Friday, 29 November 2013

Inspirations #2- My Nan

This summer my world came crashing down that my beloved Nan had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was given an estimated 3-6 months to live, the blow was somewhat harder due to the fact that my Nan is my third grandparent to be diagnosed with cancer. It sucks. 

The strength my Nan has shown though throughout this is inspiring! She opted not to have chemotherapy because as she said herself, she wants to have her last few months with her family and not in hospital with tubes coming out of her. I spent as much time as I could during the summer with my Nan and I even helped her tick some of the things from her bucket list! She initially wanted to kiss a dolphin but as we live in the UK and she cannot fly, our possibilities were limited and so we instead arranged for her to have a meet and greet with a sea-lion at Knowsley Safari Park near Liverpool and she was made up! My Nan had absolutely no idea what was going on and thought we were simply going on a day out- the look on her face was priceless and one that I will treasure for a life time. 

I've shed many a tear since the diagnosis but I have never once seen my Nan cry or moan about the situation she is in, she has simply accepted the situation she is in and is getting on with her life as normally as she can! I'm so proud of how much strength she is showing.

During my childhood my Nan looked after me whilst my parents were working and I spent a lot of time at her house during the summer. We baked, we went on country walks, we looked at old photographs of my parents and I will always look back on those childhood summers with one of those warm fuzzy feelings. 

It will be somewhat of a blow when my Nan passes and I think the notion of somebody being diagnosed with Cancer is an odd one because you know it is going to happen but you're not sure when. You don't know if the hug you just gave somebody will be your last. You never know which will be your last phone call. I don't know, its just something that I have really struggled with getting my head around all of the times that I have been confronted with such a diagnosis.  

Have any of your loved ones ever been diagnosed with cancer? How did you come to terms with it?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Things that excite me #2

The latest instalment in the Hunger Games series was released in Cinemas in the UK last Thursday and tomorrow me and some of my uni friends are making our way to our nearest cinema, Llandudno Cineworld in order to watch it! (why oh why is there still not a cinema in Bangor?!)

I LOVE the books that these films are based upon and I was completely blown away by the first adaptation (so much so that my boyfriend got me it on DVD for Valentines day to scoop himself some major brownie points). Being the students that we are, we waited until it was an Orange Wednesday to go and see the film and I have my sweets and drinks packed ready and waiting for my little outing tomorrow!

Today I had my first of two 'Assessed Interviews' for one of my University modules and it was as terrifying and went as badly as I anticipated it to (I am not much of a public speaker)  so this is my treat and momentary break from revision (I have the second interview next Tuesday)

Come at me Catching Fire!!!

ps. keep an eye out for what I think of this film in a review on my blog!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Setting the bar too high

Recently the amount of assessments and exams I have had at university has been crazy and it really isn't showing any signs of slowing down yet! I feel like I have been spending a ridiculous amount of hours at my desk or in the library, pumped copious amounts of caffeine into my veins and the outcome is that I am just about staying on top of things.

Whilst I cannot reduce the amount of work and assessments that I have, what I can change is my attitude towards it. In my first year I managed to scoop an overall first and I was thrilled but this year I didn't want to step down so to speak and so I have been pushing myself to the limit to try and keep getting a first to the point where I actually got really down about having 'only' got 65 on one of my assessments, which quite frankly is ridiculous!

It was then that I realised I had been setting the bar too high! When I started university my aim was to come out with a 2.1 degree and whilst getting a first in first year was great I have begun to realise that second year is considerably harder and requires a lot more work! Therefore I have now readjusted my aims and I am once again aiming for a 2.1.

I feel as though a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and I will now much more happily go to bed at a reasonable hour even if I haven't yet finished all of the work that I wanted to, I am taking much better care of myself, making times for my hobbies and I am overall a lot happier.

It is no secret that I haven't been enjoying university as much as I feel I should do lately and the pressure I was putting on myself to get that elusive first was making things ten times worse! The Christmas break is now in sight, I am going home on Friday and I 'only' have four assignments left so the end of Semester one is very much in sight and I am looking forward to having some time at home, even if I am working to fund my student lifestyle I will be able to see my parents, dogs  and boyfriend with much more ease and I won't have to put up with my 3am door slamming neighbours!

So the point of this post was to remind not only you, but myself that there is such a thing as setting the bar too high and sometimes it is not until you step back and look at the situation from a different perspective you realise this.  Have any of you ever realised that you had set the bar too high?

Sunday, 24 November 2013

My Week #7

This week I went for a Disney theme in my planner. As you can tell lectures were pretty light this week but I did have two field trips on Thursday and Friday which took up more time than I would have liked considering I have the first of my two assessed interviews on Tuesday (eep!)

I also finally managed to give blood this week which is something that I feel everyone should do if they can, especially at this time of the year when blood stocks always start to run low!

After spending last week away at a wedding with my boyfriend I also had a fair amount of work to catch up on and so most of my week has been spent with my head in a book, although not always university related- check out my review of the latest book I read here.

More excitingly I got round to doing some baking and I made myself some lactose free cheesecake which has been a great comfort food and revision motivation this week.

The latest instalment of the hunger games movies was released this week and I am going to see it with some of my friends from university on Wednesday which considering the reviews I have read on-line, I am uber excited!

What have you been up to this week?

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Book Review- The Moment, Douglas Kennedy

During my Summer break I decided that I needed to do some more fictional reading as it was something that had gone to the side lines during my first year of University and so whilst shopping in my local supermarket I spotted 'The Moment' by Douglas Kennedy on sale for £2 and picked it up. My intentions of reading it straight away didn't go to plan but this past month I have been engrossed, every spare second I could grab I was reading it anxious to find out what the next development would be. I have never read anything by Kennedy before but the emotion he put into the view point of the main character, Thomas Nesbitt,was so believable I really did think that this was his own personal story he was telling. 

The description on Amazon is:

Thomas Nesbitt is a divorced American writer living a very private life in Maine. Until, one wintry morning, his solitude is disrupted by the arrival of a package postmarked Berlin.
But what is more unsettling is the name accompanying the return address on the package: Petra Dussman. For she is the woman with whom Thomas had an intense love affair twenty-five years before in a divided Berlin, where people lived fearfully under the shadows of the Cold War.
And so Thomas is forced to grapple with a past he has always kept hidden. For Petra Dussman was a refugee from the police state of East Germany. And her tragic secrets were to re-write both their destinies. 

Now I am not sure about the rest of you out there but when I read a book I do it as a form of escape, I want to be transported to somewhere more exciting than my Arriva Train Wales back home, or a cold park bench. I also want to get involved with the characters, get an understanding for the way that they view the world and what it is they are trying to get out of their present situation I am reading about. Kennedy manages to accomplish all of this and more with such ease! The book has many a twist in its plot and it is therefore difficult to go into detail without spoiling it for any of you who may want to read it (and you should!) What I can divulge though is that this book had me laughing on one page, holding my breath the next and then later in floods of tears- the emotive response that Kennedy managed to achieve is remarkable and I would thoroughly recommend you go and get yourself a copy ASAP!

I managed to snag another of Kennedys books second hand for a student budget friendly price and I literally cannot wait for it to arrive! Reading 'The Moment' rekindled my love of reading and made me make time for it even amongst a heavy university schedule and I have every faith that this next book will also do the same. 

Have any of you ever read anything by Kennedy? What books are you loving right now?

Friday, 22 November 2013

Inspirations #1- Taylor Swift

Now I know Taylor Swift is not always a popular topic of conversation (especially if you're a 1D fan!) but having been a fan of Taylor since she first appeared onto the UK music scene in February 2009 she has now been a part of my life for almost 5 years (thats practically a quarter of my life!)

She frequents headlines because of her infamous break-ups but stories like this always frustrate me because they don't look past the surface. At 23 I am sure most of you have had the same number of actual partners as Taylor unless you are one of the lucky few that have found 'the one'.

But enough of that, it is not Taylor's love life that inspires me (I'm much more interested in her cat Meredith) its the kind of image she portrays and the values that she has. Miley Cyrus, being a similar age to me, used to be somebody that I aspired to be like but recently that has changed... and I am sure I don't need to detail why. Admittedly most of her songs are about boys, but when you're a 15 year old girl sat in your bedroom crying your eyes out because the guy you've been crushing on asked someone else to prom, her music helps, you can relate to it- you feel like somebody else has been through what you're feeling and then the next song on the Album is about falling in love and you realise that there's still hope and there are indeed plenty more fish in the sea.

I am currently 21 and Taylor is 2 years my senior but the way in which she releases her albums means that when they are released I have songs that will help me through the next two years of my life. There has been many a moment when I have often skipped songs on her album initially because I didn't relate to them or understand them but then a couple of months later, that same song is on repeat.

(The faces she pulls really are priceless) 

Recently the Country Music Awards honoured Taylor with the 'Pinacle Award' not only for her work in bringing country music to a wider platform but also the charity work that she does, largely behind the scenes and not just in a publicity stunt. I think the way in which she conducts herself is something to aspire to, I really wish I had her grace when she walks into a room.

This summer I got to see Taylor for the third time at the Capital FM Summer Ball and yet again her performance had the whole crowd going, she sang LIVE (the amount of artists that mimed was shocking!) and she brought Ed Sheeran out so I got to see him sing live too! I finally manage to secure tickets for her RED tour in  February and I am unbelievably excited!

So think what you may about her love life, but Taylor Swift has helped me through many a rough patch. When I am up late working on an essay, its her music I have on, when I am missing my boyfriend, its her songs that comfort me and when I'm getting ready for a night out with my girlfriend, her songs go on!

Who are your role models?

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Embracing Social Media

So frequently it is only via the social media updates of my favourite blogs that I realise they have posted something new and so today, in the greatest form of procrastination from revision for my exam on Tuesday I have created a Facebook Page and a Twitter account for my blog! So please do come say hi!

Filofax Enabling

 A few weeks ago I aided a couple of friends who live in the US in buying some of their desired Filofaxes from eBay UK as the sellers did not wish to ship the filos to America themselves and I must admit I loved the thrill of being in a last minute bidding war as these two filos are very popular amongst the planning community and when they arrived it was so nice getting a sneak peak at these beautiful organisers!

For those of you who cannot tell the two organisers I purchased were an A5 Yellow Finsbury and an A5 Jade Finchley, both of which are made from real leather and despite being several years old still had that lovely leather smell!
Here is a view of the organisers stacked on top of each other- you can tell these are high quality filos from simply looking at them- I mean look at that stitching! Hopefully these organisers will give their recipients a lot of enjoyment!

Has anybody else ever been an enabler? Did you enjoy it as much as me?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Tuesday- Things that Excite Me (NEW series)

I've had somewhat of the blogging bug this weekend and have come up with another idea for a new series of posts on my blog- perhaps it was the change of scenery that did it?! 

For those of you who are unfamiliar this meme is a reference to the walking dead! I recently started watching this programme with my boyfriend during the summer holidays and it really didn't take long for us to become hooked!  We rattled our way through the first three series pretty quickly and then had the agonising wait for season 4 to begin! 

If you don't watch the walking dead why not? It is based upon the idea that there was some kind of disease that turned half of the American population into zombies, otherwise known as 'walkers' and there is a small group that are trying to survive with a lot of very interesting group dynamics thrown into the mix! It makes for very good watching, all be it somewhat gory at times! The show has taken off recently in America and over here and more and more friends are actually watching it and I have people to discuss my opinions with! 

Currently we have to wait weekly for a new episode to be shown in the states, which is rather annoyingly on a Sunday night and as I am only home every other weekend, it means that we are not as up to date as we could be (unless we broke tradition and watched it separately of course) 

Which TV shows get you excited? Do you watch the walking dead?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Lactose Free Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

Lactose intolerance is not something that I have suffered with for very long and so I still have a craving for a lot of dairy based foods but it isn't quite as simple as popping to Asda and picking one up, unless I can be incredibly self restrained and only eat a teeny amount of it. The recipe that I adapted can be found here on BBC Good Food.

 400g Cream Cheese (I used the Lactofree Brand)
 50g Icing sugar
 2 lemons- the juice and zest
 60g butter ( I used the soya based brand 'pure')
 150g digestive biscuits


First cut the lemons in half, juice them carefully being sure to remove any pips that fall out and then grate the zest (but don't cut your thumb, lemon juice in fresh cuts is painful-trust me!)

Break up the cream cheese and add the lemon juice and zest to this, sprinkle in the icing sugar through a sieve and then combine all of the ingredients. You can use an electric whisk for this but I just used a wooden spoon and this seemed to do the trick. 

Next break up the digestive biscuits and then, this is possibly the best part, bash them into tiny pieces. You know all of that built up frustration you have with a lecturer, essay or even housemate, this is the perfect opportunity to release all of this tension and what is more, you get cheesecake at the end of it all!

Melt the butter and stir it into your broken up digestive biscuits and then press them into cake cases. 

Spoon in your mixture and then place them into the fridge in order to set (yes thats right, no cooking required which in student terms = lower energy bill) and leave them in there for a few hours.

Finally make yourself a good old fashioned cuppa and then enjoy your hard work! 

Do you suffer from any food allergies? What are your favourite recipe hacks?

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Check out my first filofax video!

Recently I made a video as part of my participation in Janet Carr's Filofax Project, for those of you who don't follow the blog yourselves, here is the link to it:

I had a cold and filmed it from my iPhone camera so the quality is not the best but nonetheless it is all mine and therefore I am really rather proud of it- take a look?

My Week #6

Although on paper it doesn't look that way, this week has been a rather busy one with a lot of travelling back and forth! 

On Tuesday I had a meeting at Liverpool museum about my third year research project which meant a 2 hour train ride each way! Then on Friday my parents came to visit (and show me how to turn the heating on!!!) before taking me back home ready to go to a wedding in Barnsley with my boyfriend on Saturday morning before heading back to the homeland on Sunday! After getting back to my university town tomorrow afternoon I think I will need a nap (but sadly I have lectures until 6pm!!) 

I've also had a fair amount of work to be doing this week, so much so I was starting to go slightly crazy and so decided that I wasn't going to take any work home with me at the weekend and boy has it been fun! I've finally almost finished the book I started at the start of September (which by the way is a great book so keep your eyes peeled for when I finish it and do a post on it!) 

Friday, 15 November 2013

New Blog Series Coming Soon!

I've absolutely loved writing my 'Fresher Friday' series but I am starting to run out of topics for this and so instead of missing weeks because I simply cannot think of a topic I am instead going to start a new series on a Friday of people or things that inspire/motivate me so keep your eyes peeled for this!

(Here is a cheeky sneak peak!)

What about you guys? What motivates you?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Unusual Pets

Being a Zoology student and general animal lover I am always interested in what kind of pets people have and so when my boyfriend decided to get a pet hedgehog I was pretty excited! Whilst I haven't actually managed to hold him myself yet (seeing him mess on my boyfriend was enough to put me off for a while) he is such a sweet thing and is behaving himself much better. 

When I first met my boyfriend he had pet Hermit Crabs, which elicited a very awkward conversation between my mum and I when I casually mentioned the guy I was seeing had crabs... Since then he has had salamanders and lots of snakes but Harry the Hedgehog is the latest addition and perhaps my favourite so far, but we shall see!

I've never had an exciting pet myself, I have stuck mainly to the usual hamsters/guinea pigs/rabbits etc but I am starting to think about what kind of pet I will have when I have my own house.

Do any of you lovely readers have any interesting pets? 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Fresher Friday #8- Baking as a hobby

A few weeks back I mentioned that I was falling out of love with my degree and concluded that this was because I was spending most of my time doing work and not a lot else! 

So I have been trying out some new hobbies and this week I decided to make some mini lemon cheesecake :) 

I have a mild lactose intolerance and so when I have a craving for a dairy product it isn't quite as simple as going to the supermarket and picking some up, I either have to hope there is a soya or lactose free version (very rare!) or make it myself 

Here are my mini cheesecakes! They are so scrummy and are reasonably cheap to make! I will be posting an indepth recipe post this week so keep your eyes peeled for that! 

What about you? Do you have any dietary requirements that make impulse purchases difficult? 

and who else bakes as a hobby? :) 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Filofax Original Set Up

I have had my original for little over a week now and I *think* that I am happy with my current set up but as most Filofax users are well aware only time will tell whether it is actually my ideal system. I am absolutely in love with the colour of the organiser and I am thrilled that I opted for the green.

The original doesn't have the usual layout of inside pockets that are seen in many of the Filofax models nowadays but I am rather taken by the elasticated pen loops and middle strap. I am using a 4 colour bic pen and a mechanical pencil as the writing utensils in my organiser and I am also keeping this cute little giraffe ruler my mum got me in the middle strap although I have checked and my iPhone 4 will fit here. There are 2 credit card pockets and a full length pocket behind.

This post it note organiser came from Paperchase and is their 'standard' size and fits the personal organiser beautifully and what's more, they do student discount both online and instore!
The first section that I am using is a 'Capture' section and from the picture below you can see that I have an open top pocket in here to store receipts or other important documents that need filing at a later date. I also have an assortment of paper behind it. 

The next section is my diary section in which I am using a week on two pages format

The third section of my Filofax is my planning section in which I have the Birthday and Anniversarys inserts as well as a fold out 2014 year planner to note down any important dates before I have the entire years worth of diary inserts in my organiser.

The magnetic page marker I am using to hold the pages together so that it opens on the relevant month is again from Paperchase.

Next up is my University section where I keep information about each of my modules, any marks from assessments as well as a to do list which I separate from the other information using a spare fly leaf and Martha Stewart top tab.

 The fifth section is a Finance section in which there is another top opening envelope (the joys of owning multiple organisers!) as well as the budgeting pages that I got in my grey domino that I got from TKMaxx (see my post about it here) I have actually used a lot of those inserts in this organiser as I figured that there was very little point in saving them!

The sixth and final section in my Filofax I have the A-Z dividers in my organiser which I have seen others in the Filofax community using as a filing system for random notes in order to prevent me having to have lots of small tabs in my Filofax. I am so far enjoying using this system and I will keep you updated if anything changes!
Finally is a (slightly blurred-sorry!) picture of the notepad that comes at the back, you can easily tear pages out from this book so I think it will be perfect for using for shopping lists or other quick memos that I might want to remove from my organiser. There is again a full length pocket at the back to store random pieces of paper in and I have so far found both of the pockets to be reasonably roomy. 

The craftsmanship on these organisers is incredible and in my opinion justifies the higher retail price compared to some organisers. I love how every time I open my organiser I get the gorgeous smell of leather and I am desperately hoping that this smell doesn't end any time soon or fade over time.

I have promised my instagram followers a video about my set up but due to the fact that this set up is still reasonably new I am going to give it a month or so to settle into my organiser (and of course decorate it some more!) before I make the video but rest assured I will also post the link to the video here.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Money Monday #6- Going out as a student

Going out as a student is one thing that is hard to do quite cheaply but last week it was my housemates birthday and so I couldn't really refuse. Luckily her birthday fell on a Monday when our local pub has half price food and so I managed to get this mahoosive plate of food and a drink (non alcoholic) for little over £4. For the rest of the evening I bought my drinks from a supermarket (£2) and pre-drank at another friends house before heading out for the evening! This meant that I only had to pay the entrance fee to the club £3) meaning that I managed to secure a night out and a meal for under £10 meaning that my budget wasn't completely blown and I wasn't worrying all night about how much everything was costing.

What are your favourite tips for saving money on a night out? :)

Sunday, 3 November 2013

My Week #5

This week saw the arrival of my new original in green and I think that I am finally all moved in now and I am absolutely loving it! So far I haven't encountered any issues with the 'short' strap that I have read so much about online but I think that mine may perhaps be one of the newer ones that has the slightly longer strap.

Monday saw my first real exam of second year and I am optimistic that it went well but only time will tell in that sense! I also got my first mark back from an assignment and I am pleased with how it went so it seems my blip in not feeling on top of my course is hopefully over! I've had very few contact hours this week and so I have managed to catch up on my notes ahead of reading week next week so I can go home and see my family and boyfriend for a few days which will be nice.

How was your week?

Friday, 1 November 2013

November photo a day challenge

Come and join me on my Instagram ( to see my first attempt at the planner addicts filofax photo a day challenge! 

The November list is as follows

I have followed others attempts at these challenges over the last few months and I have finally taken the plunge and participated! I have ideas for some of the themes but others I will have to put my thinking cap on for! 

Do you take part in these challenges? If so please link your Instagram down below as I simply love looking at all of the different interpretations of a theme :) 

Fresher Friday #7- New Found Freedom

Firstly apologies for the lateness of this post but I have *hopefully* sorted out my third year research project today so things have been a little crazy. 

Whilst doing my weekly food shop this week I overheard a girl (who I presume to be a fresher) exclaiming rather gleefully that her basket was full of all the things she wasn't allowed as a child! I couldn't get a full view of her basket but you could definitely see coco pops, cans of coke, dairylea Dunkers and the like in there! This got me thinking about whether I had indulged in anything that I wasn't allowed to do as a child. 

Rather innocently mine was the purchase of a rotastak hamster cage that I longed for as a child but my parents told me they were too hard for me to clean out myself! They were probably right in fairness as those tubes can get rather messy! 

Going to university does give you a reasonable amount of freedom that you won't have experienced before and my word of advice to all you freshers is to use it wisely! Whilst you may be able to go out partying every night of the week, bring that boy/girl home you know your parents would hate or blow all of your student loan on clothes you need to remember that going to university is first and foremost about your education (sorry to be a nag!) 

You do need to have fun and let your hair down whilst at university but it is critical that you perfect that work:life balance during your first year as whilst it may not count towards your final degree mark I have witnessed many a second year student this year struggling to get into the habit of working as they spent their entire first year partying and well, old habits for hard! 

What have you done with your freedom? Have you indulged in anything your previous self lusted after? :)