May 2013 ~ Diane's Vintage Zest!

Spicy Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing

A spicy spin on my Cornbread Stuffing that EVERYONE loves!

Sweet Potato Souffle for Thanksgiving

One of my most popular recipes EVER, and just in time for Thanksgiving!

DIY Painted Photo Backdrops

Super easy backdrops for your photo, plus a few tips!

Golden Sweet Corn Bread Mini Muffins

A sweet spin on traditional cornbread!

Easy Sweet Potato Pie (without a crust!)

The easiest (and healthiest) pumpkin pie recipe ever!

Vintage Pattern Jackpot?

Hi there!

Well, remember when I went to the swap meet and got all of those patterns for free?  Well, I thought that I would share the goods with you all, in case any of you were curious.  There are a lot more duds in this collection than treasures, for sure!  :)  The fabric finds were much more successful!

By the way, these are my first vintage patterns ever!  Then again, I suppose in 20 years, the patterns that I've been buying will be considered vintage.  :)  Also, I was hoping to find a little bit of history, like Tasia found in her patterns!

Let's start off with the favorites!

McCall's 6003, McCall's 2407, McCall's 7259, McCall's 6749

M6003: Rompers intrigue me since mimi g. showed her own pattern that looks cute and modern!
M2407: The only pattern I was going to initially buy was this apron pattern.  I love the envelope!  One day, if I ever have a sewing room, I think I'll frame it on the wall.  :)
M7259: This envelope is cute too, so it's hard for me to focus on the actual garments.  :)
M6749: Maybe view D or E would cute in the right fabric?

On the flip side, here are possibly the worst patterns of the bunch.

McCall's 8012, McCall's 7715, McCall's 8896, Simplicity 9052, McCall's 8028

M8012: What adult needs overalls?  Assuming you're not a farmer, of course.
M7715: Not only is the shirt a boxy shape, it seems to be a strange midriff length too...
M8896: The styling and fabrics are HORRENDOUS!  I lived through the 1980s (although I was little) and I probably had an outfit similar to the girl doing the "I'm a Little Teapot" pose in the front.
S9052: I can't get past the fact that these look like cheesy boxers.
M8028: Not even a professional model can look good in this one.

Here are some children's patterns, which I won't need anytime soon, but I'll hold on to.  Look how cute some of the vintage envelopes are!

Sponsored Tip: Proprly: Expert Cleaning & Key Delivery Services

Hello all!  Today, I have a great resource out there for all of my NYC readers out there.  Read on for the details and a special deal!

Well, remember how last week I mentioned my experience with Airbnb?  Well, I absolutely loved it except for a couple of instances.  The first was walking in our host still cleaning up the apartment after her workday and the second was having to wait around for our key while our host was at work.

Well, it turns out that there's a service designed with guests (and hosts) in mind, to take care of all of those details, and avoid those exact situations.  Introducing, Proprly!

Home page

As a host, it can be tough to consistently maintain a property for guests, so that's why Proprly was created!  Proprly will do the laundry, clean the house, drop off the keys, pick up the keys, take out the trash, do the laundry (again!), wipe the surfaces, rinse and repeat for your next visitors.  Honestly, I wouldn't mind having this for my own house!

Who are they?

Weekly Wrap-Up!

This weekend was a fun one, with a couple of yummy meals and the Patchwork Festival, like I mentioned on Saturday.  Lots of things to share!

Precap (Jump to):


There was lots of work to be done, so by the time I finished, it was really late!  Luckily, everyone was still out and I met them at Blackmarket Bakery.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Don't you love the light fixtures?  The whisk one is my fave.  :)

Then, we went to Taco Asylum for a little bit of food.  Or at least I thought it was going to be a little!  First, a steak & potato taco.

Weekly Wrap-Up

And nachos with potato chips for the table.  Mmm!!!

Weekly Wrap-Up


I planned to do some sewing, and I finally did!  I'll share soon.  :)

But first, we went to breakfast at Schooner or Later.  We hadn't been here before, even though it's relatively nearby.  It's been on the Food Network, and we ended up ordering all of the featured dishes: Crab & Avocado Benedict, the Belgian Waffle, "The Mess," and a couple of others too!

Nautical-Inspired "Odds & Ends" Mason Jars

Remember back at the beginning of March, I mentioned that I would participate in the International Craft Swap?  Well, I never shared my finished project!

Basically, the rules stated that I would have to make the craft myself.  I could sew, crochet, knit, cross stitch, embroider, make jewelry, etc.  The second main rule is that it had to have a nautical theme.  I figured that I would sew a pincushion cuff or something cute.

Then, I found out I was paired up with Erin from Miss Crayola Creepy!  I already followed her blog after I found her on Map the Sewintists.  Also, I realized that I saw her from afar at Gertie's book event at Sew L.A. because she had blogged about it and I recognized her coat & dress right away.  Yay!

But then I knew there was no way I could sew anything for her!  I'd be way too intimidated.  So, I came up with these Nautical-Inspired Odds & Ends Jars.  :)

Nautical-Inspired Odds & Ends Mason Jars on Diane's Vintage Zest!

My first thoughts were that I should etch a couple of glass jars to hold different sewing odds & ends.  I definitely love my mason jars, as you know!  Still sewing-related, but I wouldn't have to have my work scrutinized by a pro!  So I ended up searching for images of nautical themed glass etchings.  Immediately, I saw lots of blue-tinted seaglass, which wasn't what I was looking for.  However, it gave me the idea to tint some jars!

Step #1: Make Rope Balls

But first up, I wanted to create a few rope balls to place in the jars.  I didn't want to send them empty!  I only needed rope and a styrofoam ball according to the tutorial.  Instead, I used a ball made out of foil, so I attacked these right away!

Nautical-Inspired Odds & Ends Mason Jars on Diane's Vintage Zest!

I ended up with three really cute balls (after having a bit of trouble with the first one).

Nautical-Inspired Odds & Ends Mason Jars on Diane's Vintage Zest!

Step 2: Tint Mason Jars

Next, I found this tutorial to tint jars.  Her favorite color was mint green, so I scrapped the blue jar idea.  I happened to have green food coloring on hand.  Perfect!  Here is my version of the jar tinting tutorial.  :)

What You Will Need

Raspberry Coconut Macaroons

Last week, I shared the roasted eggplant with tomatoes and basil that I made for the holidays.  Well, today I wanted to switch it up and share the beautiful dessert I made!

Normally, I like to have more than a few desserts when company comes over, but this time I chose to make just one.  Usually, most people are stuffed at the end of the meal, and guests unexpectedly bring desserts anyways!

Raspberry Coconut Macaroons at Diane's Vintage Zest!

Let me just say first that these macaroons are AMAZING!  I made these a few years ago and because I loved them so much, it was the first recipe I added to the holiday menu.  I'll remind you that I set out to make this an all Smitten Kitchen recipe holiday, and for a good reason.  Deb did her homework on the macaroons, which you can see if you take a peek at her original recipe.  Read on for A+ macaroons!

Raspberry Coconut Macaroons
From Smitten Kitchen

Saturday Synopsis!

Happy weekend everyone!

I hope you all have some wonderful plans for Memorial Day, especially for those of you that have a long weekend.

This Memorial Day weekend, Craftsy will be celebrating by having select classes up to 60% off!  I think I'm going to buy one for my mom's birthday!  More importantly, they will be donating a portion of this weekends' proceeds to benefit a veterans' organization.  Personally, I signed up for Craftsy last weekend and got the Short Rows (knitting) and Metalsmithing at Home classes.  Also, I'm going to check out the free mini sewing classes, like the "Mastering Zipper Techniques" and "Sewing Machine Feet A to Z."  Perhaps, this weekend?

As for me, I'm going to the Patchwork Festival on Sunday.  I went last year to two of them, and they were great!  It will be fun to spy on some crafty people's creations, now that I kind of know how to handle a sewing machine.  :)

Here are last week's posts for you, in case you missed any.

Saturday Synopsis!

Monday:  Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes & Basil.  My twist on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen that I made for the holidays.  Yum!

Tuesday:  My button organization, which I totally love.  :)

Wednesday:  Shopping at a Korean market, eating out, and sewing!

Thursday:  Travel Tip: How to find accommodations abroad, and keep it under budget too!

Friday:  Some seriously cute mini mason jar tumblers with faux chalkboard labels, if I don't say so myself.  :)

Mini Mason Jar Tumblers with Faux Chalkboard Labels!

This is a project I mentioned waaay back in March, which I've been dying to share with you!
I was originally going to post about it while I was gone on my trip, but as we know, my "Travel Diaries" series was so pic heavy that I had to break up all of my posts and postpone some of the pre-scheduled ones.  In a way, this is better because it's a reminder that I need to break these out soon for all the summer barbecues we have planned!

Here are my mini Mason Jar Tumblers with Chalkboard Labels plus a tutorial below on how to make your own!

Mini Mason Jar Tumblers with Faux Chalkboard Labels on Diane's Vintage Zest!
Hey Stitch Once, Rip Twice members!  You're invited to my party!

I had 20 of these little mason jar tumblers from a foodie event that I went to in Las Vegas.  There was an alcohol company that was promoting their goods and serving them in these awesome jars!  There were seven of us at the event, and we each picked up 2 to 3 tumblers, mostly because I kept bugging them to drink up and save the containers for me!

They were adorable as is, but I wanted to remove the company logo.  It was printed on really well, so I was a bit disheartened when it wouldn't rub off.  Then, I decided to figure out the cutest way to cover up the logos instead!

Mini Mason Jar Tumblers with Faux Chalkboard Labels on Diane's Vintage Zest!

I knew that I wanted a label that you could write on, so of course a chalkboard came to mind!  I looked into how to make your own chalkboard paint, but left the project on the backburner until I had enough time to devote to a painting project.

Travel Tip #2: Shop For Cheaper Accommodations

Here is the start of my travel tips series!  Although I did share one tip before my trip, this is the real start.  :)  I know this will need updating from time to time, when items change or more options come up.  With that caveat, here we go!

The view from our Dublin hotel

When you're traveling abroad, there's nothing worse than finding the perfect hotel in the perfect location, plugging in the amount into a currency converter, and then finding out that it's totally out of your budget!

Well, I'm here to compare the different accommodations that I've used over my years traveling abroad.  On this trip we stayed in three hotels, two bed & breakfasts, and five rented apartments.  By the way, this was my first time renting apartments through a website called Airbnb, which ending up saving us some serious coin.

In Part 1, I'll point out the different things to look for when you are booking a place to stay.

In Part 2, I'll shed some light on the pros and cons on staying in hotels vs. bed & breakfasts vs. hostels vs. rented apartments.  This will also include a few websites to make your comparison shopping easier.

In Part 3, I'll share my tips for a successful Airbnb rental after the comparison, since it was such a great experience!  I'm not being paid or anything, but I wish I had some help before we started looking!

Part 1: What to Look For in a Place to Stay

The list of important things is different for everybody, but I noticed that when I was booking accommodations with my travel buddies, we each had different priorities.  Here's a list of things to get the juices flowing on picking out the best place for your next vacation!

  1. Expense: Self-explanatory!  There may be accommodations that include extras, such as WiFi, breakfast, parking, and pets for free.  Definitely a bonus!  Conversely, if you are charged extra, you should include this as part of the expense.
  2. Location, location, location: You may love to be in the touristy areas, near the attractions, or away from the craziness around where the locals live.  It depends on you!  Proximity to public transportation, as well as to good restaurants and cafes is always a plus.  :)
  3. Ratings: Websites like Trip Advisor will help you to make your decision by reading reviews by previous guests.  Also, some of the websites in Part 2 have rating systems built in to the search functions.
  4. Security: Often, this is tied to the location, but it may be important for you to have a private room with a safe.
  5. Ease of booking: Nowadays, the internet makes it easier, but there are some options that are definitely easier than others!
  6. The Pretty Factor: We all want to stay somewhere that looks and feels like somewhere we want to stay all day, even if we only stay here to sleep!  Also, it may be important for you to have some local character in your accommodations.  :)
  7. Room Size/Features: Usually bigger is better, especially if it has a kitchen and living room!
  8. Luxuries: The gym, spa, and babysitting services may be important necessities for you on your vacation.  :)  Also, you may want a 24 hour front desk or concierge that can book tours, tickets, etc.
  9. Access: Certain accommodations abroad will not comply with the same standards that we have in the U.S.  This means steep staircases, lack of ramps, etc. which may be important if you're on the top floor with heavy suitcases!
  10. Family friendly: You'll want to pay attention to the safety of the neighborhood, room size, luxuries, and access.
Our rented apartment was just a few minutes walk from the tower in Bruges!

Part 2: Accommodation Comparison

Weekly Wrap-Up!

It was a laid back weekend, and I even got a little bit of sewing done!


My guy was out of town, but I thought it would be fun to have dinner out!  I was going to be healthy, until I got there and saw the menu.  Oops!

I ordered the chili cheese burger, but at least I substituted the fries for mushrooms...  Yeah, lame attempt to be good.  :)  Unfortunately, someone at the table ordered some fried macaroni & cheese for us to share as an appetizer.  Then, there was another shared dish for dessert, an amazing Key Lime pie.  It's a Crooked Duck favorite, and now I see why!



Since I was on my own, my friend came over and we did a little bit of crafting!  I had a couple of alterations to make and I made a dent into one of the many UFOs I have in my stash.  Yay!

(Cute as a) Button Organization

(Cute as a) Button Organization on Diane's Vintage Zest!  #organizing #sewing

I knew that I would be really busy this month with work responsibilities, so I decided to share how I organize some of my sewing supplies, in case I couldn't get to any sewing.  A couple of weeks ago it was my sewing basket and for today it will be my extensive collection of buttons.
Honestly, I have an addiction which is spurred on by my trips to the swap meet and how cheap they sell them for!

(Cute as a) Button Organization on Diane's Vintage Zest!  #organizing #sewing

I suppose that my system isn't super innovative or anything, but I still wanted to share my tips.  :)

(Cute as a) Button Organization on Diane's Vintage Zest!  #organizing #sewing

What You Will Need

  • Organizing container:  First of all, you will need a box or other container.  I like using a tackle box or something similar with removable dividers.  Why?  Well, sometimes I have a few more buttons than will fit in one compartment.  See the mint green buttons below?  Well, we all know that I love that color, so I definitely bought way too many of them.  :)
  • Buttons
  • Lots of time!

Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Basil

Before I left for my trip, I made a few recipes for the holidays, which I mentioned here.  As promised, is recipe #1!

I decided to make the holiday an homage to Smitten Kitchen, which always has such beautiful dishes.  We ended up making four of her recipes!  Before this, I hadn't made a single one.  :(  Smitten Kitchen is actually the first blog that I ever followed, thanks to the friend that accompanied me to London & Paris.

For holidays, typically my mom cooks the proteins, my sister does the starchy sides or a non-protein entree, and I am in charge of the veggies and desserts.  After calculating how many people we would need to feed, I settled on three vegetable dishes and one dessert.

The first vegetable recipe that I chose was the Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint.  It was so delicious and beautiful, I think everyone should definitely make it for their own holidays, or even a regular meal.

I made a few changes here and there to the original recipe.  I used a soft mozzarella instead of the ricotta salata, due to availability.  I lessened the amount of capers to cut out some sodium, for my dad's sake.  Instead of mint, we used the fresh basil from our garden.  All in all, minor changes but still a beautiful dish.  Here's my version!

Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Basil
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Saturday Synopsis & Giveaway Winner!

Happy weekend!

Not much planned with my guy away for the weekend.  I'll probably end up getting some work done and maybe even get started on the Pencil Skirt Challenge!

Don't forget about the 10 - 15% discount to JSM Tailoring Tools (see details here on how to get the discount).  It will end in 2 weeks, so make sure to get your Chakoner and your other sewing supplies!

Lastly, the winner of the $50 to Shabby Apple is...

 photo 1_zpsb6360492.jpg

Sheila who subscribes via e-mail!


As a friendly reminder, try to follow the rules of the contest.  The first winner had to be disqualified for entering twice under every option, but I caught it since she used the same e-mail to login!

In happier news, here are last week's posts for you, in case you missed any.  :)

Saturday Synopsis!

Monday:  My favorite salad recipe.  Healthy food made easy for a lazy girl like me.  :)

Tuesday:  Pretty fabric finds at the swap meet a couple of weeks ago and my plans for them.  I just hope they don't become UFOs...

Wednesday:  I think I ate out every single day last week, including on Sunday for Mother's Day.  That's why I HAD to get that salad recipe up to remind myself!

Thursday:  The renegade crafter in me fashioned some gloves out of a mystery item while I was in London...

Friday:  My plea for some photography help.  It's just getting embarrassing!

Help for Better Photographs?

This post is a combination of a question to all of you lovely readers and a great tip for you NYC readers out there.

Well, I started looking into taking better photographs a while ago, after stealing my guy's camera.  It would be really great for the blog and even better for real life!  I took waaay too many pictures on my trip, some of which I wish turned out better.  :(

The Cliffs of Moher look sooo much better in real life!

Over the weeks, I figured out that day lighting is so much better for photographs (duh!), even if I had to drag my dress form down the stairs and outside for every garment.

Then, I even figured out on my own a couple of quick fixes using Photoshop and wrote a post on it here.

Just this week, I was featured on Domesblissity for my post on organizing your fabric stash, and it was the worst picture ever!  Ugh, back to figuring out how to take better pictures!

I'm still not quite comfortable with knowing my way around a camera and I looked into some beginning photography classes in my area.  The few that I found didn't fit into my budget or schedule.

Then, I stumbled across this awesome website called Vimbly.  They listed several options for  photography classes with schedule and price comparisons.  Sooo simple!

Travel Crafting: Cozy Gloves!

The title is a bit misleading because there isn't going to be a second travel crafting post (at least not for this trip!).

Remember in London, at the end of the post I asked if anyone had any tips for layering because my poor hands were so freezing?  Well, in the next post I had a teaser for the solution to my problem!

And if for some reason you wanted to make your own, I'm even including a "tutorial."

Introducing my protection from frostbite, the polkadot thermal gloves!

Like I mentioned, we had been on Oxford Circus, looking around for gloves for me and a scarf for my friend, but there were only spring items in the stores.  Then, we went to Portobello Road where you can find just about anything!

They were selling gloves for 8 pounds, but I thought I could do better, especially when I saw Poundland (the UK version of the 99 Cent Only store!).

There were no gloves in stock (darn!), but I did walk out of there with a thank you gift for our host, lip balm in a lovely tin, and my glove materials...

Weekly Wrap-Up!

Honestly, I'm looking at these weekly wrap-ups, and they're definitely an homage to my stomach.  Oops!

Then again, one of the reasons I started the blog was to share my food adventures with one of my friends from home.  :)  Sorry to all of you out there who haven't eaten yet!

By the way, this article is funny!  I think of my food pictures like travel photographs.  Just a reminder of something fun and sometimes pretty!

Precap: Roots Gourmet, Phuket Thai, Naples Rib Company, Bouchon


First, I went to get a much needed haircut.  On the way there, I picked up some pastries from a nearby cafe called Roots Gourmet.  I couldn't turn down the raisin roll, like the ones I was addicted to in Paris.  For some real sustenance, I picked up a kale & spinach pocket with tzatziki.  Yum!

I was excited to try out chia pudding for the first time for a snack afterwards.  I saw an article ages ago in a food magazine, and I already love healthy ingredients.  I thought that it would be similar to quinoa, but I was sooo disappointed.  :(  Maybe I should have ordered their awesome skirt steak sandwich instead!


I still hadn't cooked anything (lazy me!), so I accepted an invitation to have some dinner out at a Thai Restaurant (one of my favorite kinds of food!), called Phuket Thai.

We ordered the Beef Satay, Spring Rolls, and Mee Krob to start.  Once the food came, I forgot to take pictures.  Oops!  We did have some delish Pad Kee Mao and Green Curry.  Spicy!

Pretty Fabric Finds + Pencil Skirt Challenge Fabric!

After my tips for finding fabric at the swap meet, I promised to show you my haul.  Honestly, I was stalling for time so I could re-steal my man's camera after our trip.
(By the way, re-read the Ireland posts here and here to see all of the pictures I took on his camera.)

Are you all ready for some pretty fabrics?

By the way, I already folded the fabric prior to taking the photographs (using this method), so I had finagle the fabric bundles to show the drape without completely unfolding them.

Favorite Salad "Recipe"

Unfortunately, I am feeling a bit under the weather today.  :(

Maybe it's a culmination of my travel, eating out so much this last week, or staying out in the sun too long for Mother's Day.  In any case, I had to skip the gym today, which is always a bit worrying.  It's so easy to put off the next workout for tomorrow, or the day after, and so on...

Well, at least I can eat right!

I put together one of my favorite salads ever, which I eat every day, as long as I've been a good grocery shopper and food prep-er.  Yes, I think I just made up a word.

Favorite Salad Recipe

It helps to have a tasty salad ready to go, especially when your fruit drawer looks like this...

Favorite Salad Recipe
Hmmm...  One of these things is not like the other!

Diane's Favorite Salad!
Recipe from My Guy's mom  :)

Saturday Synopsis!

Mother's Day is this weekend, so I wish all of you moms out there a wonderful Sunday!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway of $50 to Shabby Apple here.  If you missed any of this week's posts, here they are!  :)

Saturday Synopsis!

Monday:  My recipe for shrimp with zucchini, tomatoes, and feta.  Simple, tasty, and quick.  The trifecta for my favorite recipes!

Tuesday:  Introducing the Summer 2013: Pencil Skirt challenge.  I can't wait to get started!

Wednesday:  Wrapping up my first week home.  Fancy dinners and swap meets?  That's how I roll.  :)

Thursday:  Speaking of swap meets, here are some tips to get the most out of your trip!

Friday:  I sew.  I organize.  Why not share my organized sewing basket then?  Here you go.  :)

Sewing Basket Organization!

Hello again!

I was originally going to post this on Tuesday, but it seems a bit more appropriate to share on Friday, when I like to have an organization or tip-related post.  Also, Jen from iHeart Organizing is sharing her own sewing box!

Like Jen, I got my sewing machine about a year ago, but I don't have a super huge blog, three kids, and an organization empire to maintain!  Therefore, I spent a lot of time sewing projects up and my sewing basket (gifted to me by a friend) is chock full of almost everything you could ever need.

Here's my organized sewing basket!

When you first open up the basket, there are a few items in the lid:

- Sewing needles
- Darning needles
- Seam ripper

I don't like to keep my pins on the cushion, but you'll see them later!  Also, I always need my seam ripper handy, unfortunately.  :(

The top interior has a tray with a ton of goodies.

From L to R, top to bottom:

Tips: How to Get Your Swap Meet On!

I'm definitely a girl who goes to extremes.  One day, I'm having dinner at Melisse and the next, I'm going to the swap meet to score some cheap finds.  :)

A few of you asked where I get my fabric, especially the one from the cape I sewed a few months ago.  Well, I know that there are beautiful fabric shops out there, but since I'm a beginner, I would be too nervous to use fabric that's more than $10/yard.  Thus, I'm always on the hunt for a great deal at my local swap meet!

It can be a little tricky to navigate your way to a good deal, so here are a few tips to make your swap meet experience a great one!

Getting Ready

1. Be ready to shop outside.  That means wear comfy shoes and put on the sunblock.  Usually, I'm not out for too long and I don't burn.  However, I've taken my guy before and he burns in a hot minute.  Bring water and maybe even a parasol.

2. Bring cash.  How much should you bring?  More than you expect to spend, but only as much as you can afford!  You may find those perfect buttons for 5 cents a pop, and not be able to pass them up!

3. Leave your bulky purse at home.  It will make it MUCH easier for you to rummage through fabric and carry all of your stuff home.  Not all of the fabric that you find will be as easy to see as the booth below.

Weekly Wrap-Up: There's No Place Like Home...

I have to admit, that this weekly wrap-up seems so much more boring, now that I'm not having adventures 24/7!

Also, it took me more than a week to figure out how to sleep normally.  Then again, if you ask my guy, he'll tell you that I never keep normal sleeping hours.  :)

Sunday (4/28)
I arrived home in the late afternoon, and knew that I had to stay up for at least 6 more hours to get back on track, sleep-wise.  I wanted nothing more than to take a shower and get to bed, but instead I forced myself to go to dinner.

I had never been to KPasta before, but I was pleasantly surprised!  I ordered the Black & White Linguini with Scallops.

Monday & Tuesday

I was in a trance both days.  I slept from 8pm to 2am, and really didn't do anything besides unpacking and catching up with life in general!


It was my dad's birthday, so the whole family went out to dinner at Melisse.  It's definitely a restaurant for a special occasion, having been awarded 2 Michelin Stars and with an extensive chef's menu that can last 4 hours!

Amuse Bouche: Grape with goat cheese and pistachios.  In the spoon, a similar taste profile but with molecular gastronomy!  They were both wonderful.  :)

Summer 2013 Sewing Challenge: Pencil Skirt!

On Tuesdays, I like to share something sewing-related as you know.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get my sewing machine out due to jetlag and lots of work to be done.  Fortunately, all of us in the sewing group just decided on our next challenge, which will definitely push me to get something sewn up soon!

For Summer 2013, we chose to each make a version of the pencil skirt "trend."

Yes, for some reason, the fashion gurus out there decided that pencil skirts, which I always thought was a classic piece that never went out of style, would be a trend this season.  Hey, I love them so I'm not complaining!

Read on for the "rules" to participate in this challenge!  Of course, we're not super strict about these because it's all for fun!

Summer 2013 Challenge "Rules"

Shrimp with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Feta!

Hello all!

I am finally back to cooking!  I haven't washed a dish or pan in about 4 weeks, can you believe it?  Luckily, between all of the walking and hiking up towers, none of the pastries that I ate didn't pack on a single pound!  I came in right at the exact same weight, to a tenth of a pound.  That's crazy!

Still, I'm pretty sure that I'm a bit thicker in the middle and lost some of my arm muscle.  Ick.  So what does that mean?  Back to healthy recipes (and the gym)!

I actually made this recipe before I left for my trip, because it's so easy with most of the ingredients coming from my freezer, pantry, and garden.  No grocery shopping?  Yes!

Shrimp with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Feta

Adapted from here

Saturday Synopsis!

Omg, it's so good to be back!  I definitely love traveling, but there's no place like home!

Saturday Synopsis!

Monday: Maybe it's not as flashy as some brownie or cake recipes out there, but my favorite little sweet treats are these ricotta & fruit bowls.

Tuesday:  A little roundup of the final black & white challenge projects.  Great job girls!

Wednesday:  Travel Diaries: Ireland - Part 2.  Find out if we survived driving through Ireland...

Thursday:  Travel Diaries: Dublin.  Well, we obviously survived, and here's the last leg of my long time abroad!

Friday: Announcing some of the giveaway winners from the ones that ended while I was away.  More importantly, enter the new giveaway for $50 to Shabby Apple!

Giveaway Winners & Shabby Apple $50 Giveaway! *CLOSED*

I am finally settled back into normal life after my long trip, and I have to thank all of you guys who stuck with me and read all of my sporadically scheduled posts.

Since a simple thank you isn't very exciting, I'm happy to announce a Shabby Apple $50 gift certificate giveaway!

First, to take care of some business.  There were two giveaways (for 12 rolls of Duck Tape and a Chakoner) that ended while I was away, and I have to announce the results.  Get ready guys!

The winner of 6 rolls of solid colored and 6 rolls of patterned Duck tape is...

Julie R. following via Bloglovin'

Now, for giveaway number two!

The lucky winner of the Chakoner is...

Travel Diaries: Dublin

This is the last chapter in my travel diaries.  Yay!  Let's get into it!

*See the whole trip here!*

Day 1 (Wednesday, 4/24)
  • Eats: Bull & Castle

Well, this was a really short day for us since we got in so late from Galway.  After turning in our rental car (undamaged!) we checked into the hotel.

We were surprised to see Christchurch Cathedral right outside our hotel window!

(Funny story is that the next morning, my guy wakes up and says, "Did you hear someone up late last night banging on a pole or something?"  I had to laugh, because it was the church bells that were ringing all night.  He's such a light sleeper!)

For some reason, my guy was feeling a bit bad, maybe from all of the tarts we had eaten during the day.  So, we stayed in the room for a bit until he was feeling better.

Right across the street, we went to Bull & Castle.  Unfortunately, it was late so we stopped in to have food at their Beer Hall upstairs instead.

It was still pretty great!  My man had a steak sandwich, of course.  :)

I ordered halloumi cheese skewers with veggies.  It was surprisingly good!

Day 2 (Thursday, 4/25)

  • Sights: Guinness Storehouse
  • Eats: Gallagher's Boxty House
  • Drinks: Gogarty's, The Palace Bar

We got a bit of a late start this morning, so for breakfast, we had our last two tarts from Galway.  Yum!

Travel Diaries: Ireland - Part 2

It's Wednesday, so time for another weekly wrap-up, right?

Well, even though I'm back home now, I need to recap the last legs of my Ireland journey, so here is the second part of Ireland.  My normal weekly wrap-ups will be back next week!

*Update: See the whole trip here!*

Day 3 (Sunday, 4/21) - continued

  • Sights: Slea Head drive (Bee Hive huts), Conor Pass
  • Eats: Murphy's Pub, Murphy's Ice Cream, John Benny Moriarty's
  • Drinks: Flannery's, Dolan's

For our third day in Ireland, we got ready to do a ton of driving on the west coast.  Lucky for me, there was less navigating to be done, because there's only one road!

This was the view from the car before arriving in Dingle.

Once in town, we were greeted by a bronze sculpture of Fungi!  Everybody loves him in Ireland.  :)

First, we stopped at Murphy's Bar for a pint and fish and chips.  They're known for their seafood in this area, so we were more than happy to try it out.  :)