Monday, December 12, 2011

Skinny Dresses, Mayonnaise Biscuits, and a Giveaway, too!

I love estate sales and I love chickens.  This past week-end proved to be a delightful mix of both....

On Saturday my husband and I went to a sale in one of the area's most exclusive know, the "old money" kind of community.    There was a realtor's sign in the yard and I imagine the neighbors will be thrilled to see it sold.  The formerly gracious estate was in complete disrepair, something that  is very much NOT the norm in this particular neighborhood, which features crazy expensive waterfront homes sporting landscapes that resemble botanical gardens.  The home we visited bore the scars of years of neglect, with weeds and grass growing out of the roof!  However, upon walking through the front door, we could see that at one time the house had been  a showpiece.  Vintage floral wallpaper and beds with handmade lace canopies could have been the setting for a Martha Stewart photo shoot.  Expensive furnishings and Turkish rugs hinted at better times.    I meandered through the house and started to form a mental picture of the inhabitant. 

Hmmm....lots of clothes...but nothing for a man.  An elderly woman, residing alone, her husband long since dead.  The contents of the home were very high quality --- the sort of stuff that the kids would certainly have snagged for themselves, if there were any kids.  Instead, a savvy antique shop owner bought almost everything.  The hundreds of gourmet cookbooks in the kitchen revealed a love for cooking and I scored a nifty vintage cookbook for only fifty cents!  It is from 1967--back before we avoided lard and carbs---you know, the good old days.   I am making the gumbo on page 117 for dinner tonight.

I left the kitchen and made my way upstairs, on the prowl for wool sweaters.   I am building up a sizable sweater stash to be recycled into a rug, so I rummaged through the closets.  No wool sweaters, but I did find something that resonated with me....


You know the one I mean.... that one article of clothing that we hold on to for years, the lone garment that represents who we were and maybe even who we long to be again.  I still have a pair of  teeny weeny Bill Blass  jeans from the late 1970s.   I cannot squeeze them over my cankles, but I hold on to them, nonetheless.  It is reminder of who I used to be and proof to disbelieving children that I was young and tiny once!  The jeans are hidden in the WAAAY back of my closet, next to the hot pink minidress that I bought in New York on my first trip away with my husband after we had the kids.  I had worked hard to get my body back and was feeling frisky.  The dress reminds me of that sassy girl and I like having it around. 

So, back to the estate sale....the closets were stuffed full of clothes....I waded through a sea of  size 3x dresses and high end Mumus and was about to call it a day when I hit upon a real gem.   It was the only garment in the house that was smaller than an extra large and I am guessing that it was her Skinny Dress...the piece that reminded her of a younger, saucier self.  The human experience is such a trip---so many commonalities.  It was like a peek into her head and I wanted that dress in my closet.    It is a stunning lime green 100% wool Jackie O-ish confection from the early sixties.  The dress is in mint condition, features Swarovski Crystal banding around the collar....and it is  MY size!  It set me back a mere $2.50 and I love it!  It needs to be hemmed, and could use a black belt and some heels, but I think it is going to work.   Long Live the Skinny Dress and Long Live our Sassy Selves!

The next sale we hit provided more giggles than introspection, and centered around the kitchen.  This home was filled with cookbooks, too, but bespoke of a smaller budget and a much less discriminating palette.  Most of the titles featured casseroles, canned food creations, or the microwave.  Yuck.  I did find a killer Better Crocker cookbook stuffed with handwritten recipes.  The graphics are adorable and I get a kick out of thumbing through recipes that others consider real keepers, often trying them out at home.  I don't think I will be trying too many of these, however!  The Mayonnaise Biscuit recipe scared me the most:

Three simple ingredients:  flour, milk, and mayo.  M'mm, M'mm, Good....not.  The part the killed me was where  the amount of mayonnaise was crossed out and then doubled, evidence that someone was working to refine this recipe.  Ugh...Why?   I actually contemplated whipping up some Mayo Biscuits, just because, but found that I simply couldn't go there.  Frankly, I think that my chickens might even turn up their beaks at the thought of Mayonnaise Biscuits and they eat everything!

Those of you who visit my Studio know about Cooper, my slightly "Out of Balance" dog.   Cooper is a sad sack...a timid, silly boy who we rescued many months ago.  Cooper is afraid of everyone outside of the family, and flinches if you reach out to him.  He often crawls rather than walks in an effort to demonstrate his complete submissiveness...unless you are a piece of furniture or a chicken.   Yup, old Cooper turns into a fearless warrior when faced with a couch or a hen in need of a good eating.  He tears apart either with equal vigor, tail wagging all the while.  Frankly, it is the only time we see unadulterated joy emanating from the little guy.  Unfortunately, the chickens aren't fond of being attacked, and my husband is not fond of ruined furniture, so we are doing our best to keep him under control.  

Cooper managed to dig under the fence a few weeks ago and killed three hens and a huge rooster before I noticed anything amiss.  Sigh.  We filled the hole with concrete and reinforced the coop.  Yesterday I went to my first livestock auction and came home with four hens and a spectacularly fluffy rooster.  
So far, so good.  


Leave a comment and tell me about YOUR version of the skinny dress...what do you have hiding in YOUR closet from yesteryear?  I will pick a winner at random to receive a selection of Swarovski Crystal Beads and a copy of Taking Flight, Inspiration & Techniques to give your Creative Spirit Wings, by Kelly Rae Roberts!  The winner will be announced on Sunday, December 18, 2011.
We are having a FREE workshop at the Studio this week!  If you are in the Tampa area, join us for an evening of community and crafty education as we learn to make wet felted poinsettias.  We only have a few spaces left....Reserve your spot HERE.  Wednesday, December 14 from 7-9 pm
Happy Stitching!


  1. Oh wow!!! What a memory that brings up!!! I DO have a 'skinny dress' too! I have kept my three sizes smaller sleeveless dress and the matching wrap forever! It's a gorgeous, simple, elegant ensemble in off white, with lace at the hem and the outlines in the front/collar/cuffs of the wrap. Made out of some outrageously expensive material - I bought it years and years ago when I a) had money and b) was the smallest I've ever been! I doubt I'll fit into it again, but I keep it because I love how confident and happy I felt the three times I wore it - and one of those times was a wonderful date with my husband. :) :) Thanks for the memories!!!

  2. Pat -
    The new rooster is just as handsome as can be ! I didn't know that they could be so beautiful.

    My version of the "skinny dress" is a pencil skirt. I was fresh out of college and began my professional career within two weeks of graduation. Much to my misunderstanding, a degree did NOT warrant a high paying job, but I took it anyway! That being said, there was not always a lot of extra money in the pocket for good quality professional work clothes. I was, and had been, long out of my parents home. Bills, bills, bills....

    A very nice acquaintance had invited me over to her home one afternoon as she told me that she had some clothing that no longer fit her, from her professional days.
    And boy - did she ! They were fantastic quality, and I felt dressed to the nines!
    Amazing what a nice outfit will do for your self esteem.

    That was 13 years ago, and about 30 pounds ago.
    As a memento of how good clothing can make you feel, I keep that pencil skirt in my closet as my reminder.
    The rest of the very good quality clothing has been passed along and I can only hope that another young woman on a tight budget was made to feel amazing with nice clothes.


  3. Nancy: I loved your description of your Skinny Dress. Moreover, you nailed it on The Why of the matter...The Skinny Dress sticks around in my closet long after any hope of wearing it again has faded, simply because of its MAGIC. Yup, it is all about the MAGIC we felt when we were in them! Good job!

  4. Amy:
    You reminded me of my OTHER Skinny Dress...the two piece purple power suit with Alexis Carrington/Dynasty shoulder pads and lots of bead embroidery. It was my "go to" suit when I was a power lawyer. LOL My kids won't even wear it as a Halloween costume, but I won't let go of it!

  5. Such memories! My "skinny dress" is actually not skinny. I purchased it in Bermuda while we were on our honeymoon - 30 years ago!. The dress is the very first silk dress that I owned - blue print, square necked, long sleeved, flowy style, with a self belt. Until then, I sewed most of my clothes, so a ready made dress was an extravagance for me, especially one in silk. I wore this dress with the belt and then without when I become pregnant with my first child, my daughter. The dress still hangs in my closet. I haven't tried it on in years, and won't wear it again, but I know that it will fit. I still love it and can't bear to part with it. There are too many lovely memories attached to it.

  6. Hedy:
    I have met you "in person," so I have no doubt that the dress will still fit...bitch.

    OH! Did I say that out loud?

    ...just joshin'!

    Seriously, I so love this Skinny Dress is your Young Bride dress, but it is all about the magic of the period in which we lived.

  7. Ha, ha, ha, Pat - did I say that the dress was very loose and flowy? I call it my hippy dress. That's the only reason it would still fit.

  8. One of my longest lasting relationships was with a guy with the last name Roberts - he was the third guy in my life to propose to me - but I was young, dumb,living my life - I didn't marry him but had I done so - my name would have been Kelli Rae Roberts! I love Kelli's work and have written her a million times. I saw her LIFE sized art at the Dallas Market! Stunning. I have her book so if I did win - I'd give it to my neighbor who adores mixed media and fiber art and all things CRAFF-tayyyyyy!
    Thanks for a great narrative and a super giveaway.

  9. WOW! Three proposals, Kelli? You vixen!!! You temptress! I feel positively inadequate....


  10. Hi Pat! Beautiful fluffy rooster!

    My skinny dress was my 'prom' dress. And no, it wasn't from when I was in high school. I had two kids, had been divorced for a few years, and was putting on one of many holiday parties for my company. Everything was planned to perfection, my date was the 'perfect' guy, I had worked for years on my 'perfect' figure, and I had found the 'perfect' dress. I never went to my prom, and this night was to be a sort of redemption. And it was perfect. I looked wonderful, felt wonderful, everything was as close to 'perfect' as could be.

    Years later the job burned me out, the guy turned out to be a really bad guy, and my perfect figure has fallen prey to abuse and neglect. But my skinny dress remains in my closet. A reminder of one night that helped me reclaim a bit of lost childhood. A reminder that I can feel like a princess. A reminder that life gives you moments - and skinny dresses - that you should never forget!

  11. Linda:
    I love your story. No matter how old we get, sometimes we are just little kids with wrinkles. I am so glad that you got your fairytale!

  12. Hi Pat,
    I've been in a crazy cleaning mode lately freeing myself and home of long held onto "stuff" so my skinning dress just hit the garbage pile a few weeks ago. It was my wedding dress...I know how could I throw away my wedding dress well it was 30 years old and was stained but the good news is that at least i didn't throw away the husband with it!!! I sure was skinny back then but I was so stupid I used to think I was fat!!!

    So as i'm reading your blog and I do a double take...can it be, do i have the same Betty Crocker's Cook Book? I rummage through my many cookbooks and sure enough, there it is a relic from my husband's childhood. The cookbook belonged to his mother when she was a young girl. He is still attached to that cookbook even though he still has nightmares about having to eat the jello mold receipes she used to make him eat. LOL!

    P.S. The rooster is a handsome guy!

  13. I'm still mired in the painful process of acknowledging that I'm never going to get back to the size I was 10+ years ago, so I'm clinging to plenty of super skinny high school clothes (it's a long journey, isn't it?).

    The real treasure in my closet isn't one of my innumerable skinny dresses but a teeny burgundy gown with a ruffled collar and tiny white polka dots. It's my *mom's* skinny dress from the 70's! She wore it to a homecoming dance in college and gave it to me when I was 18. Of course now it's too skinny for me as well, but I keep hope alive that maybe I'll have a daughter someday who I can pass it down to.

  14. Swirlygirl:
    I can totally relate on the "thinking I was fat way back when" thing....A few years ago I happened upon a diary that I kept through high school, college, law school and young mommyhood. It was actually a WEIGHT DIARY...How weird is that? I made notations of my weight, sometimes accompanied by measurements and horrified comments such as

    "Weight: 128. Thighs: 21 1/2 inches. Gross! I should kill myself now."

    Weird. Pathetic. True. I am so glad that I have shed, if not any weight, at least the weird obsession over it!

    It is a long journey, indeed---see my comments to Swirlygirl above! Moreover, I think your mom and I wore the same dress to prom. Those were the Michael Landon/Little House on the Prairie years. Everyone had a crush on Michael Landon and wore demure ruffled collars. Here's hoping that you will someday have a daughter who will treasure polka dots and ruffles! Of course, maybe that will be more Asher's taste...LOL...just joshin'!

  15. Oh Pat !! I still have a power suit, that I'm clinging to, just because it "used" to look awesome and I felt super-confident in it & a killer pair of heels. ;)

    Now I have "power outfits".
    Amazing how becoming self-employed, even In professional practice, changes one's perspective.

  16. So true, Amy! Have a wonderful holiday...I hope you can find a minute or two to recharge your batteries....

  17. Oh no....I wasn't entering? Sorry, as a bead shop owner I've been trying not to enter other bead shop/owner/business giveaways (well, unless I am a client) and well, uhhhh.....nevermind.
    I just wanted to say how much I loved Kelli Rae Roberts!
    No, no entry for me, please. Congrats to the WINNER!