... blogging my guts out

What I Learnt From Using A Pocket Sized Midori Traveller's Notebook

♠ Posted by Nickie O'Hara in ,,,,
I have fallen out of love with my Filofax again. I know, I know, but there is not one road down the planner highway. Whilst a Filofax suits me very well with it's loose-leaf pages and total personalisation and adaptability, I still miss using a notebook. Even though I incorporated my Bullet Journalling into my Filofax I was still lugging a very heavy planner around with me for many reasons.

I recently bought two *Hobonichi-style notebook style covers (aka a 'fauxbonichi' - both from Etsy, one hand-made in the UK and one from Japan) but the planning system didn't work like I had it in my head (no surprise there then...).  Then, after watching a few quite a lot of YouTube videos, I realised that I was after a *Midori traveller's notebook style set up.

*For those that have never heard about Hobonichi and/or Midori planning systems, please see the notes at the end

Now, for me, trying out new planning systems is all about dipping a toe in the water and not wanting to invest too much money. Again, wandering through Etsy (oh, how I lose hours on there sometimes) I found another 'faux' version for a very reasonable price so I could try out the Midori lifestyle.  I already had some Field Notes notebooks that I was very much wanting to use and I had purchased a Moleskine 2015 diary.  All of the inserts I had to use were A6 size.

I watched more and more a couple more set-up videos and learnt how to use elastic loops to secure a few notebooks within the leather cover and was fascinated at how easy it was to incorporate any type of insert I wanted. I didn't need rings or pockets any more - I could order plastic and cardboard holders that would be held in by the elastic loops. Furthermore, dinky little paperclips and magnetic bookmarks would be my page markers.  I've filmed a little bit of a 'tour' around my new set-up if you like to watch that sort of thing: 

But I promised this would be about what I had learnt from switching to a pocket sized planning system.  So here goes...

  • "Pocket sized" is not the same as A6.  The pocket size notebook is ever so slightly smaller than A6 so the notebooks and diary I'm using at the moment are a smidgen too big for the leather cover.  This isn't a bad thing because it's helped me to get used to finding my way around the order of notebooks (is that the next Harry Potter movie?) and inserts that I need(ed).
  • I've never been able to get to grips with a Filofax smaller than a Personal size, I think mainly because the rings always got in the way of writing on the left hand side of the page.  In a small(er) notebook there isn't that issue and the way in which the notebooks are connected within the Midori means that it almost always lies flat.
  • I don't need as many 'sections' (or notebooks) as I did in my Filofax. I used to have up to 19 tabs in my Filofax (6 regular sections and 13 bullet journal sections) and now I just have two pocket inserts, two notebooks and a diary.
  • It's far too easy to get carried away with needing inserts so knowing that I have to limit myself means that I'm using the notebooks much more effectively.  I'm also probably going to use them right to the last page too - almost unheard of for me.
  • The smaller size fits in my hands and in my bag better. I'm a very tactile person when it comes to my planners (one reason I fell in love with my Kensington Filofax - it was very soft and flexible leather) so to have a bendy piece of leather to wrap around some notebooks that I really wanted to use feels very natural and touchy-feely.
  • This is just the start of my relationship with the Midori. Because you can use inserts that are not necessarily branded or recommended, it becomes a much more affordable and adaptable system.

So where do I go from here?  Well... I am going to invest in some pocket sized notebooks - the Paperways City notebooks from Bureau Direct (first seen here) are the perfect size. There is also a non-dated diary/planner from the same brand that I've got my eye on but at almost £20 it's on the expensive side and having everything in one notebook sort of negates the need for the Midori way of life. Oh, and for all those BOAT (Book Of All Things) lovers out there... DON'T PANIC! The BOAT is still very much in use as a brain dump.  It's great for working through ideas that I jot down in my daily lists, for doodling and for blog/vlog planning.


For those who are not sure what a Hobonichi and a Midori are then please let me explain.  

The Hobonichi (or 'fauxbonichi' for a copy of this planning system) style planning system has only recently become available outside of Japan and they are generally used as a day-to-day diary and journal incorporated into one. Many people draw in them or use them as scrapbooks and their layout is a day on a page with additional sections for monthly planning and yearly planning.  They come with gorgeous covers which have secretarial pockets and business card holders.

The Midori (or 'fauxdori' or 'scottdori' in this case) style planning system is a piece of flexible leather with elastic threaded through it and around it to hold various notebooks together, The leather becomes scratched, used and matures as you handle and use the system and becomes part of the memories in the notebook.


I'm all about supporting products I love so:

Etsy Seller for the Scotdori - Filofabulous (based in the UK)
Etys Seller for the Midori starter kit - PaperGeekMY (based in Malaysia)
Field Notes / Paperways notebooks - Bureau Direct (based in the UK)

Ten Reasons Why I Hate Wearing Glasses

♠ Posted by Nickie O'Hara in ,,,
Not so long ago I reviewed my new glasses. They are lush - my first ever pair with light-reactive lenses which makes me more inclined to wear them as I've always struggled when wearing glasses whilst driving when it's sunny. But this review made me think a lot about something I've been meaning to talk about for a while.

Why am I so hung up about wearing glasses?

Nickie wearing glasses, short hair, I grew up in a time of NHS plastic gender-led pink/blue glasses and dreaded the annual eyesight test as I knew I was borderline for being issued with the coloured monstrosities. I managed to get away with not having to wear glasses until I was about twelve or thirteen - I certainly don't remember having to choose a pair whilst in primary school - and the selection was poor.  I probably didn't wear the glasses as much as I should have done because... well... vanity. Plain and simple.

Glasses hold a lot of power in modern (media-led?) society.  Glasses wearers are always portrayed in a specific way in television programmes or films. In comedy, more often than not, the underdog or the geek always wears glasses (and weirdly I chose a silhouette of glasses for my other blog, Geekalicious), girls automatically become sexy when they whip off their glasses and swish their hair about and even Superman hid behind Clark Kent's glasses as a disguise.

One character in 'modern history' who has made glasses part of her style was Deirdre Barlow (played by Anne Kirkbride up until her death earlier this year from cancer). There have been many a style, each fitting in with the current era; you can definitely pinpoint the decade of an episode of Coronation Street just by looking at Deirdre's glasses.  At Anne's memorial service, Bill Roache (Ken Barlow) mentioned that they were currently filming the funeral of Deirdre:
"... I had a scene as Ken where I'm given Deirdre's glasses but of course, Annie wore them for 30 years so you certainly don't need any motivation for the acting."

Obviously, maturity defines the way in which we think about our day-to-day life (and I can't do the hair swish thing anyway as I've always had short hair) so if I don't wear my glasses now I literally can't see enough to drive, read a computer screen or even watch the television. I don't have the worst eyesight in the world but my outlook does need sharpening up.  

I love wearing my contact lenses but find my eyes dry out quicker these day so have to be selective when I wear them. I've also considered laser eye treatment but (a) have heard ALL the horror stories and (b) have you SEEN the cost?! However, I am making a conservative effort to wear my glasses more, especially around my grandchildren because of a very important development.

They both now wear glasses. They both detest wearing them - just like I did. When we go out for walks I call us The Glasses Girls and make sure we have positive conversations about how we can see so much more and find interesting things to look at now we are wearing our super-power glasses. And the need to do this hit home when we were out feeding the ducks on the canal one Sunday evening. The conversation with Megan (age 5) went like this:
Megan (totally out of the blue): I hate wearing my glasses!
Me: Why? They look great!
Megan: I can see perfectly well here [she holds her hands reading distance away from her face] but I can't see all this [she flings her arms open dramatically]
Me: But...
Megan: I just want my old face back.
It's hard finding an answer to that.

With my face furniture, I think hair and make-up are important (to me) and I always find that my glasses 'fit' on the front of my head better if I've recently had my hair cut.  Also, I believe one of the reasons that I always wear strong eye make-up is because I have always feared that I would lose my eyes (my favourite part of my body) behind the glasses. There is a current trend to create a neutral and lined eye and have a bold lipstick. I'm still not convinced this would suit me. 

There's also the fact that I'm sure my face (or is it my ears) are lopsided because whenever I look at myself in the mirror, my frames are slanted down towards the left.  In fact, I saw Tom Fletcher (he of McBusted) mention the same thing in one of his vlogs recently.

So here are my ten reasons why I hate glasses.

  1. I have a constant red mark on either side of the bridge of my nose. And occasional matching ones just above my ears.
  2. I can't lie on the settee to watch television.
  3. I squint at the mirror when I put my make-up on.
  4. I squint at the mirror when I brush my hair.
  5. I squint at the mirror when I straighten my hair. 
  6. I have to turn my head to see something at the side of me. It's the equivalent to tunnel vision. 
  7. I have to have a really good fitting pair for running (or any sport) as they bounce or slide up and down my nose.
  8. I can't rub my eyes or my face without having to take them off. 
  9. I suffer from vlogger-inception when filming YouTube videos due to reflections in the screen.
  10. I can't drink a hot brew, open an oven door or walk in the rain with out having to stop, remove glasses, scrub at the lenses with a loose corner of clothing, slide them back on, adjust and carry on (any Friend's fans remember the one with Chandler in the sauna with Monica's father?).
  11. (Bonus) I have to stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

I do have one top tip though and this is something that I only found out recently. Always chose a glasses frame that follows the line of your eyebrow. Since using these words of wisdom, it's been much easier to choose frames to suit my face.

What are your experiences with glasses? Do you have any woes or top tips to add?

Have You Ever Been On A Working Holiday?

♠ Posted by Nickie O'Hara in ,,,,
working holiday, career, family, life lessons, work,

I've got a question for you... have you ever been on a working holiday? 

I'm currently looking at all options for my youngest child as he starts an apprenticeship in September at the local college in mechanical engineering even though his dream is to do something in the world of entertainment and anyone who knows him will know that he's well suited to that.  However, I want him to have his college qualification so that he has something to fall back on. Maybe a working holiday is the taster session equivalent so that he can actually make his mind up?

The types of jobs he has considered are working in a theatre but thinks it would be pure torture to see the acts on stage and not be up there himself.  He has also thought about being a Red Coat at Butlins or even a holiday rep somewhere hot. The only problem here is that he has to wait until he is 18 to audition. I am trying to steer him away from auditioning for X-Factor or similar reality type TV shows because, whilst I love them myself, I'm not sure I want that type of false fame expectations for my own child. 

Whilst researching all the ins and outs of how he can get some work experience I was directed to this website which provides all the details for working holidays in the UK (have a click of that link -there's some great articles on there). There are a number of options available which has provided more ideas for our research. 

So, tell me about your working holiday experiences. I want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly! I'd love you to share your stories and give us more ideas about what he can do and where he can go. 

This is a sponsored post. Please view my disclosure policy here.

[Review] GlassesShop For Cheap Prescription Glasses

♠ Posted by Nickie O'Hara in
I feel as though I'm as blind as a bat sometimes and I flip between wearing glasses and contact lenses. Glasses are my go-to face furniture because they are so easy to throw on and forget about however I love contact lenses because of vanity but also for running and wearing sunglasses

When GlassesShop asked me to review their service it fell at a fortuitious time because my favourite pair of glasses had recently broken and I was wearing my spare pair. After a browse of their website I chose the Aubervilliers Rectangle in Black because I was recently told that I should choose frames that follow the shape of my eyebrow and these seemed to fit that option.  I also chose a photochromic tint so they became light sensitive, an anti-reflective coating to stop glare and a super-hydrophobic coating so they were water resistant. 

Aubervilliers Rectangle Frames in Black from GlassesShop.com

I've always visited an optician for my prescription eyeglasses so ordering online was a whole new experience - and one that felt a little daunting at first.  I didn't need to worry though as there were full and easy-to-follow instructions on the website.  All I needed was my prescription (available from my optician - everyone is entitled to retain a copy of their own prescription) and a ruler to measure the distance between my pupils (the pupillary distance).

Once you have chosen your frames, each stage of the order is clearly defined with pop-up help bubbles if you need them and the whole ordering process takes about 10-15 minutes. The glasses do come from China so there is a slight wait for their delivery - mine were delivered in just over three weeks.   What do you think?

Aubervilliers Rectangle - Black

I can fully recommend GlassesShop for purchasing cheap glasses online. Also, if you use the code NickieX20 you'll receive a 20% discount from your first order. They have a huge range of styles for men, women and children and the offer a "try on" service in which you can upload a photograph of yourself and overlay the frames onto the image to give you an idea of what they would look like. 

Race For Life - And This Time I Really Am RUNNING It!

Another year, another Race For Life.

I don't mean that to sound as flippant as it does but I enjoy this event so much. It's emotional (for many reasons), it's an opportunity to push myself outside of my personal boundaries and it's all for a charity I wholeheartedly support.

Every year I run for my daughter. My own little cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at 14 months old and has continued to amaze and surprise us with the way in which she defied all medical expectations after her intensive chemotherapy.  Of course, as each year passes (it's 23 years since her treatment now) the memories fade a little but medicine advances in way which we never thought possible. Cancer has touched our lives in other ways too. My father-in-law was sadly beaten by Mesothelioma sixteen years ago and my aunt had a mastectomy after breast cancer approximately 20 years ago. This is why I need the Race For Life as a constant reminder of what can be achieved with research.  Research that needs funding. 

This year, I am extremely grateful to Brioche Pasquier for supporting myself and Rachel as we enter the Race For Life. They have funded both our entry fees and they will be making a donation on my Just Giving page to help us towards this year's target of £250.  

This year I'll actually be running the Race For Life (what was that... another mention for my running journey... #notsorry) on Wednesday 24th June in Blackburn and this is also where you come in - again. If you can, please donate via our Just Giving page. Even just the smallest amount helps and will make a difference. If you would like to donate via text then you can also do that by following the instructions below.  Keep an eye on the blog for an update after the event on Wednesday too! 

P.S. Brioche Pasquier also sent us some of their amazing pan au chocolat to try out (probably to help us 'carb up' before the race).  It didn't really touch the sides and it's now my new favourite snack. I need MORE!