Veggie Stories

This growing season, I have the opportunity to blog about my CSA (community-supported agriculture) and the bounty I receive each week for the Washington Post’s food blog. Along with others who are CSA members, we talk about that week’s produce and what we will or will not be doing with it. Check it out at http://voices.washingtonpost.com/all-we-can-eat/csa-scout/csa-scout-when-a-farm-needs-to.html.

Until next time,

Sarah

Is Now a Good Time to be a Contract Worker?

A recent Business Week article (“Now Hiring: Contract Workers?”) seems to indicate that more firms are hiring contract workers instead of permanent employees, which can be great news for those of us who work from home. May employment data shows that businesses are keeping or hiring contract employees while staying wary of hiring full-time workers.

Something to think about if you’re looking for ideas to work from home. I’ll discuss specific ideas relating to contract work in the upcoming July “At Home News” e-newsletter, which you can sign up for free by clicking on the newsletter button at the top of the page.

Until next time,

Sarah

Pain and Misery Love Company

I had a scare last week when the left side of my jaw partially dislocated with a horrendous popping sound! I moved my jaw and another popping sound indicated the jaw was back in place. Both movements causing much pain and when I went to the emergency room (of course, this occurred on a Sunday!), I discovered that I had most likely stretched the ligaments around the jawbone and socket (TMJ). In layman’s terms, that means I had to eat soft foods and pray that the internal swelling would dissipate and my jaw would realign itself.

As I’ve had a week’s worth of soups and other soft foods (let’s just say my 11-month-old is eating crunchier foods than I am—and he has no teeth!), I’ve been reflecting on how the best-laid plans can go to pieces. Now, I should add that on top of my jaw discomfort, my kids have been sick and cranky, so my household hasn’t had the best week.

But what’s even more serious than that is how quickly my attitude goes downhill along with my physical discomfort and with the increasing whininess of my children. I couldn’t accomplish hardly anything on my lengthy to-do list.

It took me a few days to slow down enough to realize that perhaps this was my work this week—the cranky kids and my sore jaw. That I needed to focus not on what I wasn’t accomplishing from my to-do list but on what I could accomplish in relation to my children and myself.

So I tried being grateful for my aching jaw and for my children’s less-than-sunny dispositions. And I did just what needed to be done in regard to my freelance work, not what I wanted to be done.

I’m happy to report that just over a week later, my jaw is doing much better, my kids are finally over their illnesses and life in our home is nearly back to normal. That is, until school gets out next week.

Until next time,

Sarah

Jumping Into Summer

Our neighborhood pool opens tomorrow, and boy, are my kids excited! No matter that the water will be freezing, they can go swimming.

Summer might officially start June 21, but for many of us, Memorial Day heralds the beginning of summer. Summer is a wonderful time to take time to relax and let ourselves play hooky from work more often.

One of my summer goals is to plan some adventures with my children on a regular basis, remembering the adage that no one ever said they wished they had worked more. With careful planning, you can have a delightful summer and still accomplish all that you need to with your at-home business.

Until next time,

Sarah

Spring (Mind) Cleaning

Ah, spring is finally coming to Virginia. The birds have returned, the flowers are blooming, the trees are regaining their foilage. And my thoughts naturally turn to attacking those dust bunnies under my bed and other furniture.

When you think about spring cleaning, do not neglect to clear your mind. It might sound silly, but we all store junk in the far corners of our minds that need to get cleaned out every once in a while. Thoughts that need to be realigned, old habits that need to be rewired, those types of things.

By thinking of what’s going on in our mind, we can kind of restart ourselves on a new path, a path that can lead to better relationships, better business practices and a better us.

So as you’re cleaning your house and closets this spring, take a few minutes each day to think about cleaning out your mind, too.

Until next time,

Sarah

Ah, Spring!

The birds are returning to Northern Virginia, as the weather vacillates between warm and cold temperatures. With last Friday the first day of Spring, my four-year-old daughter informed me that she could go “bare toeses” now that it was officially Spring. Of course, Friday’s weather was nice and chilly, nixing the idea of going outside without socks or shoes. Perhaps next week if the weather cooperates.

With the start of Spring, my mind turns to spring cleaning, but working from home—and four young children—doesn’t leave a lot of time for more extensive tidying up. But I don’t want to completely forgo the yearly ritual, so I’m devising a schedule whereby each week, I’ll tackle one spring cleaning project. I’m hopeful that by breaking down the spring cleaning into manageable tasks, I’ll actually get everything sparkling before Memorial Day.

Use this time of blossoms and warmer temperatures to tackle those annual or semi-annual tasks that you put off over the winter. But don’t forget to take time to relax and enjoy watching spring unfold.

Until next time,

Sarah

PS: Check out my articles on eHow. You can search under my user name, seshva, to read my articles.

Tough Economy Good for Creating Home-Based Businesses

A recent USA Today article reported that recessions are gold when it comes to home-based businesses. The Small Business Administration (SBA) found that when in a recession, more people create home-based businesses.

During the previous recession of 2001-02, the U.S. economy dumped nearly 2.7 million jobs overall, according to the SBA. However, during that same period, new and existing businesses with less than 20 employees added 853,074 jobs.

Lean economic times also can be good for one-person businesses. The SBA estimates that 1 million more people launched businesses in 2003 than in 2002, a 5.7 percent increase. “The bulk of those are home-based businesses, such as consultants, people selling on eBay, independent contractors,” said Brian Headd, economist for the SBA’s Office of Advocacy.

“Hard times also seem to spawn many one-person businesses, more so than good times,” the article said. “Such businesses can be born out of necessity by men and women who lose their jobs or just need to boost their household income.”

So don’t use the economy as an excuse not to start an at-home business—now may be the best time to do so.

Until next time,

Sarah

Oh, Woe is Me?

With the economy in a recession, more families are scaling back on outsourcing jobs, such as canceling cleaning services, and are eating more at home. A recent Washington Times article relates that this spells out more housework for mom.

The article’s tone is “woe is mom,” with one source quoted as saying: “The list of things that people were outsourcing we’re finding are coming back home. And when they do, they tend to fall on the woman.”

Apparently, women still do most of the housework, even those who are married. For me, this wasn’t a big surprise, but to read the article, some scholars think it is big news. That, with more families tightening their financial belts, the first things to go are the things that you can do yourself—and those tend to be jobs that now fall to the woman of the home.

As a stay-at-home wife and mother, I believe it is one of my jobs to run the household. Not that my husband should be a slug-a-bed (he’s not) when it comes to chores, but since I’m in the home a lot more than he is, it makes more sense that I would do more of the daily chores to keep the home functioning.

Now, I don’t particularly like housework. Vacuuming, dusting, laundry, dishes, cooking, and other cleaning isn’t high on my list of things I enjoy. But I do try to take pride in my housework, and to train my children to be cheerful in doing it. Having a clean house, clean clothes and food on the table helps us to be a happier family.

A large part of that equation is my attitude towards housework. If I’m always cranky about the work, what does that teach my children? I might not like washing dishes, but I don’t need to complain about the job.

Also, I don’t think that my doing the majority of the housework in any way negates the importance of my work-from-home job as a freelance writer and editor. But the fact is, I sometimes have to turn down or modify freelance writing assignments if they might get in the way of taking care of my family, which includes taking care of the house.

Every family needs to look at how to make the household jobs work for each member, whether it’s children learning how to do chores, or a husband pitching in because his wife needs time to prepare a presentation for her at-home business.

Until next time,

Sarah

A Virtual Workforce

I came across an interesting article today (“How the Virtual Workforce Is Changing Everything”) about how telecommuting and crowd-sourcing are reinventing the traditional notion of jobs. The story explains what I’ve found in my talks with women who work from home: that freelancers can do just as good—and sometimes better—work than in-house employees.

Nearly any job can be done to some extent out of the traditional office setting. As the article points out, “workers with unique talents ply their trade from home offices and send the products of their work efforts to city-based offices. Often, these work-reception centers are located far beyond acceptable commuting distances. Today’s developing virtual workforce routinely telecommutes to work across the country.”

The story quotes Jack Hughes, founder of TopCoder: “Why go to an office when you can do same thing at home? Moving information around can be done on the Internet. Maintaining stores and spending time, energy and building costs all are part of the paradigm from the Industrial Age. Even management styles are based on that model.”

As you’ve probably guessed, “this shift in work location from physical office to virtual shop is driven by the Internet.” One source in the article points to three factors driving corporations and businesses to have telecommuter workers or freelancers: the need for an expanded pool of employees, the cost factors, and the better work quality.

Read the article in its entirety to find out more about this shift in employment locations. Like I’ve found in my own research, many jobs done in an office can be done in an at-home office.

Until next time,
Sarah