How to create a Manny the Mummy bags!

Looks who’s eye balling you with all it’s cuteness!

I produced (created/styled/photographed) this mummy Boo Bag for Sheknows. It is soooooo easy to do (and economical, ya’know how I roll). It’s meant to be a Boo Bag, but I think it’s also great as a trick a treating bag (a creatively stylish one). Head over to Sheknows to get the STEP BY STEP instructions on how I easily / quickly / and economically made this adorable mummy bag. Oh, did I tell u that I named it – he’s Manny, Manny the Mummy. He’s shy so feel free to comment on how cute he is to help him get more confidence. And did you spot Barry the Bat Boo Bag from last week?

Ada Gonzalez _mummy boo bags for DIY halloween_2

 

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How to level a floor for hardwood, vinyl, laminate (see my kitchen progress)

Below is a peek at how our kitchen looks now. Which is waaaaay different then how it looked before hubs and I moved in (yucky green vinyl square tiles, emphasize on yuck). After we settled in we did a  “quick fix” of slapping on (installing) white click-locking-floor system on top of the yuck green tiles without taking the appliances out or leveling the floor. It was a quick fix so I couldn’t use the ‘it’s too ugly to cook in there” excuse. But the time finally came, that I made “us” my client and tackled the kitchen (economically, of course!).

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So, the mission – wrestle the floor! Add new floors not the wimpy cheater-pants way of piling floor on top of floor, but removing the current floor, and leveling the uneven floor for a smooth finish. Little did we know that beyond our temporary white floors and the ewww green tiles there were 3 OTHER LAYERS OF EEEEW tiles. Here they are in chronological order … I think the first one was around 520 BC:

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Here are the 5 MAIN STEPS to level a floor for hardwood, vinyl, laminate; and below are photos of our DIY flooring a-d-v-e-n-t-u-r-e:

(1) REMOVE current flooring(sssssss)
(2) apply PRIMER (we used this)
(3) apply leveling MORTAR (we used this)
(4) add PADDING
(5) INSTALL FLOOR
combo
Yes, that is me above in my Ninja black outfit kung-fu-ing … rolling (mopping) the primer onto the floor. Hubs was in charge of mixing the mortar (see pic below). 

As the mortar was drying, hubby added our initials onto the floor (isn’t it adorable!). 

 

Once the floor is leveled, its time to add the floor padding and the beautiful new floors. Living in a co-op we had to finish the floors (cutting the ends to size) before 5pm , so tick tock tick tock …4:55pm tick tock tick tock … we ran out of time.

We were soooo close to finish (just had only 4 more rows to install!!!!) But our saw machine was too loud to “pretend” it was a vacuum, wink wink! Oh well, that’s installation craziness for you. Expected! But that’s ok, we had more energy in the morning. This is how the day ended …. zzzzzzzz (before we finally finished the installation the following day):

tercero I gave you the 5 MAIN STEPS to leveling a floor for hardwood, vinyl, laminate. But then there’s the BIGGER PICTURE, the “WHAT’S INVOLVED IN REPLACING YOUR NEW FLOORS”. Ya know, the nitty gritty details needed when changing your floors. But warning, the following is a bit tedious and lil boring so you can leave the (movie) blog and skip the (credits) details below if you want or (keep eating your popcorn) bookmark it for when you WRESTLE your own floor to EMPOWER YOURSELF (and avoid the “Oops, I forgot about that” moment like the sneak coming attraction peeks at Marvel comics movies):

WHAT’S INVOLVED IN REPLACING YOUR NEW FLOORS (just a tad few gazillion things):

(1) measure your room so you know the amount of flooring that you need
(2) decide which floors you want (this one, no that one, but this one is nice too, etc etc … make a decision). IMPORTANT, bring samples to your home so you can view in your natural light
(3)  buy flooring (padding, base molding, rent a saw if needed) and any (every!) other item you may need so you don’t have to interrupt installation to buy “this” or that” and avoid #@$%. Like if you need to level the floor you need: primer, mortar, mop, big bucket, patience, small cup, etc.
(4) stretch before your work out! Instead of lifting weights you will be  removing appliances / furniture / etc from the room, then again when you replace them all
(5) if hiring someone to do any added work (electrical etc.) make sure they are licensed. For NY contractors, I verify the status of their license here.
(6) if you live in a Co-op, confirm the working hours allowed (usually 8am – 5pm) and they are sticklers for the deadline … and by “they” it’s usually a neighbor that may complain if they hear a noise and report your “wild installation party” to management.
(7) give your  neighbors (cookies) notice of the work (noise) to come
(8) have a take-out food menus handy (pizza to the rescuuuuuue!)
(9) finally, enjoy your hard work … realizing that YOU brought your idea of more comfort, more style, more of your personality into your home. And isn’t that what all our homes should be? Us, who we are.

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(the reveal) DIY photo placemats for your next dinner party

Finally, the reveal (cue dramatic music -> daa daaa daaa). Remember when I mentioned that I was producing a DIY project for a sponsor? I gave the sneak peek here, but couldn’t reveal the details.  Well, it’s details time!!!! The scoop:  it was a sponsored collaboration for Marie Callenders with SheSknows team.  And what did I create? Removable photo placemats, just in time for the holidays! Here’a look at one of the placemats with one of Marie Callendars’ pot pies on it:

Ada Gonzalez_sheknows_DIY photo placemat

 

Publication Peek

Mosey on over to SheSknows to find out all the MATERIALS I used and step by step INSTRUCTIONS on how to create (2) different photo placemats (go here). Oh, and here I am creating and styling …..

. . . . illustration captured perfectly by Phil Juliano.  I love how fabric is flying all over the place bec that is EXACTLY how my office looked (see behind the scenes here). I hope you love the DIY concept, just in time for the holiday. Oh and I created (sewed) the placemats but you can simply use your current placemats and just create the photo pocket (see how here).

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Do you know what a BOO bag is? (6 steps!)

Ready to boo this Halloween? I love the concept of a Boo Bag being a TRICK and a TREAT! My king of Boo bag is filled with yummy candy as the treat and left on the door with either plastic spiders or a few (several!) strands of toilet paper as the trick! Muahahahahaa (cough cough). Sorry, I’m coming down with a cold! Today’s post will show you how you can easily (and economically!) create a Boo bag. For those who don’t know what a boo bag is – it’s a bag you leave as a gift to a neighbor. You put the bag on the door, ring the bell, run as if a real bat is chasing you, hide behind a tree and giggle as you watch your neighbor go from confused (the trick?) to joyful (the treat!)

Evil ingredients:
1. white bag
2. black poster board
3. pencil
4. double sided tape
5. scissors
6. visual guide of a bat
7. googly eyes
8. gag items (spiders, worms, tp)

Nice ingredients:
1. loooooots of candy
2. tag (label the bag)

Concoction: 

1. find a bat for a visual guide (free style drawing!) U can use the bat templates I created here for a guide.

2. place bag on poster board 

3. (draw wings of bat) softly draw a bat with the wings extending the bag and outline the white bag so when you remove the bag you are left with a pencil guide of the bag location

4. (draw body of bat) remove the bag and finish drawing the bat WITHIN the penciled in bag line

5. cut the bat outline

6. tape two googly eyes (optional: add fangs .. simply cut a small piece from the back of the bag)

Add a … “You have been boo’d” tag .. so they receiver knows it was an intentional gift not a “oops, some kids left this here”. Hand write the tag or create one (I used m/word to create these:

So, who would you want to gift a fake snake-in-a-can gag as the “trick” to the Boo bag? Muahahaha (cough cough).

 

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7 steps to produce a craft project (without fainting!)

I was contacted recently to produce a DIY project for a sponsor. What did I reply? Heck yeah! Ok, maybe my actual words were more like …. “I would be delighted to help”, but inside i was jumping up and down with excitement! Why? Because it’s a paid sponsorship (yippee!). I get paid to create an inspirational do-it-yourself home project (awesome sauce!). But my friends, keep in mind that producing is A LOT OF WORK! I buy the materials, create the DIY, brainstorm what works and doesn’t work (I got a new gray hair during this stage!), style it, consume lots of coffee, photograph it, and then write about it (the how-to-steps), submit it, oh and let’s not forget the clean up after it’s all done. I loooooove the process, though it get’s messy! Sometimes a pretty mess, sometimes a “yikes I almost stepped on the cake” mess.

Above is a peek at the pretty ‘staged’ diy area during the photoshooting stage. This same area looks like more like this below (put-everything-here-plopmess minutes before the shoot starts:

It may still look “pretty bec of the colors”, but did u  notice the “props” … whip cream (not the sponsor!), the iced coffee bottle (not the sponsor), the disheveled collection of flowers, the cake (this “may” be the sponsor, but I’m not telling yet!). What did I create? I can’t say yet (until it is published). ACHOOPLACEMAT.  I may had said too much, but you may be able to figure it out by my behind-the-scenes photos. Promise, details on the what and the how when it is published.

In the meantime, let me give you the scoop on how the production process goes. It started with me frolicking around the fabric store, skipping around joyfully looking through all the pretty fabric until I found THE ONES I wanted for the project.

Then I start getting specs (size needed, the must-use-props, etc.) 

Then I stare at my sewing machine and give it my usual short and sweet speech (“be nice or I will throw you out the window”). Then I start brainstorming ideas. Which many times makes me look this like . . .

As you can see below I create several “frames” until I found the easiest one to do.

Then I end up looking like this:


Then played with the camera setting . . . Then took 5,547,769 photos. Yes, I exaggerate, but I was getting tired (even with the IV of coffee in me). With tweaks here and there I got clear pretty  images like these . . . 

By the time I was done, my office looked like this . . . . 

. . . flower stems and leaves were butchered, knives (yes, knives) and plates everywhere, 1/2 eating food everywhere (yeah, food WAS props! …. pies, ice cream, whip cream, etc.). So tired, zzzzzzzzzz. But, at the end it was so worth it! And the worth, my friends, isn’t just the $$, it’s being able to think of an idea/project and bring it to life. Plus, it helps that our props included food …. so I ate a lot of desserts (yum!).

To recap, here are the 7 main steps I usually take for PRODUCING A DIY CRAFT PROJECT:

(1) BUY materials (as you brainstorm ideas)
(2) R&D (test what works + what doesn’t)
(3) CREATE the most inspirational of your developed ideas
(4) STYLE IT (illuminate it’s beauty)
(5) PHOTOGRAPH (take 5,547,769 photos)
(6) SUBMIT it (to sponsor or affiliate)
(7) CLEAN UP (and eat props when applicable)

Afterwards (knowing job was well done!), you can happily faint or zzzzzz. Huge thank to mega talented cartoonist and illustrator Phil Juliano for creating the perfect illustration of me in my messy stages of the DIY craft production.

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I’m a cartoon (does she look like me?)

Sometimes photos are the best way to express a situation, but sometimes (many times!) there are those moments that you can’t seem to describe using words or photos.  So, that’s where my new collabo with talented Carmen Lafarga comes in (you have to see her portfolio – guaranteed to make you smile!). She’s an illustrator, cartoonist, layout artist, and graphic designer … and funny!  And she’s managed to create a cartoon character that I do believe looks like me (you can be the judge!). Remember this map wall decal and my fiasco trying to install it? . . . .

Well here I am below smiling getting ready to install the decal (I have installed maaaaaaaaany, so I factored that it would be easy breezy install). No problem, right?

Nooooooooooooooooo. big problem! It kept peeling off (what the what?!?!?!). So this is how I looked trying to RESCUE the map: 
The decal was eventually removed. The decal adhesive didn’t mix well with the magnetized painted gray wall – lesson learned!

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Foyer design with cool stencil + magnetic paint!

It’s that time again – time to take you onsite with me to one of my interior design projects, to the behind the scenes of the design steps that we implemented in a foyer – for my cool clients Stephanie and Bill and their daughter Kathryn. They wanted the entrance to make a statement (like yeah, …. “cool fun peeps live in this home, welcome”). Wall paper is great for statement walls (yaay!), but it’s also expensive (boo!). So the alternative that I recommended was: stenciling the walls! We also added magnetic paint, sample paints for pop of colors, a decal (that I wrestled with and it won! Story below), mail holder, and toddler height hooks so Kathryn can hang her coat and bags. Here’s a peek at their ‘before’ foyer / hallway entrance and my design scribble:

We replaced the ceiling light fixture with a black color shade pendant one. It was def one of ‘those’ moments, ya know, the ….  clouds part as I spot it ….  knowing it’s absolutely perfect for the space”. Glad they thought so too (phew!). The stencil for 2 walls, including a door, were upside down triangles in a soft relaxing gray color.

Plus, we added sprinkles (no, not the eating kind!). I presented the stenciled decorative wall design as a 2 PART DESIGN:

Part (1) paint the stencil (triangle design) is a soft gray wall color

Part (2) add sprinkles of color (from sample paint … super economical like $4.95 a jar) for even more visual coolness. Here I am below with my sneaky pencil who tends to hide (get lost) whenever I am onsite. I managed to find the pencil and threaten to replace it with a pen if it keeps acting up. What was I doing below? …. labeling, for the contractor / client, which triangle to paint and in what color.  More on how the sprinkles turned out (hint: awesome!) in the ‘after’ photos.

So, now to the magnetic painted wall and decal design. here’s a before pic of the space/ wall:

And below’s a peek of it after the magnetic paint was added and yes it’s a strong magnetic paint (yeaaaaah!). Isn’t it handsome! Like, a fine tailor’s suit! I came up with this idea when I saw their fridge covered with Kathryn’s pretty art, photos, and magnets.

I wanted to give them a ‘clean sleek design’ for their kitchen so I relocated the art/photos/magnets to another wall, and the darker color (dark gray) makes all the items POP, including the map decal that I installed and then it and I got into a wrestling match.  I was like … ooh no you didn’t, and stay here, and come here, and I hate you, and in your face hand gesture, stick my tongue out, then give up ….. Oooh what a lesson I learned in this map installation! Here’s how the fight started between me and the map decal.

The design of the decal was a map – a wide one, big enough to fit from one edge to the other. Why a map? bec clients used to travel a lot. Why white and wide? bec it was a statement piece that anchors the design of the wall, taming whatever colorful colors would be added to the wall. What happened when I installed it? This happened (and I say “this” as I give the photo an evil eye look). . . . . see the bubbling of the decal below.

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a Splash in the Bathroom without water!

The project mission?  To decorate my client’s blah guest bathroom on a budget. The tricky part – decorating it without changing the paint color (the veeeery muted dark-ish wall color). Oh, btw the ceiling was also painted with the same color (yeah, just a lil claustrophobic). My solution: simply add (2) decorative elements. All economical, of course, since that’s how we rock and roll over here! We added (1) fun decals and (2) artwork.

Let’s take a look at the very scientific process ….

(1) stare at the space until a design pops in your head. Think of the “what you want to hide or un-accentuate”. For this room, it was the color of walls. Here’s a BEFORE PHOTO …

(2) draw a design (a draft) and start pulling materials (sourcing). 

 

(3) Implement the design. These are the days that I don’t go to the gym.  During decal installations I tend to have to stretch a lot (up and down, up and down), kinda like yoga. Hmm, it’s like doing yoga warrior poses and instead of a mat I use a ladder.

RECAP: The dark wall color is a bit overwheming for the small bathroom especially since the ceiling was painted as well … the solution … instead of repainting it we added a BIG SPLASH OF white DECAL FUN and  white matted photo framed to lightened up the walls. Did you notice how I extended the decal from 1 wall to the other … yeah, I’m cRaaaZy like that, thankfully my clients like my kind of crazy, wink!.

My client loves the ocean so I recommended an ocean / water theme and purchased (4) cool photos online (I think it was from 2 different etsy stores). Did you spot the turtle that wants a kiss? Smooooches.


We joked around that my client’s guests may take a loooong time in the bathroom simply to admire the art. With the help of my design intern, Nicole, we also added another SPLASH decal to the door, kinds gives guests a sneak peek of the design before they enter the powder room:


Here’s a closer look at the door with the decal. And remember, you don’t need to add a lot (or spend a lot of money or time) to a space to make it feel or look HUGELY different.

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Retractable clothesline is finally up (happy dance!)

I finaaaally installed a retractable clothesline in our bathroom. EPIC? You betcha! Why? Bec it’s one of those …. I’ll get to it later .. and later .. and (1 year after) later annoyances. Do you have one of those? You know, those …. I’ll-get-to-it-one-day”. Fixing a squeaky door, replacing a broken handle, getting a retractable clothesline to make like easier! And isn’t that what WE ALL WANT; to walk in a room with our wet laundry and have singing birds happily help you lift each piece of clothing onto a drying spot (yes, I clearly had way too much coffee that my imagination is running wild!). But you get the point right? Or better said, you know the feeling, right …. of relief when something you wanted/needed/dreamt …. (fixed) … is finally done.

As excited as I am about my new laundry BFF, this post was really created to show you an EASY TRICK that I learned the HARD WAY while installing the clothesline. What took me 20 minutes of struggle was resolved in less than 1 minute. A 15 minute project took me 36 minutes. Here’s why. 

The instruction was simple … screw the base/hook onto the wall -> and attach the clothesline disc to the hook -> then connect both with a tiny screw on top through microscopic holes on both pieces (the hook + the disc). Simply, right. hahahaha_cry!

The  implementation was not simple ….. since I could NOT see the holes, the holes of the hook and the disc had to align. URGH! What’s a gal to do. After 20 minutes (felt like 5 hours) I took a break, and check myself out in the mirror (as I thought ugh I am getting sweaty from this darn installation) … then DING DING DING lightbulb solution!


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Part 2, the guest room reveal is FINALLY here!

It’s taken me so long to create this post that my hair grew immensely since the design was implemented (seriously! yikes). But, it’s finally here. My previous post revealed how temporary walls can be “rented” to make an extra room in your home (see drawings/post here). Now, the reveal …  da daa daaa (yes i’m feeling dramatic today, wink!). Huge thanks to my design assistant Albina Dobruskin (((HUG))) for helping me take photos. What a crazy day it was .. squeezing in styling and photographing mid afternoon. We were racing against the clock (tick tock, knowing that by 4pm it would be dark outside and we would lose natural light, eek). The biggest furniture piece inside the room was a murphy bed.

Here’s a sneak peek of the TEMPORARY wall that were installed to create this bedroom (psst, do read the previous post here so you aren’t lost on the design plan).

 

I already knew Melanie and Rahul’s design style since I decorated their previous apartment, so this would be a breeze, right?! Um, not really.  Remember, I needed to design a TEMPORARY bedroom from an EMPTY space (NO WALLS!) and make it MULTI-FUNCTIONAL (though, that is my specialty, wink!) and ECONOMICAL since they may be/could-be/possibly moving. I was def, up for the challenge. I finished a pint of ice cream (my brain food!) for inspiration, and came up with a design.

HERE’S THE REQUIREMENT CHECKLIST: 

Keeping: their existing window blinds and a small TV

Walls installed – see how here.

guest bedroom – we added murphy bed, dresser, table lamp, happy colorful bedding, decor

yoga/ meditation space – green meditation pillows added, existing TV mounted to the wall for yoga tapes, bottom of dresser can be used to store pillows

study area – the murphy bed I hunted down + presented for clients approval has a pull out table (awesome sauce!).

tiny nursery space – yep, they were expecting. Still in the early stages of the preg, they simply wanted an area to add a small crib which they would buy when the due date got closer. Remember, they were possibly having to move back to California for work so all items had to be ECONOMICAL and transferable.

update: they had a beautiful baby girl named Anjali (I love that name!), and yes they ended up moving back to California. But before they move they did get to enjoy the designed room. More photos below.

Murphy bed came with a strap so you can tuck in the bedding and pillow and open /close. Yes, my friends murphy beds are STILL AWESOME. Ya just need to get the right design to fit within your space.

 

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