New OBSESSION: Mr. Kate!

Oh. Em. Gee. you guys! I just found the deepest YouTube black hole I’m about to fall into head first, and possibly never come out of. Most people don’t know this about me, but I spend a good amount of time on YouTube, half as a hobby, and half as work/research. Since I work in social media, I’m always trying to study the trends and see how we can implement whatever the kids want to see these days (hello, am I 80 yet?), but I have also inadvertently gotten invested in the lives and success of many of these digital influencers, and counting. And it’s all because of Jenna Marbles.

My top YouTuber to watch for more than a year now is Lilly Singh, aka iiSuperwomanii, who has a comedy/skit based main channel, and a second daily vlog channel where she shares a lot of what goes on behind the scenes in her life and work, and aims to motivate her viewers to hustle hard as we watch her do every day. Now, because of Lilly, I’ve come across many other creators and I have gotten attached to a few of them, but none have taken my heart and eyes by storm as much as Mr. Kate. An interior design/decorator, Kate Albrecht and her partner Joey Zehr aim to transform pretty much any space they walk into within a very short amount of time, and with all the unexpected twists and turns you can’t imagine. I consider myself a pretty creative and hands-on DIYer and handyman when duty calls, but Kate is simply fearless when it comes to juxtaposing textures, colors, materials and even multiple tastes into a single space.


Kate and Joey, no better DIY Demolishing Duo out there!

Lilly hired Kate to style her bedroom and her home office space, and it was simply love at first sight for me. The magic of Kate – besides her super charming and electric personality, her positive disposition, and boundless creativity – is that when you see each detail she is bringing into any space, there’s almost a speck of doubt “will this actually look good/cohesive with the rest of the stuff?,” and then you get to the end clip where they show the finished work, and you just have to scold yourself for ever having doubted Kate in the first place. She is INCREDIBLE and I can’t get enough of her. I immediately started back-watching everything she had ever posted, which is a lot of content and she has it broken up into series for our convenient viewing. Some of my favorites include:

  • O.M.G. We Bought A House! – a (so far) three-season style show on YouTube, with a format that EASILY competes with anything you can find on traditional TV and the likes of HGTV, where Kate and Joey purchase their first home, and do some serious remodel of every single nook and cranny of a decades-old house.
  • O.M.G. We Are Coming Over! – also known as O.M.G. WACO, taking the original OMG to new heights and places, as Kate and Joey style or remodel the homes/rooms/work spaces of mainly “digitally famous” people who much like themselves, found an online following. This one is a dangerous series, as Kate acts as the funnel to introduce me to many other creators I had no idea existed and now how am I supposed to ever get out of bed from watching so many people?! My favorite part of this one is seeing how Kate really absorbs the personalities and preferences of each of her Creator Customers, and creates a space that they could’ve never in a million years build for themselves, because we all have our strengths, but no one decorates like Kate.
  • Breaking Beige – a shorter series that showcases Kate and Joey making over smaller spaces where regular Joes and Janes suffer at the hands of incredibly monochromatic color-schemes in their homes, and Super Mr. Kate comes to the rescue to break them out of their beige cages and bring color and life into their homes.

All the shows are so well-done, and take full advantage of the season/show format YouTube offers like little other channels do. Kate has a clear vision, and the style of the shows is undoubtedly just as good, if not solidly better than whatever you can find on TV. It’s all really, REALLY well-executed.

I thought about adding pictures to this post of a few beautiful rooms Kate has created, but I simply can’t do that to all the other rooms. You just have to see for yourself! Also, the Mr. Kate channel is just about to cross the One Million YouTube Subscribers mark, so if anyone is looking for a new channel to watch endlessly, I can’t recommend this one enough!

Basically, if anyone needs me for the next couple of months, I’ll be binge-watching Mr. Kate until I can get through all of her videos and take in every gram of the fabulousness Kate has to offer.


Friends & Family: Tia Martha, A Can-Do Inspiration

Para la version en español de este blog, haz clic aquí.

For this installment of #WCBFriendsAndFamily, I’m going to get really personal and sappy, so buckle up for an emotional ride. This family member unfortunately lost her battle to cancer almost three years ago, so it’s a little hard to look at this stuff without getting sad, but mi Tia Martha deserves this, and so much more.

My tia Martha (I can’t come to terms with calling her aunt, it just doesn’t feel the same) was an admirable warrior of a human who was unstoppable in her quest to make her family thrive. There was no challenge too big for her, and she did everything with the most beautiful smile I can still see to this day. I absolutely loved my tia and out of all the aunts I have, she was the one I was closest to, and I remember her saying she saw a lot of herself in me so I think that’s partly why this means so much to me.

Within all her admirable qualities, my tia was an AMAZING cook, an extremely talented seamstress, and quite honestly a jack of all trades in the crafting department. She was super creative and made things that were useful and beautiful, and she made it all look so easy. She was one of those people who could help in every single area of set-up and breakdown for a party, and I can only imagine how many events she had her hand in throughout her life. I remember her blowing up balloons, baking hors d’oeuvres, passing out the cotillion/favors – all in the most selfless way. I don’t think she ever even craved a thank you. She was just happy to be there doing her part.

Out of all the amazing things my tia would do, I think the one I saw her do the most was sewing. Back when I lived in Venezuela, she would come visit us from Colombia and I swear from the moment she arrived until she left, that sewing machine was going. My mom had bought it, but I think my tia was the only one who ever touched it. I now see this is how my tia started guiding my creative side to go in a streamlined direction. I’d always liked coloring and building paper models or mice out of toilet paper rolls, but while my crafts were just for fun and games, my tia’s stuff had a purpose. She taught me how to use the sewing machine and even though to this day I have trouble hooking the bottom bobbin, I’ve been able to do quite a few projects with it thanks to her.

The first thing I’d like to highlight – and possibly the coolest – is this towel bag my tia “invented.” I’ve only just now seen a lot of different versions of this, but the first time I ever saw it was when my tia made them. They were a total hit and she made dozens of them, everyone wanted one. Since she lived in Santa Marta, which is a beach town in the coast of Colombia, these were super useful for everyone, because it’s a towel that wraps into its own bag, so you don’t have to stuff it into another bag where it won’t fit or carry it on your hand. It was genius. Still is.

The other great thing about my tia is that anyone would come to her with an existing product, and she’d have no problem replicating it almost identically. This is something I now realize I do as well, and I think I got a lot of my confidence from seeing her do it so seamlessly. For example:

  • This head towel – I think my mom asked her if she could make more like it, and she did, but with a few modifications at my mom’s request
  • This doll party favor – as you know, party favors are expensive. So in order to save money for this party, my tia decided to make a different version of these cute hanging dolls she saw:

I also remember, my mom was a big user of shower caps but she always lost them, so one time my tia cut up a poncho and bought some elastic and bam! Extra shower caps for everyone. I wish I had a picture of those, but none I could find. All I remember is they were bright yellow and I was impressed how quickly she came up with the idea and made them.

As I mentioned earlier, my tia was a very talented seamstress and the best show of that, of course, is clothing. She could mend and make pretty much anything, and she did. Here are some of the stuff we have record of her making:

Trust me when I say that this is just a sample of the many, many things my tia created. Unfortunately, back when she was in the height of her making phone cameras weren’t a thing yet, and we didn’t feel that urgency/ease to document everything. But I hope these were enough of an insight for you to imagine all the beautiful things my tia’s hands were able to produce. My tia had such a huge talent, I’m lucky to have been able to see her do it and to have learned from her. One of the last times I spoke to her before she passed, I was able to thank her for teaching me all she did and I told her I put an M on my sewing machine in her honor, and she laughed, as always.

Tia, I miss you more than words can express, and I am so grateful that among my crafty and talented Friends & Family, I always counted on you for inspiration, knowledge, and most of all your can-do attitude and smile.

Christmas & New Years Without My Craft Room :(

Lately, when I leave my house I feel a little bit of anxiety… for being away from my craft room, out of fear I’ll need a tool or something else I may have in there while I’m away. Or if I have an order in progress, I’m afraid of my house catching on fire, not because of my house, but because of the order. I know, I need a therapist lol, I’ve just really grown fond of being there and all my crafty possessions.

With this in mind, you can imagine when I go on an actual trip out of town, I may or may not go as far as caressing the walls on the way out, a little bit like this…

So when I left to Colombia for my prince’s birthday and to spend the holidays with the family, I took some coloring pencils, all my sketch books, some photo booth props I pre-made (for the birthday, Christmas Eve & New Year’s Eve), and that was it. Basically, anxiety to the MAX.

Then, my family decided that Christmas Eve would be celebrated at my grandma’s house, where we barely have some lights here and there, but no tree, or nativity, or garlands, or pretty much anything to make it feel like the season. With very little time and zero knowledge of places where I could get supplies, all while trying to not spend much money, my mom asked me to transform the house into a Christmas town. Want to guess how long I had to make this happen? SIX hours. Want to guess how much I missed my craft room and supplies? Manic depressive mode FULLY ON.

So… I ransacked my grandma’s closets and boudoirs looking for possible decor, grabbed my coloring pencils and my agenda, ripped out some pages, and tried to make a semi-cute garland. On ruled paper. I died a little inside. But hey, true creativity comes not exclusively while in the optimal environment. On the contrary, the true test of creativity is when you “make do” with what you have. Chopped style!

Here’s a little gallery of the transformation I was able to pull off for Christmas at my grandma’s!

So all in all, thanks to some last minute rentals, my foresight to bring the props and some bibbidi bobbidi boop magic, the Christmas town transformation was successfully pulled off! But just imagine what I could’ve done with a tenth of my supplies?

Moving on to December 31st… For New Year’s Eve, we were going to my grandma’s sister’s house, so thankfully I wasn’t in charge of decorating, but I still wanted to pitch in for the festivities, so besides making props (which everyone really enjoyed!) I wanted to make a garland I had seen… where do you think? Pinterest, of course. I don’t know what possessed me to make the props yellow and black, but they seemed like a good color palette for NYE, and so I wanted to also make the garland in that combination so that it seemed orchestrated. I got some tissue paper and got to work (toggle over the pictures to see instructions in each caption!)

So that’s it! Even though I missed my craft room and supplies TERRIBLY and I wish I could carry my entire stash on me, Mary Poppins style, I’m still happy with what I was able to accomplish on the fly 🙂



Wedding Props – Karyn & Samuel

There’s no greater feeling than working on the things you love to do, but when you get a chance to have your work be a part of the special day for a family member, it just makes everything 10 times better. When my sister got engaged, it was a very special time since she’s the first of the kids to get married, and we knew she would go all out! I loved having a chance to help her brainstorm on some stuff, and I sent her a copy of The Wedding Book by Mindy Weiss, which to this day is one of the best event-planning guides and especially helpful for brides everywhere. Highly recommend! Mindy is a renowned luxury event planner, and the book is great for any type of wedding regardless of budget, denomination or location.

When it came down to thinking of something I could physically make for the reception, I thought nothing would be more appropriate than photo booth props because I knew my sister was getting a ton of fun masks and hats and all other kinds of items for the “hora loca” (crazy hour) part of the reception. Since we are originally Venezuelan and there were a lot of people flying in for the wedding, my sister wanted to have a mix of English and Spanish props, and since she’s Jewish, I wanted to add a reference to that as well. At the time, I didn’t have my Cricut, so all of these was done printed and cut by hand!

The props were used a lot for pictures all over the reception, I lost track of them because I was having a lot of fun myself, but I did manage to get a few pictures of them!

Photo booth props always bring out the humor in everyone at any kind of event, and I really loved to be a part of the fun for my sister’s big day through my crafting 🙂 #MazelTov

Six-Step Picstructions – Chinese Lantern Jellyfish/Medusas

Jellyfish Medusa Feature PicFirst off, let me start by saying: Thank you Pinterest!

Many people have tried and humiliatingly failed at some projects seen on Pinterest, but thankfully, this was not the case for my Jellyfish/Medusa project that was part of my 25th birthday “Adult Ariel goes to Vegas” pool party extravaganza!

Now on to the action! Here are some super easy Six-Step Picstructions to guide you along –

Materials needed
1. Chinese Lanterns (I got these from amazon)
2. Plastic Table Covers (I got these from Party City)*
3. Scissors
4. Wire Cutter (for the Chinese Lanterns’ internal wire)
5. Hot Glue Gun + Sticks (I love my wireless gun!)

Picstructions (click on the image to enlarge)
Six Stepper 1 - Jellyfish Lanterns

And that’s it! This project was super easy and fun to do. My mom helped me stretch the strips while watching TV. I would say it took us about an hour to go through one whole table cover. The best part? This wasn’t too expensive, and it’s going to be a great piece of decor for my yard. Will post pictures of the party once it happens!

You can buy these from my Etsy shop here.

*Table Covers: I had the most random issue with the purple and lavender table covers. For some reason, the “Caribbean Blue” covers (pictured) are very stretchy and giving, so you can pull a lot. Oddly enough, both purple tones I bought were incredibly rigid and it kept snapping while I stretched so those took a little longer to make.

Update 10/30/14 – check out all the party details here!

Crafting: Not just your momma’s hobby

WCB Logo GrayEarlier this year, CNN Health published this article detailing the benefits of crafting as a “secret to happiness,” with known effects that resemble those of meditation.

As a Corporate America working girl (in my mid-twenties…), I long for an escape from my computer on a daily basis. I’ve always loved crafting and creating things – and I have a knack for making stuff out of literal trash. As the article states, crafting is considered a natural anti-depressant, and – don’t tell my mom – creative activities may be responsible for neuroplasticity, aka, anti-aging! What’s not to love?

I can attest first-hand to the soothing, exciting, and most of all, fulfilling sensations brought by crafting. It’s a huge part of my life – and my sanity. We all have our responsibilities with our jobs or school, and just the same, we all need to unwind. My way of ensuring I have a healthy work-life balance is with my crafting. Through this blog, I hope to share some of that with you.

Welcome to Work-Craft Balance.