Toy Like Me Campaign, Make-unders on Bratz Dolls, And Inclusive Doll Play

On Facebook the other day I saw a link about wonderful company called Makies which creates customisable dolls, with “inclusive accessories to represent everyone. Create your Makie and choose their accessories!” (bolding in original text). You can read more about the company on this article by


What a great response to a need. Something inclusive and beautifully produced. While the girls do have very similar face and eye shapes, I like that the skin tone and hair is different for each of the dolls. I also am really happy at the girl like nature of the dolls rather than overdoing on make up and hyper-sexualization that can happen with children’s playthings.

In fact, one woman gives broken Bratz a new life with a make-under, new clothes, and sometimes new limbs. Sonia Singh refurbishes Bratz creatures she finds at thrift stores into recognizable dolls. She repaints their faces to look more like a child’s face and between her and her mother fashion clothing that is cute and more closely resembles child play clothes. You can read more about her Tree Change Dolls here.

'I found this ex-Bratz doll at the Margate tip shop in Tassie,' Ms Singh wrote, 'She was definitely ready for a tree change! I have re-painted her face, sewn overalls, moulded new shoes, and re-conditioned her hair. Her top is hand knitted by my Mum!'

If I knew how to paint the faces back on, I would start doing this for my nieces. I love the re-purposing of items that the Tree Change Dolls represent. Plus, this woman does such an amazing transformation that it is just incredible. Please go to the link provided and check out more of them. They are just too adorable!

One of my sisters has opted to buy her girls Calico Critters to play with instead of barbies. I do think the critters are cute and their accessories are adorable. But I really like that there is a new wave of inclusive toys that look like the children who are playing with them.

Calico Critters Norwood Mouse Family


I do wish there were more male dolls out there that weren’t hyper-sexualized. Hopefully that will become a trend that catches on as well. Learning caring and nurturing skills is just as important for boys, and giving them dolls (not just baby dolls) that look like them also an important step in inclusive doll play. Read this wonderful story about a mother who taught her three boys how caring for a baby doll is an important part of their growth as men. She read them a book called William’s Doll, had a discussion with them, and then a doll diapering, feeding, and bathing instruction time.

Adding Grease to the Pink Aisle

This is a really cool advert by the engineering toy company GoldieBlox which seeks to disrupt the pink aisle by creating building toys for girls. [via The Mary Sue]

eBook Review: Love in Bloom

love in bloom

*I got this book through my Amazon Kindle App for free

**Usually I keep this blog PG-13 friendly with the occasional NSFW link thrown in. Today, I talk a little more grown up. If you don’t want to read that stuff or are too young to decide this on your own please check out some of my other posts. May I suggest searching for Doctor Who. That should keep you entertained for a while!

***Spoilers on the romantic aspects of this story*** (I almost didn’t put this. This is a romance book, if you are really upset by these spoilers I suggest not reading reviews.)

I’m a big fan of the romance genre. I like reading about people working on relationships, the good and the bad. I’m not even turned off by bad and cheesy hand holding book covers. However, even though this book was free, I felt it didn’t do the romance genre justice. Usually I try to avoid writing reviews about books I don’t like because, I figure, just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean someone else won’t like it, and I can’t write really funny bad reviews like this one, so I just refuse to rate them and spend my time reviewing them. But, a couple of things stuck in my claw about this book, and I wanted to say a few things. And this is my blog, and I can do that.

Here is the GoodReads synopsis of Love in Bloom

Dr. Paige Conrad needs Clay Reynolds’ help. However, he can’t give it because she and the rest of the town of Langley, Maryland, might discover his secret. Clay has no memory of the first 25 years of his life. The past and his father’s rejection is behind him. Digging it up brings back nightmare he has fought for ten years to control. After spending three years in underdeveloped countries following her parents vision of healing, Paige has come to Langley to gain perspective on her life and help an old friend with his medical practice. Learning Clay was involved in a rock climbing accident and went through the rehabilitation process, she wants him to share his experience with a trouble teenager to give the boy hope.

Paige and Clay are inexorably drawn to each other. But can Clay trust Paige and share his secret? Can Paige dare to follow her own dreams.

Sounds interesting right? Someone with a medical problem, retrograde amnesia. A doctor trying to figure out who she is, and where she belongs in this world. A couple of subplots about old friends and a troubled teenager. The makings of a decent romance novel right there. Where the book fails is in its execution of its own characters. I felt like the author thought, what are some cute ways a couple could be forced to spend time together, wrote those moments, and then wrote filler paragraphs in between the moments she wanted to write about. Character development throughout was rather poor, but then she would have these really sweet moments. A book, life! (and art of any form is a reflection of life), is more than a few sweet moments. Plus, thunderstorms or overbearing mother are not conflict unless there is a reason for them other than, oh I guess there should be conflict in this moment. It would have been awesome if Paige and her mother had a really well drawn out back story, if there had been more than a few paragraphs about their relationship before the drama of it, if her mother hadn’t shown up out of the blue, left when it was convenient for the author and then showed back up again when, hey I guess there should be conflict here. Life and stories aren’t just about the big moments and waiting in between, life is actually what happens in the between moments, in the quiet and the stillness, and the reflection of who we are as people.

But, OK, I’ve read plenty of romance novels where the characters are not fully fleshed out, but still enjoyed the book, so why did this one not reach that level of such badness it was awesome? Well, perhaps because they were not fully *fleshed out*, hehehehe. (Sorry, sometimes I can’t help myself.) I’m going to spoil something here, Paige is a virgin. Oh LAWDY, clutch my pearls and gasp, this was soooo unexpected. While, I think it is fair to say American’s have a very puritanical view of sex (seeing as many of us came from puritans, I personally came from a religious sect called the Anabaptist, so same difference), she grew up a nomad surrounded by many different cultures. Even though she has not grown up in American she holds on to those puritanical views, even though she went to med school in Chicago and was away from parental supervision for years! Now, I’m not knocking those people who choose to wait until the time is right for them to express their own sexuality, but it is a weird phenomenon in the romance genre that virginity is held up to be this kind of holy grail. I personally don’t believe that is true or realistic. And I really felt it detracted from the story rather than added to the plot. Paige becomes even more aloof than she already is because she hasn’t been with a man yet. While virginity is a spectrum concept and everyone has their own version of what it means, it appears Paige hasn’t even done much kissing! (Which is just a shame.) As a result Paige she doesn’t know how to deal with men other than a lot of begging, getting upset, and then ignoring them. Blech.

Ok, so we have virginal sex, which doesn’t do much for me in the way of epic romances or doing the grown up in books. But then she has awesome sex on the first try. Which isn’t even described in any detail. I just. What? No one I have ever talked to has had an AWESOME first time experience. Having good sex takes practice and learning to understand the partner that you are with. It means discussing the grown up while having clothes on, expressing desires and wants, and being vulnerable. Paige does none of these things and has awesome sex that is less than a paragraph long.

So on top of underdeveloped characters, the virginity holy grail issue (that I admit, may be solely my own issue), the romance has unrealistic sexual encounters that aren’t even written with any detail. Furthermore, they do not add to the plot except to teach that virginity loss leads to marriage. ::Headdesk:: No decent plot line, little to no sexy times, I mean what *should* I be looking for in a romance book but these things?

Is this a horrible book? Not by any means. The writing isn’t too bad, and I think the characters have potential. However, the story has some holes and the characters are underdeveloped. In addition, Paige suffers from the virginity holy grail plot device and the sexy times are unrealistic and not very sexy. In the end, the best I can say is that this is not the greatest book I’ve ever read.

Nodds & Nends: Jayne Hats, Tiny House, and Dove’s Commercial

Firefly crack down by Fox  on selling Jayne Hat’s on Etsy. Big surprise. [Note the sarcasm.]

I found these tiny houses in trees. It’s totally photoshopped, but in my imaginary world it isn’t. And I live in one of them. With a blue door.

Check out this eyeful of art. Literally, Eye Art. I think it is gorgeous!

Probably most of you have seen Dove’s recent beauty sketches ad. Here is my two cents worth, It’s an ad. For a beauty product company. Of course it is going to be about beauty. It’s an ad, it is going to be dramatic, and seem unrealistic. It’s a story they are telling. It’s an ad. People are upset because of course we are still talking about women’s beauty as being what they are worth. But I don’t think that is the actual message, I think people like to be negative whenever possible. I think that Dove was trying to show that sometimes how we see ourselves isn’t always in the best light. Sometimes the way other people look at us can give us insight into our own lives and we take from that what we will. Personally, I like this ad.

Nodds & Nends: “Fake” Geek Girls, Write Like You Talk, and the Pendulum Choir

I know I’ve posted much in the past about my distaste for saying that anyone is a fake geek. That elitist complex just makes me mad. But I keep finding interesting articles about it that I want to share, so here is another. I don’t agree with everything Doctor Nerd Love says, I think he puts other people’s fears and issues on the person doing the thing, rather than, Hey, take care of your own issues too.  But I he has some good points in this article about “Fake” Geek Girls.

I read an interesting post by an author on GoodReads about writing like you talk, even if you aren’t the best at grammar or spelling. That is what hiring a proofreader is about. I’m not saying learning grammar isn’t important, because it is. But some people don’t understand grammar in the way that I don’t understand math. That doesn’t mean they can’t write, just like that doesn’t mean I can’t do algebra. Actually, I’m great at algebra because I can memorize formulas and plug in numbers. The point is, if there is something you want to do, need to do, need to say or write, then do it. Write. (Thanks JohnMichael for the tip.)

A Pendulum Choir. Hydraulics and singing. This is the freakiest and most interesting thing I saw on the Internets this week, by far. (Thanks Breanna for the tip.)

Nodds and Nends: Miniature Bag End, Firefly RPG, and a Ron Swanson Cake

The very best thing I have found on the internets recently is this miniature Bag End. I mean, it is just too awesome for words!

And if you are hungry, maybe skip this next paragraph, because cakes! Geeky cakes! First up, an Avengers cake via Pinterest. Also from Pinterest is this really awesome Ron Swanson cake. Awesome, because cake. But also awesome because Ron Swanson is an amazing character, and I love him. Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite comedy shows. And finally a Firefly cake from Pinterest. I’ll admit the people don’t look at all like the characters, but the ship looks like Serenity. . . ish.

Speaking of Firefly, an announcement has circled the internets that an official tabletop RPG is in the making.

Random concept art I’ve found includes a digital painting of Mary Poppins, street art of a colorful woman made of flowers and rainbows, and an illustration of Aurora as a zombie in Un-Sleeping Beauty (thanks for the tip Picture Me Reading!).

A wonderful comic of why females are frustrated when they have to “prove” they are geeky. Can’t we all just say nice shirt and only ogle the boobies from the corner of our eyes, like on 40 year old Virgin? Unless it’s the show Lost Girl. Anna Silk’s breasts are awesome and I can’t look away.

Peeps, you’ve probably all heard about this already, but I felt I needed to say a bit about the Kickstarter campaign of Veronica Mars. A movie is going to happen, because fans banded together, and the crew took a cut, and all the Veronic Mars nerds united to say, Hey we want this story told. And this is awesome. Because the best part of life (is not Folger’s in your cup, sorry) but telling stories that have to be told. Check out the Kickstarter campaign. Even though fully funded, you can get in on some extra goodies and help get this movie made. For $35 you get a t-shirt, behind the scenes scoop, and a digital version of the movie within a few days of the movies release. Sounds like a deal to me, especially at the high cost of movie tickets. I understand that some people are concerned about Kickstarter payees not being investors in the sense that they get a return on their money, but in the internet age I do think things will tend toward paying for what you want as you want it instead of a ton of cable shows you hate. And if  you want to get a digital version of a movie and a free t-shirt for $35, why is that a bad thing? And I also get, hey we raised all this money for a weird cause, why not raise money for a good cause. But people use their disposable income for entertainment, who is to say they don’t also give to charity? Personally, I think it is cool.

Finally, 40 inspirational speeches in 2 minutes. Somehow it all makes sense now.

Nodds & Nends: Baring Skin, Gender Bender, and Fairy Tale Inspired Shoes

Does baring skin mean you’re stupid? A psychological look at the reasons calling women fake geek girls is hurtful. This is a really well written piece and goes into many of the side issues that don’t get talked about often. Things I’ve been pointing out on the internets and in real life for a while, just said much more well (I can’t help myself).

Some cool Gender Bender stuff that I’ve found. The first one is Jennifer Lawrence as Thor. Though I agree with The Mary Sue, not sure why they bared her midriff.  Seems like prime stabbing space now.

If  you’re a writer, cut the bullshit and say you are. An interesting and encouraging piece by Daniel Dalton on claiming what you are.

Speaking of writing and books, I stumbled onto this image of how one person views libraries.  Not as a bunch of dusty books with the library Dewey decimal tag on them, but a world full of wonder. My favorite place downtown is the library. It’s massive and magical.

Check out these shoes (and by shoes she means impossibly high heels that I would never be able to wear even if I do think they are pretty awesome) that have been inspired by Disney’s representation of fairy tales and stories. [via Picture Me Reading]

Finally, Carol Burnett does a Star Trek Gender Bender sketch. While I personally think it plays a little too much into stereotype gender roles to get laughs, it’s a unique and funny sketch. [via The Mary Sue]