Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Well, I did it. I took a chance. I met another neighbor today. Strong Wind's our next door neighbor and Connie's our next next door neighbor. Our lettuce has been growing faster than we can keep up with it, and I remember as a kid how neighbors were always sharing with each other.

I saw Connie sitting on her steps enjoying the sun this afternoon and I asked her if she'd like some lettuce. She was delighted so I cut a head for her, much obliged to her for helping me get a grip on our garden. Then we chatted a bit -- she told me how she used to always have a garden, and gave me some tomato tips.

She's only next door temporarily until she moves to the another town near us where her son lives, having moved up here recently from New Jersey to be closer to him. I imagine it's an adjustment.

When I first moved here as a kid from Virginia, I really missed the South. Having gone back recently, I think it's that neighborliness I miss. There just seems to be more of it there, or maybe there was just more of it then. So, time to recapture a bit of it. Food -- the way to the heart whether you're a man or a woman is through the stomach.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Berry Berry

The other day I met my friend Gail back at Sweet Berry Farm and picked strawberries. Then we hung out on the patio overlooking farm fields for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. On the drive home I could smell the berries continuing to ripen in the car. At home, I crushed a few cups to make jam with (saving a bit for vanilla ice cream that evening with Marty) -- the rest I popped in the fridge to keep until today.

Today was jam and pie making day. Yesterday we went to our neighbor's urban garden and bought some rhubarb. By the end of this afternoon, I'd made several jars of jam, baked two strawberry-rhubarb pies, and froze about a half gallon of berries for winter when we need a hit of summer sunshine. If we can't see it in the sky, at least maybe we can taste it in a ripe strawberry preserved from the first fruits of summer.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New From Arianne

We love Arianne products because of the quality you get for the price. Related to that, as a retailer, we love Arianne because we get few returns. In fact, we've had (knock on wood) none! A few exchanges for a different size, but no dissatisfied customers. Arianne seems to be moving more and more into outerwear rather than sleepwear, so what you see on our site is an extremely small fraction of what they have to offer. For today, we have the beautiful "Julie" which is the name given to the long chemise shown here. You can check it out further using the link below. We are also clearing out some older styles from Mary Green, Cosabella and Arianne - at prices up to 80% of MSRP. That link is below also.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fishnet Stockings

Fishnet stockings have a bad rap. Many people think of hookers, biker babes and Halloween when they hear the term. Two points should be made. First, you can do a lot with fishnets without looking like you just walked out of the Foxy Lady Men’s Club. Second, there are many styles of fishnet stockings and pantyhose to meet almost any needs – fine weave, wide net, patterned net, and various colors. You can also layer them over tights or other pantyhose. Again, it’s how you use them. You can check some out here…

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Well, so much for Gilligan's Island and belly laughs last night. There were a few chuckles, but for the most part silence.
Bob Denver's (Gilligan) style of humor reminds me of the Three Stooges or Jerry Lewis -- very slapstick. Not a bad thing when you're in the mood for it, but we were more in the mood for more subtle humor perhaps? Ted Baxter, Barney Fife, Jethro Bodine, those types of characters.

I've had the second season of the Mary Tyler Moore Show on order from the library, but after checking to see the holdup, I noticed it's in repair at the library I ordered it from. Volunteers generally do the library repairs although I used to do them sometimes when I worked at the Hyannis Public Library -- I also know repairs (whether it's a library or at home for that matter) tend to fall to the bottom of the to do pile. But no matter -- we have some good movies in the line-up including Sirens (we actually own this but can't find the disc), Diner and Avalon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gilligan or Noah?

The way it's been raining lately makes me think of Noah and his ark. We need some levity though to balance the stormy weather, so we're opting for a favorite comedy tonight.

I picked up the first season of Gilligan's Island at the library today, and we're going to head off on that three hour tour with the rest of the gang on the S. S. Minnow. Looking forward to some good belly laughs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

FarmFresh RI

Sometimes when you don't find what you're looking for, you discover something else new to you. And so it was with yesterday's Rhode Island farmer's markets. We were going to the Tiverton market at Pardon Gray Preserve only it wasn't there. It starts next week.

We went to the Aquidneck Grower's Market instead on the grounds of Newport Vineyards. Access through a strip mall in Middletown -- there are so many on Route 138. But park in back and what do you know? A vineyard with fields and farmer's tents set up. Want to be the ocean? Have an oyster from Matunuck Oyster Farm, and while you're at it, learn how to shuck 'em with the best oyster knife you'll ever want to compete with.

Try some small white salad turnips -- so pretty and sweet, had 'em in my salad last night for the first time. Ask about kohlrabi, and get many suggestions from vendors and customers alike.

Try some fresh ricotta, mozzarella, feta and yogurt (among their many exquisite cheeses) from Narragansett Creamery. Once again apologize for not bringing your cooler to buy delectably plump free-range chickens, tastes of the sea, and pork belly for that bacon recipe you want to try.

Grab a few strawberries before backtracking to Sweet Berry Farm stand where you thought you saw something about PYO. Get directions, it's right up the road off Route 138 (you saw the sign on the way in), watch for Mitchell Road. Be prepared for the abrupt change from the suburban drag strip that is 138. Be dazzled by rolling fields, vineyards, kids of summer free from school, riding bikes in their pj's, and people walking on the wrong side of the road because they can -- you're in the back country now.

Pull into Sweet Berry Farm and wish you'd dressed for picking berries. Resolve to return later in the week because you still have jam and sorbet to make, extra berries to freeze.

Friday, June 19, 2009


There's nothing like knowing where your food comes from. Yesterday we had Marcello's sausages made in East Providence, Rhode Island, lettuce from our garden and I had strawberries I bought Wednesday from a neighbor who sells produce at the local farmer's market.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Playtex Shapewear Update

Playtex has rather abruptly discontinued their entire US (this does not apply to their UK and SA subsidiaries) shapewear line. They have been cutting back for a number of years now, to the point where of late they have only had three styles remaining –all control briefs. Now, styles 2102 (Satin & Lace Brief), 2612 (Comfort Stretch Brief), and the venerable “I Can’t Believe it’s a Girdle” Brief have all been discontinued. We still have some stock coming in on the latter, but once it’s gone, that’s it. Playtex had discontinued this girdle back in 2006 but re-introduced it the following year. It seems odd that Playtex has no shapewear offerings. When was the last time you could say that? Pre-WWII I suppose. I’m guessing that they’ll come out with something new, but who knows? Playtex also discontinued the classic Cross Your Heart Bra, style 120/121. This style had been on the market for 40 some years – another surprise. BTW, Playtex UK still manufactures a number of 18-Hour styles of girdles. If you are interested, I would recommend checking out WOODS OF MORECAMBE - a very reputable company.

Monday, June 15, 2009

More Rain

The great thing about rain this time of year (as long as you get a day of sunshine and warmth thrown in now and then) is that it's great for the garden. Our lettuces are looking fantastic and ready for picking and the lupines! They've never blossomed for us until this year when we moved them to a sunnier spot and now they have four different colored blossoms. I have loved lupines ever since I encountered them years ago at a lupine festival in Vermont. Seeing acres of them was pure magic. I know they are considered invasive, but I can't help loving them.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Flag Day June 14

Flag Day trivia:

The Second Continental Congress adopted the stars and stripes as our country's flag on June 14, 1777.

President Wilson officially proclaimed that date Flag Day in 1916.

It's not an official federal holiday, but it is an official state holiday in Pennsylvania.

Quincy, Massachusetts has the longest run Flag Day parade at over 50 years while Troy, New York has the biggest flag day parade.

** Info abridged from Wikipedia

Friday, June 12, 2009

Girdles, Part IV

Vintage Girdles
There was a time when nearly all intimate apparel manufacturers had shapewear lines (no, they didn’t call it shapewear back then, nor did we call them vintage!). Apparel companies included Warner’s, Gossard, Carnival, Playtex, Peter Pan, Kayser, Vanity Fair, Real-form, Bestform, Bi-Flex, Exquisite Form, Strouse Adler, Maidenform, Promise by Poirette, Hollywood Vassarette, Perma-lift, Lily of France, Silf Skin, Flexnit, Olga, and countless others. Many of these then well-known manufacturers faded into history, others merged with other companies, and a number of them just plain stopped making girdles. We have sold vintage girdles for a number of years now. We are often asked to compare then versus now. During the 50’s and 60’s, wearing a girdle was nearly as common as wearing a bra. At the same time, fashion was changing radically (e.g. think June Cleavor meets Twiggy). As a result, there was a dizzying selection of shapewear styles on the market. Today, girdles are no longer an everyday garment for most, and fashion is less at odds with itself. There is less variety in shapewear today, but there is still plenty of selection to meet your needs. Materials have changed over the years also. Rayon, rubber and other materials gave way to nylon and spandex in the 60’s – lighter weight and longer lasting. In my opinion, shapewear is not as stylish as it once was, but certainly from a functional (ability to shape comfortably) point of view, it’s better overall today. In terms of styling, manufacturers back then had a lot more leeway in style design, as one never wore a dress or skirt without a slip, so show-through presented less of a problem. Today, manufacturers focus on smooth, seamless and even tagless designs to meet current fashion needs. I do expect to see more of an emphasis on style (without losing those traits just mentioned) in the future.
Back in the 50’s and 60’s, most girdles had garters (or suspenders, if you prefer). With the increased popularity of pantyhose, garters/nylon stockings sales plummeted. Garter girdles have shown a resurgence of late, especially with the under 25 market, and for use in bridal and evening wear, but no one is expecting to see them become mainstream everyday wear again. Rago and Venus of Cortland make many current styles of girdles, briefs and body briefers with garter tabs so that you can add garters when needed, but wear sans garters and nylons for everyday wear.
To be continued.....

Barney Miller

Watching the Mary Tyler Moore show recently made me think of some other good sitcoms from that era like Barney Miller. Here's an episode courtesy of hulu. They had me laughing at their opening line.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Armchair Travel

There was a time when armchair travel meant reading some good travel books, brochures or magazines. Now you can escape via the world wide web. I leave you with links to three festivals in the Northeast this coming weekend: a fairy festival, the Honfest (hey hon, you going to honfest in Bawlmer? Remember the hairspray!), and one of my favorite events I could walk to when my son was little, Discover Jazz.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Recipe

I used to watch the Waltons as a kid, the 30's are an era I love to learn about (the era of my parents' birth). It was during Prohibition and Depression times. The Baldwin Sisters were two local spinsters who made moonshine from their daddy's old recipe. For some reason, perhaps because they never tried it, they didn't realize it was alcohol. In college, the campus office I worked in for work study also had "the recipe" that would be trotted out for holidays and other special events. It was yummy and went down easy as some of those punches do.

I don't experiment with alcoholic recipes, but I do experiment with cookie and entree recipes. I never used to, but I've become braver. Maybe it's because the more I've cooked over the years, the more I've learned to keep it simple and not get crazy with too many flavors mixed together.

This past week I improvised on an oatmeal cookie recipe using a Joy of Cooking recipe, as well as one from 101 Cookbooks. The other night I made a tofu curry, again winging it with a combination of two recipes -- one, a chicken curry recipe a friend gave me decades ago and the other from epicurious. The curry turned out fabulous. It finally hit me that cooking and baking can be a creative outlet for me, as long as the recipes are simple and the process isn't complicated. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Girdles, Part III

Measuring Up
Body briefers, corselettes, bodysuits and all-in-one girdles are sized by your bra size. So for example, if you wear a 36C bra, you would choose a 36C body briefer. However, a body briefer also has to accommodate your tummy and hips, so sizing can be more difficult. In our 36C example, if your waist and hips are larger than average, you may want to look at a 38B (yes B, not C, but that’s a topic for another day). Torso length is another factor in body briefers. The hook/eye crotch closures are there not just for convenience. They are the torso adjustment. Unfortunately, this adjustment is limited. In the end, if you have a very long or a very short torso, a body briefer may not be your best option.
Girdles and other shapers are usually waist-sized. That is, they’re sized by your natural waist measurement. By natural I mean not sucking in your tummy when measuring. You should also measure your hips at their widest point. If your hips are more than 10” larger than your waist measurement, you should go up one size. There is no torso measurements for girdles, but as noted earlier, it is important to get the correct rise. Some manufacturers do have long torso options for certain styles, so ask if you’re not sure.
TO BE CONTINUED..... Brabarella Lingerie

Monday, June 8, 2009

New Shipping Rates

Just a little intermission from our Girdles series tonight, to announce changes in our shipping rates. Effective today, our $5.85 shipping rate for domestic orders under $50.00 has been reduced to $3.85. Over $50.00 will continue to be free. International rates were lowered significantly as well. How come? A few reasons. Most of our heavy vintage items are long gone. At the same time we've been selling much more hosiery. To pay $5.85 shipping for a pair of pantyhose just didn't sit right with us, but we want our customers to have the option of buying less and not be penalized with excess shipping costs. Ultimately we would like to have free shipping on ALL domestic sales. We just can't do it right now.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Girdles, Part II

Shapewear comes in different levels of firmness. Generally they are: light, moderate, firm, and sometimes extra firm. These levels can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. As a rule, I almost never recommend wearing a firm control garment if you’ve never worn a girdle before. On more than one occasion I’ve had a bride-to-be say (I’m paraphrasing here) “my wedding’s coming up next week and I need the tightest body briefer you have! I’ve gained some weight since my final fitting and my dress doesn’t fit right!” In all cases they had never worn ANY type of shapewear before in their lives and now wanted the tightest garment we had, to wear on the most important day of their life! A disaster in the making. Chances are they had not gained as much weight as they had thought AND a less severe garment would do the trick. This is what we needed to convince them of (and did).
So, can a girdle work miracles? A properly fitting girdle can take inches off your waistline, tummy, hips and thighs. In practical terms, if you have a dress that you can no longer get into, a girdle probably will not help. It may allow you to get into the dress, but chances are the dress will be too snug. If you have a dress that you can get into, but is too snug and doesn’t hang right, a girdle can be your best friend. If you have a fitted dress that just doesn’t fit quite right, again, a girdle can work wonders. In terms of numbers, I took my measurements without a girdle, then with a Playtex “I Can’t Believe it’s a Girdle” brief. I lost nearly 4 inches off my waist, 1 and a half off my tummy and 1 inch off my hips. As I’m writing this, I just happened to think of a near wardrobe disaster from a company Christmas party a few years ago. I had a top and gauchos picked out for the party and everything fit fine. However, I neglected to try on the gauchos with my body briefer (Va Bien 1292) prior to going to the party. The briefer worked TOO well and my gauchos wouldn't stay up. I ended up planting myself in a chair all evening. I had to hold them up as I walked and when I did walk my gauchos became palazzo pants! Brabarella Lingerie

Friday, June 5, 2009

Almost Everything You Wanted To Know About Girdles

The girdle is probably the most misunderstood undergarment. The name itself had become devalued over the years to the point where some couldn’t even utter the word, referring to it as the “G-word,” and manufacturers created new words to replace it, such as long leg shaper, control brief, body briefer, thigh shaper, controller, etc. The popularity of Spanx has allowed the g-word to come out of the closet and it’s becoming a more common word again, especially with the over 50 and under 25 crowd. Over the years the most common complaint about girdles was how uncomfortable they were. Those complaints can exist today also. From our perspective, our biggest complaint about those who complain about girdles is that the same selectivity that is given to bras is not afforded the girdle. We don’t typically say “this bra’s wicked tight, I’m just not going to wear one.” We work at finding one that suits our need. It may take some time, as well as trial and error, but we ultimately find a good fit. Shapewear is no different.

Finding a Fitting Fit
No two bodies are exactly alike, and we all have different tolerance levels. I’m often asked for recommendations. I can sometimes make recommendations based on what the customer has worn in the past, what their measurements are, what feedback we’ve received from customers, and my own personal opinions. I do see a lot of mis-information out there. One common comment I’ve read on blogs and forums is that a girdle just re-distributes the fat – like pinching a long balloon in the middle and seeing either end get larger. It’s often referred to as a “muffin-top.” More accurately, it should be referred to as an ill-fitting girdle. A properly fitted girdle does not redistribute fat. We’ve all stood in front of a mirror and looked at our bodies. Invariably we suck in our stomach to make us look better. When we do so, where does the “fat” go? In! A properly fitted girdle does the same thing, with much less effort. If your shapewear creates a muffin top, it’s because 1. The girdle is too tight; 2. The rise isn’t high enough; or 3. a combination of one and two. Torso length is often overlooked when it comes to girdle fitting. If a waistline girdle is too high, you will likely get roll-over, as this type of girdle typically does not have boning in the waist area. Back in the 50’s and 60’s many girdle styles came in different torso lengths. This is much less common today, so you have to be more discerning. We received a funny email from a customer recently, complaining about the Cortland 5041 girdle, one of our most popular girdles both in terms of sales and customer satisfaction. She said that she ordered a waistline girdle (which the 5041 is), not a hip hugger and that we misrepresented the girdle in our write-up. Well, obviously this person has a very long torso and is not well suited to this style (BTW, we do not list all long torso styles, so if you need help, just call or email). Brabarella Lingerie

Thursday, June 4, 2009

This Place Matters

I'm always exchanging magazines at the library magazine swaps. I grabbed some Country Living copies yesterday and found info about a project called This Place Matters, affiliated with historic preservation. You'd think we've learned after the urban "renewal" mistakes of the past, but apparently not. The photo above will take you to the flickr pool link to view our vanishing world.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Today's one of my foodie posts. I have soda breads in the oven, pizza dough on the rise and I checked out the facilities at this yummy bakery today. I'm looking forward to the farmer's markets coming into full swing soon, fantasizing about homemade sorbets made with our KitchenAid ice cream attachment -- Marty got it for "me" for Christmas;)

Anticipating putting some food by like I have done in years passed. I keep missing strawberry season here on the cape (there's only one place to really pick a haul, not every year is a good year, and what there is is gone in a blink), but hope to get strawberry jam made again. I check out these two books from the library to review the basics every year.

This year I found some new ones. The librarian at one library got quite a chuckle out of the Joy of Pickling (perhaps it reminded her of another book popular in the 70's that began with a similar title, The Joy of...).

Another librarian was totally digging the cover of Charcuterie (scroll down the page to see the book as this is the author's site), and the last book I read on the subject, Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone, referred me to the previous books.

Even if I try just one new food preservation technique each season, I'll be pleased. Last year I did peach jam and pepper jam, as well as tried freezing a few goodies from our garden for the first time. Oh, and refrigerator pickles. This year I'm hoping to actually try canning some pickles and maybe tomatoes or salsa, as well as tuna or curing meat. It sounds ambitious and I know I won't do it all, but it's fun checking the books out and perhaps trying something new. And Eugenia inspired me to not feel like I have to do marathon batches. That makes it feel more doable to me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Buddy, can you break a dime?

Yesterday at the post office I had to buy some 2 cent stamps for my last few 42 cent stamps. So, when Joe, the postal clerk said to me, "that'll be 6 cents," I checked my little coin purse which had a penny and a few dimes and turned to Marty to ask, "Do you have a nickel? I don't want to break a dime." Well, he did, and I wasn't. Kidding. He and Joe were in hysterics, as Joe said he didn't think I was serious as Marty was totally cracking up, saying, "Yes. Believe it or not she is." I don't know, made perfect sense to me. Why break a dime if you've got a nickel and a penny?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Underwear Quiz

There is an interesting multiple choice underwear quiz by Megan Shay via a link to Encarta that I found online today. It looks like fun. Marty and I both love history (it's what got us started on vintage).

This quiz is about the history of underwear with everything from loincloths to chastity belts to bullet bras. We still have a few left (bullet bras, not chastity belts -- girdles don't count, considering Marty's response when I wear one) in inventory. Now I'm going to go back and take the quiz. I wonder who'll do better on the quiz -- Marty or me? I might let you know tomorrow (if I don't you'll be able to figure out the answer to who did better). Have a peaceful Monday and a gentle beginning to the lovely month of June.