Thoughts on Working at Home

comments: 72


The first thing to go is the cooking. When I get really busy, there's nothing to eat around here.  I try not to let this happen but it always happens. And since, when I'm this busy, I'm usually always at home, I just need to get out anyway. I seriously considered thanking the staff of the NE Weidler Street Chipotle on the acknowledgements page of Embroidery Companion, I went there so often during its making. They kindly pretended not to know me, or know my (always the same) order, and I nonchalantly pretended that I, always alone (in pajama-ish pants that could almost pass for sweatpants but probably don't) with my lunch book, had never been there before. I pretended to thoughtfully examine the menu. They pretended that they had to explain to me that guacamole costs extra. When I realized with some chagrin that I had seen the guy Who Made the Rice Today more than I had seen, say, my friends and family, I pledged to go to the grocery store. But then that would mean staying home for lunch and having a sandwich, and, like I said, when I'm that busy I really feel like I need to flee the property for at least just that one hour a day and be around other people (my friends at Chipotle).

I went to the Art Wolfe seminar all day Sunday. That was pretty fun. He showed some slides of his house. Oh my goodness. He remodeled a tiny little cottage in West Seattle to be quite incredible. He brought in a bunch of enormous rocks with a crane. He talked about how his house reflects so many aspects of his life. He's integrated his travels and the things he cares about into his house. I can't say it all exactly the way he did. I can't remember the details of what he said about this, just the essence. The essence was: You should care what your place feels like, down to the details. You should try to surround yourself with only the things that are important to you. If you love photography but you don't have any of your own photos on the wall, that's not right. I realized with a shock that I love photography but I don't have any of my own photos on the wall. Well, actually I have one, from the beach, but I only put it up a few weeks ago. The house was like a retreat. A place that buffered from the stresses of the world, and recharged him, enabling him to go back out there and travel all over the globe. We all know this stuff. But there was something about how he explained it that really resonated with me on Sunday. I think he talked about camera lenses and composition and focal points, too. But it was the house stuff (which he said in about the first ten minutes of a six-hour day) that I latched onto with an inner sob. Not surprising, given the current state of our house (disheveled). But he said it with such conviction and enthusiasm and sincerity. And authority.  Just do it. I really needed to hear that. You could tell that he cared about everything a lot. I truly enjoyed listening to him (and I can almost never sit in one spot for an entire day). But instead of the lecture making me want to go travel, it all made me want to go home and clean. (?!?)


Weird. But then I realized that the house is sort of my world right now.


Cool...I work at home too. I'm in a constant quest to design the perfect office but it doesn't always translate to "real life" the way it does in my head. Also - I've found that if I have a busy day planned, if I can put something (a chunk of meat or soup ingredients) in the crock pot by mid-morning then I'm pretty set for the rest of the day. Dinner will be waiting (other than adding a salad) and smelling good by the time my tummy is growling at 6 p.m.

He is so right. Pretty much the only things on my walls are my quilts, my crossstitchs that I've done off photos of my children, and my daughters photos blown up (because she is a great photographer). I love having my family all around me on the walls.

You've just managed to say everything, *everything* that is going on in my head right now. This fall I started working at home, and I also just launched phase one of a three-phase house painting project. My husband asked what got me in the mood to paint again, and I said, "So I could hang some photographs I took of our trip to Hungary on the walls."

I don't blame you - I completely adore your house - I love that it totally reflects your personality and I love that your husband loves it too - so wish I could get my bf to embrace shabby chic! LOL

Alicia~ You have the most WONDERFUL way with words! I laugh and read your posts to my husband (and make him laugh,too). I always feel like I'm there in the middle of all your fun. Thanks for all you share. ~Mandy

i believe in this theory with my whole heart...and that's what i tell my friends when they come in and ask "how did you know to do this?"...make a house into a home? keep it personal...if you love it, live with it.
my home is my world right now too Alicia.

It took me 43 years to put my own drawing in a frame on the wall. I cried. I have no idea why I didn't do that before as everyone else in my family owns my art work and displays it!!! Thanks for the lesson :)

This is completely off topic....but where did the giant jar of Stumptown come from? I haven't ever seen the jars.

You are too funny. I have done "I've never been here before" routine too. I am sure the staff thought I was bonkers. They were gracious about it though. I can identify the need to surround yourself with things that are important. I am working on that myself right now. The guy at Goodwill keeps looking at me like "how much stuff is in your house?"
I am glad the seminar went so well.
Peace, Angela

i'm currently at my favorite local cafe, where i have the same relationship with the place and staff that you had with chipotle. sometimes i think i see a look of pity on their faces when i show up again, and i find myself checking up on their bicycle accidents or school schedules with an enthusiasm that they definitely don't reciprocate. when my husband's not working out of town, i beg him to go in with me so they know that there are other people in my life.

sigh. but i really do need to get out of the house for a bit... if only to escape the dogs' pitying looks.

maybe i should go home.

I'm so happy it's fall and the nights are getting longer. I just love being all cozy in my house and working on my different projects. You've inspired me to go home and clean and hang some framed photos by my chair. Thanks :)

Love your Chinese lantern, have never seen that design before and that thermos, love it!

I totally believe that you should surround yourself with things that you love. Even if they are not beautiful. If they have meaning for you that's what's important. If they're beautiful then that's a bonus. always make me laugh! Love you :)

Kathy McDonald says: October 05, 2010 at 10:10 AM

Oh, Alicia, I wish I had your ability to put my thouhts and feelings into the perfect words to communicate them so perfectly. My daily visit to your sweet little blog is the highlight of my day! THANK YOU for sharing your wisdom and your amazing talent so selflessly.

Oh my, my house is my world too! While not as glamorous as all your amazing projects (I'm a stay-at-home mom) I do yearn for something more "meish" plus this is the longest I've ever lived any where (4 years) and I'm antsy about my decor, things have to change!! New curtains quick! Oh wait that costs money, drats! Saving up for new curtains!

I love his advise and I too so feel that need but I get soooo overwhelmed by what I need to change and first deciding what it is I need to change....that nothing gets changed. I need to work on this.

Your mention of Chipotle had my mouth watering. I discovered the downtown Seattle Chipotle about a month ago and I'm having a love affair with the place. They no longer tell me there's an extra charge for the guacamole. I am looking forward to seeing some photos of your place with your photographs on the wall.

your way with words is so charming and resonates with those of us who get caught up in the work we do at home whatever it is. in years past i had a habit of becoming frustrated by my husband, the farmer's, nonexsistent desire to vacation. not long ago i read an interesting article about surrounding yourself with the things you love so that your EVERYDAY LIFE seems somewhat like a vacation...and like you, i knew exactly what the writer meant...the farmer just knew it long before i my work ahead is clear...

Melissa L. says: October 05, 2010 at 10:31 AM

In my experience, personal hygiene is always the first thing to go when you work at home. LOL

And I think the Thai BBQ place pretends not to notice that I seem to have a baseball cap permanently attached to my head.

I take a thousand pictures a month. And I only have the ones on my wall that I have given to members of my family. I'm a little sad now, too.

I often come to your house pictures to get the inspiration to clean house. I think seeing how others decorate says a lot about who they are. As far working from home for me it's sleep that goes first. Having 3 children and finding the time to get stuff done is a constant challenge.

Love, love, love Chipotle! We've got them all over Boulder, Co. I should write about it on my thrifty blog...

she's thrifty: Girls' Road Trip to Aspen

I am exactly the same way about the 'go home and clean' thing. When I go to my Mother-in-Law's house, which is perfect, I often run home to clean and arrange. It's just inspiring I think to see these beautiful interiors, all perfect. And I work from home, too. Not doing anything as glamorous as you, Ms. Bookwriter and Craftmaker, but I write, for businesses. I go to this place called Bread & Cie almost daily; mostly to get out of the darn house lest I should adhere to my computer chair. Yeeks! I hope your day is lovely... ♥, Robin

Thank you - that makes sense. I needed someone to explain that to me right now.

A Chipotle is opening down the street TODAY! Jump. For. Joy.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


post a comment

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.