Posts in “Design”

Star Wars Family Halloween 2020 + DIY costumes

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Happy Halloween! It’s been more than 3 months that I haven’t updated this blog. Sorry, things got busy in our family as my husband and I became licensed foster parents and got our first placement a couple months ago 🙂 Anyway, I thought to update my blog today since it’s Halloween again! If you know, we enjoy wearing costumes with our kids (see our last year’s family costume here,) I think it’s a fun way to build memories with them!

My husband chose Star Wars as the theme for our family Halloween costume this year. He’s a fan of this movie but I’m not. BUT, I know that my husband and the boys are excited to be in the Star Wars character for Halloween so no questions asked.

Dressing up for Halloween is fun but I have to be mindful in spending since there will be 6 people who need costumes. Handmade or DIY costumes are a great way to save up your money. But of course, if you are not into making your own costume, I found sites where you can find and purchase these character costumes. I will link the site below.

The first costume that I made is R2D2 for my second son.

Using a plant stand, I used an exercise ball and covered it with a garbage plastic bag to do paper mache (it was probably 4 layers). Aluminum foil for silver material on R2D2’s head, you can also use metallic spray paint.

I found random stuff in the house (warning: I’m a plastic container / lid hoarder). I used plastic small cups, laundry lids and milk formula lids.  Too much junk right!?  I also added a small headlight on the lower part of the head to get that R2D2 headlight that he has.

I attached a helmet inside so it’s easy to wear around while trick or treating. And if you are curious if the costume are heavy, my son runs wearing them lol 


I used a wire fence (?) that we use for our garden to create the R2D2’s body. We found this drywall tarp cover in a construction site near us and used it to cover the entire wire surface.  The only blue material that I have at home is this blue stripe paper bag  and use it to decorate the R2D2’s body. I used my guitar holder straps to hold the costume so my son can carry them around easily.


It might look junky but as long as it looks R2D2, that will work for one night 😉 

Total cost: $0

Next costume is for my eldest son as C3PO…

I have to spend golden fabric for this costume and a few other things. I started to sew his costume and used my son’s pajamas to get a pattern for the long sleeves and pants

I found this chestplate from Dollar Store and added the rounded part using lids from milk formula, green olives and milk. And then, painted it with white acrylic paint as a primer to pop out the gold color. I used gold acrylic paint to finish the accessory. Again, you can use spray paint if you prefer.

Don’t forget the gloves! I traced my son’s hands but the pattern was too small for his hand when the gloves were done. I tried my hand size and it worked perfectly for him.

I used a scrap black fabric to complete the look and used colorful pipe wires to portray C3P0’s costume. I found a C3PO mask  and Amazon was nice to let me keep it since the mask was so dusty when it arrived.

He’s very into it, don’t you think!? 😉

Total Cost: less than $10

Okay, let’s proceed to my third son.. Whoa! so many boys here haha! 

Nothing much to explain here, very simple costume for Yoda. I used my jacket for this photo but I ended up using a beige Thai pants that my husband got from Thailand before. For the mask,  I decided to purchase a Yoda mask since they love wearing masks around the house. But I actually wish I could just make DIY ears, it’s easy to make and you can find a tutorial on Youtube.

Yoda is ready to harvest some veggies. 

Total cost: $23

Next costume is for our foster daughter, Baby L! I’m glad that she’s with us in fun times! She’s our little Ewok.

I found a baby bonnet tutorial on Youtube and stitched these ears that I found in a thrift store (it came from a winter hat). For the brown fabric, I used an old cloth bag  and added some details using embroidery thread and cotton rope. I also added a weapon on the side using scrap fabric and filled it up with pillow stuffing.

She is adorable! We are very blessed and thankful that she’s here. My kids love her!

And Yoda, too!

Costume cost: $2.99 

Next costume is for my husband, Darth Maul.

Brent is wearing his black jacket with a hoodie.  I used a black curtain fabric and created a hole for the neck. We are too cheap to buy the real costume and even the real weapon, that’s why I only tape the lightsaber swords together and painted them red. My husband wasn’t happy with that but I asked him “Do you wanna spend and buy new ones?”, he didn’t answer he’s happy in the end 😉

I face painted my husband’s face but I told him I don’t like the small horns since it looks scary and also, that will be a lot of work to do  lol

Total cost: $2

Lastly, here’s my Star Wars character – Aayla Secura. My husband chose this character for me. If you ask me who this character is, I really don’t know. All I know is that she needs more fabric for her costume 😉

For the headpiece. I tried to use fabric paint but it didn’t work. I ended up using fabric and sew to make the shape.

I used egg cartons for the ears and covered them with blue fabric.

The colors are not exactly as Aayla Secura’s headpiece. I only use what I have at home except for the blue fabric that I got from a local fabric shop of my friend.


My costume cost: $20

NERD!!! haha


Here are the ready-made costumes for Star Wars, if you don’t have time to make one:

R2D2 Costume for Infant

R2D2 Costume for kids

C3PO costume with mask

C3PO mask only 

Yoda mask

Yoda costume for babies

Yoda costume for kids

Ewok costume

Darth Maul Costume

Aayla Secura (headpiece)


I hope you enjoy reading this post and inspire you. Happy Halloween from Smith family!



Living Room Makeover Reveal

Sunday, September 16, 2018

living room space with Havenly x Hello Island Mama

living room space with Havenly x Hello Island Mama 10

Our living room is not as spacious as our previous place.  It’s been difficult to fit our sofa, entertainment center, play area for kids, and my workstation into this room. A lot needs to be taken into consideration: color palette, furniture, and even light fixtures. So I decided to do some redecorating to make it more spacious and organized. I came across Havenly when I was looking for design ideas and tips to redecorate.

Havenly is an online interior design online service that helps you find a designer and create your new space while shopping for new home finds in one place. Havenly definitely helped me achieve the living room I wanted for our home.


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The process was clean and simple. All I needed to do was take the survey to determine what style I was aiming for. I thoroughly enjoyed going over the images and picking favorites. This part is essential because it helps narrow down what you really want to do. You can even add Pinterest boards or other images close to the design you prefer. It was a bit difficult to choose which Interior Designer to work with at first, but Allison really captured my attention. She also likes wood and is not afraid to use color. I received great options for furniture and décor pieces that fit the budget. Allison really listened to what I wanted, and she even added a cute teepee that divided the space beautifully and created an area for my boys. Before this makeover, our living room was incredibly cluttered! We squeezed my workstation and the reading/playing area in such a quaint space. Once the design was finalized, I was more than ready to shop! What I love about Havenly is that you do all of this process in just one place, their website.

This is what my interior designer Allison created for the concept board which has a blue, green, and beige color scheme with rattan and natural woods.

havenly helloislandmama living room makeover

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The new layout gave us more space where the children can play and move easily. Our living room looks much larger now! I enjoyed shopping through Havenly and I love that the brands I trust can be found on their website. I can’t stress enough how much I adore our redecorated space. Everything meshed together well from the color down to the décor pieces.

Are there any rooms in your home you want to decorate? What style do you prefer? I’m sharing $50 off a Full Room Design or $20 off a Mini Room Design!

Thank you so much to Havenly for partnering with Hello Island Mama!


Star Wars Inspired Gift Wrapping Tutorial

Monday, December 18, 2017

Star Wars Inspired Gift Wrapping Tutorial Free Printables Darth Vader 5

My husband Brent has always been a fan of Star Wars. I remember the first year we were married, he tried to have me watch Star Wars and I fell asleep… 😉 There is a new Star Wars movie out this month, and I will accept his invitation to watch it with him. I think that will be my gift to him. 😉  With the new movie out, I wanted to share a Star Wars inspired gift wrapping tutorial on my blog. You can use it this Holiday season for your presents to loved ones, who are avid fans of Star Wars. Whether you’re wrapping a gift for Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, etc., this idea is totally fun and easy to make.


Kraft Paper

Darth Vader Photo (saw this free printable from this site and made a layout (See below) for you to print for your gift wrapping)




Red Straw

Black Paper


Star Wars Inspired Gift Wrapping Tutorial Free Printables Darth Vader 1

STEP 1 Wrap your presents with kraft paper and seal with tape.

STEP 2 Use this FREE printable Darth Vader layout with a standard sized paper and cut the image out. It comes in two sizes, so that it will work with small or large gifts.

STEP 3 Glue the Darth Vader print out and place on top of the gift wrapped item.

Star Wars Inspired Gift Wrapping Tutorial Free Printables Darth Vader 2

STEP 4 For the lightsaber, cut the red straw in half and cover the bottom with a piece black paper, using glue to stick.

Star Wars Inspired Gift Wrapping Tutorial Free Printables Darth Vader 8

STEP 5 Wrap twine around the gift wrap and stick on the DIY Darth Vader lightsaber.

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Star Wars Inspired Gift Wrapping Tutorial Free Printables Darth Vader 4

STEP 6 This is optional: You can paint the initials of the person you are giving the gift to on the bottom of lightsaber, to serve as the name tag.

Star Wars Inspired Gift Wrapping Tutorial Free Printables Darth Vader 7 Star Wars Inspired Gift Wrapping Tutorial Free Printables Darth Vader 9

Star Wars Inspired Gift Wrapping Tutorial Free Printables Darth Vader 6

That’s it! Easy and fun to create for Star Wars fans out there.

Have you watched the new Star Wars movie already? Please convince me to watch it. 😉

Check out more of my DIY gift wrapping ideas: Christmas Wreath Inspired / DIY Christmas Wrapper / Santa, Reindeer, Star Wars 


Floral Watercolor Art + Tips About Graphic Design

Thursday, May 18, 2017

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I did a watercolor painting session last week for a friend of mine. She needed a logo for her new business Christian Grace Embroidery. Since she wanted the elements in the design to include florals, I thought it would be easier to do it hand-painted first. When I used to work as a full-time graphic designer, I always tried to make my work simple and clean.  I like choosing simple fonts and avoid using more than 3 font styles. You can see my old commercial designs and advertisement layouts here. Today, I wanted to share some basic steps on creating graphic designs like this.


Most of my clients give samples of what designs they like in terms of look, color schemes etc. I also do my own research for inspiration before I start putting the composition together.



Start to sketch what the composition could look like. I like to make a few studies (definition) to see which design will work great for the product/service.



Watercolor is a great option to use for creating floral artwork. I wish I brought my good paint brushes that I used in the Philippines. Investing in good brushes makes a big difference in your brushstrokes when it comes to painting.



After I’m done painting, I use a scanner to transfer it to my computer. Then, I start polishing it up in Photoshop.



I always make sure that I have a good resolution size of my design in Photoshop, so the quality of the image will be good when printing, uploading, etc. Try to explore different styles coming from the original artwork. For example, for the Facebook header, I repeated​ the floral artwork three times to create artwork on the top. You may try to remove some elements or try to copy some areas, according to what you need.


I hope this helps those who want to make their own logo for their business, or those who are beginners in graphic design. If you are fan of embroidery, don’t forget to check out Christian Grace Embroidery and their products. Support local moms and their business in Houston!


Bathroom Update on a $20 Budget

Monday, April 3, 2017

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When we moved back to Houston last year, we were excited to move into our new apartment with our kids. The first thing that I fell in love with at our new place was the bathroom. Overall, our new apartment is more spacious than our apartment in LA, has a big tub, and has a walk-in closet too. Texas has bigger spaces, but guess what, it has lower costs of living too, especially compared to LA. You can see my post about our bathroom makeover here, where I added curtains and some plants too. This time, I decided to remove the plants and add artwork I made, inspired by a coconut tree. I bought this affordable poster frame (around $15) a few months ago, but never had time to start painting. I finally found some time to paint during my kids’ bedtime. It’s a good way to relax after a long day. I used watercolor for this painting which i was actually hesitant to use, as it had been a long time since I last use that medium. But hey, it turned out okay, right?  I guess my artist friends will be like, “Umm, you need more blending.” Haha

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I went to one of the biggest garage sales in Houston held by Impact Church of Christ last month. That’s where I got this native basket that I turned into magazine container. What was the price? Only $2!! This is what I always love about going to this garage sale of Impact Church, I always find cool stuff in a very affordable cost. You can find stuff for babies and kids, furnitures, kitchenwares (found gorgeous pieces!) and many more. You should definitely won’t miss this garage sale that happens every year (around March). Better follow them in Facebook to get updated for upcoming events. And guess what, all the money you spent will be 100% donated to this church who helps people who are less fortunate. bathroom-update-on-a-budget (5)

Here’s a haggard photo of me and my fresh artwork made by time and effort of a mom 😉

Happy weekday to all! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram 🙂


Cute Valentine’s Gift Wrap (Tutorial)

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Another Valentines is coming! Brent and I are actually will not be together on Valentines since I’m in the Philippines for visit. I think this will be our first time that won’t be together after we married. Anyway, I thought to share with you a cute Valentine’s gift wrap that was inspired from Pinterest. As you know, I love kraft wrapping paper which you can see from my old gift wrap tutorials like “How to create a bow using ribbon”, and Christmas gift wrapping paper like here / here. So here’s how I made this Valentines gift wrap:


Materials to use:


Invisible Tape


Kraft wrapping paper



White Paper

Small piece of cardboard


Step 1 Sprinkle glitter on   a flat surface and use invisible tape (measured how long needs to use for the gift wrap box) and let glitter stick all the sticky side of  invisible tape.

Step 2 Wrap your box with kraft paper as you normally do and start to wrap the first strip and secure it with invisible tape.

Step 3 Finish the other glittered tape on the opposite direction and sealed again with tape at the back.

Step 4 Use twine to wrap as how the glittered tape shows in the photo. Leave 5 inches on both end of the twine.


Step 5 To create the paper heart shape, I sketch it on a piece of cardstock and use it to trace six (6) heart shapes. Cut the heart drawing and punch a hole on lower part using a puncher.


Step 6 Insert 3 heart shapes on each end of twine and secured the end by knotting it.


And that’s it! Here’s a simple yet cute gift wrap you can try for Valentines whether for your boyfriend, husband, family or even to your friends!:-) I hope you enjoy this tutorial!
Have a great week everyone! Follow my Philippine trip journey at Snapchat and Instastories 🙂


How to be creative on your Christmas gift wrap

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Here’s another fun way to be creative with your Christmas gift wrap. By experimenting with the texture of Christmas decors, you can get a modern, stylish gift wrap perfect for Christmas! Here’s how I made it!


Kraft Wrapping Paper

Invisible Tape

Artificial Christmas Pine Leaf

White Acrylic

Sponge Brush

Paint Palette (or you may use a simple plate)




Step 1: Start wrapping your gift box with kraft wrapping paper and secure it with invisible tape


Step 2: Apply white acrylic on the flat surface of your palette. Then, flatten it using a sponge brush.

how-to-creative-christmas-gift-wrap-8 Step 3: Press one side of the pine leaf down onto the paint. Make sure you are covering most of the area of the side you are using.



Step 4: Dab the painted side of the pine leaf on the kraft wrapping paper. Try different angles for variation. Be sure sure to cover each side of the gift box. Let it dry.


Step 5: When it’s dry, wrap twine around the box. Make sure there are at least 5 inches of slack remaining at each end of the twine.


Step 6: To make the small wreath, cut two other artificial pine leaves and curve them into a circular shape. Attach them together using hot glue.


Step 7: Put the small wreath on the top of your gift wrap, and center it. You may simply glue the wreath on top, or use any leftover twine to wrap around the wreath to decorate it.


You may also attach a name tag with the twine you wrap around the wreath (as shown in the picture above). I recycled a cereal box to create my own tag for this Christmas gift. 🙂

Any other creative gift wrapping ideas that you love to do for Christmas? Don’t forget to check my other gift wrap tutorial for a DIY Christmas tree stencil!

Merry Christmas to all! 🙂




Our Christmas Greeting Cards

Monday, December 19, 2016


Yipee! We survived having our Christmas greeting card photos taken, although it was a rollercoaster! 😉  If you have seen my posts on Snapchat and Instagram Stories a few weeks ago, I shared a couple behind-the-scenes looks during our shoot with these two adorable, yet active toddlers. They were running around and didn’t want to stay in one place! But thank God, my mom was there to entertain the kids with the help of their best friends Owl and Froggie (their stuffed animals). Another important thing that we brought were snacks. Oh boy, do they love to eat all the time. It was helpful to use a tripod and clicker as well while my mom entertained her grandkids.

In the end, I’m happy with how the photos came out. I think it’s best to take  A LOT of pictures so you have many options to choose from. We tried to take photos one hour before sunset so that our pictures would have golden light. It was beautiful!!  Printing tip: Always make sure to send JPEG files (which I mostly use) to your favorite printing company in CMYK mode. It makes a difference with the colors and brightness!


Have you seen our Christmas photo cards from last year? It’s like the behind-the-scenes images from this shoot, except for the reflux baby. 😉

P.S. I forgot to ask Brent to proofread the text for our cards. I missed “s” in “The Smiths.” 😉

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Welcome to Hello Island Mama! I love to share about motherhood, makeup, DIYs, home styling and faith. Based in Houston, Texas. Originally from Philippines. Thank you for your time to read and don't forget to subscribe above! - Em

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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