Sunday, March 30, 2008

Little Pink Says Good-Bye

Yeah, as you can see, we've changed our name. Outgrew it actually. I guess I could've gone either way, except it was a killer for our Google bounce rate (the percentage of viewers that click in, see that it's not a site selling little pink dresses, and immediately click out). Besides never selling little pink dresses, we were no longer selling vintage dresses, so the "dress" part became completely meaningless. I think it's best to have a name that means nothing until you yourself define it (e.g. Verizon). Anyway, Patricia had tired of LPD, so we finally decided to make the break. We settled on "Brabarella" with the emphasis on "Bra." Nothing elso has changed. We were thinking about getting a new shopping cart and integrating it with our call-in POS system, but decided to wait for now. Our PayPal cart has it's drawbacks, but it is VERY SECURE, and that's the most important thing. The biggest drawback is many customers don't order, or order over the phone because they think they have to sign up for a PayPal account, which they do not. Our email addresses have changed, but all the old ones work too. So, in one last tribute to Little Pink Dress, here's Patricia in the little pink dress....

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring bonnets and so forth...

A great site to find beautiful hats is etsy. The Kentucky Derby, tea parties and other opportunities are coming up, even gardening...lots of reasons for wearing hats. Here's one link and another to get you looking...and one more...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Yes, Easter comes early this year. We're on the road today, bringing Molly back to college after spring break. Easter Sunday used to be the "dress up" holiday and everyone was expected to wear their best to Sunday Mass. Sadly, it's another tradition that's long gone. The Catholic church in particular has compromised too many things as a result of Vatican II, especially in regards to the loss of it’s “mysticism”, for lack of a more accurate term. The one area it should have compromised but didn’t was in allowing priests to marry and women to be priests. It will probably always be an exclusive “men’s club” protected by religious freedom…..god, I got way off topic….have some more coffee…..anyway, here’s an interesting little article on the demise of the EASTER BONNET


As you may or may not know by now, our specialty is specialty intimate apparel, as opposed to everyday intimate apparel (does that make sense?). With that in mind, we have three recent additions to our site from Felina: two bridal wear items - a bustier and a body briefer; and a soft, seamless, stitch-free strapless bra, just the thing for your strapless evening dress. We've been so busy lately that we haven't had time to add new items to the site. We have a lot more to add in the coming weeks. Our bridal section is still under development and we also have some surprises in store after that. Stay tuned....

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Coffee Journeys on Cape Cod

We are always searching for the perfect coffee shop when we’re traveling about. We still haven’t found it.
Maybe the closest I’ve found was the old Capitol Grounds in Montpelier, VT. It was in an old bank building and combined good coffee, good service and a uniquely good atmosphere, the latter a kind of intangible feel. They have since been forced to move, and the new place isn’t quite the same, though no fault of theirs. The most important thing with a coffee shop is the coffee itself. Besides being a good blend, it has to be fresh. Dunkin Donuts is still my favorite cup of coffee mainly because the coffee itself is very good (not the best, but very good) and, most importantly, they serve so much of it, it’s almost always fresh. They keep their coffee in the pots they’re brewed in, which is a key. Many shops have gone to DIY setups with pump carafes. -not a good idea for keeping an eye on the coffee and keeping it fresh. Another problem is the cream. If you take cream in your coffee (like me), then you want light cream, not half & half. Patricia and I have always been impressed with Starbucks. They have a nice atmosphere and their personnel seem consistently well trained and friendly. Kind of weird that you can go to a Starbucks in another city or state and it still has a familiar feel to them. The problem with Starbucks is the cream. The coffee is very good, but they have half & half instead of light cream. To me, that’s like going to a fancy restaurant, ordering filet mignon, and having the waiter plop a bottle of ketchup down on the table along with the meal…there’s something wrong with this picture…..

Since we go to so many coffee shops, I figured I would write about them from time to time, especially ones here on the cape. Leading off is Hot Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans. We had a horrible experience here last fall and I figured we’d never go there again. To make a long story short, the person behind the counter didn’t know what something was (I think Patricia ordered a Yerba Mate), even after it was pointed to on their menu, and then another worker denied that the cream had turned, despite the white chunks floating on top of my coffee. I think both workers may have been inexperienced high schoolers, but that’s no excuse. You wouldn’t see that at a Starbucks. So it was a late Sunday afternoon two weeks ago and we were driving around the outer cape looking for a coffee stop. We couldn’t find one anywhere, so we decided to try Sparrow again. To their credit, they were open and doing a brisk business (as usual for them). I wish other coffee shops would take note – yes, there are a lot of us coffee fanatics out there at all hours- take advantage of it. Their coffee was very good, despite using carafes. They also had light cream – great! The workers were knowledgeable and courteous. Another plus is internet access….and a big thumbs up to lots of community bulletin board space. The only negative things were the somewhat cramped spaces and the noise. Their machines seem very noisy. At the same time, sound in the place just seems to get amplified. I don’t know anything about acoustical engineering, but it always seems like places with vaulted ceilings seem louder. Odd because logic would tell me that the more ceiling space available, the more that sound could be dispersed. Anyway, if you’re traveling to the outer cape this summer and need a little coffee break, check it out. We were glad we went back….

Hosiery-Style Shapers

Need something to smooth you out and bring back some of those curves? Hosiery-style shapers are extremely popular today. What isn't popular are the prices. Before you shell out $30.00 to $40.00 or more on a hosiery-based shaper, consider Berkshire Curves at $9.49, Hanes Go Figure Capri Shaper at $11.99 or their Waistshaper at $14.99. Both of these companies have been around much longer than most of us have been alive, and continue to make quality products at practical prices - minus the hype.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Another Loss

One of the top local news stories over the winter here on Cape Cod has been the loss of cottages to the sea down in Chatham. It’s a sad but inevitable situation. Man vs. Mother Nature. Cape Cod has changed significantly since our family began coming down here in the 60’s. Downtown Hyannis in particular has been in a steady decline, not quite washed out to sea, but none the better off. I wrote about it a year ago at this time, when we had our shop. I’m realistic enough to know that things aren’t going to improve overnight, or in a year, or in 5 years. The center of Hyannis was lost years ago when the mall was built. It is now just little controlled sprawl. As I wrote last year, the homeless wander the streets most days, providing a kind of ghostly life to a bleak town landscape. There is the Sturgis school downtown, a small charter high school located in a former furniture store. A small catholic high school is gradually opening its doors in the former Barnstable High building (despite some who wanted to condo-fy the building). Another positive step. Thank God for these high schoolers. Unfortunately, the college left town years ago.

Most out-of–towners only see downtown Hyannis in the summertime. Most are probably too young to remember much about the past – especially the department stores, the grocery stores and some of the fun diversions, such as the little miniature golf course right smack downtown…hey, it’s still there though!! WHOOPS!!!! NO IT”S NOT!!!!! Remember last year when I said that T-shirts and flip flops thrive in downtown Hyannis? Of course! Let’s rip out the last remaining icon from the 50’s in downtown “historic” Hyannis and build another store to sell flip flops, and floats and t-shirts? That’s what Hyannis is all about right? For sale to the highest bidder, right? Preserve the past? Well yeah, as long as the past doesn’t impede progress. So what if there are dozens of vacant storefronts and huge empty lots in downtown Hyannis? Let’s hang our hat on the new flip flop shop. Or the next made-in-China souvenir gift shop.

What’s wrong with the town planners? They know that Main Street and South Street have just become one-way shortcuts through town and that Main Street needs to revert back to two-way traffic. They know that it would have made sense for the power lines to be buried two years ago when the sidewalks were dug up and entirely replaced (as Falmouth had done). This would not only have made sense esthetically, but given the high winds and occasional hurricanes, less costly in the long run.
What about news reports? Oh, I forgot, the only “hard-hitting” news the rosy Cape Cod Times reports is the Cape Cod League baseball highlights….It goes back to what I’ve said about “young energy” and I don’t mean young in terms of age but in terms of an openness, a “why not” attitude, a not taking “no” for an answer. That’s what’s missing here. There’s no passion, just passivity. The town planners have become like the chamber of commerce, except that’s not their job. There’s no excuse for losing the 50’s miniature golf course. They just weren’t willing to fight for it. Or were shortsighted. Just let the developers and out-of town “family owned businesses” run amok and hope they do something that the town can take credit for.
Here are some photos taken a few weeks ago of the now gone miniature golf course and a whole lot of vacant space downtown where perhaps planners could have strongly encouraged businesses to look first….
(use your imagination, picture summertime, kids and families finding the pleasant little oasis of a mini-golf downtown, picture them coming back annually and that piece of history wiped out when they get here to look for it this year).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Woods Hole

I spent the morning in Woods Hole, a famous and unique little village in a corner of Cape Cod. It is home to a Coast Guard Station, Wood Hole Oceanographic Institute, The Marine Biological Lab, NOAA and the main ferries to Martha's Vineyard. Of course the research is world famous. The explorers and vessals used to find the Titanic were based here, although much more important but far lesser known things have been researched and discovered in Woods Hole. Here are some snapshots from a rainy Wednesday, including someone's sunken fishing boat (a crane arrived soon after to begin to try to raise it); some rearch vessals (Delaware II and Oceanus); the ferry arriving from Martha's Vineyard; and Nobska Point Lighthouse.

A "Green" Bomb?

"Unlike a nuclear weapon, the bomb doesn't hurt the environment."

Alexander Rukshin, a deputy chief of the Russian military's General Staff, commenting on their new "Father of All Bombs."

The Belle of Amherst

poetic inspiration...snapped outside the vintage typewriter/computer repair shop in downtown on move-in weekend 2007.

Driving on the "wrong side of Buzzards Bay"

Yesterday my dad and I went to Newport. I went with him last month, too. The journey reminds me of 1970 to 1971 when we traveled Route 6 together to 7th grade in New Bedford for me and what was then SMU for him.

This was before I-495 extended to the cape. It was the year the song “Mill Valley, California” was a big hit on the radio. My mornings were filled with sleepy seeds, Paul Harvey’s memorable voice, and this dreamy Northern California town called Mill Valley.

The world of Route 6 on the wrong side of Buzzards Bay (read Carol Wasserman’s memoir, “Swimming at Suppertime” about this special and very real place) hasn’t changed much since then. It’s probably why I still love traveling that route – so many familiar landmarks still there, so much like the real, unpretentious cape of my childhood (unspoiled by development and folks with image problems –you can be a big fish in a very small pond here). Yes, I believe the world I belong to is on the wrong side of the bridge, so I go any chance I get. And Newport reminds me of my childhood growing up on military bases throughout the country. A certain sense of order and rightness, real or imagined existed for me then. Values like honor and duty, respect and manners were important.

I took pictures of two aging and still majestic aircraft carriers and gigantic buoys when in Newport last month. The carriers Sartoga and Forrestal are still in storage pending disposal. Plans of sinking or “scuttling” them were cancelled but like the outdated, above ground steam pipes, who knows how much longer they will still be around?


The Imaginary World

I was trying to find information on medicine our parents used (on us) during the 60's, but I couldn't find anything (if my sisters are out there somewhere, maybe you remember). But what I DID find
was a really cool site called The Imaginary World. I especially liked the old Fizzie packaging. Remember Fizzies? Someone actually still makes them, although the packaging is disappointing. Patricia gave me a package of them as a Chrismas present last year. I was reluctant to try them because I figured I would be disappointed with the taste. You know how it is. Something you loved as a kid you now abhor. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I had the rootbeer and it was pretty good. Fizzies were the highlight of our weekly grocery shopping at the ACME Supermarket (that's supermarket, not fireworks, Wiley!). Somehow, some way, I outgrew them and forgot about them for about 30 some years. Anyway, check out "The Imaginary World." It's a wonderful nostalgia trip, not to mention the fun little characters from the mind of artist Dan Goodsell.

Learning Update

Marty here. A ways back I wrote that as the guy (i.e. ignorant) half of the business, I had a lot to learn about women's clothing. Tonight I'll share some more information. The subject is: the negligee and peignoir. Up until recently, if you asked me what a negligee was I would tell you that it is a lightweight, hopefully see-through robe worn by women to seduce their significant other. A peignoir? I didn't know what a peignoir was, nor could I even pronounce it. It turns out that negligees and peignoirs were actually practical items, worn by women either during their dressing stage (putting on makeup, powder, combing (french peigner, "to comb") one's hair, etc.), or between changes of outfits, allowing the lady to loosen her corset between outfits. As a guy, I can immediately see how problems developed. Think about it. When is a woman the most serious? When they're dressing up to go out. Back then they were wearing these sexy numbers but weren't focused on seduction, but concentrating on getting their make-up on right, fixing their hair and all of those other female things. Then the man enters the room and you know what. She's thinking about mascara and he's thinking about getting the goods (so to speak). To make a long story short, she's gets fed up with him pawing all over her and bags the negligee thing. But, she does remember that when SHE"S in the mood, all she has to do is slip it on. In the meantime she ends up wearing a terrycloth robe or throws a bath towel around her shoulders when putting on makeup. Thus the evolution of the negligee, as well as the demise of it as a practical item. The practical part probably made it even more sexy (much like girdles, garter belts and nylon stockings). Many of today's naughties come off as trashy because their intention becomes obvious.....

Grow Up

What's the matter with kids these days? They're wild and out of control…we treat them like adults, why don't they act like us?……parenting, the lost art, dismissed in the late 20th century…..replaced with…..friendship?…..peace?……..understanding? We didn't want to be like OUR parents….too strict…too severe….in your face….they didn't understand… could they? What did they know about teen sex?…drugs?…heck, rock and roll was barely invented back then………yeah, right………today, parenting is friendship, compromised values and living vicariously through your children.

You want them to be adults? No need to teach them, just treat them like adults and they'll catch on…..give them what they want, not what they need….want an SUV, "sure, especially since you tell me everyone else has one…they do tend to tip over, so be careful going around corners….we'll get you a really nice one so you'll be popular and I'll be recognized as the good (and successful) parent I am…..having sex?…..we understand, as statistics show, teen sex is ever increasing, so, here are some condoms, at least be safe…..drugs?…..not a good idea..yeah I tried them, boy I was wild at your age…but don't you do it, it's not good….. same with smoking….I wouldn't be pleased…..yeah you can watch that movie…it's rated R but I guess it isn't anything you haven't seen or heard before….."

As parents we no longer exclaim, no longer proclaim……we disclaim. We're living in a disclaimer, cover your ass parental world. We even bastardize catch phrases to explain aberrant behavior and make us feel more comfortable…."oh, you know, they're all doing it at his age, it's kind of a rite of passage." Our words are hollow, there is nothing backing them up, it's easier that way…we're lazy and we use other parents as examples, while other parents are using us as examples… like passing around a Christmas fruitcake…."well, John's mom said it was alright if HE went, so I guess you can go…" let some other parent make the decision…it's easy…automatic, no thought, all kids are alike…..jiffy lube parenting. We're like common herd animals…except the shepherd is dead… our day we thought twice, maybe three or four times before doing something we shouldn't do….sometimes we still went ahead and did it, but many times we didn't because of the CONSEQUENCES. Was the risk of being caught worth it? Parental pressure vs. peer pressure….checks and balances…….peer pressure goes unchecked today….and note the word "pressure"…..

believe it or not, kids many times do not want to do certain things or are uncomfortable doing certain things, but there is no excuse not to, heck their parents are practically condoning certain things in their use of (vague) language. The word "no" has been replaced by those gibberish legalistic low-impact disclaimers….be a friend…..don't want to offend…….or take control…..or be responsible…..the luke warm approach to parenting….spit it out…..the best we can hope for is that when these kids grow up they say, "I won't treat my kids the way MY parents treated me. Growing up was scary….no boundaries, no control, no one looking out for me, like they didn't care…. They forced me into adulthood, treated me like an adult when I was just a child. Then they lamented my passing childhood…….no, I'll instruct my children and not assume anything…set limits, say "no" and mean it, speak in clear, no uncertain terms, have consequences and make them think twice before doing something stupid. And I'll share my values with them rather than having them pick up someone else's. They may not like it, but they'll know I love them……"
Many baby boomer and x-gen parents won't even understand any of this, won't recognize it…….my point EXACTLY……