👓 Note-Taking Tips 👓

Sometimes learning can feel like an up-hill struggle, especially in college. Everyday is a vigorous routine and at the end of it you want to be secure in the knowledge that the information you gathered and the notes you took were of a high enough standard, enabling you to revise with ease later on.

Here’s how to take notes effectively for peace of mind!

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Try a range of techniques

You’ve been taking notes since primary school, but how well have you actually been doing it? Everybody is receptive to information in different ways so I suggest going back to basics and exploring all the different ways of note-taking there are.

Start with mind-maps, bullet points and doodles and try to take notice of which is the most effective for you. Good things to consider when working this out are – how enjoyable it was (there’s no point doing bullet points if you hate reading and writing lists), how much time it took (no matter what some Studyblrs want you to believe, it is impossible to draw a Monet masterpiece to represent each piece of information) and how much information you retained at the end (i.e can you remember what you just wrote on that mind-map or were you distracted by the pretty colours and artsy arrows).

Keep in mind that you might end up with several note-taking techniques which work well for you, in which case you are lucky and can combine them, or mix and match throughout the year!

If nothing is working try thinking outside the box, for example if you’re an English Literature student you could:

  • Create an infographic for each character in the novel
  • Write a blog post analysing a chapter or event
  • Make yourself a quotation quiz, either online or on cue cards
  • Record a song detailing key events and play it back

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Make Them Aesthetically Pleasing

Whichever method works best for you, make sure you set it out neatly. If you find mind-maps are helpful but you often make them in a rush and the words are smudging into each other, or the points that are related are miles apart, they are soon going to start becoming more problematic than useful. So try and keep your page clean and tidy, you’ll thank yourself for it later down the line when you don’t have to waste time deciphering your own rushed writing. Add colour to things as long as it’s not distracting – colour coding important information is a good idea, whereas highlighting everything in dark purple is not.

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Invest In Good Quality Materials

If all you have is a biro running out of ink and some scrunched up paper, taking notes immediately becomes much more difficult. Being prepared is imperative in all aspects of life but especially for note-taking, usually you only have a small amount of time to get down all the information you need so avoid wasting any of it whispering the person next to you to see if they have a spare pencil.

It’s also helpful to find out the type of pens you like the most. Although it sounds strange some pens really are just more comfortable to grip and, thus, easier to write with than others, and it’s really noticeable – once you’ve found a brand of pens you like note-taking will begin to seem like less of a chore. The same logic applies if you type your notes – find the app that is easiest and quickest to use with all the features you need, you’ll never have to spend time figuring out how to move the text on the page, without disrupting the images, again.

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Filter Key Information

Not everything your teacher says is something you need to remember – which seems like an obvious statement. In reality it is a skill to be able to filter through information and pick out the key parts for your notes, it will take practice and attentiveness. If there’s one thing you need to take away from this, it’s that, as tempting as leaving one headphone in and listening with the other out, is. Don’t do it. Any and all music is distracting when listening to someone else talk, even if it doesn’t feel like it is.

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Keep Your Notes Organised

Start your notes with the date, title and class name so that when looking back over them you know exactly which material it is. If writing on loose bits of paper, also invest in a ring binder for storage and some hole punch reinforcements; because there is nothing worse than losing a vital piece of paper that tore and slipped out somewhere.

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Do you have any other good note-taking tips? Leave them in the comments!

Read the rest of the posts in this series:

Beating the back to school blues

How to achieve highly in college

Stylish study spaces

How to meet a last minute deadline

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👩‍🏫 How To Meet A Last Minute Deadline 🏫👨

We’ve all been there – you’re just getting on with your everyday tasks and then suddenly it dawns on you. The deadline for that really important piece of work is only two days away and you completely forgot to start it. I’ve certainly been gripped with that fear a number of times, but I’ve come up with a plan of action so that next time I inevitably have to cram for a deadline I can get it all done!

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First things, first – stop whatever it is you’re currently doing, because the chances are it is less important and can wait till after the deadline. Find whatever materials you need to complete your task and gather them together – this might be pens, paper, the laptop or art supplies. Once you’ve collected everything you need, it’s time for step two.

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Write down exactly what you need to do. Step by step. It’s really important you do this so that you don’t miss anything out in the rush to get everything done.There’s no need to make it a fancy list so skip any doodles or cute washi tape you would usually add – this is just about having a basic outline of what needs to be done. If you have already started the project make sure you flip through and cross off any completed sections so that you’re not stressing about work you’ve already done.

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Step three. Clear your schedule. How much of your schedule you need to clear depends on how long you have till the deadline but if it’s less than a week, and you’ve got a lot to do, I would suggest clearing as much time as possible – it’s better to have too much than not enough. You might have to sit down and work out what you can logically cancel, as some things will be easier to get out of than others – like the meeting with your boss. Don’t attempt to cancel that, but that day you were going to grab a coffee with your best friend – apologise and re-schedule for another week. Re-arranging or cancelling social activities is the easiest way to free up time, it’s not ideal to miss them but as long as you aren’t leaving deadlines till the last minute regularly you should be fine to miss them for one week.

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Let people know you are busy. I don’t mean you have to ring your Auntie or let your coffee barista know, but anybody that might accidentally disturb you is a must. This includes your housemates and anyone you live with or anybody that might ring you in the middle of the day for a chat. Usually the easiest way to let people know without getting caught up in a long conversation is via social media, try posting a Facebook status that says something like ‘I’m going to be really busy for the next couple of days as I’ve got some important work due, please only contact me if it’s an emergency!‘. If Facebook isn’t your thing you could send an email round, or a mass text message. Just make sure you let people know to minimise disturbances!

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Five – clear your work space. Time is obviously tight, so don’t bother with a full spring clean, but make enough room so that you can comfortably complete your work. If that means simply picking up the folders lying on your desk and discarding them in the bottom of the wardrobe for a few days, so be it. You can always organise your space properly when you don’t have a deadline getting ever closer.

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Finally, turn off any devices you don’t need and get started. If the task as a whole doesn’t seem manageable, refer to the list you made earlier, and choose smaller, more achievable chunks. Before you know it the smaller chunks of work will turn into one big piece. Perseverance is the most important thing, right now you might feel like all you want to do is give up and take a nap but in the long run the work can only be beneficial to your education.

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Most importantly get it done.

Share your best tips for getting last minute work done in the comments below!

If you want to see the previous posts in this college series go here, here and here.

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📖 10 Bible Quotes You Need To Know! 📖

For this weeks faith post I have searched far and wide for the best and most inspirational bible quotes that I think everyone should know. If you have any others feel free to leave them in the comments for everyone to see!

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Here are mine:

  1. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  2. She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.
  3. Gracious words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
  4. Though the mountain may crumble, you will not.
  5. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
  6. Blessed are those who believe without seeing.
  7. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
  8. You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
  9. Let the morning bring me the word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.
  10. Cast your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

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If you are looking for some more inspirational quotes follow my pinterest board!

Head here for last weeks faith post.

 

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🌿 A Little Faith Everyday 🌿

In the rush of everyday life it’s easy to forget about the importance of sharing your faith with others, so here are some ways to incorporate a little faith everyday!

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Commit yourself to doing one act of kindness that is completely selfless each day, whether it be for a stranger or someone you love. Something small or something big, it doesn’t matter – just make a point of taking the time to do it, and remember that faith is about loving and accepting one another no matter what.

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Download faith apps on your phone such as Echo – which helps you remember when and what you want to pray for! Hopefully every time you unlock your phone and see the apps you will be reminded to think and act on your faith.

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Bake some faith into your day! We all enjoy different things and if baking happens to be something you love why not incorporate some faith into it by putting a new twist on an old recipe. You could do anything from baking shortbread to give to the neighbours, to  trying out these bible verse fortune cookies or piping biblical designs on cupcakes.

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An easy way to add some faith time in every now and then is to buy some worship music, or save it to a Spotify playlist, and listen to it when you’re commuting or working from home. Take some time to really listen to the lyrics or melody and immerse yourself in the feeling of serenity.

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Leave your bible open on your desk and flick to a page each morning, then pick a passage to read and highlight one line that either resonates with you or you want to look up. Add some annotations in the margin, if you don’t mind writing in it, or in a notebook nearby if you prefer – and then at the end of each week take a little time to go back through the notes and look up any questions you had, or just enjoy reading your favourite quotes again.

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Consider joining a project such as Postcrossing or Bookcrossing to spread some more love in the world, you don’t necessarily have to leave a religious quote with your book or on your postcard if you don’t think the recipient would appreciate it, although it would be awesome if you did! Maybe try writing something short about love or kindness and then underneath explain your faith and why it’s important to you. If you want to read more about Postcrossing and see what it’s all about you can take a look at this post for an overview, or one of these posts to see the kind of things people send: 1, 2, 3!

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Research bible study or worship groups in your area and join one, they usually only meet once a week or fortnight for an hour or two so you can probably find one to squeeze in and they don’t all just involve reading the bible. There are lots of group that meet for a meal or to do a craft of some sort where they also have a light discussion about faith. Hearing other peoples stories and ideas can be really helpful and enlightening.

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Do you have any ideas for how to incorporate faith into your day? Leave them in the comments below!

Also take a look at the other posts in this series here and here!

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💒 The Beauty Of Faith In Literature 💒

I think reading about faith is one of the best things you can do – and it doesn’t just have to be straight from a Holy Book!

Faith can be explored in many different ways but sometimes people seem to forget this and feel like the only way they can connect with their faith is by praying or going to Church. In reality there are so many fictitious pieces of writing that do a brilliant job of helping you take an introspective look at your faith and what it means to you. It’s also beautiful that there are so many people out there willing to share there personal feelings and connections with faith for us all to learn from and admire.

Up until recently, I have to say, that I wasn’t really aware about the vast amount of books available but once I found them I discovered that they are reasonably light reading and convey strong faith messages that are incredibly powerful. Some messages are more ambiguous than others – but they can all be extremely useful when applied correctly.

We all know books are great as you can read them just about anywhere, especially with eBooks, all you need is a spare five minutes to get in a couple of pages. Like any activity through which you learn about or express your faith, reading won’t be for everyone, but it’s definitely something you should give a try before you dismiss. If you don’t have the funds to buy new books visit your local library and see what they have on offer. To find what’s right for you do a quick internet search first and read book reviews, you’ll be surprised how many are out there.

Recently I was inducted into the beauty of faith in literature through a book I was lent called ‘The Shack’. Although I was wary about what how it might differ from my idea of Christianity at first, I actually found it to be extremely interesting. It’s a book about a Father whose Daughter goes missing and… long story short; he somehow ends up in a shack with the Holy Trinity. Having never read a book that dealt with faith in any real way before this was hugely eye-opening for me and I ended up really enjoying it, although it took me a while to get into it. I think the most important thing is to go into reading about faith with an open mind, authors may well have different interpretations and beliefs to you but it can help you ground your own beliefs in the long run.

Now I’ve tried reading a book with a faith message in it I am eager to discover more as there is always room for my faith to grow, I’d be really interested to hear about any books you’ve read that might be of interest so please leave suggestions in the comments!

If reading really isn’t for you, there are also some well executed films about strengthening your faith and connection with God but I highly recommend trying to substitute the screen for a good paperback for a while, as I feel it allows for a longer period of reflection and self examination. The most important thing is that you are always growing and learning as there is no such thing when it comes to ‘knowing it all’ about faith.

This is the second post in my faith series, if you want to see last weeks introduction it’s here!

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🎓 How To Achieve Highly In College 🎓

Sometimes achieving the grades you want can seem like an impossible task, but here are some tips to help keep you on track!

Learn to push through the stages when you lack motivation.

Everything is easier when you have motivation on your side but there will be some days when you wake up and can’t stand the thought of rolling out of bed and going to class. Do it anyway. Get up, wash your face, have a glass of water and get out the house because even though it’s difficult you’ll only regret staying in bed later down the line when you realise you’ve missed something really important. If you’re really stuck try reading some motivational quotes or this post about renewing motivation. If you’ve ever ventured into the world of study blogs you’ll know that it seems like the bloggers are motivated 24/7 to be the best they can be, but I promise they have periods where they lack motivation too. It’s just about learning to work anyway.

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Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

I’m awful at doing this but asking your tutors and peers questions is an easy and effective way of upping your grade ten percent. Searching the internet is great but sometimes it takes somebody else physically explaining something for it to make sense. Nine times out of ten it’s a good time to ask a question – whether it’s putting your hand up in class, finding your tutor during breaks or organising time to get together with your classmates and ask each other. If you still don’t understand let somebody know, don’t feel like because you’ve asked once you’ve run out of chances to go back over the same thing. Even if your tutor or peers can’t answer your query they might be able to point you in the direction of some useful resources.

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Start off with rough drafts of work.

We have to make mistakes in order to improve so although it takes more time, try and always do several drafts of your work. This doesn’t apply so much to subjects such as Maths but any class where you are writing extend pieces of text are where this starts to become useful. If your class tutor is free to mark your rough drafts and hand them back to you – even better! Don’t worry if they’re busy though you can always ask a friend or family member to read through for you, the needn’t necessarily know about the subject as just asking them to check for spelling mistakes and clarity of phrasing can help boost your grade. Stop settling for the ‘rushed in ten minutes on the bus’ version and start allowing yourself the time to read and re-read, then amend your work so that it’s always of the highest standard.

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Revise all year round.

I’m not suggesting you dedicate your whole life to revision, just that you do small bits of recapping here and there until it becomes natural habit, you’ll avoid the last minute cram the night before the exam and you’ll be the most prepared student there! At the end of each day, or week, take a look over the work you have completed – if anything is unfinished get it done, take the time to file things away correctly, make a quick mind-map or some cue cards and then read them on the bus or before you go to bed. Stick up posters in your room or on the fridge, just five minutes a day of looking at your work can help keep your memory fresh. It’s okay to give yourself a break from recapping, if you don’t have time for it then you don’t have time for it but if you can spare a few minutes it will save you some of the revision hassle later!

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Surround yourself with hard-working people.

You’ll find it difficult to achieve highly if your friends are constantly pressuring you to skip class or leave the homework to head to the pub. Finding the right balance between studying and relaxing is key, but part of that balance is having the right group of friends. Being around motivated people rubs off on you, just like how being around unmotivated people does. Let your friends know when you’re going to be unavailable because there’s a big assignment due, and then when it’s over that you’re free to spend time with them. If your friends refuse to accept that you want to work hard and achieve, maybe you need to reconsider whether their influence on your life is a positive one. It’s awesome to have friends you can hang out with and be lazy with as long as they can also help motivate you when necessary.

If you have anymore tips for achieving highly let me know in the comments below!

Looking to beat the back to school blues? Try this post

 Or if you’ve got a heavy work load and you’re unsure how to handle it this post might be helpful.

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⛪️ My Faith Journey ⛪️

I am a Christian. Just writing it down brings a smile to my face, but it hasn’t been easy getting here. Finding God took me a while, but it happened, and now I want to share my journey with you. I have lots of stories to tell about the particular path that led me to where I am in my faith today, so each Wednesday I’m going to share one with you. Today lets start with an overview.

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When I was younger my Nan would take my siblings and I to church each Sunday and whilst she sat through the services we would attend Sunday school, for me this is where my journey into faith began for the first time. I was so young that I didn’t really have a solid understanding of what being a Christian meant, but I attended a Christian school during the week, and I knew that it was a term that was often used when we said Grace before lunch, and when we sang the Lords prayer in assembly. Although I was unaware of it at the time, these seemingly unimportant, everyday activities, would have a huge impact on my life as I grew up and I’m incredibly grateful for them now.

Neither of my parents are particularly religious so gradually as we got older my siblings and I stopped attending church, instead we would go to sports practice on a Sunday morning. We all also moved to different schools as things in our lives changed and they were no longer Christian establishments. Then as I got even older I stopped going to the sports practices too, and my Sundays became spare time. I did enjoy those Sunday morning lie-ins but then about a year ago Daisy approached me, saying she would like to go to church to see what it was like.

In case you aren’t a regular reader of this blog I’ll fill you in on some details about Daisy – she’s my oldest friend, having known each other practically our whole lives. Our houses are across the street from each other and before we were even born out parents were friends. We’ve been through and done everything together at some point; we’ve laughed, cried and fought (a lot), we’ve been on holiday together, built forts, filmed youtube videos, climbed trees, had many, many birthday parties and eaten plenty of pizza.

But before that day I’m not sure we’d ever really discussed faith or religion together.

It didn’t matter that we hadn’t discussed it before though because that day we started the conversation, and since then, it’s never really ended. I agreed to go to church with her, so one Sunday we attended the service at my old church – there’s a feeling of safety and peace during services that I’ve never been able to replicate anywhere else. I suppose it’s because it’s when you’re closest with God and closest with others who are close to him too.

Although I can’t speak for her, I assume Daisy must have felt something, or discovered something, whilst we were there too, because we’ve been attending weekly ever since. The day Daisy spoke to me was the day my journey into faith began for a second time, I’d say it continued on from where I’d left off – but it didn’t, because this time I was older, more receptive and truly ready to find God.

There are lots of people I have to thank for introducing me to all that my faith has to offer, the most obvious are; Daisy, my Nan and the teachers from Sunday school and my original school. Also though as people began to recognise that Daisy and I were showing up every week we began to become part of the churches congregational community, it was actually pretty easy for us to talk to people because my Nan goes with us and has been attending the same church for a long time, so she already knows everyone and could introduce us. One of Daisy’s other friends and her mother also sometimes appear at services so before we even began we had people we could direct any questions towards. But, even if we hadn’t had those connections when we started, I don’t think it would have mattered, because there’s such a welcoming atmosphere at our church and I hope that’s the same everywhere, I’ve heard it is. God brings us together and that’s very powerful – it bonds us and creates a tether of love between us.

Faith now has a huge impact on both of our daily lives, we don’t just go to church on Sunday mornings anymore, we also became involved in a youth group called ‘Highlight’ on a Friday night – where we spend two hours reading Bible passages, playing games and praying. It’s run to by two lovely youth workers and it’s really interesting to explore our faith in this way because it’s so different to the weekly services, in fact – it’s one of the things that helped show me that those Sunday mornings aren’t the only time to learn about faith, every second of everyday is an opportunity to learn more. Sometimes those learning curves are steep and at other times they are tiny steps forward but each one has an impact whether it comes from listening to someone else’s views, watching a program, reading or just realising that you want to start living your life differently so that others can see your faith in your words, in your actions and in your heart.

Last year we were both Baptised and Confirmed, cementing our ever-growing love for our faith. I’m realising each day how blessed I am and how much I have to be grateful for, now I want to share those blessings and my gratitude with all of you.

If you would like to see some photographs of our Baptism it’s this post!

Daisy and I made fortune cookies with Bible verses in them, I wrote about it here!

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📖 Beating The Back To School Blues 📖

Winter break is over and the daily routine of student life is back in full swing, but I’m still finding myself struggling to get out of bed in the mornings. Here’s how I help myself adjust to going back to college after a few weeks off.

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After time off it can be really difficult trying to force yourself out of bed in the mornings – you get used to being able to set your own schedule and being able to take breaks when you feel like it. But now outside factors are dictating what time you need to get up and leave and when you can take breaks, it’s hard. Unfortunately there’s no trial period where you can show up later for the first few weeks or take a break in the middle of class, instead you get thrown straight in at the deep end and have to re-adjust in the blink of an eye. Here are a few things you can do to help ease the transition from holiday season to term time.

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First of all make sure you begin preparing to get back into routine a few days before the start of term, this includes doing things such as stocking up on school supplies and gradually returning to a normal sleep schedule. The last thing you want is to be going to sleep at two am and then realising you have to get up at eight am the next day – it just isn’t practical and falling asleep in your first class of the term really isn’t a great start. If you usually have a morning alarm begin setting it again two-three days early so that it’s not a horrible shock on the first day back. Check in advance what lessons you’ve got on the first day and pack your bag as early as possible, it will help relieve some of that back to school stress, and is vital if you’re starting back in the middle of a week – as you’ll likely be disorientated from the get go! Investing in a watch is also a great idea to make sure you are in the right place at the right time.

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Next, either physically or mentally, make a note of your goals and aspirations, it will help get you in the right mindset for the upcoming term and will serve as a remember for why you have to get up at eight am and what you are working towards achieving by doing it. If you often need a pick me-up in the early weeks of term, try pinning the list on the fridge or to the home screen of your phone so you can check it regularly and get a boost. To make it stand out even more add some images/doodles. Also remind yourself that, although in first world countries we often forget, an education is a privilege that many around the world dream of being afforded.

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Contact your friends and arrange to meet up at some point during the first day, if it’s been a long holiday the chances are you haven’t seem them in a while and a good catch up can help beat the blues away. Take the time to listen to what they have to say, rather than doing all the talking yourself, it can be very relaxing to hear someone you care about talk enthusiastically about what they’ve been up to. Plus it will help you take your mind off the challenge of going back to school.

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Eat healthily, you will look and feel better for it – if you indulge in too many sugary foods your mood will be low and the chances are you’ll break out in spots; which isn’t going to help you feel refreshed and confident for the term ahead. Swap out those sugary treats with the treat of trying a new fruit, such as starfruit or dragon fruit, you may end up finding your new favourite and you’ll be helping your taste buds to expand their repertoire – which is never a bad thing.

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The most important thing is to enjoy it whilst it lasts – we won’t be at school forever so we may as well make the most of it before we are spat out into the real world. This term I’m going to try and jot down the good things that happen each week in a notebook so I can keep looking back and remind myself of the fun and good fortune I’ve had, why don’t you join me?

Do you have any tips on how to beat the back to school blues?

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💫 How To Clean Out & Reuse Candle Holders 💫

As Christmas is less than a week away I thought I would share, what I hope, is a useful tip. Which is – how to remove the pesky leftover wax and wick from burnt out candles – so that the jars can be reused and turned into something new. I always receive lots of candles at Christmas so this seemed like a good time to let you know how I reuse them afterwards!

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I will be cleaning out two candles, one where there is only a small amount of wax left and another where there is considerably more wax but the wick has burnt out. Both also have a considerable amount of ash around the rim.

I started by boiling the kettle. Then I took a pair of pliers to remove the wicks. I was able to pull the wick from the first candle straight out but the second one was buried in lots more wax so I left it until later on.

Once the kettle had boiled I let it cool very slightly (glass and boiling water don’t mix!) then I filled up both the candles and let them sit. Straight away I could see the wax residue beginning to melt and float to the surface. The scent of the candles also smelt stronger than ever, which was nice!

Once they had sat for a while I poured the water down the sink, making sure to be extremely careful as the glass was now very hot. I then took a wipe and cleaned off the ash. Next I used the pliers to remove the wick from the candle that had quite a lot of wax in it as the wax was now loose.

The glasses still had some small amounts of wax in them so I repeated the process of pouring boiling water into them, letting it sit and then pouring it away several times until they were squeaky clean.

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Make sure once you’ve finished you send a couple of rounds of boiling water down the sink to prevent the wax solidifying inside the pipe and creating a blockage. If you want to be extra cautious consider pouring the water outside.

I think the glasses look much better now – and they’ve taken up pride of place on my desk as pen holders; although they could be used to store pretty much anything!

I was so pleased with the process I did the same thing with several other burnt out candles I had lying around.

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🍫 Nutella & Orange Brownies 🍊

I have mentioned time and time again that I’ve got a real sweet tooth so here I am with another indulgent recipe. This time it’s Nutella and orange brownies – they taste incredible but they are really sweet so if you want to reduce the sugar you can choose not to add the baking chocolate and also put in less Nutella.

Happy Baking!

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You Will Need:

  • 3/4 Cup Plain Flour
  • 1 Cup Of Nutella
  • 3 Teaspoons Of Orange Extract
  • 2 Medium Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Of Light Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Of Milk Baking Chocolate
  • 1/3 Cup Of Unsalted Butter
  • Pinch Of Salt

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First preheat the oven at 180°C / 350°F then line a deep baking dish with grease proof paper.

Then place your butter in the bowl and beat with a spoon until smooth. Check you’ve got all the lumps out before adding your brown sugar and mixing them together.

Add the eggs and your orange extract whilst continually beating the mixture. I found that three teaspoons of orange extract was perfect – but you may adjust according to personal preference and how strongly flavoured the brand you’ve bought is.

Once everything is well mixed and there are no lumps add the chocolate spread. This is when it’s really going to start to look like brownie mixture. Also add the pinch of salt and mix once again, this recipe is a great arm workout!

Gently fold in your flour, before crushing your baking chocolate. Do this by taking the unopened packet of chocolate, a wooden chopping board and a rolling pin. Place the sealed chocolate on the chopping board and beat it with the rolling pin until it’s crushed -this makes it easier to add to the mixture, which is the next step.

Give everything one good final mix before pouring it into the baking dish you lined earlier, then pushing the mixture so it reaches all the sides and is smooth on top.

Place your brownies in the oven and bake for about thirty-five minutes. They should be slightly gooey in the centre but not so soft they can’t hold their shape.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and slice the brownies into squares. Then take them out the baking dish and leave on a wire rack to cool.

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Serve with fresh slices of orange for maximum effect!

What’s your favourite indulgent treat?

 

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University Life – [Advice From A 3rd Year Student]

What are your top studying tips?

Personally, my studying always begins with selecting the music I will be studying to! Without the right CD or playlist (whether that be on Spotify or Youtube, or the radio) I can’t get into the right mood for studying. Additionally, snacks and drinks are essential, without them it gives you an excuse to have a break to go and get the food – then your break turns into an hour and a half of doing other things rather than work. My favourites go-to snacks and drinks are; a bottle of squash and some form of banana chips or biscuits (whether that’s savoury Tuc biscuits or digestives). I find plain snacks means less faffing with different elements of food.

When it comes to stationery, I am a massive fan! I recommend that, at the least, you have black, blue, red and green pens (or a four colour pen like me!). This way important information/equations/quotes will stand out from the rest of the work. Moreover, highlighters are a great way to break up large chunks of text, especially any readings you have been set – as they can be extremely daunting (all 10 pages of it!!). They are also helpful for summarising an article or topic when writing essays.

Where you choose to study can be a make or break decision. If you pick somewhere where you know you will get distracted (e.g. the communal lounge), in order to avoid seeming antisocial, your studying will suffer. Sometimes its best to let your friends/housemates know that you need a bit of alone time to bash out some essay paragraphs. They will understand, they are going through the same process too!

If you like the library that can be a great place to study as the resources are all at your finger-tips. However, this can be dangerous as if you go with your friends they may be less focused than you and can become a  distraction. Also, although you are at university, there will always be those people who still don’t understand why you are supposed to be quiet in a library. They will talk loudly, have loud music (that you can hear even though they have headphones in) or decide to eat their popcorn out of a very noisy bag (yes it has happened to me!!). I find that sometimes when the library seems full the local coffee shop can be a g0od place, it’s where I did a lot of group studying when we had group projects. We were able to have a hot drink, a chat and get work done!!!

Timing wise, I try to base it around how much I need to complete during the studying session rather than giving myself a set amount of time. This way if you smaller targets can help you see what you’re accomplishing and you will accomplish more. I aim to at least write 200-250 words before I can have a break. Obviously, this time includes research so this can sometimes last a while. If I find I am losing concentration (and this will happen to everyone at some point) I like to leave the room to go to the toilet or replenish my snacks. Sometimes I will even go and do the washing or washing up to take a break from my screen.

At University your lecturers will probably give you a set reading list which can include some online books. Websites can be a port of call, you just have to be very careful with the source. I’m training to be a teacher so government websites and recommended teaching websites are the best thing for me, your University will undoubtedly have an online library that allows you access to some of the books they have in an online capacity. In addition, it allows you to reserve key texts so you don’t miss out on that one book the lecturer was constantly mentioning!

If you fall ill, you can always message someone else in the classes you’ll miss to voice record the lecturer so that notes can later be made based on it. Personally, I only missed two or three lectures in first year and a further two in my second year. I feel that if you regularly don’t attend lectures you miss out on practical applications that may be useful in the future.

Of course, there will always be a reading that the lecturer has used as an information source, and therefore they may decide to give you the whole lectures content in one read!

Some of my lectures were memorable too, especially ones where people were so tired from nights out or late night essay writing that practical lectures turned into a massive joke!

For food we love our local Wetherspoon’s restaurant; it is cheap and a great place to chat with friends and take in what the locals did on the weekends. We used to go shopping  and then head there for a drink and a bite to eat.

My favourite memory from second year has to be when my friends and I made a spontaneous decision to all go to the hairdressers, I ended up just getting a cut but two of my housemates got their hair dip dyed, and one even got a tattoo!!

Takeaways are a massive part of Saturday night T.V. for our student household. We used to watch Take me out or X-factor and then Casualty, as a house, as well as staples such as The Great British Bake Off and Made in Chelsea. In addition to that I would cook for the house, making soups or bread on the weekends and risotto during the week.

On people’s birthday’s we would all pitch in to get presents and we would make cake or flapjack to celebrate!

I hope this gives you an insight into my university life, however – you need to remember that your experiences are what you make of them and everyone will experience different things in different places and in different ways. What happens at one university could be very different at another! My campus is very small so most people know pretty much everyone. At larger/multiple campus universities this can differ.

My last key point is this: ‘Enjoy every minute of your experiences, especially in first year as you can never get time back you can only make up for it!’.

Emily x

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If you’ve got any great tips for College students or have a question about student life feel free to leave a comment below!

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Read And Rave | Beautiful Broken Things

Beautiful Broken Things is a novel by Sara Barnard

This is a book that came recommended to me via some internet friends. I found it to be a reasonably short read at 322 pages, but Barnard used each one to her full advantage, and at no point did I feel a dip in the pace of the plot, something I so often do in works of Young Adult fiction.

The book centres around Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne, three teenage girls whose friendship is basically pushed to the limit – torn apart and put back together again. Suzanne is the new girl in town and manages to find her way into the friendship Caddy and Rosie have been nurturing their whole lives but Suzanne has a complicated past that will ultimately affect all their futures. I found it extremely easy to relate to these characters and it was refreshing to discover a book aimed at teenage girls that wasn’t entirely focused on the romance of a hopeless young girl and the witty young boy who saves her. Before reading be wary that at some points it does deal with some issues that will evoke strong emotions.

As with most of the novels I read ‘Beautiful Broken Things’ did a good job of breaking my heart. (We can’t have things getting too cheery around here now can we?) There were some extremely poignant passages, one resonated with me so much so that when I had finished the novel I went back and bookmarked it – maybe it was the English Lit. student in me taking over but it’s certainly something I have never done voluntarily before.

If you’re in a melancholy mood and have a few hours to spare I suggest wrapping yourself up in a duvet this winter and settling down with Barnard’s bestselling book.

beautiful-broken-things

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💫 Rosemary & Cheese Star Scones 💫

As I’ve mentioned time and time again I love home-baked goods but I just don’t have the time to bake from scratch every week. So once again here’s a recipe I tried using a packet mix – I wanted to know if I could get the same quality whilst saving time.

The packet I used was Paul Hollywood’s luxurious cheese and rosemary scone mix.

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You will also need:

  • 80g Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Medium Egg
  • 180ml Semi-Skimmed Milk
  • Cheese
  • Handful Of Flour

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First preheat your oven to 200°C / 392°F, note that for fan ovens you may need to lower the temperature slightly. Then take a baking tray and line it with parchment paper.

Pour the ready-made mixture into a mixing bowl and add your butter – chopping it into small cubes as you drop it in.

Using your fingertips rub the floury mixture and the butter together to create a bread crumb like consistency.

Next crack your egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork before creating a small well in the middle of your mixture and pouring it in.

Begin to combine this with your hands whilst gradually pouring in the milk.

After a while it should turn into a dough like consistency – once this has been achieved refrain from overworking it.

Dust your rolling surface with a small amount of flower, place your dough on it, dust your rolling pin and then roll out your dough to your preferred thickness. Avoid making them too thin as they won’t rise a huge amount in the oven and scones are supposed to have a reasonable depth to them.

I chose to make star shaped scones to put a bit of a twist on this recipe but it’s up to you what shape you would like. Use a cutter to make sure the scones are consistent in shape and size. Then glaze with a small amount of milk and add some cheese to the top of each one.

Place the scones in the oven for about fifteen minutes, keeping an eye on them as they may take slightly more or less time depending on the thickness of them and the efficiency of your oven.

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Mine caught slightly at the edges because they didn’t need the full fifteen minutes but I wasn’t paying attention! It doesn’t matter they still taste just as delicious! Overall I was pretty impressed with this mixture and the results it produced so I’m adding it to my list of easy bakes.

 

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Read And Rave | The Girl With All The Gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts is a novel by M. R. Carey.

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this book recently as the film has just come out, it’s not the genre I would usually choose as thrillers aren’t really my thing but I was pleasantly surprised. It was recommended to me by a family friend and I have to say for once my scepticism was totally uncalled for.

At four hundred and two pages it’s a modestly sized novel which centres around a young girl – Melanie. When the novel begins Melanie is living in a cell in an underground bunker and attending classes with lots of other children, whilst strapped to a wheelchair, and there’s good reason for it. It is made clear  from the start that Melanie knows little about her life and why she is treated the way she is, however; with her inquisitive nature also clear to see, we can tell, as readers, that she is going to be the catalyst for most of the action in this thriller.

Carey does an excellent job of making you root for Melanie in a world where, largely, she is isolated by those around her. When you take a step back and evaluate the complexities of Melanie you have to question whether putting her best interest above others is the right thing to do but when I was immersed in the book and in Melanie’s world it never crossed my mind.

Overall I was blown away by this book and it’s bittersweet ending had me left me, although things were neatly wrapped up, desperate not to leave Melanie’s world behind. I urge you to give this novel a go even if thrillers aren’t your usual pick – I promise it’s one of those books that will have you questioning why its genre wasn’t in your repertoire to begin with.

If reading isn’t your thing, the film was faithful enough to the novel, and almost as good!

 

Have you read The Girl With All The Gifts or seen the film? Did you like it? Are there any other thrillers I should read?

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💮 Hobbies That Are Useful To Have 💮

Recently I’ve been realising how important it is to have hobbies, obviously we all need to work but when I’m not it’s about time I started doing something constructive with my time. Here are a few hobbies that I think are a fun and useful way to use your time!

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Playing An Instrument

This is a great way to improve your concentration, rhythm and listening skills, plus it’s really fun. You don’t have to spend loads on getting an expensive instrument if you just want to play for fun and you can pick whichever one suits you the best – when it comes to lessons you can either pay a tutor or use the abundance of free online resources.Who knows maybe in the future you’ll be good enough to join an orchestra or group, which is a great way to make new friends and improve your discipline.

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Knitting

Most of the time when people think of knitting they picture the elderly who have nothing better to do with their time, but actually it can be a really useful skill to acquire. There are thousand of free knitting patterns that you can find on places like Pinterest, for all sorts of adorable items. Why wouldn’t you want to be able to knit yourself a cute hat or a tiny pumpkin? It also makes gift giving a lot easier as you can find a pattern to suit anyone, all you need to buy to get started is some wool and knitting needles

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Graphic Design

If you have access to Photoshop or any equivalent editing software then this is the hobby for you. Teaching yourself to create beautiful images from scratch has never been easier thanks to all the free resources out there, if you don’t already know how to use your software it will take a bit of getting used to but once you’ve got the hang of it I find graphic design very relaxing. Once you’re good enough there’s also the opportunity to turn your graphics into profit with all sorts of websites where you can upload your designs and then sell them on products for commission.  Even if you don’t want to make money from it, it’s still a skill that can be applied in many professional areas, especially if you’re a blogger! The most important thing about graphic design is to let yourself take inspiration from everything and anything that you love.

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Writing

Humans have been writing things down for centuries and there’s good reason for it – it’s useful and cathartic. I wrote about the benefits of doing a mind dump in my post for helping you to beat bloggers block  but doesn’t just apply to bloggers, simply writing down everything that pops into your head can be a great release. If you’re more creative you can have a go at writing poetry, songs or even a novel! You simply need a pen and paper or a keyboard and you’re ready to let your imagination run wild. Consider collating all your pieces of writing in one place to look back on later and see if you can determine what you were thinking or feeling when you wrote it, a bit of self-discovery is always a good thing.

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Sewing

In this day and age we are all too quick to throw things out that really we could mend ourselves, if we just took the time, and sewing is often the skill required. Pick up some needles and thread in your local craft store and next time a cushion rips slightly try sewing it back up. If you haven’t got anything to mend there are plenty of free, beautiful sewing projects you can have a go at and if you can afford it you could even invest in a sewing machine. Before you know it there’ll be a queue of people at your door asking how to start sewing cute things.

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Card Making

Store bought cards are great but there’s something so special about a handmade card, it just says, I really put some thought and effort into celebrating you today. The thing I love most about card making is that the possibilities are literally endless, you start with a piece of folded card and then it’s up to you whether you want to draw, decoupage, stamp, collage or basically do whatever takes your fancy. It’s also so easy to customise cards to individual personalities and once you get the hang of it making them is really quick.

Top Tip:  See what you’ve already got lying around the house that could become a piece on a homemade card. Look for patterned gift bags that can be cut up or small trinkets that can be glued on.

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Cooking

Most people can make beans on toast but what about actually being able to cook delicious meals that people will be fighting over for seconds. Learning to cook is also extremely useful if you or someone in your household has special dietary requirements or you’re looking to be healthier, it’s really easy to forget what’s actually in what you’re eating when you’re just pulling it out of the packet and putting it in the oven. You don’t have to start with trying to cook an entire Sunday roast but consider attempting something simple like a pasta dish and then slowly build up to more impressive meals. If you already have a good repertoire of  dishes try expanding it and adding new recipes every once in a while, for some to get you started you can check out my delicious goodies board.

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Bilingualism

Language barriers can quickly become extremely frustrating so get one step ahead of the game by trying to learn a new language. Employers are always looking for people who are fluent in two or more languages and, did you know, learning a new language can help improve your memory and multitasking skills. It’s also perfect for that dream holiday abroad you’ve been saving up for. Plus there are tonnes of free apps you can download to your phone to get you started on the go. This isn’t necessarily a hobby where you will reap the rewards straight away but it’s definitely worth the time it takes.

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Playing A Sport

We all, always, end up making those resolutions to go to the gym at the beginning of the year but in the long run it always ends up being boring and unappealing so why not try an actual sport instead? There are hundreds to choose from and one to suit everyone’s taste – it’s really easy to find out what your local area has to offer by doing a quick internet search and lots of sports cost nothing or very little to play. There are so many benefits to playing sports; you meet new people, stay active and have fun so it’s a really worthwhile hobby.

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Scrapbooking

Memories are made to be kept and what better way than presenting them in an aesthetically pleasing format. Most craft stores sell inexpensive scrapbooks ready to be filled with the things you want to remember and if you need some bits and pieces to get started with there are also scrapbooking kits that come with a few die cuts, stickers and backing paper. There is no right way to go about scrapbooking you can choose which moments you want to include and how you want to lay them out, for inspiration you can join scrapbooking Facebook groups or just search the internet. Plenty of blogs are scrapbook specialists too. Print out some photos, dust off your craft supplies box and get started!

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Gardening

Anyone can become green fingered with enough practice and you don’t even need a garden – window boxes work just as well. Head down to your local gardening supply shop to pick up some of the basic tools and seeds, if you’re a complete beginner ask one of the employees to guide you in the right direction in terms of what’s best for you and then stock up. Just a few small flowers can really help spruce up your outdoor area and they’re easy to plant and look after. This is a perfect hobby to take up for anybody who wants to spend more time outside with nature.

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Photography

The art of photography has come on so much in recent times, you no longer even need an expensive camera to get started as phone a compact cameras now provide high quality images that almost rival those on DSLRs. Choose a subject you like or are interested in and start snapping away, it takes a bit of knowledge and practice before you’re getting really good quality images but there are so many tips and tricks available. Consider investing in a photography book for easy reference and remember to consider composition when actually taking a shot. To get started look up information on the formal elements and the basics of how camera work, it will really help you get professional looking images.

Do you have a great hobby that I haven’t listed? Let me know in the comments below!

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🎬 Five Films You Must Watch This Autumn 🎬

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  1. If I Stay – If you’re a regular reader of this blog you might have noticed that I actually reviewed the book the other day and I had nothing but good things to say about it and for once I actually felt the same way about the film. With it’s heartwarming story of love and loss, it’s perfect for a chilly night, lying under a blanket plus it’s extremely cathartic – you might want to keep a box of tissues near though!
  2. The Parent Trap – This is my go to feel good film, no matter how old I get it will always provide me with an unrivalled sense of joy. Basically the plots is; twins that were separated at birth meet at a Summer camp and get up to all sorts of mischief. I love the version with Lindsay Lohan in just because it’s the one I’m used to, but if you’re more of a vintage feel film kind of person there’s also a 1961 version.
  3. Ten Things I Hate About You – Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew this is one of my all time favourites, the character development is unrivalled in anything else I’ve ever seen and Julia Stiles plays Kat with the perfect range of emotions and I’m always left feeling satisfied at the end.
  4. Matilda – You cannot go wrong with a Roald Dahl classic and Matilda is certainly one of them, I promise you’ll fall in love with her and all her magical talents. Also I love the idea that children can achieve incredible things if they work together.
  5. Legally Blonde – Elle Woods is a study inspiration for us all, her determination and unwillingness to give up (whilst still looking fabulous) really leaves you with the sense that you can do anything you want to if you try. Next time you’re feeling down pop this on and I promise you’ll forget you’ve ever felt bad!

What’s your feel good film? Are there any I should add to my list?

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Read And Rave | If I Stay

It’s been a while but I’m back with another Read And Rave for you all, this time it’s a work of Young Adult Fiction that I couldn’t put down.

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If I Stay is a novel by Gayle Forman.

It is a reasonably short piece of Young Adult Fiction, at just two hundred and ten pages long, but within those pages you are immersed in the life of a young girl, Mia, whose struggles will tug on your heart strings throughout. I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book for the first time, the blurb gives little away and although this might sound like an annoyance it was actually something I was very appreciative of once I’d finished it. There were times when I was smiling like an idiot whilst reading it but also times when my tears were soaking through the pages; in terms of length and clarity this is a nice light read but when it comes to the emotional side of things it’s quite heavy – in a good way.

I found it very cathartic and it certainly prompted me to re-evaluate how much I appreciate the people and things in my life. Forman’s incredibly emotive descriptions and strong narrative carry the story off the page and encase you in the world she has clearly carefully crafted for this novel. You really end up caring for Mia and the decisions that she has to make, the perspective of the narrative voice in the novel is very different to the traditional voice. It’s told by Mia, but the circumstances under which she is narrating are extremely unusual and may challenge your sense of reality to begin with, but overall, it works really well within the context of the story. From page one you are immersed in her life, her thoughts and feelings.

A common misconception of this book is that you can only enjoy it if you have an appreciation or interest for classical music, but it’s the complete opposite, although an important part of Mia’s character is that she is an aspiring cellist I found that it’s a pleasantly accessible book. Personally I’ve been playing the cello since I was six, which is certainly one of the reasons I was drawn to If I Stay in the first place, but I have friends who have never picked up an instrument in their lives and still loved it.

I cannot recommend this book enough, I was enthralled from start to finish and as soon it was over I bought the sequel just so I could re-immerse myself in Mia’s world. Be prepared to be unprepared for the range of emotions this story will inflict upon you though, it will make you question some of your most fundamental values and beliefs. But in the end you will have found out things about yourself and the world that ultimately will change your life for the better.

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If you have a book you think I should read and review leave the title and author in the comments below! x

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♒ How To Beat Bloggers Block ♒

We’ve all been there – that dreaded moment when you sit down to write a blog post and suddenly have no idea what you want to say. Or worse; you don’t even bother sitting down, instead you just keep quietly creeping past your laptop whilst looking the other way and trying to push the ‘lack of recent posts’ guilt away.

Now you’re probably expecting me to give you a list of things to write about, but this isn’t going to be one of those posts. There are already plenty of those around and I’m pretty sure I can’t add anything new to one of them at the moment so instead the advice I’m going to give you is – embrace the block. I assume you are staring at your screen looking very sceptical right about now, but really, honestly writing block can actually be quite productive once in a while. If you know what to do whilst you’ve got it that is. Here are a few quick things you can get done whilst the next great blog post idea takes its time to hit you.

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Grab a piece of paper (not a keyboard) and take the time to write down everything that’s in your head. I mean everything, however mundane or useless it seems. Get it down. Even if it isn’t all blog related add everything and anything to the list, if you feel the need to doodle on the page – do. There are no rights and no wrongs, this is a creative space for helping clear some of the clutter floating round in your head. When you’re finished if anything looks interesting save it somewhere, by copying it out or typing it up. If it’s all random, irrelevant thoughts that’s fine too. Every once in a while take the time to empty your mind it’s therapeutic and can help make way for the next brilliant idea.

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Check your drafts, are there any posts in there that you started once upon a time and never got round to finishing? Even if the overall content of the posts no longer looks appealing, are there any points you really like that you could pick out and make a new post out of? Look carefully because the premise for your next post could be in there somewhere – if your drafts are empty consider jotting down a reminder to write a batch of blog posts and save them in there once you’ve got you blogging brain back in gear. It could be a lifesaver next time you’ve got bloggers block.

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Consider getting some blogging tasks completed that aren’t necessarily related to writing, this way you are being productive whilst you pass the time till inspiration hits. This can include, but is not limited to, tasks such as:

  • Reading and replying to blogging emails
  • Decluttering your Pinterest boards
  • Updating your logo or blog layout
  • Googling and learning new Photoshop skills
  • Taking generic stock photos to use in later posts
  • Interacting with readers on social media
  • Reading other people’s blog posts
  • Buying or making props for photos
  • Creating a signature to use at the bottom of posts
  • Brainstorming ideas for new blog series or segments
  • Tidying up your blogging work space

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If you’re still really stuck for ideas why not try revamping one you’ve already used? Going back and updating old blog posts can be a great place to start breaking through the brain freeze. Try to focus on really early posts that probably aren’t up to the same standard as your writing now, add images to brighten them up and make sure at least one of them is pinnable so you reach a wider audience. If it was an opinionated post do you still agree with what you wrote at the time – or have circumstances changed? If the latter is the case consider a whole new post with a link back to the original explaining how your opinion has evolved and why. Even if it’s not an opinion post check for spelling errors and sentences that could be better, the smallest tweaks can make the biggest difference.

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Above all, relax. If you spend hours stressing over new material you will only end up wearing yourself out. It’s natural to get stuck for ideas every once in a while – don’t let it get you down. If you need to take a break, do, your blog will still be here when you get back.

Do you have any ideas to help overcome bloggers block? Do you get it often? Which is your favourite idea on this list?

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📨 Postcrossing Peeves 📨

As you all know I’ve been on Postcrossing for about three months and, largely, it’s been a fun and rewarding experience but recently there have been a few little things that have really bugged me – some are specifically to do with the website and others are to do with the transport of postcards. I decided the best way to think these problems through and work out if I’m just being picky, or if other people have the same problems with Postcrossing as I do I would write a post about it. Rather than just moaning at you all I am going to try and be objective about these problems!

My first issue is elusive postcrossers. This is something I only stumbled upon recently but it really got to me. Usually I request a few addresses at a time, read each persons profile and then write a batch of postcards -tailoring each one to the specific person, ready to mail all at once. Now I did this process last week as my last batch of postcards had all reached their destinations (Yay!). The first five addresses I requested were all fine, each one had some specific requests about what they like so I did my best but the sixth address I requested was for somebody who had an empty profile. Now by empty I don’t mean they were vague – or sparse on the details, I mean they literally hadn’t written anything. At all. My first thought was – ‘Hey, maybe they’ve just joined and haven’t had time to complete their profile.’ I scanned my eyes over to see how many postcards they’d sent and it was a huge number; yet they hadn’t even provided their first name!! How am I supposed to buy a postcard tailored to their interests, write something they’d be interested to read and decorate in a way that they’ll appreciate if they don’t provide a single piece of information for me to work from. It was so annoying, I just don’t understand why you’d bother to set up an account if you aren’t going to let other postcrossers know anything about you.

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This next issue is less to do with the actual postcrossers themselves and more to do with the delivery. I guess this is a local issue but oh my goodness the amount of postcards I’ve received lately that have been bent or folded in half is unbelievable! I’m not sure where along the line they are being manhandled and bent, maybe it’s by a sorting machine or something but it’s really irritating. When someone takes the time to pick out a postcard for me, write something nice and then mail it, the least I expect is the postal service to try their best to take care of it. I appreciate that once in a while a postcard may get damaged in transit – because they do travel a long way, but this seems to be happening regularly now and I’m not happy. Looks like the first thing I can be adding to next weeks planner spread is ‘Speak to the Post Office.’ It might even be the postman doing a half arse job of shoving the post through the letterbox that’s the problem – I’m going to start making sure I’m the one collecting the post from now on to check that nothings getting caught in the letterbox flap.

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Maybe I’m just one of those people who are always looking for things to complain about because earlier I mentioned that empty profiles are really getting on my nerves, but at the other end of that scale there’s another thing that gets on my nerves. It’s people who’s entire profile page is taken up by a list of postcards they don’t want. Now I can understand why there are certain types of postcards people would prefer not to receive, for example if you’ve been on Postcrossing a long time and have been sent hundreds of postcards of generic green hills you might be sick of them and prefer it if people sent something different every once in a while. That’s fine. I have no problem with people asking you not to send a certain type, it’s just when the list of don’t sends is as long as my arm that it annoys me. We’re all on Postcrossing because it’s fun, right? Well that’s why I do it anyway, and I have to say it really takes the fun out of it when I feel like there’s this huge pressure to make sure I don’t accidentally buy the recipient one from their don’t send list. I live in a city where there aren’t an abundance of shops that sell postcards so I try my best to accommodate peoples wishes but I can’t always guarantee to be able to get a specifically requested postcard, and dodging generic British ones can be hard. So when someone’s don’t send list looks something like this:

  • No landscapes
  • No ad cards
  • No animals
  • No plants
  • No Christmas
  • No cars
  • No doodle cards
  • No photos

It ends up being virtually impossible for me to find something to send and just ends up making the whole process extremely stressful. By the way this is half as long as some of the don’t send lists I’ve come across, and all of the examples above are one’s I have come across on the Postcrossing site when requesting addresses. Personally I express that I welcome any and all postcards on my profile as I believe if it means something to the sender, it should mean something to me.

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My final Postcrossing peeve is people that can’t be bothered to send a note when they register your postcard. Often postcards are waiting for me when I get back from college, and I’m very busy trying to finish of the days work – but as soon as they arrive I make the time to register them and send a quick thank you note via the message box. I don’t know if sending thank you notes is a very British thing to do, but every time I receive anything in the mail from family or friends, I respond with a thank you note – just like I would after being given gifts on my Birthday or at Christmas. It lets the person know that you appreciate them taking the time to send you something, and that you liked it; when people don’t bother to write anything in the message box, once they’ve registered the postcard I sent, it makes me feel as though I did something wrong – or sent a postcard they didn’t like. Ninety-nine percent of the time I’m sure this isn’t the case but it’s really disheartening. I’m not expecting a paragraph, you don’t even have to tailor it to the card I sent if you’re really pushed for time, but just a simple ‘Thank You’ followed by your first name is enough to make me smile and feel like I’m helping to make someone else’s day better. I always send a message because you never know who needs cheering up, the simple format I use is ‘Thank You for the postcard, I really/especially liked (……). I hope you’re having a good day. Sophie x’ It’s simple and doesn’t take up too much time when I’ve got work to do but it feels like something people will appreciate so I send it.

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I know this has been a rather long, moaning post but thanks for sticking around! Despite the way this post may paint it I do actually really enjoy Postcrossing and have had some wonderful things through my letterbox recently, as well as some wonderful profiles pop-up when I’ve requested addresses. It’s not all bad!

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