This is a question I get asked pretty much everyday, to share what’s inside my toolbox. Today I’m going to talk about a few of my favorite things – tools I can’t live without. Well, maybe I can live without em’, but I choose not to.
You might be surprised to see how very little I need, actually. A few basic supplies + very simple platforms that make life a little easier.
But you know what? At the core of it all, we are already everything. You have you. I’ve got me. Our unique abilities + talents + perspective + skills + ideas + visions + the way we use all that goodness to articulate what we are. Everything else is extra frosting.
Here’s my list of favorite frostings… I mean tools:
- 0.5 Mechanical Pencil. Got one in my purse + one in my nightstand + one on the car + one inside my beach bag. It’s my writing tool of choice.
- Micron Ink Pens. When accuracy + minute details + preservation count, there is no pen that stands a chance next to the unparalleled archival quality of Microns. The finer-points are great for technical outline work + the bolder ones are perfect for hand-lettering projects.
- 8.5″ x 11″ White Paper. Fancy right? Were you expecting me to recommend a glamorous sketch book or art journal? The truth is, I tried using a tablet once + many other gadgets, but I always come back to my plain ol’ blank piece of paper. My illustrations all start there, humbly. And that’s good enough for me.
- Giant tube of titanium white paint. I usually buy Americana (or Liquitex when it’s on sale.)
- Of course, other colors too. I splurge on these 3 shades because they’re the ones I use most often in my Design Studio: Natural Buff + Light Portrait Pink + Foliage Green.
- 000 Brushes. Tight, but still flexible. Natural bristle, suited for acrylics. I’ m not loyal to a brand, but I usually know how I want the brush to feel on the canvas + shop accordingly. I usually purchase 20 at a time because they lose their shape quickly, and due to the nature of my work, the moment they get messy hair, they no longer serve their purpose. To give you an idea, I used 38 brushes to complete all the Life is Messy Kitchen illustrations.
- Plastic Paint Pallets with Paint Wells: Here’s where I pour + mix (or not mix, which is what the independent paint wells are for) my paint colors. I love the way they can be completely wiped clean at the end of the day.
- Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap. Essential to clean my hands + my brushes too, believe it or not. I used to get these ugly rashes when cleaning with heavy-duty stuff like turpentine. Not anymore. Love Mrs. Meyer’s. Strong enough to remove tough messes + soft enough for my 10 little fingers. My favorite scent is Lemon Verbena.
- Image Scanner. These days I use the Canon CanoScan LiDE 120 Color Image Scanner, Canon’s lowest-cost flatbed scanner. Lets me do high-quality image scans without paying extra for film-scanning features or photo editing software I really don’t need.
- Life is Messy Planners. The organized system for creatives that provides “just enough” structure for your journey to take your brilliant ideas from light bulb to done without becoming a correctional facility, and “just enough” wiggle room to unleash your unique gifts + honor your most valued forms of currency, freedom + happiness. Planners are my BFF. Saved my life a couple of times already. Helped me make room for what truly matters to me + Expecto Patronus any dementor that stands in the way. No wonder it’s not just me using them, but 7 thousand other artists + creatives + innovators + small business owners. Because they were designed by someone who speaks your language… moi.
- MadMimi. This is the e-mail marketing platform I use to send all my e-mails + stay in touch with my favorite people. It’s very intuitive + allows me to create fully customizable campaigns without making my head hurt. Above all, I’m a loyal customer because of their out-of-this-world customer service. Have never seen anything like it. They reply within minutes (if not seconds) to my needy (and sometimes frantic) e-mails, providing quick answers + solutions to my every question. Makes me wonder, maybe MadMimi is operated by minions. It’s the only explanation for their awesomeness.
- Harvest. I used to dread invoicing, then I found Harvest. In my opinion, a simpler + much better way to work + run my business. I use Harvest for all my time tracking + billing needs. Managing clients + organizing projects + preparing invoices has never been so ridiculously easy. One of my favorite features is their seamless integration with PayPal + Stripe, making it less annoying for clients to pay with one click + freeing up my time to bake cookies. Win-win.
- PayPal/Stripe. I use both as my payment processors. PayPal is a trusted brand + has a long history of processing payments on the web. Stripe, well, they are the hottest new payment processor on the block for handling credit card payments in a very secure way. These days, I get about 50% of my orders though PayPal + the other half from Stripe.
- Creative Cloud. For only $40-something bucks a month, I have all the tools + assets I need to create my best work more efficiently. Creative Cloud includes all-new versions of my favorite desktop apps – including Photoshop + Illustrator. These days, when I’m not editing pictures or cleaning up my illustrations on Photoshop, I’m vectorizing my work or creating printables on Illustration.
That’s what’s on my go-to kit. Really. You will be given 10,000 options at the art supply store + the Mac store + Amazon + everywhere! My advice? Just stick to your gut + your budget + allow your creativity to take over from there.
I know it’s fun to hoard bundles of fancy brushes + expensive software. Trust me, I know. But, you are your best asset – not the tools. Use what you have. Do what you can.
What tools can’t you live without? Any brands + platforms + hacks you’ve tried + fell in love with?
As promised, today I’m giving away an autographed copy of Life is Messy Kitchen.
And the lucky winner is… Haydee Montemayor!!! Congratulations Haydee. You won. Yay! Please send me an e-mail with your mailing address to ship your gift immediately. So happy for you.
I will be hosting more giveaways very soon, so don’t be sad if you didn’t win, okay?
Have you been (im)patiently waiting for me to translate my stuff from English to Spanish? Sent not-so-subtle hints? Incepted the idea while I sleep? Played some Yedi mind tricks on me? Well, it worked. Keep on reading if (a) you speak Spanish + (b) you’re curious.
Mayi Carles, ¡Por Fin en Español!
¿Te has lanzado de cabeza a la aventura de emprender tu propio proyecto creativo? ¿Tienes o sueñas tener un negocio propio? ¿Necesitas un punto de partida para saber cómo hacerte visible entre cientos de iniciativas similares? Si respondiste sí, amarás este curso de mercadeo que he creado para ti.
MEMORABLE, Marketing Para Proyectos Creativos es una guía práctica para dar visibilidad a tu negocio (blog + tienda + website) y conquistar el mundo, Pinky.
Inicio: Lunes 13 de Abril, ahem ahem eso es ESTE lunes
Lugar: Online, en la hermosa Escuela de Fotografía de Jackie Rueda
Duración: 7 días, con acceso para toda la vida
Precio: $35 solamente
Incluye: Videos, lecciones y hojas de trabajo para hacer tu vida (y el mercadeo) mucho más fácil y no aburrido
Código de Vestimenta: Yo no se tu, pero yo estaré en pijamas y capa de super héroe
Para más información HAZ CLICK AQUÍ.
Esta miniclase es perfecta para personas que ya trabajan de forma creativa, si eres fotógrafo + food blogger + ilustrador + artesano + diseñador + propietario de una tienda online o física + editas una publicación online + dictas talleres o eres blogger. ¡Y si sueñas con algún día hacer cosas asombrosas y dejar tu huella en este planeta!
Será una semana memorable.
Encuentra tu súper poder y olvídate de la competencia y los copycats. Cuando encuentras tu ventaja competitiva, todo fluye. Pasas de ser invisible a tener un séquito de fans que te adoran, son tus apóstoles, y no pueden esperar el lanzamiento de tu próximo producto o la publicación de tu próximo post.
Identifica a tu cliente ideal. “El que mucho abarca poco aprieta”, decía mi abuelita. Cuando intentamos venderle a todo el mundo no conectamos con nadie. No somos un kiosko. Somos artistas. Te enseñaré a enganchar a tu avatar y crear un lazo mágico entre ustedes.
Escribe tu business plan. A diferencia de planes de negocio tradicionales (que en mi opinión no sirven para mas que congestionar nuestra vida con papeles y más papeles), nosotros lo haremos en una página y en menos de una hora. El resultado será un plan de ataque, un mapa, un compás que te guiará a la cima de tu Everest metafórico.
Abre espacio para ideas épicas. Tenemos miles, millones de ideas. Algunas geniales, otras solo causando insomnio innecesario. Vamos a incubarlas todas para descubrir cuáles vale la pena ejecutar y cuáles no merecen las canas verdes.
Pon tu website a trabajar para ti. Mientras dormimos o nos tomamos un shot de limoncello, nuestro sitio web habla por nosotros. Es nuestro curriculum vitae, nuestra carta de presentación. ¿Qué tal si convertimos todas esas visitas en clientes/seguidores de por vida?
Convierte tu marca en una celebridad en las redes sociales. Te enseñaré a usar las redes Facebook + Twitter + Pinterest + Instagram para hacer tu negocio y dar a conocer tus proyectos creativos a través de ejemplos concretos.
Estrategias creativas de mercadeo que no te harán sentir como un vendedor de autos usados. Hablaremos de cómo conseguir menciones prestigiosas (gratis), guest posting y colaboraciones. En qué debemos (y no debemos) usar nuestro presupuesto de marketing y mucho más.
Del alma quiero decirte, de Panamá al rinconcito del mundo donde te encuentras en este momento: Gracias por apoyarme y aguantarme todos estos años en Inglés. Este curso lo creé para ti amiga. Con todo mi corazón.
Será una semana transformadora y mágica. Jackie y yo estamos muy entusiasmadas de compartir contigo. Te esperamos con mucho cariño el lunes en la clase para darle un empujoncito a todos esos proyecto que merecen ser vistos.
Para inscribirte HAZ CLICK AQUÍ.
The Crazy Spanish Edition
So pumped to share with you some pictures + even a short clip of the Life is Messy Kitchen Book Launch Party. I know not all of you could tele-transport to Panama to attend, so I tried to document the event to the best of my abilities to show you a glimpse of what went down. I hope it makes you feel like a little part of you was there.
From the very beginning I knew I wanted this to be a kids-friendly event, so I set up a coloring book table to keep them entertained + of course brought in helium balloons, cuz a party without balloons is really just a meeting.
(Everyone who purchased the Life is Messy Kitchen – The BIG Bundle, has access to all these exclusive coloring book pages you see featured in these pictures)
Mom now jokingly calls me “J.K.” She’s still pretty psyched about the amount of people that showed up the party + stood in line to get their books autographs + take a picture with me. I still can’t believe it. For three hours, it truly felt like I was the coolest Disney ride in the block. That was a moment.
Everyone tried to convince me to hire out a catering company, specially being 7-months pregnant n’ all. I didn’t listen. Up to this point I had only cooked for my family + small gatherings with close friends, which was a blessing because I didn’t realize what I had gotten myself into, until it was too late for Plan B.
I couldn’t picture serving fried empanadas at my event or Coke. First, you gotta strap me to my bed before I feed my army with crap. Luckily, it didn’t have to come to that.
With the help of my friend + extraordinary chef, Carolina Garcia, we feed more than 250 people that day with nourishing recipes from the book. Here’s what we made:
- Lentil Quinoa Salad with Raw Vegetables
- Kung Fu Fighter Sushi with Seasonal Veggies and Tamarin Sauce
- Banana and Dark Chocolate Granola
- Heartmade Granola Parfaits with Greek Yogurt and Fresh Berries
- Mapled Pecans with Rosemary and Orange Zest
- Peanut Butter Cups
- Cashew Blueberry Bars
- Thumbprint Coconut Cookies with Mixed Berries Jam and Pistachios
- Clean Nutella Spread
- Pistachios Butter served with Whole Wheat Toast
And dad (aka Mr. Life Blends) supplied the beverages:
- Calypso Royale
- Vineyard Delight
- Hazelnut Milk
Of course, all these recipes can be found inside the book so you can make them too!
And here’s a little teaser of the mini movie that’s coming. To watch, click play!
I’m eternally grateful to:
- Tere + Alessa + Emily from Uber Shop for making me feel at home + being the world’s most amazing party hosts.
- Susy Aramburú + Sarah Tyler for documenting the event, so one day I can show Olivia what mom did.
- Truenos y Relampagos + Mairena for killing it with the music.
- Helga from 4Bistro for helping me decorate the party. This preggo lady could have never done it without you.
- Chef Carolina Garcia + La Cocina de Sofy for helping me feed 250 attendees.
- Boutique Flowers for taking my “flower colada” concept to a whole new level of awesome.
- Studio Marroquin for making me feel pretty.
- Life Blends for providing my guests with the best juices in the world. They are!
- Felipe Motta for supplying us with organic wine. Unfortunately, I couldn’t try it, but I hear it was exquisite.
- My mom + my Suegris for making sure people were feed + everything looked as I had envisioned in my Pinterest board.
- My wonderful + very patient husband who deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, for packing + unpacking all my crazy party props, including forty helium balloons he somehow managed to fit inside his car, and for entertaining everyone who walked through the door with all the behind the scenes stories of how the book came to be.
- Everyone who came + to all of you who couldn’t make it, but I know where there in spirit. I felt it, your unconditional love + support. All of it.
Thank YOU is not a big enough thing to say to express my gratitude right now. I can’t high five you high enough or hug you tight enough to show you how much I appreciate you. My little book threw a party + you showed up for me, both physically + metaphysically. You are AWESOME!!!
Now comes the part I’ve been a little shy about, but it’s time.
I Need Your Help
So here’s the deal. I’m not even gonna try to play it cool. Pretend that making this book was easy breeze. That the funds poured in. That I executed the project in record time + under budget. That I got a sweet deal on Shark Tank. That Ellen’s people called.
The truth is Life is Messy Kitchen was a ku-raaaa-zy labor intensive passion project. It took 17-months to make from start to finish + a team of incredible human beings to execute + all my life’s savings to self-fund, in full.
I feel blessed the book is DONE + far more magical than I had imagined it in my dreams, but the work is far from over. I really REALLY need your help. My growing baby belly doesn’t allow me to jump on planes anymore + do a global book tour or knock on Oprah’s door, but maybe, I’m hoping, there is still plenty we can do, together.
Here’s what I have in mind:
- I’m looking to partner with some cool boutiques + indie shops. Is that you? Do you own a cute store? Wanna be a LIMK retailer + make money together? E-mail me at email@example.com + I’ll send you all the details.
- I’m also hoping to play in the big leagues with the folks of Whole Foods + West Elm + Barnes & Noble + William Sonoma + Anthropologie. I’m not embarrassed to admit it out loud anymore. That’s where I want to see this book displayed. So if you know someone who knows someone who could get the book in front of the right people, could you please send me their contact info or tell them to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org?
- I envision mom’s + aunties + best friends + companies purchasing multiple copies of the book to giveaway to their peeps. As a birthday present. As a wedding gift. As a fundraiser favor for VIP donors. Interested? E-mail me at email@example.com + I’ll send you my special rates for bulk orders.
- Or why not treat yo’ self? Get yourself a copy at www.lifeismessykitchen.com. Your purchase helps keep this creative little empire alive.
With your help, I know we can get this lil’ book into Oprah’s Favorite Things list or the Ellen show. I know it. If you’ve seen the book, I know, deep down, you know it totally possible too. This book is so special. It deserves a chance.
I can’t wait to get all these book orders into your hands. Into your homes. Into your kitchens.
Time For A Fun Giveaway
Let’s play a game. A big part of what made this event extra special, was the fact that every corner, every detail of this party was handmade with love. All you have to do to participate is:
- Make sure you’re subscribed to my mailing list. The opt-in form is right below the top header. Just plop your name + e-mail + click on the heart+ you’re all set!
- Leave a comment below listing at least three crafty projects you can spot hidden in the photos and short video teaser above. This is a bit like Playing where is Waldo. But instead of Waldo you gotta spot the DIYs.
- Share this giveaway at least once on your social media channel of choice. Every additional social share counts as an extra entry. Make sure to use the hashtag #lifeismessykitchen + tag me @mayicarles so I can see your post.
It’s that simple.
Next week, I will pick a winner. You just may get lucky. Someone has to, why not let it be you? The lucky winner will get a free autographed copy of Life is Messy Kitchen. Yay!
Video + Video Stills Credit
I’m not one to share my spiritual beliefs publicly. Much less blog about it. I’ve intentionally omitted things like how…
- I went to an all girls Catholic school.
- I have big issues with institutionalized religion.
- I love our new Pope Francisco because he makes me smile + gives me hope.
- I believe human design is influenced by the stars.
- I have a San Benito medal in my wallet to protect me from evil spirits.
- I mostly pray on airplanes, specially when I think it’s going to crash.
- I believe we are bound to each other, past + present.
- I don’t think this is my first time here, nor my last.
- In a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, my heart would always find David. And marry him!
- I sense there are hairy hands underneath my bed that only come out at night.
- I think we reincarnate as lizards or barracudas when we are mean to each others.
It’s complicated. Which is precisely why I don’t bring this up. Ever.
(Wait. What am I doing? I can’t stop writing. Someone tie me to a chair please!)
That’s not to say I don’t think about this things, because I do. A lot, actually. I think about faith. About destiny + hope + compassion. And karma.
I think about chocolate cover Easter bunnies + Jesus, and how I cannot find one single connection between the two.
I think about how the sun always rises. Always. And it is always beautiful. Always.
I think about the life that’s growing inside of me + I can’t help but smile eighteen hundred different ways because impossible is proven possible every time she kicks + spins inside my belly.
I think about miracles. And I’ve noticed these sneaky little mysteries disappear when I’m reading gossip magazines + being a cynic, and descend outta of nowhere when I’ve got my arms wide open to catch em’.
I think about coincidences + I know it’s the Universe saying, “YES!”
I think about breathing because it reminds me to turn off everything with an “ON” button. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. The breaths. They talk. The silence. It speaks. The hearts. It knows.
I think about magic + trees that can grow through rock + every penny I’ve ever thrown into a fountain, and I know it’s all true.
I think about the words I speak + how they become the house I live in.
I think about all those times I worried + then… nothing happened. I didn’t die. The world didn’t come to an end. My life wasn’t ruined. I’m still here.
I think about these things a lot, the massive concepts that my brain can’t always explain with logic. Maybe more so on days like today, when there is so much chocolate involved.
I guess all I’m trying to say is (no matter who you worship or what you believe is hidden inside your closet): I wish you have an EGGcellent weekend filled with joy + wonder.
A Quick Update About Books
As you might have heard, Life is Messy Kitchen (THE BOOK) arrived just a few days ago. I’m processing orders as quickly as humanly possible in the order they were pre-ordered since it’s soft launch back in November 2014. Of course, with the help of my entire family to Speedy Gonzalez the process.
Please remember parcels are traveling all the way from Panama. It takes approximately 3-4 weeks for international orders to arrive at their destination, give or take depending on customs in your country. You can plan to stalk your mailman accordingly.
I hope you’ll take a #bookie (selfie with your book) when you get it, so I can make a collage + hang you in my studio + smile knowing we did this, together.
Get Your Copy
This passion project was 100% self-funded, so only a limited number of books were printed. If you know you want a physical copy of your own for your coffee table or kitchen counter, don’t wait until you get your acceptance letter to Hogwarts. It might be too late.
I’m so thrilled to see this book in hands others than my own. Thank you endlessly for supporting the projects that keep this tiny creative empire running.
I’ll be back next week to share pictures of the Life is Messy Kitchen Book Launch Party.
In the meantime, if you love behind the scenes + don’t want to miss out on all that happens in between blog posts, my Instagram account is @mayicarles so you can follow me over there.
When I found out HOLA had put us on the cover of their February Edition, I immediately texted my granny, “Abuelinis look look LOOK, right next to George + Amal Clooney. Her reply, “What else could The Clooney’s ask for?” That’s my granma’.
I wonder if George Clooney called his granny + said, “Granny, look! Right next to Mayi!!!!!”
Feeling so immensely grateful to the entire HOLA Team for the chance to share the ups + the downs + the in-betweens of creating Life is Messy Kitchen, and the love story behind it.
You can click here to read the full interview! Psst, it’s in Spanish.