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!!!

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.

WHEN LIFE THROWS YOU LEMONS, DETOX… And Decorate

For almost ten years now, lemons have been a staple item in our household. Apart from its usual use as ingredients for cooking, making tea and juice, we use it for our daily lemon water.  Dear Hubby and I started the habit of putting lemons to our pitcher of water when we learned that it actually helps clean toxins out of our body, not to mention it has Vitamin C content and can help in weight loss (well, well, well!).  Commercial alkaline water can be expensive and I think lemon water is the closest and least expensive alternative.

When we moved to Jakarta almost three years ago,  we discovered other variations of detox water and incorporated it with our usual lemon water fix.  We added Cucumber and Mint Leaves and we liked the fun twist on it!  I recommend that you try it and make it a habit.  Enjoy!

LEMON WATER

Health Benefits:
*source: energiseforlife.com,

  • Lemon: Lemon water makes for a powerful detox drink; lemon juice helps to cleanse and alkalize the body.  It has excellent digestive properties and can ease heartburn, bloating and other digestion problems.

Lemons are  loaded with Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, which aids the body in weight loss. Antioxidants are known to remove toxins (such as fat cells) from the body, which is why lemon water is such a good aid in weight loss.

Additionally, Vitamin C found in lemons is known to boost the immune system.

  • Mint: Mint adds a touch of sweetness without the sugar, and it also helps settle your stomach and aids in digestion. Mint is also loaded with strong antioxidants found within the leaves and stems, as well as vitamin A, calcium, folate, potassium, and phosphorus…making it a helpful aid at preventing disease and illness.
  • Cucumber: Adding a few slices of cucumber to your water makes for excellent rehydration, and cucumber contains anti-inflammatory properties.

And while you’re at it, here’s a couple of suggestions on how to creatively store your lemons and mint leaves.

Instead of the usual fruit basket, try using clear vases to store your lemons in.  It makes a great center piece too.

Instead of the usual fruit basket, try using clear vases to store your lemons in. It makes a great center piece too.

Supermarket-bought mint leaves can be placed in a watered vase.  It gives longer life for the leaves and it decorates your kitchen counter.

Supermarket-bought mint leaves can be placed in a watered vase. It gives longer life for the leaves and it decorates your kitchen counter.

DOMESTIC DIVA DAYDREAMS: Home Office

I know, I know… One might wonder,  I have long been away from the corporate world and have become a housewife so what would I need a home office for?  Guess what. I’m not “just” a housewife or a “stay”-at-home mom, I’m a WORK-at-home mom.  Yes, we work and you know as they say, “Every mother needs a cockpit”.

This is where we run the show, our very own mission control center where we make our grocery lists, prepare the weekly menu, update budgets, pay the bills, write our blogs, and a gazillion other things that a mother like me are preoccupied with.  When I work at home and I hop from one work area to another (our dining table, the living room, my bed, the guest room), I can’t help but daydream of having a space like this…

image courtesy of Houzz.com

image courtesy of Houzz.com

Isn’t this the sweetest home office you’ve ever seen? I can’t help but lust over this, look at those walls!  And the color scheme, feminine but not juvenile.  I’ve always been drawn to fun and bright spaces, white furniture and chic chairs.  Such a perfect place where you can clear your mind, gather your thoughts and just be creative.  It’s a sanctuary.  But I must admit, I might not do actual work in this space but just look at it the whole day admiring this beauty… and do a lot of cleaning and organizing in this understated glamor.

I really really REALLY want to have a space like this.  If men can have their man-cave and the kids can have their study area, I need my glammed-up cockpit as well… and I will have it.  I’m saving up for it.  Someday, this home office will no longer be a daydream. Someday :).

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