What’s the best beauty advice you received from your mom?


By Elle

Dear readers, I think this will be our last post for 2018. Between having the flu, which grabbed me by the shirt, threw me up against the wall and held me there for two weeks, and preparing for the winter holidays, I’m frankly exhausted.

So for the last post of the year, I was thinking it would be fun to share the best beauty advice you ever received from your mom (or other influential person in your life).

The advice I’ll share relates to external beauty, but obviously beauty emanates from within as well. In fact, one of my favorite quotes about beauty is from my beauty idol, the incomparable Audrey Hepburn:

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”  ― Audrey Hepburn

So the best beauty advice I ever received from my mom is this: When I was about 16 or so, I recall my mom catching me furiously rubbing my eyes, a practice that sometimes just feels so good. Rubbing your eyes relieves tension and feels invigorating. It’s like a mini facial massage. I remember her telling me, though, that I should avoid rubbing my eyes, and especially the tender skin beneath my eyes, because it will contribute to wrinkles later.

Even though I was an unruly, sassy teenager, I took her advice to heart. Hell, I didn’t want wrinkles. So I adopted a new technique, which I still use today: I use my ring fingers (which apply the least pressure) to clean my eyes and the area beneath them, and routinely use olive oil or vitamin E oil on my face to keep my skin moisturized.  Been doing this now for about 40 years, with acceptable results, so thanks Mom.

I’m not sure how my daughters would answer this question, but I do recall often telling them that their body is a temple and they should treat it with great respect. I tried to teach them the difference between good food and bad, the importance of sleep and avoiding those things, such as smoking and drugs, that poison the body.  “Worship your temple,” I’d say. “It’s the only one you have.”

So what’s the best beauty advice you ever received? Please share the wisdom that was handed down to you. We’re eager to hear and learn something new!

PS: Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday and happy, healthy New Year.

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Surprising use of men’s suits, and how shoes can signal divorce


Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design fall hatBy Elle

I picked up this delightful fall hat, crafted from a man’s suit, at the Textile Arts Alliance Wearable Art Market in Cleveland recently.  Designer Julie Cognata (jacbydesign@aol.com) repurposes clothing and fabric to create these affordable hats (mine cost $38), some of which are cleverly embellished with a man’s necktie around the brim. Because I’m more of a girly-girl, I chose a hat with a trio of knit flowers and some bling.

It may be funny to imagine this bold plaid pattern as a man’s suit today, but I’m a child of the 60s and I do recall men romping about in lively patterned knit suits. In fact, one of those men was the father of my good friend Lindy (not her real name).

Lindy’s parents were divorced, which, at the time, was unheard of, at least in our circles. Lindy’s mom, whom I rarely saw — I suspect now she was out working three jobs — had sole custody of their seven children.  For as long as I knew them, their house was a wreck, the refrigerator bare and the children unruly. Still, I loved spending the weekends there because the experience was so dramatically different from what my home life was like (thank you, Mom and Dad!).

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Easy fall outfits and how to slow down time


Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design fall fashionBy Elle

Fall is the perfect season for styling outfits. The cooler temperatures allow you to play with different textures and weights, and layering offers the chance to create a variety of no-hassle looks.

This year, fall has me thinking less about chunky sweaters and cozy leggings and more about aging. I feel obsessed lately with time and the way the naughty clock is ticking my life away. Now it’s clear to me what it means to have a mid-life crisis — and to create a bucket list, which I haven’t done because I don’t have the time.

I’m trying to engage boredom and embrace quiet moments. I’m trying to quiet my mind. I’m trying to shake up the routine and predictable moments, like occasionally driving a different route to and from work — woo hoo, I know. Instead of checking my phone when I have a minute of down time, I pay attention to my surroundings in an attempt to notice something new. Novelty, as it turns out, allows our brains to perceive time as moving more slowly.  Continue reading

Two looks for fall paisley dress, and what’s in your pocket?


By Elle

This past weekend, I pulled out my fall raincoat, complete with lining, because it’s so dang chilly outside. Whenever I put something on for the coming season, I immediately check the pockets in hope of finding, of course, cold, hard cash. What I almost always find, however, are wads of Kleenex, sometimes new, sometimes used. This time, I found, yes, Kleenex, along with something new.

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The unsolved mystery behind my latest acquisition


Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design antique painted shade lampBy Elle

I work hard at not acquiring too much “stuff” — would you believe my beloved just laughed at that? — but every now and again something tugs at my sleeve and won’t let go. Case in point: this lovely antique brass table lamp with a parchment paper shade depicting four Parisian cityscapes that I found, naturally, at the Craft & Antique Co-op in Painesville.

My maternal grandparents were huge collectors of “stuff;” their basement was, quite literally, covered wall-to-wall (including ceiling!) with finds from “rummage” sales, and much of what they collected was high quality, thanks mostly to my grandmother, Rose. She had a good eye for quality glass; my grandfather, Wally, on the other hand, had a good eye for the ladies, and he liked to collect naughty things. I remember being horrified the first time I peered into one of his tiny handheld viewers and discovered a smiling topless woman. I vaguely recall asking my mother why Grandpa liked those things and getting a giant eye roll and sigh in return.  Continue reading