Office at Home Part II

My previous blog on home offices covered the salient, functional points. I ran my interior design business for 18 years from a great office in my lower level – so here is my real-life take on working from my home:

1. If you do not have any scheduled appointments you can stay in your pajamas ALL DAY – or at least until the kids and their friends come home from school or your spouse comes home looking for dinner. And you can return calls and do your paperwork in comfort. Many a day I didn’t get myself together until 3:00 p.m.

2. You will have an outstanding Boss – YOU!

3. On Secretaries Day I always took myself out to lunch or bought myself something special since after all, I was my own secretary.

4. You can surround yourself with beautiful things that are special to you since you aren’t sharing the space. As a designer, I always had beautiful textile samples hanging in my office that I rotated for sheer enjoyment.

5. Make your space welcoming to you. You will spend a lot of time there. One big drawback about a home office is that the work never goes away. It is always waiting for you, unlike an office in a different location that you can leave at night. The advantage is that if you can’t sleep for whatever reason you can just go in and work. I put together many a design board at 2:00 a.m.

6. If you have a small TV on your desk you can always watch what you want to and never share the remote. It’s not a democracy, it’s YOUR space.

7. You can keep candy in your drawer and eat it whenever you want. I guess you can do this in any office but at home you won't run the risk of your co-workers catching you.

8. The best thing about working from home is that you can almost always set your own schedule and you never have to miss an important family event – you know like your daughter’s basketball games!

Photos from
Photographer: Tria Giovan
Designer: Jed Johnson


Office at Home

This blog originally began as a lengthy informative piece about what you need for a home office. After I wrote it, I realized all you really need to know are a few good basics and here's what they are:

1. A space in your home with a door that closes.

2. A good desk or table to work on.

3. A separate phone line from your home phone or a cell phone that gets good reception. Talking to a client while a child cries or the smoke alarm is going off is really not professional.

4. Storage. A bookcase, baskets, cabinetry – anything you prefer to keep your things organized and the clutter away.

5. A comfortable chair and ottoman for when you need to get away from your desk to read or relax.

6. Good lighting, both task and overhead.

7. Inspiration as in artwork, items you cherish and personal photos.

The trick is to pull all this together in a space that you have painted a color that suits you. Some people like vibrancy, some people like soothing tones. Explore the color palette and choose the color that is right for you. Remember, it’s YOUR office and not a cubicle in a big building where you have no decorating choices.

Photo From PointClickHome
Designer: Candice Olson
Photographer: Brandon Barre


The Burke Banana Bread

On Wednesday I promised to share my banana bread recipe with you - so here you go.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a large loaf pan with cooking spray or line it with foil.

Sift together in a large bowl:
2c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

Add ½ c. sugar and 1c. chopped walnuts to the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, mash 3 ripe bananas (I am talking the more rotten the better – this is one time when brown spots are a good thing). Add 1 tbs. fresh lemon juice, 1 slightly beaten egg, and ¼ c. vegetable oil. Mix well and add to the dry ingredients.

This is the difficult part since this is NOT a liquidy dough – getting all the dry ingredients incorporated takes patience but you can do it. I use a big spoon and keep mixing it all together. Spoon into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert on baking rack and let cool, if you can. I usually have a piece in my mouth within minutes!!


Breads, Breads, Breads

I know there are a lot of different specialty breads out there to make. My cookbooks are full of them, not to mention the internet. Zucchini bread, carrot bread, date nut bread or pumpkin bread are all available. But I only love one and that is BANANA BREAD.

We have a recipe that has been in our family forever and I will share it with you in an upcoming blog. Banana bread is very special to me. When I visit my mom or sister they always bake me a loaf because they know how much I like it -
warm with butter.

Now, a silly side story – my sister and I have an ugly troll doll we have passed back and forth for years. She once wrapped the troll in foil and baked it in the center of a loaf of banana bread and mailed it to me from Colorado to Cincinnati. Very, very funny. We have quite a few “troll” stories. Bonnie now lives in California and in the photo of the banana bread below you will see the troll – after a visit to Disneyland.
Banana bread means love and comfort to me and I hope it will do the same for you.


Mr. B is 53! Happy Birthday!!

Ok, my husband Mike (Mr. B) really turned 58 today, but 53 rhymed so I thought it sounded better!

To celebrate his birthday, we hosted a small birthday dinner. I used my fall decorations to make the table look pretty and had a lot of fun with it.

Here’s the menu – for appetizers, blue cheese toasts (such a simple recipe every one can make). Mix together 1/3 c. softened butter and 1/4 c. blue cheese. Spread it on baguettes you have already toasted on both sides and run under the broiler. Watch these – they cook soooo fast. Top with a pecan half. YUM! I don’t make too many appetizers if I am serving dinner - you want your guests to be able to enjoy the dinner too.

To throw some greens into the mix, I made an interesting romaine salad. Cut a romaine stalk in half, discard the outer dark green leaves (I know, I know they are good for you but this is about appearances too) then brush on a Caesar dressing and shaved parmesan cheese and run under the broiler exactly one minute and serve. FAB!

The main course was marinated flank steak, grilled asparagus and mashed potato casserole – a really good one with cream cheese you make the day before.

Our birthday dessert was a magnificent Pumpkin Praline Torte – a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine I found a few years ago. Just so you know, Mike likes this nasty strawberry pudding pie for his birthday but I talked him out of it since we had guests. So I don’t hear from all of you, I promised to make him that nasty pie soon.

A really fun, delicious party. Wish you had all been there!!


Debbie B's Marvelous Meatballs

This is such a great, easy to make appetizer recipe that I just had to share it. I am not really a meatball eater – I never understand those crazy sauces that all start with grape jelly (which no one I know eats unless they are in grade school), BUT this has a sweet-sour layer of flavor and it is terrific. Perfect for a crowd since it makes a lot.

Get out your crockpot! In the pot, layer one large package of plain frozen meatballs (NOT in sauce and NOT those Swedish ones), alternating with a 16 0z. can of sauerkraut, drained.

Now, in a bowl, mix together one bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce, one bottle of water (use the empty sauce bottle), ¾ c. brown sugar, and one can of whole berry cranberry sauce. Mix until the jellied part of the sauce is smooth.

Pour onto the meatballs, and mix it all around a bit so the sauce coats it all. Put the lid on your crockpot and cook this mixture all day on low. Really, about 8-9 hours. If you don’t do it long enough the meatballs taste rubbery.

When ready to serve, they will stay hot in a bowl or chafing dish, or at some gatherings people serve them directly from the pot.

*Becky Knows Everything: When you start to eat these, be sure to stand next to your husband or a friend and put all your used toothpicks on their plate so you don’t look like you devoured the whole thing. (This is also a good tip for those tiny smoky wieners my sister makes).