DIY: Leopard Print TOMS shoes

I've been wanting to do a pair of leopard print TOMS in like, forever. I am a leopard print lovin' fool. There are so many different techniques you can use to achieve those coveted leopard spots. It took me a minute to find my pattern mojo, but once I did I was totally excited.

First things first: tape off the soles of your TOMS with blue painters tape. I like to maintain my crisp, white soles at all costs. Also, tape off the TOMS tags because people who buy TOMS want to see the trademark tag!

What makes this pair different from all of the other TOMS I've painted in the past is the paint. I used iLovetoCreate's Tulip fabric paint. I was eager to see if the fabric paint would give the shoes a softer feel as opposed to regular acrylic paint, which is what I normally use. I went to my local Michael's to raid their racks and I was a bit fussy because it seemed like someone raided it right before I was there! Normally, I wouldn't recommend using three different finishes like I did, with the matte, velveteen and slick. Still, I knew I could make it work.

I had to make a custom color for the base of the leopard print. You want to stay in a yellowish-beige range.

I used a flat stencil type brush to paint my base coat. Note the TOMS tag that has been taped off with the painters tape.
You really want to get a solid coat or the base. Make sure you get into all of the seams and grooves of the shoe. Once it dries, take a closer look and I'll bet you will find lots of small areas that you missed. Happens all the time.

Here are my TOMS with a solid base coat. I brought out one of my favorite leopard print scarves for inspiration.

When I first started to paint the spots freehand, I wasn't too crazy about the formation of the spots but I knew once I added the black as accent spots, the leopard print would start to come alive. Note the animal fur Google image used for inspiration. And yes, those are more TOMS to paint in the background.

I played around with the finish and added a few brown tones intermittently. This is where I think using multiple finishes worked in my favor. It looks fab.

I love the way they turned out. Do you?

If you're interested in getting yourself a pair just like it, please check out my Etsy shop.


The special kiss

To me, the most tender, the most romantic kisses are the ones my husband plants on my forehead. I don't exactly know why, but it makes me feel treasured and special. I have a small collection of photos with those lovely forehead photos. When we are older than dirt (which is sooner than later), I'll look over these pictures with a sense of longing in my heart. How precious our love and our relationship has been so far.

This was taken last week, on a usual Friday night, driving our boys to and from baseball practice. I love that Michael is looking grizzled and manly. And I just look like I'm fat and happy.

40 and still wearing polka dots.

What a difference from this photo, taken back in 1996. Look, we actually had one chin each. I have all of those curls and my husband has his mini-afro in full effect.


We were so young. So in love. So ignorant as to what it would take to maintain a successful marriage. But we had faith, hope and love. Of course, the greatest of these is love.

If you are wondering why my young cute face has been marred by what appears to be a gouging of the photo, you are absolutely right. My photo got stabbed by an overzealous and jealous baby mama. Long story. I'm sure she would have much rather scratched out my real face. But at the time, my photo was all she could get to, thankyouverymuch.

Still, I can appreciate the preciousness of this photo, of this pose. I can't wait to see what we'll look like in another fifteen years. I'm confident that we'll still be in each others arms, and he'll still be planting his special kiss on my forehead.


Biggie Smalls is the illest

Notorious B.I.G has been gone for fifteen years. Fifteen years. When Big Poppa--a.k.a Biggie Smalls--was alive and on the airways, I can remember many a house party or night at the club with our hands raised, rapping at the top of our lungs:

Heart throb Never / Black and ugly as ever / However I stay Coogi down to the socks / Rings and watch filled with rocks / And my jam knock in your Mitsubishi / Girls pee pee when they see me / Navajos creep me in they teepee

Everyone was listening to the album with the little baby rocking a black 'afro on it's cover. When we were tired and sweaty and wanted a break from the monotonous techno beats, we got our Biggie Smalls on. Ready to Die was spilling out of every car window as I drove through the L.A. city streets.

Listening to Notorious B.I.G will always remind me of driving on the 10 freeway at night, my curls blowing in the wind, feeling like I could do anything, I could go anywhere, I could be anybody.

The year he was shot and killed, I was having a crisis of my own. Just about to graduate from college. Pregnant with my first child. Unmarried. Wondering if I should stay in L.A and be with my baby's father or move back to my hometown to be near my family. My whole life was in the air like balloons let go at a birthday party. When I heard Biggie was shot, I was staying with my boyfriend, who lived just a few miles away from Petersen Automotive Museum on the Miracle Mile. We were shocked and sad.

That was fifteen years ago. Life is different now--I'm married and my little baby is now fifteen years old. I still listen to Notorious B.I.G every now and then. Usually, I listen on Pandora, late at night when the kids are asleep and I don't have to worry about all of the profanity. Sometimes they'll wake up to use the bathroom and they'll hear me rapping Gimme the Loot or Unbelievable at the top of my lungs.

R.I.P Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 - March 9, 1997)


My 40th Surprise! Party

I celebrated my 40th birthday on February 24th.



I know, right? 

I can't believe I am that old--that I've lived for forty years now! I have a love/hate relationship with my birthday. I love the idea that I get to spend my birthday with my loved ones and get spoiled for a short time. But then I hate the thought of growing older. Of missed opportunities. Goals not met. My 'do is getting a little thin on top.  Wrinkles. White coochie hairs.

Things are systematically heading down South, you know?

I didn't want to make any plans for my 40th birthday this year. Nope. I just wanted the date to go by in silence. I wanted to focus on Maya and be done with it. When my brothers and sister started to ask me, so what do you want to do for your birthday? This is a big birthday! A milestone birthday! Let's do something fun. Ever the martyr, I sighed, whatever. Whatever you guys want to do, I'll be happy. I'm flexible. For a brief moment, I wondered if they could be planning a party for me. As brief as the thought entered my mind, it vanished. After all the hard work it took to throw my mom's 60th surprise party, I knew they weren't about to take on something like that. Little did I know, that is exactly what they were brewing up.

So, our plan was to meet for drinks and appetizers, head out for a yummy sushi dinner and maybe go downtown and find something fun to do. I wanted to keep it small and intimate--my siblings and their spouses. We almost never do anything without our kids, so I was looking forward to it.

My actual birthday fell on a Friday, so it was school and baseball practice--business as usual. My family was busy, so I didn't see them or hear from them. Michael took me out for some Thai food while we waited for the boys to finish practice. Only Mike and Xixi were my dinner dates.

A rare occasion of having only one child with us.

Mmmmmm spicy fried rice with basil.

My night ended with a humble little strawberry tart and season one of The Walking Dead. All in all, a very uneventful night. I kept telling myself that my family didn't acknowledge my birthday because we were going to get together the next day. Sniff sniff.

Saturday night couldn't come fast enough. The chil'rens were their usual selves--loud, hungry, running up and down the hallway, slamming the front door. I couldn't wait for my mom to show up and babysit them so I could redeem my Get Out of Jail Free card for the night. I decided to get ready early, since I am usually notoriously late. After trying to channel Pixiewoo's Kim Kardashian's smokey eye look and failing miserably (why is it my smokey eye always looks dirty?)  I decided to run over to Forever 21 and find something to wear. And yes, I am that person who goes shopping for something to wear an hour before she has to arrive somewhere.

My mom was late, Mike was late and for once, I was on time.

When we finally arrived at my brother's place, he met us in the driveway. Everyone is in the backyard, he said. As we walked in, the first thing I noticed were the lights. Little white Christmas lights twinkling everywhere. And then I noticed a crowd of people standing there with sugar skull masks over their faces! My mom included, which struck me as so odd considering she was supposed to be at my house babysitting the chil'rens!


My first feeling is one of confusion. Who are all of these people? Why in the world are they wearing these masks? It was so surreal. But then I realized, oh em gee this is a surprise party!!

I know, and I'm supposed to be "the smart one".

Wow. That's all I can say. I couldn't laugh or cry. In fact, I probably looked a little stupid standing there, in shock and with my mouth hanging open. As I took a few steps forward, I start recognizing faces. Hugs and tears ensued.

"You knew about this the whole time, you fat pig!" I cried as I hugged my Siamese Soul Sister. It's okay, we love each other enough to call each other fat girl names.

I walked around in a daze, taking in everything. It was all decorated in a Dia de los Muertos/Loteria theme, two of my favorite things in the world.  There was papel picado hanging from the corners, my artwork was hung all over the yard, a shrine decorated with flowers, candles and pictures of me and my loved ones. It was amazing! There was so much love and detail in everything, I knew they had spent a lot of time making sure I would like it.

And I did.
I loved it.
Everyone asked me if I was truly surprised and I have to say, "Yes! Yes times a million!"

Me and Michael, before the par-tay got started and I just thought we were going out for sushi.

Me and my baby sister Jennifer, looking as beautiful as she always does. She even painted her face for the occasion.

My shrine, filled with flowers, candles and pictures.

Some party favors and a Jim Morrison of The Doors portrait that I did a million years ago.

Another party favor--sugar skull masks.

Guests signing the big sugar skull.
Don't want to burn up my hurrr.

My baby bro Josh, BoifromIpanema, looking fab, as usual.

I got so many lovely gifts, but it is always the homemade gifts that are the most memorable, it seems. Kathy from Diary of a Crafty Chica
sent me this purse from AZ. It even had my own artwork on it! SO cool!
Two paintings made for me by my Siamese Soul Sister! The $500 Mexican pesos with Frida Kahlo's image (Diego Rivera on the back) was a gift from my friend Bibi. So amazing!

Such an ingenious idea--a can of Pato sauce as a vase for a bouquet of marigolds, the centerpieces on the table.

Much of the artwork for my party was created by my Siamese Soul Sister. I know she was burning the midnight oil for me!

Even the trees looked magical!

Me and Josh in front of the cool skull he painted for me, which all of the guests signed.

Michael and I with our dear friends.

Cake time! And yes, they lit exactly forty candles. The cake was made by my nina, who has been making me birthday cakes for as long as I can remember.
Josh, me, Jennifer and Eric bringing Twilight vampire realness. They did so much work to make this night special for me. Next week I'll share about the crazy amazing gift that my brother Eric bought me. It blew my mind.
We spent the night laughing, eating a bunch of delicious food and dancing the night away. Watching my cousins drop it like it's hot, basking in the love of my family and friends was so special to me. It will definitely be a night I won't ever forget. And who was at my house watching the chil'rens? My brother-in-law Justin. He was at my house with thirteen kids. He took one for the team. Love you, hermano!

Just the thought that my family would go all out and do this for me makes me want to cry. Like, ugly cry. But I won't--I'll keep it together. But what a wonderful, fun night. It took away the sting of turning 40. I love my family so much, they'll never truly know.

I'm so blessed and loved.

Image source: All photos were taken on Instagram.
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