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

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New! Ruby Shoos and life for old underwear


Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design Ruby ShooBy Elle

I generally don’t pay much for my clothing, opting to thrift most everything I buy, for several reasons (in no particular order):

  • I like a closet full of choices
  • Recycling and reusing clothing is crucial for the environment
  • There’s no shortage of magnificent fashion finds when thrifting
  • I can buy expensive shoes without guilt

According to Elizabeth Cline, who wrote Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, “most of our donated clothing doesn’t end up in vintage shops, as car-seat stuffing, or as an industrial wiping rag. It is sold overseas….And by one estimate, used clothing is now the United States’ number one export by volume, with the overwhelming majority sent to ports in sub-Saharan Africa.”

While that seems like a charitable deed, turns out the world has changed, and many people in developing countries are able to now afford fast fashion and super-cheap clothing from China. We can (and should) no longer use Africa as our dumping ground for unwanted textiles. In fact, there is at least talk in Eastern Africa to ban all imported used clothing by 2019.

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Deck reno, part 4: The big finish (and definition of finish)


By Elle
As usual, we were working furiously on a renovation project in time for an event — this time our deck in prep for my granddaughter’s 13th birthday party. I’m excited to say that it is (mostly) finished. What began as a simple reskin of our lower deck turned into a complete redo and an extension, creating a third level of deck along with a privacy wall. Are we overachievers or what?

I remember Arkady saying once that we should always leave a maker’s mark on our projects. We did that in the form of heritage tiles in our back hallway and on the laundry room sink after those renovations. But not so much after that, perhaps because a lot of our renovations haven’t quite crossed the finish line, which got me thinking.

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Deck reno, part 3: Picture-frame stair treads and gratitude for something I didn’t get


Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design picture-frame stair treadsBy Elle

As part of my gratitude practice, I try to be thankful for the things that I don’t have, in addition to those that I do. For example, for the last several weeks, we’ve been racing to get the rest of our deck finished in time for my 13-year-old granddaughter Brenna’s coming-of-age party.  Although the party itself was fun, I felt underwhelmed about how the ceremony turned out and, frankly, was feeling down about it.

Then I remembered the six-foot ball I bought for the kids to play with at the party.

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Deck reno, part 2: Extension and slide!


By Elle

You might ask why we’re installing a slide from our deck. Because I sometimes have crazy ideas, and my beloved typically goes right along with them, that’s why. I used to think it was because he absolutely adores me (which is true), but I now know that if the idea requires something to be built, it sparks the Boy Who Likes to Build inside him.

Here’s a story: When Arkady was a wee lad, his parents were still in the process of building (mostly themselves) their brick ranch in a far eastern suburb of Cleveland. He watched as his dad, working on two-story scaffolding, finished the brickwork in the back of the house. He helped his mom shovel backfill, and he probably wanted to help his dad install the oak floor that runs throughout most of the house.
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Kitchen reno screeches to a halt, so I went apron shopping


By Elle

As I mentioned in my last post, renovation around the old homestead has all but stopped; instead of tearing out drywall and installing cabinetry, we’re focused on caring for aging parents. Luckily my half-finished kitchen is fully functional, so I have zero complaints. I can still whip up awesome vegan dishes or enjoy Thai takeout at our new kitchen island.

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