This weekend I’m launching my forth annual 100 Days of Summerlist and one of the items this year is spend more time on my front porch. After hanging out on my sister’s, I realized I am a front porch girl. Give me a coffee or a glass of wine and I may never come inside.
As a kid, I was always drawing house plans and there was always a wrap-around porch and now that I have a porch, I never use it. I need to fix this.
Problem: The height of the railing vs. the style of my chairs (I like them but they’re more for lounging out back or on a beach):Here’s what I’m loving:
Crack open the Sauvignon blanc, I found perfection! These spaces are Wonderful. Beautiful. So inviting. But, as mentioned, I still would not be able to see over the railing in chairs. That’s why I am thinking a swing may be the best solution, especially after I saw my friend’s Instagram post.
As mentioned way back here, I have been designing desktop calendars since 2009 and it has been one of my favourite things to make for friends and clients.
To change things up, I have decided to share a sneak peak with you today and if anyone wants to get their hands on one, I am taking orders! Yup, that’s right, for the first time ever, they are for sale!
Hello stocking stuffer:The calendar is ~5″ x 5.5″ and comes in a clear plastic calendar case – here are pics from last year’s run to give you an idea of what you’ll be getting. I have them printed digitally at a local printer and cut and package everything at home with my trusty paper cutter. The Hello 2017 calendar is $10 (includes the case)* and you’ll receive it before December 23.
If you are interested in one, please send a private request to firstname.lastname@example.org before December 2** – I need to order, cut and package all of them and it takes time! BUT!!!! for those who have a copy of the 2016 calendar, the 2017 refill will be FREE – just let me know before December 2 if you want a refill (case not included in a refill).
*If you live outside of Halifax and need one (or more) mailed, I will add shipping to the cost. **Order fast, I have 50 cases and will limit orders if things get too crazy.
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Why? Probably because I have yet to be offered a job where the cubicle comes with a Golden Retriever. But, in all seriousness, I didn’t actually set out to be a self-employed freelancer… it kind of just happened and although there has been many times I have thought about giving it all up for a nine-to-fiver, there hasn’t been a good enough opportunity to do so. Rewind to the end of 2007 – Mike and I were DINKS (Dual Income, No Kids) living in Montreal and even though we loved it, the time came for us to move back to Halifax for Mike’s job. This was both a blessing and a problem. A blessing because most of our family and friends are in Halifax and we knew that’s where we wanted to buy a home and have a child but a problem because I finally had a job I loved and did not want to leave. I left the city heartbroken and unsure about looking for a new job. Long story short. It turns out it is a lot harder to leave my job than I thought and I have been lucky enough to continue working from home as one of their freelancers for eight years. The world is big but so are servers and online communication.I juggle freelancing and personal projects all from the comfort of my home and have done so since January 2008. Happy anniversary to me!
Recently I was asked for tips on how to work from home so I thought I’d share some responses to question I get asked a lot. I AM a professional, so take what you want from this.
How do you stay productive? I am by nature productive. The busier I am, the better it is for me. If I am only half-busy, then my work and focus become half-ass so the busier the better (call me, please). That being said, it is easy to get distracted so it’s smart to set up a legit office space that you go to every day. I stay in my office all day and, a few years ago, switched from a laptop to a desktop to avoid couch time. I use my laptop for blogging and remote work and limit the amount of freedom and flexibility one could expect from a self-employed person.
Do you wear your PJs every day? No. Although I can wear what I want, I never wear PJs or yoga pants because leisure wear makes me feel lazy. My trick is to give my space an office-casual dress code – jeans and slippers are acceptable. The easiest way I accomplish this is by getting up and leaving the house every morning – I go for a run, walk the dog, shower and then walk David to school meaning the PJs have to come off. (I have a huge problem with people who wear PJs in public)
Are you lonely? Meh. Some days yes but I have become very comfortable with solitude. On the rare occasions I find myself in an office with other people, it is very distracting. Yes I listen to music, podcasts and Netflix in the background but in all honesty, I think it is way more productive than what goes on around cubicles.
How many hours a week do you work? Paid: That depends ~20 to +40 hours. Non paid (committee work, blogging and personal projects): ~15 hours at least!
Would you go back to working in an office? Sure, but I have yet to find something that has made it worth giving up what I have.
Can you design something for me? Sure! Send me an email and I will send you a quote!
What do you need to set up a home-office? In my office I have two computers, two printers, an iPhone, a big desk, shelves, a dog, books and magazines galore, a water cooler, lots of storage and lots and lots of stuff pinned to the wall for inspiration and enjoyment. Make sure you have a good internet connection – buy the best. You can write off these kind of luxuries.
What do you need to do to set up as a self-employed person? If you are not an accountant or unable to do so, find an accountant! You need a business number (GST number) and must know how to send a proper invoice. Never delete email correspondence and be very organized. WRITE IT DOWN. Prioritize.
It must be awesome to have so much flexibility. Yes and no. Working from home means you have the ability to always take work home with you so it can be hard to walk away at 5:00. You also end up being the one on-call for family and friends. Plus, for me, it feels wrong to wander far from my office when I know others are working. I am always afraid I’ll miss call or email even though my phone is with me.
Do you ever work from a coffee shop instead? No. It’d be like working in an office – too distracting and unproductive.
Do you take extra-long lunches? Rarely. I would like to try and get back to occasional lunch-hour work-outs and try and arrange lunch dates more often.
I “love” your blog, do you love working on it? Yes, thank you. I love creating content but it’d be even better if I got more comments and subscribers. The more action it sees, the better my chances are of making it a paying gig.
What’s the worst part about being self-employed? People don’t take me seriously. I think people think my job is not real because I work from home and get to do a lot of creative things. I know it is not brain surgery but I do try and make a living at it.
Do you work whenever you want? I mostly work when Mike is at work and David is at school. I have allowed some flexibility (such as occasional parent-volunteering at school, taking David to late-afternoon swim lessons, and during marathon training I did my long runs on Friday mornings). Before David, I had a hard time walking away from the office after putting in a full day of work. Now I don’t have a choice because I am responsible for after-school pick-up at before 5:30 and value my evenings.
Finally, how long do you see yourself doing this? Ask me tomorrow and I may have a totally different answer than today so who knows?
Perks to working from home:
My commute is non existent. Henry and I walk David to school but once I am home, I stay home.
I can switch a load of laundry mid day, hang it out and I can (but barely) prep dinner and pop it in the oven.
I mostly communicate to co-workers and clients by ichat or email… meaning, I can easily ignore people and avoid office drama and banter. That being said, because I am just a ‘virtual’ person… people share more with me because I am not really there.
Forget water-cooler conversations, I have Podcasts, Netflix and CBC to keep me company.
I usually never miss a parcel delivery. Nothing is worse than the dreaded slip telling you that you missed your delivery and it is now at the Post Office but you have to wait until 1 pm the next day to collect it. WHY!!!???
Cons to working from home:
When I am not busy I am not getting paid.
I have to invoice, fill taxes (ok, my father-in-law does this but I still have to save everything and keep it organized) and take care of IT problems (and by taking care of IT problems, I mean tracking down the IT guy from the Montreal office) all by myself.
I can get a little shack-wacky, which is why I have no problem going out 3 or 4 nights a week.
I have to limit my J.Crew purchases – cute shoes and dresses are rare so I don’t need a lot of nice clothes.
No lunching with the co-workers + no office parties (not totally true) + no Friday afternoon beer in the office fridge + no office lottery or oscar pools + no bonus or evaluations.
How about you? Do you work from home and like it? Any tips to share? Any questions I didn’t answer? I’d love to hear about your day!
psst. All photos were taken with my iPhone. Sorry – I did not clean up. psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg
I made my mom proud… I’m a hooker! Way back in February, when I was snow-bound at my parent’s house on the Wallace River, I wrote a list – thirty six before thirty six. I completed 32 out of 36 items and #14 was: Learn how to rug hook.
It may seem like a random goal for a gal who’s not even 40 but when you’re snow bound and your mother is a rock star hooker, why not add it to your list? After all, on occasion I still like to dabble in the arts – I have to put that BFA to good use!
My first project was a throw pillow – and here’s how it went down:
Step 1: Iron the piece of burlap so it is super flat. If you are making a 16 x 16 inch pillow (like I did), make sure your piece of burlap is at least 1-2 inches wider on all sides. Step 2: Roughly sew along the edge of all four sides to keep your burlap from fraying.
Step 3: For framing purposes, add a few more inches of scrap material to all four sides of the burlap. This can be done quickly. Step 4: Once the burlap is ready, draw with a ruler your artwork frame (mine was 16 x 16 inch square) Step 5: Draw on tracing paper a design the same size as your frame. My mom suggested keeping things simple – meaning more curves and less small details and hard angles. The fun part was coming up with a design – I drew a folkish flower arrangement in a pot because it felt like the right thing to do for my first rug hooking adventure.Step 6: Pin the tracing paper over the piece of burlap, match the frames and trace your drawing – when you trace it hard, the drawing shows up on the burlap.Step 7: Now you are finally ready to hook! Step 8: Secure the piece of burlap to a hoop frame and start hooking away with your hook and yarn. I started with the flowers and jumped around, making sure to use lots of different colours. The yarn should be long enough that you can happily hook without running out too often. When doing small items (like petals, you may only need 6-12 inches). Once you get the hang of it, you will get better at judging how much yarn you’ll need. As you move around your design, you can adjust the hooking frame to keep the working area in the center. Step 9: Once the flowers were done, I did the flower pot and background. These two sections were a lot less exciting but yet mindless and easy to work through. Step 10: When everything within the frame was covered, I was finally able to pull it out of the hooking frame, remove the scrap material and make a finishing edge around the 16 x 16 inch artwork with yarn. To do so, fold under the edges of the burlap outside of frame and pin in place. Lay your artwork face down on an ironing board and cover it with a piece of cotton or a towel and iron. Then you can finish sew along the four sides and remove the pins. Step 11: (This is when I handed-off the project to my mom) *cheater. I had scrap material which she used to make the backing of the pillow. We stuffed it and sewed’er shut. Step 12: Voila! Hooking is fun and easy. Sure, the better you are, they better it will look but what I love most about it is you can hook-away almost anywhere. The majority of my hooking was in the car (on our trip to Sunday River) or in front of the TV.I plan to start a new project this winter – for me, it really is a seasonal sport – I have a design and am excited to show you what’s next. Spoiler: I am going to try type.
psst. For those who want to hook but are not keen on drawing, there are kits you can buy. You can also hook fabric instead of yarn. There is an awesome hooking store in Amherst, Nova Scotia for all of your hooking supply needs – and even better, you can order online.
psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg