Alina Sewing and Design

Treasure Hunting

You know the kind. The rusty metal baskets waiting to be filled, the dusty ball jars waiting to be cleaned and given use again, the furniture begging for new life…and the things that may or may not belong on another planet (what IS that thing?!). The unique, the never-before-seen, the needing-attention-and-care. And the best part? The hunt itself.

I took a drive out to Marion, KS today with two friends and a sister. We went to Bearly Makin’ It Antiques, Cindy’s for lunch, and then made our way toward Peabody, KS, stopping at the Copper Shed. It was so fun to just browse together or on our own (we did a lot of both), at our own pace, taking in all of the treasures to be had. Our carefully trained eyes were surverying and pulling attention toward the gems that were there for us.

Treasure 1

Treasure 2

Treasure 2.5

Treasure 3.5

Treasure 3

That is…don’t be sorry unless you need to be. 🙂

Treasure 4

Treasure 5

Treasure 6

Treasure 8

Treasure 7

Treasure 9

We came home with a lot of metal baskets, a rolling cart, some fabric (that will probably be showing up in my shop in form of fun items soon), a leather wallet and coin purse, some vintage children’s books, a vintage blanket, and a very dusty bumper! Small town America, we thank you for your finds!

Treasure 9.5

Unfortunately, this is the ONLY picture of all four of us…and it’s out of focus! My self-timer and autofocus had a battle…and the autofocus lost. On the up side, you can see my neighbors house quite clearly. 🙂

Merry Christmas from us to you!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! We’ve had two family Christmases, one at home with just the two of us, and one more family Christmas this coming weekend! We’ve been so blessed, both in remembering the reason for the season and in spending time with family. Hope you are enjoying your holidays as well!

Christmas Collage

Cowboy’s Backyard Movie Birthday

Back in May, I saw an article full of fun ideas for summer. One idea was renting a projector for the weekend and watching a movie in your backyard. Knowing Cowboy’s love of the outdoors, of John Wayne and of going to the drive-in, I thought, “Perfect! That’s what I’ll do for his birthday party.”

I kept it a secret until a few weeks before his birthday, whereas I had long before realized how expensive it is to rent a projector and screen for the weekend. (Like several hundred dollars, which was definitely not in my price range. And further, why wouldn’t you just invest your money and buy one? It would pay for itself in just a few uses…) After doing some research, I realized that I could buy a fairly inexpensive projector (and I knew I could find a way to rig up a white sheet for a screen), but I couldn’t spend $100 (or more) without first bringing my husband into the decision. After thinking on this, I realized that my dad probably owned one for the seminars he gives every few months for his business. Bingo! Dad had one (top of the line…and a screen, too!) and he agreed to let us borrow it for the night!

So, since that part was figured out, I stocked up on bags of popcorn, boxes of candy, drinks, and moved the microwave to a table in the back yard.

On another table, I had stacked blankets for people to sit on in case they hadn’t brought a chair (which had been suggested as we only have six outdoor chairs). Over that area, which people first met as they entered the back yard, we hung outdoor lights so that people could retrieve snacks and get around once it was dark. (Sidenote: am I the only person who goes completely ga-ga over outdoor night lighting? Those strings of bulbs make me practically giddy.)

And it all turned out exactly like I had envisioned (except that the Olympic opening ceremony happened to be on the same night, meaning we missed the last half and that a few people felt torn between the two events and ended up staying inside of our house for the first half of the movie. Oops!)

Happy birthday to the love of my life, my best friend, the excitement in my mundane, the other half I never knew I was missing. Life and our few months of marriage together has been 10 times more incredible and 100 times different than I ever expected it to be! Thank you for putting up with my craziness, my determination and my need to “know” things in advance. You love me fiercely and exactly how I need to be loved and I can never thank you enough for that!

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, 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 
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?

Four Weeks in 800 Words or Less

Whew! Starting to get back on track; not quite into a groove yet, but the post-move crazies are starting to settle just in time for wedding planning to ramp back up! We’ve been up to a lot in October already, so I thought I’d share a slew of pictures from the cell (as that’s the best representation I have!). Forgive me for the poor picture quality, but 1) I have no idea where my camera is right now (haven’t seen it nor gone looking for it since before the move), and 2) I know the batteries are dead, so there’s no use in me trying to find it right now!

I literally filled my car to the brim…front to back, side to side and top to bottom…three weekends in a row. You’re looking at the front seat looking back!

 Aaand, we STILL had the entire trailer full last weekend! (And Cowboy even took a load in his truck at the end of September!) Holy Moses, where did all of this stuff come from?!

But, we eventually got the entire apartment cleared out. Looks pretty different than it did from the apartment tour last month, doesn’t it?

Before I left KC, I went to a “see you later” dinner at Buca di Beppo on the Plaza with some of my girlfriends. As we were walking into the restaurant, I saw this:

If you don’t recognize that car, you probably don’t understand why I stopped and took a picture of it!

At the beginning of October, my mom and I (and her friend, Lisa!) drove up to Hesston for the bi-annual barn sale. All I can say is…awesome. I came home with a vintage suitcase, a vintage serving plate, a necklace, two bars of handmade soap, two vintage tins (I will be re-purposing them…deets coming soon!), a pair of earrings and more…for $38! Seriously…it.was.awesome. It was all handmade or thrifted, it was beautiful and it was really exciting to meet some local vendors!

 Then, the following weekend (back in Wichita again), these little munchkins (these belong to my soon to be sister-in-law Nicole) showed up at my house…

 …while their dad (Jacob, Cowboy’s brother) and Cowboy were hanging our newly-built porch swing. He (Jacob) built this by hand as a wedding present for us. Amazing, right?! Just wait until you realize it has cup holders!

 Also, in important news…I found this rug here for 75% off at one of the Target stores in KC (which means I paid $87 for the original $350 price!). Actually, my awesome friend Erin tipped me off. She’s amazing! And the rug is also amazing in our living room.

 And, now that the move is finally complete, I’ve been able to do a few small projects around the house! I made a fall wreath for a few bucks since I’ve been whining for fall decor. Oh! And that’s the vintage suitcase I picked up at the barn sale. $12 bucks…crazy cheap, right? It’s in perfect condition, too, which makes this girl elated. It’s sitting in front of the door because the front door closes itself. I needed a doorstop and immediately remembered a sailor’s knot doorstop I saw on Pinterest and pinned a while back…

 …so I made it! Tutorial and pictures coming soon!

I’ve also created a small terrarium…

 Cooper’s realized he belongs in windowsills…

 I made new curtains for the back door (the old ones had geese on them…and were really, really, really dirty. They crunched when I took them off of the back door. Um…gross.)

 Which brings us to this past weekend–our official first weekend in Wichita! I carved “J&A” and Cowboy carved a pumpkin…like a pumpkin shape into his pumpkin. His creativity astounds me! I later found out that’s what he carved last year too–hahaha!! Love him.

 And, since I’m now working remotely for the agency, I am in need of a desk! So, last Saturday night, we built a desk. It’s a chunky, heavy, big-hardware, solid desk and I feel like it’s something we could have paid thousands for from Restoration Hardware. We spent around $70! It’s currently in the garage awaiting its third coat of stain and a coat of poly. As soon as it’s cured and in the house, I’ll be posting final pictures and a tutorial for the desk as well!

Whew! And that’s how you give a month-long update in under 800 words!
P.S. if you saw the MYU facebook post today, we’re only 51 days away from the wedding. Go check out how we’re counting down “officially” here at the house!


Only occasionally do I share my heart here at MYU (like I did on New Year’s Day), but the crazy hours and constant activity and never-ending to-do lists have handed me one sickness after another.  I just recently got over several months of mono and now I’m home from work today with what I think is a sinus infection. But before I keep going and you think I’m complaining, let me preface this by saying I’m grateful. I’ve been up to my ears in stress lately, but that’s my own fault. It’s my own plans (or at least how I’ve chosen to take “control” of God’s plans) that have landed me here. Hard-headed as I am, sometimes it takes being knocked out on the couch for Him to get my attention. Laying here in the silence of my half-empty living room today, I’ve been able to reflect over where I am in this life transition.

I’ve been blessed with a better-than-I-could’ve-asked-for small group of girls that come over to my apartment every other Tuesday night. We’ve been doing life together for the last two years. We’ve gone through bible study after bible study together, encouraging each other, crying over each other’s pains, lifting up one another’s burdens in prayer. We call each other sister-friends…and that’s exactly what we are. But more than that, they’re my warrior-friend-sisters. Tonight is our last meeting before I move (they will continue on, of course, but unless they really start skyping me in like they’ve threatened, it will be my last meeting). We’re finishing up a book called What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst. Essentially, this book is about radical obedience.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent chapter:

God owns it all. We are simply managers of His resources. When we pursue the beautiful opportunities of sacrificial living, we freely acknowledge that truth and then reap the blessings. When we come to understand that we’re giving up what was never ours to begin with, we’re walking in radical obedience. 

Truth. While I love all of my projects and the by-products of every single talented person out there, my heart knows it’s really just stuff. When my brand new, hot-off-the-lot car was victim of a hit-and-run (and almost $2,000 in damages) last year, I was OK. Do you know why? Because that car is still just a “thing.” When I leave this earth after my blink of a life, it’s not going with me. I leave all of this behind. But you know what else I know I’m leaving behind? A legacy. I don’t want to be the friend that couldn’t stop and listen because I was focused on my own stress. I don’t want to be the wife who couldn’t be flexible or positive and encouraging. I don’t want to be the mom (someday) who couldn’t devote full attention because I was focused on what I was planning on “accomplishing” that day. I don’t want to be the stranger who couldn’t give because I’m so tight with my finances. I just want to be careful that my focus doesn’t shift away from what’s really important (yo…that’s exactly what the enemy wants!).

I’m so, so blessed. And, essentially, though I’m excited about where God is physically taking Cowboy and I, I want to be careful to not miss the REAL opportunities to be a blessing in those places. Being in the military means we’ll be moving every few years. What’s been bouncing around in my head is how hard it is to move and say goodbye after just two years here (and we’re even momentarily moving back to a place that we both have family in!). How much harder will it be when we’ve been in these places for a few years? And what about when kids are in the mix? How will they adjust? How challenging is it going to be to create a “home” when everything must be so temporary? But…in my heart, I know that these are silly worries. The opportunities we’re being afforded far exceed my mind’s worry. I know that we’ll take on these challenges as they come–no sense in worrying over them now. And at the end of the day, we’ll be taken to places where we’re uncomfortable, unfamiliar and unsure–and that’s exciting!

So, in summation, I want to be radically obedient. I don’t want my vision to be clouded by worry and temporary “things” that hold zero long-term importance. I want to be effective and joyful and strong. And I’m asking every single one of my friends, family and readers to hold me accountable to that. I shared my heart on New Year’s Day for the same reason…and I’ve returned countless times to re-read my surrender of 2011. I gave the Lord this year and wowza has he surprised me! Within five months of writing that post, I was officially dating Cowboy (actually, it was later that day!), we were engaged, he was moving back to Wichita, which meant I was following him…so that we could be married by the end of the year! This year is nothing but proof of how fast “my” plans can change to far beyond anything I ever expected. 2011 has already been a year of extreme evolution, change and unexpected twists. So, today, I am hitting a “reset” button. I am planning on thoroughly enjoying my last 17 days in Kansas City. I am optimistic about the new memories that will be made in Wichita (including, but not limited to, getting married–yah!). I have zero ideas about where we’re headed next (that’s up to the Navy :), and I’m excited about that.

Here’s to a reset and a reminder to be radically obedient–may the rest of the time I’m afforded be focused on what God has for me…and being grateful for that. You have my permission to knock some sense back into me if I start to get worried and focused on the unimportant stuff. 🙂


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