Monthly Archives: September 2012

Feathers & Gold

Dear Reader:

I’ve been playing on again. Sometimes Polyvore automatically shares my creative “sets” with my blog. I rather like this outfit I created today. The shorts are fun. The coat is tres fun. I love the plum tights. My challenge? To recreate these designer outfits from resale, Goodwill, and consignment shop finds. Remember the librarian set?

My version HERE.

Polyvore creation HERE.

Think I can pull this one off? We’ll just have to wait and see! Any other Polyvore users out there? Drop me a line and I’ll check out your creations . . . Outside the Box.

Feathers & Gold

Prabal gurung

Meadham Kirchhoff faux fur coat
$6,935 –

Ribbed tight

High waisted shorts
$37 –

Wedge boots

Alexon clutch purse
$73 –

Amrita singh

Isharya turquoise jewelry
$52 –

Wedding Card, Ralph Lauren, and a Little Black Dress

Handmade Card

The handmade paper card shown above was made by a local vendor who was showing her work at the Newfield Farmer’s Market. I am going to use this as a wedding card by inking in a lovely poem by hand. Best Wishes, Adam & Steph!

Dear Reader:

It has been awhile since I have posted about my adventures in shopping locally. You may or may not remember, but this year I am attempting to buy all my clothes from locally-owned or small-business owner shops (for instance, online from another state). Dear Daughter is also coming around to the fun and challenging shopping experience that is consignment-shop hunting, though if it comes down to a choice between fashion-forward and socially-conscious-but-ugly thrift, she’ll go with the dress from the mall. Hubby could care less where I get his clothes as long as they fit and aren’t ripped or stained.

Of course, I draw the line on used socks, underwear, intimates. That’s just a little too gross for me. Someday I may begin to sew my own unmentionables, but that is a project for down the road. Sewing is still sadly waiting on my to-do list. Anyhoo….

Here are my local shopping finds from the past two weeks. Ready?

Detail Vera Bradley Bag

Last week, I went with Dear Daughter and a friend to Sanford, Maine to check out a resale shop called Sequel Consignment. We were on the hunt for semi-formal dresses, but I came away with this Vera Bradley purse in great fall colors. At $24 I thought this was a steal. I think it originally retailed for around $60, and I saw it listed for $47 on

Perhaps I could have found it cheaper from some big online discounter, but this was local, I loved it at first sight, and it is in great condition. Consignment shops like Sequel take in your clothes and sell them for you, keeping part of the profit and giving you part of the profit. So if you have party dresses, bags, shoes, etc. that you’ve worn only a few times and will never wear again, go ahead and take them in to a local consignment shop in your area and earn a few $$ of your own. Better yet, use the $$ as store credit and pick up some incredible finds right there.

Vera Bradley Morgan Bag shown here on Gabby, my dress form.

Next up: Goodwill. Goodwill Industries has a mission to help people lead productive lives through job placement, training, and other support services. With stores located all across the country, the organization accepts donations of clothing, home furnishings, and other items and sells them to generate income that supports their mission. And the prices are unbeatable. Truly. This is a total win-win situation between retailer and customer. Can you tell I totally love Goodwill?

Gabby in Ralph Lauren

Here was a great find at the Biddeford, Maine Goodwill store. Bright color. Fashion-forward cable. Classic shape. This Ralph Lauren sweater set me back a whopping $4.99. I wore it yesterday with my orange pants and got a few eye-balls-popping-out-of-head looks at the mall. Okay, maybe the colors together were a bit bright. Next time I’ll just go with classic dark-wash jeans and some neutral shoes.

Detail from Ralph Lauren sweater

Which brings me to this RLL label on the sweater. I don’t care all that much about labels, but sometimes a label indicates a better-quality piece, one that will resist fading and stretching and pilling, especially important for sweaters. I love the color, shape, and cabling on this sweater so much, it could have no label at all and I’d still love it.

Homecoming Dress for Somebody?

Now, this gorgeous little black dress was hidden in between some rather dubious formal-wear, but when I pulled it out from the rack, I thought, “Oh, hello you sweet little thing.” It is beautifully drapey, has a nice padded bustier, silken cummerbund with a generous sashes for tying into a big bow in the back, lovely sheer straps about two inches wide…and the cutest little sparkly accents where the straps meet the top.

What girl doesn’t like a little sparkle?

Unfortunately, though Dear Daughter liked the dress, it was a little snug. I can return it for the $4.99 it cost me (I’m serious! I don’t make this stuff up!) or hopefully I can find another girl in need of a homecoming dress. Any sale I can pull away from the big box mall I consider a victory.

Hello Bebe

So, black can be a little harsh for younger girls, right? Even for formal wear. Enter this Bebe top in a gold-threaded, coppery-salmon color. It is so cute over the dress, adding just a little wash of color to tone down the black. Again, this cost me $4.99 at Goodwill, and it would be so versatile, dressing up a pair of dark-wash jeans and a cute pair of ballet flats, maybe?

Did you think I only bought clothes? How silly. Actually, things here in my office are getting a bit out of hand again….

Books, books, books

Last year I worked so hard to clean out my office and bookshelves, donated fifteen plastic bags of books to the library book sale. Now look! They are piling up again. I came away with eight or nine books from Goodwill this week. Eight or nine from a local church fair this summer…and on and on it goes.

Still, for $1 a book that goes to a good cause (food pantry at the church, library services, etc.) I can enjoy these books three times…once while looking for them, once while paying for them, and once while reading them. Oh, and maybe once again when I give them back to the library or Goodwill to recycle once again.

Curling up with a good book is essential to my autumn and winter well-being. Now that we’ve passed the equinox, there is a new chill in the air. Mornings and evenings are cool. The tomatoes are not ripening as fast. I’ve pulled the cuke and most of the pumpkin vines from the garden boxes. Chickadees are visiting the sunflowers and the window-feeder. The wind ruffles the leaves on the beeches…

Brrrrr! Good thing I bought that sweater.



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As always, thank you, Dear Reader, for sharing your time and thoughts with me here Outside the Box. –Shelley:)

Grand Fennel-y

Fennel Seed Head

Dear Reader:

September is here. It is the grand finale of summer, of the harvest. I’ve been picking tomatoes, cucumbers, red chili peppers, and the last of the lettuce and yellow summer squash. A couple of the garden boxes are looking a little thin now that the zucchini and squash plants have been pulled. My herb box, however, continues to delight. The basil is full and fragrant (time to make pesto before the frost hits!), the calendula finally blossomed, the sage and rosemary are holding their own . . . and then there is the fennel!

Rich in phytoestrogens,Fennel is often used for colic, wind, irritable bowel, kidneys, spleen, liver, lungs, suppressing appetite, breast enlargement, promoting menstruation, improving digestive system, milk flow and increasing urine flow. Fennel is also commonly used to treat amenhorrea, angina, asthma, anxiety, depression, heartburn, water retention, lower blood pressure, boost libido, respiratory congestion, coughs and has been indicated for high blood pressure and to boost sexual desire.–

Honestly, I had no idea what a powerhouse of a plant I had growing in garden box #1! Fennel tasted like licorice, I knew that much. I wanted to grow some new-to-me herbs in that box, and the fennel looked interesting at the greenhouse. So four fennel plants found their way into the herb box.

And they grew.

And grew.

And grew until they were huge white bulbs with offshoots springing from it looking somewhat like a white heart with ventricles and arteries and veins.

See . . .

Upside-down for comparison

When it became clear to me that I should cook the bulbs before they went to seed, I pulled up three of them, brought them inside, sliced them up, and roasted them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt until they caramelized.

The fennel petals were a bit tough…I really did leave the plants in the ground too long. Still, the roasted fennel lent a mellow, buttery-licorice taste when added to the top of a bed of greens for a late-summer salad. The remaining plant will be allowed to go to seed. I’ve been snipping off fronds here and there to use in vinaigrette, on top of roasted meat, added to soups, for cucumber pickles, whatever I can think of.

Going All To Seed

When the flower heads turn to seed and begin to dry, I will harvest them, put them into a marked envelope, and wait until next spring to try my hand at starting new plants indoors.

I’ll also be trying to find some herbal teas that include fennel to help boost my heart, lungs, and digestive system over the fall and winter. Mmmmm, a soothing cup of licorice-tasting tea while the watching the leaves turn color outside the window. I’m almost ready for summer to be over. Almost.

How about you? Are you a fennel fan? Or fennel-finicky? Cast your vote . . . Outside the Box.