getting somewhere – family room update


The never-ending room remodel. That is exactly how I feel about our family room update. Yes, I know we are STILL not in our master bedroom after three years but the master isn’t used. We use this space all.the.time. I love this room. It is one of the reasons we fell in love with this house, but I want it DONE! We are not done, but we are definitely getting somewhere. Here is the space today with some of our most recent updates including the new windows (hurricane impact ones! woohoo!), the Henry sofas from West Elm and our new (vintage) TV stand. And please don’t forget those painstakingly refinished exposed beam ceilings. I am so glad those are done and we never have to touch them again.

Family_Room_July_5 Family_Room_July

This one has a decent shot of my Broyhill Brassilia score, my adorable dog Dylan and the curtains that lead to the still-under-construction master bedroom. I cannot wait until that wall is sealed off and I don’t have to explain to curious guests that the ghetto shower curtain rod and cheap curtains are not part of my design plans for this room. And PS – Dylan just turned 14, doesn’t he look great for the old man that he is?!


Here is a view from the TV area to our kitchen and the rest of the house. The paint in this rooms needs to be updated now that we have these sofas, but I am waiting until we get the floors installed to pick the right color. Next up in this room is sealing up the crazy “stained glass” window behind the fabric covered canvas.


In this shot, you can also see the recessed space we are still finishing to put a large-scale piece of art in. Family_Room_July_4

Oh and the floors. I cannot wait until we get new floors. I love the old style Cuban tile. They are solid concrete tiles, but if you are new around here or have somehow managed to forget the attrocity of our built-in litterbox, there is no way we can keep match the. Family_Room_July_7.jpg

Some Dylan butt and a glimpse towards our bar from the family room. Family_Room_July_6

Kinda crazy to think we came from this.

FamilyRoom1Exposed Beam Ceiling Before

To this…


We still have a bit to go on some big-ticket items. Once those are in and I can finally style this space, I will be thrilled.

Do you have any room in your house you desperately want done, but doesn’t seem to ever get here?



haven maven – 2014 haven conference recap


Haven Conference 2014

Oh Haven, how do I actually describe you? First off, as a delinquent blogger, I shouldn’t have even made an appearance. My posting schedule is shameful, and I am for the most part an introvert who hates crowds. That doesn’t really translate to blog conference attendee status. Somehow, Haven brings out another side of me that makes me a Haven Maven. It yields an awesome, inspiring, and electric few days. How is it possible that throwing me into a huge crowd like this could actually lead to an extrovert Anna? Getting to spend time with like-minded bloggers who love their craft and love to party can apparently only lead to a good time.

Since I spent the week in Atlanta before the conference on business travel there was no nice camera in my bag. All of these are iPhone photos so this is what you get. A quick recap of my favorite moments.


Best parts of Haven in no particular order…

Okay, so maybe this one was one of the clear highlights. Mike Holmes! He had us all squealing. I hope he remembers that my invitation to visit Miami is open. And for those of you who know me in person and think “Wow, he’s really short!”, I’m rocking 5 inch heels in this photo.

Mike Holmes and Directions Not Included

There were other highlights besides Mike Holmes of course.

  • There is nothing like getting to see some of my old friends in person again including Cassie, Karah, Jessica, Sarah, Gail, Jamie, Pamela, Kelly and more.
  • The classes. I learned some great things from photography styling to decor, from concrete to ad optimization. It helps to have great teachers like Kristen, Lucy, Jamie, Lisa, Randi, Kelly, Jeremy, Andy and more.
  • FINALLY meeting friends in person and connecting with new faces and blogs – Ashley, Michelle, Brandi, Julia, Jessica and so many more.  There are some amazing ladies (and gents) out there that I’m happy to have connected with and there is no way to make a comprehensive list.
  • The swag. Oh the swag never disappoints. Thank you to all the sponsors who made me pack up a box and mail it home from Atlanta. Can’t wait.

Not to great parts of Haven in no particular order…

  • Being away from my loves at home for so long. I was in Atlanta all week for work and that wore me out.
  • Food. Yeah, some hotels are still struggling with making gluten-free food really gluten-free and tasty.
  • Not having enough chill time. I wish we could break up the sessions and parties for some chill time with all of our favorite bloggers. It would be great to hang out in a relaxed atmosphere.
  • The class levels. It would be great to see the classes tiered based on skill-set or overall experience or have tracks made for newbie bloggers. The more advanced bloggers end up only getting a few nuggets of info from each class when the newbies start asking all the basics.
  • So many people. It is a little overwhelming at times.

Will I go again? Only time will tell where my blog and life will take me. I’m not a big blog, I don’t have fancy ideas of making a living on this, but I do enjoy the friendships and creative outlet that blogging has given me.

Thanks for a great time Haven!



harry potter always – harry potter baby gifts

Harry Potter Baby Gifts | A gift box from Directions Not Included

It was no surprise that when the bestie had her first, our love of Harry Potter would turn into tons of Harry Potter baby gifts. At her baby shower, I shared my Harry Potter box of goodies. I may have gone a bit overboard. And if you’ve been around the last few months you’ve seen a few of these projects pop up on the blog. We have a feeling the little one will have a better grasp on Harry Potter before his own name. What can I say? I’m a proud Tia (Auntie)! Between that and loving to make all sorts of crafts, it was really easy to get a bit crazy :)

Harry Potter Baby Gifts | A gift box from Directions Not Included

I made a bunch of of Harry Potter onesies using my favorite freezer paper stencil tutorial a few months ago.  Not too long ago I got the hang of heat transfer vinyl. I am in LOVE with heat transfer vinyl. I didn’t think it was possible, but I honestly think my freezer paper stencils might be few and far between now on. The vinyl comes out so crisp and clean so I re-made a few of the original onesies with this technique. I love the heat transfer because the bleeding is non-existent, and you can get more intricate with the designs.

Harry Potter Baby Gifts | A gift box from Directions Not Included

Apparently, Maggie wants to be part of the photo shoot. It is appropriate since she knows how to “play dead” and I taught her “avada kedavra” for all you Harry Potter fans out there ;) I am well aware that she looks like a street dog. My dear husband loves to leave her looking ratty and unkept. She is clean and well-taken care of, but Ray does not let me cut her hair. She might not be kid-friendly but loves baby clothes! Especially Harry Potter onesies it seems!

Harry Potter Baby Gifts | A gift box from Directions Not Included

For Christmas this year, Ray gave me the hardcover book set of Harry Potter. I was so excited when it arrived in this awesome box. I already knew the bestie was pregnant at this point so I stored the box away knowing it would be used for something baby related.

Harry Potter Baby Gifts | A gift box from Directions Not IncludedHarry_Potter_Baby_Gifts 4

And this is the epic box of Harry Potter baby gifts. It includes the Harry Potter nursery art, Harry Potter light switch, and Harry Potter onesies. I will gladly admit that just a handful of years ago I thought the bestie was INSANE and that Harry Potter was not anything to love. I’m glad that she brought me into the loop and my love of all things Harry Potter has grown. Now we get to share it with her new little one.

Harry Potter Baby Gifts | A gift box from Directions Not Included


Please tell me there are other Harry Potter fans out there or at least, crazy aunties who spoil their future nephews? ;)


dreaming of miami – cuban food care package

Cuban Food Care Package 1

Some good friends of ours were supposed to spend a sunny, fun-filled weekend with us back in March. They had to cancel their much needed trip at the very last minute. It is the strangest thing to be happy that your friends cancel a trip to see you. That sounds odd, right? Well, it was for the BEST reason. They got word that they were bringing home a sweet little boy of their very own. They got the adoption call the same week they were scheduled to come down here. Baby > Miami. This has been a long, hard road for them so I have baby stuff I’ve been hoarding for a while. I couldn’t get it all together in time and they still had to wait for the little guy to make it to their home so my first care package was a Miami consolation prize – a Cuban food care package of their very own.

Cuban Food Care Package 1

Cuban food makes lots of things better. Sometimes too much so, which is possibly why my butt is so big. I figured some easy to make and tasty treats for Miami would make their wait for their little boy easier. It ended up arriving after he was placed but that doesn’t mean it is not getting good use during these sleep-deprived wonderful first months.

Here are some close ups of what I bought:

  • Cuban coffee is a necessity for tired parents. Liquid jet fuel.
  • Black beans. No Cuban meal is complete without them.
  • Mojo and Adobo for seasoning all your savory food.
  • Yuca. I have never made it from a can but you can only ship so much ;)
  • Maria cookies. A classic served with Cafe con leche (coffee and milk).
  • Pork chicharones (pork rinds). A not-so-healthy but yummy treat.

Cuban Food Care Package 3

  • Yellow rice. Because who doesn’t like rice?
  • Black beans and rice easy to cook packet for those extra busy nights.
  • Plantain chips. We eat plantains any way they can be cooked, this is the easy to ship, no cooking needed variety.
  • Flan. A classic dessert staple.

Cuban Food Care Package 2

Now I’m hungry. I wish I had some of these items from the Cuban food care package now to snack on. Have you seen any of these brands or products in grocery stores near you? What is your favorite type of care package to send?


it’s a boy – what the duck is it gender reveal & baby shower

What The Duck Is It Baby Shower & Gender Reveal

Oh hi there. I won’t even say I’m back for real or try to excuse my absence but my day-job has put definitely put a damper on my blogging the last few months. Why do I have to be a grown up? Yeah, so…just before my most recent hiatus, I was blogging about my bestie being pregnant. We hosted her what the duck is it gender reveal and baby shower this past weekend. All inspired by a cute invite we found on TinyPrints.

It was an unconventional baby shower and gender reveal at a bar. Yes, a bar. It was where the lucky couple had their first date and was a great location for a co-ed shower. We didn’t go overboard with the decor but I had a blast with these onesies.

What The Duck Is It Baby Shower & Gender Reveal

I just used the trace feature on my Silhouette to get he same exact duck we used on the invites. I cut it out on some heat transfer vinyl and had a fun with the iron to get them all set up.

What The Duck Is It Baby Shower & Gender Reveal

Can I just say that 3-6 month onesies are the cutest size?! I can’t want to meet the little one! And it is a BOY!

Here is a quick iPhone collage of the shower itself. We did a gender reveal cake with the blue frosting in the middle.  No one could wait so we cut the cake before anyone ate . We got these adorable soaps on Etsy from crimsonhill that I love. The smell great and were perfect favors. I put them in cupcake liners and unfortunately a few people may have thought they were chocolate and were sadly disappointed ;)

What the duck is it? Gender Reveal 

Gender reveals and co-ed baby showers are not the norm but I have to say, it was fun. The whole idea of what the duck is it gender reveal was a ton of fun for all involved.

What The Duck Is It Baby Shower & Gender Reveal

Have you done a gender reveal? How about a co-ed baby shower?



corporate office decorating – typographic artwork

Arid Designs Poster Mashup

One of the things I mentioned in my previous post about my side job as a corporate office decorator, was the need for artwork for our walls. With a full blank slate to work with we needed something to add life to our space. Luckily, I run the in-house creative team. It is quite a fun job to direct three talented designers on a variety of projects. Fun stuff like office decorating, makes it even better. 

Two of my very talented designers worked with me on the posters and other design features throughout the space. Arivia from Arid Designs worked on this handful of typographic artwork for our space. It is so rewarding to find quotes that inspire me, get others from the team, and then see them designed, printed and displayed in our space. It has made such a visual difference too.

Here are a few collages of Arivia’s work that is currently on display throughout our office.

Arid Designs Poster Mashup

Arid Designs Poster Mashup


This is the funny thing, this can’t be considered a sponsored post since she works for me and I technically pay her. One thing I hold firm on is that designers I work with should always be building their own personal portfolio and brand, which is what I am encouraging Arivia to do. Arivia currently sells versions of her work on RedBubble in the form of t-shirts, posters and other items.

More soon from one of my other amazingly talented designers, Janay. These two “kids” have taught me a lot about myself as a creative person, as a person, and as a leader. Cheesy as it might be, it is really rewarding to grow and mentor “young” talent. I’m lucky to be their boss. I mean, really? I get to hang up their artwork and say I directed it. It can’t get much better than that? ;)