Tag Archives: DIY

What Can I Make With Burlap Coffee Bags?

About a year ago, Z and I were in Omaha at a lovely little roastery called A Hill of Beans who not only roast delicious beans, but sell the leftover bags for something like $3 apiece.

Having known each other most of our lives, Z doesn’t bother arguing with me when I buy craft supplies that I have no immediate plan to implement. It’s a wasted effort. Even if I use it a year from now, mark my words, I’m gonna use it. Probably.

Rather than keep the poor bags in storage, I decided it was finally time to do something with them, but what? I took to the Internets for inspiration.

I decided the easiest thing to implement (read: without having to go buy a sewing machine) would be similar to Meg’s beautifully simple wall-hanging method (from her blog Radical Possibility), so I got started on flattening my own coffee bags in order to iron. And then this happened.


Moxie doesn’t always fall in love with something I’m working on, but when he does, it’s adorable. He spent an entire afternoon lying on these, so I decided I needed to gift him one. I grabbed some jute and an insanely large decorating needle (used for upholstery, these are no joke). And yes, I already had all of these things, because crafts.

tools coffeebags

Despite how things look when  people post tutorials online, working with jute and burlap isn’t what I’d classify as easy. You have to be able to apply your basic home-ec sewing skills, and you have to pull really, really hard sometimes. After Moxie chose his favorite, I got to work stitching up the open end of the bag, then folding over the excess to stitch it down. Knot the jute however you deem acceptable. It doesn’t have to be perfect, because it’ll be flipped in the end.

process coffee bags

My little dude loves his new bed. I love that I can use the coffee bags as an example when I need to justify a “Maybe I’ll use this someday” crafting purchase to myself.

final product


Vintage-Inspired Holiday Ideas for Your Weirdo Friends

I scored this mangled 1947 edition of the Saturday Evening Post in the basement of an antique store for about $2. I knew immediately that I’d struck crafters’ gold.


That was two years ago, and I’ve come up with countless ideas for it since. Here are a few that might actually be gift-worthy for those who appreciate a little vintage irony.

1. Wall Art



Cigarette ads haven’t been so bold for decades, and I love how ballsy these claims are. For the non-smokers in your life, the Post has all kinds of odd-ball ads. This Smith-Corona ad hangs in my office. There are pages and pages of crazy claims, ranging from traditional to all-out sexist. Definitely a unique statement for a wall. Just not every wall, or your husband will start to doubt your sanity.

2. Weirdo Holiday Cards.





Because why not? There are plenty of traditional characters in these old magazines, and I thought I’d juxtapose them with some more jarring images for a holiday card that packs more of a punch. (Warning: only send to friends who might appreciate a good statement. ) All you need is some blank stationary and some mod-podge. Voila! A one-of-a-kind card that your hipster friends might actually like displaying. That is, if they don’t think holidays are too passé .

3. Gift Wrap/Box Liners

My dad and I have an old tradition of gifting (and re-gifting) this box to one another. After several re-gifts, it’s starting to wear a bit, but luckily the Post has dozens of pictures of meat (weird, but I’ll take it) that I adhered to the tattered box.




Add these gifts as a nice little cherry on top of your holiday gifts, and delight the Vintage Vixens* in your life.

(*Sorry, I used to write ad copy for a living . It’s a hard habit to kick)

Seriously though, I always appreciate a unique hand-made gift. Time is a valuable asset, and I know how long it takes to craft unique gifts. I hope your weirdo friends appreciate your effots as much as I do.

Take Care,


Make Your Own Fancy Coffee (And Save a Ton of Money)

I take my whiskey on the rocks, but I take my coffee doctored up until it’s basically dessert. In my barista days I had daily free lattes at my fingertips. Now that I have to actually pay for them, I’ve reassessed.

Did you know you can get more bang (caffeine) for your buck if you order a café au lait instead of a latte? It’s half coffee and half milk, and just as delicious. Still, if you buy three of these a week at $2 each (at some crazy cheap coffee shop that you must tell me about), you would spend $312 a year. Outrageous. Time to learn to DIY (don’t worry, it’s very simple).

I’m going to show two different methods, one easy and one super easy. You don’t need to buy an espresso machine or pay someone else to make your coffee drinks. Ready?


First, the easy way. This is good if you like a lot of foam and you suddenly have no idea where all of your AA batteries went. For this method, we’ll be using a manual milk frother as shown on the right of #4. I see these all the time at thrift stores, perhaps because people aren’t sure what to do with them.


To start, microwave your milk in the frother container, THEN put on the lid. Please refrain from microwaving metal. I can’t be responsible for exploded microwave ovens.


Now you just go to town with the frother pump until your milk reaches its desired consistency. Like lots of foam? You’ll be at this for a few minutes.

combine forces

I like to add cinnamon because it makes me feel like I’m having a treat. You can also add your favorite flavored syrup (I recommend coconut or amaretto flavor. Heavenly).

And now, the super easy way. Instead of using a manual frother, you’ll be using a battery-powered version.


The prices of these can vary, but in my opinion the cheaper ones work just as well. If there’s no IKEA nearby, you can either move or  check Amazon for one of these bad boys.


I’m going to emphasize one more time the importance of completely submerging your frother before you turn it on, lest you find yourself with a very splattered countertop.


Remember to pull up gently and slowly to create the foam. This can very messy if rushed. Still, the whole process should take two minutes or less depending on how large of a mug you’re using.

You can add as much or as little coffee as you’d like (in these photos I went easy on it. I already had two cups and didn’t want to be bouncing off the ceiling).

And there you have it: a super simple way to save money, and a nice way to treat yourself every morning. Don’t forget to bust out the frother for your hot cocoa (and other wintertime drinks).

(Now what are you going to do with all of the latte money you’ve saved?)


Take care,


The Chalkboard Paint Insomniac

Anyone else suddenly very good at math when calculating how many hours until you have to be at work?

So many times I’ve woken up at three in the morning to a completely alert brain and a tired body, trying to will myself back to sleep for those precious few more hours, but I couldn’t (occasionally there was alcohol involved… Usually.).

During those times my brain had to remind me about that terribly embarrassing moment from fifth grade. Or it casually thumbed through a lifetime of bad decisions. “Hey, remember when you sewed that anarchy badge onto your backpack in high school? You were such a tool.” Or it had to wonder, “if so-and-so says that shit about HER, what does she say about YOU?  Do you think they make fun of you when you’re not around?”

Sigh. The good ol’ witching hour re-hash. The perfect time for you to reflect on stupid shit. I think everyone does it at some point, and it used to happen to me a lot.

And then something changed: I found a cure.

A cure that you don’t have to smoke, drink, or otherwise ingest. Though you probably could if you were feeling frisky.

That cure is… chalkboard paint.

Just kidding. I don’t want anyone drinking chalkboard paint. (If you try it, please post pictures online so I can make fun of you.)

But for me the “cure” for counting sheep (or rather, past transgressions) started with a 3am epiphany, as it were.

“Ok, enough. I’m gonna chalkboard paint that fuggin’ cabinet and hang it on the wall. Right now.” And so I slipped out of bed (a fluffy pup took my place), grabbed some paintbrushes, and got to work.

chalkboard paint

Moxie supervising the drying process.

That was summer of last year, and since then I’ve decided that if my brain isn’t letting me sleep, it’s because said brain needs some exercise.  Instead of tossing and turning, I’ll read something, make something, write something, cook something, or otherwise DO something. I’ll sleep when I’m dead, and until then I’m gonna botch a few Pinterest projects.

And then I realized that I don’t have to do things instead of sleep. I do things to let myself sleep. If I do this in my waking hours, I won’t be awake during my sleeping hours.

I have the luxury of working from home, but as part of that I stare at a screen all day. It is my belief that people weren’t made to do this, and after a few months of healing from surgery, I realized the cure for restlessness was, and always has been, getting my hands dirty.  Shutting the laptop (which yes, means that The Cares gets updated less, sorry), going outside, planting some herbs, repurposing thrift store finds, building a table. Taking a run with my man. Getting my ass off that couch, away from those screens, and actually using both my body and my brain until I’m so tired that restlessness isn’t an option.

Have you ever noticed when children (or fur children) spend a whole day playing that they sleep like the dead? It’s possible for grownups, too. I promise. Or for those of us 20-somethings who look like grownups but feel like 16-year-olds who sew badges on our backpacks.

Go forth. Shut your laptop. Get off the couch. Go learn to make paper cranes, or check out a concert, or master a new recipe.

Go find your chalkboard paint, and rest easy, friend.


[image via cargo collective]