School holidays are great. You don’t have to set alarms. You can wear anything you like. You can eat lunch whenever your hunger strikes. But sometimes, every so often, they can get, um, a bit… er, dull.

I know! I know, it’s not what you’re meant to say. You’re meant to be grateful and thankful and brimming with holiday-induced joy. But, well, sometimes you can end up sitting on the floor of your bedroom, completely out of episodes of Stranger Things to re-watch and with no idea what to do next.

Well, fear not! We have come up with some ideas for how to keep the boredom at bay.

1. Make face masks

Mrs Doubtfire

I’m not entirely sure what it is that I find so soothing about face masks, but pretty much as soon as I apply that first slather, I feel myself relax. You can do it on your own, pop some cucumber on your eyes and listen to soothing music or you can get together with a bunch of friends and experiment with different types. I particularly love this banana face mask. Plus, if any of it ends up in your mouth, it’s totally delicious.

2. Got some leftover bananas?

If you have any bananas left over after making your face mask, it’s NBD because you can make banana popsicles!

3. Learn the Parent Trap Handshake 

One rainy afternoon, my best friend Georgia and I decided we would learn the handshake from Parent Trap. Because I have very little coordination, it took a ridiculous amount of time, but it was totally worth it when we showed our routine off to all our friends at school the next week.

parent-trap

4. Or if you’re more musically inclined…

You could learn “Cups” from Pitch Perfect, which will have the same effect.

5. Learn to face paint

Look, I’m not entirely sure when this life skill will come in useful but I promise you that if you learn how to paint your face so you look like Scar from the Lion King, a situation will arise. Halloween? Why not. A circus themed party? Sure. Next mufti day? I’m game if you are.

6. Marie Kondo your room

I wish I knew the words to describe the look I got in the betty offices when I said I didn’t know who Marie Kondo was. According to her Wikipedia, she’s a Japanese organising consultant and author. My friend Lauren told me that after she read Marie’s first book, ‘The Life-Changing Art of Tidying,’ she actually re-organised her wardrobe and it did, in fact, change her life. As someone who spends about five minutes every morning trying to locate the top I have in mind, I have to admit, I’m tempted.

7. Head to your local library

Holidays are always a great time to get on top of your reading list. If you’re feeling a little uninspired, why not check out Zoella’s new book club reads or some of our betty book reviews?

8. Or… get crafty with books

If you’re not that into reading or have got a lot of old books lying about, you could try some of these DIY projects that re-purpose old books into beautiful new accessories.

diy-inspiration-smashbook

9. Stage a tribute to Bey

What better way is there to spend your hols than learning all the words to Bey’s, ‘Hold Up’? Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, why not try and get the whole Lemonade album down? Put on your yellow-est dress and get crackin’.

Boredom, BE GONE. Bey-dom awaits!

Image: The Diary Of A Teenage Girl

One of the most iconic films of the mid 2000’s, Juno is ten years old this year. Starring Ellen Page, she plays a wise-cracking sixteen-year old who finds herself pregnant and facing some pretty adult decisions. From the sharp-as-a-tack dialogue written by Diablo Cody to the brilliant soundtrack, this film really made a mark – here are just a few reasons why you should give it a shot.

Ellen Page

Director Jason Reitman had seen the then-20 year old actor in the thriller Hard Candy, and knew that Page would be perfect for the part of Juno McGuff, the sardonic 16-year-old who was secretly a big softie. She was involved in every step of the development of Juno as a character, right down to her wardrobe of flannel shirts in multiple colourways and the way her hair was styled. Her Oscar-nominated performance in the film is hilarious at one moment, and emotionally affecting the next. At first you think she’s this tough, sarcastic person but her vulnerability eventually shines through.

Michael Cera

In a role that was pretty much tailor-made for him, Michael Cera is adorable as the gawky, orange-TicTac addicted Paulie Bleeker – the father of Juno’s baby. A longtime friend of Juno’s, he struggles with his feelings for her and their stressful situation in his own sweet, goofy way. He was like the nice indie boy in your class that would never dream of interrogating you about music to feel better about himself. A real sweetheart.

A First-Time Screenwriter

After writing her memoirs at the age of only 27, screenwriter Diablo Cody wrote her first-ever film script. She drew on her own life for inspiration, right down to the tiniest of details, like Paulie’s Tic-Tac addiction: “I dated a guy in high school that loved orange Tic-Tacs and always had them on hand.” Cody never thought the film would be produced, let alone that it would rake in $231,411,584 globally. Not bad for a movie that was shot in just a month with a relatively teeny budget of $6 million dollars. Cody also won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay at the 2008 Oscars.

The One-Liners

If this film is known for anything, it’s the snappy dialogue. Of course, Juno gets all the best lines – “Yeah, I’m a legend. You know, they call me the cautionary whale.” Love it or not, it defined an era of indie movies.

The Hamburger Phone

Nobody can watch this film and not want a hamburger phone in their bedroom, and that’s a fact. We might not be able to remember the last time we used a landline, but who cares when it looks that cool? Cody herself included this detail because she had one in her teenage years, pre-mobile phones. Film critics were sent free burger phones as part of the film’s publicity campaign, and they sold on eBay for hundreds of dollars after the film’s release.

The Title Sequence

The opening titles of the film were inspired by vintage punk band posters, and it took designers at Shadowplay Studio almost eight months to create them. Ellen Page had to be photographed with a high-speed camera walking on a treadmill while chugging a bottle of Sunny Delight. These pictures were then used to make a stop-motion animation sequence that really sums up the warmth of the movie.

The insane soundtrack

Music plays a big role in the film, with Juno often making use of her encyclopedic knowledge of punk rock, as well as playing the guitar. Ellen Page had a key part in deciding what music her character listened to, telling director Jason Reitman that she would be into The Moldy Peaches. Former Moldy Peaches member Kimya Dawson agreed to contribute several songs to the project, which also included tracks by Belle and Sebastian, Sonic Youth and Cat Power.

The Legacy

Juno was on the top ten list of almost every major critic’s picks for 2007, and Page scooped up three awards for her performance. To mark the 10th anniversary of the film, Page recently took part in a live reading of the script with all-female actors (including Issa Rae and original cast member Jennifer Garner) to benefit Planned Parenthood in the US. As far as coming-of-age movies go, you can’t do much better than Juno.

Did you know these films are actually based on classic novels and plays? Well now you do.

Obviously, books are great. You love books! Mmm, lovely literature. But – you’re only human. And hey, sometimes humans want to watch a sassy two hour film instead of spending two weeks reading a book full words like ‘thee’ and ‘doth’*.

Helpfully, Hollywood has come to the rescue. Sort of. Because it turns out there are loads of films that are based on classic novels, but with a modern day twist. Here are the must-see movies to help you bluff your way through the library.

Clueless – Emma

Clueless

A 90s cult classic, Clueless is actually a pretty faithful adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. It’s a timeless tale about overlooking the person who is right in front of you. Also features a wardrobe you will crush on hard. Ever wondered where the whole tartan mini kilt and knee sock trend came from? Here’s your answer.

10 Things I Hate About You – The Taming of the Shrew

10 Things I Hate About You

10 Things I Hate About You is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Featuring Julia Stiles as the truly badass Kat, the story still doesn’t have the most feminist of undertones… as it’s mainly about how a guy can change a girl. Even The Pussycat Dolls taught us we don’t need a man. You do you, ladies.

The Lion King – Hamlet

The Lion King

Lion King is just a kids’ movie designed to entertain children for an hour and half so stressed parents can do laundry or wash their hair, right? Wrong! It’s actually based on Hamlet. The evil uncle, the power struggle, the hyenas… all appear in the Bard’s famous play about the prince of Denmark.

Okay, fine, we’re lying about the hyenas.

West Side Story – Romeo and Juliet

Westside Story

Does this scene sound familiar to anyone? Here’s a hint: girl meets boy from rival family, they fall in forbidden love and then a super avoidable miscommunication results in a tragic death (just saying, this wouldn’t have happened if they all had Whatsapp). And in a nice-ish twist on the original, the girl survives. Hurrah!

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Pride and Prejudice

Bridget Jones' Diary

In a move of casting brilliance, Colin Firth plays Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice AND Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’ Diary. In this adaptation, we finally see Darcy and Wickham (Daniel Cleaver) come to fisticuffs in the poshest way possible. Colin, you might be older than our dads, but you will forever be the ultimate Mr Darcy.

She’s the Man – Twelfth Night

She's The Man

In this teen spin on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Amanda Byne’s character Viola is told that the girls’ football team has been canned. The coaches won’t let her join the boys team, so she just gives up and finds another sport. Jks! She impersonates her brother and makes it onto the boys’ team with hilarious farfetched consequences. Just like Billy Shakes would have wanted.

My Fair Lady – Pygmalion

My Fair Lady

Imagining an unglamourous Audrey Hepburn is kind of like imagining Beyonce having a bad hair day, but in My Fair Lady Audrey Hepburn goes from a poor cockney flower-seller who says ‘eh’ a lot to wearing cinema’s most ridiculous hat and using words like ‘splendid’. And it’s based on Pygmalion, a play by George Bernard Shaw whose story – about giant mansplainer Henry Higgins transforming Eliza Doolittle into a ‘proper’ lady – you’ll also recognise in She’s All That and almost every other film where a lady gets a makeover that involves taking her glasses off. Hmm.

 Twilight – Wuthering Heights

Twilight

SO. MUCH. INTENSITY. The gloomy, brooding guy and the (let’s face it, kinda annoying) girl eventually overcome the odds to be together. In Emily Brontë’s 1847 novel there are significantly fewer vampires and werewolves, but just as many tortured looks. Enjoy.

*We should probably tell you here to always read your English set texts anyway. If nothing else, they’ll come up in a crossword one day.

Image: Twilight/Clueless/She’s the Man/Katie Edmunds

There’s a show you might not have noticed on Netflix. It didn’t explode onto the screen like 13 Reasons Why or Orange is the New Black – it was released with only a small buzz. You’ve probably scrolled passed it a million times while you’re bored on a Friday night and looking for something new to watch.

It’s called The Get Down, a Netflix original series about the rise of disco and hip-hop in New York in the 70s. But on top of being an incredibly fascinating story, it deserved more hype since it was directed by one of the world’s most celebrated directors: Baz Luhrmann.

The Get Down

But who even is Baz Luhrmann and why should we care?

The business of Baz…

Known for his theatrical, slightly surreal style, Baz Luhrmann was propelled to fame in the 90s and 00s with his ‘Red Curtain Trilogy’ of films, made up of kooky rom-com Strictly Ballroom, Shakespearean tragedy Romeo + Juliet and the musical Moulin Rouge – all of which are completely delightful (and feature red curtains on the poster, hence the name), and feature his signature moves: bangin’ soundtracks, cartoon-like characters and totally dreamy sets.

Moulin Rouge

Baz Luhrmann is also known for his extravagance. Despite never having met him, I imagine he’s the type of man who would have peacocks in his garden and if he couldn’t choose between two enormous chandeliers, would just shrug and say “Oh, I guess I’ll just take both.” He’s the type of man who might sleep in velvet bed sheets and put on a fireworks display for his children’s half birthdays, because why the hell not?

It’s this decadence and opulence that makes his films so iconic. They look so beautiful that you find yourself completely incapable of looking away.

Wherefore art thou?

Most people first come across Baz Luhrmann at school, when an English teacher tries to tempt a confused classroom into understanding what Shakespeare was on about by popping on the dvd of Romeo + Juliet.

With Luhrmann’s direction and taste, this remarkable retelling of the world’s most iconic love story became even more dramatic and breathtaking.

Hand on heart, his adaptation is the only reason I like this play. Like, I’m sorry, these kids are objectively idiots and the plot is so absurd that when I read it at school for the first time, I didn’t understand why everyone always made a big deal of it being, like, the epitome of romance. But then I saw Baz Luhrman’s version of Romeo and Juliet and I got it. There are loads of films that adapt Shakespeare plays for modern times, (She’s the Man, 10 Things I Hate About You, etc.) but few are able to make the story work in a modern setting and keep the original dialogue without it even once getting boring. That’s the genius of Baz Luhrmann.

The ultimate film FOMO

In his glitzy 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby starring Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio, Baz Luhrmann transformed the classic book by F Scott Fitzgerald into another quirky masterpiece full of colour and decadence.

But like so many great artists, he also has an amazing squad around him – especially his wife Catherine, nicknamed CM, his creative partner, who won two Oscars for the set and costume design of The Great Gatsby. It has now become my life’s mission to be invited to one of the Luhrmann family parties. I mean, look at this party scene from Great Gatsby. I don’t even like parties that much and yet I would give my left arm to be able to go to this one.

The Marmite of movies

Watched Moulin Rouge and just didn’t ‘get’ it the first time? You’re not the only one. Baz Luhrmann’s films divide option like basically nothing else. And they often receive lacklustre reviews when they’re first released, but then go on to become legendary cult classics a few years later. Which is a kind of reassuring reason to shake off the haters, isn’t it?

Moulin Rouge

[NOTE: The one exception to this is 2008’s Australia. Do not see Australia (I’m Australian, so I can say this). Soz Baz, but it is the worst film ever made. What was meant to be a tribute to your homeland became the longest three hours of my life. And it took me a long time to forgive you for almost ruining Hugh Jackman for me. Like honest to god, I can’t even watch the whole trailer without getting bored.]

But anyway! Despite the odd fail, Baz has cemented himself in Hollywood as a director that people are desperate to work with – and with a style that’s all his own. And with a stage musical of Moulin Rouge currently in the works (woop!), this definitely won’t be the last you hear of him.

Here’s to many majestic, over-the-top, lavish films in the future. Oh, and Baz, if you’re reading this, can I please come round for dinner some time?

@LilyPesch

You probably know about Wes Anderson, even if you think you don’t.

Ever since The Royal Tenenbaums in 2001 (featuring Gwyneth Paltrow back when she was still cool), the writer/director has been one of the world’s most distinctive filmmakers. Yesterday the internet’s movie nerds were giddy with the news that Wes’s new film, Isle of Dogs, has a poster and a release date (ok it’s a whole year away, but that’s just how much people love Wes Anderson) – so we thought we’d use it as an excuse to revisit the King of Kook’s most stylish hits.

Here are all the reasons to get watching Wes. Get ready for your newest design crush, incoming in 3… 2… 1…

1. Pantone perfection

Obviously we’re not saying we watch films more for the pretty colour schemes than the stories, but… well, if you’re the kind of person who’s been known to genuinely salivate over an Urban Decay eyeshadow palette, Wes Anderson is the one for your walls. From the lush Ginza-filter-on-Insta tones of Moonrise Kingdom to the perfect oranges and browns of Fantastic Mr Fox, his films are deliberately coordinated like outfits.

You know that dreamy dusky pink that’s been everywhere over the last year? Wes did it first! His 2014 Oscar winner The Grand Budapest Hotel has more candy-coloured charm than every velvet sofa and beetroot latte on your Instagram feed put together. Just LOOK at this poster. Look at it. Tell me you’ve ever wanted to stay anywhere more.

2. Harry Styles is a fan

In Hazza’s epic interview with Rolling Stone magazine this month, he described life on tour with One Direction as being like “a Wes Anderson movie. Cut. Cut. New location. Quick cut. New location. Cut. Cut. Show. Shower. Hard cut. Sleep.”

And it’s the perfect metaphor for a hectic, not-quite-real megastar lifestyle, because Wes’ fast-paced films give you exactly that giddy feeling. A bit spacey. A bit sped-up. A bit like being in one of those weird dreams you have after eating too much chocolate (in a good way). Watch his 1998 feature film, Rushmore, the tale of an eccentric teenager who falls in love with his teacher, to get a taste of what we mean…

3. Look it’s that guy! From that thing!

You can tell Wes Anderson must be a good boss, because the same faces pop up in his films over and over again. People like Bill Murray (with the grey hair, below on the far right) who has appeared in eight of his movies. Or Owen Wilson (you know, the blonde one from Zoolander) who’s been in seven. Icy cool goddesses Tilda Swinton, Anjelica Houston and Cate Blanchett have all graced his screen, and he’s responsible for giving awesome young stars like Saoirse Ronan and Léa Seydoux to our attention too.

The Royal Tenenbaums, a darkly hilarious story about a family of child prodigies, is full of amazing actors (and even more amazing Gwyneth Paltrow eyeliner lewks, more on this later) while The Grand Budapest Hotel has so many ‘wait, was that whashisface..?!’ moments you basically need to watch it with IMDB open on your phone. Do, in fact. That’s an order.

4. Wes wears it well

Guys, the clothes. If we said ‘fashion movies’ you might reach for the obvious – The Devil Wears Prada, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Coco Before Chanel – but wait. Stop. Because some of the most amazing style inspiration committed to film comes from Wes Anderson. Anytime you’ve seen someone look amazing in a faux fur coat, t-shirt minidress and loafers, it’s probably (whether they knew it or not) down to Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot Tenenbaum. So cool.

Meanwhile The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou has the best red beanies. Suzy from 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom has the most perfect yellow and pink shift dresses, and legit made us want to wear a beret everywhere. Heck, even Fantastic Mr Fox is stylish.

5. The music, man

Wes puts as much thought into his soundtracks as his style, which means retro tracks and scores to stir your soul. If you’ve ever wished you knew more 60s and 70s references (100% the best decades for music, but don’t tell your grandparents we said that or you’ll never hear the end of it) then Anderson’s earlier films are an easy way in. Watch The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou for its gorgeous David Bowie covers, The Royal Tenenbaums for The Rolling Stones and The Velvet Underground and The Darjeeling Limited for classics by The Kinks. Then acquire yourself some vinyl records and lie around in your room looking moody and misunderstood.

Margot Tenenbaum

6. Weird and wonderful stories that everyone can relate to

While Wes’ films are nearly always set in slightly surreal, vaguely fantastical versions of our bog-standard world, the bittersweet issues they deal with are ones we can basically all relate to. Love, heartache, sibling rivalry, weird-ass family members, unlikely friendships, finding sad things hilarious and happy things sad, craving adventure, and generally feeling looking for that person in life who understands you when nobody else does… they’re stories to make you laugh and cry, then laugh while you’re crying and probably snot out of your nose a bit.

Tip: watch them with the volume up loud. There’s a lot of hipster mumbling to contend with.

Illustrations: Manjit Thapp. Find more in her beautiful Wes Anderson zine.

Welcome to Friday (although who really keeps track of the days of the week during half term anyway?) We hope you’ve either had a relaxing week of holidays, hot chocolates and minimal homework… or a week of going ‘it’s half term next week!!!’ (then a hot chocolate and minimal homework).

Go on, kick your feet up and read about everything we’ve been doing, loving and reading this week.

Love Actually is actually returning

If your friends are anything like ours, you spent most of Wednesday evening sending the gif below from Love Actually to each other to celebrate the announcement that the Love Actually cast a reuniting for a short film for Red Nose Day. It will air on BBC One as part of Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day fundraiser – so there’s only 35 days to go. Now, whenever we get gloomy about the state of the world, we’ll think about… um, the Love Actually revival.

Our gal Grace Victory

You may have noticed that our fave YouTube crush Grace Victory hosted the betty Galentine’s Day sleepover this week. It was a stupidly fun event, filled with face masks, pink dressing gowns and so. many. snacks. If you can’t get enough of Grace, check out this interview in Cosmo where she opens up about her mental health struggles. Grace in the face of adversity, much?

Our lips aren’t sealed

The Kylie Jenner pop-up shop in New York opened this week, and people went a little bit mental. Some Kylie superfans started queuing at midday THE DAY BEFORE. By the time the doors opened at 10:30am on Monday, it was snowing and the line snaked up and down the block and around a corner. But as any true Kylie Jenner fan knows, losing feeling in your toes is totally worth it if you can get your hand on her Valentine’s Day drop. Isn’t it? Sure it is.

👑 MY TEAM! Can't BELIEVE the LOVE today!!!!!!!

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

Extreme onion cutting 

There are a million old wives’ tales about how to stop yourself from crying while chopping onions (keep onions in the fridge, don’t chop the root of the onion, put a spoon in your mouth), but 19-year-old Dwi Intan came up with a genius tactic of her own this week: a motorbike helmet. First question: did it work? Amazingly she said it still didn’t completely solve the problem, but points for creativity.

Second question: what the hell recipe requires that many onions, and can we eat it please?

The Everything, Everything trailer is here!

The trailer for Everything, Everything has finally landed and it’s amazing. Based on Nicola Yoon’s book of the same name, Amandla Stenberg plays Madeline Whittier, a 17-year-old girl who’s never been outside because of a disease that would kill her if she left her strictly controlled house. But when Olly moves in next door… oh, we all know where this is going, right? Just watch the trailer.

Hey, which Bey is your bae? 

Did you see the pics of Beyoncé at the Grammys? Of course you did. You saw how amazing she looked in her red, sequinned number with her deluxe two-roomed baby bump. But finally, we’re thrilled to announce there’s an answer to the question we’ve all pondered in the wee hours of morning… which era Beyoncé are you? Take our quiz and find out!

 

WINTER IS COMING. I mean, it’s technically already here… but snow, snow is coming! The weather forecast is full of snowflakes and our heads are full of snow day dreams, thick socks and all the different ways we could toast marshmallows without an actual fire (sticking them carefully in the gas hob might not be as romantic, but it gets the job done).

With any luck, by the end of today we’ll all be three foot deep in the white stuff, literally incapable of leaving the house and in need of a huge stack of cosy, wintry films to hunker down with. So here are some of our all-time favourite winter (but not Christmas) films to warm your cockles.

And if the weather fails us, hey – that’s what weekends are for.

Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands

Way before Tim Burton gave Willy Wonka and Alice in Wonderland their gothic makeovers, he made magic with Johnny Depp in this gorgeous fantasy about a boy ‘created’ with scissors for hands. Taken in by a suburban family, gentle Edward turns his sharp talents to haircuts, topiary and beautiful ice sculptures. You’ll cry, you’ll swoon and you’ll have the urge to give yourself a creative fringe trim afterwards (don’t).

Lion the witch and the wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

There is probably no snowy tale more magical than this one, the story of four evacuees who stumble on another world at the back of a wardrobe – a world of fauns and friendly beavers where it is always winter, but never Christmas. And if a blizzard really gets going outside, there are two more films and seven books to plow through. Turkish delight sold separately.

Happy feet

Happy Feet

It’s penguins! Tap dancing! Tap dancing penguins! If that prospect doesn’t immediately fill you with joy, there’s probably a chip of ice in your heart. Get that seen to.

Cool runnings

Cool Runnings

Is this the ultimate underdog sports movie? PROBABLY. Or if not, it’s definitely the ultimate underdog winter Olympics sports movie, which makes it all we need right now. Let the true story of the first national Jamaican bobsled team melt your heart quicker than a choc ice on a radiator.

Ice Age

Ice Age

Ok so it doesn’t count as a 100% accurate history lesson, but the animated tale of a mammoth, a sloth and a sabre-toothed tiger battling the icy elements to return a human baby to safety teaches us that even 11,000 years ago, in a time before social media or school or the wheel, people still needed good friendships to get them through. Or sloths and mammoths. Whatever.

Groundhog day

Groundhog Day

Think you love a good snow day? How about having one every single day, the very same day, for hundreds of years? Yeah, thought as much. This classic 90s Bill Murray comedy answers that age old question asked by everyone who’s ever had a seriously crappy day: what if you COULD go back to bed and start the whole thing over again?

March of the penguins

March of the Penguins

It’s penguins! Real ones! Marching! More romantic than your average rom-com, this gorgeous documentary from National Geographic charts the progress of thousands of emperor penguins as they make the long, treacherous journey to their ancestral breeding grounds – and hopefully find love in the process. Pingu was never this emosh.

Little Women snow

Little Women

Louisa May Alcott’s tale of teenage sisterhood might span all the seasons several times over, but it’s those winter bonnets and ice skating scenes that really make life in the American Civil War look appealing. Cocoon yourself on the sofa and decide once and for all if you’re Team Laurie or Team German Professor.

Frozen

Frozen

Didn’t think we’d let this one go, did you? No chance.

Does your festive enthusiasm put Buddy the Elf to shame, or are you Grinchier than the Grinch himself? Let’s find out…

When do you think is the 'right' time to put up a Christmas tree is?

When did you stop believing in Santa?

What time do you wake up on Christmas Day?

What sort of present unwrapper are you?

Who’s your fave reindeer?

How do you feel about Christmas pudding?

In the school nativity play, your dreamed of being cast as...

Love Actually comes on the TV. What do you do?


So before I start, I want to make something clear: I wouldn’t describe myself as a huge fan of Star Wars. I have watched the old films and I liked them, sure, but while I can recite the Harry Potter books line for line and could probably write a 10,000 word essay on The Hunger Games, it was never that much of a thing for me, growing up. 

But now? Now, hand me a lightsaber and call me Padmé, I am a signed-up Star Wars geek. I loved The Force Awakens and now I love the new film Rogue One. I have never felt more elated than when Rey turned on that lightsaber for the first time, and Rogue One was similarly delightful. If you’re um-ing and ah-ing over whether or not you should tear yourself away from the Quality Street to go and see it, here are five reasons why you definitely should. 

1. It will give you All The Feels

Without spoiling anything, if you’re a fan of going to a film and crying off all your mascara, Rogue One starts with a scene that had me full on ugly sobbing and the final third had me crying so much I had to stuff my fist in my mouth so I didn’t make a noise in the otherwise silent cinema. If a film can make you so emotionally invested you start honking because of your tears, it’s probably doing something right. 

2. Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso is a delicately featured, five foot three badass 

She doesn’t have a single scene where she is in a bikini or treated as an object to be lusted over. In fact, she spends most of the film dirty, sweaty, and Getting Stuff Done. It’s amazing to have a female character who is vulnerable and strong and clever and impulsive and an action hero and respected and sometimes a bit of an idiot, and now Star Wars has given us two in a row. It’s awesome.

3. It’s making a lot of stupid people on the internet very angry

I know this sounds like a weird reason to see a film, but stay with me. Whilst making people angry isn’t usually something I’m a fan of, these people are angry because the last two Star Wars films have had a black man and women as the main characters. They are insistent that women aren’t strong enough to lead rebellions (er, have they not heard of Boudica, Leymah Gbowee or Joan of Arc?) and that black men can’t be heroes because… well. I dunno, really. They’re just idiots. But the success of The Force Awakens and Rogue One is proving them wrong, and long may it continue. 

4. It is wondrous escapism

I spend most of my life in an anxious tizzy about something or other, but sitting staring at a giant screen that’s filled with utterly beautiful pictures telling me stories of rebellions and space battles is enough to take me away from it just for a few hours. Rogue One does this perfectly. It’s hard to care about your holiday Maths homework when the future of the galaxy is at stake. 

5. There’s an incredibly sarcastic seven-foot robot played by the guy who voiced The Duke of Weasleton in Frozen

Which is reason enough to see it on its own, tbh. 

@jimsyjampots

Christmas is a matter of DAYS away. Food, school holidays and watching your Nan get giggly on the sherry awaits.

But it can be difficult to feel the warm glow of festive tidings when you’ve got a huge project due in January and the Christmas adverts have been on repeat since November. Sometimes too much glitter-dusted advertising and endless spins of Mariah Carey can leave you as cold as the weather outside… so here are 10 alternative ways to find your Christmas spirit this year:

1. Discover some different Christmas music

Even the biggest Christmas fan can be left exhausted by too many repeats of I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t season-appropriate music out there to get you in the mood.

Start with A Very She & Him Christmas, a collection of calm and contemplative covers of well-known Christmas songs by Zooey Deschanel and musician M Ward, before moving on to Surfjan Stevens’ beautiful Songs for Christmas or the gloriously retro A Motown Christmas. Or head to Spotify and search for [insert genre of your choice here] + Christmas: someone will already have done the hard playlist work for you.

2. Go fantasy party dress shopping

Yes, you have to go Christmas shopping, and yes, it will wipe out your allowance (unless you make your own). But while you’re there, take some friends and go and try on the most badass outfits you can find for parties – imaginary or otherwise – you’ve got ahead of you. Head to the fitting rooms and try on something you’d never normally buy. The shops are full of Christmas music and sparkles, so it would be positively rude not to (and if you really like it, well, you know what to look for in the sales).

3. Have a Christmas craft afternoon

Paper-chains, cutting out snowflakes and covering things in glitter; set aside an afternoon to decorate your bedroom like it’s 1975. You’ll be amazed at what you can make from stuff you’ve just got lying around your home. If you’re stuck for inspiration there’s loads of brilliant ideas on Instagram and Pinterest, but here are a few to start you off: cute toilet-roll reindeer, this awesome wrapping paper Christmas tree and these cute egg box flowers.

4. Bake something

It’s cold and gross outside, and the endless scroll of Instagram and Snapchat are making you feel sluggish. Get off the sofa and into the kitchen: baking is a great way to beat boredom or give yourself some screen-free time (floury fingers don’t work on a touchscreen).

Whether you get some mates round to ice biscuits or cook up some easy festive cookies to give away to your friends (they make bargainous Christmas presents), it’s a lovely way to pass an afternoon. Plus if you make something with cinnamon or orange in, the whole place will smell Christmassy. Bonus. 

5. Go for a wintery walk (and get cosy after)

The last of the autumn leaves might be falling, but there is still plenty of wintery wonder to be found in the great outdoors, especially with people putting up their Christmas lights. Go and find a bit of outside; whether that’s your local park, the posh bit of town or somewhere a little further afield. The best thing about shaking a leg? Heading somewhere cosy and comforting afterwards to warm up – even if it’s just your living room.

6. Get the lighting right

Whether you’ve subscribed to the Danish trend of hygge or not, low lighting can transform a room and conjure the right level of Christmassy cosiness. Whether you opt for some fairylights, light a few candles (make sure you’re always in the room when they’re lit, though, that’s candle 101) or both, you can create a sense of festive magic by placing a few twinkly things in the right corners of a room.

7. Do something for someone else

It’s a cliché but it’s true: sometimes the best thing you can do at Christmas is give back. Whether that’s as simple as helping out a friend or sibling with a problem or some homework, donating your time to a charitable cause – such as helping out at a charity Christmas fair – or spending some of your hard-earned cash on a donation to your supermarket’s food bank. That warm, fuzzy feeling inside? It’s not indigestion, it’s festive goodwill.

8. Have a Christmas film afternoon

Simple, but usually effective. Grab a mate or get your family together, pick a few of your favourite Christmas films or maybe a new one (although you can never go wrong with Elf), load up on snacks and switch your phone onto airplane mode. Don’t forget the blankets.

9. Help out with the Christmas feast

No, Father Christmas doesn’t arrive on Christmas morning and help the chef of the household – that’s a grown-up who has spent a ridiculous amount of time and money thinking about how to make everyone too full to move by 6pm on the 25th.

So surprise whoever’s in charge in the kitchen now by offering your help with the catering over Christmas (there’s that goodwill again) and, as the big day approaches, get involved with peeling potatoes or making pigs-in-blankets. You’ll be surprised by how much fun you can have – and it’ll make the finished product even tastier.

10. Plan something fun for the family to do over Christmas

Christmas takes a lot of thought and coordination from those that are running the show, so lighten the load and have something beyond presents to look forward to by planning a surprise for when the telly gets boring. Perhaps it could be a game of Just A Minute themed around family memories and in-jokes. You could suggest a film to watch that the others may not have thought of, or make your own crackers. You might even wind up starting a new Christmas tradition!

See, don’t you feel more festive already?

@alice_emily

Comic books featuring all of our favourite superheroes have been around for a long time. Since your parents were kids. Since your grandparents were kids, even!Although that doesn’t mean many of the stories, the characters, the superpowers and the badass things they do aren’t still great today.

Batman, for example, first cropped up in a comic book waaay back in 1939. Nineteen-thirty-goddam-nine. Since then, there have been a lot of comic books, movies, TV shows and other cool stuff made about him, starring him and celebrating him. But you may have noticed there are often far too many superhero dudes on our TVs and in our cinemas and jumping through our comic books. Which begs the question: Where are all the badass female superheroes?

Well, there are actually lots out there if you look carefully. And the good news is, more and more are appearing each day. They’re also representing more and more actual girls and women too, which is always a really good thing.

So if you’re already into comic books, can’t get enough of the new Supergirl show or need a helping of badass female superpowers in your life and don’t know where to start, then check out our list of favourite female superheroes who are totally #goals…

(And if you like superhero stories and comic books, there are so so so many more characters and stories for you to explore. This list is just the beginning.)

1. Rogue

If you’ve watched any of the X Men movies or TV shows, chances are you’ve come across Rogue before. She’s really different in some of the older comic books, but in the modern day films she’s a teen just like you, trying to get her head around regular teen stuff – like growing up and crushes. The problem is, when she touches people she sucks all of their energy out of them. Eek! Not great for a first kiss.

Rogue soon learns how to harness her powers and use them for good – she just needs to wear gloves at first a lot to stop her hurting anyone. We like her so much because we get to see how she learns to better use and understand her powers over time; a classic rise of a superhero story. BOOM!

Superpower: She can absorb powers, energy, memories and sometimes even skills via touch.

 

2. Gamora

Gamora is another classic comic book superhero who has recently appeared in a big movie. She was played by Zoe Saldana in Guardians of the Galaxy and her back story is she’s the green-skinned, adopted alien daughter of Thanos, a huge supervillain who is a massive deal in the world of The Avengers.

She naturally has some awesome superpowers, like enhanced strength, speed and durability. But she’s also trained in all of the martial arts you could imagine across all kinds of worlds. Why do we love her so much? Well, due to all her training she became known as “the deadliest woman in the whole galaxy”. What. A. Title.

Superpower: Super human strength, speed, agility and durability.

 

3. Storm

Like Rogue, Storm is part of the X Men, which means fans of the films will be all too familiar with her awesome white hair and eye-changing abilities. Take a look at her back story and you’ll see she’s the daughter of a tribal princess from Kenya, but moved around a lot when she was growing up, finally settling with the X Men team.

We’re such huge Storm fans because she can control the ACTUAL weather. You may think that’s not that cool. Making it rain? Yeah, we get that everyday. But when you’re fighting big baddies being able to whip up a hurricane or throw a bolt of lightning is nothing short of amazing.

Superpower: She can control the weather. And also, just a small thing, she can fly.

 

4. Jessica Jones

Thanks to a recent Netflix adaptation, this little known superhero is one of our favourites. We love Jessica Jones so much because in many ways she’s a bit of an anti-superhero. She doesn’t really want to be out fighting crime or helping people that much – she’s a private investigator, and helping people just kind of… happens. Sometimes.

She also doesn’t have to wear silly (or cool, depending on your preference) costumes to fight crime either. She wears normal clothes and messes up a lot. Maybe she doesn’t sound like the best role model in the world, but we can relate to her very real, human story.

Superpower: Super human strength and endurance.

 

5. Supergirl

You’ve probably heard of Superman before, obvs. But, thanks to a new TV show all about Supergirl, she’s set to become even more popular than her big cousin.

Supergirl’s official name is Kara Zor-El and the back story is that she was sent to Earth from the doomed planet Krypton. Sound familiar? That’s because this is Superman’s back story too. The thing is, his little space pod thing got to Earth but Kara’s didn’t. Well, not until years later. Hence the reason he’s zooming around being all super for ages before she doesn’t turned up.

But we love her now she’s here, not least because her show is so refreshing when we’re all used to seeing Superman with the big ‘S’ on his chest. She has it too!

Superpower: All the super stuff, basically. We’re talking super strength, heat vision, speed, mostly invulnerable, x-ray vision, microscopic vision and more.

@BeccaCaddy

Space nerds, rejoice! There’s never been a better time to be really into space, stars, planets and other examples of astronomical goodness.

Exciting new space discoveries are being reported everyday and the mainstream media is finally really, really interested in what the universe has to offer. Like, hello, who didn’t cry when the Rosetta space probe crash-landed onto that comet, never to be seen again? Not to mention, there are a bunch of badass female astronauts paving the way for our next new role models in space (we’re looking at you Jessica Meir and Nicole Aunapu Mann) and pop culture is obsessed with all things space and sci-fi right now.

So, if you want to indulge your wannabe space scientist or inner astronaut, here are our favourite movies, books and TV shows about exploring the stars, hopping onto a spaceship or maybe even meeting some aliens along the way. To infinity and beyond!

1. Interstellar

Interstellar

This epic movie was released a few years back and marked the start of a pop culture fascination with all things space-related. And we can totally understand why. It had a stellar (sorry) cast including Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway and… well, someone else who makes a surprise appearance. Bonus points for having plenty of female astronauts for us all to aspire to!

It’s about the stuff that makes space so damn fascinating, and kinda terrifying – like exploration, black holes and a big dose of fantasy time travel. But, and this is a big but, it’s also about human relationships and experiences too. So have some tissues at the ready.

2. The Long Way To a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

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This book has won (and is tipped to win) so many literary awards, it’s mind-boggling. The story is about Rosemary, who decides to get aboard a spaceship called the Wayfarer to see what life flying through the galaxy is like. There are plenty of people on board and adventures to be had as the Wayfarer crew decide to embark on a big mission to build a hyperspace tunnel.

There are relationships and personal dramas, some interesting takes on what it means to be a woman flying through space, as well as everything you’d expect from a book about interstellar travel – like aliens, fantastical space-time tunnels and lots of exciting, new, and sometimes scary, discoveries.

3. Firefly

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Made by the guy behind mega hit 90s/00s show Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly is all about the crew of a spaceship called Firefly, the adventures they get up to – and the baddies they encounter along the way. Eek! Watch out for the REEVERS. *Shudder*.

It’s definitely in the realm of sci-fi and fantasy rather than your run-of-the-mill trip to the moon, but the show is bound to appeal to those who love space and the idea of finding alien worlds. It also features an awesome main character, River Tam, who has a troubled past and a mean roundhouse kick.

If you get really into Firefly then check out the TV show’s spin-off movie, Serenity. Or try things the other way round if you want to be all proper and chronological about it. Firefly was made before Serenity, but Serenity tells you River Tam’s backstory properly. Phew, I know, it’s hard to keep up.

4. Gravity

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Gravity is probably the entry on the list that feels the most real, despite being set up in space. Meaning, it’s not in the future, there are no aliens and everything messes up gloriously – just like it always seems to in real life.

The soundtrack is nothing short of OMG-TOTALLY-EPIC, the spacey scenery is beautiful and Sandra Bullock puts in a really solid performance as Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. It’s edge-of-yer-seat stuff, so prepare to shout “NOOOO!” at the screen repeatedly. And if you can, get it on a big TV rather than an iPad or computer screen. The visuals will blow your little mind.

5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

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This classic sci-fi novel actually started off as a short story and was so popular it was then turned into a whole SAGA. It’s less space travel in the not-so-distant-future and more about adapting to a big alien threat in the very-distant-future after we’ve nailed that whole travelling between planets thing. Eek!

The story is all about Ender Wiggin, a young boy who turns out to be a tactical genius and maybe our only hope against the potential invasion. Maybe, I mean, we’ll see. It’s a big ask, after all.

Like most classic books nowadays, this one was made into a movie – starring Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley. Although that doesn’t tend to get as good reviews as the book does… so you’ve been warned.

6. Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is more of a sci-fi, comic book movie than could-it-be-real-one-day? space movie. (Although we’d like to think one day the adorable little fluffy racoon thing in it might be real. Fingers crossed.)

It’s all about Peter Quill’s (although call him ‘Starlord’) alien-fuelled, laugh-out-loud-funny adventure through space where he meets all kinds of different characters, like Gamora, Draz, Groot and Rocket. Collectively, they become the Guardians of the Galaxy. If you love this, then you’ll be happy to hear there’s already a sequel in the works.

7. Chasing The Stars by Malorie Blackman

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Here’s another book that has won an award recently for the way it paints very real, human relationships in the very otherworldly realm of space.

It’s all about Olivia and her brother Aidan who are all alone on a spaceship hurtling back to earth after a virus has killed everyone else. (Sure, it’s not the most optimistic start ever.) On their way they pass another spaceship, and that’s how they meet Nathan. Nathan and Olivia fall for each other immediately and the book is all about the crazy things that happen in space and how it’s possible (or maybe isn’t possible) to fall in love out there.

8. The Martian

The Martian gif

The Martian was a huge blockbuster last year because it combined everything we all love about suspense movies, but casually relocated the action to Mars. The cast is great (hello Matt Damon) and it’s one of those timeless stories that will appeal to everyone – whether you’ve got a bit of a crush on all things spacey or not.

9. Star Trek

Star Trek

We know, we know. Bear with us. This might seem like something only your parents could love. But honestly, a lot of the Star Trek shows are still really watchable. You could go as far back as the first episodes and the Star Trek: The Original Series shows, or take a look at Star Trek: The Next Generation, which we personally really like here at betty. They’re just dated enough to be a bit funny – cheesy lasers and aliens, anyone? – but a lot of the stories are still really entertaining.

And if you like the characters, then go and watch past versions and catch up on the movies, too. There are plenty and lots of new ones still being made.

10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle

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A Wrinkle in Time is a sci-fi classic written for children that feels a bit like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for space lovers. It’s about a boy called Charles who travels through ‘a wrinkle in time’ to find his dad. But instead, he finds himself on an alien planet enslaved by a big brain called ‘It’. Definitely one more for the quirky sci-fi fans than those who just want to think about nice swirling galaxies and twinkling stars.

So what are you waiting for? Go get a taste for space… without even leaving the sofa.

@BeccaCaddy