Heartmade Blog

about me

Late Friday Night Confession: I’m Standing at the Edge of a Cliff

ronponche_1 copy


I’m standing at the edge of a cliff. At the tip of a very BIG audacious moment. And I’m a lil’ scared.


I’m submitting Abuelita Nany’s signature Ron Ponche recipe to Sweet Paul Magazine’s Holiday Contest. For 87 years granny’s kept this recipe a secret, until I bribed her with this competition. If there is something granny likes more than cooking is winning.


ronponche_4 copy


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 Nany’s Ron Ponche, so she keeps on making it herself. Cuz nothing says “Llegó Navidad” like the smell of rum coming from grandma’s kitchen.


Happiness is… hitting submit + feeling I already won.


Life is Messy App


I’m standing at the edge of a cliff. At the tip of a very BIG audacious moment. And I’m a lil’ scared.


One year ago, I sketched this pencil drawing you see above on the back of a journal page thinking, “Wouldn’t it be sooooo cool if I could create an app to make life a little less messy + a lot more awesome?” It felt downright ku-ra-zy. Everything inside me yelled, “Impossible. You can’t.”


So I did.


Here’s to humble beginnings that start in napkins + Post-It notes + in the back of Moleskin journals. Here’s to crazy ideas that make you wanna jump out of bed in the morning. Here’s to starting before you are ready. Here’s to saying yes + figuring it out afterwards.


Speaking of afterwards…


Life is Messy App 3

Life is Messy App 2


No the app ain’t ready. Yet.


I can see the Life is Messy App finish line, it’s right there, but things keeps happening + happening, and the launch keeps on getting postponed + postponed due to a million different little things – glitches + family emergencies + last minute interface rearrangements + technical walls of China + lions + tigers + bears… oh my!


I’m anxiously bitting my nails. I’m breathing into brown bags. I fear that because I’ve been talking about this project for so long, people are gonna think I’m a fraud. After all, I’m still “talking about it” + not “being it”… not “showing it”.


But know what?


Happiness is… remembering why I started + what I came here to do, and heck showing up + trying. Even when it gets hard + less fun. Specially when it gets harder + not as fun times. This is the part where most people pack their bags + quit. But, I can’t. I have no where else to go.


Happiness is… being so certain that this is my path that I can afford to wait.


Happiness is… caring about something so deeply that it inspires me to power though + hang tough.


Happiness is… that feeling of wanting to show the world what I’ve created from the heart. Like waiting to see everyone open their presents Christmas morning. The anticipation. The dreaming about phase. There is magic in the waiting… in the not knowing exactly how everything will unfold.


I’m standing at the edge of a cliff. At the tip of a very BIG audacious moment. And I’m a lil’ scared.


Years back, after watching The Bucket List, I wrote my own. Yes, “Adopt a baby panda” is on there. So is, “Publish s cookbook. It’s happening. And this November, there will be a red Sharpie checkmark to the left of that one. It will be epic. I will french kiss my husband with my “Rouge” Coco Chanel lipstick + disco dance under the moonlight + get happy drunk on limoncello shots + name all my stuffed animals after every single soul that made this come true.


LIMK Mayi's Friend


Happiness is… having 72 illustrations left to go (aka paint + scan + clean up in Photoshop + vectorize + send to Marbel Canseco for book design sorcery), due in 14 days. So close I can almost taste it, yet so much work ahead. But I’ve so got this. Gimme an M. Gimme an A. Gimme a Y. Gimme an I. Ra ra ra. I’m not worried, at all. I’m so not gonna panic. No way Jose. Why am I hyperventilating? Wait, did I put on deodorant? Where’s did I last see my Burnt Umber paint tube? I’m huuuuuungry, borderline hangry. Ahhhhhhhhh!!!


LIMK Sketches


Happiness is… not knowing how, but feeling with every ounce of my being that it will all get done, somehow. And I will survive. I will finish painting dad + I making pizza together, along with 71 other sketches. Just don’t ask me how. I dunno.


Happiness is… not being a lawyer. Sorry mom. Well, because I wouldn’t trade this hot mess I got myself into… this uncertainty… this not knowing for sure what tomorrow will bring… this moment of absolute lack of control, for any steady paycheck. Not interested in the fancy desk + leather arm chair + Marc Jacobs suit thank you very much. The paint staining pajamas will do. Plus, I’m kinda of a big deal on my blog. What lawyer can say that, right?


. . .


I know the odds are not in my favor. And I’m a lil’ scared. Okay more like, at the verge of a nervous breakdown. I know, because everyday feel like I’m PMSing. A girl knows.


I have never felt more vulnerable + more uncomfortable + more scared, than now. But at the same time, I have never felt happier + more sure that this what I’m meant to be doing + more A-LIVE.


I might not know everything there is about you, but…


I know that what you’re trying to do is crazy pants + it takes courage.


I know that everything that could have stood in the way has.


I know some people think you lost your mind.


I know you’re standing at the verge of your own metaphorical cliff too.


And I know you are scared.


Me too!


I might not know all there is, but I know that those war scars you’ve got are proof that you are way stronger than everything that tried to beat you.


I might not have all the answers, but you are welcome to camp at my tent anytime sister. We’ll figure it out, together. I’ll start the bonfire. Tell me your story. I’ll make the S’mores.



Mayi Carles

I Have A Dream…

I Have A Dream

There are two chocolate chip cookies left in the cookie jar that I’m trying to ignore. (Willpower Mayi. The force is strong with you.) So if today’s post feels a bit scattered…oh look a pony!


Moving on…


Where’s today’s Friday Video Time? I made you a video. About speed bumps + things. Yoo-hoo, where are you? Did my red inflatable T-Rex eat it? (T-Rex did you eat today’s episode? Then why are there crumbs all over your face + lil’ chubby hands? Open your mouth Mister. Baaaad boy T-Rex. BAD BOY!!!)


(I’m not gonna cry. I’m not gonna cry. I can fix this!!!)


Wait! I have a back up plan. And a dream. A couple actually.


I have a dream that everyone starts writing things by hand again. Letters to friends. Thank you cards. Memos. Digital communication is convenient. And easy. But ask anybody, there’s a huge difference between texting someone + getting snail mail. I would know because I got a pop-up card from a happy client this week + it felt like my birthday.


I have a dream that everyone starts cooking from scratch. Making pancakes that don’t come from a box for a change. Playing MasterChef. Testing a different lemonade recipe every week. Packing region inspired picnics. Celebrating life’s everythings, anythings, around food + multiple course dinners with loved ones for no particular reason other than just wanting to.


I have a dream that people start hosting themed parties. I call Frida Kahlo. You can be Salvador Dali. Or Coco Chanel.


I have a dream that people start reaching out into the back of their closets. For a dress that’s not part of their regular uniform repertoire. One that makes them feel amazing. And pretty. And take a few extra minutes to put on mascara + a bit of lipstick. And perfume. Oh la la.


I have a dream that everyone starts making friends based on caring. I see too much “I give you this if you give me that” friends these days. “I’ll be in your webinar if you tweet about my launch.” I’ll write a testimonial if you agree to guest post on my blog.” We can all tell what you’re doing. Real friendships cannot be bought or swapped for Scooby Snacks. Doesn’t work like that. What this world needs is a group hug.


I have a dream that everyone starts cleaning the house in rollerblade. (Wait you didn’t do that as a kid?) Barefoot works too. Or in panda slippers. Freshening up a room with something unexpected + fabulous from an antique market. Painting the walls. Decorating with fresh flowers from the farmer’s market. It’s therapeutic.


I have a dream that people stop taking themselves so seriously. Include on their to-do lists things like “High five a stranger” or “Come up with a secret handshake”.


I have a dream that everyone starts making vision boards. With Modpodge + glitter + magazine cut outs. With words + quotes that remind them who they want to be + how they want to feel. With their favorite testimonials that help them remember why they started this journey in the first place. Crazy messy is part of the creative process.


I have a dream that people start watching more Disney movies. And building blanket forts. And coloring. And wearing capes.


I have a dream that everyone starts using fluffy socks. For comfort. For warmth. And for sliding around the linoleum floor like ninjas.


I have a dream that everyone starts making playlists. For dancing in the shower. For sexy time with their man. For world domination. For when they’re sad. For creativity + radical silliness + teletransporting themselves to when they were kids. For every occasion imaginable.


I have a dream that everyone starts trading the weekend to-do list for a swing or a hammock. Start taking some unselfies from time to time. And sneak out early on Friday, to dangle their feet in an infinity swimming pool…


(To be continued…)


In the meantime, step into the mic. Proclaim your dream. “I have a dream __________________.” Fill in the blanks supernova.



Mayi Carles

Design Studio: Cascanueces

Logo - Version 3


Welcome to my new column: Design Studio, a backstage pass to my whimsical illustration factory. Please excuse the mess, a tiny Panamanian artist with a T-Rex heart actually works here. Unfortunately, no Umpa Lumpas to tuck away the chaos.




C’mon down. Sure you can wear that. Pull up a chair. I baked cookies. Take a peak at my latest creation: Cascanueces, a handsome little fella’ who’s sure to melt the hearts of millions. If I may say so myself.


Cascanueces - Round 02 copy


How often to you get to be a part of something that’s only a dream until you see it come to life right before your eyes?


When Tefy Bretton first shared with me her vision for Cascanueces, a unique pre-school in the making where kids will imagine better + discover the world through their senses, I knew something magical was about to happen + I wanted to be a part of it.


Why? Well, because in Kindergarden my parents where called to the teacher’s office. “Is Mayi in trouble, A-GAIN?”. My calligraphy had too many curls + swirls. Apparently it was an issue that needed “correcting”. Instead of punishing me or putting me on medication, mom + dad enrolled me in dance class. I wasn’t a problem child. I just needed to be me.


Which got me thinking…


I would have never discovered my gift, the reason why I’m here, through rigidity + discipline. I found it in movement + rhythm + music + self-expression. I said “helz yeah” to Cascanueces, because I refuse to believe in a world where “stay still” + “follow the rules” is what we teach our children.


Logo - Version 1

Logo - Version 2

Logo Line Art - Final


This project was a HUGE labor of love. Half-way through, I realized my 20/20 vision wasn’t so 20/20 anymore. I started to get these 24-hour long migraines. The back of my eyes hurt so bad, I had to use sunnies inside the house. Thanks to the help of twelve big-ass white light bulbs + seven 000-sized paintbrushes, we got the job well done. 


Now I need a frozen margarita!


Stay tuned for the next reveal. More quirky designs to come!  



Mayi Carles

Unplug-a-thon + Freebie Inside



I’m getting giddy about wearing my new Christmas lights necklace (which of course lights up) + giving/opening presents + baking Flourless Black Forest Cake topped with outrageously overpriced (but who cares cuz it’s Christmas) cherries + heating granny’s left overs + sighting free firework shows + roasting S’mores + dreaming of 2014 + cuddling over not so scary movies + testing new superfood smoothies + checking no e-mails + Tabata training in the sand + leaving my cellphone in a basket + swapping my Olive Oyl jammies for my Tommy Bahama bikini + giving thanks for having everything I could possible wish for.


I might be in the middle of overhauling my flagship program Life is Messy Bootcamp, which sounds like the worst time for a mini sabbatical + that’s precisely why I’m taking off my shoes + forgetting my chargers anyways. Revolutionary revelation disguised as counter-productive action, something one could have only learned from years of reaching for peanut butter when sleep deprived + mentally constipated + about to turn into Hulk.


Gravity might be working against me every year, but hell am I getting smarter by the second.


Wanna join the unplug-a-thon? There’s no pre-requisite or house rules, just a conscious disposition to disconnect from busy work to connect with happy land. You in?


talk to me

In the comments I want to know which unplugging activities you are most looking forward to during this end of the year pause. Any books + recipes + documentaries you wanna get to, but have been too crazy person to prioritize this season? Any traditions or tricks for surviving the festivities you care to spill?


Calendar Photo


winner winner chicken dinner

I’m so excited to see your replies (for sneaky borrowing potential mostly) that I’ll be giving away to everyone who raises their hand before December 31, 2013 at midnight, a FREE copy of my hand-illustrated Life is Messy Calendar. No way! Yes way, because thanks to your generosity + kindness I have all I’ve ever dreamed of under my invisible tree.


Psst… your gift will be sent manually via e-mail (so make sure you type your correct address in the comment box) as soon as my fingers get back to the keyboards.


From my little warm corner of the Universe, I wish you the most magical Holiday bonanza the world has ever seen. I will see you back in 2014 with more of what you love + an avalanche of wild (I can’t believe they’re really happening type) projects coming to fruition.


Dear Santa: Thanks for giving me the best virtual family E-V-E-R!!! I’ll take that as a sign that I’m on your “Nice” list in spite of refusing to share any of my desserts. What’s wrong with people? Seriously. Sharing dessert. Ridiculous. End of conversation.



Mayi Carles


Life is Messy Ad

It’s My Blogaversary + I Have A Present For You!


Exactly three years ago, on this very date, Heartmade was born. Little did I know that what started as a pajama passion project would one day grow up to crawl + sprint + burp + poo + sing “It’s my Blogaversary + I cry if I want to.” But I don’t want to cuz I pick dancing in adult tutus instead.


Yes, there are posts in here with horrid typos + jokes that only make sense in my head.


Yes, many times I’ve hit publish, I’ve had the assistance of a tank of peanut butter to numb the panic attack.


Yes, sometimes I sob myself to sleep when mean people say mean things about my videos.


Yes, I often seek confirmation to double check that what I’m doing isn’t totally bananas.


Yes, the “I’m an impostor, it’s just a matter a time before everyone finds out” script still comes knocking.


Yes, most Mondays I pretend I’m not cranky.


But if there’s something this little blog has taught me after three years of roller coasting is this:


candle #1

We don’t like to be uncomfortable. Duh!


candle #2

We like + seek the “sexy quick tips + “five simple steps” to happiness, the “for busy people” edition.


candle #3

We already know “how to” be happy. We have access to more information + more books + more videos than ever before. Yet, we’re still struggling. Why? Well, I’m not Albus Dumbledore but it’s finally clicked: Happiness is not to-do list material. It’s not check off-able either. It’s hard heart work. It’s life work. It’s soul work.


If we want to live, for realz, we need to buckle up + embrace the messiness in between. The holy crap stuff that’s not on your Instagram feed. The e-mail with the passive aggressive refund request. The rejected again + again book proposal. The site crash during launch meltdown. The client who’s missing in action with your paycheck.


When sh*t hits the fan we can either play the “let’s pretend it ain’t there” game or we can deal with it on the spot before it snowballs into the Apocalypse. A-ha! A space to marinate the pickles sandwiched between your online business + offline world. The cracks. Exactly.


Epiphany, 1.5 years in the making. And today, finally cuz I was getting really impatient here, my partner in crime April Bowles-Olin + I present to you (cue the Mission Impossible theme song): Connecting the Gaps: A lifestyle revolution for online superstars. That’s you in case you were wondering.



CTG, that’s our acronym (said with Edna Mode from The Incredible’s voice) is a treasure trove of resources. I’m talking:

  • Hand-painted calendar that you’ll actually enjoy using.
  • Healthy, downloadable recipes.
  • A superstar workout you can do anywhere, along with a workout jam list.
  • A hall of fame filled with online superheroes you must get to know.
  • Videos that’ll make you giggle + spit out your green juice.
  • A secret mission that will help you make a seriously awesome change in your life.



And, I bet you’re wondering how much? Right? Well, ahem, it’s FREE. Catch? None. No having to name your next born Mayi or April. No puppy or bunny rabbit in exchange. Consider it my Happy Blogaversary gift to you + April’s advanced Holiday present.


Your first mission, if you choose to accept it, awaits in the private headquarters. Opt in to receive the classified handshake within minutes. If you have already signed up, check you e-mail. Your passcode is inside.


I hope to see you on the other side.


Bring cake. I’ll blow the candles.



Mayi Carles

Come on in! Yes you, in your paint stained pajamas if you wish. This is your space to dream up + spill open your splendidly messy life in progress. You're bound to leave here feeling happier + super empowered + most certainly loved.

Free Resources New Reader? Study Guide DIY Tutorials

Work with Me Design Studio

Go Shopping Life is Messy Bootcamp Boutique

As Seen On ... As seen on ...