Alina Sewing and Design

Top Three Things I’ve Gained from Pinterest

What was life like before Pinterest? Dark? Lonely? Lacking in color?

I’m only kidding. Sort of.

I will say, though, that the world of Pinterest has connected me with other bloggers and projects and ideas I never would have otherwise known. There are some, however, that stand out more than others. So, I thought I’d round up my top three because, in my opinion, these are worth sharing.

1. Going ‘Poo-Free’

Yep. Weird, I know. Sounds weird if you don’t know what that is already…and maybe it sounds weird if you do know what it is already.

Now, I know and am prepared for you to judge me. That’s OK. But before I delve into this one, please let me defend myself on one important fact: I am not a granola-crunching, Birkenstock-wearing, save-the-environment, will-do-anything-in-the-name-of-healthy kind of person. Well, I do care about the environment and being healthy but I’m not an extremist by any means.

So, let’s carry on, shall we?

A few months ago, I was surfing around on the main page of Pinterest, looking at stuff people I don’t know had pinned. And I saw the words ‘Poo-Free’. Um, what the heck? I thought. So I clicked on it. A skeptic, I started reading about this lady who started using baking soda and vinegar in place of her store-bought shampoo and vinegar. What a weirdy…I thought. And then I got to the reasons WHY she did it. I’ll re-cap, but please read her blog for the full why and how-to.

The three reasons she (her blog is simplemom.net, btw) lists:

  1. Shampoo is a detergent
  2. Shampoo has all sorts of chemicals (um–read this if you want to know what kind of chemicals)
  3. Shampoo is an unnecessary cost
Then I read this one.
And then I read this one. I had just been thinking, vinegar? Stinky! when I read her recipe of a teaspoon of vanilla, a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon to mask the vinegar smell. (P.S. This smells AWESOME.)
Well…those got me thinking. I have crazy oily hair…always have. And I lose approximately 28% of my hair down the drain every.single.time. For a girl with thin hair, this is NOT cool.
So I casually brought it up in conversation with Cowboy. Would he think I was crazy? Or weird and extreme? Or would he call off the wedding?

I’m only joking…sort of. So I sauntered through a conversation, throwing in the idea, moving on, then circling back to wonder aloud what he thought of the idea. He really did.not.care. 
So there I was, a month before the wedding. And I did it. And do you want to know what? I’m a believer…100%. Here’s why:
  1. It is CHEAP. I just bought a big box of baking soda for 56 cents. At a tablespoon per use, do you know how long that 56 cents is going to last me?
  2. It’s baking soda. If it’s healthy enough to be in my food (err…cookies), it will do zero harm to my skin or hair. Picture it (uh, or don’t)…your skin is wet, ready to soak in anything you give it. Hey, want to throw some laundry detergent on your head? Of course not! So why would you? 
  3. Speaking of skin–this one took me by surprise. Since I started running regularly a few years ago, I’ve gone through the worst break-outs on my shoulders and chest (sorry, tmi). When I started half-marathon and full-marathon training, you KNOW all hell broke loose. I would shower as soon as possible to get the grime off, but apparently, the shampoo was only agitating it more. When I switched to baking soda/vinegar, the break-outs stopped completely. NOT kidding.
  4. My hair is was painlessly limp, flat and thin. Now? Not at all. It has a certain healthy body to it. I can’t explain it, but it’s like my hair was depressed by shampoo (regardless of brand…you name it, I’ve tried it!) and then when I took it away, it threw a party and started doing whatever I wanted it to. 
  5. Want more proof? So I wouldn’t have to mess with it when we went on our honeymoon (uh, baking soda + squeeze bottles of water + vinegar + carry on = no thank you), I packed travel sized bottles of regular shampoo and conditioner. Big mistake. I literally undid everything. My hair freaked out and stayed freakishly close to my head, I was attacked by a static monster, and my skin went on strike in form of major break-outs. You know I kissed the baking soda when I got home.
If you want more info, let me know, but I think the three blogs I linked to above will do more to answer your questions than I ever could.
2. DIY Pore Strips
Also beauty-routine-related, this one has absolutely nothing to do with chemicals and everything to do with budget. You know those pore deep-cleansing strips? You know…the ones you pay $18 for 10 chances to rip the skin on your nose off?
Yeah…I happen to (much to my bank account’s and nose’s demise) love those.
So when I saw that you could make your own pore cleansing mask (read: not just your nose!) for a few cents, I ran to the store like a mad woman looking for unflavored gelatin. One package of unflavored gelatin + a tablespoon or 2 of milk + a few seconds in the microwave. That’s all. Read the original post here.
3. Homemade Greek Yogurt
OK, so I, like many of you, really like the idea of eating natural, non-processed foods…no fillers, no preservatives, no fake sugar. I REALLY like that idea…and more often than not, I try to hold our meals to these standards. You feel better when you eat healthy…you just do. Better enough that the thought of fast food makes my stomach churn. But, there’s a certain cost to eating healthy. And we all know, as exhibited by Whole Foods scheme to take the economy down one kale leaf at a time, that organic is usually better…but WAY more expensive. 
So when I saw this tutorial/recipe for homemade greek yogurt, I thought, you can DO that?! So I read through the directions. Meh…seemed like a lot of work to me, but thoughts of no preservatives and half-priced greek yogurt conned me into trying it. Turns out, it was actually the number of steps that had conned me. It is SUPER easy, you guys! Actual hands-on time is very minimal. I’ve done it both in a crock pot and in the oven. That means greek yogurt for the cost of a half-gallon of milk (so, usually half of what a container of store-bought greek yogurt would cost), and NO preservatives, fake sugars or  fake “fruit”! 
And then sometimes the stars align and this happens:

Yep…I made a batch of greek yogurt for 50 cents that week.
So what about you guys? What kind of tutorials/recipes/ideas/blogs has Pinterest introduced to you that has pretty much blown your mind and changed your world?

Our [$1] DIY Ring Pillow

I probably won’t be sharing MANY details before the wedding (it’s just not as much fun that way!), but here’s one I will. There are so many “things” that tradition deems as necessary in a ceremony–things like a ring pillow. There are a ton of different option out there, some personalized, some generic, some white, some patterned, some unique and some not so much. As with most of our ceremony, I wanted this to be one more thing that was personalized. When I saw this on Etsy, I fell in love. When I saw the $38 price tag (no offense, of course, that’s just more than I would ever want to spend), I decided to make my own. 

 First, I set up my calendar in excel. Then, using spray adhesive (on the back of the fabric, not the paper…I didn’t want the exposed paper to be sticky going through my printer), I attached a very thin piece of white fabric to a piece of white computer paper and ran it through my printer. I had the calendar centered on the page to match up with my fabric (and I did a trial run on paper to make sure they would line up right).

 Once it was printed, I peeled the fabric off of the paper and trimmed the sides.

 From there, I sewed the calendar to a double-layer of linen. Before sewing the pillow itself, I hand-stitched a heart around our date in pink thread. Then, I attached a piece of cotton string at the top of the calendar as a way to tie our rings on. Then, I sewed a basic pillow, stuffed it, and hand-stitched it closed.

The only thing I bought for this project was the linen, since I had everything else on hand already. I bought half of a yard for $4 and only used about a third of it. So, for just over $1, I have a custom ring pillow that I can (and will) use even after the wedding! And now my $37 can go to pay for something else wedding-related. 🙂
Speaking of wedding, bear with me for the next month as posts may be a bit further in between. In the next four weeks, I am finishing a client room, preparing to work remotely, moving to a new city and continuing to travel almost every weekend and work full-time. No down-time for this girl. So, I’m not being lazy and not posting…I’m just struggling to keep my head above water over here! So if I need to take a nap, at least I have a very cute ring pillow to lay my head on. 😉

Homemade Pita Bread

Pita pockets
via
Last week, I mentioned that Lauren pins some of the best recipes. This homemade pita bread recipe was one of them. I had hummus in the fridge, so when I saw this, I went straight to the kitchen.
Let me just say…less than an hour later, I had THE most delicious pita bread. All from items I already had in my kitchen. I love finding a recipe that uses minimal, simple, and everyday ingredients. I also love that she breaks down the cost of her recipes. This one only comes to 78 cents for the entire batch and 10 cents a serving. Even better!
Go check out her blog, Budget Bytes, and think of this recipe next time you are craving something simple!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Happy Friday, friends!
Today I thought I would share a favorite of mine and Cowboy’s. We both prefer cooking at home over eating out. For me, it’s both a matter of saving money and knowing what’s in the food I’m eating. Not that we never eat processed foods (the BBQ sauce is, in fact, store-bought and I’m sure nowhere near healthy), but I like keeping those items to a minimum. 
One day in February, we had a massive snow storm in the Kansas City area and, when my office closed its doors for the day, I got a full-blown adult snow day. It.was.AWESOME. Since roads were bad and pretty much every business was closed (even Wal-Mart closed!), we needed to make a dinner with what we had. Luckily, I had all of the ingredients for Krissy’s from-scratch pizza dough, so I looked to see what else I had. I found mozzarella, BBQ sauce and had a bag of frozen chicken. Hence…a BBQ chicken pizza was born.
I boiled the chicken & shredded it, then layered the BBQ sauce, shredded chicken and mozzarella on top of the already-baked pizza crust. Ten minutes later (once the cheese was melted and golden), we had this beauty!
So maybe this is less a recipe and more a lesson on cooking with what you have when you get stuck inside on a snow day. (Prep for the winter that seems like it will never come, I suppose!)
What kind of foods have you guys made up on the spot?

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Sorry for the off-color picture…I only snapped a photo with my camera phone to gloat to my facebook friends. Ha!

A few years back, I took a cooking class. Women from my church brought their own recipes and then taught us how to make them. One week we made potstickers (chinese dumplings…delicious!!!), one week we made the BEST strawberry and walnut spinach salad and one week we made these amazing homemade cinnamon rolls. To.die.for. Don’t let this recipe scare you…it’s really quite simple! And don’t let the use of yeast scare you–so many times I see and hear people shy away from recipes that use yeast simply because they’re unfamiliar with it. Don’t be scared!
This recipe makes 2 dozen rolls (unless you make them a bit larger) – the rolls in the photo above are all from one batch!

Cinnamon rolls:

  • 2 packs yeast (2-1/4 tsp = 1 pack)
  • 1/2 cup warm water (not hot)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace or nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 cups warm milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2-3 cups of flour, more as needed
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (add more as needed)
  • Cinnamon & sugar
Glaze:
  • 2 lb. bag of powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk, adding more as needed (more milk = thinner glaze)
  • I have also substituted just a titch of coffee before…mm-mmm!
How to do it:
  1. Mix water and yeast together. 
  2. Add sugar and salt and mix well.
  3. Add milk, eggs and mace/nutmeg.
  4. Add flour and oil and stir well. Continue to add flour until your dough is no longer sticky.
  5. Pour out onto a well-floured counter and knead.
  6. Place in well-oiled bowl, oil top of dough and cover with a warm, wet towel.
  7. Let the dough ride until it has doubled in size, punch down and let it rise for a second time.
  8. When the dough is ready, roll out into a rectangular shape. Brush your dough with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar mixture.
  9. Roll the dough into a log and slice into rolls with a dough scraper. Arrange in a pan (or two) and bake at 350 until golden.
  10. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with (more) butter.
  11. Drizzle with glaze or your favorite icing and ENJOY!
See?! Easy as pie! (Errr…rolls.)
A big thanks to Shawna Williams for sharing her recipe! She’s such a gem!

Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Filling

Since we all made it through Monday, I thought we all deserved a little treat! A visual treat, at least. 😉

I’ve made these cookies before and lost the recipe until I recently saw it on Pinterest. I was so excited to find it again! There are several variations, but this one is extremely close to what I’ve made in the past. I did use this exact recipe a few weeks ago for Cowboy’s birthday. We took the extras to friends and family at the lake that weekend and they were a big hit (i.e. I left with an empty jar = success)! The recipe I used comes from Pennies on a Platter. These photos also belong to her, so go tell her how much you love her and her recipe!



Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies


Here’s how she does it:

Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies 

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup granulated sugar (plus more for dipping)
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
¾ cup powdered sugar 

Preheat oven to 375˚F. 

Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, butter and 1/4 cup of the peanut butter until light and smooth. Add in the vanilla and egg, beating one at a time to combine. Gradually stir in the flour mixture. Set dough aside. 

To make the filling, cream together the powdered sugar and remaining 3/4 cup of peanut butter until smooth. 

To assemble the cookies, spoon a generous tablespoon of chocolate cookie dough and flatten into a circle with your hands. Scoop a small amount of peanut butter filling mixture and place in the center of the chocolate dough. Wrap the chocolate dough around the peanut butter filling, pinching ends together to seal. Roll the cookie in between hands to smooth into a ball. Roll into a bowl of sugar and place on the cookie sheet. 

Use the bottom of a glass to slightly flatten the cookies. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes. Do not over bake. Let cool on wire rack.

My note: it is extremely important that you use your dough quickly and do not overbake. These guys will dry out quickly! Just a personal preference, but I actually almost always under-bake my cookies (any kind). I like a soft, chewy cookie, so I take them out of the oven a couple of minutes early (since they continue to bake a little bit even after they’ve been removed from the oven). Once they’re cool, they’re the perfect amount of “done”!

Enjoy!

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