Becoming: Nadia Cates

Meet: Nadia Aguilar Cates  

Nadia is the Founder of Casa Palomí and Ella Rises and a proud mother of 6. Nadia’s passion for her home country has shaped her professional pursuits. With Casa Palomi and her culinary background, Nadia shares her love for Mexican cuisine (especially tamales!) through virtual cooking lessons. After relocating to Mexico for several years, she found a deep connection with her heritage, which has inspired her to empower Latina youth to connect with their roots through Ella Rises. In honor of Día de Los Meurtos, we are excited to have Nadia share how her rich culture has influenced who she has and continues to become. Because we all come from somewhere and somebody.

What do you consider yourself? Ex: designer, artisan, entrepreneur, activist, etc.

  1. There’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit in me, and I also consider myself a creative. I love to take concepts and bring them to life. For example, Casa Palomí’s pan de muerto class – an amazing Mexican sweet bread – that I did last week. I’ve never done that before but it’s live now and a success with those who have taken it!

How has your childhood influenced what you have become?

My childhood has very much influenced who I am. I was born in Mexico and raised in Southern California. I became a U.S. citizen in grade school. For a long time, I carried shame around my story because people made fun of me and others with similar backgrounds.

I am no longer ashamed of where I come from, and I can honestly say that my story and heritage empower me. I’ve reclaimed a call to uplift and empower those with a similar story.

There’s a quote by Gloria Anzaldua about this that resonates with me. In her words, “I am from the land of the North and the land of the South. Indigenous blood runs through my veins. It calls me, and I honor it. What I once saw as disadvantages, clearly defines me, strengthens, and empowers me.”

What aspects of your Mexican culture have most inspired your work? 

Mexico has such a deep, rich, and consistent cultural heritage. I’m inspired by all of it, but especially the music, food, and textiles. When I can, I meet and work with artisans. I learn about the history of the places I visit and return to them or remain in contact with the people as often as possible because that connection is what inspires me the most.

What learning experiences have been critical to becoming an entrepreneur?

I think the reality of many entrepreneurs is that you ‘fail into success.’ I’ve tried and continue to try different things. When learning opportunities have appeared, I have taken them – most recently, with successful entrepreneurs and women, who I admire, offering mentoring classes!

Which people were instrumental in shaping the trajectory of your life?

There’s so many, but closest to my heart have been my parents, sisters, my husband, and each of my children.

What is a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?

I’ve always had different guiding statements that have inspired me. They’ve evolved and changed over time, but they’ve helped empower me. A couple I like right now are  “There has to be discomfort to change” and “If we don’t heal the wounds of the past, we cannot expand to our full potential; we can learn from it and be empowered by it.”

What sets your work apart from other brands? 

My work is designed to connect you with the beauty of Mexican heritage and reflected in that you will hopefully see your beauty and strength at the same time.

Was starting your own business or taking on entrepreneurial projects always your ultimate plan? Did you always know that you wanted to incorporate Mexican culture into your work?

Such great questions. I’m a mother of 6, and that’s the most important work in my life right now. But deep within me, there was always a desire to create, but I just wasn’t clear on what that was … until I moved to Mexico. It was then that I knew whatever I did, it would be to preserve our heritage.

What does your daily routine look like? 

Routine? What’s that?

My oldest is 12, and my youngest is 10 months. You could say I’m a slave to my kids’ schedules. I work during nap times and at night. When we have big projects with Ella Rises or Casa Palomí, I always find help. My husband is pretty good at loading up the kids and taking them somewhere when necessary.

What is inspiring you lately?

The Ella Rises girls and the challenges they face. And the female leaders and artists who are participating with Ella Rises. See the second to last question.

Tell us about your current project(s).

At Casa Palomí, we share our heritage with the community through food. We’re currently offering a virtual pan de muerto class for Day of the Dead, and friends from all over the world have signed up for our class! Follow @casa_palomi for more details.

Ella Rises is an initiative to empower Latinas in high school through virtual art and mentoring classes taught by Latinas. This historic project has never been done before, and 125 girls registered for Ella Rises 2020! We meet every Monday and Thursday in October. For more details, check out EllaRises.org

You’ve done culinary school, tamales, catering, all sorts of things. Tell us about your journey!

You know, it is all rooted in my continued journey to discover where I came from and the culture around all of that. Check out @casa_palomi on Instagram –  it’s visually captured there. I think you could say I’ve been on a journey to becoming for a few years now. And, I wouldn’t say that I’m there yet.

What designers/creatives/entrepreneurs do you look up to from the past or present?

Luis Barragan, a Mexican architect, came to my mind. I love his work! I often turn to it for inspiration, and I love his use of color and thoughtfully-curated spaces.

My culinary school maestros, Yuri de Gortari and Edmundo Escamilla, still inspire me today. They ignited a spark of love and reverence for my heritage, and I’ll forever be grateful for that.

I am also inspired by Mexican artisans. I’ve been building relationships with weavers and embroiderers. Their names may never go down in history, but I know them and love them.

What is on the horizon for you and your work in the remainder of 2020?

Casa Palomí and Ella Rises are thriving, and I hope we continue to do so through the end of the year. We’re connecting and reaching individuals who seek a space of love, respect, and appreciation for people of different backgrounds. Follow @casa_palomi or @ellarises and join our journey.

What is a piece of advice you’d give to women who are considering starting their own business? 

I turn to a higher power for direction. If seeking divine direction resonates with you, I’d recommend praying, meditating, going out in nature, and reconnecting with our creator. Then, create a statement of what you want to be, look like, and do. Rewrite it in the present tense, start repeating it daily, and keep seeking divine guidance.

What is the best advice you’d give to a businesswoman on determining her brand’s mission? 

When someone asks me for advice, I try (not perfect at it) to just listen to what they have to say. I believe that we often have or already know the answers to our questions.

Are you where you want to be in your life?

Katie Richardson, the creator of the Puj Tub, once told me “You’re right where you need to be.” I’ve taken that and ran with it. So, to answer your question, “I’m right where I need to be.”

Is there anything more you’d like to “become?”

Definitely! I embrace myself fully with where I am, but my journey of growth and progress continues. A millionaire would be nice too since I would love to invest more in my wildest ideas to help people. 🙂

Day of the Dead

For this feature, we worked with Nadia on creating this portrait, honoring both her, this unique time of year with the face mask, and the catrina in honor of Day of the Dead. This Mexican holiday typically involves friends and family coming together to pray and remember those who have passed on. It is seen as a festival of celebration rather than mourning. Ofrendas, or offerings, are often set out with pictures of ancestors and tokens that represent them. Thank you, Nadia.

You can find Nadia

Casa Palomi
Ella Rises

Birthday Cake Topper with Brother

As you can probably tell by now, we can’t stop talking about how much we love National Craft Month. It’s the perfect time to celebrate your creativity and get to work crafting up all of the amazing things you’ve been thinking about. If you are feeling like you are in a bit of a craft funk we have teamed up with our friends at Brother to bring you a sweet yet impactful project to get you out of your slump and on your way to crafting town!

Using the Brother P-touch ELITE we created these colorful flag cake toppers inspired by our newest line from Abby Low found in the Lars Print Shop. You may know by now that we love celebrating and since we are already celebrating craft month we figured we may as well celebrate anyone and everyone out there with a March birthday with these adorable birthday flag cake toppers.

Birthdays are so very special and we tend to go bananas decorating and that’s part of the reason we love using the P-touch ELITE because of how easy it makes it to create personalized ribbon! Think up your birthday phrases and print them on ribbon (the P-touch Embellish ELITE prints on tape too!) so you can create the perfect phrases, specific for your birthday queen or king!  

Here’s how you do it! 

Directions: 

  1. Pick your color palette 
  2. Paint your skewers to the colors you have chosen. We painted three skewers of each color and used 21 skewers and six colors (the more the better in our opinion)
  3. Set aside to dry. 
  4. Paint the wood beads in the same palette, three of each color in all six colors. 
  5. Set aside to dry. 
  6. Download the Ptouch Design&Print app to your phone!
  7. Select “Create your own label”.
  8. Select “text” and add in whatever you want the ribbon to say or even a graphic!
  9. Once the text is in click “Done”.
  10.  Adjust the “Taper length” depending on how long your message is. 
  11. Scroll to the left to find “label alignment” and align your text to the right” 
  12. Once your text is in and the alignment is correct click “print” 
  13. Set your ribbon to the side and begin building your flag frame. 
  14. Attach a piece of wire around  the dried painted skewer by wrapping it around the top. 
  15. Once the wire is attached, measure the length of the wire against the length of the ribbon and cute wire accordingly. 
  16. Using the glue stick apply glue to the back of the ribbon. 
  17. At the mid point on the ribbon place the skewer there and fold the ribbon in half so the wire is in in between the two halves. 
  18. Attach a painted wood bead to the top using a hot glue gun. 
  19. Place completed flag in cake! 

We love using the Brother P-touch ELITE it is the perfect easy-to-use ribbon and tape printer that you can use to create any and all of the exciting crafts you have planned for this Craft Month! We can’t wait to see what you create!

The green polka-dot background is from our Lars Print Shop. Thank you @glweddingcakes for the lovely cake!

A trend we love “cherry” much!

Trend Alert: Cherries!

Some of our favorite cherry inspired projects from Lars past are our paper cherry wreath and our tootsie pop cherry gifts! So of course now that cherries are majorly on trend WE ARE HERE FOR IT.

Click here to learn how to make your very own cherry wreath!

Very Cherry Statement Pieces

Cherries can make a statement in literally any area of your life, as you’ll see below! We found cherry inspired fashion, decor, stationery, art, and more! As the weather warms up, usher in spring and summer with some fun nods to this current trend.

Imagine a cherry 🍒 themed party?! Hang this garland, lay out these napkins, and you’re on your way! These cherry gift balls from Meri Meri are hiding fun party favors, and these clips from Ban.do make perfect party gifts too! Here are some of our favorite unique ice cream sundae flavors that will literally be the cherry on top of your party.

Cherry pillows are such a fun statement item! Find the grown up version here for your living room, or the kid’s version here!

Lars Exclusive

Our newest design in our exclusive wrapping paper line features this trend! And it is on sale right now!

Originally made to be valentines, our tootsie pop cherries can be given as gifts all year round! Think birthdays, teacher appreciation, and random acts of kindness to brighten someone’s day!

New York Cake Topper

New York Cake Topper and Confetti

We love all the components of this cake topper. It really is the essence of New York on a cake! You could also make cupcakes and top each one with a different New York scene.

Materials: 

Instructions:

  1. Print out the templates on heavy-duty white card stock.
  2. Cut out shapes using scissors.
  3. For the cake topper, place a bamboo skewer in the middle of the back side of each NY shape and adhere with hot glue.
  4. Stick each NY shape into the cake and artfully assemble.
  5. Decorate the table with some confetti and your cake and celebrate!

Make sure you snag this book to plan for your next NY trip! Tag us with #larsmakes so we can see all of your New York creations!

Valentines Gift Box with Arlo Cookies

Printable Valentine cookie box

When Luna (creator of Arlos cookies) agreed to work with us we were ecstatic! We knew we wanted to create a box to put the cookies in but we needed them to be just as lovely as the cookies would inevitably be. With our task at hand we set out to make the most beautiful Valentine gift box worthy that would be carrying the elegant cookies.

To say we love the cookies and the box designed to carry them is an understatement! Wether you are putting Arlos Cookies in these boxes or any other Valentines treats they are bound to amplify your valentines gifting this season! Get your Valentine Cookie Box here!

Be sure to tag us with #larsloveslove so we can see how lovely your valentines gifts turn out!!!

Find Arlos Cookies

Website of Arlos Cookies
@arlocookies on Instagram

 

Paris Cake Topper and Confetti

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Paris Cake Topper and Confetti

Paris is without a doubt one of my favorite cities to visit. Paul and I traveled to Paris last October for a wedding and it was honestly one of the most magical trips I’ve been on. However, had I had this illustrated travel guide, “Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide”, I’m positive my trip would have been even more wonderful! Written by Jessie Kanelos Weiner and Sarah Moroz, two passionate ex-pats who give you an insider’s scoop on the best things to see, eat, do, and experience in their adopted city! The best part about this book is the dreamy watercolor illustrations. It’s full of detailed walking maps, sites, restaurants and so much more by Jessie Kanelos Weiner! We wanted to give you a taste of her beautiful artwork so we’re offering the most charming Paris Cake Topper and Confetti, illustrated by Jessie herself, for your next soiree!

Download the free templates today!

Sprinkle Me Cupcake Topper

Sprinkle Me Cupcake Topper

Sprinkles make everything better. Place two treats side by side, one with sprinkles and the other without, and chances are you’ll take the sprinkled one! It’s just so much more appealing than a plain jane treat. They act like edible confetti; Adding just the right amount of sugar, color, and whimsy. Just what you want for a Valentine’s Day treat! With that sentiment in mind, we created the Sprinkle Me Cupcake Topper so everyone can enjoy the satisfaction that comes from pouring sprinkles all over your cupcake! Taking a nod from Alice and Wonderland, we made a “sprinkle me” flag to attach to the toothpick, giving the recipient the OK to snip the heart and pour those glorious little sprinkles all over! No need for restraint! Perfect for children and the child within us all, make the Sprinkle Me Cupcake Topper for all your Valentines this year!

Sprinkle Me Cupcake Topper

Crepe Paper Christmas Tree Cake Topper

Crepe Paper Christmas Tree Cake Topper

During the holiday season, you can always expect to bake at least two times more than you do normally, am I right? Between Christmas get-togethers, cookie exchanges, work parties, etc., chances are you’ll have lots of opportunities to play in the kitchen. What better way to impress people than with a beautiful forest topped cake!  This Crepe Paper Christmas Tree Cake Topper is an easy craft to take a holiday cake over the top! You know those adorable, but rather expensive bottle brush trees? Consider this an easy and cheaper substitute!

Get the full tutorial and top all your treats with trees!

Tasting Hygge: Rice Porridge with Cranberries and Rose

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Tasting Hygge

Many of you know that I lived in Denmark for a short while. That’s where I met my husband, Paul, and it’s also the birthplace of The House That Lars Built! And though my time there was short, I grew to love the country, the traditions, and the food! Which is why I was thrilled to receive Leela Cyd’s new cookbook, “Tasting Hygge: Joyful Recipes for Cozy Days and Nights“! Hyyge is a Danish custom that’s caught quite a bit of attention the past few years. We even read about in our Book Club! Although there isn’t an exact English translation, hygge refers to a feeling of warmth and coziness, often characterized by glowing candles, warm sweaters, and close friends and family circled around a crackling fire. I think we can all get behind that.Tasting Hygge

Leela’s cookbook is full of recipes that capture these exact feelings. One recipe, in particular, caught my eye and I knew I had to share it! This Rice Porridge with Cranberries and Rose sounds absolutely dreamy, right? Paul makes rice pudding every year, so I know he’ll be thrilled to try this! Make sure to check out Tasting Hygge for more scrumptious recipes!

“The Birds” Cake Topper

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"The Birds" Cake TopperIt’s mid-September already which means we’re knee-deep in Halloween crafts and costumes! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because it’s a chance to embrace all things spooky and moody and even a little bit creepy, which I love. This may be a bit surprising to many of you, but it’s not always rainbows and flowers over here! So to kick off our Halloween posts this year we have “The Birds” cake topper, inspired, of course, by Alfred Hitchcock’s famous thriller. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great “scary movie.” It is more suspenseful than anything and appropriate for all tolerance levels (I’m a bit of a wimp). Fun Fact: It was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress in 2016. So yes, it’s worth a watch!

"The Birds" Cake Topper with svg files for cricut

Lucky for you, these birds won’t attack you when you go in to slice the cake. However, they do make a stunning centerpiece for a Halloween party! A really simple DIY, made even easier if you have a die-cut machine. We chose to pair our birds with a red velvet cake frosted with black icing to up the creepy factor a bit. They’d also make great cupcake toppers for a party if you nestled two or three birds on top. So bookmark this for your next spooky soiree and let “The Birds” cake topper take flight!

Download “The Birds” templates and get baking!

DIY Floral Ice Cubes for the Fourth

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DIY Floral ice cubes

With Fourth of July fast approaching, chances are you’ve got some sort of picnic, BBQ, pool party, or gathering in the works! All of which are great excuses to put a little extra pizazz into your party preparation! Nothing is more refreshing that an ice cold beverage in the sweltering summer heat. So to ensure that your drinks stay frosty and adorable, we’ve got some special DIY floral ice cubes for the fourth! Filled with edible blue and white flowers and garnished with some red berries, these are sure to make any beverage 4th of July worthy. Adding blueberries or raspberries would make another great addition. I’m thinking dropped in some lemonade muddled with berries would be the perfect combination!

DIY after the jump!

Ultimate guide to edible flowers

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Ultimate guide to edible flowers

I’m not a chef. I repeat, I am NOT a chef. I haven’t stepped foot into my kitchen for….7 months give or take. BUT, I’m ALWAYS tempted to make something when I see beautiful Pinterest photos with flowers in it. Every time! Sadly, as beautiful and appetizing as they appear, not every flower is suitable for consumption. You gotta be careful! I’ve been curious what types of flowers are best and I thought you might be curious too so we came up with the Ultimate Guide on Edible Flowers. You could even print it out to have on hand! Below we even share a few favorite recipes featuring edible flowers. Enjoy!