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Friday, 24 February 2023

February in Review: Art, Abba, Health, TV and More


Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in bright colours in clothes bought in February ready for spring. Read more in her account of the month of February 2023.

Dear friends. Another month has sped by and we are nearly in spring. I'm joining Donna, Joanne and Sue for #WhatsBeenOnYourCalendar. Quite a busy and varied month!

Friday, 28 January 2022

Friday Favourites: Bumper Edition - Books, Podcasts, TV


It's January Friday Favourites with Is This Mutton: a bumper edition of reviews of books, TV and podcasts

Dear friends. I bring you a special edition of my round-up of TV, books and podcasts.  You lucky people! 

There's a wide range of entertainment covered including latest Korean thriller The Silent Sea, much hyped film Don't Look Up, a thrilling podcast drama Last Known Position, and three books making big waves - Mrs March, Snowflake and Sorrow and Bliss. I also give my thoughts on The Responder,  Trigger Point, Hidden Assets - and plenty of others. 


Friday, 26 June 2020

Friday Favourites: Books, Films, Podcasts

UK blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton with headphones on enjoying a podcast or two
Here it is, my occasional post about what I've been watching, reading and listening to. This week I'm featuring a couple of Irish films, some treats from English National Ballet and the National Theatre, an international crime thriller from the BBC, the re-issue of an old favourite of mine, and some cheerful, positive vibe podcasts.

Friday, 5 June 2020

Friday Favourites June Edition

Woman enjoying herself listening to music
Welcome to my monthly round-up of what I've been reading, watching and listening to. First up, reading. Nigella Lawson and others have been writing about how they're struggling to read during the pandemic. Nigella has found audio books a great alternative.  I'm still reading at my usual rate, getting through around two books a week.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Five for Fri-Yay: September 6

A contemporary pale pink armchair from Marks and Spencer
My occasional round-up of five things I'm loving right now. First, let me introduce you to Mimi my new bedroom chair! I've always wanted a pretty chair for the bedroom but have never found one in the right colour. Then I saw this Mimi chair in Marks and Spencer - the perfect pink. It will add a little variety to my indoor blogging shoots. It's so comfortable I may even sit on it and read a book.

Fabulous Cleanser 

Special 10th anniversary packaging for Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm with exfoliating seeds
I absolutely love Emma Hardie's Moringa Cleansing Balm, and this is the special packaging for the product's 10th anniversary, which includes some exfoliating seeds.  It's a large jar and although it seems pricey, I'm still using the same size jar I bought before Christmas. It's the most luxurious of cleansers: it feels so indulgent yet it's highly effective and leaves your skin smooth and glowing.

The Beauty Podcast with Sali Hughes

This has shot into my top 10 podcasts  (and indeed, the national podcast chart). The first episode featured beauty blogger Caroline Hirons and cosmetic scientist Sam Farmer discussing the notion of "Clean Beauty."  It was jaw dropping! Apparently there is not one 100% natural beauty product - they all contain chemicals of some sort. In a no-nonsense way the team dispelled myths about parabens and sulphates, and laughed at how some products claim to be "not treated on animals"  (which is actually the law!) and "gluten free," as if beauty products actually contain gluten. Well, maybe one or two do, but you get the idea.

The second episode was on bridal beauty - but don't let that put you off, it was fascinating. They even discussed something which has always intrigued me: why do brides suddenly decide to have ringlets or put their hair up, when they never do it normally?

Latest Reading

I'm going through a phase of reading crime thrillers. It's unchallenging and all I need for 30 minutes before I fall asleep.

I've just read an intriguing book called Sleep by C.L. Taylor. A woman is stricken by guilt after being the driver of a car in an accident which killed two of her colleagues and paralyzed a third. She flees to a hotel job on a remote island in Scotland. She seems have a stalker who's obsessed about sleep. In a sinister way. Which hotel guest is it?

Latest TV Viewing

I'm kind of enjoying Interior Design Masters (BBC2), mainly for Fearne Cotton's outfits, but it's not as gentle and informative as the programme it replaced, The Great Interior Design Challenge. In this new incarnation, the team of hopefuls is quite spiteful about each other's efforts, and it's rare that they turn in a decent design in my opinion - too little time or budget. They don't even seem to see the rooms they're designing until they turn up on the day with the brief already prepared.

I'm looking forward to the inaugural episode of Strictly Come Dancing although we'll be watching it on catch-up later as we're out on the big night.

Arrival of a New Season

It feels decidedly autumnal today and the trees are rapidly changing colour.  I used to dread the arrival of autumn but this year I'm welcoming it. I don't do gingerbread lattes or Halloween but these are my top 10 reasons for liking autumn this year:
1. Put away the fake tan! I use it mostly on my legs but in autumn you don't have to.
2. Get the tights out. I love tights in crazy colours and patterns.
3. No need for pedicures.  I still look after my feet in autumn and winter but I don't have to keep applying new polish to my nails because they're going to be seen every day.
4. Crunchy leaves to walk through.
5. The garden can have a well deserved rest, and so can I  (apart from sorting out myriad containers and planting bulbs for spring).
6. The winter clothes.  I welcome them down from the loft as old friends. The soft caress of cashmere. The satisfying ping of leather in an ankle boot. The hats, the gloves. The fleeces. A far more pleasing selection, to me, than summer's flimsy offerings.
7. Snuggling. No fear of missing out (FOMO), it's best to stay in on dark cold evenings and watch TV or read.
8. The promise of Christmas. Our ancestors were very wise in creating this festival in the middle of winter. This year I've already booked a Christmas carol concert at the Royal Albert Hall and ordered a wooden Nativity Set - something I've always wanted.
9. The occasional perfect winter's day:  blue sky, crisp coldness, and winter sun.
10. No need for sun cream.  Not in the UK in winter.  Yay!

Sharing this post with Share All Link Up at Not Dressed As Lamb and #WelcometotheWeekend at Claire Justine.
Style blogger Gail Hanlon dressed for a winter's walk in Epping Forest
 winter's walk, February 2018

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Friday, 5 July 2019

Five for Fri-Yay

I've been missing in blogger action for a few days so here's a quick catch up, featuring five things I've liked recently. Leslie at Once Upon A Time And Happily Ever After uses this format and it's a good way to discover new books, music, brands and so on.

1. Beauty Bag Treat  (above)

I loved "Lucky Bags" when I was a kid and now I adore the grown up version of "free" beauty bags and boxes.  I wasn't very tempted by the Marks and Spencer summer box this year - my friend Anna writes about it on Muttonstyle -  but I did like the look of the Feelunique exclusive June beauty bag.  This was a free gift if you spent over £100. At the time I was browsing for a few replacements and staples - shampoo, conditioner, brow pencil, body lotion and so on - and I did manage to get to the threshold (!).

The swag includes a transparent plastic bag with orange and pink handles  (not very eco-friendly) and a combination of products I've used before plus a few I haven't.

The St Tropez Watermelon Influsion gradual tanner has impressed:  you simply apply it immediately after a shower, to towel dried skin.  You don't need to apply body lotion first.  It dries quickly and is non-streaky with the first application giving a pleasing colour, not too pale.

I'm also keen to try "Glow Reveal" moisturizer from cult Finnish brand Lumene, Barry M Illuminating Strobe Cream and Karine Jackson The Protector, a multi purpose hair primer, which is a perfect size for travelling, and Living Proof Blowout styling and finishing spray.

It doesn't look as if the bag is available now but I'll keep my eyes peeled for you.

2. I actually bought something in the sale!!

I'm not one for sale shopping - I find it dispiriting, all the endless rows of crumpled clothes. Online sale shopping isn't much better - there's just too much to choose from. But I did buy this claret coloured velvet skirt from Hope, reduced to £19 from £95. I have a few other piece of claret and burgundy, for winter here and here, and I'm already thinking ahead.

I realised this week that I much prefer winter clothes to summer ones, which has perked me up a little because I always used to dread winter.

There's more variety in textures, with fabrics like velvet and cashmere;  more footwear to choose from  (long and short boots) and the opportunity to vary your look in many more ways by adding jackets, or capes, or cardigans, and scarves, mufflers and hats.  Summer clothes are mostly just light, flimsy numbers.

3. Podcasts

I've mentioned before that I love podcasts and listen to several each week on my drives to and from Cambridge.

I like true crime and crime thrillers in particular.  Some of the US providers, like Wondery and Gimlet, excel at the crime thrillers.  I would highly recommend "Dirty John," which became a TV series after the podcast, "Dr Death" and "Over my Dead Body." If you like true crime, you may enjoy "Mens Rea," which means "guilty mind." The honeyed Irish tones of narrator Siobhan seduce you into a false sense of relaxation because some of the crimes featured are truly appalling. Many famous recent crimes are included, such as the murder of Sarah Payne and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.  I find the Irish, Australian and US murders featured are fascinating because they're often new to me.

Another podcast I rate highly is "Fortunately with Fi and Jane," where two well-known women presenters over the age of 50 debate all manner of things with their weekly guest.  It's like a gossipy catch up with two friends. This week's guest was Radio 2 DJ Ken Bruce and the conversation included "how do you sex a tortoise."  How indeed?

4. Book Binge Reading

When I enjoy a book by a new author, I'm thrilled if I find they have a back catalogue.  I absolutely devoured "The Perfect Child" by Lucinda Berry because it was difficult to predict how it was going to end. The story concerns an abandoned and severely traumatised child who's adopted by one of the doctors and his wife. But as her behaviour becomes more and more challenging, the story takes some spine chilling twists.

I found out that Lucinda Berry is a trauma psychologist and leading researcher in childhood traumas. Her other books also use her clinical experience to create psychological thrillers. I'm now on my fourth one, "The Missing Limb."

5. My guilty pleasure

I don't watch too much on TV lately. The second series of Killing Eve was a big disappointment I thought, as was the most recent series of Line of Duty.  Two programmes which make me smile (and sometimes weep) each week are "Say Yes to the Dress UK" and "Curvy Brides Boutique." They're both about wedding dress shopping but very different. In the former, David Emanuel, who, with his ex wife, designed Princess Diana's wedding dress, helps a couple of brides choose their gown each week  in an Essex bridal salon. Expect bored or appalled looks from the entourage, brides who can't decide between a fishtail or ballgown silhouette, and brides who want to show (or hide) tattoos.

Curvy Brides Boutique also features a bridal showroom in Essex but this one is deep in the countryside. The brides, as the name suggests, are curvy and the gowns are immensely flattering. Some of the women have hardly any self confidence and haven't worn a dress for years. Their joy, when they see how good they look in a proper wedding dress, is a delight to behold. Also on Youtube,

Sharing this post with Claire Justine, #WelcomeToTheWeekend, and #BloggerClubUK at My Random Musings.

For More Mutton

Stay in the loop: follow Is This Mutton? on Bloglovin or Feedspot. I post extra goodies (handbags and shoes) on the Is This Mutton? Facebook page. 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. 

Don't forget to come back on Wednesday for the #WowOnWednesday link up.

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