Alina Sewing and Design

The Ultimate Power Moisturizing Oil Combo

Skin Oil 1

Today, I’m sharing my favorite power-oil combination! I keep each of these oils on hand for their various uses, and at one point, decided to combine them and their super properties. I apply it right out of the shower after lightly toweling off to lock in the most moisture, but it’s great for use throughout the day as well. I’ll let the individual oils do the talking and convincing, so let’s take a look at their properties and uses…

Sweet Almond Oil: high in vitamin E, extremely moisturizing–great for dry, itchy skin, and even eczema, great for sore muscles and joints and more, if a food-grade oil is taken internally!

Grapeseed Oil: Used to treat and great for…arthritis, edema, dermatitis, acne, wrinkles, dry and itchy skin, age spots, sun burns, chapped lips, wounds, bruising, stretch marks, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, chronic venous insufficiency, premature aging, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), dandruff.

Coconut Oil: Oh, don’t even get me started! Coconut has been made popular enough by now that if you’re interested in this blog post, you are probably quite familiar with its uses and qualities. But, just in case you aren’t…The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and soothing properties.

Vitamin E Oil: Best known for its antioxidant properties, which fight against free radicals that cause damage to cell structure. It provides protection against toxins such as air pollution, premenstrual syndrome, eye disorders such as cataracts, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, healing scars, including those from acne, intense moisturizing properties (best used with a carrier oil if used daily), minimizing brown spots and wrinkles and more!

Skin Oil 2As you can see, I use a small travel-size plastic bottle, but you can keep it in whatever you like. The only thing you eed to know is that sunlight can damage these oils, so if you’re not going to keep the mixture in a dark cabinet (like I do), then you need to store it in either a dark/opaque container OR a container that blocks UV rays (many of the bottles that these oils come in are treated to block UV rays)!

This mixture will keep for a long time, though I recommend mixing it in smaller batches that can be used within three months.

Skin Oil 3**Please note: I am not medically-trained or qualified to give medical advice for treatment of diseases or ailments. My knowledge is simply from my own research, so I encourage you to do your own research as well. I have included some of my informational sources (though this is not an all-inclusive list, these are the articles I used to put this post together). Please contact your doctor for their professional opinion in treating any specific problems you have or think you have!**

Sources for further reading:

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Oil for Scars

16 Proven Health Benefits & Uses of Coconut Oil

9 Health Benefits of Sweet Almond Oil


Garlic & Onion Sautéed Chard

I feel like I hit an edible gold mine tonight. On my way home from work this afternoon, I stopped at the grocery store to grab a handful of items we had run out of. I buy all of our apples organic, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting honeycrisp’s appearance in the organic section…and today there were there! Anyway, while I was over there, I was eyeing the organic greens and my eyes stopped on the chard. For a long time (as in years), I’ve been wanting to expand my vegetable resumé, which includes mustard & collard greens, rainbow & red chard, etc. Growing up, my dad was always a very experimental cook, which is what inspires me to do the same; but for some reason, I have no real memory of him cooking these kinds of greens. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but I have no memory of ever eating these things.
Sooo…long story long, I bought a bunch of red chard. I brought it home and sautéed it. And then I fell in love with it. How have I never cooked this before?! It has a peppery flavor, not unlike arugula, wilts like spinach, but still keeps it’s structure like kale does. Oh, and it was sautéed with garlic, onions, EVOO and sea salt, so you can’t go wrong there.

What you need:

  • One bunch of organic* chard (any color…red was beautiful, I can’t wait to see what rainbow looks like!) per two adults
  • Five cloves of garlic
  • One yellow onion
  • EVOO or oil of choice
  • Fine grain sea salt
    *Chard falls under the kale/leafy greens category on the dirty dozen, so this is one you’ll want to buy organic. 

How you do it:

  1. Hand wash your chard, dry it and then tear the leaves off of the stalks. Lay your stalks aside.
  2. Slice the onion into strips and chop the garlic, meanwhile heating the EVOO over medium heat in a skillet or wok. Chop the chard stalks, much like you would a stalk of celery (they look and feel the same). Once the oil is heated, add the garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the onion and chard stalk, stirring every minute or so. Allow these to cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and chard is softened.
  3. Add the chard leaves and wilt them, just like you would spinach. Remove from heat and toss with some fine sea salt.

It will all meld into this beautiful blend of flavors and textures that can be eaten alone or served over pasta, quinoa, rice or you could throw a few eggs in and have an amazing omelette in minutes!

I’ll be wanting to try chard in a myriad of new ways, now. Especially since it’s such a super food. Do you guys have any favorite chard recipes? 

Organic Kale & Chicken Sesame Stir-Fry

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes both for us and for when we’ve signed up to take dinner to families that I know prefer healthier foods (what is facebook for if it isn’t to know the dietary preferences of people we haven’t seen in 5 years? kidding…but that does come in handy!). Plus, it’s easy to make the amount I need, depending on how many people I’m feeding. 
Organic Kale & Chicken Sesame Stir-Fry (over Quinoa!)

You need:

  • Organic Kale (one bunch will feed two adults, if served with something like quinoa, otherwise, one bunch will feed one adult)
  • Chicken Breasts (one per adult)
  • Grain of choice; I always serve mine over quinoa to pack in some extra protein, but this would be delicious with something like brown rice, too)
  • Ground Ginger (optional)
  • Soy Sauce (or liquid aminos, a natural soy sauce alternative, if you prefer)
  1. Start cooking your grain. Once you start the stir-fry, it will go fast!
  2. Have your chicken breasts thawed and sliced into strips.
  3. The most time-intensive part of this recipe is hand-washing the kale (which is on the Dirty Dozen list I was talking about last week, so buy it organic) and tearing it off of the stalks. Once the kale is clean and torn into bite-size pieces, set it aside on a towel next to the stove.
  4. Now that your grain is cooking, your kale is clean and torn into pieces, and your chicken is thawed and sliced, heat a wok on medium-high heat for a few minutes. Once pan is hot, add oil of choice OR vegetable stock (I make my own vegetable stock and freeze it in ice cube trays and throw those into pans to steam-fry, which saves you some calories on oil!).
  5. Throw your chicken in the pan, cooking for 3-4 minutes. Add ginger if you’re including it. Push chicken to one side of the wok.
  6. Add pieces of kale by the handful. Just like spinach, kale cooks down A LOT and you’ll never be able to fit one bunch into the wok at a time (let alone three, like I did tonight). Once the first couple of handfuls cook down, push it to the side and add a couple more, continuing until all of the kale is cooked.
  7. Take it off of the heat, toss with sesame seeds and soy sauce/liquid aminos and serve over the grain you chose. 

What did I say? Easy, healthy, fast (once everything is prepped) and easy to adapt to however many people you’re serving!

Lemon Peel Concentrate

Do you guys remember back in July when I was talking about how I would be aiming to bring some simplicity back into my life? Well, I’ve made it through nearly all of those books and have read some additional as well. One was called Easy Green Living, by Renée Loux. So far, it’s one of my favorites for its all-encompassing and easy-to-understand chapters. (My other favorite is
Skinny Bitch: Home, Beauty & Style: A No-Nonsense Guide to Cutting the Crap Out of Your Life for a Better Body and a Kinder World, by Kim Barnouin – again, remember my disclaimer on her colorful language!) Both books break down words like dioxins, parahydroxybenzoate, phthalates, and perfluorinated compounds in ways that make sense, that I can remember and that help me to understand their impact on my health. And EASY ways to remove them. I still have a lot of studying to do, but my ultimate goal is to put together a guide on easy ways to be green and why it matters (like buying unbleached coffee filters–bought for the same price at the same place–instead of bleached coffee filters for a dioxin-free cup of coffee…EASY and IMPACTFUL).

So let’s talk about organic produce. Everyone has unique budgets and priorities, but for me, I’ve been sticking to EWG’s “Dirty Dozen Plus” list (top 12 produce you should buy organic if at all possible, as they are the top pesticide-sprayed fruits/veggies and buying organic therefore reduces your overall exposure to pesticides by leaps and bounds!):

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet Peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines – Imported
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries – Domestic
  12. Potatoes

    + Green Beans
    + Kale/Greens

They have a free app you can download for both iPhone and Android, which is really handy if you’re in the grocery store and don’t remember if it’s imported or domestic blueberries you’re supposed to buy organic! You can check out their web site or their app to see where all produce is rated. They also have a “Clean 15” list, which are the lowest in pesticides and therefore you can save your sweet grocery budget on conventionally-grown versions of these items!

Anyway, moving on to what this post is actually about; whether you’re buying all conventional, all organic, or a mixture of the two, you need to clean that produce when you bring it home, right? And you probably don’t want to clean it with something that has more questionable chemicals in it than the pesticides you started with, do you? And if you guys know me, you know I’m not spending a chunk of change on a “natural” produce wash from a natural food store when I know I could create something out of the stuff in my pantry.

Renée Loux includes three different produce washes in her book. One is called, “Extra-Strength Lemon Peel Produce Wash.” It calls for 4 cups of filtered water, 3 tablespoons of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of Lemon Peel Concentrate (which is below and is the whole point of this novel!), 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 4 drops of grapefruit seed extract. You mix them together until the baking soda has dissolved and can put it into a spray bottle to spritz your produce or a bowl to dunk it all together.

So, if you’ve read this post thus far, congratulations. If your eyes skimmed past all of the words and straight to the pictures, hello and welcome. 🙂

Lemon Peel Concentrate

You need:
– 4 organic* lemons
– 1 cup vodka (cheap is fine)

*No, you wouldn’t normally buy lemons organic, but you’re using the peel, which is where the pesticides are, in order to make a produce wash to remove the pesticides from your conventionally-grown produce. So, yes, organic is important…otherwise, you’d be rendering this produce wash pointless. 🙂

1. Give the organic lemons a good scrub in a water bath.

2. Peel away the yellow part of the peel, leaving behind the bitter white pith. I started this with a paring knife, but after the first half of the first lemon, I realized I didn’t have all afternoon to sit around carefully peeling lemons. I remembered that Pampered Chef Apple Peeler/Corer we got as a wedding present that we haven’t used yet and set it up. It worked like a dream!

3. Place your lemon peels in a jar and cover with vodka.

4. Sealing the lid tightly, let stand for 2 weeks in a dark & cool place.

5. When the concentrate it ready, strain out the solids and store, for up to a year, in a cool, dark place.

6. Wash some produce and read the health benefits of citrus peel extracts here (yep, this can be consumed and used in a recipe much like vanilla extract would be!)

Speaking of which…vanilla extract is made almost the exact same way, only it sits for 2-3 months. My first batch is close to finishing!

And you know what to do when life gives you lemons, right? 😀

White Bean & Kale Soup (Vegan and GF-Friendly!)

I pinned this recipe from Real Simple a few days ago. I knew today’s forecast held wind, rain and cold, so I mentally bookmarked it. I re-arranged our bedroom yesterday, so now our headboard sits right up against the windows–which were open last night–and was woken up by 40 degree winds slapping me in the face. YIKES! But man, with rain coming, did that wind smell good. After a coffee date with Cowboy this morning, I knew I wanted this soup for lunch. 
White Bean & Kale Soup
(Adapted from Real Simple)


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 large onion
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup small soup pasta, uncooked (I used organic Farro, but you could use quinoa, making it gluten-free)
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 8 cups water or vegetable stock (*I make my own stock, so I have plenty on hand, but you could use water and just add some additional herbs/seasoning to boost flavor)
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan (2 ounces), plus 1 piece rind (optional) (OR skip the cheese and this would be vegan, too!)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • fresh dill or other herb(s) of choice (I also used some Greek Seasoning)
  1. Start by washing your kale and tearing the leaves off of the stalk and into small, 1- or 2-inch pieces. This can be tedious, so you’ll want to have this done before you turn the stove on. Set kale aside.
  2. Chop the garlic, slice the celery and chop the onion. Heat the oil in your pot or dutch oven and add the garlic, celery, onion, 1.5 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse and drain your beans. Once the onion is translucent, add beans, uncooked pasta, kale, herbs, parmesan rind (if you have one-this is optional) and 8 cups water/vegetable stock*. Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer until both your pasta and the kale are tender (this will vary by pasta).
  5. Remove the parmesan rind, if you used one. Stir in the lemon juice and serve topped with Parmesan shavings. 
It was easy and delicious, though not as hearty as I would have liked. I would either add more pasta, throw in some potatoes or serve with bread (the original recipe did call for this). I also didn’t use rosemary (I’m not really a fan) from the original recipe, which could have added to this, but the flavor overall was a bit flat. The addition of more Parmesan fixed that rather quickly, so be generous with it, especially if you’re not serving this with bread.
Happy rainy-Kansas Thursday!

Chili- and Lime-Rubbed Chicken and Grill-Caramelized Broccoli

Tonight we had THE MOST delicious dinner. And, to make it [approximately] 12,385 times better, it was super easy and fast. On top of that, once I looked at the recipe list, I realized I already had all of the ingredients. And I hadn’t made it to the grocery store yet this week (I only stock the basics), so that’s saying something. So, while I don’t normally regurgitate recipes other blogs post, this one is worth it so that all of you see it!

Chili- and Lime-Rubbed Chicken Breasts (originally posted on Gluten Freely)

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lb)
  • 2 teaspoons olive or canola oil
  1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. In small bowl, mix chili powder, brown sugar, lime peel, salt, garlic powder and ground red pepper. Rub both sides of chicken with oil, then with spice mixture.
  2. Place chicken on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 10 to 15 minutes, turning once or twice, until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F).

*MYU Notes: I squeezed fresh lime juice over the chicken as soon as we pulled them off of the grill, which really enhanced the lime flavor (obviously) and complemented the ‘kick’ from the spices. As grilling season leaves us, I’m also going to try baking this. I have no doubt that it would be great out of the oven, too!

Grill-Caramelized Broccoli Florets

This is something I just threw together to go with the chicken and, again, is super easy. I took a sheet of foil, folded up the sides and pinched the corners together to make a sort of rectangular bowl. I laid a few pats of butter on the bottom, dropped in the freshly-sliced broccoli florets, topped with a couple more pats of butter and sprinkled on some greek seasoning (though you can use any type of seasoning you’d like…even salt and pepper would be delicious!). I placed the whole thing on the grill about 10 minutes before I added the chicken, stirring occasionally. The butter and dry heat blended beautifully to caramelize my broccoli and it was a great side for the chicken.

So, if you’re going to get in just one more dinner from the grill before putting it away for the cold season or if you need to make a quick dinner, make sure you try this!

P.S. My birthday was last week, so as a birthday gift/early anniversary gift, my mom got us (OK…really I’m the only one who cares about this) a 50mm. Then, I spent my birthday money on a second zoom lens (75-300mm). (Thanks Steph/Dad/Mammaw!) So…you’ll probably be seeing a few more photos around here. 🙂

P.P.S. This weekend is the second biannual Red Barn Outdoor Market, so if you’re in the Wichita area, you DON’T want to miss this. Heck, if you’re anywhere in Kansas, Oklahoma, or Missouri, you won’t want to miss this! Live music will be playing all day long while you browse the 56 (yes…FIFTY-SIX! This is quite the growth since the first Market in April, where we had 33 vendors) booths offering fresh food (breakfast and lunch will be covered!), packaged food (whole wheat bread, grass-fed beef and jerky, etc.) and all kinds of handmade and vintage goodness. Seriously…what a way to bring in the fall! (Early Christmas shopping, anyone?)


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