Lifestyle

Fashion for 60s

If you read my blurb, all about me, you would know that there are certain clothes that I will never wear.  I am most definitely not a pink, or frilly or sparkly person.  I loathe white trousers, well those that cling in all the wrong places so I suppose the trick is to get a material that is really good quality and make sure they don’t hug the knees and are a bit bendy.  However, you still won’t catch me buying them because I am very fair skinned and think they look wonderful on those among us who are lucky enough to have sallow skin.

I have been fortunate enough to be styled for TV Fashion by the likes of Roxanne Parker, Judy Gilroy, and Lisa Fitzpatrick and all had an instinct about what suited me.  I have a shape that is common to a lot of women.  I have very small boobs and a bigger bottom half.  All in all, it still amounts to being a size 10.  I aid and abet my tiny boobs with a good bra, preferably smooth,  padded and sometimes resort to “chicken fillets”.  I have a funny story about those that my friends know all about!. All I will say is, be very careful when wildly jiving at a new job work bash.  I think at the ripe old age of 60 I know what suits me and what doesn’t.  I prefer the longer lines on my top half, and love the new trick of tucking shirts or tops into the front of trousers/skirts and leaving the back down, so as to balance what my sister used to call my “ballet bottom”.  I love both crisp shirts and flowing, not bulky, skirts, though not necessarily together.  I am better making my top half look broader, once again to balance things out.  If I wear a pencil skirt, I like the top or v necked sweater to come to the top of my thighs.  I like my trousers to be fairly high waisted (think Simon Cowell) and to allow me to either wear brogues or kitten heels.  I really adore trouser suits, as opposed to skirt suits.  I like midi dresses and sometimes  vintage; check out Charlotte and Jane http://charlotteandjane.com/ who made me the most glorious Mad Men dress, perfect for Mother of the Bride.  I would never wear anything above my knees.  It just doesn’t suit me and I actually think that it rarely suits women of a certain age.  God bless opaque tights.  Likewise I prefer sleeves to come to either just above or below my elbows, or full length.  Crepe is all very well in a material or as a pancake……………..

I love jeans that have a bit of give in them, and I found the absolutely perfect pair in And Other Stories  https://www.stories.com/en_eur/clothing/jeans/product.straight-slim-fit-jeans-faded-blue.0576472009.html.  Best pair.  Hands down. Comfy and just the right length for my 5’10.

 

I bought both these dresses from Instagram @kristinitla and they were  just perfect for summer and winter and did everything I want a dress to do.  She has some very good sales and they took no length to arrive. I tend to wear a certain shape in a heeled shoe; rather than round toes,  I think more of a point elongates the legs and makes your ankles look better.

I found the following on my “dry January” browse of the internet shopping.  I decided that since I retired, I really need to wear all the clothes in my wardrobe. So I am not buying.  Repeat after me, Brenda. I was very very very tempted by the sale in Zara – do have a look.  Better by far than browsing the rails https://www.zara.com/ie/en/sale-l879.html

I really want this, especially since my hair is redder and think charcoal grey is divine.

Can’t go wrong with black tuxedo jacket in your wardrobe.

Love contrasting patterns

Perfect over jeans – very country chic.

Cos  https://www.cosstores.com/en_eur/index.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=gmb-dublin-wicklow-street is a great store, and I have a very chic friend, Marianne, who is smaller than I am and also a completely different shape and always looks elegant and well put together in clothes that she often buys here.  They do wonderful crisp, white shirts.

I love bottle green but think I would wear this with a tan belt and boots.  I am a big fan of not wearing something right up to the neck,  rather leaving some decolletage. It just seems to lengthen the neck and doesn’t concentrate on any turkey neck one might possibly have.  I love polo necks for just the same reason and an icon is Diane Keating.

So, that’s my style.  Sometimes, I get it.  Sometimes I don’t,  But you know despite knowing the bits of my body that I don’t particularly like, I concentrate on the fact that I can move.  I can dance – with or without chicken fillets.

Bren x

Lifestyle

Rooms. Small + dark – a mistake? Not one bit

Small rooms can be a decorating challenge, and we often reach for light colors in hopes of making the room look larger. However, a light color palette isn’t the only way to decorate your small space, and it doesn’t always make a room look larger. Don’t be afraid to use dark colors in even the smallest rooms of your home; small spaces can handle a dark color palette.

We have a small house, a bungalow.  Most rooms have seen various coloured walls but they have never seen wallpaper.  They were plastered well when the house was built 27 years ago and it just never entered my mind to wallpaper.  However, that doesn’t stop me admiring wall papers and accent walls and I adore https://divinesavages.com/collections/wallpaper  and http://eu.farrow-ball.com/pws/Content.ice?page=dublin-showroom&pgForward=content& for paint. I mean just look at this image below.  It’s called Crane Fonda Emerald from Divine Savages and it speaks to my soul.  Look no further for inspiration then on these sites if you feel like that whole gorgeous process of putting the paste on the wallpaper and hanging.  To be honest, I used to love the smell and the whole procedure, watching my mum slapping it on but I have a very crooked eye and would be fearful of it going horribly wrong, so will leave it to the experts if ever I change my mind to paper.

Of course, the colours themselves are so complementary to each other on the colour wheel.  What I have found, ably abetted by a very good friend, Celina, is that it is so last year, never mind last ten years, to be matchy matchy and this has helped my little adventure in our home.  We wouldn’t ever have a huge amount to spend, and I have painted wardrobes in Stiffkey Blue  (they were pine – say no more) and our kitchen cupboards in some lovely Pigeon from Farrow and Ball and https://www.colourtrend.ie who do a very reasonable version of all Farrow and Ball.

Anyway, back to colour in small rooms.  We recently did up our very small, and euphemistically called, study.  I am inspired daily with Instagram and I will list below my favourite interior inspo. Our room was inspired by Lucinda Mitra @nest_twenty_eight

and this is how my little room turned out

 

I love this Hague Blue Farrow and Ball colour on the walls and we continued the paint right down to the skirting board and the bookshelves and although quite a tiny room, it was not swamped in any way. It changes shades, depending on the light available which I love. Cushions and lamp were https://www.meadowsandbyrne.com/.

I keep seeing darker colours wherever I look and although most rooms in our house are either painted white or grey, I am so tempted to go darker in some rooms, albeit I will drive my darling husband mad.  I mean just look at these….

Brinjal in Farrow and Ball and

Deco Martini Arsinic (what a name) from Divine Savages again.

Even a small bathroom can look amazing with colour.

Speculo Forest Green tiles by Topps found in https://www.tiles.ie

So, if you are a scanner of Instagram like myself, look no further than these people for inspo.  @roomswithdogs, @cynthia_harper, @nest_twenty_eight, @mad_about_the_house, to name a few. Let’s bring some moody colour to our lives…..

Bren x

Lifestyle

Christmas Pudding

Recipe from my great grand-mother.  I still have it in my mother’s hand writing, on a very worn and fragile piece of paper and only gave it to one friend, whose husband made about 8 last year.  Dan suggested I share, as he swears it’s the best pudding he has ever tasted.  Leave to eat for a year, if you want.  Or at Easter…………..

½ lb plain flour

½ lb bread crumbs

Small teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon each of cinnamon,  ground ginger and mixed spice powder

2 ozs. chopped mixed nuts

1 dessertspoon baking powder

½ lb demerara sugar

½ lb raisins

½ lb currants

½ mixed peel

½ lb orange marmalade

½ lb butter (chopped up for convenience)

3 whisked eggs

1 lemon (rind grated and juice)

1 carrot grated

1 cooking apple chopped

Now the fun part:

½ pint of Guinness

Shot glass of Irish whiskey

All dry ingredients first.  Then wet.  It is very important that you let the your loved ones mix the Guinness and whiskey in and take three turns of the spoon to make a wish.  EVERY YEAR

Butter small pudding bowls (makes 1 medium and 1 small and I use very old pottery ones. ) Butter grease-proof paper over bowl then tin foil and tie tightly leaving handle to remove from 8 hours boiling/steaming.

I put in large saucepan and boil/steam on a day off, constantly checking water level and adding to just half way up bowl.  On Christmas, to serve hot, put in microwave at full power for 8 mins, or re-steam for hour.

Serve with nice brandy butter and cream

Bren x

 

 

Lifestyle

Brenda’s Little Helpers

Hitting the menopause at the ripe old age of 58, was when everything seemed to start dropping off, drying up, mixed in with a large dose of “glowing” in not the best way.  Up to that point, my skin and hair were grand, albeit when I looked in the mirror without my glasses.  I have found the soft focus provided by not wearing my glasses is definitely the light that Joan Collins asked the camera man to use in “Dynasty”.  (Now, that is definitely showing my age.)

I am an advertiser’s dream; but have got much more enlightened as to what works.  For me – and that’s important.  I get skin treatments and will talk about the places I go and what treatments I like, in another post.  These above products are what I take and what works, for me,  from the inside out.  Aided and abetted by lots of water, especially glasses of cooled, boiled water as I find it goes down much easier and lots and lots of green tea.  I won’t mention the wine which is purely for medicinal purposes.  Nothing nicer than the pop of a cork and the glug glug of a crisp glass of Sauvignon with lovely friends.

IoniCell – the blurb “IoniCell for Women is a supplement that helps the body generate collagen, grow lustrous hair, helps nails grow stronger, rehydrates cells for healthier skin, and stimulates collagen for a more youthful appearance. It works to protect, energize, and enhance cells through a patented ingredient, Ioniplex, which is a naturally occurring fulvic acid that contains over 65 trace minerals. It works at the cellular level to promote beauty from deep within.

It has been scientifically shown to reduce naturally occurring cell damage by promoting cellular integrity and function through the signature ingredient. This results in stronger and thicker nails, smoother and healthier hair, and more radiant and youthful looking skin. It improves the appearance of all hair types.”

This is what I have found after three months of usage.  Definitely better hair.  I do use good quality shampoos, and don’t bother with styling tools during the week, to help.  My hair is thicker after a lot of damage from extensions and has grown much quicker in the last two months.  I’ll never be Rapunzel, but when I use styling tools, the style holds much better. My skin quality has improved, not so much of a parched desert with cracks scenario and my nails are growing really well.  Since retiring, I am a divil for finding things to do around the house, but there has not been any breakage in the last 8 weeks, which is pretty good

MenoMin – the blurb “Cleanmarine® MenoMin is ideal for menopausal women, helping to regulate hormonal activity, maintain normal mucous membranes, as well as reduce tiredness and fatigue. Plus all the benefits of Cleanmarine Krill Oil.

Traceability from Sea to Shelf: Cleanmarine phospholipid Krill oil ingredient has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as being from a well managed, sustainable traceable fishery. Provides omega 3 as phospholipids which provides benefits in key areas including;

  • Mg to mg Cleanmarine delivers 60% more omega 3 to the cells than fish oil
  • Faster Omega 3 absorption
  • Doesn’t repeat like fish oil”

Now remember the dropping off, the drying up, the “glowing” I talked about earlier?  Honestly, these have really helped..  I am not kicking the bed clothes off, I’m up at 8am most mornings as I’m retired,  and just don’t feel as tired.  Anything to get through what can, essentially, be a hard time for women and finally….

Zenflore – the blurb “Zenflore supports your mind and body during busy and demanding times and reduces fatigue. The special 1714-Serenitas culture in Zenflore was discovered and developed by PrecisionBiotics®, in partnership with scientists and clinicians from one of the world’s leading centres of research on the microbiome and the gut-brain axis, the APC Microbiome Institute in UCC, Ireland. By combining this unique Bifidobacterium longum 1714TM culture with specially selected vitamins, Zenflore supports your mind and reduces fatigue. This naturally occurring bacteria is part of the family of bacteria given by mother to baby at birth.”

If I could recommend anything, I would recommend these.  You know those fluttery feelings of anxiety that one can get, sometimes upon waking.  When all the little and large worries of the day take hold. Or just before sleep… these just help.  I honestly can cope so much better.  The world can be hard at times and I, for one, constantly worry about my family as all I want is their happiness.  If I was to take nothing else, I would take these.

I haven’t put in any links to any of the above.  They can be got very easily online or in shops

So here’s to things staying put, and feeling generally less of a red tomato more of a pink, velvety rose.  And no crankiness………..

 

Bren x

 

 

Lifestyle

Profiteroles

I have these really old cookery books.  The one I took this recipe from was from the Irish National Dairy Council from 1985, and I borrowed (stole) it from my sister, Marie. It is dog eared and flour eared at this stage.  I also often use a very old book that my cousin used back in the day when girls did Domestic Science as part of the school curriculum called “All in the Cooking”.  It’s just brilliant for simple things like pancakes mixes and also does a great line in soups and broths for invalids (!) and sauces. We have so many cookery books at home.  We love Donal Skehan and Rick Stein but my husband is the real cook in the house; one of those boring people who just improvises and tastes and adds a soupçon here and a soupçon there and has no difficulty with timing. Unflappable. Insert eyes up to heaven emoji.  Anyway, this is a fool proof recipe for profiteroles.  The chocolate sauce is to die for and you can’t go wrong and it works for 6 people so just halve or double to your heart’s content.

Choux Pastry  

4 ozs. butter, 1 pint water, 5 ozs. plain flour, pinch of salt and 4 eggs beaten.

Put butter and water into a saucepan over a low heat.  When butter has melted, bring to a brisk boil

Reduce heat to a low setting, add sieved flour and salt all at once to saucepan. Beat (and I mean beat) over the heat until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan clean and forms into a ball.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Gradually add the beaten eggs, a little at a time.  Beat (and I mean, beat) after each addition.  After all the eggs have been added, the mixture should be shiny and hold its shape.

Pipe (actually, I use two tea spoons) onto greased baking trays into mounds that are 1 inch across, spacing them a little apart.  Bake in preheated oven at 220 degrees (mine is a fan oven) for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 180 degrees for 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and make a hole in each profiterole with the point of a knife to release the steam. Cool completely on a wire tray before filling.

When cold, pipe (I use a teaspoon – you can see the extent of my  technical ability here) a little whipped cream into the profiteroles and pile them on a serving plate. I try for the pyramid effect.

Chocolate Sauce

 

8 ozs. dark chocolate (I use Bournville), 6 tblspns. cream, 2 tblspns. brandy or Jamaica Rum. Captain Morgan does the trick for us.

Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl with cream and rum.

Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate melts

Just before serving pour the sauce over the profiteroles.  I do this at the table so guests can go “ooh and aahh”.  Because at my age, the more Oohs and Aahhs you get the better.  Serve with whipped cream and remaining chocolate sauce.

Oh.  And drink the rum…………………..

Bren x

 

Lifestyle

Halloween Barmbrack – as old as the hills

 

We used to call this Tea Brack, I suppose because of soaking the fruit in cold tea beforehand.  We used to have great Halloweens, but actually rarely did the whole decoration “thing”.  We did, however, play games.  One was where my mum used to stand on a chair and have an apple which was smeared in jam hanging from a twine the full length of her height.  As she swung the apple, we had to try and take a big bite out of it while the jam smeared all over our faces and hair.  Another was to have some money in a bottom of a basin of luke-warm water and we had to dip our heads in and try and get that coin.  We would have lots and lots of callers for Trick or Treat, and monkey nuts and fruit were the main goodies.  Things have changed.  And it’s kind of sad that kids don’t call much anymore.  I remember dressing up as Joanna Lumley in Ab Fab one year. Stuck two large Christmas decorations in my ears, lots of hairspray, cigarette, bottle of champers, syringe full of Botox and Bob really was my uncle.  One of my better moments, because God help my children, I was never good with the old needle and thread and they either ended up in bin bags with things stuck on, or bought costumes.  Terrible mother!!  Anyway – to the recipe handed down by my grandmother.

1 lb of dried fruit (at least half raisins),

6 ozs brown sugar

Half pint of cold tea

1 lb plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

Grease 8″ tin and line with grease proof paper

Soak fruit and sugar in tea.  Next day, sieve flour, baking powder and mixed spice. Stir in soaked mixture.  Mix in beaten egg, milk and put in tin, .

Bake for 2 hours at 180 degs. Make sure to place a ring, a piece of cloth and a stick, all wrapped up in grease proof paper.  Whoever gets the ring, will marry; whoever gets the cloth will be a  nun, and whoever gets the stick will never marry

Bren x

Lifestyle

20 things about me

  1. I can read Italian much better than I can speak it
  2. I aim to rectify that
  3. I will never, ever wear a waterfall cardigan or a skirt above my knees or white trousers
  4. I adore all dogs and will happily converse in a dog voice
  5.  I have special friends who are all kindreds of some sort
  6. I write poetry.  Very badly
  7. I would lie under a bus and die or fight and claw for my children
  8. I read voraciously
  9. I call myself street sharp as opposed to intelligent
  10. I acted in the West End
  11. I love eating all foods but can happily go a day without food.  An oxymoron.  Sort of
  12. I love words like oxymoron
  13. I am a really good listener
  14. I would happily sing if you wanted to clear a room
  15. I want to do Strictly Come Dancing
  16. I am qualified to teach drama
  17. I am never sick
  18. I adore clothes that suit my age, are a bit out of the ordinary and want to design them (in my dreams)
  19. But I immediately slip into trakkies when I come home.  My dog drools
  20. I want very much to live every day as if it’s my last

 

IMG_6689

Bren x

Lifestyle

The Whys and wherefores

 

Hi there, I’m Brenda and I decided to start writing a little blog for absolutely no reason other than I wanted to try it and I love writing and I honestly don’t care if I am the only one who sees it!

I live in Dublin with my husband, Dan, have two “children”, Joanne and Senan and we have a beloved and barmy red and white setter, Snipe.  She who must be obeyed and who has even got an instagram account all to herself.

I took the name from a poem I love called “When I am Old I shall wear purple” by Jenny Joseph.  It encapsulates the eccentric woman I want to be and perhaps I already am.

These will be just general musings and thoughts of the life of a 61 year old woman.   Maybe some recipes, some thoughts on holidays, some fashion, some thoughts on creams and potions, some books I’d recommend or maybe I will just settle on one or a couple of things.  Who knows? I’m just going to get a handle on this and enjoy the fact that my brain is actually working, albeit slowly.

Bren x