Moroccan Backyard Party Decor For My 30th Birthday!

Moroccan Party Decor Allison mcNamara 30th Birthday

Allison McNamara Moroccan Party Decor 30th Birthday Bohemian Backyard

I can’t believe I just turned 30! I celebrated my 30th birthday on April 2 (go Aries!) with a bohemian backyard bash at home. I have been obsessed with Morocco for as long as I can remember–their patterned rugs, gorgeous mosaic tiling, lanterns, poufs… you name it, I love it. Ironically, it’s one of the few places that I haven’t been in this world. And while I plan on traveling to Morocco in the near future, I wanted to bring the spirit of Moroccan to my house in the form of gorgeous Moroccan party decor.

I was tempted to hire a party planner and rent Moroccan themed decor for the night, but after pricing things out I decided to do the decor myself and buy pieces I could use over and over again. We love entertaining in the backyard, so it made sense to buy practical pieces that will get future use for backyard parties! Below, a full breakdown of all the Moroccan party decor I purchased, along with my birthday outfit and fun thematic surprises we had throughout the night!

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I knew I needed a killer rug for this deck. This main red rug was the one piece I didn’t buy for the party–it’s an old rug I borrowed from my dad (fingers crossed he doesn’t ask for it back!) I wanted to bring in pretty blues–my fave color–via pillows and decor rugs. See below on where to shop!

Ratan stools from TJMaxx Clearance, similar ones from IKEA here.

IKEA Furry Pillows

Cynthia Rowley Blue Pillows similar ones here

Natural Texture Pillow from Pottery Barn

Cynthia Rowley Moroccan Pillows similar from Anthropologie

Rosegold Lantern from World Market

Silver Lantern from IKEA

West Elm Blue Rug

Silver Tree Hanging Lanterns from World Market and here

Bohemian Moroccan decor backyard Allison mcNamara

I wanted a beautiful, bohemian long dress for my party! So I went with a long sleeve black number with gold stripes. 

Rachel Pally Dress

Raye the Label x Stone Cold Fox Shoes

Moroccan party decor bohemian backyard party hammock outdoor rugs poufs

The trees in the backyard have grown so full and tall, which is amazing! But it also makes it really hard to get grass to grow. I wanted to cover all the dirt with gorgeous rugs so people could sit and relax.

Black / red / colorful patterned rug found at Melrose Flea Market

Small Cream / Black Rug from Hobby Lobby similar rugs here

Red / Cream Rug with Fringe from Target

IKEA Jassa flatwoven rug

IKEA ratan fringe rug

Natural poufs from Target

Furry poufs from Hobby Lobby

Hammock from Etsy

Glory of Henna Tattoos

I also hired a wonderful and mega talented henna artist, Glory of Henna, to do henna tattoos on all of my guests, along with Hookah machines to really get into the Moroccan spirit!

I hope you enjoyed this post on my Moroccan party decor for my 30th birthday! Let me know what you think in the comments below xx

 

The Ultimate Cuba Travel Guide!

Cuba Travel Diary Travel Guide Havana

CUBA TRAVEL GUIDE

It’s hard for me to put into words my week-long stint in Cuba this March. The closet I can get to embody the spirit of what I felt and saw can best be defined as magic. For me, Cuba holds a special place in my heart. I have long been a fan of the prolific and inimitable Ernest Hemingway, and knowing that he spent a vast majority of his adult life in Cuba piqued my interest years back. That, coupled with the fact that we as Americans legitimately weren’t allowed there for the past 50 years made my desire to go and see and experience this magical, forbidden place even greater.

Cuba Travel Diary Blue Vintage 1950s care Cuba

While I was away, I got so many messages from you guys on where to go, what to see, places to eat… so I decided to do a comprehensive travel guide on my seven days in Havana. I hope my Cuba travel guide helps you plan your trip to Cuba. And please let me know if you have any magical spots I need to check out on my next trip there!

Cuba Travel Guide Red Dress in Cuba

WHERE TO STAY:

Casa Particulars are basically AirBnB’s in Cuba. We booked one through AirBnB and man did we luck out! Our place was insanely huge and gorgeous. Two bedrooms, three bathrooms, three floors, a 70 foot wrap around patio, 10+ foot tall doors, a spiral staircase, a complete upstairs patio and an even higher third floor patio. We stayed in Centro Habana and this was the view we had from the street level, and below that is a view from our third floor balcony.

Cuba Travel Diary Centro Havana Streets

Cuba Travel Diary Rooftop centro havana sunset view

There are definitely pros and cons of staying here. Pros: close to everything and walking distance to Habana Vieja. It was nice not staying right in Habana Vieja because it’s so damn touristy and it’s right where the cruise ships let off, so every few days Habana Vieja was flooded with thousands of people! Centro Habana, where we were, is in between Old Havana and New Havana (Vedado) and our place was a stone throw away from the sea wall. I’d stay here again! Old Havana is beautiful and quaint too–the only place I wouldn’t want to stay is in Vedado.

Cuba Travel Guide Sea Wall Havana Cuba

The cons: not really anything however Centro Havana is in local territory and the locals don’t have a lot to do (but they are really friendly and harmless.) Therefore, they are up at all hours of the night and they are pretty damn loud. Also, no swimming pool which would have been nice on super hot days. If I had to stay at a hotel, I’d consider Hostal Valencia (hostels aren’t hostels in Cuba, they’re nice,) or somewhere with a pool.

ACTIVITIES:

Fabrica De Arte !!!! If you do one activity on my list, go here. It was so  much better than what I expected! It’s an insane art gallery filled with all different kinds of art, music, performances, movies–it really was stunning and my favorite thing the whole trip. Only open Wed – Sunday, go early.

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Walk along the sea wall at dusk, pure magic.

Be a tourist and take a ride in a classic car around town. Pick your favorite color and style and don’t pay more than 50 CUC for the hour.

Cuba Travel Diary Riding in Old Classic Vintage Car in Cuba

Hemingway House: I loved this so much! See Ernest Hemingway’s actual house outside of Cuba. About 35 minutes away and worth it. We had a delicious Hemingway Special cocktail at the bar and listened to salsa.

Cuba Travel Guide Hemingway House

Playa Santa Maria: close beach to Habana. Nice to get away from the city and relax. I want to host a Cuban beach clean-up because there was a decent amount of trash on the beach and it made me 🙁

Coconuts beach playa santa maria Cuba

Walking tour of Habana Vieja. We loved this! So worth it, and we learned a lot about Cuba’s history

Vinales: We did a day trip here. It’s 2.5 Hours in both directions. We went through the caves on a boat which was cool, went to a tobacco farm and learned how to roll cigars, and saw a botanical garden. The highlight here was our lunch. BEST MEAL IN CUBA! Paladar Barbaro, get the PORK. OMG!!!

Vinales White Dress

Cigar Tasting: We only did this in Vinales but I wish we had done it in Havana too. We went to a place right behind the Capitolo (you can’t miss it) on our last day, but it was closed!

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Drive past the mansions in Miramar. The juxtaposition of poor v wealth in Cuba is fascinating considering it’s a socialist country

Walk around Centro Habana

Cuba Travel Diary Streets of Centra Habana Central HavanaShopping at Almancenes San Jose:  A huge market in a warehouse by the water near the cruise terminal. So much good, local, Cuba made goods here, including a ridiculous art section filled with some pretty incredible artwork. I brought home a killer abstract piece.

FOOD:

Despite what people say about the food being borderline terrible, we had some wonderful meals in Cuba, including the best fried pork Cassondra and myself have ever had. The biggest tip here is to go to paladars instead of state-run restaurants. Most paladars have the word “paladar” in the title, but at times, it can be hard to distinguish if a spot is a paladar or state-run. Paladars are family run and are Cuba’s small but steady pulse of capitalism. The families pay a tax to the government and they’re allowed to run their paladars like a business. Remember to not over order and try and finish your meals, because food in Cuba can be scare and some restaurants have to ration out their portions so they don’t run out.

One thing I wish I would have known is you need to  make reservations at the “hotspots” now. Who knew you’d need a rezzie in Cuba? I put * by the ones you should make a reservation at before you leave.

BREAKFAST:

el Cafe (Habana Vieja)  Super cute breakfast / lunch spot located close to the Capitolo. This was by far my favorite breakfast that we had. Only downside, it was super slow, as most things are in Cuba, but at least the building is cute with original colonial columns and tile floors.

5 Esqinas Trattorias (Habana Vieja) We adored this place! We got a huge breakfast for 4.50 cuc, not bad considering there was a whole buffet, coffee, fruit, and made-to-order eggs and bakey included.

Cafe Francesa (Centro Habana) Easy place to grab coffee and pan dulce or some other delicious sweet treat.

DRINKS / TAPAS:

Cafe Madrigal (Vedado)* The vibe here is so on point! An adorable paladar located in the second floor of a bright pink home with a very hipster, Williamsburg feel. Tapas style only, but we were obsessed with our Cuban chicken nuggets and tortilla with egg! Ambiance + piano player made this place a 10.

Hotel Saratoga (Capitolo) Where Beyonce stayed. Go up to the rooftop and check out the insane view!

Ambos Mudos (Habana Vieja) We loved the pina coladas so much here, we went twice! A gorgeous pink hotel where Ernest Hemingway lived in his 30s. A truly beautiful place, but very touristy. Head up to the roof for a gorgeous view of Havana and the sea wall, and order the pina colada special in the pineapple, you’re gonna die it’s so good!

Hotel Nacionale (Vedado) Spectacular hotel on the water where all the famous people stay. Worth it if just to walk around and enjoy the view. We almost stayed here and I’m very glad we didn’t. We also checked out the famous cigar room and the pool.

DINNER:

Sia Kara (Centro Habana) If you go to one restaurant on my list, go here! The food was phenomenal. This place has been around since the ’50s (or earlier) and has a really awesome island eclecticsm going on with the decor. At 11pm, they had the most fantastic salsa singer come in and we had so much fun singing and dancing the night away.

Los Nardos (Capitolo) A really delicious restaurant with all the local flavors, and very cheap. We went here for lunch but I’d go back but for dinner instead. The mood is very dark and vampy and makes you feel like you’re in pirates of the caribbean. There are 3 restaurants all next to each other, make sure you go to Los Nardos the whole way at the top.

El Dandy (Habana Vieja) Get the pulled pork tacos! We went here for both lunch and dinner. Cute and small.

Dos Pelotas (Centro Habana) The second best Cuban meal we had. Delicious little locals spot in Centro Habana that’s not to be missed! Get the fried pork pieces, mixed rice and yucca.

El Chancellero (Habana Vieja) Next door to el dandy. Amazing spot run by cool, young guys. Was the first “good” meal after a first day of not-so-good meals in Cuba. This place gets a crazy long line, but it’s worth the wait. I had the grilled fish and it was 💣

El Cocinero (Vedado)* Go here! But make a reservation. And go on a Friday or Saturday before going to Fabrica de Arte right next door. This place has an Asian-inspired menu and since I basically only really eat asian food at home, this place was very welcomed after a week of Cuban food. Ambiance is great too, sit on the patio.

Casa Migilas (Centro Habana) We were craving pasta and this place came to the rescue! Loved the decor of this spot too, colonial with a little bit of edge. I also had plantains and ice cream for desert and I’m still thinking about it.

We also went to: Rio Mar (in Vedado just OK) el Chansonnier (also in Vedado, just Ok.) Some spots we wanted to check out but couldn’t get in because we didn’t have reservations were Dona Eutimia and Paladar La Guardia (make recs for both!)

EXCHANGE RATES:

Since Cuba is a socialist country, they can decide what value currency has in their country. And since America isn’t on the best terms, they royally f*ck Americans on the exchange rate. 1 CUC = .87 American dollars. That being said, everything is still relatively cheap in Cuba. Drinks are 2-4 CUCs, meals are anywhere from 5 – 25 CUCs. The thing that will get ya are the damn taxis! Always negotiate. Also, Cuba has two currencies, one for tourists CUCs and one for locals Pesos. Pesos aren’t worth anything, 25 Pesos = 1 CUC. A major scam is that they give you back money in pesos instead of CUCs. CUCs have buildings on them and pesos have faces on them. This happened to me once, so annoying!

WIFI:

Ahh wifi. Legit hard to get. We went to Hotel Ingleterra and sat in the lobby using wifi cards that we peddled from guys off the street. Not very pleasant and also the wifi is slow, so try not to make it a priority unless you have to.

Another thing: download Galileo! It’s an offline map and you need to download the Cuba map specifically before you get there. You can search for restaurants and places then without wifi so you can get around! This was a huge lifesaver. 

My biggest piece of advice to you: go now, don’t wait. Go while it’s still fresh and untainted from American tourism… while there still isn’t wifi and cars from the ‘20s and ‘50s roll down Paseo del Prado by the plenty. Go while the markets are still filled with artisanal, hand-made goods made in Cuba by local craftsman. And see their ingenuity and creativity on how they reinvented, maintained, and created basic necessities from the meager products that were imported. I can’t wait to go back, but at the same time, I’m scared it will change.

Did you like my Cuba travel guide? Let me know in the comments along with any awesome places I should check out next time I’m in Cuba!

The Best Shade of Burgundy Lipstick

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Burgundy lipstick red hair

Red hair and burgundy lipstick

Red hair flip

THIS IS THE PERFECT SHADE OF BURGUNDY LIPSTICK

Don’t believe me? Try to tell me this isn’t the best shade of burgundy lipstick!

What better way to get dolled up for date night than with burgundy lipstick? Burgundy lipstick is less expected than red, and compliments a wide variety of skin tones. And, it makes your teeth look white!  I like my lips how I like my wine–bold and dark. There is something about a crimson-colored, burgundy lip that is a bit edgier than a classic red lipstick… slightly more daring and risqué, if you will. I j’adore wearing this shade this time of year.

This burgundy lipstick has to be the absolute best shade in the entire world. I know that’s a bold statement, but I’m confident it won’t disappoint. I’m wearing Maybelline’s Color Sensational Lip Color in Deepest Cherry. Maybelline’s Color Sensational line has been a go-to of mine for years, and you can shop my exact color in the link I just shared for less than $8. Back in the day when I started at POPSUGAR, I needed to get a few lip colors to have on hand for filming. So, I went to my local drug store and picked up a few of these and have been hooked ever since.

This burgundy lipstick color has been in my arsenal for years and I heart it so much, and I know you will too! But, there are also some other beautiful options below that also get my full stamp of approval. And finally, why stop there with a burgundy lipstick when you can throw on a burgundy, polka dot scarf too? Get shopping below,

Scarf | Who What Wear x Target    Top | Uniqlo    Lipstick | Maybelline    Photos | Elaine Torres

3 Easy and Cute Hairstyles For Bangs

Cute hairstyles for bangs top knot

3 CUTE HAIRSTYLES FOR BANGS

Why does it always seem like women are talking about bangs? They’re either thinking about cutting them, just got them, thinking about growing them out, or complaining about the grow out–am I right? And then once you’ve got them, the conversation makes a quick turn on how to style them. What are some cute hairstyles for bangs? Luckily, I’ve got three easy and cute hairstyles for bangs that I know you’re going to love.

I’ll confess, I’m right there too. I have been talking about getting bangs for probably upwards of three years. I know, I’m very indecisive when it comes to my hair… and picking a place to eat. So as the story goes, my sister decided to get bangs and instantly I knew I had to get them too, because I couldn’t let her have the coolest hair cut in the family 🙂 We both see Nick Flores at Sally Hershberger salon and he always does such an amazing job with my hair, and this bang experiment was no exception.

The inspo was a soft, ’70s shag. Something in between Freja Beha Ericsson and Bridget Bardot–effortless and cool. Nick nailed the cut and I love them so much! I’ll be honest, it took me a few weeks to figure out what to do with them. Believe it or not, I’m super low maintenance when it comes to beauty. I have naturally straight hair and I prefer letting it air dry over blowing it out because it changes the texture and makes it feel dry. I initially let the bangs air dry and quickly realized that wasn’t going to work until they grew out a little bit, so I started blowing out just my bangs when I washed my hair.

My favorite part about having bangs is that every hair style looks so much cuter and more French. So, I decided to show you guys three cute hairstyles for bangs.

Style 1: Simple Half Top Knot

Easy half top knot cute hairstyles for bangs

Half top knot cute hairstyles for bangs

The simple half top knot has quickly become one of my go-to hairstyles! And while I wore this look pre-bangs, I think it looks so much better when you have bangs in front to frame your face. It’s almost like a balancing act – it helps counter balance all the hair you have hanging down in back. Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab a small section of hair on the top of your head. I like to start about an inch above my ears, and then drag my thumbs from my hair line into a triangular shape with my thumbs meeting 3/4 back on the top of my head.
  • Tightly twist small pony tail
  • Wrap the pony tail around itself into a little bun
  • Secure with safety pins
  • Finesse until you are happy with the look and shape

 

Style 2: Easy Pony

Loose pony cute hairstyles for bangs

Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking – what’s revolutionary about the pony tail? And honestly, nothing. But I’m sharing it because for such a long time when I didn’t have bangs, I never felt “pulled together” with a regular pony tail. It either had to be super low, or super high, slicked back, parted to one side, cemented to my head… you catch my drift. And there was nothing “easy” about aforementioned pony tail–in fact, it would usually take me longer. But alas, not this one! Bangs instantly make a look feel finished. Here’s how to create this easy pony:

  • Start by quickly curling your hair with a 1.5 inch curling iron. They don’t have to be perfect, but you do want to have some movement and dimension with your pony and if you have straight hair like me, you’ve gotta create some bends. 
  • Loosely gather your hair with your fingers. For this look, imperfection is key. I even like having a few rogue bumps in there for texture. 
  • The magic is in the placement. You don’t want it too low, or too high. Think of this as extension of your eye. The pony should rest, literally, on the top of your head.
  • Secure with a fabric pony, voila!
  • Pro tip: spray with texturizing spray for added volume

Style 3: The Top Knot

Easy top knot Cute hairstyles for bangs

Cute hairstyles for bangs top knot with bangs hanging down

Cute hairstyles for bangs top knot with bangs down

For the grand finale, my absolute favorite hair style and basically the reason I wanted to get bangs… the top knot! My makeup artist (and good friend) Kasia Bohos had bangs for years–and for years I was so jealous of how cute and effortless her hair looked when she wore it in a bun, especially knowing the fact that she literally rolled out of bed and didn’t try to look cute whatsoever. This is so simple, but I’ll write out the instructions anyways:

  • Follow Style 2 instructions for pony tail and placement (above)
  • Loosely twist pony tail and wrap around, creating a bun
  • Secure with bobby pins
  • Finesse and gently massage bun to create the shape you want
  • Make sure all bangs are out on both sides and pull out a few more little hairs for extra dramz.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post on my cute hairstyles for bangs! Let me know if you have bangs or if you’ve been wanting to cut them in the comments below! x

Top | Rag & Bone   Blazer | J.Crew   Photos | Elaine Torres

Kiehl’s New Apothecary Preparations

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The other day, Kiehl’s invited me to their Santa Monica store to experience their new Kiehl’s Apothecary Preparations–a new line of oils that is custom created for your skin type! As a devout face oil user, and a lover of anything custom, I was very excited for this experience.

It started off with a hydration test, which is used to see just how hydrated the skin is. I thought I would pass this test with flying colors, due to the amount of moisturizer and oil I put on my face each day and night, and the amount of water I drink each day. However, I was shocked that my skin ranked in the 33 percentile. Not good. I had just gotten off a flight from Dallas, where I was at the Sally Beauty influencer summit, so the skin expert helping me out blamed part of my low score on my frequent flights. The part that was interesting was that even though I am putting lots of products on my face and drinking tons of water, my dermis might not be retaining it. Scary!

For the actual oil formulation, Gina from Kiehl’s and I examined my skin, where we ranked my face on 4 qualities– wrinkles, sun spots, redness, and texture. The areas I am most concerned with are definitely wrinkles and sun spots, so I received the carrier oil with two tubes of treatment, one for each issue. The cool part is this apothecary experience is part DIY–you get sent home with a bottle of oil with a custom label with your name on it, and two treatment tubes that you have to squeeze into the carrier oil when you get home. My oil can only be used at night, and so far I am really loving the results!

Check and see if you have a Kiehl’s near you and definitely book a free consultation for your own, personalized face serum oil today!