"Betty Leopard"

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Change Places!

So I finally, finally, made the decision to move my blog from Blogger over to Wordpress!

I know I haven't been the best blogger, but if you would like to keep up with anything I might write in future then head over to https://bettyleopardblog.wordpress.com/ where I will be posting from now on.

Thanks for reading,
Lots of Love


Thursday, 12 March 2015

#PaperHaul Box 3 - The Bird Box

I am a bad, bad blogger. Bad. Bad. Bad.
This post should have been up a looooong time ago - I've just been so busy and so tired that pretty much everything has fallen by the wayside, and I'm sorry.

I am especially sorry because I have really been wanting to share this with you - the third #PaperHaul box, which I have chosen to call The Bird Box.

This is definitely my favourite #PaperHaul so far.
I love birds and bird imagery, so the theme was perfect for me. Even if I wasn't already thrilled with the theme, the contents are so pretty I defy anyone not to love it.

As with the other #PaperHaul boxes, the contents are a mixture of postcards, cards, pretty papers, tags and stickers along with a washi tape. The washi tape in this box is truly beautiful, with its colourful birds on wire silhouette, I'll definitely be getting a lot of use out of it and will probably have to track the design down so I can get more!

Some of the things in the box are so pretty that I can't actually decide if I want to use them and send them to people or keep them for myself. I'm considering framing the black wing print card, even though I can think of someone it would be perfect to send to - is that selfish?

The papers are also my favourite of all the designs I have received. I love the retro kitsch flamingoes, and the colours of the peacock feather design are so lovely (my poor lighting and deficient photography skills do the colours absolutely no justice). I've recently started following a lot of Journalling/Scapbooking type people on Instagram and I really want to give scrapbooking a go. These papers would be great for that, if I can get over the fact that all I really want to do is look at them!

The pigeon stickers and little notecards are lots of fun. I love the idea of sending the little notecards to people out of the blue, just because I like to think it would put a smile on their face.
I currently have two penpals, one in the US and one in Paris, so having a supply of cards and pretty things to send is very useful, plus the things you get in a #PaperHaul box aren't your bog-standard, mass-produced supermarket cards that are both common and naff (#judegemental).

I can't even imagine how much work goes into putting these boxes together around a theme, but I'm very impressed with what I've seen so far and am very much looking forward to my next box.

Have you signed up to #PaperHaul yet? If not, you can find out more on their website here. The boxes are monthly and cost £10 + p&p.
If you're a beady sort of person then there is a new #beadhaul box launching soon - find out more here.

Hope you are all well,

NB. I have received a discount on the box price as a reviewing blogger

Saturday, 31 January 2015

#PaperHaul Box 2 - Orange

I can't believe it's the end of January already! This month seems to have flown by before my very eyes and I'm not sure I can account for all of it!

One thing I do know happened this month is the arrival of my second #PaperHaul box. The contents of the January box were all based around the colour Orange.

The box contained three cards, a postcard with a little sleeping ginger kitten, some small notecards, three gift tags, a sheet of foxy stickers, 2 printed papers and a roll of orange spotty washi tape.

I've already sent the card with the ginger-afro moustachioed man as a slightly (very) random birthday card for a good friend. I like receiving the cards in this box as they're not the same as the mass produced cards you get in the shops and I find it useful to have a selection of cards stored for an occasion you might have forgotten.

The foxy stickers are super cute. I'm a big fan of foxes and almost don't want to use the stickers so I can keep them for myself.

Ever since we bought our house last year I have been meaning to start a scrap book of pictures and things I want to remember from the process of buying, moving in and renovating the place. I have the book but haven't started putting it together yet. The papers and washi tape in this box are a great addition to the small collection I have started to develop that will be useful for the scrapbook, if and when I get round to it!

I've signed up for a Pen Pal Club that I hope to write about soon. I think I'll be paired with my pen pal next week, so I'm sure I'll have lots of uses for all my lovely #PaperHaul goodies :)

Has anyone else signed up for #PaperHaul or another stationary/writing material type subscription?
Also, anyone fancy a pen pal?7

Hope you are well,
Thanks for reading.


NB. I have received a discount on the box price as a reviewing blogger

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Betty's Book Club - My 2015 Reading List

I love books. Reading books, Buying books, Owning books, Talking about books, Flicking through books. Old books, New books, Fiction books, Non-fiction books. Books.

I have a bit of a book buying obsession actually, I certainly buy the more quickly than I can read them. Pete has even refused to buy me more books as gifts until I get through some of my massive stockpile of ones I bought and want to read but haven't yet got around to.

I do find that, as much as I enjoy reading, I am finding less and less time to read these days. At the end of a day at work I'm often too tired to do much more than vegetate in front of the television for a few hours before dragging myself off to bed.

But, I want to change this and make more time for reading, for my own enjoyment and personal betterment. As a first step to achieving this I have dragged a few of the books waiting to be read off the bookshelf and I thought I would share with you a few of the titles I hope to be scratching off my Reading List over the next 12 months, in no particular order.

1. Anno Dracula: The Bloody Red Baron. Kim Newman
This is the second book in the Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman; I read the first book 'Anno Dracula' last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. As you can probably tell from the title, this series feeds into my vampire obsession. The books are based on stories of what might have happened if Dracula hadn't been defeated at the end of Bram Stoker's novel and vampires were now a known entity in the world, living alongside humans. While the first book was based in Victorian London, this second book has moved forwards in time to look at events during the First World War.

2. The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin
Now a step into non-fiction; self-improvement/self-help books are an increasing interest of mine. I don't get on with all of them, but I forever in search of one that will help me, even just a little, to make a bit more sense of myself and my life.
The Happiness Project is the story of how Gretchen Rubin set out to be happier and how other people can take their own happiness journey.

3. A Force to be Reckoned With: A History of the Women's Institute. Jane Robinson
I love the WI. Although I am, sadly, currently not involved in a Women's Institute, I have so many wonderful memories of my time in the Sotonettes and really hope to get back involved in another WI soon.
I am fascinated by the history of the WI and this book documents the many ways in which the WI has contributed to and shaped our nation and the wonderful and strong women who made it possible.

4. The Historian. Elizabeth Kostova
This book was given to me by my mum, who, knowing my interest in vampire fiction, felt this might be right up my street.
I don't know much about the story, but it seems to stem strongly from Bram Stoker's original Dracula story and is told from the point of view of a 16 year old girl in the 1970s who comes across a collection of letters and documents relating to the Dracula legend.

5. Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha. Kim Newman
I enjoyed the first Anno Dracula so much that, once I'd finished it, I bought the next two novels in the series immediately. This is the third novel, after The Bloody Red Baron above.
The third novel jumps forward in time again to 1959 and Rome, where an unknown person is taking out old vampires resident in the city.

6. The Vintage Teacup Club. Vanessa Greene
Another gift from my mum here, but a bit of a departure from the rest of the list. Mum described this as 'a nice relaxing read' in the note that accompanied it. It is true that something relaxing to read is probably just what I need after a lot of blood-soaked, high-tension vampire fiction.
This is a book about a friendship formed after a chance meeting over a vintage tea set at a car boot sale. My focus on gothic-horror in this reading list may detract from the fact that I also have a lovely, vintage tea-set kind of side to my personality, where a chat over tea and a slice of sponge cake is just what I fancy - so this book is to entertain that side of my personality. My only fear is that a story of friendship like this might actually be terribly upsetting for me at the moment as I am having ongoing loneliness issues (for another time).

7. Brave New World. Aldous Huxley
This book makes this list under the criteria of 'classic book I feel I really should have read'. I bought this quite a while ago (more than a year) but haven't actually managed to read it yet. There is a lot of classic literature that I feel I really should have read - I have bought and been given a few but haven't read many. My last attempt with 'Wuthering Heights' didn't go well - I absolutely hated it but tried to persevere, which meant it took me forever and I still haven;t actually got all the way to the end.
Hopefully Brave New World, a story of a dystopian future, will fair better. I enjoyed 1984 by George Orwell, so there's hope.

8. The Night Watch. Sergei Lukyanenko
The Night Watch, the first in a trilogy of novels, was recommended to me by a friend and finishes off my list with another vampire story.
I had never heard of this book, or any in the trilogy, and apparently there are movies too.
Based in Russia, the book tells the story of a world in which some people have supernatural powers, some of whom are good and some who are not. Those who work for good protect people from those who have more sinister intentions.
I have heard good things and expect that I will be moving on to the other books in the series after this one.

Does anyone else have a reading list for the year ahead? Or just a book you've always wanted to read?
I'm always interested in new reading suggestions - they don't have to be vampire related (an please don;t suggest Twilight, as that's the massive exception  to my vampire obsession).

Hope you are well - happy reading!

This week I have been;
Watching - Season 2 of Arrow and Season 8 of Dexter
Listening to - War and Peace podcast from Radio 4
Wearing - all the layers!!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

#Paperhaul - Box 1 - December 2014

You may remember a little while back I wrote a bit of an introduction to a new stationery/letter writing subscription box from the clever ladies behind Crafty Creatives, called #Paperhaul.

I loved the idea of this box as soon as I heard about it. Since moving away from all of my friends, and my increasing disaffection for Facebook, I have become a big fan of writing letters and sending cards as a way of keeping in touch. So a monthly subscription box of 'snail mail' related goodies sounded perfect for me - not only can I indulge my interest in letter writing but I also get the excitement of receiving goodies in the post for myself!
For me, there's something really special about receiving a handwritten letter or card (or even a parcel!) in the post when so much is digital these days. Plus, the letter writing process can be quite cathartic in itself, so I definitely plan on writing to people more this year.

The first #paperhaul box shipped in December. I was really excited to receive my box and see exactly what it contained.

As with the Crafty Creative boxes, the #paperhaul boxes are all themed and the items in the first box were all based around a travel theme.
For the £10 (+p&p) you get a lot of stuff in the box. The December box contained a bicycle print card, a moped print card, 3 postcards, 2 sheets of pretty travel-print paper, 9 travel related stickers, 3 gift tags with travel-related slogans and a roll of washi tape in a vehicle design.

All the items are really good quality and made from good quality materials. With all the craziness of Christmas I haven't got around to using any of the items yet, but I will definitely be sitting down and writing cards and letters using the things from the box soon.
I'm not sure what my number one favourite item from the box is - I always love washi tape, but I also really like the moped printcard, and the tags are also really cute! Everything makes a great addition to my letter writing toolkit (I don't have an actual 'letter writing toolkit', but you get what I mean!)

I really like the #paperhaul box, and it's something a bit different for a subscription box. I'm definitely looking forward to receiving my next box.
If you're a fan of letter writing, or if you want to give letter writing a try, I would recommend you give #paperhaul a go. I intend to be posting a bit more about letter writing related things soon, so having some materials ready under-your-belt might not be a bad idea! Maybe you could make a New Years Resolution to write more :)

To find out more about #paperhaul, or to subscribe, head over to their website here.

Thanks for reading,

NB. I have received a discount on the box price as a reviewing blogger

Friday, 2 January 2015

2015 - Clean Slate

It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of all the New Year hubub, or the massive expectations placed on the change in calendar year for bringing about change in our lives or the world at large. Unfortunately the little demon that lives in my brain sees this only as an opportunity to dredge up all the disappointment and missed opportunities of the past year and project them forward onto the next. All-in-all this makes for the beginning of January being quite a miserable time for me (and, often, for those unfortunate enough to be around me).

But, I am trying to be better. So, no dwelling on what I didn't achieve this year, and no resolutions either, as they tend to make me focus on negatives too.

So, to kick of 2015, here is a quick look at some of the things I did do in 2014, even though I didn't blog about them, in the hope of many more good things to come in 2015.

Halloween 2014

This year we celebrated our first Halloween in our own home with a small gathering of friends and a sickening quantity of sweets and cake :)

Canal Boating in Yorkshire, November 2014

In November we travelled over to Yorkshire to visit friends and hired a narrow boat on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal for a day. It was a lovely day with great weather and definitely something a bit different, I even had a go at driving for a bit which was nerve racking but fun once I got into the swing of it.

Wales Comic Con, November 2014

We attended our first comic convention this year in Wrexham. I've been keen to attend a convention for a while but had always thought we'd have to travel further to get to a good one - but when we found one in Wrexham we jumped at the opportunity. It was quite late notice so I only put together quite a simple costume - a test subject from the game Portal. It was loads of fun and we saw Anthony Head, Chris Barrie, Jerome Flynn with other Game of Thrones actors and the main cast from Atlantis. The next convention is in April and Nicholas Brendon is going to be there (Xander from Buffy), so I'm definitely planning on going again.

Thank you all for sticking around. Here's to the future :)


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

My Relationship with Facebook: It's Complicated

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Well, actually, that's not entirely true, it's more of a obsessive-need/hate relationship. Either way, it's complicated.

I check Facebook every day, not even just once a day, several times a day. Not just when I get a notification on my phone, sometimes for no reason at all - in fact, most of the time for no reason because I don't actually get that many notifications.

And that is exactly where my 'obsession' becomes harmful.

As someone who suffers with depression and social anxiety, and who has also moved around 300 miles away from practically everyone she knew, I desperately want social media to provide me with the social contact, love, care and support that other people get from actually friends they see as part of their day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, whether it's down to age or something else, very few of my Facebook friends seem to engage with Facebook on a regular basis and those that do don't seem to engage with me - it's from this point that the little depression demon in my head starts running round in circles yelling unhelpful comments like "They're deliberately ignoring you", "Everybody hates you", "No-one wants to speak to you", "You're annoying and boring" and other increasingly nasty and unhelpful things like that until I want to scream and shout and then curl up, cry and never show my face in public ever again.

Basically, for me anyway, Facebook is a depression enabler - it provides my depression demon with more than enough ammunition to totally destroy any small crumb of happiness or confidence I might have built up. A wonderful combination of images and status updates that show how wonderful everyone else's' lives are combined with an almost complete lack of interaction and much desired social contact for me.

I'd would like to point out at this point that my rational brain knowns that none of this is the fault of the people I know, this is all totally the result of how I (over)react to things. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try, the result is always the same.

The only thing I have left is to seriously cut down on using the damn thing - which sounds easy enough but I have so far failed in this. Maybe because the occasional optimist in me always hopes that someone might have sent me a message but my phone has forgotten to update me (cos that happens all the time, right?). Maybe it's just become such a habit over the years that I just can't help myself.
I do go through periods of thinking it would be easiest to just delete my profile and never use it again - but then I don't know if anyone would ever contact me again, at least while I'm still signed up then there's a chance.

I'm sorry if this has been a bit of a whingy post, but it's something that I needed to get off my chest. I also hope that if I write it down and make it public then I might actually stick to reducing my use and ending this damaging obsession.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, 20 September 2014


#paperhaul is a brand new monthly subscription box about soon to be launched by the lovely ladies who brought us Crafty Creatives boxes.

I was really excited to hear about the launch of #paperhaul as a long-term stationery geek and recent (re)convert to snail-mail (hopefully I'll get around to posting about my awesome new pen friend, and how I found them, soon!).

By signing up to #paperhaul you will receive a monthly themed box containing great paper-based goodies that could include pretty postcards, washi tape (I'm a big fan of washi tape), tags, stickers, cards and craft papers. It all sounds like a great collection of items to feed my newly forming letter writing/card sending habit :)

I am very keen to get my hands on their first box. Once things have settled down some more in my house and I have my craft room set up, I'm sure the goodies from these boxes will fit right in.

#paperhaul boxes will cost £10 a month, plus postage & packaging. As with Crafty Creatives there is no contract and you can cancel the subscription any time.

The website will be launching soon, in the meantime you can keep up to date with #paperhaul on Twitter @PaperHaul.

Hope you are all well,
Let me know if you have any thoughts about #paperhaul or if you sign up!


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Goodbye Little Cat

On Thursday we said goodbye to our family cat - Pickle. She was 21 years old and had been a part of our family for practically her whole life - we adopted her from a litter of abandoned kittens in 1993, when I was 8 years old.

She outlived both of our other cats - Dusty and Oscar - and definitely made the most of her 9 lives. She survived a minor incident with a car, getting trapped in a tree by her collar and losing the end of her tail to a door that slammed in the wind, as well as moving out of the house to live in the garden for more than a week when Oscar moved in after Dusty passed away.

She was sharp (claws) and fiesty (occasionally vicious) - not that she needed washing often, but the couple of attempts we made resulted in a lot of scratches and drawn blood (on our part) - medicating her was an equally trying experience! She loved to be made a fuss of, until she'd had enough and she'd turn around a swipe at you. But if you stopped stroking her before she wanted you to she would also grab your hand and drag it back to her. Trying to tickle her belly was the biggest mistake you could make and she would shred your hand.
She was loud, demanding and fussy. She could smell a chicken from a mile off and would be in the kitchen as soon as you took a tin of tuna out of the cupboard. She wouldn't touch raw meat and would instantly go off a brand of cat food if you decided to stock up on it - in the end she'd refuse anything but those very fancy small tins of cat food. She was very cheeky at dinner times and has been known to try and steal food right off people's plates, if you were foolish enough to let her close enough to your food and/or take your eye off her for a moment.

I'm not sure if that makes her sound awful! She was also so sweet and affectionate when she wanted to be. Such a big personality in such a small cat.  She did let out her inner predator a fair bit when she was young and loved playing with and chasing toys.

She was never the biggest fan of strangers and would (almost) rather sit outside in the rain than be in the house if people were visiting. I always used to offer her sanctuary in my room and she learnt to seek me out if she was in need of a hiding place. I like to think we had a special relationship and that she loved and trusted me.

She was often described as a heat-seeking missile - she loved to be warm, either in the sunshine, in front of the fire or cuddled up with someone. She'd be into a warm spot someone had left on the sofa quicker than you could blink. On a sunny day she would slowly migrate around a room to maintain prime position in the sunshine. Of a winter evening, if she wasn't leaching heat from my dad she'd be happily curled up, or spread out, on a pillow in front of the fire.

She struggled with change generally, so when my parents moved to Wales five years ago and took her with them I almost offered to take her in myself as I really didn't think she'd survive the upheaval. Thankfully she proved me very much wrong and the move actually seemed to be really good for her. She completely chilled out, having been very highly strung and skittish previously, and became infinitely more friendly and less vicious.

She even adjusted pretty quickly when Pete and I moved in with mum and dad along with Alf and the two of them learnt to quite like each other, on Pickle's terms of course.

Unfortunately, she went blind quite suddenly about a month ago and had been clearly struggling more and becoming more unhappy with each week. In the end the decision was made that it wasn't fair to expect her to keep going any more and she made her final journey to the vets. I am so very sad to see her go, but it was the right decision to let her go in the end - she was doing little more than sleeping and eating (on and off), she didn't go outside or even move around the house very much, even the slightest move in a piece of furniture meant she would walk into it and she increasingly just didn't look comfortable or happy.

Having had her in my life for practically as long as I can remember, even writing this two days later is bringing a tear to my eye. Pickle cat was a very special cat and I will miss her very much.

Sorry to be a bit of a downer today.
Hope things are well with you,


Saturday, 5 July 2014

Our House

For those of you who don't already know - We bought a house!

Things have been pretty hectic these past few months with viewings, meetings with banks, dealing with solicitors, packing and budgeting. We finally moved in just under a month ago but it still doesn't always feel real.

The place needs some care and attention - some of which we can do ourselves and some of which requires tradespeople (I don't want to say tradesmen, although, in truth, they have all been men).
I am really loving having our own place again (not that I don't love my parents), partly for the personal space but also for all the possibilities of making the place our own - you just can't do that properly in rented places.

So far I've done a lot in the garden to make the most of the good weather we've (mostly) been having. Decorating is going to have to wait a while until we get some of the messier jobs like rewiring done.

I don't want to bore you all to death with house posts, but I'll just be glad if I'm posting regularly again, at least for a while - it's not like I haven't had things I've wanted to write about, it's really just been a time issue. Between the house stuff and now having a really proper job I'm just really tired most of the time :(

If you want to keep up with what's going in, even if I don't get back to posting properly, you can follow me on Twitter, check out my Instagram, like my blog page on Facebook or have a look at my boards on Pinterest.