Monday, December 27, 2010

Readymade

Rediscovering Readymade Magazine -- now available through my local library system! I used to love reading Readymade but like many things I used to love, reading it had fallen by the wayside. However, one night on my way home from the flower shop, I stopped at Whelden to return some books and besides trying on a hand knit cap that has made it to my wish list made it to my head, I discovered current copies of Readymade lurking in the magazine racks, just begging for me to take them home. Naturally I obliged and a pleasant evening reading bits and pieces of creativity and life was had by me. A respite from the holiday madness that can sometimes crush despite the best intentions.

Now that Christmas is behind me, I am looking forward to returning to the creative routine I was trying to establish before the holidays hit. This includes blog posts -- my goal has been to shoot for three a week -- and I’ve missed the mark since before Thanksgiving but I'm ready to work on developing my writing habit yet again. I get in a rhythm for a few weeks, then something knocks me out of it, and well, all I can say, is sometimes you just gotta get right back on that bike again and ride. Yeah, just ride.

**photo from Readymade 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Time for the Holiday Movie Round-up

Last night Marty and I finally started our holiday movie watching. I came home from work to find the original Miracle on 34th Street on -- one of our many favorites. Many we order from the library, but we’ve slowly been adding to our collection each season.

After last night’s viewing of The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young, that one is next on our list. Every once in a while we get a bum DVD from the library -- one of the ones that skips and stutters at all the good parts. Very frustrating.

I love hearing what other people’s favorites are because there are some I either hadn’t heard of or hadn’t considered.  Love Actually with Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant and others made it to the list last year -- and I would never have known about it if it hadn’t been for reading it on someone else’s blog.

We have Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwyck, another fun one, and of course, several Bing Crosby (White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Going my Way, Bells of St. Mary’s), Boys Town with Spencer Tracy, and the 1938 Christmas Carol with Reginald Owen. We tend to go for the classics with an occasional contemporary one thrown in.

When we start looking at Amazon or start remembering all the ones we’ve seen or wished for, the list just grows and grows. So, how can we get bored with any particular one when there’s plenty to choose from?

More to consider:

Prancer
A Christmas Story
Home Alone
It’s a Wonderful Life
The Shop Around the Corner
It Happened on 5th Avenue
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The House Without a Christmas Tree
Raymond Brigg’s The Snowman
The Polar Express
The Walton’s Homecoming Christmas Special

**image from Amazon

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Stress-free Thanksgiving Redux

Right up until Thanksgiving I was working a gazillion hours at my per diem job as a patient sitter for a local rehab. This in addition to my flower shop work and my Brabarella work. Mind you, I am not complaining. Working so many hours is actually a luxury I am enjoying now -- for a long time, I was raising my children single-handed and sacrificed work (and money and career) so as to have more time available for my kids. I’m thankful for that. And now I’m thankful for the time to work evenings, weekends and holidays without having to worry about who will be there for the kids. I still don’t have a career as such, nor the prestige or money that can go with it, but I do have a certain freedom and time that I didn’t have before.

With my daughter away in Rome and my son with his own plans, this Thanksgiving was the first one that Marty and I indulged in the luxury of a relaxing holiday and going out to eat. We’ve always talked about our desire for stress-free holidays, with more time to just savor time rather than getting frantic with family and so on. So we did it. We went to a favorite restaurant, the Red Pheasant, a family-run place in East Dennis, where we didn’t even have to park the car (and wished we had parked it as the valet added a dimple to the driver’s fender). We feasted on venison and fresh vegetables, had a couple glasses of wine, dessert and came home to watch one of our old BBC comedies.

And we had our real Thanksgiving meal -- you know, the one with the turkey, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings a couple weekends later. Invited my dad over, lit candles, had football on and truly enjoyed not only preparing the meal but also sharing it. Remembering little things like how my mother peeled butternut squash before she cooked it, my mother-in-law scooping the squash out after it was cooked, me following Evelyn’s example for years, then trying both ways for this meal. Marty’s mom? When I asked him how she did it, he laughed and said she took it out of the freezer. Ah yes, there’s always room for new traditions.

**image from Red Pheasant website

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lifeforce as in Muesli

In September, I was lucky enough to go to Ireland with my dad to visit many of our relatives over there. Now most people bring back things like Irish sweaters, Newbridge Silver and so on (and I have done that or been the gift recipient of such), but what do I tend to come back with? The stuff of daily life -- LifeForce Irish Muesli for example. It is my favorite cereal outside of oatmeal. Their recipe is amazing, being about half dried fruits (raisins, dates and so forth) and nuts (in particular hazelnuts!) and half barley and oat flakes. I’ve actually tried making it for myself to tide me over between visits.

My sweet cousin Breege bought me the last huge bag at her grocery store, and I was able to snag a few smaller bags in Dublin at the market there. I do wish it was more commonly available over here like other Irish products are, but sometimes not being able to have something regularly makes me appreciate it so much more.

**image from Boyne Valley

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite

My latest go to cookbook (besides Alice’s -- and yes, we are on a first name basis, she just doesn‘t know it yet) is In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by food writer Melissa Clark.  For me to actually buy a cookbook, especially new, is a big deal. If I (a former librarian) buy a book, it must be good and worth having in your home library. I’m all about using and supporting libraries for everything we can.

That being said, when I started slopping on recipe pages in the library copy I was using (and had already had it out for a month), I knew it was time to buy the book. I can’t be damaging library property -- kind of goes against my code of honor. I love the recipes in this book -- simple, with few hard to find ingredients. Like Alice (and Heidi Swanson in 101 Cookbooks), Melissa encourages substitutions and adaptations of recipes.  I’m becoming more comfortable with this concept, having not made one of Melissa’s recipes without some ingredient adjustment -- wine for sherry, chicken breasts for thighs, thick pork chops for a roast and so on. Every time I’ve had great results. The chicken with green tomatoes, the pork ribs with green tomatoes, the roast chicken something or other, the mustard-encrusted pork and more. I go back and forth between her book and her blog, where she posts more recipes along with a bit of her life.

I’ve never enjoyed such freedom with recipes, always looking at them like rules I mustn’t break. But I’m learning, and enjoying the kitchen arts all the more for it. There’s Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules Sewing and now I’m having fun with Bend the Rules Cooking. Gone are the days when the still life I drew had to look exactly like a photograph of the still life as it was. If I want to paint that red apple purple, that’s what I’m going to do. And so it’s been going in the kitchen. Wearing an apron of course.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Aprons

Katherine Dunn has been one of my favorite artists for a long time. I first discovered her years ago when I discovered the world of blogs and artists connecting via the internet. I found the site Girl at Play which introduced me to a number of female artists I still follow today.

I’ve watched them grow their businesses, carve out a life for themselves, and realize dreams of farms and children and marriages. Many of them are younger and in different phases of their lives, but Katherine is my age, she has a husband with the same name as my sweetie’s (Martin), loves animals, lavender, art and simply creative living. Oh, and she’s into aprons, same as me.

I’ve collected vintage aprons for a while now (as Katherine does for her Pino Project), I’ve made aprons (as Katherine has -- I totally love these ones she made), and I believe in wearing aprons. Granted, I’ve only recently embraced wearing an apron regularly, starting with the flower shop -- I’ve learned that wiping my hands on an apron saves my clothes a lot! They are protected and stay drier than in the days before I wore the aprons. When I put one on in the kitchen, I think of my beloved mother-in-law, Evelyn, and how she always wore one when she was in the kitchen. And so the tradition shall continue. To aprons!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Latchis

Last month Marty and I stayed at the coolest Art Deco hotel in Brattleboro, Vermont, one of our favorite places (it reminds me of West Cork). It’s an artsy, hip, forward-thinking, diverse, sort of crunchy granola big town/small city sort of place. Between the farmer’s market, the politics, the food co-op, the Green Mountains, the Connecticut River, and the cultural scene, it’s a place Marty and I would consider moving to.
That it’s in my beloved former state of Vermont is also a plus. The Latchis offers a fabulous special outside of foliage season -- for about $150.00, it can be quite the affordable getaway for us North-easterners. Besides a double room, it includes  your choice of a movie for two, as well as a dinner choice at participating local restaurants. When we were there, the weather was breathtaking, the meal (at the local Brew Pub downstairs) was excellent, and the first movie we’ve ever seen in a theatre together (Get Low with Robert Duval and Bill Murray) was fun.

The Latchis is an historic landmark, part of the the League of Historic American Theatres, run by the Brattleboro Arts Initiative, and for all the right reasons (historic preservation, art and community), it’s another endeavor that Marty and I are happy to support.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Domestic Care

 I am not as good as I was when I was a kid about washing my hairbrush regularly. Sundays were always major bath and shampoo night, including the weekly ritual  of soaking combs and brushes in a clean sink and scrubbing with a bit of shampoo.

Somehow that task and the weekly ironing, along with my father spit shining his uniform shoes, using wire collar stays (remember them?) and more fell by the wayside. (So did my quarter weekly allowance for ironing all those school uniform blouses for my sisters and me).

Lately, I’ve been trying to revive certain tasks that were just basic maintenance, allowing for a small feeling of accomplishment. The Gentle Art of Domesticity a la Jane Brocket.

Hence, reintroducing my “clean the hairbrush” ritual. While there are many tips on the internet for how to do this (most being the way I used to do it as a kid), I realize if there are too many steps involved in a (cleaning) process, I’m not as likely to do it. So, I’ve invented my own way -- I take the hairbrush in the shower with me and clean it there and then -- squirt a bit of shampoo on it and use a back brush I keep specifically for this purpose. It may not be perfect but it works and I have a cleaner hairbrush. As the saying begins, “there’s more than one way…”  Now if dusting were only so easy.

**Image from Etsy

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Holiday Fair Season

An annual event I look forward to every fall is the Waldorf School’s Holiday Fair. Wherever you live, if you’re near a Waldorf School, they have one of the best handmade fairs I’ve ever been to.

The goods are quality, generally local, very low tech, pretty much affordable, and they’re not the standard cliché crafts you’re likely to find at many other fairs. The work tends to be fresh and different, and it’s a lot of fun for everyone. There are imaginative activities for kids, music, good food and just plain good energy.

When I lived in Vermont, my girlfriend used to come back from the fair with some of the best gifts, so when I moved down here to the cape, the local Waldorf School was a welcome discovery for a homesick Vermonter. The first year I went, my daughter was about 10 and it was an activity I thoroughly enjoyed with her. She had her face-painted, made a gorgeous twisted, hand-dipped rainbow beeswax candle, I shopped a little, and we both enjoyed ourselves. It’s one of my cherished memories. This year’s local fair is Saturday November 20, from 10 AM to 4 PM. The national website  may help you find a Waldorf fair near you.

** Image from the local Waldorf school's website and that wizard hat -- yes, another crafty item my daughter made while at the fair. I couldn't afford the tuition but I can the fair!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Great Escape


It's no secret that Marty and I are "old" movie buffs. I will rarely watch a contemporary war-related film, but I will and we do watch some of the old ones. One of our favorites is the Great Escape, based on a true story from WWII. What was so incredible about it is what is so beautiful about most stories of people in situations of great danger and duress -- the ability to work together, support each other and find humor when possible amidst a grim reality.

I suppose there's all different kinds of war -- from wars on poverty to wars on terrorism. We all fight different battles everyday, but today I salute the men and women in uniform who have and who do serve our country.

Marty's the son of a WWII vet and I am the daughter of a Vietnam vet so we cannot let this day go by without a big thank you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Ina to You

I love fried chicken, especially in the fall as the leaves are changing and drifting, the air gets chillier, and we want to cozy up. It’s such a comfort food and has always been intimidating for me to make at home. I detest frying and avoid it if I can. However, after having the most amazing fried chicken several years ago in a restaurant in charming Trumansburg, New York (where everything served was grown or raised locally), I considered reconsidering my “no fry” rule. A year or so ago, my cousin referred me to Ina’s fried chicken recipe. Yes, it involves frying (but minimal), it’s super easy (I don’t bother with recipes otherwise), and it’s fantastic. I think the secret is soaking your chicken pieces overnight in buttermilk.

INGREDIENTS:
2 chickens (3 pounds each), cut in 8 serving pieces
1 quart buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil or vegetable shortening

Directions:
Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and coat each piece thoroughly with the flour mixture. Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot to a depth of 1-inch and heat to 360 degrees F on a thermometer.
Working in batches, carefully place several pieces of chicken in the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until the coating is a light golden brown (it will continue to brown in the oven). Don't crowd the pieces. Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Allow the oil to return to 360 degrees F before frying the next batch. When all the chicken is fried, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve hot.

Recipe and photo from the Food Network

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Allyn Scura

I’ve been partial to men’s glasses and vintage glasses for years now. The men’s glasses just have a more classic look (as does men’s apparel in general, are women just more fickle with their likes?).  Women’s frames (like our clothes) can look dated after one or two seasons. With glasses being so expensive (I’m the age of progressive and bifocal lenses now), I want frames that can stand the test of time and wear and tear. For that, I’ve been turning to Allyn Scura for several years now. Besides vintage reproductions, they carry “new old stock “ frames, and supply the entertainment industry as well.  Scott Iseyama has been in the business now for 23 years.

Over the course of about a month, I tried getting in touch with them via phone and email. I’d never had a problem before, emails always being returned fairly promptly. I was almost ready to give up, but in these times, when I can, I like to return to some of my favorite businesses. So, a couple of last ditch efforts at calling -- “are you still in business? I hope you are all well and there hasn’t been a calamity” -- that sort of thing -- prompted an almost bedtime call from Scott, whom I haven’t spoken to for a couple of years. He left a message apologizing for the lack of response -- they are still in business but he has been short of help, and it’s been tough keeping up.  I ended up ordering my frames (a fantastic bargain!), had them within about 48 hours and they’re at the optician’s now. I am so glad I kept after Allyn Scura as my experience reminded me that yes, this is what it can be like running a Mom and Pop sort of business off the internet. With other jobs that prevent us from being as  quick as we’d like to be responding to the phone and emails, we can get a bit behind. So, as we approach the season of Thanksgiving, this is just another opportunity for me to say thank you so much to all of our customers who have hung in with us over the years.

**Image from Allyn Scura's website (new old stock frames same vintage as I am, my grandmother would and I do love them)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Product Update: Round the Clock

The new girdle top version is still not available. We will carry them when they are finally being produced again. We won't give any more time lines at this point because past ones have turned out to be inaccurate.

The good news is that there are some great alternatives from Berkshire. Berkshire changed the name many years ago from "girdle" to "shaper," but they're the same thing and not to be confused with regular "control top" pantyhose. Here are four Berkshire "girdle-top" styles (just click on the name to go directly to the page):

Berkshire 4757: tummy, hip and thigh shaper, silky sheer leg, reinforced toe (most similar to the RTC 137 BEFORE they went to the sheer toe).

Berkshire 8767: same as above but with the invisible toe (most similar to the latest version of the RTC 137)

Berkshire4810: same girdle section as above but with ultra-sheer (all-nylon) leg and reinforced toe (most similar to RTC 135)

Berkshire 8116: Similar to the 8767 but with a large sewn-on tummy panel for extra firm support.

These styles have been made for years in North Carolina so there is a lot of quality and consistency in these products. The sizing is a little different with Berkshire products, but once you figure out the right size and style, I think you'll be very pleased.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On the Road with...

As the dark closes in upon us for the season (fall back this weekend!), I begin turning to some of my favorite travel and memoir writers for escape. Even if I’m armchair traveling, when the writing and storytelling are excellent, I am traveling all those places in my imagination. Good writers can make you feel it’s the next best thing to being there.

Several of my favorite writers include my go to travel guru, Rolf Potts, Pete McCarthy of McCarthy‘s Bar fame (never pass a bar that has your name on it), Andrew Eames exciting The 8:55 to BaghdadHeather Lende’s If You Lived Here I’d Know Your Name, any of Rumer Godden's non-fiction (I love her India memoirs), William Dalrymple’s  hilarious adventure In Xanadu, and  Tahir Shah’s equally hilarious return to his ancestral home in The Caliph‘s House. The list is endless and I’m checking here for some new ones to read this year.

** Image from Heather's site

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Elections and Bake Sales

This past weekend I made pumpkin whoopee pies and they were the best! I used the “pie” recipe from a Bon Appetit article featuring the work of Two Fat Cats Bakery in Portland, Maine. For the filling, I went with a maple cream cheese blend, rather than the marshmallow that the Fat Cats use. I tweaked it a bit, using 1 tablespoon syrup and 2 teaspoons of maple extract. It was yummy. So now, I’m on a whoopee pie kick, having delivered them to some friends downtown, with some more destined for the guys at the flower shop. Next up I'm going to try banana whoopie pies and I ordered the Whoopie Pie book from the library to check out the many variations. (They're perfect for the election day bake sales, you know? Or are bake sales on voting day only peculiar to these parts?)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Downtime

Marty here. Our network server for both Brabarella and Little Pink Dress based in Los Angeles is experiencing significant outages as they are upgrading their system (ironically enough so that there will be fewer outages). Both of our sites are down at the moment, as is our email server. If you're looking to shop and can't get on either site, please check back. It should (better) be very temporary.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekend Market



Working in a flower shop as I do now, I have started revisiting the floral play of my childhood, namely when I’d make clover and buttercup chains to wear as crowns or necklaces. I love herbs, wildflowers (some consider weeds) and simple old-fashioned flowers. There’s a particular artist whose work I truly admire and her work inspires me to try playing with the petals again. She is Jaime Giorgi of the Monkey Flower Group, recently returned to Napa from the Green Mountains of Vermont.  She creates designs meant to hold, wear or share. I particularly like her floral fashions -- wristlets, earrings, crowns and even masks! Jaime’s work is brilliant because besides using locally grown materials, she doesn’t limit her work to the usual petals, but uses a fantastic array of leaves, berries, acorns and other botanicals. She is also generous sharing her talent by offering tutorials on Design Sponge!

(More ideas here, too, from a talented little girl appropriately named Ivy!)

**photos from Monkey Flower Group website

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Few Eggs and No Oranges

In between library books (when I’m stuck for what I want to read next), I read Vere Hodgson’s WWII Diaries entitled Few Eggs and No Oranges, published by Persephone Books.

Persephone Books resurrects out-of-print titles from our not too distant past, the 20th century and sometimes obscure writers who turn out to be surprise hits (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) for today’s world. The name Persephone itself is clever and literary as Persephone is the goddess and queen of Hades underworld. She returns to the earth every spring with new beginnings. The company is my fantasy career involving books, genteel domesticity, new found appreciation for a slower pace and the domestic arts -- cooking, gardening, budgeting and so on. The end papers are beautiful images of surface design representative of the book title’s era.

Few Eggs is great for me because I can pick up the story where I left off -- it’s simply the day to day of one woman’s life in London during the Blitz. There is something comforting in the not so ordinary yet ordinary everyday-ness of it. Comforting in knowing that even if I am not working my dream job, the ordinary everyday can still have adventure in it.  In the meantime I sell classic lingerie whose design hasn't changed much since the times of a Persephone Books' character. And this makes me smile.

**Images from Persephone Books

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesdays in the Kitchen

For my mother’s 72nd birthday, I made her the yummiest lemon cake. It’s funny -- the day before I had been browsing paints and canvasses at a local art store, and I resisted them as I am on this kick to use what I have without buying more supplies (easier said than done). It seems that as soon as I give things away, I’m out looking for more. Later though, as I browsed an assortment of whole grain flours in another shop, I realized that while I love playing with paper and pen, my real passion is baking, fresh and interesting ingredients are my supplies. I like the simplest tools and recipes to assist and guide me.

So back to this lemon cake. I used Alice Waters’ recipe for 1-2-3-4 cake found in her book, The Art of Simple Food.  You can also find it here. Rather than homemade lemon curd and butter cream, I bought a jar of Trader Joe’s lemon curd (less than $3./jar and very good -- made in England), whipped some heavy cream, folded the two together, split the cake layers, and slathered lemony cream between and over the layers. It was simple and delish!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

GwenBeads Etsy Shop

By now, I expect just about everyone knows about Etsy, a site for handmade and DIY goods. I have several favorite sellers on Etsy, some I’m experienced with, some I’m not, but I admire their work. Gwenbeads Etsy Shop is one of them. While I’ve never bought from her, I love her ruffled bloomers and can imagine them for a low-key Halloween or Mardi Gras costume. With a Rago or Grenier waist cincher, an Arianne top, some thigh highs or knee-highs, a mask, a headscarf, boots, bangles and dangles, I think they’d make for quite a fetching pirate wench, don’t you?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mad Men

We are now done with the fourth season of Mad Men. Seasons seem to get shorter with network shows and I’ve heard a rumor that its fifth season will be its last. That being said, it’s high time to think about Halloween.
We’ve had at least one order from a Mad Men fan who will be Joanie this Halloween.

Marty’s haircut reminds me of Don Draper (any Don Draper Halloween characters out there?), and this season I’m having a hard time liking any particular character.

Don’s daughter, Sally? I can’t stand Betty. I do like Peggy. In seasons past, I’ve developed an admiration shall we say for different characters, but this season, there are none I feel strongly about. I don’t know if it’s because this season so far has been weaker than the previous three, all of which were rich with character development, or if it’s simply because like many good series, the writing and story development idles/plateaus at about the fourth season. Some series take a dive their second or third season (like Ally McBeal). I wouldn’t call Mad Men’s fourth season a dive, maybe a dip as it levels and coasts with which way the story goes, e.g., will Don/Dick’s house of cards finally crumble? At any rate, who will you be during this year’s season of the witch? Betty? (Or Roger’s wife, Jane?).



** New York Magazine image via Huffington Post

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Wee Packet Takes Us Around the World



One of the restaurants we tried this past summer was The Wee Packet  in Dennisport. We tend to go on the early side so it was quiet the Saturday afternoon we went and we sat out on the enclosed porch with the vintage glass awning windows. The food was tasty -- we had the Fisherman’s platter (the cornbread it comes with was just a hint of sweet with a light crumb, very good!) -- it was fresh, piping hot, made with fresh grease and a crispy batter.

It’s a restaurant that harks to the bygone era of Patti Page’s Olde Cape Cod and we enjoyed the food as much as we did meeting our waiter.

Hayri Erleblebici, a Turkish student, over for the summer, was inspired to talk about photography with Marty when he saw our camera.  In the summertime we meet people from all over the world, either here on work visas, or just pleasure traveling. We are lucky that the world will still come to us as sometimes we end up stuck on this side of the bridge far too long.  I googled Hayri and found him on face book. He was a delightful representative of his nation, and Turkey is another country I find fascinating. The European countries that interest me are not necessarily the most popular ones to travel to, and that, perhaps is why I find them fascinating.

**A packet was a small sailing ship that delivered the mail between countries a couple hundred or so years ago. Funny how  a couple from the USA ends up chatting with a young man from Turkey in a restaurant named the Wee Packet.
 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Handmade Spotlight



I am going to try to feature a weekly "handmade" spotlight each week sharing some of my favorite creators out there on the web. This week's is a Swedish artist.

I love what she calls her wrist worms and some are on sale now. She is Sandra Juto and I believe she crochets them. While I can crochet, I prefer to knit. I’ve knit several pair of “wrist worms” for myself and others but I love the crochet stitch, color scheme and material of hers. That being the case, I have learned that just because I can make something myself doesn’t mean I will or want to. Why reinvent the wheel when I’ve found someone who does the job well and offers me an opportunity to support them in their craft endeavors? I am trying to look at my purchases of goods, music, food and so on in a more personal way, in terms of an energy exchange. Someone mentioned to me once that money merely represents our energy and how we want to spend it. I would say thoughtfully is how I would like to spend it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Art of Parody



SNL 1975: I’ve rarely watched any of the contemporary Saturday Night Live’s but back in the 70’s I watched it regularly. Now it’s on past my bedtime. Lately, Marty and I have been watching reruns of the first season, and while much of the humor can fall flat (it is stand-up comedy, more or less), much of it is hilarious for its absurdity. What amazes us is how political it was back then too, without the current hang-ups of political correctness. Take Garrett Morris’s character on the newscasts. He represented the headmaster of the New York School for the Hard of Hearing. His “yelling head” in the upper corner of the screen parodied assistance for the hearing impaired. I know hearing impairment is not funny but Morris's parody sure is.

Somehow, I cannot imagine this occurring nowadays. We’ve become so self-conscious about the language, gestures and more we use that we’re losing our expressive voice. There's a fine line between hateful disregard and tasteful good-natured ribbing. Many people never learned the difference -- kind of sad because we can use some levity once in a while -- the ability to laugh with and at ourselves. Perhaps this has contributed to the rise in cyber-bullying, the new hate crime. That inability to tell the difference anymore. The black and white has become too gray...or perhaps too sanitized.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Elila Embroidered Microfiber Underwire Bra, Style 2301

Elila bras are designed from the start with the fuller figured woman in mind. Using quality fabrics together with a highly focused attention to detail, these are some of the most comfortable and supportive fuller bras on the market. Given their prices, they also represent great value. The Embroidered Microfiber Underwire Bra, style 2301 is one such example. It has beautifully embroidered cups, wider shoulder straps, metal (not plastic) strap hardware, a contoured band, and more. If you’re not a fan of underwires, it also comes in a soft cup version, style 1301. Sizes 38-46, D-G

Elila Embroidered Microfiber Underwire Bra, Style 2301
Elila Embroidered Microfibre Softcup Bra, Style 1301   

Friday, October 1, 2010

Update

Marty here. Patricia's been in Ireland but she'll be back over the weekend.  This blog has been slow of late but will pick up soon.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rago High Waist Briefs

 Rago makes a number of different styles of high waist briefs. In the firm control category we have their  Shapette and Lacette lines, including styles 6101, 6107 and 6109. These shapers will provide more pronounced shaping as compared to the popular hosiery-based shapewear. At the same time, you’ll generally  get a smoother look under tighter-fitting clothing as compared to a waist cincher. The Shapette line is distinguished from the Lacette line by the sheer powernet fabric. The Lacette has a jacquard fabric. Both lines have Rago’s “power circle” shaping bands. The Shapette 6101 is a side zip – handy if you struggle to wiggle into one of these girdles. Detachable garters are included, giving you some extra options when wearing hosiery.
 RAGO SHAPEWEAR

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Daily Bread Revisited


One of our faithful readers and customers has now tried the Sullivan Street Bakery bread recipe twice -- in a wood stove with bison chips and a 19th century Colorado soddy no less! It turned out great and he sent photos -- totally cool! I am so thrilled  Abuelo John tried it -- now Abuelo, we will have to start improvising with add-ins (nuts, raisins, dates, olives, etc.) and various flours perhaps? Or how about pizza, focaccia and more? I would love to have a wood-fired oven in my yard (or the neighborhood at least).


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fashion Hosiery

One of the most economical ways to dress up an outfit is through your legwear. There are many choices, from sheer pantyhose, to back seam stockings, to footless tights, to ribbed tights. So many choices, so much impact, so little cost! We have added several new styles recently and will be adding many more over the course of the next few months.
FASHION HOSIERY

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Buon Giorno

So just got off skype with my girl who's in Rome for the semester -- for orientation the school showed the kids a You Tube video of Italy and Europe -- it was pretty cute and accurate from what I've read of Italy. In local news, we are going to have to start bringing in a few of our outdoor items and drop our storm windows soon -- because, yes, it looks like Earl is going to hurl straight at us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gallery Night in Wellfleet



I know, I know...the last time I wrote the sun was in Leo and now it's already moving into Virgo, almost a month later! It's hard to come back to the virtual world when it's full-throttle summer and there's so much happening in our Cape Cod world. And, unfortunately, it doesn't wind down gradually but tends to stop with a thud, literally on the Sunday eve of Labor Day.

But this has been a great summer for us weather-wise and culture-wise, lots of music, art and fresh food -- tomatoes, squashes and more from the gardens, bass and bluefish from the sea.

One of our artsy jaunts a few weeks ago -- actually the last Saturday in July, come to think of it -- was to Wellfleet. I wanted to catch Tomie dePaola's opening at the Cove Gallery during that weekend's gallery night. I'd missed him last year so marked my calendar this year. Problem was, having worked in libraries, read all my life and so on and so forth, many of the books, authors, illustrators and more get tangled up in my memory. So I had Tomie mixed up with Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are. But no matter -- Tomie's work is a joy, and while I observed him chatting happily with folks at his opening (he reminded me of a jovial grandpop sort of fellow), I did not introduce myself, nor chat with him. Sometimes I just like to see. 

We were going to return to the car as I wasn't in to checking galleries out we'd only recently been to, but we decided to wander further along before turning around.  When I noticed that Selina's gallery was open, I had to stop there. I have wanted to get into this gallery for some time now, but my timing hasn't worked out.

This particular evening it did, and I believe Tomie's opening was merely the vehicle to introduce me to Selina Trieff. Her studio (pictured above) overwhelmed us to say the least. It shows the hours of ceaseless dedication of one woman to her art -- I don't remember ever seeing a messier artist's studio -- it was sublime. Even more so, was sitting down on the front porch next to a frail older woman in a wheelchair, only to recognize Selina. I was in awe of this woman who had studied with the mid-Century masters of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Enthralled, I chatted with her, asking her questions, and telling her about the books I've been reading this summer -- on the Bohemian Greenwich Village of the 1900's to the 1950's.
Telling her how thrilled I was to be sitting in the shadow of a peer of Hans Hoffman, Mark Rothko and the likes. It's how I imagine feeling with Mary Oliver -- she's the closest I'll (hopefully) get to a living poet who was at one time in the shadow of another favorite of mine -- Edna St. Vincent Millay. I enjoy them for their own work, but also for the historical context I associate with them. Maybe they're my idea of muses, they're certainly my idea of celebrities. I intend to wander down that way again soon, to at least catch up with Selina one more time, if not the reclusive Mary.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

OMA Gallery

Besides musical evenings, Marty and I have been doing gallery nights. Every week we check the Capeweek and the Arts Foundation for info on openings. We're always on the lookout for new and exciting discoveries. Oma Gallery was a recent find, a new gallery so named for its location -- Orleans, MA. We had eaten dinner at L'Alouette Bistro in Harwichport, which was adequate, but we should have just gone directly to the gallery. Openings generally have wine, soft beverages and munchies of some sort, but Oma outdid themselves -- on the art, the food, and the live music. There were massive shrimps for cocktail, bruschettas, fresh veggies and more, enough for a light summer supper!

 I particularly loved Eve Aspinwall's art -- her use of color, Jungian imagery (reminiscent of dreams and prehistory) and unusual choice of materials. While most of her pieces are Abstract  Expressionist, she does have still life and landscape paintings that would appeal to folks with less eclectic tastes. My favorite piece was Irish Ghost, a haunting figure painted on scrap metal found in a field in Ireland. We chatted with Eve briefly after admiring her art for some time, and Marty photographed her near some of her pieces. We're both looking forward to Oma's next reception, August 14 and I'm hoping to save up for a class or two with Eve.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Local Musicians


We love to support local musicians and try to see my son play when we can but many of his gigs are late in the evening. Recently, there have been free outdoor summer concerts throughout the cape, giving us a chance to sample the local music scene. It's a great opportunity to pack snacks and beverages, grab your chairs and spend time outdoors in the early evening without breaking the budget. A few Sundays ago, we enjoyed listening to  Sarah Swain, down at Aselton Park on the harbor. She's a local musician I've avoided for years -- the local press tends to get redundant in its talent features, limiting itself to the same names repeatedly. It becomes a turnoff to those of us who are always looking for something new, maybe a little closer to the edge of almost discovered, but not quite.

We've now had the good fortune to catch Sarah twice, back in May at a fundraiser and again in the park. Her praise and press is well-deserved. She delivers a thoughtful, heartfelt performance that will not disappoint. We're totally hooked on her -- she's just plain fun to listen to, and watching her two pre-school daughters run around at her concerts is a kick too. At the Aselton show, her brother-in-law accompanied her while his three kids (under three) cavorted or slept with Mom and Grandmom chasing.

The shows at the park are family affairs and it's entertaining to watch the audience while listening to the musicians. Sarah's tunes are originals and her interpretations of old favorites -- indie genre with lots of folk-rock blues, which Marty and I love. Her next show (she also plays with Randy and the Oak Trees) is this Thursday, July 29 at a fundraiser for Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, at a hundred bucks a pop. Or, for those of us with slim wallets, you can catch her again at Aselton  with Randy and the Oak Trees, Friday, August 6. And again for the fatter wallets -- the annual Hooker's Ball Saturday, August 14 in Chatham.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Carnival Shapewear

     Carnival (National Mill Industry) has been in the intimate apparel business since 1947, primarily as a manufacturer of bras and girdles. They stopped making girdles many years ago, but due to the increased popularity in shapewear of late, they have recently come out with a new line of seamless shapers. There are actually four styles to choose from – a mid-waist brief, a high waist brief, a mid-waist long leg, and a high waist long leg.

      I recently tried the 801 mid-waist brief. As with most shapewear apparel, the hardest part is getting them on. Once on, the first thing I noticed was how firm this was. Now the sizing is a little confusing. They list a Medium as a 28-30” waist, whereas most of our other manufacturers have a medium as 27-28”. Just keep that in mind when determining size. I definitely think if you are a ‘tweener, opt for the larger size. The rise was a little too high for me on this shaper, resulting in a little roll-over. I’m about 5’3” and I think this garment is best suited for someone a wee bit taller.  In terms of overall comfort, I would say this was about average for me. Remember, what is comfortable for me (the Silhouette Little X is hands-down my favorite control brief), may not be for you. In terms of shaping ability, the Carnival certainly did its job. Carnival touts  tummy panel, derriere shaping ability and back support as strong attributes, and I would agree.

       The 801 mid waist brief has a MSRP of $30.00. We sell it for $25.00.
CARNIVAL SHAPEWEAR

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When You Pray...

 Move your feet.
~African Proverb

I started dancing with Katrina over 10 years ago, after I'd returned to the Cape. I felt lost here, it was very different from what I'd grown used to in Burlington, Vermont, but my time with Katrina helped heal the sadness I felt. Dancing with her taught me how much I love community, especially centered around the arts and culture. Call it my religion if you will. It sustains me as I believe it does many people. We all may like our alone time, but let's face it, like our canine friends, we are pack animals and social creatures.

I first met Khadija (her dancer name) one evening when she was still teaching classes out in Osterville at an old barn turned to "fitness" center. The space was wood-floored, vast and light-filled (although we danced at dusk). She no longer teaches in Osterville but she is still dancing and still teaching.

She is a petite woman, barely 5 feet tall, with titian-red hair and she is ageless. Back when I danced with her, our troupe used to perform once a month at the long-gone Prodigal Son Coffeehouse. More recently she has begun her monthly "Evenings in Egypt" at the Prodigal's successor, Island Merchant, now located around the corner on Main Street near its former Ocean Street site.


Marty and I finally made it to a show and dinner last Thursday evening and we were not disappointed (although next time we'll just order from the regular menu because there are a couple of Island dishes that we especially love). Katrina is as cerebral, yet classy, smooth and warm as she has always been when sharing her love of Egyptian culture and dance -- I believe she even had an Egyptian partner on the dance floor at one point. The Evenings in Egypt are always lots of fun, and a refreshing change from the usual entertainment here on the Cape.

In my almost twenty-year absence from the Cape, the dominant scene had developed into one of SUVs and trophy homes disguised as faux Cape Cod "cottages."

With Katrina though, I discovered that the creative, edgy underbelly Cape Cod of my bohemian youth was still here, it was just buried under the cliche.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Artful Food

After returning to Cape Cod from Vermont several years ago, I sorely missed my CSA and Farmer's Market. Thankfully, this loss has since been remedied with an abundance of small, and not so small farmer's markets. Cape Cod is generally late to every bandwagon, sometimes missing it altogether but fortunately, this was not one of them. The variety of local small-scale farmers and food artisans inspires me in the kitchen more than ever -- there's nothing like cooking with fresh and local, whether it's fish, cheese, grains, fruits or veggies.

I keep renewing Alice Waters' cookbook, The Art of Simple Food from the library, and while I rarely purchase cookbooks anymore, hers is another classic -- simple recipes and straightforward guidance -- that I want on my pantry bookshelf.

I'm hoping to catch some squid this summer and try her recipe for grilled squid, but in the meantime I've already made the cream scones, which are hands down the best basic scone recipe I have ever found (and I've tried many). I keep hoping it will cool down enough again so I can bake them this week. Until then, I'm dreaming of doing the Julie and Julia thing, only with Alice's book instead. Complicated cooking has never appealed to me, but the Art of Simple Food? Yeah, I can get on board with that.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Scargo Pottery

Scargo Pottery is a place I've driven by on 6A in Dennis since I was a kid. I'd never stopped there. I'd certainly read enough about the Holls, how the dad founded the Cape Cod Museum of Fine Art, how daughter Sarah is trying to revitalize the arts in downtown Hyannis (with some gorgeous work, including their sign, featured at the newly relocated Naked Oyster). We stop into her house/studio once in a while for some fresh air in the otherwise, at times, very stale Cape Cod art world. There's plenty of local info regarding Scargo, the CCMFA, as well as Harry Holl, his four daughters, and even their maternal grandfather who was the renowned sculptor, Arnold Geissbuhler.
Access to the grounds is via the road down to Scargo Lake Beach, with their drive winding off to the left, through scrubby pines and sandy soil. On a sultry July day, the studio was wide open for strolling as were the sculpture forested grounds. It's open daily year-round and is now on my wee but growing list of what excites me here on Cape Cod.









Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mimi Outsider


Marty and I have been exploring locally lately -- looking for the undiscovered treasures that we know are hidden (or just buried under hydrangeas), here on the cape. Last weekend we drove to Chatham, which although fa-fa, also has a rougher, fishier, native Cape Codder sort of edge to it, a throwback to an earlier more bohemian lifestyle here. We love the little airport we discovered there while biking one day --(it'd make a fantastic offbeat wedding site), and we always stop at Marion's Pie Shop for a citrus sweet roll (enormous and sweetly tart).

On a recent jaunt, we stumbled upon the best new gallery in the east end of town -- a place we'd almost missed if we hadn't walked a little further down the main drag...and so we came upon Mimi Outsider, a little gallery tucked behind and to the side of bigger, more mainstream galleries that are common here on the cape. And it turns out, Mimi's owner is Tracy Shields Erskine, married to the new owner of Hangar B, the intriguing eatery we cannot wait to try, located at the above-mentioned airport.

Hangar B may be another post though, this one's devoted to Tracy and the gallery she named in honor of her mother, who died of breast cancer last year. Mimi was what the Erskines' three year old son called his granny and outsider art is what Tracy promotes, including her own. She creates amazing collaged "paintings" from thousands of bits of paper -- images of the Pacific Coast Highway (she was a successful jewelry artist in Los Angeles before she returned to the Cape), and another of an old red "Chevy" truck parked in a field. Her jewelry mixes ribbons, chains, broken vintage pieces and more. Then there are her magnificent wreaths and other works made entirely of scallop shells -- a unique alternative to the usual wreaths you're apt to find.

Tracy also carries photography and mixed media pieces by other area artists, some using flotsam and jetsam washed ashore. Sustainability, individuality and simple, clever beauty is the name of the game in Tracy's shop and I am thrilled to find innovative shops such as hers on our provincial peninsula. Can't wait to try her hubby's place next!

(Scroll towards the bottom of the page links for Mimi Outsider's information).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hyannis Harbor

Hyannis Harbor is a favorite walking destination whenever we need to get away from work for a while. This time of year it’s very busy. It has a mix of boats, from personal craft, to island ferries, to tour boats, to fishing boats and draggers. Aselton Park sits in the front corner and hosts concerts and art shows. Here are a few pictures that Marty took: