• A Few Helpful Tips for Setting up Corel Painter 16 on Surface Pro 4

    With a few simple setting adjustments, the pressure-sensitive Surface Pen and Surface Pro 4 work very well with Corel Painter 2016.

    In the hope of saving you a bit of time and aggravation, I would like to share the settings I have found best suited to the Surface Pro 4 and Corel Painter 2016.

    Initially, you will need to pair your Surface Pen to you Surface Pro 4. If you did not do that when you set up your tablet initially, here is a link to help guide you: https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/support/hardware-and-drivers/surface-pen-pro-4?os=windows-10#tryoutWin10

    After pairing your Surface Pen to your Surface Pro 4 tablet, you can adjust pressure sensitivity for your Surface Pen. Go to the blue box on the home page labeled “Surface.”

    Surface Button

    Select the pen icon in the sidebar, and use the Surface Pen to calibrate your pen to the tablet.
    Here is a link to help you further: https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/support/apps-and-windows-store/surface-app?os=windows-10

    There is one final adjustment to make to the Surface Pro 4 tablet:

    Settings > System > Tablet mode
    “Make Windows more touch-friendly when using your device as a tablet”: Off

    Next, open Corel Painter 2016.

    Open a new file: File > New > OK

    Select:Edit > Preferences > Tablet

    Under Tablet Options, select the second radial button, “RTS-Compatible device.”

    Under Multi-touch options, select the first radial button, Corel Painter Multi-touch, but leave “Enable Multi-touch” UNCHECKED.

    Select OK.

    Very important: Restart Corel Painter for the changes to go into effect.

    After restarting Corel Painter:

    Edit > Preferences > Brush Tracking
    Draw a brushstroke in the Scratchpad with your Surface pen. Initially, leave unchecked the box “Apply to current brush variant.” This will apply your brush tracking to all brush variants. This can be changed at any time.

    Select OK.

    Open a new document, and you are ready to start drawing!

    (Disclaimer: I am returning to Microsoft technology after years of using Mac products. I offer my suggestions in the spirit of good will and sharing and any errors in this post are due to my self-taught trial and error. Constructive suggestions are welcome, but please remember to be kind! Thank you).


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  • elegant simple life v2.0

    "Raspberry Rhapsody." © 2013. Christianna Pierce.

    Hello, dear readers of elegant simple life!

    As many of you may recall, this blog started several years ago as a place to share my experiences of bringing simplicity and minimalism into my chaotic suburban life. At the time, my husband and I lived with our two high-school aged sons in a big house in the ‘burbs. We were long overdue for simplification in our environment and lifestyle. I wrote about our experiences, especially in the early months of the blog, and found great inspiration from the community of minimalist bloggers in the webosphere and from sharing conversations with you, my readers.

    Fast forward a few years and here we are in 2013 with a whole new scenario. Our sons have grown up and moved out on their own. One lives on the east coast and the other attends university in Eugene. Meanwhile, my  husband and I  sold our house and nearly everything in it. We now live in a cozy, light-filled apartment in downtown Portland where we are absolutely thrilled to be a part of a big (by Oregon standards!) city and partake of all it has to offer.

    Now that the external clutter of my life has been tempered, I find that I can more fully attend to the beauty around me. It’s as though the mountains of “stuff” we were living under put a damper on my ability to appreciate the simple beauty and magic that has always been right in front of me. I feel that I can breathe more deeply, both metaphorically and literally, and take in the wonders around me. This is reflected in the new tagline of my blog, “finding beauty everywhere.” Because it is everywhere. And taking the time to notice it can be a simple source of great joy.

    Additionally, I have been tapping into my artistic self . This has led to a new-found passion for creating digital paintings on the iPad. This creative expression is vital to my sense of well-being and, in talking to others, I find that I am not alone in this regard. Creative self-expression is one of the fundamental elements to a happy, balanced life and I want to encourage you to find whatever it is that makes your heart sing and spirit soar.

    “Finding beauty everywhere” has become my practice and my passion. elegant simple life will naturally reflect that shift and I will be posting images and articles in tune with that vision. I realize, of course, that this is a change in direction from the original mission of this blog, and may not be everybody’s “cup of tea,” but I hope you will stick around and see how you like the new content before making up your mind.

    After all, change is a good thing, right? 🙂

    With warmest wishes,


    image “Raspberry Rhapsody.” © 2013. Christianna Pierce.

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  • Veganism versus Minimalism

    cashmere sweaters

    You may recall my post about switching to veganism earlier this year. After being a long-time vegetarian, watching Michael Pollan’s film Food, Inc. was all it took to convince me to forsake consumption of all animal products from that day forward.

    I also readily gave away my collection of leather coats, shoes, boots, belts and handbags to a wonderful charity called Dress for Success.

    But there were two items I was unsure what to do with: cashmere sweaters and silk clothing.

    Wool sweaters were not the issue. When I discovered that the process of shearing the sheep can be quite inhumane, it was an easy decision to give my wool sweaters away.

    Cashmere is a slightly different story.  The cashmere undercoat is typically hand-combed from the underbellies of the cashmere goats in the spring.  As the weather warms, more cashmere is combed from the goats during the natural shedding process. The process is traditionally very labor-intensive, but also relatively humane. And yet,

    The majority of cashmere is produced in China, India, Pakistan, and Central Asia, where animal welfare standards are inconsistent. There are also growing problems with overgrazing due to cashmere production, contributing to desertification in Asia and  reducing the quality of life of both the goats and the local human population. The environmental costs of transport must also be taken into consideration when purchasing foreign cashmere.  (via hubpages).

    In other words, it is not a simple matter.

    So, here’s my dilemma. With the approaching cold months of winter, what should I do with my cashmere sweaters? Knowing what I now know, is it ethical for me to continue wearing the sweaters? Does it make sense to spend money on non-wool sweaters (e.g., cotton or synthetic microfleece) when I have a closet full of perfectly good sweaters?

    What is the environmental toll of growing cotton or manufacturing microfibers? And what about the expense of shelling out for new items to replace perfectly good garments? But, by wearing the cashmere sweaters, am I inadvertently contributing to the suffering of animals?

    This is where the veganism versus minimalism and sustainability issues intersect. My sweaters were a significant financial investment made over several years, even decades, of time. Others were gifts, with sentimental value. Further, cashmere only gets softer over time, and there is no reason a well-cared for sweater should not last twenty years, or more. Is it sustainable to give them away when they have so many more years of use? And how many sweaters does one person need?

    The same concerns apply to my silk sweaters and scarves. I bought these things long before I knew that the larvae of silk worms were boiled in their cocoons to obtain the silk threads. And I don’t intend to purchase silk in the future. But again, the question remains: What should I do with the silk items I already own? Silk long underwear is the best, most lightweight winter undergarment I have ever found. Is it morally wrong to continue wearing silk, or is it better to buy synthetic replacements.

    And, lest this come across as a whiny, oh-poor-her, she-has-too-many-cashmere-sweaters rant, please recognize that I am not alone with my questions. As more and more people around the world come to grips with the intersection of minimalism and sustainability and veganism, this is one of the many questions that need to be addressed. It is a matter of trying to live with integrity and congruity.

    So, I am asking you for your advice. What do you think? Please leave me a comment below. Thank you!

    image: © 2010. Christianna Pierce.

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  • 60 with 60 Recap: What I’ve Learned from My Photo Challenge

    calla lily

    I’m happy to report that I have successfully completed my self-imposed 60 with 60 photography challenge.  In this challenge, I aimed to post 60 photos using a 60mm prime lens. My hope was that by imposing limitations on my gear, and by having a numerical goal, I would tap into a new vein of creativity (i.e., get out of a creative rut) and perhaps get to know that particular lens better.

    Specifics:  Nikon AF-S 60mm f/2.8 micro lens mounted on a Nikon D7000 body

    Time:  September 8-September 25 (18 days total)

    Results: The main purpose of the challenge was self-discovery.  However, I did manage to capture some images that I am proud of (as well as some that are admittedly so-so). You can see the whole collection of 60 images by clicking on the image, below:

    60 with 60


    There were pluses and minuses to this challenge.  On the positive side, using one lens made shooting simple.  I could just grab my camera and go, without needing to ponder which lens to bring.

    Secondly, using a single prime lens ensured that I needed to have active footwork.  I had to physically walk to and from a subject to get the correct composition, rather than letting a zoom lens do all the heavy lifting.

    Thirdly, by taking the lens decision out of the equation, I was free to focus more on lighting and composition.  I was able to be more thoughtful in my approach.

    And, finally, I did learn a lot about this particular lens. While it is fairly fast (f/2.8), it is not as fast as the 50mm (f/1.4) and I missed some shots due to low light.  Also, it is a fairly large lens, and the camera/lens combo was not easily tossed into my handbag. For an everyday lens, I would prefer something smaller and lighter (again, noting the 50 mm f/1.4).

    There where were additional downsides to this challenge as well:

    First of all, I grew weary of this lens!  I thrive on variety, and limiting myself to one lens proved to be far more challenging (and I might even say, annoying) than I could have anticipated.

    And the number: Sixty!  S-I-X-T-Y is a LOT of images.  When I first came up with the idea of 60 with 60, I confess that I was more enamored of the catchy name for the challenge and less concerned with the actual number. I’ve never participated in a challenge, self-imposed or otherwise, with such a large number of images, and I learned my lesson from this.

    Finally, it was frustrating to be prevented from using the best lens for the job.  For instance, while this lens is touted as a macro lens, and it does a fair enough job at close-ups, it doesn’t hold a candle to the 105mm for sharpness and detail. When taking photos of flowers, I had to resist my perfectionistic streak and use the camera at hand. Knowing I could have achieved a better image with a different lens was a challenge in itself.

    Having said that, challenges by their very nature are opportunities for growth.  They force us out of our comfort zone and encourage to try new things and to be innovative and creative.  I am glad I did this challenge because it helped me stay focused on a theme and it made me shoot images nearly every day. I am already looking forward to my next challenge.

    I’d love to hear about your photographic self-challenges. Are there any you would like to share?  Or do you have any suggestions for me to try?  I welcome your thoughts and insights.

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  • Beauty and Neglect

    The jasmine blossoms
    try their best to cover up
    the peeling white paint

    Yes, another haiku. I couldn’t resist! This jasmine-covered archway stands in front of a yard near our house. I love that it tells such a story of hope and decay, beauty and neglect.

    As always, please feel free to share you own original haikus in a comment, below.


    image: taken with Nikon d700, 50mm lens, aperture 4.5, ISO 200, shutter speed 1/100 second

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  • Lacecap Hydrangea

    I’ve always been partial to lacecap hydrangeas. Have you ever looked closely at a lacecap blossom? It’s like having two-flowers-in-one. There are the itty-bitty individual florets in the center (i.e., the lace) and the beautifully-colored larger petals around the perimeter (i.e., the cap).

    Wishing you a day filled with opportunities to stop and notice the beauty all around you, no matter how inconsequential it may first appear…

    image: taken with Nikon d7000 camera, 105 mm lens, ISO 200, aperture 7.1, shutter speed 1/60 second

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  • Haiku – Sunflower Petals

    The yellow petals
    arranged like rays of the sun
    greeted the new day.

    In my mind, the connection between haikuphotography and mindfulness runs deep. I will be talking about haiku in greater depth in an upcoming post, but for now I’d like to remind you of the basic form of haiku:

    line 1: 5 syllables

    line 2:  7 syllables

    line 3:  5 syllables

    Of course, there are many variations on this theme, but, in general, this is the format taught in American elementary schools and the one I grew up with.  Writing haiku can be contemplative, entertaining, humorous, insightful and deep.  Sometimes all at the same time.

    When is the last time you tried your hand at writing a haiku poem?  I’d love to have you share your favorite creations.  If you need help getting started, here is a very random opening line for you to add to:

    The kitten’s soft purr…

    and, for dog-lovers:

    The puppy’s wet nose…

    Now it’s your turn.  Can you add a line with 7 syllables and a line with 5 syllables to complete the haiku? Please feel free to share your haiku(s) in a comment, below, if you feel inspired to do so.

    Have fun!  I look forward to hearing from you!

    image: taken with Nikon d7000 camera, micro-Nikkor 60 mm lens, aperture f/3, ISO 200, shutter speed 1/40 second


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  • Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries!

    A thoughtful friend recently gifted us with us these freshly-picked Oregon (perhaps Rainier variety?) cherries.  Whenever I see a bowl of cherries, I am reminded of humorist Erma Bombeck’s book titled, “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?

    Erma’s books were among the very first “grown-up” humor books I remember reading.  I used to pull her books from my mother’s well-stocked shelves and let the books fall open to random funny passages.  Some (many, probably) things went over my head, but I found plenty to laugh about in her books. The titles alone are comedic gold:

    The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank;

    I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression;

    All I Know About Animal Behavior I learned in Loehmann’s Dressing Room;

    and my all-time personal favorite title: When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home.

    It is a tribute to Erma’s writing style and sense of humor that I could enjoy her writing as a young teenager.  How much more, now that I have two grown sons and have a few more decades of living under my belt, do I appreciate her witty sayings and wise observations.

    Here are some classic Erma quotes to help you start your week with a smile:

    I was against coed dorms from the beginning.  Not because it was a sensuous supermarket, but because I felt if anyone ever saw my son’s bedroom in its natural state, I’d never get the kid married off and now my worst fears have been realized.

    My kids always perceived the bathroom as a place where you wait it out until all the groceries are unloaded from the car.

    Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.

    Have a great week!

    image: taken with Nikon d7000 camera, 50mm lens, aperture f/1.8,  ISO 200, shutter speed 1/100 second.

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  • Vegan Sweet Potato ‘Yogurt’ Recipe

    Berry Vegan Yogurt

    Today I would like to share one of my favorite “serendipity” recipes with you.  The inspiration came from a mention in the FatFree Vegan Recipes forum regarding the use of sweet potatoes in smoothies. When I tried my hand at a similar recipe, it came out very thick and “creamy,” much more like a yogurt than a smoothie.

    There is something about the cooked starch of the sweet potato that gives body and texture to the product.  And the natural caramelization process during baking yields a sweet, slightly molasses-like flavor.

    My recipe is made with three simple ingredients, is naturally low-fat,  is super-easy to make, and tastes delicious.

    Feel free to improvise with ingredients you have on hand.  A friend of mine tried it with Coconut Milk beverage and said it was “yum!” The one thing to be sure to include is the sweet potato.

    Vegan Sweet Potato “Yogurt”

    Serves 2-3


    • 1 cup baked, cooled, peeled sweet potato
    • 3/4 to 1 cup non-dairy milk, depending on desired thickness (I prefer unsweetened Almond milk)
    • 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit (such as raspberries, blueberries, banana, mango, etc.)


    Bake sweet potato at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes until fork-tender. Allow to cool.  Peel skin of sweet potato with your fingers.

    Place sweet potato, non-dairy milk and fruit in a high-speed blender and whirl until smooth.

    Serve immediately. Can be stored in tightly-covered container in refrigerator for 1-2 days.  This is delicious eaten as-is, or served over granola cereal. This would also make a fabulous food for babies and young children.

    Your turn: if you try this recipe, or a variation, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Be sure to leave me a comment or share your recipe below!

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