My first real Christmas tree DIY

My first real Christmas tree DIY

This post’s a little late but I wanted to share because I got my first real Christmas tree!
American Samoa is a tropical little island that doesn’t have a lot of pine trees, and certainly not any of your typical Christmas-tree looking ones. So every year, the local Rotary Club and Tool Shop collaborate to bring in a shipping container filled with nothing but Christmas trees. It’s not a lot a lot, but plenty enough for those of us on island who are pining for that holiday pine scent.
Growing up, my parents always had an artificial tree which was at the time way more economical and of course cost effective. Now, living in a small apartment with my boyfriend, we don’t have a lot of space to store a fake tree in the off-season. You might remember my little DIY Christmas tree last year – check it out here.
This year, since we’ve cut down on more of our material possessions and because Ian’s parents were visiting us for the holidays (and will meet my parents for the first time!!), I decided it would be fun and memorable to get a real Christmas tree!
We set the six foot noble fir in our living room and wrapped an old tapestry around the base to make it look cozy. I didn’t have a plan on how to decorate it but I knew I wanted it to be a little different and I wanted to use what I had.
I spent several hours one arvo cutting pieces of mis-matched fabric scraps I had leftover from other projects and sewed together a long string of colorful bunting to use as a garland for the tree. Ian and I put on some holiday music and hung up the upcycled bunting and string lights we had used for years. Our only actual ornament was a little stuffed knit snowman that Ian received in a care package his parents sent for his first Christmas in American Samoa almost five years ago. Other than that one which we’ve kept over the years, I don’t want to collect ornaments. So instead, I picked out my favorite instax film photos taken of friends and family over the last seven years and hung it up with colorful binder clips. I also made a few (like, literally three) other ornaments from air dry clay, and picked up a random few things around the house like rattan coasters and strung it up too.
It’s such a simple but meaningful Christmas tree to me!
JOURNAL 6/52: (Christmas) Best Thing That Happened This Week

JOURNAL 6/52: (Christmas) Best Thing That Happened This Week

It’s the week between two of my favorite holidays – Christmas and New Year – so it’s only natural that the best thing that happened this week was Christmas Day. It was just a perfect day. Breakfast on the balcony (my fave). And our last day of advent gifts. Bittersweet because it’s been so fun to give and get little thoughtful gifts daily!

And I just want to share… YOU GUYS, I got a BCD! It was hilarious – we opened our envelope of clues and I could not for the life of me figure out where my gift was. Ian gave me a hint. I could see it from where I was standing. I scanned the entire house and still nothing. Ian started laughing harder and I followed his eyes OUTSIDE – and finally laid my eyes on a gift FLOATING in the lagoon! I ran out and saw my gift was atop a boogie board tied up to a nearby mangrove. I kind of already knew what it was, and I was beyond thrilled when I tore it open right then and there. A shiny new BCD that fit perfectly! We already made plans to go SUPing so next week, I’m starting 2018 off with a scuba dive!

We joined our friends and neighbors for a community brunch. Ian made baby back ribs, mmm! Then we all gathered on the beach for a group photo to be shared with fam and friends near and far.

And probably the best part of the day was out on the water. I wanted to take a ‘family photo’ and since our pets are known for their love of the ocean, we grabbed our SUP and kayak and took Yodi and Officer Scruffles out for a swim. We hung out just beyond the reef. I saw a shark for the first time in the wild!!! A friendly black tip reef shark, so no biggie really, but it still made my heart pump. And swam with a bunch of sea turtles. Like I said, it was perfect.

Here’s a sneak peek of our family photos, (and you can find the rest of them by clicking here).

Thank you Louise for helping take these photos!

And while I’m writing this, I want to give a shout out to the Man with the plan, the Reason for the season, Jesus Christ. Thank you for your life that gave me mine. And thanks for another beautiful day.

Excerpts from a Chill Christmas Eve

Excerpts from a Chill Christmas Eve

An excerpt of my Christmas Eve photo diary.

Breakfast. Ian took the moto out to buy bread while I fried some eggs.

The north wind on the porch has been so refreshing.

Opened our second to last advent gifts. Snazzy speaker for me and Surf trip for Ian.

Tidied up the house, and Ian worked on my car.

Went SUPing past the reef and saw 7 turtles. 7 wishes.

Yodi swam out with us. Such a beautiful calm day. I got a tan.

Last minute groceries and gift wrapping.

Church Christmas service, games, and filipino food. Mom and dad are back.

Home by midnight, and obligatory family photo.

zZz, see you tomorrow!

PHOTO DIARY: Aoloau Lights

PHOTO DIARY: Aoloau Lights

A super cute night, all lit up with Christmas magic at Aoloau. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who felt super Christmas-y this year, because the entire village of Aoloau got together and each family decorated a “tree” made up of lights and garlands along the road up to the lookout that oversees the Tafuna plains.


TGIF Christmas Weekend

TGIF Christmas Weekend


Just got out of work and I’m so so so excited for the Christmas weekend!

We opened our Day 22 advent gifts.

I got Ian polarized sunglasses made of recycled skateboard wood, and they can float in water.

And Ian got me 2 tupperwares of takeout from Double Z’s!!!! I am obsessed with Double Z’s teri and katsu plates so I was vvvvvery happy with my present! Ian wins today lol.

The sunset was beautiful. Ian took Yodi for a walk and I journaled for a bit.

We ate dinner and watched “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” in bed on the big screen (our wall).

We headed to the airport to pick up my parents but there was a stupid police roadblock and they ticketed us for what they said was a broken light but it’s just a different colored light! We were so bummed. I called my parents and they said their friends picked them up so we turned around and finished our movie. Bummed about that, but that won’t put me down. This weekend is going to be awesome!

CREATE: Not So Typical DIY Christmas

CREATE: Not So Typical DIY Christmas

Happy December! I’ve been eagerly awaiting the holiday season because I love Christmas lights and plus, I always need something to look forward to. I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on decorations since we’re saving for presents and travels. So instead, here are just a few holiday decoration ideas that you can make yourself!

1. Driftwood + Garland Christmas Tree

I’ve been holding on to these two large driftwood sticks for almost a year now and they have finally come in useful for something! I tied the top together and split the bottom 45 degrees apart to form a triangle shape, then wrapped the garland around it to make it look more like a pine tree. Add Christmas lights and lean against a corner – and voila. Instant Christmas tree magic.

2. Advent Calendar Tree

You can add this to any DIY Christmas tree you desire. I painted a couple of poster papers and used some kraft paper to make my own wacky envelopes. Number it from 1 to 25 to represent the 25 days of Christmas. Then use a binder clip to attach the envelopes to the garlands in numeral order. Bonus – it double as ornaments!

3. Reversible Stockings

If you know how to use a sewing machine at all, this is super easy. I didn’t even have to make a pattern since a sock shape is so easy to copy. I got this Samoan print dobby fabric in green and blue from the Tutuila store, drew out a sock shape on the fabric and sewed a green and blue piece right sides together. Make sure to hide the hems and close it off — and there you have it, reversible stockings!

Other not so typical Christmas decoration we have up are: this tiny Christmas tree that Ian’s parents sent him a couple of years ago, a fishing glass float wrapped up in Christmas lights, this flag banner that says Joy, a nutcracker I won at last year’s Christmas party drinks competition, leftover garland, sea shells, and a snowman ornament for our bookshelf.

Our deco is not your typical Christmas hangings and mistletoes, but it’s our island, eco and budget friendly version and I love it.