"Betty Leopard": August 2011

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

I've gone a bit nail-crazy

So, how many blogs have you already read about Models Own products in the past few days?
It's hardly surprising, given their week long 50% off sale, that was so popular their website was totally overloaded for the majority of last Tuesday afternoon. I got my order in as soon as was reasonably possible, after having filtered through and considered every nail polish colour they had (and they have a LOT), and it finally arrived today!!

I love receiving parcels, especially ones that are pretty in their own right and the excitement begins from just looking at the box :)

I went a little overboard and bought seven polishes plus a nail art pen :/ The colours I chose were; Champagne, Snow White, Misty Grey, Top Turquoise, Feeling Blue, Raspberry Crush and Pink Blush. I wanted to get a bit of variety, which I think I did. Champagne is a beautiful golden-silver glitter polish that I expect to wear a lot as we go into autumn/winter and, dare I say it, Christmas. Snow White I bought as a replacement for the disappointing what-I-though-was-white from Rimmel. Misty Grey, I was just intrigued by the idea of a grey polish. Then the colours, well they're all just colours I love and thought would go with my wardrobe, bright versions of pastels/ candy colours that make me smile. It's important for nail polish to make you smile.

It has been a frustrating day, having such a box of treasures sat on the table but having too much work to do to be able to play with them!
I've finally had a break and had my first experiment. I couldn't pick just one colour, so I've gone with both Feeling Blue and Pink Blush. I love these colours together, they remind me of my favorite flamingo cardigan :) Partly to disguise the slightly unever join, and also because it's another new toy, I've put leopard print over the top in black, using my new Konad nail art kit (which I should blog about separately, because it's amazing).
This is the finished look (I have actually only done one hand so far).

I'm very pleased, and they make me smile, which is always good :)
The polishes are great, fantastic colours, pretty easy to use and seem to have dried really quickly, which is a pretty important factor. Hopefully they'll last for a few days as well, which is about the best I ever get out of any nail polish. I don't want it to last too long anyway, I've got too many other colours to try!!
The Models Own sale is still on until midnight tonight, so if you haven't already, head over to their Facebook page for details. I think I'm going to have to resist going back for a second time :/


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Three Little Birds

Here is a picture of the three ceramic swallows I was given by my mum as a birthday present. Although my birthday was nearly a month ago, I have only just got around to putting them up.
Technically, I'm not really supposed to put things on the walls, as it's a rented place, but I have gradually been hanging more things to make the place more homely. Our lounge has lovely high ceilings, but such vast expanses of beige are so cold and boring.
I love these birds. Although I am terrified that they're going to fall and break.

I have continued reading some wonderful blogs, and I'm so inspired. I really want to make this blog better.

Best Wishes,

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Home Grown

I love my garden. Well, the communal garden for our flats, that no-one else really uses.
In the year and a half we have lived here I have filled almost every available space with fruit and veg plants.

This year I've had purple sprouting broccoli, green beans, kidney beans, strawberries, raspberries, onions, courgettes, peas and about a million tomatoes.
The tomatoes have just been getting red and ripe enough to pick this week. One slight problem. I am not a big fan of raw tomatoes :/ Fortunately, a good proportion of the meal I cook involve tomato sauce (not ketchup, just a sauce made out of tomatoes), so after my first tomato harvest I set about cooking up my own sauce.

Just some of the hundreds of tomatoes I have waiting to ripen
First tomato harvest of the year

Growing tomatoes is really easy, and making them into sauce is possibly even easier. More people should grow their own, it's satisfying :)

All I did to make the sauce was wash the tomatoes, chop them up into a pan, add some boiling water, bring to boil then reduce heat to a simmer and leave for about half an hour, stirring occasionally (I am a compulsive stirrer of food in pans :/). I also added some seasoning to taste, just salt, pepper, mixed herbs and a bit of sugar this time, but you could add chili, garlic, basil or a whole range of other seasonings, depending on what you want. If you want a really smooth sauce you can strain it through a sieve to remove seeds and skin, I didn't bother though.

Washed and Chopped

Hubble Bubble

It's times like these that I'm glad I inherited my mothers habit of collecting things that might be useful; in this case, jars!

Half a jar or sauce from 18 small tomatoes :)

I haven't used the sauce yet, but it was yummy when I was tasting it while it was cooking. I think there's going to a lot more sauce making in the near future, there are so many tomatoes out there!!

Best Wishes,

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Blog Love (and a little bit of envy too)

I really love blogging and reading the blogs of wonderfully creative, interesting and stylish people who inspire me to be a better blogger.
I follow so many wonderful blogs I wanted to share some of my current favorites with you.
I think these blogs are all beautiful, inspiring and lovely to read, written by amazingly stylish, wonderful ladies. I aspire to have a blog that was even half as good as these.

What Katie Found
A beautiful lady sharing her great taste, accounts of making her own clothes as well as interesting finds and images. Her sewing adventures have inspired me to pick up my sewing machine and get back to the dress I started making months ago.
She also has an Etsy shop where she sells accessories she has made.

The Magpie Girl
The Magpie Girl is written by Vicki. Another gorgeous lady with a beautiful blog, full of wonderful photographs documenting her great style along with more interesting finds and images. Her Crush posts certainly inspire my inner shopper. She features so many lovely things that I fear for my bank balance :/
I have only come across this blog recently, but already love it, I could spend ages just admiring the great photography and stunning outfits.  I'm sure I'll be an avid follower.

The Fish Tank
Following on from The Magpie Girl, The Fish Tank is written by another gorgeous red-head, Fritha Louise. Her blog is filled with great pictures of herself, documenting her great personal style, alongside some great fashion picks and trend spotting.
The Fish Tank has also been shortlisted in the Look Blogging Competition, so you know it's got to be good.

Yet another beautiful lady with a great sense of style that she shares through wonderful photographs. Her outfits are always beautiful, accessorised perfectly even down to her nail varnish. She has also made the Look Blogging Competition short list, and deservedly so.
She also has her own jewellery range, which contains some great, unique and stylish pieces.

Being Little
Being Little's Lyzi seems like a real sweetheart. Her blog is beautifully written and full of fantastic photographs of her inspired and super stylish outfits as well as things she has found rummaging through charity shops and other random but beautiful pictures. I look forward to reading her blog.
Being Little has recently celebrated one year old, and it sounds like she's had an amazingly successful year of blogging, attracting a huge following, which is totally understandable.

All these ladies spare me from so much boredom, even if I am amazing jealous of their wonderful blogs and the fact that they are all way more stunning and stylish than me!
Spread some blog love,

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Lounge

I was very excited when I first heard about The Lounge, a new 'Craft Cafe bar' that opened in Bedford Place, Southampton.
Although they've been open since June, today was the first opportunity I have had to check it out, and had arranged to meet up with one of my oldest friends to see what was on offer.
It has been such a lovely day here today, really sunny and warm, so was perfect for enjoying the walk down, and the cafe has a lovely big window that let all the sunshine in. The place is really nicely decorated, some walls are turquoise and some have accent wallpaper on. It looks cool and stylish but without feeling intimidating or uncomfortable. The tables are all decoupaged, covered in pages from books or sheet music or maps. We were sat at the thesaurus table, where certain key words, like relax, were highlighted.
The staff were also really nice, and brought our order too us at our table, not enough places do that anymore.
I ordered apple juice and toasted pitta with houmous. Hannah had tea. I was tempted by their range of teas, I've never been a big tea drinker but I'm becoming more of a fan of flavoured teas, but it was a bit hot for tea in my opinion. Then we both got a slice a carrot cake each. I have blogged about my love of carrot cake before, so I take up almost every opportunity to sample one :) It was a yummy carrot cake with lovely orange-y frosting. While it wasn't the best one I've had (sorry, but I've had a lot of carrot cakes), it was still really nice and definitely one I would be happy to eat again. It was a really generous serving and I was really full afterwards, in fact I'm still not very hungry!
Yummy Carrot Cake with Orange Frosting
I had a lovely afternoon and hope to be able to go back soon to sample some more of the menu, which includes various All-Day Breakfast items (Bacon Sandwich, Pancakes with Syrup, Scrambled Eggs) as well as stuffed pittas and wraps.
There is also a craft space at the back, called Stitch, where they hold a range of craft workshops, from Basic Sewing and Mother and Baby Workshops, to learning about altering clothing and making items for your home. If you don't own a sewing machine then don't worry, they also have a number of machines available for a few extra pounds. I haven't been to any of the sessions yet, but do hope I can find the time at some point!

Details of opening, location, menu and events can all be found on their website; http://www.loungecafe.co.uk/

If you don't have plans for this bank holiday weekend, I do believe they are doing free cake when you buy a drink, as well as having live music.

Hoping you are well,

Monday, 22 August 2011

Check me out, I'm like Flavor-Flav

So I thought I'd put up some pictures of my hair, now I've tweeked it a little bit more to my liking.

I basically just put a load of the dye I had left from my last go at turquoise over the top of the green, blue and yellow that was put in at the hairdressers. I knew it wouldn't cover it completely, and I like the effect where you can still see some of the darker blue and the yellow. I'll probably only stick with this for a few weeks though. It will need cutting in the next 3 or 4 weeks and I'll remove the colour when I bleach my roots before I get it cut.
I'm also really loving the lipgloss I'm wearing in this picture. It's Rimmel Vinyl Gloss in Pin Up. Apart from the brilliant name, it's a great colour. As much as I adore lipstick, sometimes lipgloss is easier :/

Today I went into the office. I wore my Wonder Woman T-Shirt, as I was handing in a really big report that has taken so much time and effort to get sorted, and I felt like a little bit of a superhero having finally finished. I'm also really enjoying being ablr to feel comfortable in jeans and a tee again since losing some weight. It had got to the point where all my t-shirts were very tight and would ride up as I walked, but now they all fit really well and I have room inside them. It's a really great feeling :)
I also wore my new(ish) watch necklace. I blogged about getting one a while ago, and a friend of mine said she had one that she'd never worn, so I bought it of her. It's nice to be able to check the time without constantly getting my phone out.

I've had a few comments about it just being a nice pendant, and people seem strangely impressed to learn it's also a watch. One of my work friends said it made me look like a hip-hop artist with a clock round my neck. Lol.  Not quite what I was going for. What do you reckon? Can you tell the difference? Haha.


Hope all is well,

PS. This post in no-way endorses Hip-Hop, I think it's shit.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Painting Fun

I was playing with my new nail varnishes this evening.
I've gone with a base of Rimmel Portobello Pink with polka dots in Rimmel Silver Bullet.

The Silver Bullet wasn't quite what I was hoping for. It was a bit too thin and translucent for good polka dots. I just about managed to over come it by applying a few coats, but that was fiddly, getting dots right once is hard enough!
I'm very pleased with the results, shame it'll only last a day or two :/

Hope you're well,

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The problem with falling in love online

I needed to pay a visit to the city centre today as I had a hairdressers appointment, and I couldn't have let the occasion pass without a little bit of shopping!
Obviously, my first port of call was Topshop to see the wonderful coat that captured my heart last week! Alas, the dangers of falling in love with a picture on a website were all too evident :( The faux fur was coarse, the leopard spots were a lot more spot and not very much leopard, and, worst of all, the fit was altogether unflattering. At least there was no call for wrestling with my conscience on the shop floor over whether I could justify parting with £98. I don't see how I could have justified more than £20 for it.

So, as I technically saved myself nearly a hundred pounds, I bought myself a few little treats.
I happened to be walking in the vicinity of Hotel Chocolat, and the gravitational pull of all that chocolate dragged me right through the door. They were giving out samples of their Raspberry Ripple Puddles, which were very nice indeed. I don't know how it happened, but before I knew it I was stood in the queue with a selection of yummies. I got salted caramel and praline marbles, Dizzy pralines, Salted Soft Caramels and Dark Chocolate Brownie Chocs. The salted caramel and praline marbles are amazing, I had them before quite a while ago but then they were discontinued, but now they're back and I'm very pleased :) I know I'm on a diet, but with fancier (and pricier) chocolates like these I don't eat them in a binge like I might a bar of Galaxy, I eat them more slowly to properly enjoy them, so overall I eat less. That's my theory anyway.

Even the Hotel Chocolat bag makes me smile :)
My yummy treats :)
I also picked up some new nail varnishes, as I've been painting my nails a lot recently. I haven't actually bought nail varnish in a while, so was enjoying looking at all the awesome colours, took me a while to pick any, but ended up with a pale-ish pink, a coral and a white, all from Rimmel. I like Rimmel nail varnishes, as they have loads of colour and at £3, they're not too expensive.

 Hairdressers appointment isn't much to comment on. I was being a colour model, which meant free colour. The toner they used on my blonde was great, and I'll be getting that done again. The colour, well, I like the colours in themselves, but the way they've been applied is a bit too subtle for my liking. I may take a pic for you or I may not. Most likely, I'll put another colour in there within the next few days, make it more me.

I think that's more than enough of me for now,
Hope you're well,

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The conundrum of baking whilst on a diet

As you may well be aware, I have been on a 'diet' of sorts for about six weeks now. I say 'diet', it's more trying to eat sensibly and with fewer snacks than I did before, significantly fewer snacks, with a greater awareness of the calorie content of things. Ever since sitting down and calculating the calorie content of a cupcake I have been too terrified to bake, with visions of taking a bite and every seam of my clothing splitting open as I instantly gain a stone. Ok, that's a bit dramatic, but not actually a million miles from the actual fears racing through my mind.
Finally, this morning, I got on the scales to discover I had reached the weight that I had been hoping for, 10 and a half stone! Although I didn't feel quite the level of elation that I had anticipated, I am still pretty pleased with myself. In celebration I decided it was time I indulged my baking passion once more, by breaking out my slightly-adapted-for-a-lower-calorie-content cookie recipe.

Pure Dairy-free Sunflower Spread

Agave Syrup

The base recipe came from the Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar book by Isa Chandra Moskowitz except I replaced the oil for Pure Dairy Free Sunflower Spread and some of the sugar for Agave nectar, as both contain fewer calories than the original ingredients.
I wasn't totally sure the recipe would work, as the recipe goes on about some sort of reaction between the oil and sugar, and I had no idea how essential this would be to the finished product! Fortunately, they came out well. The mix didn't spread as much in the oven as when made with oil, but that's hardly the end of the world. Maybe the finished products are a little soft, but I honestly don't know if that's down to the recipe or my rubbish oven, I'll bake them longer next time to see. On the most important point, taste, they are definitely a success. Also, with getting 14 out of a batch, based on my calculations, they're only around 100 calories each, which isn't bad for a cookie!!

Mixture with Vanilla, pre chocolate chips

Mix with chocolate :)


Now my next task is to control myself so I don't eat them all in one sitting :/
I have used the agave syrup before, but only in recipes where it was prescribed. I think I shall be trying it out as a sugar substitution in some other recipes. I had never heard of it before I started my journey into vegan baking. It come from the agave plant, which I have been led to believe is a cactus and is also used in the production of tequila. Apparently, it's popular in vegan baking as an alternative to honey, as vegans class honey as an animal product. I've also heard things about agave being potentially suitable for diabetics, but I'd check that out for yourself, don't take my expression of vague hear-say as fact.

Hope you are keeping well,

Friday, 12 August 2011

I fell in love with a coat...

.....I fell in love once and almost completely - Fell in Love with a Girl, White Stripes (or I suppose, Fell in Love with a Boy, Joss Stone, if you prefer).

I came across this while checking out the collections advertised in the Topshop email I received this afternoon. And I'm besoted!

Topshop Leopard Faux Fur Coat
Unfortunately, it costs £98 :( Which is rather beyond my budget at the moment. Why do the things I love have to cost so much!!? Maybe I should start a fundraiser?

The coat-luster,

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Bin Day

I don't understand people sometimes. I found these four boxes of greetings cards in the recycling bin outside my flat today. I didn't realise they were boxes of cards at first, I just thought they were pretty, and boxes are always useful for keeping things in!

Now I imagine some of you are probably thinking I'm pretty weird for searching through bins. Well, for a start, I was hardly rifling through the bins in search of goodies, I just happened to come across them while using the bin. Also, I do think people throw away far too much stuff these days. Fair enough, these were in the recycling bin (although the fact that the cards are still in plastic wrappings inside probably means they aren't recyclable as they are), but reducing waste is always a much more environmentally sound course to take.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
So I'm actually quite proud of being a bin forager :)

Hope you are well

Thursday, 4 August 2011


While trawling through jewellery on Etsy yesterday, in search of a birthday present for my mum, I came across this.....

Cherry Blossom Polymer Cuff Bracelet
....and I fell in love :)
The seller who made this also has some really nice other items which you should check out. Even better, they do free delivery!
This has gone straight on my wish list. Although it'll probably be a while before I could even think about acquiring it :(

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

My Birthday

Last Saturday was my birthday. I turned 26.
I've long had a funny relationship with birthdays. When I was younger I didn't have many friend, and with my birthday being in the summer holidays, any friends I did have were often away. So I remember a lot of lonely birthdays that, over time, led to me not being that bothered about celebrating them. My previous two birthdays (24 and 25), since meeting my wonderful boyfriend, have been the best I've ever had, what with being thoroughly spoilt and having a couple of good parties. However, as he's away this year and wasn't going to be here for my birthday, I wasn't really looking forward to this one. I didn't want to organise anything and was pretty much set on spending the day on my own and ignoring the occasion.
In the end, my mum came down to stay for a few days over my birthday weekend to keep me company and prevent me spending it on my own. Me, my mum and my sister went out for dinner on the Friday night. We had some good food and a few drinks. Then my very good friends Katie and Jenny decided to come over on my birthday to see me and help me celebrate. Despite my diet, I got in a lot of cake and we had a very nice little celebration.
I was thoroughly spoilt with presents, including loads from my boy Peter who had bought everything and wrapped it before he went away more than a month in advance (the pile of presents sitting on the side for that long were almost too much to resist!).

My sister bought me a few Soap & Glory products; a body wash, body scrub and a soap moulded with nodules for massaging (good for cellulite apparently), not sure if she was trying to tell me something :/ I do love Soap & Glory products, they work well, smell good, aren't too pricey and have awesome retro styling :)
She also got me some leopard print hair bows, a large selection of earrings and a purple nail polish.

Leopard print hair bows from my sister

Soap & Glory Body Scrub from my sister
My boyfriend, Pete got me a selection of books, Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein and a collection of work by Edgar Allan Poe. I also got Dracula on DVD, the 1992 film with Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder, a small stone box that he picked up while we were on holiday in Gozo, a pretty blue dress, a case for my super duper new camera and a parasol, that was also bought while we were in Gozo.

Wuthering Heights from Pete

Blue Dress from Pete
Parasol from Pete
My main present from my parents wa a contribution toward my fancy new camera, even though I bought it two months ago because I wanted to take it on holiday. Even though that was a more than generous gift, my mum got me a few bits to open on the day. I got a collection of mismatched socks, funky and useful, I rarely bother to wear matching socks and my mum threw out a load of my old socks while she was here because she said they were too old and worn :(
She also got me a set of decorative swallows to hang on the wall, there are three of them, a large one, a medium one and a small one, like the kitsch old sets of ducks that people used to have. It's strange really, as I saw an item on a TV show last week about the fashion of having the ducks on the wall, and there was a lady who had a whole collection of them in different styles, including swallows. As soon as I saw them I wanted them, and so was really suprised when I saw y mum had got me some without me even having mentioned them. I haven't hung them yet, I need to get some nails, but I'll put up a picture when I have.

The largest of the wall swallows from my mum (please excuse my shiney face)
My friend Katie went a little overboard with presents. She got me a pink mug with the slogan "Eat a Cupcake and Move On", along with some cupcake tissues, for emergency situations, as well as a "Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake" poster and a book on making zombie/horror themed cupcakes. Jenny, my other wonderful friend who came to see me, got me two sewing guides, one for making a skirt and the other for making a cloak. I am very excited to try those out :)
Motivational Poster from Katie
Emergency mug and tissues from Katie
Zombie Cupcake book from Katie

Sewing Books from Jenny
There was a lot of cake involved in the celebrations. Which was great, except for the fact I'm supposed to be on a diet, although I didn't put on as much weight as I'd feared, should be easily fixable. Katie made a massive batch of cakepops which looked and tasted awesome. I also bought a mini patisserie selection from Waitrose which had mini eclairs, mini tarts and little macaroons, amongst other things. We cut them all up and shared so we got to try a lot of different things without eating too much cake overall :) I hadn't had chance or motivation to bake myself, so I bought some cupcakes, although they didn't actually get eaten on my birthday, due to the plethora of other options.
My birthday cake was amazing. Chocolate, obviously. It had really beautiful chocolate fondant roses on top :) I probably ate more of that than I should have, but only just finished it today.

Carrot cake Cakepop by Katie
Chocolate Mouse Shaped Cakepop by Katie
Lego head cakepop by Katie
Cherry design cupcakes
Mini patisserie selection
Beautiful birthday cake
Making a wish :)


So, overalll it was a pretty good birthday, certainly much better than I was expecting :) I wasn't even that bothered about being another year older, which I have been the past few years.
On the Sunday, the day after my birthday, I went to a barbecue at my friend's Kirstin and Mandela's place, with yet more cake :)
Has been a bit hard getting back to work after the weekend, but I've managed to make some decent progress. Back on the exercise again as well, work of all that cake.
Hope all is well,