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? 🙂

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”

TRAVEL DIARIES: Free Fun & Cheap Thrills In Santa Monica

Body clocks adjusted, suitcases unpacked, routines revisited.  Much as I didn’t want our long holiday to end, everything gets back to (crazy, fun) normal. And before my blog site gets stale from being away for too long, let me share with you my travel diary of our first U.S. trip as a family. Heck, MY first U.S. trip!

Dear Hubby was scheduled to do a photo shoot in L.A.  and since it was Christmas season and December is a special month for us (it’s our wedding anniversary and Dear Hubby’s birthday month), Little Boy and I tagged along on this trip and later on headed to two other cities for some more adventure.

SANTA MONICA (LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA)

At the risk of sounding overly emphatic, I have to say this… I absolutely looove this part of L.A.!!!  I like the relaxed vibe in Santa Monica, it makes you feel that you’re in a REAL vacation.  I don’t know about you but I have this thing about scheduled tours that stress me out, the crowds, the long queue, high ticket prices, etc.  We never felt that in Santa Monica at all! No crowds, no tourist traps,   and best of all, it’s FREE FUN! This is such a big deal for us cheapskates :).

PALISADES PARK
You can just chill around the famous PALISADES PARK which is right across our hotel… It is a laid-back beach community within a major city attracting both families and single people.  While Dear Hubby was working on location,  the Little Boy and I explored this area and fell in love with it instantly.  It would’ve been a shame if Dear Hubby didn’t get to see this gorgeous site, I’m glad he extended his stay for a couple of days after his official business to get around Santa Monica with us.

PALISADES PARK.FAMILYPALISADES PARK.FAMILY2PALISADES.FATHER&SON

This is a great walking path on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the ocean.  Great view of the Santa Monica pier.

This is a great walking path on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the ocean. Great view of the Santa Monica pier!

Amazing view, gorgeous path, and fresh and crisp air. What’s not to love?

santa monica viewpalisades.tree-lined path

You’ll see many locals running, walking, biking, working out, or simply just hanging around enjoying the sun and the view. Lots of people stroll along this park with their dogs too. In my case, I had a grand time people-watching :).

palisades park.bikerpalisades park.relax on the grasspalisades.frolic

Little Boy never hesitated making friends with the dogs' owners just so he could play with them.

Little Boy never hesitated making friends with the dogs’ owners just so he could play with them. He did this the whole time and this “trick” never failed!

Palisades Park is also a perfect place for picnics. It has table sets around the park that give you a breathtaking view of the beach and the ocean.

Palisades Park is also a perfect place for picnics. It has table sets around the park that give you a breathtaking view of the beach and the ocean while enjoying your packed lunch.

palisades street sign

SANTA MONICA BEACH
On days that we’re in for some more walking, we would take the steep trail going down the Pacific Coast Highway to get to Santa Monica Beach.

sta monica trailSince going up and down this trail is quite a workout (think 4kms on an inclined treadmill), we made this stroll at the beach part of our regular morning routine.

But you wouldn't mind the long walk if you have this as your view, would you? Eye on the prize!

But you wouldn’t mind the long walk if you have this as your view, would you? Eye on the prize!

Finally, ze Beach!

sta monica beach.birds

A few more steps and you'll reach the famous Sta. Monica Pier.

A few more steps and you’ll reach the famous Sta. Monica Pier.

sta monica beach

 Although California doesn’t exactly have a freezing winter in December, the temperature at that time was at 16°C.  To any Asian who comes from the tropics, you would be crazy to be at the beach in this weather.  But I guess we’d be more crazy if we miss the California beach experience. Besides, 16°C was to be the warmest temperature we would face in this entire U.S. trip so we might as well.

Little Boy had been nagging us for a swim, he backed out because of the freezing water.

Little Boy had been nagging us for a swim, he backed out because of the freezing water.

If you're not into walking, there's the famous Perry's bike rental shop to help you get around the stretch of Santa Monica Beach.

If you’re not into walking, there’s the famous Perry’s bike rental shop to help you get around the stretch of Santa Monica Beach.

This beach is a perfect spot for frolics, packed breakfast and even making out.  See? Free fun and cheap thrills!

sta monica beach.frolickssta monica beach.picnicsta monica beach.kissing

‘Til my next post, see ya!

DOMESTIC DIVA GOES TO DISNEYLAND part 2

By this time, I was officially a wide-eyed six year old girl walking around what they call The Happiest Place On Earth.  A happy place  indeed because one would wonder who was even more excited between me and Little Boy, Dear Hubby must have felt like he was in the park with two kids.  If I had my way, the fan girl in me would have had photos taken with ALL the mascots that we saw.  Sadly, the queue for  photo-ops were quite long and standing in long lines are not my boys’ greatest strengths.  I didn’t get to enter Sleeping Beauty’s castle as well because I was outnumbered by boys who did not share the same enthusiasm… which, in hindsight, was good news because I was re-assured of their masculinity hehe :).  It was never a problem at all because all these things that I missed just gave me very good reasons to go back.  In the meantime, this is my half-full perspective through the lens…

This is his Mickey Mouse pose

THE JUNGLE RIVER CRUISE in Adventure Land

If you have a kid like mine who sometimes thinks he’s a creature of the jungle, then you have to try this mini-cruise.  It features jungle animals like zebras, giraffes, crocodiles, etc. and as you go along the river, you’ll see a family of baboons and a safari camp that has been taken over by gorillas. Dramatic waterfalls and what seemed to me like an erupting volcano were part of the attraction too.  Total awesomeness for mah boys! 🙂

THE GOLDEN MICKEY SHOW

This show made the same impact on me the way the Disney Parade did.  Once the show started, everybody around me became invisible and I just totally zoned out.  As each scene brought back episodes from my really fun childhood, I felt tears rolling down my cheeks.  I couldn’t believe that these characters from my  daydreams and fantasies actually came to life.  Oh well, I’m weird this way, haha! 🙂   In between sniffles, I could have sworn my mouth was open in awe the whole time :).  Truly breath taking. Each part just gave me chills and the performers were outstanding! And why wouldn’t they be?  There were Filipinos in the cast. 🙂  Each segment made me recall all the movies I’ve watched when I was a little girl and seriously, I want to watch them all again.

MY  KICK-ASS DISNEY PRINCESS

I don’t know about you, but my all-time favorite Disney princess is MULAN.  Well, she’s not exactly a “princess” but more like a heroine.  I like the fact that hers wasn’t a damsel-in-distress type of character but someone who’s strong-willed, independent and assertive.  When all the other princesses wait around for their Princes Charming, Mulan is busy saving China.  Aaand where else in Disney stories would you find a lone Disney princess skinny-dipping with male soldiers!  How cool is that?! 🙂

BUZZ LIGHTYEAR ASTRO BLASTERS

I just looove this attraction over at Tomorrow Land where you have to shoot aliens and defeat Emperor Zurg!  You get to  pretend that  you’re Star Command raw recruits and hit the targets with a laser gun — you earn points every time  you shoot the targets.  I had so much fun but I only got 50,000+ while Dear Hubby got 300,00+ points… while taking pictures!  I wanted to do it again and again until I beat him, but I knew it was impossible.  At least I got higher scores than Little Boy (competitive much? haha!).

DISNEY FIREWORKS

I don’t think this Disney experience would be complete without watching the fireworks.  I’ve always been amused with them- always stayed up on New Years to watch them  and even had them on our wedding reception.  I was fervently praying Little Boy wouldn’t be cranky by the time the show starts at 8PM because aside from it was already close to his bed time, he hates fireworks!  “It’s too noisy” he says.  And like a six-year old girl begging her dad, I was practically telling him “last na ‘to, promise” (this would be the last).

I surely hope that this wouldn’t be my last visit to Disneyland having left a lot more reasons to come back.  I can always dream on.  After all, whether you’re eight or thirty-eight, dreams do come true in this magical place.

DOMESTIC DIVA GOES TO DISNEYLAND part 1

When Dear Hubby told me that Little Boy and I were going with him to Hong Kong, my heart skipped a beat.  I swear I saw these words actually flash in my head: Disneyland, Mickey Mouse, Snow White, balloons, fireworks, Disneyland, Mickey Mouse, Snow White…. I think I was about six when I started daydreaming about one day seeing them and playing with them but eventually tucked them in my memory as I got busy with school and later on work, then much later on, marriage and family.  I can’t believe that this fantasy was finally coming true now that I have a six year old child of my own!

It was a Monday (less tourists) and the temperature was at cool 17 degrees, a perfect day to visit Disneyland! Oohhh you wouldn’t guess how excited  I had been, I went to the toilet twice that morning.  Whoops, sorry… too much info :).  Forgive me, I just couldn’t believe I was finally here.

Proud of these Pinoy performers in Disney!

We had lunch at  Corner Cafe at the Main Street where Little Boy had a little scolding for being naughty.  Hence, the drama shots below.

But all’s well that ends well.  Tuloy ang ligaya (the fun continues)!  Off we went to HK Disneyland’s newest attraction which they say is the first of its kind among Disney parks worldwide, the TOY STORY LAND.  Prior to this trip, Little Boy did a marathon of the movies (yes, all 3 parts) so he knew all the characters in Toy Story.  It was just amazing to see the giant toys all around us making us feel like dwarfs.  I’m not much of a rider, just a strolling and hanging out kind of girl (in short, pang photo-op lang haha!) so it was just Dear Hubby and Little Boy who sampled the Slinky Dog ride.

THE FLIGHT OF FANTASY PARADE

One must not miss the 3PM parade when in HK Disneyland.  This is where you see all of them: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Lilo & Stitch, Lion King, Winnie the Pooh, the Disney Princesses, Woody, Buzz Lightyear… almost all of them are here.

Now this was the part where I zoned out and all my memories as a kid just came back.  This was also the part where I first (that means there’s a second time :)) got teary eyed.  Maybe I was too overwhelmed seeing all these characters live and in person! Well, I know they’re mascots but hey, I used to just see them on Betamax and VHS (kids, just Google them to know what they are) and now they’re right before my very eyes.  The highlight of this parade for me was when Woody shook my hand… it felt like touching a rockstar!  The last time I shrieked that hard was during the Eraserheads reunion concert. Dear Hubby was totally weirded out :).

IT’S A SMALL WORLD

We all know the song, right?  The kid in me just couldn’t stop singing the entire time that we were in this “world tour”.  I excitedly named the countries the dolls were representing as if I was in a contest.  When we entered the Asian continent, I suddenly heard something familiar “Kay liit lang ng mundo, kay liit lang ng mundo…” to the tune of It’s A Small World! And in that little corner were two Disney dolls in a bahay kubo wearing baro at saya with a tarsier by their window!  I just didn’t expect it, I’ve never felt so proud!

More stories and photos of our Disney adventure on my next post.  Thanks for dropping by, see you soon!

DOMESTIC DIVA’S TRAVEL DIARIES: First HK Day Out, Finally

After nursing Little Boy’s high fever (it reached up to 39!) during our entire first night in HK, Dear Hubby and I decided to bring him to the doctor’s clinic the next morning making it the very first official destination of this trip.  I was prepared for the worst: having my son confined and spend the rest of this holiday in a hospital.  But just as how this trip sprang to me as a surprise, the doctor declared him fever-free and fit to walk around and  Little Boy announced that he’s rrrreeeaady to rrrrummble!

We didn’t waste any more time and went straight to the OCEAN PARK as scheduled in our Sunday morning  itinerary.  Yes, this OC mom kept an itinerary hehehe 🙂 In my defense, I had to keep a schedule to make sure we’d go first to the “family places” before Dear Hubby starts  working (which was the reason why we’re all here in the first place).  I must say that today was the warmest weather we had the whole time we’re here, 23 degrees.

This is heaven for the Little Boy!

I read somewhere that China presented Hong Kong with two pandas during the turnover in 1997.  The two pandas (we only saw one though) now reside in Ocean Park and are said to be much loved.  If you visit in a warm day and the Pandas are relaxing in a cool 17 degrees Celsius, you know they must be revered.  Imagine the air-conditioning bill they must generate! Now that truly is love.

OLD HONG KONG is the newest attraction (opened in March 2012) at the Ocean Park where HK in the 50’s-70’s is revisited and relived.  Streets and scenes were recreated to give us an idea of how they lived back then. i.e. tong lau (old tenement buildings), vintage trams, rickshaws, clock tower and colonial police post.  It also includes dai pai dong selling street food, and Kee Wah Bakery.

I was just so glad we survived our first day out, now we had to bring Little Boy back to the hotel for some rest.  We’re avoiding a relapse… which could jeopardize my chance to see Mickey Mouse  🙂

UP NEXT:  Domestic Diva’s Disney Adventure

DOMESTIC DIVA’S TRAVEL DIARIES: Off to Hong Kong

It couldn’t have happened at a better time, it was Little Boy’s term break and Dear Hubby suddenly had to attend meetings in Hong Kong.  So when I was asked if I wanted to tag along, I said… I’ll think about it… I mean, my wardrobe.  I’ll think about my wardrobe.  You can’t say no to this chance, can you?

AND THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

They say “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”  So my real adventure began during my preparation for this vacation. Learning about this trip 6 days before departure date is quite a challenge if you’re packing for a family, which is like packing for a whole army.  Wait, do they even worry about how many shirts to bring in the army? 🙂 Anyway, what I’m saying is, I only had a few days to complete my mommy travel checklist: vitamins, medicines, camera charger, plug adaptor, the favorite teddy bear, toiletries, etc.  Someone’s gotta think of and prepare all these things you know.

Being the obsessive compulsive (OC) traveler that I am, I Googled the weather forecast  in HK for the duration of our stay and it said “generally foggy… average of 15-20 degrees Celsius”.  To someone who’s from the Philippines and  currently lives in Indonesia, this is COLD. And save for some scarves and light sweaters, I hardly have clothes for this kind of weather.  This means I have to avert this  wardrobe emergency in six days! Dear Hubby couldn’t quite dig the concept of mixing and matching, layering, etc. thus the need for a little shopping before leaving (hey, I gotta buy my Little Boy some cold weather clothes too hehe).  I’m only bringing two pairs of shoes: my ultra comfy black ballet flats and my ever reliable and versatile Chucks.  In hindsight, this fashion situation could be the universe’s way of telling me “Hey girl, you don’t have a beach-ready bod so Imma take you where you can wrap up!”.  I’ll take that 🙂  Besides, it saved me some pedicure time and money as well 🙂

These shoes are made for walking!

THE ADVENTURE GOES ON…

The empty Changi Airport in Singapore at 4:00AM

Dear Hubby was supposed to fly via Cathay Pacific with his colleagues but since he was taking me and Little Boy with him and the company would only pay for his airfare, he took a budget flight via Jetstar with us.  What would have been a comfortable 5-hour straight flight for him became a 7-hour trip with layover and NO MEALS.  Ooh, what we do for love! 🙂

Friday Night.  We took the 10:00PM flight because that 7-hour trip was the shortest among the flight schedules they had, we were supposed to arrive in Hong Kong around 6:00AM.  We were thinking that maybe Little Boy will just sleep and get rested during the entire flight.  We were wrong.  The flight was delayed for FOUR HOURS and there weren’t even any announcements of the delay.  We boarded at 2:00AM,  arrived in Singapore at 4AM then boarded another plane to HK at 6AM.  The stress and fatigue made the Little Boy very sick the entire time that I had to change his soiled clothes twice. It didn’t help that he had a cold that time.

AND ON…

The Airport Express, our ride from the HK airport to the Central Station of the MTR.

Saturday Morning.  When we finally reached the HK airport, we found out that our stroller wasn’t loaded on the plane.  Imagine another waiting time for desperately waiting for it on the conveyor and hopping from one desk to another asking for assistance.  Missing baggage was eventually declared. Off we went to our hotel… with me taking care of our suitcases and Dear Hubby lugging our sick Little Boy.

The hotel staff were saying it had been raining the past few days and today that the sky is clear is a perfect day for strolling.  No, thank you.  We stayed in our hotel room and nursed Little Boy’s high fever until the next morning.

THE FUN BEGINS HERE

Sunday Morning. Who would have imagined that our first destination on this trip would be the doctor’s clinic?  Miraculously, Little Boy’s fever went away but still had some heavy coughing and was just given some medicines.  This little trooper declared that he’s up for some good time so this vacay has officially begun! Let’s gerrrit ooohhhnn! 🙂

Taken right after we went to see the doctor. The fun vacation begins!

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