Off The Rack

Off The Rack

There are those of us who are larger than the popular image of beauty, or shaped differently. I am one of those people who is not a “media” beauty, and yet I love my body, my face, and my hair-most-of-the-time.

I am thinking about this as a result of looking at furniture ideas on Pinterest. What is the connection between my body type and weight, and furniture on Pinterest?

Well, I will start my explanation with Pinterest. The furniture I am looking at is suitable for small homes, small spaces. It has to be functional, maximize space and storage. Those are the two basic requirements. The third requirement is aesthetic appeal. All of the images I am looking at offer aesthetic appeal, at least as photographed they offer aesthetic appeal. However, in real life, book covers, kitchen ware, etc., are not perfectly colour and size coordinated, in most “lived-in” homes. I really do not choose reading material according the colour of the jacket. In addition to that, in “lived-in” homes, items in everyday use are seldom carefully and artfully arranged on display. Functional spaces are usually “in use”, and items are out there, arranged according to the task at hand, often hastily stored is less than aesthetic positions.

Not to mention of course, people leaving sweaters on the backs of chairs, books thrown on the end table, a half full coffee cup abandoned on the coffee table, shoes left under the edge of chair, boots by the door fallen over or scattered around… this list goes on and on and on. I do not live with a person who is aware of “how things land” in a living space. Attila, when he does have time to relax, does not focus on placing items aesthetically and artfully around the room. Nor do I want him to pay attention to such things. Nor do I want to pay attention to such things.

And yet, despite the chaotic array of personal items, I feel that there is beauty in the way we live, and I want to tap into it.

Back to the images of furniture on Pinterest. When I look at those pristine, usually empty or staged, pieces of furniture, I assess them for what they might actually look like if used in daily living. Most of them fail this test. A few make it through though, and those are pieces that hide chaos behind doors and drawers, and/or offer everyday items easily organized and handy places to land, and still manage to look appealing.

Almost anything can be made to look appealing out of the context of daily life, in the way of furniture. My challenge is to find items that will offer some appeal even when exposed to the reality of daily life and use.

As with furniture that is empty or staged, clothing is often empty or staged at point of purchase. I grew up in an era where paper dolls were a common plaything. The cover of the set was cardboard, and the dolls were printed in colour on the cardboard, we cut them out. On the paper pages were printed the outfits for the dolls. We cut out the clothes, which had “tabs” that folded around the doll to secure them in place. The dolls, and the clothes, were two dimensional. I think this influenced how I viewed decorative clothing, for the rest of my life.

I noticed some time ago that many clothing items looked very appealing on the rack, they hung with dignity, beautifully draped, empty, without a real body in them. Ah, but once that item had to contend with a less than ideal shape and size within it, the stuff of daily life, well that was another matter altogether. Clothing does not look the same on a body as it does on the rack. That is a bit of a no brainer, but I have often been tempted by clothing that hangs seductively on the rack, only to be horrified in the dressing room. There is a second aspect to this, and that is staged clothing. Clothing is usually staged on emaciated dummies, so that it hangs almost as seductively on the dummies as it does on the rack. Staged clothing displays have no unsightly bumps and lumps that alter the drape of the cloth. (I am not defining a pregnant body with a bump or a lump though, designers have found quite a market for clothing designed for that particular, brief, exciting interlude in a woman’s life.)

As with empty or staged furniture, empty or staged clothing does not usually stand up to the test of a “lived in” life. Life is lived “off the rack”.

With age, my body moves steadily away from the ideal of lithe youth, and it has been more and more difficult to find clothing that will let me express how much I like my own body. I have no interest in working towards the ideal body shape or weight; I am grateful that my body is healthy, that is my only concern with weight, and I wish it were like that for every female on planet earth.

Quiet days here at the country house. Thankfully, it is raining. It could be snow, but it isn’t. I have a new batch of Stone Soup under construction, the first ingredients to go into the pot are the boiled cucumbers from our garden at the little house in the city, and the water leftover from boiling three cups of peas. Another possible ingredient is tomatoes, also from the garden at the little house in the city. The green ones that we brought home with us did not ripen into a lovely red, but more a yellowish red. Better for cooking than eating I think. They are all in the freezer, so I will need to blanch and peel them before adding them to the soup. For the rest, I am waiting for inspiration or fate, whichever comes first.

Last Sunday I made a Giant Oven Pancake for breakfast, and served it with homemade Blueberry Topping. While making the topping in a saucepan, I used one of the wooden spoons from the cutlery crock. I always taste the food I cook, to get the right balance. When I tasted the blueberry sauce it was “hot”, unpleasantly so. That is it was hot pepper hot, I am not referring to the physical temperature. At first I thought the blueberries must have fermented in the freezer, or some such thing, and contemplated throwing the all out.

But then I remembered. Attila had been picking his hot peppers last week, and he might not have been as careful as possible in cleaning the utensils he had used. So I took a stainless steel spoon and tasted my Blueberry Sauce with that. It was perfect, not “hot” at all. Attila!! The blueberries were saved!

The thing about sharing a kitchen with another cook, is that you just never know what you are going to discover! That works both ways.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 10:36 AM EDT Tuesday 28 October 2014
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 10.4°C
Dewpoint: 9.5°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: SE 21 km/h


“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”
Chinese Proverb


  1. WendyNC

    So glad you tasted the blueberry sauce early on. If you had just used the wooden spoon repeatedly to stir, the end result may have been almost as surprising as that initial taste. I have to admit that the thought of spicy-hot blueberry sauce does not really appeal.

  2. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    I would like to work toward a better shape, the question is will my body let me? Since going to the doctor and getting my thyroid meds changed I’ve not only lost about 30 lbs but have also lost numerous inches off my hips and torso. I don’t think my meds are quite right yet though, as at times I still get the fluttery or jump-started feeling that comes from when my TSH is too low. Next time I see the doc I’m going to ask her if we can move my meds up one more level. The jump-start feeling is rather unsettling.

    Your giant oven pancake sounds nice! I haven’t done one of those in many years. Use to love them with powdered sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

  3. Nora

    I remember paper dolls. Perhaps we are same vintage.

    I was to Pinterest once. I saw that it could be a very time consuming place for me so I did not return. At the time I was spending to much time on Facebook. I no longer am involved with Facebook. I decided to blog instead. Now I have met you!

    I never gave much thought behind either clothes or furniture. You bring up interesting points and observations.

    I grew up in a chaotic household so order is important for me. I need it to function well and since we have no children it is fairly easy to maintain. Parts of the apt. look lived in and others don’t.

    I too am glad you saved the blueberries!

  4. Wendy, yikes, spicy-hot-blueberry sauce, what a fiasco that would have been. I would not have eaten it, but I suspect Attila would have gobbled it up, lol! Attila loves hot food, eats hot peppers raw or pickled. Not me though, I can tolerate a little bit of hot, but not much. I have a rustic Scotch palette, oatmeal, oatmeal, oatmeal!

  5. Teri, I have heard that balancing thyroid medications can be tricky business, wishing you well with that! Maybe adjusted medications will bring your weight down as much as you would like, gently, without having to alter your lifestyle or starve to to it. That jump-starting feeling sounds unpleasant indeed!

    We love the giant oven pancake best with fresh fruit, which we have in season. In the winter I use frozen fruit to make a sauce. Sometimes we have maple syrup with the pancake, but that is a little too decadent for me, I tend to experience a “sugar crash” after eating a lot of sugar. We don’t have Giant Oven Pancake too often though, because it has three eggs in it, which means I am eating at least one egg. One egg puts me over the recommended daily limit of cholesterol, something not to be done on a regular basis. I have tried making it with egg whites, but quite frankly, it just isn’t the same. I decided a little bit of something I like is better than a lot of something I merely tolerate.

  6. Nora, you remember the paper dolls too! What wonderful memories, of warm summer afternoons spent cutting out dresses and costumes and then dressing the dolls. My sister and I spent hours and hours playing with paper dolls. They are very good for fine motor control skills, and eye hand coordination, educational without us even realizing it.

    Pinterest is new to me this month actually. It began when Attila and I decided that twin beds would be a better fit for our small bedroom at the little house in the city. So I thought I would look for twin beds with storage drawers underneath. My google search kept sending over to Pinterest, so I setup an account and starting pinning the items that might work. Unfortunately, so far, the only items I found, that I would actually want, are ridiculously expensive. So I may or may not continue with it. It is a good place to store ideas that I want to come back to though. I don’t usually look at other people’s collections, just do a keyword search on the things I am looking for and pin anything that looks as if it will have some future relevance.

    Facebook!!! I am there, but I hate it. Mostly it lets me know how my friends are doing. I don’t have many friends, and I don’t use Facebook to chat. Mostly it is posts about issues and things are creatively interesting, or funny. I use the “I don’t want to see this” a LOT. I have had several outstanding discussions with people on Facebook, but that is a rare event. One drawback though, is that my friends share some of my values, so I seldom see posts presenting alternative points of view. I do not see very much that I disagree with on Facebook. I do often hear the news before it breaks into the media though, and enjoy hearing people’s personal interpretations instead of the corporate “this is what you need to know / this is what we want you to think” rhetoric.

    I know what you mean about finding order peaceful and comforting Nora! Attila and I have worked it out so that there are areas in our house where order is kept, and areas that I just do not enter because they are chaotic. Attila likes the order, but he doesn’t like maintaining it, lol!

  7. This is one of my favorite posts. Your observations are fascinating.

    Life is lived off the rack. That’s so true these days, but it wasn’t always the case. Everyone used to wear *custom* clothing… homespun couture. Furniture was also custom designed, hewn, no two pieces alike.

    I loved paper dolls. I can remember sitting on the floor – carefully snipping around the tabs.

    You’ve given me so much to think about. I’ll probably return. xo

  8. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    With changing meds, I know it can work because it already has without my making any effort at all.

    Regarding eggs, when I first met DH he was just about counting his eggs per week to battle high cholestrol. Of course once we started living together he had to start eating lower carb, like I do. And although he eats somewhat more bread than I do he has still reaped the benefits of low carb and now has excellent cholestrol readings, as do I, without avoiding eggs. (Eggs only contain cholestrol, they don’t convert to cholesterol. It’s the excessive bad fats combined with high carbs and starches that cause cholestrol problems.)

  9. Further thoughts on Facebook. I regard Facebook as a coliseum. Almost everything I see there does not involve personal contact, or private dialogue. It is the ultimate selfie culture. I have no praise for Facebook. I do not try to be “nice” there, I merely aim for honest and thoughtful. It is there that I engage our cultural demons, which are not individuals, but assumptions, assumptions that allow injustice to run rampant, and greed to be glorified. Facebook is not a nice place to visit and I would not want to live there.

    The broader cultural demons I expose myself to, and try to deal with on Facebook are not welcome in the virtual space of my online journal. This space is about expressing who I am, and what I think of myself. It is meant to reflect the compassion, respect, dignity, integrity, kindness, and goodness that can be found everywhere around us. Here I say to Facebook, its corporate agenda, and its corollary assumptions: “you shall not pass!”

  10. Interesting Reenie, it was not that long ago in our history in North America that clothing was made at home, custom made, often with love. Furniture the same!

    So you too played with paper dolls! They were wonderful weren’t they! I still get a tingle when I see them, they bring back not only the joy of playing with them, but my Grandmother and Mom chatting in the next room, my Grandfather out on his tractor, the sound of the ticking clock in the dining room… we were so lucky to have such wonderful playthings!

  11. Teri, good information, thanks for sharing! Some people have an inherited propensity for high cholesterol, I am on of those people. Dietary factors don’t lower my levels, but will raise them, so I am careful with sugars, and processed carbohydrates, and high cholesterol foods like eggs. The oils too are important, we eat only olive oil, and I bake with canola oil because I do like the taste of olive oil in sweet foods. I have found a medication that keeps the cholesterol under control, but barely. My Granny, who was very fit and active, suffered from high blood pressure, and began having strokes at quite a young age, this was not due to any shortcoming of her lifestyle, it was an inherited propensity. There were no effective medications in her day, which breaks my heart, as we might have had more years with her!

  12. Maggie, DH was already cooking only with olive oil before we met. He’d even foresaken butter and used only margarine (which actually is not good for you). We still use only olive oil (or on occasion butter) for any baking and even our mayonnaise is an olive oil mayonnaise. (Yes, we even bake with olive oil in sweet items.) DH has also been very big on eating garlic in large quantities since before I met him – LOL, though he does ease up on the raw stuff in the morning when I start complaining that he smells like salami. 😉

    (I do notice, though, that olive oil mayonnaise is more olive oil in name that it is in ingredient.)

    The change in his diet came about when his doctor was ready to put him on medication for his, then, high cholesterol. But when he changed over to low carbing with me, it turned out that was the only change he had to make.

    Speaking of paper dolls, I came in at the very end of the paper doll era. I remember Betsy McCall paper dolls when I was quite young – maybe 5-6? And then they pretty much disappeared not too long after that.

    You’ve pretty much hit on my take on Facebook too, and my own response to it. I only have something like 20 ‘friends’ on Facebook. Most are family, one or two are virtual friends, and a few are people that I (barely) knew in high school but who seem dead set on Friending me. (I keep waiting for a feeling that the appropriate time has come to unFriend them.)

  13. Bex

    I loved paper dolls. I also loved my Jan doll (before the “Barbie” era) and I used to make all Jan’s clothes my hand, cutting out scraps of material that my mother would have thrown away from out clothes which she made also. Tiny little hand-made stitches for all the seams, and this, too, was of great benefit for hand-eye coordination as a little girl. I would sit out on our big front porch for hours and hours with my dolls and their little outfits that I would design and make by hand. Oh, and before my “Jan” doll I remember the first one was my “Ginny” doll… doesn’t anyone remember “Ginny”?

  14. NORA


    Ginny doll-absolutely. I loved my dolls! I too sewed their clothes at times. My mother used to sew all my clothes and she made doll clothes as well. I have a machine my sister gave me two years ago-digital. Ugh. It’s collecting dust. It’s just not the same. My favorite was a treadle sewing machine. You could really get into a good rhythm with it.

  15. Bex and Nora, making doll clothe was so much fun! Material scraps still fascinate me, as so buttons.

    My grandmother had a treadle sewing machine on which she made quilts, beautiful quilts. Someone broke into my Granny’s house and stole the sewing machine and the cabinet after My Grandpa died. I never did use it, but Granny and my Mom did inspire me to purchase my own machine as soon as I was able, a 1968/9 Lotus Elna, and it is still going strong, i used it to make the kitchen curtains in September.

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