Coffee Art or Memo Board?

Coffee Art or Memo Board?

At the end of this post I mentioned that I had a few more burlap projects up my sleeve. Today I share with you my new kitchen bulletin board! 

Let’s back up a little bit, shall we? I haven’t really shown this wall (it’s directly across from Rosie’s bedroom door) because for a long while it looked like this: 

The previous owner is to blame for the damaged wall. She hung baskets there for produce. She took the baskets and left boards with hooks sticking out still screwed (and possibly glued?) to the wall. They were hell to remove and I obviously still need to actually patch the wall there. 

I fantasize daily about removing that wall when we save enough money to remodel our kitchen. My solution in the meantime was/is to make it functional. Originally I slapped up a white board and a few fabric covered cork tiles that I already had so we could post information. 

I quit using the whiteboard around the beginning of June and the clutter was beginning to drive me crazy. That’s when I started to brainstorm some ideas about a more functional memo board. 

Back in May, Shane and I spent a weekend on Kauai for a friend’s wedding. It’s always a treat to visit Kauai since it’s absolutely gorgeous and I get to listen to Shane relive his high school days. It’s also where we honeymooned. 

While there, I insisted on stopping at the Kauai Coffee Estate. They are my favorite coffee and we also visited during our honeymoon. 

Cozy with the coffee trees as a newlywed

 This time, after a guided tour, we left with several bags of coffee and a couple burlap coffee bags. They have a different design for each year. They were sold out of the 2009 bags (the year we got married). We went home with a 2008 (the year we met) and a 2013 bag (we liked the design). I just had to figure out what I was going to do with the bags. 

Shane being silly

One project idea I had was to do a bulletin board for the kitchen. The project finally came to fruition last month after I snagged a faded cork board for 5 bucks at a garage sale. It was the perfect size for the coffee bag. 

I cut the bag down the middle of the back and then used a seam ripper to pull out the bottom seam. I could’ve used the seam ripper to do the side seam of the bag too, but it would’ve resulted in an off-center design on the board as there wasn’t enough fabric to wrap it that way. It did result in a slightly wonky right side of the board because of the thickness at the seam, but oh well. I actually like that it is imperfect. 

Next, I centered the image and lined up the fabric on top of the cork board. Using plain thumb tacks I picked up at Home Depot for about $1.58, I pinned the burlap to the board along the edges of its aluminum frame. 

Once I finished with my “nailhead” trim, I trimmed the excess fabric on all sides. Pulling the burlap taut, I then wrapped it around the edges of the frame and secured with hot glue on the back. 

I then just nailed right through the board to attach it to the wall. 

I took the opportunity to clean up some of the old notes and things we had pinned up. After all, I don’t want to completely obscure the coffee art! I totally need to get on repairing that wall already. 

If you ever find yourself on Kauai, I highly recommend stopping by for a tour at the Kauai Coffee Estate! They do carry some Kauai Coffee at major retailers now if you want to sample. I know they have it at Costco, Harris Teeter for my Virginia friends, and Safeway. They just started selling it at Target here in the last few months. Not sponsored, Kauai Coffee is just my favorite and I’m a little obsessed. 

Another picture of Kauai coffee trees before you go!



Dining Upgrade for a New Year

The dining area of our kitchen has been in dire need of an upgrade!

We purchased a table and two (yes, only 2) chairs off Craigslist when we first moved in to our current house, having left our too small dining set behind in Virginia.

The previous owners of the table and chairs had started to refinish them, but they were incomplete. I thought this was just perfect because it eliminated quite a bit of sanding work on my end. However, our dining set remained in an unfinished state for the last 9 months. Back in September we finally acquired two more chairs via Craigslist so we were able to retire the metal folding chairs we had been using in addition to the original two chairs.

I had dreams of painting our chairs a bright color and painting the base and staining the top of the dining table, along with replacing the God-awful light fixture hanging above it.

Here’s the view of the dining area I left you at the end of November in our updated house tour:


Luckily, I had both a nesting instinct and a Christmas party planned to light a fire under my arse to get stuff done!

Let’s talk about that light fixture for a second. That thing was U-G-L-Y! In fact, it was so ugly I couldn’t bring myself to photograph a detail shot for you. It was also a haven for dust, spiders and other bugs. Not to mention it was rusty and hung crooked because one of the shades was missing. There was no way I was going to serve food to guests under that nasty light fixture! I didn’t even like eating underneath it!

I’ve had my eye on some cool modern fixtures for awhile but hadn’t investigated shipping to Hawaii yet. We eventually want to completely gut and redo our kitchen, so I figured a new fixture would probably happen then. In the meantime, Shane and I wanted to try and work with what we already had. I was adamant that we at least had to take the fixture down so we could give it a thorough cleaning before the party. We were even discussing spray painting it a fun color to get us by until we save enough money for a kitchen remodel.

Well, let me just say, while we were removing the old fixture we were in complete agreement that it was just too gross and disgusting to spend our time cleaning and there was absolutely no way we were ever going to put it back up!

Enter our spur of the moment light fixture replacement shopping!

Shane headed out to Home Depot solo since Tristan was already napping. (Unfortunately, as with everything else here, there’s not a lot of variety or stores to choose from. The nearest Lowes is 2 hours away on the other side of the island). We had scoped out some cool fixtures online before Shane left, but I missed the part where they weren’t stocked at our local store. Whomp whomp.

After a couple of phone calls and a lot of texting of images and screen shots between us, we settled on a reasonably priced option that was the best of what the store had in stock. Without that light fixture, our upper level would be very dark! (We are still working on acquiring more lighting beyond the ceiling fixtures in the house, as we parted with all but one lamp in the move). I’ll be honest, it’s not my absolute favorite, but it is still a bajillion times better than the previous fixture. We also didn’t realize exactly how small the old fixture was for the space until we got our new, much larger fixture installed (naturally, in the dark at 10pm after the kiddo was in bed). Down the road, if we decide it doesn’t jive with our kitchen remodel plans, we’ll Craigslist it.

The new fixture:


Now, back to the chairs.

The weather and Shane’s schedule didn’t quite cooperate with us getting all of our chairs painted prior to our Christmas party (it’s killing me that I have to be careful about paints and fumey products while pregnant). We managed to have one done to test it out before the party and just completed the rest right after Christmas.


I’m totally loving them! The lighting is tricky in here, I feel like the chairs look black in the photos, but they’re beautiful blue! (I’m not exactly a great photographer anyhow…) The single paint color – Navy Blue by Rustoleum – ties the somewhat mismatched chairs together. I hope to find or make some chair cushions with some brightly printed fabric soon to complement the chairs’ new look.


By comparison, I feel like they make the table look worse. The base is barely primed and the unfinished/unprotected wood top is prone to water rings and stains. Sometime after Baby arrives I fully intend to give the table base a few good coats of hi-gloss white paint and a rich stain on top (after I sand out the discolorations).

At least we got a bit of a dining upgrade for a new year!

DIY Cleaning Products

For the last year or so, I’ve been making an effort to move towards greener, chemical-free cleaning products. I made my first attempt with homemade all-purpose cleaner last December. It was pretty much a fail. The spray bottles I purchased at Target were crappy and quit working and the recipe I used left residue behind. I then went on the hunt for castile soap so I could experiment with some different recipes.

In the meantime, I decided to wait it out and finish using up the chemical-laden products I had on hand so I could reuse the better working spray bottles I already had. What’s greener than reusing something I already have? It took awhile, and truth be told I’m still working my way through the old cleaning products. We received many as gifts from our real estate agent when we moved and then my parents left more behind when they moved out of country. I don’t have time to drive them over to the chemical disposal place for our county, so I’m just trying to use them up. I’m not a total hippie afraid of what the chemicals are doing to me. After all, I’ve survived over 26 years of their use. I’m just trying to clean up (get it? Haha!) my act and phase out their use in our home.

I finally finished up the product in one of my spray bottles, so it was time to experiment with DIY all-purpose cleaner again! Previously, my recipe consisted of 2 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. It certainly smelled strong and left me craving salt & vinegar chips every time I wiped something down. The next time, I added baking soda to the mix and it just left everything a bit streaky. Now that I finally got my hands on some Dr. Bonner’s Castile Soap (in almond scent), I was ready to have another go!

This time I combined directly in my spray bottle:

  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Dr. Bonner’s Soap
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar

(slightly modified from recipe found on

Immediately the combined ingredients foamed up letting me know this mix would have some cleaning power! After it calmed down a bit, I filled the bottle up the rest of the way with warm water and gave it a shake.

I’ve been using this cleaner for the past couple weeks and I love it! I use it on pretty much everything: granite counters, wood dining table, Tristan’s toys, cleaning up cat yak, and it does a beautiful job on it all. It has a fantastic, light scent that’s not overwhelming and definitely doesn’t reek of vinegar. I don’t have to worry about wiping stuff down again with water after I use it, because it is already food-safe. I am a definite fan!

Our tighter budget with Tristan on board combined with some Pinspiration led to my latest projects: homemade dishwasher and laundry detergents. I made these both this past weekend inspired by similar projects seen here and here.

Dishwasher Detergent:

  • 1 Cup Borax
  • 1 Cup Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda!)
  • 1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Lemi-Shine

Laundry Detergent:

  • 1 Cup Borax
  • 1 Cup Washing Soda
  • 1 Bar Fels-Naptha, grated

I have yet to actually test out these recipes as I’m just about finished with both my store-bought laundry and dishwasher detergents. I will update y’all once I’ve tried them out.

I do have a couple notes about making the detergent. I usually use Purex Free & Clear for my laundry because I have sensitive skin and I’m not a fan of fragrance at all. I didn’t realize the Fels-Naptha was scented until I was grating it for the recipe. The scent was really strong in my opinion, so I’m a bit nervous about how my laundry will smell. I only made half the detergent I intended to since hand grating the soap is a pain in the butt. I’ve read you can use Ivory soap in the detergent and will try to find some unscented soap next time. I also plan on using a food processor to grate it.

On the other hand, the dishwasher detergent was super easy to make! I just measured my ingredients, dumped them in the container and mixed them together. I will try this one out tonight and I’m excited to see the results!

Making my detergents at home also gave me an excuse to make some pretty containers to store it!

I found the glass candy jars (less than $10 for both) at Walmart when I purchased my detergent-making supplies. (I’m not the biggest Walmart fan, but I’ve searched high and low at Target for the same supplies and couldn’t find what I needed). I also picked up some spray paint – Krylon in Sea Breeze – for a personal touch. I simply took the stainless steel lids to the backyard and 3 coats later (plus drying time) I had these pretty containers for countertop display.

I love that I can keep the detergent on the kitchen counter for easy access and it looks pretty too! Previously, I was storing the laundry detergent in the stair closet and it wasn’t all that convenient to get to every time I started another load. I picked up a couple stainless steel coffee scoops (also at Walmart) for easy measuring and keep them right in the jars.

I’ll keep y’all posted on how the homemade detergents work out. I’m hoping it will save us some $$$!

Note: I am continuing to use our BumGenius detergent for our cloth diapers. It is specially formulated for their use and I’m not 100% sure if the ingredients I use for the homemade stuff contain enzymes that are a big no-no for cloth diapers.