Friday, 26 September 2014

Whats in My Bag: The University Edition

As I am about to start my third year of University and lectures I would like to think that I have gotten what I carry in my bag down to a fine art; however, sometimes I end up carrying far too many things around and giving myself backache and then other times I find myself wishing that I had brought other things with me! This here is my happy medium. 

For my lectures this year I am planning on using my Longchamp Le Pliage bag in Large Size as I find this bag to be roomy enough, without allowing me to overstuff it. As well as the things pictured above, I also carry some additional things around with me for University but I will go into that later on in the post! 

On the top left of the picture is an Elba document file* which I use to store any print outs that I need for that day as well as any assignments that I need to hand in. Next is an Oxford Campus A4 Refill Pad* in a lovely pink colour (which unintentionally seems to be my colour scheme for this year at the moment!) and I also carry my keys, for obvious reasons! The refill pad gets used for taking notes in lectures, brain storming out ideas for projects and general university note taking. 

At the bottom left of the picture there is an A5 Oxford Campus notebook*  which houses all of my to do lists, lists of things that I need to try and read that week, books I need to get out of the library and so forth. As I like to try and keep my planner as neat as possible I find it much easier to house all of my University related lists that are temporary (usually only relevant for a week or less) into a notebook. I then have my purse which is actually designed as a travel wallet but as I am using the envelope budgeting system at the moment, it is the perfect size for me! Next up we have the Kate Spade Wellesley zip around planner which I absolutely ADORE, especially the inserts and it may even be that I have found planner peace with this one *crosses fingers*. And finally there is my pencil case in a lovely zebra print which came from Paperchase and I thought it was apt considering I study Zoology. 

Things that I also carry and are not pictured are a water bottle, my lunch if I have a full day of lectures, I also carry a Dictaphone which I keep in my pencil case as well as a pen drive. By the end of term I am sure that I will end up with a mass of receipts and junk at the bottom of my bag but for now I am loving its simplicty!

What do you carry around in your bag for University

PS if you love Oxford and Elba products as much as me be sure to enter their 100 days of converse competition! 

*Items were sent for me for review or purchased with money off coupons but all opinions are my own and I discussed products as though I had bought them with my own money. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Things That Made Me Happy #8

This week saw my 22nd Birthday on Sunday! I got well and truly spoilt by all of my friends and family, and yes, I'M FEELING TWENTY TWO! *starts humming Taylor Swift* It was my last week at home before I head back to Bangor tomorrow to start my third year which is also my final year. I'm definitely feeling like I should feel like more of an adult than I currently do. On to the things that have made me happy this week:

1. Discovering eco friendly cafes: On Friday I headed over to Liverpool with my best friend for a mix of birthday celebrations and goodbyes before we both set back off, We stumbled on a really cool cafe which I will be doing a full review of later on in the week :)

2. Getting a Coke bottle with my name on: When you have a name like Loretta, it is not very often that you can find your name on things so when my dogs (yes they are quite the savvy online shoppers) got me one for my birthday, I may have gotten a tad excited!

3. Shopping for new gym clothes: I have decided that I am going to join the gym when I get back to University, mainly for the classes and swimming pool but I am hoping that it will give me a good way to release all of the stresses of third year!

4. Downton Abbey! I am not entirely sure this one needs explaining?! Don't expect to hear from me for the next 8 Sunday evenings :P

5. Getting University Work: Whilst waking up to a 126 item reading list was not the highlight of my week, getting back into the habit of studying and preparing for third year has been more enjoyable than I anticipated!

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Friday, 19 September 2014

Student Cooking: Old El Paso Enchiladas

One of the things that I found most daunting when moving to University was definitely the notion of cooking for yourself! As I prepare to move back to Bangor on Tuesday, I decided that it would be a good time to start sharing some of my favourite recipes or meals that I like to make during term time and share recipes that anyone can have a go at! If you have any requests then please let me know! 

As I mentioned in this post me and my boyfriend decided to have a go at making our own Enchiladas at the weekend and having had previous success with their fajitas kits we thought that this kit was most definitely worth a try!

The kit itself contains soft tortillas which stand up on their own and are considerably less messy to eat on a date night than traditional enchiladas as well as herbs to add to your sour cream and a sauce for your mince. The only additional ingredients we needed where tomatoes, lettuce (both of which were already in our fridge), mince, grated cheese and some sour cream- a fairly simple and shopping basket. 
First off, mix your herb sachet in with the sour cream and set aside in the fridge for later (We used a sachet from McDonalds, cost 20p)

Next, chop the tomatoes into thin slices and also set aside in the fridge for later. 
Heat up a small amount of olive oil in a pan and add in your mince for browning (We used a 500g pack of beef mince from Aldi costing £1.99)

Once your mince is brown, add in the sachet of sauce and stir through until coated evenly. 

Then stir in 50g of grated cheese (We used pre-grated cheese from Aldi, costing £1.49 for 250g).

Next heat up your tortillas in the microwave and part fill with the beef mixture. 

Finally top with some shredded lettuce, your sliced tomatoes and sour cream from earlier and then sprinkle with cheese and Instagram to your hearts content. 

The kit itself cost £2 (on offer from £3 in Sainsburys) and the rest of the ingredients cost us £3.68 meaning that it was £5.68 in total for us both and there was even enough left over for his tea on Monday night bringing it in at around £1.90 a portion; this is slightly more than my usual teas cost but for a date night or in favour of getting a take away its definitely a more budget friendly option! 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Things That Have Made Me Happy #7

Me, approximately aged 3!

1. Gilmore Girls is coming to Netflix It was announced this week that one of my favourite TV shows of all time was to be released in its ENTIRETY on Netflix this October, I used to watch the show back when it was on Nickelodeon years and years ago and I am already hoping that I don't have any important deadlines around that time! 

2. Sam Smith's Album I know that I am rather behind the times with this one but I ordered the album from Amazon last week and I have pretty much had it on repeat ever since. 

3. Looking at Childhood Photos It is my 22nd Birthday on Sunday and so last week I was feeling rather nostalgic and decided to dig out some of the photos from when I was younger! Is it bad that I really want a coat like this for this winter?!

4. Trying New Foods This past weekend me and my boyfriend decided to try out making our own Enchiladas using a kit and I was pleasantly surprised with the results (blog post to follow!) 

5. Your comments on this post. It took me a lot of courage to hit publish on that post and your response has been well and truly overwhelming. Thank you so much guys! 

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Friday, 12 September 2014

Thoughts on Third Year

In a little over a week I will be packing up my parents car, saying goodbye to my boyfriend, family, dogs etc and heading back to Bangor for my third year. I should be excited, but quite frankly I am not. For the past month I have felt a pang of dread knowing that my long summer holidays are almost up and I am going to have to face reality. 

I didn't really enjoy my second year very much and the highlight (and probably the only thing that got me through) was my Field Trip . Third year doesn't have any such trips and the amount of hard work it is going to involve is starting to overwhelme me. Don't get me wrong, I am perfectly happy to complete work in the Library, do the extra reading and so forth; the problem lies in the fact that I picked the wrong degree and as a consequence find many of my modules boring and uninspiring. Luckily, I was able to pick my modules this year and I have managed to select those that I at least find somewhat enjoyable. Right now, my mindset is that finishing this degree is a means to an end of getting to where I ultimately want to be: doing my PGCE. 

I got a First in both my first year and second year overall and so there is almost the expectation from friends and family that I am going to get a First overall for my degree; I am less convinced and think that it is more likely to be a mid 2.1 due to my lack of interest in the degree and the fact that my modules this year are a lot more exam based and there is less coursework to boost my overall grade. 

I am sorry if this post comes across as a moan and or a rant but I really just needed to get it off of my chest and put it out there that not every student enjoys their degree and is passionate about what they are reading. I also wanted to let Freshers know that if you are not enjoying your degree, course or University then you should stick it out until Christmas, but if things havent changed then you should probably seriously consider whether you are doing the degree that is right for you. I had doubts about my course very early on in my first year and I wish now that I had taken the advice I was given and left: £27,000 of tuition debt alone is not something to be taken lightly. 

Has anyone else gotten to this stage in their degree and realised that it probably isn't right for them? If you have any advice then please do comment and let me know :) 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

My Most Marketable Skill Campaign

As I have mentioned before, I took a gap year before starting University and as a result I have spent most of this summer watching many of my friends graduate from their degrees and head off into the 'real world'. Whilst taking a gap year was most definitely the right thing for me to have done on a personal level, it also worked out pretty well academically (or so I hope!). I feel that I went into University with a much more mature attitude than many of my peers and I knew where I wanted to go after my degree which has definitely given me the drive and motivation to get through some of my not so favourite modules. 

Back in July Webucator got in touch with me and asked me if I would write a post about what I felt was essential for success. In today's job market, many of my friends have had to settle for jobs which are not their ideal graduate career choice in the short term whilst waiting for the right opportunity to come along.  Being a year behind so to speak I have  had the chance to look back and realise that even though I am hoping to progress to the field of teaching, I am by no means guaranteed a job at the end of it (or a place on the course in the first place!) 

After a long think I have decided that my most marketable skills is being organised. I am an avid fan and user of my Filofax and I am forever buying my loved ones diaries and organisers! 

My boyfriend insists that one of the main reasons he landed the graduate job he did was because he had done a LOT of research into the company he was applying to and as a result he was more or less able to lead the interview. Very impressive! So being organised also has the ability to help you actually get the job in the first place. 

Whether it is keeping track of deadlines, shifts at work during summer or just day to day tasks, my Filofax helps to keep me on the right track and there is definitely something therapeutic about putting pen to paper. 

I also think that the right Filofax can make you look the part at an interview and it would be a great place to keep a note of any questions that you want to ask the interviewer at the end so you don't forget in the heat of the moment! If I was hiring somebody then I know one of the main things I would be looking for is good time management skills and I feel that being organised goes alongside this!  

So there you have it,  that is my most marketable skill- what is yours? 

Thank you to Webucator for asking me to write this post, it really got me thinking! 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Things That Made Me Happy #6

Wow it has been almost two weeks since my last post, sorry! I received some very hurtful comments via email and to be honest with you all it made me doubt whether or not to continue with this blog but then I realised that it is wrong to let the bullies win. So on a more positive note, here is what has been making me happy:

1. This comment Taylor Swift left on Instagram to a fan who was being bullied

Reading this made me so sad because I love seeing you in your videos and photos being so happy and wide eyed, like the world isn’t as harsh and unfair as it actually is. I hate thinking about your pretty face covered in tears, but I know why you’re crying because I’ve been in your place. This isn’t a high school thing or an age thing. It’s a people thing. A life thing. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t end or change. People cut other people down for entertainment, amusement, out of jealousy, because of something broken inside them. Or for no reason at all.
It’s just what they do, and you’re a target because you live your life loudly and boldly. You’re bright and joyful and so many people are cynical. They won’t understand you and they won’t understand me. But the only way they win is if your tears turn to stone and make you bitter like them. It’s okay to ask why. It’s okay to wonder how you could try so hard and still get stomped all over. Just don’t let them change you or stop you from singing or dancing around to your favorite song.
You’re going into high school this week and this is your chance to push the reset button on how much value you give the opinion of these kids, most of whom have NO idea who they are. I’m so proud of you and protective of you because you DO. If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more.
Every time someone picks on me, I’ll think of you in the hopes that every time someone picks on you, you’ll think of me… and how we have this thread that connects us. Let them keep living in the darkness and we’ll keep walking in the sunlight. Forever on your side, Taylor.
After the comments that I received this really rang true with me. 
2. Pumpkin spiced lattes

This was not only my first pumpkin spiced latte of the season, it was my first pumpkin spiced latte EVER. I know, the shame! I think that it is safe to say that I am hooked.

3. Royal baby announcement!
I get way too excited about everything related to the royal family so I was beyond excited to hear the news this morning that Kate is once again pregnant. Congratulations!
4. Getting organised
As I am under a month away from going back to Bangor for my third year I spent my days off last week sorting out all of my paperwork and starting to pack my belongings up ready for my move.
5. Fluffy socks
I really do like winter. I bought myself new socks last week to cheer myself up and celebrate the start of colder temperatures.