Living and working from home

A realization of the new normal- a transition to a work at home family

My husband and I take daily walks, our only time to just chat about life and planning for our future. It hit me that this living and working from home is our “new normal”. I’m not sure why I hadn’t given much time to REALLY think about it but it’s sinking in!

At the beginning of the pandemic it felt like a snow storm. You know, the kind where you are stuck in the house for a while and you cook, eat and watch movies. The shelves of the grocery store were always bare but this time, the snow storm lasted 3-4 months. Stores ran out of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, flour, sugar and yeast.

Fast forward to summer, we have been enjoying being outside and since we live in NJ we know we will be inside living and working from home soon enough. It is hitting me, we need a plan! We went to the gazebo by our pool, which we now lovingly have deemed our “restaurant” when we want a change of scenery and we discussed our plan!

My Domain

The house has traditionally been my domain. I’ve worked at home for 20 years and it’s been great! I’m disciplined, organized and I’m used to having my space and time to do what I need and want to do all day. I stay busy all day long toggling between work and home duties and I like it.

We are empty nesters but we currently have 4 adults living and working from home. Quarantine was a slight adjustment to those plans. I’m not complaining at all! I love having family with me and I love having built-in social! Especially during the height of the pandemic it was great to have family in the house for company and conversation!

I can’t imagine being alone or even being alone with your spouse for that long without social interaction with friends. I’m a social person and I get my energy from others. This isolation stuff stinks! I don’t like it.

So, back to the house being “my office”. I love my family and we all get along super well but sometimes I need my space! Everyone is in “my office”, which has typically been the whole house, all day long. My sweet husband is now asking me about dinner every day and none of us have privacy.

Dinner conversations

Dinner is almost the only thing that varies every day so I guess it’s fun to talk about, but Cooking has always been my thing, I’m efficient at it. I know what ingredients we have and many times I make a decision at 5pm as to what I feel like making. Now I have to think about it all day long and discuss it. My husband is just trying to be helpful and I am so very appreciative but I don’t like to discuss it all day long. I’ve talked with him and coached him to ask “How can I help you with dinner?” as opposed to “What should we do for dinner?”

It’s a slight word change that helps me feel like I’m being supported on the plans I have made for dinner.

Work Space Allocation

Since everyone is working from home, I’ve decided that we need to set some ground rules for Fall. I believe we will all be more productive and focused if we do.

Everyone needs an office/ work space. My husband and I have separate offices in the house but many days he would “work” in the family room off my office so we could be close by. Oddly, I felt stifled like I just needed my space like I had for the past 20 years. It may sound strange but I would rather have him in his office and call or text me if he needs something than to randomly chat all day.

I’ve decided that the kitchen needs to be the “break room” and no one should work in it. It needs to be social just like a break room should be. Meals and conversations shared. NO actual work!

The dining room should be either the “board room”, “cubicle space” even “school” if needed. Many people collaborating or working side by side on productive work that doesn’t involve meetings or zooms.

If you have the space, add a small desk or workspace to bedrooms so that people can work independently and privately. Conference calls, classes or networking zooms shouldn’t disturb others.

Communication is key

The bottom line is to communicate. Gather the family and discuss what is working and not working so we can come out of this quarantine on the better end of this! We need to communicate so that living and working from home will be seamless.

Plan out shopping, cooking and cleaning so that everyone has a role. I expect once the weather gets cold, we won’t be inside restaurants so there’s going to be a lot of home cooking again!

Time management, organization and setting some ground rules for space and chores in the house will allow us all to cope with this new-normal a little better! I hope this gives you some ideas on how to deal with this work from home family life that we are all getting used to. I’m not an expert but I’m good at communicating what I need and I hope you do the same!

wine bottle watering system

Drunken flowers

How to set up a plant watering system

I know we are basically home all summer and we have time to water the plants every single day, but it gets tiresome sometimes. Every day you have to pull out the hose or a pitcher and water, water, water….

My mom used to say, necessity is the mother of invention, so when we went out of town to a friends shore house for the weekend, I didn’t feel like asking someone to water the plants, so I got to Googling… is that a word?

Here’s where I got creative…

Remember those little watering globes for houseplants? I wondered if a wine bottle would work the same way.

I summoned empty wine bottles from my neighbors and I stuck a bottle, filled with water, in heavily watered soil upside down and let it go! Luckily for me, I had a friend come by and check on them. Some plants needed a extra drink or two but generally, the method worked. The bottles drained too fast for the hot weather, so I went to Amazon. I found terra-cotta watering spikes and I quickly ordered them. Here’s the link! https://www.amazon.com/s?k=watering+spikes+for+outdoor+plants&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

The Amazon reviews said they were fragile but they arrived in tact! Whew!

I watered all my plants super thoroughly to soften the soil, I then soaked the spikes in water to get them ready to insert and I carefully inserted them into the soil so that they were right above or at soil level.

So here’s the bottom line! IT WORKS! The plants definitely drink at their own pace, some faster and some slower due to sun, heat etc. On super hot days your thirstiest plants, which for me is a potted tomato plant and basil plant, will require additional watering because they get so hot they can’t get the water fast enough… but it truly works at keeping your plants hydrated and allows me to not have to monitor them so closely! I’m a fan of my new watering system… even if it looks like my plants have a drinking problem!

I hope this helps you as well! Share this tip with all your plant loving friends! Stay hydrated!

Staycations and Happiness

With all the uncertainty in the world, we are not going on any vacations this summer. We love to travel but it’s just not possible this year. No one wants to get on a plane this summer for good reason.

New Jersey is blessed and cursed at the moment….. one of the most locked down states in the country but also one of the most delightful places in the summer. Did you know there are lovely mountains in NJ? I didn’t either…. before I moved here…. and it’s delightful out here in the Garden State!

Growing up in the South, I never knew how fabulous Jersey Corn and Tomatoes were…. or how delightful the Jersey Shore could be so at least we have a gorgeous summer to look forward to!

We have decided to make lemonade out of lemons and are doing things to make our outdoor living space even more enjoyable like many others around the country.

Now is a perfect time to refresh the pillows, umbrellas and flower pots or whatever you can to enjoy your outdoor space even more. Let’s face it, you’re going to see it a lot this summer. We took on a low voltage lighting project this past week that really added value to our deck! I say “we” lightly because I had input but my husband did all the work. Thank goodness he is handy because he just knows how to do things like this and is willing!

We added lighting to our deck steps so that we can confidently walk out from the house and see the step down. All of a sudden, we find ourselves in our 50’s and it’s not bright enough to see the step down. LOL…. we are indeed turning into our parents.

I’ve also pulled out an old decorative piece I hadn’t used in a while… this gorgeous planter that goes around my umbrella to create a 360 degree centerpiece! ! It really makes me happy to see it and makes my outdoor living space more inviting! Even if you don’t have this pretty planter, you can easily just put a few small flower pots out with some annuals to spruce it up! I am going to be home more than not this summer so I certainly have time to water it. That’s always been the challenge when we travel.

I wasn’t up to planting a full on garden this summer but I do love to plant a few herbs and tomatoes for a quick Capresse salad (tomatoes, buffalo mozzerella and some basil) or a nice little refreshing Mojito with some fresh mint and lime! This simple pleasure adds to our outdoor dining experience and gives me a little something to tend to! We simply potted these in pots on the deck so I can water everything easily! SO much joy out of these simple things!

Finally… since we want to entertain but we have to do it carefully and responsibly, we moved an outdoor table into our gazebo for covered outdoor dining! Honestly, it felt like a special event or a vacation… sitting outside and being protected from the drizzle that sometimes comes with summer storms. We enjoyed a poolside dining experience and once the rain stopped, we enjoyed the beautiful sunset!

Joy and happiness doesn’t have to come from traveling the world, or having things… sometimes just cherishing your home, and your friends and family and all the blessings that we have right at our fingertips, is all you need. The pandemic has unveiled a lot of emotions in people ranging from fear to annoyance, panic, anxiety, care, love and gratefulness…. and sometimes we can succumb to all of these emotions even in one day.

I want to choose to be happy and hopeful rather than being fearful and desperate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m being careful and am taking this pandemic seriously. I’m following guidelines and not being around a lot of people because I do want to protect the people I love… but I am choosing to be grateful everyday for what I have. People I love, friendships and health… I do feel blessed! I pray that everyone reading this can focus on the good in this situation… I know it’s not possible for all but I hope that focusing on the good brings you more good in your life! Remember… your thoughts, become your words, become your actions, become your habits which become your destiny…. so choose happy!! God bless!

Martha Stewart – Here I come!

I am a trained Interior Designer but have not practiced in a while!   Recently…. My daughter told me she never liked the lime green that I had painted her walls when she was 5!  LOL!   I tried so hard not to decorate a room in traditional pinks and purple “girl” colors when she was little…. I chose a great palate with lime green and raspberry  that was fun and youthful, not too little girly that would transition into teens and I do feel like I did that effectively.

Now she’s 17 and about to go off to college and we are re-doing her room for Christmas into a more “mature” palate.   Why, you ask, would I re-decorate her room before she leaves us in 6 months?  Well, first of all, I’m ready for a change but secondly, I want her to enjoy it for a while and own it …. I want it to feel like “hers” before she leaves so she can enjoy it as “hers” when she comes back!

I’ll post some before and after shots but the “before” will depend on when she doesn’t have clothes strewn all over the room and on the floor (remember, she is still a teenager)

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The “green/blue” lattice and solid will be in the adjacent bath and her room will be a soft gray paint from Benjamin Moore #harbourgray with a geometric print on the window and different scale prints for pillows and accent trim.

With today’s more gray palates being more “in style” it’s hard to transition the “golds” into the gray palates but with some fabrics, I think we can effectively do just that!

Stay tuned for some before and after shots!  It may take a month but I’ll get there!

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What room in your house do you want to re-do?   Some people don’t place a lot of emphasis on this sort of thing but I think our interior has so much to do with our mood and our energy!  We need to get energy out of a space…  whether we want calm or energizing,  bright and bold or muted and serene.    What’s your ideal space look like?  Clean and simple, colorful, neutral, or do you have a favorite color that really makes you feel good?

Wednesday Wisdom

Admittedly, I’m almost 50 years old….. (How did that happen?)   But I love where I am in life because I have figured out a lot!   Of course, my elders would say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”, and that is true.   I say that about my kids.   They are very responsible and make good decisions so far in life but they don’t know what they don’t know… and that can ONLY be learned through experience.    Life is a series of experiences…… and experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want most of the time!

I’ve learned a lot in my short life so far…. even had to deal with the death of two parents and that, my friends, will give you experience.  I have thought a lot about my blog and where I want it to go….  My passions are family, faith, food and entertaining, creative ideas like decorating and fashion/accessorizing along with my passion for gadgets and products I love…. I also LOVE organization and love to travel.  I love to cook healthy food and FINALLY figured out how to keep my “mid-life weight” under control by choosing healthy food….. REAL food and not products I have to purchase.  THAT makes me excited!

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It gets me excited to share this wisdom with people who have not figured it out yet….. Being a woman today is an interesting journey…. Many of us work, either part time or full time and want to maintain a balance of work/life and family…. while trying to be organized enough to cook healthy meals, take care of ourselves and do all the things that make us happy while not losing our sanity as we try to take care of the ones around us that we love.

I really feel like I have some great tips and great ideas to help women keep that balance, feel productive and feel sane doing it because of “experience”.      We won’t all be perfect… but we will find some peace and sanity doing it.

Follow me on this journey of blog posts….. if nothing else, my daughter can read this one day and get advice from her mother 🙂

 

Keep it Organized!

I am a self proclaimed product junkie and have a love for organizing!   I love finding the BEST gadget, product, anything that makes my life easier or simpler!  I love feeling decluttered and organized because it makes my brain less cluttered and helps me sleep better and enjoy life fully!  Here’s just what’s on my mind today!   What are YOUR favorite organizing products?  Here are a few of mine!

 

  1.  Travel Cubes.  I admit it.. These things are fantastic for packing and unpacking and keeping your suitcase tidy!  I like being able to pack the way it makes sense to me…. pajamas or work out clothes together…. or all my pants together and all my tops together….Pack a cube of shoes!   However you choose to pack, I think you’ll like it!   AND… on the way home, your dirty clothes can go in a cube as to not “mix” with your clean ones!

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2.  Pursen Jewelry Organizer – I like to accessorize and I do travel with lots of jewelry because it can really change up my look when I need to take an outfit from day to play!  This little gem (no pun intended) is TRULY the best one I have tried and trust me… I have tried a lot of different ones!   They come small to large for all your needs!

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3.  Neat Desk Organizer – It’s a scanner and it’s AMAZING!!!   I hate paper all over the place and sometimes you need to access something from the road like a business card or a frequent flyer number or hotel rewards number.    You can download the NEAT app on your phone and have instant access to everything you scan and all you have to do is search a word or a name.    Anything that is PRINTED like a business card or form get’s pre-read so you don’t have to type in anything… so when you search for them, you can in an instant…. You can even scan recipes and receipts….. and they can be reprinted…. and shared electronically.   This thing is a MUST have in my opinion!   People think I should sell these!  I love it THAT much!

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4. Go Strap!  This is a silly little gadget that sticks on the back of your phone case and allows you to hold your phone securely and safely!   I no longer worry about dropping my phone!    Women don’t always have pockets to put their phones in….. but they sometimes need them accessible because we are keeping up with kids or work for example…. THIS little gadget is stellar in allowing you to have your hands full yet still have your phone ON you.  You can carry your coffee and your phone in one hand without worrying about dropping your phone!  Outstanding!

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I can’t wait to hear what YOUR favorite gadgets are!

Happy New Year

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Does anyone else feel like they are just coming out of their summer “fog”?   I am.  It seems to take a while to get back in the groove after having no schedule in the summer.  Don’t get me wrong… summer was productive.  It wasn’t just sitting by the pool and sipping drinks….. we got a lot of projects done around the house but it has seriously taken me until MID- October to feel like things are settling into a groove!  Crazy!

So… The reason I said “Happy New Year” is because I think August or September (depending on when your school starts)  should be the NEW YEAR!    It’s a time when we start over…. refresh…. get into a routine again after a summer of being less structured.   Kids go back to school, Mom’s start to get things in order around the house.. and maybe start to take care of themselves again.   Work schedules out of the house seem more relaxed during the summer because everyone is on vacation here and there and Fall, well, everyone is back to business!   Even the calendars you buy at the store either begin in January or  academic calendars begin in EITHER July or August? How confusing!

I seem to place less emphasis on the “new year” in January and seem to feel a lot more inclined to start over and start fresh in September?  How about you?

I begin to eat healthy again after a summer of indulgences…. I begin to exercise again because there is a routine and I begin to organize after a summer of having everyone in the house.   September seems to be MY new year!

So… I am taking it on… Got new glasses to start off the “new me” and I’m back to cooking healthy and eating better!   I’m reflecting on the past with perspective… and dreaming of my future.

Are you ready to see some posts because I took most of the summer off?  What do you want to hear more of?  Here are my passions:  Decorating, entertaining, fashion & accessorizing, product junkie, food and cooking, parenting, travel,  some DIY projects, and Organization and business!   I feel like my years of experience can serve me well as I’m venturing into the “mature adult” phase of my life!  Tell me what you want to hear more of!  I’d love to share!

What do home decor, Campbell soup, football, royalty, Scouts, military, sororities and fraternities all have in common?

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This little symbol… is the Fleur de Lis!    Do you recognize it?   You have probably seen it in home decor accents, The New Orleans Saints, scepters,  and crowns and flags of royalty and of european countries, the Scouts… the military, some sororities and fraternities and even vintage Campbell’s Soup labels used to have this little symbol on it!  It’s a super star!    It’s French in origin…. Fleur means “flower” and Lis means “Lily”.

If you are curious in nature… click on the link to learn more!   Fleur de Lis

Anyway… I just LIKE it!  I LOVE it in the new eSBe Designs Mardi Gras collection!!!   It’s timeless….and detailed per our designer!  It truly is a piece of art to be worn proudly and timelessly for years.. but for now… Enjoy it’s beauty…. and if you happen to relate to the organizations or nationalities that it represents, even better!

These pieces can make a great addition to any jewelry wardrobe or make a great gift for someone who identifies with this symbol!   Enjoy!

Where else have you seen this little symbol?  I’d love to know!

Mardi Gras Gold Necklace ($99) with Sundial Collection Agate necklace ($85)

  
 

Half Empty Nesters


So it happened…. we took my son off to college and things changed.

I knew it would… but wasn’t quite sure how.   I have a 16 year old daughter at home so I thought I wouldn’t feel so much change all at once but maybe it’s her age, but she barely needs me anymore.   She does not have her full drivers license yet so the good news is, I’m needed for something for a few more months.

Now you have to understand, I am a glass FULL kind of person and I was finding myself a little down, (I won’t use the word depressed)   My family noticed… and after my daughter and I had a chance to talk through it, we figured out that my role after the past 18 years was changing and I was feeling less important, less needed, less significant in their lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a great relationship with my kids so they’ll always need me in some way, but my “mom” role was clearly diminishing.

I feel pretty blessed though because my husband and I have a great marriage and we like hanging out together…but even a few weekends of going out to dinner with each other alone has found us feeling a little lost with all the focus on the kids for so long!  I know this is the new normal… and we are getting to just be together as a couple again, which is great!   I do feel quite a bit of stress thinking about marriages that are not as strong and having to endure this “loss” of kids in the house.   Either a marriage will be ignited in a different way after the kids move away, or the marriage will be so comfortable that no change will occur or… it could be the end of some marriages.. .so NOTE TO PARENTS… nurture that marriage because THIS is coming!

So.. cheers to all those parents who successfully got their kids off to college and beyond… I know a whole new world awaits for us as parents experiencing first jobs… kids not living with us (hopefully) and we hope, eventual marriages, grandkids and more… but we won’t rush that.   For now… we will enjoy this transition the best we can.

We visited my son at college this past week and we fed a bunch of kids breakfast before we headed home…. It’s funny how just simply taking care of our kids in some way gave us such joy!   For them, they probably just appreciated the free meal and a little break from campus, but for us it made us feel so much joy to give them some nurturing… because we won’t get to do that much longer!

Would love to hear from other “empty-nesters” or “half empty-nesters”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer in the Kitchen

I love Summer! I love summer vegetables and cooking on the grill! There’s something about summer that makes it more fun to cook!   I think because it feels more relaxed … Eating outside and not having as many activities to go to with kids. 

What are some of your lighter fare dishes you love to whip up when the weather is hot?    Grilled shrimp, grilled chicken, chopped salads and corn on the cob and fresh tomatoes and cucumbers are some of mine!   I love a chilled gazpacho soup too!   Let’s share some favorites!