Category Archives: we create

transformations – room redesigns and diy projects

There Are Three Flowers in a Vase

The third flower is yellow.

Kudos to you if you recognized the quote above from the short-lived and brilliant Joss Whedon series, Dollhouse.  You may also know Joss Whedon as the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and the director of this year’s summer blockbuster, The Avengers.  My Whedon fangirling aside, the purpose of the quote was to get you in a floral state of mind.  As I’m sure you’ve noticed, floral prints have been a huge trend this season (see Diana in a floral skirt here, floral jeans here and here and Catalina in a floral dress here) and it looks like the trend is going to continue into the fall.  So if you haven’t picked up any floral yet, you still have time to get on board with the trend.  Here are a few suggestions:

For Work
Dorothy Perkins | $49

For Play
Paige @ Zappos | $91.99 (on sale)

On Your Feet
ASOS | $18.23 (on sale)

On your Arm

I searched high and low and couldn’t find the origin of this clutch — let me know if you find it!

Around Your Neck
Zara | $19.99 (on sale)

On Your Wall

On Your Floor
Anthropologie | $98 – $1,598

What’s your take on florals this season? Post links in the comments! Are you looking forward to the fall take on this trend?

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My 5 Favorite Pinterest Trends

For those of you familiar with Pinterest, you understand all the hype. For those of you not yet on the bandwagon, I’ll just say this — it’s kind of like chocolate, it’s hard to describe to anyone else but once you try it you’ll understand the obsession.  So just sign up already! And follow our Pinterest Boards — Diana, Catalina, City and Burbs.

I love Pinterest for all the obvious reasons: it provides a centralized, visually pleasing repository for all my ideas, inspirations, and life plans; it helps me curate my style and better understand and define my brand; and it helps lets me take a peek at others’ styles as well, satisfying my curious tooth ;).  Another reason I love Pinterest though is for trends.  Whether they’re fashion & beauty trends, home decor trends, wedding trends, or cooking trends, definite trends do emerge.  Some are life changing and some are merely amusing, either way, here are my favorites!

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Arm Parties
I’m not that great at putting wrist accessories together.  Thank God females all over pinterest are! Not only do I get unique ideas for metals and colors that I can mix, but there are also a TON of DIY ideas as well!

Easy To Execute Updos
I abhor straightening my hair.  If a genie granted me three wishes, maintenance-free hair would definitely be one of those wishes.  So on those days when I’m really dreading whipping out the round brush and blow dryer, I love that these great ideas are waiting for me in my ‘Hair’ pin board.  I wear a sock bun at least once a week!

Wall Galleries
Pinterest has led me to believe that no home is complete without a photo gallery wall and I’m glad for that because I think it’s a wonderful way to show case your family and favorite things to anyone who comes to your home.  Seeing so many in my pinterest feed day after day has definitely given me some great ideas for when I build mine!

Single Serving Muffin Tin Treats
Okay, remember before when I mentioned that some pins were amusing and some were life-changing? Well these are life changing.  I cook for two most of the time.  So these muffin tin meals and desserts are perfect for M and me.  They’re also super adorable :).

Ingenious Household Tips
The final and most useful trend is household tips.  The ladies of pinterest are super creative and can MacGyver any item in to a cleaning product.  The best one for me so far has been the super easy way to clean stove burner grates using ammonia.  Check it out. It will change your life too!

Are you on Pinterest? If not, what are you waiting for? If so, what are your favorite Pinterest trends?

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The Difference a Light Makes – Entryway Progresss

Slowly but surely, I’m making progress towards putting the finishing touches on my house.  My latest focus has been on the entryway — after all, it’s the first room that people walk into when they visit our home.  So, I want it to be welcoming, but also functional. This is where we started — I actually made a video and put it on my now abandoned tumblr almost two years ago.  Check that out here.  Since then, we’ve painted, added a rug and some furniture and just this week, changed the lighting.  I actually pinned this Uttermost drum pendant on Pinterest quite a while ago and was lucky to find it at a discounted price at a local lighting store.

Here is the lighting before and after.

I love lighting, and I think it makes such a huge difference in a room.  Still, there are quite a few things left to do in the foyer before I consider it finished.

Here is my running list:

Entryway Progress:

Check out my entryway pinterest board to see when I’m struck with inspiration and get some inspiration yourself.  Do you use pinterest to organize your home decor inspiration? Fashion inspiration?

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Office Inspiration

Confession: Even though I have a perfectly decent office desk in the basement, I constantly find myself working at the kitchen table.  While it’s lovely because the kitchen table is right next to a window with perfect afternoon sunlight, it’s a pain at night when M and I want to sit down for dinner and all my papers and devices are in the way.  The truth is, I’d love to work downstairs but a ‘decent desk’ does not an office make and there are several more things I’ve got to do before my office lures me in.  Much like this one is luring me in right now:
Domicile id contemporary home office
What I love about this office:
  • The Lighting : While there’s probably overhead lighting in this office, I love how there are other lighting elements adding ambiance to the room.
  • The Color Scheme : The taupe and white combo is great on its own but the addition of the aqua and the mustard is unexpectedly pleasing.
  • The Non-Traditional Desk Chair : Not all office chairs have to have a conference room feel.  I love this non-traditional, almost 70s look chair.
  • The Oversized Wall Accent : That tree branch is the equivalent of a bold statement necklace — the perfect finishing touch.

So, with these ideas in mind, I put together the following inspiration board for my basement office:

Some of these things are completed, some are in progress and some must be procured, so here is the rundown of the to-dos for this room.

Basement Office Checklist:

  • Paint existing desk white
  • Purchase custom chair
  • Purchase rug
  • Find and purchase tangerine lamp (featured one is out of stock)

Now that I’ve written it down it doesn’t seem like a huge project so hopefully soon you’ll see the finished product.  Stay tuned.

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Guest Post over at Cardigan Junkie

Hey everyone! We’re honored to be guest posting today for Haley over at Cardigan Junkie while she is on vacation.

Check it out!

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Wedding Redux – Decorations and DIYs

I’m convinced that even if I’d had no decorations, both the church and the venue would have still been beautiful.  But since I really wanted to make our wedding memorable, I made sure to add carefully placed details throughout the day.

The Centerpieces

When I first started planning the wedding I thought deciding on and finding invitations was going to be the most difficult task – until it came time to plan the centerpieces.  I literally did not know the first thing about flowers. Actually, I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I have somewhat of a black thumb.  And once again, I had the same problem as the invitations — while I know what I like, simplicity and elegance, I didn’t have the slightest idea how to translate that into flowers.  Thankfully, Doreen of Amazonas Exotic Floral Designs, helped me turn that into a reality.  Before I could really articulate what I wanted, I had stumbled across and decided on the “submerged orchid” idea which while perfectly nice, didn’t really capture the look we were going for – and Doreen definitely picked up on my reluctance.  At her insistence, we ditched the idea and she helped me to come up with something a bit more neutral and symmetrical.  We simply did groups of 3 4×4 square vases at each table with 9 white roses each, flanked by 2×2 square votives.  It was absolutely perfect and since the centerpieces were short, our guests were able to talk across the table to each other without something in the way.  I could have gone with something more grand but I loved that they were just simple and unassuming.

The Table Numbers

I loved the idea of personalizing the table numbers.  I know couples who have named their tables after places they’ve visited together, their favorite sports teams, but for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything cutesy like that to use as a table number theme.  I briefly entertained the idea of doing TV shows, but since I have about 13 favorite TV shows and Mike has 2,  I thought that would have been terribly one sided.  So instead I went the self-indulgent route and used the photos from our engagement shoot as table numbers.  I used Photoshop to do it but actually, Picasa has a nifty, easy to use function that does the same thing.  I then had two of each photo printed on glossy paper and mounted them on either side of some thick poster board.  Our guests loved them and I was glad we got to use our engagement photos!

The Luminaries

Originally I had considered doing luminaries as the table numbers but since there was an outside area I wanted to decorate that as well and the luminaries were perfect.  I was originally going to order them from etsy but making them turned out to be SUPER simple and inexpensive.  In fact, this DIY wins the award for least stressful wedding project. I simply printed our logo and wedding date on vellum paper (right from my inkjet), and taped them around some dollar store cylinder vases.  I put a votive in the vase and voila! It actually cost me around $1.50 per luminary!

The Gobo

You’re probably asking — what is a gobo?  Well, I didn’t know what one was either, until I saw one, and then I had to have one.  Basically is a light projected through a filter onto a surface.  Thankfully this was part of Ambient DJs services so we were able to use it — they even let me design my own! So this,

became this.

The Ribbon Wands

Our church has a strict ‘no throwing anything’ policy for weddings — no rice, no flower petals, no bird seed – nothing.  So I was stumped as to what the send off would be.  Thankfully, I stumbled on this blog post over at Ruffled Blog which not only had the wonderful idea of making ribbon wands but also had a tutorial on how to make them.  With my mom and dad’s help, I made approximately 100 ribbon wands and though it was painstaking and I hot glued my fingers to each other quite a few times, it was worth it.

If only for this one photo.

I had so much fun doing these projects and because I spent so much time on them, they’ll always be a part of the memory of our wedding.  So my advice to brides-to-be out there is, make at least one detail of your wedding.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with a dozen DIY projects but definitely get hands on.  It’s fulfilling.

Tomorrow (the last day of wedding week, sad face) I’ll finally tell you all about the attire – my dress, shoes, jewelry, bouquets and the bridesmaids dresses as well.  I’ll also chat about our hair and makeup crew, who were out of this world incredible.

Til then.

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Wedding Redux – Ambiance, Memories and Gratitude

Today during wedding week, I’m going to share with you some of the details around how I made venue and vendor decisions, and how I thanked my guests for their presence and their generous gifts.

The Church

We were lucky in this aspect as our local Roman Catholic church is just spectacular. Its beauty makes it highly coveted though, so we had to book pretty early and a lot of the dates were unavailable. I’d originally wanted to have the wedding in late April or early May but May was completely booked and since Easter was late last year, late April was out for us too. So, we picked April 9th and thankfully the day of turned out to be unseasonably beautiful!

The Venue

The day I walked into the Lake Valhalla Club in Montvale, NJ, I heard angels sing. Seriously, it was like a RomCom movie moment – I just knew. I’d been visiting traditional wedding venues for weeks, and was always a little disappointed that they didn’t capture the essence of our slightly rough edges. The other places were grand, magnificent and refined but those who know us, know that doesn’t fit the bill. The LVC ballroom is rustic, with high ceilings and a breath taking view of Lake Valhalla. So, while I actually saw this when I walked in:

my mind saw this:

They could have served rocks for dinner and I wouldn’t have cared. Thankfully though, it wasn’t only a gorgeous venue, they ended up having wonderful food and impeccable service too. The maitre’d, Perry, was outstanding and SUPER flexible, which if you’re an indecisive, frazzled bride, is a lifesaver. For me, choosing this venue was a no-brainer, so if you’re a bride-to-be looking for a venue, I urge you to wait until you find ‘the one.’

The Vendors

The next thing on the list was the vendors – most importantly the photographer and the DJ. (There are many more — transportation, hotel, videographer — but I’ll focus on those two for the sake of brevity. If you’d like more info on any other vendors, just ask in the comments below.)

The Photographer

I don’t think she knows this but when we met with our photographer for the first time, we had already chosen another one. We only met with her because we had already set up the appointment and felt badly canceling. Well, it ended up being the best move we made because Tatiana Breslow blew us away. Technically she had everything we were looking for — she had a lot of experience under her belt, an amazing portfolio, reasonable prices and she gave us the rights to our photos. Beyond that it was very clear she was passionate about photography and was very skilled at her craft. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I place high value on expertise and Tatiana has it in spades. Finally though, it was her personality that clinched it – the three of us just really hit it off. And I knew that on the day of the wedding, that would be important. I got a little bridezilla-y during the portraits and she had the patience of a saint. I’ll never forget that. Overall I couldn’t have been happier with the experience and the final product. (Note: most of the photos in this week’s blog posts were taken by Tatiana.)

The DJ

During our DJ search there were several things we were looking for. We wanted someone who was passionate about music, had music tastes beyond traditional wedding songs, was able to infuse Latin music into the repertoire, and could think on his feet and be able to direct the flow of the party seamlessly. When we met with Gregg and Greg of Ambient DJ, that’s exactly what they projected. Throughout the process they were great as well — regularly sending emails about songs they thought we would like. Also, their planning tools were GREAT — with access to a MASSIVE database of music to help us pick some must have songs. Finally, and most importantly, they both had great attitudes and on the day of the wedding that was very evident. Our guests loved the music and danced all night long — they even let me play DJ for a bit which was pretty awesome!

The Thank You Cards

While I was stalking researching photographers and the venue, I came across this blog post by another local photographer of a couple who had also had their wedding at LVC. I made a habit of routinely googling “Lake Valhalla Club blog” to see what other couples had done at LVC to get some inspiration. I loved Erica and Dave’s wedding but the thing that really grabbed my attention were those thank you cards towards the end of the post. I had to have them but I couldn’t find any info on them and didn’t even have a clue what they were called. After many many google searches I finally deduced that they are called multi-fold accordion cards and that these particular ones were made over at Kodak Gallery. So, I replicated it with some of our favorite shots of the wedding.

So that does it for today’s wedding post. I hope you enjoyed it and if you’re a bride-to-be I hope this gives you some insight into planning.

Tomorrow, we’ll go over decorations — the centerpieces, table numbers, and some other DIY projects. Finally on Friday, we’ll conclude with everyone’s favorite — the ATTIRE.

Til then, happy reading.

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The Anatomy of a Party – Mom’s 60th

Note: We are a featured blog on Coming Unstitched today!  Be sure to check out the site!  Sarah Stright is a girl after my own heart – a fashionista, DIYer and Bride-to-Be planning her dream wedding. We’re honored to be featured!

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Planning events is a passion I discovered only after I planned my own wedding last year. Since then, I’ve been itching to plan another event and so when my sister and I decided to have a surprise 60th birthday party for our mom, I was thrilled at the opportunity. I love scouring pinterest for ideas, putting the ideas together and developing a theme, getting my hands dirty with DIY projects and then finally seeing everything come together in one fantastic night. Well, our mom’s 60th birthday celebration was no disappointment. Let me break it down for you.

The Venue

Finding the venue for an event is the most important part to me. The venue and the decorations set the mood of the event and put the guests in the frame of mind that you want them to be in. I tend to gravitate towards places that have a rustic vibe so I was thrilled to find The Solar Manor in Roselle Park, NJ. The outside of this place is completely charming and while there are some traditional banquet rooms, there are also a few non-traditional spaces one of which we used for the party. The food (mostly Portugese) was delicious and there were many different packages (in many different price ranges) to choose from. The coordinator, wait staff and maitre’d were attentive and were a huge reason the party was such a success.

The Details

It’s always great to have a theme for a party but when you can’t think of one, use color. We stuck to the burgundy/champagne color scheme for our theme and even though it was subtle it tied the room together.

Centerpieces/Table Numbers

Our inspiration came from this pin. The IKEA lanterns and candles were a perfect complement to the rustic feel of the room and the tulips gave the table an elegant touch. For the table numbers, we used old photos of mom and superimposed the number corresponding to the table in one of the corners (in Picasa).

The Cake

The fabulous Mia from MakeMiaCake captured the theme of the party WONDERFULLY in the dulce de leche cake that she made. We sent her a proof of the invitations and she took it from there. We couldn’t have been more pleased with how the cake looked and how it tasted – it was beautiful and delicious!

The Favors

No party is complete without a memento for the guests to take home and figuring out what to give our guests at this party was easier than I thought. Our mom is a very good cook and loves to entertain and feed everyone. Her recipes are beloved by all our family and friends and on several occasions she’s tried to teach others how to make them so I thought it would be a great idea to create a little recipe book with some of her best ones. I made the book on Blurb and using a coupon was able to get each book for a little under $5 a piece!

The Cover

The Collage

While looking for photos to use for the table numbers, we found a ton more photos of our mom that we wanted to display. We thought the best way to do this was to create a collage of the photos — that way, guests could see the photos and our mom could frame it after the party as a keepsake. I created the collage in 15 minutes using TurboCollage on my mac (after trying 3 other collage making programs and failing miserably) and then sent it over to Fedex/Kinko for printing.

The Ruse

This was probably the toughest thing to figure out. After tossing around fake engagement parties, and a fancy anniversary dinner, we finally came up with an idea that would force our mom to dress up and get her hair done. We told her we were getting professional family pictures taken! And she bought it hook, line and sinker! I mean, you can’t fake this kind of reaction:

And it was the truth, after all, we did get a lovely family photo:

The Music

No party is successful without great music and for this occasion we wanted to make sure that our mom got to dance to some of her favorites which were mostly exclusively Latin American songs – salsa, merengue, and Peruvian selections. Luckily, our DJ, Robert, of SG Productions, who is also Peruvian, played a great mix of our mom’s favorites and kept mom dancing all night!

The Photos

Finally, I wanted to make sure the evening was captured on film so that our mom would never forget it. Alberto of Flowing Color Photography did an AMAZING job of taking pictures throughout the evening (as evidenced by all the photos above). You can see some more of the pictures from the night on his facebook page.

All in all the evening went off without a hitch and our mom said she’ll never forget it — mission accomplished. I hope I have another opportunity to plan a large event soon!

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Mom’s 60th Surprise Party – Part 1 – Stationery

Big fat sigh! After months and months of planning, Diana and I were able to pull off a fabulous surprise 60th birthday for our mother this past weekend. This party has been 10 years in the making so we wanted to make sure everything was perfect — the invitations, the venue, the favors, the music, the decorations, the ruse, and the attire. The invitations were the first communication our guests would have so we wanted to ensure that they set the tone of the party. I started with burgundy, mom’s favorite color, and paired it with champagne to add a festive touch. Keeping with the champagne theme, I thought champagne bubbles would make the perfect backdrop for the invitation. Using layers in Pixlr (as an alternative to the uberexpensive Photoshop), I was able to create this:

Then I used the Porcelain and Helvetica Neue UltraLight fonts to write the invitation and printed it on some heavyweight linen cardstock:

I popped them into a burgundy envelope and then created some envelope wrappers (inspired by this post over at 33 Shades of Green). By the way, envelope wrappers are my new favorite thing and I will be using them with every piece of correspondence from now on.

It was really quite simple. I used Avery Full Sheet Shipping Labels and created 4 labels per sheet in Word. The 8 1/2” wide labels turned out to be perfect for the 5×7 envelope.


What do you think? Are you as in love with envelope wrappers as I am?

Finally, to tie everything together at the party, I used the same background (and paper) to create the escort cards.

So that does it for the paper portion of the party. Stay tuned for posts on decorations and attire.

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