Good Bye 2015, Hello 2016

The days are long, but the years are short.
– Gretchen Rubin

There are many days throughout the year that seem to drag on endlessly, especially since I work from home and suffer from lack of connection with fellow peers. But then the year seems to pass by in a flash… way too quickly. How can it be nearly 2016 already? The quote above rings ever so true.

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When I’m feeling overwhelmed and restless, it’s usually because I’m swept away by the current of daily life and unable to stop and do what I really want to do. It’s like being a robot of life and not being satisfied in the end. Just going through the motions to survive. These past years of transitioning from single to married to mom of two little ones now – has really, truly, transformed my life entirely. Duh! Often I find myself thinking and planning but only in my head, not actually being able to have free hands to act upon all those notions.

It can be so damn frustrating.

This time last year I was going through these same kind of feelings and although I know life can never return to the way it was before, I’m still in the progress of finding my way and looking for balance. We must all navigate our own way!


I started looking back on this blog, searching for something to hold onto and I have repeatedly tried to keep my spirits up and take steps forward even if they are baby steps. I have accomplished many things, even if I feel like it’s not enough… it is something afterall. And that’s better than nothing, right?

I have many responsibilities, so some tasks might take a bit longer than I would like… but possibility is definitely there. Hope is there. However, it all requires work. So my guiding word for 2016 will be “WORK.” Get to work, do the work, work it out and it will work. Yay! Wishing you an amazing, productive and happy new year! Do you have a one little word, guiding your way?

Get to know me in 20 questions

I’m participating in a Getting-to-Know-You game of 20 Questions with Kris (With a K) from the With a K Writing Academy. I’m excited to get to know my own blog-readers better & to find other bloggers to play with too. You know – friends who just get it. If you want to participate, you can too! Just go to check out Kris’s post about it here, & get started.

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1 – What’s a ridiculous nickname you’ve had?

Not sure about ridiculous but my brother Vo, deemed me Linx as my animal name – we all had an animal name, so the thought brings back fond memories from childhood!

2 – Why do you write a blog? Have your reasons changed over time?

I started blogging way back in the livejournal days and have started many different ones focused on my many diverse interests, but here on tortagialla it’s my homebase for all things creative. I’ve consolidated here at this point in life to keep it simple. Blogging is fun brcause I enjoy sharing creative projects and ultimately it’s about feeling alive through creativity!

3 – Where do you like to be when you are writing?

Usually just at my desk on my computer on a nice bright day because the light is so pretty here in my studio and it’s just a happy situation for me.

4 – Peanut butter & __________.

Jelly. Classic all the way!

5. What does your Writing Process look like?

It’s a run-on sentence as usually I have so much chitter chatter that just pours out. I type away and attempt to edit afterwards. I really want to get better at expressing myself articulately and succinctly though.


6 – What keeps you up at night?

Dreaming about so many projects I want to work on. Worries about work and moving forward towards my goals. Missing family in the USA and every little thing regarding my kids. Just so many thoughts on my mind… it can be very unsettling and overwhelming.

7 – What was your last online purchase? Did you hide it from anyone? (I see you, impulse buyers & shame shoppers)

A gumball machine for my son and a creative ecourse for me. I love to get fun trinkets for my kids and I’m a total learning online junkie!

8 – What do you honestly think of elastic waistbands?

Why not?!

9 – What blogs or magazines do you love to read? Why?

I love anything creative, designy and pretty. I don’t discount anything really because any subject can be inspirational and educational.

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10 – What is your favourite way to express your creativity?

I draw and design… and pretty much explore in many different ways. I think creativity can be expressed in all parts of our lives, from organizing the pantry to creating a beautiful piece of artwork to hang on the wall (or wear). There is no limit. I’m very much a paper and pixels nerdy mix – the old and the new – the traditional and the techy. I contradict the norms! Hah!

11 – DSLR or iPhone?

I lost my iPhone and went android way back, but I’m really for everything. Whatever floats your boat, dear! Currently I actually use my mirrorless camera the most – yeah, I’m sort of nerdy techy like that… it’s the future!!!

12 – How do you feel about the semicolon? Do you have any feelings about punctuation marks, in general? (it’s ok if you don’t)

I suppose I don’t have any strong emotions either way for the semicolon – but I do use dashes and ellipses way to much… and probably incorrectly – hmm…

13 – What is a skill you really want to learn?

To drive stick shift? But sort of afraid because I don’t want to put people’s lives in danger if I freak out while trying to drive… so… one day!

14 – Do you use a planner or journal to keep your life from derailing? What kind?

Both planner and art journaling are necessary. I make my own since I also love bookbinding and customizations… not to mention it’s just crafty fun. I also love spreadsheets…

15 – What does your dream Sunday look like?

To wake up late and the kids waking up late as well?!?! (I know, dream on!) and have the whole day to do absolutely nothing but chill with family. Good food and fun times with family… good weather… really that is the ultimate.

16 – Do you have a full-time business or a side hustle?

Full-time freelancing graphic and web design for clients, full-time mom to two young kids and full-time creative entrepreneur here in tortagialla land and

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17 – Coffee or tea?

Coffee first, but sometimes a spot of tea as well!

18 – What is your favourite outfit?

Jeggings with my favorite black boots and a maxi type shirt/sweater depending on the temperature. Comfort!

19 – What scares you?

A whole lot of things, but definitely worries of what could be bad for my kids – so many mom-related worries… eek!

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20 – Cats or Dogs?

Definitely dogs because my first baby is a furbaby Westie named Vash, but I still love you Kris with a K, even if your branding is all kitties 😛


Never Alone, Thank You!

Working from home often results in feeling isolated and downright lonely at times – and I mean lonely in my business work life which is completely different from the fact that I have a wonderful family around me 24/7. I’m grateful for the love and unconditional support I receive from my close ones…

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But I’m talking about online business and social media – geeking over things that my family doesn’t totally “get.” We all need community and peers when it comes to career and worklife. My problem was finding the right people to connect with. I can be really shy at first… but when I connect with cool, like-minded people, I turn into a chatter box!

Recently I joined Tara Swiger‘s starship program and besides using all the tools and courses for my business, I’m looking forward to the community aspect as well. Connecting with people who will “get” what I do. I suppose it’s all about acceptance and the feeling of belonging. I listened to a talk from Tara and Kim Werker and totally connected to their thoughts about finding our right people.

Clarity in our frame of mind can do wonders… because I’m feeling good about what I do and looking forward optimistically more than ever. Isn’t that the point of all that we do? To be happy and wake up feeling great every day of our lives?!

Finally, I realized that my blog readers and past customers have always been there for me as well. Perhaps, I haven’t been paying enough attention to y’all – just in realizing that I already have a lot of supporters and I’m not alone. Have I taken you for granted?!

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So this post is for all of you out there, cheering me onward by reading posts, commenting, responding to my newsletter and using your purchasing power to invest in my work. That is so darn wonderful and I totally appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. I’m going to keep at it and just wanted to send out acknowledgement and love today.


Thinking of You

Just posted a freebie over on Happy Print Club today, in celebration of my birthday. It’s a big milestone, even if it’s ultimately just another day in the life…

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But these events do help us to mark out our time here, giving us pause to reflect, adjust and keep moving forward. I’m feeling so grateful for all that I have… so just wanted to say thank you with what I can contribute to this world – pretty design. It might be a little something, but it’s something. My thing. So enjoy and thank you again. My heart goes out to you all.

Thoughts on Art Journaling and Why It’s For Everyone


What is Art Journaling?

Art journaling is difficult to define because it can be so many different things. Although there might be trends and popular ways to approach art journaling, I believe there truly aren’t any rules at all.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I broaden my definition. Art journaling is a record of your thoughts, emotions and experimentations over time in a book-ish form. There are those who have illustrated diaries, sketchbooks, travel journals, diet diaries, dream journals or simply to-do lists… but really they are all a type of art journal for that particular person.


Perhaps it is the word “art” that throws us all off. We think of “Art” with the capital A and suddenly a whole lot of expectations are thrown into the mix. Shouldn’t an art journal be beautiful? Don’t you need artistic skill to art journal? Well, I think our lives are most definitely our “Art” – so anything you create and record in your journal is valid. Perhaps we can think of it as the “Art of our lives.” It is different for everyone and the ultimately it is the process not the end result that is important.

For those that are into the planner craze, decorating their notebooks and filofaxes… I sort of think that is a form of art journaling as well. It’s creative playtime after all!


Art Journaling Is For Everyone

I think art journals are for everyone because it is a safe place to express yourself – in whatever way and with whatever medium you wish. The details of how don’t matter. It’s the process of creating that is magical, not the end result.

You might art journal to let it all out, writing out your emotions in raw form. You might art journal as a way to experiment and play with new ideas, techniques or supplies. You might want to document your life and your thoughts. You might just enjoy the creative fun and process of playing in your journal, creating something on the blank page. All of the above perhaps?


So really, anyone can art journal, there is no skill involved. You can have a whole journal filled with ink splatters and criss crossed lines. Or you can just collage magazine clippings. The process and motion of making marks… putting imagery together… that means something. The creative action helps you let out some energy, expressing your emotions in a different form. It’s healing and soothing and hopefully, really fun and enjoyable as well.

The action of creating feeds your soul and I think it makes us better and healthier in the end. That is why art journaling is for everyone. I think we all really need it as a part of our lives.

When I give myself some art journaling time, I’m usually in need of letting something out of my heart and soul. It might be serious and deep or it might be light and happy. Either way, my art journal is a safe haven for me to mull things over. I definitely need that space and time in my life.


Sharing Your Art Journal

These days we see a lot of folks sharing their art journals online for all the world to see. But I don’t think you ever have to share and more often than not, your art journal is more of a personal workbook than a finished piece for exhibition. We can easily be disillusioned by all that we see online, but remember that is only one facet of the person posting. It’s rarely ever the whole truth.

Don’t think you have to reproduce and mimic what you see. It can be fun to join in on the community, but I don’t think that is the core of what art journaling can do for you. It’s so personal and raw that it’s totally okay to keep it to yourself… at least most of it to yourself.

I often share the light and happy parts of my art journaling, not all the other stuff that is deeper, darker, too personal for a public audience. It’s an individual choice really.

Why Not?

I often wonder what stops people from joining in on the wonderful world of art journaling. Notions about what it has to be? There are no rules, just go for it. Fear of being judged? Don’t share. Don’t know how to get started? The easiest way is to use pen and paper and just write your stream of consciousness. Let it flow and slowly go from there. You’ll be surprised how easy it really is. No time? Don’t tell me you don’t spend countless minutes and hours waiting in line, shuffling from one thing to another or zoning out in front of the TV. Instead of letting those little bits of time slip through your fingers wasted, think of how you can take that time for yourself. It will only do your soul good.


Let’s Art Journal

If you would like to get started art journaling, I highly encourage you to do so with simple pen and paper. You don’t really need fancy supplies or an expensive journal. Once you get into it, you’ll naturally expand and explore all that it has to offer and perhaps the fun of getting more supplies as well.

If you want more guidance to start out, consider my Pensieri zine #1 – Art Journaling. It’s my most popular issue and guides you through while being a starter art journal itself!

Are you an art journaler? Want to join in on the creative fun?


What I’ve Learned from an Unintended Blog Hiatus

At the end of this month my son will be turning 2 years old. Wow. Talk about time flying by. Motherhood sort of swept me off my feet in many ways. The amazing miracle of it all and the joys of seeing your little one grow, smile and melt your heart every single day. But of course I always say that motherhood also kicked my butt and I struggled… oh, did I struggle!


So my blog and creative endeavors definitely took a back seat for a long time. I try to keep the creative fire going, but it just hasn’t been easy. This year I’m determined to get my groove back and wanted to share what I’ve learned from my unintended blog hiatus. It might seem all doom and gloom to abandon your audience, but turns out there are important lessons learned even when things are all quiet…


It’s okay to take time off
Yep, sometimes you really just need time off. We are all on different paths and each experience is unique. There’s no need to compare and think that you must do what another was able to pull off. You don’t know how much help they might have or what other circumstances they were living in. It’s okay to take time to regroup, re-energize and build up energy.
Rewrite the rules of the game to fit you
More than anything I’ve learned that being flexible is supremely important. The times change, your life circumstances change and you have to be open to all the change that comes. It’s so much easier to welcome it all with open arms and figure out how to make it work, instead of resisting.
The ugly side is necessary
There are many unglamorous parts no matter what kind of work you do. Whether it’s your ultimate passion dream job or not, there’s always the “job” part of things. The yucky boring uninteresting parts… and that is okay! Creating a dream job for yourself doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy as pie with no worries. Just know that there are beautiful moments of satisfaction and growth… and that it’s all worth it! Figure out ways to do what you must do, but also to enjoy all the good parts fully.
Sharing with others is endlessly fulfilling
And that is exactly why I am coming back to blogging. I sort of can’t imagine not sharing my creative endeavors and efforts. It just seems natural and the right thing to do. Community is fulfilling and I thank all of you for following me here on the blog, through thick and thin!
There is beauty and worth in all that you do
Finally, I’ve learned that it’s not about the quantity or results achieved in my creative endeavors that really matters. It’s the process of doing what makes me happy, doing what lights up my spirit and letting that passion spill out to others as well. It’s all beautiful and it’s all worth it.

Confessions of a Creative Mom

One of the most stifling feelings I have ever felt is the thought that the raising of my kid is standing between me and my creative dreams. It’s a scary and horrible thought, because both things are extremely important to me. So how can you put one over the other?

Inevitably we wonder how the heck do moms do it? How do they end up accomplishing anything at all with kids around?

When I first started my motherhood journey, I sort of gave up everything else. There was nothing more important than the little baby I was carrying in my tummy, then the big baby I was caring for and suddenly the toddler that I am still chasing around.


But slowly, I started to realize that it’s okay that being a mom intersects with what I do. Sure it takes a whole lot of my time and energy, but it also inspires and motivates. In fact, I’ve never ever felt before such amazing feelings, just watching my child grow up. There are beautiful moments and crazy messy moments, but absolutely no regrets.  It’s often hard to say that about anything else in life.

With the years I think I have also grown a bit old and stiff, physically, mentally, emotionally? But with little ones in your life, you can’t help but be reminded of the vitality there is in life and the amazing hope and growth there is for all of us.

Sure it sounds dramatic, but motherhood has changed my soul for the better. I might still be frazzled at times (a lot of the time), but it’s all a good in the end. All I can do is try my best to live life to the fullest and show my little boy the joys of life by example.


I still have so much to learn, but that is part of the lesson in life… we always learn and grow… but we can live a rich, full and happy life no matter what.

I always say that motherhood kicks my butt and it still does every single day. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s the amazing thing, I suppose.


I think an important lesson to remember is that you can’t measure your success by how much you create or finish… really it’s about how you do it. Is your creativity making you happy at the end of the day? That’s what really matters.

Letting Your Creativity Flow

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urge that motivates you.

Keep the channel open.

-Martha Graham

Doesn’t that just say all the right things, especially for creative folks like us?

I was introduced to this wonderful quote by Martha Graham after watching Marie Forleo’s video this week. I was instantly inspired and had to share. It simply makes me feel great about letting whatever creativity that flows out of me… out! No more judgements or second guessing, hesitations or self-criticism or paralysis.

Amazing how eureka moments just appear out of nowhere. I love it! Wishing you a happy week!