DIY: Faux Cement Tile for under $200

Last year we decided we wanted to paint the concrete slab in our backyard. And because we do everything a little over the top we thought- why don't we stencil a pattern on it? Due to too many house projects, painting got pushed back to this year. But here we are- 2 full hot days of work and it is finally done!

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The most important part of painting and stenciling concrete is the way you prep it. I think we spent just as much time prepping as we did stenciling. But if you don't want your paint to chip, this is the way it has to be done! We actually had a hard time finding information on the internet about doing all the steps to prep, so of course we are going to tell you all about it. Let's get started!

You will need: (these are affiliate links) 
- Concrete and Garage Paint (we used Behr's Concrete Paint in Tea Room) 

For a quick look through the process, watch our YouTube video below.
1. The first thing you have to do is prep your concrete. For us this meant cleaning the concrete really well with a power washer, then using an acid to etch the concrete, cleaning it really well again. You could power wash the concrete again if you wanted. You want to be able to run your fingers across the concrete and have no chalky dust on your fingers. To get rid of this we scrubbed the concrete with a push broom, blew away the dust and then suctioned out the rest with a shop vac.
2. After the ground is prepped, there is one more step before painting and that is using bonding primer. Bonding primer acts like a glue- helping the concrete and the paint become one. It actually looks like glue too. This layer was really weird for us as it looked splotchy. We could not find any information about this situation so we just made sure we applied it evenly. In the end everything was covered and all sections had the sticky feeling that they were supposed to.
We were a little worried that maybe we didn't put the acid down correctly, but we pressed on and are hoping for the best. We will definitely keep you updated on how well the concrete is holding up!
3. Now it's time to finally lay down some paint! For this part we are using Behr Concrete Paint in white. We put down one layer of the white paint for our background color.
The first layer of paint wasn't as solid as you would want if you were just painting it white. Since our second layer was pink, we left the white like this. It definitely gives the concrete a not-so-perfect look which ends up looking more like concrete tile than a stenciled floor.
4. And it's time to start stenciling! Our stencil was sent to us by Royal Design Studio. You can find the exact one we used by clicking here. Before we laid the stencil down we sprayed the back of it with the reposition able spray adhesive. This really helps keep all the details down. You'll have to re-spray this on as it will wear off.

We also ended up using painter's tape to really secure the stencil in place. Make sure that you only use painter's tape on the sides where there is no wet paint. A lot of times this means that you only have two sides taped down.
Using the stencil is really simple. Our concrete has lines that cross right in the middle so we used that as our guide. You'll have to find the middle of your floor and snap a perfect straight line as a guide. Then you line your stencil up and start painting.
It is very important that you use a high density foam roller and nothing else. We actually started out with a different roller and it laid the paint on way too thick and we had to start over.
Apply the paint as lightly as possible to get a feel for it. You can always make it darker but you can't make it lighter.
Once you have one stencil painted down all you have to do is move the stencil down, line up the registrations marks, tape it down, and you'll be ready to paint again.
Pro tip: Clean your stencil off as you go. When we first started painting we had to clean the stencil off  because we were painting too heavily and it was seeping underneath. We really should've kept cleaning it off every now and then because it started building up and then we were in a situation where the lines were thicker in certain places. So do yourself a favor and clean it off every 10 stencils or so.
Our space is about 480 sq. feet, so the painting took a full two (and very long) days.
But we love how the concrete turned out- it really looks like we have tile down.
Here is the space in full. You can see how the paint is lighter in places than in others. If this is something that would bother you, you might try to paint two layers of white paint or be really focused on applying the same pressure on every stencil. For us, this is exactly what we are going for- and it's a good thing or else we would be spending two more days painting a second coat.
This is probably our favorite DIY to date. While the process was tedious at times, the the end result was absolutely worth it. The floor really looks like tile and it drastically changed the way the space looked. It's the perfect addition to our Tulum-esque pool area. 

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Tulum, Mexico Travel Guide: 11 Fabulous Beach Clubs

If you travel to Tulum and are staying in town, you'll want to know where all the beach clubs are so you can still experience the beachside vibe. You can always go to the public beach, but it doesn't offer the chill Tulum vibe mixed with impeccable boho decor. So we compiled a list of beach clubs you can access just by buying a few drinks or a delicious meal.

Other posts you might like:
- 8 Things You Must Do In Tulum
- Where To Eat In Tulum
- Where To Stay In Tulum

Before we get started, here are a few tips for visiting Tulum beach clubs:
1. Bring cash- pesos preferably. This is just a general good rule of thumb for Tulum in general.
2. You will need to spend a minimum amount on food and drinks- usually 300-500 pesos per person- so keep this in mind.
3. Some beach clubs/hotels offer towels and some don't. Find out before you go if you will need to bring your own.
4. Keep in mind that the best time to visit is on a weekday. They are busier on the weekends, and sometimes ask you to spend more per person or don't even allow you in.
5. Find out about seaweed wherever you are planning on going for the day. It can be worse in some areas than others. You may want to chose a place with a pool or visit a cenote on a heavy seaweed day.
6. Arrive early to get a good spot. People don't mess around with getting the prime real estate on the beaches.
Now onto the locations!

1. Coral by Ana y Jose / We actually stumbled upon Coral by chance. We had planned on visiting a favorite spot from our last trip, Chamicos which is in Solimon Bay. But the seaweed there was BAD. I mean baaaaaad. It smelled and you couldn't get in the water. We knew we wouldn't enjoy ourselves if we couldn't get in the water, so we left and came upon Coral. As with the other beach clubs they wanted you to spend a certain amount of money on food and drinks. There was seaweed here but not nearly as bad as some of the other places we had visited that day. They provide towels and they do have umbrellas for shade. This was probably the least stylish place we visited, but the food and service was good.
2. Ziggy's / This place comes highly recommended and is probably the most established beach club in the area. They have their system down. You need to bring your own towel here. We had good service and the food and drinks were pretty good. We had a Pina colada that was on the rocks instead of frozen, which I didn't love. I think that might be because they don't use straws like many other places in Tulum. So- that's a tip if you need to drink out of straw you may want to pack some reusable straws with you.
6. Chamico's / As you read before, Chamico's, located in Soliman Bay, was one of our favorite places on our trip in 2017, but it was covered in seaweed this year. We were really bummed about that because last year it was amazing. So before you make the drive (it's about 20 minutes from Tulum), try to find out what their seaweed situation is. What is great about Chamico's is that it's not very crowded and the food is cheap and delicious. It's definitely more of a local place- we first heard of it from one of our servers last year. They also have hammocks everywhere, which is always a plus. This is definitely a no frills place, so you'll need to bring a towel. They also don't have layout chairs or anything like that either. I feel like I'm not selling you on this place, but trust me it's wonderful if there isn't a seaweed issue. The water and the vibe is calm.
5. Coco Tulum / We stayed at Coco last year, so naturally we used their beach club most of our trip. We almost went back this trip but they don't take credit cards and a lot of the ATMs were down, so we had to go somewhere else. As much as we loved Coco, I was glad to have a reason to try another beach club. There are so many! But as a good rule of thumb in Tulum, always have cash on you. You will also need to bring your own towels. And get ready to take lots of pictures in the bar because it's very instagrammable. They also have shaded areas so you don't have to be directly in the sun if you don't want to be.

4. La Zebra / We went to La Zebra last year and really loved it. Their food and cocktails really stood out and they had great service. They also had great layout beds with canopies. I really wanted to go back this year but as I mentioned above, we really wanted to try new things since there are so many great places. We went on a weekday last year and it wasn't crowded at all. You will need to bring your own towels if you aren't a guest at the hotel.

3. Tata Tulum / Tata is a very intimate spot which I really appreciated. They just finished their pool this week so we JUST missed that! They provide towels and have layout chairs with palpas/umbrellas. They make their guacamole table side and it was the best we had on our entire trip! They also make great drinks, and they have fun floats for you use which were a nice touch.

2. Nomade / I cannot express to you how much you must visit Nomade simply for the decor alone. Their layout beds have a canopy and I basically need Savannah to build one for our backyard. I left there totally inspired. For breakfast they do a buffet but it's way more jazzy than a normal buffet. We also had some snacks and cocktails but I think the breakfast is what stood out the most. Did I mention the decor is to die for? Oh and they do provide towels.

1. Habitas / Habitas is a different experience than any of the places we went. It is more secluded (it's literally at the end of the beach) so it felt like we were transported into another world. We had a hard time picking out what our favorite beach club was. It was a toss up between Nomade and Habitas. Nomade's decor was a bit more fabulous than Habitas BUT the food at Habitas was the best we had anywhere on our entire trip. Like better than Hartwood. Habitas is certainly not lacking in the decor area but it just more minimal boho than maximal boho. Also they have a pool which is great if you want to do the beach thing but the ocean happens to have a lot of seaweed. And their pool looks over the beach so it's perfect. We never even used the pool because the ocean was so clear and beautiful the day we were there. The service here was excellent. They do provide towels and there are shaded lay out options.
A note about seaweed in Tulum since we've talked a lot about it in this post- Seaweed is a fact of life here and apparently it's becoming an increasing problem. However, this was my 3rd trip and seaweed hasn't ruined any of them. If you experience seaweed, it'll probably only be for a couple days. It definitely comes and goes but I wouldn't let the seaweed keep you from going to Tulum! It's too good to miss.
Other beach clubs we inquired about, but never went to:

9. Papaya Playa Project- this place looks amazing from pictures but you have to pay around 2000 pesos for 2 people and only get a bottle of champagne with that. They only let you in in increments of two, so for 3 people we were going to have to pay for 4 people, so that wasn't really what we were looking for. If you have seen PPP pictures and really want this vibe but don't want to pay as much- go to Nomade!

10. Alma Tulum- We inquired about the beach club here before we went to Tulum this time. You pay 350 pesos per person at the front desk and this goes toward your tab. They also have a pool.

11. Aura Tulum- On the phone we were told that you must spend 400 pesos per person to use the beach club.

If there is a hotel or beach club that you are really interested in going to, you can either call ahead for information or just go there and head to the front desk. They will answer all your questions and let you know if outside guests are allowed along with the cost. Most of the hotels are friendly and welcome anyone who is willing to use their services!

We hope this information will help you on your next trip to Tulum. If you liked this post, please pin an image to share the magic of Tulum!

xo, Savannah + Casey

Sweet Inn: A Charming Lisbon Airbnb

It seems like just yesterday we were walking the streets of Lisbon with not a care in the world except what we wanted to eat for dinner. We were very lucky to experience the Baixa neighborhood while staying in this lovely apartment by Sweet Inn. Just steps away were many cafes, restaurants and shops and we could be riding the subway in just a couple minutes. It was everything we needed while exploring the gorgeous streets of Lisbon.

If you look closely you will see that the wall behind this table actually has books attached to it! We thought this was a really cool idea- the pages open up and create a neat look on the wall.
One of our favorite things to do on our trips is to make a meal or two at home. It saves money and provides a fun experience you wouldn't otherwise have. (i.e. crowded Portuguese grocery stores and figuring out how to work a European oven.)

The kitchen featured all the essentials you would need to cook dinner and have coffee in the morning. There was also a washer and dryer which I really wish we had used. We forgot about it and ended up washing our clothes in the sink when we got back to The Azores. Having a washer and dryer is essential if you are traveling for a long time!
Our favorite area of this apartment was the whole wall that was made of windows. There were two doors in the windows that opened up to the area outside. Unfortunately at the time that we were staying, there was construction going on outside so there wasn't much to look at. But when that construction is done, it will be even better!
Another exciting thing for us in this apartment was that there was a pull-out bed in the couch. A lot of apartments for 2 people only have one bed. Savannah is a light sleeper, so being able to have our own beds is essential to a night of rest!
This Sweet Inn apartment was lovely because you get the uniqueness of what vacation rentals offer combined with the amenities that hotels offer. It's exactly what they are trying to accomplish- the best of both worlds.

If you are interested in staying at this exact apartment, check it out here. And if you are booking through Airbnb, don't forget to click here to get $40 off your first stay!