Monday, October 05, 2015

On Working From Home

One opportunity that presented itself to me when I least expected it was working from home for a branding and marketing company. A friend was asking for me to recommend an applicant for a writing and blog editing position that he was hiring for. It was S that said, you should do it, you already do that now, why not make a career of it? So I went for it. 

It's been a year now since I've worked from home, in addition to working a full-time job at a museum. Initially I was a copy editor, and then I moved on the social media team to be the social media manager. It's been fantastically rewarding. Both were positions that did not exist previously, so I had the freedom to create the positions from scratch. I've always loved working in events and working in museums, however, blogging and social media have grown to be more than my hobbies, they began to be extra income for me. So why not do that for clients?

With the "virtual-office" position, I'm able to work on my own time, making it easy to manage two jobs. Well, "easy" as in, my second job doesn't affect my first job's schedule, and vice versa. And honestly, working from home has also been hard at times. There are weeks where I'm incredibly busy both at the museum, and with the digital marketing position. I'll work 8 am to 9 pm at times, days in a row, and it gets mentally exhausting that I have little time to dedicate to anything else. I tell S that this is why I watch so much bad TV like The Real Housewives, because by the time I have an hour to myself before sleeping, I don't want to read my books or do anything else that requires my mind.

I feel guilty at times when I'm simply cuddling on the couch with Mordechai or watching a movie with S - if I'm home, I feel like I should be working, right? Wrong. My new blog-neighbor Laura (Chicago-based) writes the blog Blogging Over Thyme, and recently wrote about the work-life balance. In that post, she wrote things I have definitely been feeling. I really love my job(s) and I can't imagine working on anything else and being this happy and fulfilled. However, I also really look forward to spending time on weekends with S and Mort, friends and family, and exploring our city. I look forward to leaving the office at a normal time and I look forward to shutting down my laptop in my home office and viewing my apartment as my home, not as my virtual office.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fall, Autumn, Harvest

My friend (and travel companion - we went to Paris together!) came to visit me in Chicago! I wanted to go apple picking once the air turned crisp, and I knew Abby would love to go too. We drove west, past the suburbs and past the farms. We went to Kuiper's Family Farm where they do apple picking in September, a pumpkin patch in October, and you can cut down your own Christmas tree in winter! The land was beautiful, surrounded by green hills and tons of trees. I cannot wait to see these leaves turn orange.
The farm told us what was in season that weekend, and they take you on a tractor ride through the orchard to the rows of ripe apples.  
We were given bags the size of 1/4 of a peck. Of course, we piled the apples high so that we could bring home as many as we could carry!
They also had apple cider donuts! Although the farm had many activities for children, they also thought about the adults. There was a bar for tasting the hard cider that they make on property! Unfortunately, the weekend that we went must have been a popular one because they were sold out. In the future, I can't wait to try some.
Definitely spent some time taste-testing the apples that were in season. The fujis and the cortlands were delicious this time of year! I hope to make an apple tart of some sort. I've already made apple crumble from a recipe that S's mom shared with me. Served with some vanilla gelato or greek yogurt, yum! Do you have any particular apple recipes that you love?
Abby is always dressed for the occasion! (Remember how chic she looked in Paris, all the time?) When Abby said that she was wearing plaid, I had to as well. 

I'm really thrilled to be in the north/mid-west for fall. One of the reasons I fell in love with blogging was the love of fall that many bloggers have. Not only that, but when I lived in Florida I was able to read northern or mid-western bloggers and follow their fall activities while I was still chasing mosquitoes away. Living in Florida for over a decade, the only times I would visit family in the north were during winter holidays or summer vacations. I haven't had a proper fall in years. Thinking back, the last true fall I can remember is being in elementary school in New York. My brother and I would walk to school, and the leaves were always big maple-shaped, bright orange, and really crisp like the air. Leaves fall in Florida, but they never crisp up, just like the wind barely chills the air there. Because fall feels like it was another lifetime ago, I'm really excited to add to the little glimpses of fall memories that I have.

I think the reason I appreciate fall so much is because it comes and goes so quickly. Even when I was younger, I remember the leaves turning orange one week, and then they were crunching on the ground the next week. Even though we'll soon have to break in our new winter coats and find our wool socks, it will be new traditions of my old favorite things that I grew up with. Our landlord told us about the antiquing district of Chicago where I can't wait to uncover some treasures. And Mordechai's Aunt Beth (his pet-sitter in Orlando) is from Wisconsin and I'm already dreaming up the drive through the cheese-trail and cabin vacations. Hello fall! Remember me?

Friday, September 18, 2015

From Winter Park to Wicker Park

Hello! Welcome to our home. We're really getting settled in, we're even accepting visitors! I'll need to start a public calendar for our friends to see when they can visit, some of our friends already booked, and I need to keep their dates straight. Anyway, let me show you my boat* apartment!

*Steve Zissou reference, anyone?
This paint color is one that we've loved for years. We wanted to paint our last two apartments this color, but never had the time. I tried once, and got the color totally wrong. We were inspired by Deyrolle, our favorite shop in Paris. I knew this color looked beautiful with tons of natural light, is bright enough for when it's dark in winter, and looks lovely with antique wood finishes.
Oh hey - we have a fireplace! This was totally unexpected. When we inquired about this apartment, there were no photos. The description didn't even say "hardwood floors". All I knew was that it was in our price point, was in a good area, and had a dining room. When I asked for photos, the landlord took some from his phone and texted them to me - he was so responsive and quick! The photos weren't great, but through the previous tenant's piles of moving boxes, I could see potential, hope, luck! After showing friends the photos various times, I finally noticed it: in the corner of the picture, behind a couch, was the grainy outline of the fireplace. We felt like it was too good to be true. Of course, it is not an operating fireplace, but it's warming with it's presence either way.
As per usual... this is Mordechai's natural state of being.
One of our coffee table books is a contemporary (AKA affordable) edition of John James Audubon's The Birds of America. Ours is very beautiful with gold edges and large prints of his illustrations. I was exploring the staff-only floor of the museum and spent some time in our library. We have a reading room as well as a rare books room where the librarians will take you in and show you books while wearing white gloves. In the library, in a large glass case, sits one of the original copies of The Birds of America. It's in four volumes, has a case that the four books slip into, and there's an ornate ottoman that the case fits into. The original coffee table book. The book can no longer be on display in the museum due to damage from light. Instead, the librarians will turn it's page in the glass display case once a week. It's truly incredible and inspiring to be in the presence of important natural history. The library is available to the public by appointment if anyone is in the Chicago area. 
I feel as though this heirloom table has been waiting it's whole life to live in an 1800's home. My parents had it while we lived in our early 1900's house in Staten Island, New York, and I feel as though the soul of the table really thrives when in an older home. It never looked quite right in our 1970's apartment. This table looks really big, but that's because we put in one of the center leaves, elongating the table. If you can believe it, we still have another leaf in the closet, so this table can fit up to 12 guests. Surprisingly, this space was large enough for it! So while S thought it would look better in it's smaller size, I believe that it needs to stretch it's legs and fill in the space. 
This is the second bedroom. For the moment, it's too small to house our pull-out couch, but I'd like to some day get a day-bed for visitors to have their own room instead of having to sleep in the living room. But for now, this room works to hold their suitcases. It's purpose for the moment is Mordechai's room when he's done listening to the TV or radio and if he wants some silence, he'll go on this couch. 
The map seemed fitting for this room seeing as it's somewhat of my "Chicago room". I have my Chicago guidebooks and novels in here, as well as some Chicago-themed gifts from friends. I also have some vintage Chicago travel postcards that I want to frame and hang up.
Our tiny office (by "our" I mean "my") is the last room to come together. It still looks like this because S unpacked all of his books and office things and there's no room left for mine, so my things are still in boxes. But it's window overlooks the street and gets tons of light, so when we finally put the finishing touches on it like hanging up the thrift store ship painting and get some of my books on the shelves, then it'll be a nice little office for me to work in. I call it "my" office because I'm still working from home. I wrote previously that I was doing copy editing from home, but now I've been moved to the social media team. 
The last three places that we've lived together have had very tiny, boxed-in kitchens. I'm so happy to have space to spread out! My friend joked that who knew you could move to a bigger city and get more space? We've already been making Sunday dinners together, instead of one of us cooking for the other. There's enough room for us to tag-team! And there is no more bumping into open refrigerators or stepping on a curious Mordechai. 
There's even room in the kitchen for this little breakfast table! Since our office didn't fit our two desks like our last two homes did, we re-purposed one desk by putting it in the spacious kitchen and having a little breakfast nook. We'll also sometimes have lunch here. Considering that we put one of the two leaves in the middle of the dining room table, making it seat 8 guests at any time, it seems a little outrageous to eat a casual pasta lunch staring across taper candles. 

When our landlord asked what colors we wanted the apartment painted, we left out the kitchen because it seemed like a lot of work (considering he painted every single other room!) and I also have no idea what color I would want the kitchen to be. Ideally, if it was a perfect world, I would like to have grey walls in the kitchen and to paint the cabinets white, but that's a huge process. Maybe it's a project that we could tackle next summer, considering we plan to be here for years. Any other ideas for what colors the kitchen could be, minimal work, while also tying into the rest of the apartment? Let me know!
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