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Friday, 30 December 2016

The Trends for 2017: Year of the Rooster

Picture of hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Fraise
Hydrangea Paniculata Vanilla Fraise: copyright

2016 was a tumultuous year and one that many of us will be glad to see the back of.  I'm always intrigued to hear what the predictions  are for the new year in terms of fashion, food and general prosperity. Here's my summary of trends for 2017 including flowers, fashion, colours and food.

Year of the Rooster

From Jan 28 we are in the Chinese Year of the Rooster. The Rooster is the sign of dawn and awakening. Triumph and success can only be achieved at the price of hard work and patience in 2017.

Green the Colour to be Seen In 

The influential Pantone Colour Institute were bang on with their predictions for 2016 of rose quartz and serenity: the rose pink and tranquil blue tones were everywhere, even if the supposed "soothing sense of order and peace" represented by the colours was absent.

For 2017, Pantone predict we will be in the green:  their shade Greenery will be all around us. This is good news for those who love green (myself included). It represents the colour of life, renewal, nature and energy, along with meanings of growth, harmony, freshness, safety, fertility, and environment. Green is also traditionally associated with money, finances, banking, ambition, greed, jealousy, and Wall Street.

The Fashion Trends

2016 was the year of the bomber jacket and the 2017 jacket will be a white blazer, apparently. They're in some of the hot new collections and style mavens like Alexa Chung and Emmanuelle Alt, editor of French Vogue, have been seen in them.  Below: Marella FENNEC longline collarless blazer from House of Fraser.

The top handle bag will replace the cross-body bag. These are small bags which the trendy use without a strap. Below: Givenchy's's medium Antigona tote from Selfridges. 

Other trends on the horizon include the shirtdress, a looser tunic style designed to be worn with tights and ankle boots while the weather is cold, and then trainers or sandals in summer. 

Thankfully the puffer coat will be old hat  (do they flatter anyone?) and the trench coat will be reinvented. Preen have a gingham version and Burberry's classic gaberdine had leopard-print sleeves. 

In The Garden

Madonna will hate this one but apparently hydrangeas will be big news this year.  I have always loved the paniculata varieties of later flowering hydrangeas rather than the mop head types. One of my favourites is vanilla fraise, pictured, top. I would love to see a Chelsea Flower Show that brings back cottage garden flowers like hollyhocks, delphiniums, love-in-the-mist. Personally, I am so over "prairie planting",  grasses, and all those clashing hot garden pinks and oranges.

Snack Atttack

Golden milk lattes will seduce us with their turmeric, celebrated for its anti-inflammatory properties. I find it works very well, although not in tablet or pill form  (which was validated by a recent study).  I add turmeric to home-made soups and drink turmeric and coconut tea.  It really helps with aching joints, particularly if you can't take ibuprofen.

Vegetable yoghurt is supposed to be the Next Big Thing. Varieties such as carrot, beetroot and sweet potato have proved an unexpected hit in the US and will soon be making a mark in Britain, according to Waitrose in its annual food and drink trends report.

Meanwhile poké,  Hawaii’s answer to sushi, is predicted by Waitrose to be the must-eat snack of 2017. 

Hawaiian poke on rice

The interiors trend for marble is creeping into food, too. Expect to see marbled icing, meringues and macaroons all over Instagram, made by bakers such as the Meringue Girls, aka Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman. 
Marbled meringues from The Meringue Girls
Marbled meringues: copyright Meringue Girls

Retro Drinks

Gin and different botanical variations was hot in 2016 and I'm glad to see that sherry will be becoming trendy in 2017  (I've been predicting this for a while). Trendy cocktail bars are adding dry types of sherry to their concoctions. Alternatives to prosecco, such as Pignoletto from Italy and Cava from Spain, will be joyfully guzzled.

Sharing with Nancy's Fashion Style FancyFridayLink-UpParty and Not Dressed As Lamb, #SaturdayShareLinkUp

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Lip balms on trial

Article from Is This Mutton? testing several lip balms from high-end to cheap buys

The one thing that most of us cannot do without is a lip balm. I'm always buying different ones, particularly if I'm out and find I don't have one on me. Winter makes my lips even more prone to dryness and cracking so a good lip balm is essential.

I rate a lip balm on three factors: 
  1. Does it moisturize and give a nice sheen to the lips? 
  2. Does it last on the lips or fade within minutes? I find that some lip balms, when they fade, leave a nasty residue, a "bittiness" on the lips.
  3. Does it taste good?
I rounded up my lip balms and found 8, two of which were free gifts in magazines. I've put them on trial and the verdict is in.

Rodial Stemcell Super-Food Glam Balm Lip
One of the more expensive ones at £17.00 for 7ml. I had a generous 10ml tube as a free sample in a magazine. Quite a strong rose flavour and smell. Gives a good glossy finish and camouflages lip lines (this must be the "3D filling spheres"!). It lasted for about an hour and disappeared in a clean way. Score: 4 out of 5. 

Argan+ Nourishing Lip Balm
£3.49 for 15ml.
Picked this one up at Waitrose (as you do) as I had read a lot about the hydrating qualities of argan oil. A bit cloying and sticky on the lips. Score: 2 out of 5.

£1.50 from Tesco and other outlets
Ah, Lypsyl. Everyone of a certain age will remember this one. I see from the website it has a new formulation and comes in different varieties, but the one I have is described as the original and I buy them in bulk at Amazon. I absolutely love Lypsyl. It has a very distinctive taste and smell and sweetens the breath.  It's instantly hydrating and comforting on the lips and has good lasting power. When it does disappear, it does so without becoming sticky or leaving a weird after residue. Score: 4 out of 5, 

Dr Organic rose otto lip balm serum
£4.99 from Holland and Barrett.
This one is in a category all of its own for tasting and smelling absolutely delicious. It reminds me somehow of a lovely cake. I used to keep it in the car so I could apply it at times of stress on the M25. Gives a nice sheen to the lips and lasts about two hours before doing a good disappearing act. Score: 3 out of 5

Nivea Fruity Shine - Peach
£1.99 from Boots
Nivea have long had lip balms in various permutations. This one is a big disappointment.  It doesn't really give your lips any colour and the flavour is very synthetic. It disappears quite fast and leaves an unpleasant residue on the lips. Score:1 out of 5,

Dr Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips
£12 for 15ml from outlets including Space NK
This started as a nipple balm, as its name would suggest, but mothers were using it on their lips too. It's a multi purpose balm you can use anywhere. It's similar to Vaseline, gloopy, waxy and unpleasant tasting. I wouldn't wear it outdoors on any day where there was wind because your hair gets plastered to your lips. It's OK for wearing overnight. It gives a good glossy finish and lasts a few hours. The website is fun. Score: 2 out of 5.

Ren Vita Mineral Lip Balm
£10 for 15ml from outlets including Space NK, Marks and Spencer
I believe this was another free gift. It has a slightly weird taste. Imparted a good shine but didn't give such a smooth lip as the Rodial.

Clarins Instant Comfort Lip Comfort Oil
I remember reading about the launch of this and trying several times to buy it, only to be told it was out of stock. When I finally got my hands on it I found it a big disappointment.  It's quite a thick oil with an unpleasant taste, and as it fades away it leaves a sticky residue.  Unpleasant.  1 out of 5.

Which is your favourite lip balm, and do you disagree with any of my findings?


Friday, 23 December 2016

The Decleor Advent calendar: how was it?

Image showing selection of items from the 2016 Decleor Advent Calendar

I've been a Decleor fan for years. I love their sublime facial oils and have found their products very effective. In recent years I haven't used their products quite as much so I decided to treat myself to the Decleor Advent calendar to see what's new.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Bargain red tartan and a classy reindeer jumper

Two more outfits for Christmas

Browsing among the groceries at Sainsburys, I had a quick look at the TU clothing, having seen an article where their clothes were said to be much improved. I've been itching to wear something in red and so this tartan skirt and jumper leapt out at me and before I knew it, were in the trolley along with the fruit and veg.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Remember these beauty products from the 70s and 80s?

I've been enjoying Sali Hughes' book "Pretty Iconic: A Personal Look at the Beauty Products that Changed the World". I am somewhat obsessed with finding the beauty products I grew up with, and it makes my day if they're still around today.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

5 outfits for Christmas

Collar less coat from Marks and SpencerI haven't bought many new pieces this Christmas and the reason is linked to the fact I'm currently not working, for the first time ever.  I haven't had any office parties to think about. If I did, I have a rich seam of dresses that have only been worn once or twice. Here are five outfits for Christmas. I have left my Boxing Day outfit for another post (yep, it's the jumper.....).

Christmas shopping with Mum 

I always go to Plymouth a couple of weeks before Christmas to spend a few days with my mum, who's 84, and to see my brother and his family. Mum is a widow, very independent and enviably sociable: she's social secretary for a couple of organisations and is on a constant whirl of lunches and day trips. She loves buying clothes, usually in bright colours: she hates the idea of being a "beige old lady."  Here she's wearing a collarless coat and teal polo neck jumper. I'm wearing my green coat from Marks and Spencer and an embellished jumper from Boden which I absolutely love  (it is about three years old).

Christmas carol concert

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the wonderful BT Christmas Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. We had dinner beforehand at one of the venue's restaurants, the Elgar Grill. The concert includes singalong carols, the Royal Marine Band, Chris Hollins (as MC), an orchestra and choirs, and two guest opera singers. It's an exuberant celebration ending with a rendition of "Merry Christmas Everyone", fake snow and indoor fireworks.

Green is my favourite colour and as it's so mild I didn't need to wear a thick coat with gloves and scarf. Out came the M&S green coat, a green jumper from Boden, necklace from Etsy, burgundy boots and navy trousers.
Green coat from Marks and Spencer, green jumper from Boden

Christmas party dress 

I love a sequin like most women. I've only worn this dress from Hobbs once - I feel it's a bit too short on me.I paired it with a white faux fur stole that I've had so long it has the label "St Michael"  (which used to be a brand name of Marks and Spencer).

I have a bit of a shoe crisis.  I decided a few weeks ago that high heels were no longer for me. I gave away several pairs to the charity shop.  But my usual ankle boots and flat shoes don't look great with my party dresses, so I had to improvise with sandals I normally wear in summer. I wouldn't usually wear tights with open toe sandals, believe me.

Black sequin dress from Hobbs with silver sandals and white faux fur stole

The LBD every woman needs 

You've probably got a dress like this in your wardrobe, whether it's from Vivienne Westwood, Aleia or in my case, Marks and Spencer. It's designed to flatter the figure and is conservative enough to wear to more restrained functions, but can be dressed up for more ritzy parties. 

Mine is a little longer than I would like. The mid calf, midi trend, was not one I greeted with enthusiasm. I find knee length a more flattering length.  The block heels are a good substitute for high heels when you need something more than a flattie. Mine are from Dune. 
Black crepe figure flattering dress with Dune block heeled shoes

Here I have added my glamorous black velvet coat - bought more than 15 years ago.

Black crepe figure flattering dress and black velvet coat

Sequin skirt and ruffle sleeve jumper

This skirt still has its label attached because in the two years I've had it, I've never found a top to go with it.  I wanted something in a vibrant pink but this is a colour the stores forgot this year. I finally found a ruffle sleeve jumper by Lost Ink which fit the bill.  I had sore misgivings to start with: I feared it was going to be a crop top and ride up.  Wearing tops loose doesn't suit my shape - I need to create definition at the waist or with my big shoulders and bust I can look like a fridge. Fortunately the jumper tucks in OK.

Magenta sequin skirt and Lost Ink pink ruffle sleeved jumper

So those are my main picks for Christmas. I've had fun looking at all the lovely outfits on different sites. In particular I loved Lizzy's red dress and Michelle's blush pink number. Nikki adds the wow factor to a jeans and velvet top combo with gorgeous gold heels and jewellery (I need those gold shoes in my life!). 

Sharing this post with Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet, Catherine at Not Dressed As Lamb #SaturdayShareLinkUp and Patti at NotDeadYetStyle for Visible Monday.

* all outfits bought by me 


Tuesday, 13 December 2016


The winner of my Christmas giveaway beauty bag is @vanityandmeblog

You should get the bag before Christmas. Thanks for entering!


Monday, 12 December 2016

Sequin bomber jacket

Lipsy black sequin bomber jacket and Office gold bootsAny reservations I had about buying a bomber jacket the second time around have been dispelled by the purchase of a second one.  This black sequin bomber from Lipsy was bought specifically for attending Elton John's concert in Belfast.  I figured Elton would appreciate a sequin or two. Not that he got to see!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Christmas beauty giveaway!

Is This Mutton dot com Christmas beauty competition prizeI've put together a dreamy bag full of brand new, unopened samples from many cult brands, and it'll go to the first comment selected at random on Dec 13, midday GMT.

It's got everything you need for a big night out: cleanser, hair conditioners; face treatments; a body lotion; fake tan; eye shadows and products to remove it all before you go to bed. List below.

For your chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment (not anonymous) saying which of the products you would most like to try. 

Happy to ship abroad!

Good luck and share the love with your friends.

The bag itself

What's in the bag?
Decleor Hydra Floral light cream, 15ml
Decleor Micellar Oil 5ml
Lancome Energie de Vie 5ml: smoothing and glow boosting liquid care
Ouai hair treatment masque
Benefit They're Real! remover
January Labs restorative tonic mist 30ml: alcohol free toner that minimizes the appearance of pores and prevents breakouts. Designed to tone, rehydrate, and balance all skin types.
Omorovicza Ultramoor Mud Mask: transform skin’s appearance in just a few minutes with this flash-lifting anti-ageing mud mask.
Inika mineral eye shadow, gunmetal: vegan pure and vibrant mineral eyeshadow, pigment-rich, that will last all day.
Nudestix Magnetic eye color, angel: über long wearing eye shadow pencil that highlights, provides intense luminous colour, precise lining and primes lids for all day wear.
Lypsyl original lip balm
Emma Hardie Protect & Prime sachet: light weight, non-greasy skin protecting and priming cream with a broad spectrum sun protection SPF30,
Frederic Fekkai Protein Rx hair repair strengthener: treatment that mends brittle damaged hair.
Sienna X instant bronzing gel
Australian Bodycare tea tree oil hair conditioner: detangles and restores natural lustre leaving hair manageable and healthy.
Weleda evening primrose age revitalizing body lotion: firms and increases skin elasticity
Melvita argan oil for face or hair

Terms and conditions can be found here.


Monday, 5 December 2016

A fantastic weekend in Belfast

Gail Hanlon in cape on Game of Thrones tour
You could say I'm wearing what I like in this pic - it's a Game of Thrones cape! We had a fantastic weekend in Belfast, starting first at the Titanic Experience which has quite rightly been voted the world's top tourist attraction. Nine galleries, all very evocative and interactive, take you from the history of Belfast's shipbuilding and other associated industries (linen, rope) to the discovery of the wreckage and retrieval of some of the artifacts.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

A tale of two wedding dresses

1987 wedding dress by Pronovias worn by Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon

Raffaella Barker recently wrote in the Mail on the dilemma she faced as a 51 year old second time bride in choosing her dress.

I had exactly the same challenge in 2010 when I married John.
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