Friday, 19 June 2015

REVIEW: Simon vs the homosapien agenda- Becky Albertalli

AKA this review is 60% Flora giving her views on the portrayal of LGBT+ groups in books for young adults: yay for critical consumption!



Well with /that/ title how was I not to buy it?

If I am entirely honest with you the cover itself didn't have me head over heels, the minimal colour palette with basic shapes and shiny textures is dull and overdone amongst the YA genre (I blame John Green), I mean sure it's simple and offers some solid brand looks from the get-go, but amongst shelves full of teen literature I feel it would be easy to pass by. The review comparing it to John Green, which was supposed to be enticing led me to think: "Wow, okay we're still stuck on this fake-deep genre about average boys and manic pixie dreamgirls. Great!" (AFTERTHOUGHT: I'm being unusually catty during this review, not quite sure what's up with that). On the other hand Rainbow Rowell has a special place in my heart although I guess that criticism could just as easily be applied to her work (though I found her characters much more likable and three dimensional). Honestly? As first impressions go, it could have been better. But something about the pun of the title, and the fact that we are starved of much YA literature centred around anything other than a straight couple with minor adversities to overcome made me pick it up.

I'm a big fan of books with alternative formatting, so the fact that every other chapter took place in the form of an email between Simon,our protagonist, and Blue, his mystery crush who happens to be another gay boy hidden somewhere in his school, was wonderful. The driving plot of this book revolves around Simon's classmate, Martin,blackmailing him after reading his emails when he'd accidently left them open on a school computer (somehow this book instated a fear that I hadn't even considered before- make sure to log off your accounts,people!) In order to avoid being forced out of the closet by the scheming classmate Simon is forced to do as he wishes, including helping him to get close to a girl he is friends with, throwing up some interesting moral questions. From then on the book is rather reminiscent of a whodunnit mystery, the reader- along with Simon-trying to guess the elusive Blue's identity.

More so than the actual plot, what I admired about this book was how likable the characters were; even the friends in the background seemed well fleshed-out, and even the more unsavoury qualities were balanced and accounted for. Another thing, when adult writers aim to incorporate more modern forms of media it can feel awkward and stilted, yet this book didn't appear to suffer from that. The cultural references, in the form of music and more, were diverse enough to seem inclusive to many types of reader (although a Tegan and Sara obsessive gay teen may be a slightly overdone trope already!) Even Martin, who is the antagonist and therefore obviously rather unsavoury didn't feel like a total write-off, his motives formed just as much of the plot as Simon's panic.

In a way I agree with the general consensus that there's too much emphasis on "coming out" in LGBT+ literature, especially that geared towards teenagers. There's more to queer people's lives than simply stating their sexuality or gender- it oversimplifies matters. On the other hand, there are many unique stories to be told, even someone like Simon who isn't in a particularly aggressive environment. Rather than trashing media that follows the story of coming out, encourage a much higher volume of text involving non heterosexual and trans people, where that doesn't need to be the centre of the story- normalise it. Ideally, this could be the case, and finding "Simon vs" wouldn't be such a surprise. I want for sexualities to stop being added as an afterthought, even after the series has ended; also that don't make a characters sexuality / non cisgender(-ness ?) their defining feature.

All that having been said, this book was easy to get thoroughly lost in, and I got through it in the time of a 4 hour car journey. It was worth the nausea. 

3.5/5.

SONG OF THE POST:




Flo xo

Thursday, 21 May 2015

bad makeup tutorial


hello,
i decided to experiment with some other forms of media, as i have been wishing to do for quite sometime.
it may be obvious that i am by no means an expert in video editing, or filming generally, however i'm fairly pleased with my result. in a way i feel obliged to apologize for the possibly unoriginal topic covered,as the internet is currently oversaturated with untalented individual pouting into a camera and pretending to know what they're talking about-hey, at least i am in no way guilty of the latter.





song of the post : not exactly new, buti 've been on a kanye binge lately






hope you enjoy
flo xo

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Charity Shop Tips




I really need to stop running of for weeks on end.
However, since the last time we caught up some things have been happening:

- I'm learning the ukulele
- I'm learning the guitar (two birds with one stone and all that I guess)
- I have a fringe

No, really: I HAVE A FRINGE! I was genuinely rather worried about getting one as they are renowned for often being badly cut, and a pain to style. Maybe there is a certain amount of truth to the second point, but the cut itself has really impressed me. Top tip: go to the nearest hairdressers that trains students and see what they charge. My experience was better than what I've had with at least 90% of professional hairdressers, and I'm lucky enough to live near somewhere where I could get it completely free. Another discovery about Fringes- the whole thing about getting the right cut for your face is rubbish! I have a heart(-ish?) shaped face, which according to multiple 'beauty' journals means a side fringe would be ideal for me. If you have seen me just over a year ago, you will know that is not the case. As over-the-top as this may sound, I'm so much more comfortable with myself after getting a fringe in, and feel that how I look in the mirror corresponds to how I feel I look like. Before there was a big disconnect for whatever reason.
TLDR; get a fringe and you will be a happy ray of sun even if you're a miserable twit like myself.

The inspiration for this is when I've gotten asked where I managed to get certain things from, and probably haven't been able to give the best answer: charity shops. I know the feeling of seeing someone where the most gorgeous jacket/ shirt etc. and knowing you'll never be able to find it. On the other hand, it's a fantastic thing as most of the time the clothes are much more unique than what you can often find in shops. Don't take me wrong- I'm not one of those boring people who hates everything popular, what with being love with American Apparell and ASOS as much as the next person. But sometimes it's nice to have that particular jacket that only you have. Well, you and some 60 year old woman who lives miles away. But that doesn't count.

On the other hand, I see no point in lying to ourselves here: despite the skewed reality indie blogs try to sell us, roughly 95% of clothing and other bric-a-brac in charity shops are trash. Therefore, I thought I could try typing up some rough guidelines on what to head for, and what to avoid (heyyy sweat patches on shirts). This is all based on my own experiences of course, and I can by no means claim to offer infaillible advice.



JUMPERS: You cannot go wrong here. Literally. Buy every jumper in sight. Next!
In seriousness- jumpers are fabulous to get at these places, on the whole you'll be able to afford a much nicer knit and quality for the same price you would pay for some flimsy, lightweight number from New Look. My friends will tell you I am completely biased with this advice, as I am a girl with an obsession, but on the whole going for larger sizes will ramp the coziness of any given sweater up to 11. Another advantage is that as they are ?kinda? outerwear the risk for them being gross is lowered. I'll throw cardigans under this heading as well: (I will sound like a terrible vegan for saying this, but twas discovered in the past, and the damage is done) cashmere - it is possible to get what was originally bought for maybe £80 for a fraction of the place. They're wonderful wardrobe staples, especially if you're actually an old woman trapped in an adolescent's body.



SHOES: No. Unless you are my cousin who somehow manages to find an unused pair of gorgeous cat creepers that we'd both been drooling over online for weeks... I still do not understand that blip. Generally you'll find that charity shop shoes are worn in at odd angles, due to everybody having an individual walk, and have slight sweat residue. Of course, this is a completely separate issue from vintage store shoes, which tend to be real gems- but, what can I say, it's always worth having a look in case you get lucky.



TOPS/ SHIRTS: Not gonna lie, I feel that I am unable to give a full explanation on these, as the variety is so large. As to what to look out for: plain coloured tops (without stains), or in my case multiple cuts of black/ grey/ dark blue tops; band shirts- it's possible to find some real snatches, especially for popular or iconic designs (think nirvana, the Ramones etc.); oversized flannels for all you pop-punkers (or 5sos fans). Even ugly t-shirts can be rather awesome- if you go along the lines of weird 90s graphics, I'm sure many of you could work it. What to look out for here is mainly stains, sweat patches, and general signs of wear and tear as these are obviously more susceptible than most to this kind of damage.



JEANS / SHORTS: This is one that is purely down whether you can find something that will fit. I find with most other clothing there's more leeway, however jeans and the like need to sit right on you. I'd recommend looking for the waist measurement as opposed to length as that is easier to sort out (either via hemming, or simply rolling up. If you're tall- I'm so sorry but I quite clearly have no experience in that area- I'm sure that there's some kind of magical Pinterest tip that'll work). This works especially well if you manage to find some things from expensive companies- even if that means spending more than would be expected at a charity shop, it still means getting an impressive quality of jeans without splashing out massively. It's also worth pointing out that durability is much more important in clothing like this as they are expected to last much longer.



JACKETS / COATS: Charity shops are gold mines for items like this. Much like jeans, it is an item of clothing that is traditionally rather expensive, yet relatively easy to find for an incredibly decent price. Make sure that you check the lining for any rips and tears: small ones may be able to be sewn up, but it could be a sign that the coat is on it's last legs. If you are comfortable wearing them I find that this is a great way to snag authentic leather jackets, as they're a piece of clothing where it works to your advantage to look slightly worn. Again, although they may cost slightly more than one is used to spending in charity shops, they are a solid investment, as long as you pick well.




SONG OF THE POST:
fairly local // twenty one pilots
As you may know, twenty one pilots are one of my favourite bands, I even went to a concert of theirs last November! In May they will be releasing a new album "Blurryface" and this is the lead single. It's a slight change in style- really it just seems like a natural progression. I hope you like it as much as I do:


Till next time,
Flo xx

Sunday, 1 February 2015

(possibly) The best vegan pancakes!!

If there's one thing that I've missed since going vegan it would be pancakes. And maybe also greasy take away pizza (you can load vegetables on bread all you want but it's just not the same). For all this time I have been perfectly aware of vegan pancakes existence, however I have been reluctant to try due to the fact that a) an alarming number of recipes are banana based- yes bananas are nice and all that but some people need to CALM DOWN. and b) About 90% of the time I cook anything on the hob the smoke alarm goes off.

However, one day it just all got too much. I NEEDED those pancakes, preferably rather soon. Conveniently, around this point I found this recipe floating around on Pinterest- this guy had gotten the perfect formula for vegan pancakes- rejoice! In this recipe I've slightly adapted from the one just mentioned. In particular the idea of making buttermilk with non-dairy milk, who knew that would work?

INGREDIENTS:
(no I'm not American- but these measurements are given in cups because I don't believe pancakes should be precisely measured out. It goes against the whole /philosophy/ of pancakes)
-1 cup of plain white flour (you could probably get away with half wholegrain flour, but more than that would probably be rather tough)
- 1 tsp baking power
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (/baking soda)
- a pinch of salt
- 3/4 tbsp non-dairy spread- melted (or any kind of liquid fat without a strong flavour)
- 2 tsp agave nectar (or any kind of sweetener)
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 cup 1 tbsp non dairy milk (I used sweetened almond)
- squeeze of lemon juice





First off you want to make your flax egg, which can be done by mixing the ground flaxseed with 2 1/2 tbsp of water. You'll need to leave it to thicken for around 3 minutes,

Whilst doing this mix together the dry ingredients (flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt) in a separate bowl. Set aside.

Measure out the dairy free milk of your choice into a jug/ bowl, then add in a squeeze of lemon juice and stir until you can see it beginning to curdle into buttermilk.

Now mix together wet ingredients (now thickened flax egg, buttermilk, melted "butter", agave nectar.

Finally combine both the wet and dry ingredients and mix gently, being careful not to over stir. Some lumps are OK, basically try to stir as little as possible or your pancakes will come out stodgy.


Place a non-stick pan over a medium heat on the hob and add a small amount of fat of your choice (ideally one that doesn't react too badly at high temperatures), I went for coconut oil.

Place about a tbsp of batter into the pan, and when it begins to bubble near the centre turn using a palette knife, or something similar. The other side will probably need another 30-40 seconds.



Once you've cooked all of your pancakes, choose how you want to decorate them! I didn't have any berries in my house, so I just drizzled some more agave over the top, but feel free to experiment. Peanut butter and banana would be incredible, as would chocolate chips and strawberries. You simply cannot go wrong with pancakes.

Thnx for reading, as always...

TODAY'S TRACK OF THE WEEK:
 


Flo xx

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS 2015





HEALTH
1 # To go running / swimming at least once a week
2 # To do a basic workout on a daily basis
3 # To be more self - confident and not stress constantly about my appearance
4 # To get at least 8 hours of sleep a night as to experience a life where caffeine and sugar are not the primary energy sources
BLOGGING
5 # To buy a domain name and to take this blog seriously
6 # To create more space on social media for pretty little things
7 # To start utilising my youtube channel and perhaps embrace various formats of posting
SOCIAL
8 # To socialise with all kinds of people, and to give everybody a chance
9 # To have some form of social life and actually embrace my teen years instead of wasting them away indoors
10 # To be a better, more compassionate big sister

What are your new year's resolutions? I'd love to hear them in the comments...
I hope your 2014 has been incredible, and even if not that 2015 is even better

Flo xx

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve 2014



Despite being largely Atheist (or at least agnostic) going to the Christingle service on Christmas Eve is an important tradition for us. Perhaps it's due to myself, and now my younger siblings going to a CofE primary school- even without the religious beliefs being there (and I can admit to being rather critical of religion in general), there is a certain magic to a packed church with echoey music. I think that has stuck with all of us. Additionally, even celebrating Christmas is obviously pretty thesist in itself. I don't know. It's nice to have some solidarity annually, even when everything else changes.

Now that I don't see many of my Primary school friends anymore because of going to different Secondary schools, this is a wonderful opportunity to recoup with one another and get updates on each others lives.

I hold so many memories from these evenings, my favourite being when I accidently set my friends long, beautiful hair on fire with the Christingle candle when I was 7. I suppose some things never change. I wish all of you the best Christmas yet; if you don't celebrate, I hope that this month has been kind to you.