bullet journal – feb 19

Given that it’s the third day of February today, I feel like I’ve kind of missed the bandwagon of ‘new year new me’ posts, but this year (for this first time ever) I’m going to be using a bullet journal and I’m still excited about it.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a bullet journal (or bujo), it’s a form of journal that helps you to track the past, the present and the future. The main reasons I decided to start a bullet journal were so that I could have a place to plan effectively but creatively, and to improve myself and my life by tracking my habits, study time etc.

I’m using the Leuchtturm1917 in navy this year – I don’t know why, but recently I’ve fallen in love with navy (just look at that chipped nail varnish!). The book itself is a really beautiful colour, the quality feels great and so far I’m loving having a way of being productive whilst also being creative, so despite the (hefty) price tag, I definitely think it was worth the investment.

On the very first page, I have my name, my contact details and a little illustration of the moon and some stars. I still haven’t filled out the index but to be honest, I don’t think I will either – so far I haven’t needed it, so I’ll probably just leave it. On the following page I wrote ‘twenty nineteen’, using my pastel green Stabilo highlighter and black Muji gel pen. Although it’s really minimal and simplistic, I think it sets the year up nicely – it looks calm and chill, which is the vibe I’m hoping to take with me throughout this year 😉

Carrying on with the minimalistic theme, I simply wrote out all of the days and dates of the year. Again, I used my Muji pen and a Stabilo highlighter, just to add some definition to the days of the week. For my ‘future log’, I wanted something really simple that I could just glance at and know instantly what I’m doing that month, so I basically just have 4 boxes on each page, 1 for each month, and this section goes over 3 pages. I also have a page dedicated to accomplishments I made in 2018 and resolutions for this year, which I like a lot. I’ve found it to be motivating and kind of inspiring: seeing what you’ve achieved previously and what you aim to do this year puts things back into perspective and makes you refocus on your goals.

Being an English Lit student, I had to have somewhere to write down all the books I intend to read. I drew four lines across the page (although you can only see 3 in the photo) and then drew all the books and added a few little plant illustrations. As I read each book I’m planning to colour in the spine of the illustration, as I have done with The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Hopefully by the end of this year, this page will be filled with colours.

I’m always listening to music – it’s such a big part of my life, it’s how I relax, and I love how a certain song can take you back to a certain point in your life. Hence why I have a page dedicated to my favourite songs each month. I was very lucky to see The Wombats in January, whose music I’ve loved for a very long time, so I felt it was only right to honour that by putting my favourite of their songs down.

Ok…now here’s the fun bit of my bujo 😦 my exam tracker page! I’m not a huge fan of the layout of this page if I’m being honest; it looks a bit of a mess so I might try and fix it at some point. However, I felt it was vital to have a page which tracks not just external exams but also mocks, in-class assessments etc, because I do tend to forget dates unless I have them written down (and then, I forget to revise). Also, by having an overview of each month, I can reassure myself that ‘oh, it’s fine I’ve still got three months until A Levels’!

I have a page at the end of my weekly spreads which is dedicated to music again, as well as highlights of the month. I think this brings a nice sense of closure, almost, to the month – it’s a little reflection of what you’ve done, what you’ve been listening to, where you are in life. As of yet I’ve not completely finished this page (I have more than 2 highlights in an entire month, don’t worry) but I’ll be incorporating this structure into future months too.

My February spread looks like this. I wonder if you can tell where I made a mistake? I’ll give you a hint – the tape has something to do with it, I used it as a way of covering up the mistake 😂 gotta work with what you have! If you make a mistake, just try and intertwine it into your design, and pretend it was intentional 😉 the joy of bullet journaling is you can experiment with different layouts, colour schemes etc, and if you don’t like it then you can just change it the next week/month. As well as a general month overview, I also have the days and dates of March written down, a to-do list, a place to write goals and then also an area to write the key dates and events of March in (which so far is empty lol), so that I know what’s coming up soon. This month I went with a purple and silver theme, using Muji pens, Stabilo highlighters, Stabilo fineliners and some metallic brush pens.

And finally, a weekly spread. So far, this is my favourite layout for a week; each box is large enough to fit a hefty to-do list in, and I can fit all of my habits/spends/study time/screen times at the bottom too. Last month I had a separate page to record all of my habits and my budget but I found that quite often I’d forget to look for it, whereas I’m much more likely to see it when it’s on my weekly spread because I try to plan the day ahead the night before, so I can fill it in then.

I have various habits which I’m (still) trying to instil on my life and I find using a tracker is a really good way of seeing how well I’m doing and where I can improve. A lot of my habits link to my new year’s resolutions: for example, I’m trying to turn off all screens by 9.30pm and go running more. I also am trying to save up money for summer and uni and having a place where I can track what I’m spending is helping me a lot with this. It’s making me come to terms with the ridiculous amount of money I spend on food and books, so now I’m much more aware of where I need to cut down 😂

Do you have a bullet journal? If so, how are you finding it? If you’ve written any posts about your bujo, please leave the link below because I’m always looking out for new inspiration.

Cara xx

The Book Club

Since the start of term, I seem to have been busy non-stop – although I couldn’t actually tell you what I’ve been busy with to be honest, because I don’t seem to have done much of the pile of schoolwork that I need to do. Which is slightly worrying, to say the least.

In terms of what I’ve been reading lately, I was given a few books for Christmas so I’ve started them. First of all I read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. As I was reading it I was trying to figure out what it reminded me of, and I think I’ve decided it’s a mixture of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Groundhog Day and Cluedo. There’s just one narrator who’s trying to solve the mystery of who killed Evelyn, but he inhabits several different bodies of guests at a party and although he becomes different people, he lives out the same day, over and over again, in these different bodies. It’s really quite confusing and there were a few points where I just had to stop and think for a sec because I couldn’t quite figure out how he knew what he did. If you’ve read Seven Deaths, let me know what you thought of it – I really couldn’t shake off the Harry Potter Time-Turner vibes, and being set at a party in a huge old mansion made it feel like a big game of Cluedo.

I bought The Perks of Being a Wallflower in my post-Christmas book frenzy (I bought 16 books in 2 weeks #obsessed). Have you ever had that thing where a memory suddenly comes to you, completely out of the blue? I had that. I realised that for my 10th or 11th birthday, I’d received the film of The Perks of Being a Wallflower because I’d just discovered Harry Potter and fallen in love with Emma Watson. I remembered watching the first couple of minutes and then having my parents abruptly switch the TV off because apparently at the time I was ‘too young’ to watch it. Anyway, this all really randomly just popped into my head, so I decided to buy the book and at some point I’ll try and root out the DVD from somewhere in my family’s collection, and (finally) watch it.

I really enjoyed reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Even though some parts were dark and the themes throughout are hard-hitting, I loved the narration and it reminded me a lot of Catcher in the Rye which is one of my favourite books. I wish I’d been introduced to it earlier, but hey 😂

My friends and I booked tickets to see A Woman of No Importance, so I read the play beforehand to get to grips with the plot. I’m writing this on the night I was meant to see the play, but unfortunately it was cancelled which I’m actually really sad about. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading the play and, as my introduction to Wilde’s plays, I’m excited to read more.

I was also bought the collective book of Oscar Wilde’s short fiction for Christmas (a fab present) which I’ve been reading before I go to sleep. A lot of the stories are fairy tales so they’re really quite relaxing to read after a long, hard day at school lol. I admire Wilde’s talent of summing up humanity and our characteristics so succinctly into one sentence, and there are many such quotes peppered through the stories I’ve read so far. I particularly liked The Portrait of Mr W.H. because 1) there were several quotes that I recognised from The Picture of Dorian Gray, 2) it taught me a lot about Shakespeare’s sonnets and 3) the plot within the plot was a v intriguing technique. 10/10 would recommend any of Wilde’s work.

fulfilling your dreams (or…not)

A few points I just want to say too:

  • Firstly I hope this post is actually legible – thank you Eleanor for giving me the idea to handwrite posts, genius!!
  • In no way am I saying Cambridge isn’t the right choice of uni for anyone – for me at this particular moment in time, I don’t feel it’s right. You don’t have to follow what you once dreamed of doing.
  • Dreams can change. I am ridiculously excited to go to York, something that, one year ago today, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be saying. Everything seems perfect. Your dreams and desires change as you do, and that’s good. So, in a way, I did get into my dream uni: it’s just not the uni that I used to think was my dream.
  • Thank you so so much to everyone who congratulated me/wished me luck – even though I kind of knew I wasn’t going to interview, your support honestly made me cry ❤️
  • I’m going to put York as my firm choice uni, and the offer is AAB which hopefully is achievable. My second choice is Nottingham but my offer there is AAA, so I’m not sure if I’ll actually put it down as my insurance, because if I don’t get the grades for York, I certainly won’t have for Nottingham!

September + October book club

Since going back to school in September, reading (unfortunately) has taken a step back – as much as I love it I just find it hard sometimes to sit down and read because I’m always thinking of school! Over the course of the next few months, my book club posts are going to become much more sporadic: instead of posting a bimonthly round-up of everything I’ve read, I’ll probably wait until I have 5 or 6 books to talk about which, judging by how little I’ve read recently, will be around every 3 to 4 months.

I was talking to my English Language teacher about dystopian fiction and how much I love it and she recommended me a book called Station Eleven which I hadn’t heard of. I told her I’d look into it because her summary of it sounded really interesting. I forgot to look actually, but I’m glad about that because in my next lesson with her she’d bought it for me! *cue heart melting* I really really enjoyed reading Station Eleven; there are several different viewpoints and settings which the narrative flicks between, and you’re left trying to figure out how all of the characters interconnect which I love! I won’t give away many spoilers, but around the time that I started reading it a plane was put into quarantine, and I was genuinely so immersed in the story that I thought it had started to come to life (a scary thought, huh).

Talking of scary, I also read We Need to Talk About Kevin. I never usually say this about books, but I hated it. I really and truly hated it. I didn’t connect to any of the characters – not even cute lil Cecelia – and I disliked the whole plot line; you know from the outset that something awful is going to happen, but you have to read alllll the way to the end to find out what it is. Parts made me feel physically sick, such as when Kevin is in the bathroom with the door deliberately left open and his mother can see everything – I won’t go into much more detail, reader, but if you fancy a disturbing read, I recommend. Personally though, I won’t be returning in a hurry 😅

After my draining experience with We Need to Talk About Kevin I decided to relieve my brain a little, so I started Bridget Jones’s Diary. Again, this is unusual, but I preferred the film to the book! Maybe it was the winning combo of Hugh Grant and Colin Firth…who knows? 😉

Finally, I’ve read The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, because I again just wanted something lighthearted. I hadn’t actually read the cover before I started but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it – I’d bought it spontaneously after seeing it for £1 in a charity shop, I hadn’t been specifically looking to buy and read it. That said, I’ve read one of Nelson’s other books and enjoyed that, so I don’t know why I had low expectations – overall though, it was a cute story (if a little weird in parts haha, I’m looking at you Lennie + Toby!)

Currently I’m reading Jane Eyre which I love: I remember, when I was 7 or 8, my mum read it aloud to me because I loved everything about learning and education and Jane is a governess, but I haven’t read it since then and suddenly got the urge.

Have a lovely rest of the week x

(PS – unusually, there are no photos for this post: my apologies!! I’m at school for most of the day everyday and before I leave for school, it’s too dark to take photos. When I come back, the light isn’t great – so enjoy an unrelated photo, plonked in the middle of his post! #makingthebestofthings)

(PPS – I’ve been put through to the second round of the UK Blog Awards, which is SO exciting!! I’ll leave links on all my social media accounts so that you can vote for me if you’d like to – if you do, I’ll be forever grateful! Although I don’t expect to win anything, even to have gone to the second round is such a privilege ❤️❤️)

June, July and August book club

I’ve sorta maybe kinda missed out on a month of book club posts because in June I only read about half a book, which wouldn’t have made a very interesting post. Over summer though i’ve read a lot so I’m just going to share my thoughts on a few books!

I watched the film of Paper Towns not long ago when it was on TV one night and seeing that inspired me to read the book again. I love rereading my old favourite books; it gives me such a sense of nostalgia and I just get so engrossed in the characters and their lives like I used to when I was younger. I think I’ve only read Paper Towns out of all of John Green’s books but I recently also bought Looking for Alaska, and so rereading and loving Paper Towns has made me excited to start that too.

Next up, another old favourite: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. It’s just a YA modern classic, I love it, and there’s not much more to say really – if you want a slightly cliche romance with an unusual context, this is the one for you.

You might have seen if you followed my old Instagram account that I became slightly obsessed with book thrifting over the summer holiday – I used to get so many books from charity shops, but then for some reason I just stopped? Anyway, I bought 8 books for £8 (!!) from the British Heart Foundation I think, 3 for £1 at Cancer Research (winner!), one for £1.45 and another for £1.99. I definitely don’t need to buy any more books for a while, haha.

David Nicholls’s “Us” was one of the 8 for £8 books and quite honestly, if I’d paid £8 for that book alone I would have been happy. It’s so good! It’s about 2 of the things I love most – travelling and art – Douglas, a scientist, is trying to win his wife back, and so he takes her and their son on a huge, slightly disastrous interrailing trip around Europe, stopping off at galleries and sightseeing. It was so cool reading about art galleries I’ve been to before and places I want to visit – ahhh, I recommend!!

I’m writing my personal statement at the moment, so I decided to reread some classics: Pride and Prejudice was my first. I read it whilst I was sitting my mock exams and I think in some of the wordier parts where there’s not a lot happening in the plot I got a little bit distracted lol, but saying that I already knew the story and overall I enjoyed it regardless!

I think I mentioned it in a book club post a few months ago but I’m going to use The Picture of Dorian Gray as my English lit coursework so this summer I reread it; tbh, I killed two birds with one stone there as I’m using it for English and I can write about it on my personal statement! (We love life hacks!!!) Again, I love the plot, I love the way the book’s written, I love the philosophical monologues; I love everything about this book. Just read it. Please.

Another book for school – we’re starting Hamlet in English lit so over summer I read the play. I find Shakespeare so interesting but I really struggle understanding what’s actually being said when I just read it to myself, so I listened to the audiobook as I read which helped so much. I’ve never read Hamlet before, I started it once and then gave up pretty quickly because I wanted to read something more lighthearted but it was more enjoyable than I thought. The plot really gripped me actually and I’m excited to study it more in depth in class.

Ok, down to the last two; Huxley’s Brave New World was SO good and I think I’m going to reread it again quite soon tbh. I was reading this as I was reading Hamlet and there are hundreds of references to Shakespeare in the characters’ speech and let me tell you, my mind was blown on several occasions – I read one line in hamlet, it goes something like “treacherous, lecherous, mindless villain” (although I may have got the order wrong there) and then a few minutes later when I picked up Brave New World, I read that exact line! Crazy. I love references in books to other books because when I recognise them, I feel really smart haha 😉 if you’re a fan of dystopian novels and haven’t read this, give it a go – as a quick summary, the world runs on drugs, recreational sex and everything you learn is taught to you in your sleep.

It’s not shown in the photo above but today I finished Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall which I enjoyed but I feel like I was reading it for weeks and didn’t really do it justice. In a few months I’m going to give it another read since I think I had forgotten parts that happened in the beginning, but, when I got into it, the plot was quite intriguing and satirical (which my dry sense of humour appreciates) and yeah, I definitely just need to reread it.

That’s all for this month’s post – I feel like I’ve actually read and written about a substantial amount of books for once!

Dear future me: stress self-care tips

I know that this academic year will undoubtedly be the most stressful and pressured year I’ve ever had so I thought, whilst I’m still relatively calm about exams, I’d write this post to Future Cara, because something tells me I’m going to need a few of these tips.

1. Exams are not the end of the world

Although it certainly feels like it, they’re not! There are other ways to where you want to be and everything will work out in the end so just…calm down.

2. You’re allowed to have a break

I used to feel guilty when I took breaks from revising because I felt like I needed to be revising and wouldn’t do as well as I could if I just carried on, but actually now I think it’s the opposite. Your body needs a break and you’ll feel so much better for letting it have one.

3. Completely switch off for a day

Sort of similar to point 2 but I’m going to plan to take full days off revision when A Levels come round – once a fortnight or something, not like every other night don’t worry! Have a movie marathon, go for a run, blog all day, have a day shopping, just do something that will completely take your mind off everything.

4. Stress is temporary

As soon as exams are over, you’ll have completely forgotten about them – the stress won’t last long in the grand scheme of things. Keep it in perspective!!

5. Have a set sleeping schedule

Because there’s nothing worse than being tired and knowing you have another 20 pages of revision to do. Set a time to finish revision, have 2 hours to yourself then go to bed early and you’ll feel so much more refreshed and ready.

6. Make sure you’re reading for fun as well as for school

If, like me, you read regularly, ensure you keep a book aside that has no relevance to school work. Reading is arguably one of the best forms of escapism.

Q&A: study edition

On my old Instagram account I used to receive a fair amount of questions relating to school, and after reading Hebah’s post (hebahpervaiz.co.uk) I decided to just compile a few of the questions I’ve most frequently been asked.

What GCSEs did you take and how did you do?

I took my GCSEs last summer in English Language, English Literature, Maths, Spanish, Geography, ICT, Art, Core Science and Additional Science. On results day I got 9, 8, 8, a*, a*, a*, a, a, a (in that order). I also got half a GCSE in Preparation for Working Life, literally the most pointless waste of time.

Which A Levels are you doing now?

I take English Language, English Literature and Geography.

Did you stay at your school for sixth form or move elsewhere?

I actually wrote a post about this a while ago (which you can read here) but I stayed at the school I’ve been at since Year 7, which was definitely the right choice! But take into account all the pros and cons of staying and moving, because for some people moving will be a lot more beneficial.

What tips do you have as a current sixth form student?

Stay on top of your work! Keep yourself organised!! Revise as you go!!!

What are your career ambitions?

Ahhh the dreaded question! I honestly wish I knew for definite what I’d like to be – some days it’s a journalist, others I wish I could just blog for a living, I’d also love to work for the UN…I just don’t know.

What is the best way to revise?

This is a tricky one because different methods work for different people. The way I revise best is copying notes and summarising them as well as using flash cards, but other people will find that the least helpful method, so I can’t speak for everyone! The best way to stay motivated to revise, I find, is making to do lists – I wrote a post on how I make them here.

What plans do you have for after school?

University hopefully, provided I get the grades!

So that concludes today’s post, I hope you enjoyed and maybe you found out a little more about me than you knew before. Are you still at school or sixth form? What subjects are you taking, and how are you finding them?

Cara xx