Friends & Family: Karen – Brush Strokes & Chef Goals

KarenIn my never ending list of talented cousins, the next one at bat is Karen! And as you may have seen from my previous Friends and Family posts, I write the corresponding blogs around the subject’s birthday to kind of pay homage to them in some way. Karen’s birthday just passed this Friday, so happy birthday prima!

By now, you guys probably all know that I enjoy pretty much all areas of crafting and creation of things, and I’m versatile with my hands, but if there’s one specialty I haven’t been able to master is cooking. I can sometimes get baking right, since everything is measured to a T, but unless there’s a military grade recipe to follow, there’s pretty much a guarantee I’ll mess it up. This is one of the reasons I admire Karen so much, because she not only crafts her heart out and can do just about any craft there is, but she can also cook amazingly well, and actually graduated just last year with her degree in culinary arts!

Karen has always been able to paint and draw fairly well, but she found her niche in the kitchen, and this has actually become her business endeavor with her sister Lizeth (her feature will come around her birthday in September). PKL “Un Mundo de Detalles” (A World of Details by PKL, PKL being their roommate Paola, Karen and Lizeth) was born in the Spring of 2017 as these three crafty and business savvy women came together to execute a plan for a full-service party decoration and gift basket company. From the beginning, they have explored multiple revenue avenues with gift kits or special holiday themed baskets, party planning/decorating services, catering and desserts. On their feed, you will see all kinds of creative cakes decorated in fondant for customers with all sorts of interests, whether they’re doctors or sports fans, their cakes are a clear (and yummy) reflection of their personality. And Karen is behind all of that.

She is a great chef, an avid baker, and a jack of all trades for crafting. With limited resources and in a very hard market, they have managed to get off the ground and grow the business little by little, and are in high demand for their work all around the city, and even beyond.

Whether she’s using a brush on a canvas or on a marinade, Karen is a tireless worker and always delivers on her promises. Her work is detailed and her professionalism in such a hard industry and 100% customer-facing role is admirable.

Here are some of my favorite Karen pieces:

 

She imitates Britto, but with her own twist, incorporating the culture and folklore of her native Colombia. She uses all mediums fearlessly and creates one of a kind masterpieces, every single week. For this and many more reasons, Karen is my Friends & Family feature this week, and I hope you follow her on her journey as she continues to grow and succeed.

Felicidades prima ❤

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Friends & Family: Francis – Little Jack of All Trades Who Packs a Punch!

FrancisFor today’s Friends & Family feature, I’ve selected my younger cousin Francis, whose birthday is coming up on the 29th so let’s wish her a happy early birthday from the WCB crew!

When I think of the Shakespearean line “and though she be but little, she is fierce,” it is literally personified by my cousin Francis. Short in stature but with the personality and strength of the Empire State building, this little tycoon has never had it easy, yet she manages to always have a smile on her face, and tackle any challenge that comes her way head on.

Francis, my other cousin Cindy and I hung out constantly through our childhood, and they probably influenced me more than they know. With the years and with the circumstances in Venezuela, we were far from each other geographically, but never in spirit. We always stayed in touch through the early stages of the technology boom of the 2000s, and every chance we got to reunite, we milked every second.

I won’t go into detail about her early life, but I will say that she was the most independent seven-year old you could’ve ever met, having lost her dad at a young age and fending for herself without any fear. A few years ago, Francis’s boyfriend moved from Venezuela to Minnesota to pursue a college baseball career, and asked her to come with him. She would study English, and depending on her visa permit, she’d work part time. By work, I mean she literally managed to cross every possible industry off the bingo card, doing the oddest, most physically demanding and out of her comfort zone jobs you can imagine. Upon her arrival, she started off as a server at a Mexican food restaurant. Can you imagine working as a server without speaking the native language? I remember being terrified for her. But she did it. From there, the road has been a roller coaster, to say the least. She worked at a corn factory canning corn, from 6:00pm until 6:00am. She worked in a car factory assembling parts. She worked at another factory building window frames, burning her hands constantly. She worked at an attorney’s office as a part-time assistant. She was a nanny. Any opportunity that came her way, she took.

Through all of that, there was one thing she took on that kept her sane and gave her an outlet for her creativity: she started making and selling jewelry.

 

This was probably one of the few things that kept her sane. She really enjoyed letting herself run with ideas, learn a new method every day, and proudly selling her work. And I SO commend her for that.

Today she’s going to school and working as a bank teller. When you look at the definition of uphill battle and the “American Dream,” this is it. I believe her dream is to be a dentist and I know if she sticks it out, she will get it done.

So Fanchi, I am SO proud of you for all you’ve gone through, all you’ve accomplished, and all you have yet to do. The sky is not the limit for you, but rather the beginning. Feliz cumple cosita ❤

A Corporate Meeting With a Taste of The World Cup

As you may remember from this post in the beginning of the year, I have the opportunity to be the Hannah Montana of Corporate America and crafting, because I work on corporate matters during the day, and I get to bring in my crafting life to corporate at night.

My old SAP colleagues love to reach out with out of the box and exciting requests for me (and for them) and this one even brought me a new experience in a new medium!

The last team I worked for at SAP was the Global Content Team – a group of seriously smart and out of the box thinkers who find new and innovative ways to tell the SAP story in written, video, infographic, or any other form they can come up with. Because most teams at SAP are comprised of employees from all over the world, they tend to meet in person at least once a year to evaluate their performance and decide on their strategy for the months to come. This year’s offsite meeting took place in Budapest, Hungary, during the World Cup. Because of that, my colleagues reached out to me asking to create some fun props and maybe a concept for a team-building exercise that incorporated the sporting event in some way. That was really all they asked for, which gave me carte blanche to run with the idea, but was also an extremely broad canvas that I wasn’t sure where I would take.

My thought process was the following: they would have a Welcome Dinner on the first night, followed by a day of team-builders, ending in a Closing Dinner. So I could make three sets of props, or something of the sort, one for each of the days. They also mentioned they were going to get the team members soccer jerseys of their corresponding nationalities, which made the idea light bulb go off for me to round out the concepts:

  • Day 1, Welcome Dinner: to start things off, I pictured a sort of Venn diagram situation, where on one circle I had World Cup related props, on the other one I had props that represented the roles of the team members, and in the middle I put the country flags of all the team members, which was also the common ground that connected the World Cup props with the team member roles. Here’s what I mean:

Welcome Evening

  • Day 2, The Team Building Exercise: with having such a global team, the number one issue is probably having everyone on the same page, when they’re not even remotely on the same time-zone. This was the light bulb that went on when I found out they were using shirts: even though the team is spread all over the world, they are still one team, and they have the same goals… “One Team, One Goal.” SCORE! So I designed a banner, using a soccer ball as the O for “goal”, with spaces for their pictures (laminated, like the ones that are used in the Panini albums), and the exercise would be for each team member to get up and grab someone else’s picture and describe how their strength matched a soccer team position.

Team Builder

  • Day 3, Farewell Dinner: for the last day, after a jam-packed agenda and I’m sure lots of serious talks, I figured this was the perfect time to encourage letting loose and having fun with some off-brand corporate sayings (and a few World Cup ones as well to keep the cohesiveness of the theme throughout). I was inspired from a few different sets of props online, and came up with this bunch:

Farewell Evening

I heard feedback that the team loved the props and really had their fun with it all, and that the One Team, One Goal exercise with the banner and position-matching was a breakthrough moment for the team, and it definitely accomplished the goal it set out to do, which made me incredibly happy! There was also an HR business partner on site, and they reached out to inquire about other ideas for possible work in the future – and so the double-life continues 😉

Here are the pictures of the final product come to life – isn’t it cool how similar it all looks in person versus the digital proofs? Also, check out the thickness of the props when they’re stacked? Hand-cutting those brought back a lot of memories

What do you guys think of the props and concept? I had a lot of fun doing this, and even though I never thought I’d do the sturdy props again, my hands were a lot less hurt this time around!

Fixer Upper: Finishing Touches on the House Before Selling

Move over, HGTV! WCB is here to save the day!

As I wrote a few months back, my family and I listed our house and have slowly but surely moved our stuff and ourselves into our new apartment. The downsizing has been REAL and thankfully we’ve had all this time to sort through and get rid of/donate/sell what we’re not intending on keeping.

Currently we have an offer on the table and are waiting on the bank to approve all the paperwork for the sale to be final. We really like the buyers, and they are super happy to be moving into the house. As expected, there are some things that need to be fixed here and there, and of course I’m doing whatever I can so we can call the actual handyman for only the absolutely necessary. So here are some of the home improvement projects I’ve taken on:

  • Front & garage door makeover: Our house has beautiful wooden doors that due to normal time tear as well as Florida weather and hurricanes have deteriorated pretty heavily. So I got myself lots of sanding paper, varnish, and spray polyurethane and got to work. Check out the before & after!

    Front door:

Garage door:

  • Fixed the lamp that broke during the hurricane: remember how thankfully the only physical damage we had from Hurricane Irma was a broken lamp? Aside from one glass that got completely shattered when it fell on the rock that was right under it, I managed to put back together the whole lamp structure and glue it back to the pole! Looks as if nothing had happened 😀
  • Put curtain rods and rolling curtains instead of the broken blinds in my brother’s room: a minor “side effect” of hurricane Irma was that when I was opening the windows to close the shutters, my brother’s blinds fell off (whoopsie!) and I didn’t want to replace them with the same crappy style, so I decided to add a nice touch to the room with a curtain rod and curtains that would be enjoyed by the new owners.

I did a few more things like fill and paint the holes from hangings on walls, and many other painting-related things around the house, but these were the ones that were the most noticeable issues that we wanted to fix before the owners moved in. I’m so in love with how the doors turned out and I seriously can’t explain how big of an operation it was to put the lamp together, so I’m very satisfied with my WCB handy skills!

Extreme Makeover: New Apartment Edition

Ok, don’t get too excited because I only have two makeovers ready for publishing, but I guess it’s a good contrast to my usual lengthy posts.

With the move and fixer upper moments behind us, it’s time to improve the things that we’re actually keeping for our new apartment!

  • Bookshelf Makeover: I bought this shelf for my brother at Walmart a few years ago for his books, and it actually made it through one move with us already. It was badly beaten and falling apart, some of the nails had gone through the wrong side and broke the wood, etc. So I took out all the splinters, fixed the positioning of the back slat and nailed it down more precisely. I filled the spaces left by the missing wood chunks with wood glue, and then spray painted the whole thing a dark brown to match our new bathroom drawers. Then, I bought a Con-Tact brand non-adhesive shelf liner from Target with a pattern similar to the marble counter top of our bathroom as well. Even though originally the shelf was meant to be thrown out, this was a cheap makeover (all I spent were the $5 on the liner, everything else I already had) and it’s proving to be super useful storage for us!
  • A Quickie Makeover For a Lazy-Eye Sun: so my mom is really obsessed with suns, and she has all kinds of sunny paraphernalia around the house. But there’s this one sun I REALLY wanted to leave behind/gift/throw out or whatever to not see it again. I really wasn’t a fan of it at all, especially because the artist kind of gave it a bit of a lazy eye when he made it. Since my mom refused to part ways with it, I compromised with her by giving it a bath of rose gold, since by now you know I live, breathe and sleep on cans of rose gold spray paint. It took the depth of the design away since it’s all one flat color, but I actually quite like the little guy now!

That’s it for now! You know there’s plenty of little projects to do when you move in to a new place and especially with reorganizing all our things, but with the day to day of work, orders, and events, I’ve had to turn down the crafting for a bit. I hope you guys like these projects and get inspired to re-purpose or makeover some stuff as well!

DIY Fascinators Fit For The Royal Wedding

And we’ll never be royalllllllllllllllllllllls, it don’t run in our blood… but we sure can pretend for a day!

My friends and I decided to be royally extra this past weekend, and have a watch party for the Royal Wedding of His Royal Highness, Prince Harry and his new bride Ms. Meghan Markle aka Her Royal Highness, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. The event was everything you could’ve expected, and so, so much more. No detail was spared and the love was felt throughout social media. Our watch party I mean!

My friend Alisha decorated the room with all kinds of red/white/blue garlands, and even a Mr. & Mrs. sign! She greeted us with York peppermint patties and muffins. THE WHOLE NINE!

Ever since the engagement, our group chat has been non-stop with every appearance and detail revealed about the royal affair, and we were READY for what was sure to be an unforgettable event. As we inched closer to the day, I found an invitation online for a “Fancy PJs and Fascinators” sleepover/watch party and I knew immediately we had to do the same. I shared with my friends and OF COURSE we were all 100% on board with getting ourselves some cute fascinator hats to wear so we could be part of the day, even with an entire ocean standing in the way.

Since I’m still in the process of moving and much of this has been a huge undertaking as a de-cluttering experience for me, I didn’t want to buy a hat. The good thing is, I have materials of all kinds and I was sure I could pull something together with what I already owned. So I pulled out some fabrics, ribbons, headbands, and my trusty styrofoam head, and got to work.

I decided I would either do something in purple or gold because 1. duh, royal colors and 2. I probably had the biggest amount of materials in those colors. I started playing around with fabrics to see how they could bend, and which could sustain a form once pinned down, arriving at two very different options. The gold one was my least favorite, as it looked good on the styrofoam model, but not on me 😦 #bigheadandforeheadproblems. I thought it looked quite chic and it made me think of Victoria Beckham a little, but it was a no-go for my head.

I moved on and decided to focus on the purple one. I had a bunch of tulle circles (from honestly I don’t know when or for what I bought them) which I noticed were holding shapes, so I stuck to playing with them. Some folds, twists, and a few pins later, I arrived at my final product. To be honest, I think it kind of looks like a loofah but I also love it, so I called it a day and proudly wore it to the watch party. For the fancy PJs, I wore the set that my friend Michelle got as a gift for the bridesmaids to get ready in the day of the wedding. And without further ado, here are the final shots!

My friends all got theirs off of Amazon, and though I was tempted, I’m glad I stuck to my DIY option and I love the outcome. Did anyone else have a watch party/got or made fascinators? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to check out pictures from fellow royal subjects!

Why Mr. Kate is not only a healthy obsession, but actually the best role model ever

Consider this my official application to FULL STAN status to Mr. Kate, her entire brand, her life, her hair, I’m here for ALL OF IT!

Last year, I wrote about how I found her and I was sucked into her channel and began to religiously watch her videos, and by now I’ve caught up on almost all of her series AND I got her book (I asked for it as a gift, and my friend got me a signed version, yay!). A year and change later, I’m not only a fan of her work, but I genuinely admire her as a person and I wish more people got on this bandwagon, because the world would be a better place if we all were a little more like Mr. Kate. Much like BuzzFeed, I’ve actually come up with five reasons why Mr. Kate is my new religion:

  1. She is a savvy, trend-setting businesswoman: because of her family, Kate could probably pull strings to get a show on HGTV or any home improvement channel, but what she did instead was to put on a TV-quality show on YouTube, and is probably THE top interior design content creator on the platform. QUEEN. Also, she’s an author and runs a retail operation with beautiful merch on her website.
  2. Helping & giving back is important to her: lots of entrepreneurs on the rise are solely focused on succeeding and reinvesting earnings back into the business, but Kate has a strong conviction to give back to the community (or to fans) in various ways. For every 100K subscribers reached on YouTube on her way to one million, she gave 1K to charity. When she reached the million subscribers milestone, she gave away a 10K makeover to a fan. One of the charities she donates to is the LA Youth Network, which helps homeless and foster youth in the Los Angeles area find their footing in life with transitional housing. Aside from the monetary donation, she also dedicated and donated one of her makeovers to their center, to make it an even better environment for the teens.
  3. She’s unconventional, a total #CreativeWeirdo: if you’ve seen any of her content, you know she’s completely unafraid to take massive fashion risks on a daily basis (despite being bullied for it earlier in life), and I think the pink hair has brought that out in her even more. Her business name is Mr. Kate because she wanted to beat the girly image stereotype and beat down barriers. In one of her videos she spoke openly about not really being the type of girl that wanted to get married, so her and her partner Joey simply had a courthouse elopement which her accountant recommended for ease of paperwork and filing taxes. She doesn’t wear an engagement or wedding ring, yet her and Joey couldn’t possibly be more committed to each other, being partners in life and business. She is unapologetically herself and is a huge advocate for everyone expressing their individuality as well.
  4. She is confident in her work, but also extremely humble: there’s something my dad ingrained in me since I was little, and it was an admiration for humility. He is really not a fan of cocky people at all, and his disdain for overt conceit was directly funneled down to my DNA. Anyway – this is something that I really admire in Kate, she truly walks the line between confidence and humility so gracefully. You can tell she believes in herself and her vision when she does makeovers for others (which is so nerve wracking, to get someone’s taste and create an entire environment for them based on that, it’s insane!), but she also is genuinely relieved when people love the outcome of her work, because at the end of the day, creativity always comes with a dose of self-doubt.
  5. She keeps it real, for real: even though on her makeover videos she sticks to her cheery side, on other more personal videos, on her book and when it comes to social media, she is more unfiltered and open about the not so glamorous side of life – which is not common among public figures. One of the things she does that I admire the most is when she shares her creative process for designing her bullet journal (a type of more free agenda-running), and she unabashedly includes the pictures of all pages listing when she has things like therapy – which still has a huge stigma attached to it, and to someone like me that is incredibly reassuring. Seeing someone that seems to have it all figured out in life taking care of her mental health in spite of stereotypes and any backlash is absolutely inspiring and admirable.

As you can see, my love and admiration for Kate only grows with every video and I pride myself in learning from her and looking up to her as a virtual mentor. I am a proud member of the #CreativeWeirdo family and I look forward to everything she’ll continue to create and make over in the future.