Thursday, January 31, 2013

Inspiration to Inspire

In my last post I hinted about my current color crush - a soft palette of gold, white, blush pink, and mint green.  It has been popping up as inspiration for me everywhere - in my makeup, accessories, clothing choices, and recently in my home decor.  Now, don't take me too seriously on that last part...I mean there is only so much soft pink and mint green you can toss into your home decor without raising your husband's eyebrows.  It takes place in understated accessories - a candle holder, a picture, or a flower arrangement.  But that's all about to change!

If you're a friend on facebook (yeah, that's right, This Domesticated Diva is on facebook!) you may have noticed my plea for inspiration lately.  Simply put, my craft/office space is devoid of any creativity right now.  It's shoved in the corner of my blah dining room.  It's functioning from the furniture pieces deemed not good enough for the rest of the house.

(Did you think I was kidding about that last part?)

While I by no means vacuumed or dusted before taking this photo, I did tidy up just the slightest.  It was for your benefit, I promise!  I'm positive you don't want to see empty coffee cups, piles of receipts and notepads covered in my doodles, notes, and inspirations.  But if I'm mistaken, my apologies.  =)

This is my craft/office corner.  An old sewing desk inherited from my grandma with chipping stain and spray painted handles.  An uneven metal chair from my grandpa's ice cream shop that scratches my beautiful floors.  The shelves are my husband's handiwork, inspired from the great House of Smith's, but lacking in any sense of decor.  Yes, that is our tired old gingerbread house still adorning the top shelf...and will you please forget how filthy that dining room chair is....we're in the process of recovering them, as we have been for the last three months.

It's no wonder I am lacking inspiration in a space like this!  How am I supposed to create when my "creative space" lacks all creativity and any sense of design?  Hence the title of my post - "Inspiration to Inspire".  To BE creative, you need a space that inspires you, that speaks to your soul.

Once I realized what was lacking, my mind instantly flashed back to that soft color palette that has been taking over my dreams (yes, I dream about color, design, and all that glitter goodness...don't you?).  My desk may be in the corner of our dining room, but that doesn't mean it can't be a space of its own.  So with a little help from Pinterest, I've got an inspiration and a plan (that most likely won't be able to take place until spring when the sun warms the air just enough for a successful spray paint job...have I mentioned it's gloomy here?  Possibly once or twice).

Start with a white desk and soft pink chair 
(neutral walls already exist):
1) Source 2) Source 3) Source 4) Source

Add a physical pin board under my shelves:
Some simple organization:
1) Source 2) Source 3) Source

And a portable "Craft Cart" could go a loooong way:
Yes, a few simple changes could go a long way over here.  Someday, hopefully, I'll have a craft room of my own.  But in the meantime I want to make work what I do have.  Stay tuned.  I'm determined to see this one through.


P.S. Do you have any ideas in addition to mine that would make this space pop?  Speak up!  I'd LOVE to hear from you!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Winter Wonderland Birthday

Well, we are in post-party rehab today.  It has been a two-year old overload weekend, to say the least.  Partly due to the fact that we were helping in the 2's class at church the day after Cocoa's birthday bash.  I didn't think this all through when I chose the date of her belated celebration apparently.  But despite the headache of planning a last-minute party (this was last minute for ME, okay?) and filling your house with people (who all LOVE to gab) we had a really great weekend and a wonderful birthday party for our little girl.

Hollywood helped me pick out a really fun theme for Cocoa's second birthday a couple months back and I had spent months gathering ideas for her party.  However, after the holidays our whole family got sick. Nothing major, but it was one thing after another and three weeks later we were just starting to feel better and I hadn't even begun planning her party.  My husband gave me a huge reality check and we decided to ditch the grand bash we had all been hoping for and keep it simple this year.  Which is where we came up with our Gold and White Winter Wonderland Theme.  I've been a little obsessed with the simple color theme (along with soft blushing pinks and minty greens) lately and since I was just taking our Christmas decorations was simple enough to hold onto the glitter and snowflakes for just a little while longer (no complaining on my part).

The simplicity took off a load of stress (self-induced stress, as usual) which was exactly what I needed. It was easy on the budget too, which made my husband happy =)  Due to the last minute nature of this party, I whipped out a basic design on photoshop and texted the invitations.  Classy, I know!

Details removed for our family's protection =)
We tried to keep it low key and decorate using things we had around the house (or in storage).  I found some sheer white curtains in my sewing pile (intended for the birthday girl's nursery, but I never hemmed them to the right length) and thought they would make a perfect backdrop for the dessert table, along with some twinkling Christmas lights.  Sticking with the snow theme, I created several strings of a marshmallow garland, and hung varying lengths of golden snowflake ornaments between them.

The dessert table!

Then it was time to pull in the Hubs to pull off the next part of my vision.  I stole the ornate white frame from Cocoa's Divaesque room and backed it with some faux snow.  Using the simplicity of cardboard, scrapbook paper, twine, and glitter spray paint...I created the sparkly "2" and pendant banner.  Hubs worked his magic to hang that from the curtain rod (which he admitted was much more simple than my last request, which you have yet to see from Hollywood's Construction themed party).  This simple and almost-free addition MADE the backdrop, in my humble opinion.

The rest of the decor for the dessert table was mostly leftover Christmas decor.  Snow filled apothecary jars, candles, glitter, and the sparkly M's (from our stockings).  I made a simple vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, added some bunting (made of paper straws and scrapbook paper) and glitzed up a candle with some glitter!  The simplicity looked so elegant, it surprised me.  I placed the cake pops in styrofoam filled paint cans covered with gold scrapbook paper and twine.  Seriously, could this party be any easier?

Keeping it simple, we served snacks instead of a full lunch - fruit, veggies, and lots of cheese.  And just for some added fun, we popped some popcorn in coconut oil, topped it with white chocolate and gold sprinkles, and set out a hot chocolate/coffee bar with ALLLLL the goodies.  Not the most well-balanced meal, but let's face it, a party is all about the dessert anyway right?!?  I mean, uh, the BIRTHDAY girl.  It's all about the BIRTHDAY GIRL!!!  =)

I'm so thankful to our family who was able to come celebrate our little lady's birthday and make this day special for her!  But even MORE thankful for this little girl who lights up our home with smiles and laughter and some sass that won't quit!  =)


P.S.  Doesn't it kind of feel like we had her first birthday party just yesterday???  Might have something to do with the fact that I only posted about it weeks ago ;)

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Because of my history of posting over the last two years, I feel the to post something, whether or not it is news worthy just so that y'all don't think I've abandoned you again!  Haha!  That, and it can't help to develop a habit if I really want to get back into this blog business, right?  (And I use the word "business" lightly as I do not make any cash-ola from my blog!  Just an FYI!)

I have a lot of really big blog posts I am working on, however due to some major procrastinating on the party planning over here, I am short of time to finish up any of those (Hint - They include lots of photos and therefore photo editing!).  Yep - that's right!  If you read between the lines here (or been following my pins on Pinterest), then you noticed there's a birthday bash in the works.  As y'all saw from Cocoa's Diva birthday bash, you know I take parties quite seriously.  And once again, it is time to celebrate the girl to the fullness!  That being said, my husband did give me a dose of reality and begged me to calm things down a bit this year due to everything else that is going on in our lives.  (Ooooh yes, we're still recovering from 2012!)

But as I slaaaaaave away in the kitchen baking cake, cookies, cake pops, and crafting all SORT of glittery goodness, I've been catching up on episodes of Nashville!  And by catching up, I mean starting watching episodes of Nashville.  I have little time to do it since my husband doesn't really want to watch it with me (doesn't like drama for some odd reason =).  I'm not even entirely sure I love it yet, but I am very interested if that makes any sense.  Might have something to do with my obsession with the city right now.  ;)


Anywho!  That's where I've been!  After this weekend is over I'll work on some major photo yumminess for you!  (Yes, food might be involved.)


Monday, January 21, 2013

I Have A Dream Today

‎"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character....I have a dream that one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." - MLKJ

We are living the dream =)

Photo by Mike Fiechtner Photography


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Board and Batten Makeover

Our living room has really undergone quite the transformation in the five years that we've lived at this address.  Through the years it has endured my ever-evolving style and two growing children.

When we moved into this bare-boned, under-styled rambler home, I was a more than a little nervous about the enormous project we were taking on.  Especially coming from our semi-new, completely finished 3-bedroom condo.  But with trying to start a family, came a realistic look at our living situation.  Although perfect on the inside, we were very aware of the challenge it would be to haul a newborn in a carseat in and out of a tiny detached garage and down three flights of stairs every day.  And I didn't even want to THINK about doing groceries by myself!

Now, I'm certainly not trying to complain about my beautiful little 3-bedroom condo.  In fact, I loved it.  Cried when we packed up.  Literally sat on the floor in my master bedroom sobbing as my husband and his best friend loaded the last of the boxes into our vehicle.  (I may or may not have been hormonal.)  I was the crazy wife who begged her husband for a house and cried when I actually got my way.

You would think things would improve when we spent our first night in our new home...but that was not the case.  Walking into our "new" home and sitting on our couch surrounded by 4,000 boxes that contained our life, the sinking reality of what we had done came crashing down on me and invited an entire new round of tears.  At the risk of sounding like a complete looney toon...nevermind, I won't go there.

Yeah.  We're a little crazy, right?!  But with the help of my friend and designer Monica...we had a vision and a plan.  And slowly but surely our living room, along with the rest of our house, transformed into a livable and lovable home.

Unfortunately what we learned through the process of gutting and re-doing our entire house was that when you have to make decisions quick and efficiently, occasionally you will make choices you regret. Although I adored our living room when we first painted and was the first room in the house to be completed, and by the time we completed the rest of the rooms, our living room became dead to me.

That may sound a little harsh.  But really, when you look at the mini home tour I posted in 2011 (back when we were anxiously awaiting Cocoa's homecoming) you will quickly see why.  While I have no fear of painting dark, intense, or bright thing I failed to consider was the lighting in that room.  Had I lived in the home a season or two prior to making paint decisions, I would have realized that there is almost zero natural light in this room 10 months out of the year (our only hope is when the sun breaks through at just the right time of day, and let's be real - this is Seattle...those days are rare).  It wasn't long before I felt like I was living in a dungeon or a dark cave.

I could have done the easy fix and paint it a neutral like I did most other rooms in the house.  My problem was that my carpets were beige.  My couch was beige.  Painting my walls beige would leave completely devoid of color.  Color that I crave.  Color that I need in my life.

Source: Mike Fiechtner Photography
So I did nothing.  To the room at least...  I looked through magazines, browsed site after site, and pinned a bazillion things.  I started to notice a trend in my choices which led me to a big decision - for the first time since we got married, I needed to choose another color palette for my living room.  I started to re-think what inspired this space to begin with and I noticed that the pieces that put together this room didn't speak to me anymore.  In fact, the only thing that DID speak to me were my Pier 1 clearance curtains I scored and impulsively bought a few months before these pictures were taken.  So I decided to design a room around them.

I knew I wanted more color, more brightness, and more pow.  I started with choosing a wall color.  This turned out to be a much harder decision for me than anticipated.  I collected color swatches every time I passed a paint department in search for the perfect shade.  My problem was that I couldn't find a shade that popped against those curtains, was light enough to brighten the room, and looked just right next to the dark red bricks that my pot-belly stove sat against.

Inadvertently, my daughter changed the game a bit when she pulled a couple bricks out of the hearth (back when she was crawling and discovering her strength).  Being that this house was built in the 20's and last remodeled in the 60's (besides our recent re-do) my husband found it impossible to perfectly match a grout color as he was fixing the hearth.  Which led us to impulsively painting the brick in its entirety.  Which completely changed the look of the entire room!  I was completely inspired.  Starting at square one, I took a look at my inspiration boards with new eyes.

That's when I came up with the plan to do board and batten in this room.  All of a sudden everything just fell into place.  The perfect shade showed up at the perfect time.  After a lot of begging and prodding, my husband finally agreed that it was time for a change.  Like I teased in my year in review, in May I put my man to work on the transformation.  It didn't take long to realize we had made the right decision.  It felt a million times brighter in our space!

The process was time consuming and most definitely a lot of work....but well worth it for SURE!

As always in our household...this room is a work in progress.  New closet doors are coming in just a matter of days, wall art is still up in the air, I would LOVE to refinish those chairs, get a cute TV stand (or wall mount that baby), and maybe add some more pops of blue.  But for the curious folks out there...

The tufted sofa is a Martha Stewart design that we recently purchased from the Macy's Home Store on a sale.  The stunning yellow chairs we inherited after my husband's grandma passed away.  The sofa table is from Ikea.  The throw pillows I found at World Market.  The curtains were a lucky Pier 1 clearance find.  The wall color is Benjamin Moore's "Spice Market" (an Aura color - well worth the money, I promise) and the board and batten is painted their Aura "White".  Storage ottoman is from Target (although I wouldn't recommend it, it's on the way OUTTA here).  The fuzzy cream throw is also from Pier 1.  The red vase was a wedding gift from Pottery Barn.   The big "R" above the TV is from L'Alfabeto on Etsy.  

I know my choices are a little bit out there for most, but for the first time in a looooong time I can say this space puts a BIG SMILE on my face =)


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Perfect Family Photos

It was just a couple months ago I shared with you my concerns about our upcoming family photo shoot.  However, it just came to my realization that I never actually showed you how they turned out!!!

We completely lucked out with the most amazing photographer!  I was so thankful to so many of you locals who referred their favorite photographers in the Seattle area.  I spent a lot of time looking through all their websites to find someone who fit our budget and our style.  Once I chose my top two, I presented them to my husband for the final decision, knowing I would be completely thrilled with either photographer.

My husband chose Mike Fiechtner for his attention to detail and for the fact that he was a fellow adoptive father who has a heart for Africa just like we do.  When it came down to it, we just wanted to support someone who shared the same values as we do!

I cannot tell you HOW thrilled I am with everything about the photo shoot!  Mike was professional and friendly and GREAT with the kids (like BEYOND great, the kids had the best time ever).  After weeks of stressing over what to wear, I felt that it all came together wonderfully.  My husband and I collaboratively decided to keep our wardrobes full of color, just like everything else in our lives! =)  Mike also had the great idea of doing a journalistic approach to a "Day In The Life" of our family.  He arrived while we were getting ready and played with the kids, snapping photos of our home, our play, and us getting ready.  It was a great opportunity for the kids to get to know him in a comfortable setting before we took off and posed for some serious pictures.

He rode along with us to two separate locations for some traditional family photos, as well as some silly, un-posed goodness.  By far, my favorite family shoot we have done ever!  My kids did not complain once (except for maybe that smell back by the dumpster), and were in fact sad to see Mike go!

Check out the rest of our shoot on Mike's blog and maybe LIKE him on Facebook and show him some love for his great work!!!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Great Pinterest Debate

Love it or hate it, Pinterest has become a big part of our world.  Even someone who has never visited the site or isn't actively pinning is sure to have at least a knowledge of the basic concept.  But what you do with this addition to social media, is completely up to you.

This Domesticated Diva on Pinterest

There is a friendly debate going on within my circle of friends about Pinterest, and I'm sure you've heard it as well...

  • Position A would categorize Pinterest as an inspiration motherload and uses the site to its full capacity - several boards pinned with beautiful images of home design, dinner recipes, party planning ideas, style inspiration, and huge crafty to do lists.  Some use this inspiration to beautify their homes and their bodies and feel a great sense of accomplishment when they do.  Others simply find joy from gleaming beauty from the pictures.
  • Position B finds the site an awful, self-confidence sucking, time consuming, devaluing, horrible, horrible creation to make moms feel inferior (or something slightly less horrific) and refuse to be a part of it.

Has it become clear which position I hold here?  Probably.  Do I think less of those who hold the opposite position?  Definitely not.  In fact, I don't altogether disagree with them.

Pinterest is time consuming.  How often have I sat down in search of a recipe for dinner and an hour later have pinned 20,000 things but still haven't a dang clue what to make and end up with grilled cheese?  More often than I care to admit.

Pinterest can be devaluing.  Countless times I have wracked my brain for a creative solution to my problem only to come up with the most original, best idea ever created...only to find out my best friend just pinned it 20 minutes ago.  (Okay so this particular instance is completely made up...but ever heard of the saying that no ideas are original anymore?  Totally believe that.)

Pinerest sometimes does make moms feel inferior.  We all know that there are those moms out there that try to make others look bad by throwing the most elaborate parties, doing detailed crafts with their kids every day, have a perfectly spotless house, the most well-behaved kids, AND always looks like she stepped out of a magazine photo shoot.  NOT really! Those moms aren't real, and yet in our perception they always show their faces on the worst days, don't they?  So let's face it - we get enough of this in the real world, do we need it on all avenues of social media as well?

These are some of the biggest reasons moms tell me they don't use Pinterest.  And you know what?  If that works best for you and your all means.  But despite all these potentially negative aspects, I still choose to use Pinterest.  I have to monitor my time on it - even if it means setting a timer to pick out a meal.  I have to remind myself that my ideas ARE awesome, even if someone came up with it somewhere on the east coast the day before I did (we probably came up with it the same time anyway, given the time change).  And if I catch myself slipping into the mommy comparison zone - its definitely a time for a break.  I choose to use Pinterest because sometimes - I need a little inspiration!  Whether it's for a fresh twist on a home baked meal, or a simple sewing tutorial for my daughter's wardrobe, or even to find out how to take crayon off my newly inherited furniture.  And let's face it - if I didn't have an online desk would be just that much MORE cluttered with my inspiration board.  And that's not a fight I want to fight with my husband.  Again.

So where do you stand on the whole Pinterest debate?  Do take Position A or Position B?  Or somewhere in between?


Friday, January 11, 2013

The {Zebra + Pink} Diva Party!!!

{Flashback to January 2012}

As I'm in the midst of planning Cocoa's 2ND birthday bash, I was inspired to finally share the photos from last year's party.  Don't worry, YES I am very aware that I go completely overboard for my kids.  It is not meant to outshine anyone or make anyone feel bad about having a simple party for their kids.  This is just simply something I love to do and take pleasure in, as well as a fun creative outlet for a stay at home mom =)  Enjoy!

And yes, the details on her invitation have been changed for privacy reasons =)

I showed you pictures from Cocoa's birthday...but being that her birthday is the WEEK of Christmas, it makes throwing a party a little challenging.  Someday when she's old enough she might care and we might do it anyway....but for now, she doesn't know the difference.  So we waited until the holidays were over and the Christmas decorations were put away, and we threw her the Diva party she deserved!  (And possibly the diva party I have been planning for two years in my head, hehe!)

Although we try our hardest not to pressure our family into traveling for our kids' birthday parties, it always makes it EXTRA special when they are able to be there.  This time, only the grandparents were able to make it.  I feel sorry for Cocoa that her cousins probably won't be able to make it most years because of the time of year her birthday is.  But....there's nothing we can really do to change it either.  Maybe...I'll just overcompensate with decorations!  Yeah....that will be the explanation for my husband in years to come!  ;)

Well....without further ado, I present to you....


For those of you interested, I'll share the details:
-Backdrop is simply some zebra-print wrapping paper hung from a curtain rod.
-Pink paper lanterns are from the Dollar Store - I found them several years back for a baby shower I was hosting and held on to them.
-The tissue poms I made myself with instructions from Pinterest.
-"Happy Birthday" banner is from A to Zebra Celebrations which I won on a giveaway about the time Cocoa came home.
-Cake and cookies were also inspired from Pinterest, but yes, I did make them myself.
-The cake pops and marshmallow pops were made with some much-needed assistance from my friend Annika (who I might as well call a cake-decorator...because, although it isn't her job, she is so amazing and helps out everyone in our circle of friends!)
-The candy jars are filled with 1) mini marshmallows and strawberry marshmallows 2) chocolate covered raisins 3) black, white, and pink sixlets (from Hobby Lobby).
-Cocoa's bib was a baby shower gift from my dear friend Elle J.
-The Headband and Onesie I made myself.
-The tutu is from Costco (but was gifted to her by her auntie Michelle).