“how did all these things even get in here” or #gratitude

november 2015

November is here (can you even believe it??) and it’s an excuse to share some thoughts about abundance and gratitude.  For a while now I’ve been endeavoring to have less stuff because I’ve been overwhelmed by clutter for years.  It seems cliche to say but you really don’t notice the stuff piling up and up over such a long period of time.  Not that long ago I was a college student renting my first apartment.  At that time we didn’t have any furniture and nowhere near any money with which to buy any.  Yet we didn’t feel deprived or lacking.  Fast forward (a while) and so much of the time I feel so much want and lack. I have more resources now so I can buy many of the useless things I want.  And I feel so much less happy and less free.

I know that chucking everything and living an ascetic life is not for me, that’s not going to be a viable solution.  So what to do? I’m going to spend this month (for starters) buying as few new things as is possible.  That will prevent at least some accumulation.  But more importantly I am going to use and appreciate what I already have.  I’m writing about this now, this month, because lately I found myself directing my focus about clutter on the pantry (and the other pantry, and that one high cabinet filled with nothing but baking stuff and that’s really painful now that I’m trying to do the low-carb thing).  So my plan is this: try to use up more than half of the things stashed in the pantry rather than buy more new food.  (I’m not going to count long-term use things like the Torani syrup collection the hubby uses to make italian sodas, we do NOT need to use up the italian soda stash in one month.)

More importantly, in doing this exercise I feel I will appreciate the ridiculous abundance in my life (in this case evidenced by shelf upon shelf of food items).  The best thing I can do with stuff that I’ve already bought is to use it, enjoy it, and appreciate it.  What disastrous recipes will ensue? Let’s see!

What are you grateful for? What is abundant in your life?

Time and Energy Management

time and energy planning evaluation free printable

I’ve spent a LOT of time thinking, reading, and planning about, well…time.   There is no shortage of source material if you want to waste time trying to figure out how you should be spending your time: articles, books, coaching, systems, organizers, on and on.  And after becoming familiar with and trying many of them I realized something is.not.working.

Because not all time is equal.  Time management is not about minutes, days, and months.  It’s about harnessing your attention, focus, and energy levels.  We’ve all had first hand experience with this.  One group of sixty seconds is not the same as another: a minute with a new love is not the same as a minute waiting in line at the DMV.

As a start in understanding your relationship with time, particularly different times of the day, I’ve created a worksheet.


It’s not another planner page to make your to-do list look pretty, it’s a quick little survey to check in with yourself about how you feel time throughout the day.  When do you feel creative? When do you feel most tired?  Once you know these things you can schedule activities and tasks to take advantage of your energy levels.  Schedule creative work during your ‘creative’ hours, schedule meetings for your ‘focused’ time, avoid scheduling DMV appointments for your ‘tired’ times.

Click here to download the free printable!

check out this inspiring video and article on time and energy over at entrepreneur.com:

“How to Manage Time With 10 Tips That Work”


About time…planning

So I guess I’ve been away for a bit.  Obviously…I don’t have to guess that, I know it’s true.  Among about a million other things I’ve been working on figuring out what I want my future to look like.   No big deal, just working on what I want to do with my days, my time, my personal projects….my entire life.

To that end I’m making some planning/time management/life decision worksheets for anyone to use when they’re working through these same questions.  Stay tuned for those, which will be downloadable freebies, coming soon! Promise!

In the meantime I leave you with this lovely quote graphic about time that I whipped up for you.

learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow

*photo by me

2015: The Year of Drawing

face doodled sketch

2015…the year I (finally) learn to draw. “Don’t you already know how to draw?” someone asked me. Well…no. Not really, and certainly not to my satisfaction. Trust me, I had qualms about admitting that on this blog. After all, what kind of crafter/artist/maker can’t draw? I suspect it’s more than you’d imagine. So I’m breaking the ice here and hopefully allowing all my lovely readers to feel it’s ok to not yet know how to do something.

So my most deliberate new year’s resolution was ‘learn to draw’. Actually it was more specific: “purposefully draw every day”. What is purposefully? Basically with some sort of objective or goal in mind. For example, I will spend January working through “You Can Draw in 30 Days.” I actually started about a year and a half ago but never completed it. I have a few other books lined up for the following months. After I run out of books we’ll see what happens.

My primary goal for the year is to get to a place where I can consistently render drawings I am pleased with. This is not to say I will be happy with everything that ever results from my touching pencil to paper. That’s just ridiculously unrealistic. Neither is it my goal to draw only in a certain style or medium. No, I just want to be able to say “yea, I can draw fairly ok” come December 2015.

What I did not resolve to do in 2015 was post daily doodles. On New Year’s day I came down with a terrible cold (it’s still lingering over two weeks later). I had no energy for all my other planned tasks (making a whole new wardrobe for myself, cleaning out every piece of clutter in my apartment) so I doodled. Just a bit here and there, in addition to working the exercises in “You Can Draw in 30 Days.” I liked some of these doodles so I posted them on Instagram and Facebook. What happened next blew me away. Friends and family ‘liked’ my posts. But not only did they like them, they seemed to be inspired to make and post their own drawings and doodles. I had not anticipated, nor could I have hoped for, such a warm and joyful response. So after less than two weeks I made a new resolution: to post a “doodle of the day” every day.

I am so excited because this will provide more drawing practice in a no-pressure way. It also seems to be inspiring others to make and share their own art (amazing!). Over the last couple of years I’ve realized that the best and most enjoyable new year’s resolutions are those that emerge organically, without being forced, or being based on negative thinking (for example “I’m so unhappy with my body, I need to lose many many pounds this year”).

On that note, enjoy some “doodle of the day” highlights from the first half of January 2015:

2015: the year of drawing

What are your 2015 resolutions? Are they realistic? Are they motivated by joy?

Don’t Ruin Your Acrylic Paintings!

By complete chance this great video on acrylic painting came to my attention the other day:

Stop ruining your acrylic paintings with water!

Artist Michele Theberge does a fantastic job of explaining exactly what happens when you mix your acrylic paints with too much water.

Basically you compromise the ability of the acrylic molecules to form a strong film on the canvas.  So what you ask? Well if you start with a wash on your canvas and the acrylic film is not solid your painting will flake right off the canvas (sooner or later).

Too much science for you? Don’t worry! Michele makes everything super clear and straightforward in the video.  If you ever work with acrylics this is a must watch.

Have you learned any surprising or valuable painting techniques lately? Share them in the comments!


Leavin’ on a jet plane


Suprise! I’m gonna have to take a brief leave to visit my family in Argentina.  It’s very bitter sweet.  On the one hand I get to see my family soon, on the other it’s because someone has passed away.  I am so so so grateful that I am able to make this trip on short notice to be with my family during a really hard time.  A silver lining at least.

What’s the deal for popElephant.com?

So why am I posting about it? Just to let you lovely readers know that I’ll be far far away from my computer.  I promise to do my utmost to update the popElephant blog every so often, just don’t expect very long posts.

I’ll be back soon enough with fresh inspiration, ideas, and hopefully some good pics from my travels.  Until then I wish you all a great July and August.

Be good, do good, and make meaning!

Photoshop Friday: Puppet Warp Tool

Puppet warp is a super fun tool introduced in CS5.  It finally lets us do the practically magical things laypeople have always assumed Photoshop does for you (but we know better, right?).

Photoshop Friday great puppet warp tutorials to get you started with this awesome tool

*As you may know by now I’ll be away from home (and my precious macbook) until the end of August.  I’ll be doing my best to share great tuts, inspiration, quotes, and travel photos while I’m off but do expect shorter posts for that time.  Short but sweet.


Let’s start off with Tech Guru’s video.  It’s a great intro to what you can do with puppet warp.  Pro-tip: it works best with transparent backgrounds.

great, easy puppet warp tool video tutorial

Just to round off the post, here’s a whole list of other tutorials you can check out.

Best Tutorials for the Puppet Warp Tool, Extractions, and other Reality Distortion Techniques in Photoshop CS5

As always, check my PSF Pinterest board  for other resources not found on this blog.  What have you done with puppet warp? Show us in the comments!

Stronger Than Indifference: Malala Day 2014

I am the girl behind popElephant.com, and I am stronger than indifference. Today is Malala Day, a day named for a girl who is stronger than fear, violence, oppression, even stronger than a bullet.
Today I join my voice to those letting girls, women, children all around the world know they are not alone.  We are all stronger than fear, terrorism, apathy, nationalities, hate.  We are all stronger than we think.

stronger than Malala Day 2014

I, however, do not have a heartbreaking story. I have not experienced violence. I have not been stopped from learning. I have not been overtly discriminated against.
I am a girl. I am a girl with two college degrees, one in Physics, the other in Business. I did not face terror, violence, or hatred in the pursuit of my education like so many, too many, others. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for that. And not a day goes by that I don’t want to change the world so my experience can be that of all girls

What are you Stronger Than?

Today we can all be stronger than something. We can all feel the injustice experienced by so many girls everywhere in the world. Today, and every day, be:
Stronger than indifference
Stronger than selfishness
Stronger than guilt
Stronger than prejudice

Malala Day: #StrongerThan Indifference

Make more meaning

Today, then, is as good a day as any other to announce that part of all sales in my etsy shop will be donated to MalalaFund. Not just today, but every day that my shop stays open.
I want the world to be a better place. I do not have a grand vision of what exactly it should look like. But I know we will never get there if anyone remains out of the discussion. The best way to change this is to make education accessible to everyone, everywhere.

You can donate directly and make Malala’s birthday wish come true.