"Betty Leopard": June 2012

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Nelly.com High Heel Tour: Southampton

Nelly.com is a clothing retailer that originated in Sweden but has recently made the leap over to the UK. I wasn't actually massively familiar with the brand, other than having heard a few things on Twitter, but earlier this week I was invited to a launch event being held in Southampton as part of a series of events being held all over the country as part of the brands UK launch. With the promise of free shoes, I was powerless to resist!

I wasn't really sure what to expect from the night. Normally there's a lot of hype around these events on twitter and blogs, but I couldn't find anyone saying anything about this one. Consequently, turn out seemed quite low. Free shoes were only available to the first 150 guests, but I'm pretty sure there weren't even that many girls there.

Photo taken from Nelly High Heels Facebook page

Inside the event we were set loose amongst glass cases of shoes from which we could pick our three favourite styles to have a chance of receiving one of the pairs for free (depending on availability).
The shoes were lovely, and looked even more glamorous displayed in their big glass cases. It would be an exaggeration to say I loved all the shoes on show, but it was hard to narrow my choices down to just three pairs!

My first choice was the spiked pair, second from left :)

In addition to the shoes, we got free cocktails and a goody bag that contained a Maybeline gel eyeline, lacey thong and a £20 voucher for One Piece onesies (one of the event sponsors). One of my friends didn't want her eyeliner and I don't wear thongs, so we traded those ;)

Beyond the shoes on display, the opportunity to try on a One Piece onesie and a compeition between three girls to design a pair of shoes, there wasn't really much to the event. There is part of me that would like to say they should have put more effort into promoting the event, getting bloggers involved and in terms of things to do there, but I don't want to seem ungrateful when I actually had a fun night with friends that didn't cost me a penny and gave me free eyeliner and shoes!

Long Island Iced Tea
Two Cosmopolitans :)

I would definitely recommend you have a look at the Nelly website, particularly their shoes. They had a huge variety of styles to chose from and prices range from very reasonable to the high-end luxury level! I didn't get my hands on any, so can't really speak for their quality, but they definitely looked good. I'll let you know what I think when I receive my free pair :)


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

True Hate

Abuse. Hating. Bullying. Trolling.

Whatever you call it, it's not that new and there has been a lot said about internet based abuse and hate recently. While I have been fortunate enough to not have been the victim of any such attacks myself, I am increasingly aware of hateful comments, tweets and discussions targeted at bloggers, tweeters and others who engage in social media.

This really makes me really very sad.

As a result of my health, I  have to put quite a lot of effort into making myself feel good on almost a daily basis. Happiness is powerful and precious and deserves the energy invested in seeking it out and holding on to it. To my mind, hate is a complete waste of time and emotional energy. No one benefits from hate, not the hater, the hatee or anyone surrounding either of them.

I understand that people can't always agree or think and feel the same way, but what does expressing your opposition through anger, hate, vitriol or venom gain for you? Nothing.
Now, I'm all for debate and discussion. But, it's not as though people are just expressing an opposing opinion in a calm, reasonable manner either. These attacks can be personal and malicious, even threatening.
The television and radio presented Richard Bacon received personal threats as well as attacks targeted at his mother, wife and new born son. What kind of person does that? And Why!?
I have also seen hateful comments on blogs calling bloggers all kinds on unnecessary nasty things.

It might be a bit of a cliché, but really, if you don't have anything nice to say, just don't say anything at all.
Why do some people think manners and common decency don't apply on the internet?

I really find the whole thing very distressing. I am frequently fearful of ever being the subject of any degree of online abuse, as I know it will destroy my passion for blogging and could risk all the hard work I have put into building myself up in recent years.

I don't want to go all 'happy-clappy, group-hug, heal-the-world' etc, because that's just not realistic, but if people put even a fraction of the effort they put into this online hate into actually making someone feel good, we'd all be much better off.

I expect most of you reading this aren't the kind of people who would engage in this kind of behaviour, so there's not much point in giving any advice on it really, but, on the off chance you are -'Next time you think about saying something nasty, just don't. Take a deep breath, count to 10, and move on with your life.
Try smiling at someone instead, you'll probably both feel better for it.


Thanks for reading,

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Good Mood Food

As I'm sure a lot of you are aware, I have long suffered with depression, anxiety, low mood and low self-esteem.

Through a combination of medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, support from friends and family and a lot of effort on my own part, I am doing a lot better these days. Having said that, things still aren't 'perfect', I still have low days or periods. Sometimes, the fact that I'm having a bad day can be made worse just by being disappointed that I'm not doing so well.

I've read things before about the effects that certain foods can have on your mood. Not in terms of indulging in treats to make you feel better, but foods that actually contain nutrients that can help lift or maintain better moods. To be honest, I've always been a bit sceptical, but scepticism is kind of my default setting. Recently I got to a point where I just wanted to be able to do something else to help myself, plus, as I'm always attempting to eat better and watch my weight, so I decided to do some research, then headed out to Waitrose to pick up supplies.

It probably won't come as much of a surprise that research generally supports the idea that a healthier diet (less processed food, less high fat food, fewer refined sugars etc) has a positive impact on people who suffer with depression. However, there are also some specific nutrients and foods that get highlighted as having particular benefit for mood in general.

Essential Fatty Acids
Fatty Acids are important in the transmission of signals in your brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important and can improve sensitivity to serotonin - the neurotransmitter most associated with feeling happy.
The best sources of Omega-3 include fish and seafood, but spinach, broccoli, Brazil nuts, pecans, sesame seeds and houmous are also good sources.
Unfortunately, I'm really not a fan of seafood or fish, but I love houmous, and spinach, broccoli and nuts are all things I don't mind too much, so they went on the shopping list.

Folate and Vitamin B12
Both Folate and Vitamin B12 are important in the creation of serotonin, and other neurotransmitters. Some studies have shown that a folate deficiency can reduce the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.
Foods including peanuts, spinach, lentils, some types of beans, chickpeas and brown rice are good sources of Folate, but a lot of breakfast cereals are fortified with folate too.
For Vitamin B12, eat milk, cheese, eggs, meats and salmon.
Again, while I wouldn't ever put them on a list of my favourite foods, I can eat spinach, lentils, beans and brown rice without too much objection, and chickpeas are the main constituent of houmous!! While eggs aren't something I like, milk, cheese and meat are all fine on the B12 front.

Antioxidants work to prevent damage to nerves that can affect how signals are sent and received in the brain. Vitamin C and Vitamin E are both important antioxidants.
Obviously, oranges are great for Vitamin C, but blackcurrants, strawberries, peppers, broccoli, sweet potato and kiwi fruit are as well.
For Vitamin E, sunflower oil, almonds, hazelnuts, spinach and kiwi fruit are all great sources.
Strawberries are my absolute favourite fruit, I would eat them all the time except I will only buy British strawberries and they're only in season in late spring into summer. Sweet potato isn't something I've ever eaten very much of, so that might be something I need to try out a bit more, but peppers and broccoli are pretty standard veg in my diet.

To be honest, no-one really seems to be sure what Selenium does, but they are pretty sure it's important for brain function and mood.
Brazil Nuts are the single best source of selenium you can get but kidney, tuna, crab and lobster contain a lot too.
I've never been a big fan of nuts, but I've discovered that Brazil nuts covered in a little dark chocolate really aren't too bad at all. Plus, dark chocolate is one of those things that's also help your mood, in small quantities anyway :)

This list isn't exhaustive, and different sources contain loads of different nutrients and foods that have potential benefits for brain function and mental health.

I only picked up a few additional things really. Fruit, muesli, almonds and Brazil nuts. I would have bought fruit anyway really, especially as there are so many British strawberries around at the moment. I've been trying to eat more oat based breakfast cereals, for general health reasons, but oats are also a source of folate and this muesli has loads of nuts in too. I had to go with Brazil nuts and have also heard good things about almonds, so I chucked those in the basket too.

The fruit was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, I'm really struggling to get into the muesli; too many raisins for my liking and nowhere near sweet enough, I've had to put a fair bit of sugar on to make myself eat it. I wasn't sure about the nuts at first, but once I drizzled the Brazil's in dark chocolate I've been getting on with them much better.

Now, this is nothing like a scientific experiment, so I'm struggling to think how to round this up. I did feel better after thinking more about what I've been eating. I can't say for sure if that's anything to do with the food though, it could be the good weather we had when I started this (not this last week, obviously!) or I could have been on an up anyway, which is why I felt so inspired to try these things out.
There is scientific evidence out there that supports these theories though, so they're probably worth sticking with. Plus, most of this is just about having a generally healthier diet, so it's hardly going to be wasted effort!

My will power is notoriously weak, so I've not really stuck to this plan as tightly as I maybe should have. I've had cake and chocolate and ice-cream too, but I know their pick-me-up effect is always short lived. I'm just not sure I'll ever get into treating myself with a chocolate Brazil or bowl of muesli :/ lol

Hope you have all been keeping well,

Nutrition and Depression: Implications for Improving Mental Health Among Childbearing-Aged Women
L.M. Bonday & K.L. Wisner (2005)
Biological Psychiatry 58 (9) 679-685

Monday, 4 June 2012

Mud and Science

On Friday, my boyfriend Pete, our dog Alf and I took a trip into the New Forest. We're not big fans of places that are overrun with other people, so we thought we'd get out on Friday to avoid the bank holiday weekend. 

Pete had brought a VHF tracking collar back from his work in Croatia, the kind of thing they put on wild animals to track their movements, and we took that out with us to test. We put it on Alf for a bit to check it worked, he looked quite cute and didn't seem to mind having it on.

We walked  by the river, had a picnic and saw a New Forest pony and her foal. Alf isn't always too sure of water (bless), but as it was so warm he was happily running around in the water, where it was shallow anyway. Unfortunately, at one point he confused a big patch of mud for solid ground, and got almost completely coated in mud :/

New Forest

Gnarly roots

Pete talking Alf through how the collar works

Alf contributing to science

Pony and Foal

Very Muddy Puppy

Other than this day out I haven't done anything else even vaguely celebratory this weekend; I've been all work, work, work. No rest for the wicked.

Hope you have had a good long weekend.