"Betty Leopard": 2014

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.


Saturday, 12 April 2014


Hello? Is anyone still there? - I wouldn't blame you for having given up on me, I can hardly believe how long I have gone without blogging. To be perfectly honest I just haven't had the motivation - I started a new job in March which has been really enjoyable but tiring and taking up a lot of my brain space, plus we've started seriously looking at buying a house which has proven to be even more stressful than I anticipated.

I thought I would break myself back into blogging gently with a short post to show off my new purse.

I was still using the cute cherry blossom one I bought all the way back in January 2011! I only just realised how long I'd had it when I went to find the post I included it in. It's not surprising it had started to give up a bit, the clasp on the front had started falling off and the zip had become rather temperamental and would occasionally refuse to open and/or close.

I found this one in New Look while shopping for new work clothes - this new job is another step up in smart workwear, so I was on the hunt for shirts. As well as a nice white/ream shirt with a black heart print and a black shirt with large white polka dots, I fell in love with this little guy so treated myself.

He was hardly a great extravagance at £9.99, and he's so cute he always makes me smile :) I do love foxes. I like to think he probably makes a fair few other people smile too, when I'm out shopping.

He is slightly reminiscent of the fox face satchel that I kinda liked but refused to buy on the grounds that it quickly became a massive blogger cliché and also, more importantly, satchels are rarely big enough for me to fit all my junk inside!

I can't find him on the New Look website, but they do have similar ones with a Bulldog, Pug and Owl face. I don't think they are quite as awesome as my little fox, but if you're a particular fan of bulldogs/pugs/owls then they should still make you smile.

Thank you for sticking with me!
Who wants to start taking bets on how long it will take me to post again? :D


Saturday, 8 March 2014

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day - a day to pay tribute to and celebrate women as well as recognise women's struggles around the world for fair treatment and equality.

If you haven't already, you should check out the International Women's Day website to fins out more about the day, Women's initiatives and what you can do to help the cause of women, including yourself.

I found this video this evening and thought it was particularly pertinent to share today. The media sells us a false idea of beauty and what women should be - don't stand for it, be yourself, you are amazing.

I also thought this video was particularly important to share today.

Happy International Women's Day to you all.

Hope you are all well,


Thursday, 30 January 2014

Is it still January?

January has been such a long month! Not that I've done a lot with the endless amounts of time that seem to be between us and the New Year now – it feels like this has just been a month of working, sleeping and waiting to get paid. An early pay day in December seems great at the time, but 6 weeks between pay days seems like a massive stretch now.

Despite the incredible amount of rain we've been getting recently, we have still managed to get out most weekends with Alf. I've even bought myself some upper sexy outdoorsy walking trousers. Ok so they’re not going to in any style awards, but they are comfortable, warm, water-resistant and mean I don’t have to risk damaging any of my smarter trousers on our outdoor adventures.

I've really enjoyed being able to get out-and-about up here, even when the weather isn't perfect. The scenery is beautiful and most places we go are so quiet we barely see another person. Plus I can really do with the exercise – a desk job isn't agreeing with my waistline.

When the weather hasn't been so good I've been doing some reading - books and magazines – I seem to read an inordinate number of magazines these days, particularly compared to a few years ago. Current favourites include The Simple Things, Mollie Makes, Women’s Health, Delicious, Good Food and I recently picked up my first copy of Things & Ink. I don’t read all of these on a monthly basis, I only subscribe to The Simple Things and pick the others up as and when I remember and am particularly interested in the edition. I've also subscribed to Audible, so I can listen to audiobooks at work when thing are a bit quiet or in the evening if I'm too tired to read. The first audiobook I've downloaded is The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, which won The Man Booker Prize or 2013. I'm enjoying it a lot, there’s definitely a lot of mystery and intrigue.

I suppose the most noteworthy event of January is that I have got a new job! I interviewed yesterday afternoon and was offered the position by the evening :) I'm very excited by the new opportunity. My current job has only been on a three month contract which expires at the end of February, plus it hasn't been the most exciting job in the world – but they have paid me my first decent salary, so I've tried not to complain too much. The new job is about the same money but I’ll get a two year contract which gives us much more security and the possibility of being able to buy our own place soon(ish). I start in the beginning of March and I'm very excited. I think this will definitely call for a shopping spree for some new (work appropriate) clothes and shoes J  I've done  fair amount of browsing online lately and there’s quite a long list of things I’ like to add to my wardrobe. I’ll probably have to go through and whittle the list down though, we are trying to save for a house a well!

Roll on Friday evening,


Sunday, 5 January 2014

2014 Ambitions

All-in-all, 2013 was a bit of a wash-out of a year for me. It wasn't all bad, I finished my PhD, we moved to Wales and I started my first proper job (and got my first proper pay-cheque). But, over the course of twelve whole months those are pretty much the only highlights. Being unemployed for more than six months, having to move in with my parents and leaving my WI are amongst the most significant lows - oh and reaching a new personal maximum weight :(

I'm feeling pretty low right now - which isn't exactly surprising, I dislike New Years at the best of times. However, in the interests of taking positive steps towards lifting my mood, and also to keep reasonably regular blogging up, I wanted to include a list of my 2014 ambitions (not resolutions).

Also, I really want to crochet this.....

Photo from All About Ami

And pretty much everything else on All About Ami. You can find the pattern from the dragon here or have a look around at all the great designs at allaboutami.com.

I hope you are all coping better with this time of year than I am and I wish you all the best for any resolutions or ambitions you might have for 2014.


Watching: New Sherlock and Arrow Season 1

Reading: Anno Dracula by Kim Newman and Fatale graphic novels

Listening to: Woman's Hour podcasts and Freakonomics podcasts