Category Archives: Flabbercrabby

Be Strong: From Corsets to Yoga Shorts

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Once upon a time, young women wore corsets made of whalebone. Magazines like VOGUE showed young women how to dress fashionably. This photo was taken at the Limerick Academy building here in my town. The Limerick Historical Society gathered items from the archives to create a variety of Edwardian Era (1901-World War I) displays inside the old academy. The hats are from the collection of Blanche Trafton Hatton, who loved hats and collected over 50 of them, according to local history. Her mother, Ellen “Nellie” Trafton was Limerick’s dressmaker.

apple blossoms yoga bottoms 2013 011 Here is one of Nellie’s creations.

It seems women’s fashions have come a long way since then…or have they?

After reading this article regarding Abercrombie & Fitch’s philosophy and marketing strategies targeting only thin and average-sized youth, I thought, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I’m tired of hearing young women talk about “being fat” while swimming in their size 5 jeans. I’m tired of watching young women appraise their bodies with frowns of disgust and refusing to eat adequate calories because they believe they will be judged harshly if they have too much girth in the hips. Why would they believe us when we tell them, “nobody is judging you” and “you are beautiful just the way you are” when the guy who sells the clothes that hold the most social status in high school judges them every time they walk into that stinky, dim, navy-overloaded store in the mall?

I like fashion. I like fashion magazines. I don’t like the shrinking size of the models. They do not look like healthy women, most of them. Some look downright anorexic.

I like this model in the Hard Tail ad in this month’s Yoga Journal magazine.

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Strong. Balanced. Graceful.

And look what I found at Goodwill today for $2.99!

Danskins!

Danskins!

My wish is that young women (and older women, too) will be able to enjoy their bodies, to work toward balance and grace and strength rather than mere thinness. Thin does not equal beauty. Thin is thin. Beauty is beauty. Thin can be beautiful. It can also be scary and ugly. Big can be scary and ugly. It can also be beautiful. So can medium. All sizes can be strong. All sizes can be weak.

I say, be STRONG!

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What do you think?

Easy Weekend Cable

Dear Reader:
Quick post to share my localista find of the week, a Jordache faux fur coat from Goodwill for $20 from the Biddeford, Maine Goodwill store.

Faux Sure I Have Style

And then, of course, I had to go to Polyvore.com to see if I could create a similar look. Maybe I can knit a cable hat in this gorgeous wine color?

Easy Weekend Cable

Local Shopping Paid Off

I am obsessed! Polyvore.com is my new guilty pleasure. I’ve discovered that in addition to using pre-loaded images on the site, I can also “clip” images from the internet to use in creating fashion “sets” which allows me to showcase two of my recent LOCAL shopping finds. Last Sunday I zipped over to the Biddeford Mardens and discovered that a shipment of J.Jill clothing had arrived. What joy! What luck!

I picked up the black dress shown below for $9.99 and another one in grey linen with eyelet lace cutouts for $12.99. The Birki’s sandals like the ones shown were also at Mardens, only white with tiny black polka dots instead, for about $30.00.

I will be on the lookout for pink accessories to complete the look, preferably made by a local artisan. The books I can find on my bookshelves or at the public library. Be sure to check out the Pinky Doodle Bug book written by Maine’s Elizabeth Hamilton-Guirano and illustrated by my good friend Sandra Waugh at http://pinkydoodlebug.com/.

Elizabeth and Sandi recently participated in the Maine Festival of the Book, and Pinky Doodle is available at lulu.com and Amazon. Take a look at the website to learn more. There is a second book in the works, and I will be blogging more about this creative duo in a future post.

When I’m on Polyvore.com, my name is Flabbercrabby in honor of my fashion line Flabbercrabby & Stitch.
I’ll have to get to that “stitch” part one of these days!

In the meantime, I hope this inspires you to search your locally-owned stores for fabulous fashion finds at a fraction of the retail price. Happy shopping . . . Outside the Box!

PS: Notice the owl in the corner? My familiar should be familiar to my dear readers by now, but for the uninitiated, the owl was the goddess Minerva’s sidekick.

Children's Day at the Library

Red Hot Mama

Crabapple Hot-Pepper Jelly

Dear Reader:

As mentioned in last week’s post, one of the successes in my garden this year was growing chili peppers. These hot little items are small–two inches long–and turned from light green, to dark brown streaked, to fiery red on small, bushy plants at the front of my garden boxes. They are pretty, and while I enjoy plants for sheer beauty, I find it exciting when I can actually use plants for both decoration and food. I chopped a few into a tomato salsa and was rewarded with quite a kick of heat, but what else could I do with them?

A trip up to the local orchard provided an answer. While walking through the gift shop/payment shed, I noticed a sign listing the price of crabapples at $1.50/lb. This was a lower price than that of the Cortland and MacIntoshes, and I immediately thought of crabapple jelly. A second later, I thought of crabapple-hot pepper jelly. And when I mentioned this thought to the nice young man who runs the orchard, he told me about a cookbook they just happened to be selling which included recipes for both kinds of preserves. Score!

The crabapples were larger than the teeny-tiny ones I usually have on my flowering crab, a little larger than the big marbles we used to play with as kids . . . or the giant gumballs you could get for 10 cents from the machines in the supermarket lobby. Some had soft or brown rotting places, but I was able to quickly pick about six pounds of nice apples. The day was hot and sultry, and the fragrance beneath that tree was intoxicating. I could only hope my jelly would turn out to be as delicious as that scent!

I waited until after Labor Day weekend to attempt my first batch of jelly. I’ve made strawberry and blueberry jams in the past, but never jelly. The instructions in Theresa Millang’s THE JOY OF APPLES cookbook were clear and easy to follow. Basically, you put the apples into some water and cook them until they are soft and mushy. Then you pass them through a cheesecloth either in a strainer or hanging up like a bag over a bowl. You take the juice and mix it with sugar, add the chopped up chili peppers and some green peppers if you like a little extra color, boil it until it has reached jelling consistency (it runs off the spoon in two drips that meld together as they come off the spoon . . . or until you decide it MUST be done. This part was the hardest to calculate), and then put into your prepared jars which you process for five minutes or so in a boiling water “bath.”

Fagor Home Canning Kit

The jelly-making process is messy. You have towels and boiling water and boiling fruit juice and jars to keep hot and sterilized and lids to keep hot and sterilized and drips of jelly going all over the place. It is best to clear a few hours as well as your countertops before you start. Read through all the instructions and make a plan of action. For example, the big canning pot I have takes a long, long time to boil water on top of my flat-top stove as the pot is three times the diameter of the largest burner. The water should be boiling by the time you fill the jelly jars. It also helps to have a jar lifter to get the boiled jars out of the scalding water. You can buy canning sets from local hardware stores. Or you can order online from a site like PickYourOwn.org.

I was able to fill eight half-pint jelly jars and two smaller jars with my six pounds of crab-apples. The color of the jelly is an exquisite dark pink dotted with bits of red and green pepper. I put the smaller jars into the fridge rather than process them, and these jelled perfectly. The jars I processed with lids sealed well, but the jelly looks a little, well, un-jelled in there. Until I open one, it will be impossible to know if the preserve set correctly. I may pop them into the refrigerator a couple hours before I plan to serve.

I taste-tested the refrigerated jelly within a couple of hours. It proved to be a delicious sweet-hot combination, fiery at the back of the tongue. As for serving suggestions, hot-pepper jelly is fabulous as a snack dumped over a square of cream cheese and served with crackers. According to the cookbook, it also goes well with chicken and pork, but I’m not sure how you’d present it. Just plop some on each plate beside the meat? Or put the jar on the table so guests can dip in a spoonful and smear it on the meat? I may simply try glazing some pork chops or chicken breasts before baking on some cold winter evening when we could use a little heat in our food.

Jars All In A Row

Now that I’ve had some success with crab-apples, I’m rethinking my plan to plant dwarf apple trees on my property and may plant crab-apples instead. Their pretty blossoms in the spring and amazing fragrance in the fall, as well as the beautiful pink color of the jelly, have won me over. Now not only am I Flabbercrabby, I’m Flabbercrab-appley!

As we head into autumn, don’t forget to visit your local farm stand, farmer’s market, or orchard for the bounty of the season. If you’ve never tried preserving food, why not take a stab at it this year? And one more note of caution: when working with chili peppers, do not rub your eyes until you’ve thoroughly washed your hands. If not, you’ll be a red-EYED Mama instead of a red-hot one.

Flabbercrabby Purse and Proseal T-Shirt Makeover

Born to be Flabbercrabby

Oh, Baby-Doll

Dear Reader:

For those of you who were waiting to see how the T-shirt makeover turned out, here it is! For some reason I woke up this morning interested in accomplishing all things domestic. I scrubbed the floors, washed the dishes, did a couple loads of laundry . . . and looking at the clock I could see it was only ten o’clock in the morning. What can I do with all this extra time and energy, I pondered. Aha! The t-shirt!

Dragging out my rather dusty Singer sewing machine my parents bought me for Christmas around, oh, 1989, I wiped it down, cleared off the dining room table, and spent the next forty-five minutes trying to find the website that had the cute baby-doll t-shirt project. Once I finally found it, the cutting and sewing went smoothly, and by two-thirty the shirt was finished. Click here for the webpage and instructions.

I didn’t follow the instructions exactly. The designer/crafter simply cut the arm and neck openings and left them raw as jersey does not unravel. I wanted my shirt to look a little more “finished” and I didn’t have any black thread for my sewing maching. I decided to use yellow thread to match the “Proseal” lettering and zig-zag stictch the raw edges. I tacked down the tiny triagular “lapels” with little embroidered x’s and used gold-colored yarn for the drawstring. I’m not especially happy with the yarn, so I may cut the bottom off the t-shirt and use the material to make a jersey drawstring which cinches the shirt above the belly to make the baby-doll silhouette.

Instead of using the yarn to gather the arm “straps” I took the cut-off sleeves and made two tubes of cloth. There was still plenty of sleeve material left, so I made a matching headband. I intend the wear the ensemble to aerobics class tonight, field-testing my new/old shirt. Here are before and after pictures.

Before . . . . . .

. . . . after!

If anyone in the mid-state area needs to have their driveway or parking lot sealed, I highly recommend Proseal for all your hot-cracking needs.

For you Flabbercrabby enthusiasts, here is the premier item of the label: The “Little Striped Dress” Felted Purse. Notice the cell-phone pocket? As my husband and I are considering dropping our land-line telephone service because, let’s face it, cell phones are redundant (but who can do without one or two in the family these days?), I wanted a purse that would allow me have my phone handy at all times, except when driving, of course.

I knit the bottom and ruffley top with a bulky-weight yarn with some wool and the middle stripes with medium-weight 100% wool. I was guessing the middle stuff would shrink alot more than the top and bottom, creating a “waist” for the purse . . . and it worked! I think the handles give it a sundressy look. I still have to attach a button to the pocket flap and may sew in a cotton lining to give the bottom more stability. But isn’t it cute? It’s really darn cool to be Flabbercrabby.

Remember, anything you design and handmake can be labeled “Flabbercrabby.” Go ahead and put your creativity to work. Send me a photo of your masterpiece and I’ll post it here. . . Outside the Box.