October 28, 2014

My First Mood Boards Ever!

Happy Tuesday! 

I tried something new over the weekend and I'm so excited that I couldn't wait to share it with you: 
I made my very first mood boards - three of them - using Photoshop for the first time (!) 

Learning the very basics of Photoshop impromptu was a little tricky, but my husband (ex-IT guy) gave me a quick lesson and that really helped. 

This was part of the blog course I'm taking right now, and I was supposed to identify my seasonal personality and create a board that reflects the aesthetics I want for my blog. 

And these are the three boards I came up with. I'm hoping you can help me decide which one suits me the best :)

no. 1
This is the first board I created. I really like the overall tones, but I wasn't sure about the pale yellow.

no. 2
I eliminated the pale yellow from the above board and added teal and more golden mustard to give it a little more Autumn feel.

no. 3
And I had to make the third one just of course. I really like this palette too.

I want this blog to feel Creative + Imaginative + Inspirational + a little Nostalgic when you come to visit here.

I've been working on honing my writing voice for almost a year now (and still in progress - it's a lot of work!). But this is the first time I'm actually paying attention to the visual aspect of this place. I'm hoping to connect the visual aesthetics with my writing voice, and have them carry the messages in a cohesive way.

So, what do you think? Which board carries those messages the best? Which one do you prefer?

I'd love to know what you think. 

* * *
no.1: From top left clockwise: Feather + flowers {La Dolce Vita} , Tablescape {LJ Designs}, Mustard {Design Seeds}, Spread love quote, Coffee sign {Clement Coffee}, Succulent {Source Unknown}, Color Palette {The Perfect Palette}, Green lemonade (hello naomi}, Dream quote, Eggs {Martha Stewart}, Flowers {Reverie Design}.

no.2: Tablescape {Lauren Brooks}, Scarf {Nothernly},Teal succulents {Abby Powel},
Color Palette {The Perfect Palette}.

no.3: From top left clockwise: Succulents + flowers {Source Unknown}, Feathers {A well traveled woman}, Tangerine {Design Seeds}, Eucalyptus (Source Unknown}, Flowers in wood box {100 Layer Cake}, Color Palette {Source Unknown}, Sage Table Setting {rip + tan}, Shoes {Mod Cloth}, Purse {The Perfect Palette}, Bonjour {Montana Rose Painter}. 

October 25, 2014

I Believe

Hello everyone!

While I was working on my blog profile, I came up with a list of things that I believe.

Writing about myself has been a lot harder than I expected, and as you know, I've procrastinated almost a year to work on this part of my blog. 

Making this list gave me a better picture of who I am today, at this season of my life. It's fascinating to see how my priorities have changed over the past several years. I definitely didn't feel that using our fine china for everyday meals would be a good idea when I got married 7 years ago! 

It's a bit random thing to post but I thought it might be fun to share it with you. So here we go!

* * * 
I believe that floppy wildflowers are more beautiful than a store bought bouquet of flowers, especially when your little one picked them just for you.

I believe in using our good china everyday.
I believe in celebrating small achievements and milestones in life. 

I believe when you have a partner in crime, taking a risk is a little less scary.

Found this Halloween picture from 10 years ago!

I believe that you don't fail until you give up or unless you don't learn from mistakes.

I believe that being unique and a bit weird is a sign of being truly yourself.  

I believe that belly giggles can mend a broken heart.

photo credit: Linda Jones

I believe there is always time for a hug or a cuddle with your loved ones.

I believe in the power of homemade meals.  

I believe that kids learning how to build a fort is as important as learning ABCs and 123s. 

I believe all of us are created with a unique set of gifts, and we are meant to share our gifts with the world.

I believe that everyone has a story to tell. And we are meant to share our story with others, because as ordinary as it may seem, there is someone out there who needs your story

I believe that you are the happiest when you follow your heart and pursue your dream, no matter what anyone else thinks.

"Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure."
- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

* * *
I feel happy when I go through my list, and I think it's a good sign. It probably means that I am on the right track on my journey. Listening to your heart and following your dream is a process, and it's not always easy. But it doesn't mean that we can't make it fun. Don't you agree? 

I wonder what your list would look like and also make you feel like when you read it. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

October 22, 2014

What I've been up to lately

It's been a while since I last posted, but I'm still here!

Since I publicly announced my dreams and where my heart is right now in the previous post (am I the only person who does this?), I thought this might be a good time to reflect on my goals and restructure my life in general, including this blog. 

I've been a stay-at-home mom over the past six years and I am now transitioning into a new phase: work-at-home mom! I still want to be a full time mom when the boys are around, so most of my creative work needs to be done while they are at school and before they wake up in the morning. 

I'm so excited about this transition and I wanted to make this experience the best possible. So I decided to take a blog course that will help me embark on a new phase of life, and it's been an amazing experience to say the least.

I want to blog with purpose and I want this place to be the catalyst for my creative endeavor. I couldn't ask for a better teacher than Holly Becker of decor8 to help me achieve my goals. 

decor8 e-courses

This blog course has truly been a blessing to me because I'm learning literally everything I needed to know from Holly and her fellow instructor, Fiona Humberstone. They are entrepreneurs in their own creative fields and they're generous about sharing their expertise and wisdom with us students. I love that their main focus is how to build a creative business based on your passion, instead of how to build your blog audience. Building an audience is well, of course important, but that shouldn't be the drive. 

I write this blog because I want to share what I'm passionate about with other people. And turning my passion into a career may not be easy, but I'm going to give it a shot.

So far, I've learned how to write a knock-out bio (which is coming soon on the blog!), how to brand a creative business using the color psychology and more. Later, they'll talk about storytelling for bloggers, and as you probably know I'm all about storytelling! I can't wait for the next lesson. 

I really needed to restructure the foundation before moving forward on this journey, so I'm feeling great about this extra step I'm taking right now. It's also so much fun to learn something new.

Have you taken any classes to learn something new lately? 

October 11, 2014

One in a Million

I've had this pain on the left side of my chest for quite some time. The pain used to come and go, but it has become persistent over the past few days, spreading all over my left shoulder and arm. 

I found myself sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office yesterday morning, feeling small and nervous, while waiting for my name to be called. 

I wasn't scared, but it would be a lie if I say I wasn't worried. What if I had something serious? What if something happens to me and I would leave my boys motherless. These thoughts kept circling in my head. 

Then a phrase floated into my mind out of nowhere, "It's not my time yet."

My gynecologist didn't find any lumps in my chest. But the phrase continued to echo in my mind, louder than before: "it's not my time yet." 

If it's not my time yet, what's left for me to do? What are the things that still need to be done while I'm here on earth? I started to have this quiet conversation with myself on the way back home from the doctor's office.

I discussed with my husband, too, about the things I wanted to pursue and who I wanted to become. During the conversation, Steve blurted out, "but that's one in a million. It's impossible to make a living like that." That stirred something up inside of me and I cried.  

I want to be that one in a million. 

I want to be a children's book author. I want to create stories that makes a difference in the lives of others. I want to run a creative business and financially support my family.

I want to be that one in a million. 

I want to move towards my dreams even when they appear to be out of reach. I want to believe in myself and believe in the gifts God has planted inside of me.

I want to be that on in a million. 

I want to live each day with purpose. I want to wake up in the morning excited to face the day's adventure instead of dragging the tired body out of bed so that I can cross off the never ending to-do list. I want to be the person I deeply am and live up to my fullest potential.  

When I decided to come to America to study psychology, some people tried to convince me not to do it. Some said I was being unrealistic, and one professor even refused to write a letter of recommendation for me. He didn't believe in me. He didn't think I could do it.

But if I gave into the fear and voices of others around me, I wouldn't have attained my degrees in psychology and human development. I wouldn't have had a chance to work in the field of early childhood research and found out that the path was not meant for me. I wouldn't have become as invested into empowering children and helping them unlock their potential as I am today.

Just because it's not easy to pursue and there's no set path laid in front of me, it doesn't mean that it's impossible. So I politely decline all the "be realistic" advice that comes my way. Then I turn to my dream and start taking baby steps toward my goals.

I know I can reach the stars, even from this humble and small beginning of where I am today. I'm not sure if writing children's books will be part of my career, as I know life can take a different path from your original plans. But I can't keep running from it and letting the fear hold me back anymore. I need to give it a try and see where it takes me.

Sometimes it takes a pain in the chest to make you realize what really matters. Those unexpected, not-so-lovely things can be blessings in disguise.

I believe I can be that one in a million, who lives life to its fullest.
I believe you can be that one in a million, too. 

What are your dreams?

October 1, 2014

What I Learned in September

I can't believe it's already October. I haven't even put out a single pumpkin yet!

That means it's time to share what I've learned over the past month. Here we go! 

1. I have officially outgrown all of my pre-baby dresses.
And oh, I'm not pregnant in case you're wondering. I just gained weight... unless my dresses have magically shrunk, I suppose. 

2. I have the best luck at Old Navy's clearance section.
So, I'm going to a wedding this weekend and didn't have a dress to wear. Then I found this cute summer dress at Old Navy for $16 on the clearance rack. I always find something cute at their clearance aisle. I didn't want to spend much on a dress I may not wear often, so this was perfect! 

I decided to add a belt I already had and my mother's vintage Gucci for more formal look. 

$16 Old Navy dress + belt + vintage Gucci purse

I might wear this Elie Tahali jacket for the ceremony,

With Elie Tahali Jacket

and maybe this 15 years old pashmina for the reception. Do people still wear pashmina or is it a bit too old school?

With the pashmina

3. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle {Plato}
Sometimes people who seem to be doing well are the ones who are going through the most. I've also learned not to compare what I'm going through on the inside with what others are showing on the outside.

Would you be extra kind to the people you encounter today? Would you also treat yourself with kindness and care? Because we all have our own challenges to overcome. 

4. First grade = Lots of homework (= Lots of work for this mama)
Do your kids bring home a lot of homework? My first grader does quite a bit. Definitely more than I expected. Me no like-y too much homework-y. 

What's your experience with your child's homework? What do you think is the right amount of homework? I'd love to know!

5. Pirate's Booty is like the most popular snack among kids.
And I knew nothing about it until this month. It all started when my preschooler had it for snack at school. He can't stop talking about it ever since. Then my first grader told me that's his favorite snack, too. I guess I have a lot of catching up to do...

image via snacksafety.com

Yes, my kids are hooked on you, Pirate's Booty.

Now it's your turn. What did you learn in September?

* * *
Today, I'm sharing with Emily at chatting at the sky

September 27, 2014

When I Need Inspiration

When I need inspiration,
I create
something, anything, without a goal or purpose in mind. 

Book page covered canvas + Japanese Magnolia | still in progress

It may not be necessarily fruitful, but it's okay. This helps me slow down and take a deep breath.

* * *
When I need inspiration,
I take a long walk, alone
with my camera in my hand. 

The crisp and fresh air helps me lift up my spirit.

* * *
When I need inspiration,
I decorate 
with the things I found on my walk and in the yard. 

I like it simple, not fussy, but full of texture.

* * *
When I need inspiration,
I turn to the internet
because there are so many brilliant and generous people out there who are willing to inspire others with their gifts.

Belgian Style Living Rooms by Greet Lefèvre 
Belgian design is simplicity at its best. Greet explains how to create beautiful Belgian style in your own home. 

It's Fall Time, The Barn is ready, and I Want You to Come Here! by Myquillyn Smith 
Myquillyn and her family have turned the world's worst barn into the world's prettiest barn. This gives you hope for your home and for your still yet to be achieved dreams.

Working With : Leather Furniture by Emily A. Clark.
If you have a house full of brown furniture like I do, and still want to make your home light, airy and modern, Emily is the girl for you. 

ORC | Trademarking | Original Ideas by Linda {Calling it Home}
Linda challenges us to be original and be confident with our own ideas. She challenges us to be a game changer instead of a follower. I needed to hear this this week. 

This short video by Emily P. Freeman
Some days, as a mother of two little boys, I wonder if I need to choose either my responsibilities as a parent or my passion. There simply isn't enough time and energy for both. If you feel this way like I do, this video is for you. Watching this made me cry. 

* * *

Hope your weekend is full of inspiring moments and bright sunshine. 

September 19, 2014

How I Chose The Perfect Paint Color | Master Bedroom

I think choosing a right paint color is one of the hardest things to do when you're decorating your home. 

It's not just about which color you like. You need to understand how the light in the room changes throughout the day and which colors work together. I've tried close to a hundred different paint colors over the past several years and now I know which ones work the best for our current home. It's been a learning experience.  

Choosing the right paint color for our master bedroom has been a challenge. 

Knowing this would be the first color we see in the morning, I've been very particular about picking the right one. I usually have a cup of coffee there and spend a little quiet time alone in our bedroom before I wake up the kids. I wanted this space to be calm and serene, not just pretty and stylish. I wanted our bedroom to be a place that nurtures our soul as well as provides rest. 

I finally chose the perfect paint color for our master bedroom. Do you want to how I solve this decorating dilemma? 

I listened to my husband's suggestion.

Totally unexpected. I know. 

Wall paint color: Gray Cashmere by Benjamin Moore

My husband, Steve, rarely has opinions when it comes to decorating our home. He knows it's my thing and he just lets me do whatever makes me happy. 

When he does speak up though, I know that's something important to him. So I pay attention. 

Steve was vacuuming the guest bedroom the other day, and when he was done, he told me he wanted our bedroom to be the same color. (You can see our guest bedroom in progress here and here.)

I had a little left over paint from painting the guest bedroom, so I decided to test the paint in our master bedroom. And you know what? I really like it. 

I thought I had to paint our bedroom in a different color, or at least in a different shade of gray, from the guest bedroom. I thought it would be too boring to paint those two rooms in the same color. 

Isn't it funny how sometimes we create a silly rule in our head and stick to it? Those rules can paralyze our decorating decisions, or any life decisions.

Just trying to figure out the color scheme. The furniture won't stay there.

I'm so glad Steve joined me in the decorating process this time. I want our home to reflect my family but not just me and my style. Never underestimate your spouse's input, even though that's something you think you're really good at. Lesson learned. 

* * *

Our pink hydrangea turns into stunning shades of green and fuchsia in the fall. Every summer, I regret that I still haven't turned those blossoms into blue. But then fall comes around, and I'm glad I actually didn't do it. I'm just in love with these deep colors.

And I had to share some of my favorite pretty details in the master bedroom, just of course.

Italian Hollywood Regency gilt side table. I love the aged patina on this piece. 

Antique gilt mirror with intricate details. 

Vintage wood and brass postal balance scale from England.

Antique French ironstone gravy boat as a jewelry holder.

* * *
Have you come across any decorating dilemmas? Do you involve your family or roommate in the decorating process? 

Turning our house into a home truly has been a process. 

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