The Easy Swaps

I don’t often do reviews- indeed, this part of my blog is the least attended to. However, today I address my secret dream of being a beauty vlogger and speak out about one of my passions- the environment. 
I stopped fooling myself it was easy to just not buy anything ever a while ago. Like most females, my skin is constantly too oily or too dry, and I have the impulse to look pretty on certain occasions. Like every one else, my sneakers wear through. So, here is a post on the “easy swaps” I’ve made this or last year, on a journey of taking better care of the planet. 
Why, you ask? Because, as consumers, we have power in our pockets. There is a power in what we support, or rather in which brands we support which practice good behaviours. So, when you engage brain and a little bit of research before wallet, good things come out of it. Standards go up for other companies, and prices go down. Furthermore, everything on this list is made in Australia as well as not being tested on animals and every other standard I could test it against. 
 Let’s get into it. 

EVERYONE

Etiko sneakers.

The only brand with an A rating on the ‘Ethical Rating Website’, these guys caught my attention. They sell sneakers and clothes similar to Converse, but give you an entire speil at the bottom of every page as to how they are different. Organic cotton, fair trading certificates and environmentally friendly rubber, all for the same price. Mine took a little while to break in, but now they’re pretty confortable. I’m just waiting for someone to call them knock-offs so I can give them the run-down. 

  

Lucas’ Papaw Ointment
Everyone knows this. I just realised it was a great swap for my assortment of lip balms, and also works on everything else. Made in Australia, pure fermented fruit and not tested on anyone or anything. Beware of phonies who do add chemicals to take the price down a dollar or two. 

  
“The Horse” Leather Watches

I figure a few people might disagree with my definition of ethical at this point, but hold up a second. There are plenty of bad quality watches out there with synthetic bands. I would much rather support the environment with a long-lasting watch, which I don’t constantly have to change the batteries of, than fill land-fill with my cheap attempts at “trying to help”. Furthermore, these guys are situated in North Sydney and are super nice [a couple of my mates went to check out their warehouse last year]. 

  

ARGUABLY AIMED AT FEMALES 

ASAP Creams [but especially the night one]

I don’t have time to apply moisturiser in the morning. So, I like one I can put on at night that keeps me covered for the day. These guys make their stuff in Australia, don’t test on animals, the stuff smells amazing. However… it is pretty pricey. There’s an Australian run company called “Adore Beauty” who do amazing things [free shipping, promos, run by two women, give you a free Tim Tam with every order], which is where I got a free sample of this stuff from, and I actually think I will purchase it again. However, I can understand why one would shirk it. [They do have their own website, but it’s way too intimidating and doesn’t come with Tim Tam.]

Organic Care Products

I had never regularly used conditioner until last year. Truthfully, it was an ad for fabric softener that alerted me to the fact it’s there so your hair isn’t constantly frizzy and all over the place, which I had never known. Anyway, I was already buying soap and shampoo from these guys, but their conditioner is such a happy thing to use- it feels good, smells good and the bottle is aesthetically pleasing. The inside goodness is all natural, vegan, grey-water safe and uses sustainable palm oil [because boy-cotting doesn’t work as well as finding a solution to a problem]. The outside [bottle] is recyclable and already 100% recycled. Australian made and owned, and about $3.50 at Coles. 

  
Goodness Products

These are from New Zealand- I’m sorry to have let down that front. However, they deserve an honorable mention because they are so good. The once a week scrub has not let me down for smelling good and getting gunk out of my skin. The daily moisturiser is okay, but as I said I don’t wear day moisturiser often due to time. The under-eye cream is pretty good, especially for its price compared to other eye-creams, and I am excited to try their night cream. It’s good stuff, very well priced, easy to get [you can get a try-box off Adore Beauty for $25], all natural and not tested on animals. 

  
DEFINITELY FOR FEMALES

Giftbox

I had heard about this sort of stuff going on in America, but I’m happy to hear it’s now in Australia too. Buy a box of tampons, give a box of tampons. Organic, cotton, giving to charity- make a bad time of the month slightly better. 

Lighthouse

By Danielle Bennett

April ran me down,
left me looking at the backside of a pig herd.

At the end of the month, mud thick as thighs
was smeared across my eyelids and lip corners,
and all over my spirit.

So tired, this voice I am losing is both a red and white flag
that tells a more honest story than my mouth does.

I’m tired of the discipline it takes to say no.
Of the daily quits and the daily asks.
Each message a jagged skip and whatever groove I had finally slid into.

Tired of being a thread always pulling through.
Of showing up to a keyboard, unimpressed by anything I have to offer.
I, too, am unimpressed by my own biography.

Tired of wanting to claw my way through skin until I am an indistinct skeleton,
slinking out unnoticed.

Perhaps then I wouldn’t be held by the fire of my own splintered dreamboards.

Shrink me tiny enough to escape failure by any on of my hundred definitions.
Help me believe that this art was only ever an experiment

I’m tired of doing my best.
Of telling the sugar to let me go.
Of being looked at like the next shiny trophy.
A feeling like a ladder rung, like an empty promised land.

I’m tired of what it takes to get clear,
of how heavy the fighting heart weighs in.
Of the “not quite, almost, just wait here”.
Of the questioning of my own aloneness, of my own enoughness, of my own too-muchness.
April reminds me that I am a six-figure grave and whoever taught me what that would mean.

Where is the triangle of blame that promise me relief one day?

Where is the relief in any of this one day?

 

The truth is, I am only bothered when I think or I know I have completely lost control.

My reputation, the feels, the knowing.
I have chased and begged them home, but I never learned to lasso.
So I’m doing my best for the thousandth time to actually let it go.

And everyone who’s actually nailed crow pose or hit five miles
know that repetition expecting a different result isn’t always insanity.
Sometimes it’s just a way of growth.

I am flaking mud.
Really I am left in no one’s dust.
I am miles behind and I am still winning.
I will never forget my own name.

I am letting us all off my hooks.
I am showing up, even when other people don’t.

I am not forcing resolve,
because I’m not sure that’s the way life folds.

But I’m reconciling versions of myself,
because I want them to meet one day and laugh at how right we swore we were.

I am not made of formulas, so I can no longer respond on your cue.
I’m gonna start asking questions that may make me seem slow,
but I am labeling that a good four letter word

And I figured out that two pieces of dark chocolate a day are not adding more inches to my waist,
than nearly three decades of stress I asked this body to stomach.

The manna has come enough to know that I will not be buried alive.
And I’ve never watched, but I can tell I am beautiful when I’m writing
and I know there is a humble man saving the rest of his fourth of July’s for my firework giddy applause.
And I don’t know where he is, but I know he doesn’t play hide-and-seek.
And I know I want to tell him that I haven’t been waiting.
I’ve been creating a hotel of stories he can thank for the shameless, crooked smile I’ve become.

I am flaking mud.
I am waking up.
Praise!

April is gone and I think May was a new sun and I’ve never loved the sound of crumble as I do now.
Under all that earth, I got soft, somehow.

I got a second draft biography.
It says: I’m not much of a sailor but I’ve built some sort of boat.
If you judge me by my crew, I am thoroughly good.
If you judge me by results, I am a two-time world champion of facing what I feared the most.

I have been published by several renowned atlases, for my work repairing lighthouses using only sound.
You’ll know they’re mine when you see them.
How the lights loop haphazardly like they’re completely out of control.

 

lighthouse
“My Guiding Light”; by Caitlin Robinson

Joanne

[Lady Gaga]

As a self confessed hipster, I don’t often purposely seek out the albums of pop stars. But when I watched Lady Gaga sing “A Million Reasons” on Youtube with James Cordon, I figured I’d give her a shot, as it was such a beautiful song and seemingly completely different to what I knew her for. 
The title song made me cry. I have no idea if Joanne is a real person or if she ever got to listen to the song, or how it made her feel. But with a similar vibe to “Tears in Heaven”, it just really hit me. 

Then you’ve randomly got insanely good, 80’s/90’s pop sounding hits like “Hey Girl” which has Florence [from that Machine she hangs out with] and “Just Another Day”. I’ve got to say, I didn’t enjoy the whole album- there are some random songs which sound like they were written in the shower and should never have made it out. Then therea re songs I’m still not sure what I think of- dipping a toe into the political arena with “Angel Down”? Something much simpler of, indeed, more complicated than that? ]

But I found my foot tapping and my head nodding to a few beats. The song that was most popular [indeed the only one I’ve actually heard of in the mainstream media] is “Perfect Illusion”, which is pretty standard. The others, though, are a step outside the box. 

I’d say it’s worth a listen.
3/5. 

  

Wrong Crowd

[Tom Odell]

If you ever don’t know which music to listen to, stalk your hipster friends on Facebook. That’s how I found Tom Odell, liked his facebook page, and was ready for this album to drop. Well, about as ready as I could be. 
You may know some of his songs already- soulful love songs, such as “Heal” [which made it into the film “If I Stay”, an equally moving film]. But this album, from beginning to end, completely blew me away. 
A careful mix of his vocals, some epic piano playing and a swell band, the music videos show the story of some of the songs. Then you get to the video for “Concrete”, which just him dancing slightly dad-like. But the soul and stories to his music always create vivid images of memories I’m pretty sure aren’t mine. And that’s a good sign. With beautiful, lullaby love songs like “Constellations” flowing into sad, thoughtful tunes such as “Entertainment” and “Sparrow”, it’s definitely worth a listen to if you want something a bit different. It’s not pop, although it’s got some catchy hooks. It’s not soul, although we’ve got some deep bass, both in guitar and back ground singers. It’s just a little bit of everything good, like your favourite sandwich. 
[Speaking of which, Tom Odell in general is just enjoyable to listen to. Check him out].]
4/5

  

Dear Wormwood

The Screwtape Letters is a book of short letters from an old, wise devil to a younger one named Wormwood. The album, Dear Wormwood is a collection of songs from a band called the “Oh Hellos” to that old, wise devil.

 
I think what hit me about this album is that the songs are incredibly relatable. In an interview, the band were talking about how they wrote it from the perspective of someone who is in an abusive relationship, which sort of gives off the feeling it’ll be depressing or frustratingly two dimensional, like a lot of stories year 12 students write about for the HSC when they have no experience but figure it’ll get some attention. However, the music itself is actually for the main part light hearted and lilting, combining a little bit of American guitar with a dash of Irish folk music. Bluegrass? It’s sweet, and soft and I just found myself leaning back in my chair, my hands still from what they were doing and my eyes closed. Songs such as “This Will End” just run through your blood to the beat of your heart. And yes, there is this clear story of being hurt, being sad, but in a way that anyone can think of a time something has been said or done and they’ve felt this way.
The best thing about the album [I’d encourage you to fight Spotify if you’ve got the free version, and listen to the album in order] is that the narrative rises to be positive. Suddenly, after feeling like this is their depiction of how life is, or how it can be, a hero appears in “Soldier, Poet, King” and we rise to overcome in the title song, “Dear Wormwood”. Here is hope. What’s interesting, though, is that isn’t how the album actually ends. With the musical interlude of “Danse Macabre”, there’s clearly some joy but something that makes you say, “this can’t be it? There must be something more.”
Well, maybe it isn’t. Maybe there is more story. Maybe there’s another song. Maybe the rest of the story is yours.
It’s a good album, and something good to sing when you’re scared.
4.5/5

oh-hellos-dear-wormwood-album-art

Doctor Who [Review]

The Doctor is a time travelling alien who looks like a man and usually has a companion. A Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, the Doctor is a name a man once came up with [because his name is very, very important, so nobody knows it]. He travels in a T.A.R.D.I.S. [Time And Relative Dimensions In Space] and his companions change due to different circumstances. Once he dies, he can regenerate, usually with a new face, new personality and new outfits [sometimes the TARDIS will change slightly too]. There’s your basic rundown.

doctor_who___eleven_doctors_poster_by_disneydoctorwhosly23-d5z4wwe

Now for the “review” part.
Doctor Who is great because it takes you to places you wish you’d seen, people you wish you’d met, and gives explanations for things I guess you wonder. For example Pompeii just before Vesuvius [and why did it erupt?], Charles Dickens [blue ghost anyone?], Shakespeare [what happened to Love’s Labour’s Won?], Agatha Christie [why did she disappeared for a while -true story- Perhaps because she lost her memory after being attacked by a giant alien wasp who was also a priest? -Perhaps not so true a story. We’ll never know]. The Doctor reminds us that there is an unlikely hero in most of us, but there’s always going to be someone protecting us from things we didn’t realise we needed protection from. The Doctor’s your average hero- dark backstory, kind heart, hard choices. It’s a wonderful show in that respect. Oh and the graphics *tch* beautiful.

s4_07_wal_05

I guess the downside of ‘Doctor Who’ is that you get attached to someone you know won’t be around for very long. Whether David Tennant or Matt Smith was your favourite Doctor, there is a finite amount of time you’ll spend with them, before they’re replaced by the next guy. In my opinion, Peter Capaldi [the most recent Doctor] is not suited to the role at all, however, in trying to keep up with the storyline, and watching it because I’ve got a weird sort of fan loyalty, I stick with it and keep watching. It kind of sucks in that respect.

Doctor_Who___We_needed_an_older_Doctor__says_Steven_Moffat__because_Matt_Smith_was_perfect_

All in all, Doctor Who is a great show. Romance, adventure, revenge, complicated timey wimey stuff. Good stuff. Worth a go [start from Christopher Eccleston, work your way up to Capaldi and then, if you’re up for it, watch the last 40 years’ worth of Doctor is my advice.]

doctor-who

Knock, knock.
I love Doctor.
I love Doctor Who?
Me too!

4/5

Up [Review]

disney.com

Up is the story of an old man named Mr. Fredrickson who wants to escape.

He wants to escape the building contractors surrounding his house, the young people who think they know better tan him, and the death of the love of his life, Ellie. Having been a balloon salesman for most of his life, Carl Fredrickson [voiced by Ed Asner] thinks of the perfect plan, but when a boy named Russel [played by Jordan Nagai] who just wanted to help accidentally gets on board, shenanigans ensue.

Planning to head for “Paradise Falls”, Fredrickson aims for South America, eager to fulfill his lifetime dreams of leading a peaceful life, however he ends up on the opposite side to them and so employs the help of his new companion to help him get around, the house tied to them using a hose and some abseiling rope. On the way, they meet a bird named Kevin, a dog named Doug [voiced by Bob Peterson] [yes, voiced] and Carl’s childhood hero, Charles Muntz [Christopher Plummer], all of whom come with surprises. And it was all going so well.

A story of love, friendship and the wisdom of the old, Up is one of my favourite movies of all time. It’s sweet, funny and colourful with a fast moving, action packed story line despite one of the main characters being north of 70. A feel good comedy cartoon that is definitely not limited to kids to enjoy.

openwalls.com

5/5

Thirteen Reasons Why [Review]

en.wikipedia.org

I recently was recommended a novel by two friends, completely separately, written by a man named Jay Asher.  When I got my hands on it [each gave me a copy, as it happens] I read it quite eagerly. The entire book only took me a night.

Written from the perspective of a teenage boy named Clay Jenson, we follow his crazy night that results from a brown package left on his bed. The package contains seven tapes, with thirteen recorded messages in all, from a friend of his who committed suicide two weeks earlier, a girl named Hannah Baker. The story jumps straight to the point- each story she tells explains one reason why she took her life, and one person that lead to that point. As soon as I opened the book, my breathing got a little shallower. At times, I had to remind myself to breathe at all.

From the beginning, and the lesser offenders, Hannah recalls in excruciating details their role in her decision from the grave. She warns that if they do not listen or do not pass the tapes onto the next person on them, the stories and the blame will be released to the public. This is the basis for Clay and the reader being pulled through an entire heart wrenching story about a girl who was sick of life.

Suicide always seems like a final way to end things. As I read, I found the worst thing about it was that you’re watching Clay go through all of this, listen to all of her problems, insecurities and nightmares, and he can’t do anything about them. She continuously reminds us that she thought no one cared about her, but as you’re seeing and hearing everything through Clay’s mind, all you can think is that he would have done anything to change the circumstances. It’s rather well written, although there is also the constant reminder that they’re not talking to each other but he’s reacting too late.

My only qualm with the book is that it’s written with a very adolescent tone. As in, it’s not written how a teenager would think, but how an adult would think a teenager would think. It makes Hannah seem shallow at times, even though she is carefully outlining why she thought this was her only choice, her only way out. By the end, though, I barely noticed, and that’s what I liked about the book. In the end there’s no anger, or madness, only a sad, empty feeling. Very impacting.

Worth a read.

3.5/5

WALL-E [review]

“Wall-E” is our future in a nutshell. An adorable cartoon about a robot who was created to clean up the Earth, the movie contains some of the most prophetic ideas about the lives our descendants will love- fat, in space, controlled by technology. Not in the physical sense, either- the apocalyptic, we’ll fight them sense, but in the “never even saw it coming” sense. I saw a couple sitting at café together the other day, facing each other with their new born sleeping peacefully next to the table, and they were both on their phones. I can only hope they were Facebooking each other, but that sort of thing is what Wall-E’s all about. We are the foreshadowing.

The movie begins with a beautiful new robot called EVE [Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator] coming to Earth to see if any vegetation has begun to grow- if Earth is still salvageable after we abandoned it post-stuffing it up. She meets WALL-E [Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class], who enjoys her company, his only other friend a cockroach [we all knew they would survive the end of the world]. They may even have fallen in love a little [it’s a Disney- Pixar movie; what did you expect?]. Trying to earn her trust and admiration, he shows her his most treasured possession, which he collected while searching through earth’s rubble- his function is to make all of our rubbish into little cubes so we’ve actually got space to move. It’s a little plant in an old boot, but unfortunately fulfils EVE’s function, and so she returns home, and WALL-E, in an attempt to keep his only mate, follows her.

In my personal opinion, the most poignant theme of the film was that, in the movie, we have become so afraid of our own land that we never want to go back. The ship that carries humanity’s captain wishes to go home, but the ship refuses him [ah, technology], stating that Earth is just too ruined to live on. Our world struggles in the rubble, abandoned, and that’s a scary thought. At the end, however, the people decide to go back and give it another go- would we, if given the same choice?

It’s a good movie, with lots of cute moments and thought provoking points [despite half of its dialogue comprising of beeps and bops].

walle

5/5

Fifty Shades of Grey [family friendly] synopsis.

So, there are a lot of people who say there’s no storyline to Fifty Shades of Grey. They’re also too awkward to Google it, I suppose, and have the Wiki page on their history. Well, rest assured because here is the G rated blow by blow account [no pun intended]. It isn’t just about… well, what you’ve heard it’s about.

Enter Anastasia Steele, our female protagonist. She is doing an interview of a billionaire who sponsors her school, filling in for her friend Kate who is sick.

She meets Christian Grey, a handsome entrepreneur who is witty, smart and obviously insanely rich. And perhaps just a little insane.

They have a great interview, after which they feel close to each other, chemistry beginning between the two of them [like you’re average rom-com].

Christian and Ana begin to get closer, and although he tries to pull away, afraid that he’ll hurt her [this is the part reminiscent of “Twilight”], he just cannot resist her, and she him, although it begins to become apparent that he likes control [which is how he’s gotten to this point in his business ventures], and can swing from mood to mood easily [hence the “fifty shades”, referring to his personality]. Up until this point, everything is sunshine and lollipops.

As the novel progresses, the two decide to begin a relationship, although it becomes apparent to Ana that, despite her feelings towards him, he doesn’t reciprocate them. Perhaps he can’t. He doesn’t know how to love [Beauty and the Beast style]. He showers her with gifts, including a laptop, phone and car [for her “own safety”, as she owns an old VW Beetle], and tries to give her the love she wants, but it turns out- drum roll please- he prefers S&M [sadism- hurting others- and masochism –getting hurt himself] during sex, which is the part many people don’t like. I myself skipped over those parts. There are some things people just don’t need to read in agonising detail. Anyway, Ana wants to try to please Christian, as she has strong feelings for him, but realises, at the end of the novel, she cannot be what he wants her to be.

There- we’re done.

My personal opinion on the novel is just as fluctuating as the great Mr. Grey himself. On one hand, I see the appeal- a dark brooding type, with a mysterious past. Throughout the novel, we are told little snippets of what made Christian the type of man that he is, and it’s frankly quite interesting. We’re also meant to relate to Ana, who is experiencing this all for the first time- she has no idea what’s going on and learns it from scratch, so, so do we. Their relationship and it’s dynamics are intriguing, and maybe [for those who are interested], there is something to be learned. [My face is burning, but I promised I’d tell you what it’s about. *shivers*]

However– the language and descriptions get overly descriptive at times. I know this is meant to be part of the appeal, but it’s really over the top. There are avid depictions of what is being done, how it feels, and why, which is just something not everyone can get through.

It’s also been pointed out that it’s slightly [or, rather, very] offensive towards women. Christian does not want to be touched, does not [at first] want to fall in love, and always wants to be in control- he just wants someone to submit to him. The famous grey tie is used to incapacitate Ana [in case you were wondering] so she cannot even hug him. In 50 Shades, it is hinted that he may have found more with Ana, and is willing to do what she wants, but let’s be honest. He’s controlling to the point where she is not allowed to roll her eyes without fearing his reaction. He’s pushy to the point where she has to accept illustrious gifts from him, even though she does not want to. He makes her sign a contract promising not to tell anyone anything about their “arrangement”. He is a controlling dude.
Ana also really gives weight to the idea that a woman cannot be happy without the perfect man. She [this part is sometimes left out] does not want to be a –capital S- Submissive [i.e. someone who does what the Dominant, in this case, Christian Grey, wants]. She feels uncomfortable about it, and yet lets him do what he likes because she loves him. She lets him perform degrading acts on her because she knows it makes him happy, and instead of telling him to go and get his issues ironed out, she just keeps giving in, until the very end of the novel when she says she can’t take it anymore. Spoiler alert: the very next novel takes all of two pages before, attracted by his irresistible allure, she runs straight back into his arms. It’s very disturbing and sad, this part, and it’s what sets it apart from your average novel. At times Christian pushes her to explore her sexuality consensually [and you graphically go through the details of it], but at other times it is clear to the reader that Ana is uncomfortable and lets him treat her like a slave- a literal, unpaid, inferior human being- because she wants to make him happy.

In the end, I guess it’s up to you whether you want to read the book for yourself, or see the movie. I’ve heard that the movie is actually filmed badly, and is rather cliché, however, I have not watched it and do not plan to. You can’t skip pages in a film.

Food for thought.

.p.s. the following image I just googled to put in my post, but it’s from ibtimes.com who have written a post called “50 Shades of Abuse”. I’ve included the link if you’d like to take a look.

www.ibtimes.com

http://www.ibtimes.com/fifty-shades-abuse-study-says-50-shades-grey-readers-more-likely-have-abusive-partners-1666250