• Category Archives simple beauty
  • 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,

    Christianna

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

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  • Elegant Simple Rose

    White Rose

    Portland is officially known as the City of Roses. (It is also affectionately known as Stumptown, Bridgetown, Rip City, P-Town, and PDX).

    Last week, my husband and I took a leisurely walk around our neighborhood and I was amazed to see roses still in full bloom. In November! I snapped a few pics and wanted to share one with you. So, here it is, with happy wishes to you for a terrific weekend!

    What’s currently blooming in your neck of the woods?

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  • Mindful Photography

    pinecone_end

    I have been revisiting photography as a mindful activity. I find that taking photos, especially macro photos, is an excellent way to slow down and appreciate the present moment. There is nothing like focusing the lens of a camera on a small detail, realllly close, to help me, well, focus! And the congruency of minimalism and mindfulness is one of the bedrock elements of my minimalist ethos.

    pinecone_blossom

    There is a giant pine tree in our front yard that bears these interesting cones each autumn. The image, above, looks like a pine cone rose. I have walked by these cones over the years with, admittedly, only a cursory glance at them. It took the act of photographing these cones in various stages of development to get me to stop, breathe, notice and appreciate what was right before my eyes.

    This next photograph shows the cone midway through its natural peeling process:

    pinecone peeling

    I did not realize that pine cones peel away, layer by layer, to release their pine nuts. (BTW, I tried eating these pine nuts.  Big mistake. Very pine-y tasting and bitter, not at all like the delicious pignolia nuts found in groceries).

    And here is a picture of the mighty pine tree itself. My macro lens could only capture the center portion of it. I am guessing it is over 60 feet tall:

    pine tree

    I believe anything that gets us to stop and be mindful of the present moment is to be encouraged and embraced. I feel very fortunate to live in a time where technology (e.g., digital cameras) and creativity can be readily combined to facilitate moments of mindful presence. There is something about the immediacy of being able to see the finished product that only enhances the experience.

    What about you? Do you have a creative, mindful activity that helps you become centered and focused?  Or is there an activity you have tried in the past or would like to revisit as a means of getting grounded and centered?  I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share in a comment below.

    images: © 2010. 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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  • “It Should be Beautiful”

    “If you touch it every day, it should be beautiful.”
    Nate Berkus, O magazine, May 2010.

    This quote stopped me in my tracks because it so perfectly encapsulates my theory of simplicity and interior design. We are affected by the things in our environment, often at a level below our conscious awareness. For instance, a lovely vase of flowers can lift our spirits every time we glance at it, while an unsightly stack of out-of-date newspapers can pull our energy down without us being aware of the reason.

    I would even extend this sentiment one step further:

    “If you see it every day, it should be beautiful.”

    I am referring, of course, to those things which are within your ability to change. The unsightly billboard on your way to work, for example, is probably not under your control. But the growing pile of junk mail by the front door may be something that is in your sphere of influence and can be changed.

    To give a personal example: there was a large woodpile in our back yard. Probably ten feet tall and 6’x6′ at the base, it was partially covered by a ratty blue plastic tarp and was a major eyesore. Every time I looked out of our dining room window into our back yard, my vision was distracted by this ugly structure. It’s not that I have anything against woodpiles, per se.  In fact, I am grateful to have such a nice supply of wood stored up for use next winter.  It’s just that it was unsightly and did not have to be located where it was…

    So, last weekend, I asked my husband if he would mind moving the woodpile. And he kindly honored my request. (Fortunately, it was a sunny day and it took him less than twenty minutes).

    This is what I see now. The red arrow points to where the offending woodpile once stood:

    backyard from dining room

    Now, looking through the window into our yard and into the the tree-filled forest beyond, I feel much better.

    And it was a simple change (well, that’s easy for me to say. My husband may beg to differ…) But the point remains, sometimes dealing with those little nagging pieces of visual clutter can reap the greatest rewards in terms of renewed energy and a sense of peace.

    Your turn: Is there one nagging “something” bringing you down every time you look at it? Is it something you can easily change? Is there anything stopping you?

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  • DIY Recipe for Glowing Skin

    Rolled OatsAs a dietitian, I am especially aware of the importance of choosing the healthiest foods possible for optimal wellness. I always try to select the freshest, most unprocessed and organic foods for myself and for my family.

    But it is equally important to consider what you put onto your body. More specifically, it matters what you rub onto your skin. Many, if not most, chemicals penetrate the epidermal layer and are absorbed through the skin into the body.

    Therefore, it makes good sense to apply ingredients externally with as much thoughtful care as deciding what to take internally.

    Which brings me to my vinegar and oatmeal skin care recipes. I have been using variations of these recipes on and off for several years. By using these two simple products, in addition to following a plant-based diet, my skin has never looked or felt better. The oatmeal is a gentle, natural exfoliant that removes dead skin cells and related debris. The vinegar toner helps restore the acid mantle to your skin to maintain its optimal pH. And gentleman, this works equally well for you, too 🙂 .

    The recipes are a snap to make and cost pennies per use.

    Oatmeal cleanser: Simply grind up 1 cup organic rolled oats in a blender or food processor until you have a fine powder. Store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

    To use, splash your face with warm water. Put about 1-2 teaspoons of oatmeal powder into your hand, and add enough water to make a paste. Gently rub this paste into your skin, using a circular motion. Rinse thoroughly.

    Powdered Oats

    Follow with vinegar toner:

    vinegar toner ingredients

    2 oz. Green tea (I use jasmine green tea, 1 bag steeped in 4 oz. Water x 10 minutes)
    2 oz. Filtered or distilled water
    2 oz. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

    Combine all ingredients in a glass container. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and store in refrigerator. I pour out about a week’s supply and keep it in the bathroom cabinet. This portion does not require refrigeration.

    To use, saturate a cotton pad with toner. Pat onto skin. Let dry before applying moisturizer/sunscreen of your choice.

    Vinegar Toner and Oat Scrub

    How about you? Do you have a favorite DIY natural skin care recipe? Please share it in the comments.

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