My official spring dress


Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design | Uncle Frank grey embroidered cotton dressBy Elle

This grey cotton embroidered dress from Uncle Frank has become my official spring dress. I bought it several years ago from Green Roots Collection, wondering at the time if it was maybe a little too funky (this is Cleveland, after all), but that’s how I roll.

I gravitate toward this dress during early spring — probably because of the bright flowers — and at least once a season I wear it to our favorite pancake breakfast spot, at West Geauga High School in Chesterland. Turns out it’s also my official naturalization ceremony dress.  Continue reading

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And then she fell in love with shoes


By Elle

When I was a kid, during those freewheeling ’70s, our family — mom, dad and younger brother — would spend at least one summer day at a local amusement park, called Geauga Lake.  The park began as a quaint picnic spot and swimming hole in the late 1800s and slowly grew into a full-fledged amusement park. In its later years, Geauga Lake changed hands several times, and its future appeared uncertain, until it closed, sadly, a decade ago.

Going to Geauga Lake was a treat, the highlight of the summer. My favorite rides weren’t the roller coasters (though I liked them well enough), but rather the antique motorcars, Ferris wheel at night and, always, the carousel and its old-timey organ music. I loved the history of the park and imagined myself there at the turn of the century, flitting about in a lavish skirt, frilly blouse and Gibson-girl hairdo.

Geauga Lake was relatively close, about a 45-minute trip from our house, so we could decide spontaneously to spend the day there, which is precisely what happened one summer morning when I was about 8. I recall that my brother, who was about 5 at the time, and I were playing outside (as usual) when Mom called us to get ready because we were going to … Geauga Lake! Woo hoo! While Mom packed a picnic basket — way too expensive to buy food at the park — my brother and I packed ourselves into the family sedan, a goldenrod Pontiac Catalina. Continue reading

Our big, fat kitchen renovation — the madness begins


By Elle

Spring is around the corner, and we have house renovation on our minds! Since last fall, we’ve been planning our kitchen renovation — no small task and kind of scary, too.  So because we are the quintessential DIY’ers (and quite frugal), we’ve been making trip after trip to the Kraftmaid Outlet in Warren, Ohio, to buy our kitchen cabinets for a steal.

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Mid-winter shimmer and shine


By Elle

My granddaughters who are between 3 and 5 years old love Shimmer and Shine, two spunky cartoon genies, one of whom has a particular penchant for glitter.  (That’s Shimmer, and she’s my favorite.)

Those two genies came to mind a few weeks back when I pulled out my fiber shawl, by MZ Beads, to wear to the art museum . I love how the metallic fibers shimmer in the light and give my spirit a lift during these mid-winter days.
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Best gift idea for Valentine’s Day. Ever.


By Elle

How over-the-moon would you be if your partner/spouse presented you with a journal that contained a year’s worth of reasons why he/she loves you?

This idea emerged several years ago during one of the communication courses that I teach. A course participant told the group that he created a journal for his wife, essentially titled 365 Reasons Why I Love You. Every day he would pen an entry, describing to his wife why he loves her.

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What is the best way to capture your life memories?


By Elle

Is a life captured in photos more memorable and well-lived than one fully experienced and recorded in memory?

I suppose one could convincingly argue that memories fade, but photos, especially digital ones, can last forever. That’s certainly true. One could also argue that looking through stacks of photos from yesteryear can rekindle long-forgotten memories and emotions. I relish looking through my volumes of old photos, laughing at how adorable my late dad looked wearing Mickey Mouse ears at my younger daughter’s first birthday party, and how grateful I am to have a photo of my beloved when we dated “the first time around” more than 20 years ago. (We’re both incredulous that we didn’t take more photos back then.) Continue reading