Home “office” tour

I love looking through the workspaces of other creatives and seeing not only where they work, but how they work; how their workspace inspires – or inhibits – their work. So when Sarah from WeWork, an innovative co-working community for creatives (check to see if there’s a WeWork office near you), contacted me awhile back to share my workspace with the creative community over at WeWork, I was all in. So. Here it is. My home “office”. Which is really just a small desk on a wall between two sets of windows that separate the dining room from the kitchen.

Home office // Kelsey, Especially

It’s not fancy in any sense of the word. It’s simple – maybe overly so for the taste of some – and allergic to clutter (but not to tiny dirty fingers and hands, as evidenced on the windows), which is why it’s relatively barren. But because right now the primary function of my workspace is to help me work my way through school – because right now the primary function of my workspace is learning and working, not creating – this overly plain and simplistic set-up works really well for me. This area is super tiny (just under 2′ x just over 4′, which puts it right around 8 square feet of space) but it sees a lot of action because (1) it’s in the middle of the kitchen, and (2) I am always doing homework. Or work work. Or blog-y stuff. But mostly homework.

The only real bummer about having a tiny workspace is not having room for a proper filing system. I’m not a fan of keeping stacks of paper, but there are things that need to be kept in their original state, and there are things that I need to reference later on down the road. Right now I use a small wooden Ikea box with DIY’d tabbed dividers (from card stock) as a makeshift solution. Ideally, I’d love to have a totally paperless system. One of those Mac-compatible hyper-minimal scanners is the dream. But they’re also out of my budget (remember, I’m BROKE), so for now this is the archaic system I’m using.

There used to be a mood board (of sorts) on the wall instead of those framed prints, and piles of projects all over the desk. But as soon as the semester began a couple months ago I took down everything that was there before to keep myself from becoming distracted.

The print on the left is a photo of the ocean that I pulled from Pinterest and printed on photo paper at Costco. It helps motivate me to keep my head in the game and to work hard – even when it gets really hard – so that one day I’ll have a view of the waves from my window instead of on my wall. I WANT TO LIVE AT THE BEACH, YOU GUYS. And I’m going to make it happen. Eventually. The other one – the “c’est bon” one – is also pulled from Pinterest (printed at Staples as an Engineer print) and is there to remind me that even when shit gets really real and super stressful, it’s all good.

The gold + glitter “HUSTLE” banner hanging above the posters is one I DIY’d. Find the tutorial here.

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What I dislike most about this “office” of mine is also what makes it work for me. I hate not having a dedicated space with four walls and a door to work in. It drives me crazy, especially when I’m trying to teach myself a tough neuro concept or am trying studying for a big test or am writing a term paper. But having my “office” in the middle of the kitchen (literally) means (at least theoretically) that I have more opportunities to get homework (and Internet-y things) done. Being the parent of two children under the age of five who need near-constant attention during their waking hours means I have to be around to regulate. If my only option for working or homeworking (or Interneting) was to shut myself up in a separate room, I’d never get anything accomplished. Or maybe I would get everything accomplished all of the time, but then my house would be demolished by little unattended savages every second of every day.

The evenings and weekends are when having my workspace in the main part of the house is particularly distracting and frustrating, which is why most of my home working is done in the afternoons between getting home from work and picking up the kids (usually a 2-hour window), or really fucking early in the morning (think 3 am) or really fucking late at night (think 3 am).

I also really hate not having a legit desk chair. The cheap-o dining table chair I use now is broken in about four different places, and is incredibly uncomfortable. Something like this is my ideal (but not until I have a legit office that’s not in the kitchen, because I can only imagine how quickly that thing would get irreverisbly dirty from tiny little fingers…and then I would be distraught).

Working from the kitchen can be an especially big drag during the times that I do have time to do non-homework, creative things (like Project Life) because I don’t have a dedicated space to work on those projects. Instead, I have to keep my crafty supplies holed up in a corner of the room, and work on my projects at the dining room table. And that gets old real fast. Every time I serve the kids a meal or need the dining room table for other dining room table-y things (or just let the kids into the kitchen at all), I have to pack up all my project supplies and put them away. It might not seem like a big deal, but trust me. It’s annoying AS FUCK. And it’s a big reason why it takes me forever to finish creative projects. For creative stuff, space is the issue more so than time.

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But having my workspace in the kitchen isn’t all – or even mostly – bad. There are a few big perks. For instance, weekend breakfasts tend to go really smoothly because the kids are able to sit on the counter and eat their breakfast while watching a show on the computer (no eating in the living room, and the TV can’t be seen from the dining room table) (the power of keeping the peace with toddlers first thing in the morning during the weekends should not be underestimated).

Also, I have more freedom when listening to lectures that press on for more than an hour. Instead of sitting at my desk and nodding off while a lecture plays on the computer, I can listen to it while cooking dinner, working on Project Life at the table, folding laundry in the living room, or doing practically anything else downstairs. I could probably even listen to it from the bathroom all the way over by the front door if I really wanted to.

And besides listening to/watching lectures while multitasking, I can also watch Netflix or listen to Pandora while cooking or Project Life-ing. Multitasking isn’t the most efficient or productive method by which to work, but sometimes it’s necessary. And having my “office” in the kitchen helps multitasking happen when it needs to.

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Another motivational tool that I keep in plain sight: those two un-cut keys. One is a Redskins key (my team) and one is a Steelers key (Shannon’s team), and once I finally graduate college and become a real grown-up with a real grown-up job that pays me real grown-up money, those two keys are going to be cut to fit the front door lock to the house that Shannon and I buy together. Wherever the fuck it is, beach or not. She’s the ultimate, you guys. And living the American Dream with her is the end-goal.

Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with this space. I love the bright natural light that pours in on both sides of my desk. I love the added ambiance from the globe lights. I love the crispness of white paired with natural wood. I love the size of the desk and that is big enough to hold what I need but also small enough to discourage clutter.

My only real complaint about my “office” is that it’s in the kitchen. But being in the kitchen is also what makes it work – at least for right now – since I have young kids. Plus, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the flexibility having a giant computer in the kitchen allows for things like watching shows or movies while cooking. I’d really love a new chair at some point, something that’s actually meant to be sat in for long periods of time and doesn’t kill my back and tailbone after three minutes, and a digital filing system is the dream. But for now, I’m actually pretty happy with this space.

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Except for the HUSTLE banner, which I DIY’d, everything on or above my desk came from Ikea, Target, or Home Goods. And really, the only thing from Home Goods is that white studded frame and the only things from Target are the globe lights and the unsightly, broken, uncomfortable chair that I managed to keep out of most of the photos. The rest of it is allllll Ikea. How original, right?

SHOP | desk (similar…the white + wood one has been discontinued I think) // black frame with mat // white frame // small wooden boxes (I don’t use the two smaller boxes; my makeshift filing system is stored in the larger box and I use the lid to house the assortment of shit directly under my monitor) // plant // woven planter // globe lights

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NOTE | In keeping with my “keep it real”-ness in this space (the blog and my IRL workspace), these photos of my “office” were taken on multiple days at all different times of the day and night because I think it provides the most accurate representation of how I use my space, and what it looks like on a day-to-day basis. Sorry if the slight discrepancies bother you. #dealwithit

Lions and tigers but no bears (oh my!)

One of the perks of living near DC is that there’s always something to do, and a lot of the time there’s always something free to do. Case in point: the National Zoo. It’s part of the Smithsonian, which means it’s open to the public for free year round. Just last week Shannon and I realized that, surprisingly, we hadn’t taken the kids to the zoo yet this year, so when we woke up earlier than usual yesterday morning to an incredibly nice day, we decided to surprise them with a trip downtown.

Yesterday’s trip was the first one where Madden was old enough to “get” it, and it was the first one where a stroller didn’t accompany us. Big things poppin’, people. And best of all, it was the first time I’ve ever been to the National Zoo when all of the “main” animals were out and active — elephants, zebras, pandas, apes/gorillas, lions, and tigers — and the kids loved it. Madden was all about the elephants (and the fact that he got to see one a mere 5 feet away made his life), Emma was obsessed with the tigers (there were 3 and they were incredibly active and playful), and Briseis was happy to see everything.

We arrived early enough to get a killer parking space (one that we actually reserved online beforehand — so cool and so worth it!), avoid all the crowds, and beat the heat that started rolling in around the time we left. I also somehow ended up in the most number of pictures with the kids in a looooOOOoooOOOooong time (thanks, Shannon!). All in all, a perfect way to spend what was quite possibly the last decent Sunday of the season.

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Well, at least one of them was looking, even if that smile is totally fake + forced.

My beauty routine

My beauty routine // Kelsey, Esp. blog The title of this post is a little misleading because it kind of makes it sound like my morning “get ready” routine is something remarkable, but it’s not. In fact, I pretty much look the same from the moment I wake up to the moment I walk out the door. It’s because I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I’m okay with that because makeup isn’t my thing. Never has been. I sweat way too much as it is, and when you factor in how much time I spend working out (which means: sweating even more), wearing a lot of makeup doesn’t make much sense. My beauty routine // Kelsey, Esp. blog During the week, my daily “beauty” routine starts the night before. I almost always shower the night before because IF — and that’s a big “if” — I want to wear my hair down the following day (for even three and a half seconds), I have to let it dry naturally, which takes forever because it’s so thick. Showering the night before and sleeping with my hair down (or in a very loose bun) helps makes sure that it has time to dry. And after 27 years on this planet I finally learned that sleeping with wet hair also means that it dries WITHOUT FRIZZ. That, and I wake up so fucking early as it is that I don’t really have time to add a shower into my morning routine. Even if my shower time is insanely short. My beauty routine // Kelsey, Esp. blog Unless Shannon and I shower together, my showers typically stay under 10 minutes; always under 7. Biolage is where it’s at for shampoo + conditioner. It smells So. Damn. Amazing. I workout (see also: sweat + pee-my-pants-while-heavy-lifting-or-double-undering) so much, and Shannon and I have such an…um…extra healthy sex life, that Summer’s Eve is kind of a necessity, even if just for a little mental reassurance. #aintnoshameinmygame. Dove moisture rich body wash and a Venus razor finish things up. Unless it’s a day that I wash my face, and then that Clean & Clear stuff finishes things up.

Washing my face only happens every few showers, and by that I mean: a handful of times a month. I don’t always shower daily because I don’t always have time or I don’t always need to (like if I haven’t worked out, which does happen). Or, let’s be real, I don’t always want to. If I do wash my face it’s never at the sink. It’s ALWAYS in the shower. I use that Clean & Clear stuff pictured above because it’s what I bought the winter I was pregnant with Emma (5 years ago!) and it worked well enough (see also: it didn’t make my skin break out or dry up). The container I have of it now is the first and only replacement I’ve bought since that first one almost 5 years ago; I’ve had it over a year and the only reason that so much of it is gone is because Shannon also uses it when she’s over. I told you: washing my face isn’t in my daily routine.

It’s not that I’m blessed with flawless skin. It’s that I don’t cake a ton of makeup on my face, I don’t shove my face full of crap, and — mostly — I’m blessed with fantastic birth control (“…but wait…she’s dating a girl, why does she needs birth control?”) that keeps my complexion in a perpetual state of enviable flawlessness (“ohhhh…”). My beauty routine // Kelsey, Esp. blog From the moment I get out of bed to thirty minutes later when I walk out the front door, here’s everything I have to accomplish:

  • Get myself ready
  • Get my lunch/snacks for the day ready
  • Get Emma ready
  • Get Madden ready

That’s a whole lot of getting a whole bunch of different people and things ready, and contrary to popular legend, I’m not Super Mom. So what’s my secret weapon? A concentrated dose of caffeine in the form of a deliciously fruit punch-flavored shot. I don’t drink coffee (or tea or juice or soda) — EVER — but I’m not above taking a bit of pre-workout to help me get the day started if I really need it. My beauty routine // Kelsey, Esp. blog “Putting on my face” takes me roughly 2 minutes. I don’t wear foundation — liquid, powder, whatever — or concealer or blush or eyeshadow or anything else that’s remotely powder-y or liquid-y. I don’t even own any of that stuff. I own an eyelash curler, a tube of mascara, and one eyeliner pencil. Seriously. That’s it. My beauty routine // Kelsey, Esp. blog After I throw on some moisturizer and deodorant, I put a little brown liner on my lower lids and mascara on my upper lashes. My beauty routine // Kelsey, Esp. blog In go my gauges and on go my ring + necklace from Shannon. My beauty routine // Kelsey, Esp. blog My hair usually goes up by default, especially during the hot + humid summers we have here in DC, but sometimes — very rarely — I’ll wear it down. So rarely that every time I do my boss asks me a thousand times if I have an interview that day. Ha. Ha. My beauty routine // Kelsey, Esp. blogbeautyroutine9 Weekday breakfasts are split into two parts: My grab-and-go breakfast that I eat after I drop the kids off, while I’m driving to work; and the bowl of cereal or bagel with a side of more fresh fruit once I get to work.  I’ve burnt out on bagels, though, so for the past couple of months it’s been a small bowl of Cheerios or Rice Chex with either another banana or sliced strawberries + grapes. My beauty routine // Kelsey, Esp. blog And that’s really it. By the end of the day I pretty much look the same, except my eyeliner will be almost gone and I might have dirt + chalk matted to my face with sweat if I worked out that afternoon. For reference, here’s a photo of me later the same day that I took my “getting ready” photos. Not really much of a difference, which I’m not only okay with but which I actually kind of prefer. My beauty routine // Kelsey, Esp. blog

Just my luck

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Confirmation of week-old news of some major car repairs needed (that I can’t afford) on top of some major unexpected bills needing to be paid (that I can’t afford) on top of a shattered iPhone screen needing some major TLC (that I can’t afford). And those are just the few less personal shitty things that happened last Friday that I feel comfortable sharing here.

With the luck I had Friday, it could’ve been dated the 13th instead of the 25th. Fingers crossed this week starts (and finishes) on a better note. CAN I GET AN ‘AMEN’?!

Anniversary Weekend

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Two weekends ago Shannon and I celebrated our one year anniversary with a staycation. After the disaster-y-ish Belated Birthday Weekend staycation we had back in June, we decided this time that we wanted to stay at a NOT trendy hotel, and that we wanted to stay just outside of DC. We went with a quaint-ish hotel in Arlington, and couldn’t have been more thrilled with our choice. The hotel itself was SO cheap, had PLENTY of parking and the FRIENDLIEST staff. Plus, it was nestled in a lush + green neighborhood-y environment just off of Fort Myer, which means it was literally a stone’s throw from the District. Perfect price, amazing location, great staff. Those three things made a world of difference this time around and we absolutely will be going back to stay there for all of our future DC staycations.

Early Friday evening we met up with a small group of friends at a bar a few minutes from the hotel (and directly across the street from my work, actually). The bar is actually situated on top of the building’s roof, which is why it’s called Rooftop Bar & Grill (duh), and offers a really fun, kind of cozy (see also: cramped, due to popularity) environment. Happy Hour ended up lasting closer to 5 or 6 hours, but that’s totally fine because it was extra super happy; we were celebrating our one year (which was on Friday) with some of the most rad friends anyone could ask for. PLUS it was perfect weather. And we were on a roof. HOW FUCKING COOL?! I would love to share more about our awesome Happy Hour with y’all but the thing is, it was so awesome that I don’t remember 97% of it. And that means it was also very successful.

So successful in fact, that I woke up Saturday morning feeling like death, which is exactly what I knew would happen even though it was exactly what I didn’t want to happen. What I wanted to happen was I wanted to wake up early and go for a short run into the District with Shannon, head back to the hotel for breakfast and a shower, and then set out for the day. What actually happened was that I woke up still 75% drunk and played the “go back to bed, wake up, repeat” game about 4 different times until I was able to sit up without getting dizzy and falling over. For the record, that wasn’t until around 9:30-ish am. Like I said, Happy Hour the night before was a major success. After I was up and showered and dressed I felt a lot better but I learned throughout the day that in order to stay feeling better I needed to keep moving. And nacho cheese Doritos. I also needed lots of those.

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We spent Saturday exploring museums in the city that are off the beaten path, so to speak. So like, none of the museums on the Mall. We actually avoided the touristy area of DC the entire weekend and stuck with exploring a couple of neighborhoods north of downtown. We stopped by the National Museum of Health and Medicine which might be the coolest place I’ve ever been in my entire life.

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It’s a tiny establishment but even still it took us nearly two hours to navigate because the sheer amount of stuff they have, and the sheer intrigue the stuff they have has (did you follow that?). Nearly everything in the museum is real, meaning the bone fragments and the skulls and the full skeletons and brains and other organs, as well as full size babies that died in utero or during/after birth, are all actual bones and organs and people that were actually alive (or in someone who was once alive) at some point. However, because I know that this stuff can seem insensitive to some people I’ve only opted to share a few of the lesser “obscene” or emotional photos here.

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The museum also housed a wide assortment of medical tools from different historical periods, 500 bullet and shrapnel fragments from the Civil War, and even the bullet that killed Lincoln, along with fragments of his skull and tufts of his hair from around the wound entry point. Like I said, super fucking cool place.

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We also visited the O Street Mansion on Saturday, which is supposedly a “living” museum dedicated to the creative process. In reality, it’s a huge collection of…junk spread between 5 interconnected row houses in Dupont. It’s rad in theory but only kind of cool in person. The experience was certainly interesting, and I’m glad that we went, but it’s something I never need to do again in my life. If that makes sense?

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The rest of Saturday we spent walking around Dupont, through Adams Morgan, and over to Shaw/U Street, and then back down to Dupont. Along the way we browsed a music + book sidewalk sale, stopped for ice cream, posed for some ironic photos, popped into a fun little hole-in-the-wall “adult” store, and walked through some really fun neighborhoods as we made up pretend lives for ourselves as we went.

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We got our run into the city in on Sunday morning. We ran from our hotel in Arlington across the bridge into DC, over to the Lincoln, up the steps, posed for some photos, then ran back to the base of Arlington National Cemetery where we posed for another photo at the Carillon. The first photo below is a view of Virginia from the top of the back of the Lincoln.

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We spent the rest of the day exploring DC, starting with the Farmers Market in Dupont. From there we Metro’d to Chinatown, then walked to Capitol Hill to hit up the Eastern Market on Capitol Hill Farmers Market and flea market. We spent allllll afternoon out and about and had a really, really fun time just being together and seeing and trying new things.

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We ended Sunday by touring the L. Ron Hubbard House, which is where the Church of Scientology was founded (SUPER EFFING INTERESTING, even though I think the “church” itself is kind of nutty) and by watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery. After that we hopped in Shannon’s truck and headed back home for a night on the couch with pizza and a whoooooole lot of DVR’d shows.

Such an amazing weekend you guys. I can’t wait to share a little bit more of it — and a new perspective of it — once I’m finished putting together our Anniversary Weekend Mini Book! WOOT!

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