Author Archives: Jane

Hacking Elfa Shelves for My Basement Office Nook

I finally made progress in my basement office nook.  Once again I turned to my favorite storage solution for a rental – hacking Elfa shelves to create streamlined storage that easily blends into the decor and saves space.

2015 Janery Basement Office Elfa Shelving

The shelves are hung in my basement office, which is really just a corner of my basement rec room.  But the shelves, along with the 6-foot hairpin leg desk I built, create a defined office space.

I painted the shelves white to keep things simple, because the ceiling is low in the basement.  I planned for three shelves because I thought I had a lot of supplies and papers to store. Now that they’re loaded with my favorite books and office supplies, I am surprised by how much empty space there is.  This is not a bad thing, though.

We don’t have decorative shelves anywhere else in the house – so it’s nice to finally have a place to display a lot of little items that mean something to me.  A lot of the containers hold note cards and stationery.  I try to surprise people with real mail regularly.

2015 Janery Basement Office Elfa Shelving-005

Do you ever find yourself slumping your neck over when staring at your computer?  That’s why I have the bottom shelf holding my monitor – to make it higher up for good posture.

The best part of this project was hanging up my painting of Charlie.  She inspired me to start this journey with Janery, so it’s fitting that she looks over me as I work.  Isn’t the painting fabulous?  Kim at Yellow Brick Home does the most amazing pet portraits.

Shelf details
What did I mean by hacking Elfa shelves?  I painted and sealed “select pine”  1×8  boards from the hardware store for the shelves, but they’re hung on the Elfa easy hang system from the Container Store.  It’s the same approach I took in the nursery, and you can find a detailed tutorial here.  As a renter I splurge on the Elfa shelf system because it only requires holes in the very top of the wall, and the whole system hangs off of the top rail.  You can change things up easily without hurting the walls more.

There’s a few more details I’d like to complete in order to call my office “finished.”  I need to find a rug, a desk chair with good back support, and I definitely need to cover the ugly window that leads to nowhere.

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2015 Janery Basement Office Elfa Shelving Title Image

Weekend: A Week in the Life Balancing Baby and Business

8 am:  We’re awake with Maple who is feeling excited about the new day.   We get ourselves together, then walk to the farmer’s market – our usual Saturday morning routine.  We get our usual veggies and eggs, and and then get spinach flatbread from the Middle Eastern food truck.  We also get ice cream cones for breakfast from the ice cream truck who is there for the first time.  Why not?  It’s summer!

10 am: Home from the market, I plan to take it easy with some coffee before we head out for the day’s adventure.  But after I pack the diaper bag and get ready to go, I realize it’s time to feed Maple and then leave.

11 am:  We hit the road west to Leesburg, VA – a town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Ryan has an Adventure Flight at the small local airport.  He’s always wanted to become a pilot, and so I gave him two recreational flying lessons for our anniversary.  He gets to fly the plane for an hour, with the help of an instructor/copilot, including some of the take offs and landings.
After Ryan takes off I watch a production unfold on the tiny runway.  A red carpet is rolled out in front of a bigger plane, and a family gets off and the crew starts unloading case after case of wine.  I’m wondering who they are to be able to have a private plane carry them and their wine, and Ryan fills me in later.

It was the family that started Black Entertainment Television.  They now also own hotels and a resort in our area.  In fact, I met friends at the wine bar at that resort the week prior.  Small world!

WITL Maple Airport Leesburg

Maple and I play on a blanket in the airport while Ryan is flying.  It’s nice that it’s such a small airport – no security, no TSA, just some couches and lots of windows – so it’s an easy place to hang out.  Maple loves to watch the planes come and go.  I think she likes all the noise.

1:30 pm:  We leave the airport to have lunch in downtown Leesburg.  There’s a little coffee shop and cafe called Shoe’s, and if you follow the narrow alley between buildings you find a “secret garden” of outdoor dining behind the coffee shop. It’s got great ambiance, great food, and good seating.

WITL Shoe's Secret Garden Restaurant Leesburg VA

Maple is awake and proceeds to attack all the glasses as we try to eat our lunch.  She loves licking the condensation on the outside of a glass or bottle, and it’s becoming dangerous in restaurants! Drink at your own risk…

WITL Maple Grabbing Drinking Glass

4 pm: We arrive home and put a very worn out Maple in her room to sleep.  I’m so sleepy that I climb into bed for a nap, too.

When I wake up, Ryan is with Maple, so I head downstairs to do some sewing.  Tonight I’m working on a reversible dog bandana.

WITL Janery Reversible Dog Bandana

7 pm:  Maple is getting really fussy and Ryan can’t soothe her any longer.  She’s eaten food, been changed and played with, and won’t take a bottle from him – which means she wants me, the provider of the boobs.  Sure enough, I nurse her and she’s out like a light.  I tuck her into bed.

Then I hit the town for a crazy exciting Saturday night adventure!  Grocery shopping!

Ahh, the exciting life of a suburban mom!

The store and the town are practically deserted, which makes it easy.  I forget what I did with the rest of my night, so it must not have been that interesting.


Sunday is a lazy day for me.  I forget to track my activities by timeline, but I spend a lot of time outside in the morning.  I do some laundry, water the plants in my garden, and check in on business emails and orders.

Around noon my best friend arrives for lunch, and we get Indian food from Amma Vegetarian Kitchen, a great “fast food” style Indian place in downtown Vienna.

Remember in my Monday post I said I wanted to install my office shelves, but didn’t have the right screws? I finally run to Home Depot to get them on Sunday.

A conversation amongst my small business friends online reminds me of the quote from Legally Blonde – the one about the scented resume on pink paper.  (“I think it adds a little something extra!”)  so I watch that movie while I install, and then attempt to organize, my new office shelves.

I honestly can not remember what I did with the rest of my day.  Suffice to say it was a much-needed lazy end to a busy week.

Friday: Week in the Life Balancing Baby and Business

Friday morning I manged to get the little sapling to sleep in!

9 am: We wake up and enjoy breakfast and coffee (well, I enjoy coffee. . . Maple doesn’t need caffeine!) and do the usual fetch with Amber.  10 am – 12 pm:  I sew in the studio as soon as Maple goes down for her nap.  I feel good.  Refreshed.  As I work, I listen to The Lively Show podcast -and the episode “Overcoming Death, Depression, and Debt” is just what I needed to hear after this week.  Jess Lively’s guest talked about his mindset after a serious car accident and injury, and I am reminded that I’m in charge of my mindset. I can consciously choose to not let things stress me out so much, and I decide I need to accept my random schedule for what it is, and be thankful for what I have.

I get some things sewed, and take a moment to admire the zippers on the Charlie Cushions.WITL Friday Charlie Cushion Zipper

1 pm:  Maple and I have lunch.  This is the first week we’ve sat together at the counter eating lunch together, and it’s been awesome.  She has so much fun playing with her food.

Afterwards, I put her in the kitchen sink and hose her off, because she’s coated in food.  She has a blast playing with the sprayer.  I know some people frown on bathing babies in the kitchen sink, but it’s easier on my back than the bathtub.  I clean the sink with spray cleaner afterwards, and figure it’s ok.

After that Maple plays outside as I trim the flowers. We grow Zinnias from seed (they’re so easy, have you tried?) and there are always plenty to make bouquets with.  The weather is gorgeous and it’s good to be in the fresh air.  WITL Friday Flower Arranging

3 pm:  Maple takes her second nap, and I sew and package up the orders from the week.  Ryan mows the lawn and does other yard work.

WITL Friday Order Packaging 5pm: When Maple wakes up, I feed her and then set her up to play in her room while I get some things ready for a Craigslist pickup.

6 pm:  The Craigslist sale is done and so I grill up some dinner – veggies and hot dogs.  Real fancy 😉

7:45 I head to Caffe Amouri to do some work and to get out of the house for a change of scenery.  I spend a few good hours working on the bulk of these blog posts and enjoying some delicious decaf cappuccino.

WITL Friday Working Caffe Amouri

10 pm:  I get home and put away laundry, and then relax until going to bed at 11. It’s a good ending to the weekdays.

Thursday: Week in the Life Balancing Baby and Business

4:45 am: Maple wakes up to eat, and I scoop her into bed to nurse her, still mostly asleep.  Suddenly she vomits all over us.  I get both of us cleaned up and changed and then email my playgroup to let them know we won’t be attending today – just in case she’s sick and contagious. It’s too bad, because Maple is just starting to really be interested in the other babies.

6:15 am:  Maple and I drive Ryan to work, then take the car to the shop.  We’re a one-car family now, which takes a little planning but is a great way to save money.  And when we get the estimate for work on the Volvo today, it’s enough to make me never want to buy a car again.

8 am:  Home from the shop with a loaner car!  Maple and I have breakfast outside while we play fetch with Amber.

WITL Thursday Fetch Amber the Poodle

9 am:  Maple takes her nap, and I work on some issues with my website.

10:15 am:  Maple is awake, so I let her supervise as I fold diaper laundry.

WITL Thursday Maple Folding Laundry

Most weeks (except this one, apparently) I can let her play independently on the floor while I get some more work done.  But this week she seems fussy if I try to let her play alone.  So, we have a little early lunch instead.

12 pm:  I get her into the crib for another nap, and I make another cup of coffee.  I’m feeling frustrated with how my week is going, so I give myself a time out with Architecture Digest.

WITL Thursday Coffee Break Architecture Digest

I feel guilty if I take time to relax when Maple is sleeping, because it’s the only true work time I have.  It’s easy to feel like you should always be working when your office is in your home.

12:45 pm:  Maple is up again, so I feed her and play with her a little and I’m planning to set her up on a playmat downstairs so I can sew, but I’m so sleepy I can’t keep my eyes open . .and I know Maple needs to nap more . . .

I get into bed with Maple beside me and we snooze.

2:30 pm: We drive to pick up Ryan from work and then get the car from the shop.  This takes forever because of traffic.  By 3 pm rush hour has started in the DC suburbs.

6 pm: Finally home, I throw the linens in the laundry and wear Maple in my wrap as I prep dinner, since she’s so fussy and won’t nap.  WITL Thursday Wearing Maple Dinner Prep

9 pm: After Maple is asleep I end up at my desk downstairs, trying to edit some product photos.

But at 11 pm I notice a pattern . . . many evenings my brain and body are tired, and when I try to work I don’t focus, and end up “wasting” the night, essentially. I go to bed thinking about how I can use this info to better plan my days.