Sunday, December 25, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Strouse, Adler Co.

     Marty here. Since we’re now living in a Civil War (U.S. that is) era mill building, it got me thinking about what’s become of some old lingerie manufacturing facilities. I found this entry from a New Haven, CT blogger (thank-you Suzanne!) regarding The Strouse Adler Co. They started out making corsets in the 1860’s and eventually came out with their Smoothie line of girdles and body briefers. We have had and continue to have a number of their items on our Little Pink Dress site. It’s sad to see companies survive for so long, then go under as this company did in 1999. At the same time, it’s great to see a company such as Grenier weather the storms of time. They’ve been in business since 1860. It’s also good to see these old buildings such as Strouse re-used rather than torn down. It’s amazing how solid and well-built these old mill buildings are. Here in New England there are a lot of old mill buildings being converted to condominiums, apartments, artist’s lofts, and live/work space.
    If anyone out there knows of other old facilities out there, let us know please!
Photo from "Wooster Square Daily Photo"
Wooster Square Daily Photo

Friday, November 18, 2011

New at Little Pink Dress

We have been adding new items to Little Pink Dress weekly. Here's a recent addition - a sheer lace number that has a lot of possibilities....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Round the Clock Girdle at the Top Pantyhose

Round the Clock Girdle at the Top Pantyhose, Style 137 are now available again after about 18 months! They are available in Bare Beige, Pale Beige, Jet, Bit O' Black, and Satin Taupe. The girdle section is new and improved and the toes are now invisible/reinforced for extra wear.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Old Pantyhose

Patricia always manages to find new uses for old things. In this case, she put her old pantyhose and stockings to good use, stringing up our tomato plants. Not sure yet what style they prefer...

Monday, May 16, 2011

There Was a Time, There Wasn't a Time

 It's weekends like this past one that the swift passage of time hits you full on in the face. It was graduation weekend at UMass Amherst -- exciting and bittersweet. My daughter was one of the cum laude graduates from the Isenberg School of Management. I started preparing myself emotionally for this day when she was still a freshman in high school.

By preparing I mean, crying regularly as I thought how fast the time was going and she'd be out of the house and off to college before I knew it. My baby. Her brother was already gone. Fast forward four years to August 2007 when we did indeed move her up four flights of stairs (elevator not working) on a blistering hot 100 degree day. And being  a girl (unlike the boys who pretty much arrived with the clothes on their backs and some vital electronics), between the buckets of shoes, bags of clothes, toiletries, and such (not to mention linens, electronics and storage units)...let's just say there were many trips involved up those flights of stairs.

Once she was settled, I bought her sunflowers at the local farmer's market, we said our goodbyes, and Marty and I took off in the truck. That's when the tears started flowing -- for two weeks, almost nonstop. I would go sit in her bed and cry. Sob really. You know that gut wrenching sorrow. But I got over it as we mothers do, and each year became easier (especially when her tongue could be as sharp as ever).

This past year was the easiest one as far as the moving went. She spent her first semester in Italy and living off campus the second semester, she managed to squeeze all she needed into her trusty, battered '95 Corolla and took off for the last haul to Amherst.

Saturday, my family joined many other families -- all so different, mixed up and mixed in -- but all so much alike in our bittersweet joy of witnessing these wee ones we'd known since birth leave the comfortable familiarity of the past four years of their lives for the beckoning future unknown. Scary and exhilarating, leaving us breathless and bewildered. But that's life, isn't it? Congratulations, my darling Molly. May you soar and know your heart's desire someday. You and your brother have always been the stars in my life.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Culture and Cleopatra

There are a couple of -- shall I say “eejits?” -- on WEEI sports radio. I come downstairs every morning to Marty listening to them on the radio. I end up having to turn them off (Marty’s more tolerant than I am, but even he agrees they’re pathetic). Every once in a while, they will say something intelligent and sensitive like when they speak of the dignity, courtesy and class of the Japanese in the wake of their earthquake tragedies. Sometimes, they’ll know a little about the sports they’re covering (besides, it’s usually rehashing old news we’re sick of hearing). Mostly, they veer off topic into politics (I’m not even going there) and last week culture, namely movie culture. Elizabeth Taylor had died the day before. According to the boys, epic films such as Ben Hur and Cleopatra, in “the context of their era” were tops for their time…BUT writing and movies are soooo much better now! I beg your pardon??!!

Now, people are entitled to opinions their educated  opinions but nowadays we don’t have to use our imaginations as we did in years past. While costuming and set designs for period pieces may have been less than authentic, the dialogue contrived, there have been many movies we’ve watched when I marvel at the creativity and resourcefulness of the director, the amazing writing (Mae West was phenomenal), the crew and so on. I enjoy the power of suggestion rather than graphic and explicit visuals -- with creative innuendo, styling and so on, I can figure the message out for myself and I actually enjoy it that way. Kind of like when you read a book and you create images in your mind (the way you want them) -- I like doing my own imagining, casting characters, visualizing scenes and so on. Sometimes, it’s just plain disappointing when Hollywood does too much imagining for me. I can think creatively and imagine for myself. It keeps my brain strong and limber.

** Image source

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

'Tis the Season

...for wearing green. Now that I'm easing back to work, it's time to take up the "pen" and try to re-establish the writing routine I've been developing and redeveloping for some time now. So, what better day to start than on my namesake's feast day? Baked a soda bread (or soddy bread, Abuelo?) for my dad today, thinking about one of my favorite stories, and looking forward to wearing my green-striped over-the-knee socks over orange and white swirl tights again tomorrow...the same I wore for the Cape Cod St. Patrick's Day parade a couple of weeks ago. Because I'm a patriotic daughter of Eire like that -- yes, I am.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Saint Patrick's Day Parade, Last Snippet


Saint Patrick's Day Parade, Snippet 11


St. Patrick's Day Parade, Snippet 10


Saint Patrick's Day, V9


St. Patrick's Day Parade, V8


Saint Patrick's Day Parade, V7


St. Patrick's Day Parade, V6


St. Patrick's Day Parade, V5


St. Patrick's Day Parade, v4


St Patrick's Day Snippet 3


St Patrick's Day Parade, Snippet 2


Saint Patrick's Day Parade, March 5, 2011

Cape Cod, Massachusetts - Snippet 1 of 12

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book It

Holy Moley, can't believe the last time I posted was February 2! I think it's because I've been typing with my left hand and that is much slower going. My right shoulder is on the mend so I'm starting to use the hand more (Thank you, Robert in Australia for the get well wishes).

 All I've really been able to do for much of the month (besides walking) has been reading and watching old movies and BBC comedies. Not too shabby, so I'm not complaining. We're having a ball watching new-to-us shows like Keeping Up Appearances, Yes Prime Minister, The Old Guys and so on.

And the books I've been reading -- a couple of Bill Bryson books: Notes from a Small Island (okay), I'm a Stranger Here Myself  (better and some of his essays are actually things I've thought about writing and have at least talked about in the past), and Romney Steele's My Nepenthe, Bohemian Tales of Food, Family and Big Sur.

Romney's book was one I couldn't wait to get back to between readings. Her grandmother Lolly felt like my kindred spirit -- hip to intentional community and sharing beauty. I wanted to be there and the only way I could be was in the pages of that book as I read it. Food, artists, nature, bohemia, community on the edge of such grandeur -- it's what I live and long for so naturally I immersed myself in its pages for the two days I took to read it.It beckoned me so.

Between supervising Marty in the kitchen and the literary pursuits, all in all, not a bad way to mend a strained shoulder.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ground Hog/Imbolc/Candlemas

Not sure if Phil dares to peek out today -- everyone else lucks out with snow while we just get buckets of rain to glaze the snow we do have. Fortunately, when I took Bob out back this morning, it wasn't pouring yet. Hope everyone is staying safe and warm.

Oh, and Bob's the little guy we rescued from the local MSPCA a week or so before Christmas. Hadn't given him a second look all the weeks we were going to the pound, and then one day, we decided what the heck, we'll take him for a walk. Despite the fact that he actually knocked me over when I was kneeling on the ground saying hi to him, followed by a nip to my hand (he's still in that land shark puppy stage you know when everything goes in his mouth), we couldn't stop thinking about him.

So I went back a couple of days later and took him for a longer walk, and hung out on the park bench with him. When I brought him back into the office I told the staff it was a good thing they take licenses before you can walk the dogs. I wanted to take him home then. By our third visit, he was getting to know us, not barking like the banshee he'd been in the beginning (although I do think his cage still looked like a tornado with teeth had hit), and we were smitten.

Marty brought him home the next morning while I was at work. He was on his best behavior for quite a while, and is now settling in comfortably (becoming more of the Jack Russell/Rat Terror that he supposedly is). I think we'll keep him.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

That time of the year again

I’m playing with vegan baking again. We’re low on eggs, blowing through butter, and as I’ve been hankering to bake -- it’s back to the vegan recipes I was developing last winter. I also don’t like super sweet treats and almost never use the entire sweetener called for in a recipe (cutting it by at least half sometimes).

 I love to bake and it can get expensive with the dairy after a while so I’m always looking for ways to tweak recipes. This goes for candies too although I haven’t yet explored some of my vegan ideas for caramels and truffles yet.

I’ve been grouchy lately, nursing a shoulder injury that makes it difficult for me to do much -- and most of what I like to do involves handwork of some sort. Fortunately, Marty gave me a Kitchen-aid one Christmas -- prompted by my baking love and the fact that that was the first time I had this shoulder problem -- aggravated by repetitive and persistent computer work.

I have no set recipe for the cookies…I start with a favorite basic recipe from my books, but substitute a tablespoon of ground flax-seed in 3 tablespoons of water for each egg. I cut the sugar by about a third to a half, sometimes using a little molasses or agave and I generally use dark brown sugar -- just because I like it’s sweetness and affect on the taste of baked goods in general.

For the butter, I’ll substitute a mixture that could include all or some of the following -- olive oil, earth balance buttery spread, a nut butter and tahini. I particularly love tahini in cookies -- all kinds -- oatmeal, chocolate chip, molasses and peanut butter all work well with it. And while I use unbleached flour for certain things (like the Sullivan Street bread I wrote about here, I prefer whole wheat pastry flour. It’s also fun to experiment by mixing it with brown rice flour, oat flour and other “different and new to me” flours.

Sometimes I have to play around with the “butter” to flour ratio, usually cutting back on the fat by a couple tablespoons or more. If you like to bake, you’ll figure out what tweaking works for you.

When I get restless for something creative to do and the pen or paint or fabric or yarn aren’t calling to me, the kitchen usually does. And then lo and behold, it’s jump-started the rest!

**photo credits me -- on my walk approaching the village of Union Hall, West Cork September 2010

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I call them Mankerchiefs. You can buy them in the UK, Ireland and Australia that I know of. They’re Kleenex man-size tissues and they’re another everyday item I pick up when I’m across the pond because apparently they aren’t available in the USA. 

When I met Marty, he (like one of my flower shop bosses), used paper towels. I brought them each a box while in Ireland. (Guinness-scented from the can that burst in my bag on the return flight).
Just because they’re Kleenex for Men though doesn’t mean us ladies can’t use them too -- my cousin does. They make so much more sense than the puny ones we get over here as they are handkerchief-size so I would think they last longer too.

When he’s not using paper, Marty uses the real deal -- my urging. I know some people who would be grossed out but personally, I use them too, and if you have enough of a collection, they work better -- much like cloth napkins. There are times when paper just doesn’t do the trick. I’d rather save paper for the letter writing, but oh yeah that’s another blast from the past, like cloth handkerchiefs. I'll leave letter writing for a future post. Because who knows, maybe there’s a revival afoot in the world.

**image from Viking Direct

Monday, January 24, 2011


The first time I visited Ireland several years ago, I did not like Dublin. Too fast and intense.This time, it felt different and I enjoyed it more. It's still fast, crowded, intense, but I connected more -- with family, my daughter's childhood friend, the museums, libraries, the language, my heritage. I strolled more as the weather once again was beautiful for me while I was there. Crossed the River Liffey several times and on one of those times, caught this gent fishing. Even in the midst of a bustling city, if we look, we can find tranquil moments and pockets of nature to soothe our flustered souls.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

To the Manor Born

"Never pass a bar with your name on it."
-Pete McCarthy

In September, the week after my beloved dog of 17 years died, I went to Ireland with my father. It’s the second time I’ve been and while Dublin is as hectic and fast-paced as the Northeast USA, Glandore, the land of my grandfather, in West Cork is not.

I believe that like plants some of us have a biological need to be in our natural environment to thrive. The longer I stay here on Cape Cod,  it seems the more the damp and salt air corrode my spirit.

It’s not that I dislike the ocean. I just love green and hills, and woodlands and farmlands and a slower life so much more -- a gentler existence. How I felt in Ireland -- peaceful, content, at home -- is how I feel in the White Mountains of Haverhill, New Hampshire (where some of my maternal roots originate).

As Pete McCarthy in McCarthy’s Bar puts it, “So what I’m wondering is this. Is it possible to have some kind of genetic memory of a place where you’ve never lived, but your ancestors have? Or am I just a sentimental fool, my judgment befuddled by nostalgia, Guinness, and the romance of the diaspora?”

**photo of my dad walking the ruins of an abbey in Timoleague

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

'Tis the Season of Love

Yesterday I was back at the flower shop after a winter break and Michael was in full speed decorating mode  for Valentine’s Day, hanging sparkly hearts from the ceiling beams, going over the schedule (and the fact that we’ll be processing 100 or was it a couple? Dozens of roses).

I believe it’s usually one partner who gives the roses and the other is (hopefully) the grateful gift recipient. How grateful? Hmm, maybe some homemade chocolate truffles for your thoughtful beloved? Wine and griddled brie with cranberry marmalade and sourdough crisps? Served in your sweetest Valentine manner? Hmmm, what will you come up with? Better yet, what’s underneath?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Brabarella Update

We started a new blog just for Brabarella and Little Pink Dress updates, but we will continue to do occasional lingerie reviews here as well. While we're at it here, we also want to update our Round the Clock Girdle at the Top Pantyhose customers.

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)

Berkshire 4810: 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.

Friday, January 14, 2011


We’re immersed in Mukluk season now (all 49 states at one point this past week) and my favorite manufacturer of genuine Moosehide Mukluks is right here in the USA, in the beautiful state of Minnesota. Steger Mukluk's is also woman-owned and has been going strong for about 25 years.

Plus the company celebrates a big winter festival with its small town in Ely, Minnesota. The boots are incredibly warm, comfortable (they mold to your feet pretty much) with plenty of support and cushioning, and they’ll last a good long while. Not to mention you can replace the inner soles if needed. They might be a little pricier than some but with Patti’s company I know I am supporting people in her community as well as her business (and the environment, a dear cause we share).

Something to think about as more and more manufacturing jobs continue to be shipped overseas. By supporting Patti and her company, I get to know names and faces of people who could be my neighbors. And, the fact that they make a superbly crafted product doesn’t hurt either.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day!

Snow Day! The flower shop was reopening today after a much-needed holiday break but the weather delayed the boys’ return home -- they didn’t arrive back from eagle watching on the upper Mississippi until yesterday! Between plane problems for them  and transport problems for flower vendors (the flowers come up from the south and as you know, things are a bit behind down there these days), shop opening is delayed at least another day. I’m looking forward to seeing the guys but snow days are still thrilling no matter what the age -- for me anyway. I love ‘em -- always have -- as long as I don’t have to travel in it.
 Funny how Mother Nature is always in charge whether we recognize her or not. Notice how the snow forces everyone to slow down in their mad, hot dashes through life? It is lovely and luscious and Natalie’s got the right idea in her part of the world. Yep.

And after reading this post this morning I realized I’d forgotten all about the box two boxes of Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe Joe’s I’d stashed in the pantry before the holidays. If you’re familiar with these, they’re a tasty spin on oreos but with a peppermint candy crunchy cream between the wafers. A seasonal treat, they sell out fast, so I scooped them up when I saw them, not once, but twice!

Perfect to dunk in hot chocolate made with milk, cream, Ghirardelli’s premium hot chocolate and TJ’s sipping chocolate. Molly was all for it when I offered her a cup, garnished with homemade marshmallows and heavy cream whipped by moi. Peppermint candy sticks for the swizzle sticks. Sometimes you just gotta go for  store-bought cookies. It’s a boomer sort of nostalgia thing. Like snow days (even if I am a grown-up now).

** Images courtesy Natalie Chanin (snow in Alabama always makes me think of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird -- lovin' it two years in a row now...)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sacred Good-byes

The summer Ted died my dad called me with the rumor that death was imminent as the local priest had been called to the compound for last rites. Turned out they were for Eunice. But it got me to thinking -- about our sacred rituals, and how they ground us, give us roots. Something to hang onto. And how the process of death is just as sacred and holy as the process of birth.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out. These sacred moments I mean. The transitions. Between the dark and the light. One way of being and another. Changes, shape shifting, metamorphoses throughout our lives. Sometimes the moments just happen the way they do.

There's a hello moment though, too. For balance. And sometimes that hello follows a recent good-bye. Seventeen years ago in February a male Capricorn who’s name begins with the letter J moved out of my life. In March, another male Capricorn who’s name also began with J, moved into it. He was the sweetest friend. When he wasn’t being a terror.

Still I loved him. And I mourn him. I had hoped his passing would not be as melodramatic as it was but such can be my family. I would have liked for it to have been more sacred, quieter, simpler. It’s not that I had to be in the room with him when he was given the strong medicine, I simply wanted to be near, even in the next room. But it was not to be. And now, several months later, on the eve of what would have been his 17th birthday, I think of him. Like I still do every day. Tell and retell stories about him. Because, that is how he continues to live. He just has a different shape.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Handwork = Soulwork for Me

Slowing down -- because my soul likes it better. Deconstructing t-shirts a la Alabama Chanin style and it hit me, just the simple act of cutting though the fabric, no fraying, work I can do sitting on my couch -- it’s very peaceful. I get up occasionally to check the caramels I’m simmering on the stove, and I contemplate how the ability to slow down and pay attention brings me joy. A quiet joy in the everyday ordinary. I think maybe sometimes this is what is missing from our lives -- and consequently we seek beyond ourselves, beyond where we’re at to find meaning and fulfillment.

Don’t get me wrong -- I’m a big daydreamer. But I sometimes get so far beyond where I’m actually at that I start feeling -- unhappy? Dissatisfied? Restless. Yes, that’s what it is -- restless. Looking for that place beyond the rainbow.

Dorothy learned before it was too late. Emily, who’s died in childbirth in Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, didn’t, and tells us so well -- “I didn’t realize all that was going on and I never noticed…good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners, Mama and Papa…clocks ticking…Mama’s sunflowers. Food. Coffee. New-ironed dresses and hot baths…sleeping and waking up. Oh earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”

What brings joy to your everyday?

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Feel the fear and do it anyway. Catchy title. I’ve seen the book, probably even checked it out but I don’t think I’ve ever read it. But…I’m feeling it…the fear…and doing it anyway.

What, you might ask?

Filling out my registration for SAW, an arts retreat that has beckoned to me since its inception almost 4 years ago.

But, everything in its time. I have always balked at the expenditure and been intimidated by that feeling I'm back navigating high school and its inevitable cliques. But I’m ready to push beyond that. It’s the only way we grow, right? Good growth. I can’t handle static.

And Elizabeth, the director made it easier for me -- I finally took her up on her offer of a payment plan. Sooooo…the registration is completed, a check written out and the envelope addressed. It will be stamped on Tuesday, when it can be mailed (can’t be postmarked before then). So, while 9 months from now, some will be expecting a birth of a different sort, I’m looking forward to my own kind of birth.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kathleen's Bake Shop

One of my favorite baking cookbooks is a simple spiral bound volume about 20 years old now -- called Kathleen’s Bake Shop -- it’s simple, old-fashioned baking at its best. Kathleen King started Kathleen’s Bake Shop, a popular bakery in Southampton, Long Island before moving on to Tate‘s Bake Shop (her second book‘s title). While the bakery also does mail order and distributes to specialty food shops, I much prefer baking from Kathleen’s cookbook. My soft cover copy of her original book is homey, looking like a local community cookbook rather than a polished product from a wholesale/retail enterprise.

Pure ingredients, nothing fancy or hard to come by and some of the tastiest treats I’ve ever baked, and I’ve baked plenty. This past weekend, I made the sweet potato muffins with some leftover mashed sweets and they were some of the best we’ve had. Only ¼ cup of brown sugar for sweetening and instead of milk I used buttermilk. Like Kathleen’s blueberry muffins, they were a big hit with Marty. Her peanut butter bars are an easy holiday goodie that became a looked for treat from many on my Christmas gift list. Last month I contacted the bakery in the hopes of procuring a Swedish Cardamom Braid recipe (I’d remembered a Limpa bread recipe from Kathleen’s Swedish grandmother in the book), and while the bakery didn’t have one, I am now on Kathleen’s recipe of the month club list. If you love to bake as much as I do, you’ll love her recipes.

Of course, what I’m not telling you is how much butter her recipes call for, but if you go for a long walk with an energetic puppy, that should help with the extra calories.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Year

Sigh of relief. Holidays are over. I do love the season but not the madness. It feels good to be the first Monday of January and for it to have no particular significance (although this Catholic schoolgirl could dig up some saint’s feast day for today if I had to -- but I’m not going to...yet).

It felt good having the house back to its usual self, walking in the cold, clear air this morning, doing errands, and slipping back into the non-routine of my routine. Drinking hot chocolate tonight with stale, but still delicious homemade marshmallows left over from the holidays. Easier than a batch of resolutions I'll never make and a whole lot tastier! Perfect for snowy and not so snowy days. Oh, and today's saint? St. Genevieve -- one of my favorite names. Happy 2011!

** photo of Carrigluskey, Glandore, Ireland during the holidays courtesy my cousin Patrick