"Betty Leopard": March 2011

Thursday, 31 March 2011

I went all the way to London Town

Last Saturday the boyf and I took a trip into London. As part of out 2 year anniversary, he had signed us up to attend and eco/sustainability expo at the London Olympia 2, and we were going to meet up with a friend of ours who lives in London.
I had prepared myself with some internet research; train times, tube lines, prices etc. I never venture up to the capital without having checked things out online, although my anxiety is much better than it once was, it can never hurt to be prepared. Getting the train into Paddington, we needed to get on the District line to Kensington High Street, then change to a different District line train on to Kensington Olympia. Simple :)
It was a bit of an early start for me, especially for a Saturday, but I got up without too much trouble. We got to the station in plenty of time, just how I like it, and our journey passed by without a hitch. The train was a bit busy and we had to stand, but it wasn't so packed that we were crushed up next to people, thankfully.
The expo itself wasn't exactly what I was expecting. The website kind of implied there were going to be more activities and that it would generally be more educational. Turns out it was more about companies and organisations trying to sell their 'eco' products. It wasn't terrible though, even though we didn't necessarily agree with all of their principles. Stands ranged from The Woodland Trust, Wildlife Trusts and FSC and The Vegan Society trying to recruit members, electric cars, organic meat, natural face creams, groups trying to encourage people to share and borrow items to prevent us all buying things we don't really need, recycled clothes, solar panels, recycled bunting and even fairtrade rubber condoms. I liked a lot of the ideas, especially the idea of recycling clothing, but all the stuff they had was so goddamn ugly! I'd really like to try and find some decent eco-fashion. There were a fair few baby orientated stands that I didn't pay much attention to, but I definitely liked the idea of the reusable nappies, and some of them were so cute! The highlight, however, was definitely having a go on an electric scooter. It was great fun but also a bit scary. I wasn't overly confident before I began and the seat on mine was a bit high, when I got to the first corner, which was a bit sharp, I ended up misjudging and had a minor crash with the barrier. So embarrassing :/ I spent the rest of my trial screaming that I was going to die, maybe a bit of an over-reaction. I really liked the scooters, they'd be a great way of getting around, shame they cost around £1750! There was also some great art made from old car parts, mostly hubcaps, that was pretty cool.
It was interesting, but we came away feeling (without wanting to sound too elitist) that we knew too much about the issues involved, as 3 environmental scientists, to really buy into a lot of the ideas. One really useful website I found out about and want to pass on is Disposal Know How, that has loads of information about how to recycle just about anything. Recycling isn't difficult but so many people get it wrong, it's one simple step everyone can take to help the environment (Preach over, although you should also check out SuperScrimpers on Channel 4/4oD on reducing waste).

The boyf and I try out electric scooters. Oh yeh, I have purple hair now :p

After we'd exhausted the delights of the expo, we headed into north London with out friend for a BBQ at her house. North London was nice, I've never really been to any part of London other than the centre, so seeing the more suburban areas was a nice change. The BBQ was good fun, even if it was rather cold, even though the days before had been almost summer like, the Saturday in London was very windy and cold. I'm such a wimp in the cold and spent most of the time inside, huddled next to a radiator. Met some really great people, which I love, sometimes it's too easy to feel like there aren't many decent people in the world, and definately none like me, but these people restored my faith :) As with many BBQs, food took longer than I had hoped, especially as the majority of the people there were South African and in South Africa they do BBQs by cooking things then keeping things warm inside til everything is cooked, then presenting a huge spread. I chose to stick to British tradition and ate things as they were cooked cos I was starving!! All in all it was a great afternoon/evening with some great people and some great music. We stayed much later than planned and didn't get on a train back until after 11, by which time I was completely knackered.
It was so good to get out and do something fun and different. I had such a good time and really hope to see the new friends we made again soon.

Hope you're enjoying yourselves,
Betty
x

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Another Great Song

Just thought I'd share another song with you. I've liked the Nancy Sinatra version of Summer Wine for a long time, so didn't pass up on the opportunity to see it covered by Ville Valo ;) Natalia Avelon's not bad for looking at either.....


Hope you're having a good day,
Betty
x

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

I Love Cupcakes

Cupcakes are so joyful. They're fun to make, even more fun to decorate, pretty to look at and yummy to eat :p Cupcakes make me smile :) and things that make you smile can't be bad.

Over the weekend I made mint chocolate cupcakes, that is chocolate cupcakes with mint frosting. They were pretty good, although I may have gone a little overboard on the mint and the chocolate was rather over-shadowed.



They ended up a little messier than I would have liked, but perfetction is over-rated :p

I've been looking for new ideas for different cupcakes, I'm a bit bored of making the same recipes. I like the idea of trying some cocktail themed recipes, mostly because I love cocktail umbrellas and think they'll look amazing in cupcakes :) So far on my list are mojito cupcakes, purple rain cupcakes and white russian cupcakes.
I've also found a recipe for salted caramel cupcakes, and I adore salted caramel. I think they're top of my list, as they don't involve investing in alcohol (£££). Hopefully the recipes will be easy enough to vegan-ise. Maybe they'd be good for sticking my chocolate covered pretzels on, although that might be a salt overload :/


Baking is such a wonderful distraction from everything else in the world. I've been trying to cut back because baking = eating cakes = weight gain, which makes me sad :( I need to find people who not only will eat my cupcakes, but who will fight me for them and stop me eating entire batches of cakes and cookies ;)

Life's too short, Eat dessert first
Betty
x

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Correction

After my Movies post a few days ago I have been instructed in the virtues of Monsters by a good friend. Thank you Jenny :)
For a film with only 2 hired extras and one camera, it's actually quite impressive. Although, finding out about it being a low budget, independent deal, I am even more convinced that they should have cut back on actually showing the creatures in question.
I'm sorry if my grumpiness came across and made it seem like I didn't like this movie, I did, and I think you should watch it. Even more so now.

I am yet to be corrected on my views of Jonah Hex.

More movies you should watch; The Aviator (I already knew I loved it and it happened to be on TV last night) and R.E.D. If you're bored, which you muct be if you're reading this :p
Love
Betty
x

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Distracted

It's a wonder I don't have a million posts with this title. I am very easily distracted.
I do have things to be doing, but it seems so easy to put them off at the moment. I've been listening to a lot of music today, mostly stuff I haven't listened to before. I've recently become quite a fan of Nick Cave, and have absolutely fallen in love with this duet he did with Kylie Minogue. I suppose the story it tells is quite dark and morbid, but so is a lot of Nick Cave's music, I just think it's such a haunting and beautiful song.

Betty
x

Monday, 14 March 2011

Movies

I’ve probably mentioned before, I have a funny relationship with movies. I like movies, but I wouldn’t say I love them. I see a lot of movies advertised that I like the look of and would like to see, but rarely ever actually get out to the cinema to watch them. So that usually ends up with it being up to a year before a film is available on DVD or even two years until it’s on TV, by which time I have well and truly forgotten that I was ever interested in seeing it. If you ask me if I’ve seen a movie, I probably haven’t. If you ask me if there is a particular movie I’d like to watch tonight, I probably won’t be able to name one.
But I don’t want it to sound like I don’t enjoy movies. Fair enough there are some movies I definitely don’t like; cheesy, nasty, sickly sweet rom-coms mostly. Over the past month or so I’ve seen a fair few movies that I’ve really enjoyed and I thought I’d share them with you, in case any of you are as hopeless with movies as me. I’m not very good at reviewing movies, I find it hard to strike a balance between talking about them without giving the entire thing away, but I’ll try to give the best overview I can.

Lars and the Real Girl
I watched this twice in a week because I liked it so much when I saw it the first time, I had to share it with my boyf, and he really enjoyed it too. If you know or have read anything about the premise of it, it could sound a bit dodgy, but it’s really not. It’s such a lovely story, but without being soppy or cheesy. Ryan Gosling is a great actor and plays the role of Lars really well, endearing and vulnerable and sweet, making it very hard not to care about him and his story. I totally empathise with him from the point of view of feeling so isolated and unable to relate to other people, I’m not sure how much that influenced my feelings towards the film. Maybe if you don’t understand those feelings you might find the story makes less sense to you, but I’m pretty sure most people know what it’s like to be lonely, even if it doesn’t happen very often.
A significant part of the appeal from my point of view is that it’s different from all the carbon copy movies that get rolled out. I’ve obviously not seen enough movies to know if it’s entirely unique, but it’s one of the most different from the norm movies I’ve seen in a long time.
I 100% recommend you watch this movie, even if you don’t enjoy it (which I doubt), it’s always good to expose your mind to new experiences :)

Shutter Island
I think this was a pretty popular and publicised movie when it was in the cinema, so most of you have probably seen it, but I had to include it because I enjoyed it so much. I loved the psychological elements of it and the number of twists and turns in the plot, I’m not sure I ever actually knew what was going on or what would happen next. To be honest, I think I’d have to watch it again to try and keep up with it all. Even the ending leaves it open to discussion and the boyf and I talked about the possibilities for ages afterwards.
I would never have classed myself as a Leonardo DiCaprio fan, not even when I was a teenager watching Titanic (typically, about 3 years after it had been in cinemas), but more recently I have noticed how much I enjoy so many of his movies. Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator and The Departed really stand out as movies I loved, and Shutter Island is definitely joining them now.
Apparently it’s based on a novel of the same name, which I’d like to read now, it’s such a gripping story. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, you should give at least one of them a go.

District 9
Another one that was pretty well hyped when it was in cinemas, as my memory serves. It’s been on my ‘list’ for ages and I finally got around to watching it a month or so ago. In all fairness, at first it seemed a bit shit, the faux documentary style and the South African accent made it seem like a bit of a bad comedy/parody movie. Not to disrespect South African accents, I actually quite like it and certainly appreciated having a movie, an alien movie of all things, that wasn’t centred in America (the Americans-being-the-obvious-leaders-of-the-planet-that-all-extra-terrestrials-will-want-to-contact-first rubbish).
Reviewing movies is really hard as I don’t want to start going into details of the plot that will spoil things if you do decide to watch it. Needless to say, the plot differs from the vast majority of films, hence my interest in it! Give it a chance, the beginning doesn’t seem like all that, and the main character is a bit pathetic, but that changes. I liked it and I’d watch it again. I’m not sure on plans for a sequel, but it was left open for the possibility.

Monsters
I watched this one earlier this week with friends, based on one of their recommendation. I’d never heard of it before but liked the sound of the plot, alien colonisation of part of the Earth, particularly as I enjoyed District 9 so much. It wasn’t as good as District 9, let down in my eyes by being another America focussed narrative.
I quite liked it, but I’m not sure I can explain why, maybe I just enjoy alien movies. For the most part, it took quite an old fashioned alien/horror movie line in not really showing the other-worldly organisms. I like that aspect of it (and other movies that use similar tactics), I often feel showing the ‘creatures’ can damage the credibility of a film, in my eyes anyway. I often think that what you can imagine is often much scarier than anything that movie effect people can create in CGI. Unfortunately the mystery isn’t maintained throughout the film.
The end was also a bit dissatisfying, leaving a number of unanswered questions and dropping in some last minute, unnecessary romance. That doesn’t exactly paint a great picture, but if you’re stuck for something to watch and have seen all my other suggestions, it’s worth a watch.

Jonah Hex
I wasn’t sure about this one as I knew it contained Megan Fox, who I despise, and that was about all I did know about it, and it was based on a comic.
Having seen it, I can say one of the most significant positive feature of the film is that it’s really short, so if you don’t have much time you could fir this in.  Aside from that, I don’t really know what to say about it. Not sure I’ll be in a rush to watch it again.

Let me know if you’ve watched anything good, or terrible, lately.
Betty
x

Brain Malfunction

My head hasn't been functioning at full capacity recently. I made some suggestion that there may have been a blog in the works last night, but it never made it to completion, it's part way there though.
In the mean time, you may like to keep yourself occupied by checking out part of what I call my day job. I'm collecting people's opinions on transport fuels, the link to the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/sotonphd, it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes and I'll be eternally greatful.
Thanks in advance,
Betty
x

Friday, 4 March 2011

Ecover Prizes!

Ooo, just saw this on Twitter.
Win an Ecover Hamper with The Ecologist.
For any of you who can't be bothered to read the page; Yes, the new range is made from plant ingredients ;)
Betty
x

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Recovery and Wonder Woman

I'm sorry for my last post, I was feeling incredibly out of sorts and needed to vent.
In all honesty, I'm still not feeling 100%, partly my usual internal rumblings of discontent, but I'm also not feeling in particularly good health today. Last night I started feeling quite light headed and weak, then today I have had a headache, aching muscles and still generally weak. Having spent most of the day in bed and finally having managed to eat something, I'm feeling a little better, but still not great. Unfortunately, sleeping during the day may now prevent me from sleeping tonight. Silly Girl.

But, let's forget about that for now. Onwards and Upwards and all that :)
I discovered today that MAC cosmetics have lauched a Wonder Woman limited edition range. My geekish tendencies do extend to comic books and I have long considered myself a fan of Wonder Woman, (although I don't actually own many comics featuring her). I also love MAC make-up, although again, I don't own anywhere near as much as I'd like. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to buy myself at least something from the range, even if it's only for the novelty of owning Wonder Woman branded make-up, I might never use it, but it's something just worth owning to look at and show off :p
Top of my list is probably the Wonder Woman Lipstick in Russian Red. While I like the look of the other colours, red is definitely the one I'd be most likely yo use. Look at it, look at the wonderful packaging! I want it.


I'm also rather keen on the eye shadow sets, particularly the pinky purple hues of Defiance, although the blueish greys of Lady Justice are also quite appealing. Think I'm happier with pink eyeshadows than blues though, if it weren't for finances I would totally have both :p.
Othe products include a mascara (in 4 colours, including purple, I've always stuck to black but love the idea of coloured mascara), lipgloss, blush, nail varnish and a rather intriguing pigment in fuschia pink or marine blue. There are also accesories like brushes and make-up bags, but if I start getting into all that then I'll have no money left for the rest of the month :/
If you're spoilt for choice or stuck to know how to use the colours, there is also a great pdf of ideas put together by MAC designers to give you some ideas (and obviously to try to get you to part with huge amounts of cash).
If I buy some I'll have a play and let you know how I find it.
Expect a post on shoes soon, another of my weaknesses and something I hope to be able to indulge myself in sometime soon.
Hope you are keeping well,
Betty
x