Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hmmm...poppies...yes...poppies...


The shame of random drug testing for employment and otherwise is that if you love poppyseed muffins or dressing, watch out as your drug screen is liable to test positive. But for those of us for whom that is not a worry, here is a yummy lemon poppyseed muffin recipe I copied from a baker friend of mine. She used to bake for the little bake shop in the Underground Mall in Burlington Vermont many moons ago.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins -- Bake at 375 for 20 minutes in greased tin (since the best part of the muffin is the crown I only bake muffin crowns in muffin crown tins)...

1 cup sugar, 1 cup melted butter (I sometimes use half oil), 1/2 can evaporated milk, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon lemon extract, 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/3 cup poppy seeds.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Durfee Conservatory

When I was at UMass earlier in the month for family weekend, one of the activities I did was the scavenger hunt. It was basically for parents (and possibly students, too) to discover what's around on campus. Springtime in New England's a tough time to pack for and I so wished I had brought my Birks as by the end of that hunt my feet were killing me (Reeboks) and it was a warm day besides. One of the campus treasures I discovered though was the Durfee Conservatory, a fabulous oasis of warmth and green when you're smack in the doldrums of gray, snow and winter. The only two photos I took were from the Conservatory. Nature is so restorative for me. I need some more restoration -- that was just a tease.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hyannis Harbor

The weather continues to be beautiful here on the cape. Patricia baked another loaf of soda bread yesterday and we walked past the harbor (a little less than half a mile)to deliver a large chunk to her dad. There's lots of activity these days, everyone getting ready for the summer season. Here are a few pix...




Speaking of activity, we spotted this van down by the harbor.....

....cocky fella, huh?
Marty

Monday, April 21, 2008

Meet Samantha


I met her outside Judie's for family weekend in Amherst last week.

Do not confuse her with the Belle of Amherst who wore white.

Her name is Samantha -- somber, vaguely Victorian, reclusive, shy, quiet, forlorn...out of place in the world at times...sometimes awake in the moment especially when you speak to her...then you can watch her awaken from her lost, tired world to engage with you for a moment, if only to blow a kiss...and connect with a gentle smile. More about her art can be found here. More about the artist (who shares the same first and last name of my paternal grandmother from Ireland) here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sunny Friday

Today was a beautiful day here on Cape Cod - Sunny and in the 60's. Instead of working on the site, we decided to work in the yard. We got a pickup truck full of leaves and branches off the premises. The one nice thing about having a postage stamp-size yard is that with a little effort you can get some decent results. We still have another haul to do this weekend, as well as cleaning out our little pond, then we'll be ready for some serious gardening.
Marty

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fiber Love

Even though my carpal tunnel/shoulder issues flare up when i use fine motor skills, I still love to knit. Haven't done as much as I used to, but for Christmas I made my dad a super long scarf in the colors of the Irish flag using Louet Gems Merino, then I made myself a pair of bulky mittens using Kate Gilbert's free pattern (Gifted, yarn from the stash), and recently finally finished these mitts for Marty -- again in the Irish colors, pattern from the Fall 2002 issue of Interweave Knits -- super easy, and they're great for working on the computer when the room's a wee bit chilly.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Good-byes

I had a different topic for today's blog but last night when I was reading the Advocate (Northampton alternative weekly), I noticed that Rose Champagne, a young dancer I had studied with years ago at a dance event, had died recently of brain cancer. My mother-in-law (or mother-not-in-law, I know calling her my mother-in-law confuses some people as her son and I divorced years ago, but she will always be my mother-in-law) died last Monday eve after a long goodbye with Alzheimer's. Then in my blog surfing this evening I caught up on Emilie's blog and found another link to another goodbye. Goodbyes are so hard but more so when they are forever in this lifetime.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thank God for Repeat Customers

Since we changed our name a couple of weeks ago, our search engine rankings have taken a nosedive. It is not unexpected-it’s the main reason we dragged our feet for so long before finally biting the bullet- we just didn’t expect that it would be so severe so quickly I guess. Traffic to the site is down significantly. It seems like it can take months moving up the rankings, and mere days to drop out completely. Customers who try to find Little Pink Dress are redirected to Brabarella –that’s not a problem. But potential new customers can’t easily find us by typing in site-appropriate keywords. Unfortunately, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. In the long run the change will pay off. We’ve had a lot of repeat customers of late and that has been great, especially given the slow traffic. If you’re going to be successful, you have to have loyal, returning customers. If any of you out there are reading this, I just want to say thank-you!
Marty

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Evening

Patricia’s away, so it’s just me and Joe here tonight. Normally the two of us would do takeout at the Brazilian Grill, but I was craving plain old cold cuts, so that’s what we ended up having. I had a ham on rye, Joe had turkey on a bulky roll. It was a good day for Joe. Normally, he thinks he’s the uberdog - cool, resourceful, able to leap countertops in search of food…. shown here in his aviators…….


..but let him hear thunder and he comes unglued. Fortunately (in this case), he’s fairly deaf now so he didn’t hear most of the thunder today, only a few loud crashes. In those cases I just kept him distracted with food (quite easy to do) and he was fine. …just a lazy Saturday evening, listening to Yankees/Sox on the radio…..
Marty

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Soda Bread


My father's been after me for years to make soda bread like my cousin Breege's. When I was over in Ireland several years ago, she gave me a few of her recipes including one for plain soda bread and one for brown bread. I've tried making them off and on around St. Patty's day every year and they always end up like pavers. This year's included one of the worst -- perfect for smashing windows and perhaps teeth.

I've been collecting soda bread recipes over the years and this year did a couple of recipes from local Irish food businesses. Finally, I dug out breege's recipe again and decided I was going to come up with my own recipe. After all there are as many different soda bread recipes as there are cooks, but one thing I know, basic soda bread does not involve caraway seeds, raisins and all that other jazz. It does involve proper proportions of wet to dry ingredients.

One of the problems I had with Breege's recipe is that she gave it to me out of her head -- a few coffee cups of flour (6 oz or 8 oz?), a pinch of this, a heaping teaspoon (not the measuring kind) of that and about a pint of buttermilk. So I took her ingredient list and another recipe's measurements and lo and behold, even my father was surprised at how good it was (and he has always been a good sport about the shot put breads). So I made sure to write the recipe down lest I forget. So good plain or with fresh butter, homemade strawberry jam and a steaming cup of Barry's tea. The recipe is as follows:
4 c. flour, 2 tbs. sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. soda, 2 pinches salt, 2 tbs. butter and 2 c. buttermilk all mixed lightly together until dry ingredients are wet. Flour hands, pat into a greased round pan and bake for 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Dump out of pan onto a cooling rack when done and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Silhouette Lingerie

Silhouette is a company that's not too familiar with most Americans. Lets help change that. They have actually been in business since the late 1800's, back when the only Victoria was Queen Victoria. Their primary markets have been in Europe and Australia, giving women in those countries an unfair advantage. Here are some new additions to our Silhouette line...



Monday, April 7, 2008

Drive-In Theatres

There aren’t many drive-ins left anymore. We have one left here on the Cape, up in Wellfleet. On a recent trip back from Central Massachusetts, we spotted a couple of abandoned ones – the Edgemere in Shrewsbury and the Sutton Drive-in in Sutton. The latter must have been pretty upscale in its day with stone pillars and a large marquee-unusual for a drive-in. I did a little quick research and found that this one opened in 1947. Not sure when it closed, but it surely has been a while. It would be great if someone would come along and revive it. I know it’ll never happen though. Drive-ins were such a part of American life for the Baby Boomer generation….memories that they have kept for a lifetime. The first time I can remember going to a drive-in was here on Cape Cod in 1967. My parents and three sisters packed into our ’65 Chevy Bel Air and watched “Fantastic Voyage” at the West Yarmouth Drive-In. (long gone). I remember it because I had never seen an outdoor movie before and also because I had never seen Raquel Welsh before. Anyway, if you’re vacationing here on the cape this summer and you’ve never been here before, the Wellfleet Drive-in is a must. Fortunately, I don’t think it’s going anywhere – after all, it’s not here in Hyannis. The Hyannis Drive-in was closed in the late 80’s and turned into a large strip mall. It’s what we do here. We do it well….here are some pix hot off the press......................Marty




Sunday, April 6, 2008

Barbecue Grill

Our old charcoal barbecue grill is on it’s last legs, so I’ve been looking to replace it. I’ve decided to go back to propane because I would like to be able to cook-out all year round. Trying to get charcoal lit in January is near impossible. I didn’t want to spend more than $200 with tank, but I also want one with a large cooking surface. Forget it. I’m amazed at what barbecuing has become. You can’t get a larger grill without getting a million bells and whistles – 4 burners, a side stove, cabinets underneath – one even had a fake stone front to it! The real kicker is, they also seem more flimsy nowadays, even the brand names. I don’t see many cast-iron grills. Most seem to be thin sheet metal, the more expensive ones thicker steel and/or stainless steel. Stainless steel? I don’t need an outdoor kitchen, I just want a grill! Two burners is all I need. I do like the idea of the little stove burner on the side though. On the other hand, the kitchen is just on the other side of the door and I can’t think of anything other than corn-on-the-cob that we’d use the burner for. I notice that the barbecue grill replacement parts section in most stores has become rather large. I’m not surprised, considering how flimsy looking the grills have become. I remember that on my last propane grill I eventually replaced just about everything but the legs and the body. Of course the body was cast iron, so they’ve remedied that. I wonder how much money these companies make on replacement parts. Maybe it’s like ink jet cartridges. I had read once that Hewlitt Packard’s biggest profit maker wasn’t servers, computers, or even the printers themselves, but those little ink jet cartridges that you pay anywhere from $20 to $50for. The difference is, you can get a really high quality printer from HP at a really reasonable price. Do I want to pay $400 for a grill and then pay for parts every year? No. Maybe I should take another look at the old charcoal grill, maybe I can get one more season out of it, lets see….



Eh, yeah it’s doubtful. I was always meaning to buy a cover for it, never got around to it. It does have kind of a seasoned look to it though….
Marty

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Little Pink Dress Vintage

Little Pink Dress is still selling some of our vintage items -- jewelry, accessories, apparel, swimsuits -- as well as occasional vintage patterns and craft ingredients over on etsy.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cape Cod Coffee Roasters

I had intended to blog about “Coffee Obsession” in Falmouth, one of two nice little coffee shops in that neck of the woods. Today was a rainy, windy day here on Cape Cod. Patricia and I were getting cabin fever, so we decided to travel about, figuring we’d go to Falmouth, then maybe Woods Hole. However, on our way, we stopped by Cape Cod Coffee Roasters in Mashpee. Now I thought I was a coffee fanatic, but this guy’s got me beat by a country mile and then some. The owner is a 75 year old, third generation coffee producer with a million dollar, self-designed (he’s also an engineer) computerized coffee roasting plant. They can roast up to 5000 lbs. of coffee a day. Unfortunately, it’s not a sit-down cafĂ©, just a retail store. Maybe it’s fortunate – I’d be there all day every day sampling their 50-plus varieties of coffee. We purchased three varieties today (for starters). What a great rainy day find. After that, we did make our way over to Falmouth and stopped by Coffee-O, then took a leisurely drive up Route 28A, gradually making our way up to Sandwich to get our artesian well water by the Hoxie Pond in the center of town. Despite the rain, we walked uptown and hit a few shops, then headed out on 6A back to Barnstable. For it being a rainy day, it wasn’t so bad. Here's a picture of Cape Cod Coffee Roasters. It was too rainy to take any outdoor pictures today....
Marty

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Signs of Spring

The crocuses are late coming up this year here on Cape Cod. I did see a few in mid-March, but for the most part, they've been in no hurry to awaken. I remember one year in the early 90's when they began blooming in mid-February. Not this year. At this rate, the daffodils are going to be fast on their heels. Crocuses are nice because you can plant them almost anywhere, including in your lawn. By the time the grass is long enough to mow, the crocuses are back in hiding. Crocuses are a member of the Iris family, one of my favorite flowers. Here are a few that popped up in the neighborhood this week......
Marty

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New From Grenier

Here's a new teddy from Grenier. You just have to love their products, and the pictures, as good as they are, still don't do justice. Grenier has been making lingerie for a long long time. In fact, when they first opened shop, a young Abe Lincoln was just newly elected as President of the US. Of course Grenier is in Canada, but it wasn't yet a country back then. We're talking 1860 here. Grenier is located in Montreal, a wonderful, stylish, modern in thought, old in tradition way under-rated city. Here's a quick tour

And as for the teddy, here's a link to it on Brabarella, and here are a couple of pictures: