Quickie Crafts: Cake Toppers For Marcel’s Birthday

I can’t remember if I’ve gone into much detail about this, probably not, but I should come clean about something: I cannot for the life of me learn Photoshop. I don’t know what it is, I’m pretty good with software and tech in general, I’m eager to learn how to use such a powerful tool that could take my work to the next level and possibly make my life easier… yet for some reason, I simply stare at the layers, close the program and open PowerPoint.

That’s right. All of my digital work gets done exclusively on PowerPoint. Obviously, PPT is extremely limited in comparison to Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator in what it can accomplish, but I’ve been riding the wave with it, making it work for my needs and milking every tool available until I get the result I’m looking for.

One of the things I’ve gotten good at with PowerPoint is photoshopping people’s heads onto random bodies or objects. I did it once at SAP for an office birthday, and my dear friend Renata asked me if I could do it for her husband Marcel’s birthday, which just so happens to be today! All she asked was to make them funny. I’m heading out there now to help Marcel + 3 other friends and their birthdays, and I’m bringing the cake toppers, courtesy of PowerPoint. Check them out!

Marcel Popeye

Marcel’s head on Popeye’s Body

Pask

Pask absolutely loves cats, so I turned her into one for the day

Joao

Renata’s nephew Joao was born today, so he will forever share a birthday with his uncle Marcel!

Guy

A new friend of the group gets to be Johnny Bravo today

 

And here’s the final look, on the cake! 

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Not bad for PowerPoint, right? I know, there’s the issue of pixelation and a lot of restrictions but instead of being frustrated, I’m finding ways to get it done. I will try to use Photoshop or Ai at some point, but today was not that day. Gotta go party!

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Making The Most Out of Late Gift-Giving

With Christmas just around the corner, this post might be very timely for you, so pay attention!

As I imagine it happens to many of us, the gift I ordered for my friend didn’t arrive in time for her birthday. We’ve all been there at one point or another – whether our fault or not – and it sucks. It happens to me a lot more frequently than I care to admit, and I’m working on it. Amazon Prime has made me overconfident to the point I think if I order a gift five minutes before I leave to the party I’m attending it’s going to arrive on time (and I’m not talking about Prime Now. #JustCrazy).

My friend’s birthday was December 2nd, but the gift didn’t arrive until today, December 5th. I didn’t notice the delivery estimate until after I’d placed the order, and I’m assuming Black Friday/Cyber Week orders trampled all deliveries. I didn’t want to be empty-handed since I’d actually see her ON her birthday, and I know I could’ve just told her what I got her or gotten her a card, but I wanted to make it a little extra special. So…

I got my friend a Fujifilm Instax Mini 9, that comes in a very unique and pretty color I thought she’d love. I looked up the packaging, and I decided that it would be cute to make a little imitation box. Do you remember in elementary school when they taught us how to make 3D cubes and other figures with construction paper? That training came in handy for this! I went over to my trusty PowerPoint, pulled some images from the interwebz and used shapes to create some tabs where I thought I’d be making the folds, and printed it out – #FixItMoment: I forgot to print on thick card stock, and printed on regular paper. Since I didn’t want to re-print, I just glued the paper to the card stock with a glue stick and called it a day. #ItsHandled. Also, since you can’t really gift a Polaroid camera without film, I got her a pack of black and white film to play with! Which also came in today… so that got a little cute box too.

So that’s it! If your gift is late, your friends and family will understand regardless, but going the extra mile so that you don’t show up empty-handed and getting them excited about what you got them in a cute way can always give you extra brownie points 😉

 

Carlos’ 60th Birthday Cuban Musical Props

My best friend’s father-in-law to be just turned 60 years old this past weekend! What a milestone, and such a beautiful number. I am very fond of the 60th birthday because while doing some research when I was planning my mom’s 60th turn around the sun (shh, please don’t tell her I mentioned that number, anyone who puts her over 35 goes on a kill list! haha!) I found out that in Chinese culture, the 60th birthday is sort of a re-birth. 12 x 5 = 60, and that means that by the time you turn 60, you’ve done a full life cycle around all the signs (and sub-types) in the Chinese Zodiac, so it’s a new beginning. Anyway, I digress…

For Carlos, one of the things he has most fun doing is dancing, and since he’s Cuban, salsa is probably at the top of his favorite genres. His birthday was a perfect moment to go all out, celebrate his Cuban heritage and the music he enjoys so much. Check out the props & banner I was asked to make for the occasion!

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Some bongos, maracas and musical notes represented the hobby and genre he loves so much! The fedoras & cigar were a nod to his Cuban heritage and style!

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Rhymes and banners, nothing is… smarter? 😉

The birthday boy danced the night away and all the guests took turns posing with the props. Cheers to Carlos’ 60 Years!

Riding Sturdy: Grand Finale!

Aw man! Such a thrilling ride it’s been with this order – from the moment I got the call, to tackling the making of the ramp, the little truck boxes and finally the big truck prop… So you know, the end will be no different!

Before I show you the final pictures of everything, let’s talk about the pickup. When I was asked to make the ramp, I told birthday boy Mateo’s mom that I didn’t want to go too big because 1. Transportation and 2. Fitting it through doors/doorways. She said that wouldn’t be a problem. So when I was looking for the materials, I ran the size by her (4 x 8 ft.), and she said yes, so I proceeded. She mentioned she had a big car, so I didn’t give it much thought. After the initial building of the structure, I felt I had to confirm with her that this wouldn’t fit in a standard SUV, and she should borrow a van or pick-up truck because otherwise, this monster ramp wouldn’t make it out of my house.  She was thankfully able to find a friend with a truck, and we were good to go… on to a few more hiccups.

On the morning of the order pickup (just a few hours before the party started), Mateo’s dad showed up with a friend and a pick-up truck, and as soon as they both saw the ramp they said “WOW” and their eyes bulged out a bit as they turned to see how they’d make this work. As soon as I saw the truck, I could see the bed wasn’t long enough for the ramp to fit with the latch closed… So I started panicking internally a bit. The one good thing about the ramp, is that it was surprisingly lightweight. When they carried it and placed it on the truck, it looked like this –

It. Reached. All. The. Way. Down. To. The. Latch. AHH. Thankfully, I had the rope I bought to bring the wood home with me from the store, and also some bungee cords. They tied it down and promised to drive slowly. I later found out it took them an hour and thirty minutes to get home. That’s a promise well-kept! The big truck prop didn’t fit (anywhere really) but we managed to squeeze it in the sedan they brought along by folding the top lights a bit. Remember how I didn’t glue the flag out of fear it would make the fit even worse? Best idea I’ve ever had.

But don’t relax for one second because now the best part starts – as they’re making knots securing the ramp, I hear something about an elevator ride… and I ask “wait, the party isn’t on a ground floor?!” And to my shock, no, it wasn’t. The party was on a sixth floor. Guys. When I tell you I nearly fainted upon hearing this, I’m not kidding. You mean, a structure I’ve never built before has to not only survive 3-5 year old children, but it also has to fit into an elevator? Had I known this from the beginning, I would’ve gone for something much, much smaller. To make the rest of the long story short – the ramp made it! After unsuccessfully trying to bring it up the stairs (due to length clashing with angles/turns), they figured out that even though the elevator threshold was low, the inside was more giving and they could slide it in. But – one more hiccup, for the ride – the elevator door-frame at the 6th floor was slightly thinner than where they packed it in, so they had one last struggle getting it out.

Thankfully, I saw pictures and videos of the birthday boy, Mateo, and all his friends having a great time sliding down the monster trucks, and we all lived happily ever after. And finally for the long-awaited pictures –

The Monster Ramp

The Monster Truck Boxes

The Monster Truck Prop 

Hope you enjoyed going on this journey with me! Stay tuned for more crazy craftventures ❤

Riding Sturdy, Chapter 2: WCB Car Dealer, Inc.

After last week’s still unbelievably successful ramp construction, it was time to move on to the next item on the monster truck party order: the box trucks. Mateo’s mom saw a couple of images online of kids wearing boxes that were decorated like cars (like this one and this one on Pinterest), and wanted something similar for the party. This was probably one of the things I knew would be easiest to make out of the whole order, but still time consuming. The hardest parts were 1. Figuring out what size to buy the boxes. The party guest list included kids 3-5 years old, so the boxes had to be small enough to not drown them, but big enough to let them in with room. 2. Finding solid colored wrapping paper is so hard! Everything has patterns or lines or flowers, but I needed something completely solid. After hitting up a few stores, I managed to find the six colors I was looking for.

The list of materials for this project include: small box (got those at Walmart), wrapping paper, scissors (to cut the flaps off the boxes), tape (lots of it), a paper or plastic plate, contact paper, duct tape, ribbon, and whatever details you’d like to add to the car.

Now here’s an important step – since boxes come folded flat, it’s hard for them to stay squared/open once you wrap them. I used the flaps I cut off the boxes to create some sort of a “spring” that would keep the box squared with resistance (and more tape).

 

 

For the full craftutorial, watch this #CraftingWithKathy episode that *almost* didn’t happen but I decided to snap at the last possible moment, and even ended up bringing the “Pimp My Ride” franchise back to life…

Once I was done with them all, I thought my house looked like a car dealership. 😛 Stay tuned as I’m planning on bringing the big car prop to life next weekend!

#DiliaCumple80 – My Grandma’s Mexitastic Eightieth Birthday

Some NSFW content ahead. You’ve been warned!

What do you do when you have three themes that could be standalone concepts for a party, but you can’t decide which one to go with? You go with all three, of course.

My grandma, Dilia, is a very special lady. She’s the only grandparent I grew up knowing, with all others passing away before I was born or when I was very little, so she’s extra special to me. If you know me, you know a bit of her as well – she’s colorful, scandalous, loud, funny, loves music and loves to party, and she’s unruly like no other. So when her 80th birthday was coming up, we knew we had to do something as special as she is.

Dilia – or Yiya, as all of us have lovingly called her since babyhood – is very simple when it comes to things she likes: she loves Mexican actors/singers and music from the golden age: Tony Aguilar (whom she named her son after!), Pedro Infante, Juan Gabriel, Javier Solis and a few others can count themselves among the lucky chosen ones that my grandma considers her “husbands.” She also loves, LOVES flowers and plants of all kinds. Gardening and growing nature are one of her favorite past times and I swear she loves her trees as much as she loves her kids. Last, but definitely not least, she loves penises. Yes, you read that right. My grandma has a hilarious obsession with all kinds of penile paraphernalia, and everyone that knows her knows it, and loves that about her. My grandma’s 60th birthday was actually COMPLETELY penis-themed, and since I was 6 at the time, I asked her why her cake and her pinata were a letter “T” if her name started with a D… oh, little Kathy, if you only knew!

So with all three themes in mind, and knowing she had some aspect of each incorporated into a previous birthday, I decided to throw all the ideas together and have a theme on steroids. Here are all of the things I put together for the party:

  • Digital Designs & Memes: my grandma is a breast cancer survivor, but she had to have a mastectomy and it was obviously very hard on her not to have her breast reconstructed. Since my cousin is an artist, she has jokingly asked him many times to do a nude portrait of her, but with a young body and both boobs. Since I knew my cousin was busy, I put my digiskills to the test, got carried away, and created six nude portraits using different paintings I found online. Here’s the least offensive (but still NSFW) one:
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My grandma LOVEDDDD these portraits! Right up her alley!

Meme Compilation

Dilia has a myriad of expressions that we all know her by, so I made some memes that were used as photo props throughout the party

Fave Artist Compilation

Since my grandma found love in the musicians of her generation, I photoshopped her into images with them, so she could live out a bit of her fantasy and imagine herself with them. I put these all over the walls of the party hall.

  • Photo Booth Props: of course, my bread and butter had to be a part of the party, but these are no standard set of props. There are many custom designs with sayings that only those close to her understand, as well as some, ahem, inappropriate ones:

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  • Decor, in general: we hosted the birthday at an event venue in Santa Marta, Colombia (where my grandma and a big chunk of my family lives). We asked for colorful linens for the tables and chairs, and we brought all the accent decor items with us from the US. I made two standing 3D numbers (the 8 and 0 for 80th birthday) out of poster board and pictures, and created a backdrop for the photo booth station out of a dollar-store shower curtain, a Party City fiesta kit and some folkloric posters from on Amazon.
  • The clothes: we asked everyone to come dressed in colorful outfits for the party, but my grandma’s clothes had to be extra special. I found her this folkloric dress on Amazon, and I made my nephew David a “Charro” (mariachi) outfit.

My mom and my brother helped me with the logistics, music, drinks, food, etc. and my grandma had THE TIME OF HER LIFE during the party. She was in her element, and all of her friends came up to me saying they’d never been to a party like that. A group of her friends also decided to do a sort of poem/acronym with her name, and she totally loved it. But why tell you, when I can show you? Enjoy!

What do you think of the theme mix and the party in general? I had so much fun planning this and it’s something I hope my grandma will never forget. Here are my favorite pictures from the party: my grandma walking in and seeing the papel picado banner that said “Dilia Cumple 80” which I designed, me showing her the memes I made of her, and her hugging me to say thank you for everything I had done ❤

Flirting with… Vinyl!

For the most part, crafters and craft shop owners have a little bit of a niche, whether it be paint, paper crafting, glass work, wood burning, etc. I, on the other hand, am all over the place, excited to experiment, trying to soak up and learn as much as I can, and living out my wildest #craftasies. I enjoy this freedom, and though I’ve been working heavily on the paper crafting and painting world, I’m currently dabbing my feet in the unknown waters of Vinyl. The way I feel about working with vinyl is the same feeling you have when you like a guy who has a little bit of a dangerous appeal, and you know that the relationship has potential, but you’re scared of getting hurt… You know?

I have problems. I’m aware.

I never heard about vinyl prior to getting my Cricut Explore, which I planned on using exclusively for my card stock crafts. Then, my friend (who saved my life and taught me how to use my Cricut when I was struggling HARD with YouTube videos, so THANK YOU KATHY!) invited me to join a couple of Facebook groups called Let’s Learn Cricut Explore and Cricut Lovers Guide to Design Space (admin approval is required to join), which she told me would be a great way to get acquainted with the Cricut’s features and I could ask questions to the members – currently over 20,000 in each! So I joined, and realized that the vast majority of the members worked mostly with vinyl (or Heat Transfer Vinyl/HTV) to make decals or clothing accents. It looked cool, but scary.

I was intimidated to try any vinyl projects, because it just looked like a sticky situation (HA! get it?) and like I could mess it up easily. I avoided it at all costs and even though my Cricut brought a sample of vinyl, I refused to open it… Until I had to make an item which I knew would only make sense to be made with HTV. My friend was turning 26, and she mentioned that she wanted a sash that said “26 & Fabulous.” So I mustered up my courage, bought some glittery HTV, followed the instructions I remembered I’d seen in the Facebook groups countless times (mirror the image if necessary, check your settings, use chalk powder to show the lines when weeding, etc.) and got to work! Until I got to my first major roadblock: I couldn’t find an iron in my house. For HTV to work you NEED heat to stick it to the fabric. But fear not, because I tend to get REALLY creative when I’m in a craft jumble… So I figured, since it’s a sash, I could probably pull this off with my Hair Iron!

Ta da! I added a thin border with another ribbon to top it off, and it came out exactly the way my friend said she wanted it! She ended up wearing it all weekend long 🙂 20160108_223607578_iOS

After this, I felt a teensy bit more confident and willing give the permanent vinyl a chance, perhaps even decorate my Cricut machine (a lot of crafters do it!) so I decided to order a stack of sample colors from Amazon to have them handy for whenever I decided to step up to bat… Which didn’t take too long!

First, my mom’s friend asked me if I could make a decal for her car. Like, PERMANENT. And it had to come out right because it doesn’t come off easy and it was for her business. So I got to work, and I even stuck it on her car myself 🙂 She LOVED it!

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Any pro vinyl crafter out there will know that this is cake. The real test of vinyl craftsmanship is layering, i.e. cutting out each component of the image in its respective color, and then layering it appropriately to create the final image. And you know where I’m going with this – someone asked me for something that I knew would look best layered!

My best friend wanted to do something cute for her son’s second birthday at school. She wanted to send some favor bags for his classmates, and she wanted them to be Mickey themed since that’s his favorite character. I came up with a design idea, and she loved it, so now it was time to work! Mickey heads with their names on them? Let’s do it!

AHHHHHHHH I LOVE CRAFTING! And my Cricut!!! For these projects, the most helpful tips I’d seen in the groups included setting the machine to cut “washi tape” because sometimes it’s too rough when you set it to “vinyl,” and to invest in a set of basic dental tools because they’re thinner than the Cricut tools. Also, Cricut Transfer Tape (or basic contact paper if you’re in a bind) is ESSENTIAL to transfer/layer all the pieces 🙂

So now, having done a small scale version of the projects that thousands of people do every day with vinyl, I’m finally comfortable enough to work with the material and hope I can continue to improve my skills and do some great stuff with it! In the meantime, I decided to take my manicure to the next level with some more of that vinyl 😉 20160328_182320868_iOS