August 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!

Saturday Synopsis! + Blog Announcement

Well, as you might have been able to tell, it's been pretty busy and crazy around here.  I've been blogging for 8 months now, and even though I post every day (with the exception of some awesome guest posters), they're getting published later and later in the day.  Why is that?

I'm studying for a big licensing exam over the next couple of months as well as pursuing some huge time commitments on the career front.  I love this blog and will definitely continue posting, but instead of the 5 fresh, new posts that you've seen lately, I may get around to posting only a couple times a week.

I'm not sure if this will be a permanent change, but you can absolutely keep up with me on my social media below.  I'm Instagram-ing more often nowadays!

  <-- Click to follow me on Instagram
  <-- Click to follow me on Twitter
   <-- Click to follow me on Facebook

Until then, I will be studying my butt off and dreaming of the day that I was in Paris enjoying croissants...

Here are last week's posts in case you missed any.  :)

Saturday Synopsis!
Monday:  What do I do with all of those end of season tomatoes?  Roast them and stick them in a soup!

Tuesday:  My complete fabric stash.  Definitely a ton to look at here, so maybe this will make choosing fabric for projects a bit simpler!

Wednesday:  A weekly wrap-up with a lot of dining out and a trip to the Asian market.  I guess it's a good thing that we're moving to fall sweaters soon, to hide this pooch I've accumulated!

Thursday:  Guest poster Mo from Who Is That Girl Mo? shares a tutorial for making a circle/skater skirt.  So cute!

Friday:  Random acts of blogging.  Funny things that I've encountered while blogging for the past 8 months!

Random Acts of Blogging #1: Meeting bloggers, Bad clothing, Weird search terms

So, I wasn't sure what to call this post because there were a few items that I wanted to share with you guys that I've encountered in the past 8 months of blogging.  They're mostly amusing little tidbits that are completely unrelated to each other, hence the randomness of it all.

I'm sure this will be an ongoing series, as more blogging fun comes up.  :)

1. I love meeting other bloggers!

I went to Mimi G.'s conference last month, which was totally fun!  Not only did I meet Mo after she joined Stitch Once, Rip Twice, I met a few other sewists who have since joined our little group.  Yay!

In October, I'll be going to the SoCal Social, and I'd love to know if any of you guys will be there!  It's basically in my backyard and it sounds like a fun, stress-free day of shopping, eating, and meeting great people and bloggers.  Perfect!

2. I'm more aware about clothes than I used to be before sewing, especially the awful pieces.

Not to say that I was a slob before or that I'm super-fashionable now!  Since learning how to sew, I tend to peruse the internet for inspiration instead of actually intending to buy clothing.  Sometimes, that means that I encounter pretty weird garments since expanding my fashion horizons.

-Collage (Man Skirt)

This it drives me crazy in every way possible.  This is a MAN'S item and it costs $300 on sale.  Why?

3. People land on my page in the strangest ways.

I've compiled a strange list of search terms that have led to my page.  What does that mean?  I like to take a peek at the Google searches that get people to click on my page.  Every so once in a while, I notice an odd search phrase that directs a click my way.  Let's see what that looks like!

Vintage Yogurt 2

Well, that looks pretty normal...except...  Vintage yogurt?  What is that?!?!

Circle Skirt Tutorial from Who Is That Girl Mo?


Today's guest poster is Mo from Who Is That Girl Mo? and another member of Stitch Once, Rip Twice!  She let me be her "plus one"at Mimi G's conference, which she mentioned in this post.  So basically, we're fabric shopping buddies now.  :)  I even shared a few tips on how to bargain with the fabric vendors, like I do when I head to the swap meet.

First check out her post below on how to draft and sew your own circle skirt.  Then, check out her blog for her fashion and sewing tips!  She's a full-service blogging sewist, for real!  Drafts a garment, shares the tutorial, sews it up, and shows how she styles it.  Awesome!


Hey! I'm Mo and my blog is all about sharing my personal style and diy projects.  I started my blog just before Christmas last year and since then my style has evolved tremendously. I also love to refashion pieces of clothing with little to no sewing. Easy and fun is what works for me. I'm also a beginner sewer and today I'll be sharing a tutorial on how to make a circle skirt. I hope it will inspire you to make one of your own. :-) Thanks!

You should know by now how obsessed I was with skater skirts. If you didn't you can read about it in this post. Since I didn't have a skater skirt I decided to make one on my own. I read some blog tutorials and watched a couple of youtube videos and took different pieces of info from what I learned and combined it. It was pretty easy to make. The most tedious part for me was sewing the hem of the skirt. It was so long all I kept thinking was "FML" and when I finally finished, of course I didn't like the skirt. I was extremely tired but I actually do like it and now that I have made my own I am no longer obsessed over the skater skirt trend. Yeah, I know it's only been a couple of weeks but that's me, I get over some things quickly. Here's my tutorial.

Supplies needed:
1 1/2 - 2 yards fabric
7 in or longer zipper
matching thread
chalk or marking pencil
measuring tape
sewing machine
1. Make sure fabric is at least 50 inches wide. The wider the better. My fabric was only 44 inches but I got lucky.
2. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise. Make sure the raw edges are lined up and the fabric is smoothed out.
3. Fold it in half again. You should have a square shape or something close.

Weekly Wrap-Up!

Guess what?  I was informed that I won yet another item from a contest.  This time it was a fancy cooking pot!  I will take pictures when it arrives in the mail.  Yay!

Precap (jump to):


We had dinner with a bunch of friends, to say goodbye to a friend who now lives abroad and was leaving.  I brought Prosecco, and the lovely host had Chicken Cacciatore and Spumoni.  I may have had two helpings of the Spumoni...

Weekly Wrap-Up on Diane's Vintage Zest!

The plates and tablecloth were from our friend's Italian grandmother.  Cute, right?

Weekly Wrap-Up on Diane's Vintage Zest!


We had a housewarming later that day, but I wanted to keep working on cataloging my fabric stash.  You might have seen this picture already on Instagram!

Weekly Wrap-Up on Diane's Vintage Zest!

Luckily, my guy helped me by typing out the measurements as I called them out.  I bribed him with his favorite childhood cartoon on Netflix while he worked.  :)

My Complete Fabric Stash!

I have been awaiting this post for what seems like forever!  And of course, I spent a ton of time adding in all of my pictures only to press Ctrl+Z and undo everything...  TECHNOLOGY!!!

Anyways, after taking a few deep breaths and reconstructing the entire thing, here is my ENTIRE fabric stash!  Like My Complete Pattern Collection and My Big Fat Sewing To-Do List, I will be updating this as items change.  :)


You may have seen on my Instagram that I took the time to photograph every fabric that I own with my handy ruler (which I realized is not perfectly straight...) and my guy's camera.  Of course, it took a few days!

For each fabric, I included a few tidbits of information:

  1. Type: Well, as much as I could determine...  I'm a fabric newbie!
  2. Description: My guy actually helped me with this, so they may be a bit of a rough description...
  3. Width
  4. Yardage: or "Inchage" considering a bunch of them are scraps
  5. Place bought & cost

Lastly, I tried to categorize everything into general categories, which will make it easier to pick a suggested fabric in the future.  Enjoy perusing my stash!


White T-shirt material
60" Width - 1/2 yds.
M & L ($1.99/yd.)
 Pink T-shirt material
58" Width - 1/2 yd.
 Magenta T-shirt material
58" Width - 3/4 yds.
M & L ($1.99/yd.)
 Purple T-shirt material
60" Width - 1 1/3 yds.
M & L ($1.99/yd.)
 Gray T-shirt material
58" Width - 1/2 yd.
M & L ($1.99/yd.)
 Navy blue & white graduated stripes
60" Width - 1 1/3 yds.
Garment District ($1-2/yd.)
 Red & white, thick stripes
60" Width - 4 yds.
GW Swap Meet (<$1/yd.)
 Cranberry with small scattered white polka dots
58" Width - 1 3/4 yds.
GW Swap Meet (<$1/yd.)
 Navy blue with turquoise oval
60" Width - 1 yd.
GW Swap Meet (<$1/yd.)
 Navy with Beige & Turquoise Half moon print
58" Width - 2 1/3 yds.
GW Swap Meet (<$1/yd.)
 Brown with Beige & Orange Half moon print
60" Width - 1 yd.
GW Swap Meet (<$1/yd.)

Heavier Knits to Sweatshirt Weight Knits

Roasted Tomato Soup

Shame on me for not posting this earlier, especially since it is nearly the end of tomato plant season! I first made this soup around the time that my mother's tomato plant was ridiculously productive.  Since then, I made a couple of tweaks to the original recipe and I totally love it now!  It is much chunkier since I use less stock, and by using basil, I don't need to head to the store for fresh herbs.  It is almost an adequate substitute for my favorite tomato soup from The Winding Stair in Dublin!

Make sure to whip up some focaccia along with it for a wonderful accompaniment!

P.S. - Yours truly is a soup fanatic (remember this recipe, this recipe and this post?), so my stamp of approval is even more important.  Right?

Roasted Tomato Soup
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 lbs. plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste



Saturday Synopsis!

Last week, we had a jam session and I played the violin for the first time in forever.  This time, I decided to break out my silly instruments: a child's accordion, a kazoo, and a Siren whistle.  No one should underestimate the importance of a well-timed Siren whistle!


Here are last week's posts in case you missed any.  :)

Saturday Synopsis!

Monday:  A simple caprese salad for the last days of summer.  :)

Tuesday:  My plans for the Refashioning the 1960s challenge!

Wednesday:  Another amazing week with even more lucky wins.  The universe is being so nice to me lately!

Thursday:  Guest poster Debra shares a recipe for Rainbow goulash.

Friday:  Have you heard about the amazing Bag It Forward Campaign?  Here's what my little buddy and I did for our part!

Giving Back with Elmer's "Bag It Forward" and Champions for Kids! #BagItForward #cfk

On Wednesday, I mentioned that my niece needed to go back to school shopping, and I was the lucky aunt to help her along!  She's like my little buddy, and I even taught her how to sew several weeks ago.  :)  We had another mission in mind, to participate in Elmer's Bag It Forward movement!  It's a great cause to help provide quality school supplies for local children and teachers by donating a bag of school supplies to help your community.  Also, if you haven't heard of Champions for Kids, it is a great organization that strives to give kids the resources they need to thrive.  What a perfect combination!


So you may be wondering, why would a girl with no kids want to participate in this?  Here's why this is so important to me.

As long as I can remember, I have been mentoring kids.  When I was in middle school and high school, I tutored children in math.  (Math-lete for life!)  In college, I joined a great organization where I helped two children from disadvantaged backgrounds with their literacy skills.  That is definitely when the bug bit me!  During graduate school, I joined Big Brothers, Big Sisters and I was matched with a girl who was in a tough situation.  She came from a supportive and loving family, who were very poor, without many resources.  Initially, she was doing terrible in school and wanted to become a beautician.  With a bit of mentoring and sister hang-out time, she actually changed her career plans.  Now, she is currently in college with the goal of becoming a pediatric nurse.  My how time flies!

I have also spent a significant amount of time working in a pediatric obesity clinic, with the vast majority of the families coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.  We would organize fun activities for the kids, and their favorite reward items were school supplies!

Because of my passion for working with children, I was excited to have the chance to spread the word about Bag It Forward with my friends, family, and you guys!


Here's what we did to give back!

First, we headed to the Walmart with my little buddy's list in hand!  We decided beforehand that she could pick out the items on her list, but we would have to agree on items that could work for a girl or a boy for our donation bag.


It had been years since I needed school supplies, so I was nervous to get lost in our huge local store.  I really shouldn't have been so apprehensive because there was a huge school bus display and tons of signs all around.  There were aisles and aisles of supplies to choose from.  So many kids were excited to buy their supplies, that I kept taking pictures of children running down the aisles by accident!

-Collage 1 - Bag It Forward

My guy was along for the shopping trip, so he pointed out his favorite folder of the bunch.  TNMT!  I totally rocked the Lisa Frank school supplies myself, once upon a time.  :)

Guest Post: Rainbow Goulash from Debra

Today's guest post is from Debra of Granny's Southern Cooking.  Remember how I used to live in Nashville?  Well, there's a reason why I gained so much weight when I lived there.  It's the cooking!  I didn't have a Southern granny whose recipes I could recreate, so Debra's blog is a fun one to visit.  :)  Check out her recipe for Rainbow Goulash below!


Debra Ann Elliott is a published author, blogger, sassy Southern cook, and grandma. Debra currently lives in Alabama with her family. When not cooking, Debra is busy writing and spending time with her family. Her style of cooking is passed down from her sassy Southern grandma.

If you grew up in the South one of your go to comfort foods was goulash. Goulash originated in Hungary, but somehow this yummy in your tummy goodness found it's way to the South. As my grandma used to say, "Good goulash can be made a thousand ways to Sunday, but great goulash needs a little sass." 

My mama made it with elbow macaroni, corn, ground beef, tomatoes, and onion (which I love). When I married my husband, I learned to make goulash with bread (my mother-in-law added bread to her goulash). I never knew why, but it sure tasted good y'all!

Over the years, I've made goulash a thousand ways to Sunday like my grandma, especially when my cupboards were bare. One of my favorite ways to make it is to add a little sass( like grandma) to the South. I love decorative pasta and rainbow rotini pasta is one of my favorite's plus it's the one ingredient that adds the sass to this yummy goulash.

Weekly Wrap-up: The Luck Continues!

It was pretty quiet around here this week (even with my sister's birthday and a celeb sighting - see below), but once again I was a lucky girl!  I won a couple of crafty items this week, like a monogrammed towel and this handmade clutch from Brittany, who was our guest poster a couple of weeks ago.  :)

My winnings!

Precap (jump to):


During lunch hour, we took a peek at a house, but it wasn't quite right again.  The house hunting is super time consuming!  We ate at a gyro place nearby which wasn't half bad.



Once again, I can't turn down an invitation to eat out when everything that I have to eat is just "blah."  For lunch, we went to Sapporo Sushi where we shared some interesting dishes.  I absolutely love anything in soy paper, so I ordered the Superman Burrito.  Yum!  My companion's bento box was enormous!

-Collage (Sapporo Sushi)

Refashioning the 1960's Challenge Plans!

This isn't a finished garment post or even a works-in-progress update.  Have I lost your attention yet?

It's actually a planning post!  My favorite part of the sewing process, besides inspecting the garment for loose threads before wearing it!  :)  And believe me, I'm a great planner!  Have you seen My Big, Fat, Sewing To-Do list?

You may remember that our latest Stitch Once, Rip Twice project is a choose your challenge!  Read up on the details here.  :)  I decided to choose both the 1960s and refashioning, because I had the perfect starting material in mind!


It's an XL women's shirt from the Gap that I bought from the swap meet for $1!  It was so huge that I assumed it was a man's shirt, so thanks to Nay for clearing up the difference on our Facebook page.  :)

For the pattern, I'm using the Portrait blouse from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing.  I fell in love with it when I saw the blouse in person at her book event in Sew L.A.  I've been sitting on that blouse pattern for a while now, ever since my guy gifted me the book on Valentine's Day!

Anyways, here is the fabric again with a close-up.  It's a pretty, pink swiss dot with just a bit of sheerness.  I'll definitely have to wear the final garment with a camisole, because I'm afraid that adding a lining would make it too heavy.

Simple Caprese Salad

The end of summer is always a sad time for me.  The long, hot days are wonderful in California, and the weather is perfect for my mother's garden (which you might remember from this post).  She always gives me a large tomato bumper crop from her many tomato plants, as well as a ton of basil.

Earlier this summer, I tried a roasted tomato soup (which I have yet to blog about!) which was pretty good.  I also had a couple of recipes which used some of the crop, including the Basil, Rosemary and Tomato Focaccia and the "Pantry Fresh" Pesto Pasta Salad.

I love coming up with new recipes to use my abundant tomato stock.  However, none of these dishes really let the fresh tomatoes sing on their own.  That is why my absolute favorite summertime tomato dish is a simple Caprese Salad!

Simple Caprese Salad on Diane's Vintage Zest!

A few months ago, I shared with you my favorite salad.  I should probably clarify that the recipe I posted about is definitely my favorite lettuce-based salad.  The caprese salad is absolutely my favorite salad, bar none!

Simple Caprese Salad on Diane's Vintage Zest!

Caprese Salad

Saturday Synopsis!

Right now I'm having my hair braided by my cousin's little girl.  Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Well, we're watching that silly show "Hole in the Wall" and I totally wish I could go on it (even though it was cancelled years ago).  I think that I would totally rock it, but it's possible that I would just end up in the water.  :)

Here are last week's posts in case you missed any.  :)

Saturday Synopsis!

Monday:  My no-bake dessert in honor of National S'mores Day!

Tuesday:  The gray and yellow maxi dress that I definitely need to tailor.  :)  It could be cute... if I was pregnant!

Wednesday:  My luck has been pretty amazing lately and I had a pretty awesome week overall!

Thursday:  A guest post from Rachel of The Hollywood Sew.  Enter her giveaway now and check out her awesome blog!

Friday:  My big fat sewing To-Do list.  Gotta get on it ASAP!

My Big Fat Sewing To-Do List!

Being the busy and organized person that I am, I need to make lists.  Just check out my planner and all of those tabs!

Since I've been so busy lately, it has left very little time for sewing.  :(  That means when I have a bit of free time, I definitely want to maximize my productivity.  What better way to do that than a big, fat list of projects!  I've prioritized them into 3 categories, since I'm a nut about my lists.  :)


By the way, about 2 months ago, I published a post with my entire sewing pattern collection.  Although I received a bunch of patterns for free or bought a few with certain design elements to be modified in mind, I would love to sew most of them and make a dent in this list!  I'm going to make sure to check off each pattern as I finish it.  It's a double list!

My Top 3 Projects!
  1. Simple Dress Challenge garment
  2. Peplum tanks
  3. Colette - Hazel (pieces cut)

  1. Fused plastic tote
  2. Rice bag tote #2
  3. Packing cube tutorial
  4. Draped top #2 + tutorial
  5. Doll shoes (I know it sounds weird!)
  6. Mom's eyeglasses cases (like the one at the bottom of this post)
  7. Color-blocked sweater

Someday/Next Season

Guest Post: Giveaway from Rachel of The Hollywood Sew

Hello everyone!

It's Thursday and time for another guest post.  Today, we have Rachel from The Hollywood Sew, and yes she is another member of Stitch Once, Rip Twice!  Whether or not you sew, if you love vintage garments, you will adore her website.  Today, she's sharing a bit about her website and letting you in on the giveaway that she's hosting!


Hi my name is Rachel and I run The Hollywood Sew, a website dedicated to sewing wearable outfits inspired by popular television shows and movies.

When Diane reached out to our sewing group Stitch Once, Rip Twice about guest posting I jumped at the chance to feature my giveaway.

The projects I sew are designed to be a translation of the costumes on the selected show or movie to a comfortable, flattering and less conspicuous look, but still have a recognisable flare.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Lucky Me!

I'm not sure why I didn't end up taking too many pictures this week, but boy was I busy!  Of course, I had lots of plans with friends, along with a bunch of work commitments and interviews.  Somehow, we didn't eat out as much this week.  Crazy!  It's like my world has been turned upside down!

Also, my string of good luck continued, and although I love this grumpy little fish, he's the least exciting thing I won this week.  :)  Scroll down to read about the exciting items I collected victoriously!  Seriously, I don't know what's going on here, but the universe is giving me props lately.  :)


Precap (jump to):


This was going to be a busy weekend, so we decided to stay in.  My guy was itching to try out the ice maker he bought last week, so he made six ice cubes to try and perfect his technique.  Actually, since they're not cubes, I suppose that I should call them ice spheres...


Here's the best sphere of the bunch!



I had lots of errands to fun and very little time.  That's why I was a little annoyed that I turned on the car to find this the next morning.  Ugh!

Gray & Yellow Maxi Dress (Round 1)

The last few projects that I've sewn have gone like this: begin project --> dislike how it fits --> put away into a deep dark corner --> pretend it doesn't exist.

Well, this is starting to become pretty normal, and I don't like it!

I've made it my mission to stop this habit before it forms, and this will be my first crack at transitioning from amateur seamstress to tailor.  This will be my "before" post, so hopefully I have a great "after" post to match!


I actually sewed this in the couple of days before mimi g's conference with the intention of wearing it while going fabric shopping.  Obviously, I didn't get to wear it, but I did bring it with me on Day 2 and got some great advice from Mimi!  More on that later.  :)


S'mores Mini Donuts

On Sunday, we had a BBQ and I said that we would bring something a little sweet.  Initially, I was thinking about making ice cream, but we had some last minute errands to run beforehand.

Ice cream + Hot car = No bueno

The time-consuming errands meant that I would most likely have to bring something storebought, which always makes me a little sad.  Homemade is so much better, but we just didn't have any time for baking beforehand.

Since I had to rethink our dessert, I checked my e-mail and found out that August 10th is National S'mores Day!  I wasn't sure if we would have access to a firepit, so traditional s'mores were out.  Off the top of my head, I grabbed a few items, ran home, and made a quick, easy, budget-friendly, and crowd-pleasing dessert.  I'm happy to share my S'mores Mini Donuts with you!

-Smore Donuts 7

S'Mores Mini Donuts
From Diane of Vintage Zest

-Smore Donuts 6

Chocolate covered mini donuts (2 packs or 30 donuts)
Mini marshmallows (1 package is more than enough)
Graham crackers (4 squares)

Plastic sandwich bag
Heat-safe plate or cookie sheet
Kitchen torch