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Fashion,beauty and jewellery for sassy women over 40

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Friday, 11 August 2017

Mutton's Choice Cuts

Monthly Miscellany from the Mind of Mutton

This month I'm ruminating on Middle Child Day and my blog anniversary (2006!).

You probably weren't aware dear reader but tomorrow (Saturday) has been deemed Middle Child Day. Hooray for the middle child, the stalwart of the family who learns very early to wheel and deal.

According to Frank Sulloway, PhD, author of Born to Rebel, "They are agreeable, diplomatic, and compromising, and they handle disappointment well. They have realistic expectations, are the least likely to be spoiled, and they tend to be the most independent."
Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon with brothers Andrew and Robert as children

A good description, I fancy.

I was the middle child of three, with brothers on either side. In the photo above, I'm about six years old. There was a 10 year age gap between the eldest, Andrew, and the youngest, Robert. Andrew, who sadly died two years ago, was not a stereotypical eldest child. He was very self contained and independent. He could be quite bossy with me and Robert, who, when he was young, was very "naughty." Andrew would quite often slipper Robert up the stairs when he wouldn't go to bed.  Our dad was stationed in Singapore when Robert was a toddler, and Andrew took it upon himself to be the father in his absence.

He could also be a lot of fun. We spent hours playing "catch the gonk" which would be thrown up and down the landing, and used to fall about laughing at Carry On films. At Andrew's funeral service, we chose one of the trademark Carry On tunes to mark his exit.

My childhood was fairly idyllic. In those days kids were allowed to go out and play all day, and I did with gusto. I would be gone after breakfast and back in time for tea. My fun included going to the den or cave, fighting the children down "the enemy end,"creating plays, attempting to make films with a still camera and picking blackberrries or primroses in the fields near our home.

On Sundays we would pile into the car, usually wearing bizarrely named "car coats," and be driven somewhere for an airing. Tavistock perhaps, where Robert could play on Stumbles the steamroller, and fall into the pond in winter, so that he had to suffer the indignity of riding home naked behind a copy of the News of the World.

In addition to the freedom we had of being kids, we didn't suffer from over anxious parenting. We weren't forced to do any extra-curricular activities. I went to the Guides once but didn't like it (and my mum was relieved, because they couldn't have afforded the uniform). I did enjoy going to "Guild", a spin-off of Sunday school where we made baskets and got chips as a rare treat on the way home.

I don't remember my parents ever putting pressure on us to do well at school.  In my case, I had an inner determination to succeed and I spent hours revising and managed to get three A levels.

So if you're a middle child, let's raise a glass tomorrow and be thankful that our position in the pecking order made us resilient and determined.


That first blog post in 2006

A post written in 2016 about the death of David Bowie by life long fan Gail Hanlon
Back in 2006 I launched a blog called "A Curious Girl's Guide to Life." It still exists, out in the tumbleweed of deserted sites. I felt sure my pithy views and nostalgic glimpses of life in the 70s would make me a big celeb. So it was humbling to find that in those days, the likes of the Huffington Post were VERY rare, and I was lucky to get 200 page views a week from visitors searching for topics like "Does John Torode wear a wig?" (One of my more memorable posts).

Think back to 2006. We had Facebook (launched 2004)  and Twitter, just (launched March 2006). We also had Myspace, which was the largest social networking site in the world between 2005 and 2008. Blogging was nowhere near as popular as it is today. It was the preserve of a few people, mostly older, who wanted an outlet to write. I remember getting blank looks from my stepchildren when I asked them if they had ever read any blogs or knew where to look for them .

If you had a blog, you didn't have many options for promoting it. Social media was quite new and not everyone was using it. RSS feeds were niche.  I promoted my blog on Facebook and my call to action was always to bookmark my blog, but I could barely persuade my own family and friends to do it, let alone anyone else.  If I had a post I wanted to be seen, I would email my friends with the link.

The key thing was getting yourself into the directories that existed, and having a presence on sites like Technorati, and getting people to leave comments on your blog.  It was a tight knit community where bloggers whose subject matter was entirely unrelated to yours would visit and leave a comment, and vice versa.

I look back at the early posts and smile at some of the people who were my online friends then. "The Duchess," who posted beautiful pictures of tea cups and cakes. "The Frump Factor," a precursor of today's over-40s fashion blogger.

My old blog still exists, and the first post was not surprisingly about David Bowie. I wrote another in 2016 upon hearing of his death, shown in the screenshot.

I regard it very fondly now, as a record of my life between 2006 and 2016. I had a very long commute to work and would amuse myself by spotting the lorries operated by Bailey's Equine Feeds ("horse nutrition in the bag") and Norbert Dentressangle. This is all documented, along with my garden and my obsession about certain TV programmes - Strictly Come Dancing and The Apprentice. Plus accounts of our holidays, and explanations of why we celebrate bank holidays. Plus a few wood pigeons.

Sharing this post with the weekend blog hop at Claire Justine and Saturday Share at Not Dressed as Lamb.

FOR MORE MUTTON

Don't miss a post -  follow my blog on Bloglovin and receive a weekly email on my updates. You'll love "shoe of the day" on the Is This Mutton? Facebook page. And check out the Is This Mutton? Pinterest boards, including boards on other bloggers in fab outfits plus beauty, jewellery, hairstyles and fashion picks. Is This Mutton? is also on Twitter. 




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Saturday, 5 August 2017

Fit for a Pharoah: the Peridot

Peridot Oval Cluster Ring Vintage 14 carat Yellow,  Gold Estate Fine Jewelry Pre

Continuing Is This Mutton's series on the birthstones, we hone in on Peridot, the birthstone for August. The beautiful ring above is secondhand with six carats of Peridot set in 18CT gold. See it at Ruby Lane Vintage.
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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Look younger with better posture

Age is no barrier to having great posture. Just look at actresses Felicity Kendal, Joanna Lumley and Cherie Lunghi
What do these fantastic ladies - actresses Felicity Kendal, (left) Joanna Lumley and Cherie Lunghi (right) have in common?

Excellent posture.

I think all three ladies have either danced or practiced Pilates most of their lives, and it shows.
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Friday, 14 July 2017

Lose weight with the Diet Plate

The Diet Plate and cereal bowl shown on a dining room table. Copyright: Gail Hanlon
With more than one in four of us trying to lose weight most of the time, it's a growing market for the diet industry to make money out of our misery.
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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Mutton's Choice Cuts: Sean Bean and More

Prepare to be surprised, amused or annoyed by Mutton's Choice Cuts, the random thoughts of Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon
Welcome to another edition of Mutton's Choice Cuts. This month I'm talking about Sean Bean, "forbidden words" that we shouldn't use in job interviews, and a formula for a Kathy Reichs book.
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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Skiathos Holiday Highlights

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton? at the Old Port of Skiathos
We're back from the Greek island of Skiathos. It's a lovely relaxing break for those who like good food, boats, pretty scenery, and, if you have kids, safe swimming in calm turquoise waters.
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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Anniversary weekend

A table overlooking Hyde Park at Dinner by Heston
Birthdays and anniversaries are big for me. My mum and my grandma before her always celebrated in style, and I usually take a day off work for my birthday and organise something great. Mr Mutton, also known in the blogosphere as the mysterious "J," is somewhat bemused by all this but goes along with it, even when one of his birthdays saw him being whisked off to Edinburgh amid a whirlwind of seeing pandas, eating haggis and going to Tom Kitchin's wonderful restaurant.
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Friday, 2 June 2017

Mutton's Choice Cuts

Welcome to a new monthly feature, Mutton's Choice Cuts.  This month's selection includes the age gaps between the Macrons and the Trumps, and the unofficial World Cup of Biscuits.
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Sunday, 28 May 2017

May Beauty Round-Up

Three of the beauty products for May 2017 reviewed by Is This Mutton?
 This month I'm looking at a bronzer designed for mature skin, a vitamin C serum, a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner, and a hand wash which is helping to improve my nails.
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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Flowers and Fashionistas

The famous Chelsea Flower Show in London was a riot of colour, and it wasn't just the flowers. I was paying my first visit to the show for 19 years. Sister-in-law Kate and I were disappointed to see the number of show gardens reduced from 17 last year to eight with few of the big name gardeners exhibiting. Have costs become too prohibitive? There was only one garden where you queued and went up  a ramp and looked down. I remember 19 years ago doing that for the all-white Christian Lacroix garden.

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Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Beautiful Emeralds

Is This Mutton's guide to the history of emeralds, how to choose a beautiful emerald and what to buy
Is there a more beautiful stone than an emerald? I don't think so. Emerald is the birthstone for May, and in Is This Mutton's? continuing look at birthstones, we're going to examine this beryl in a bit more detail.
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Friday, 14 April 2017

A walk in the bluebell wood

Dressed for a bluebell wood walk: Boden jeans, Peter Hahn white shirt and Marks and Spencer gold mules
We're lucky to live near Epping Forest and to know where there is a "secret" bluebell wood. It really is off the beaten track so we were the only people there.

The bluebells were at their peak following last weekend's sunshine.  Beautiful. You could smell the sweet fragrance before you approached.
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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Easter Delights and Traditions

Easter traditions in the UK and Europe, including religious celebrations and national activities
Easter is a lovely time of year, to me far better than Christmas, which is overly commercialized, filled with unrealistic expectations, and set in a gloomy month.

Retailers are determined to try to commercialize Easter of course, with Easter crackers this year and increasingly vulgar chocolate eggs. Children will apparently be given an average of £56 worth of chocolate over Easter.
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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

5 top tips for buying a new mattress


I couldn't resist showing one of my favourite clips from Monty Python's Flying Circus - buying a bed. It probably won't play if you're not in  the UK. Sorry about that.....

Why do I need a new mattress? 


Not surprisingly, as they want us to buy more often, the mattress industry and the Sleep Council both recommend we replace a mattress every eight years. By this time it will have lost much of its original comfort and support.
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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Diamonds are Forever

From the four C's to a unique Downton Abbey tiara, here is Is This Mutton's guide to the birthstone for April, the diamond
"She who from April dates her years,
Diamonds shall wear, lest bitter tears
For vain repentance flow."

Lucky you, born in April - for your birthstone is the diamond!
Just yesterday, the "Pink Star" diamond sold for a record £75m in Hong Kong.
But only recently, we were told that millennials in particular are buying fewer diamonds and instead opting for coloured gemstones like rubies, sapphires and emeralds. They no longer attach the same importance to diamonds that previous generations did, and the idea of "blood diamonds" appalls many young women.
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Sunday, 2 April 2017

Back to the 70s

Bloggers and former flatmates Maddie Grigg and Gail Hanlon raise a glass before the Holy Holy Ziggy Stardust gig in London
David Bowie has been a huge part of my life since I was 11. I wrote about my fandom in my old blog here, and his death here.

I haven't been able to listen to his music or watch any of the TV programmes about him since his death.
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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The scents of our lives: it's National Fragrance Day

Image showing perfume bottles to illustrate article for National Fragrance Day 2017 on Is This Mutton?
Today (Tuesday 21 March) is National Fragrance Day and to celebrate, five lovely ladies are sharing with us the scents of their lives.
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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

5 simple ways to get a good night's sleep

Is This Mutton's guide to getting a good night's sleep
It seems everyone is having trouble sleeping these days. Even school children, we're told.

There are sleep clinics, various herbal remedies (none of them work, by the way) and no end of lore on the internet on how to sleep.

I'm lucky in that I sleep well, generally from 10 until 6am, which is a good eight hours. I don't change my routine at the weekend - I rarely "lie in" any later than seven. You can't "bank" sleep and continually getting more than nine hours is said to be a marker for dementia in later life.

I'm a firm believer in good sleeping habits or "sleep hygiene" as it's often called. Here are my five rules for sleeping well:


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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Mother's Day gifts for the older mum

Mother's Day gifts 2017 for the older mum aged 75 plus
With Mother's Day in the UK on March 26, there will be a flood of articles very soon on gift ideas, mostly aimed at mums my age or younger.

Which is great, except that they're ignoring the older mums, the mothers of Baby Boomers.

So my gift guide is aimed at mums aged 75 and over, and is unashamedly based on what my Mum, 84, would like. I've featured her in the blog previously. 

She's very keen on buying clothes and make-up and dealing with challenges like ultra-sensitive skin and wrinkles (she says she would try Botox if she could afford it). She occasionally buys costume jewellery but doesn't care much for scent and would be quite offended if confronted with a coffret of old-fashioned, or "old lady", bath products.
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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Aquamarine - birth stone for March

the birthstone for March is the aquamarine, linked to mermaids and the sea
It's March! And those of you with a birthday this month probably already know that your birthstone is the beautiful aquamarine.

This is a blue to green-blue variety of precious beryl, the group of minerals that includes emeralds.

But while aquamarine and emerald have essentially the same specific gravity and refractive index, emerald tends to be hazy and full of inclusions, whilst aquamarine has excellent transparency and clarity.
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