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 :)

14 Mar 2017

my skin journey and my current skincare routine

Since my late teens, I've suffered from skin problems. It was never full blown acne but there were always a few blemishes, my pores were very visible and my skin would be greasy enough to fry eggs on by midday. It affected my confidence a lot and last year, I finally managed to get things under control.

My Skin Complaints

It all started with assessing my skin problems. For most of my life, I thought my skin was oily and as a result, would use products that dried my skin out... Only for more oil to come through. It wasn't until last summer when I thought 'hang on a minute, could it just be dehydrated...?!' did I entertain the idea of a moisturiser for normal skin.

Now, my main complaints are:
- blemishes when stressed/hormonal
- hyperpigmentation after a spot disappears
- patchy redness (not sure of the cause at the moment! Don't think it's rosacea, just think my skin is more sensitive than originally thought).

The Beginning

At first, my routine consisted of water, a cleanser, benzoyl peroxide, a cream targeted at one of my complaints (blemishes in this case) and a sunscreen. I know benzoyl peroxide isn't the best thing to use on skin but it seems to work ok for me. At the moment, it is a targeted blemish treatment rather than an all-over one. With this three stage routine, my skin was oily and dull so I knew something had to change. This led to me writing down my first list of skin complaints that needed tackling.

Targeting The Complaints

For each of my complaints, I researched ingredients that would tackle them. For example, I started using acids to make my skin less dull and also help with the congestion I had at the time. Because of this, my skin's moisture barrier had to be protected so that's why ceramides were sought out and added to my routine.

My recommendation for those of you who are into researching, Reddit's Asian Beauty is a great place to start. The emphasis there is more on the ingredients list rather than the brand name or price. I've found some products which have worked amazingly for me at a lowish price point this way.

The things I ended up adding to my routine (and keeping) are acids or 'actives' as they are sometimes called, The Ordinary's Niacinamide and ceramides. Niacinamide features in two of the routine's products and ceramides are in two also.

The Sucker Punch

For me, the sucker punch was going back onto the combined contraceptive pill. A lot of the blemishes I get during the month are due to the fluctuations in hormone levels (I kept a blemish diary for a bit and figured this out!) and this has eliminated about 90% of the blemishes that used to surface. They don't help with stress breakouts or ones caused by eating poorly but the effect it has on the skin and the regulation of periods mean that the pill has been a game changer for both myself and my skin.

So this is a somewhat brief overview of my skin's journey and it still isn't perfect. However, I'm happy with the direction things are heading and my next goal is to whittle down my routine to only a few essential products. To do this, I'm eliminating steps to see if they make a difference.

Do you have a skin journey to share?

12 Mar 2017

my week #256

This week was a big one. Thursday was the day I found out which area I'd be working in next year. I got my first choice which was a big relief but now comes the fun of ranking individual jobs and hoping that I get a good one. :)

It was also my first of two weeks on anaesthetics and I absolutely love it. The mix of physiology, practical procedures and patient contact is great.

How has your week been?

9 Mar 2017

my fifteen minute make-up routine each morning!

During the winter, I usually have to get ready in the dark and for this reason, I try and keep my look as simple as possible to prevent over-egging my eyes or cheeks. Because time is also limited before I have to leave the house and because I try and sleep as much as possible, I'm trying to keep my routine as minimalistic and with as few steps as possible. I never used to bother much with make-up but over the last year or so, I've done to appreciate how much better (and healthier) I look with it on.

My first photo shows the products I used about six months ago.

From L to R: Shu Uemura eyelash curlers, Tony Moly Panda's Dream Volume Mascara, Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow Promade, Pixi Clear Brow Gel, Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Eden, Too Cool for School lip crayon, Missha BB Cream, Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics, Nars blusher, Bobbi Brown lip tint and NYX's Matte Finish Spray.
Primers are kind of an essential for my oily lids so I try and use a lid primer if at all possible. This one from Urban Decay was something that didn't work for my sister so she gave it to me. I'm more of a matte eyeshadow girl so this Urban Decay palette is perfect for me. I like an understated look during the day so the shades in this palette are perfect for that.

Being oriental, my eyelashes are straight and not the longest so eyelash curlers are a bit of an essential for me. At least, I thought it was (more on that later).

This Missha BB cream is a cult favourite among those who use BB creams and I like its light, dewy coverage that evens out skin tone. Western BB creams just don't compare.

I'm also quite pale so I need blusher to make myself look more healthy so that's one step that I knew had to be included.

To finish off my look, I always have a tube of lip balm knocking about. There's always a tinted one in my handbag, one in my coat pocket, one on my desk, one in the car, etc. You name it, I probably have one in there. My favourite of all time is the Bobbi Brown lip tint which adds just the right amount of pink to my lips without looking too overdone.

A lot has changed since and this is now my go-to look:

From top L, clockwise: Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot, The Body Shop eyeshadow, Estee Lauder Double Wear concealer, Estee Lauder Double Wear eyeliner, Hourglass Ambient Light Blush, Mamonde Creamy Lip Tint, Tony Moly Panda's Dream Volume Mascara, Anastasia Beverly Hills in Dip Brow Promade, Pur 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Make-Up.
I start off with a light mineral powder base for a light coverage. This one from Pur is surprisingly good - it is buidable but I usually only do one light sweep across the cheeks, nose and chin and I'm good to go. This is my first foray into powder and it actually offers surprisingly good coverage. Excuse the extremely bling packaging; it was on sale at Beauty Bay as it was a 10 year anniversary edition. Concealer is used from time to time for when blemishes come up or if there are imperfections to cover. I think I use it about once a week on average (if that?). 

The Mac Pro Longwear Pot in Painterly is ideal as a base for my lids and as a nude colour too. Sometimes, I add on The Body Shop's Colour Crush in Caramel Flirt which adds a little shimmer. An eyeliner adds the illusion of depth to my lashes and this, coupled with my mascara, meant I could forego the use of an eyelash curler if I was really pushed for time. This sounds weird, I know, but I can apply this eyeliner in the matter of seconds and I really like how it looks.

Finally, a light blush makes me looks more awake and healthy - this Hourglass offering in Dim Infusion offers just the right amount of colour for me - and the Mamonde Creamy Lip Tint is moisturising and finishes off a simple look nicely.

I'm still trying to taper it down further so maybe I'll blog again in a few months' time if I achieve that :) What's your daily go-to look?

7 Mar 2017

book review: do no harm by henry marsh

On the whole, I try not to read too many 'medic books' but I borrowed Do No Harm by Mr Henry Marsh from my friend after hearing rave reviews about it.

Do No Harm is a memoir of Mr Marsh's time, mainly as a consultant neurosurgeon. Each chapter follows at least one case, through which a learning point often manifests itself - be it that the operation should never have proceeded or that the National Health Service (NHS) is becoming more and more fractured.

Neurosurgery is a field that can seem daunting to those not in the medical field. Mr Marsh does a good job of simplifying things down as much as possible without omitting the parts of a medical journey that every healthcare worker goes through (such as the emotions and perpetual internal question of 'am I doing the right thing?'). It was interesting to read about the cases that he remembers the most and why, as I'm sure he'll have done more than several hundred cases throughout his whole career! Having spent several days at a neuro-disability hospital on placement earlier on in medical school, it brought back some memories and feelings of my own. Even now, I'm a strong advocate of the best outcome for the patient and if this means doing 'nothing', then that's fine. And that's the message I got from a few of the cases he discusses.

Speckled within the book, there are a few sprinklings of his private life and how they were affected by his career and vice versa.

Overall, this book was brilliantly written and I really like the way he's made each chapter about a patient (or two) - a great way to remind us that patients are also individuals and not just a hospital/NHS number. A solid 9/10 from me, especially because I didn't expect to like it (as I'm not a big fan of what I call 'medic books'!).

5 Mar 2017

my week #255

This was my week in the Intensive Care Unit and I enjoyed it a lot more than I anticipated. This is the first placement where I've really felt at home and could even see myself doing for decades to come. There has been plenty of drama (good and bad) and it is nice to know that my understanding of human physiology isn't as bad as initially thought.

You might have seen that I talked about an event that happened on Wednesday morning. A patient had a cardiac arrest and it was my first one ever. The week previously, I'd had Immediate Life Support (ILS) training and in my first year, Basic Life Support training but nothing could have prepared me for the events of that day. At the time, I was calm but I remember my brain just thinking 'concentrate on chest compressions as that's all I can do as a student' and 'please come back' to the patient. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is seriously traumatic for both patient and healthcare personnel and was completely different to the ILS training day. After a good sleep on Wednesday night, I woke up feeling absolutely fine on Thursday but this was all because my mum was the one I 'debriefed' to. She also works in healthcare so she understood and just listened to me spill everything that was in my mind. All I'll say now is that I hope the patient is in peace and in a better place.

How was your week?

2 Mar 2017

introducing stationary from Jeeves and Co. Design Studio

Last year when I went to Stockholm for a brief holiday, the first thing I bought were stamps and postcards to send to friends and family back here in the UK. Every Christmas, letters are also sent to friends around the country so letter sets and correspondence cards are something that will see a fair bit of use in my collection of stationery.

When Pippa from Jeeves & Co. Design Studio got in contact, I knew that their custom selection of stationery would be perfect to share with you guys. The beautiful designs are the work of Pippa Geaves and all of her products are 100% recycled with a proportion of profits going to the Woodland Trust. A further plus is that all of the products are made in the UK. Earlier this year, I decided to go vegetarian in an effort to be as eco-friendly as possible (but also because of various other more personal reasons) and stationery like this is one way to maintain that philosophy.

The products arrived in a well-packaged box that included a cute correspondence card with a personal message from Pippa herself (always a nice touch!) and a business card.

In the package were two cards and two correspondence sets.

The cards are made of high quality 100% recycled card. The inside is left blank for you to include your own message and the envelope is a brown kraft style. These are the kind of cards you'd expect to find in that kitsch village craft shop run by someone local - and actually, those are the kind of shops I currently buy my cards from. There's nothing like supporting a local business. 

The first of the two corresponding sets is the Cat Attack one which is comprised of five sheets of writing paper, five correspondence cards and ten white envelopes. You can customise these quantities to your liking and also customise the header too. I chose to just have my name as the header but you can include an address, URL or even social media handles if you so wished.

The cat illustrations are absolutely beautiful and the quality of printing matches the quality of the paper. These are the perfect correspondence stationery for when you want to be a bit more playful with a bit more personality showing through compared to the floral stationery sets you see crowding the shelves of stationery stores.

If the Cat Attack set is a bit too plain for you and you want something a little more sophisticated, then how about the Cosmic Forest set?

This set features eight different characters and you can choose a set which features just one of the eight or a set that has a variety of them. My favourite bit of this set are the paw prints that adorn the edges of the paper and correspondence cards. This set has a more mature but playful air about it and is again, printed on 100% recycled paper. The headers are customisable and with a potential change of address in the next twelve months or sooner, I chose not to have my current address printed there.

All in all, I'm impressed with the beautiful stationery on offer here. The quality is there and the permutations for customisation mean that though the designs stay the same; the paper, envelopes and header can totally vary from person to person even if they have both chosen the same set. I can see these sets being the perfect gift for someone who adores letter writing so if you know of someone and their birthday is coming up... Well, I'm sure there'll be a design that'll suit them perfectly.

What do you think about Jeeves and Co.?

** Although these items were supplied free of charge, I have reviewed them as if I had paid for them and as honestly as possible. Thank you to Pippa for affording me this opportunity to review these notebooks :) I do not receive any commission for the links on this page.