Planning Eco-Conscious Resolutions

So if you’ve been on the internet over the past day or two you’ve probably come across the news of the recent UN climate report or at least seen something hinting or referring to it. Although now it can be really depressing or just plain out heartbreaking to read through an article telling you what you already knew (things are bad, things need to change etc.), it’s a very important piece of news that everyone should clue themselves up on and take away something from it. The report essentially warns what could happen to our tired planet and state of living if global temperatures were to rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. An article summarizing the report states ‘Staying at or below 1.5°C requires slashing global greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050.’ I very much recommend everyone looks into the report and at some articles which I will link below as what is unique about this report is that it tries to prove instances of what could happen if globally we were to invest into trying to change things for the better. It acknowledges what economic damages could happen when the temperatures increase but also that if we were to fight harder against climate change it would cause an economic boost. ‘A recent report found that a global shift toward sustainability would yield a staggering $26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030.

It is actually about 3am when I write this and I’d like people to take away from this blog post that I write stuff like this in a midst of anxiety and as a strategy of coping but also not losing hope and also trying to progress towards tiny, tiny victories and changes which if were to increase on a bigger scale would help encourage others to be more empathetic and understand the dangers of climate change. I feel personally the sad truth is everyone is very aware of climate change and although there’s an unfortunate selection of people who believe it’s fake or a myth (and even more sadly some of these people are in power), pretty much everyone can see the effects it’s having on the world. But has it become a tedious burnout for people? I used to get so upset in high school when I’d snap at my friends for littering or overusing hairspray/aerosols and I’d just get answered with an apathetic ‘the world’s already fucked, who cares’. I care. You should care too. It’s also very popular to have no care now. To engross ourselves in nihilistic banter where we joke we ‘crave death’ or that there’s no point to trying to change. But as funny as the odd joke is, I don’t want to walk head first into demise as if that’s what I was born to do. When I get anxious about the environment it’s because I know how many people are affected. So many innocent people suffer because of something they actually have a very small control over.

One of my recent ways of thinking about the environmental problem is that I’m actually starting to realise who is at fault here. Every human has a responsibility at this point. However the massive, rich companies have bigger carbon footprints than a small neighbourhood of people. The companies who point fingers at their consumers and claim ‘hey! Seals are dying because of you! You horrible scum!’ but then through every outlet they have, whether it be chain restaurants, chain superstores, they barely even recycle a small percentage of the mass amounts of garbage they create. The ingredients they use to create their coffees, that some companies still don’t pay tax for, are flown over creating a horrible amount of carbon emission but they stamp down on you, the small consumer, and claim you are causing natural disasters by not bringing in your own reusable cup. It’s all a hectic mess of capitalistic hierarchy and although there is benefits and flaws to big chain companies taking eco-friendly approaches by banning straws or charging for disposables – we fail to see that there are so many huge corporations paying to get away with damaging our planet and then turning the blame around on people just trying to get by.

So am I saying don’t support Starbucks disposable cup charge or a plastic bag charge cause ‘hey it’s not my fault anymore!’. Hell no.  You still have responsibility. The statement that if everyone does a little bit to contribute to fighting against climate change and helping the environment things could change is definitely true. Every little helps and the more people vote with their money and express their need for change through consumerism and support or petitions, the more things will change but it will realistically be in tiny doses and in my head I’m just picturing my country. The responsibility grows when you look at more and more countries in perspective. But if you are like me and literally cry whenever you get anxiety about the state of the environment or climate change’s effects – remember to take a step back and realise you are doing the best you can. If you are sat there going ‘fuck it not my problem!’ or failing to acknowledge what’s going on, then I’d want you to reconsider your mindset.

So I thought if everyone made small environmental related goals or resolutions (like new year resolutions) would that change things gradually? On larger scales you’ll hear of companies and organisations undertaking eco-friendly initiatives and such – for example a company might suggest that in their staff kitchen they’re going to stop purchasing disposable cutlery and cups and invest in reusable kitchenware and that all staff need to clean up after themselves and this will be to minimize their plastic waste. It’s a very made up on the spot metaphor but roll with me – if every family, couple, household or single person took on a mindset like this would it be beneficial?

I stopped eating vegetarian a couple of months back due to personal reasons and at least twice a week I claim that I want to go veggie again because I know deep down that eating vegetarian has bigger benefits in the bigger picture than how tasty a bacon sarnie would be. In a conversation about the report I mentioned me and my partner actually decided we’re going to slowly try to go vegetarian again. I see that as my goal for the next month. I also have been telling myself over the past month or two to cut down on buying new clothes and makeup, that if I really want to treat myself to something I should look into supporting independent businesses or secondhand clothing or I’ve also made it a goal that when my shower gels I have left over run out I want to invest in a packaging free soap (probably from LUSH, I have my heart set on the Sleepy Naked Shower Gel) because that means one or two less plastic bottles in the bin!

So what would your goals be? If you were a parent maybe you’d set your monthly goal to have one day a week that all household meals were meat-free (Meat-Free Monday for instance) or if you were a student you could make it a goal that you’d take your thermos to class instead of buying a coffee on campus so no disposable cup would be used? There’s a lot of ideas to think of and it can help the idea of starting off small and working your way through adding eco-friendly and sustainable routines to your life, all in all working towards the fight to help our planet!

What would you make as your environmental resolution for October?

Thanks for reading,

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Articles:

https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/2018/10/9/17951924/climate-change-global-warming-un-ipcc-report-takeaways?__twitter_impression=true

https://www.vox.com/2018/10/8/17948832/climate-change-global-warming-un-ipcc-report

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/10/how-to-understand-the-uns-dire-new-climate-report/572356/

https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

 

Current Game Wishlist (Winter 2018)

Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about books, cruelty-free products, skincare and discussing mental health and how to deal with anxiety and such. That’s probably the main basis for my blog and what I aspire to share on here. However, I. freaking. love. video. games.

I’ve done one or two posts about video games before and mentioned my favourite games and characters, plus if you know me in person you’ll know how much video game related merch, consoles and games I own (I own way too many games on steam I have yet to finish, it’s a problem). I’m lucky enough to have had a year’s experience doing an apprenticeship practicing game art/3D modelling and my partner and housemates are all studying game design, so I’m surrounded by countless outlets of different games, consoles and styles which makes me happy because video games have given me years of enjoyment and happiness. Some games have even been great at reducing my anxiety and keeping me stimulated when I feel at my worst.

However it is kind of disheartening, especially if you even spend a minute on Twitter, being a female gamer sometimes. With the rise of stories of particular big name game studios turning out to have very toxic, male-dominated, sexist hidden cultures in their staff or studios firing female staff mainly on the basis of keeping a minority of their fans (the not-so-nice ones that form a mob and guilt their supposed ‘favourite studio’ into firing staff because they say they’ll stop playing) happy, it can be very daunting and upsetting but alas not surprising. 63% of women in a 2012 poll reported being called derogatory names during gaming and I’ve experienced and seen first hand female gamers being questioned on their hobby. You get women being accused of ‘liking games just for attention’ – do you really think we save up our own well-earned money to buy games and consoles just to impress someone else? These ridiculous, sexist assumptions need to stop.

So when it comes to buying and playing games now, it can be tiring to try to ensure I’m contributing towards decent studios but also not falling for the rampant act of pushing girls out of online communities and ‘male-dominated’ games. Girls should be able to enjoy whatever damn games they want, be able to play competitive online games without getting disgusting comments and should be able to express and bask in their hobby on their social media without being questioned. Go girl gamers!

So to bring a brighter side to my repetitive rant, I thought I’d share with you some incredible looking games that have been popping up lately that I am dying to get my hands on at some point!

Two Point Hospital – Two Point Studios and SEGA

If you played Theme Hospital growing up, this game is pretty much its higher quality successor. Two Point Studios was founded in 2016 by Ben Hymers, Mark Webley and Gary Carr. Carr and Webley had in fact previously worked for Bullfrog Productions (the original creators of Theme Hospital) and then went on to work for Lionhead Studios (best known for creating the Fable series). Two Point Hospital released at the end of August this year and since has been really basking in positive reviews on Steam. It is essentially a simulation/sandbox game where you create a hospital in the style you want, and as more patients arrive with strange diseases (some of my personal favourites being 8-bitten, light-headed and denim genes) you have to try to manage your hospital, your staff, your money and your patients as efficiently as possible. The absolute buzz of these kind of games is getting everything working smoothly and fine-tuned but the different level specifications and limits keep you glued to your computer for hours as you want to unlock everything and experience all the daft humour that comes with it. At the moment Two Point Hospital is available on Steam for £24.99, I’m not sure if it has any plans to release on consoles!

Steam Link

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Ooblets – Glumberland and Double Fine

Ooblets is an upcoming indie game made a pair of lovely people called Rebecca and Ben and together they’ve name their mini studio creating Ooblets – ‘Glumberland’. The game hasn’t got a set release date so far, but from the teaser trailers and images online, I know I’m going to be all over this game. For one, I absolutely adore cute, low-poly style game art and second, Rebecca and Ben describe Ooblets as ‘an upcoming farming, creature collection, and town life indie game inspired by Pokémon, Harvest Moon, and Animal Crossing’ – now that is literally three of my favourite games of all time put into one sentence! All my life I have loved relaxing games where you can customize your character and world to make your game feel like it’s personal to you and I also love farming games where you have set stuff to do every so often and it ends up putting you into a very dreamy, absorbing routine-like state (that’s such a weird way to describe it but if you’re a big fan of Animal Crossing you’ll get what I mean!). The game is said to have a ‘bustling town’ full of different characters and you can also join Ooblet Clubs! Everything about this game sounds very exciting and I can’t wait to see what the Glumberland duo continue to add to what already seems like a lovely, gorgeous game! You can wishlist Ooblets on their steam page and they also have plenty of links to social media, discords and a patreon to support them over on the game’s website!

Steam Link | Ooblets Website

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Donut County – Ben Esposito and Annapurna Interactive

Much like Ooblets, one of the first things that admittedly drew me to Donut County was it’s low poly, colourful, cute game art and environments. Donut County, made on Unity and developed by Ben Esposito, is a game with a goal very eloquently stated on the website as ‘Meet the locals, steal their trash and throw them in a hole.’ Already I’m sold. Donut County is a casual, indie game where you play as a cute but cunning raccoon named BK and his app that creates holes in the ground. BK ends up swallowing the whole of Donut County and his best friend Mira and other residents of the county demand answers as to why BK has gotten them stuck 999 feet underground! The concept is absolutely hilarious and bizarre but the gameplay itself is so satisfying! My only experience with the gameplay so far is watching someone play it on Youtube and it looks absolutely worth it. The characters are all so unique and well designed, it has hilarious humour in the ‘trashopedia’ (which you can look at when you’ve finished a level to see what ‘trash’ you swallowed in your hole) and also the soundtrack is incredible! Donut County released on the 28th August on Steam, PS4 and iOS and I can’t wait to try it!

Steam Link | Donut County Website | Donut County Soundtrack (definitely listen!!)

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So that’s my top three games I have on my wishlist right now! I can’t wait to hopefully download Two Point or Donut County because they look so fun, and it’ll be exciting to see anymore development on Ooblets! I could go on with some of the games out soon or recently announced (especially after last night’s Nintendo Direct) but I’d be here for ages! I definitely recommend having a look at these games because you’ll be supporting some incredible creators! Also p.s Annapurna Interactive if you ever see this – I’d definitely be first in theoretical line for some Donut County merchandise!

I hope you enjoyed reading this and feel free to share any games you’ve wishlisted recently or are looking forward to in the comments!

Thanks for reading

signaturejune18

September reading goals and blog rambles

According to WordPress today is my 3 year anniversary of blogging! It’s so weird to think about how many blog posts I’ve done, how much work I’ve put into it or things that have gone well for me because of it. It’s almost ironic that the past few months I’ve felt incredibly down and stuck when it comes to my blog – honestly some days I can’t even find the motivation to do a blog post because I don’t think people will read it or I’m struggling to find the topic to write about. Some times I want to write personal posts – I want to share with the lovely people who continue to read my posts and support me stuff that is strange, sweet or a struggle in my life. I want to talk more about mental health or university/work struggles and break any stigma about discussing depression, anxiety and such. I want to talk about what it’s like to have a hearing disability or how I felt at 3am last Tuesday when I couldn’t sleep and the shadow of my coat hanging up in my room looked more like a ghoul than usual.

I want to help people, advise people, I want to talk about my experiences in hope people might relate or find hope or inspiration. But then I feel ‘god, who wants to hear me rant and ramble on about my life?!’ and I consider taking my blog in a direction of it being like a service to people. Reviews, tips and tricks and general advice about simple things that most people have covered before. But it just feels so not-me. So commercialized and through that I lose my real writing voice. I feel I’m focusing more on ‘will my friends share this on facebook?! will this get me noticed by a company?! will this get lots of views?!’ instead of ‘did I enjoy writing this? did I put my heart and soul into this? would I enjoy reading this if it was someone else?’, which at the end of the day is what matters more and the blog posts that come from me wanting to be genuine and the writing that comes from my rambling heart tend to be the posts I have more pride in.

Does this mean I won’t write reviews or tip posts again? As you can see by this title obviously not. When I say I love helping people or advising people, I take that in every aspect of life. If someone even tries a new flavour of tea or watches 5 minutes of a TV show because I suggested it, it makes me smile. Much like if I can make someone laugh after they’ve had the most horrible day at work or if I can let somebody rest by helping them with the washing up or a chore I feel better about myself and feel a lot happier. Whenever anyone even says they like my writing or enjoy reading it – that makes my heart soar. So when I combine advice and writing it’s almost like a very small, itsy-bitsy bit of therapy.

So today I thought I’d share 3 books I’m planning to read and complete by hopefully the end of September and the themes of these books are to help me better myself, help me in a dark mental health time and just in general cheer me up. Reading is beneficial, no matter whether it’s fiction, a self-help book or a picture book.

The first one in my list is ‘How to be a Better Person’ by Kate Hanley. This adorable little book shares 401 simple ways to help you become a better and kinder person as well as make a positive impact on the people around you. Although sometimes these books can feel like you’ve paid money to read something you already knew, the real trick is taking in everything you can from these simple tips. Sure, of course it suggests being more interactive with nature – but this book helps you recognise why this will make you feel better and make you more mindful and present and why simple things like drinking more water, getting better sleep, complimenting people more, smiling at strangers etc. will benefit you and make you a more positive, approachable person in the long run.

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Second is a fiction YA novel I bought a while back that I’m going to try to finally get round to reading this upcoming month and I’m holding out that it’s going to be a book that’ll make me feel good and keep me immersed in a fictional world whenever I need a bit of a distraction and break from real life. ‘Ramona Blue’ by Julie Murphy is a young adult novel that is a story about friendship, growing up, sexuality and family. I’m excited to read this since the description implies a discussion about possibly bisexuality and how sexuality is fluid and I’m really looking forward to discovering Ramona as a character since I’ve found it hard to find books with female bisexual characters (I’m probably not looking hard enough – would love some recommendations!). A lot of people on GoodReads have said that parts of this book stayed with them after finishing it so I’m very excited to have that feeling of absolute amazement and generally be dumbfounded and emotional after finishing a good book because I predict it will happen with this one!

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The final book in my little pile is a book by an author I’ve been following on social media for a while and for ages kept meaning to pick up one of his books and finally I’ve managed to pick up ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’. This memoir is by the amazingly talented Matt Haig and I’ve heard so many positive comments about this book and his other things so I’m very much ready to curl up and read this one. ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is Haig’s story of dealing with depression and mental illness and how different it can be for everyone but also the tale of how he survived and overcame some of his lowest points in life. I feel this is a book I really need right now as I am at a point in my life where my mood is fluctuating constantly but when I’m down, I’m very heavily down almost like I’m stuck in a well and somebody’s covered up the hole so I’m alone in pitch darkness. I feel ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is going to help me find something to relate to amidst the stress of starting back at University and other things and I am so excited to start it.

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Although most of my reading these upcoming months should mainly be dissertation related I thought I’d share these so you guys could have an insight to what book reviews might be coming up, plus I would always love to hear what people are reading at the moment or have on their to read list! Sometimes when mental illness is being a bit crap, it helps to push yourself to do a hobby you love (in my case reading and writing) despite how much you want to give up and how you feel you are losing hope. I’ve chosen these books this month because I think they’re good choices if you need a little bit of pick me up or something to reignite that spark of hope in you.

Thank you for reading,

signaturejune18

How to Study Comfortably

It is starting to get closer and closer to the end of the Summer break and depressingly enough that means for some people it’s getting closer to studying again. Whether you’re starting afresh at college or university and you’re full of excitement and curiosity about your new course or you’ve already settled in and you’ll be revising for upcoming exams or you might be in my boat and about to go into your final year and you’ll be having to prepare and study for upcoming projects or dissertations.

It’s not a very comforting thought knowing how much stuff you’ll need to do and how much of your time you’ll have to take out to contribute towards essays, projects or other things related to your college course/university degree, however there is some ways you can make the task of studying/revising a little less daunting and I thought I’d share them today!

  1. Find an appropriate study space

It’s not exactly a lie that cosying up in bed, sticking Netflix on and at least having a text book open in front of you, whether you’re reading it or not, is the ideal situation to be ‘studying’ in, however unless you’re extremely dedicated to the fact you’re going to study and you can promise you definitely won’t get distracted by the interesting documentary you’ve put on or find yourself dozing off in the comfort of your duvet – it’s not going to help you study. If you have your own desk in your room, tidy it up and organise all the essentials you need onto it. Having everything ready in front of you and keeping yourself sat upright will keep you alert and focused. If you don’t have a desk to allocate studying too, back at my parents I always found it useful to bring my laptop and everything downstairs and sit at the dining room table, this also helped keep me far from the temptation of just crawling into bed and napping whenever I got bored.

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  1. Have a nice drink and snacks on hand

My ideal study drink is either a brew or my water bottle as both will keep me hydrated or awake. Preparing a little bowl of snacks and a drink before you sit down to study will help you keep the focus on your work instead of getting a couple of minutes in and using the excuse of being peckish to get up and procrastinate work. BrainMD explains that a proper diet built on protein, omega-3 and other healthy fats as well as high fibre will help your energy and concentration. They also say high sugar, high fat and high caffeine treats only give you a temporary boost in energy and can lead to a crash which isn’t ideal for studying for long periods of time. Snacks like blueberries, apple slices, nuts, cucumber slices or carrot sticks and hummus are great possibilities for a healthy, energy-boosting study snack. (However, I won’t judge you if you have that one packet of crisps or can of Coca-Cola!) Eat and drink what works best for you and your study situation, however listen to your body. If you feel drained, that is not a hint for you to down a fifth mug of coffee – go get a glass of ice cold water instead.

  1. Stick on some good music

The trick here is that music could either be a great motivator and help calm any anxiety or stress when studying or it could be an absolute distraction. I have been in both these situations, so I completely understand but there is a way of combatting the distracting side of it. When you have music on in the background, don’t have the music video on YouTube or the TV. Don’t give yourself a reason to switch tabs to watch the video for the song or to be distracted by changing the TV channel because something rubbish came on. In advance when you have the time, make a long Spotify or YouTube playlist of songs you like. (In Youtube’s case add on lyric videos as it’ll give you less reason to switch tabs to watch the video). See if you can make your playlist the same amount of time as you wish to study each day, so you never have to switch over to change songs. In some cases, people have found music to aid memorizing stuff whilst they study. Because the music creates a positive mood whilst studying, they find remembering the topics they were looking at easier.

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  1. Use an app to prevent you from getting distracted by your phone

My phone is my worst nightmare when it comes to getting distracted whilst studying. I always find myself just picking it up and unlocking it without even thinking whenever I’m waiting for something to open on my computer or if I’ve put my pen down for one minute. Although you can use your phone to aid your studying or perhaps you’ve got a notification for an important email you need to respond to. There is a very cute phone app out there, available on both Android and iOS, to encourage you to not pick up your phone for set amounts of time. ‘Forest’ is a wonderful free app, where you metaphorically can grow a tree by not picking up your phone for a set amount of time, but if you pick up your phone and unlock it you kill the tree. I did a review on the application back in 2015 and it still holds up on how amazing it is.

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  1. Do not compromise your sleep for studying

Studying and revising is going to be extremely important no matter what year of college or university you’re in. If you want good grades you’re going to have to put the extra studying in and you’re going to have to work your butt off for results. But at the end of the day, your health – both physical and mental come first. If you’ve had a long day or you’re ill or it’s 11pm at night and your eyes are literally forcing themselves shut – go to bed. If you have a deadline the next day, I understand you’re going to want to finish and keep going but this is why getting most of it done before the day before deadline is so important. You should never have to compromise your sleep for studying. If something has been going on personally that has affected your ability to get work done for a deadline, I encourage you to talk to your tutors and explain the situation because it might be possible to get extra time and your body’s health is way more important than trying to convince yourself you don’t need extra time. If you are just revising and studying in general and your body is not feeling up to staying up another half hour and you can feel yourself falling asleep – let your body rest and start again tomorrow. Put yourself first.

I hope some of these tips help because they have helped me throughout my second year of University and I am going to try and follow my own advice going into third year and doing a portfolio, dissertation and other essays. If you want me to share more study tips and how I go about preparing for uni/college work – please comment and let me know!

Enjoy your day and thank you for reading!

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Useful Links:

Beauty Kubes Shampoo Review

In 2018 there has been an uprising of companies, brands and creators, in general, trying to improve their ecological footprint and how eco-friendly their products are. From plastic straw bans to more vegan options in chain restaurants – it can be seen as a small but positive change that terms like ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘green’ are starting to edge their way into the spotlight, albeit the fact that not all companies who are suddenly trying to be more green are taking the best steps or are maybe doing it to appear more environmentally empathetic to make money, I do quite like the fact it’s becoming more accessible to find cruelty-free alternatives and that statistics and the discussion of global warming and environmental impacts are popping up a lot more than it used to.

Today I bring to you a product that falls under a lot of those good, eco-friendly categories. A product that has minimal packaging, is vegan, cruelty-free and made in the UK. These are the Beauty Kubes Shampoo cubes. They are little package-free, plastic bottle free alternatives to your regular shampoo and work just as well!

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The website describes the Kubes as ‘zero waste, organic beauty products – vegan friendly’ which is everything an environment-fan could dream of in terms of shampoo. The instructions are literally – take one of the solid shampoo Kubes into the shower, crumble it up in your hand, add water to create a paste and smooth into wet hair. It’s all very simple and the Kubes themselves smell amazing! The website claims that ’27 Kubes in each box is equivalent to a 250-300ml bottle of conventional shampoo.’ You could claim that a lot of cheap, branded haircare products such as a big bottle of Tresemme works out better in price in the long run but with Beauty Kubes you can rest easy knowing your money is going to ensure your haircare is vegan, cruelty-free and you are sending out barely any trash when you are finished with them. The most packaging it comes with is the parcel itself and the small recyclable box the Kubes arrive in. There’s no extra plastic like you would get with plastic bottle shampoo kits! According to Beauty Kubes website the UK chuck away around 16 MILLION plastic bottles every day so I think it can be worth it to invest in shampoo that prevents yourself from adding to that drastic number.

The website has a couple of different Beauty Kubes according to hair type including normal to dry hair, oily hair, unisex normal hair and hair & body wash for men. I have been using the Beauty Kubes for Oily Hair and I honestly think it’s made my hair feel so lovely and soft. The scent of the Kubes both in their first form and after you’ve lathered it up is really nice and not too perfumed/overwhelming. During my shower, I found it at first slightly difficult to create the shampoo paste as I kept dropping little bits of the Kube paste on the shower floor however once I did create a paste it lathered up amazingly! One tiny Kube was enough to wash my entire head of hair which is great considering I have quite long, thick hair.

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After washing with the Kube I followed it up with my normal hair conditioner (which at the moment is Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula) and overall my hair felt lovely, soft and light after drying. My hair felt very ‘squeaky clean’ and healthy. It’s suggested that some people felt just washing their hair with the Kube was enough and felt no need for conditioner, however, I have not tried that (mainly because my hair is already quite dry from dying etc. enough as it is).

A popular product to compare it to is probably LUSH’s Shampoo bars which I have also tried and enjoyed before, although I’m not sure if I could say getting Beauty Kubes works out cheaper, I personally felt my hair felt healthier and much easier to brush through after using the Beauty Kube compared to a LUSH bar and the solid paste lathered up way faster in comparison to my experiences with a LUSH bar. As well as that with LUSH bars they break up randomly over time so you’ll either be left with a big, nice slab of shampoo bar to use or tiny parts you can barely hold so you find yourself struggling to lather into anything worth putting on your hair. However, the Beauty Kubes come in organised, evenly cut cube shapes so you’ve always got the same amount each hair wash.

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Overall I really enjoyed using these in my hair and loved the way my hair felt afterwards. I think these would be really easy to pack and take on holiday or to a swimming bath instead of a big shampoo bottle as well. I’d definitely recommend them because of how great they made my hair feel and the environmental benefits of buying them! Plus it’s always amazing to support a small, independent business instead of a chain!

Thank you for reading and let me know if you have tried these before too!

signaturejune18

‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli: Book Review

One of my favourite feelings is when you’ve been non-stop reading a book for hours in one day and finally finishing it at god knows what time in the morning and having that feeling of fulfillment and excitement to share how good it was with people. I had that last night with Becky Albertalli’s ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’. It’s a wholesome, funny tale of accepting yourself and falling in love with who you love no matter what. It’s a book for LGBT youth with a happy ending and adorable tidbits to give a feeling of hope.

The story follows seventeen year old Simon Spier who is gay, but isn’t open and not quite ready to come out yet. He lives a very chilled and fun life with a dorky but caring family, supportive, funny best friends and has recently started talking to a guy who is also gay going by the anonymous alias ‘Blue’. The novel shares each email conversation between Blue and Simon (who is also anonymously going by ‘Jacques’) as the story develops and reading Blue and Simon share their favourite food, favourite songs, little memories from their life and how each of them feel about coming out and being gay just put a smile on my face each time because seeing them fall in love and seeing Simon find someone he feels so comfortable with and someone who inspires him to come out was just lovely and precious.

Compared to the film (Love, Simon – which I also recommend watching as it was one of my favourite films of this year!), the book has a lot less ‘drama’ moments and focuses more on Simon’s feelings and him trying to figure out who Blue is. Without spoiling anything, in general Simon’s friends are a lot more accepting and understanding of how Simon acts when he is blackmailed. In the film I found myself angry at his friends for being so selfish and not taking a minute to think of how much of a big deal it was for Simon to have his emails between Blue under blackmail. ‘Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ discusses the topic of coming out and the ‘ceremonial feeling’ of it often and points out the unfair fact that ‘straight’ is seen as the default or the sexuality everybody has until said otherwise and that straight people will never have to come out or worry about people’s reactions when it comes to bringing an opposite sex partner home. Blue also points out the fact that ‘white’ is seen as a default too which is another very interesting point and even Simon corrects himself and takes responsibility for instantly believing Blue could be a white person. The book raises important discussions which I really appreciated and I have to hand Becky Albertalli a lot of credit for being very observant on LGBT topics.

Another interesting point to think about when reading is that Simon is very lucky to have probably the more ‘easy’ end of coming out. His family is already very liberal, his friends instantly accept his sexuality and even when he is teased in school when his sexuality is revealed a lot of classmates are quick to defend him and his teacher ensures the suspension of the homophobic perpetrators. Although reading his coming out story might be a bit of a slap in the face or a bit of a strain on the heart for LGBT people whose family didn’t readily accept them or their coming out story was a lot more stressful, I think the story in itself is very hopeful and heart warming and hopefully is a reminder that good people are out there with open minds and open arms.

The story itself is very adorably written. Simon is instantly lovable with his obsession of Oreos, his sarkiness and slightly moody music taste. His friends and family are also very lovely although in comparison to the film I didn’t like Leah as much in the book as I did the film. I’m hoping reading Albertalli’s next book ‘Leah on the Offbeat’ will clear up some things for me. I really enjoyed how much music came in to play in Simon’s story because I feel people’s playlists can really let you inadvertently know a lot about how the character feels and views themselves or people around them. The soundtrack for the film was already incredible but I really loved taking songs and musicians mentioned in the book and listening to them whilst I read it really gave the whole reading of this book a new, wholesome atmosphere.

There was so many incredibly adorable and funny moments in this book but I don’t want to spoil too much so all I can say is that I highly recommend you read this book! It’s quite a quick read (especially if you find yourself lost in it like I did) but it’s such a feel good book and such a lovely read that I give it a 5/5!

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Thanks for reading,

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‘Alice’ by Christina Henry: Book Review

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by L.Carroll is a story popular for being retold, adapted and used as an inspiration for new projects. The list for film and television programmes based on Alice in Wonderland is big enough to have its own Wikipedia page, the novel has been adapted into musical/stage productions and has even inspired stories and characters in video games. However, another common thing artists and writers take from Alice in Wonderland is twisting it and creating a dark retelling of the tale of the girl falling down the rabbit hole. ‘Alice’ by Christina Henry isn’t the first ‘dark’ and ‘edgy’ retelling of Alice in Wonderland I have come across, as the first one is actually PS3/PC and Xbox 360 game Alice: Madness Returns. A game I actually quite enjoyed growing up!

‘Alice’ the 2015 novel by Christina Henry also almost brought that excitement back to me but this time in written form. Now I will say my first write-up of this and the feelings I had when I finished the book was very similar to how I finish most books which are excited and feeling accomplished! I wrote down how much I adored this retelling and that even though it was disturbing it felt like it succeeded in making a point about the dark topics used. But now I’ve sat back and thought about it, I thought I’d share my honest, spoiler-free review of ‘Alice’.

What I did enjoy about this book is that I enjoyed the inverted characters, I really loved seeing Henry’s dark portrayals of originally beloved characters from the books but this time they’d be antagonists and have very dark, irredeemable pasts. Objects and tropes from the original tale made appearances too such as the ‘Eat Me!’ cupcake and ‘Drink Me!’ bottle, the roses and the tea party. But, this time everything had such a darker symbolism and it was quite clever how Christina had changed this. Even after finishing I’m recalling characters and realising their reference to the original story and being quite intrigued. The story itself played out almost like an RPG, in which there was ‘bosses’ and big bads one after the other, the main characters stopping for rest and food and the main character herself having a power she didn’t even realise she had. I didn’t mind reading it this way and actually quite enjoyed it, I liked imagining in my head what Old City was like and enjoyed that some of the names of places and areas called back to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and if they didn’t (or I couldn’t get the reference) they still brought personality to the world.

However, my biggest gripe with the story is that there was way too much sexual violence. I get this was meant to be a mature, disturbing retelling where there will be horror, gore and blood and I could get behind that and in some novels and stories I can understand why rape, abuse and violence comes up and if the victims manage to get a happy ending, revenge and the story emphasizes how horrible it is, I can normally accept a story having it. What I think went wrong in ‘Alice’ however is, although the story is clear the trade of young girls for sexual purposes or being eaten is horrific and the men that puppeteer this need to be punished, the way it’s written feels like they tried to emphasize how horrible it is by making it happen so often, by describing Alice’s trauma in detail, and having every female in the story basically either terrified of being raped or had been. Even then, I personally felt the final fights with the main antagonists that were rapists or allowing this violence and abuse were so anti-climatic that there was no justice? There was a scene of freeing a bunch of girls from the horrible trade and I was grateful for that scene but it’s almost as if the original plot had one antagonist in mind and then it was said the story was not brutal enough or ‘real world dark’ enough so they added in all this sexual violence?

Personally, I found myself gripped to parts of this book and did want to find out the outcome of every character and felt myself wanting Alice to get revenge and justice not just for herself but for all the females in the story. I did also find myself quite wanting to read the sequel book (Red Queen -and pray that hopefully the level of sexual violence is remarkably toned down) just so I can find out what happens next in the story.

I’d rate ‘Alice’ about a 2.5 of 5 as it has some cool fantasy ideas and I could somehow picture it in a film or video game but after sitting back I do see the flaws in how parts of it were written. Shock value is popular for a reason, popular media like Game of Thrones is widely watched and read for a reason and I feel the reason is purely that people are so shocked and astonished by what characters do and think it’s so out of the blue (and normally it is, sometimes very out of character) that they must finish it to find out what happens! I definitely succumbed to that reading this. I enjoyed parts of it but in general was very much turned off by the use of sexual violence and rape as shock value. Would I like to read any of the other stories by Christina Henry such as Lost Boy? Possibly. But ‘Alice’ in itself is a story not for everyone.

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Thank you for reading!

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