Etsy Find Fridays: Jazzing up the new workspace

In early April, I walked into work to find an ominous truth hovering around my office: we were being relocated.

Okay — not relocated. I’m being dramatic. Our office was combining with another office, etc., and so forth, and my own individual workspace was being moved . . . across the hall.

I’m super close with my officemates, Sandy and Brandon, and we work together closely — so my first reaction was pure fear. I shifted my gaze between them, absorbing the news.

“They’re not going to separate us, are they?”

It was like waking up in sixth grade to the news of your best friend in the world moving across the country, where there’s no email or phone service or ability to accept courier pigeons. Even though I knew, logically, that I was going to lose my “own” office — the small, windowless cell I’d called “home” for eight hours a day since 2009 — I was less concerned with that than being stuck in . . . isolation.

As we all know, leaving high school and college behind usually means one thing: your social circle dwindles. We all have friends we love no matter what — people who will be there for us through thick, thin, ugly, silly — but as we get older, it becomes difficult to meet new people. My work friends aren’t just “work friends.” They’re my friends, pure and simple.

And if I got moved away from them, I was going to flip out.

The good news is this: my new office isn’t an office so much as my desk, telephone booth/bookcase and miniature refrigerator wedged into the corner of a much bigger room, but I’m still with Brandon and Sandy and — bonus! — we have a huge, gorgeous and glorious window. Where I can, like, see sunshine and trees in bloom and people in the parking lot. Where, occasionally, a bird flits past and reminds me that there’s life out there.

If you’ve never had to work in a windowless room, you probably think I’m crazy.

And if, like me, you’ve been working like a mole in a cave for years at a stretch, you realize how this is awesome.

So here’s the thing: I’m in this new space and have a blank wall behind me. A white, scuffed wall, but an empty one. One where I can put up pretty pictures and make it comfortable. In my old office, I was famous for having a London-themed space; photos of Big Ben adorned every surface. I brought many of those with me, too, but I don’t think I want to just hang all the old stuff up in the new place. I’m ready for a fresh start.

So I’ve taken to Etsy, that devilish and angelic mistress, for items to spice up my new work area. I’ve fallen in love with several prints but really want to take my time in making a big decision . . . this artwork will be with me for a while, I’m sure. And once I convince a coworker to help me hang stuff, I’m not going to turn around and ask them to help me redecorate again.

These are items I’m kicking around for the ol’ desk and wall, which is just begging for adornment. I love feeling like I can step right out of work and into another place if I so choose, so many are travel-themed! Also, quotes help me stay grounded and remind me to focus . . . and that’s important, too.

Shout out if you have favorites. Or tell me if I’m missing something. Or join in the lamentation regarding a lack of windows in your office.

I understand, my friends. Boy, do I understand.

Be Here Now print by thewheatfield, $15

Books print by sixthandmain, $14

Make Voyages print by maechevrette, $20

The Columnist print by janethillstudio, $26

The Best Is Yet To Come print by theloveshop, $20

Etsy Find Fridays: Writerly inspiration

The first thing I can ever remember writing was a poem about rain. I was 6, in the first grade, and I’d just begun to make the connection that letters formed words . . . and words? Well, words formed everything. In the living room on a rainy day, I took a small pink (pink!) notebook and scribbled down a few phrases. Then I proudly showed my handiwork off to my baby sister and parents.

I don’t remember their reactions, but I’m sure they were struck dumb by my brilliance. I mean, rain? Who has ever written a poem about nature’s beauty — or that wet stuff falling from the sky? I was a prodigy. A revolutionary. I was changing the world!


Aside from a stint in the creative writing program in college, I haven’t crafted many poems — but have diversified my subject matter. Twice a week, I write about my life and adventures for the newspapers where I work. Only 450 words and focused on whatever pops into my brain, the columns come easily. It’s like blogging . . . just in print. Where 50,000 people read it.

Sometimes that scares me.

But that’s another blog post.

No, the columns don’t cause me any trouble, friends. Sometimes the stress of trying to be consistently witty is a little daunting, but that’s totally a #firstworldproblem and not something I would ever complain about. (You know, not in public.) I know how lucky I am.

It’s everything else that’s tricky.

The short format of my articles and these here blog posts have ruined me. After failing to complete a novel for National Novel Writing Month for the second year in a row, I’m beginning to worry that I don’t have the stamina to sustain a single plotline over the course of a 200-page manuscript. Am I now only capable of writing short non-fiction? Am I — gasp — A SHORTY?

Well, yes; I’m short (5’2″). But I don’t want to be known only for the little thoughts I scribble down. I do want to finish another novel, and I do want to seek publication for my works. So unless I’m scooped up and asked to pen a hilarious memoir about cupcakes, online dating and pumpkin spice lattes, I need to get my act together. I’d love to be the next Laurie Notaro or Jen Lancaster, but I have to be realistic. I have yet to be informed that someone soiled themselves while reading something I’ve shared, so I have plenty of work to do. And have to get back to pluggin’ away on ye old book.

But first? I need a little inspiration. And leave it to Etsy to deliver it.

Etsy Find Fridays: All houndstooth, all the time

Running out on a lunch break last fall, I spotted a woman dashing across an intersection in a black-and-white coat. Past her waist, fitted and lush, it looked like the epitome of stylish to me. And with her red boots and slash of red lipstick, I was green with envy.

The coat haunted me. Black, white and red have, over time, become my signature colors, and each morning I would slip into my old jacket and think about how my life would change if I had that adorable coat around my shoulders. Job promotion? Sure thing. Adulation of the masses? Definitely. Appreciation of the fashion mavens when I’m having lunch at Panera? Absolutely.

Caught up in my daydreams, it was hard to remember that objects don’t change our lives — we do. And mostly by aligning our thinking and recognizing that no one thing — or person, or experience — will make us happy.

That being said, I really love my houndstooth coat.

That’s what I realized the fabulous print was called, by the way: houndstooth. Several Google searches and endless trolling of online stores later, I found several coats in the classic black-and-white print and began to drop subtle hints about what I would like for Christmas. To my joy, my parents handed me a box to be opened on Christmas Eve with — yes! — a houndstooth jacket. It’s so classy.

And if I thought I was obsessed with the print before, my love has taken on an entirely new definition.

Because houndstooth isn’t just for jackets, friends — oh, no. Houndstooth is everywhere and in a variety of hues, including pink. Pink! In all my endless daydreaming, I took to Etsy to get my houndstooth fill. I’m madly crushing on that pink houndstooth memo board, by the way — and know just the place I’d put it.

Etsy Find Fridays: For the reader who has everything

It’s almost Christmastime, friends — something you’ve probably noticed while checking out neighbors’ lights displays, digging out favorite holiday albums or almost colliding with one of the many distracted drivers clogging up the roads leading to the local mall.

After going shopping with my dad and sister on Black Friday, an annual tradition, I’ve tried to avoid stores as much as possible the last few weeks. I get antsy in crowds and generally dislike waiting, even if I can see the end of the line. People accidentally pushing into me get on my nerves, and I can’t stand fighting with someone for the last gift basket/candle/bottle of holiday-scented lotion. Not my bag.

Plus, like many web-savvy consumers, I prefer to shop online — unless I truly have no clue what I want to buy and need to browse around (but even that can be done online). And as I’ve blogged before, I’m in love with Etsy, an online marketplace of homemade goods (and occasionally sell things there, too). In the spirit of our upcoming holidays, I’ve scoured the site for some cool reading-related gifts — and now I’m sharing them with you!

If you’re searching for a gift for your literature-loving loved one, here are some items I think are awesome — and definitely worthy of being coveted. Hover over the images for descriptions, and click each photo to view the item on Etsy. If you have favorites to share, feel free to share them in the comments!

The dress that changed my life

At some point in the last few months, my style has changed dramatically. For a while I was contributing this shift to a pair of $6 leggings I bought at Target, crediting them with giving me the ability to wear a pair of slouchy black boots with a dress to work. Not too keen on the idea of freezing to death when the temperatures dropped, leggings opened up a new world to me: the world of wearing skirts. In winter!

What I failed to realize? I never would have bought the leggings — or the skirts, or the dresses — without having first purchased The Dress.

The Dress is a deep pink color cut just above the knee, cinched at the waist with a matching fabric belt. It’s a classic silhouette that hugs my curves just enough to be flattering — but not enough to hug some, ahem, areas I would rather not be hugged. Y’all know what I’m saying.

After undergoing a period of intense emotional change and losing a bit of weight, I was feeling ready to embrace something new and different in my life. I wanted new clothes! A new attitude! A new me!

And I got it. Walking around H&M in Annapolis with my mother, I came across The Dress on a random rack, tried it on and, a mere $30 later, took that baby home with me. It wasn’t something I would have normally chosen for myself, which is exactly why I bought it. After years of steadfastly refusing to wear anything exposing my legs, I was ready to let all of that go.

The first day I wore it to the office, I created a bit of a stir. Gone were my baggy, frayed black dress pants — the ones I purchased right after college in an effort to establish my “career wardrobe.” (Some of my fashion choices from that era, just a few years back, still haunt me.) In a dress — and a dress that showed off my figure — I earned appreciative looks from friends and coworkers, gathering up their compliments like sprinkles on cupcakes.

Wearing The Dress to work — where attire is pretty business casual — gave me a super confidence boost. And whenever I want to feel cute, sassy but professional, I throw on this lil’ number with black flats, a chunky black necklace and get ready to take on the world. I love it so much, I’m even wearing it in my column photo at the paper! Basically, it’s my Power Dress.

Do you have a Power Outfit — a certain article of clothing that makes you feel so good every time you wear it? I’ll cull any ideas for a back-up. You know, just in case The Dress ever lets me down. (Right. Like that could happen.)

Fancy in love with celebrity perfumes, and I’m here to blog about it

Here’s another dirty secret about me to add to your arsenal! It’s Wednesday and that seems like a great day for copping to embarrassing things, so I’ll give you this: I love celebrity perfumes.

Seriously. Whether the box is plastered with Britney, Paris, J. Lo or Celine, you better believe I’ll be leaning across a nearby perfume counter to get a whiff. I think my obsession began after I received a bottle of Britney’s “Curious” for Christmas one year, then promptly used that as my “signature scent” for the length of one relationship.

After that one inevitably ran its course, I chose another “signature scent.” And from there? It’s been a slippery slope of me purchasing bottle after bottle of any and all perfumes out there, most especially when some famous chick is promoting them. As we all know, scent is the quickest way to trigger memories — good and bad — and I like to continuously change up my scents as life goes on and on.

Among the many scattered perfume bottles on my dresser now you’ll find Paris’ “Heiress,” a purse-sized bottle of “Curious,” an old vial of Celine’s aptly-called “Celine Dion” and the pièce de résistance: Jessica Simpson’s Fancy Love. I’m telling you now, I’m in love with this scent. All fancy like. So much so that I shelled out my hard-earned bucks for the set, friends, with that lovely gold-capped bottle above and the lotion.

And I don’t even wear lotion.

Since then, I’ve been bouncing around like the blonde bombshell I will inevitably be in my next life, admiring the pleasant aroma now embedded in my sweaters and tanks. It’s demure! It’s fun! It’s elegant!

And, just to clarify for Jenny, it most definitely does not smell like sexual napalm. Though I’m thinking that wouldn’t totally be a bad thing, no?

What’s in my bag?

Over the years, boyfriends have asked me for things.

Like, you know, a tissue. Or a piece of gum. Perhaps a quarter for a vending machine or a parking meter. Inevitably, I’m distracted with something else — or reading (of course). I usually wave a hand dismissively, barely looking up from my cell phone or novel.

“It’s in my purse,” I’ll say, gesturing to my overflowing handbag nearby. “Just go in and get it.”

Inevitably, the boyfriend’s face will morph into a mask of unmitigated horror. “In your bag?” he’ll squawk. “I’m not going in your bag. That’s your girl stuff.”

While I’m not exactly sure what terrible devices of torture men expect to find in women’s handbags, I will say that I’ve had this exact conversation with at least three different boyfriends — and countless male friends, too. It’s like the purse is a vacuum of embarrassing girly products and they just don’t want any part of it.

And though I’m pleased to know that the men in my life aren’t, you know, wantonly pawing through my personal belongings, it is occasionally annoying to have to hoist myself out of a comfy chair in order to grab my purse and find that sliver of paper or pen they need.

But friends, it’s time to draw back the curtain. The lovely Erica recently asked me to reveal the contents of this, my hulking shoulder-breaker of a handbag . . . and since I love you guys, I’m just going to put it all out there.

Gentlemen, get ready.

1. Cupcake coupon holder — a little pouch I purchased on Etsy (where else?) and use to hold my coupons, gift cards and other random things I use to get stuff cheap or, occasionally, free.
2. A book — Like any steadfast reader, y’all know I don’t leave the house without a novel. At the moment, I’m heavy into Balancing Acts.
3. A pen and a Sharpie — because just having a pen isn’t enough. Sometimes I need to write on strange surfaces like, say, the top of a white styrofoam to-go box from a restaurant.
4. iPod Touch — which also functions as my personal calendar and way to keep in touch with the world! I’m lost without it. And, strangely, really don’t use it to hold any music . . . which is probably why I’m never without No. 6.
5. Cell phone — Have to be able to text, you know.
6. iPod Nano — which holds my music collection. And it’s pink, naturally. I listen to music a lot at work and feel pretty crazy when I accidentally forget it!
7. Lip gloss — I’m never without several different types of beauty products, but this Sephora clear lip gloss is my favorite!
8. Blog business cards — these are the little guys I got last year from Moo and have all my information for this here blog! I also give them out to dates because they give boys a way to contact me . . . but don’t actually have my phone number. Helps me screen out the crazies.
9. Advil
10. Anti-bacterial hand cream
11. Gum and mints
— I’m a freak about mints and chewing gum . . . in that I always have some, and am always popping one or the other. Pretty sure that’s not a bad thing!
12. Face powder — So I’m shiny. What?
13. Tissues
14. Wallet — money and ID are two things I wouldn’t leave home without!
15. Makeup pouch — where the rest of my six varieties of lip gloss are kept! I usually have a hair tie and a few bobby pins in there, too.
16. “Business” pouch — my work business cards, jump drives, a Tide To-Go Pen and other random little things are usually in here.

And what else is in my purse? The very pocket camera I used to take that photo! I don’t ever leave home without my Panasonic Lumix and love taking random shots on my lunch break. Like that one.

Hope this gives you a little more insight into the enigma that is Meg — and, if you’re a dude, that you won’t be quite as freaked out the next time I tell you to get your own piece of gum. Nothing will bite or humiliate you, promise.