Things my PhD peers have made me buy…

I am weak willed. I am pandemic-bored. I am reasonably materialistic.

Not a great combination when other PhD students show off their bits and bobs in PhD Forum, Virtual Writing Retreat (VWR) or on Twitter. This blog is dedicated to the online purchases I’ve made over the last 6 months because I’ve coveted something a peer has shown me. You know who you are!

Please note, many-many-many-many more items have been purchased but I cannot blame my fellow academics for those.


Hodgepodge muffins: made with random items from the back of the cupboard

There is always talk of cake and sweet treats whenever I’m in PhD Forum or VWR. Some of my online chums are excellent pâtisserie chefs, one resides next to or above a pastry shop and others live with excessive-baking mums! I am a terrible baker but my wife is pretty good. This is less of a purchase, unless you count the ingredients, and more beg my wife to make something out of sugary buttery jealousy.


Flavours: orange and whisky, vintage, smoked, caramelised red onion, Margherita pizza, gin and tonic, and flamin’ heart!

Someone (and he knows who he is) lives very near a fromagerie. Following his on-camera show ‘n’ tell of very fresh, very smelly, cheesy goodness, I ordered a box of cheeses for Christmas. It’s March now and I think we still have a smidgen left in the fridge.


I’m not even sure where you’re meant to pin it so this is probably wrong?

So I’m not entirely sure it’s fair to blame this on my PhD chums as I bought it for a friend’s Zoomified birthday last November. But, it has certainly had more outings in study spaces since then: PhD submissions, new jobs, birthdays. I really want a tiara made from stationery items…


Example taken from someone’s Viva success

PhD submission? Fizzy wine. Viva? Fizzy wine. Successful job interview? Fizzy wine. Unsuccessful job interview? Fizzy wine. Birthday? Fizzy wine. Friday? Fizzy wine. 5 p.m. somewhere? Fizzy wine.

We’re not fussy – we drink Prosecco, Cava or Champagne. Not a fan of Asti. And yes, much to the chagrin of an American study buddy, it often arrives via Amazon.


March 2021 so far
December prettiness

It’s an anti-procrastination app that keeps you from faffing on your phone or, if you use the Chrome extension, from surfing on your laptop when you should be working. In simplest terms, you plant trees and shrubs, if you use your phone, you kill the tree. Added bonus is that you can plant in groups with the fear of killing your study buddies’ trees. You can turn off the killing mode but the idea is to be accountable. There’s also an option to save and buy a real tree that’s planted somewhere in the world. Obviously, as a materialistic fool, I spend most of my coins buying pretty trees for the app. And I procrastinate about growing themed forests… so, oops.

I definitely think one of our PhD chums gets a cut from Forest App purchases because she’s super prompt with the sales pitch whenever someone new to the group asks what’s going on… You know who you are.


I made the mistake of sharing Brian Tracey’s take on an old adage with PhD Forum and VWR chums: “If the first thing you do when you wake up each morning is eat a live frog, nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day!” Tracey advises that your “frog” is the most difficult task on your to do list. It could be the biggest or the most complicated or the most challenging.

Anyway, the idea stuck. Really stuck. And suddenly we were all talking about frogs and tasks – sorry to the person who has ranidaphobia and was suffering in silence for weeks!

Around the same time, I started a Kanban board to organise my PhDing so I also grabbed some frog notelets to indicate those kinds of tasks. If I recall, this caused another study buddy to start a similar search which led to some confusing and unpleasant sexy frog images.


Clearly not me modelling it…

What do you do when you’re bored in the house and your in the house bored? (TikTok reference for the youngsters, there). You cut yourself a fringe/bangs. Because why not.

It didn’t go too badly but turns out fringes/bangs = a lot of hard work and maintenance. Also, fringes/bangs are not very compliant. Half the time I look like Alison Steadman from “Abigail’s Party” (definitely not a reference for the youngsters). Also, I can’t make headbands work without looking like I’m stuck in the 90s.

This PhD Forum inspired item is a headband/bandana/face covering hybrid. It’s so easy to use that even I can wear it.



Yup, this one is genius. It’s like a personalised electric blanket, perfect for all us poor folks stuck working at home in Dickensian conditions. Several study buddies have these so I can’t point the blame squarely at an individual. To be fair, they’re so effective, my wife demanded one too.


Ah, also evidence of misbehaving fringe

Someone declared it was World Sleep Day on Friday 19th March so it was decided that we would all work in PJs or onesies. It meant I had to get some new PJs because all of mine are some sort of combo of trashed T-shirts and holey-leggings.


Spot the dog in the background

A lot of my PhD chums have onesies. One of them has a veritable collection worthy of its own catalogue and accession numbers. As a curvy person, I struggle to find onesies to fit but I have acute onesie envy. This beast is an oversized hoodie-blanket, with soft lining, and shaped like a panda. What’s not to love?


When a study buddy sends you beautiful calligraphy of your name, it is simply the law that you must turn it into items you can use on a daily basis.


Pleasing level of turquoise coordination

Well, Rocketbook sales have definitely rocketed this weekend. Badaboom.

I’m not the only PhDer who wishes they could afford a Remarkable2 – but not only are they astronomical (haha – did it again) in price, they also have a delivery waiting time of months and months. The Rocketbook, according to a study buddy who we suspect is on commission, is a cheaper alternative. It lets you write and rewrite over the same pages, scans them into an app, sends them off to email / Google Drive / One Drive / Dropbox and so on.

It only arrived yesterday but I’m enjoying trying it out. I already had a dozen or so Frixion pens at home, which are needed for their erasable qualities, because I have a stationery problem. I may have mentioned that already?


Little name dropping there for my life-saving PhD tribes

Oh, how I wish I’d been shown the ways of multiple monitors a long time ago. It has cut down on my printing and crossed-eyes-ness when dealing with data. I do frequently lose things because I can’t find my mouse on either screen. Or I’ll be looking at my conf call but not at the camera, appearing somewhat disconnected to the poor people I’m meeting. But I’m slowly getting the hang of it.


The most unwilling model

I also like to call these wife-cancelling headphones. Actually, I needed these so desperately, I made my wife buy them and paid her back when my student loan appeared. Sharing an office at home is somehow harder than an open plan office at work. I think it’s probably because we project our voices more (well, one of us does) when trying to be heard over Zoom* instead of the general chatter in an office.

* other conf call software is available


I haven’t named any specific study buddies in this list but I’m sure some of you will recognise yourselves. That said, in March 2021 alone, one of you requires a special mention.

Made with pages I scanned from the Rocketbook

3 thoughts on “Things my PhD peers have made me buy…

  1. Thankfully, I can’t see much here that would be of use to me so my bank balance is safe. Apart from the heated pad, I like the look of that – I want one. I will get one. Can I blame Rachel too?


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