Thursday, 31 May 2018

Movie Review: Love, Simon (2018)

Love, Simon (based on Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) earns a place next to coming-of-age greats like Sixteen Candles and Mean Girls. A generation of people will one day be talking about Love, Simon the way us Nineties kids get nostalgic about 10 Things I Hate About You. Let's have a look at what makes Love, Simon an instant classic.

"I'm just like you. I have a totally perfectly normal life except except I have one huge ass secret."

Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is just like everyone else. Mostly. Except for that mammoth secret he's been hiding since he started having naughty thoughts about The Boy Who Lived.

Spoiler: Simon is gay.

Simon learns through a post on his school's blog (Bloody hell! I don't even want to think about what life would have been like if that had been possible during my school days!) that there's another boy in his grade who's hiding the same secret. They start talking but keep their identities secret by using false names, Blue and Jacques. Simon ("Jacques") falls hard for his email penpal but then, as it usually does in these films, it all goes wrong.

Logan Miller's Martin is crushing hard on Simon's friend, Alexandra Shipp's Abby. Instead of doing the right thing and just approaching her, Martin chooses the dick move. He happens across Simon's emails when the other boy forgets to sign out of a shared computer (tsk, tsk) and screenshots them to use in blackmail. We're going to come back to that later. Just remember that word: blackmail.

Blackmail is still illegal, right?

Okay, so Martin is blackmailing Simon, who does what the little creep asks and tries to hook him up with Abby, even though his other friend, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.'s Nick, is totally into her. In an effort to distract Nick, Simon tries to set the other boy up with Katherine Langford's Leah -- who just happens to be in love with Simon.

I so do not miss high school.

Well, it's a feel-good movie so I'm sure you know by now that everything works out in the end, even though thinks get really bad for Simon there for a bit. I'm not going to dwell on that because there are some other things I want to talk about. Let's get to it.

Firstly, Love, Simon is just too freaking cute. I loved it. It's maybe a little too perfect in that everyone-has-the-best-of-everything way but that's why we go to the movies, right? I kind of like the fact that Simon's life is seemingly perfect because that's the point. No matter how great everything seems on the outside, you never know what people are struggling with on the inside.

There's a moment in the movie that perfectly embodies this. Simon and Ethan (Clark Moore) are sitting in the school's office when Simon tells the other openly gay boy that he's always been jealous because of his being out. Ethan gives him a rueful smile and tells Simon that his life isn't as easy as he thinks it is. No one really knows what anyone else is facing but we're all walking around being jealous of one another.

I won't lie. It makes me a little sad that we still need movies like Love, Simon in 2018. Why are we living in a world where kids feel like they have to hide their sexual preferences? As Simon says, "Why is straight the default?" It wasn't until I watched it the second time that it really clicked. It wasn't about having to come out. Coming out is the ultimate acknowledgement of self. This is me. This is who I am. That was why being "outted" mattered to Simon.

"I don’t care if you didn’t think my coming out was gonna be a big thing, Martin. You don’t get to decide that. I’m supposed to be the one that decides when and where and how and who knows and how I get to say it. That’s supposed to be my thing and you took that away from me."

It's kind of funny. My prom king and queen were both gay. It wasn't out of the normal in my school -- and that was nearly twenty years ago, but anyway...

I can't let a review go by without talking about feminism. You know what Love, Simon has that we HAVE to talk about? A woman who falls for a guy she can't have. Leah doesn't try to force Simon to love her back. She doesn't force herself on him physically. She doesn't try to insult or embarrass him. She realizes that there's nothing she can do about it and moves on with her life.

You paying attention, fellas?

And... that leads us right to the topic of toxic masculinity. They try to make a big deal out of the fact that Simon's dad isn't that jock but, well, they kind of miss the point. Simon's dad is both the victim of and perpetrator of toxic masculinity. Cracking jokes about knocking girls up isn’t funny and his character shows that. But he’s also proof that toxic masculinity can be unlearned.

I kind of grumbled about Martin already but I'm gonna gnaw on that bone some more because he pisses me off. He's not some poor kid, desperate for love. He. Is. A. Criminal. Martin is the film's big bad. The thing that I like about the ending of Love, Simon (besides the aww factor) is that it doesn’t let Martin off the hook. It doesn't openly condemn him (which it should have) but he is left out of the happy ending, which is a start.

My hero of the film is Rothwell’s Ms. Albright. There's a scene in the cafeteria that takes place after Simon is outted. Two douchewads (I'm not going to try to call them anything else.) dress up as the school's only out pupils (Simon and ), then imitate sex acts on top of a table.

Simon gets up to tell the douchewads off but Ms. Albright takes over and schools their asses.

"Don't 'Hey, Ms. Albright' me. We're not friends. You're not going to braid my hair or paint my nails. Get your asses off that table now, you sweaty, hormonal virgins. You know what, you're about to be suspended for so long that by the time it's over you're gonna be the fat, bald, unhappily married, wildly mediocre nobodies you're destined to become... You're just those two assholes that did that shitty thing in front of the whole school and guess what. Nobody feels sorry for those assholes."


I hope that Love, Simon has helped open a dialogue between parents and children. And between friends. And, well, just with everyone. If we still need movies like this, we still need to have these conversations.

So, since Love, Simon is essentially a coming out story, I suppose I have to share my own.

I consider myself to be on the fringes of the LGBT community because I'm pansexual -- a word I didn't really know or understand when I "came out" over a decade ago. At the time, I used the only word that even came close to how I felt: bisexual. Imagine being a newlywed trying to tell your husband that you're bisexual. (And then spending the rest of your life explaining that "bisexual" doesn't mean "polyamorous.")

It never occured to me that being bisexual was supposed to be a secret. I didn't know that I was supposed to make a big announcement or something. But, when I casually mentioned in a post on Facebook, the shit hit the fan. See, my redneck sister and her brood of homophobic children couldn't get their heads around it. My friends and family started fighting with each other. It got nasty quickly.

A dozen "blocks" later and the world seemed right again. I reevaluated my sexuality again a few years ago when I met a fellow pansexual and thought, 'Omg, THIS is what I've been feeling.' And, if you're not sure what pansexuality is, it means I couldn't give a shit what's between your legs. People are people.

Hearts, not parts, y'all.

And, yes, I did say that I watched Love, Simon twice. I'm such a sap. 😉

Monday, 28 May 2018

Random (Summer) Acts of Kindness

Summer can seem like the perfect time of year. The sun is shining. School is out, beach trips are in. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. The nice weather can make things like physical and mental illnesses seem so much worse. It's also a hard time for people who are alone or elderly as photo albums and social media feeds fill up with groups of people having a blast.

As someone with mental health problems, I can't say enough how important it is to remember these people during the summer months. Heat and feelings of inadequacy can be crippling. Depression can feel a hundred times darker against the "happy" feelings you know you're supposed to being having. Societal pressure to have a "perfect beach body" can make even the smallest imperfections seem unbearable. The desire to join festivals, parties, carnivals, etc. can cause someone with Anxiety to withdraw even more.

Summer ain't a walk on the beach for everyone, my friends.

We talk about things like random acts of kindness a lot around Christmas but they tend to get forgotten when summer rolls around, even though kindness is every bit as important now as when the man in the red suit is watching. Please consider taking a few minutes out of your vacations/holidays to help brighten someone else's day.

Here's a list of Summer Acts of Kindness to help you get started.

Write positive messages in chalk in your neighbourhood. This is great because playing with chalk is also just too much fun. Brighten up sidewalks/pavement in your area with inspirational message and watch your neighbours smile as they walk by.

Update your Summer Wardrobe. Donate the rest to charity. I don't know about you, but I've already bought a few new summery things. (Well, the hubs made me, to be fair, but that's his job. Lol.) If you're anything like me, your summer wardrobe is already increasing. Why not try a few things on, see what you still love, and take the rest down to your local charity shop for those not lucky enough to be able to afford the newest fashions.

Leave change in drinks machines. Boy, is it hot! Dehydration is a real problem right now. People just don't remember to keep themselves hydrated enough. It's easy to forget, with such busy lives. Help someone get hydrated by dropping a few coins into a vending machine.

Give bottles of water to the homeless. People living rough aren't only in danger during the winter months. Heat can be just as debilitating as cold. If you live in a city, why not buy some bottled water and pass it out among those who need it? Heck, pass it out to anyone, not just the homeless. Like I said, everyone needs more water this time of year!

Pick up rubbish. Not just your own (OMG, PICK UP YOUR FREAKING RUBBISH!), but any rubbish laying around. Take an extra plastic bag with you when you visit your favourite local beauty spot. If you see used up barbecues, empty cans, or whatnot laying around, just pick it up. You're doing both nature and other visitors a favour! (Dude. If you're willing to pick up dog poop, you can pick up garbage. Just do it.)

Recycle those drink cans and bottles. Our natural resources aren't infinite. Be kind to the environment and recycle your garbage as much as you can. While you're at it, why not sort the recycling so your parents/partners don't have to? Keep the kindness going!

Bring in garbage/recycling bins for your neighbours. It might only save them a few minutes but you never know how important those few minutes can be to a busy parent!

Leave cool drinks for the garbage/mail people. I'm big on staying hydrated, I know, but it's so important I'm going to keep saying it! Leave some cool drinks for construction workers, delivery people, gardeners, or whoever. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Feed the birds. There are a lot of fledglings about this time of year. Most birds have a shockingly high mortality rate. Hunters and prey are major obstacles but getting enough food is a problem, too. If you can, put out feeders to help the birds. You can also keep a baggie of birdseed in your car for when you're out and about. It's a little thing, but it helps a lot.

Put out a birdbath. Keep it full of fresh water. Look after our feathered friends! They'll need fresh water, too, and it might be scarce if the weather is hot and sunny. Plus, it's fun to watch them splashing around!

While you're at it, make sure water dishes for animals outside stores stay full. A lot of stores keep water dishes outside entrances for our canine companions but they don't always remember to check to make sure those bowls remain full. If it's empty, grab a bottle and help a dog out. If your local supermarket doesn't have this facility, ask them why the hell not!

Keep an eye out for animals/children left in hot cars. I'm not advocating smashing windows or anything, but certainly alert someone if you see this!

Add books to your local mini-library or donate them to a charity shop. A tenner doesn't seem like much to pay for a good book when you've got the money but, when times are tough... If you've finished a good book recently, why not share it with someone who might not be able to afford it otherwise? You might just find a new book to read for yourself, while you're at it. 😉

Visit elderly friends and neighbours who can't get out. It might have been a long time since they last got to enjoy a day in the sun. Take them out for a wander, if you can. If not, try to bring a bit of the sunshine to them!

Check in on friends with Depression and/or Anxiety. You don't have to show up at their door. (If they have Anxiety, you probably don't want to do that, anyway.) Just text or call. Message them on FB or send them a tweet. Get in touch. Remind them they're not alone. Find little ways to help them fight the summertime blues. Don't worry if you're not sure how you can help. Just asking what you can do to help helps. Easy as that.

Offer to do some lawn work for them. Or anyone, really. Everybody's busy, right? Everybody could use a hand! If you've got time and nothing to do, mow someone's lawn or weed their garden. A neighbour did this recently for me (weeding is hard on my hands because... arthritis) and I'm still beaming.

Compliment people you meet. (In a non-creepy way.) Don't be a creeper! "Hey, you look amazing" is good. "Hey, nice tits" is both wrong and rude. If that's your idea of a compliment, you need to go back to Being A Human School. Angry rants aside, most of the people you pass are probably freaking out about some part of their bodies right now. Media pressure has everyone thinking that they have to be flawless to get out and show some flesh. What a bunch of bull! Tell the media to eff off and tell the next person you meet how awesome they are!

Leave positive messages on public bathroom mirrors. It can be hard to compliment people face-to-face. I get that. The thought of talking to a stranger makes me break out in hives. That's why we have Post-It notes. Just saying...

Send someone on vacation. We've all got difference amounts of financial ability so don't stress if you skip right past this one. If you've got the means, though, why not send mom & dad or grandma & grandpa away for a weekend? Or, send the partner & their friends away for a week. It isn't just about places, it's about people creating memories together. It feels amazing when you can make that happen.

Offer to babysit or dogsit so your friends and neighbours can get away for awhile. So many of us are tied to home because we can't get babysitters (or dogsitters or catsitters.) Don't make those neighbours with a toddler freak out over finding a reliable babysitter so they can go to a festival. Step up and offer your services. If your married friends say they're afraid to leave their dog at a kennel while they go away, get in there. Not only does this save them a bunch of money, but it takes away a lot of anxiety, too.

Offer to wash or walk your neighbour's dog. Hey, if it gives their humans an hour or so to have some... alone time (nudge, nudge,) it's worth it, right? 😉 But, seriously, people might struggle to do this on their own. You could give someone with a bad back or bad knees a much needed break. (And have a riot at the same time. I mean... DOGS.)

Give out popsicles to people on hot days or buy a bunch of popsicles for the office. Or even ask your child's teacher if it's okay to bring in popsicles for the class. This would happen occasionally in the office I used to work and it was absolutely freaking amazing! Everyone gets a big ass smile on their face when offered a popsicle. (Seriously, try it. Smiles every time!)

Buy a fan for the office or classroom. A lot of offices (too many, really) and/or classrooms get way hotter than they should due to poor circulation or just too many bodies. Sometimes, the temperatures in those places may even be controlled offsite! A ten dollar fan might seem like nothing to some but it might make a huge difference to a teacher who already has to pay for too much out of their own pocket. (You might want to ask before doing this one, though, as you never know what kinds of regulations a building might have in place.)

Let someone in when you're stuck in traffic. The heat can make people grumpy and aggressive. Throw inevitable summer roadworks on top of that and you've got massive potential for road rage. Help battle road rage by stopping to let someone in. It isn't a contest, after all. Hey, while you're at it, don't be that dick who waits until the last minute to merge. No one needs that shit.

Hide fun painted rocks for kids to find. The kids will be on summer break soon. You can stretch your artistic legs in a fun way by painting fun rocks and hiding them in places kids are likely to be. If you've got kids, this is a great activity to keep them interested on walks. Find a rock, leave a rock. Your area might even have a Facebook page for people hunting painted rocks.

Throw a surprise barbecue for your friends and family (for no reason.) It's really about bringing people together but there are all sorts of added benefits. Someone doesn't have to worry about finding or making a meal for at least one night. It gets people out of the house. Someone might have the chance to get out an issue they've been fighting in silence. Stories get passed on to the next generation. There are so many great reasons to throw a barbecue!

Share your sunblock with others at the beach. As much as some of us love seeing the sun this time of year, we shouldn't forget that it's dangerous to spend to much time out in it! Over-exposure can lead to all kinds of medical concerns so make sure you keep yourself and your loved ones protected. While you're at it, though, take a minute to offer sunblock to the people near you at the beach. They might have forgotten theirs. You could be their knight in shining SPF-30.

Pay more than you need to at a car boot sale/yard sale. I'm always on the lookout for a great deal. I think most of us are these days. Times are tough. But if we can make someone's day by paying a few pence/cents for something we love at a boot sale/yard sale, why the heck not? If you can spare it, share it.

Support a crowdfunding project or give money to a good cause. These aren't the only options. You can also become a patron through Patreon. You can drop a few coins in a charity bucket. Do what you can, within your budget but never feel guilty if you can't. Don't ever feel like you've got to donate. You look after you first.

That goes for all of these suggestions. Put yourself and the needs of you & your family first. If you're not in a position to help anyone else, that's okay. I just have one request of you. If you need help, please ask. Ask a friend or family member if you can. Ask the internet anonymously, if you feel you can't talk to your loved ones. Talk to a doctor. Talk to your neighbours. Talk to me, if you want. Just be kind to yourself, too, okay?

I hope you found this list useful. If you use any of these ideas, let me know how it went. If you have ideas of your own, drop them below. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Summer Blog Post Ideas

Summer can be a busy time and sometimes, while we're at the beach and having barbecues, our blogs can suffer from neglect. To help keep our blogs alive (and feeling loved) during the long summer months, I've put together a list of blog post ideas that will fit into our summer activities.

Here are some Summer Blog Post Ideas for you to use:

  • create a summer mood board
  • make a summer playlist
  • share your summer bucket list
  • share some summer make-up tips
  • share your summer beauty routine
  • share your summer beauty essentials
  • share your summer wardrobe essentials
  • create a summer self-care checklist
  • share your summer reading list
  • share some summer budget tips
  • have a summer photo shoot
  • write about surviving summer break with the family
  • write a day in the life: summer edition
  • what to binge-watch this summer
  • your favourite movies for summer
  • favourite summer memory
  • favourite things about summer
  • explore summer through the senses
  • create beach mood board
  • share some beach party ideas
  • share your beach day essentials
  • do a swimsuit roundup 
  • do a sunscreen roundup
  • create BBQ mood board
  • share your favourite BBQ recipes
  • share some pool party ideas
  • try out some cocktail recipes
  • create a 4th of July mood board
  • make a 4th of July playlist
  • share some 4th of July decorating ideas
  • try out some 4th of July crafts
  • share some 4th of July party ideas
  • what 4th of July means to you
  • big your dad up for Father's Day
  • create a road trip mood board
  • make a road trip playlist
  • share your favourite road trip snacks
  • share your camping essentials
  • do a travel essentials roundup
  • share some travel safety tips
  • do a luggage roundup
  • share your tips for vacationing on a budget
  • share some ideas for a staycation
  • try out some homemade popsicle recipes
  • do a festival roundup
  • do a festival fashion essentials roundup
  • share some festival safety tips
  • do a summer blockbuster roundup

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Movie Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

I've been thinking about this review for a long time and I don't feel like I'm any closer to knowing what I want to say than I was two months ago when I actually watched the film.

I even watched it a second time this week, to see if that would help and... nope.

Let's face it: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) is a fucking hard movie to review.

It's just so... and... wow.

Even before you get to anything like plot, you're looking at a real who's who of the times. There are some heavy-hitters in this one, from Christopher Lloyd to Brad Dourif. Seriously, it took me about twenty minutes to realize I was looking at a young Danny Devito!

Jay says that One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is "one of those must-see films that you never forget." I can't think of a better way to put it. I'll add, though, that you really need to be older to appreciate it. It's not an easy movie to watch, even though it's so engaging that it doesn't feel like the 2+ hour movie it is.

If you're not familiar with the movie, it follows Jack Nicholson's Randle McMurphy, who is transferred from prison to an institute to be evaluated for mental illness. Is he "insane"? The movie kind of leaves that up to you to decide. (Personally, I think he's the only sane person in the whole damned place.)

Most of what I want to say about One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest centres around McMurphy's nemisis, Louise Fletcher's Nurse Ratched. (I want to call her "Nurse Wretched" so badly.) She is one of the most hateful characters I have ever seen in a movie -- and she does it all with a serene smile on her face. (Jay calls her a "smiling assassin.")

That bitch.

Ratched's smug smile made me want to smack her face so badly it hurt. I hate her character so much! (There's a reason Ratched is on the list of worst film villains of all time.) She speaks in a quiet tone that she backs up with absolute certainty in her own self-importance. She thinks that she knows what's best for everyone -- at least that's how she wants to come across -- but, in reality, all she really knows is how to have an easy life.

The bitch.

Just one example: the music Ratched plays is a way to muffle the uncomfortable sounds of the institute. A way to distance herself from the "madness" around her. When McMurphy asks her to turn it down, she rejects his request with a, "That music is for everyone." It's not, though, is it? That music, like everything else that happens under her watch, is for Nurse Ratched and Nurse Ratched alone.


Ratched doesn't do anything to help the patients understand their situations or put them at ease. McMurphy asks what the pills are that they've given him but she flat out refuses to answer. It's "just medicine," she tells him. "It's good for you." You'd be surprised how often people with mental illness hear this. It sucks every time. If Ratched had just taken the time to explain what the medication was, maybe things would have gone differently between her and McMurphy. But she didn't. And it didn't.

One of the things that people with mental illnesses suffer from (aside from those illnesses themseleves) is a sense of helplessness. They feel like they're never in control. Instead of trying to help change that, Ratched just plays on it, using it to her own ends.

Maybe McMrphy is "insane", maybe not (probably not) -- but what he absolutely is is the voice of his fellow patients. He asks the questions they're too afraid to ask. He challenges the rules they're too afraid to challenge. He is, for lack of a better phrase, champion of the mad. The patients find themselves through McMurphy.

Then lose it again through Ratched.

One of the reasons One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is so hard to watch is its tragic ending. McMurphy, rather than Ratched, was the one who could have saved many (if not all) the patients. But he couldn't even save himself from the nurse. Why was she so determined to silence McMurphy? Because he made her life inconvenient. 

Fucking bitch.

Jay and I discussed this movie at length. It's a heavy movie, with a lot happening. (Is this why you don't see it on telly very often? Because it's too much?) When I pointed out all the gambling that takes place in the institute, Jay said, "That's who McMurphy is. He's a gambler, a chancer. Face it, that's what One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is, a con job gone wrong."

McMurphy isn't the only one in the institute masquerading as a nut. The enormous and silent Chief Bromden (Will Sampson) is McMurphy's friend, conspirator, and only true victory. Chief is there because he's hiding from himself, from what he could be. (It could be said that McMurphy is doing the same.) When Chief sees what's become of his friend -- what the real meaning of convenient is -- he makes his escape. And, in a way, gives McMurphy the only escape left open to him. It's both a heartbreaking and beautiful ending.


It has to be said that part of what makes One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest so relevent (and, let's be honest, painful) to me is my own struggle with mental illness. Asylums freak me the hell out -- mostly because it would be far too easy to find myself stuck inside one. Modern medicine and sensibilities mean that people in my situation are treated with more understanding and dignity than they ever were in the past.

And this movie was only made forty-three years ago.

Just thinking about that a minute. If I had been born forty-three years ago, would I have been stuck inside one of those places, fighting my own Nurse Ratched?


We've come so far. Unfortunately, if Trump's presidency has taught us anything, it's too damned easy to slide back again. So, you see, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest isn't just drama for me. It's horror.

There's so much more that can be said about One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (You'd be surprised how many different ways I can call Ratched a bitch.) but it's been said by more articulate people than me so I'll leave it there.

What are your thoughts on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? Be sure to drop me a comment and let me know. Also, if you have any suggestions for next year's must-watch list, let me know those, too.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Summer 2018 Bucket List

It's been summery for a while now but I didn't want to jinx anything by posting this sooner. I think it's pretty safe to say summer plans on sticking around now, though, so let's have at it.

FIY, I have every intention of acting like a big child this summer. Why should those brats have all the fun? 😉

Seriously, though, summer is a tough time for me. I have heat and light triggered migraines so I can be outside about five minutes before I start to feel ill. Funnily enough, it takes about half that time for me to burn to a Wondra-flavoured crisp.

(Maybe I am part vampire? Lol.)

I'm trying my best not to let summer get me down this year. Instead of hiding inside, wishing I could hibernate, I'm going to spend as much time enjoying (I feel like that should be "enjoying.") summer as possible.

Wish me luck!

Summer 2018 Bucket List

✅Have a BBQ. Jay and I are going all domestic. To celebrate his birthday (May 15th) we finally bought the barbecue we've been talking about getting for years. Two days later, our neighbours bought the same one! We've actually had two BBQs already! Like I said, it's been summery for a while now.
Have a bonfire. Bonfires remind me of school and make me think of friendship. Now that our garden looks like a garden again (thanks to a very helpful neighbour) we have space for the fire pit I've been dreaming of. A teeny one, maybe, but size doesn't matter, right? 😉
✅Eat s'mores. So much *squee*. A very old, very awesome friend send me a box of graham crackers a couple weeks ago -- which I immediately put to good use! Jay and one of our neighbours (who we're going to call "Wilson" because of his habit of popping up over the garden wall) were horrified by my s'mores. Lol. I had to endure a lengthy rant from the two of them about "the kind of shit Americans eat" and I enjoyed every freaking mouthful.

✅Get a new gnome. Can you have too many gnomes? No. The answer is no. I lost a few gnomes to The Great Garden Revamp of 2018 (sniff) but I intend to repopulate. I already bought a new hipster gnome. Expect more to come. Many more.
Paint my gnomes. This is a work in progress. I've repainted a few of them but my zombie gnomes are going to need a more talented hand. (Guess what Jay gets to do!) If you have any tips for keeping gnomes from getting weathered, I'd be happy to hear them!

Paint rocks. This is a fad I totally want to get into. There are so many clever ways to paint rocks that (luckily for me) don't take much artistic ability. I just need to find some good rocks to get started...

Goth up a flamingo. Have you seen a plastic flamingo turned into a vulture? This really appeals to my dark sense of humour. Gotta be done, right?

Have a DIY spa day. Much needed and long overdue. I need to spend a day making some scrubs, painting my nails, doing masks, and treating my hair. Summer makes me miserable and I need to do my best to fight that.
Cut my hair short. Frizzy hair? Hot, humid temperatures? UGH. I feel like a strung-out poodle during the summer. It's much easier to manage when it's short so chippity-chop. Even though the hubs cut it for me a few weeks ago, it's still not short enough. If it were up to me, I'd shave it off (and get a big dragon tattoo) but chin-length will do for now. Maybe a dye job, too?
Wear a sundress. I'm not normally a dress kind of person, but when it's hot out... I think I own maybe a sundress? Time to bust it out.
✅Buy a bathing suit. When I started this list, the only bathing suit I owned was several sizes too small. It fit poorly and made me feel crappy about myself. But, just this week, I found a suit that is exactly the cut I want and makes me feel awesome so I snatched it up.

✅Go to the coast. I don't know about you, but I find the coast a peaceful place. I feel calmer. The sound of the waves are soothing and drown out my tinnitus (hooray). I breathe easier. Sure, there's the sun thing but I'm willing to Morticia it with a parasol if I have to.
Hang out at the beach. We made our first trip to the coast for the year a couple weeks back but it was too cold to consider going in the water and Jay's back was too bad to make the trip down to the beach. We ate ice cream and played games at the seaside instead. Next time, though, there'd better be sand between my toes!
Go for a swim. Gotta make that new bathing suit earn its keep! The sea isn't exactly crystal clear and warm off the coast of South Wales but you take what you can get, right?
Go to a fayre. I'm a sucker for cheesy games and bright rides. There will be several fayres in the area come the summer. I'm determined not to miss them all. This time. I always seem to notice them in passing on our way to someplace else so it will be a challenge to make them our destination.

Be a tourist. It's scary how much of the UK I haven't seen, even though I've been here forever! There are vineyards nearby, museums, and all sorts. I need to get out and see the sights!
Send a postcard. The places that we see all the time can seem exotic to people back at home. I'm going to try to remember that and grab postcards whenever I can this summer.
Hunt down standing stones. There are megaliths scattered across South Wales and, although I've been here over a decade, I've never seen them. Time to fix that!
Visit a waterfall. Supposedly, there are lots of waterfalls around. I haven't found any yet but I intend to!

✅Nom on some popcicles. I won't lie, I basically live off popcicles in the summer. My freezer is already full of them!
Make homemade popcicles. And if there's alcohol in them... even better! 😁
Make homemade ice cream. I've seen tutorials that make this look super easy and I'm dying to try it.
✅Eat an ice cream cone. Ice cream cones are basically the whole point of summer, right?
Have an ice cream float. Did you know British people don't do this? Weirdos. 🤣

Make lemonade. I make wicked lemonade, if I do say so myself. I had to learn to make it when I realized they don't "do" real lemonade here. What the Brits call lemonade is just Sprite. Lame.
Pick berries. The blackberries won't be ready until a lot later but I'd like to get to the local pick-your-own farm and see what they've got in the meantime. It's amazing value for money, too.
Eat watermelon. Love me some watermelon. (Jay doesn't like it at all. Lol.) I'm thinking that slicing it up and popping it in the freezer might just have to happen with it gets really hot this summer.
Enjoy fresh veg. Vegetables are always better in season, right? I don't grow veg myself but some of our friends do and things always find their way over here. For everything else, there are local markets.

Watch a movie outdoors. Jay and I were talking about doing this a few days ago. We've got a projector hidden away somewhere so it would be easy to throw down a blanket, point the projector at the garden wall, and enjoy a film. I really hope this happens!
Build a blanket fort. They mentioned this on a re-run of The Big Bang Theory I watched recently and it got me thinking... Have I ever built a blanket fort? No. And why the hell not?! First, we find the blankets, then we google how to have child-like fun.
✅Read a book in the shade. Our house faces west so I don't get much shade time. If I'm up and about early enough, though, I can get a few chapters in before the sun starts scorching the patio. (And, yes, my early is probably later than your early. I blame insomnia.)
Visit the library. Oh, this isn't a dreamy ideal. I have to go to the library. I just found two books that I checked out... you know what? Doesn't matter. *ahem* Library, it is.

Go stargazing. I would love to lay out in a field and watch the stars. We're not as far out in the country as I lived growing up but it's not a bad area, either. The stars are fairly clear here so it would be a shame not to enjoy it.
Do some bird watching. Kind of a given for us, really. We regularly sit outside and share our lunches with the birds. (There are sparrows and tits nesting in our porch, btw.) I'm pretty good at naming most of the Corvidae but I still have a lot of birds to learn.

Make a flower crown. Have you ever done this? Not me. I don't even know where to start. Isn't this a skill we're supposed to learn as children? Never mind, YouTube to the rescue!
✅Make a wish on a dandelion. Be honest. You do this, right?
Have a summery photo shoot. Summer is a great time to shoot because LIGHT. (Okay, I'll be honest. I prefer autumn light but it rains during the autumn here. Seriously. Like, all autumn.)

Get sporty. Well, a little sporty. I'm not running any marathons any time soon! But a few games of badminton would be fun. Maybe a bike ride or two... You know, sport lite.
Go for a hike. That's kind of sporty, right? The one thing Wales has is forestry. (And castles. We're up to here in castles.) Lots of gorgeous woodland to get (metaphorically, I hope) lost in.
Carve our initials into a tree. This is on my actual bucket list. My for-life bucket list. It's just one of those silly, romantic things I've always wanted to do.

Go to a car boot sale. This was a lot easier to do when Jay's mom was around. You think I suck at mornings? Well, Jay's worse. Why can't they do car boot sales for people who hate mornings?! Maybe I need to start a thing...
Go to the zoo. I'm a massive animal lover. Any zoo I could visit is a good trek, unfortunately, but hopefully we'll make it to one this summer.

Wash the car. Don't try to imagine me sexy-slow-mo washing my car. You won't be able to get that image out of your head any time soon. 🤣 We honestly don't wash our car as often as we should. I should try to wash it at least once before autumn comes.
Have a water balloon/water gun fight. I've already threatened to chase Jay down the lane with a Super Soaker. Let's see how hot it gets and which one of us breaks first...
Play with sidewalk chalk. Can you remember the last time you did this? I can't. I'm not much of an artist but it seems like fun, anyway. Maybe I can get Jay in on the action? (Hah!)

Celebrate 4th of July. Not in a braggy "Hey, we kicked your asses!" kind of way but... oh, who am I kidding? What's the point of being an American in Britain on the 4th of July if you can't brag a little? 🤣
Celebrate the Summer Solstice and Lammas. You know, witchy stuff.
Enjoy a cocktail. Preferably one I don't have to make myself.
✅Make sangria. I'm not a massive wine fan (give me rum any day) but this fruity version is pretty good.

Go to a concert. I'm not a festival person. I mean a proper, sit-down concert where people aren't peeing on each other. *shudder*
Fall in love with a new band. Consider that an open invitation to bombard me with new music. Until Twenty One Pilots return, there's a void in my life.

Crafty Mini-Bucket List: 

  • make a natural loom
  • make a terrarium
  • make a wind chime
  • make a sun catcher
  • make some tie dye
  • make some macrame 

What do you make of my list? Any ideas I've forgotten? What's on your list? Get in touch and let me know!

Thursday, 17 May 2018

TOC Reveal: Locked In

Won't be long now until I can announce the cover and release date for Thirteen O'Clock Press's Locked In anthology. Until then, I can offer you a sneak peek at the table of contents.

Locked In will include:
"Mamie’s Closet" by James Dyar
"Room for Rent" by Roy C Booth and Warren Youngbloom
"Within This Box" by Rie Sheridan Rose
"A Collection of Souls" by Tony Evans
"The Organ Trade" by Donna J W Munro
"Swing A Sparrow On A String" by Ken Goldman
"A Matter of Time" by Michael B Fletcher
"A Monster Waits" by Joe Arcara
"Night Feeds" by Dorothy Davies
"Cold As Hell" by Diane Arrelle
"The Ragged Hand" by Christopher Hivner
"We’ve Got Our Eye On You" by Ken Goldman
"Captive by Choice" by Karen Heslop
"Soured Expectations2 by Matthew Scott
"Eight Minutes" by Mathias Jansson
"Sealed In" by Kevin L Jones
"Her Daughter’s Demon" by Wondra Vanian
"The Grin of Resentment" by Olivia Arieti
"Poetic Justice" by John H Dromey
"The Great Escape Artist" by Cameron Smith
"Image Is Everything" by Thomas M Malafarina
"The Reckoning" by Gerald E Sheagren
"The Way Out" by David Daumit
"When Shadows Come" by Ken Goldman
"Tempest" by Eugen Bacon
"Heavy Baggage" by Chris Rodriguez
"Liar’s Club" by Tom Bont
"Demonbound" by Holly Hunt
"Where Madness Lies" by R A Goli
"The Boy In The Basement" by Matthew Scott
Congrats to everyone selected to be part of this anthology. It's shaping up to be a good'un. Can't wait to see the finished product!