Operation: Total Hair Repair

TDD_OperationHairRepair_02 Sometimes hair calls for a little damage control. And in the case of Cocoa’s chlorine-saturated strands, this is one of those times.

Swimming lessons started two and a half weeks ago. I purchased the swim cap. I put conditioner on it first. I had it in twists, a braid, a bun. I slathered it with coconut oil. But none of these preventative measures stopped the damage.


Sometimes that is the case. You do everything you can to the best of your ability, but it doesn’t quite cut it. So you pick up the pieces and do what you can to repair the damage, right?

Admittedly, this was my first experience with this much chlorine. We love to go for a swim whenever we can…but living in Washington, there aren’t a lot of pools. It just doesn’t get hot enough most of the year.


For next time, I know what I will do differently. I’ve chatted up the natural hair community and I got some great advice. But fact of the matter is – curly hair and chlorine don’t mix. In fact, chlorine and hair don’t mix period. It’s always a disaster without preventative care. And in Cocoa’s case, without PROPER preventative care.

So after some shopping at the Beauty Supply and the beauty aisle at Target, we have some work to get done. Some tried and true, and some brand new! But we are sure ready for those soft and shiny curls again!

TDD_OperationHairRepair_01 1/ Moroccan Oil Intense Hydrating Mask 2/ Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Hair Sheen 3/ Moroccan Oil Intense Curl Creme 4/ Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie 5/ Knotties Ribbon Ties

So how about you, friends? What of these have you tried (or want to try)? And do you have any tried and true tips to avoid chlorine damage with your curlies?




How to Have a Fashionable 4th on a Budget


My family loves dressing up for holidays. It is such a wonderful way to get in to the spirit! The downside of that fun though, is the toll it can take on your budget. Especially with something that will only be worn maybe once a year, sometimes its not worth the cost.


Every year on the 4th of July, my children participate in the local parade by dressing up and decorating their wagon. There is a competition involved for the most spirited and such, but that isn’t our priority. Our aim is to enjoy ourselves, and we are not going to drop a lot of money to do so. (Understandable, right?)


After a season of ignoring our budget, Hubby and I collectively decided to crack down on it and spend as little as possible. So as much as I would love to go buy a festive 4th outfit for every member of the family, it’s just not going to happen.

So in preparation for the parade, I shopped our closets a bit for some red, white, and blue and got creative.


Now if I was going to spend money for some 4th garb, it would for sure be on accessories. For the most part, I like keeping it to basic colors when it comes to the clothes and then use accessories to pack a punch! During my shopping, I almost splurged on a few of these…but opted for making a wish-list of 4th FASHION instead…



1. American Flag Headband 2. Crystal Dot Bracelet in Royal Blue 3. White Tassel Bracelet 4. Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso 5. Polka Dot Sunglasses
6. Butterfly Lace-Up Sandals


If you are still in need of some accessories for the 4th, waiting until just days before is always your best bet for finding deals. The only frustration lies when things are sold out. But it is a risk you take.


Since my daughter didn’t have any red, white, and blue in her closet I did wind up buying her an adorable tee (and customizing it, of course) when it was on sale at Old Navy. Other than that, the only money we spent was on some fun stuff for the parade that we found at the dollar store.


I’ll be sure to share what we decide on on Instagram, so don’t forget to follow along! And please, tag me @thisdomesticateddiva or use #adivaskindof4th to show off your 4th FASHION!!!


Himbasha Bread

Homemade bread never fails to warm the soul. I can remember so many nights in high school, coming home late from practice and smelling my mom’s homemade bread. It was like all the stress of the day would melt away with that amazing smell.


So why is it, then, that I never made bread until I stumbled upon this recipe during our adoption process? Ethiopian food typically takes a long time to cook and bake. There are a couple short cuts you can take (I still have good intentions of trying out that crock pot Doro Wat I saw on Pinterest someday) but that just tends to be how it goes.


So back before I had a bread machine, and was longing for some amazing Ethiopian cuisine, I put my hands to work at bread. And guess what? It turned out! (That was a miracle in itself.)


Now it has become a much-requested favorite around here. So now I’m here to share it all with you…

TDD_HIMBASHA Ingredients:

3-4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black sesame seeds
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp cardamom, ground
2 tsp fenugreek, ground
2 tsp yeast
1/4 canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 cup warm water


Mix together flour (starting with between 2 1/2 – 3 cups) with salt, sesame seeds, thyme, cardamom, and fenugreek. Then add in the yeast (I was instructed by a friend not to put salt and yeast right next to each other, which is why I add it separately). Make a dam in the middle of the dry ingredients. Add in the oil, honey, and warm water in the middle of the dam and stir in circles, slowly adding the surrounding flour. Add more flour as needed for a stiff dough. Once the dough starts to separate from the bowl, place it on a floured surface and knead 5-10 minutes until no longer sticky and smooth like a baby’s bottom (except for the seeds that you will feel within the dough). Round out the dough with your hands and place in a round pan to let rise (I brush a little oil over it and cover with saran wrap and a towel, then place it near my heater since my house is pretty cold). Bake at 350 degrees until it turns a light golden brown and is cooked all the way through, about 30 minutes. As soon as it gets out of the oven, brush with butter.

*NOTE: You can also add more honey for an even sweeter bread, if you want.

TDD_Himbasha_05 I hope you give it a try (and enjoy it). Please let me know how it turns out for you, if you do!


Summer Nights

TDDSUMMERNIGHTS I live for nights like this. When the kids are playing in the backyard in bathing suits after dinner. When it’s warm enough to stroll around in a tank and bare feet.

TDDSummerNights_01 It doesn’t happen all that often around here. Just a few months of this heavenly weather and then we’ll go back to the gray and rain.

TDDSummerNights_04 So I’ve got to make the best of the warm evenings I have before they are gone. So summer nights…you can find us out here, making memories.

TDDSummerNights_05 We’re not necessarily doing anything significant. Maybe some floatie sword fights. Muscle flexing. Teaching cart wheels. We are just enjoying each other.

TDDSummerNights_06 How are you spending your summer nights?


The Day I Met Her…

I have good intentions of re-posting our Ethiopia travel journals here someday, but that is not what this is. Today is remembering that life-changing moment, three years ago, when I met my daughter. It is engrained on my brain as much as my son’s birth story. I thought today, on Cocoa’s third Gotcha Day, I would share a little more about our journey.

The journey to this moment was not an easy one. It was one of heartbreak. Of loss. Of waiting. Twenty-two months of waiting, to be exact. It is easy for me to celebrate having this amazing little girl in my life. But I also need to acknowledge that while this was a moment of celebration and joy for me and my husband, there was pain there. Though she was incredibly young, there was an indescribable pain in her eyes. It came and went, but it was present.

I remember walking into a room of crying and babbling babies. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of them. Beautiful faces, longing eyes. Many of them I recognized, but none of them were mine. When a special mother pointed us in the direction of our sleeping beauty, my heart raced. This was it. The moment I would meet my daughter. I was immediately shocked at her tiny size. In the photos friends had sent us, we had noticed her weight gain with joy. She was gaining some baby chub, much needed baby chub. But I never imagined she would still be this small.


TDD_Meetcha_02 When her tiny eyes opened, she was completely unaware of what was going on. She accepted all the attention and even smiled, much to my delight. Oh, how I had longed to see that beautiful smile. Looking into that perfect little face, I was overflowing with love for this precious child. Our child. It was instantaneous. There was never a moment where she didn’t feel like ours. Even when her reality set in that we were sticking around…


TDD_Meetcha_04 As I tried to feed her a bottle and rock her to sleep, I could see the fear and uncertainty in her eyes. I cried with her, at the gravity of her loss. I gleaned any advice I could from her special mothers. I learned how she preferred to be held. Whispered familiar Amharic in her ears. Patted her bum and covered her face with a blanket to mimic everything she had come familiar with over the last few months. She eventually fell asleep, but when she woke she was even more afraid.


It was a long road to a peaceful night’s sleep in our home. And although our Cocoa is a completely different girl today, there are still times where I see a glimpse of that scared little girl in her eyes. Every day I am thankful for her beautiful presence in our lives. For the unbridled joy she brings to every situation. Yet it hurts every time I get a glimpse of the pain she is forced to continue to work through for the rest of her life. Its simply not fair. But by God’s grace, she will never be alone to work through it.






***Note: While we were in the adoption process and even immediately after, I often looked at things with rose-shaded glasses. But as you watch your child heal and learn to trust, you are forced to look at the good WITH the bad. Although I desire to share our journey with a complete transparency, I struggle to find the balance between doing that and over sharing. However, I feel that only sharing one side of the journey does a complete disservice to any prospective adoptive parents out there. So I ask that you be patient with me as I continue to process what we’ve learned while still protecting my daughter’s story.***

Top Three Tuesday: Summer Trends


Summer’s here! Summer’s here!

I can hardly contain my excitement guys. These are the months I LIVE for! These are the months that I actually love living in Washington! I just can’t get enough of this warm weather!


These are everywhere lately, in case you haven’t noticed. I have been keeping my eye for the perfect pair, but since my hubby has put me on a strict budget lately (I kinda let things slide for our trip since we didn’t fit into any of our summer clothes) I refuse to jump on the first ones I see. I kind of have to justify it as a “need”.



But anyways. A few weeks back I was shopping at The Rack with some girlfriends when one of them pointed out a pair of these and asked if they were gym shorts. I about died laughing and maybe even snorted out a “NO!” But after really taking a fresh look at them, I can kind of see what she means.



So what does it say about me that it makes me love them even more? I mean, gym shorts that you can wear with heels? Awesome, right? Ok maybe that doesn’t SOUND awesome, but the comfort level does, right? But what can I say, I haven’t even bought a pair yet! But this black and white print I spotted at Francesca’s yesterdays has me seriously considering.


Did I really say crop top? I’m 29, that should be way off my radar, right? Wrong. Crop tops have made a come back but this time in a MUCH more flattering way. Showing just a little bit of skin without baring your whole belly is what makes it work while still looking flattering. But you must read this post from Sage + Sparkle on the RULES of wearing a crop top. Like she says, if you are over 15 you have to be careful – and I COMPLETELY agree.




Still hesitant? Watch this video of Mindy Kaling (at least for the laugh…because she’s my wannabe bestie). She may be facing some flat out rude comments on her crop top but she nails it on the head when she describes that that is the skinniest part of a woman so why not show it off?




kimonos I have developed such a love for the Bohemian flair. From flowers in the hair, to maxi skirts, to flowy tops. Heck, I’m kinda even becoming a crunchy mom.




What is there NOT to love about a kimono? It’s basically a lightweight or sheer cardigan that you can put over EVERYTHING. I found the love of my life ( as seen HERE in New Orleans) from The Rack and I tell ya, I wear this thing everywhere. It is the perfect weight to throw over bare shoulders when the sun hides behind the clouds or when the breeze picks up.




Find one. You will love it. Pinky promise. :)

So what are you favorite trends hitting the shelves this season? I’d love to hear what tops your list!


Reflect Your Style

Phew! I’m exhausted you guys!

It has been a busy couple weeks in this household. Between the lack of sleep and the amount of projects we have been trying to tackle, that Spring makeover list is getting attacked (I’ll update you on that more later). Although I won’t lie, it looks like we will certainly be extending it into the Summer. No biggie though. I’d rather have it done right, even if we have to save up and take longer to complete it.

Today, I am brimming with excitement about finally getting started on that master bathroom! When One Kings Lane contacted me about helping them out with their “Reflect Your Style” campaign, I jumped at the opportunity to start planning and designing the space I’ve been dreaming about in my head for…oooh about seven years! And the part I am super excited about is having a vanity that is all mine.

Currently, I am sharing one bathroom with my entire family. That means I get two small drawers to myself. And yes, I have completely given up on organizing them because toothpaste covered fingers are rifling through them at an alarming rate. I have found it impossible to keep clean.

In our new bathroom, I not only get drawers to myself. My husband has agreed let me put it a makeup vanity! So along with choosing tile, and paint, and towels I get to choose mirrors, and a stool, and cute little decorative accents (okay so maybe that part will trickle in later, but they certainly take part in the planning process)!




I browsed around One Kings Lane for inspiration. It turned out to be a perfect space for me to look because they carry a variety of elegant pieces for me mix and match. Not to mention, they have new items to browse daily. I found exactly what I was looking for a put together a mood board to show you!


1. Bathroom Inspiration 2. Hurricane 3. Vevey Mirror 4. Elephant Stool 5. White Vanity
6. Mindy Kaling Quote 7. Peony 8. Mirrored Tray 9. Jewelry Organization

When designing a space of your own like this, I think it is so important that it reflects your personal style. With all the other areas of my home, the style is a reflexion of us as a family (well, mostly us as a couple). It’s rare that I get to design a space just for me. Even though the space in itself is small, I want it to make a statement, just like any outfit I would wear.

I started out by creating an inspiration board on Pinterest. I pinned anything that spoke to me in terms of that specific room. I’ve been doing this over the course of a couple months and it has helped me to see an overall theme. I’m going for an industrial yet glamorous feel, with possibly some rustic touches. Does that seem contradictory to you? Probably, because it is. I think the fact that they are so completely opposite in design is what makes them such an attractive pairing to me. And it’s okay…you don’t have to agree! It is my space, after all.

The tiling will consist of white subway tiles in the shower and on the walls, and slate on the floor. I think the stark contrast will be beautiful. (I really can’t wait to get started!) Besides the gold hardware and maybe a few small pops of color in the accessories, the space will be mostly neutral.

TDD_Tile Source

After choosing a basic theme and color scheme, the first step in designing the vanity area was for me to choose a mirror, which I think of as the focal point of the space. Because of my neutral walls, I fell in love with the idea of an oversized gold frame. One Kings Lane also has this amazing mirror resource page to aid you in the process of choosing a mirror.

As far as the vanity itself, I really want something crisp and bright. As beautiful as a mirrored finish would be, I also know how messy makeup application can be (anyone with me on that?). Not to mention…hairspray residue on a mirror? That would be a PAIN to clean up. So I am thinking a streamlined, simplistic white desk would look best.




I picked out some Moroccan inspired towels ages ago that are just sitting in my closet, begging to be used. So when choosing other accessories for my vanity, I wanted to pull from that design for inspiration. I thought the elephant stool, the tray, and the hurricane did an excellent job of that. As a girl who loves to travel, I love to pull design inspiration from all over the world and incorporate into my home.

Now comes the hard part of turning my vision into a reality. But with a start date officially marked on the calendar, I know the end is in sight!


Tulum Beach Break


Following our amazing tour of the Tulum Mayan Ruins, our tour guide drove us 20-30 minutes along the beautiful coastline to a secluded beach resort. There we would have about an hour of time to delve into the amazing buffet they spread out for us and spend some time in the waves before starting our journey back to Cozumel (I was dreading that part).

The buffet was amazing (and much-needed after our busy day). It included the works for fahitas with every type of meat you could wish for, as well as a veggie option. Hungry as I was, I helped myself to a little bit of everything. Including an entire plate of pico de gallo that my hubby brought me with intentions to SHARE (oops, haha).

The couple from our travel group invited us to sit with them for lunch and we spent our time laughing hysterically! Straying from the normal rules of discussion topics for new friends, our conversation covered church, politics, the school systems, parenting, home decorating, and personal fashion. They were a hoot! I only wish we had exchanged email address so we could stay in touch afterwards.



After our bellies were happy, we skipped over to the beach for some much desired time in the waves. I quickly slathered some sunscreen on hub’s shoulders and back and we jumped on in! We realized quickly that these waves were MUCH bigger than what we experienced at Grand Cayman. After just a few steps into the ocean I had waves crashing up to my neck! Honestly though, it just made it that much more fun. Hubby turned around to laugh at my facial expressions every time a wave hit me, and as he did, an enormous wave hit the back of his head, tumbling him into the water and knocking his shades right off his face! Hahaha! We looked around for several minutes before just accepting the fact that his sunglasses were gone.


After soaking ourselves from head to toe, we decided we should probably attempt to dry off a little bit before climbing back in that crowded van for an hour. My husband once again started laughing as I shook my hair out of the wet bun it was in and purple drops sprayed all over myself, the white sand, and the beach towel. PURPLE RAIN! Oh the joys of having vibrant hair color! :)

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In the van, many of us were groaning about the impending ferry ride back to the ship. I asked hubby to TRIPLE check his backpack to make sure we didn’t have some dremamine in there. Nope, but wait, was that those ginger pills my bestie sent with me just in case? YAY!!!! I passed them around the van (one more reason I was glad we weren’t on that tour bus) making sure everyone with unsettled tummies had something. And let me tell you – it was our saving grace! Even my hubby, who never gets motion sickness, took one.

Although the ferry ride back was no picnic, it was doable with that ginger in my system.  Thankfully everyone who I shared it with survived as well and we all made it back to the ship in once piece.



Shop This Look:

Swimsuit: ASOS (Different Color but Same Style Top and Bottoms)
Earrings: Noonday Collection (Here)
Sunglasses: Kohls – old (Similar)





Don’t forget to check out the rest of our trip photos on my Instagram. Just search under the following hashtag:




TDD_AnniversaryCruise_59 Our stop at Cozumel, Mexico was by far my favorite of the entire trip, even though we didn’t have a chance to explore the island of Cozumel at all. AT ALL!

We were one of the firsts off the ship that morning, bright and early in order to catch a ferry to the mainland. I was warned by fellow shipmates (yes, you Casey!) to bring some Dremamine because it was pretty rough waters on that small boat. If I’m completely honest, being that neither of us had ever experienced sea sickness of any extent, we weren’t all that concerned. So when we hopped aboard that little ferry, we didn’t worry for a second that we had left it behind.

But we should have. We reeeeally should have. The moment we started moving I knew I was in trouble. It was one insanely painful half hour ride. Hubby snagged a barf bag for me immediately. I gripped that little bag with sweaty palms and prayed I wouldn’t need to use it. I know from experience that once I start, I’m not going to recover. Thankfully I held it in and survived, but it made for a VERY rough start to the day. But as you know…it only got better.

From there we were herded like cattle in a single file line down the streets of Playa del Carmen (moooooo!) until we reached a couple huge tour buses. I was already insanely nervous that this day was doomed. I hate crowds and I felt nauseous from the ferry. Before we knew it, the two buses were full and there were eleven of us left standing confused. They led us over to a tiny (well, tiny in comparison) passenger van. I’ll be honest here (as I always am) that my initial thought was that we got the short end of the stick. I thought for sure the hour drive in this thing was going to do me in when I was already teetering on the edge.

Turns out that blessings come in disguise, as the eleven of us had our own private tour guide. After talking with several others on our ship that did the same excursion, I’m convinced that we lucked out!

The drive was somewhat lengthy, but doable. Especially in the company of the other amazing couples we got to know. Diego, our travel guide, told us tales of the history of the Mayans as we drove, capturing our interest with his story telling skills. He also explained to us what to expect of this day. It was going to be somewhat rushed (in order to make it back to the ship in time) but hopefully well worth it.


When we arrived at Tulum, we had time for a quick bathroom break and peruse around a couple shops before we had to head on our way. It was a short trek to the actual ruins. Hubs was concerned that I was in sandals, but I assure you, it was not an issue.


There are only three entrances to the ruins and they are pretty small, (and one of them is by boat) so the lines were pretty lengthy. But because we were a small group, Diego was able to get us ahead of some of the crowds. My jaw dropped as soon as I got my first glimpse.



It was so unbelievably beautiful and kind of gave me goosebumps thinking about the history that took place in the very place we were standing. Diego was able to take the time to answer all of our detailed questions and take everyone’s couple photos, all while keeping it precise and efficient so we could make it to our next stop in a timely manner. That’s a skill, I tell ya!

TDD_AnniversaryCruise_48 TDD_AnniversaryCruise_49

TDD_AnniversaryCruise_50 Diego described to us the process of building the ruins. So much attention and meaning went into every detail.



TDD_AnniversaryCruise_54 AnniversaryCruise_53 TDD_AnniversaryCruise_56 TDD_AnniversaryCruise_57 We ended at the most beautiful point of the ruins, overlooking the beach. What a backdrop! Visiting places like this make me want to just pick up and move our family to a place where my jaw can drop at my surroundings every day. Unbelievable.

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We had a little time for ourselves to do some last photos and exploration. Diego gave us a half hour before meeting back at the van. We thought it was plenty, but after striking up a conversation with the most hilarious couple from our van and taking a leisurely walk back to the shops, we had just minutes of actual shopping before Diego hunted me down and insisted we join the group who was all waiting for us. Oops.


TDD_AnniversaryCruise_61 Shop This Look:

Tank: Target (Here)
Skirt: Forever 21 (Similar)
Headband: Francesca’s (Here)
Sunglasses: Kohl’s – old (Similar)
Earrings: Noonday Collection (Here)
Sandals: Nest Boutique (Here)


Don’t forget to check out the rest of our trip photos on my Instagram feed under the following hashtag:


Coming Up: Tulum Beach Break

3 Things to Know About Grand Cayman

Our second stop on our anniversary cruise was Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Because of our adventures in Jamaica, we were ready for a day of relaxation. We opted out of an excursion and decided to just see where the day would take us…mainly, the beach. Because who doesn’t want a beach day, right?


In case you ever find yourself in the Grand Cayman, we thought there were a few things you should know.

1. It is stunning. STUNNING!

The clear blue skies and glistening turquoise waters kind of stunning. White sand beaches that stretch for miles! You could sit on for hours and hours and just lose yourself.


TDD_AnniversaryCruise_37 And as someone who has visited a LOT of beaches over the years, these were also some of the cleanest I have ever seen. No nasty seaweed to get stuck to your toes. No chucks of rock or shell to step on in the water. No trash. There were a lot of people, but being that there were three cruise ships docked within a mile, that wasn’t a huge surprise. I’m sure we could have taken the time to find a more secluded beach, but we probably would have paid for it too.


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Which brings me to my next point.

2. It’s expensive.

In Jamaica, we brought along only $100 in cash and spent only a fraction of it. Given we spent most of the day on an excursion and had very little time for anything else…but we still thought that for the trinket like souvenirs we were hunting for for our children, $150 would be plenty. We were wrong.

In the Grand Cayman, you have to pay for everything. We paid for the taxi (obviously). We paid to get on the beach. They tried to charge us $14 for beach chairs, but we opted to lay on the sand (we spent most of the time in the water anyway).


TDD_AnniversaryCruise_39 We spent $45 on a lunch – a salad, a burger, and one 23 oz Pina Colada. Yes – they were ginormous (and delicious!), but I still thought it was a little outrageous.

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TDD_Cayman_06 We also experienced a little sticker shock when souvenir shopping. Maybe it was naive to think that just because we were in Caribbean we would get a good deal, but I certainly was not expecting to pay $20 for a medium sized stuffed animal. By the time we found gifts for the kids, there was nothing left to spend for ourselves. So that super cute grey and neon sweatshirt I was drooling over? Had to pass it by. (Insert sad face here). But honestly, I would have a hard time spending $35 on a sweatshirt here.


3. I would go back in an instant!

Yeah, I might save my spending for a different port, but the Grand Caymans are definitely worth visiting. If you ever get the opportunity to visit – take it!

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If you want to check out the rest of our photos from our trip, you can find me HERE on Instagram and search under the hashtag:


 Shop This Look:

Bikini: Target Top and Bottom
Pink Top: Stitch Fix (Review on this fix found Here)
Skirt: H&M Here
Hat: Target Here
Shoes: Maurice’s Here
Earrings: Target Here
Sunglasses: Francesca’s (old) Similar






***Upcoming: Our final port stop and excursion to the beautiful Mayan ruins of Tulum!***