DIY Camera Bag | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

DIY Camera Bag

DIY Camera Bag | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

You guys, I will never ever ever be crafty. It seems I will also never stop liking pretty things that I can’t afford like expensive trendy camera bags. At around $160 bucks at the low end, I won’t be a person who owns an Epiphanie bag any time soon. Those are meant for rich kids. 

But I still don’t want to walk around with the bag my camera came in. There’s nothing cute about that. It seems the only logical choice is to make my own camera bag. So I did. Sort of.

DIY Camera Bag | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I bought the actual bag. I chose a cute but cheap backpack from Amazon. We walk a lot, so I wanted something that was ultra functional. Then I bought some foam padding and some stick on velcro from the craft store. Finally, I picked up a yard of fun fabric at the fabric store and got to work.

If you’re good at crafting, you’ll probably carefully measure out your foam pieces and your fabric. You’ll do all that crafter geometry that I have no patience for. Basically, I used my existing camera bag as a template to cut out top and bottom pieces four sides, and an extra piece for the inside to separate the camera body from the extra lens from the foam. I had to trim them down a bit from my first pass, but basically, I eyeballed it.

Next, I used my horrible gift wrapping skills to cut out pieces of fabric to cover each foam triangle. I used a simple whip stitch to sew each piece on to the foam. I stuck some velcro on the covered foam to help the pieces stay in shape.

Finally, I found an old make up bag I received as a gift but never had a use for. I popped all the cords, lens covers, and other bits and bobs inside. 

Now my camera is well protected in a bag I’m not embarrassed to carry around. There are pockets for my phone and other necessities and plenty of space still left for whatever else I need to haul around.

DIY Camera Bag | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

And in case you’re wondering, I spent less than $40 for all of this, half of which was the backpack itself. Sometimes we want things we can’t have. If you get creative, there’s a chance you can get what you want. Well, almost. Can’t buy it? Just make it yourself.

5 Free Super Awesome Podcasts

5 Free Super Awesome Podcasts

5 Free Super Awesome Podcasts

I’ve been an NPR junkie for years. Since the end of my college days, actually. I’d listen every time I was in my car. Once I finally broke down and bought an iPod in 2008, I discovered podcasts, and I could finally listen to every single episode of my favorite NPR shows any time I wanted. And they all fit in my pocket and were completely free. If you love listening to smart or cool people talk, you’re probably already into podcasts, and if you’re not, you’ve got to get into it. They’re the ideal way to stay entertained and informed while working in your cubicle, while you’re on a road trip, or while working around your house. And did I mention, they’re absolutely free? Yeah, that’s super awesome. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Joy the Baker

If you’re a food blogger, or even if you’re just a human with a sense of humor, you need to subscribe to the Joy the Baker Podcast. It’s the only non-NPR production to make my cut. It’s co-hosted by Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker, and Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean. It’s basically two best friends getting together to talk about “totally important unimportant things,” like food, blogging, boyfriends, cats, hot dogs, Google auto-fill, and cutting yourself out of your underwear. It’s real life, and it’s hilarious. 

2. Pop Culture Happy Hour

Pop Culture Happy Hour is an NPR Podcast, but not an NPR show. You can’t hear it on the radio, but you definitely shouldn’t miss it. It’s four witty and wonderful NPR writers and sometimes hosts chatting about their opinions on all things pop culture including books, TV, movies, video games, comics, podcasts, and theater. If the PCHH crew says a movie is good, I’ll usually go see it. I’ve also been caught bursting out into raucous laughter while listening to this at work, and with segments like “Regrettable Television Pop Quiz,” how could you not? I’ve also been moved to tears from time to time by the discussions on this show. I won’t miss it.

3. The Splendid Table

The Splendid Table is hosted by the fabulous Lynne Rossetto Kasper, and this lady knows everything ever about food. This is usually a weekend show, so it’s not always easy to catch on the radio, but if you subscribe to the Podcast, it’s there waiting for you. There’s a mixture of interviews with chefs, in-depth food news, and call-ins from listeners. The highlight of every year is the live Thanksgiving call-in show where people can call in with their Thanksgiving emergencies. Lynn has a fix for everything. If you’re a foodie, you must listen to The Splendid Table.

4. The TED Radio Hour

The TED Radio Hour combines excerpts from TED talks and interviews with speakers to focus in-depth on a given topic each week. I absolutely love listening to smart people share ideas about how to make the world a better place. I am constantly amazed when I listen to this podcast. It gives me so much to think about without having to sit in front of my computer watching a 20 minute YouTube video. Nerds rule!

5. This American Life

Saving the best for last, This American Life will blow your mind. Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, always poignant, this show is a hipster nerd’s dream come true. With contributors like David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, and Mike Birbiglia, the content on this show is always diverse, and deeply human. The host, Ira Glass, is basically as cool as a human can be, in my opinion. I never miss an episode of This American Life, and I’m never disappointed.

If you have an iPhone, you can subscribe and listen with the built in app in your phone. If you have an Android phone, I recommend Podkicker, which is free. If you have none of these, you can subscribe to all of these, and many more podcasts through iTunes on your computer. And in case I haven’t already said it a hundred times, they’re completely free. It’s just too awesome!

Did your favorite podcasts make the list? What do I absolutely have to check out right this minute?

Go grow your brain, have a laugh, and make your day a million times better. 

6 Awesome Summer Wines Under $10

6 Awesome Summer Wines

You know I love a good happy hour as much as anybody, but most of the time, I prefer to enjoy a drink in the comfort of my home, or sip a glass of wine discreetly while grilling at the beach. Even if you find a really cheap happy hour, it’s never going to be as affordable as a bottle of wine. 

There are plenty of great white wines to be had for under $10, and if you’re lucky enough to live in a state that sells wine in the grocery store, they’re extremely convenient to pick up for a weekend dinner party or a Wednesday night that needs a dose of calm. Here are some of our favorites in no particular order. I’m not a wine expert. I just like what I like.

Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio is crisp and refreshing. I find it works well with food and isn’t too sweet.

Menage a Trois Moscato is one of Geoff’s favorites. It’s definitely sweet and best for sipping after dinner. I’ll admit that I prefer moscato with ice. I find it calms the syrupy quality that moscato can sometimes have.

Barefoot Refresh Crisp White is the perfect pool or beach side sipper. It’s a little bit bubbly, a little bit sweet, quite crisp and completely refreshing. It seems to have a low alcohol content, so you won’t be stumbling about after a few glasses.

Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice when you need a large bottle of wine. It’s still just under $10 and pleases most any palate. 

Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc is on the green side, which I really like, especially in warm weather. 

Chateau St. Michelle Riesling is possibly my favorite wine. It’s made not far from where I grew up, so it has a sentimental attachment for me. Plus, rieslings are just the right level of sweet for my taste. Not too syrupy, not too dry. It works well with food or on its own.

I almost never buy a wine that costs more than $10. They’re not always great, but they’re rarely that bad. These are all wines I would gladly drink again and again. Feel free to bring a bottle.

What are your favorite summer wines? What will you be drinking at your Labor Day celebration? 

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

How to Fix a Torn Moped Seat for under $10

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

So you followed my advice and bought a moped. You’ve been zipping around town feeling awesome because you’re only spending $5 a week on gas while your insane car driving friends are spending ten times that. You’re wearing your helmet because it’s better to look like a dork than have your brains splattered on the pavement. After all, your brain is your most attractive asset. You’re feeling pretty rad. 

But then you get a  tear in your seat. It rains all winter and the water soaks into the cushion and you keep showing up to work with a wet butt. It costs at least fifty bucks to get it replaced, and that sucks. What’s a cheap girl to do? 

Duct tape! Duh. You can fix something broken, and personalize it for less than ten bucks. It’s just bursting with win.

I went to my local office supply warehouse (Fisher Hawaii in Kakaako) where they have about twenty different colors and patterns of duct tape. I bought one roll of black and one roll of a black lace pattern. Get whatever you think is awesome.

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

First, I covered the whole entire seat with the black duct tape. Just start on one end and pull the roll across. Use scissors to get a nice clean edge and tuck the ends up under the seat a bit to make sure you have full coverage. If you just have one tear, you may not want to do the whole thing. I thought it looked more uniform to cover the whole seat. I had a lot of damage.

I then added the lace tape in diagonal stripes just for fun. I think it looks pretty fun. You might also try a chevron pattern if you’re good at geometry. 

I’ve had the tape in place for a few weeks now, and it hasn’t started peeling off at all. I also noticed that it’s actually easier to dry off the seat now. The water just beads on the tape, and you can wipe it right off. It’s pretty genius. I also had plenty of tape left over for other duct tape type emergencies. 

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

Why spend money on new stuff when you can fix what you have with something cheap and make it even better? And now you’ll have money left over for cheese and chocolate. That’s what it’s all about.

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

DIY Wedding Cake

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

It’s already June, which I’m okay with since July means Emily is with us at last. They say June is wedding season, and I have to believe them since I’m so uncool I never get invited to any weddings. I did have a wedding a little over a year ago, though, and I definitely have some strong thoughts about the situation.

The amount of money people will spend on a wedding makes me want to cry. The average cost of a wedding in America is $20,000. People spend what, for some of us, is half a year’s pay on one party for one day. I realize your wedding is a very special day that you definitely want to remember, and I’m sure you want all those people you truly love to be with you. You want to treat them to a nice dinner and make sure they have a wonderful time. I totally get that. But half of your salary? That’s just insane.

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

We spent about $2000 on our wedding, and comical series of disasters not withstanding, it was absolutely beautiful. How did we save so much money? For one thing, we kept it small. Rather than inviting everyone we’ve ever met, we kept the list to under 50 people. You can’t really make a meaningful connection with more than that number at a party anyway. Too many people and your wedding becomes theatre for an audience, not an expression of love. 

We also did just about everything ourselves. I prepared a majority of the food. We made our own decorations. The bridal party made their own bouquets (more on that later). I even made my own wedding cake.

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

The average wedding cake is over $400. Those multi-tiered, fondant-covered confections take hours of detailed work. They’re absolutely beautiful. There’s also no way I’d be able to afford one. Besides, it’s just a cake, and cake is something I want to eat even more than I want to take a picture of. Also, fondant is gross.

If you have even the slightest baking experience, you can make a beautiful and delicious cake that everybody will actually be excited to eat. A great recipe, an abundance of vanilla frosting, and a few fresh flowers is all it takes to make your own wedding cake. Even if you splurge on a vanilla bean for your wedding day, you can make your wedding cake for under $50. 

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

This recipe comes from cake genius, Sweetapolita. Bake the cake the night before, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it until you’re ready to decorate it in the morning. I used my offset spatula to create the swirls on top and the stripes up the side. Then I just bought some pretty carnations, rinsed them with cool water, and pressed them into the border. Use your favorite flowers. Just have fun and don’t take yourself to seriously. 

I just saved you $350. You’re welcome!

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

On my wedding day, I wanted to be able to relax, enjoy my friends and family, and be overwhelmed with love. I wanted to show my guests I cared by making them food I knew they’d want to eat. This cake? You wont’ be able to stop eating it.

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Frosting
Serves 12
The perfect white cake for a DIY wedding.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
For the cake
  1. 5 egg whites
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 cup whole milk
  4. 2-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 3 cups (345 grams) cake flour, sifted
  6. 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
  7. 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
For the frosting
  1. 3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) butter, softened
  2. 3 cups (475 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  3. 3 tablespoons milk
  4. 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. pinch of salt
For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter, line with bottom with parchment, and then flour two 9-inch round cake pans. You don't want to take any chances on this cake sticking.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of the milk, and the vanilla.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients. Whisk or use your stand mixer on stir to combine for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter bit by bit with the mixer running on low. Beat about 10 second after each piece. You'll have a crumbly texture like when you make biscuits. Add the remaining 3/4 cup milk and beat for five minutes on low.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then begin to mix in the egg mixture on low. Add it in three stages and mix thoroughly between each. Scrape and fold the batter a few times to make sure everything is completely mixed.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between your two prepared pans. You can even weigh them to make sure they're even. Smooth out the batter with an offset spatula to help avoid a domed top.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick insert in the center comes out with a few small crumbs. Be careful not to overbake. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then cool, tops up on a rack until cooled completely. If you're working ahead, wrap your cake layers completely in plastic wrap and store in the fridge over night.
For the frosting
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 8 minutes. This will make it very light and fluffy.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low speed until combined, then turn the speed back up to medium and beat for another 6 minutes. It will be fluffy and dreamy and beautiful.
To assemble
  1. Place the bottom layer of your cake onto a pretty board so you can transport it easily. You can fill your cake with your favorite flavor. I like raspberry jam or lemon curd. You could also just go with the frosting. That's awesome, too.
  2. Place the second layer on top of the bottom layer with the bottom of the cake up to ensure a flat surface. Scoop a good amount of frosting on top of the cake and spread evenly. Frost the side of your cake carefully. You're better off having too much frosting so you can take some away.
  3. To make the swirls on the top slowly rotate your cake while applying slight pressure with your small offset spatula or a butter knife, slowly bring the spatula toward the center of the cake in spiral. To make the stripes up the side, simply pull your offset spatula straight up all the way around. If you have a rotating cake stand or a lazy susan, this will be a lot easier.
  4. Cut the buds off of your favorite small flowers and press them into your still soft frosting all the way around the border of the cake. You can add a few flowers to the top as well. Just make sure they're clean.
  5. Pop everything into the fridge for a bit to set. Then go get married and have a beautiful day!
Adapted from Sweetapolita
Adapted from Sweetapolita
How to be Awesome on $20 a day
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