LIFESTYLE

Girls Are Mean. But! We Can Totally Be So Kind, Right? (Inside: 40 Ways to Be A Little Bit Kinder)

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Girls are mean.

Sometimes.

Okay, more like a lot of times.

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When someone is mean, I get this sudden urge to release glitter into the sky above their head + watch it shower over them like a baptism of kindness.

When someone is mean, I’m also teletransported back to Art School.

Art School was brutal you guys.

My Master’s program at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago only accepted 8 graduates per year. It was a very competitive program. And there was this super mean girl. I won’t say who she is. I’ll just say this: Her name begins with “J” + ends with “ulia”.

When I think about the zombie Apocalypse, I think about her.

When I’m feeling inadequate + untalented, I think about her.

When I suck at something? You bet… JULIA! JULIA! JULIA! Her condescending Dolores Umbridge-like voice pops in my head. It’s terrifying. TE-RRI-FYING.

So that brings me here.

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It’s time. It’s time to end this mean girl epidemic, ya know? Kill these dementors once in for all. By the way, my patronus charm is a unicorn. Ahem, ahem, just thought you should know.

Alright so… what do we know so far? That girls are mean. But! Girls can totally be so kind if we had a little bit more faith in each other. Right? Deep down in my T-Rex heart I truly believe that. And I know you do too.

Imagine a world where girls aren’t passive aggressive with each other. Where girls don’t bully each other… call each other fat or ugly or whatever. Where girls don’t tear each other down.

Imagine a world where we all play nice. Where success is measured in selfless acts. Where kindness is queen. Where lifting each other up is the philosophy of life. Where we actively + aggressively believe in each other + praise each other + defend each other + think the other deserves the world. 

That’s the world I want to live in. That’s the world I want to help co-create. With you!

The ripple effect starts with one. One person to hold open a door. One person to leave a note on someone’s car complimenting their awesome parking skills. One person to write a thank you letter to a teacher. One person to be a spark of kindness when another really needs it.

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Here’s 40 ways to be that person:

  1. Bring your co-workers a special treat.
  2. Write a poem to someone special.
  3. Give pretty flowers.
  4. Help fund a Kickstarter project.
  5. Leave a generous tip.
  6. Plant a tree.
  7. Introduce two people who should meet.
  8. Call your mom.
  9. Gift a book you have read + enjoyed for someone else.
  10. Don’t gossip.
  11. Send a gift card.
  12. Surprise someone with balloons.
  13. Do the dishes.
  14. Make pancakes (extra bonus for bringing them to bed).
  15. Give a bear hug.
  16. Really spend time with someone without your smartphone.
  17. Thank the police for doing their job.
  18. Treat someone to fresh fruit.
  19. Organize a lunch date with da’ girls.
  20. Leave sticky notes with inspirational messages.
  21. Arrive on time.
  22. Buy dessert for someone else.
  23. Donate _____ you no longer use.
  24. Make a new friend today.
  25. Mail someone a hand-written letter.
  26. Lend a hand to a gal pal.
  27. Listen to a friend’s problem without trying to fix her.
  28. Send a thank you note to a blogger you inspires you.
  29. Keep a gratitude journal.
  30. Book a mani + pedi date with yourself.
  31. Call someone on their birthday, don’t just congratulate them on Facebook.
  32. Bring wine to your next dinner party.
  33. Help a friend think bigger with words of encouragement + pom poms.
  34. Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  35. Greet people with name tags by their name.
  36. Invite others to join a conversation.
  37. Write a letter to someone who made a difference in you life.
  38. Help change a tire.
  39. Leave quarters at a candy machine.
  40. Add yours here: ___________.

I challenge you to be that person.

Use the hashtags #BringingKindnessBack #KindActivist to document this much needed revolution.

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How we make others (especially other girls) feel about themselves, says a lot about us, our femininity, our sisterly superpowers, our womanhood.

If you think a girl is pretty… pretty smart… pretty strong… pretty funny, for God’s sake tell her. Say so. “Dang girl love your shoes.” “My gosh your skin is glowing.” “I see what you’re doing + you are rocking it.” Do it! Because you will probably make her really reeeeally happy for like 21 days.

You know who else will be happy for like forever? You! It’s true, the best way to make ourselves happy is to make other people happy. Works. Try it!

This is our mission. This is why we are here. To leave the world a little bit better than we found it. What else could it be? This is it!

Do good. Feel A-MA-ZING!

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Do you remember the last time you felt a happiness boost just for being generous + providing support + giving presents or contributing to make the world a little bit better? Share your story in the comments bellow to help inspire more and more and more random acts of kindness.

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Here is to kind girls everywhere. May we be them. May we inspire them. May we raise them.

Mean girls, take note or STICK IT!!! Life is way too short to condensed. Share stories that inspire other than gossip to trash. Pull up other than push out. Plant other than pain. Give other than suck the living life outta people. The world really doesn’t need your bitchin’.

Which reminds me…

Oh Julia! Julia who made me cry every single day after Visual Critical Studies: Creative Criticism class. Julia who really took the “criticism” part to heart. Julia who was so busy hating on people that she forgot to live. To be radically happy. To matter. Apparently. At least according to Google. She’s not even in the first 5 pages #karmaisabitch.

Oh Julia! My arch-nemesis. The PC to my Apple. The Darth Vader to my Obi Wan. The Magneto to my Professor Xavier. THANK YOU for being so hard on me that you made me want to be kinder that much badder.

We all have a Julia in our lives, don’t we? I know you’re thinking of her name right now.

By the way, to all other Julias in the galaxy, please forgive me. I promise it’s only this ONE Julia I don’t like. I don’t think y’all are trolls, or anything. Pinky promise. What? Of course you’re invited to my pajama party. So are you Julia Roberts.

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These are my final words of wisdom:

Dear Girlfriend (yes, YOU reading this),

Should you ever find yourself the victim of other peoples bitterness + smallness + insecurities, remember things could be worse. You could be THEM! 

And with that out of my chest I say, Let’s bring kindness back ladies! Cuz we can.

Don’t forget to use the hashtags #BringingKindnessBack #KindActivist to track our quest + find each other.

It’s time.

*This post is sponsored by Kate Spade NY. All content + ideas + words are my own.

Photography Credit

Susana Aramburú

Flowers

Boutique Flowers

Location

Uber House

BUSINESS · LIFESTYLE · PERSONAL

Juggling Life As Girl Boss and New Mommy (Plus My Top 20 Comeback Tips)

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The other day I was talking to my friend Farideh about the challenge of being a new mom + an entrepreneur. She shared with me this quote, which pretty much sums it up: You want to work like you never had children and you want to be a mom like you don’t have a business.

Every mom/entrepreneur in the room is shaking her head up + down right now. I know it.

For months I’ve been dreading this day. The day I had to pick up my slack + get back to the office. The day I had to become both a girl boss AND a mom, like, AT THE SAME TIME. I mean, cuz I know how to do the girl boss thing on it’s own. Even mastered the mommy thing during maternity leave. But! BOTH. Damn it!!!

For months I’ve been dreading this day. The day I had to embody the challenge of wanting to work like I didn’t have a baby to love + wanting to be a mom like I didn’t have a creative empire to run.

It’s the whispers that affect me the most, ya’ know? The little voices inside my head that tell me what I could or should be doing. The gremlins that lure me out of gratitude + happiness. The mental script that teases me into comparing myself with strangers on the Internet. Those moms that are making homemade play dough + wearing Baby & Me matching outfits, while I’m here all like, “I got out of bed + brushed my hair. Go me!”

It’s exhausting.

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I guess it all comes back to fear. Fear of missing out. Missing out on being good enough. A good enough CEO. A good enough mom. It’s my struggle, and I suspect in some ways, it’s yours too. That fear of falling into the cracks of mediocrity… of abandoning our path… of walking out of our true calling… of giving up those precious moments that hold meaning to us so we can prove that we aren’t missing out.

And of course we know inside our hearts that we are everything. E-VERY-THING. That we are exactly where we need to be. On course. On track. Right here. Except when we skip a nap or breakfast because we said YES when we really meant NO. Those times, we really do miss out, on our own live.

Know what I discovered? That we cannot trade living life for what-if, because we’re afraid to miss out a big opportunity, the one that could be our big break. You know what my biggest break was this week? Watching Olivia say “PAH-pa-pa-pa-pa-PAAA-pa” for the first time.

In a way these past months have been about finding the courage to enjoy NOW for what is.

This is a stage. Just a stage. The checking-to-see-if-Olivia-is-still-breathing stage + the car-seat-tantrum stage + the shhhhhh-the-baby’s-sleeping stage. It’s all a stage. Everything’s a stage. And every stage has a beginning + an end. Just a couple of weeks ago we got over the sleeping-in-two-hour-intervals stage, and I tell you the truth: I miss it a lil’ bit because it means my baby’s all grown up. She was so tiny, like, yesterday. What happened?

The years are long, but the days go by so so fast you guys.

Maybe we become. Slowly. Perhaps at some point down the road we all the sudden become worthy to be called “ma-ma-ma-ma” + wear the superhuman boss boots.

Or maaaay-be we unbecome. Gently. Perhaps we unlearn how to be Robocop-woman, and we just are the journey. 

I think it’s the latter.

I trust it’s the latter. Because everyday I close my calendar of perfectionism + give myself permission to stay one more hour in my pijamas (or three) + to snuggle Olivia until we both become one breath + to watch one more episode of Modern Family with hubby (or a whole season) + to have a grilled cheese sandwich in bed… it gets easier. Life does.

I trust that a place in a galaxy not that far away exist, where I don’t have to give up my passion projects + I don’t have to say good-bye to those chubby little hands that like crawling up my chest from 9 to 5 from Monday through Friday. I don’t want to.

I believe there is a place where girl boss meets super mommy, for tea + ginger cookies. And they get along.

The girl boss has the backbone to stay on course + the firmness to keep going for her dreams. The super mommy has the softness to be grateful + the heart to stay grounded. We need both to guide us home.

The girl boss reminds the super mommy of her mission in this world, which is greater than herself. And the super mommy reminds the girl boss that the world doesn’t need more successful people, what it needs is more unconditional lovers + more people who read “Once upon a time…” stories.

They need each other. The girl boss + the super mommy do. I really believe that now.

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My Top 20 Comeback Tips

Coming back to work after hibernating in maternity la-la-land has been sweet n’ sour.

After a long adjustment period, I really feel like I have found my happy rhythm. I don’t know that I’m quite there yet, since I still catch myself saying things like “I survived” or “Winter is coming”, but I’m definitively getting somewhere that’s not bad at all.

If you’re looking to return to work after a a sabbatical + you’re freaking out a little (or a lot), I made a list of a few things that helped me transition back into the keyboards. Smoothly. Without hyperventilating.

Here are some handy tips to make your return from maternity leave easier from a momma who’s just been there:

1. Plan It 

If you don’t already run your life around a calendar now is the time to start. David and I both work + have a very hands-on approach to raising Olivia, so it’s nice to schedule date nights + trips. Things to look forward to in between the craziness of building our own brands + parenthood.

Of course, every family’s tolerance level is different. Ours, for example, doesn’t do well on a fixed hour-by-hour routine or controlled feeding feeding/napping schedule, but we have learned that we cannot go more than a week without a movie + we start to get really cranky if we don’t go to our beach house for long stretches of time. So, we make fun plans all the time. And those plans are locked down on the calendar.

We have also become very guarded of our social schedule + only plan for things we really REALLY want to do.

2. Share the Load

Whether you return to work 10 hours a week or 50, you will need to enlist the help of others to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Since we can’t add hours to our day when we return to work or have a Time-Turner like Hermione, we must make adjustments to our existing schedule to fit it all in.

I’m a big advocate of bring family onboard. I literally assign missions to everybody who offers a hand. My mom-in-law helps with the groceries. My sister is great at taking the night shift. Mom babysits during date nights. Auntie Kari distracts Olivia while mommy has lunch. Everyone has a role, an important role. It’s because of them that I’m still sane.

Like the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I see it unfolds in front of my very eyes everyday.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. It will not make you any less of a mother. I promise.

3. Find the Right Job

When I was returning to work, I made the mistake I see a lot of my gal pals make when going back. I undervalued myself. “I’ve been gone for 6 months.” “Everyone’s forgotten who I am.” “I have nothing to offer.”

Within weeks, I had mastered the art of working while Olivia was rolling around on her foamy play-thingy or family came to visit (ahem, ahem, babysit). Quickly I was feeling underutilized + bored. I had underestimated myself.

Being a mom doesn’t mean you’re all the sudden handicapped or sick. It just takes some re-adjustment + fine tuning.

Take some time to think about what you want to do + what your skills are + what your goals are for returning to work. Is this a return to full-time work that means pursuing a career until retirement, or is this a smaller return to increase your income while still prioritizing your family? What do you like to do? How much time can you give to a job? Can you work from home or would you rather separate the two?

Find a job that’s right for YOU. This is something you will want to talk with your partner, since it affect the whole family. So make sure to carve out time to involve hubby in the process.

4. Pass The Torch

Because I’m the boss of my own time, I tend to leave too many slots available for others people’s agendas + urgencies. I tend to overcommit. I’m that super volunteer people call when there’s an auction or a bake sale. It sucks.

Being a mom has taught me to let go of a few responsibilities, pass them on to someone else if you will. It’s been nice to finally have an excuse to excuse myself. Not that I needed one, but oh well.

5. Hire Help

Get someone in regularly to help out with cleaning + laundry + cooking or any day-to-day task that you dread doing now that time is of the essence.

Her name is Cati, our savor. She comes in weekdays from 8 to 5, and at the end of the day my floors are clean + the plants get watered + there’s homemade almond milk in the fridge. It’s AWESOME.

Plus, not only does hiring help alleviate your burden, you get to help out another working mom by hiring her. Extra AWESOME!

6. Don’t Worry

Try not to worry too much. Your baby will be fine + will not hold your ‘working mommy’ status against you. In fact, you well may turn out to be her role model. Take care + be kind to yourself. You deserve it!

7. Find Trustworthy Care Giver

Finding someone you can trust to take care of the baby in your absence is a big one. I feel very blessed to have family close by that I can count on to look after baby O when I have a doctor’s appointment or business meeting. You can always hire a nanny or find a close-by daycare, if family is not an option. But! Do your research + check references. Muy importante.

8. Pick the Feeding Method That’s Suits Your Family

I made the decision long ago that I wanted to breastfeed Olivia on demand. After overcoming a very rocky + painful start, I’m finally at that point were I really enjoy nursing. I LOVE that it requires no preparation, other than buttoning down my shirt. I LOVE that food is always available as long as we’re together. I LOVE how I feel when I see what my body is capable of doing.

Like that time we went to Vieques. Packing was so easy. And not having to worry about milk temperatures or sterilizing bottles at a remote hotel was lovely indeed.

Or like that other time we were stranded in traffic for 4 hours and 40 minutes coming back from the beach (a trip that usually takes us 1 hour + 20 minutes). No problem. Daddy just pulled over every time Oli wanted a little snack (wink). That was nice.

I really encourage expecting moms to think ahead + pick a feeding method that fits their lifestyle best.

9. Prioritize

Everyone knows I’m an avid list maker. Except now, besides making to-do lists, I make sure to circle in red the items that are top priority.

I’ve learned that not everything is an emergency, like updating my Facebook fanpage or alphabetizing my cookbook collection. If something can be done later, I put it on the back burner without guilt or shame. It’s an art. I think it comes with the hormones.

10. Learn to Say NO

When it comes to setting priorities + boundaries, I say NO many times. I’ve made it a habit.

Make NO your default setting. I know it sounds horrible, but look at it this way: Saying NO to stuff that’s not aligned with your big picture only means you get to say YES to what’s truly important. It’s called living with intention. And living in authenticity with your values is a beautiful thing.

11. Give Your Baby Quality Time

When I started taking a few clients here and there + getting back to blogging + going back to work in general after maternity leave, I made a pack with myself:

  1. Work stays in my studio.
  2. Set decent working hours.
  3. I will not take work home.

When I’m at work, I’m fully present. In my creative flow. The time I step out of my studio + enter my home, I devote it to my family. No working after dinner. No bringing my laptop to the beach. No inbox clean up in bed. No exceptions.

I think that’s one of the main reasons I don’t feel guilty about working or guilty about spending all this time with Olivia. It’s because I enjoy every instant I have with my virtual community + every slit second I get with my familia.

12. Have A Plan B

Sometimes, the best-laid plans can unravel. Tell me about is sistah!

It is possible that your nanny gets ill or the abuelita couldn’t get out of the office + cannot look after the baby as planned. Have a backup plan for such situations. I keep a little black book of options in case of emergencies – that friend you can always count on… that family member who keeps asking if you need an extra hand… that babysitter who can come to the rescue. It’s good to have options.

13. Look Your Best

You may have to buy a new wardrobe! Under no condition should you attempt to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes. That’s a great recipe for disaster! Don’t go trying to stuff yourself into your pre-pregnancy clothes. Pick up some new clothes that will flatter your new body. You can also go for a haircut. Now will be a great time to try a new hairstyle. And while you are at it, get a facial + manicure + pedicure too!

14. Sleep, You’ll Need It

Once you return to work after maternity leave, you’ll truly understand what exhaustion feels like. Juggling work + family is one of the toughest jobs in the world. So, sleep whenever you can. That dirty bookshelf can be dusted later. That movie can be watched later. That pantry can be organized later. That homemade cake can be baked later. But you need sleep, NOW!

15. Practice Makes Almost Perfect

Before you jump into the workforce, do some practice runs. Let the babysitter try giving the baby milk out of a bottle. Let the nanny try bathing the baby without you. Let grandma put the baby to sleep without your aid. See what happens. Make adjustments. This will get you ready for the real thing.

16. Remember Why You Are Working

It may be because you need the money or because you need to work to stay sane. Whatever be the reason, remind yourself of it whenever you feel overwhelmed.

17. Let Go Of Momma Guilt

Guilt comes with the territory for most moms. Let go of it. Thousands of working moms manage to bring up amazing babies. My mom is a very successful lawyer. And I think she did pretty good.

Don’t beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself if you decide going back to work is the right thing for you.

18. There Is Life Besides The Baby (Hard To Believe, I Know)

No matter how much you love your baby, don’t make it the topic of all conversations. Your life may revolve around your baby, but others have different priorities.

Don’t blame your colleagues for not being interested in what your baby ate for dinner. Don’t blame your friends for not asking you to show them baby pictures. Don’t blame your husband if he wants to talk about something other than the baby’s poo color that day.

19. Don’t Compare Yourself With That Other Moms

Parenting is hard. Don’t compare. Make the best of the situation you + your partner picked. You will soon get into a routine. I promise it gets easier. I swear it gets easier.

20. Get Comfortable With The Stillness

My biggest shock getting back to work was realizing I would never be back, like as the Mayi from before Olivia I mean. Cuz, I used to be one of those bosses that was on call all the freaking time. For e-mails. For customer orders. For comments. For social media questions. For interviews. For round ups. For blog tours. For all nighters. For a catch up chat on Google Hangouts. I was there. Busy busy busy.

By removing all that busy work from my schedule I feared that my brand would fall apart. That I would no longer have friends. That I would PUFF, disappear from the radar.

For the first time in my life, I was forced to make room for emptiness. For alone time. For introspection. For my thoughts. Like when I’m nursing Olivia, I literally can’t do anything else. Don’t believe me? Go ask my Coordinator of Messy, Amanda Sue Howell. It’s true. Every time I try to send her a voice note to catch up on work while I’m breastfeeding or playing with Olivia, she let’s us know she’s not having the multi-tasking thing on her watch.

Being present requires work. Not busy work. Soul work.

In the words of Paul Jarvis (if you’re not signed up to his newsletter, you’re missing out big time): “When your work requires you to be creative, you need to be alone with your thoughts. You can’t get around it. You need the mental space to create.”

We prefer to fill up our days with social media + e-mails + WhatsApp messages + chores. It feels productive. But busyness rarely equals creativity.

Motherhood brings with it mandatory calmness. And with it the boundless possibility of an imaginative mind + an innovative spirit. We must sit though the discomfort, sometimes minutes… hours at a time just watching the baby sleep or ironing cute little clothes. It’s part of the job. And it pays creative dividends.

Stillness is not the ultimate punishment. It feels like it, but it’s the necessary path to true creative work that matters. Just wait + see all the stuff that I have lined up for us from all this quite time. Stay tuned!

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Ultimately thou, there is no amount of preparation that can fully prepare you for the transition from full-time momma bear to world domination biz lady. I think the hardest part with any comeback is always the learning-to-trust-the-mess part.

Trust your husband to take care of things in my absence. So what if he put on the diaper wrong? Let him bond with the baby while you catch your breath!

Trust your mom/mom-in-law/sister/nanny to take care of things in my absence. So they don’t sing like you or dance like you or play like you? Do not micromanage! Your baby doesn’t need mommy clones. What your baby needs is a fun grandma. A crazy aunt. A silly God Mother. A loving cousin that sometimes doesn’t want to share his toys. That’s what will ultimately prepare the baby for the world. Diversity will.

Trust yourself to take care of things to the best of my abilities with a sense of worthiness. If you feel like you are not being as productive at work as you were before, don’t worry. You have just become a mother for God’s sake. It is a HUGE accomplishment. Give yourself time. And talk to other women who are going thought this process. It helps.

Trust. Takes practice.

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To wrap up, here’s my final confession: I’ve changed. I’m more loose in the joints + chubbier on the cheeks + my eyes are a bit more wrinkly. In a lot of ways I’m uglier. Except to people who understand. Who get it. Who know what I’ve been through. To them, I’m prettier than ever before.

I’ll take it. It was all worth it.

It’s been therapeutic to write this. It really has. Thanks for sticking around till the end. Means so much to have a space to share this metaphorical Everest climb with.

Now I would like to hear from you. Are you returning to work after maternity leave? What is it you are worried about the most? What has helped you make the transition easier? Share it in the comments!

*This post is sponsored by Kate Spade NY. All content + ideas + words are my own.

Photography Credit

Susana Aramburú

CRAFTS · LIFESTYLE

Pretty Gift Wrapping Idea for Busy People

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‘Tis the season for wrapping gifts! And to be jolly, I guess, if it weren’t for some much darn traffic + unsolicited “Hot Deals” e-mails. “No I don’t want to go on your 5-Day cruise thru the Panama Canal for $399 or purchase 2 chair recliners for the price of one thank you very much, but no thanks!”

Traffic + inbox spam aside, I’m totally willing to admit that I’m one of those folks the Grinch hates.

I get all stocked up when it comes to wrapping gifts. I never let stores wrap my pressies because (ahem ahem) I can do it way better.

Earlier this week, I started thinking about why we give gifts in the first place. Obviously there are many good + perfectly legitimate reasons. Religion aside, I suspect that at the root of it all, we give to celebrate love + spread it. Don’t we? It’s a symbolic ritual that shows how much we care for one another.

Maybe that’s why I believe in the power of intentional gift buying + gift wrapping + gift giving so much. Perhaps that’s why I always manage to set aside time to wrap all my presents over Granny’s eggnog + shiny ribbons + festive paper + Christmas-y tunes.

Still got an army of presents waiting to be decked + you have to get it done in a flash (or in my case, before Olivia gets hungry again)? This is the project for you!!!

Today I’m partnering with Kate Spade NY to show you how to wrap amazing gifts. Here’s a gift wrapping tutorial worthy of Pinterest coverage that you can put together in no time. Pssst… and your gifts will look soooo gorgeous everyone will think you spent hours putting em’ together.

Supply List:

  • A roll of paper (I used kraft paper)
  • Acrylic paint (I picked out 3 colors – black + white + metallic gold)
  • Embellishments (string + bows + washi tape + greenery + christmas balls + garland)
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape
  • Paint brushes
  • Whole punch
  • Pretty gift tags (I used my own, you can get them here for just $5)

Directions:

Step 1: Cut your paper into the appropriate size for your gifts.

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Step 2: Roll our your wrapping paper + start painting your pattern. Try different shapes or phrases, and repeat them over and over again on your paper. Here are some ideas:

  • Hearts
  • Lines
  • Dots
  • Stripes
  • Grids
  • Squiggles
  • Trees
  • Stars
  • Swirls
  • Oh Holy Night
  • Merry Christmas
  • Ho Ho Ho
  • Tis the Season to be Jolly
  • My First Christmas

This is a good time to get creative + let yourself play. It really helps to test designs + colors on the paper to see what looks best together. Once you find a couple of styles you love, paint a ton of those. It only took about an afternoon to paint six different designs + let them dry.

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Step 3: When your custom wrapping paper is all dried up, your presents are ready to be wrapped up.

Trick: This is how I make my own paper bags:

Collage Paper Bag

Step 4: And don’t forget to finish off your gifts with to/from gift tags + ribbons + garlands.

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And that’s what I call pretty + fast gift wrapping my friend. It was seriously so much fun to set aside an afternoon to do this + having my lil’ helper close by made this moment one I hope to turn into a new tradition.

Thanks for Sticking Around!

It’s been so lovely to see how you have continued to support me + follow along (on Facebook, but mostly on Instagram), in spite of my maternity hibernation. Thanks for sticking around!

You make my heart sing every time I hear what Life is Messy products you have purchased for yourself (or to give away to) + loved. It’s also very exciting (and funny) to read your product requests for 2016. I know, I know, you want pijamas + unicorn temporary tattoos. I’m doing my research. I promise.

Anyway, what I wanted to say is: THANK YOU. You’ve made coming back to work (and blogging) less scary for me. For that, you will always have a big chunk of my T-Rex heart reserved with your name on it, in the VIP section.

I’ll be back very soon for a confessional about juggling life as a mom + girl boss. Be sure to sign up to my mailing list so you don’t miss it.

*This post is sponsored by Kate Spade NY. All content + ideas + words are my own.

Photography Credit

Susana Aramburú

CRAFTS · LIFESTYLE · PERSONAL

Olivia’s Nursery Reveal

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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!

Before

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.

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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.

After

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.

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Shop the Room

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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!!!

Who’s excited?

LIFESTYLE

Ron Ponche de Abuelita Nany

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I submitted my Abuelita Nany’s signature Ron Ponche recipe to Sweet Paul Magazine’s Holiday Contest this year.

For 87 years granny’s kept this famous recipe a secret, until I bribed her with this competition, cuz if there is something granma’ loves more than cooking + seeing your face after savoring what she made, is winning.

Happiness is… ferociously following granma’ around the kitchen with a video camera to document this heirloom recipe. Until the very end she was still trying to sneak up on me, ninja-style so I couldn’t measure her “to taste” additions. “Abu, you told me this recipe called for 8 egg yolks. I just counted TWENTY FOUR!!!”. Sneaky granny. Sneaky sneaky indeed.

Happiness is… faking I didn’t actually learn how to recreate my Abuelita Nany’s Ron Ponche, so she keeps on making it herself for years + years to come. Cuz nothing says “es la Navidad” like the smell of rum coming out of grandma’s kitchen.

Happiness is… hitting submit on Sweet Paul Magazine’s Holiday Contest page + never hearing back + still feeling like a jackpot winner.

Happiness is… sharing everything this recipe means to me + my family + our history with YOU!

Ron Ponche de Abuelita Nany

Here’s what you’ll need to make Ron Ponche de Abuelita Nany, because you should. Make it, I mean. Because even if you’ve been naughty this year you deserve an indulging extravagance.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups evaporated milk (we used Nestle)
  • 24 egg yolks (not 8 as granny will have you fooled) + whisk with 1/8 cup whole milk
  • 4 teaspoons corn flour or corn starch + diluted in 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bottle of rum (Granny likes Bacardi)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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Preparation:

Step 1: In a large pot add sugar + milk + evaporated milk. Cook in “Baño María” (in English this is called “Water Bath” or Bain Mary), until it boils. Stir occasionally. It took us approximately 20 minutes.

Step 2: Bring the fire down to low heat. Dilute corn flour in water before adding to the mix. This step is important. If the corn flour is added when dried it can create ugly clusters of muchiness. Add the wet corn flour mixture to the mix. Stir well.

Step 3: Add vainilla. Stir, until well combined.

Step 4: In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks. Add 1/8 cup milk. Add this to the cooled down mix in slow motion, using a mesh strainer. Stir stir stir stir like a crazy person.This is one of granny’s secret steps. Skip it if you want Frittata Ponche instead of Ron Ponche. NOT!!! Most people get this part wrong + end up cooking their eggs. You should notice eggs yolks “strings” coming from the strainer. That’s the idea.

Step 5: The add 1 bottle of rum. Let cool completely.

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Bottle in beautiful recycled glass bottled + gift for christmas using these Holiday Gift Tags (ahem ahem).

CLICK TO TWEET: Your gifts deserve the cutest Holiday Gift Tags in the land. Check these out http://etsy.me/1BEwfci from @mayicarles

Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month. Serve in a fancy cup with ice or in a whisky glass. Make it festive!

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When I told my family “I DID IT!!! Eagle Minor One Niner has landed the recipe. I repeat Eagle has Abuelini’s Ron Ponche recipe”, it felt like I had landed on the moon or holding The Ring, as in my preciouzzzz.

Of course I documented the entire experience in film + photos, for myself, for my kids + their kids. But then I saw the footage + I was like, “I can’t keep this too myself”. So here’s an editor’s cut version of the footage. It’s raw + intimate + mostly in Spanish, but I knew that wouldn’t stop you from enjoying all the magical moments. Take a peak!

Tell me what tastes like Christmas in your family? Any treasured Holiday recipes or funny stories around food? I wanna know EVERYTHING, in the comments below. Especially if it involves a sneaky granny buahahaha.

Photography Credit

Marcela Macias

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