Before I started working with Mayi I was struggling to each day to prove myself through my work. I rolled out of bed and stumbled to my computer screen to answer emails from potential clients. I worked through lunch. I didn’t take breaks. I was feeling very uninspired and had completely lost touch with why I’d started my own creative business.
Fast forward one year.
I’m about to embark on the biggest adventure of my life. We’re talking world domination level stuff. And it never would have happened if Mayi Carles hadn’t taught me that is was okay to color outside the lines.
Working with Mayi in Life is Messy Bootcamp I realized that wedding photography wasn’t my greatest passion, and that I didn’t have to choose a career that fit nicely into a pre-made box. With my mind opened to new possibilities my business began to transform.
My blog became a celebration of micro-adventures in daily life. My filmmaking began to blossom into new areas. I started painting again. I felt myself reconnecting to my inner artist. And I remembered that I loved to tell stories.
One morning, as I was freewriting in my journal, I found myself scribbling down the idea for my grand adventure. The old me would have written it off as completely crazy, but I found myself telling Mayi and was showered in encouragement before I had the chance to shut myself down.
“Of course! WORLD DOMINATION!” Mayi replied.
And that’s how Project STIR was born.
Project STIR is a celebration of love through family recipes. I’m funding a series of films taking place in kitchens around the globe. These films will tell the stories of heirloom recipes being passed down from one generation to the next. The whole idea just makes my heart want to explode with happiness. And it just launched on Kickstarter! This is really happening y’all.
Mayi was the first to jump on board and I’m so excited to tell the story of learning to make Tamal de Olla from her Abuelita.
This definitely didn’t happen overnight. What started as a seed of an idea last autumn was nourished and encouraged in Mayi’s beautiful online community… Life is Messy Bootcamp.
Her planners helped me turn my ideas from dream to reality by breaking down what seemed impossible into bite sized tasks. And the support I received from the other creative ladies I met through Mayi really carried me through when times got tough.
Looking back I can’t believe how far I’ve come, and I can only imagine how I’ll feel when I’m out there telling the stories of these family recipes in Panama and Turkey and Norway and all the other countries on my list!
If you’re interested in joining the Project STIR movement to preserve family recipes you can learn more here. We also have a Project STIR Facebook community for sharing family recipes that I’d love to invite you to.
And whatever that dream is that you’re holding on to… start taking steps toward making it a reality. You really can do it.
Oh my goodness, I’ve been meaning to write this post for the longest time.
On June 26 at 1:06pm we welcomed into the world our lil’ munchkin Olivia Larrinaga Carles. When our hearts saw her for the first time, right there n’ there, we instantly knew that life was now finally even better than our wildest dreams. Like that Armageddon song goes, “I don’t want to close my eyes, I don’t want to fall asleep, cuz I’ll miss you baby and I don’t want to miss a thing.”
She weight 7 pounds 10 ounces + measured 49 centimeters long, our little viking, leaving everyone wondering, “How the heck could such a big baby come out of such a small mama.” It must have been the late night banana milkshakes or daddy’s pasta parties, for sure. In any case, Olivia is the most darling little bundle ever. I know every mother says that, but it’s true, baby O truly is the beautifulest thing I’ve ever seen.
In this blog post I want to share with you a glimpse of what life with Olivia has been like this past month – my birth story + the challenges + the awesome parts.
Despite my best intentions to have an all-natural labor + all that pre-natal yoga training n’ medicine ball prep work, I ended up having a C-Section. Olivia’s umbilical cord was strapped across her chest like a Miss Universe name banner (or a seat belt) + every time she wanted to come out, the cord pulled her back in.
Worried about Olivia’s safety, I made the call I never thought I’d make… to allow my doctors to interfere.
I won’t lie, it was hard letting go of the birth I had prepared for + planned. I really wanted to be one of those moms who could proudly say, “Oh yeah, I experienced every emotion of going into labor without an epidural.” I’m not.
I wasn’t even able to keep Olivia with me, kiss her, hold her, rub her tiny little chest against mine, right after she was born. I had to wait it out in the recovery room. And that made me sad. It made me feel guilty. Ashamed to share my birth story even. I wanted to feel it all, not because of any societal pressure, but because I wanted to. I couldn’t.
In the end (and these might be the hormones speaking now), I feel so incredible blessed for the opportunity to be a mom to a perfectly healthy baby girl whose lashes would even make Minnie Mouse jealous. My princess, who grew symbiotically inside my body for 40 weeks + depends on my nourishment, nothing is more sacred + profound + challenging + surprising + exhausting + tender + loving or life-giving as this evolutionary impulse. And no C-Section was able to take that away from me.
I now know that all moms, no matter the type of birth their babies end up choosing, have the hardest and yet the most rewarding job in the world. We should never feel guilty or ashamed, because we are doing our best. And that is ALWAYS enough.
- C-Section Aftermath: Because of the operation, I’ve been a bit handicapped. I can’t do many of the thing a normal human being is meant to do, like bend over + take the stairs (I live in a two-story house) + pick up stuff from the floor + cook + drive + carry things, which is insane, considering I must care for a newborn, who obviously needs things that always seem to be located at the bottom drawer LOL.
- Breastfeeding: Don’t even get me started with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding makes labor day look like child’s play. I had a dream: To breast feed my mini Tetosaurus Tex exclusively. What Google + every lactation book I read didn’t tell me was how HARD + PAINFUL this would be. Thanks to nipple creams + nursing tea + More Milk Plus capsules + H2O + moral support + hubby’s back massages + mom’s famous “Resbaladera” recipe (which I posted on my Instagram @mayicarles), I’ve been able to survive, one day at a time, without ever having to sterilize a bottle or use formula, but not without meltdowns.
- Oh No! Spilling Milk: I have nightmares about leaking milk while showering. Dumping that milk down the drain is the most painful thing in the galaxy. Feels like I’m washing away liquid gold. Definitively tear worthy.
- Sleep Deprivation: These days alarm clocks are a thing in the past. Now, I’ve got my very own wake up cutie pie. And she comes with a revolutionary 100% fail-proof anti-snooze system. If I’m lucky, I’m able to sleep 3 hours a day – 15 minutes here + half an hour there. Olivia sleeps just fine, for 2 hour stretches during the day + 3-4 hour stretches at night, but momma is too excited sewing Frida-style headbands + pinning baby clothes + reading about breast milk storage techniques to sleep when baby sleeps. I need to keep working on this one because I don’t think mama zombie is very sustainable.
- Unused Furniture: Yeahhhh, so Olivia hates her crib. That can be a problem, right? If you know a good spell to fix that please dial email@example.com or leave a comment below. I will be forever grateful. And the crib will too, she’s feeling so unloved right now. In the meantime, the three of us will happily continue to co-sleep in our king size bed.
- Nights are Scary: Days, I feel like I can always manage. Oh man but when the sun is setting + the moon is rising I feel like “Winter is coming”, and hell will break lose. One night, the power went off + I swear to God I didn’t think I was going to make it. I must have breast feed Oli though her ear + put on her pajama backwards. I can’t believe I survived to tell the tale.
- Not So Basic No More: Even the basic things like eating + showering have become a luxury affair. I can’t remember the last time I sat down for a nice meal without being interrupted by a diaper change or the last time I had spare time to shave my legs in the shower.
- Clock is Always Ticking: Now that Olivia is born, I feel like I have a constant mental clock running in your head. OK, I just fed the baby + laid her down, so that gives me 2 hours to grocery shop. Start the time NOW.
- Limited Wardrobe: I was looking forward to fitting back inside my not-fat clothes after pregnancy, but now days the only outfit criteria is: Will I or will I not be able to get my boob out of my shirt successfully without spilling milk everywhere or damaging myself in the process? Looks like I’ll be wearing that one shirt I’ve got with a zipper + that other button down dress A LOT. Maybe this earns me the right to go online shopping, don’t you think?
On The Bright Side
- This New Workout Rules: While my friends are busy doing an hour of spinning or Zumba, I’m here laying on my couch, watching So You Think You Can Dance + nursing. And guess who’s burning more calories? That’s right! Breastfeeding, the only weight-loss program that increases your breast size.
- License to Eat: Through the miracle of breastfeeding, those hamburgers I’m eating are finally going to someone else’s thighs.
- Smells Like Heaven: The house smells like baby’s bottom. What candle can do that?
- Ready For Anything: In the event of a zombie Apocalypse, knowing I don’t have to run to the store to buy formula because all Olivia needs are my boobs makes me feel pretty darn epic!
- I Get To Play Doll Everyday, All Day: Matching dresses with headbands is my new occupation.
- Look At All Those Gifts My Goodness: I already knew Olivia’s aunties + friends where awesome, but seriously, the amount of gifts she’s received from all over the world is ridiculous + pretty amazing. We’re beyond grateful for all the love + thoughtfulness.
- Seeing My Mom n’ Dad Get Promoted to Grandparent: Priceless.
- Best Excuse: I have the best exit strategy in the world. Saying “No Thanks” to things that are not top priority right now has never been so easy + guilt-free. Not that I needed an excuse to say “I’ll pass” in the first place.
- Look I Can Eat With Only One Hand: Cirque Du Soleil be like… holy Guacamole she’s pretty good!
- Funny Moments: Like that one time (or more like five times) I realized I’d been walking around the house for half-an-hour with one boob hanging out. Oopsie daisies! Or that other time when hubs had to babysit Olivia for 7 minutes without supervision + when I came back Olivia had chocolate in her hand. WTF?
- Pediatrician Check-Ins: Felt amazing to see Olivia getting weighed at the doctor’s office + gaining 2 pounds in just one month. Yeah! Look what I did! Mom’s milk power, baby! Cue cheering in my own head as I leap onto an imaginary pedestal + accept my gold medal for most powerful breast milk ever.
- Support: Motherhood has connected me with so many moms out there. It’s a beautiful thing to compare victories + letdown times with other mothers. Makes me feel like I’m not alone. Like we’re in this, together.
- I Love My Family: I love my family for making sure my fridge has food + my bathroom has toilet paper. I love my family for caring for Olivia while I’m brushing my teeth or publishing a new Life is Messy Bootcamp lesson. I love my family for guarding the door like Navy Seals so no unwanted guests (like people who are coughing or have dirty hands) could move pass the front line to visit Olivia. I love my family for showing me how to be a mom, not telling me, but SHOWING me. I love my family more than ever!
- Date Nights Feel Extra Special: They say that when mom + dad are happy, baby is happy. It’s soooo true. There might be a million things changing around us since we became a party of three, but not our commitment to one another. David + I have even made a pact to go on at least one date a week. Going to the movie theater or checking out a new pizza place in town has never felt so romantic + momentous.
- My Heart Grew BIGGER: I never knew how much I loved my husband until I saw how much he loved our baby. I truly fell even more in love with David when I saw him become a father. Watching him watch her has been the most amazing gift.
- Magic Powers: I think of breast milk as magic. If my baby is crying + fussy + whimpering + angry + tired, or otherwise not acting like her normal happy self? Time to nurse! Boom, whole new baby. Magic.
- Doing Nothing: Maternity leave is my fave. Can you say guilt-free Instagram time?
Thanks for letting me share this magical moment with you. After all you’re my virtual family!
I’m not exactly sure where this new chapter will take me or the natural evolution this blog will undergo, but I’m excited to use this down time with baby Olivia to explore all the abundance that’s possible. Hopefully, you’ll wanna come along for the ride with us, because it won’t feel the same without ya’.
This is it for now.
I’ll be back (said like Terminator).
In case you’re wondering, I’m due any day now!
How do I feel? Well, I’m alternating between crazy excitement about finally meeting baby O + crazy panic about OMG, we’re finally going to meet our little princess and they’re going to expect that we take her home and like, keep her alive n’ stuff.
Last night we went to bed at 2am picking out baby lullabies for Olivia. And David finally made his hospital bag. We’re making progress.
Speaking of progress, I’ve been working on Olivia’s nursery for a few months now. I wanted so badly to finish the room before our little girl arrives, but yesterday I realized: “This room is never gonna be COMPLETELY FINISHED” (Picture me inhaling deeply + exhaling like Drogon from Game of Thrones).
What is a recovering perfectionist to do? I decided to show you Olivia’s nursery anyways, the first of many tours, cuz done is better than perfect, right? Right? Riiiight?
If you’re a mom-to-be like me, or a newish mom who’s still shopping for baby essentials + nesting, I hope this post is somewhat helpful to you. David + I still haven’t tested things out, but after a ton of research + advice from family, close friends and readers, we feel confident Olivia will L-O-V-E her room + all the goodness hidden inside.
Hope you enjoy Olivia’s Nursery Reveal!
But first, let me show you some hideous “Before” pics of the abandoned room, which served the purpose of Room of Requirement (Harry Potter fans raise your hands up high) – a room that magically transformes itself into whatever the seeker needs in that moment in time. To use it you must walk past the area of the door three times, thinking of what you need.
For example, when my biz partner came to visit it was a guest room. Then it mutated into a home office for David. Later it morphed into a trash can… I mean a storage room.
Take a look.
Now, are you ready for the “After” shots? Come on in! No need to tippy-toe just yet, there is no sleeping baby inside just yet.
I wasn’t interested in having anything too theme-y or puke pink all over the walls, so I kept it simple with a hint of whimsical, with lots of happy creative things + personal touches made with love, some by yours truly, other by my very talented friends.
Bear Door Decal from The Gatherer Store
Industrial Wooden Wagon Storage from Restoration Hardware Baby
Daydream Green Wallpaper by Julia Rothman from Hygge & West
You Got A Friend in Me Mixed Media Painting by Mayi Carles
Wooly Plush Rocking Animal from Restoration Hardware Baby
ABC Changer from Pottery Barn Kids.
Hampen Rug from IKEA
Whimsical Felt Mushrooms (custom made) by Felted Decorations
Red Mushroom Ultrasonic Air Humidifier from Duux
Domesticated Trinket Dish from Anthropologie
SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker from Bose
Pom Tassel Curtain from Anthropologie
Speckled Wood Curtain Rod from Anthropologie
Queen Bee Tieback from Anthropologie
Bobby Pin Art Print by Rifle Paper Co.
Single Ladies Art Print from United Thread
Pink Pig Art Print by Cori Dantini
Bear and the Bees Art Print by Becky Down
Olivia Fabric Letters (custom made) by my super talented friend Jenny Perez Lee
Fridusha Art Print by Mayi Carles
And Then They Became Three Art Print by Mayi Carles
Mini Felt Cactus Hoop by Mayi Carles
You Are Our Bucket List Sign by Mayi Carles
Love Tree Flag by Mayi Carles
Two Mini Paintings (still in progress) by Mayi Carles
Waiting for Olivia Photograph by Sarah Tyler
Melon Rocking Chair “borrowed” from my mom – This was THE rocker my mom used to breastfeed me! Can you believe it? I just restored + painted it.
Antique Brass Zinnia Handles from Anthropologie
Parisian Side Table from Restoration Hardware Baby
Cloud Pink Pillow from BlaBla
Knit Cotton Pouf from Restoration Hardware Baby
Sparrow Crib from Oeuf
Gold Dot Bedding by The Land of Nod
Felt Tassel Garland by Mayi Carles
Star Wars Mobile by Pink Cheeks Studio
So, how did I do? I think I did pretty good for my first time. I’m really happy with how everything is coming together. Even wrapping up this post is making me cry tears of just the most overwhelming happiness. This is truly the HAPPIEST I’ve ever been in my whole entire life.
Thank you so much for sharing this special part of my life with me. It means so much to be able to put all of this out there so publicly + receive so much kindness back. I’m so grateful for your loving comments + e-mails + gifts in the mail. I feel so blessed to have you in my life… that you’re family. And very very very soon our tribe will be PLUS ONE!!!
Here’s a quick recipe inspiration for ya': Choco Almond Smoothie with Chunky Buckwheat Cacao Granola. It’s been my go-to breakfast during this last stretch before baby Olivia pops.
This super healthy recipe is sweet enough to satisfy my dessert cravings + filling enough to keep me off the couch. Perfectly nourishing for moms-to-be but also anyone looking for an energizing way to start their day.
Tip: When using cacao, look for organic, fair-trade if possible.
Choco Almond Smoothie
- 1 ½ frozen banana, diced in cubes
- 2 cups almond milk,
- 1 teaspoon raw cacao powder
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ice cubes
Step 1: Add all the ingredients to a high speed blender.
Step 2: Vroooommmm, mix it all up!
Step 3: Serve in a pretty glass jar + top your favorite granola. I topped mine with Choco Buckwheat Granola.
Chunky Buckwheat Cacao Granola
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup buckwheat
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- ¼ cup coconut palm sugar
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup cacao powder
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°F.
Step 2: In a large bowl combine rolled oats + buckwheat + coconut flakes + chia seeds + coconut palm sugar. Roughly chop nuts + add them to the mix.
Step 3: In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add maple syrup + vanilla extract + salt + cacao powder. Whisk to combine, until the consistency is smooth.
Step 4: Pour liquid ingredients over dry + fold coat.
Step 5: Spread mixture out in an even layer on a lined baking sheet. Press firmly with a wooden spoon to ensure that the mixture is compact. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Step 6: Remove from oven, flip granola in large chunks + place back in oven to bake for another 10 minutes. Repeat every 3-4 minutes until toasted + fragrant.
Be very careful: This granola is very easy to burn. Take my word for it. The thing is, the dark color of the granola makes it hard to tell if it is cooked or not, so instead of going by sight alone, go by smell. Another good way to test if your granola is done is by tasting a hazelnut, which takes the longest to cook. If the hazelnut tastes nutty + pleasantly roasted, you’ve showed your oven who’s boss.
Try it + let me know how it goes, okay?
PS: This week I was a guest on The Cultivate Show, the podcast for parent entrepreneurs who want to be great business people and even better parents. I talked about life waiting for Olivia + how my business will evolve with her arrival. The episode is now live. You can listen to the podcast here!
June is here. I’m sooooo happy. Cuz you know what happens in June right? That’s right, baby Olivia is coming. The countdown is official on. WOHOO!!!
I’m so touched by the response I got from my post The Things I Learned While Carrying a Little Pea Inside My Pod. It’s been unreal to feel such overwhelming joy + support for the arrival of Olivia. Thank you aunties. It’s certainly made my final days of pregnancy so lovely.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be popping in with a nursery tour + baby inspired crafty tutorials + hopefully (if my increasingly demanding nap schedule allows it) some business related articles, like How to Run a Biz Empire When All You Feel Like Doing is Pin Baby Clothes or Sleep.
Today, I invited someone real special to step in + give me an extra hand + show us how to make a gorgeous Beehive Painting. I may or may not have mentioned my current obsession with all thing bumble bee + how I’m planning to giveaway wild honey jars at the hospital as favors for all those who come to bee-sit baby Olivia, so if you start noticing a theme going on around here, I assume full responsibility.
Without further ado, here’s the super talented Gaby Friedman:
Hi everyone! My name is Gaby Friedman. Painting is one of my passions and today I am very excited because I am going to be Mayi’s guest blogger. Please join me as I demonstrate how to create this painting. This easy technique is perfect for a nursery.
Watercolor is one of my favorite painting mediums to work with because of the way the pigment responds on your paper and for the transparency and glow that you can achieve.
To get started, here are the supplies that you’ll need:
- Any kind of watercolors (I used Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Watercolors)
- Watercolor paper of your preference
- Big round paint brush
- Paper towels to soak up excess water and paint
- Squeeze punch large-hexagon, 1.5″
Step 1: We are going to fill the entire paper with different shades of yellow and black. So let’s start by applying clean water on the paper.
Step 2: Put a little drop of yellow watercolor onto the wet paper and keep applying color while it is wet. I recommend that you let the colors bleed in order to create a nice background to work with. I used lemon yellow, orange and black because we are going to create a geometric beehive painting. Feel free to choose your own combination of colors.
Step 3: Continue doing the same exercise until you cover the entire sheet of paper.
Step 4: Paint a second layer if you would like to have a fuller background.
Step 5: When it’s dry, cut or punch plenty of hexagons from your paper and mix up the colors.
Step 6: Create a border to work within. Arrange the hexagons, lining them up neatly. You can either fill in the hole space or leave some white spots.
Step 7: Once you’re happy with the placement, glue down the hexagons one at a time.
Step 8: Place your artwork into a frame and your masterpiece is ready to hang in your bumble bee nursery.
I hope this easy tutorial will inspire you to pick up a brush and make your own piece of art for your little one. I promise you will have a fun and exciting time.