30 May 2017

a 30 before 30 update

With my 30th birthday a mere three and a half years away (eek, where did the time go), I thought now would be a good time to check in with my '30 before 30' list. The list is currently written in my journal and it gets transferred to every new journal I start.

Looking at the list, I should have another ten or so checked off by the end of the year which leaves eleven to go. Some of them might never happen (such as 'buy something from Tiffany's' - my tastes have changed and jewellery is something that rarely gets worn by myself now. That said, I would consider a pair of earrings!).

My bonus goal of moving to Scotland is now unlikely to happen due to the realisation that once I move away from London, it is unlikely that I'll be able to afford to move back at any point in the future. That said and being no psychic, there may well be many trips up to various parts of Scotland on the horizon in the near future. The next few years are going to be tough financially (due to my want of being a homeowner as soon as possible) so a lot of staycations will most likely be on the cards!

Are you doing a '30 before 30'? If so, how is it going?

28 May 2017

my week #267

This week, London saw a heatwave. Commuting on the tube at the moment is unbearable, particularly during rush hour.

The events on Monday night in Manchester were awful and I cannot fathom how anyone could do something like that. My thoughts are with everyone affected. Seeing armed policemen and policewomen out and about in central London is petrifying and it does make you wonder when all of this madness will stop.

How was your week?

25 May 2017

the 2017 limited edition Lamy Safari Petrol Blue

When the 2017 limited edition Lamy Safari was announced as a 'Petrol blue' colour, I was in two minds about whether or not it was one that just had to be added to my collection of fountain pens. There was a lot of uhmming and ahhing for quite a few months after the announcement and when mid-April came round, I made up my mind.

As you can see, I did end up purchasing it and it's not one I regret. Let me explain why.

Being the proud owner of a Dark Lilac Lamy Safari from last year, I knew that a matte finish made for a pen that was easier to grip. The matte finish also seems to do a good job of keeping itself in a good condition. My coral Safari still looks as good as new but any flaws are more visible on it compared to the dark lilac.

The petrol blue colour is fairly muted but I'm hoping it'll make me look a bit more mature! Lamy Safaris are reached for the most out of all my pens so to have two mature looking ones and a more playful one in my collection means I can choose one that suits my mood. Most of the time, all three are inked and ready to go.

It's quite clear I'm a huge fan of Lamy Safari fountain pens and part of me hopes that the 2018 colour won't be one that appeals to me... But at the same time, it'd be quite nice to add another playful one to my collection for balance!

What do you think of this year's limited edition Safari colour? And what colour are you hoping for next?

23 May 2017

packing for a weekend break: beauty and skincare

After my penultimate year at university, I made a resolution with myself to be more spontaneous and to live life a bit more. Though I have commitments in my personal life which mean that this isn't always possible, I analysed how I had spent my years until then and realised that, at the age of 25, I hadn't actually seen much of the world or done much in the way of spontaneity.

One way I've stuck with this resolution is to have spontaneous weekends away or just book impromptu holidays (like I did with my four day excursion to Stockholm in August). As a result, I always have my 'beauty pack' ready for any last minute weekends I book. Flying is a complete headache due to the liquids restriction, and as I try to only fly with hand luggage, this makes it all the more difficult. Travel sized things are a must and I also try and pare down my skincare routine as much as possible. With regards to make-up, if at all possible, I only pack mascara and lip balm with everything else in powder form so generally okay to go through security in my bag.

To read more about how I got my routine to fit into a tiny plastic bag that is flight-safe, here is a post from earlier this month.

My essentials are as follows:

- dry shampoo
A must for those long flights or days where your hair isn't quite dirty/greasy enough for a wash but you want to feel a bit refreshed.

- body wash
Most hotels supply this but I like to keep a back-up just in case.

- cotton pads
Again, some hotels will supply this but I'm quite particular about the ones I use. The best ones I've found are actually sold in Asda!

- micellar water
For those lazy days when you don't feel like double cleansing to remove your make-up.

- Murad cleanser
Not quite sure if this is completely psychological or not: but this cleanser appears to be the only one which can help keep my skin relatively clear.

- Avene Cleanance Expert Emulsion
I keep this in my travel pack because I'm not actually sure it does much for my skin? And it doesn't break me out so I'm basically only using it for the sake of using up the tiny bottle.

- Eye gel
As a contact lens wearer, my eyes can get terribly dry. I apply this gel after my lenses are out in the evening, just before bed, and once again in the morning, at least half an hour before putting my lenses in.

- Banila Co Clean It Zero oil cleanser
Sometimes, this comes with me, other times, it doesn't. It depends on how much make-up I think I'll be wearing. If a lot, I'll use this to take my make up off before using my Murad cleanser. It comes in a tiny travel sized tub which is so useful.

- Deodorant (no explanation needed surely?)

- An AHA product of some kind
I swear by chemical exfoliation now that I've seen how much brighter my skin looks! I really notice a difference when I go without this step in my routine for a few days so this is an essential for me. This gets used once every day other at the moment as my skin seems to be able to take it.

- La Roche-Posay's Effaclar Duo [+]
I'll be raving about this product in a blog post next month but essentially, this is another product I can't do without.

- Benzoyl Peroxide
This makes an ideal spot treatment and traveling can often cause break outs.

- Travel sized shampoo
Like body wash, hotels will usually supply this but I like to bring my own back-up just in case.

- a moisturiser (not seen)
My moisturiser of choice at the moment for traveling with Dr Jart's Ceramidin cream because I find that it helps replace some of the steps I've cut out in my skincare routine.

So there you have it - my beauty products perpetually ready for me to grab for a weekend away. These items are all packed into a regulation clear plastic bag that is available at all airports so I know that they are fine for security and that everything is there so I don't have to spend a manic hour or two packing.

21 May 2017

my week #266

Week three of my elective and I'm really enjoying it all! It's tiring with very long days (as it takes so long to get there and back) but it's worth it. I did a whole load of life admin at the beginning of the week too so it feels like I've succeeded in some adult-ing!

I also finally caught up on Grey's Anatomy this week and woahhhh, that finale. Shondra Rhimes does a good job of writing season finales.

How has your week been?

18 May 2017

the simple things: having a good time on a budget

Having been a student for far too long now, I like to think I'm pretty decent at saving money. Being low on funds doesn't mean no fun - you may just need to think out of the box a bit more. Here are some no- and low-spend ideas :)

1. Netflix + PJs + Comfort Food
Confession: this is one of my favourite things to do when funds are low and when my own company is all I want. Binge watch something without feeling any guilt- after all, we all need a cheat day where nothing productive is done. Then again, finishing three seasons of How I Met Your Mother sounds pretty productive to me...

2. Take a walk with your camera/Instax
At the end of 2016, I invested in an Instax camera. It's just as fun to take snaps of nature on your phone or digital camera. The main part is to just get out there is breathe some fresh air and see a few squirrels or foxes in your local vicinity.

3. Spring clean! (If you're like me...)
Do one room at a time. Stare at the bags of stuff you're donating with pride. However, this might not be your cup of tea and that's ok. I'm just the type of person who has a lot of fun decluttering and putting things into order!

4. Switch off electronically for a day or a weekend (if you're brave!)
Read, journal, write, just do anything that doesn't involve a computer, television or phone.

5. Explore free/cheap museums
Many museums in London are free to explore and many of them have high quality exhibits that don't involve you spending a penny. It's also a good opportunity to learn something new!

6. Explore a local farmer's market and sample foods.
Farmer's markets are brilliant for fresh produce that's produced locally. Take it as a chance to sample some foods you've never tried or even heard of before! Borough market is a well-known food market (though not farmer's) in South London and word is that there are plenty of foods to sample there.

7. Spa day at home - candles, bath and bath salts, music, a glass of bubbly...
One of my favourite things to do and one not done often enough! The comfort of your own home, bubbles and the aroma of a scented candle... Perfection can't be far off, surely.

8. Bake something simple and add copious amounts of icing!
Biscuits are super easy to make, as are cupcakes, so stick a few in the oven and then decorate them (badly, if you're me) with icing! And if sharing things makes you happy, hand a few to your friends and family.

9. Try out a hidden restaurant - seek out those that train up chefs!
In London, there are a few restaurants that train up future Michelin star chefs. Do a quick Google search and then give them a try. Who knows, you might end up eating food from the future Heston Blumenthal at a fraction of the price.

10. Sight see around your local area.
Over the last eight years, I've had five different addresses due to being a university student and in only two of those addresses did I explore the local area. There are always a few hidden gems around every area and you might even find a new place to hangout!

Do you have any other suggestions? :)

16 May 2017

korean make-up mini reviews: face and cheeks

For the last eighteen months, I've grown an obsession with Korean Beauty products. Today, I thought it'd be nice to talk about some of the make-up products which aren't expensive and work extremely well. Here are a few brief reviews.

Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream in No. 21

Western BB creams tend to look quite orange on me, even when I opt for the lightest shade but this Missha BB cream is perfect. It evens skin tone, covers blemishes to an extraordinary amount (you'll still need a little bit of concealer) and stays put for a whole day. My skin is pretty oily but I haven't had any issues with it slipping, even after a 14-hour day. The only complaint I have is that it looks a bit grey when it first goes on but the finishing powder I use (not a Korean product) does a good job at counteracting that. 

Also, this tube has lasted forever as a little goes a long way. 

Skin Food Peach Sake Silky Finish Powder

My sister bought me this when she was in Korea and it means I'm not spoilt for choice for clear setting powders. This one smells like peach and keeps my face looking matte during the day. No complaints!

Innisfree No Sebum Mineral Powder

Another favourite among the Asian Beauty community on Reddit. This was my first ever setting powder but I don't like how it can make patches of my face look white and chalky. 

Tony Moly Cat's Wink Clear Pact

A gift from my sister again from Korea! Smells delightful and is super cute as well! It's definitely more travel friendly than the Skin Food and Innisfree offerings. It is slim and has a mirror - something the other two don't have.

IOPE Air Cushion XP in No. 21

This is the perfect colour match for the winter when my skin is at its palest. I love the portability - it has a mirror and a cushion included and it applies very well. It doesn't make my face look cakey and has a pleasant smell to it. One of my favourites for those lighter coverage days though it is buildable if you want a higher level of coverage too.

Various A'pieu Cushion Blushers 

Yet another gift from my sister from her holiday in Seoul! It has a mirror inside too and isn't the outside just adorable? Sometimes we have one of those days where we need a bit of cheering up. They are pretty pigmented and one or two dabs on each cheek is usually enough to add a bit of colour to my face. Again, I love the smell of them!

I also have some eye and lip products too which I'll talk about in a month's time or so. Basically, I'm a huge fan of Korean beauty products and just wanted to share the love :)

14 May 2017

my week #265

This week was another interesting week on elective and my commute is such a beast, I've finished reading a 428 page book in just over a week. These next few weeks may mean that I work at a rate of one or two books a week (as I read a physical one on public transport and one on my Kindle at home)!

My to-do list this weekend is a little bit beastly so hopefully I can get through it all by Sunday night! Though I was a bit distracted last night with the rugby and Eurovision...

How was your week?

11 May 2017

medicine: final year placement reviews

Now that final year is out of the way, I thought it would be apt to do a mini review of each placement for the medics out there who might be interested.

Assistantship Surgery

For this one, gynaecology was my specialty and though an unconventional surgical specialty (most of my friends had general, urology, colorectal, upper gastrointestinal, etc), I learnt an awful lot. Obstetrics and Gynaecology is a potential career path I may choose to go down and the team were just wonderful and friendly. The high turnover of patients meant that there was plenty of practice writing discharge summaries and practice with practical procedures. One particular highlight was taking blood from a patient who confessed she was a difficult patient and that it usually took people three or four tries before they were successful. I somehow managed to do it on the first attempt which was a lovely feeling!

The main brunt of this placement were daily, swift ward rounds; many discharge summaries and copious opportunities to take blood, insert cannulas and do other practical procedures. One of my favourite placements of this year without a doubt.

Assistantship Medicine

Coming off surgery where ward rounds lasted one or two hours at the most, it was a shock to go back to ward rounds that would last at least three and a half hours. Being on a Care of the Elderly ward, it was a good opportunity to revise general medical conditions and also learn more about the social side of things that often keep the patients in for longer than we would like. Again, plenty of discharge summaries, note writing and practical procedures. The team were lovely which always makes a difference but the five weeks were enough for me to confirm that being a hospital medic is not for me.

Assistantship General Practice

Before starting this placement, I was dreading it. General practice has a reputation amongst students for not being the most glamorous specialty and I suppose that is largely true. As GPs, one has to know which problems are serious enough to warrant a referral to a specialist and which ones can be safely managed within their remit in the community. Having spent five weeks in a well-ordered practice in a deprived area of South London, I got a feel for just how difficult it is being a GP.

Seeing a high volume of patients each week meant that I got to hone my history taking and examination skills within a limited appointment slot. The senior doctors encouraged me to come up with management plans and in the end, I ended up really enjoying my time there. In fact, I even kind of miss it! However, unlikely to be the career for me.

Accident and Emergency

Adrenaline pumping through the veins is a feeling I always try and seek so the Emergency Department was one I was looking forward to setting foot in. However, the only area that really appealed to me as 'Resus' - the part where the most critical patients are as the other areas felt largely like an extension of General Practice. Not hating on General Practice - just that I'm looking for something a bit more acute and exciting.

Critical Care and Anaesthetics

The best placement of my final year. Wearing scrubs everyday meant silks, wools and delicate fabrics could be worn with reckless abandon as they would only be worn in and out of the hospital! There is the perfect mix of having to know a bit about everything, the chance to do practical procedures and also the patient contact was still present within the field of Anaesthetics. I loved this placement so much, it is likely that this'll be the pathway chosen in a few years' time. At the moment, this list is acute care, anaesthetics and surgery so we'll see if things change!

Overall, I loved final year. It felt much more like being a doctor and it has helped me rule out and rule in specialties a little bit more - a list that'll inevitably chop and change in the near future. My advice is to just throw yourself into every single placement. Even if I don't think the placement will be the one for me long term, my goal is still to make the most of it - after all, if I don't decide to go into it, this'll be my only experience of it ever again! It's a privilege to be able to see a bit of most fields within Medicine and nothing gets taken for granted, at least not with me. :)

9 May 2017

a 2017 shopping ban - a brief overview of how and why!

At the beginning of this year, I put myself on a shopping ban from January to May. The only things I was allowed to purchase were replacement skincare and makeup products. You might recall that this has been tried over the last few years but this time, I was a lot more successful. My reason for this time being more successful was that there was a lot more brutal honesty about what I already had in my possession and how much stuff I could realistically go through in this time frame. To help with the latter part, I decided to keep a box of my 'empties' - finished bottles, sachets and products all went in here. My goal is to look at the end of the year and see how much stuff is really used over the course of twelve months.

One motivation for doing this was to be more minimalistic and stop stocking up on things so much. In the past, shampoos, conditioners and things that didn't go off were bought whenever I noticed they were on offer in the supermarket. This would result in, on average, a bottle a week being bought when I go through a bottle every month and a half! Though this saves money in the long run, I find clutter a bit of a stressor and during the last five months, there's been a major mission to declutter stuff no longer used, needed or wanted.

Over the last twelve months, I've accumulated a lot of skincare and make-up samples through various means and this no-spend has been a good time to use up a lot of these samples. You can see a small pile in the picture above. Many of these samples have been average or below average in performance but the ones that do impress me make it onto my wishlist (below). Some of the items on my wishlist haven't been sampled - they are just there so that when I finish my current foundation/concealer/mascara, etc, I can refer to this list to see what was on my mind to try next.

Overall, this project has been largely positive and I find myself evaluating each purchase much more stringently than I used to. Though I don't think my ability to budget before was particularly poor, my belief is that there is always room for improvement, no matter how good you think you are. And I apply this belief to all areas of my life.

My current goal is to keep this going for the rest of the year and so far so good (fingers crossed!). If anyone knows of sites where I can sell good quality clothing on (other than eBay), please do let me know. I had a bad experience where a buyer abused the buyer protection programme and it's really soured my choice to sell on eBay as the seller protection is basically non-existent even when you're 100% compliant (mini rant over!).

If you want to do a similar challenge, I would recommend keeping a box of empties because it is a great motivator and allows you to see how much stuff you realistically get through.

7 May 2017

my week #264

I've just realised I've been doing this weekly for over five years now - where has the time gone?!

Anyway, this week, I started my elective - something every medical student in the UK does. It is a self-arranged placement in any field, any hospital and any country we want. I decided to do mine in London at a hospital I've never been to before and it's looking promising so far! Because there are two potential career routes I may decide to go down, I've decided to spend time in both specialties during the next five weeks. However, the commute is crippling; it's pretty much a two hour journey each way at its worst and one hour and forty-five minutes at its best...

How has your week been? 

4 May 2017

a multistep skincare routine and travelling: paring it down

My skincare routine in the evening is somewhat ridiculous - twenty minute wait times, nine steps and nine different products, it makes traveling quite difficult. Though it can take a fair bit of time to complete each night, the wait time is when I get some reading in and it also serves as a nightly pamper. Maybe I'll do a full post of my morning and evening routines at some point - my morning routine is currently only five steps long (which sounds equally bad but the layers are so light, it's actually really quick!).

Over the last few months, I've been experimenting with leaving things out of my routine to see what difference they make in an effort to decide what will need to come with me when on holiday. This is when travel sized bottles and decanting comes in handy too. Decanting can also help keep the products fresh because you're not opening them over and over again and exposing them to the air. At the most, you'll lose the amount you decanted but not the whole bottle/tub. Each bottle is labelled with washi tape!

To evaluate what else should come with me, the things I deemed essential were: a cleanser, a cream with ceramides in, a serum targeting my main skin complaints and a toner for the morning. My morning toner is one that targets blackheads and unclogs pores which is why it makes this list. Other essentials are light layers which travel well without being too heavy and depending on space, these may or may not come with me.

Some products are repeated in the morning and evening and these are invaluable - they save space in your hand luggage and mean that there is space for other essentials.

In the end, this is the list I came up with:

Banila Co Clean It Zero cleansing balm
Murad cleanser
Panoxyl (as targeted spot treatment)
Dr Jart's Ceramidin cream
The Ordinary's 10% Niacinamide serum
Cosrx BHA Blackhead Liquid
Kikumasamune High Moist Toner
La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo
Biore UV Watery Essence

Though this list is still longer than I would like, I see most of them as essentials and the bare minimum my skin needs to behave. The evening routine has seven steps and the morning routine has five steps so it's pretty close to what would happen at home anyway (continuity is good for my skin!).

2 May 2017

my study week #23: a revision notebook

Today, my offering is this one: my final year revision notebook. It is an Oxford one and consists of paper which takes fountain pen wonderfully. The bright white Optik paper is a lovely contrast to the dark blue ink and in an effort to add a bit more colour to my notes (something I've not done much of this academic year), enter some note tabs and washi tape.

Electing to use Martha Stewart x Staples note tabs to help bookmark where each chapter begins means that looking things up becomes more time efficient. The washi tape for the titles is nothing new, as evidenced by this blog post back in 2012 (jeez, I feel old) and to add to the colour coding, Zebra Mildliners make an appearance in the margins too.

The main thing in this notebook is the amount of white space when in the past, I would've tried to cram as much information onto a sheet of paper before satisfied. The white space enables me to feel less cluttered in my mind which makes remembering things a lot easier.

This might be my favourite notebook from my time at medical school and although, a work of art, it is not, it serves its purpose well whilst still looking kind of aesthetically pleasing.