Thursday, January 12, 2012

Coffee, Adoption and Friends

 I've been having a lot of fun with coffee bags lately.
While sewing a few of these bags, I realize how adoption has woven its threads through these projects and through my life.  I met Alan Spear and Mary Allen Lindemann who own Coffee By Design  several years ago when they were in the process of adopting their daughter from Russia. I was teaching adoption education and they were in my class.  We have remained friends and Mary Allen has always supported my crafting ventures. I won't go on here about all the wonderful things these people do, in Portland, and in the coffee growing countries, but I could fill pages.  My favorite CBD coffee, the one that starts my day is Rebel Blend.  (You can buy their coffee at Little Dog in Brunswick if you can't get down to Portland.)  Lately, they keep me stocked with used burlap and jute bags. The bags themselves are geography lessons:  Sumatra, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala.  I have "upcycled" the bags into totes which have sold well at the Long Branch store here in town. I've also discovered that the scraps burn well in my woodstove!

I wish I had taken a picture of the tote bag I made from this beautiful Colombian coffee sack.  It was really nice, and I almost kept it for myself.

  Allen and Mary Allen have developed a special relationship with the community of coffee growers in Jardin, Colombia and have funded the building of a kitchen and cafeteria in the local hospital.  If you buy a pound of Colombia Antioquia Jardin Alma del Cafe, a portion of the price will go to support that project.

There are other reasons that this region of Colombia is special, but I'll blog about those another day.  On to a different country, and different adoption story, and a different coffee sack.

This tote was made from a bag shipped from Antigua, Guatemala, a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, and crisscrossed with cobblestones, history and culture. Notice the logo on the coffee sack... its the same Santa Catalina arch as in this picture I took on my visit to Antigua.  Notice a glimpse of Volcan Agua in the background. 

I was very lucky to have travelled there in 2007 on another adoption journey.  This time, it was my friends Jonathan and Lalla who were in the midst of the long process of adopting their son Ben from Guatemala.  While fostering their son in Guatemala they lived in Antigua and I spent a wonderful 5 days there.  

Coffee, adoption and friendships.  Oh, how rich I am.


  1. You have the best stories!! I need to hear some in person!

  2. Funny you said that Gitsy...I was going to ask you to suppa tonight. Just the girls here.

  3. We loved having you with us. Let's go back!

  4. OH how rich we are!!

  5. Speaking of what to do with used coffee burlap or jute bags, they make beautiful rustic-looking Christmas tree skirts (in my unbiased opinion, of course...) Our "skirt" is a third incarnation of the original object: it was, in its second life, a pair of scarecrow costume pants my sister sowed out of a coffee burlap bag she got from our local coffee roaster, Paul Hitz, of the Bohemian Coffee House.

    1. A perfect re-use idea! Now I will save the strips that I deemed not tote-bag worthy and collect them for a tree skirt. We Cutkos have always used an old quilt rapped around the tree. Time to upgrade.


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