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Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Silver Linings, Coffee Skirt Three Ways, and Link Up

Staying positive: over-50s blogger Gail Hanlon in green and navy Scotch and Soda blouse with coffee coloured A line midi skirt from Marks and Spencer
While "The Awfulness" is with us, it's sometimes hard to find any silver linings.  But positives can be found, and it's worth having your own list so you can remind yourself when life gets tough. My silver linings:
  • Here in the UK we have just moved into spring, and it's a beautiful time of year with blossom, daffodils, tulips, blue skies, trees greening up
  • In the garden we have robins nesting in a new nesting box and blackbirds nesting in the hedge. It's a constant hive (!) of activity.
  • With all this hand washing, many people will (hopefully) carry on and there will be less flu and colds going round every winter
  • We're forced to take life at a slower pace, living in the present. I wonder why do we waste so much time taking photos and videos. For what?
  • Old-fashioned pursuits are returning: families being inventive with play, board games and quizzes over HouseParty, making your own wine, cooking from scratch, embroidery
  • Once it's over, we may appreciate life in a different way. Less commercialised, less selfish
  • People are discovering the pleasure of a daily walk  (I think some think it's been mandated by the government!)
  • Those of us lucky enough to have a balcony, patio or garden will enjoy it all the more this summer 
  • I used to feel guilty as a blogger of not finding great locations for my shoots. But as I do them on my own, with a tripod, I find it too daunting to go to central London or other places. Now, of course, a lot of urban bloggers would kill for a garden they can take pictures in! 
  • Technology has finally come of age. Home working for millions is now a reality, and possible. Videoconferencing brings families and friends together and it works. As someone who has worked in tech for more than 25 years, this is rewarding. I remember the first few video calls and it was always hit and miss that they would work.
When it ends, our First World problems will immediately rear their ugly heads: people desperate to get hairdresser appointments;  people battling to book the holidays still available for September (or whenever). But I've already decided I won't be joining them.  The Awfulness has already taught me the beauty of going with the flow and stepping aside from the herd. The herd tramples others underfoot to get what they want, whether it's toilet roll or fresh food to stockpile, only to throw it out untouched when it goes out of life  (shocking but true). 

Now to the outfit, and  I'm featuring a classic neutral skirt that is extremely versatile. It's the same style as the pink skirt I bought last year, an A line shape that flatters most, with a removable belt. It's from Marks and Spencer and the colour is described as coffee.  I like the contrasting tortoiseshell buttons. It's also available in white.
Middle-aged woman with fair hair in neutral beige skirt with navy, green and yellow
I've got three different looks to show you.  Above, add a twist with yellow boots that echo the yellow in the fabulous Scotch and Soda blouse. It's still a bit cold so I haven't thrown my tights aside yet. The bag, from Coach, goes with everything.

Next up: a white pullover with knee-length navy boots and a statement blue necklace.
Coffee coloured midi skirt paired with navy and white

You can just about see Molly on the left: it's gradually becoming warm enough for her to venture outside, albeit briefly. The daffodils on the left are Thalia, Monty Don's favourite. Certainly very elegant.

Final look is a flourish of sequins. I was planning to use a red top but the green sequin top was singing out to me from the wardrobe! It's an old one, worn with an equally old cropped cardigan from Boden. They have these every year and I snap them up in different colours because they go with so many outfits. The green snakeskin boots are from Asos: still available, sale price.
Add a fun twist to a neutral beige midi skirt with snakeskin boots, a cross-tre-body bag and green snakeskin boots
There will be lots of summer looks too but I haven't yet got the summer wardrobe down from the loft. 
Portrait of mid life woman blonde hair in green sequin top
Nothing was gifted for this post.

Sharing this post with Claire Justine, #iwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness at Shelbee on the Edge, Anna at Muttonstyle, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile at StylesplashAnna at the GlamAdventure, Style Six at Coast to Coast
Now for the #WowOnWednesday link up. Last week's favourite (most clicked) was Anna from Muttonstyle with her post Lunch with Mary, Working from Home. Here's Anna, right, with the lovely Mary from The Pouting Pensioner.
My favourite post was by Shauna from Lipgloss and Lace: So Very Carrie Bradshaw. Now what would Carrie, from Sex and The City, be wearing as she toils away in front of the Teams screen? Shauna visualises the most perfect confection of a skirt, turquoise tulle, with high heels, fluffy purse and giant pale pink corsage. It really made me smile, and is so Carrie Bradshaw like.
Please support the bloggers in the link-up who are carrying on bringing you posts - visit their blogs and leave comments. It makes it all worthwhile.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Monday, 30 March 2020

Style Not Age: Denim Directions

Is This Mutton over-50s blog interprets the challenge Denim Directions with a knee length denim dress and tartan tights
Here we are again, the Style Not Age collective, and this month it's my challenge, Denim Directions. The reason I chose denim as the subject is that there's so much of it around in many guises. There  are dresses, jumpsuits, boiler suits, jackets of many hues.  And jeans come in every cut imaginable - straight, boyfriend, boot leg, flared, cropped and there are no firm rules about which style is "in." So we can all look great in the style of jeans that suits us best.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Friday Favourites: Books, Viewing, Podcasts

Online workouts for kids are great for the over-50s too
G'day all. Nearly at the end of week 1, "gentle" lock down. The highlight was undoubtedly last night's "Clap for Carers." Putting on my anorak and opening the front door at 8pm, I was expecting to be the only one. But in fact nearly all my neighbours came out, clapping and cheering, with the distant sound of fireworks. Very moving.

I've started doing the live Joe Wicks "The Body Coach" workouts. It's 30 minutes and quite strenuous. Gets the heart rate up.

I planted some cerise parrot tulips and wallflowers in two containers outside the front door, and the first tulip is out. They're very early as they weren't supposed to be out until April-May. They're attracting bees, which is lovely.
The dramatic tulip Cerise Parrot alongside wallflowers yet to bloom, London, March 2020
Now for my Friday Favourites, recommendations for books, viewing and podcasts. I've chosen five of my all-time favourite books. Some of them are out-of-print but still available on Amazon as secondhand paperbacks or hard backs.

Memorable Reads - You Won't Forget these Heroines

Burial Rites, Hannah Kent

This is the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, a servant in northern Iceland who was condemned to death after the murder of two men, one of whom was her employer. She became the last woman put to death in Iceland. It's a haunting book, pulling you into an unfamiliar world and the mind of a condemned woman. It was shortlisted for several literary awards

Human Remains,  Elizabeth Haynes  

A large number of people have been dying from natural causes in their own homes.  Police analyst Annabel spots the spike in figures but can't get her colleagues to investigate. Is there something sinister at play? Also available in Audible.

The Skin Chairs, Barbara Comyns

This was the first book I read by Barbara Comyns, a much under-estimated British writer whose books were mostly published in the 50s and 60s. The Skin Chairs is written from the perspective of a ten year old girl, Frances. When her father dies, Frances, her mother and siblings are taken under the wing of their horsey relations, led by the formidable Aunt Lawrence. Living in patronised poverty isn't fun, but Frances makes friends with Mrs Alexander, who has a collection of monkeys and a yellow motorcar.  This one is quirky and somewhat eccentric, but laugh out loud funny.Middle aged woman reading a paperback novel from Virago, The Skin Chairs by Barbara Comyns

Never No More, Maura Laverty

"You were the purple blog and ripe wheat-field and a crab tree in May. You were good food, and songs in the firelight and the rosary at night. You were a welcome for my coming and a prayer for my going out. You were Gran."

If you want escapism, in the form of the homespun charm of a cottage in Ireland and a gran who was forever cooking, this is it. Delia goes to live with her grandmother in County Kildare, in the 1920s, Ireland and we find a close knit community, not inmune from social problems, and there are surprising acts of kindness. As Delia grows up, she decides to go to Spain. Maura Laverty also spent time in Spain, firstly as a governess and later as secretary to Princess Bibesco and eventually becoming a foreign correspondent based within Madrid.  It is such a charming, beautiful book. I have read it countless times.

A Five Year Sentence, Bernice Rubens

Rubens was the most superb writer. Some of her books became films - for example, Madam Souzatska with Shirley Maclaine.  One of my favourites is the story of quiet, mousy Miss Hawkins, who is planning to end her life after her last day at work. But her colleagues give her a five-year diary, and as someone who has always followed rules and instructions, Miss Hawkins feels duty bound to fulfill the expectations of the diary and its timeline, even though the diary starts giving her instructions to do things she has never done before in her life.

Podcast Pleasures

Now that I'm not driving 90 miles a day to work, I'm not listening to so many podcasts, although I'm going to use them on my daily walks when I'm walking alone. I'm gripped by The Dating Game Killer. It's the true story of a serial killer who was so charming, well educated and plausible that hardly any of his employers ran background checks, and he would quickly skip state and adopt a new identity to avoid capture. He actually was on a TV dating show and was chosen as the date of the female contestant.  Find out what happened.

Viewing Delights

The joys of Netflix have quickly worn off and we're not watching much on there at the moment, having enjoyed Cheer and a surprisingly engaging documentary series going behind-the-scenes in Formula 1.

My current favourites:
Hidden:  extremely atmospheric and beautifully filmed thriller from BBC Wales  (BBC iPlayer). It's a bit long and drawn out, but kept our attention.
Race Across the World:  the contestants are more varied, interesting and likeable than those in the first series.  Racing as couples, the contestants are not allowed to use planes and have just the price of an air ticket to get to the final destination.  BBC 2 and iPlayer.
The Nest - (below) - episode one of the new drama from BBC Scotland looked promising.  A woman desperate for a baby befriends a young girl with a troubled past who wants to become her surrogate.  But her husband (Martin Compston from Line of Duty) is less convinced.
Glasgow looks very aspirational and the riverside home of the glamorous couple is to die for. BBC1 and iPlayer. Three cast members of The Nest by the river
Belgravia:  the lavish new drama from Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey).  The first episode was very strong, the second less so. ITV 1 and ITV Hub. It's very Downton-esque, even down to the theme music.

I'll be back on Monday with the monthly fashion challenge, Style Not Age.

Sharing this post with Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge. #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, #ShareAllLinkUp with Not Dressed as Lamb,  Anna at Mutton Style

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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Polka Dots Twice - and Link Up

Monochrome with polka dots and a splash of green from over-50s style blogger Gail Hanlon
Hello everyone - hope you are all safe and well.  I was reading today that many online fashion retailers are not planning to restock for spring/summer because the sentiment is that by the time we've got through COVID-19, it may be too late for summer clothes. Let's hope not!

As I mentioned last week, I've made a few purchases, mostly timeless pieces that will serve me well for the years to come. Take this polka dot pair for example: both from Marks and Spencer.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Green Co-Ords and Link Up

Matching co-ordinates - tops with bottoms - are still very fashionable. Over 50s blogger Gail Hanlon shows a green leopard top with tie waist and matching culottes by Kettlewell.
This is an unashamed outfit post. The COVID-19 story plays out all day on the news so I don't need to cover it here.

I haven't done many "outfit posts" this year and the main reason is, I've got a bit bored with my winter wardrobe and there can only be so many variations on it to show you. I didn't buy anything new in Jan/Feb.  My intention was to radically change my shopping habits.  I learnt from another blogger, who's got years of experience in the retail sector, that when we order online a lot of the returns go directly to land fill.  This horrified me. For many mass market retailers, there's too much work involved in steaming and redistributing clothes to go back into the purchase chain. Plus there's the issue that young people often wear something and send it back the next day.

My plan to actually go into some stores and try on clothes has of course been scuppered. So I ordered some clothes instead, trying to choose retailers who I'm sure would not send returns to landfill.
Over 50s style blog Is This Mutton? on the figure flattering benefits of co-ordinates
Co-ords, matching skirts/trousers and tops, have been around for the last couple of seasons.  I initially liked this pair of culottes and matching top from Kettlewell.  Both co-ords can be worn individually,  and in fact it works better, because the culottes and the top both have a tie waist, which looks odd worn together. I tucked the waist tie of the culottes inside.

The co-ords come in four colourways.  I added white/cream accessories and jacket after trying pink, which didn't look right.

This is a great outfit for the pear shaped, because the long top skims the waist and hips and the wide culottes provide balance for your smaller shoulders, creating an hourglass figure.

But it's not a top choice for my shape.  After I'd taken and reviewed the pictures, I wasn't convinced I really loved the outfit.  I resolved at the start of the year I would only buy things if I really love them.
The main reason I don't love the outfit is that the top is a long one, and although it has a tie waist, this is not a length I normally wear.  I prefer to wear things tucked in because otherwise I look larger than I am, particularly if I wear a top like this with trousers because my hips and thighs then look proportionately bigger.
Cream accessories with a green leopard print pair of co-ordinates and worn by over-50s style blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton?
The culottes have an elasticated waist which generally is not good news for me in the summer when I like to tuck things in.  A fitted waistband looks more streamlined;  elasticated can add bulk. As we get older we understand better which lines and styles are the most flattering on us - whether we are short legged, long waisted, whatever.
Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday, the weekly link up where you can find new blogs to read, and bloggers can find new readers. Please leave a few comments on the blogs you visit, it really makes a blogger's day to see their posts are being read  (and not just by other bloggers).

Last week's readers' favourite (most clicked) was Singapore blogger Anna from the Glam Adventure and her YouTube video recreating a casual look worn by Jennifer Aniston.
Jennifer Aniston's casual chic outfit of jeans, jacket and tan bag is successfully copied by blogger Anna from GlamAdventure
My favourite post was by Laurie from Vanity and Me, Baukjen Brand event Spring Summer 20 event. I love posts that preview fashion collections, it's like having a seat on the front row. I always like the look of Baukjen but I've never bought anything from them yet. As Laurie shows, the tailoring looks wonderful.

Sharing this post with Claire Justine, #iwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge, Anna at Muttonstyle, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile at Stylesplash, Anna at the GlamAdventure, Style Six at Coast to Coast

Nothing was gifted for this post.
Stylish over-50s blogger Laurie Bronze from Vanity and Me in tailored jacket from Baukjen
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Monday, 16 March 2020

10 Tips for Working From Home

Casually dressed woman in home office
My company sent everyone home last week and as we're a tech firm, we're all fairly used to it and have the right equipment and infrastructure. 

In my previous job I worked from home most of the time. It gives you a much better work-life balance, if, like me, you have a fairly long commute and are spending nearly two and a half hours a day travelling. I can cook from scratch, so we have healthier meals, and I can slot in a gym session when it's quieter. Here are my top tips for being effective (and happy) at home.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Latest Favourites - and Link Up

Ageing gracefully over 50 - blonde hair and bright pink lipstick
In my monthly round-up of favourites, I'm focusing this time on beauty and podcasts.  I'm starting with beauty and a foundation that many bloggers have been raving about:  IT Cosmetics CC Cream.

I couldn't resist buying a tube, even though I've been fiercely loyal to Darphin's Melaperfect foundation for several years. You can get a 12ml travel size which is ideal as a trial size  (and cost around £14 from Cult Beauty. It's also available on Amazon).

My verdict?  Below,  I have used just the CC Cream and no other make-up. I used the shade Fair, and it's a good match for winter giving a golden creamy colour.  The coverage of pigmentation and redness around the nose is excellent. It lasts well and looks fresh all day.  There isn't much to choose between this product and my usual foundation - both can look a bit cakey if you apply too much.  Both give a natural appearance, like your own skin but refreshed. The Darphin foundation is a little more beige so will be better as I acquire a slight tan.
Woman in her 50s having applied a CC cream and no other make up

My second beauty choice is a set of the most beautiful make-up brushes I have ever seen. I first saw them in one of Trinny Woodall's beauty adverts for Trinny London.  Inevitably, people ask every time where she got the brushes, and the reply is always "Amazon."  Well let me tell you, the Artis brushes are not sold on Amazon!  They are quite pricey, but just look at the quality. I bought them online direct from Artis and they shipped from the US.  A lovely gift for any woman who loves make-up.
Artis rose gold make-up brushes, photographed by Is This Mutton

Podcast Pleasures 

When I first started listening to podcasts, probably about 15 years ago, I had a long commute of 112 miles each way. As with my commute now, public transport wasn't really feasible. Podcasts were my saviour on that long drive, which involved two motorways so sometimes long delays. At that time, they were mostly radio programmes from the mainstream channels, downloaded from the iTunes Store.

I always listened to Radio 4's Drama of the Week, Woman's Hour,  Gardeners' Question Time, Desert Island Discs (and still do). Plus Simon Mayo's Confessions. Now, the podcast genre is just massive. Every week I find, via recommendations and Twitter, many more pods to try. A new magazine has just been launched, Podcast Magazine, which is very impressive although rather US-centric at the moment.  Each month it includes the top 50 pods as voted by the readers.

I've become quite demanding about my podcast listening.   I expect the highest production values, so I don't listen to any pods where the music / speech are at different levels, or the voices sound weedy through use of a cheap microphone. I can't bear beds of music swelling in the background behind audio. Cheesy idents are an instant turn-off.

I'm going to  save you some time by giving you the fruits of my listening labors.

True Crime Podcasts

My first passion was true crime and this is a rich seam, but I find I only like those where a narrator with a good voice regales us with the crime in question. I can't bear those where two people have banter and then "chat" about a crime, or those where one presenter is trying to be a personality and spends 10 mins waffling on about subscribing and what he/she did at Christmas.

My top choices for true crime are therefore: Casefile True Crime, Men's Rea (Irish crimes predominantly - features a wonderful musical intro) and Canadian True Crime.

Drama Podcasts

My latest drama fix is This Thing of Darkness from the BBC,  a compelling 7 part drama exploring the impact of murder through one family’s experience and via group therapy for murderers.  Dr Alex Bridges is an expert forensic psychiatrist, assessing and treating perpetrators of the most unthinkable crimes.
Cover artwork for BBC Radio's drama podcast This Thing of Darkness

Documentary as Drama Podcasts

Increasingly there's a genre of podcast where a true life story is presented as partial documentary / drama.  In real life, there's a new con artist around who is high on charisma and vision and can persuade thousands of people (if not millions) to fund their endeavor.  It all comes crashing down of course when they are finally exposed. The story of Theranos and its young founder Elizabeth Holmes, who modelled herself on Steve Jobs, is thrillingly told in The Drop Out.  I liked less The Missing Crypto Queen, about a woman who conned millions of pounds globally from gullible bitcoin investors, although a colleague loved it.  For me, the pre-publicity had been too intense and I already knew the outcome.  The latest pod in this genre is WeCrashed, about the rise and fall of WeWork.

Blogger Know-How Podcasts

If you're a blogger and keen to do more with Pinterest, a recent episode of Blogger Genius is just what you need. Pinterest has been changing its algorithms but they do it in a kinder way than Facebook and Instagram, who are only it for money.

The podcast is run by Jillian Tohber Leslie, founder of and

I learnt a lot about using pins:  for example, don't make your blog's own board the first destination for your best pin.  Choose a high ranking alternative board, to guide Pinterest as to where your pin best fits.

Aimed at Millennials versus our own age group 

I am nothing if not experimental, so I have listened to a lot of podcasts aimed at millennials and hoped I'd find some good ones.  Gaslight was an intriguing drama podcast which I enjoyed, about a young woman brainwashed by the charismatic leader of a cult. There are quite a few chat/interview format shows, presented by people like Fearne Cotton and Dawn O'Porter, but I found that most of the interviewers were too keen to talk about themselves and didn't give their guests the chance to shine. 

Moving then to podcasts for women of a certain age.....

Woman's Hour is still a top choice, although I do despair at how PC it can be. In a tribute to the NHS, Jane Garvey seemed very annoyed that no women had been significant in its development, but going back fifty years, that is to be expected. The great thing about Woman's Hour is how it confronts taboo subjects in a completely fearless way. Kudos to Garvey and the inimitable Dame Jenni Murray for the no-nonsense way they handle these topics.

The new podcast Postcards from Midlife, from The Times, is worth catching although it does break one of my rules:  the incidental music is terrible and always louder than the speech, as are the ads. I covered the first episode here. Recently the podcast has talked to menopause campaigner Meg Mathews and Kate Garraway for her views on why older women are sexy.

A new podcast which is floating my boat is Susannah Constantine's My Wardrobe Malfunction. She chats to some very high-calibre guests about the clothes they have worn over the years and their sartorial disasters. Her chat with Elizabeth Hurley was controversial in that they both dismissed skirts as matronly - well, that made me splutter, so read read my views on this.

And finally - a standout pod in this genre is "Fortunately with Fi and Jane".  Two seasoned presenters, interesting guests and laugh out loud banter about stuff like "cutlery chuff" which you always find in the cutlery drawer.

Comedy Podcasts

I haven't found many podcasts that raise a smile, if I'm honest.  I used to like BBC Radio 4's "Friday  Night Comedy" but it became too woke. I  love "Dear Joan and Jerica" - you can catch the first two series at your usual podcast provider.  These two doughty ladies deal with sexual woes sent in by their "listeners" in a hilarious and jaw dropping way. Not for the easily shocked. Peter Crouch's podcast is about football but (oxymoron?) it's also very amusing. 


My favourite is Radio 4's Seriously.  The topics are often surprising or mundane, like talking about the lift (or elevator), and the phrase "OK Boomer" - but Seriously's take is always a bit sideways.It feeds my curiosity. Both Radio 4 and the BBC World Service are a great source of documentaries.

Hard to categorize - but one of my favourites

Dying for Sex from Wondery has the potential to be heartbreaking, yet it is irreverent, funny and touching. Molly has stage 4 breast cancer, and has been dealing with it by having random sex encounters to make her feel invigorated and alive. The podcast is a chat between Molly and her best friend (who sometimes doesn't approve of what Molly has been up to).   

Sharing this post with Claire Justine, #ShareAllLinkUp at Not Dressed as Lamb, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge, Anna at Muttonstyle,  #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile at Stylesplash

Nothing was gifted for this post.

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday

Last week's link up had a record number of entries which was great to see. Non-bloggers, I'd urge you to visit a few of the blogs and leave some comments. You may find a new favourite. You'll certainly make a blogger's day.

Last week's most clicked was by Alison from Midlife and Beyond with her post "Age, Sustainability and Shopping my Wardrobe." This is a topic which continues to grow in appeal as we all try to make more sustainable choices.

My choice was by Nancy from Nancy's Fashion Style. I find myself increasingly drawn to posts about travel, and it's great to read about places which are not written about by the glossies, or off the beaten track.  Nancy wrote about a weekend in Emmen, in her own country the Netherlands. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


Tuesday, 10 March 2020

10 on the 10th: Getting Ready for Spring

An English spring garden, border with tulips, daffodils. London. Copyright: Is This Mutton
I get very excited about spring, and Easter: such promise-filled, joyous, colorful times of the year. So I was delighted to join Leslie from Once Upon A Time and Happily Ever After.  to compare UK and US spring and Easter celebrations in a seasonal "10 questions on the 10th" post today.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

The Power of Three: Improving Awareness of Menopause

Clare Shepherd, Liz Carr-Ellis and Karen Kenning talk about the menopause and their campaign #Pausivity with Is This Mutton?
On International Women's Day, we meet three women in the UK who have created a genuine grassroots campaign, with no funding or celebrity backers, to increase awareness of the many and varied symptoms of perimenopause.

Their intention is to get a poster describing all the symptoms  into every GP's surgery in the UK - and it's already been achieved in Wales. As a result, the three women hope that doctors will become more knowledgeable and better able to advise women.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Step Away From That "Matronly" Skirt - and Link Up

Over-50s blogger Gail Hanlon in several skirts trying to disprove the view from Susannah Constantine that skirts are matronly
Shocking news - some of our over-50s role models have criticized skirts as "matronly," except when worn in a floaty summer way by young people!

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Sentence a Day: February 2020 - Coronavirus hits my plans

A  flower bed containing shrub roses and spring bulbs after being weeded, winter 2020
February is usually an exciting month for me, the culmination of five months of planning for a major annual tech  event in Nuremberg. Sadly this year it was not to be.

Sat 1 Feb
Lovely day. Went for a walk with J, nearly 5 miles. Weeded, hoovered. Finally got to see the Downton Abbey film. Pleasant, uncomplicated viewing.

Sun 2 Feb
Walked to gym, 4 miles. Weeded the rose bed. I should have taken a 'before' as the weeds were so profuse and overwhelming. Still a bit left to do.

Mon 3 Feb
Office. Stress city as it is nearing the critical time for a major event that I manage at the end of Feb. J finished off the weeding of the rose bed - top pic.  I pruned the roses quite drastically this winter but I'm sure they'll be back as beautiful as ever.

Tues 4 Feb
Home. Too busy for gym. Went to London in the evening, met fellow blogger Nikki Garnett from Midlife Chic and 15 of her readers. Sadly no photos (except London at night). The Royal Festival Hall is where we met up.
View of London  at night from the Golden Jubilee bridges
Weds 5 Feb
Office. Still stress city. No time to stop for lunch. Very tired today.

Thurs 6 Feb 
Eureka moment today: wasn't tired, and reckon it's because I had a lot of carbs yesterday.  Tues hardly any. Long day but not too arduous

Fri 7 Feb 
Shelbee from Shelbee on the Edge did a lovely piece giving me a feature as she did a "steal her style" on my jeans and Bowie t-shirt outfit. Gym and supermarket,  spent vouchers.  Yes, little things cheer me up, like the fact Waitrose send vouchers for what I actually buy!

Sat 8 Feb
Beautiful day, calm before the storm which is due tomorrow. Did the shopping, a blog shoot and editing.

Sun 9 Feb
Storm Ciara.  V windy.  J went running in the forest with 20 club runners. They are a determined bunch. Our granddaughter came for lunch. She enjoyed peas for the first time. Very happy baby.

Mon 10 Feb 
Office. Still windy. The motorway I use to drive to work, the M11, was closed from my junction and beyond, long tailbacks

Tues 11 Feb 
Hurrah, blue sky. Gym.

Weds 12 Feb 
Office. Discussions about the coronavirus and whether or not we should attend the event I'm managing, in Nuremberg.

Thurs 13 Feb 
Decision made to exit the event,  Five months of work down the drain! Very sad.  Got home and found had left PC at work.

Fri 14 Feb
Had to go into office to get PC. Hardly anyone in on Fridays. Lovely sunrise. Light by 7am. Boiler broken again, 3rd time this winter. Grrr. Valentine's Day, but we don't mark it.

Saturday 15 Feb
No hot water or heating. Fortunately 11 degrees., not too cold outside.  Did shopping and  a shoot in morning before rain arrived. Fortunately the gas engineer was able to come a day early!

Sun 16 Feb
Raining.  Went to gym. Roast lamb. Storm Dennis lashed the house and drain pipe came off  the side.

Mon 17 Feb 
We now have a ritual of two Lindor chocs every evening and I spotted a box of my favourite flavour, the strawberry ones. Discovered a new podcast that's right up my street, Mortem. My breakfast was porridge from the cafeteria and some berries.
Tues 18 Feb 
Still blowy. Gym. Tried a new sausage and chorizo casserole. Delivery of my favourite Eau Dynamisante shower products.

Weds 19 Feb 
For dinner, Caesar and falafel salads.  Discovered a good drama podcast, Passenger List, about a plane that came down.

Thurs 20 Feb 
Long tiring day. V cold after bright start. Went for farewell lunch for a colleague  but no tables available so had to go back to the office for meetings with no lunch, boo!

Fri 21 Feb
At home. Realised I felt terrible yday because I didn't drink enough. I'd gone from meeting to meeting without the chance to grab any water. Foolish I know.

Sat 22 Feb 
Blustery. Gym then shopping. Wrote blog post on grey hair. Read it here. Daffodils and hyacinths now blooming well in the rose bed and front border. This is the same bed as shown in the top picture, but a couple of weeks later.
A profusion of blue hyacinths, long established, London February 2020

Mixed daffodils blooming, London Feb 2020
Sun 23 Feb
John's daughter and husband came for lunch. Roast chicken.  Had a very special delivery of a Mulberry handbag. Have never had a designer handbag before but figured that after working all my life since age 18, I deserved one, and would treasure it for the years to come.

Mon 24 Feb
Grey. Robins checking out our new nesting box. Bit sad because today I should have gone to Nuremberg. Still getting reminders to check in because you can't cancel flights on Ryanair. Made a pizza using a ready made cauliflower crust.  Was perfectly good - didn't taste of cauliflower and the crust was crisp.
Cauliflower base pizza with mozzarella, anchovies and tomatoes
Tues 25 Feb 
Having awful time at work. Another event I'm campaign managing has not got enough registrations.  Felt down all day, frantically trying to sort out issue with more emails, more advertising.

Weds 26 Feb 
Light by 6.50 and sunny. Pleasant drive. Spent morning in interesting planning meeting. Hearing Kate Garraway on a pod talking about taking more risks (we get too comfortable) made me think about trying new things. Going to start a list.

Thurs Feb 27
All the weather today. Heavy rain, then sleet, finally sunshine.  Went to a building near the Shard for a meeting.  The Shard is one of the tallest buildings in Europe at 306 metres high. The sky was very grey although the sun came out later.
Staring up at The Shard on an overcast day in London
Fri Feb 28
Terrible weather.  Gym, shopping.  Sold a top on Ebay and 2 PC monitors via our staff exchange/sell shop. Date night - we went out for dinner, local eaterie.

Sat Feb 29
The third weekend where we have had ferocious storms: Storms Ciara, Dennis, and this weekend, Jorge, a guest from Spain.  We went to visit J's son, wife and baby who's approaching one year old.

Sharing this post with: ShareAllLinkUp at Not Dressed as Lamb, Weekend Blog Hop at Claire Justine, Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge and #BloggerClubUK or #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings


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Wednesday, 26 February 2020

We Went Grey - And Love It. And Link Up

Jane Fonda shows how stunning grey hair can be on an older woman
A few weeks ago the Is The Mutton annual survey asked you a few questions about grey hair, and the answers revealed that 25% of us have grey hair and are happy with it. But the rest, well, very mixed views. 14% are thinking about going grey. 18% say they will never go grey. Four per cent said they wouldn't consider it until they're retired.

Since then a couple of prominent women have received a lot of attention because they've gone grey virtually overnight and in public:  Jane Fonda, 82, and Sharon Osborne, 67, now both have chic crops and both look amazing.
Sharon Osborne goes from dyed red hair to platinum
But it's still quite rare to see grey haired women on TV, certainly here in the UK.  I can only think of historian Mary Beard, Prue Leith, in her 70s, and Mary Berry, in her 80s.  Joan Bakewell, in her 80s, below, is still coloring.
Dame Joan Bakewell, credit Clara Molden
Newsreader Susanna Reid, 49, was quoted last week saying she would probably not go grey for least  30 years.  Meanwhile Jennifer Aniston said recently:  "I'm not gonna lie. I don't want grey hair."

If you look on Instagram you'll find lots of women who are growing out their hair and documenting their journey, plus women who have been grey for a while. Check out @grey_hair_oneday, @Rosemariefern, @claresmiler36, whose long hair looks stunning as it grows out;  @silverstorm777  @going.going.grey and @silverserenity4

In this post I'm talking to two women who have gone grey and are thrilled with it, and another woman who's determined to keep dyeing.  I've also got some tips from stylists on how to grow out and style grey hair. 

Gail McCauley, 50+ Women's Fashion and Style Blogger

A before and after for Gail McCauley, style and fashion blogger, on her grey hair transition
Gail lives in Arizona, US, and has been a full-time blogger for the last year. She's been 100% grey for the past three years.  She says:  "I went grey because my grey was coming in so fast, I was coloring my hair every 3 weeks and spending a fortune. I was in my early 50’s when I decided to let my natural grey grow out. Both my sisters, who are older than me, tried to talk me out of it."

Gail asked her hair stylist for advice. "Unfortunately she messed up my hair by trying to match my grey color to my colored hair. This is why I opted to just let the grey grow out. My hair was turning orange from so much hair dye that it could no longer hold the color. 

"The two plus years that it took me to grow out my grey hair were incredibly difficult and my hair looked terrible. But it was worth it in the end. I love my grey with silvery highlights!"

Gail has silvery grey highlights mixed in with her natural grey every four weeks, and highlights every 12 weeks. She cares for her hair with purple sulphate- free shampoo to help hold the highlights better in her hair. 

Follow Gail
YouTube: Gail McCauley

Liz Klebba, Image, Wardrobe and Color Consultant

Playful picture of color and image consultant Liz Klebba talking to Is This Mutton about her grey hair transition  in 2008
Liz, from Augusta, Georgia, USA, was a classroom teacher when she went grey.  She stopped coloring her hair eight years ago and hasn't looked back since. 

She says: "My hair coloring history was on and off. I found my first grey hair at 16 and loved it! It was a good way to buy a few years and the privileges that go with being 18 or 21… (wink. Nudge.) I colored my hair in uni and in my 20’s for fun, not to cover the grey, but because I wanted a different color like auburn or rich chestnut, rather than my mousy brown.

"It wasn’t until I was living in England and hit 40 that I started coloring in earnest. My social circle was all mums who were far younger than I, and my grey started making me feel self-conscious. A hairdresser from my church worked from home (and my boys were older and could mind themselves for a few hours) so getting my hair high/low-lighted was a lovely treat! And not nearly as pricey as at the salon!"

Going grey was a spiritual decision

"During prayer, I made one of those foolish statements about wanting His will for me, wanting to be more the woman he made me to be. The answer was clear, “I gave you grey hair. Why are you trying to change it?” Not in those exact words, but the feeling was intense and irresistible, so I decided to run with it! If that was 2008, I was 45."

Liz says no-one tried to talk her out of it, and it was her decision anyway.  She laughs: "My mother did make it clear that she wasn’t “old enough to have a daughter with grey hair.” I laughed heartily at that! 

"My biggest struggle is finding a new hairdresser. They always want to have “the talk,” so I just start with the fact that coloring my hair is a non-negotiable. If they don’t want to take a client that will not color, that’s their loss. Not mine."
Liz with her first grandson in 2012 
Back in 2008 when Liz began growing out the dye, it was quite unusual. And still is, to some extent:  Mary Beard in a radio documentary, in 2012, found that 75% of women still color their hair. Liz says: "I went for a more gradual process sans professional help or advice. I had no desire to do the “skunk stripe.” I’m just too vain and the stripe would have been quite the conversation with 400+ students!

"I used semi-permanent color every 4-6 weeks (depending on how often I was washing) to soften the stripe as my grey grew in. It gave my hair a mottled effect, and the greys looked like highlights. 

"I didn’t get any odd comments, so I suppose it worked well enough! When I got to a few inches of growth, a friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I chopped off my hair in solidarity with her. That created a bit of a stir with my students, but they got over it by the end of first period. They’re like that."

Liz says her hair doesn't need much special attention now - it's healthy hair. "It doesn’t need any special conditioning like it did when I was coloring. I wash three (or so) times weekly and mix my regular shampoo with a purple shampoo for one or two of those washes. I let it sit on my hair for a few minutes and rinse it out. That’s about it. Low maintenance."

I've often wondered if women need to e-evaluate their colors and makeup when they go grey, but Liz, who runs color and image consultancy Closet Play Image, says she has definitely avoided brighter colors. "I used to wear heaps of black punctuated with some cool brights. Since going grey, I have embraced the softer colors that better flatter my hair and complexion. I didn’t throw out my wardrobe and replace it immediately; it was a gradual process. I certainly wear more color than I did before!"

Her message to women who may be pondering on whether or not to go grey is a powerful one.

"I never knew I was hiding until I chose to stop. The freedom of being who you are and showing up that way in the world is POWERFUL. You could not pay me to go back. I get FAR more compliments now on my hair and the way I look than I ever did when I colored! There’s no loss in trying, and no shame if you decide to color again. It’s your hair. You do you!"

Follow Liz: 

Grey hair? No thanks

Dutch fashion blogger Nancy Baten doesn't think she will be growing out the grey any time soon. When she sees the grey hair reappearing, she can't wait to get rid of it again and goes to her hairdresser every six weeks. "After just three weeks the first signs of old age are starting to be visible again.  I do like grey on other women, although not on all. But for me it doesn’t work. I get very unhappy about it and am very content coloring my growth every six weeks."

My own hair was dark until around 2012 and I was getting the roots tinted.  A few highlights turned into a full head, and now I'm in the hairdresser's chair every seven weeks. It's a tedious process and expensive.  I have seriously thought about growing it out but the hairdresser said I wasn't ready yet. Not enough grey.

My mum went grey in her early 50s.  My dad used to color her hair with a home product and in those days the chemicals were very strong.  Her scalp started to sting so she stopped dyeing it.  I was horrified, thinking she was letting herself go.

Now she has pure white hair which gets a lot of compliments. She wears striking glasses and bright colors because she doesn't want to be a "beige old lady."  Grey or white hair seems to look best when it has a definite style:  a bold crop like Jane Fonda's, for example. It's the small permed grey heads of old women that have put us off grey hair for years.
My mum June with her brother at my wedding in 2010

Growing it out with a hairdresser's help

If you don't want to go cold turkey and undertake the one to two years growing-out period, with all the stress it can entail, hairdressers advise having highlights put in to lessen the demarcation line.  There's some great advice over at Katie Goes Platinum with before and after pictures.

Well-known UK hair stylist Josh Wood, Redken's global creative color director, says your pro should keep the color lighter nearer the face. “Try to get the hairline as light as your natural grey,” he advises. “If the eye sees the lightest color against the face it will give the appearance of being totally grey."

He warns it can be a long process. "When you do decide you want to start to grow the grey out, you’ve got to be realistic about the time frame it’s going to take to start to feel like you don’t have a 'hard' regrowth. The quickest I’ve ever seen anybody be able to transition was around nine months, but realistically, it probably takes around 18 months to get to a point you're happy with.

“The first step in the process is to purposefully leave a little bit of grey regrowth around the hairline, so it starts to break up that harsh regrowth. It looks a bit more natural and helps to introduce a bit of grey gradually. If you’re going to a salon, you should talk to your colourist about having a lighter brown tint around the hairline for a few weeks, then introduce some kind of highlights or balayage. This will help break down the demarcation - the line between the grey and your coloured hair.” 

And once you are grey....

Certain types of product can help your hair look its best. “Grey hair has no natural pigment so it can become yellow over time,” says Katie Allan, creative manager at Charles Worthington. “To prevent this from happening, use clarifying products weekly to eradicate any free radicals and impurities.” 

Also invest in a silver shampoo, advises Adam Reed, editorial ambassador for L’Oréal Professionnel. "This cleans and purifies the hair fibre while neutralising any yellowness, to give clarity, shine and softness”.

Lastly, you may notice that the lack of pigment in grey hair also affects the texture. “It can also be very dry and wiry,” Allan notes, so take conditioning seriously with the addition of a weekly hydrating mask."

New York hair stylist Yvette Gonzalez, senior stylist and makeup artist at Sahag Workshop, recommends getting a sharp cut with clean edges. "Ask your stylist not to use a razor, because it can cause the ends to fray, making your whole style seem untidy," she says. Whatever cut you choose, be sure that you get a trim every 6 to 8 weeks. "Grey hair can start to look unruly if it's not trimmed frequently enough."

Gonzalez says your makeup colors may need to change, and she recommends a different shade of blusher. "Go for shades like apricot, peach, and rose—not beigy or tawny colors. They make your skin tone look muddy next to grey hair." 

Use a liquid or cream blush for a youthful glow, rather than a powder kind that can leave skin looking dull.  Most important of all: Groom your brows. Trim wayward hairs (grays tend to be wiry), and define your arches with a taupe pencil so they don't disappear.

Sharing this post with Claire Justine, #ShareAllLinkUp at Not Dressed as Lamb, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge, Anna at Muttonstyle,#BloggerClubUK or #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Stylish Monday Link Up at Hello, I’m 60ish, Thursday Fashion Files at Doused in Pink 

I'd love to hear from grey haired women in the comments with your tips and thoughts on surviving the growing-out phase. 


Now it's time for the #WowOnWednesday link-up. Bloggers, find more readers for your posts on the topics of fashion, beauty, fitness, jewellery or travel.  Readers are keen to discover new blogs.
Last week's most popular post was by Kim from Fierce Fashion, showing again how to create a unique garment.  In her post "Free People Inspired Babydoll Top" Kim showed her ingenuity in using fox print material to make a baby doll top.  She didn't have enough fabric but managed to find some more.  I have always been hopeless at sewing so I really admire anyone who can make their own clothes. What a wonderful skill to possess.
Kim from Fierce Fashion in hand made fox print baby doll top with white pants and white boots
My favourite post was from Iris of La MouMous and her post "Keep Up With Me: Upcoming Projects."

Fashion blogger Iris from La MouMous in denim shirt and long floral skirt
Iris works full-time and has small children, but her energy takes my breath away.  Her upcoming projects include delivering her very first fashion workshop in March and preparing to release live videos on IGTV. 

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