to customise but I've grown to like the fact that I can't move pages around. Ring planners used to be my go-to because of how easy it was to create a setup that worked for me and I can still see the appeal but I definitely don't miss the weight of them. The one thing about this planner is that it doesn't look bashed about at all! The cardboard cover is fairly thick but I didn't think it would hold up this well after about ten months of use.

My weekly pages have really changed throughout the years and it's now at the point where it is severely minimalistic. Admittedly, I don't miss the many stickers I used to decorate my pages with and instead, I'm content with just a handful. The weekly layout gives me plenty of space to plan my week and also incorporate a daily to-do list.

At the front, I have a few pages and I like to use them to write lists of things. One such list is of tea I want to try:

At the back, the pockets have been really handy. I have a collection of things in there from vouchers to receipts to little pieces of paper with university notes.

Overall, this planner has been well-used. All sections have been used and there isn't a wasted page. What you can't see are my other notes pages which hold a lot of information I may need when out and about, birthdays and other events are written down in the 'important dates' section, monthly pages are used to plan posts for this blog (I may share these later on in the year/early next year!) and at the back, the contacts pages are filled with addresses of friends and family.

I'm now using a different planner for the next academic year and you'll see its first week this Sunday. This Rifle planner has served me well but I need something less bulky to tote around in my bag :)

28 Jun 2016

book: brian o'driscoll - the test

This is a different book post than usual but it's nice to do something a bit different sometimes.

Back in February, one of my friends let me borrow her copy of Brian O'Driscoll's (BOD) autobiography. For those who don't know, I'm a huge sports fan and rugby union has long been at the top of that list. I'm a Scotland fan but BOD was a player I loved watching. Whenever he gets interviewed, he's super humble and just seems really down to earth for someone who was one of the best at his game.

I found the autobiography funny, extremely humble and quite eye-opening at times. It really put into perspective just how far rugby has come as a professional sport and just how serious a career it can be for those playing at a high level. He also explained the worries he had about his career and I guess things are a bit different for sports people as careers often don't last that long.

I don't often read autobiographies but this one was a good one. Even if you're not a big rugby fan but are a fan of humble sportsmen who tell it like it is, this is worth a read. I read it in six days whilst on surgery placement (so 8am - 5pm days!) which is an indication of just how well written and absorbing it was as a read.

26 Jun 2016

my week #219

This is the last week I'll be showing in this planner as I've decided to change to a different one for the next academic year. It'll be revealed in more detail in about ten days time :-)

Not much to say this week unfortunately! Exams are at the forefront of my mind which makes me feel like the most boring person ever at the moment! It will be over in a month thank goodness :)

How has your week been?

23 Jun 2016

my study week #13: moleskine cahier (+ a mini review!)

A few years ago, I said that Moleskine was an overhyped brand. Fast forward to 2015 when I decided to try a cahier that I found on sale at TK Maxx and I think they must have improved the quality of their paper. Back then, Moleskines didn't take well to pens that were inkier or wetter than average but I've found that this cahier is perfectly okay with fountain pen ink. Considering their prices haven't increased that much over the last few years, this is great news and has me quite excited to try out notebooks from their main range, and maybe even one of their diaries next year.

21 Jun 2016

believe the hype: my first pilot prera in pink

Having raved about Pilot fountain pens in the past (most notably the Kakuno and Vanishing Point), the Prera was on next on my 'to try' list. None of the colours apart from the blue and the pink appealed to me and after a few weeks' of deliberation over colour (the struggle is real), I opted for the pink. And when it arrived, it was love at first sight. The one thing I noticed first was just how much it looked like the Sailor Lecoule fountain pen (I don't currently have one but it is a pen on my 'to try' list!). 

Compared to my Lamy Safari in coral, the Prera is more of a fuchsia pink whereas the coral is more orangey in hue. The Prera is also a shorter pen and using a crude measurement of one pen in each hand, I think they weigh about the same - so a pretty lightweight pen!

Predictably, I went for the fine nib and as mentioned in an earlier post, Japanese nibs do tend to be on the finer side when compared to their European counterparts. This suits me just fine as I'm a sucker for a super fine line.

The writing experience was a joy - I inked up a converter (not included with my pen) with Diamine blue-black and instantly put pen to paper. It is as smooth as butter - little to no feedback at all and the ink flow is just right. You can see a writing sample below.

In terms of grip, it is comfortable to hold for long periods of time (trust me on this - it's now about a month until exams so revision sessions have stepped up a gear!) and feels better when the cap is posted.

As said in the image above, the best thing really is the click heard when you cap the pen. Overall, I really do love this pen - it is a workhorse pen and for its price point, it is a good bridger of the gap between economy starter pens and more expensive ones. The best thing about it? It's basically the Kakuno nib but with a clip. I think that this pen will be one of my placement pens, along with my Lamy Safari, as they both lend themselves well to being slotted onto my lanyard.

19 Jun 2016

my week #218

The highlight of my week was definitely yesterday. My sister bought me a super early birthday present of a ticket to Whose Line Is It Anyway Live at the London Palladium. For those who don't know, Whose Line originally aired on the radio but then switched over to a television version some decades ago. My sister and I grew up watching re-runs on TV when we were in high school and we couldn't get enough of the improvisation style of comedy.

Anyway, it was a brilliant afternoon and a very good distraction from the impending exams! We had pretty good seats in the Royal Circle but it meant we were never close enough to the stage to get picked for anything that required an audience member (shame!).

How has your week been?

16 Jun 2016

planning a presentation for university

Earlier in the year, I had to do a presentation on Hirschsprung's disease to some fellow medical students. Whenever I do a presentation, I like to do some research on the topic at hand first. This allows me to see what information must be included and what can be left out.

Once that bit is done, I can start planning the various sections needed to get all of the information across. Whenever I do a presentation on a condition, I like to try and make up a 'patient' and in this case, I made up a child called Harley (mainly because it also started with H, just like Hirschsprung's!). 

In my notebook, I like to have a brief overview of each section or slide as you can see below. I don't put all of the information on the screen because my pet hate are people who just read off the screen. This allows me to refer back to my paper notes and then talk about some extra bits or even ask the audience some questions. Interactive sessions are the ones where I learn the most so I try and incorporate this into any teaching I do.

14 Jun 2016

in search of the perfect blue-black ink #8: sailor blue-black

Today is the turn of a cartridge ink in the form of Sailor Jentle blue-black ink. I think these also come in a bottle form but for ease of use, I wanted cartridges.

Previously tried and tested blue-blacks: 
Platinum Blue-Black cartridges / Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite / Diamine Twilight / Diamine Blue-Black / Lamy Blue Black cartridges / Diamine Denim / Diamine Prussian Blue

12 Jun 2016

my week #217

It's been a weird week and I can't explain why. I was looking forward to it as I was due to spend it in the Acute Medicine Unit but it just wasn't a week of great learning opportunities. In terms of my social life, I've spent the latter half of this week seeing and catching up with friends which was nice!

How has your week been?

9 Jun 2016

my hobonichi techo in use on placement

Since my Hobonichi arrived, it has seen plenty of use on placement. Tomoe River paper has been a revelation as a fountain pen user and as tempted as I am to consider ordering another when the 2017 ones are released, these diaries are just a bit too pricey for my liking. I'm glad that I've tried them once though!

Daily and Weekly Planning

One of the most important things my Hobonichi is used for is the planning of my days and weeks. This was invaluable on Paeds when each day was unstructured and I had no set timetable.

Making Notes

The day-per-page view has been used for note-taking during teaching and feedback sessions.

I also write in interesting cases on the days where I've been to handover or ward round. This enables me to look things up if I didn't quite understand or ask questions at a later time. 

One thing I also try and do is make a note of all the things a consultant or registrar has said in clinic or of all the cases I saw. It might seem really keen but I've gained so many marks in exams from just drawing on experiences in clinic, on ward round, in theatre, etc.

Blank pages come in really useful for when I need to make notes for future reference. An example is below where I've made a note of the developmental milestones.

The card slots are also really helpful: one holds a card from the Royal Society of Medicine where there are reference ranges for common blood tests and another slot holds some page flags. 

Finally, the back pocket holds various sign off sheets such as my log book, paper forms that need signing during my time on placement and my timetable if I was given one.

All in all, the various pockets and slots that come with the Hobonichi cover have come in extremely useful and the Hobonichi Techo itself has been a revelation. The two page markers are also useful - one for the current date and the other for the first blank page that can be used to make notes on or write up a clerking on.

I'm happy with this system and how it is working out but I am questioning if I am prepared to drop such a large amount of cash on another next year. The answer is that it is very unlikely so I'll need to think about what I'll use instead.

7 Jun 2016

reviewing Bkr water bottles

A while back, I said I would review these bottles and I've finally got around to doing it now. Sorry for this delay! The ones shown here are the 500ml version.

Bkr bottles are made of glass - but not glass that can withstand extremes of temperature - so filling them with boiling and really cold water probably isn't a good idea! They have a silicone sleeve that can be removed. What drew me to these bottles was the fact they were reusable, they're pretty and the fact that they aren't plastic. I only drink water when at uni (plus or minus the odd cup of green/peppermint tea) so a reusable bottle is a must. In the past, I've used plastic Evian or Highland Spring bottles but I wanted something a bit more permanent.

I dare you to say that they aren't pretty? The silicon sleeves come in different colours and I've even had someone say that it is the 'best looking water bottle they've ever seen'. For me personally, I think it is designed perfectly. The opening is wide enough for you to take a decent volume of water per sip whilst ensuring minimal leakage and that it is still easy to refill at a water cooler/fountain.

Portability and Durability
Being glass, it is going to be heavier than any plastic alternative but the cap makes holding the bottle pretty easy. The silicon sleeve also gives it a fair amount of protection and I've yet to have one break or chip (touch wood this continues!).

Ease of Washing
Getting the silicon sleeve off is a bit of a mystery at first but the makers of the Bkr bottle have helpfully uploaded a Youtube video about how to remove them. All components are easy to wash and I wash them at least twice a week.

Before I bought a Bkr, I honestly didn't believe water could taste different depending on the type of drinking vessel used but I definitely believe it now. The difference is subtle but water from a glass bottle tastes fresher and less artificial.

In conclusion, I don't regret shelling out for these Bkr bottles. They have enabled me to up the amount of water I drink on placement whilst also looking pretty cute! They might be a bit of a pain to lug around due to their weight but to me, it's worth it. I just wish they would sell the sleeves separately.

5 Jun 2016

my week #216

So, my last placement of the academic year has started. Exams are starting to feel really real now - I'm definitely feeling under pressure! I've been working steadily throughout the whole year so fingers crossed that pays off but I do believe a fair amount if also down to luck too.

As exams approach, I'm finding more and more of my evenings are taken up with revision lectures and ones where they aren't, I'm seeing friends and catching up with people. This is one disadvantage of living out of the university area and also having a placement that is closer to home than campus!

How has your week been?

2 Jun 2016

keeping on top of journaling: 2016 progress

This year, I've managed to journal at least once a week and I'm quite proud of this. Last year, I journaled as and when I needed to, which is all well and good, but sometimes, it's nicer to have a regular, set time to brain dump.

If you find it hard to find things to write about, which sometimes I do, I write a sentence or two for each day of the week (as seen below). Other things I regularly do is write in the outfit I was wearing that day (or on one of the days where I thought my outfit was particularly nice!) or write in the music currently playing in the background, current mood or the current weather.

If you're really stuck though, I made some prompts for a listing challenge last year but you can also use them as journaling prompts. Alternatively, Life Captured Inc is a good resource for prompts too.

I think it helps that my journal is so cute and pretty so I would definitely advise investing a journal you'll love to dig out time and time again for at least six months (or longer, depending on how long it'll take you to fill it). My aim is to keep journaling at least once a week this year and fill up this lovely Anthropologie journal :)