Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Setting up your new Bullet Journal

If you haven't yet heard of the Bullet Journal, check out the blog post I put up yesterday and then come back here. Know the basics? Then let's jump in and see how I'm setting up my newest Bullet Journal.

Personally, I found that the Bullet Journal is the perfect system for me. It's a blend of a to-do list, a planner and a personal journal. You can make it anything you need it to be and it can change with your needs. Thinking of giving it a try? 

For this journal, I'm using this teal softcover dotted Moleskine journal (this one). The cover is so wonderfully soft and I'm excited to use dotted pages for the first time, they're still really hard to find in SA. This is the large size, which is approximately A5. As you can see in these photos there is a small amount of ghosting with my fineliners (which doesn't bother me at all) and no bleeding through. The journal has an elastic closure, a ribbon bookmark and an envelope pocket at the back for you to tuck things into.


Moleskines have a space up front for your details, plus a spot to offer a reward for returning it (I'm broke so hopefully good karma is enough!).


On the first page, I've put my key. I use three basic bullets for 99% of what goes in my BuJo: square boxes for tasks, circles for events or appointments and dots for notes. A single diagonal strike indicates I've started something, the second finishes the cross for a completed task or event. A horizontal strike out indicates something has been cancelled. If I don't finish something, I add a > mark once I've migrated that task to a new day. I also have a few signifiers to add emphasis to deadlines and important things, or mark ideas.


The next two pages are where I'm going to write my index.


Then, I have four pages for the traditional future log. Basically, if I have to plan something in advance, it gets jotted down in one of these boxes.



Now, let's start our first monthly log. On the left, I have the traditional monthly log where I note important events, deadlines, etc. I can add to this as the month goes on. On the right I have space to add my goals for the month, as well as any general notes. When you start a new month, look at your future log and add in anything you wrote down there.


As December is not going to be very busy work-wise, I've decided to have a little bit of fun with my weekly layout. I've drawn in boxes to write my daily logging in. I haven't put in a monthly habit tracker (because I know there aren't going to be many low-calorie, no-alcohol healthy days this month!) but have added a few weekly trackers for my mood, amount of sleep, step count and water intake. I've put in a box for weather tracking and just for fun decided to record my favourite songs this month.


Now, of course, you can go really simple and basic with your logging. I decided to spend 20 minutes or so drawing out this layout while watching some series just for fun but this is by no means an essential part of bullet journalling (you'll see the original bullet journal had nothing of the sort!).

Are you thinking of starting your own Bullet Journal? Let me know in the comments section! I often also post images of my journal on my personal instagram (@lauravlaeren) so follow me there if you are interested.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The "Bullet Journal" system: an introduction and overview of my first BuJo

It feels like you can't go anywhere these days without coming across the Bullet Journal, but from the outside it can seem like a very strange thing. What is the Bullet Journal? Well, as described by the official website, "The Bullet Journal is a customisation and forgiving organisation system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less." In the age of digital everything, it's an analogue system. Now, of course, this system will not work for everybody. But if you're someone that thrives on physically writing things down and is hopeless with digital planners or calendars, this is a system worth trying. Additionally, the high flexibility of the system is its major advantage. Hands up if you have spent an exorbitant amount of money on fancy and pretty planners or diaries, and then finished the year with them mostly empty - I know I have!

All you need to Bullet Journal is a notebook and a pen. Don't let the Instagram posts fool you: you don't need beautiful handwriting, the ability to artfully doodle or fancy layouts. In its original form, the name makes perfect sense: it's a journal in bullet points. Whether it's something you need to do, somewhere you need to go or a note you want to write down, it all gets jotted down in a list of bullet points as you go. Simple. This system is called Rapid Logging and is the basis of the Bullet Journal.

In addition to Rapid Logging on a daily basis, there are a few more elements to the Bullet Journal. You start off with an Index, so you can find anything you want. This means that you can just fill out your journal as you go along, no "saving pages" for something or trying to put everything in order. Just put things you want to find in the Index and you'll always know where they are. At the beginning, add a Future Log, basically a "year at a glance". You use this to write down anything you have to do in the future. Each month also starts with a Monthly Log, again, as an overview of the month or where you can write down anything non-date specific.

Want to see how the Bullet Journal started? Check out this video from the creator:


Maybe that seems a little complicated and a lot of effort, but I promise it is way way easy! Now, as I said earlier, the great advantage of this system is it's flexibility. Want to keep it simple? Do it. Love doodles, hand-lettering or fancy layouts? Do it. Want to do one this week and change next week? You got it. Additionally, the Bullet Journal (or BuJo - not BJ for obvious reasons!) community has tweaked the system and added to it.

To start off this series of blog posts on the Bullet Journal, here are a few photos of my first BuJo. To start off, because I wasn't sure if I would like the system, I used a thin notebook that I had at home already. (This one was actually bought at Masquerade in Franschoek.)

bullet journal getting started supplies

On the first page, I have the key of bullet symbols that I used. The original system uses simple bullet dots for tasks but I really like check-boxes as they just feel so damn satisfying to cross off! I also used circle bullets for events, appointments or meetings and the plain bullet dot for notes. Completed tasks or events got crossed off, cancelled things got struck out. If I hadn't done a task yesterday, once I had added it to today's list it got a > mark, indicating it had been migrated to a new day.

bullet journal key symbols

Here's a peak at my index. You'll notice that I actually started this BuJo on 16 July: midway through a month in the middle of the year! You never have to wait for the "right time" to start!

bullet journal index

Here are a few examples of what my monthly logs looked like. On the left hand side, I did the traditional BuJo calendar, on the right I had a page for monthly goals (as this was when I was writing my thesis).

bullet journal monthly log goals traditional

bullet journal monthly log goals traditional   bullet journal monthly log goals traditional

Now, to keep it simple, I divided my daily pages like you would a week-at-a-view diary as it was the simplest layout that could be done quickly and allowed me to plan a few days in advance, handy for my busy thesis-writing time. Obviously, you could just do this a day at a time, using as much space as you need each day (you'll see I have some wasted space in spots.) Maybe some days you just need a few lines, maybe other days you need a half a page, or a whole page. Because you do this as you go along, there's no wasted space, and you don't need to be confined to the amount of space allocated in a bought diary. Maybe you don't feel like planning and take some time off? When you get back, just carry on from where you left off, no blank pages left to judge you! I will be showing you some alternative layouts later in the week.

As you can see, some weeks I kept things monochrome, sometimes I used coloured pencils or fineliners to add some colour, sometimes I even used watercolour. Of course, it's entirely up to you if you want to decorate your BuJo or not. I quite liked having something new to look at each week!

In these logs (click the pictures to expand them) you can see how I used my task and event bullets. One thing I also did each day was record the weather, because I'm a nerd like that. In addition to the things I did, sometimes I also added notes, maybe about my energy, my mental health that day, a little anecdote. (Clearly, I also wasn't above using a gold star sticker when I achieved a big goal!)

bullet journal daily log weekly

bullet journal daily log weekly

bullet journal daily log weekly

bullet journal daily log weekly

bullet journal daily log weekly

One thing I also loved adding to my BuJo was a monthly habit tracker. I found this helped a lot with keeping my mental health on track and helping me keep healthy habits, from not oversleeping, to drinking enough water, not eating too much, trying to get my steps in or meeting my thesis goals for the day. I played around with colour but ultimately found it easier to stick to plain black.


bullet journal habit tracker

bullet journal habit tracker

bullet journal habit tracker

bullet journal habit tracker

(Spot that productive final month when I was up at 5 am every day!)

Another great thing I like about the Bullet Journal is that you can add random things whenever you want. Here, for example, I dedicated a whole page to keeping track of the packing and moving process last month.

bullet journal

Another thing I liked to add for a bit of fun was a bookshelf: in the beginning I drew a bunch of book outlines, and then every time I finished reading a book I wrote the title in on one (note a lot of really cheesy, kinda shitty chick-lit that I used as a mental cleanser from all the thesis writing!)

bullet journal


Interested in starting your own Bullet Journal? Come back tomorrow and I'll show you how I've started to set up my new journal! Feel free to leave any questions in the comment section below and I will do my best to answer them.

Friday, December 2, 2016

I wrote a thing



I finally finished writing my PhD thesis! *cue celebrations* 
This was a very long, very tough journey but I'm finally near the end! Now it's the wait to hear what my examiners think before I can finally be finished with my PhD. I'm still not exactly sure what my future holds which is scary but hopefully the new year will bring good news. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

November Empty Products

It's time for another empties post, because getting rid of empty products is just so damn satisfying! Now, between May 2015 and May 2016 I was doing Project Pan, where I tried to get rid of 100 products and I was totally excited to reach my goal! (See all Project Pan blog posts here.) Now, since I got to 100 products, we'll be returning to traditional "empties" posts. The big goal now is majorly decluttering. I have to move out of my on-campus apartment at the end of November and, since I'll be in a limbo period between finishing my thesis and actually graduating and being able to get a job, I'm going to be moving back home to my parents' for a few months. Basically, I have to pack up my life and move all my stuff into storage, and I want that stuff to be as small as possible. That means no unnecessary goo hording! Now, there's quite a lot of stuff in this blog post, as it's been about 5 months since my last Project Pan post - HOWEVER I have finally gotten to a point where my shower contains one shampoo bottle, one conditioner bottle, one shower gel bottle. No unnecessary clutter, yay! Ok, enough preamble, let's get into this...


Garnier Ultimate Blends "The colour illuminator" shampoo and conditioner : I bought these when they first came out and they were all over everybody's blogs. Yeah, they were cheap, but honestly, I still think they were a waste of money. The shampoo made my hair feel stripped and dry, and the conditioner was weak and it took handfuls of product to make my hair feel nice again. Would I repurchase? No.

Sunsilk Damage Repair Shampoo : Found this one hidden in my bathroom cabinet only 20% full. I used to use this shampoo and conditioner a lot when my hair was bleached. Pretty good, I might return to these again someday. Would I repurchase? Maybe.


Matrix Biolage Keratindose Shampoo* (blog post) : I really enjoyed using this shampoo and I liked how it made my hair feel, but I can't rationalize buying expensive shampoo I can't afford if I didn't totally love it. Will I repurchase? No.

Dove Nourishing Oil Care Daily Treatment Conditioner : I love this range so much, it's definitely my go-to! Great product and great value-for-money, this is probably my 5th or 6th tube of this conditioner. Will I repurchase? As long as they keep making it!

Dove Pure Care Dry Oil Conditioner : I picked this up to see how it compared to the previously mentioned range. This conditioner really made my hair feel smooth and silky! Will I repurchase? Yes (but I'll be keeping an eye out for when it's on special).


Schwarzkopf Colour Freeze Shampoo : I got this when Style Bar first dyed my hair dark. It's a lovely shampoo and smells amazing! Will I repurchase? Not currently, it's out of my budget but maybe someday...

Batiste Travel Size Dry Shampoo in Tropical and Full Size Dry Shampoo in Original : For real, Batiste has changed my life. No more daily shampooing! (Which I'm sure my hair is grateful for, plus saving water!) I always have two cans of Batiste at a time, one at home and one in my overnight bag. The travel size is nice if you are travelling and need to pack light, but otherwise it's just crazy overpriced. Will I repurchase? Yes, yes, a million times yes!


Nivea Creme Coconut Shower Cream : A decent Nivea shower cream. Mild but pleasant scent and doesn't dry out your skin. Good budget buy. Will I repurchase? Yeah, why not.

Lush Lord of Misrule Shower Cream : Good God, this is the most amazing smelling thing eveeeerrr! Y'all can keep your sickly sweet Snow Fairy, Lord of Misrule is the BEST! Will I repurchase? Yes! (Although I was lucky enough to get a new bottle this week from some friends! Yay!)

Woolworths Vanilla & Brown Sugar Shower Gel : Another pleasant smelling shower gel from Woolies, actually this whole range is yummy. (Although paper labels from something that goes in the shower is a bit dumb.) Will I repurchase? Yes.


The Body Shop Silky Cleansing Oil : This is the product that converted me to cleansing oils! Love it! Will I repurchase? Yes!

Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Facial Wash : I used this to clean my makeup brushes and it does a pretty good job at getting gunky foundation out of dense brushes. Will I repurchase? Meh. Maybe.

Nimue Cleansing Gel* : I got a pack of Nimue products from Rubybox that was supposedly suited to my skin based on a quiz, but I didn't really like any of the products (bar the sunscreen) in the kit so I never featured it on here. So far the cleansing gel is the only thing I've finished. I used this in the shower at the end of the day as a prewash before using an oil cleanser or micellar water. Will I repurchase? No.


Dermalogica Precleanse* : I got this sample size of Precleanse in a goodie bag. I dunna, maybe it was the hype that ruined it for me. I preferred my cleansing oil from The Body Shop (which is much more budget friendly anyway). Also, this oil really smelled like arnica oil for me which just put me off. Will I repurchase? Nope.

Lush Ro's Argan Body Conditioner Sample Size : I found the scent of this overpowering and it just felt weird and kinda gross on the skin.. I know lots of people love this, but I'm not a fan. Will I repurchase? No.

ALL my traditional hairbrushes : It's been over 2 years since I got my first tangle teezer and I haven't used a normal hairbrush since then, so they're all getting chucked out. (It was very odd cleaning hair out of this brush for the photo and realizing all the hair was blonde.) Will I repurchase? Nope. For now, it's all about specialized detangling brushes.


Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Gently Hydrating Cream* : Was it a good moisturizer? Yes? Do I think it's worth the price? No. Will I repurchase? No.

Garnier Hydra-Match Moisturizer for Dry to Very Dry Skin : I picked this up last year when my skin suddenly went though a very dry phase. This moisturizer is very thick and heavy, but it was just what my skin needed at the time. Will I repurchase? If my skin needs it, yes.

Schwarzkopf BC Oil Miracle Finishing Treatment (blog post) : I bought this product last year when I first dyed my hair dark, to try keep it in good condition. I really loved it... for the first few months. Now I have a half-full bottle that I have to throw out. Why? What was at first a clear, golden oil with a pleasant floral scent is now murky and rancid-smelling. I don't know what happened, I store my products in my bedroom, away from light, heat or humidity but someone this oil has gone off. I really hate having to throw it away, because I hate wasting money especially on a "splurge" purchase like this but it's unusable. Will I repurchase? No.


Bourjois 123 Perfect Foundation (blog post) : I enjoyed using this foundation but it did get a bit thicker and cakey-er towards the end (the problem with hoarding too many products - they tend to get old before you can finish them up). It did a good job of evening out skin tone. Would I repurchase? Probably not.

Rimmel Match Perfection : A newer purchase, even though I haven't been wearing traditional foundation much this year. I really liked how this foundation felt on the skin and it gave a natural-looking finish while smoothing out skin tone. Would I repurchase? Yes.

Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Cream : This has become my go-to "foundation" for everyday. It's not as heavy as a foundation and the coverage isn't as full, but it's better than a BB cream. Would I repurchase? Yes, this one has already made it back into my makeup bag.

Wet n Wild Coverall Liquid Concealer : Not the best concealer in the whole world, but if you need a cheap concealer that will minimize dark undereyes and even out redness from a breakout, it'll do the trick. Would I repurchase? Yes (evidently).

Essence Gel Eyeliner Pencil in Gunmetal : I can't really tell the difference between this "gel" eyeliner pencil and a normal one. The charcoal gunmetal colour is great as it isn't as harsh as black. Pretty decent smudged against lashlines but next time I'll stick to the basic eyeliner pencils. Would I repurchase? No.

Essence Colour Flash Mascara in miss lila deleila : Coloured mascara pops up every few years and it's fun to play with, and when it's priced like essence products, why not? However, it's now time to say goodbye to this one. Would I repurchase? No, I'm probably getting too old for things like this.

Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder : A good staple. Normally I'd repress a broken powder, but seeing as this one is already more a few years old, I think it's in my skin's best interest to admit defeat and throw the remaining product out. Would I repurchase? Yes.

Essence All About Matte Fixing Compact Powder : The packaging on this is a bit poor and the lid broke off a while ago so it's been limited to my makeup vanity, no travel allowed. That said, this was a great setting powder and I loved it right up until the end. Would I repurchase? Yes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sometimes you just need a little glitter...


I was digging around in my nail polish stash last week, looking for inspiration, when I discovered this loose glitter from essence. It's now long-discontinued but I couldn't remember if I had even used it (like so much in my stash from my shopoholic days). As a base, I used two coats of "midnight blue" by Sinful Colours. On my ring finger, I sprinkled a generous amount of the glitter over my nail while the polish was still wet, then (very) gently patted it down so that all the glitter particles lay flat. I then sealed the whole lot with topcoat. I particularly love the few turquoise glitter dots interspersed in the blue-violet glitter, it adds a lovely touch of dimension!