home studio.

the other day i ran into our sweet old neighbors at the grocery store. we don’t see each other often, but when we do we always share updates and tid-bits about out lives. i have never seen them “in public” before, so the dynamic was slightly off and a little awkward (why is that?). the first thing they asked was “so, kid, when ya goin back to work, huh?” they must know i don’t leave the house often, because my car is almost always in the driveway. i replied by saying “oh! i do work! i just work from home!” i tried to explain what i do, how i spend my days, but they seemed confused. “so, you make crafts….? but when will you go back to work?”

i struggled with this for a long time- feeling like i wasn’t doing enough to justify staying at home to work. i don’t feel like that anymore. i am BUSY! i work everyday, all day- often too long! i do sometimes wish for a studio outside of home, only because it would justify my “job” somehow. it would also force be to be home when my work-day was over. working from home is challenging- not only the part where you have to convince people you actually are working your butt off, even though you don’t leave the house- but also the organization of your day, ignoring the distractions, prioritizing, and giving yourself a break!
i’m finally settling into some sort of routine, after a year of operating Opposite of Far from my little studio down the hall. there are some key “rules” i have set up for myself to keep me on track, because working from home is hard! it’s distracting- it can sometimes be really hard to say no to that couch calling my name!

my tips for working from home:

*my tips/rules may not work for everyone, but they work for me!*

1. set a schedule

– i started with a really specific and structured schedule and realized (after 1 week) that wasn’t going to work for me. i have played with several different types of schedules- doing specific things on the same days each week (didn’t work), allotting time blocks for certain tasks (didn’t work). then i realized having rules, but not being strict with the layout of my day was key. rules such as- shower before 10, get dressed in real clothes, no tv unless my hands are busy, house chores can wait until i’m “off”. this is a schedule i can work with! i need rules, but also flexibility!

2. get dressed. every day.

-for me this is KEY! i make sure i am showered everyday before 10 (giving me time in the morning to have a little breakfast, check my e-mail, etsy shop, facebook and catch up on bogs while still feeling cozy and relaxed).

once i’m showered, i restrict myself from wearing sweats or pajamas. most days i just wear my favorite jeans and a tank or t-shirt but some days i wear a dress or skirt (if i’m feelin’ fancy)! i also put my hair up (or at least brush it!) and wear a little make up and some jewelry. this makes me feel more “work ready”, as if i were leaving the house to go to work. i try to pretend my studio is in the outside world, and so i must get dressed to go to work! this greatly helps my mood and motivation.

3. take breaks.

-just like if i were at a workplace, i take breaks. this could be a break to chat on the phone with a friend, check my e-mail/instagram/facebook/etsy, to sit outside and read a chapter of my book, to stretch or get a snack. sometimes i even use these breaks to wash the dishes or start a load of laundry because sometimes those things wear on me if i know they need to be done. doing them during my breaks allows me to feel relaxed about the house chores without detracting me from work. breaks are important because they keep you going! my fried swears by the pomodora technique.

4. EAT!

it can be easy to stuff your face all day long in order to avoid work, but it’s also easy to forget to eat if you’re on a roll! i have a full 24oz bottle of water on my work table at all times-staying hydrated keeps the headaches and drowsiness at bay. it also keeps me from stuffing my face all day long! 🙂 i often take time to prepare a mindful lunch for myself, i find this to be very important for my personal productivity. i stock the house with things that are quick and healthy to prepare and  snack on so i don’t spend 20 minutes trying to talk myself out of a not-so-great snack or lunch.

*want some lunch & snack suggestions? i’d love to hear yours too! send me a message so we can share!*

5. pick an end time and try to stick to it.

this is hard for me. once i start working it is really difficult for me to stop, especially if i have a stack of orders to finish. sometimes i’m guilty of making a quick dinner then running right back to my studio to work until midnight! these last couple weeks, though, i have been trying to reserve the evenings for relaxing and spending time with mike. i try to wrap up my work by the time he gets home so we can visit, cook dinner, then spend the evening together.

6. keep your area clean & organized!

i have made it a habit to pick up/put away/clean my area every day when i’m finished working. this makes it so much easier to start working in the morning! it also keeps the energy in the room open and creative rather than hectic and restrained. for me this includes being stocked up on all my supplies. if i am running low on something, i put it on my list and purchase it as soon as possible, even if it isn’t something i will need immediately. having what you need on hand keeps your work flowing! i also thrive in “pretty” spaces…or at least spaces filled with inspiration. i love my studio- the light, the colors, the organization, and the inspiration surrounding me! i often take pictures while i’m working because i love my space so much! keep your space beautiful, it’ll make you want to create!

…and some things i need to work on

*i need to get better at treating this as a “real job”…i know, i demand others see this as my real job, but sometimes i talk down to myself and don’t respect my work enough. i’ll have to work on that!

*saying “no” to daily adventures with friends because i really should be working! it’s so hard though, i mean i have the freedom so why not? i just need to moderate the weekly outings a bit better!

*internet distraction. i can spend SO MUCH time “taking a break” without even realizing it! yikes….

*still working on the working 15 hours a day issue…sometimes i just have to!

*****

if you work from home, i hope this helps you! or maybe you already have an incredible balance…how do you do it? any tips you’d like to share with me would be most welcome!

most of all i feel incredibly lucky to be able to do the work i love from the comfort of my home. how cool is that? it was literally a “dream” just 2 years ago, and here i am now, typing this blog post from my couch, in my pajamas! and when i sign off, i’m headed to my little studio down the hall to make masks- lots of them- because people from all over the world want them! pinch me!

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growing, or not.

last winter and spring all i could think about was what my garden would look like, what food it would bring to our table throughout the spring, summer and early fall. i imagined the digging and  planting then proudly walking through the soil in bare feet, just admiring my strong plants. and that was just what i did! i dug, sweated, planted, meandered, admired, harvested, and ate in that garden. i loved it and showed it off proudly to friends and neighbors. mike and i would visit the garden together every evening to collect our days bounty.

until.

until the sprinkler was no longer enough water to feed my plants. it was hotter than hot, the rain hadn’t come in too long and our water bill had quadrupled. we were forced to stop watering my precious garden.  the plants dried up and (mostly) stopped producing. then they began wilting…that is one of the saddest sights- rows of plants wilting in the heat, unripened fruit clinging to the last bit of nutrients the soil has to offer. for awhile we diligently collected water from our showers and any time it did rain, there were buckets collecting rain water to use later. but it just wasn’t enough.

just look how pretty my garden was:

(keep reading for some GREAT tips!)

peas just beginning

climbing/growing peas

(i’m not sure the peas liked being in the boxes, next year they will go in the ground!)

strong bell pepperslittle watermeloncherry tomatoes- we ate thousands!

ever-so-useful mint

i am thankful (of course) for the food we did collect from our garden, but it’s so sad to watch so many plants die before they should. i already have plans for how to make the garden better next year. some of those plans start with the way we “close” the garden this year- tilling, laying out compost & straw, etc. but also, this article will help greatly in preparing, planning and caring for my future gardens. including how to prepare your soil, plan your layout, which plants to choose, and a video about the planting technique called three sisters garden. i hope it helps you too!

so now my garden is dry and sad and we count ourselves lucky to find fruit in there. with the little spurts of recent rain, we have still had strawberries and mint  (in containers, so they hold the water better) and some cherry tomatoes (which i think could grow in the middle of a desert)! my basil, however hated the soil in our garden and barely grew or produced at all. next year, i think i’ll put the basil in containers too, since that has worked for me in the past. this article about growing herbs in containers will be very useful to me next year!

what tricks for gardening in unforgiving soil, dry weather (read: drought), unrelenting heat do you have up your sleeve? please share any advice, articles, tricks and/or ideas in the comments below! i’d love to hear from you!

(thank you, allison for the great articles! keep em coming!)

4th of july tradition.

this year we held our 4th annual (or is it only the 3rd annual?) 4th of july party in our backyard! anyway, 3rd year, 4th year…it’s just so fun!

lola chilaxin’ in the kiddie pool

griffin is a master dinosaur imitator. it’s impressive.

mike and lola had a deep, meaningful conversation about popsicles

(yes, mike is sporting his creeper mustache again this year, and yes, it is temporary! here he is last year at our county fair!)

poor baby max was tired and hot. (this is how old lola was when we started this tradition!)

new friends christina & kristof joined us this year. we like them.

apparently, the water table water is far better than dog bowl water.

so, whatcha got there lola? huh?

sally is a rave goddess. just look at that spin!

and regardless of the burn ban here, our trusty firefighters provided us with a stellar fire works show!

*****

check out little lola at our previous 3 years of 4th of july

2010

2011…check out the party pics here!

2012

garden guessing game.

in honor of the first official day of summer, i’ve put together a little garden guessing game for you! test your plant identification skills by inspecting each picture, then you can check your answers at the bottom! enjoy!! 🙂

there it is: my garden! i still have lots of weeding to do- it’s constant- but we already have tons of wonderful veggies coming in!

now it’s time to guess the plant!

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

(i’m just giving this one away!)

7.

8.

9.

10.

*****

now…ready for the answers?

(1. bell pepper, 2. basil, 3. tomato, 4. strawberry, 5. mint, 6. sweet pea, 7. kale, 8. green bean, 9. zucchini, 10. eggplant)

may wrap-up.

may was a beautiful month. the weather was absolutely dreamy! we spent a lot of time outside working on our garden and flower beds, relaxing in the hammock, grilling and eating on the back porch and playing with the pups.

here’s what may looked like according to my iTouch/instagram feed.

gardening is my favorite. i absolutely love the garden mike made for me and i am quite proud of the work i have put into it! it’s growing like crazy and i can’t wait to enjoy more and more food that i’ve grown! i will share more (real) pictures really soon!

i was feeling bored with out old flower pots but they still work just fine, so i decided on a little diy facelift.

1. i spray painted the bottom section of the pot with leftover yellow spray paint from a project last summer, then used our green door paint to finish off the top rim.

2. i cut a triangle stencil from a small piece of cardboard and traced triangles around the pot (somewhat randomly)

3. i painted the triangles with extra paint we had sitting around

4. and TA-DA! i have a fresh and new pot that i can’t stop smiling about!

lucky us! we got to spend a little time in our friends pool recently. it was glorious!

{thanks angela & matt!}

as i mentioned, the weather in may was perfection!

(and will you just look at those gorgeous peonies!)

i love letting the pups run around the soccer field down the road- it makes them SO happy! this is a special treat for them, and they are exhausted every time!

the lovely weather has had me inspired to grill, eat lots of fresh veggies, try new recipes and enjoy ice pops!

(lettuce & snap peas are from our own garden!)

i’ll leave you with a yummy summer recipe:

quinoa salad.

4 cups water

2 cups quinoa

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup lemon, squeezed

(i used a whole lemon!)

garlic, chopped

(i used one fresh clove from our garden, but will use more next time)

salt & pepper, to taste

whatever veggies you have on hand, chopped

{there are as many combinations as you can think of for this salad! be creative!}

i used:

snap peas, carrot peels, and green onions, parsley, and mint

1. in a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. add quinoa and a pinch of salt. reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. allow to cool to room temperature; fluff with a fork.

(this is meant to be served cool/cold, so i recommend making this early in the day if you plan on having if for dinner, or the day before if you plan on taking it to a cook out or picnic. it takes a long time for the cooked quinoa to cool down, so plan ahead!)

2. meanwhile in a large bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, veggies, herbs. stir into cooled quinoa. add salt & pepper to taste.

enjoy!

*the recipe says it serves 4-6 people, but it goes much further than that, the two of us enjoyed this salad for a few days and it stayed fresh & delicious!*

*also, after a couple days, we added some grilled steak (cut into small pieces) and sesame ginger lemon dressing which really added a lot of flavor*

{this recipe was adapted from a recipe from farm bloomington}

the end of may: days 21-31.

day 21. where i stand.

my favorite place to stand these days!

day 22. pink.

new wee dolls with PINK hair!

day 23. technology.

day 24. something new.

a little bloom.

day 25. something unusual.

treating myself to lunch while running errands. (this never happens!)

day 26. 12 o’clock.

the water was too cold to swim.

day 27. something sweet.

a little snack in my studio. lemonade + kettle corn.

day 28. today’s weather.

it was HOT like our grill.

(hey, check out that GIANT steak we were grilling for dinner!)

day 29. a number.

our home.

day 30. your personality.

i asked mike how he would describe my personality and he said “free spirit”. i was about to go with moody, but free spirit works!

day 31. something beautiful.

there was a storm rolling in late yesterday afternoon. so fitting for the last day of may.

*****************************

and, of course, i will be doing the june photo a day challenge too!you can follow me on instagram (oppositeoffar), on this blog, or on my facebook page! where can i find your photo a day pics?

find more info about photo a day on fatmumslim blog!

days 19 & 20 + a lovely weekend.

this weekend felt all summery & wonderful. it was full of kiddos, friends, planting, sewing, baking, quality time & being outside.

{all my favorite things!}

life is SO good.

all these beauties were growing in our yard!

i was lucky enough to get these two all to myself on saturday! we had a fun trip to the farmers market

lola totally rocks this harmonica. she’s a natural!

i put this *free* compost tea to good use on all my plants!

i helped celebrate a friends marriage in a lovely little wooded nook

i enjoyed quality time with this guy…

…reading in our hammock, side by side (day 19)

also…

day 20. something i can’t live without

and the sun goes down on another great weekend…

did you take full advantage of the lovely weather this weekend?

days 16-18 (and then some).

i have been LOVING this spring. i’m not taking a minute for granted! i’m enjoying filthy hands in feet in the dirt of my garden, eating meals on the porch, open windows, yoga outside in the morning, evenings in the hammock with a good book, pink shoulders and my a tired body (the best kind of tired). i feel healthy, alive and happy. fulfilled. opposite of far is thriving, keeping me busy in my studio every day. lately i have had such a wonderful balance of work, rest & play!

day 16. i’ve been working on 3 books lately. usually this would stress me out, but it’s been nice. reading to suit my mood, or the situation.

day 17. smoothies are my current “kick”, i make myself a different one every afternoon.

{i’m working on a post about all my delicious concoctions!}

day 18. something i made.

{these little dolls have been a long time coming! they are much smaller versions of my near & dear dolls}

wee doll, *first doll*, near&dear doll

{the *first doll* was made for sweet little lola about 2 years ago, from there the dolls just got bigger…and now smaller!}

other *NEW* things happening in the opposite of far studio:

batman & robin dolls for 2 little brothers, wee doll annabell, pig mask, wolf mask, sketches for new masks, super hero masks, circus masks for moskiddos clothing line, wee doll amber, beaver headed to singapore!

{and that lovely plastic lady modeling the new masks? that’s francis simone. she was a birthday gift (#25) from allison}

and here are some more photos of what i’ve been up to:

how are you enjoying the spring? i’d love to know!

day 15. love.

day 15.

he said he would build me a new garden. the old plot had become too shady and really overgrown.  he planned, he thought, he contemplated, be built, he planned some more. i started feeling worried that we would run out of time, that the garden wouldn’t be ready for planting. i couldn’t always see or understand his vision. but i also knew he would come through. and he did! months ago i told him the official planting date is mothers day. well, he worked all weekend and finished this project sunday night! and it’s great! i absolutely LOVE it!

so far i have planted all my pepper plants (all hot pepper for him!) and i have plotted out where the rest of our crops will go. everyday i will sow some seeds and by the weekend we should have a fully planted garden! then we wait some more!

i’ll keep you updated on our garden progress throughout the summer. but i want to know, what are YOU planting? do you have a backyard garden, community garden, potted garden, front yard garden, windowsill garden…? please share!