MY FIRST CHRISTMAS D.I.Y. PROJECT: TABLE TOP TREES

I have always wanted to have those table-top Christmas trees that I can place on our console table but I was faced with these challenges:

1)   It was only November and there weren’t much available Christmas décor on sale in Jakarta on that month. (I am a Pinoy  and we’re licensed to start Christmas in November, woohoo!)

2)    Everything is so expensive in Jakarta. (I am a housewife and I find everything expensive, haha!)

Naturally, a do-it-yourself (DIY) project is the most practical solution to this décor dilemma.

It was so unlikely that I, who barely had good marks in my Practical Arts projects in school and  I, who have never used a glue gun before, have finally decided to make my own table-top trees.  Yes! After a few hot glue burns and glitters all over me,  I was able to create something with my bare hands.  I still can’t believe I did it, but there’s always hope for everybody!

For those of you who are interested with this Christmas project, I’m sharing the procedure with you below.  It just looks complicated but it’s really easy.  Enjoy yourself and happy decorating!  By the way, don’t forget to play your favorite Christmas tunes while making this this project.

MATERIALS:

MATERIALS

– Large sized ribbon of your choice

– Glue gun (with glue sticks)

– Popsicle stick (or anything you can use to press hot glue)

– Scissors

– Cardboard cone

*TIP:  There are ready-made styrofoam cones in some stores but I suggest that you just make your own out of poster cardboard to save yourself some bucks.

HOW TO DO IT:

  1. Measure out your ribbon to cover out the bottom part of your cone and glue it.  Let an inch dangle out around it, cut some slits  all the way to the edge of the cardboard and glue them back in the cone.                                                       TIP:  Cover your working table with a mantle cloth or newspaper to protect it from the falling glitters and melted glue later on.

STEP 1

2.  Cut your ribbons into about 3.5 inch rectangular sheets.  If you have wire on your ribbon, you may remove the wire for easy folding.

STEP 2

3.  Make little triangles out of these rectangular sheets using the glue gun to secure them.  This is where you’ll use the popsicle stick, don’t use your fingers to fold and press the glued ribbon because it would be too hot.

The back part where the crease is may appear to be a little messy but don’t worry about it, the only visible part would be the front part.  Make sure that the pointed part of the triangle is clean too.

TRIANGLE 2

I can’t tell exactly how much you should make because it depends on the size of your cone.  I suggest that you make about 2 dozens first and then  just make another bunch when you run out.

TRIANGLE 3

4.  Stick you first triangle over the seam so you’ll cover it right away.  Put glue on the bottom part of the triangle and stick it upside down such that the pointed tip is facing down.

LAYER 1

5.  Your next triangle should slightly overlap the one next to it.  Make sure that the triangle tip ends at the edge of the cone.  Continue doing this until you fully cover the bottom layer of your cone.

6.  For your second layer, put your triangle in the middle of two bottom triangles and slightly higher.  Repeat this process until you cover the entire cone.

LAYER 2

7.  For your finishing touches, take your favorite tree ornament to serve as your tree topper.  You may also opt to embellish your tree with little rhinestones or other ornaments, I just went for a simpler and cleaner look.

My green and blue table-top trees together with our store-bought decor.  Not bad for a first-timer eh? :)

My green and blue table-top trees together with our store-bought decor we’ve collected since our first Christmas in Jakarta. Not bad for a first-timer eh?🙂

LITTLE BOY LEARNS TO BIKE

biking

Reality just caught up on us and we just realized that the Little Boy is no longer a baby who needs stabilizers or balancing wheels on his bike.  Yesterday we removed those extra wheels, trooped to the apartment grounds and started rolling.

I never realized that there is science in learning how to bike.  I pride myself in learning on my own at age twelve sans science, just sheer determination… Okay, and a tweener’s desire to belong haha!!! Of course my husband, who up to now questions my ability to ride a bike,   would be the one to do the teaching and I would be the cheerleader/water girl/photographer/videographer.

I initially thought that Dear Hubby’s “scientific method” was peculiar but was later on proven effective because Little Boy learned to confidently ride a balancer-free bike in 30 minutes! Let me share with you these tips:

1.  TAKE AWAY THE PEDALS. Your child will maneuver the bike like how he does with a scooter.  It helps build a greater feeling of control and means he worries less about wobbling. It also gives him leverage to push off and gain his own momentum.  Encourage him to keep his feet off the ground for as long as possible.

2.  LEARN TO STOP BEFORE YOU START.  This should be on number 1 because this is a very important safety reminder that we failed to teach our son, so this is sort of a hindsight lesson.  Maybe start by letting your child stand beside the bike with his hands on the bars, walk along and practice pulling on the brakes.  It’s an important foundation that helps the child feel that he is in control.  I think any driver especially a child needs to get into the habit of using the brakes and it’s important to really get into his head.  “He has just started learning” may not always be a good excuse when you run over another playmate.

3.  HAVE FUN.  Learning to bike could be taxing and frustrating to a child (maybe even to adults) but try to have fun along the way.  Nobody gets it right the first time.

Allow me to share with you an amateur video that I made documenting my boys’ short journey to this milestone. Dear Hubby’s steadfast teaching, Little Boy’s perseverance to stand up fall after fall, and the ability to have fun made this learning experience a success.

Happy Monday everyone and may you all have a great productive week ahead!!!

OUR PERSONAL GROUND ZERO 9/11 EXPERIENCE

As a non-American visiting New York, I initially felt that seeing Ground Zero was just another tourist experience.  However, after passing through the queues and security checkpoints I realized and understood the magnitude of the events that occurred in that particular place that day.

Twelve years ago, I was watching 9/11 unfold via news broadcasts while on a photo shoot in a studio.  But it was difficult to really understand the scope of the destruction without seeing the giant space that the World Trade Center once occupied.   Not until you stand between the memorials and look up at the newly built One World Trade Center (or Freedom Tower) that you truly appreciate the scale of the tragedy.  Just imagining not one but two massive buildings came crashing down and the horror of the lives lost was truly heartbreaking.

Allow me to share with you this experience that made me change my perception of 9/11 and of life in general.

GETTING THERE

Our hotel was just literally a few steps away from Ground Zero so we just walked going there.  We couldn’t help but imagine what it would have been like if we were in the same hotel that very moment the attacks happened.

marriott

We walked past the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) where they installed the Fire Dept. Memorial Wall honoring the firemen who died in service during 9/11.

FDNYWALLmay we never forget

THE QUEUE

The line was long but moving quite fast so waiting time was bearable.  Here are some images while on queue.

q.quiet

The "blue guards" and these signs were everywhere.

The “blue guards” and these signs were everywhere.

It was Christmas season when we visited, hence this sign

It was Christmas season when we visited, hence this sign

If you look closely at this flag of honor, this is made up of names of all those who perished during that time.

If you look closely at this flag of honor, this is made up of names of all those who perished during that time.

Directional signs going to the compound

Directional signs going to the Ground Zero complex

GROUND ZERO

There were two square pools where the towers used to stand (North and South Towers). The pools were breathtaking! The perimeter of each pool had fountains that dropped water to the bottom of the pools.

pool.1pool.2

The names of all those who died on the site (WTC employees, firemen, etc.)  were inscribed at the edge  of each pool.

The names of all those who died on the site (WTC employees, firemen, first responders, ordinary New Yorkers, etc.) were inscribed at the edge of each pool.

Everybody was encouraged to touch the inscribed names and offer prayers.

Everybody was encouraged to touch the inscribed names and offer prayers.

Giving a bit of history lessons to the Little Boy

Giving a bit of history lessons to the Little Boy

Little Boy was greatly affected by the 9/11 story that until this day, he includes everybody in this tragedy in his nightly prayers.

Little Boy was greatly affected by the 9/11 story that until this day, he includes everybody in this tragedy in his night prayers.

Amused to see his Lolo's name

Amused to see his Lolo’s name

There's an electronic information guide/directory inside the memorial that gives information on where to find the name of a loved one.

There’s an electronic information guide/directory inside the memorial that gives information on where to find the name of a loved one.

It wasn’t overly crowded considering it was the holidays.  There were plenty of room to move around the memorial.

park.1park.J&apark.family 1

Here comes the sun!

Here comes the sun!

The security was always on alert mode.  We saw them in action when an abandoned bag was found on the ground.

The security was always on alert mode. We saw them in action when an abandoned bag was found on the ground.

The memorial guards were very strict... but friendly too.

The memorial guards were very strict… but friendly too. Little Boy, who was into anything military, asked if he can have a photo with them and they obliged.

Behind us was a structure inside the memorial ground that was said to become a museum which will open in 2014.

Behind us was a structure inside the memorial ground that was said to become a museum which they say will open in 2014.

An actual debris that was part of the original WTC structure.

An actual debris that was part of the original WTC structure.

Seeing the whole area being a flurry of construction is bittersweet for me.  WTC will never be the same again but I have to give it to the New Yorkers for their fortitude in developing the site again.

construction

The One World Trade Center or 1 WTC a.k.a. Freedom Tower is the primary building in the New World Trade Center complex.  its construction began in 2006 and was almost finished when we visited in December 2012.

The One World Trade Center or 1 WTC a.k.a. Freedom Tower is the primary building in the New World Trade Center complex. Its construction began in 2006 and was almost finished when we visited in December 2012.

It was a surreal experience.  There was a point when we were just standing still, staring at the water, touching the etched names, not talking for a few minutes offering a silent prayer.  I have no connection to the site nor did I  personally know anyone who was affected but the way I see it, 9/11 wasn’t just a New York thing.  It touched the entire world.

“At this moment 12 years ago, millions of Americans went to bed quietly with no thought that the next morning their world would change forever…. So tonight if you have people in your life that you love, tell them”

CAR-FREE SUNDAYS IN JAKARTA

If you ask anybody who’s been to Jakarta, he would most likely say that one of his unforgettable (or maybe forgettable) experience in this city is the heavy traffic.  On a typical day, frustrated  people get stuck in Jakarta’s infamous macet (traffic jam) praying to high heavens that they make it to their appointments, or that their bladders won’t explode in transit, or that they won’t choke on the fumes from the vehicles.

But once a week, the main thoroughfare transforms into a people-friendly zone and virtually becomes a park of sorts.  Every Sunday, from 6:00-11:00 AM, Jalan Sudirman and Jalan Thamrin are closed to private and public vehicles (except for the TransJakarta).  Jalan Sudirman is Jakarta’s counterpart to our Manila’s EDSA so imagine that whole stretch being closed to traffic, what a bliss!  What started as a once-a-month environmental drive in 2007 garnered support and encouragement from the public that it became a regular Sunday  pollution reduction program in 2012.

And because Jl. Sudirman is a stone’s throw away from our building, it has become our family’s Sunday morning exercise to run/walk/bike along Jakarta’s busiest street.  So if you happen to be in the city on a Sunday,  enjoy a short escape from the bustling macet and head on to Jl. Sudirman for a morning of fitness, fun, food, and people watching.

Sharing with you some car-free Sunday scenes below…

people.joggers.bikers

The TransJakarta is the only motorized vehicle allowed in Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin.

The TransJakarta (bus rapid transit) is the only motorized vehicle allowed in Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin.

people.skateboard2

Little Boy at the most popular Jakarta landmark, the Sudirman Roundabout (Bundaran)

Little Boy at the most popular Jakarta landmark, the Sudirman Roundabout (Bundaran)

Enjoy leisure or serious biking in front of the perennial bottleneck, Grand Indonesia.

Enjoy leisurely or serious biking in front of the perennial bottleneck, Grand Indonesia.

Car-free Sundays are perfect recreational time for family and friends.

people.KOREANS

people.family

people.father & daughterspeople.friends

Also a preferred day and venue for various programs, promotions and causes…

cause.2

cause.1

Save Our Sharks!

Save Our Sharks!

cause.dance

Flash mob!

Flash mob!

The traditional Indonesian "Ondel Ondel" or folk puppet performance

The traditional Indonesian “Ondel Ondel” or folk puppet performance

Don’t worry about getting hungry and thirsty along the way ’cause you won’t.

food carts

food cart 2food.siopao

food.people eating

Water station in almost every corner

Water station in almost every corner

Coffee to go! Anon'ng sabi ng Starbucks? :)

Coffee to go! Ano’ng sabi ng Starbucks?🙂

If you’re lucky, you’ll chance upon some free sampling treats for freeloaders like me hehe…

food sampling 1

Free fruit cups for everyone!

Free fruit cups for everyone!

I always know where to find Little Boy when he gets lost in the crowd :)

I always know where to find Little Boy when he gets lost in the crowd🙂

HOME RUN!

HOME RUN!

“A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content.”

Happy Sunday everyone!!!

sites.blue sky & bldg

ROASTED HERB CHICKEN: A Culinary-Idiot Friendly Recipe

It sounds gourmet-ish, doesn’t it? Roasted Herb Chicken… sounds pretty difficult to make too.  I wanted to impress Dear Hubby with my, well, “culinary skills”.  Yes, albeit limited, I have a few skills  in the kitchen.  Somehow I have managed to serve my boys edible meals without any of them getting choked or something.

It’s Father’s Day and this lunch has got to be special… AND easy to make! A very important factor there.

To all you wives and mothers with the same level of kitchen talents as I do, let me share with you this recipe that saved my day.  I got the basic idea from the internet but I tweaked it a bit to suit my taste.  I was quite a bit apprehensive as it requires to use an oven to do the roasting. Whoah, why don’t I just make fried chicken?!

It turned out to be so easy you only have to put everything in a dish and place it inside the oven. Roasting is close to the maximum level of complexity that I’m okay with, there are only THREE (3) easy steps to remember.

Let me assure you:  If I can do it, ANYBODY can do it too. That’s how easy it is🙂   Checkirawt!

HERBED CHICKEN

Step 1:  Marinate the Chicken Breasts OVERNIGHT with the following:

Calamansi or Lemon Juice
Soy sauce
Garlic
Rosemary (preferably fresh but dried will do)
Thyme (preferably fresh but dried will do)
Salt & Pepper
*I have to emphasize that it has to be marinated overnight so the flavor seeps through.

Step 2: Get Ready To Rumble

Assemble the following on a baking dish:
Marinated Chicken
Baby Potatoes: properly washed, halved
Onions, halved
Garlic, halved
* Drizzle with olive oil
* Sprinkle with salt, pepper, dried rosemary and thyme (if you don’t have fresh ones)

Step 3:  Roast Away

– Place the baking dish in a pre-heated oven
– Leave for 15-20 minutes or until chicken gets fully cooked
– Baste the chicken with melted butter from time to time
– Top with fresh chopped Basil leaves before serving

THREE YEARS OF JAKARTA JOURNEY… and Counting

Three years ago today, I came to Jakarta, Indonesia with only a suitcase and a heart full of dreams and anxieties.  I left my family, friends and career back in Manila to start a new life with Dear Hubby and Little Boy.

It felt like only yesterday when this great big adventure began (click here for the story).   Three years hence, I am now promoted as the CEO of this house making sure that all household operations run smoothly… never mind if I burned some toasts.  And speaking of promotion, I have leveled up from  the Little Boy’s “cockroach playmate” to a hostaged princess!  My greatest achievement so far if you ask me.  Yes, Little Boy and I have already established a real mother-son bonding ever since I decided to take on this new “career path”.  No more earthworm and insect roles for me on our playtime!

The prospect of moving to a new country where you don’t know anybody could be quite scary but Indonesia has been good to us, we felt right at home.  While other foreigners would complain about the pollution, traffic, corruption, etc. we would shrug them off and move on to the next challenge.  Thank you Manila for preparing us for the tough times :)! It’s been a fun roller coaster ride and I have come to appreciate our host country’s culture, people, language and food.  I’m still discovering a lot about this city, this country, about me and about ourselves.

Thank you to all our new friends who took us in as their own family.  Thank you to the Pinoys who have been here before us and welcomed us like old friends.  Man, the Pinoy hospitality is insanely alive anywhere in the world.  Mabuhay!🙂

Those clothes on that suitcase from three years ago can hardly fit anymore and my dreams certainly got bigger and grander.  I still get those anxiety pangs once in a while but (to borrow a line from a movie) “I’m a lot braver, bolder and fiercer now” ever ready to head to where ever this adventure would take us and make wonderful memories out of it.

Cheers to all of us and may we always be eager to face a new day, a new month, a new life ahead!!!

This photo was taken on our first morning in Jakarta.

This photo was taken on our first morning in Jakarta.

INSALATA CAPRESE: THE BEST AND SIMPLEST MEAL

I always have this delusion that I must have been Italian in my past life, only because I love Italian food! I can live on pizza and pasta everyday and I can munch olives like they were peanuts.

Five years ago, I got a little lucky and found myself to be walking on the cobbled streets of my imaginary homeland, Italy.   Aahh, authentic Italian spaghetti.  I had to keep reminding myself not to look for hotdogs on them, undeniably very Pinoy hehehe :)  It was during this trip that I discovered a salad that would be my new favorite from then on, the INSALATA CAPRESE.

Made from the freshest ingredients, Insalata Caprese is a light and healthy salad that’s perfect for health-conscious individuals.  Perfect too for our Balik-Alindog project.  It’s very simple and easy to make plus the ingredients are readily available in your supermarkets, and the best part is… it’s NO COOK!  Here it goes…

WHATCHUNID:

MAIN INGREDIENTS:  Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Basil Leaves, and Tomatoes (cherry / grape variety or regular tomatoes)

MAIN INGREDIENTS: Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Basil Leaves, and Tomatoes (cherry / grape variety or regular tomatoes)

Dressing:

Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
Chilli Flakes (optional)

Olive oil, salt & pepper are the main Caprese dressing. I just like putting balsamic vinegar and chilli flakes for that extra kick.

Olive oil, salt & pepper are the main Insalata Caprese dressing. I just like putting balsamic vinegar and chilli flakes for that extra kick.

HOW TO DO IT?

Just like any other salads, you basically just have to toss everything together, chill and it’s done.  This can already be your light dinner or, as I recently discovered,  you can pair it with Beef Salpicao or with your favorite steak.

Easy peasy, isn’t it? No-cook dinner in minutes!  Buon Appetito! (in my fake Italian accent)

If you're using cherry or grape tomato variety, cut them into half.

If you’re using cherry or grape tomato variety, cut them into half.You may use regular tomatoes too.

You may use regular tomatoes too.

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