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Where the Magic Happens

January 13th, 2012

I’m sure you’ve picked up on the fact that I work from home and have for most of my adult life. We live in a small two bedroom house, with one bedroom is set up as our office. Unfortunately there’s only one window in this bedroom and it looks at our garage, as a result our office is not very bright. I’m a big window, sun streaming in, bright room kind of person, so being stuffed back in my corner office can get a bit depressing, especially on these dark winter afternoons!

This is what my desk space in my home office looks like; you’ll notice how dark it is (it was 2 in the afternoon when I took this photo)! I admit, the dark green paint was a really bad choice, especially since we spend so much time in here. The thought of taking all the cabinets down off the wall to repaint is too much, so it stays.

When I started working for Ethel, I bought myself a little laptop. I knew it would be the easiest way to keep my on-line identities/lives separate. So now I am able to spend some of my work hours in the sunny living room. This is where I spend my time when I’m writing, blogging and social media management. I should say this is my Ethel Gloves office.

By some of the comments I hear from those around me, I think there are people that think my days are leisurely and filled with reading, cooking, gardening, blogging, and photography. In reality, the majority of my time is spend at my computer doing accounting, managing a few different businesses, writing, invoicing, taxes, editing photos, and all the fun stuff that comes along with being self-employed. I don’t blog about that because really, who wants to read about all of that! I really do enjoy what I do, it is work after all and there’s a reason I get paid to do it.

My desk isn’t as dreary as it could be, I have a Chiot’s Run calendar hanging beside my desk, along with a little magnetic board that’s filled with quotes and other things I love (a quote by Thomas Jefferson taking center stage). Beside my keyboard is my to-do list, which is divided into quadrants, one for each job. One of my friends gave me this idea, I print it out each week and populate it with what I need to get done. When you are juggling as many jobs and hobbies as I am you need something like this to keep it all organized so you don’t forget anything! (you can download it here if you’re interested)

If I could have the “perfect” work space, it would have a lot of windows, south facing preferably (with blinds for the summer months). It would be filled with lots of plants, have a big comfy chair in the corner and a few big photos of my garden on the walls. Alas, that is not my office, until I have that (if ever), I’m stuck in the corner in the darkest room of the house knocking out my work from day to day – just as many of you are. I think that is one of the things that drives me outside into the garden every chance I get?

If you could start any business at all what would it be?

35 Comments to “Where the Magic Happens”
  1. kristin @ going country on January 13, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Hmm. You know, I am just NOT an entrepreneur. I suppose the only thing that might generate income for me and wouldn’t totally kill my spirit would be an extension of the very random writing I do online. Not that I’ve pursued that very actively, however. As I said, NOT an entrepreneur. Every career I’ve ever had has been a combination of chance and my particular skills turning up at the right place at the right time. Though I suppose that’s true of most people.

    I suppose I’ll eventually work at something again that pays me actual money (and still do now, occasionally, with freelance editing), but I guess I prefer to do the things that save us money.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on January 13, 2012 at 8:12 am

      That’s funny, I guess I would have to say I am an entrepreneur. Mr Chiots and I have more business ideas that we have time to develop and we always have a few things on the back burner that might work their way forward.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Kathi Cook on January 13, 2012 at 7:28 am


    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

  3. Melissa on January 13, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I’ve always wanted a round room as an office with tons of windows plants growing up the walls.

    Reply to Melissa's comment

    • Susy on January 13, 2012 at 11:02 am

      Round – that’s an interesting idea!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. daisy on January 13, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I know just how you feel about needing that light streaming in. It is one of the things I like best about this house.
    Glad you have a laptop to make your job easier and a beautiful garden to take a break!

    I would love to start an organizing business. And I may just do that!

    Reply to daisy's comment

    • Susy on January 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

      I too have a friend that would like to start an organizing business!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Allison on January 13, 2012 at 9:39 am

    What a question! My husband and I, much like you and Mr. Chiots, have way more ideas than time to execute them :)

    We’d like to turn our orchard into a larger operation where we could quit our day jobs ;) Of course, right! I also think there is a huge untapped market for selling heirloom seedlings at the Spring Farmers market — but our lack of a greenhouse kinda squashes that plan.

    And of course, I would love to open up a small little natural foods/essential oils typs of store on the historic square in town … right after I certify my horses for therapy work and run a childrens educational equine program from my farm ;)

    Reply to Allison's comment

  6. deedee on January 13, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Our dog grooming business moved a few years ago, and my favorite thing about our new location is the HUGE window where I work. It makes my attitude so much better, especially on a beautiful, sunny day! Of course the one negative is when the cat from next door or a squirrel decides to tease the dogs…. 12 dogs barking is NOT fun!!!!

    Reply to deedee's comment

  7. Daedre Craig on January 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I would start a creamery where I would make farmstead goat cheese!

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  8. Annie on January 13, 2012 at 11:29 am

    My pottery studio is in my basement right now and therefore can be kinda dark, so I installed fluorescent fixtures with the daylight spectrum bulbs. It helps quite a bit. You can get the compact fluorescents in this same spectrum also. I do have north facing windows there which let me look out on the garden and woods but not much direct sunlight.
    My pottery business will start up full time just as soon as I can finish up this one last structural welding job I agreed to. Ugh. I have entertained the idea of building my real studio next to the road on my land where I could open to the public and also have a small annex to sell surplus produce, eggs etc. from my land.

    Reply to Annie's comment

  9. Donna B. on January 13, 2012 at 11:34 am

    See, I don’t view you as living this cushy life – you’re just good at managing your time! :P
    I’m an aspiring concept artist/character designer/comic book artist [I do freelance work on the side, so I’m about 30% there…]. So I wouldn’t start a business per se, but I would like to be in that field.
    Being able to work from home and enjoy my time in the garden in the daylight hours is all I want. Hehe.
    And I personally love your working space – it’s neat but yet chaotic, the best kind! Albiet seems too cramped! I have an L shaped desk, which is full of supplies, computer monitors [I have two…], and dying plants. The room is a north-facing room with very little light.
    I do have a room on the 2nd floor I want to convert into my art room: south facing, a nice window, good airflow, and a soft slate blue color… ahhh, I want to be there now.

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  10. Nancy from Mass on January 13, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I always thought I would open a cafeteria type diner. have people line up with their trays and choose what they want as they move down the line. I would only be open for breakfast and lunch and would have homemade type comfort foods with loads of vegetarian options. (I am a veggie and have a difficult time finding decent veggie foods that aren’t just salads…i dont want to eat salads all the time and nowawadays restaurants seem to only have salad with chicken in it…what’s up with that?!)

    Reply to Nancy from Mass's comment

  11. Jaspenelle on January 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I know what you mean about needing/wanting sunlight. Luckily I knit for a living so that is pretty much portable to wherever is comfortable.

    Reply to Jaspenelle's comment

  12. Amy on January 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I would love to be able to make a living out of my home. I’ve worked from home periodically for other companies, and I really, really enjoyed it (especially when we’ve had new calves born that I needed to keep my eye on).

    As for your dark office, have you considered hanging a mirror on a wall perpendicular to the window to reflect the light around the room? Even the little bit of extra outdoor light might help brighten the room a bit more for you. (It still won’t beat your ability to move throughout the house following the sunlight with your laptop!)

    Reply to Amy's comment

  13. Jennifer Fisk on January 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I started a full service kennel in 1996 and everytime I think of what would I rather do I can’t come up with anything. The biggest problem is 10 hour days are very long in January. The best part is I can have my own dogs with me.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  14. B ryan N. on January 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I would love to have a job where I could grow and sell fruits and vegetables and also raise and sell pasture raised chickens,turkeys,pigs and beefers cut and wrapped for customers.We have bees so I could also sell honey and I am in the process of growing our own strawberries.For now it’s just a dream but someday when we don’t have a mortage I plan on making it a reality.

    Reply to B ryan N.'s comment

  15. Dorothy on January 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Have you considered installing a solar tube in your office? They are fairly inexpensive, relatively easy to install, and provide an amazing amount of light. It could go directly over your desk.

    Reply to Dorothy's comment

  16. judy meade on January 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    If I could incorporate spinning & weaving, selling my photos, and maybe sell some eggs once we get our chickens, I’d be happy. Staying at home and working is more comfortable for me. Don’t like being in the outside workplace – been there done that.

    Reply to judy meade's comment

  17. goatpod2 on January 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I don’t need to start a business since I already had a business in the goat world but not now but I work for my Dad here at our farm though and help my parent’s out!


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  18. Rick on January 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Funny how people assume if you work for yourself and from home you must have a cushy slow paced day. I’ve been self employed and working from home for 10 years now and I’ve never worked harder. I find it’s harder to get away from work when home is just 5 steps away.

    I’m lucky to have one wall of my office that is about 80% west facing window. Most days that is the only light I need but it sure can get warm in my office on an August afternoon!!

    Reply to Rick's comment

  19. Liz J on January 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I would love to have some kind of business to do with vegetable gardening and painting on the side ~ I paint slates. I haven’t painted in a while but am about to start up again. I was laid off from my job in November and would love to find a part-time job that I can supplement with gardening and painting, I just don’t know how to do that right now, but I am thinking about it.

    Reply to Liz J's comment

  20. KimH on January 13, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Well, today on the way home from work, I was daydreaming (yes, in a snowstorm, God loves me!) about working towards a psychology degree.. then I was thinking about how I wish I had land here in Ohio that I have (access to-Moms) in Texas because I’d start raising grass fed beef cattle, for myself & to sell.
    I was wondering about the particulars of the slaughter houses & keeping beef separate and thinking about asking a friend if he still slaughters, and lets make a deal. ;)
    My grandfather was a cattleman, both beef & dairy, a farmer, and a business man too, and I’d like to carry on some of his ambitions. Its definitely not happening here & now..

    Then other times, I’d like to write a book or books, be a photographer, or own/work in a green house or a seed company. Sigh.. Ok.. I could do almost all of them at the same time.. except Im not sure if I love photographing flowers & veggies more or musicians rocking on stage. ;)
    They all touch a part of my soul that I love reaching…

    Sooo.. who knows… give me a few minutes.. I’ll probably think of 50 other things I’d like to do too. ;)

    Reply to KimH's comment

    • KimH on January 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      OK.. I should have said, be a well payed photographer.. lol. I do lots of event photography where I work on a volunteer basis (most of the time) and I’ve done some payed work & a few weddings (yuk!) as well, and have a photo on an internationally known musician’s cd, but I assure you, if I had to feed myself with what I’ve gotten for my photography, I’d be dead, a long long time ago. ;)

      I’d also love to do travel photography.. or travel & food photography… yeahh… that’d be the life! haha…

      Reply to KimH's comment

      • Susy on January 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm

        Don’t you just LOVE to dream like this! Your dream jobs are very similar to mine :)

        to Susy's comment

  21. Jenni Bishop on January 13, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I have the opportunity to either work from home or office which is nice. I find I’m more productive at home though getting more work done and happier as I’m able to balance my gardening habits on my “breaks” and “lunches” :)

    Reply to Jenni Bishop's comment

  22. Beth K on January 14, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Both my husband I and work full time away from home and we help on both of our family’s farms when needed. At our little place, we currently sell pasture raised freezer beef, freezer pork, eggs, and sometimes vegetables from the garden (when there is more than we can eat/can/freeze) on a small scale. I would love to continue to expand that. I also love to quilt and have had more and more people offering to pay me to make quilts for them. I dream of being able to stay home with our son (who is soon to be 1 year old) and working on these things. I am trying like crazy to budget and pay off debt… maybe in a few years (and after baby # 2 whenever that happens) I will fortunate enough to possibly give it a try.

    Reply to Beth K's comment

    • Susy on January 14, 2012 at 8:08 am

      Great goals Beth, paying off debt is the one way to make that happen!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  23. Domestic Executive on January 15, 2012 at 2:24 am

    When we relocated to New Zealand I retrain and became a self employed leadership consultant and coach. It has been a wonderful opportunity to work mainly from home which has enabled us to establish our home and lifestyle. But recently I’ve started to hanker a new business dream. Right now I’m thinking I’d love to retrain as a pastry chef and open a wholesale bakery.

    Reply to Domestic Executive's comment

  24. Stacy on January 16, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Hmmmm… I’ve been self employed before and loved it. Right now my job carries our health insurance which is very important with children. I’d love to be working from home again…something with books or gardening or selling eggs from our chickens. I don’t know. I have lots of ideas too. I was wondering about your organization page you print off weekly. Can it be gotten online?

    Reply to Stacy's comment

  25. Corner Garden Sue on January 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    I always like posts where bloggers share their inside spaces. I don’t think I’m creative enough to have my own business. Oh, I have thought that if I had lots of money I would like to start a restaurant that sold food that is good for people. I don’t know if there would be any demand for something like that. Plus, those who do pursue healthy diets have different views of what that is.

    Reply to Corner Garden Sue's comment

  26. chicken house plans by Mark on January 22, 2012 at 2:50 am

    I’ve started doing a little bit of work from home stuff myself, and the great thing about it is choosing my own hours. …Of course I don’t have a sweet, office-like space like you do, I just have a computer on a cruddy desk in the basement, but it’s a start. I’d love to upgrade to half the kind of workspace you have!

    Reply to chicken house plans by Mark's comment

  27. Grace on January 23, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Susy and friends – interesting question, and one that has been nagging me for a couple of years. I can be gainfully employed in a variety of high-tech fields, but have had a couple of failures, so I’m a little lost right now [most businesses end in failure, that’s OK, these are just starter businesses]. I’m enjoying staying at home with young kids, but don’t know how to turn my love of gardening and building stuff (fences, chicken coops) and baking and photography into a money-making scheme. I’m so hung up on choosing a business that will actually make money instead of being just a hobby that I’m almost paralyzed about starting. I know, I should just start with something I love and watch it grow. However, I don’t know how to *start* making money, or get the first client. Selling eggs over the backyard fence seems like such a let-down after working in biotech startups. And, I don’t want to be known as the mom who baked cupcakes.

    So here’s my big fat hairy business idea: Create a hyper-local website to network farmers’ markets, backyard barters, and locally grown foods with consumers via social media, traditional email, and website updates, so buyers know what is in season and what to do with that kohlrabi that is staring up at them. [However, I also need to coordinate with foodbanks and translaters to ensure that the information is also disseminated to indigent or immigrant populations. ] And then I get hung up on the fact that it is already done by 10 programmers who are independently funded.

    Reply to Grace's comment

    • Susy on January 23, 2012 at 8:11 am

      Choosing what to do is hard thing, in my life I always focus on doing what I love and then the rest seems to fall into place – of course it’s hours and hours of hard work and making contacts with the right people & companies that helps things work out in the end.

      I think a local food network is great idea. We’ve considered starting something similar to make it easier for people to find local foods in their area and for those traveling through to be able to find local food on their journey.

      Reply to Susy's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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