{Celebrity Nursery Design}

I created this chic nursery design, based on powder pink and rock star platinum, as a small tribute to the announcement of Shakira’s pregnancy today.  I was *tickled pink* with the news and genuinely inspired to create an ultra feminine look for what I’m sure will be one very spoiled, and deeply loved, baby.


I’m secretly wishing for a baby girl, too. Can you tell?  Congratulations to Shakira and wishing her a very happy and healthy pregnancy as she prepares for the next big chapter of her life.  {Shakira, if you’re reading this and you are interested in my services, now you know where to find me.}  ;-D

Shopping Guide:  Furniture and Chandelier from Restoration HardwareLamps, Rug and Vanity Set from Z GalleriePillow Shams from Petit TresorArt Prints from Etsy – Breeding Fancy, Niko and Lily, My Sweet Swirls – and Society6Diamond Bear Pendant from Tous

{Sweet dreams}


~the sweetest mami~

{my happiness project}

Has anyone else read the Happiness Project?  It is a great book, written by Gretchen Rubin, about her year in tackling happiness through months dedicated to small changes in her life, that led her to happier days.  I loved this book and its main principles have remained with me long after I finished it.

Lately, though, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Welcoming our third child was a blessing, and spending time with the girls and the baby is always the highlight of my days, but face it, my free time has been shrinking with every new responsibility.

A few weeks ago, I reflected on what I could do to make my days happier and more stress-free.  I noticed that there were a few common themes nagging away at my happiness and peace of mind.  These revolved mainly around clutter, unfinished projects, and meal planning.  My days were consumed with these themes, more often than not.  It was like a light bulb went off as I wrote down another list of to-do items.  A definite theme was present, and if I broke it down it was something I could definitely manage in small goals.

So, I want to hold myself accountable, and thought I’d share my plans on my blog, so I could share the sense of accomplishment as I tackle each area, but also so I could help others create and take on their own happiness projects.

Here are my plans to achieve happiness by focusing on the three main areas that bug me the most:


  • Spend fifteen minutes each day clearing clutter and putting things where they belong.
  • Get rid of things I no longer use, love, or need.  Somebody else may need it more than I do.
  • Find a home for everything that is worthy of being kept.
  • Be creative in finding new ways to store the growing number of children’s toys and items.
  • In with the new, out with the old.  Replace items as you buy new ones.  Don’t keep the old!

Unfinished Projects

  • Finish making the mobile for the nursery.
  • Frame the photos for the nursery.
  • Finish making new pillow cases to update our living room.
  • Frame the beautiful original artwork by Fabio Napoleoni to display in our dining room.
  • Document the child’s memories and milestones in their baby books.

Meal Planning

  • Try new recipes that are quick and easy.
  • Stick to our weekly meal structure so that it’s easier to plan meals {Meaty Monday, Taco Tuesday, White Meat Wednesday, Spaghetti Thursday, Happy Hour Friday, Seafood Saturday, Sunday Roast}
  • Save money buy buying items in bulk and on sale.
  • Spend one or two days a month preparing go-to meals in advance {Meatballs, Pizza Dough, Casseroles}

These are not new ideas or goals, but I’m hoping that putting them down in writing will help me stick to them a little bit easier.

Just yesterday, I found made the time to start on the new pillowcases for our living room.  It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, so I’m motivated to finish them all very soon.

What will YOU make time for this week, that will result in a happier YOU?

{Stay Sweet. Be Happy}


~the sweetest mami~

All you need is love; Love is all you need. {one weekend, two cakes}

I am refreshed from the long weekend.  Glad I got to do so much, and enjoy time off with my sweet family.

I baked two cakes this weekend — Banana Fosters Rum Cake for my friend’s birthday on Saturday, and Natural Red Velvet Cake {Recipe courtesy of Sophistimom} for our Labor Day BBQ on Sunday.  The girls helped me along the way, and it took three days to complete both cakes from start to finish!





The weather was beautiful on Sunday.  We entertained, ate good food in great company and the girls and Lucas had a good time too!


The girls had so much fun, playing with bubbles and getting nice and dirty in our backyard.


It was a long weekend, all right, and we were grateful for the extra day of family fun.  The girls weren’t ready to go to bed after all the fun, but eventually they gave in.  The joy they had is written all over their face on Monday evening.


I hope you found a fun way to celebrate the long weekend, too, and enjoyed good food and company.  Even though summer is officially over for many of you, there are many more good times to come in the future!

~the sweetest mami~


ps The title of this blog is a fun and loving quote we posted at home this weekend.  We want to post a new one each week.  Hope you enjoyed it.  {courtesy of the Beatles}

Do you speak {Ikea}?

{i heart ikea}

We were at a small get-together last weekend, and I immediately spotted many IKEA pieces in the hostess’ home.  I loved the way she created such cozy and kid-friendly spaces in her home.  We immediately got to talking about how we both loved IKEA so much, and it was funny that we referred to the pieces by name!  When she told me to make myself at home, she said I could nurse Lucas in the POANG chair in her little boy’s room and I replied I had the same chair in our nursery at home!

I find it interesting that so many people are IKEA-haters, yet I continue to find their pieces  in so many different places, ranging from small apartments to large homes, and even in restaurants and bistro cafes.  Personally, every time I buy something from IKEA, I tell myself it is temporary, until I can afford the ‘real thing’, so to say, but having said that, I still have some pieces in use that are *gasp* over ten years old!

In time, though, I hope we can complete our transition to more durable, life-time furniture.  Over the most recent years, we have added a Crate & Barrel Dining Room set and Pottery Barn entertainment center to our collection of furniture, but the Wish List keeps growing and our budget cannot keep up with it yet!

So, I find myself wondering…how many other people are in this situation?  Do you love IKEA, too, and plan to keep it forever, or dream of upgrading one day?  Do you have any pictures to share of how you’ve made IKEA furniture your own?  There’s also a great blog for people who like to reinvent IKEA pieces; it’s called Ikea Hackers and has great ideas to share!

Here’s an ode to the most-often seen and used pieces from IKEA.  I wonder how many of you recognize these pieces, ALL of which are in my home.  Can you tell me where I’ve used these items?  Which ones do you own, or covet?

{Happy Decorating}

~the sweetest mami~


Hemnes $299


Alex $119

Nyvoll $199

Poang $69

Bjursta $249

Fillsta $29.99

Lack $7.99


Expedit $139


Expedit $70

{Summer Brights} Fun ideas to brighten up your home.

Classic Dominican Creamsicle – “Morir Sonando”
Courtesy of ‘Dominican Cooking’

I’m on a decorating high from all the little changes I’ve slowly made in my home, and all those that are yet to come.  Here are a few quick tips I hope you can use to liven up your home during these summer months.  It’s amazing how far your dollar can go, when you make a conscious effort.

  • Bring fresh flowers into your space.  For less than $10, there are many single-bloom bouquets you can buy at your local grocery store.  My favorites are sunflowers and pink roses, depending on the mood I’m in.  If you want to make an impact with a small amount of flowers, simply place individual blooms into small bud vases (or wine bottles, even) and display them grouped together or spaced out evenly on a larger surface such as your dining room table or a shelf.
  • Frame a few of your favorite photos and make a statement.  I’ll bet there are plenty of great memories you’ve got stashed away waiting to be displayed.  Select a few of your most fun and colorful shots, and group them together in simple white frames to bring some joy into your world.  If you have spare frames lying around, but are different colors, just spray paint them all in white for a more uniform look.
  • Make your own art.  Go ahead, embrace the artist in you.  Buy a canvas board and scribble a quote that is meaningful to you.  If you dare, do it in your own hand writing.  If you want it to be picture perfect, buy a stencil and fill it in with paint once done.  I have so many ideas for boards I want to create, I almost don’t know where to start.  Here are some I am considering for somewhat of a ‘family wall’ I am going to create near our entry:  “Home is where the heart is”; “Love lives here”; “Duarte Family, established 2008”; “LOVE” in block letters, much like the famous sculpture.  In our kitchen, I am going to make our own “Eat, Drink and Be Merry” sign(s).  The possibilities are endless.  Start off by painting the background, then adding your own lettering in a complementary color for a nice pop.

Here are a few images I hope will inspire you.

Courtesy of tatertots & jello

Courtesy of Tessyla, at Etsy

{Happy Decorating!}


~the sweetest mami~

Blogging on the go..

I don’t blog nearly as much as I’d like to, because it is so hard to find time to sit at the computer uninterrupted for long enough. That’s why I’m going to try something new from time to time. I will try blogging from my phone now, too. Mind you, these posts will need to be short and sweet. {kinda just like me}

So, here goes nothing…

I wanted to share my latest project here. One of the last rooms to finish in our home is our living room. I want to liven it up with a more fun and almost beachy feel. I’ve settled on a palette of blues and yellow. Our huge sectional sofa is neutral beige so I am going to bring in some color with pillows. Our huge windows are still bare so I’m making curtains.

Here are some photos:
Our living room, currently with blue and orange accents..


Pillow fabrics:

Curtain fabric:


{do what makes you happy}

Do one thing, every day, that makes you happy.  This is my new mantra.

I am all about life’s simple pleasures.  I don’t need much to keep me happy.  With me, it’s the little things.  I quickly realized this as I am confined to mandatory bed rest for six weeks, to heal from the c-section that brought me my darling Lucas.  I am itching to tackle huge projects at home and reorganize and redecorate every nook and corner of my home, but I am physically unable to do any of this.  Instead, I am limited to spending the majority of my time at rest, reading, listening to music, and gazing at my sleepy Lucas most of the day.

However, all hope is not lost on me.  I have been able to keep my spirits up by tackling smaller tasks here and there.  I have also grown a deeper appreciation for my time with Eva and Zoe, since it is so limited and controlled these days.  I still can’t pick up my girls, but it doesn’t stop them from trying to jump into my arms.

So, in the spirit of maintaining my sanity…uh, happiness…I am working on a list of my favorite things to do that bring me joy — here it  goes…

  1. buy fresh flowers for the home
  2. chat with a friend on the phone
  3. meet up with a friend
  4. watch a funny movie *zoolander is my fave*
  5. bake something delicious, from scratch
  6. take a walk *great way to get to know the neighbors*
  7. enjoy a bowl of ice cream (or haagen dasz bar)
  8. work on a photo album or scrapbook
  9. work on an inspiration board
  10. laugh out loud
  11. enjoy play time with Zoe and Eva *tea, anyone?*
  12. read a bedtime story to my darlings
  13. dance with Zoe and Eva *twirl twirl twirl*
  14. complete an unfinished project or task
  15. enjoy a hot cup of tea and cookies

Note that the following did NOT make the list, but do consume too much of my time on some days:

  1. surf the web
  2. shop online
  3. browse pinterest
  4. follow status updates on facebook
  5. read junk mail and shopping offers in my inbox
  6. open and sort junk mail received at home
  7. pay bills
  8. balance our budget
  9. figure out what’s for dinner
  10. clear out clutter

I’m hoping that if I can focus on the things that make me happy, I will find more balance and time to spend on those things that are guilty pleasures (i.e. facebook, pinterest) and be able to better tackle those necessary evils that cannot be ignored (i.e. pay bills and plan dinner).

I’ve already started small.  Yesterday, I bought fresh tulips for the home and the happiness factor has already spilled over into today when I see them brightly sitting by my bedside.

Today, I’ve already completed two unfinished tasks AND reached out to a friend.  The inspiration is never-ending.  What will YOU be able to achieve once you start focusing on the good?


{stay happy}


~the sweetest mami~