Adulting | How to Train Your Dragons

I’m not ashamed that like Connor, I also genuinely enjoy Disney movies, cartoons such as Phineas and Ferb, Adventure Time, Regular Show, Teen Titans - ah hell, I pretty much like Cartoon Network. I collect Pop Vinyls! Zelfs and Hot Wheels cars and I enjoy a good collectable - regardless of what it is. In all honesty I think I get more excited about the release of some toys than my own sons do. 

I only recently found out about Speedy Hen after they contacted both Connor and I to see if we wanted to review an item. We had the option of choosing any items but Connor and I headed straight to the graphic comic section. Yep I’m a sucker for a magazine type book with cartoons in them. I find I easily get drawn in by the imagery and the story and in times of high stress (which is pretty common with thirty-something’s) it’s sometimes good to revert back to your inner child, you know as a form of stress relief. Say it with me now ‘ohm’ 

I took a few days (OK it was actually about three days)to pawn over the range of graphic comics available, I finally settled on Adventure Time or DreamWorks How to Train Your Dragon series. Again each of these series’ contained multiple comics within the one cover which in my opinion is great value for money. 

My final decision was ‘’DreamWorks Dragons, Riders of Berk – Tales from Berk

This graphic comic was created by Titan Comics, who also create Doctor Who, Assassins Creed, Regular Show and Warhammer to name a few. My choice and many others contains two stories within the one cover, call me a tad greedy but two comics over one will always get my vote. Connor also chose a two story graphic comic with Darth Maul being the main character. You can check out his review here of Darth Maul - Death Sentence. 

The two stories are (from the blurb):

• Dragon Down |One of the dragons does missing and the hunt is on to find him – before the enemies do!
 Dangers of the Deep | Stoick and Hiccup encounter something huge and deadly in the mysterious Veil of Mists.

• About the series and the comics 

Some of the main characters from the series include Hiccup who is the main protagonist in the stories and movies, he lost a leg in an accident and was the first to ‘train a dragon’, Toothless is the main dragon, he, like his rider has a disability but neither of them let it affect their ability to problem solve, ride, or do good for others. Stoick The Vast and Valka are the parent to Hiccup and his friends include: Fishlegs, Ruffnut and Tuffnut, Astrid. 

• Some of the main dragons include 

• Toothless who is a Night Fury and is ridden by Hiccup. 
• Meatlug who is a Gronkle and ridden by Fishlegs. 
• Stormfly who is a Deadly Nadder and is ridden by Astrid, 
• Skullcrusher who is a Rumblehorn and is ridden by Stoick. 
• Hookfang is a Monstrous Nightmare and ridden by Snotloud. 
• Barf and Belch is a two headed Hideous Zippleback a is ridden by Ruffnut and Tuffnut. 

Each of the riders and their dragons are similar in some ways, very much like how owners these days match their dogs. Along with the species of dragons being different they each bring different characteristics to the story making it somewhat unconventional. I mean most characters these days (especially for children) don’t seem to have disabilities. Sometimes things go wrong in this series, sometimes they fall out and I like that. I like that they really are bringing an element of real life to the cartoons and comics because that’s what kids and adults need to see and read. To remind us that hell, life isn’t always rosy and you know, things work out fine in the end.

• The imagery 

Just look at this example of the imagery, here you will see the gang ranting about Hiccup (as usual). Look how detailed the artwork is without it being pixelated or grainy. The images are sharp, their clear and, they get the mind working overtime. You really can imagine being in that place at that time (yes I know it’s not a real place).

The covers also are of a super high standard, the print work on these is awesome and because they are super glossy, they will last a long time without easily being marked, scratched or ruined. I like that *winks* I like things that last and are easy to care for.

• So why did I choose this option over others 

Well, it’s partly due to my sons. Over the years we’ve enjoyed many DVD’s with How to Train Your Dragon’s being one of them. Every time it would come on I’d always say in a very deep and manly voice with a strong Scottish twang ‘How tae trrrr-ain yur draguns’ and the boys would laugh and copy me. Because of that, and my youngest sons love for Toothless (the main dragon) I couldn’t not choose this option.

Yes I will benefit, but ultimately so will my sons as I know each of them will also get enjoyment out of the comic. So value for money this is definitely up there. Not all of my sons are into reading novels, but this type of graphic comic they absolutely all will enjoy. As a parent anything I can do or buy to get my sons using their imagination and reading more is money well spent or time well spent in my opinion.

You don’t need me to tell you to go and check out their range of comics but if you’re oohing and ahhing over whether you would enjoy one of these, or you ‘could’ enjoy one of these without the backlash of someone saying ‘you’re not a child’ then my answer to that is absolutely Yes, Yes, Yes!

 Stress reduction – tick
• Some ‘’you’’ time – tick
• Cost per read – tick
• Beautiful imagery that will make your eyes happy – tick
• Excellent table reads props or shelf ornaments– tick
• The ability to pass this onto someone of any age or gender – tick

Check out the range (first book in a few days of online browsing, you’ll thank me later) over at Speedy Hen.  Let me know which one’s stand out or what you’ve purchased yourself. Should we get the #graphiccomicohms going (!!!) for mums or dads who prefer to read graphic comic and ‘not adult’ rather than yoga and meditation?

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* Collaboration * 

Celebrating What Really Matters On Your Man's Birthday

There’s quite a lot to do when your man’s birthday is coming up. You have to organise the party, which might include rounding up all his friends and family in secret if you want to make it a surprise. There’s the big gift, which you might very well spend weeks agonising over if the right idea isn’t jumping out at you. But it’s important to make time to really celebrate what matters, especially if it’s a big birthday. Here are a few things you don’t want to forget.

His life

Really, that’s what a birthday is. It’s a celebration of someone’s life and you can make a little effort to ensure that’s really the case. For instance, you can look at things like creating a photo book in tribute to them with Memento custom photobooks. It can feature snippets from all kinds of moments in their life, from childhood memories to their relationship with you and your kids, if you have any. It’s a good idea to get his family or friends involved in the process of picking the photos that are going to have the most impact. They can get sentimental, they can get silly, they can even get a little embarrassing. Whatever direction you go with it, it serves as a terrific way to look on some of the most memorable moments of his life.
Good company

If you have a birthday party, then your man might already be touched by the presence of everyone there. A party is made by close family and fantastic friends. They deserve to be celebrated as part of his life as much as anything else. Some people keep birthday cards on really big birthdays to do just that, but you can make your dedication much more accessible than a bundle of cards. You can use Booth Boy photo booth hire to give everyone the opportunity to take the best possible pictures of themselves at the party. If it’s a biggie, like a thirtieth birthday, you can include a guest book for attendants to leave their own funny, meaningful, or simple dedications.
Your relationship

It might seem just a touch self-absorbed, but you know how much your relationship means to you and your partner does, too. If you’re having a big party later, it might be a good idea to have a quiet lunch or dinner with them at a spot that has some special significance to the both of you. But what’s important is taking the day to celebrate him and what he brings to the relationship. One of the best ways to do that is in writing. Men don’t get to hear why the people in their life are grateful for them enough. There’s plenty of inspiration to draw from when writing a gratitude letter or love note, but if you take some time and really pore over it, you’ll surely find plenty of your own material to draw from.
When all's said and done, having your birthday celebrated can feel like a whirlwind. It’s fun, but it blasts by and soon recedes in the distance. If you want the love of your life to really remember the day fondly, then find those little celebrations that will stick with both of you.

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Planning a Stag or Hen Party With a Twist

When you are planning your wedding, then there will be one other thing that you will also have to think about; a stag or hen party, of course! Nowadays, more and more people are having joint stag and hen parties, a hag or stag if you will. It might be that you have the same groups of friends, or have a large number of friends of the opposite sex. You could be a same-sex couple that doesn’t want to have separate parties.

Whatever the reason, there are many reasons why a joint do could be for you. It can save you money for one thing, which is always a good idea when you’re wedding planning. But if you’re not sure what might work for a stag or hag, then here are some ideas that would work well. Would love to hear what you think!

A Boat Party

A party on a boat is something that everyone will remember and enjoy as there are things for everyone. It can feel pretty luxurious too. This might only work if you were planning on going abroad, but it is a good idea if you are. Fun in the sun is a sure fire way to have a great and memorable party.


Traditionally a paintballing party is more of a stag party thing, but I know plenty of ‘hens’ that would enjoy that kind of thing too. So look up somewhere local and find out how much it might cost for all of you. You can usually get good deals when there are going to be a lot of you on a booking. You could even wow your guests with some fun facts about paintball on the day! Just don’t plan it too close to the actual wedding day; you don’t want to have bruised arms or legs!

Escape Room Game

Escape rooms are growing more and more in popularity, and it is easy to see why. In teams, you will enter rooms and have to solve puzzles and work together. It can be a really fun day out, finished off with some drinks! It is something a little bit different too, which is always a talking point.


It could just be a regular night out for some dancing, or you could head to somewhere like a salsa club. The bonus of having both men and women in the party is that there will be partners for everyone. Finish off with some sangria, and you’ve got a fun evening making happy memories for sure.

Pizza Making

If one of the group has a large enough house, then get all the gang together and make pizzas! It can be funny to see the concoctions that you create, especially if there are any extra spicy versions! Finish off with some old-school house party games or a movie, and you’ve got a cheap but fun night all rolled into one.

Have you ever been to a joint stag or hen party before? It would be interesting to hear about it!
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Your Wedding: The Solution To Cost-Cutting & DIY Disasters

Given the average cost of a wedding, it’s fairly easy to see why many couples choose to chart their own course when it comes to their big day. After all, it is just one day out of your life so it can seem obscene to spend a fortune if you simply don' have it.

The reality is a wedding doesn’t need a huge amount of money spent on it to be beautiful and memorable. After all, It’s supposed to be about a couple investing in their future together, exchanging vows in front of their friends and family in an effort to cement their union. Over time, society has seen weddings as something that should be beautiful, a perfect image of the perfect couple on a perfect day. Choosing to buck this trend to keep costs down can be a wonderful way of celebrating your future and defining yourselves as a couple by who you are, rather than what society expects you to be.

The Inexpensive Wedding Can Work…

But... only if you’re really okay with it. If you’re happy to save your money for the rest of your life together, perhaps saving for a house deposit, then that’s absolutely fine. You do you, after all. The problems tend to begin if you decide you don’t want to spend the money, but you do want the big, grand, beautiful wedding that we’re all meant to lust after.

What’s The Difference?

One is an active choice; a couple eschewing the expectations of what their wedding day should be in favour of what they want it to be. This couple isn’t going to mind going without the perfect floral arrangements and trimming their guest list because they’re not actually that concerned with their wedding. It’s about the moment, the marriage.

The alternative couple is very much attracted to the trappings of a big day - and there’s nothing wrong with that either! If you have been imagining a grand, fairytale-style wedding your entire life, then, of course, you’re going to want to go for it. You’re only going to do this once, after all - might as well make the most of it! Nevertheless, this couple isn’t making an active choice to scale back their wedding - it’s a choice they are being forced into by circumstance. It’s safe to assume this couple would have the big, glitzy wedding with all the trappings if they could, but they are being hamstrung by financial necessity.

The first couple - who really don’t mind about going without on their big day - are not going to be concerned with what their wedding isn’t. The second couple is going to be extremely concerned because they would have a big do but are being prevented from doing so by circumstance.

At this point, the second couple has a choice. They could look to borrow money from friends or family; look for loans for bad credit so that they can afford the nuptials they want, or just save up for longer to ensure they can make their dream wedding come true eventually. These are all viable options but, instead, many couples find themselves making a decision they will live to regret.

The Decision For A DIY Wedding

On the surface, opting to DIY as much of your wedding as possible seems like a neat way of bridging the gap. There are the things you want, the desire for how your wedding is going to look - but there’s not the money available to pay for them. So, you conclude, why not DIY to leap the chasm? It’s the best of both worlds, isn’t it - the wedding you want (even if it is DIYed) but without the cost. It’s a no-brainer, win-win kind of situation, isn’t it?

The problem is that it's not a win-win situation.

There’s no harm in DIYing elements of your wedding if you’re the kind of couple who isn’t much concerned with the wedding day itself. It might even be fun, bonding you together as you work on place settings and fiddle with different top table arrangements.

If, however, you’re trying to DIY your way to the grand wedding of your dreams, you’re setting yourself up for a disappointment. The reason for this is simple: you’re never going to be able to DIY as well as a professional production. You can try as hard as you like, but there’s a reason certain professionals make their entire living from producing all the little elements that give a wedding day a special touch. They have experience, time, and the skills to do so. If you’re going to be trying to match their standard in your spare time, then you’re inevitably going to be disappointed.

Can It Ever Work?

The key to managing this kind of issue is to deal with your expectations.

As mentioned before, if you have your heart set on the big, grand wedding of your dreams, then there are options that will allow you to achieve it. Maybe you need to wait a little longer before the big day or take a few financial leaps, but there are ways and means of being able to get what you’re dreaming of.

If you decide those aren’t for you, then something has to give - and the thing that should bend is your expectations.

Ask yourself how you are going to feel if you don’t have the wedding you have always dreamed of. There’s nothing precious about your response being “I would be devastated”, by the way. You will often see a lot of encouragement to the idea that your wedding should just be about the vows, that it doesn’t matter, that it’s just one day - but that’s a rather patronising take on the whole affair. Weddings have a special place in our hearts, with many couples describing their day as the best in their lives. It’s therefore not a sad reflection on your relationship or the times we live in if you want your wedding to be wonderful - and don’t let anyone persuade you differently!

Think About Scale

If you can adjust your expectations in any way, then the more viable and rewarding is going to be to tinker with the scale. The more you have to do something, the bigger the room for problems and issues that could upset you.

It may be a small change, but it can make a big difference as to what you have to afford or DIY for yourself: why not trim your guest list? You can get more for your money if you reduce the number of people attending. If you’re still going to DIY, then it’s going to be easier to get five table settings just to your liking rather than 20!

If the option is between having a smaller, but still gorgeous, wedding and a large but not-particularly-nice wedding, most couples would choose the first option every time. Your budget will spread further with a small wedding, allowing you to indulge a touch of luxury that a large event wouldn’t give you the chance to do.

The Decision Is Ultimately Yours

Of course, no one can make this decision for you. If you decide the priority is to have all of your friends and family at your wedding, then that’s completely your decision - no one is going to judge you either way!

Just be careful that you don’t spread funds and your abilities too thin. At the very least, give yourself as long as possible to get ready for the big day. If you’re rushing large preparations on a shoestring budget, then life is going to be tough. Give yourself adequate preparation time and with a little determination, you’ll still be able to have the wedding you have always desired.

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Connor | Darth Maul - Death Sentence (Spoilers)

Hi, my name is Connor and I'm a geek. I'm a huge fan of Star Wars, various animated series and computers. My love for Star Wars is astronomical, and that's evident in the fact that I have read all of the expanded universe material (Boo to Disney for decannonising it!). I even have Storm Trooper cushions in my living room and they look awesome bloody awesome!

So when Elyse and I were asked if we wanted to review something from Speedy Hen I jumped at the chance. You see Speedy Hen sell books, Dvd's, CDS and graphic comics! Yep I’m a sucker for a magazine type book with cartoons in them. I find I easily get drawn in by the imagery and the story and in times of high stress, (which is pretty common with us people juggling lifes many problems) it’s sometimes good to revert back to your inner child, you know, as a form of stress relief.

What did I pick?

I picked the graphic novel "Darth Maul: Death Sentence" which is made up of a 4 part comic miniseries by the same name.

What is it about?

This graphic novel follows the exploits of Darth Maul and his brother, Savage Opress and how one insanely rich mining magnate's bounty has put a hold on their rampage through the Outer Rim worlds.  How will they over come this roadblock? And will they be able to continue on their path of destruction?

Taking The Stress Out Of Planning A Huge Party

Sometimes, an event demands that you go just a bit further than usual. The average impromptu gathering isn’t going to cut it for an extra special birthday, celebrating an important anniversary, or an engagement. Sometimes, you want a party to be something special, something worthy of a Gala. But planning even a small party can bring on the stress. How do you keep a cool head while putting together something that huge?

Venue and date come first

This should be obvious, but a lot of people send out invitations and start throwing together plans before they have anything set. Remember that you don’t have to make the date align with the “big day” perfectly. If you want a lot of people there, you have to try and make it convenient. When it comes to choosing a venue, there are a lot of questions you have to ask to make sure it’s the right one. Is the availability, location, and price right? Does it have a reputation and experience dealing with large parties? Can the venue work with you or a planner to specialize the occasion? Once you have those questions sorted, you can move on.

Save up your inspiration

If you’re getting hands-on in the planning, then you have to make a lot of creative decisions. In the moment, it can be easy to come up blank on what drinks, food, and décor pieces are available. Instagram and Pinterest are great tools for seeking out inspiration, so spend some time every day or other day browsing to collect images you can use for ideas long before you have to make those choices.
Keeping track

Don’t let something important fall through the cracks, either. Make sure that you have a checklist of all the moving parts that make a great party. You don’t want the big day to arrive only to find that you had planned for live music only to forget to finish booking the band.
Never underestimate the pro touch

A good venue might take care of a lot of the particulars of the party, but that’s not always the case. You might not be using an established venue but rather your own space, too. If that’s the case, using professionals for a bit of a helping hand can really make your struggle much easier. Directories like Source Me are an easy way to find local organizers. Similarly, don’t forget how much ease caterers can offer. You don’t want to spend the whole party making food for the guests.
Know what not to do

Bearing that last point in mind, even if you are organizing a party yourself, organize it in a way that you’re not responsible for absolutely everything there. Allow for a self-serving bar and a buffet instead of having to be the one to help guests to everything. Freeing up more of your time allows you to spend more of it being a good host or hostess.
Forward-thinking, careful planning, and a few friends can make planning that big event much easier than you might think. Don’t throw yourself in the deep end and don’t put it on yourself to take care of absolutely everything.

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Loneliness | Think of Your Parents

Every person on the planet is unique. We all have different wants, needs, hobbies, likes, dislikes, and circumstances in which to navigate, and this uniqueness doesn’t change even when we reach our rather patronizingly titled “Golden Years.” There is one overarching theme that can creep in, however, and that is loneliness. Unfortunately, there are just so many variables that can creep in and trigger this sense of isolation. It may not be depression, but loneliness isn’t fun.

The loss of a spouse. Physical decline. Inability to drive. Worries over sight or hearing or both. Less of a social life and fewer friends to invite on their annual trip to Ibiza or Magaluf. All of these encourage so many elders to back away from life in favor of staying safe within the four walls of their home. Having an inkling that this may be happening to your aging parents isn’t going to fill your belly with a warm fuzzy feeling, but being aware will let you better prepare for it.

Here are our top tips on you can protect your folks from a life of loneliness:

Constant Contact

One of the best things you can do to combat any feeling of loneliness is to stay in regular contact. You don’t need a special reason, you don’t need to have any groundbreaking news to share, you just need to call often and always. Once or twice a month just isn’t enough. Even if your elderly parent has a social life that you’re jealous of, hearing your voice every day will be the highlight. Of course, visiting in person would be even better. Nothing beats a hug. Nothing.

Consider Care

It’s never an easy topic to breach, but discussing care with your parent is definitely worth doing. One thing to keep in mind is the words and approach you use. Instead of saying you think they should, say you met a lady who was raving about Porthaven care homes and show them the website. You could even choose to steer away from the care aspect and concentrate on the setting and the environment, focus on the social aspects and the independence on offer. Admitting you need care is not easy, so maneuver around this by showing how fun it could be.

Tech Lesson

The world has become a much smaller place thanks to the next level connectivity we have out our fingertips and in our pockets. Any device that has a camera can reach those loved ones they want to stay in contact with. So long as they are willing, anyone can learn how to use FaceTime or Skype. It won’t just let them feel closer to you, or let them see how their grandkids are growing up, it could open up a whole new world. That’s what the internet does. As a little word of advice, consider getting a professional in. Patience seems to be in short supply when you try and teach them yourself.

Do More Together

Whatever your mom or dad enjoy doing, do it with them. Get tickets to that theater production you think they may like. See what concerts are going on in your area. If the Tate is doing an exhibition you think will peak their interest, go with it. Comedy gigs, farmers markets, community events, social activities; these are all things they may love to do but maybe wouldn’t get the chance to alone. Eradicating that feeling of lonely hopelessness is best done with creating memories through shared experiences.

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Psoriasis: A Common Condition We Don't Know Enough About

According to the World Psoriasis Day consortium, 2-3% of the world’s population suffer from psoriasis. When you consider a number of people included in that statistic, it’s enough to make us sit up and take notice. Yet, when you mention psoriasis to many, they reply with something along the lines of ‘what’s that?’

We may all be familiar with other skin conditions, like eczema. But, considering how common psoriasis is, our lack of knowledge is worrying. It’s possible that many individuals with the condition don’t even realise it. That’s why we’re going to take a closer look at what it is, who’s at risk, and what they can do about it!

So, what is it?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. It occurs when our immune systems go into overdrive. Excessive cell production causes a buildup on the skin’s surface which makes itself known through red and flaky patches. Much like eczema, these can itch and cause discomfort. But, that’s not the only issue when you face life with psoriasis. You also have to deal with the visible impact of the condition. This can have a major effect on quality of life and self-confidence. We’re sure you’ll agree that it’s far from ideal.

Who can become affected?

Much like other illnesses, psoriasis doesn’t discriminate. Anybody is at risk of falling under this burden. While skin care goes a long way once you're diagnosed, it may not save you getting the condition. Moisturisation should help to keep the issue at bay, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be safe forever. In fact, the best thing you can do has nothing to do with your skin itself. Caring for your immune system is the only sure way to ensure psoriasis never enters your life. Eating the right foods and living as healthy a life as possible makes you much less likely to suffer.

To gain an idea of how many people are at risk, it’s worth looking to celebrities who have suffered at some point. These are, after all, the picture perfect people we base our images upon. If they can get it, anyone can.

A fantastic example is Kim Kardashian. She made no secret about the leg psoriasis which developed when she was thirty. LeAnn Rimes also suffered from a severe form of the condition from the young age of two years old, though you wouldn’t know it to look at her now! And, Oasis singer Liam Gallagher has also admitted to suffering from psoriasis.

So, you see, no one is exempt!

Where can it appear?

In truth, Psoriasis can appear anywhere on your body. That said, there are areas which seem to see the worst flare ups. Elbows and knees are particularly susceptible. The scalp is also a problem area to look out for. However, psoriasis appears in a variety of places. And, if you do develop the condition, it may affect many areas. As this article shows, some people even develop psoriasis on eyebrows or their faces.

You’ll face different challenges depending on where psoriasis appears. And, different treatments are required for each. For the scalp, for example, treatment shampoos are advised. On the legs and arms, however, creams are usually required. What can you do about it?There’s no known ‘cure’ for psoriasis, but there are many treatments which can make the condition all but disappear. Remember, LeAnn Rimes had a severe problem which is all but invisible.

So, how can you ensure your psoriasis goes in the same way? For one, it’s important to visit a doctor. Self-diagnosis is always risky, and you'll struggle to get your condition under control. For the most part, a doctor will diagnose psoriasis from appearance only. In some cases, they may send off samples so they can develop effective treatment plans. As mentioned above, creams or shampoos are usually all it takes to get things under control. Your doctor will be able to see what form of psoriasis you have and will prescribe these as necessary.

It may also be worth considering if anything triggers your breakouts. Diet is often the main issue. Do you suffer after eating a particular food? Noticing patterns like these will help you avoid and understand the issues.In extreme cases, a doctor may recommend phototherapy. This is a treatment which involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet light rays. The thought behind the method is that these rays will penetrate the skin and slow cell growth.

Bear in mind, though, that this should only be undertaken with medical supervision!
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