Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Tree DIY! US$30.00

I'd always wanted a ceiling-high Christmas tree.  And here in tropical Malaysia you don't go to a Christmas tree farm and choose one and drag it back home. Ikea is the only place that sells live trees and they're usually not tall.

That's why we always go the artificial way - and an artificial, 8-foot high tree is about 400 Malaysian Ringgit (that's about US$120).  Taking into consideration the number of lights and decoration a really tall tree would need....nope, that would not work for me.

So I did what most DIY-ers do...said those famous, dangerous words, "Bet I could make one myself for much less..."

...so I did.

The original plan to make an eco-friendly one did not work.  It will be shelved for another year (wink).

My criteria, before it got out of hand, which it very well could if I didn't have any:

1.  It had to be ceiling-high
2.  It had to be shabby-chic, rustic, unique
3.  It had to be in tones of blue/white/gold or silver, to match the rest of the living room
4.  It had to be within a budget of RM100.  Whether that was a realistic figure or not, I determined to go by  Project Runway Tim Gunn's motto: "Make it work!"

I looked at my ladder - perfect height.  I spread the ladder and had to tie it to a fixed position, as I did not want it to open all the way.  This is because I had to have a tall, narrow tree, not one that is so wide it takes up a lot of space in my small living room.

The only suitable round thing I had in the house was a rattan hula hoop, which I put over the top and down the ladder.

 Then I looked through my trash treasure and found this copper looking thing which (as usual) I have no idea is what.

 I taped it into a bigger hoop for the base of my tree and a smaller one for the top.

Then I wrapped the whole thing in wire mesh (about 1inch squares) which I had bought, tying the mesh to the hoops to keep it in place.  When I ran out of mesh, I used our leftover barbeque mesh with smaller holes which worked out well for the top of the tree.  My husband helped me make sure the mesh was a nice conical shape (yes, he made me say that).

Then the lights were twirled around the wiremesh cone.  Did you know I figured out all by myself the spacing and just how many spirals that would take, and how many lights would be needed?  I used string to get the spirals in place, measured the string, then put on the lights and removed the string!  Sometimes my ingenuity amazes me!  Surprisingly the tall but skinny tree took only 300 lights (3 strings of 100 lights each).

And here's the fun part! I cut a hundred and nineteen pairs of denim jeans into 3 inch square patches - and just poked the patches through the wire mesh!  Why denim?  tones of blue, remember?

 Now work out the math!  Anyone wants to try to figure out how many holes needed to be filled? Good grief!  It's like the circumference multiply by the height add the area or something something like that! You can see Math was never my strength. My mother who lives with us, was eyeing me throughout this whole longsuffering project and who probably thought she'd have to eat takeaways for the next one week decided to get in on the action.  She helped cut the square patches, too.

And can you see a  problem here?  I had no ladder to reach the higher parts...my ladder was the support base for the whole cone, remember?  So, my mother had her 'heart in her mouth' each time I climbed up onto this:

Then the baubles went on - I used all gold (the silver did not work well).

I kept running out of jeans...at that point anybody who happened to come by, and were wearing anything denim were in trouble.  At first I used what we had, then I bought some from a jumble sale,  then I asked people for some .  I had told my friends to be sure they had no sentimental attachment to the jeans they were giving me as I was going to cut them and didn't want them bleeding when I did so.  Lastly, my husband's old trousers and shirts, as long as they were in blue tones, were 'sacrificed' (yes, he made me say that).  To get a somewhat even tone, I bought a can of snow spray and sprayed the darker blue fabric randomly.

And then I came to a halt.

Originally, I had wanted an angel for the top of the tree.  It had to be a fairly large angel to be in proportion, but I could not find one in any mall I had gone to.  Even stars did not have the right look nor were they in the right size.

So I did what most DIY-ers do...said those famous, dangerous words, "Bet I could make one myself for much less"....

...so I did.

I found a piece of sack cloth among my trash treasure which I remembered asking my favourite paint shop man for, months ago.  (I have no idea where to get burlap, which should work).

 I made a 3D star out of cardboard, and wrapped it with the sack cloth.  I love the texture of this cloth.

Then I found this ball of stringed gold sequins which I had bought a long time ago from Daiso, that amazing Japanese shop that sells everything for RM5.00.  I twirled and glued it on by hand as my glue gun had blown two days before!

I absolutely love my hand-made rustic blingy star!

Total cost:

Wire mesh                                         40.00
3 boxes of 100 lights, each 6.50         19.50
Gold decor (some old ones)               21.00
Snow spray 1 can                                1.90
Jeans from jumble sale 6pairs x 3        18.00
                                                 RM 100.40 !

So here's my 9 and a half foot high DIY Denim Christmas tree for RM100!

 And some great friends posing by it.


Denim jeans or skirt credits:
Bavaani           3 pairs
Abhishek         2
Paul                 3
Ai Vee             3
Getsy               1
Yvonne            1

Jumble Sale      6

                     19  pairs denim jeans or skirts, plus about 5 non-denim

The best part is I don't have to store away this huge thing.  I will just disassemble it, and use the mesh for barbecue pits.  And the denim patches...I will use them to make a funky patchwork bedspread.  When I turn 82.

What do you think?  Do you like my star?  Do you like my tree?  Next Christmas I have other plans!  Do write your comments at the bottom of this post.  I love all your comments!


Friday, December 14, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like....

....it's snowing!

In Malaysia.


Hee heee heee....

I always wondered why Malaysians would decorate with fake snow - but look, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em I guess.  And yes, I am still finishing up with my first-ever DIY Christmas tree (it's ceiling-high!) so, that will have to wait 'til the next post.

I collected tons of these months ago - they had fallen off the trees growing along the way to Bukit Tinggi where we had gone for a day-trip. You're welcome for the tip.  My dear husband knows better than to drive away when he hears me go, "Stop! I see something!"

 See honey, I save you so much money by being a hunter and a gatherer...

Painted snow on them! (No, I have no idea why...heee heee heeee)

 And this is what greets you when you stand by my front door...

This flower pot with a winter (winter again!) deer scene - I could not resist it.  It was a mere 8 ringgit (about US$3.50).  And that snowy little tree was a ridiculous 3 ringgit at some jumble sale.

This framed painting is from another jumble sale,10 ringgit (yes, I will make sure I cover that horrible meter box next time...I'm learning, I'm learning!)

This fuzzy, itchy, green caterpillar thingy worms its way right across the two shoe cupboards.  I had them in a scallop pattern on my stair railing last year...just a matter of moving things around. Know why it has no snow on it?  That's so I can re-use it in different ways in years to come   The caterpillar shook it all off, of course!

See honey, I save you so much money by being a mover and shaker.

And here's an adorable white tin house ornament that just appeared out of nowhere.  I don't know whose it is so....you will read about how things strangely make their appearance in our house here:http://www.tree-shades.blogspot.com/2011/07/things-that-go-bump-in-night-and-ay-at.html

 And remember the post where I wrote about this birdhouse I made?  (You can read about that here: http://www.tree-shades.blogspot.com/2012/06/birdhouse.html

I was going to sell it off...but now that a bird has come to stay, it's just too darned cute, so the birdhouse will have to stay put for a while.


I glued that little fella in when I met these two at the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park recently...aren't they the cutest??  And they're alive!  AND I, imagine, I, took that shot!  There is hope for every amateur photographer!

And here's what's on my wall just behind the dining table...and that's a faux brick wall (I painted it but I don't think I've posted about it yet).

 These frames were actually windows thrown out by a furniture shop near my place.  I removed the window hinges, painted and stained the frames.  Pictures of my family are black and white prints, stuck against the glass.

Oh, Bird brought her family!  See the snow, see the snow on the branch?  Snow in Malaysia, indeed.... heeheeheeeheeeee...we do get hailstones though very rarely but hey, how romantic are hailstones?

Coming up...one DIY, ceiling-high, do or die, if pigs-can-fly, pie in the sky, better than Psy, why did I start it why why why Christmas tree....sigh.

p/s If you have any comments, please write them below.  I love them!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Every Household Should Own One

This video was taken in New Zealand in April 2011, in the backyard of our friend Tony Willis' house.  Person singing (yours truly, then 53, and I'm not talking weight) is the one bouncing on the trampoline. Yes, some people can multi-task :)

Voices in the background are:

1.  my daughter Tammy, then 17,
     who couldn't believe we had had a
     trampoline in my school, back in the day:  "Mummy, you're gonna fall!"

2.  my husband Paul, then 54,
     and I'm not talking weight:                       "Flip Baby, flip!"

3.  our friend Tony, then on homeground:      "Don't flip!"

I seriously think every household should own one.  It's SO FUN!  And if you're afraid your kids (or Mummy) will topple off, they even have trampolines that are inground.  Here's a picture:


You just have to dig a hole for it. 

Let's see...
if you start digging now, you might be in time to give yourself this gift in the New Year.

See how much useful information I provide?  Now you're wishing you had a trampoline, aren't you?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Beauty Around You

It all started with this picture someone posted on facebook.

Blue Sea Slug
See more pics here:

I had never seen such a creature before!  It totally stunned me.  At first, I even wondered if it was a hoax, until I looked up more pictures on it.  So very unusual!

So, because my camera is in a pretty bad state and my own pictures for a blog post are on hold I started googling for more stunning pictures of creatures and creation.

Look at the colours, look!  Unbelievable!

Rainbow Lorikeet

Taiwan Blue Magpie (Urocissa caerulea) 
from Worldwide Collection's photos (http://www.facebook.com/WorldwideCollection)

Mandarin Fish

Stunning details!

Yankee Wood Duck

Paua Shell

Glasswing Butterfly

"This is a cross section of a single blade of grass, stained for the microscope. The smiley faces are the channels that the water is drawn up through. It was taken at an EM lab."

The variety of patterns, shapes, textures....

Dragon's Blood Tree, Yemen

Fried Egg Jellyfish

credit:  zooborns.com

The sheer delight of some!


The comic in others..

credit:  Winston Jansen

The magnitude and splendour!

Morning Glory Pool, Yellowstone National Park by David Fulmer

Don't you wonder what's in that hole?  Look at it again....


 Chichen Itza, Mexico 


Marble Caves, Chile


Doesn't the purposefully-designed piece of each work make you wonder about the designer behind such beauty?  I have!

I remember as a young girl, I was lying flat on my back on the private road in front of our government bungalow. I was just staring and staring up at the expanse of the sky that morning, totally awestruck.  I'd wondered if clouds could be touched, how they would feel.  I'd wondered if I could fly straight up all the way beyond the clouds, what I would find there.  I'd wondered just how big the whole universe beyond it was....how much farther would it go? 

Have you ever wondered about those things, too?


Only You.

Thank You for this Beauty around us.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands"  NIV, Psalm 19:1

Disclaimer:  all pictures were googled and the writer has tried very hard to find the original source of them, to give due credit.  However, she could not as many were re-posted from elsewhere.  If you can teach her how to, she would very much appreciate it.