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?