Hola Havana!

Taking a brief respite from celebrating all things autumn to share a few snapshots of my brief visit to Havana, Cuba last week.

Visiting is a bit like taking a trip in time - no ATMs, no cell service, no Starbucks - but a city with a rich history and warm, welcoming people.  I'm so lucky (kudos to the mr. for sending me on such a memorable trip to celebrate the end of my 30s) that I got to see it now before it changes.  I absolutely plan on returning to see more but I suspect it will not be the same when I do.

Despite the lack of amenities we are used to, Havana was such a tourist friendly city.  We took a private tour in an old car (highly recommend Old Car Tours) which was a highlight - as much for the chance to speak at length with locals as the pleasure of driving around in style. Naturally we sampled the mojitos (the best at Hotel Los Frailes), Cuban food (a yummy dinner at Dona Eutimia) and coffee (Cafe La Luz) with great delight. We were even blessed with the weather - mostly dry days despite the threat of Hurricane Nate passing by.

All in all, a great time and I can't wait to return.

Eternal Rest Motel | Halloween Exterior Decor

With October underway, it was time to get the Halloween decor out and about. This year we went with a haunted hotel concept - the Eternal Rest Motel. Something just a bit spooky without being too scary for the kids. As in years past, the decor is a mix of DIY, print design and ready made items mixed in.

This year I got extra lucky and was able to partner with the fabulous team at Lowes Home Improvement for both the DIY and the ready made elements.

This year's DIY elements included two hand painted signs, the concierge desk, the door hangers and the key rack.  A skeleton check in attendant and concierge are the perfect compliment to our weary traveling couple that was a new addition this year.  Their costumes are super fun (I know I'll use them again for other themes which is super important to me since I'm all about the reusability) and they even have a motion sensor and crack Halloween related jokes.  I know the kids will love this one.

This 'No Vacancy' sign was a stroke of major luck.  I had already decided the theme when I saw this piece and it finishes the hotel sign perfectly!  It creates an eerie green glow at night and the "no" blinks on an off occasionally adding to a the ghostly air.

There are some fun little details that you have to look closely to appreciate. It all comes together nicely and makes a festive way to kick off the most fun holiday season.

You can recreate the look using these products from Lowes:
Skeleton Couple
No Vacancy Sign
Skeleton 'Rest Your Bones' Banner
Craft Pumpkins
Grim Reaper Tombstone
RIP Tombstone
Vampire Bust
Hanging Bats
1x4 Boards (used to make key rack and concierge desk)
Antiquing wax (used to age the boards)
Black Spray Paint
Cup hooks (for key rack)

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Lowes but all opinions expressed are my own.

Like my Halloween d├ęcor?  Check out prior years' themes, invitations, projects and parties here.

Family Room Makeover

As much as I love living in Brooklyn, there are certain things I can envy from afar.  One of those things is a dedicated family room in addition to a real living room. (In our house, the living room serves as family, tv watching and playroom all rolled into one.)  So when my friend asked for some help to redecorate hers, of course I was all aboard.

There is a lot to love in this space.  Aside from all this extra space, there is also great light streaming in from the wall of windows as well as a working fireplace.  That all came with the room yet it didn't feel quite as cozy in the before.

This is the space where the family gathers every evening and enjoys time with each other so naturally comfort was a big factor.  That big cozy sectional seats everyone, invites snuggly conversations and still faces the tv when a little bit of family boob tube is in order.

Space layout here is a challenge because it has several focus areas which can make it feel a bit disjointed.  Those drapes hung high make a huge difference in bringing some uniformity onto the window wall and softening the edges.

The family used inexpensive ikea frames to display favorite family photos on the mantle wall which helps balance out that side of the room as well. The homeowner found several vintage pieces - the large buffet used as a media center and the round coffee table to paint and make her own.

I really love how it turned out and I know she does too! What do you think?

Fall Dining Room

Last week's cool weather totally got me in the fall mood.  Even though I don't decorate the house for fall generally (Halloween is enough of a handful for me!), sometimes the mood just strikes me to make a few seasonal changes.  Makes it a lot more fun to use a space when it has something new to look at, don't you think?

The centerpiece is an arrangement of craft pumpkins set on wood slice chargers, spotted feathers (raided from Aggie's art cart) are tucked into cotton stems.  The whole look is finished with chunky wood candle sticks and a ticking stripe runner.

Bring on the sweater weather! Who is with me?

Oscar Turns One | First Birthday Luau

Oscar is now a full fledged one year old boy.  On one hand that seems impossible, wasn't I just writing this post? Weren't we just decorating his nursery? Wasn't I just sending these birth announcements? On the other, this year has been soooo long in many respects.  Juggling two kids and a full time job (along with this blog I do in my "spare time") has been hard.  I knew it was going to be hard and I am so lucky in so many ways so I don't want this to read as a whine.  I'm just a tiny bit more tired than I used to be. (How do you moms with 6 kids do it?  Seriously HOW!?)  I'm trying to adjust to letting certain things go and just trying to enjoy all of the joys of this life right now but that is hard for me.  It's a battle of my inner nature versus my common sense. Which is stronger?

So when Oscar's birthday was approaching, we wanted to do something to celebrate but not make it too nuts.  His August birthday seemed to jive perfectly with a Luau themed celebration so that's what we did.  ( I know, I know. You are seeing pumpkins and sweaters on every other blog right now but come on - its still August!)

We made this tiki bar along with a giant vat of pineapple punch (which was a huge hit!), put up the tackiest decorations known to man, ordered an amazing tiki themed cake, and had someone play the ukulele.  I think the party was a hit and everyone had a lot of fun so I'm glad we did it - if nothing more than to mark the next phase of our lives as we transition out of baby things and into bigger adventures.  Who else needs a nap?

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