I’ve tried to write this blog a few times now, but I keep getting carried away in the details, and then it gets unmanageable-level long… so, this is what I have to say after officially reaching one month in the UK, all in bullet form to try to keep it as short as humanly possible for me:
The Brits are some of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered. I can’t utter a single complaint about my time here, because basically everywhere I’ve been I’ve found a nice person to help me with what I needed. Whether it was my countless bank visits to try setting up my bank account, my apartment search, the people I encounter on a daily basis, etc. I feel truly welcome here. Thank you England! (writing this as an American expat on 4th of July just… the irony writes itself).
Everyone that finds out I moved here from Miami asks “why?!” followed up by “how are you dealing with the weather?” and it’s hilarious to me. I HATE being hot, I hate sweating, I hate the heat, and I’m just not made for warm climates. I am living my best life in this British summer that took its sweet time to appear, where there’s lots of sun but a chill breeze. It’s my perfect, ideal climate. We’ll see how I feel in January/February when #WinterIsHere, but I think I’ll be fine.
I’m so beyond proud of myself. I knew it was ballsy to move alone, but I just kept thinking of all the people that leave Venezuela or conflict areas, with no guarantees, no money, nothing. Yes, I left the comfort of my home, but to go to a place where I already had a job, knew the language, and would just have to settle in. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it also doesn’t qualify as unimaginable as what others have had to endure. But going through the motions of settling in quicker than most is not what I’m most proud of. I have gone out of my comfort zone and gone beyond the standard needs to not only get settled but try and build a life here. I’ve tried to make friends, I’ve gone to festivals, concerts, movies, plays, fitness groups, bars, etc. all alone. That hasn’t been easy, and it’s what gives me the most pride. I’m an introverted homebody with *some* extroverted party girl tendencies, but the former is stronger within, so it’s taken a LOT for me to keep doing it.
I thought I knew more about London, but honestly I’m basically surprised on a daily basis with new areas I hadn’t heard of, places to see, phrases to learn, etc. I am learning so much about London, and I’m learning almost as much about myself. It’s been a really great learning experience so far, and I can’t wait for what’s to come.
I’m not as homesick as I thought I would be. I miss my family, I miss my friends, but technology is a blessing that has helped me stay connected to all the people I love, managing the distance as well as could be. I can’t imagine how people moved decades ago when the best way to communicate was snail mail that took months to arrive. I love FaceTiming my family and receiving calls, texts, comments, even packages from my friends, all of which has kept me strong. The one thing I miss the most are hugs. I’m a huge touchy-feely person, and nothing feels like a good, genuine, heartfelt hug like so many of the ones I received when I left. My friends and family really filled up my hug-tank before leaving, so I’m thankful because truly it’s what I feel like I’m lacking in most here. Looking forward to building those friendships here that can feel like a hug from home soon enough.
Support comes from where you least expect it. People have reached out to me upon seeing my posts on social media that I haven’t spoken to in years to encourage me and cheer me on, many of whom have also moved themselves. It’s been very eye-opening to see everyone who cares, and I appreciate it beyond what I can say with words ❤
And I think that’s about where I should end this. I’m so thankful to all of you who have reached out and stayed in touch and checked up on me throughout these past weeks. It’s meant the world. I’m so thankful for my job and my colleagues who have been so understanding with the move. I’m so fulfilled by all I’ve experienced, and excited for all that is to come. I’ll do another post with a summary of all the things I’ve done so far, what I’ve liked, what I haven’t, etc. just to keep things digestible. Love you all!
You want the tea, the whole tea, and nothing but the tea, so help you gawd? (*tea* has never been more appropriate, haha, UK I’m READY for ya!)
Hello friends! A Facebook status wasn’t enough to capture
all of this, so here we are. First, let’s get the Q&A out of the way, based
on FAQ I’ve received as I’ve told people about my move:
Omg you’re moving to London? Why?
I’ve been thinking about moving away and having that experience of starting over for the past six years, and just didn’t get a concrete plan that made sense until now. I almost went to France to get a Master’s… until I remembered I didn’t like school.
What are you going to do for work?
Just as I was looking into my move, Nytro Marketing (the company I work for) was looking for talent. It just so happens that my desire to move perfectly fit with the fact that all Nytronians work remotely so I could do my job from anywhere AND there was demand for support from customers in the UK, so it all fell into place seamlessly.
Where are you going to live?
I don’t know. I have never been to London before, which makes this move all the more awesome/crazier. I have only acquaintances there, no one I feel comfortable reaching out to. Anyway, you can’t rent a place without a bank account. My plan is to get there, stay at an Air B&B type of place for a bit until I find an area I like and then get myself a *flat*. (ready I tell ya)
How long are you going for?
I don’t know. I’m leaving, I have no concrete plans to return or stay within a set timeline. Depending on work and how I feel once I’ve been there for some time, I’ll decide.
Now that the basics are out of the way, I can share a little more about what it’s been like to make this happen. I made the decision to leave back in September of 2017. At the time, I didn’t know where I was going, all I knew is that I had the support and encouragement of my parents. My top choices were: Bogota (most of my family is in Colombia, I love the weather, and I felt it was enough of a move yet still close, so it wasn’t completely terrifying), Canada (love the healthcare, and I have been before so it seemed familiar and close geographically), Europe (the only two places I considered moving to in Europe were France and England. France is one of my favorite places in the world and I’ve dreamt of going back ever since I lived there in 2005, but my French is RUSTY AF, so I didn’t want to add a language barrier to the difficulty of the move. That made England the European top contender), and Australia. Australia was the most far-fetched, literally because it’s so far, but I genuinely thought about it because 1. English and 2. It seems like they have a great quality of life, so why not? My dad was keen on Europe from the beginning, but I didn’t want him to sway me. I forget sometimes parents know you better than you know yourself…
As the months went by, I went through a roller coaster of emotions, mind-changes, mood swings, and action plans. At one point, I actually found a company that had offices in a few countries including Colombia & England, I loved what they stood for. They had an opening in Bogota that perfectly encompassed my experience and strengths, and I thought this would be the ideal slingshot to get to London, kind of like a slow move towards what I wanted, but paced out and it made me feel less fearful of the prospect of moving. I interviewed with them and moved along in the process… and that’s when I realized I was cheating myself and extending the inevitable. I wanted to be in London, and I knew it deep down, but I resisted it. It took a looooot of talking through with the best sounding boards to ever be – my mom and dad – but I finally faced myself and withdrew from the candidate selection process for this company. I was honest about my why, and they told me to keep them in mind if I made it to London.
Why London? Well, there’s no specific answer. I have never been, but there are two places in the world that always called to me before visiting and for no particular reason: Chicago and London. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Chicago twice now, and I still don’t know what draws me to it, but it’s there. London I have a little bit more of a connection with. Though these are by no means qualifiers for a reason to move, I have always been mesmerized by UK artists. Ed Sheeran is my favorite singer. I have a very deep obsession with Amy Winehouse that I share with my dad, and of course Adele reigns supreme. JK Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise. My favorite actor is James McAvoy, and don’t get me started on what Idris Elba does to my hormones. I worship Kate Beckinsale. Seems all my favorites come from the other side of the pond. But I digress…
Back to square one, I started looking at job postings in the UK, blogs about how moving there is so hard (so discouraging, I would read a blog, close my computer, get in the fetal position and wrap myself in my blankets and doubts of how I would make this happen). But life works in funny ways and sometimes what you want can work its way to you while you’re lost in the search. As I mentioned in the Q&A, Nytro had its needs and I had mine, and they just so happened to fit perfectly and we found each other in that intersection. We were both honest from the beginning, and it’s been a dream to work for and with these amazing professionals that encouraged me every step of the way, offered more help than I could’ve asked for, and constantly proved that things happen how and when they’re meant to.
So here we are. I’m writing this to help me process it all, because I don’t think I have. It’s been close to a year since I knew where I was going and how I would get there, to the point where some of my friends don’t believe that I’m leaving and said they’d stop asking until I booked my flight. Well, cha ching y’all. It’s booked.
Some things I’m excited about/I’ve focused on to reassure myself I’ll be fine:
I truly hate being hot, so I’m happy about getting to experience a predominantly colder climate. I got an awesome winter-appropriate puffer jacket last Black Friday, part of the little by little move.
I’ve heard that the lack of sunshine can trigger depression a bit and since I’m definitely a sensitive human, I’ve looked into SAD Lamps, especially for the winter time. Hopefully since I’m arriving in “summer,” I’ll have time to acclimate slowly.
You know when you’re aware of something, you see it everywhere? Ever since I knew London was “it,” I feel like London is mentioned in every song/movie/show, it’s INSANE. Even when I was looking for the puffer jackets, the one I bought was from London Fog. I couldn’t avoid it if I tried. On my most recent trip as I was going through the security line, I ended up striking conversations with the people around me, they were all visiting or living in London and telling me how much I’d love it. It felt like the universe reassuring me.
Zumba. You better believe I’ve been following London studios and instructors for months and one of the things I want to take into consideration when finding where to live is the proximity to gyms that offer classes. This plus my work will be the only familiar things I get to take with me, so I’m hyper aware of making that a central point to my search.
UK TV! I am OBSESSED with all the content the BBC puts out, and I just can’t wait to be exposed to that programming 24/7.
I want to make a point that throughout this journey, one of the most important factors that contributed to it was honesty. I had to be honest with myself, with the companies I interviewed with, and with the people closest to me in order for things to fall into place. And I wouldn’t have made it this far without it.
I think this post is already long enough, so I’m ending this by saying: I’m ecstatic and terrified, all at once. It feels like I’m doing what I’m supposed to, and what matters is that I’m open to whatever this experience brings me, which I assume will be a lot of personal and professional growth. With that, I say cheerio to you all and will leave you with one request: I am TERRIBLE at reaching out to people and staying in touch. If you ever think of me, please say hi! I promise I probably have thought about it but won’t do it for some odd psychological reason…
If you’d like me to document big moments of my journey here, any challenges, setbacks, etc. beyond what one would normally share in social media, let me know!
First of all, I want to wish you all the happiest of new years! Yes, even if January is almost ov… HOW?! Here’s to a 2019 filled with accomplishments, growth, adventure, excitement, and all the best things life has to offer ❤
Now, since I started WCB in 2014-2015, I have wanted so badly to be consistent with my blogging and post at least once a week. I have mostly failed with my timing, but there’s definitely plenty of content to look back on that I’m proud of and happy that I made the point to post, even if it’s backlogged (::gasps!::). Most of the good stuff is here, and that’s what matters. Now for 2019, I’m acknowledging that things need to change.
I absolutely love writing beyond belief. I am a storyteller. I talk too much, I write too TOO much, and I just love to share any insight in hopes that the right person finds it at the right time. I also love crafting and this seemed to be the perfect intersection of my two loves, but I feel very differently about both today than I did back when I dove head-first into my WCB adventure.
On one side, I consider my Etsy shop a success because to this day I still get messages about orders I can’t currently fulfill due to my corporate work. On the other, doing it full-time helped me realize that even when I busted my butt on a daily basis, #TeamNoSleep and all that, it wasn’t a sustainable business model that I could grow as I was running it. That didn’t mean it had to end, but right as I was trying to figure out my next steps and changes, I was called back to Corporate America and it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. The good thing is, I will never wonder “what if I had taken the chance on my crafting?” because I did, and by all accounts I reached many more milestones than I set out to accomplish. Additionally, back when I started, I would’ve never accepted someone telling me my business model wasn’t scalable. I had to live it and realize it on my own.
The real tea here, is that crafting has turned into a source of anxiety for me. What once used to give me joy beyond belief and fulfillment has now become a burden that elicits all the feelings I try to avoid on a regular basis. Dealing with customers, last minute orders, saying yes to so many projects I did not know how they would turn out (all of which turned out positively)… there’s this new anxiety ball where the excitement used to reside for me, and I can’t continue down that road. Whether it’s because my tools aren’t cooperating or life gets in the way, I have had too many close calls with projects where, even when I start with plenty of time, the deadline seems to crawl up on me like a monster and leaves me battered up when done. I always deliver on my word to the best of my ability, but at what cost?
I basically stopped crafting after my best friend’s wedding, and have only taken on specific projects that attract me due to the nature of them (mostly things I haven’t done, because the challenge does still excite me), or to help someone if they ask. I also moved, started a new job, traveled, and have had plenty to keep me busy in the meantime so it’s not like I had a lot of time to do it anyway, but now it’s much more of a conscious decision than before.
I also have some big life changes coming up which I can’t share much about but you’ll know when it happens. So that’s that with crafting, now – writing.
I write for a living, which is another reason why writing for pleasure was always a little bit of a hurdle. After writing e-mails, campaigns, and general copy all day, the last thing I wanted to do is write more. But, just as my feelings have changed, I have also gained new perspectives that I do want to share.
All you guys see here is my talkative writing style about crafts, travel, or random events happening in my life that I *swear* I can get away with posting to this “broad” blog. But I do write much deeper thought-style pieces for my customers, and have acquired a taste for that vantage point as well. Last year, I realized that I don’t really have a portfolio of my writing that I can show (besides this blog), so I thought I should start writing on my LinkedIn page. I really wanted to run with this idea, but there was one thing stopping me: me. I was never consistent with my blog here, and I did not want to carry that same “legacy” onto my professional profile.
As someone deep in the marketing and communications world, I know all too well that consistency is key, and writing one good piece every once in a while wasn’t going to cut it. My plan to counteract my own inability to commit was to bank as many pieces as I could to give me bandwidth to post bi-weekly for a while before I had to write something else. I have a bunch of topic ideas as well as some write-ups ready, but that honestly hasn’t gone too well either.
As if by a sign from the universe or just the way life works, every post I’ve seen on LinkedIn this week from every marketing guru is saying how LinkedIn is so amazing and will be THE key to people’s growth through content this year. Can I say I was a trend-setter since I thought of this last year? I had to try…
Anyway, this long-winded essay to say: no more crafting until further notice. I will continue to write here sporadically and without commitment, probably about travel or other topics that I will firmly believe can fall under the WCB umbrella, but probably fully don’t. I will begin writing on LinkedIn about relevant topics from all industries from a marketing/agency/observer point of view. I will also re-post good, valuable content when I come across it. And that’s the plan, for now.
Thank you all for following me on this journey and supporting my inconsistent, rambling self through it all. Any helpful tips to be a more consistent writer, please feel free to share in the comments below, I need all the help I can get!
I’m serious. I’m done with seating charts forevermore!
Now that we got that warm welcome out of the way, let me explain –
I haven’t crafted – truly crafted – in months. What I mean by that is, I haven’t made something that someone is paying for and carries a big sense of responsibility for me. The last thing I remember making (without looking back at the blog) were the props for the corporate retreat, back in May/June, so that’s a good six months of not having that type of pressure on – thankfully.
This is one of those posts where I’m going to get raw, real, dramatic, just 100% every thought and feeling, so you understand me a little bit better, especially for people that don’t understand why crafts are expensive and why this is a stressful activity for those who do it for (some sort of) profit.
A fellow craft friend and sorority sister with whom I collaborated in the past when I was actively crafting reached out to me on Monday, January 7th to ask if I would be able to help her with a seating chart for a wedding, as she had a family medical emergency and wouldn’t be able to complete it in time for the wedding, on Saturday, January 12th.
Me, queen of procrastination and over-committing, thought to myself: “ok, it’s Monday. I have all week to do it, all my work tasks are on track (though they could use some extra time invested), and I don’t have anything crazy going on this week that would genuinely prevent me from saying yes. If I say no it’s because I’m lazy, and I don’t want to be lazy. I’ll do it.”
I said yes and got all the logistical points covered about font, color, etc. It should be simple enough (can’t you just feel the movie-type foreshadowing forming here? It’s so thick I can cut it through the screen) and I would be sending pictures to my friend every step of the way to guarantee an early delivery.
I went to pick up the materials (wood plank, varnish, vinyl adhesive and transfer tape) from her on Monday night, and as soon as I got home, I got to work and laid the first layer of varnish on the wood because that needed to be completely dry in order to apply the vinyl cleanly. She sent me the final seating chart that same Monday night, and that was that.
Tuesday, I applied a second thin coat because the coat from Monday was uneven in some places and also doing it at night didn’t give me the best visibility and I missed some bristles that fell off the brush and got stuck to the wood. No biggie, you couldn’t see them (especially once the letters were placed), but I’d know and deep down that’s what ALWAYS kills me.
Wednesday I started working on the design. I use the Cricut Explore machine for all my cutting needs and I’ve been obsessed with it since I own it, and I dared not speak ill of it… until now. My Cricut, more specifically, Cricut Design Space (CDS, the free online software used to design the pieces that will be cut) let me down, HARD. For some reason when you have “a lot” of components in a design, the design space interface slows down. It’s happened to me before, but usually when it’s image-heavy designs, not when it’s only text. I did the seating chart for my best friend’s wedding in one day (do not recommend) last time, and it didn’t freeze up nearly as much, even though that one had more names.
After the weekend was over, I noticed that the Cricut team posted on Twitter that they had received numerous complaints about loading time and they were working on the issue, so it was clearly not just me and not an exaggeration. #Vindicated! Also, I forgot to mention – on Thursday when I went into CDS, there was an alert for system maintenance at 11:00pm MT. You know, because I didn’t have enough things working against me…
Copying and pasting each block of names under their section in alphabetical order took me F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Every copy/paste moment included a 30-60 second lag on the program, and this was repeated for every single letter after the C. Once I had the first half pre-designed, I showed my friend the digital proof and she goes “forgot to tell you, they’re supposed to be in all caps. I’m so sorry!”
Basically everything I had done up to that point (a good two hours of work, at least), wasted. But at least she saw it then and not when I was already cutting, right? Silver lining.
I re-did everything and found a way to hit less keys and endure less 30-60 second spasms of the software, and finally got all the names digitized and ready to cut. By now, it was Thursday night. I do have a job, remember? Oh and did I mention my brother broke his ankle on Tuesday so I’m also kind of caring for him? Good times.
I finish cutting everything on Thursday night, and start laying everything in a “final position” way on the board but not sticking yet, because I need to make sure everything will fit before I start sticking. Once you put the vinyl down, there’s no going back, so this is the time to make adjustments. It actually seems like it’s just *barely* going to fit, even though I set it up digitally as I always do, but I didn’t take into account the easel prongs that would block some names from the bottom if I didn’t leave more space. I was supposed to meet back up with my friend later that day so she could give me the easel, which we’d forgotten to exchange on Monday when I first went to pick up everything else.
The most time-consuming part of the process with vinyl (usually) is weeding. Basically, removing all the negative space from the cut so that all that is left are the letters, and that’s what you transfer over.
Now I had some bad moments with transfer tape for my best friend’s wedding making the menus and the seating chart, so I already had a little bit of fear here. One more thing worth mentioning – my friend hadn’t measured out the vinyl but she said if I needed more, she could overnight it to me. I was like no worries, I have plenty of vinyl at home I’m not using and need to get rid of. My vinyl has been sitting in my garage, in hot and humid Florida. I’ll just end that thought here, for now.
Did I mention I woke up on Thursday with (at best) a cold (at worst, the beginning stages of a severe bronchitis with bronchospasms – aka I couldn’t breathe by Sunday)? When I tell you I’m the queen of “perfect storm” moments…
So it’s Friday. My CEO and part of the management team are in town for an event they did plus they’ll be doing some planning during the weekend. From the moment I woke up on Friday until 8:20am on Saturday morning, I did not stop working on that seating chart. This is not an exaggeration.
This is where it really got bad: I met up with my friend around 5:00pm, got the easel, showed her a picture of the first half of the names “placed” to make sure they fit and told her “don’t worry, I will deliver it done tomorrow” and had an out of body moment thinking “you will regret this promise.”
I went back home and started sticking. The title “your seat awaits” went pretty easily – big letters were not my concern. Actually, sidenote – when my friend asked me to do this, I asked her how it was sticking vinyl on wood because I hadn’t worked it before, and she said “it’s a lot of rubbing” which is not ideal, but what I expected from my previous experiences. I measured everything out carefully and started with the As. All good. Then I went with the Bs and for some reason, the letters would not come off the transfer tape onto the wood. I think it’s because it was a fresh piece of transfer tape and those tend to be a little more frisky. So I start rubbing the next transfer tape pieces on random surfaces to create some “wear” so that wouldn’t happen again. C, D, E, F, G, H, J – done. It took about two to three hours to do them. It was about 1:30am when I was ready to move on to the next side. I believe the vinyl my friend had was enough for half of the name, and the vinyl I had did the other half. I don’t know which half was which, but I have a feeling her half did the first and my half was the second because…
As I start rubbing off the K, L, M, things are starting to slow down like they did for the letter B. And I come to realize that it might be because I did the second batch of names with my vinyl, which was sitting in my garage for months with heat and humidity, and that’s probably why it’s not sticking as well as the other one. Now, I can’t quite put into words the level of frustration that it is to try and lift transfer tape and all the little letters and periods in “Mr.” coming back up and not sticking to the wood, but at 3:00am and with a deadline, I reached a level of desperation I don’t often get to. It was panic attack central. I was playing anti-anxiety music, trying to calm down and remember how every time I’ve ever freaked out about anything, I’ve always pulled through, and this time would be no different, because I had made a promise and my word means everything to me.
My brother tries to help calm me down with his presence (he’s not even remotely a little crafty) and then I run an idea by him. I have another roll of new vinyl I got which might work better but, I’d have to re-weed everything from O-Z so it’s probably going to take just about the same amount of time, but it will frustrate me less so it might be better for my mental health. He says go for it. I opened a brand new Cricut Design Space project and try with just the letter O. For some reason the font came out slightly smaller, but the weeding was fast (only 3 names) and it gave me enough push to decide to do the rest. I re-digitize the remaining letters (because the original design takes too long to load to even try to cut it) and while that’s happening, I decide to go stick the Ps so I can do something valuable with my time. I discover that removing the transfer tape diagonally instead of laterally kind of helps.
The new batch is cut and as I’m weeding it, I realize that the backing of this other vinyl is too slippery and the letters are moving around and won’t sustain the spacing/will look crooked. So… I gave up on the newly cut names, and go back to my original, unsticky vinyl.
As I finish up the Ts, I realize I cut off two names from the S group and now I have nowhere to put them (and even though at first the letters don’t stick, then they don’t come off… even though I tried, so I had to do double peel duty on the Ts). So it occurs to me that I should join the R & S and use the space that was originally for the S for those two names (thankfully the space, even though scrunched, was just enough for two names).
I then go down and do the Z to make sure the space is even from the bottom and then realized that my worry that I’d run out of space made me save too much and now I’d have extra space. So I got artsy with the Y and Z to make up for the excess space.
And then it was 8:20 am. I clocked it when I sent the picture to my mom.
I had to deliver the chart at the reception venue which was about an hour away from my house, and be there by 1:00pm. It was also a friend’s birthday and I had committed to making crafts for the room of the hotel where I was also supposed to stay, except that I had a virus and horrible bronchitis by this point, but I had still committed to the (simple) decor…
I passed out and woke up at 11:30am to get ready to leave by 12:00pm. I printed my friend’s decor, took everything to the car, had a mini photo shoot and left by 12:05pm.
I was so tired from the all-nighter I almost didn’t realize I didn’t have enough gas to make it as I pulled into the gas station to get water… so I got gas, made it to the venue, delivered the seating chart, and thus concluded the nightmare that was the last seating chart I’ll ever make.
It came out beautiful, and no one would be able to gauge a second of the struggle it entailed just from looking at it. And that’s crafting, at its best.
These are the types of projects that yield equal amounts of fulfillment and anxiety. I can’t believe I pulled it off and I’m so happy I did and it’s in the past, but I seriously had the worst burst of anxiety and panic thinking of the consequences if I didn’t finish it – lose a friend, give her a bad reputation with the event planner (or even circle of planners, because they all talk and can destroy a vendor with just a word), “ruin a bride’s wedding day” because everything is so high stakes in that emotional “best/biggest day” of the couple’s lives… I’m surprised I didn’t need a defibrillator with the amount of thoughts and pressure I felt at the time. I can tell you, I was close.
Not quite sure how to close this other than thanking the universe and every holy power that intervened for me to retain some semblance of sanity and finish the project so I could deliver on my promise. Any comments, stories, or whatever reactions you may have, feel free to sound off below. I just felt all the feelings all over again so I’m reluctant to stop typing until I can feel something else… Jk, bye!
Looking back on all the crafting opportunities my best friend’s wedding brought me has been incredibly fulfilling, and as the wedding craziness came to a close, there was one more project I wanted to tackle: preserving the bouquet.
This idea came to be because through all of my endless Pinterest perusing I kept seeing pictures of preserved bouquets, and so I asked Michelle if she had any plans for it and when she said she didn’t, I asked if she minded if I tried something, which she agreed to. I really didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to do it, but I had a few options in mind from my favorite pins:
A framed “pressed” bouquet: I really liked this option because Michelle’s bouquet had lots of colors and a similar “spread” look, but I knew this one would be virtually impossible to make because hers was HUGE and shrinking it would take away from its original shape. Upon deeper research I also came to realize this preservation technique was no DIY and would turn out to be really expensive.
A paper weight: this option looked truly stunning with the added plus that there could be multiples made for the mothers of the bride and groom, etc. When I first saw it, I assumed I’d be able to do it myself with resin, but then I did some research and realized that the resin is a really strong chemical that would tamper the flowers and it would end up looking a mess.
A Christmas ornament: this was basically the only option that looked truly DIY-able, could also yield multiple items and was very pretty, so that basically made the decision for me and I got to work!
I brought the wedding bouquet home with me from the reception and put it in water so that the flowers would survive while I figured out the action plan and bought the materials. I read that silica gel was the perfect medium to dry the flowers, and when I went to ask about it at JoAnn, turns out they have actual flower drying crystals. Since the wedding was in the spring, there were no Christmas products in stores, so I bought the clear ornaments from Amazon. The two final touches to complete the look were a thin burgundy ribbon to cover the line where the ornament comes together, and some copper/rose gold jingle bells because if you thought I wasn’t going to add some sort of rose gold element to this final wedding craft, you haven’t been following this journey very closely…
Below a quick gallery look at the steps to get the flowers dry:
I handled the flowers and the gel with latex gloves to avoid any skin reactions or allergies. I placed a layer of the drying gel as a bed in a long Tupperware container. Cut all the usable flowers and pretty leaves from the stems, and filled them with the crystals. I used the entire container of drying crystals. The instructions said to leave them for two weeks, but since I was mid-moving, I actually left them in there for over a month. When I took them out they were all beyond dry and after I shook off the drying crystals, they were ready to go!
The process of choosing the flowers for each ornament was pretty easy, I tried to make them all different and as filled as possible. I ended up being able to make six of them, and I think they turned out really cute! Which, I should say here that the original stunning bouquet is a creation of Ever After Floral Designs in South Florida. I’ve been to two weddings where they provided the florals and they were INCREDIBLE. (Note to brides: their bouquets are extremely elaborate and heavy, and will give you the arm workout of your life!)
The last step was to find a container to give them to Michelle, and I ended up finding the PERFECT one by looking around JoAnn and finding an empty box of a product that I later spray painted, you guessed it – rose gold.
On the left you can see the variety of flowers and leaves I included in the ornaments to preserve the same look and feel of Michelle’s bouquet. In the middle are the rose gold box, jingle bells & burgundy ribbon, and on the right, the final ornaments!
Once the ornaments were done I did a trial fitting into the box and, guys – words can’t explain my excitement when I realized the ornaments fit PERFECTLY in that container I found in JoAnn, as if they were supposed to go in there in the first place. It was a total “eye-ball” guesstimation success. I added some shredded paper to cushion them and that’s all she wrote! The final product:
Have any of you guys done a bouquet preservation project? Drop links to your pictures in the comments, I’d love to see some more cool ideas!
To many of you, it might seem odd to read me talking about makeup in my blog about crafting… but when you think about it, makeup is an art form designed to decorate your face/showcase your features in ways it doesn’t show naturally and thus, it’s something I thought I’d share with you guys! Also, if you let me get away with the “to travel well is a craft” idea to include my travel blogs here, then this is not that big of a stretch 😉
As the title of this blog entry indicates, makeup for me has been a journey, with many moments of really feeling the power of makeup to its full extent, to full-on “my bare face would’ve looked better” staring contests with the mirror. Having other people do my makeup helped me realize that my eye-shape is not something everyone can do well, and I need to know the credentials of the makeup artist (MUA) before booking as I had many experiences where I was unhappy with my final look, probably because the MUA lacked proper training – or frankly – talent.
When I was little, the makeup of the 90s was very easy to follow as it was very bold, no proper blending needed, and my mom’s makeup bag had everything I needed to make myself feel like a grown little woman. I went to an debutante academy where they taught modeling, dining etiquette, makeup, etc. and I “learned” to do my makeup there, which when looking at my pictures it’s a clear reflection of that 90s wild stamping technique…
It’s funny to think that at that time everyone was saying congratulations for doing such a great job, and it looks like a watercolor mess in my lids haha!
As I went into my teenage years, the makeup trend that took me over by storm was the use of heavy and thick black eyeliner. At this point, many people were getting their top eyelids tattooed, so it was kind of a movement. Looking back, it definitely was not the most flattering look for me, but I was not the only offender by a long shot, so I think I can get away with this particular crime.
Then, as I hit the late high school, early college years, I came to realize something: I did not know how to properly put on eye shadow. Or rather, I couldn’t put it on symmetrically and if I went for a smokey eye, I’d end up looking like I got hit in the eyes. This drove me to a simple winged eyeliner look for every single activity ever, which ended up being my signature routine for years.
I tried doing a smokey eye for a NYE party, and I hated the way it looked. No blending, it just looked like I pressed my lid to the shadow pane…
So for years this was my look. Simple winged eyeliner – which sometimes made my eyes look droopy, like here – and zero eyebrow love…
Around this time, I also was not aware that my arched eyebrows were criminally thin and not properly framing my face, and sometimes, you couldn’t even see them with the flash. To this day, I constantly berate my friends for being terrible friends for years and letting me out of the house looking like that. I know we all had arched over-plucked eyebrows, but I feel like mine were the WORST. I finally fixed the shape of my eyebrows in April of 2016, but I still didn’t understand the importance of filling them in until that December. And then, I filled them in a little TOO much…
In late 2016 at 27 years old, I hit the lowest of low points with makeup; my older brother was getting married in Uruguay, which meant I couldn’t use a familiar MUA, but I also didn’t trust myself with a good beat so I wanted to book a professional. I went with a recommendation from the event planner to get my hair and makeup done at a salon my sister in law frequents, and I got taken care of by the owner, who upon hearing that I was the groom’s sister, decided to show off and take “extra special” care of me. She didn’t ask me what I wanted for makeup, but just decided to do a black smokey eye on me when she heard I was wearing a black dress. My hairdo (which was supposed to be a simple pony) was also massively butchered by her, but we’ll stick to the worst makeup experience known to men here. I can’t bring myself to post full pictures of my face here because the internet is forever and I truly looked the worst I have ever looked, but here’s a collage of different parts of my face so you can see the train-wreck that this lady did to me:
Look at my eyes. Both eyes are completely asymmetric in color and where they end. All the fallout under my eyes… Incomprehensible. Now my lips. I have one of the most defined cupid*s bow I have ever seen, and I have no idea how this lady could not follow it…. honorable mention to the bottom left smear. And that horrible horrible color.
No, of course I didn’t go to the wedding like that. I ran to another salon across town that my dad could vouch for because of other good work they had done, and they fixed me *just* in time to not miss the wedding shuttle to the venue.
This event completely subconsciously triggered something in me to want to learn to do makeup so that I’d never go through that feeling of helplessness again. I slowly began to creep on the YouTube makeup channels to see what they had to offer. I watched the gurus for their personalities, and I didn’t really think I was learning anything just from watching, but I was slowly taking in techniques, product recommendations, and more tips than I could realize. Nikkie Tutorials, Jaclyn Hill, Tati Westbrook, James Charles, and others were slowly teaching me the ropes as I built a “how-to” repertoire in the back of my head. In May of 2017, I tried applying fake lashes on for my little brother’s college graduation, and I failed. That was the third time I had attempted to wear them with no luck. Then, the timeline of my makeup confidence started to build as I practiced and didn’t feel like a complete troll each time:
July 2017 I decided to do a themed makeup for a Clasico game between the Real Madrid and Barca teams when they came to play in Miami. As a Barca fan, I wanted something blue and red on my face. I took my time with it and kept it simple and *gasps* attempted to apply fake lashes and I DID IT! I felt like the prettiest girl in that whole stadium that day. I was super over made-up, but I felt so accomplished!
August: I showed up to one of my good friend’s bridal shower, and my best friend (who is a makeup artist and REALLY REALLY good at makeup) said to me “your makeup looks boss!” and that’s the day that my confidence went through the roof and felt like I was ready to work a Sephora counter lol.
September: My friend was getting married, and I wanted nothing to do with any MUA. So I went for it, and did my own hair and makeup. I practiced all week and went with a neutral look but I swear it took me hours. It’s still my Facebook profile picture, over a year later!
December: Another wedding, another makeup look, and this time I wanted to go full dark glam. It might have been a lot, but I felt SO accomplished. It took me about three hours total, with about half the time just on the eye shadow.
April 2018: Wedding in DR. Again, it may be hard to tell but between the face and the eyes, this took about two hours (and I messed it up because I blinked too fast while my eyeliner was still drying). I felt like a full-on pro and guru by now.
November 2018: James Charles X Morphe come out with an artistry palette to kill all palettes, and I decide I have to buy it, and I’ve used it more times in a month than I ever used my Jaclyn Hill palette, which I’ve owned for a year and a half!
On the left, I went for the full cover look of the JCXM palette and I’m in shock that it turned out as pretty as it did! In the middle – first of all, my bathroom lighting makes my hair look like the red of my dreams! – you can’t really see but I tried a cut-crease with a liquid shadow for the first time and it turned out really nice! On the right, I tried a crease shimmer liner based on a Pinterest picture I found and I loved it!
After showing you my journey and sharing all of this with you, I want to make sure to say that I’m still very much learning and evolving in my makeup skill set. Every single time I do my makeup I still doubt myself and whether it will turn out well, but I’m getting better at it and the result always makes me happy. I have learned that the following are musts for me:
I need to use tape for my eye shadow: this is a non-negotiable for me. If I’m doing more than a natural look, I need the tape to guide my strokes, otherwise I still look like I got punched. The tape is magic!
Good tools are life-changing: it’s no wonder I couldn’t create better looks with a limited 3-4 brush selection from eco-tools. Cheap ends up being expensive, always. I invested in Morphe brushes (which are still some of the most affordable in the industry) and my blend game is forever changed.
Good makeup is key too: this is obvious, but when you have the right paint for your canvas, it all works out beautifully. The right primers and bases, good pigments, etc. can all really help you along the journey.
Gurus still make mistakes: James, Nikkie, Tati, everyone I look up to can still have a bad makeup day, and so can I. Glitter, false lashes or a beauty blender can usually come to the rescue.
If you feel like there’s something you’d really like to learn, don’t let anything stop you. Practice until you feel comfortable, and make it your own. Learn what works for you, and stick to it. 2017 was a very tough year for me emotionally, but it will always go down as the year I learned the power of makeup and empowered myself through honing in my skills with it.
Ladies and gentlemen. It’s about to be 2019 and there is literally zero excuse to be lugging insane amounts of baggage. Traveling light is the way to go because:
You don’t need three outfit changes and a full shoe selection abroad
TSA and fellow passengers appreciate one less bag in the mix
There’s no feeling like walking into the airport like you own the place because you checked in online and you’re only taking a carry-on so you can move straight through to security!
Trust me, I understand wanting to be stylish and having cute outfits for those pictures that will last you a lifetime, but seriously, if that’s what you’re investing the most time/thought into for your trip (and you’re not a stylist or influencer getting paid for your trip pictures), then, like Ron Weasley wisely said – you need to sort out your priorities.
I come from a family of hoarders that packs like we’re starting a new life over, every single trip. I don’t remember a single travel experience with my parents that didn’t require at least one gigantic suitcase per person, an airport cart to carry them, and sometimes even calling over the airport personnel to help with the load. UNNECESSARY! So please know that I understand the struggle, but I’m here on the other side of the fence, after a victorious nine-day trip to Europe with different daily outfits on a carry-on, to tell you: YOU CAN DO IT! And here are five tips to help you accomplish it:
Plan to wear your bulkier items on you during the flight: if you’re traveling to or from winter, keep your coat on you. If you need boots during the trip, wear them to fly. If you have a bulky sweater or dress, put it in your purse or “personal item” if you can. Free up your carry-on space for what matters.
Pick clothes that are timeless, easy to match, and that complement other pieces you’re bringing: whether you’re picking from your closet or shopping before the trip, make sure the clothes you’re choosing are easy to mix and match with other articles of clothing to make new outfits during the trip. For example, a pair of jeans goes with any type of top, and you only need one pair of jeans. If you stay away from specific patterns or prints, it will be easier to look like you didn’t repeat outfits during the trip.
Plan your outfits ahead of time: this one was a huge help for me in the last trip. I didn’t plan what I’d wear each day, but I mapped out the possible outfit combinations so that I would be sure not to underpack…. (as if!). For example: for nine days in Europe during a cold and rainy fall, I packed: 4 pairs of bottoms (1 jean, 2 jeggings, 1 leggings), 7 knit sweaters, 4 tank tops (for layering), 3 dresses, 2 booties, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 PJs, 12 underwear, 2 bras, 10 pairs of socks, 4 scarves, 2 gloves, 2 hats + hygiene stuff and everything else I carried on me, like the coats. Yes, ALL of that fit in a carry-on bag and personal item! And because I mapped out what I could match with what, I had peace of mind and took less time making outfits each morning. The colors of the clothes were all easy to match and interchangeable and it felt kind of like a clothing line collection that felt cohesive – and chic! Here’s the proof of the outfit variety for the non-believers (and this isn’t even all of them!):
4. Go small (or even solid) with the toiletries: listen, I don’t like wasting time on styling my mane of hair when I travel, so you *know* I needed my dry shampoo, but I took two small canisters instead of one big one that 1. complied with TSA regulations and 2. allowed me to distribute the space better. Now, every airport security has different regulations when it comes to what can go on a carry-on, and even though most are on board with items that contain less than 3 fluid ounces, sometimes you need separate Ziploc bags, or they make you take it out of the plastic bag completely (which when you pack your bag like a game of Tetris can be a real bummer). So when you want to avoid those worries altogether, consider packing solid toiletries! I was shook when I read about these, but seriously – shampoo, lotion, bug repellent, almost anything you can think of has a solid presentation to make your life EASY PEASY at the airport!
5. ROLL, ROLL, ROLL!: I remember my very first attempt to travel on a carry-on like it was yesterday. My friend kept making fun of me for the amount of things I packed for a work trip that was less than a week long, so that fueled my desire to try and do better for my next travel adventure, which was a six-day trip to San Francisco and Napa. I bought a ton of new clothes, had my outfits pre-planned, and when I started packing my folded clothes I realized… they weren’t going to fit. Before the panic set in, I remembered seeing a video where someone rolled the clothes and OH MY GOD. Not only did everything fit, but I even had extra space now! It’s the best thing ever! Except you need to keep your destination/airline regulations in mind because they sometimes do have weight limits on carry-on bags, but when that’s not a concern, hooray!
Also, can you make out how there are socks coming out of my shoes? Let this be bonus tip #6: shoes make GREAT storage places so pack them to the brim and make their passage useful!
I’m telling you, as far as I’ve come, I still could massively improve on my light traveling skills. I have friends that travel 3-4 weeks on a carry-on + personal item, and one in particular that travels for months on a backpack, and though I worship them, I’m not sure I can get to that level of expertise.
The only downside to traveling light is that you probably don’t have space for many souvenirs, or if you’d like to bring back a bottle of wine or any other liquid, it’s not allowed on board; however, since airlines have gotten so strict and selfish with their space, many stores in touristic destinations have wonderful shipping options you can ask about!
Do you find it easy to pack light for your trips? Please share any and all tips below, I love to find new ways to make my travel as hassle-free and focused on the important stuff, so by all means, flood the comments below 🙂