Sunday, December 9, 2012

The BEST Studying Tools For Students ( my opinion...)

I've decided to take a quick study break and showcase what I call my assistive study devices. Husband just wrote about how much he loves his noise-canceling headphones when he studies, so I figured I could jump on the bandwagon and talk about how I use certain tools get studying done most effectively. 

To say that I'm a bit obsessive with how I study would be an understatement. 
I'm very particular about what I use to study, where I study, and how I study. 
However, I didn't always used to be this way...

You see, when I was going through undergrad the first time around, pursuing my degree in Spanish with a minor in sociology, I did not have the best or most effective of study skills. Sure, I received good grades, but then again, I had purposely chosen a major and minor at which I excelled and did not require the most demanding of work from me. Now, when I had to take a biology 100-level course or statistics for my general education requirements? I struggled. Science does not come naturally to me. Thus, when I chose to pursue my bachelor's in nursing, I knew my habits of studying would have to change.

Being married to Husband, who possess a bachelor's in chemistry, physics, and Spanish (…yes, that's three majors…) and minored in mathematics and currently is a med student, was very helpful to say the least in developing these new study habits. 

First, he introduced me to Mental Case, an app that I use on my computer, iPad, and iPhone to create and review digital notecards. I was never a big notecard person until I started using this program, and I will say it has helped immensely, especially in basic introductory classes where a lot of the learning involves definitions and rote memorization. Husband actually wrote a post about Mental Case on his blog reviewing the program and how much the notecards helped him study for the MCAT. The post has very detailed instructions about how Mental Case works, so if you're interested in trying out the app you should check this post out to learn more about it! 

Second, he bought me a Clover Book Stand, which he surprised me with this semester and I briefly wrote about here. I can't tell you how much better my neck feels now that I'm not hunching over to read my big textbooks on the flat table surface. I have the 13.3" x 10.2" size and I couldn't be happier with how easily it transports once it's all folded up. I slip it in the laptop sleeve portion of my backpack and can still fit my large binder of notes and a textbook in the main pocket with room to spare. The clips to secure pages and vast array of angling possibilities allows you to work in so many different environments with various sized books. It's a bit pricier than some of the other versions on the market, but I truly think this is worth the money and will last much longer than the plastic competitors. Once I'm done with school, I plan to use it more in the kitchen to hold my cookbooks!


Third, Husband got me hooked on these crazy awesome Pilot Hi-Tec C Gel Pens, specifically in the 0.3 mm size. How did he come across these gems? When preparing for med school, he began looking around the blogging world for people writing about their experiences as medical students. He came across this blog in particular, where the author of which wrote about these amazing writing devices and how much they help her get through note-taking and studying. Husband decided to give them a try and almost as soon as they arrived at our doorstep and he'd written but one sentence, he was hooked. I, on the other hand, was wary. I was very much a pencil snob, using only these specific pencils solely due to their eraser refill capability (I tended to erase a lot if I didn't like the way a sentence looked on my notes…weird, I know… soI used up the erasers like nobody's business). Anyway, after getting incredibly frustrated with how I couldn't fit all my notes on the page because the lead size was just too big and got all smeared, I gave the pens a whirl. And then I was hooked. Since then, I've gathered a large collection of various colors, but my absolute favorites, both size 0.3 mm, are this blue one for taking notes in class and this red one for adding supplemental notes when I review the lecture notes with the textbook. The best part is, now that I've bought the whole pen, I can easily purchase refills when I run out! Also, because of the 0.3 mm size, I can easily fit three lines' worth of words in between PowerPoint handouts with the 3-slide note-taking format. These pens write like a dream - quick drying, no smudging, no bleeding, and fine lines.

This last tool actually was not introduced to me by Husband. You know how I said I only used pencils because I needed the eraser? Well, once I switched to pens, I started to get frustrated with how I couldn't erase misspelled words or re-format sentences in my notes. So, I started using whiteout. However, it took me a while to find a particular whiteout that I liked. I tried cheapo brands that just cracked and wouldn't stick and I tried more expensive types that were either too bulky in my pencil case or just didn't transfer well onto paper. However, I finally discovered the perfect whiteout for me -  the BiC Wite-Out Mini rolls incredibly smoothly onto paper, sticks amazingly well enough for the Hi-Tec C gel pens to write over without scratching through, and are small enough for my case without running out too quickly. They also come in bright and fun colors and are sold at Meijer in two-packs, while allows me to keep one at home on my desk and the other in my pencil case in my backpack at all times. 

So there you have it, my tools for (at least striving) educational success. I highly recommend any and all of these products for students, whether they are in high school, college, or graduate school. We all know anything that makes studying a little bit easier and more bearable makes a big difference! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

5 years ago & so close...

First, can we just take a second and look at this precious photo of Husband and me?

This was taken almost exactly five years ago, when we first started officially dating. 
Who knew we'd be where we are today? Not me, that's for sure. Or Husband. But we've grown so much, individually and with each other, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

I love you, Husband. 
Here's many more "five years" together. 

Anyway, enough of the mushy stuff...

A weekend in review!

1. Friday night = date night

Husband and I checked out a new restaurant in town and LOVED it. It actually was the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner, but that closed down a few years ago and someone decided to pretty much re-open it but with a different name. The interior looks almost exactly the same with a few structural changes, but the same Italian atmosphere is still there just now with better lighting and an actual bar. Afterward, we headed out to the best grocery store ever to pick up some sweets and munchies and headed over to the movie theater for the new Bond movie. To both of our surprise, I ended up liking it nearly just as much as Husband! My great dislike for action movies is slowly but surely fading, I guess

2. Saturday = honors & laziness

Bright and early Saturday morning I was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the national nursing honor society. There was a nice big breakfast and then students from area schools were inducted and several professors were honored. Unfortunately, I didn't really prepare very well so Husband only snapped a few low-quality-thanks-to-the-poor-lighting shots with his phone. Thus, you will not be seeing any documentation of my five seconds onstage shaking my professor's hand or receiving my honor cords. Sorry, Mom. Just kidding, I guess. Husband decided to include some edited ones in this post.

Once we got back home, Husband flopped onto the bed and promptly fell asleep for the next four or so hours. I, on the other hand, settled in with some dark chocolate-covered pomegranate bits and enjoyed two full episodes of my new favorite television series. It's so crazily addicting. I'm not even kidding you. Husband and I have even taken to referring to one another as m'lord and m'lady. Well, not really, but that would be fun… In fact, it is so addicting that after finishing up some actually very little…oops…homework, Husband convinced me to settle in on the couch with a big blanket, a bunch of pillows, a snack, and the remote controls and finish out the first season. So relaxing. So irresponsible. So worth it. 

3. Sunday = sad day

Really, Sundays are always sad days because that's when Husband and I have to part ways and get back to the grind of the academic week. These days are always a little more tense (not between us, just in the atmosphere because of the impending farewells), a little quieter, and definitely always a bit more gloomy. 

HOWEVER, with this week we are entering the final week of classes for this semester. Final. Week. And next week? Next week is final exams week. And then? FREEDOM. I never thought this last stretch would come. I know when January rolls around, I'll have the same attitude with the end of the year itself being so far away (which is when Husband and I will be reunited FOR GOOD [hallelujah] ), but at least with the end of this semester we have our super-amazingly-awesomeness of a vacation to look forward to. 

Burnin' out
Good thing we have less than two weeks left. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Turkey, Vomit, Eleanor, Cookies, etc.

Yikes, it's been a while…

Thanksgiving break has come and gone and while it would have been an opportune time for me to take lots of pictures of food and blog for memory's sake, I fully indulged in my time away from school and anything academic and just chilled

What exactly did this entail for about four days straight?

I crocheted this headband.
I began a sewing project for my family's annual homemade Christmas gift exchange. 
I discovered this television series….and wish I had more time to continue! (that's what Christmas break is for!)
I decorated Christmas cookies with my mom-in-law.
I sat through half of a musical and walked out at intermission - something I've NEVER done in my life…mom-in-law and Husband and I were THAT unimpressed by it… 
I played lots of WordSeek on the iPad.
I ate my weight in food. 
I chased my little chocolate labradinger (labrador / golden retriever / springer spaniel mix) of a dog around the house several times each day. 

One thing I (luckily) didn't have to do was clean up vomit. Very close call, though, as explained by Husband here. He was feeling more than a little under the weather for a lot of the weekend, and the poor thing always made it to the bathroom just in time. What a champ

And now here's a random assortment of photos over the last couple of weeks to give a small update on life:

Eleanor officially became part of our family last week! Husband also ordered me a ridiculously cool custom license plate, which I will take a photo of and feature in about 2-3 weeks when it arrives! We have a fun for for somewhat matching license plates in the future once Husband's done with school...
She also got some new car seat covers since the interior was a little beat up due to the previous owners having two kids and two dogs = minor disaster central. It looks clean and sleek on the inside now, though, with a Yankee Candle air freshener in my favorite scent (pineapple cilantro, in case you're curious…which I'm sure you are…) to boot!
I made this fun card for some people to congratulate them on their pregnancy. Needless to say, creating this was a nice study break!

Mom-in-law's and my wonderful cookie creations made for a fun, relaxing, and bonding time for the two of us on Saturday :)

Now I just have to survive another week and a half of classes and three final exams and then it's a week of vacation time for Husband and me in Punta Cana (SO. FLIPPING. EXCITED) and another two and a half weeks of break for the holidays!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Saturday in Chicago!

After a looooooong week, some friends and I hopped on a motor coach for a fun day in Chicago sponsored by our school. For only $5, we got a roundtrip bus ride to the windy city! We left around 9:30am on Saturday and it took us about two and a half hours to get there. I always forget how close we really are to Chicago and I wonder why I don't get there more often…

Once we arrived, my friends and I set off to accomplish everything on our check list, which included the following:

- Get some yummy drinks from Argo Tea - this stuff is seriously the best - why  oh WHY do we not have one in Michigan?!
- Look at all the windows outside of Marshall Fields (it will never be Macy's in our minds)
- See the Walnut Room with the gigantic tree
- Hit up H&M
- Eat some cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory
- See Millennium Park - the bean, ice skating rink, etc. 
- Find Picasso's sculpture
- Get more yummy Argo Tea (round two!) for the ride back home

We managed to do everything plus a bunch in between, some of which consisted of:

- Stopping in other stores (including TRADER JOE'S! My love affair continues…)
- Waiting for at least 30-45 minutes in Noodles & Co. for our food - took FOREVER! Not only was it ridiculously busy for 3pm in the afternoon(!) but they messed up my order three times.
- Watching some street performers and waiting to see their routine only to realize ten minutes had passed and all they were really doing was trying to get everyone to give them money

And now for pictures of the day, meh-quality courtesy of my iPhone: 

So. ridiculously. excited. ARGO TEA!
Behold, the white chocolate frostea. I had it last year when I went to Chicago and LOVED it. I was so happy to find out they had it again!
The three of us in front of the gigantor tree in the Walnut Room - way to close your eyes there, Morgs...
On the north side of the Michigan Ave bridge over the Chicago River
I love these girls!

Aaaaaaand of course some typical self-portrait bean pictures:

It was such a fun day! I think we were all in agreement that it was way better than studying or doing homework :) We're hoping to go back again soon on our own for another escape from school…Maybe winter break, guys?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanks, Shakespeare.

Some encouragement for this dreadful week of school:


Sometimes it's really difficult to see the light at the end of this academic tunnel.

I've been onboard the struggle boat this week, but -- BUT -- next week = four days of glorious freedom thanks to some turkey and gratitude.

AND THEN it's only two and a half weeks until three and a half weeks of break for the holidays!

I can do this.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Eleanor the Element

Have I mentioned how much I love the weekend?

After working retail and at a hospital for a few years, I've really come to appreciate having weekends off on a regular basis. I'm privileged to have every single Saturday and Sunday (and holidays, for that matter) off and I'm well aware of this. However, considering my future as a nurse most likely in a hospital is in the very near future, I also know that I need to seriously savor these weekends off. Plus, having the availability to see Husband every weekend also provides sanity during this weird separation. 

So, to sum up my feelings: I LOVE THE WEEKEND.

That being said, this weekend was wonderful because:

1) Husband and I relaxed with pizza and television on Friday AND got to bed before midnight to catch up on much-needed sleep
2) I was very productive with school work all day Saturday with good coffee and baked goods to accompany me: 

...because who doesn't love Panera??


Oh, and I named her Eleanor. Eleanor the Element. Catchy, no? 

Unfortunately, I forgot that I had wanted to take a picture with our newly acquired vehicle until it was dark outside (Hello, end of daylight savings, where it starts to get dark before 5pm). That left us without anything to prove we got the weirdly uniquely shaped car. So, photos and proof of purchase will just have to wait until the next post! 

Who knows when that will be, though, since I'm going to be very busy for the next few days. This week I have two exams and a presentation plus two papers I would love to write and turn in early before Thanksgiving break in a week and a half. I want to fully enjoy my four-day break and not have to worry about anything academic-related hanging over my head! 

Pray for my sanity.