30 Apr 2017

my week #263

This week has been pretty relaxed - seeing friends, sorting out some life admin and... Waiting nervously for results. We were told after 2:30pm on Thursday afternoon and at 3pm, out they came (for once, my university did good!). It's good news and I must confess, there were copious tears of happiness for a good half hour. Four years of hard work, on top of three years of hard work doing a Biochemistry degree I hated and a dream finally achieved.

Some of you have been with me on this journey (some of you even before it began!) and for that, I want to say thank you :)

I still intend to keep blogging but posts may not be as frequent as they are now. And what I blog about will be another question - it kind of feels like I've lost my way a bit in terms of blog content!

How has your week been?

27 Apr 2017

preventing impulse buys with a thirty day purchase list: did it work for me?

Earlier this year, I decided to try out a '30 day purchase list'. This is where I'd place each item I wanted to impulse buy onto a list and then revisit it thirty days later to determine if the said item was still wanted. At first, this seemed like a great idea but it meant checking the list regularly - something I just didn't have time for!

What did work was that this prevented impulse buys and as a result, I've been spending an awful lot less.

Instead of a thirty day purchase list, I've just kept a 'wants' list of everything. The only time I refer to this list is to add something to it or when I finish an item that needs replacing. Before buying a replacement, this list is consulted to see if there was anything of the same type/category that I wanted to try. This kind of list works extremely well for make up, beauty products and, to an extent, stationery products. My list is ridiculously long now but the good thing is that, in the long run, I'll end up saving a fair bit of money by avoiding the accumulation of half-used products so I can try something new.

Here is what my (messy) list looks like:

The list will always be longer than I can get through my current collection of beauty and make-up products but that's ok. It's not intended to be one where everything gets crossed off one by one; it's purely here to prevent impulse purchases and more informed ones.

Do you have any anti-spending strategies that work for you?

25 Apr 2017

my (finals!) revision desk

I like to keep as much empty space on my table as possible because a cluttered desk decreases productivity for me. This was my desk earlier this month during a revision session where emergencies was the topic of choice. My iMac is on, usually logged into a question bank or with some instrumental music in the background and not he desk, everything I might need is within reaching distance.

My phone is also around because it has a few revision related apps on. I try and keep it on flight mode but sometimes, the urge to procrastinate is too great...

How do you like to have your desk?

23 Apr 2017

my week #262

Exams all done - now for a nervous wait for results, eek! I've been spending the days since doing a whole load of life admin, visiting a friend and her new baby (best few hours spent ever) and just relaxing as much as possible.

Now that I have a little bit of spare time, I'll trawl through my '101 in 1,001' list to see what things can be achieved before the challenge finishes at the end of September. I've already started writing a new one because the feeling of checking something off a list is a little bit addictive! At the same time, I'll likely go through my '100 things in 2017' list too!

How has your week been?

20 Apr 2017

book: this is now by Ciara Geraghty

In 2015, I reviewed Now That I've Found You by Ciara Geraghty and today, I'm back with a review about her latest offering, This Is Now. This Is Now focuses on four characters: Cillian, Roman, Martha and Tobias. They are all connected through a bank robbery but over the course of the book, you learn more about the backstory of each character.

Like my other review, I think the book is very well written. Each of the characters have their flaws and the author makes no effort to disguise this which makes them all endearing in their own ways. I found myself rooting for Martha even though she was probably one of the more messed up characters! The book could easily have been made up of one or two separate plot lines once the robbery part is over and done with but Ciara Geraghty had a way of keeping at least two or three of them linked at any one time.

I would describe This Is Now as a feel good book about four characters linked by a sliver of a thread. There is just enough drama for their lives to seem realistic but possibly not enough for some readers. Overall, a solid 7.6/10 - this one edges it over Now That I've Found You for me.

18 Apr 2017

my skincare loves on a budget

We all know how expensive looking after our skin can get so if at any point, a bargain can be had, I'm in. Over the last 12 months or so, I've done more research into actual ingredients rather than brands and I've found some, very affordable, products which also work. As always, with skincare, what works for one person might not work for another. All of the following products are under £20 and last forever.

Rosette Ceramide gel, Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream, Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid and The Ordinary's Niacinamide 10% with Zinc 1%
Rosette Ceramide gel
The key ingredient in this cream are the multiple ceramides. Ceramides are good for repairing moisture barriers damaged by over-exfoliation and is just as good for making skin a bit more springy. Ceramides are also common in many anti-ageing creams and we all know how much they cost!

For me, this gel is used as the last step morning and evening. In the morning, my skin is much softer and during the day, my skin is less oily too. The gel is extremely lightweight and you don't need much for your face and neck. My tub has been going since October 2016 and it is only about a third of the way down.

Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream
Snail? On your face? Yes, that was my reaction too when I first heard about this product which is recommended time and time again by people who love Asian beauty products. Although predictable, this is a product that actually works! The snail cream has done wonders for making my pores look smaller, fading scars and just brightening up my complexion. I have no idea what the active ingredient in the snail extract actually is but for a cream that only cost me £13 (back in May 2016, including shipping), I'll take it! Not only this, one jar has lasted me ten months or so!

Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
BHAs are acids and the most well-known BHA is probably salicylic acid - a common ingredient mentioned in anti-acne skincare products. I use one pump of this every other morning and leave it for twenty minutes before applying the rest of my routine.

Salicylic acid is an anti-inflammatory which unclogs pores. I started using this in October 2016 when I got fed up of seeing copious sebaceous filaments on my nose (not to be confused with blackheads - google both and you'll see the difference :) ) and since then, my pores have shrunk in appearance and my skin just looks brighter and smoother because there are less of these sebaceous filaments.

The Ordinary's Niacinamide 10% with Zinc 1% 
Finally, niacinamide. An ingredient I've deemed a 'holy grail' in my skincare routine. I first started using a product containing this in La Roche-Posay's Effaclar Duo [+] a few years' ago but at about £10 a tube, it didn't come cheap. About eight months' ago, I found out that one of Deciem were coming out with a new line called The Ordinary and when I saw that they were doing a Niacinamide product which costs only £5 (yes, really), I knew I had to try it. So I did. And I've not looked back. I use one drop for my whole face every night and all I can say is, I hope they never stop making this.

* * *

These are some of the products I've been using which are great value for money when you consider how amazing the results have been. No longer do I look for brand names - I now look for ingredients lists or featured extracts. Like I said earlier, however, though these products have worked wonders for me, this doesn't mean that they'll do the same for you (after all, we are all different!).

16 Apr 2017

my week #261

Another week filled with revision (and a little bit of procrastination). I'm too scared to use the f word (freedom) but with one exam left, my heart leaps a little at the prospect of results day. To trip at the final hurdle would be heartbreaking...!

How has your week been?

13 Apr 2017

eco notebooks by paperchase: a hidden gem for fountain pen lovers

Before I begin, I just want to say that this post is not sponsored and that there are no affiliate links. This post is merely one for me to share a gem of a notebook for those of you who are sick of bleeding and showthrough but also want an affordable option. 

Paperchase are great for stationery that offers quality at a reasonable price point. Having had these notebooks in my possession for a few years now, I thought I had already blogged about them but on searching through the archives, there is no evidence of this!

Miquelrius is a name not that well known in the stationery world with brands like Rhodia, Leuchtturm 1917 and Moleskine taking most of the praise for quality notebooks which take most inks well. However, it is a name synonymous with being fountain pen friendly and that's the reason why they are in my collection of notebooks and also why this blog post is here today.

Paperchase offer these notebooks under the 'Eco' range and they come in A6, A5 and A4 sizes with either ruled or squared paper. The long edges are colour coded into sections of which there are six and each page has a dedicated space for a title. I'm not sure if the brown cover ones have the same paper as I only have the black cover ones in my possession.

My experience with them is a hugely positive one: cheap notebooks with plenty of paper in each one; paper that takes fountain pen extremely well with no bleeding or show through and the covers are black plastic which helps keep them from being bashed around too much. The only complaint I have is the lack of margin but on balance with all of the other positives, that is only a minor issue and one which can be overlooked.

11 Apr 2017

my core pen collection: the ones I really use

Over the last year and a half, my stationery spending has been curbed an awful lot and my current goal is to use up whatever I have before buying anything new. I do this by having only two pots of pens on my desk at any one time - one which has all my colours (Zebra Mildliner highlighters, Pilot Juice gels and Muji gels) and the other with blacks, blues and pencils.

The pens that see the most use are my Lamy Safaris, Pilot Kakuno, a basic biro and a watercolour brush pen. A Lamy is usually on my lanyard as I do prefer using a fountain pen on placement. It is a cheap pen so I'm not overly fussed about lending it to someone for a second or two. A back up pen, in the form of a biro, usually accompanies it as running out of ink in a pen is a nightmare!

The watercolour brush pen (the one shown is a Kuretake one) is used for headings of a page and to write the date in each journal entry I do weekly. I put in some black ink and dilute it with a few drops of water to give it a faded look :)

Having amassed such a huge pen collection, I think I should be good for quite a few years so I don't anticipate any new purchases this year. I've not actually purchased any stationery since the Lamy Safari Dark Lilac last year and a dent has barely been made in my stash.

Do you do something similar?

9 Apr 2017

my week #260

Exams 3 out of 5 done so far and the end is in sight :) I got my job allocation for the next two years on Thursday and have been given jobs and hospitals I'm over the moon with! Now to keep my eyes on the prize and pass the last two exams (assuming I've not flunked the previous three...!).

How has your week been?

6 Apr 2017

recent Instagram posts!

One thing I really like doing is sharing bits of my study life (and other parts of my life!) on Instagram when time allows. Unfortunately, this isn't often but at the same time, I'm sure you guys appreciate that your feed isn't clogged up by my posts! If you're interested in seeing more, check out paperl0vestory on Instagram :-)

It is currently exam season for me so the posts may die down for a few weeks or it might not because... Procrastination! Anyway, here are a few of my most recent posts all in one place - enjoy!

4 Apr 2017

tony moly i'm real sheet masks, part I

Sheet masking is a huge trend in East Asia and my first foray into them were these Tony Moly I'm Real masks. They came in a set of 11 and were sold on Amazon and there seemed to be one for every skin need. In the first of this two part series, I'll be discussing the following masks:

- Skin Purifying: I'm Real Makgeoli Mask Sheet
- Skin Purifying: I'm Real Seaweeds Mask Sheet
- Vitality: I'm Real Broccoli Mask Sheet
- Clear Skin: I'm Real Rice Mask Sheet
- Brightening: I'm Real Lemon Mask Sheet
- Pore Care: I'm Real Red Wine Mask Sheet

Skin Purifying: I'm Real Makgeoli Mask Sheet - 7/10

I used this when going through a hormonal breakout and left it on for an hour (I know it says 20-30 minutes but I fell asleep!). It didn't worsen the breakout but left my skin very oily afterwards. On the bright side, it smelt delightful and my skin did look a little brighter after that. But the oiliness afterwards trumps all the good it did do, hence the average score.

Skin Purifying: I'm Real Seaweeds Mask Sheet - 9/10

I left this one on for 95 minutes, again during another hormonal breakout and it was actually amazing. I've come to realise that all Tony Moly I'm Real masks smell great but this one did much more than this: it didn't worsen the breakout, my skin was instantly brighter after and it left my skin nicely moisturised and not at all oily. It calmed my skin during this breakout and I could see myself buying this one again for use as an emergency sheet mask.

Vitality: I'm Real Broccoli Mask Sheet - 7/10

Pros? Well, my skin was brighter after, there was a visible decrease in redness (though I can't be sure if that was a cooling effect from the liquid within the mask itself), didn't worsen any spots I had and my skin felt hydrated after. I decided to leave this one on for as long as possible just to see how long it would take to completely dry and it took 90 minutes.

But the bad? Well, my skin felt extremely oily for the next 24 hours. I wouldn't recommend this one if you have combination/oily skin.

Clear Skin: I'm Real Rice Mask Sheet - 9/10

This one and the seaweed one are my favourites from this first part. There was a decrease in redness after use (but again, can't be sure if just a cooling effect of the liquid), my skin tone looked more even, my skin felt very moisturised and extremely soft! Also, no new blemishes after. I honestly have nothing bad to say about this one and this is another I'll most likely purchase again once I'm done with my current sheet mask supply.

Brightening: I'm Real Lemon Mask Sheet - 7/10

My skin did in fact look brighter after using this mask but I've found that to be a common effect of most sheet masks I decide to use on my face. The smell was nice and citrus in nature but the one negative? Well, it left behind a very sticky residue. And I just wasn't that impressed with this one!

Pore Care: I'm Real Red Wine Mask Sheet - 8/10

Having always said I've got huuuuuge pores (which have now decreased in appearance thanks to adequate moisture and a proper skincare routine), I thought this mask would work a little bit of magic. Shrink my pores it did not but it did make my skin feel really moisturised and my face did have a slight dewy glow. The smell had a slight sweetness but nothing red wine about it if I'm honest.

To conclude this first part, here is a brief summary:

- Tony Moly I'm Real sheet masks smell nice;
- They all seemed to brighten my skin;
- They all also seemed to be good at adding moisture to my skin - though some clearly better at this than others (based on how oily my skin was afterwards).

Part II will be coming in a few months (I'm extremely slow at writing this up - all of the reviews are briefly handwritten in a notebook!) so stay tuned if you're interested in these sheet masks :)

2 Apr 2017

my week #259

Exams start on Tuesday so I will keep this short and sweet! With the end in sight, it's all about keeping my eyes on the prize.

How has your week been?

30 Mar 2017

my study week #22: revision timetables

This edition features revision timetables! When drawing them up, there is a column for each day of the week and then hour blocks from 8am to 9pm. Realistically, I try and stop any work from 7pm onwards to ensure a good night's sleep so this block is usually for television, Netflix or just something else (such as decluttering or housework!).

Times, parts of days or even days are blocked off as time off using washi tape and each topic that needs revising are colour coded. With little time between my last placement and exams, I need to be disciplined and this timetable will surely help.

Good luck to those of you sitting exams in the coming months too :)

28 Mar 2017

instax fun with my fujifilm instax mini 90

Over the Christmas period, my sister brought her Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 home and having had a play on it, I was hooked. I justified this purchase because my social life actually existed in 2016 and I wanted to be able to snap memories in 2017 but in a more permanent form. Taking pictures on my phone is all well and good but nothing can beat the endorphin-releasing sound of an Instax camera click. And then when the film pops out of its slot? Well, that's yet another rush of endorphins right there.

I opted for the Instax 90 because I had a voucher which made it really affordable and I'm glad I did. The extra features add a whole lot of fun and although Instax photos will never be amazing in quality, being able to shoot in different modes can at least allow the photo to come out as perfect as possible. However, there's something to be said about film cameras. You only get one shot (literally) and if you're a perfectionist, this may not be the toy for you! Part of the fun is messing up a shot and then laughing about it with someone else.

It's been a bit of a learning cure - my first two packs of film are pretty much full of blurs and just problems with exposure! But over time, playing with each of the settings has enabled me to become a little better at snapping Instax photos. However, I quite like the washed out colours so even if a snap doesn't come out perfect, I'm ok with that.

The best thing about this camera is the novelty - the result is instantaneous and the anticipation of what the shot turned out like is often a fun one. The film can be expensive if you burn through them too quickly but at the moment, I'm using a pack and a half a month, snapping memories. The only question now is - how should I store them? I give about a third of the snaps away which still leaves me with two thirds!

26 Mar 2017

my week #258

Finals are fast approaching and to say I'm petrified would be an understatement. Revision is full steam ahead so I'll keep this post short and sweet.

My week is looking more colourful this week - probably a sign of procrastination more than anything!

How has your week been?

23 Mar 2017

how I acquired so few stationery additions in 2016

In 2016, I bought very little stationery and I did this buy just using up the stuff already in my stash. I made a few impulse purchases but nothing major and when I think about how little I bought over the last twelve months, I actually feel content. There's something very fulfilling about using up the stuff you already have and I probably have enough notebooks and ink to last me another good year or two (ok, maybe more).

A few of the purchases I made in 2016.
My goal for this year is to not make any new stationery purchases (aside from a 2018 planner towards the end of the year) and with the way things have gone, I think it should be quite easy for me to stick to this.

Do you have any stationery goals for this year?

21 Mar 2017

finals revision: how to cope!

This is my second time of doing finals and it has to be said, the first time was a walk in a park compared to this one. Having wanted to be a doctor for so many years, it is now within touching distance and the fear of messing up is so real. To get me through finals revision, here are the things I'm doing.

1. Food

The last thing you want to do during revision is to get ill so eating a balanced diet where you get your five a day is a must. Add in some exercise and it's the perfect combination for staving away those viruses that may knock you out for a few days. A few days you can't afford to lose. I like to batch cook things like cottage pie, divide them into portions and then freeze them. They are perfect for those nights where you just don't feel like cooking but want to stay healthy.

In terms of snacking, I like dried fruit and nuts. Salted cashew nuts are my current love but I am also known to substitute these with pistachio nuts. Though they are on the more expensive side, I think they are slightly better than crisps, sweets and chocolate (though some of these nuts have quite a formidable salt content!).

2. A Timetable

The best way to ensure you cover as much subject matter as you want is to have a revision timetable. Mine is pretty rough - I dedicate sessions to medical or surgical specialties and then try and get through as many practice questions/chapters in the Oxford Handbook I can during that time. I often have post-it notes on my desk of things to look up later and I factor in revision sessions for these too.

3. Time To Relax

As tempting as it is to keep ploughing on with revision even after a mammoth eight hour day (with breaks of course!), sometimes a day where no revision is planned can also be good. At least for me it is. Choose your weapon - a book, Netflix, a workout, anything that does not have any link to your subject matter :) I like to mess around with my Instax and taking a walk because it kills two birds with one stone for me (leaving the house and doing something fun!).

Remember to factor in breaks during the days you do revise too!

4. Sleep

Chugging down Red Bulls may seem tempting to try and maximise the number of hours in the day but sleep is essential for memories. I try and sleep as much as possible but not too much so as to negate the learning I've done during my study sessions. For me, 7-8 hours is a good amount.

5. Environment

Consider your desk and tools! If you dislike clutter and find it counterintuitive to your productivity, then tidy up before studying. I tidy away everything at the end of each session so I get a fresh start. I also like to ensure I have my favourite pens nearby :)

Good luck to those you with exams in the next few months :) I'm sure you'll do great!

19 Mar 2017

my week #257

So... My last clinical placement at medical school has now finished (hopefully!) and it was the one which I enjoyed the most. Intensive care and anaesthetics is definitely a career that has jumped all the way to the top of my list because it has all the features needed to keep me interested: variety, practical procedures, the need to understand anatomy and physiology and also people contact! The worst bit is that the last placement I ever do turns out to (possibly) be the career path for me. This means I have a lot of catch-up to do in terms of the old CV...

How has your week been?

16 Mar 2017

a journal update - fifteen months with my Anthropologie journal

For Christmas 2015, my sister bought me this beautiful journal from Anthropologie. Fifteen months later, it's still going strong and I'm pleased to say that it is used at least once a week! The majority of pages are textual littered with the occasional ticket or momento that reminds me of something happy.

Each entry starts with the date and then a document of what outfits I wore (so totally fickle, I know, but at the same time, this has proved useful when deciding what to list on eBay!). I then just let the pen flow. I don't question it and just dump everything that's on my mind onto the page. Though this often means the journal is filled with the weirdest ramblings, it has helped with feeling a lot more restful, particularly during stressful times.

I'm now halfway through the journal and at this rate, it might be finished by the of this year or mid-way through 2018. My weekly journaling habit is something I want to keep up (and I'm determined to do so) and once I get towards the last ten to fifteen pages, I'll start looking for a new one. Or decide on which blank notebook on my bookshelf is next in line as my journal.

All I can say is: this journal is one that I absolutely love and I'm sure the beautiful design makes remembering to journal weekly just that bit easier. The pages take fountain pen extremely well and in fact, that's the only type of pen that gets to write in it; and the blank pages mean that I can doodle, stick in things or just write and write if that's what I want. Sometimes, I like to note down a quote - the one from Edgar Allan Poe (seen below) is a famous one but seemed appropriate when I wrote it sometime last year.

If there's not much on my mind, I'll write for a page or two and then leave it but sometimes, four or five pages may be used. For example, after my Edinburgh weekend trip, I wrote two pages and stuck in about three or four pages of tickets, photos and other random bits and bobs. By keeping things flexible and not saying that I need to write a certain amount each time, it's made journaling a lot more fun and relaxing. And that's why I'll carry on doing it for the foreseeable future :)