How to Squeeze a Home Office into a Small Apartment

Kitchen dining nook turned home office | I’ve shared glimpses of my “home office” on Instagram (such as here), but I’ve yet to give y’all a closer look at what it actually is … Kitchen dining nook turned home office | Kitchen dining nook turned home office | … a kitchen nook!
Kitchen dining nook turned home office | lilyonfillmore.comWhen my boyfriend and I first moved in, our landlord explained that he originally intended for the little alcove in the kitchen to be a dining nook with a built-in table and bench.

This never happened, however. I’m assuming the reason was a dwindling budget (he had taken a daunting task of renovating his house into a duplex with the downstairs level for renters, and that’s where we came in).
Kitchen dining nook turned home office | lilyonfillmore.comWe soon realized that the alcove is a smidgen too small to comfortably fit our dining room table and four accompanying chairs. Also: Pass on the ensuing claustrophobia.

I occasionally work from home for my full-time job, and then I also have my freelance work for The Everygirl and this neglected blog. After the epiphany of possibly pushing the table horizontally to face the window as a desk, I sweetly asked my darling roommate if I could claim the territory. :)

As if he had a choice. (Just kidding!)

Kitchen dining nook turned home office |

It needed serious pizzazz in order for me to, again, avoid feeling like the walls were closing in from both sides.

First, I ordered some copper contact paper. I initially planned on doing polka dots, but I quickly discovered that I’m the worst and most impatient DIY-er in the entire blogosphere. The polka dots resembled weird, misshapen squashed objects.

So I cheated and cut out triangles in various sizes, and lots of confetti burst into the scene!
Kitchen dining nook turned home office |
Now my office is in the midst of one never-ending wild party and thus, wine is always permitted.

In case you were wondering, here are some other sources:
SheepskinIkea (similar); mint storage boxesIkea; lucite/acrylic tray; lucite/acrylic pencil holder, Amazon; volcano candle, Anthropologie (most addicting candle smell ever); chevron rug, Urban Outfittersfree printable calendar, Jasmine Dowling; giant gem speaker,; vintage elephant hooks, Rosebowl Flea Market; hanging rope planter, Renegade Craft Fair; vintage woven tapestry, Shopclass LA; wooden filing box, Target/Nate Berkus (sold out); twig color pencils, World Market; assorted glass bottles, yard sale; French bulldog print, gift; palm leaf painting, by me; Beyonce, God’s gift to the world

The Everygirl Conference in Chicago

Working in the digital age, particularly when working freelance and/or telecommute, can imply several things:

  1. You can be on a very important conference call while eating a triple-scoop ice cream sundae with gummy bear vitamins on top.
  2. You are alarmingly hyper-dependent on Google and all of its products. Communication is held in G-chat or email form rather than face to face and can be minimized when drat, you’ve ran out of ice cream.
  3. You have never met the majority of your lovely co-workers, despite regularly communicating with them and greatly admiring their contributions.

Points #1 and #2 are likely still to occur. But last week, the #teamTEGcon held in Chicago made the last one moot.

Alaina and Danielle, the co-founders of The Everygirl, a site that I have been contributing fashion features to since February, generously invited all of us out-of-state TEG editorial board members to fly in from our respective cities — Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Charleston, Washington D.C. and Madison — to discuss and help shape the future of the website. The Chicago ladies joined as well, of course.

Removing the hazy digital screen and actually meeting everyone in person was surreal. Though my time at the conference felt like a whirlwind due to a less than 24-hour time frame, getting to know all of these intelligent, ambitious and career-driven women and their ideas made the nonstop hustle worth it.

#teamTEGcon |

One of the many gorgeous views — hello, Navy Pier! — from W Chicago Lakeshore, where we stayed. The recently renovated luxury hotel is located at the edge of Lake Michigan, thus offering serious eye candy from essentially every window, even the ones in our conference room.

#teamTEGcon |

I had the best travel buddy every step of the way: Allyson, the other Los Angeles TEG editor who also works at Lulu & Georgia and runs her own fantastic blog, Mimosas in the Morning. We ended up being roomies for the night due to a slight mix-up, which made sense after narrowly avoiding a missed flight together (darn you, lure of vino and french fries) and various other mini-adventures.

#teamTEGcon |

#teamTEGcon |

Got to meet my kindred spirit and fashion co-editor at last! It feels like I’ve known this girl for ages. Jess also has a fabulous blog (and style) that you can check out: The Golden Girl!

#teamTEGcon |

#teamTEGcon |

After a long but productive day of working, I had a little under an hour before my flight to run out and take in as much of Chicago as possible with Jess and Allyson. Summer evenings in Chi-town = perfection.

#teamTEGcon |

Luckily, I’ll be back in the fall for a wedding and plan to consume much, much more deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s. Yum. See you in October, Chicago!

Visiting Vancouver in May

Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide |

I shared photos from our two days in Seattle here, and now the gorgeous Vancouver, Canada gets its long overdue turn:

Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { Our man-cave Airbnb for “girls’ weekend”! I enjoyed the very minimal, greyscale aesthetic that was miles away — literally and figuratively — from my apartment at home. We stayed in Mount Pleasant, which is a slightly “hipster” and foodie/coffee shop-filled neighborhood. It’s about a 10-minute drive to Gastown, which also has a lot of great restaurants and nightlife. }Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { The Wallflower was right down the street from our Airbnb. It wasn’t originally on our list of places to try, but every time we walked by, the large gathering crowds patiently waiting outside piqued our curiosity. Linda and I shared a hearty breakfast poutine (not pictured, but this version of the Canadian dish had two poached eggs, cheese curds, bacon, hash browns and chicken gravy; not for the faint-of-stomach) and the peach waffles for a sweet finish. }Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { How is that sky above Granville Island even real? Look at those clouds! Happy sigh. }
Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { After a pointlessly long walk to Granville Island (i.e., getting ridiculously lost), our hangriness was raging. Go Fish Ocean Emporium, suggested by an awesome reader on my Instagram, gratified our hunger tenfold. The fish and chips were deliciously fresh, but the ahi tuna sandwich definitely won the gold. Before you start searching high and low for the mini-restaurant, it’s tucked away along the seawall of the marina — not located directly inside Granville Island. }

More photos and suggestions behind the cut!

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What I’m Reading: “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed

Growing up, I would go to the local library at least once a week to check out a staggering pile of books — most written by authors with names I didn’t recognize, but possessing an intriguing cover or fascinating, catchy copy on its back. The library was my magical comfort zone; I would retreat there alone for peace and discovery.

Then when it was almost time for bed, I would pick up one of the books and devour page after page until I fell asleep, usually with the book falling near my hands as slumber overtook my heavy lids. Books were my silent, calming lullaby. I always slept well after reading.

Nowadays, working as an editor for a magazine, I read (and write) all day. Once I finally arrive home, that same motivation to even pick up a book has worn thin, which honestly breaks my heart a little bit. Life has been exhausting but so very good lately; however, recalling all of the above — how happy and relaxed that books and stories and literature and novels and poetry used to make me — is pushing me to return to my roots of joy.

All of which brings me to the above book recommendation, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar” by Cheryl Strayed. Please, guys. Read it. I have already implored you to pick up a copy here, but it’s so powerfully compelling that I’m suggesting it again. I laughed out loud. A lot. I teared up more times than I should probably admit. I had to place the book down from time to time just to reflect and really marvel: “Wow. This is some damn good writing.” This book makes you feel; it melts any small and creeping or so-large-you-can’t-ignore-it signs of numbness away. (Psst: While you’re at it, read this New Yorker article about how the identity of Dear Sugar — which originally was an anonymous advice column hosted at The Rumpus — was revealed.)

A few favorite passages/quotes from the book:

“You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.”

“Forgiveness doesn’t sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up a hill.”

“The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And ‘if your Nerve, deny you —’, as Emily Dickinson wrote, ‘go above your Nerve.’ Writing is hard for every last one of us— straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”

“About how in love we were and also how lost. About how we were like those two kittens who’d been trapped and starving for weeks. Or maybe not about the kittens at all. Maybe the meaning was in how we heard the sound, but did nothing about it until it was so loud and we had no choice.”

“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.”

- Tiny Beautiful Things

Summer Solstice Picnic in Griffith Park

SUMMER is officially here, according to the tilt of our earth’s semi-axis and the ensuing summer solstice (i.e., the longest day of the year) this past Saturday. What better way to kick off the season than with a picnic at the park?

Most of my good friends are scattered throughout Southern California, but this picnic — round one of many in the next few months — fetched mostly those living in Los Angeles to gather in Griffith Park. Griffith Park is colossal and has several spots for folks to spread out their blankets, play upbeat tunes and open up a bottle of rosé. The only one that requires reservations is Crystal Springs (we chose Mineral Wells for this reason), so when you’re suddenly hit with the urge to picnic, making it happen is as easy as 1-2-3.

Special thanks to Lauren of Static Fox Photography for capturing these beautiful (non-iPhone) shots!

{ Delicious raw vegan chocolate almond butter cups, brought by the lovely Sara. See her recipe and healthy living blog here! }

{ Our facial expressions while eating the above yummy treat, captured. If you could look more closely, I swear you’d see the ecstatic joy in my eyes … and probably the melted chocolate on my face. Ha. }


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{ I made a variation of these picnic pressed sandwiches from Crepes of Wrath. Essentially: Place pesto, salami, prosciutto, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves on ciabatta bread. Wrap the sandwich very tightly in saran wrap before placing it in the fridge for a few hours. Finally, cut the compressed sandwich into bite-size squares and then serve! }

{ Playing Heads Up!, which you can download to your smartphone via iTunes. It’s guaranteed to bring laughs and is great for big groups. }

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{ Elusive bubbles that only Ted Nguyen, professional bubble whisperer, could make happen. }