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Wednesday 15 December 2021

Outfit Challenge, Holiday Traditions

 Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton waits for her guests wearing a red jumper in this image from 2008

Another mixed Christmas platter today:  continuing the wardrobe challenge loosely based on the 12 Days of Christmas, and joining in with Leslie for a belated 10/10 post on decorating, traditions and family recipes for the holiday season. It's a long read so extra points if you hang in till the end! 

Last week I showed outfits up to day 7 of the Kettlewell Colour Club 12 Days of Christmas festive challenge.  Let's finish off with the rest.

Day 8: 8 Maids A-Milking - go feminine and wear a skirt or dress 

Gail Hanlon from is This Mutton in black and white with red

I chose one of my favorite skirts - I've had it for 2-3 years and it goes with almost everything. I am not much for prints, but this abstract print looks contemporary and not too girly. I'm wearing it with another favorite item, a white jumper  (old, River Island), lace-up boots from M&S, and a splash of color with the Kettlewell Carmine Red merino infinity.

Day 9:  9 drummers drumming - your version of Red

This photo (top of the page) dates back to 2007, before our dining room was redecorated, and I chose a red sweater to go with my "Hyacinth Bouquet" Royal Albert dining set. I wasn't into color analysis back then but people used to tell me this red suited me.  Now I realize it was more of a blue red, which is much better on me than warm orange-reds. 

I still bring that dinner set out occasionally - although you can't put the pieces in the dishwasher. And I still use the same tablecloth (from Lekkara in Cyprus, where nearly all the women in the village produce this traditional embroidery) and the same red runner! But the room, and of course my hair, is vastly different now.

Day 10:  10 Pipers Piping - not quite a uniform, but show us your favourite version of Blue

And she didn't use to wear blue. Three images showing Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in different hues of blue
Blue is an interesting one.  Until I discovered some lighter, brighter blues from Kettlewell, I used to wear (and loathe) navy blue, which doesn't suit me and actually depresses me. Kettlewell have some different versions of navy including French and Marine, so I'm not going to give up on navy - although I think I will only ever wear it below the waist.

Left to right:  Kettlewell Chloe jacket in Blue Jewel with their raspberry leopard belt and  Sangria v neck top. Center: my beloved blue and green bomber jacket has a new lease of life with the Kettlewell Zandra skirt in Galaxy Blue.  It looks fairly dressy, being velvet, but I like to dress it down. Snakeskin boots, old, Asos. Finally I hardly ever wore this Sosander denim dress because the colour wasn't good close to my face, but am Aquarius infinity from KW suddenly gives the dress new possibilities!

11 ladies dancing - show off in your very favourite Kettlewell piece

I feel I've shown you all my Kettlewell but if I had a favourite, it's probably fuchsia pink, and my favourite piece, which I have in several colours, is the short tie wrap.  Top, it's worn with a True Red top;  below, with the Amethyst Molly square neck top and Boden skirt and boots (both old). Rainbow bag by Kurt Geiger. 

Finally: Day 12 - 12 Lords A-Leaping:  your dressed up and glamorous outfit

I recently shared my latest version of a glamorous outfit  - a lilac leopard tulle skirt with purple boots and yellow sweater with marabou feathers. This challenge got me thinking. I've always thought that I have a lot of glamorous outfits for nights out, but I realized I actually don't. We never go to those sorts of occasions.  In my previous job I did occasionally. But the only time I ever dress up now is on holiday, or when we go to a nice restaurant, and even then, I'm not decked in sequins.

I went down Memory Lane to find some examples where I did dress up, a few years ago.
Top left:  2008 and I remember wearing this purple dress, which I think came from Monsoon, to no fewer than three parties that Christmas. Those were the days!  Top right:  2009, and my friend Wendy and I went to my company's masked ball. I only wore this full-length beaded dress from John Lewis once and sold it on eBay.  Bottom left:  Wendy and I in Corfu in 2003.  Yes, I was a bit bigger in those days! I loved that dress from Precis Petite. And bottom right, not particularly dressed up in a Next white tunic which I always wore on hot summer holidays, but notable because of my tan.  Goodness, did I really go that brown? I've only got myself to blame for the subsequent skin damage. 

Different topic now:  Decorations, traditions and recipes for the holiday season.  I was intending to produce this for December 10, for Leslie's link-up 10/10,  but work got in the way. 

1) In what ways do you decorate for the winter holiday season?  Do you use traditional colors or have your own color scheme?  Is there a theme to your decorating?

I'm very traditional, my tree has red and gold baubles. I had a white tree with blue baubles a few years ago but gave it to Mum.

The Christmas tree I showed last week;  in addition I have a long garland along the windowsill, and the presents are arranged under the tree.  In the dining room I have my Nativity crib - I love getting it out every year and arranging the little figures. There's a wreath on the mantelpiece, and three miniature Christmas trees on the sideboard. 

2) Share a family holiday tradition or recipe.  Is there something new you plan to try this year?
Feeling a bit guilty about this one! My late grandma, and my mum, both did a lot of baking for Christmas: the traditional iced fruit cake, Christmas pudding (a fixture in the UK, although hardly anyone seems to like it), mince pies (the mince is a sweet mixture of sultanas and raisins), trifle and savouries like sausage rolls and sausage plait. My mum still makes a chocolate Yule log for my brother. 

I don't do any of this, mainly because John and I are healthy eaters most of the time and don't want to be tempted. And I'll be honest, with a full-time job, housework, blogging and walking/gym routine, I don't have much time for cooking. I rely on M&S and Waitrose, and my husband prefers what I get from them to what I can cook myself!

3) Do you have a favorite Christmas book, movie, song or TV show?  Why is it special to you?  Is there a popular holiday book, program or movie you have never seen?

We always watch Love Actually and The Holiday at Christmas.  I don't think Love Actually was intended to be a Christmas film, and a lot of it is politically incorrect, but we still love it.  The Holiday shows the typically romanticized view of the UK - it's always snowing at Christmas, which it hardly ever does in London.

I've always loved the old black and white film Scrooge starring Alastair Sim.  The very best version ever, and it's not just me who says that - this article explains why it's considered the "gold standard" of films about A Christmas Carol. 

It's special to me because my late brother Andrew loved it too, and whenever I stayed with him and Sarah at Christmas, we watched it.  Sadly Andrew died over Christmas 2014.

I've never seen White Christmas or It's a Wonderful Life, which were both favourites of my grandma.

4) How do you handle the stress of the holidays?  Do you have some go-to for restoring calm to your life when things get crazy?

I'm not in the same situation as most women so I don't have too much to get stressed about at Christmas. As long as I've secured my online shopping slots, bought all the presents online, and organized a couple of festive outings, plus served up lunch for eight on Boxing Day, my work is done. 

On Christmas Day it's just the two of us.  I don't mind this at all.  I married into a blended family and it's only right that John's two children and their families should go to their mum's or in-laws on the big day.  I prefer Boxing Day, the day after Christmas Day, when they all come to us, and it's not onerous because we have cold meats, salads and jacket potatoes for lunch. We play games after lunch and it's usually good fun. 

5) What will you wear over the holidays?  Do you dress up for New Year’s Eve?  

I usually wear a Christmas jumper (sweater) on Christmas Day, with jeans. On Boxing Day, I'll change into something festive, like a sequin top.  We pull crackers and it's a tradition to see who wears their paper crown the longest.  

John and I don't mark New Year's Eve in any special way.  We stay in and go to bed fairly early, as normal! (Humbug). 

6) How do you feel about snow?  What are the chances you will see a white Christmas?  Do you enjoy any snow day activities?  What will the weather be like where you live in this last month of the year? 

I love snow, but in the south east of England we hardly ever see it.  Since 1960 there have only been four Christmases where there was a widespread fall of snow.  The last couple of years it was mild and dry. The Met Office is not predicting a white Christmas this year. 

I took this picture a few years ago of the local green, when it snowed briefly.

7) Do you have a gift-giving budget?  For how many people do you buy gifts?  Do you buy for the postman, your hair dresser, nail tech, children’s teachers?  When do you open gifts?  Who is the hardest person you buy for? 

I don't have a budget as such. I buy presents for my mum, John, step daughter Rachel and daughter in law Katie, plus Rosie, who's nearly three. I give money to my brother's family, they prefer to go to the Boxing Day sales and buy their own gifts. John buys presents for his son and son-in-law. Jodie, my hairdresser, the postman, the Ocado driver of the Christmas delivery and our regular Hermes courier all get some cash, known here as "a Christmas box." 

On Christmas Day John and I will meet up with his children at one of their houses, and we open their presents.  We get home in time for me to start cooking the turkey crown and then we open our presents from each other. 

My husband is the worst person to buy for.  He has hardly any ideas on a wish list, so I have to be very creative to give ideas to his children and save some for myself! 

8) If you could give a kind of impossible gift to someone, what would it be?  Perhaps something beyond your price range?  Or something you can’t buy.  Something intangible.

I would give perfect health to my mum.  She's 89 and wonderful for her age, but she can't walk long distances and her eye sight is very poor now.

9) As we bid farewell to 2021, what was your biggest success this year?  Will you be making goals or resolutions or plans for 2022?  If so, what will some of them be? 

My biggest success will hopefully be completing the #Walk1500Miles challenge.  I only need to walk 28 miles by the end of the year to finish. Some weeks I do 30 miles, so I'm taking it more slowly for the next couple of weeks. I have a medal ready for John to present to me! 

I don't make resolutions for the new year.  I tend to do that in September, when there's a more energetic vibe. In January, it's so cold and bleak, I don't know why people put themselves through the wringer of giving up alcohol, going on diets and so on.  

10) Describe 2021 in 3 words.  Name 3 things you wish for in 2022.  
Not Too Bad.

For 2022:  an end to Covid  (I hope it will simply disappear, like the Spanish flu did all those years ago);  a summer beach holiday, and for a new and less useless prime minister  (we can but dream)......

If you want to pose me any other questions, please do in the comments.  I'd love to know if I'm the only one who doesn't do any festive baking!

Sharing this post with: On Mondays We Link Up at Glass of Glam, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness at Shelbee on the Edge, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile  at StylesplashTFF at Doused in Pink, Lizzie in Lace Confident Twosday at IDoDeclaireRena at Fine WhateverFabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette #TheWednesdayLinkUp at Claire Justine, Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion StyleHappiness is Homemade at Life as a Leo Wife 

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday, the linky where readers find new blogs to read, and bloggers find new readers!

Last Week's Favourites:  Most Clicked

Nothing Glam About It: Ditch This Habit for Good by Wendy from the Inspired Eater. I love Wendy's commonsense and motivational tips when it comes to keeping off weight loss. 

Life, Lately -A Holiday Review and a Winter Birthday Dress  by Alison at Midlife and Beyond

Welcome to the Link-Up 

Great to see two inspiring new writers in #WowOnWednesday. Sue Loncaric from Women Living Well After 50 is a blogger, life coach and podcaster in Australia.  I enjoyed her post about Christmas food traditions. 

Marsha in the Middle  Marsha is a retired teacher and passionate about fashion, although she writes about other topics too. She has a great sense of humor.  Check out her answers in the  10 on the 10th, about the winter holidays. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

1 comment

  1. What a lovely post. Such lovely photos of you! I don't think I've ever had a posh Christmas party. It's not a Dutch think I guess. I wish it was though!


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