• Category Archives musings
  • 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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  • Short Hiatus

    pink tulips

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I am in the midst of a creative new writing project. I want to give it my full attention for the next few weeks, so I will be taking a brief hiatus from my blogs.

    Meanwhile, I’d like to leave you with this bouquet of pink tulips. Cheers!



    image source: Christianna Pierce

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  • Always Leave Room for Beauty

    Hydrangea Bucket

    If you have but two coins
    And long to be fed,
    Use one to buy flowers
    And the other for bread.

    ~ Christianna Pierce

    I wrote this little stanza as a paraphrase of many similar sayings I have collected which express the importance of beauty as a vital contributor to the quality of our life.

    Because we need to feed our spirit (or essence or inner self) as much as we need to feed our body.

    I am reminded of the example of my mother. She and my father married when they were very young and they started a family right away. Neither had a college education, and they struggled financially in the early years to support themselves and their three children. With careful budgeting and simple meals, there was fortunately always enough to eat. And, amazingly, there were always fresh flowers in our house. A simple vase with a bright spray of forsythia from the yard or some wild sweet pea blossoms were a constant presence in our lives. A little spot of bright color to enhance the day.

    When I came home from college to visit my family, my mother invariably placed a sweet little vase of flowers on the table beside my bed. It was never something she discussed, it was simply something she did. A gesture of welcome and beauty that did not require words but which spoke volumes, nonetheless.

    When my mother died, we mixed her ashes with wildflower seeds and sprinkled them in a beautiful private meadow. The lovely floral blooms each summer continuously remind me of her gentle, compassionate nature.

    And now our oldest son is in college. When he comes home for a visit, he often finds that I have placed flowers in a small vase on the table by his bed.

    No words are spoken. But I think he knows how l feel, nonetheless.

    image: Fresh Hydrangeas. © 2010. Christianna Pierce.

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  • Hi There, I’m Back!

    Turquoise Bike in NE PortlandDear elegant simple life readers,

    After what seems like ages, I’m delighted to be back in the saddle with elegant simple life. In my time away, I have been giving a lot of thought and reflection as to where I want to go with this blog.

    The answer: I will continue to look through the lens of elegance and simplicity as a way of framing the posts I share here.

    But the focus is going to expand. You see, I am an inveterate explorer of things that are uplifting, helpful, healthful and inspiring. I love writing, photographing and even videotaping about these things, and I love finding what others in the world have done along these lines as well.

    So, I am going to broaden the scope of this blog to include more rather than less. (And yes, I appreciate the irony!) I will share my own thoughts and insights with you, and I will also share links to articles from around the world.

    Topics will include:

    • health
    • happiness
    • creativity
    • simplicity
    • beauty
    • mindfulness
    • delight

    In other words, this will be a place to keep track of all the good stuff.

    I know that by doing this, I am going against the conventional wisdom that encourages bloggers to specialize, have a narrow focus, and really drill down on one specific niche.

    I’ve tried that, and, for me, it doesn’t work. Because inspiring stories and uplifting news come from all areas of life and all parts of the globe. It is neither feasible nor desirable for me to try to pigeonhole this information into one category.

    So, my inner rebel is coming out to play. And I’m inviting you to join me. Consider this your “happy place” on the web. If you’re already subscribing to this blog, you have my heartfelt thanks. And if you don’t yet subscribe, and if future posts inspire you, please consider adding elegant simple life to your RSS feed.

    But enough about me! I’d love to hear what how you are and what magic you’ve been up to lately. Please let me know in the comments below. Thanks!


    image: Turquoise bicycle in NE Portland. © 2010. Christianna Pierce.

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  • Save the Date

    Raw Beet Ravioli

    I am very happy to announce that I am launching a new blog on June 30, 2010. It will focus on eating a plant-based diet for optimal health and well-being.

    I am excited about this new blog because it combines my love of plant-based nutrition with my desire to share information to help people feel better. It will have recipes, hints and tips for healthy eating, nutritional news you can use, and restaurant reviews, among many other things.

    Of course, it will have a look and feel that you recognize. I will take what I’ve learned from elegant simple life and incorporate it into the new blog. I have really enjoyed writing elegant simple life and realize that it is because of my efforts at simplification that I was able to uncover my heart-felt interest in writing about vegan and raw nutrition.

    The other great delight in writing elegant simple life has been getting to know and learn from you, my readers. And for this, I thank you.

    I hope you’ll consider taking a look at the new blog. Please save the date and check back here on the 30th for a link to the new site.

    Thank you!


    image: Raw Beet Ravioli (that I made!) © 2010. Christianna Pierce.

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  • My Top 10 Air Travel Tips

    Winged Mercury, Rockefeller Center, NYCI have been traveling quite a bit lately and imagine many of you are taking trips this summer, too. In light of that, I thought I would share some tips to ease the rigors of air travel and help you arrive at your destination feeling energized and refreshed. These are things I do whenever I fly, and I have noticed a real difference in how I feel when I land. I hope these tips help you travel with greater comfort and ease.

    Top 10 Air Travel Tips

    1. Pack a light lunch. Airline food is pricey, unhealthy, and sometimes even non-existent. If you are traveling from home, consider a hummus/romaine lettuce/pita sandwich and apple. The pita bread travels well without getting mushy, and the hummus is a good source of protein to keep your energy up. The apple has a high water content to help keep you hydrated and has fiber to help you feel full.
    2. Avoid salty foods, including the peanuts/crackers/chips handed out in the plane.  Salt will make you retain water, and chances are good that you will bloat enough as it is due to changes in air-cabin pressure.
    3. Buy a bottle of water after you clear security.  You should try to drink 8 ounces of water for every hour of air travel. Drinking water can help prevent puffiness, and you will get the added benefit of stretching your legs as you make your way to and from the restroom.
    4. Bring a bag of raw, unsalted almonds to snack on.  They contain protein and calcium and just a few almonds will help stave off hunger during a long flight.
    5. Ladies, wear comfortable leggings.  Choose a soft, breathable fabric and select a size that is not too tight.  The reason I suggest leggings is that, not to put too fine a point on it, you don’t want your clothing to touch the floor of the airplane restroom.  I have found leggings superior to slacks and capris in this regard.
    6. Pack a pair of short cotton socks in your carry-on bag, especially if you are wearing sandals or flip-flops. After removing your footwear, simply slip the socks onto your feet when you go through airport security.  I’m not a germ-a-phobe, but, seriously, do you really want your bare feet touching those rubber floor mats in the security line?  Also, you can wear the socks later on the plane to keep your tootsies warm if the air-conditioning is too cool.
    7. Bring a bamboo pashmina shawl.  This rolls up to a very small size and can be worn around your shoulders or used as blanket while in the plane. Later, the shawl can dress up an outfit and keep you warm on a chilly night. I recommend bamboo for it’s eco-friendliness and super-soft feel.
    8. Two words:  carry-on.  If at all possible, pack everything into carry-on luggage.  This allows on-line check-in, greater flexibility if you need to change planes at the last minute,  the guarantee of having your bags arrive with you at your destination, and zero waiting-time for bags after you land.

      But, please, be sensible and courteous in the size of your carry-on bag and personal item (e.g., hand-bag or computer bag). This means no mega-bags that weigh nearly as much as a small adult. Pack simply and bring less than you think you need.  Simple living allows you to get by with less and to make creative substitutions when called for.
    9. One word:  Kindle.  The Kindle or free Kindle Reader on your smart phone or computer can take the place of a stack of books.  This is technology at its finest.
    10. Breathe.  Travel is inherently filled with unpredictability and uncertainty.  Rather than stressing over situations that are out of your control, remember to take deep breaths and enjoy the journey!

    Bon voyage!

    Your turn: what tips and tricks do you have for traveling more easily?  Please feel free to leave a comment below.

    image: Winged Mercury, Rockefeller Center, NYC © 2010. Christianna Pierce.

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  • 3 Steps for Dealing with Subliminal Clutter

    apple blossomsNow that I’ve embraced the clutter-free, minimalist way of life, it has become second nature for me to glance around our home and think, “What can I release today?” As I’m going from one room to the next, or am taking dishes to the sink, I invariably find something else that can go into the “giveaway” box. It is an ongoing process, and I enjoy it.

    Clutter at its most basic level is anything that gets in the way of living the life you want to live. It drags you down and makes you feel heavy. It can be physical clutter, of course. Or digital clutter, as thesimplerlife.net describes.

    But there is another form of clutter that is not so easy to address. I’m talking about the unseen “stuff” that lurks in our minds. The subliminal clutter, if you will.

    Subliminal/mental clutter can be every bit as destructive and disruptive as other types of clutter. And it comes in many varieties. Some of these are:

    • Negative thoughts
    • Unhealthy relationships
    • Outdated attitudes
    • Unrealistic expectations
    • The need always to be right
    • Regrets
    • Unfounded guilt
    • Worries
    • Envious longing
    • Old grudges

    When dealing with below-the-surface mental clutter, the first step is bringing it to your awareness. Look at it. Name it. Oftentimes we are not even aware that something is bugging us or not serving our best interests until we actually stop and identify it.

    The second step is to decide if it is no longer serving you. Is this quality bringing more joy to your life? Or is it blocking the flow of energy you would prefer to embrace?

    The third step is to consider that it may be time to release this manifestation of subliminal clutter. It might be time to let it go.

    If the process seems too daunting to do alone, don’t underestimate the value of seeking help from a mental health professional. As Erin of unclutterer.com suggests,

    When clutter is out of control in your physical space, you can turn to a professional organizer to help you get things in order — so why not turn to a professional to help you get rid of the mental clutter?

    Getting rid of subliminal/mental clutter leads to greater clarity and peace of mind. It also creates the space for new insights and ideas. It may not be easy, but, ultimately, it’s worth the effort.

    Your turn: “What can you release today?”

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  • What is an elegant simple life?

    clementines in silver bowl
    Clementines in Silver Bowl

    I’ve chosen to call this blog elegant simple life for several reasons:

    Elegant, because it focuses on the beauty and grace inherent in simplicity.

    Simple, because it does not have to be complicated.

    Life, because it encompasses the whole canvas of being, not just segments of existence.

    Elegant. Simple. Life. For me, this is both an affirmation and a goal. It is about living with less stuff and more joy in an atmosphere of tranquility and beauty.

    I’d like to focus on the concept of elegance for a moment because I have just finished reading  In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing, by Matthew E. May.  I love May’s statement, “…not everything simple is elegant, but everything elegant is simple.”

    Elegance is not a matter of money or upbringing or education. Instead, it is a matter of attitude, a lens through which one views the world. Ultimately, elegance is a state of mind.

    This concept gets to the core of simple living and minimalism. Living a simple life is not about hardship and asceticism. It does not require doing without all the joys and simple pleasures that make life just a little bit sweeter.

    Rather, elegant simple living means identifying what is essential and releasing the rest. And that will look different for everyone.

    And that is what makes it feasible. There are no rules of right or wrong. What is elegant simplicity to one person may be the height of consumerism to another. Conversely, an elegantly simple choice for one individual may look like borderline poverty to somebody else.

    Thankfully, the world of simple living and minimalism is large enough to contain a wide range of attitudes. This keeps it interesting and fresh and available to everybody. The underlying premise is that we are consciously seeking to live fulfilling lives with less stuff and more room for the things that matter.  The rest is open to interpretation. And that, to me, is simply elegant.

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  • elegant simple life: a new blog about living with less stuff & more joy

    Bright Tulips, photo by Christianna Pierce

    The Vernal Equinox marks the transition between the cold, dark days of winter and the bright, new life of spring. It seems like a fitting time to launch “elegant simple life,” a blog which will focus on living a life of lightness and elegant simplicity.

    I have been moving towards a more minimalist life-style due to a number of factors, which you can read about here. Instrumental in this decision has been the inspiration I have received from reading the wonderful blogs on minimalism and simple living prevalent in the blogosphere. Yes, I’m talking about you, Miss Minimalist, Rowdy Kittens, Becoming Minimalist, mnmlist, Far Beyond the Stars, Simple Minimalism, … and many more that I’ve listed here.

    Is there a need for another blog on minimalism? Truly, who wants to read yet another blog by a suburban wife/mother of teens/plant-based dietitian/minimalist/amateur photographer/meditator/Arrested Development aficionada? I mean, really, isn’t that niche already taken? But in the off chance that there is room for one more, I hereby throw my non-wool, non-leather, eco-friendly fiber hat into the minimalist blogging ring.

    I hope you’ll join me!

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