(Photo: Cortnee Brown)
Elise Blaha Cripe can basically make anything. Quilts, paintings, knitted blankets, woven plantholders, screen printed posters, sangria, pizza dough, and just about everything else. She’s carved out a niche for herself as an inspirational maker and helps similarly minded folks set goals, find their creativity, and make things better around their own homes.
But the best thing about Cripe? She doesn’t make you feel like you aren’t doing enough or being good enough even as she shares her own accomplishments. She’s down to earth, realistic about what she can and cannot do—even if that means not completing a project she told everyone she would—and generally just nice. And as a resident of Southern California, her blog feels as bright and sunny as her location, with palm trees and blue skies as the backdrop to her story.
With a husband in the military and a one-year-old daughter, her to-do list is long and varied, like you’d expect from any working mother. We caught up with Cripe to chat about inspiration, setting boundaries, and her essential tools for making.
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What’s your secret to prioritizing projects, blogging, and family life?
No secret—just hard work. I think the most important thing is being honest about what you can take on at any given time and making sure you have a good handle on existing stuff before trying something new. I also have an editorial calendar to schedule out and plan blog posts about a month in advance. I keep a list of goals that need to be accomplished each month and I have a daily planner that I use to keep a running list of daily and weekly activities.
What happens when things don’t go according to plan?
My daughter had a fever recently so I couldn’t bring her into daycare. I had two podcast recordings scheduled for that morning that I had to cancel and a list of to-dos that needed to be pushed back or squeezed into nap time. Thankfully, I wasn’t planning on running either of those podcast episodes immediately and I already had the next day’s blog post written. I think staying ahead is the biggest thing I can do to alleviate stress and keep the parenthood/work balance working.
Where do you find inspiration?
My daughter inspires me so much and I want to do great work for her. I want to be an example in her life that you can work really hard and love what you do.
Has motherhood changed your approach to your work?
Absolutely. I realized after becoming a mom that my work is really important to me. It’s harder to make it a priority now, but it’s important that I do. And, I am much more efficient with my time because I have less of it. It’s also easier for me to say no to projects or opportunities now because I know what I’ll have to sacrifice (time with my daughter or time by myself) to make everything work.
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But saying “no” to interesting project must sometimes be hard, right?
I think saying “no” is even more important than saying “yes.” “No” is what gives us the space and time for the “yes!” projects. Over the past few years I have gotten better at predicting what projects will give me that creative rush and what projects will end up sucking out more than they provide.
When you were little, what did you want to do when you grew up?
When I was a little kid I wanted to be a “business person and work in a tall building.” Right after college, my goals were pretty much the same.
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Speaking of projects, can you tell me about the planner that you have in the works?
Yes! I will soon be launching a daily planner and goal setting workbook called GET TO WORK BOOK. Its main function is to motivate and help people keep track of their daily tasks and larger, long-term goals. I can’t wait until it’s done and out in the world. It should be available to pre-order in April.
What advice can you give to people who are looking to make a career for themselves in the DIY realm?
Work really hard. Use any extra time you have to practice your craft(s) and define your style. Think about what your actual goals are but recognize that there is not one path to success and it can take a really long time to make progress. The only thing you can control as you carve out your niche is what you’re doing today.