Alina Sewing and Design

Puffy Paint Vase

I’ve been seeing puffy paint vases like this…

Click photo for link to original blog
And this…
Click photo for link to original blog

…on Pinterest lately. When I remembered I had a clear dollar-store vase in the cabinet (left over from this project) and knew I had puffy paint and white spraypaint, I decided to give it a go! You can follow the tutorials on either of the above sites (both are great, so I won’t recreate them). This is how it turned out:


Pretty great for a free project, eh?

Cardboard Cutouts for Photos

I mentioned on Monday that I would post a tutorial for the cardboard cutouts used to achieve the shadows in our engagement photos. It’s almost a lie to call this a tutorial because it is so simple, but here you go!
I got this idea from a photo on Two Girlz Stuff. She made a cardboard cutout that said, “We <3 Daddy,” and photographed her girls holding it for her husband’s Father’s Day card. I thought it was brilliant…and then wondered if I, too, could do it. 
I didn’t really have much direction, so I just kind of flew by the seat of my pants. My co-workers looked at me like I was crazy when I saw an empty chair box in the hallway at work and immediately snatched it up. A girl I work with helped me collapse the box (which then made it taller than us!) and helped me carry it out to my car (in the wind…we both weigh around 120 pounds, so we were seriously blowing over). To get it into my car, I had to fold the entire back seat down in my CRV. Seriously…this was one BIG box.
Anyway, all of that to say that getting the cardboard could be the hardest part of this project. 🙂 I wouldn’t use anything thinner (like poster board) because it will quickly become flimsy once you make your cuts (even the cardboard became flimsy).
Basically, I destroyed my box cut my box apart and took inventory of what sizes I had. I am glad, after all was said and done, that my box was big because it left me with big pieces to work with. Once I did that, I laid on my stomach on the living room floor and started free-handing the letters in pencil (I did a lot of sketching/erasing/sketching/erasing). (You should also know that I am kindofsortof a perfectionist and I measured out the letters and spacing so everything would look even. I consider it worth the extra time investment.) Once I liked them, I started cutting them with a small paring knife (kind of like this). You could do it with a cardboard cutter, but I found it was easier to make smooth curves with the small knife (and I could make a “sawing” motion, which made it go faster). 
First I made one with our initials. Please note that the “a” and “&” aren’t cut all the way through…they still have pieces attaching the middle sections to the outside–much like you would see on a stencil. (Otherwise the center pieces would fall out and who knows what they would look like!)

 Here’s how it turned out. As you can see, the parts attached to the center aren’t super noticeable in the shadows, so all is fine and dandy.

And here is the date cutout. I did hearts instead of periods because, well, it seemed like a fun idea. 🙂 This one was actually a lot easier because, A) I only sketched/cut out the “1” once and then used it to trace the other three (which saved me time AND made them look consistent)…so I only had to sketch the 1, 2, 7 and hearts, and B) there were no center pieces to worry about like in the “a” and ampersand.
 And I love how this one turned out as well. 🙂
 Here are both together!

 This project cost me nothing but my time (and a couple of pencils sacrificed their erasers). In total, I estimate it took me around 4 hours, but that could mostly be due to the fact that I didn’t know what I was doing and…my perfectionism (probably mostly that!). If you wanted to save some time, you could probably find a font you like, print the letters and trace the outlines from there, rather than free-handing.

Has anyone else tried this? Let me know if you have!

Bavarian Pretzel Rolls

A few weeks ago, Cowboy took me to the Webster House in downtown Kansas City. Before the meal, they served these I-can-now-die-happy rolls. We couldn’t quite put our finger on what kind they were until I realized they tasted like a pretzel. I began to google recipes for pretzel rolls and, much to my glee, found a ton of recipes. (I’ve never even heard of these before??) So, I found one to try and gave it a go last night. All I can say is YUM! I can never eat regular rolls again. Cowboy’s first response after taking a bite (we made ham and cheese melts with them) was, “I think this should be a staple of our diets!” Looks like I’ll be making these again.


  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons warm milk
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (I actually used bread flour)
  • kosher salt or pretzel salt
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda


  1. In a small bowl if using a bread machine, or in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix a 1/3 cup of the warm water (105-115 degrees) with the yeast and let stand until foamy.
  2. Add the remaining cup of warm water along with milk, sugar & melted butter and swirl to dissolve the sugar. (If using a bread machine add mixture to bread machine at this point and continue). Add flour* and mix on dough cycle or med-low speed. Remove dough from bread machine once it forms a nice a firm, pliable dough ball. Add more flour if necessary. (*Note: I think I could’ve actually used a little less flour, so add the fourth cup slowly as needed.)
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured table and knead for 2 minutes. Roll into a 2 foot long log and cut into 12 even pieces. Cover dough with plastic and a damp cloth and let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Pat dough into rolls or form knots and arrange on a lightly floured surface about an inch apart and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let the pretzels rest for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets.
  6. In a large stockpot, bring the cold water to a rolling boil and add baking soda.
  7. Drop two rolls into the boiling water and boil for no more then 30 seconds, turning once. Carefully remove with tongs or slotted spoon and hold above pot and let drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat with the remaining rolls.
  8. Arrange rolls on the oiled baking sheets and bake on the upper and middle racks of the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until browned all over; shift pans from top to bottom and back to front halfway through, for even baking.
  9. Let rolls cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The recipe says it will make 12 rolls, but I think they’d be about the size of a quarter if so. Mine were around the size of a palm and perfect for small sandwiches. We had four rolls and used the rest to make two (large!) cinnamon sugar pretzels. Delish!

Click here for the original recipe!

Super-Soft Snickerdoodle Cookies


(Photo credit: the kitchn)
I don’t know about y’all, but I have a big love for any kind of chewy cookie…especially one made with butter, cinnamon and sugar. Can it get any better? I’m always in search of a soft, chewy cookie recipe and I was super-psyched to find this one. I made them. I then proceeded to eat more than I should have in one setting. This was after I ate raw dough. (I swear I’ll die a raw-cookie-dough death someday!)
If you like cookies and being happy, make these. They won’t disappoint you!

OTB Chicken Tortilla Soup

HELLO everyone! Greetings. I feel like it’s been so long since we’ve talked. What’s going on in your lives? Are your small children grown now? Are you newlyweds five years into marriage yet?
OK, sorry. Just really been missing you guys. Maybe this is a little over the top, but I just hope absence really makes the heart grow fonder! Moving on…

I don’t eat out a lot, but I love me some mexican food. And I have my favorites…like On the Border’s Chicken Tortilla soup. When I started this food challenge in October (which this is the last recipe of…summary to come later!), I wanted to re-create this soup at home. And just to let you know…it was so yummy that I don’t think I need OTB anymore.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup salsa (I just used a can of rotel)
  • 2 large ripe olives, mashed with 3 T. salsa (I minced half a can of black olives instead, no salsa since I was using entire can of rotel)
  • 3 (14.5 oz) cans of chicken broth
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (around 1 lb.)
  • 4 T. uncooked rice (I used brown minute rice)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro (I used way, way more…see instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup shredded monterrey jack cheese
  • avocado, cubed
  • The recipe doesn’t call for it, but I would add some corn too!
This is going to be really hard…are you ready?

  1. Heat chicken broth to boiling, add (unfrozen) chicken.
  2. Boil for a few minutes to cook the chicken until it is opaque. Shred said chicken. Add back to broth.
  3. Add salsa (rotel) and rice.
  4. Cook 15 minutes or until rice is tender.
  5. Add chopped onion and simmer for 5 more minutes
  6. Spoon into bowls and add the following…
Avocado: muy importante. (That means really important for those of you who don’t speak Spanish.)

Cilantro: MUY importante a mi. (Read: VERY important to me.) Seriously. I must have some kind of complex with my herbs. (Does anyone remember the case of the basil pesto?)

Urm…I love cilantro. I love it so much that I can hear schoolchildren exclaiming, “well why don’t ya just MARRY it??” Because I can’t. That’s not how this works.
But I would. Oh would I.
Anyway, my point is that you should add this to your soup. Add it during the last five minutes with the onion. Add it to your bowl before spooning in the soup. Add it as a garnish. Add it to your oatmeal. Wait, that would be gross. Just checking to see if you’re paying attention…


Coffee Filter Wreath

Yet another project I found in the land o’ blogs–a wreath made solely out of coffee filters! I saw this project on The Little Brown House blog.

I have three different coffee makers (and now a french press). Some call it addiction; I call it dedication.

But really…I might have a problem.

Anyway, I hardly ever use my full-size drip coffee maker, so I have a ton of coffee filters (I think I’ve used two or three out of the package of 200!). Rather than go out and buy brown ones like she did (which I really love the look of!), I wanted to use what I already had.

I spent:

$4.97 for the styrofoam wreath form

$1 for the ribbon
And I already owned the coffee filters and straight pins!
She posted a great tutorial, so I won’t bore you with the details, but I did do a couple of things differently.
  1. I started by tying a ribbon so I wouldn’t have to find a place later.
  2. Put Netflix in DVD player.
  3. Sit down on couch.
  4. Grab coffee filters by the middle of the bottom.
  5. “Fluff” three or four together (still pinching the bottom middle) and pin down with a straight pin directly into the wreath form. (If you want it to be REALLY secure, you could hot glue the sections as well/instead of using pins.)
  6. Continue until you’ve worked your way around, pinning groups as close together or far apart as you want (mine were a lot closer together than hers were. Consequently, I ended up using nearly all that were in my package of 200, whereas she used around 75).
And done! Doesn’t it look like some expensive paper wreath you’d drop 30 or 40 bones for??


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