November 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!

Handmade Gift Feature: Smell Swell!

For the "25 Days of Handmade Gifts" feature today, I am happy to share a line of all-natural beauty products!  At Patchwork, I had the pleasure of speaking with Brooke and one of her little helpers, her cutie patootie daughter.  :)  Smell Swell has been featured in the Orange County Register and orders have been placed all over the country since then!  Find out a bit more about the company and see how you can score a free lip balm at Patchwork - Santa Ana tomorrow!


Tell me a little bit about yourself!

A bit about me.  Well, I am pregnant with baby girl #3 and celebrated my 10 year anniversary with my hubby this past summer.  We met in college on the first day of school and somehow over the last decade we have slowly become a little bit "granola" I guess you could say.  When people ask me to tell them one unique thing about myself, I can always shock folks by telling them I delivered my second baby in a parking lot in Germany.  Fun times!  Kids change things (in SO many ways!)  One of those ways for me what becoming aware of what I was putting in and on my body.  I slowly started buying more whole foods, switched toothpastes and shampoos and all that stuff.  At some point I started making my own deodorant and realized that I could sell it for not much more than Secret or any other name brand.  I felt that people would be willing to try something natural if it didn't cost them an arm and a leg.  And then came!

Where did the name of your store come from?

Smell Swell came from wanting to smell swell of course!  Then came Sun Swell and Skin So Swell.  As I started expanding, I decided that All Things Swell was more appropriate because it encompassed the other products as well, and plus I hit a roadblock when I was trying to name my lip balm.  Swell and lips just don't make a good combo.  People don't want to buy a lip balm if they think it might make their lips swell, so then we have Lip Bliss (which is pretty swell I must say :) )

-119 Smell Swell

Why did you start making goods for Smell Swell?

I first made the deodorant for myself, and then I put some in a cute vintage mason jar that I got at a garage sale for my friend's birthday.  Her husband started using it and said, you should sell this stuff!  And so I did!

What is your favorite item?

If you were to just buy one item…hmmmm, I think I would say please just try them all!  The studies on aluminum in regular deodorant and the links to Alzheimer's are scary!  So, you want to switch if you can.  And then sunblock, you really should be using some everyday and in that case, you want to make sure you are using a zinc based sunscreen.  As for lip balm, mine is actually cheaper than Carmex!  Four bucks for twice as much!  And did you know that Carmex contains phenol which is actually banned in the European Union?  And lastly, body butter.  Everyone needs a good body butter, and not a body lotion.  What's the difference?  Well, there is no water in body butter and water is a drying agent, so when you are looking to moisturize your skin, you don't want to lather it in a lotion that has water as one of the main ingredients.  And so for those reasons, I can't say which item is my favorite!  They all seem so necessary!


What is your most popular item?

Handmade Gift Feature: Bless the Theory

Today, I will be sharing the first jewelry feature for "25 Days of Handmade Gifts" series!  I have a weakness for shiny, pretty things and Charmaine's beautiful baubles from Bless the Theory are totally my style.  Simple, geometric shapes and all kinds of gorgeous metals!


Tell me a little bit about yourself!

My name is Charmaine Vegas and I am the owner and metalsmith for Bless the Theory! I started {bt} after a 12 year career in Visual Merchandising. I began making jewelry in my late teen years. When I first started making jewelry, like most, I began with beading. I would attend all the gem shows in southern California; purchasing tons of strung beads and clasps and pendants. While studying Fashion Merchandise Buying, I stumbled upon the Metals Department on campus. I was intimidated at first. it took me an additional semester to get the courage to enroll in the beginning metals class. Shortly after I was working towards another degree! To this day, I continue to evolve and refine my skills by taking courses and workshops taught by seasoned metalsmiths.

Where did the name of your store come from?

Haha! I get this question often! And I enjoy attempting to give an answer! My name stems from the theory of adornment both in its retrials and beliefs. It is a lengthy theory that would probably bore your readers. It’s best discussed over wine and tasty hors d’oeuvres!

-6 Bless the Theory

Why did you start making goods for Bless the Theory?

Handmade Gift Feature, GIVEAWAY & Promo with Reverie!

So, how did Black Friday go for you?  I figured it would be too much madness, so I spent the day putting together this next feature for "25 Days of Handmade Gifts!"  I'm so glad I did, because the lovely Bri and her creations at Reverie are relaxed, beautiful, and maybe a little magical.  Just after perusing which photos I wanted to show you (which was a hard task to pick just a few), I looked up to see a rainbow!  Here's the shoddy Instagram as proof.

Anyways, at Patchwork, the clothing was so in demand that I had trouble taking pictures with so many girls browsing the racks!  No problem though, because Bri provided some beautiful photographs with are about 1000% better than anything I took.  And lucky for you, she is providing one of her tank tops as a giveaway prize, your choice of a man's or a woman's top!  Not only that, but she has a promo code for all of you readers, which I'm sure you will put to good use.

But first, a few words from Bri herself!


Tell me a little bit about yourself!

Well, I've always had a passion for design since I was young. So I started enrolling in classes and the fashion institute, Sewing 101, pattern making, dye-processing and so on....Being a Mother of three  & wife with a full time career other than fashion it made it extremely difficult to commit fully to the structured programs, so I picked and chose between classes and self-taught myself in between. Then I learned how to knit and crochet! It's my creative outlet that gives me my me time and allows me to express my art and skills.

Where did the name of your store come from?

"Reverie" means, A state of abstracted musing; daydreaming.  I was finding myself constantly day dreaming ideas, patterns, shapes, colors for my next silhouette.  I found Reverie suiting, plus it's a pretty word:)

-floral print fimono on model

Why did you start making goods for Reverie?

Little by little I was making a quite few collections under my brand Reverie. Working hard for myself and friends, that wasn't enough.  After encouragement  from family and friends, I decided to start my own shop on-line.  One thing led to another with invitations for art shows, fairs, boutiques asking for my clothing....  The fashion industry is rough you need to be constant, constantly putting new things out there and wishing for the best!

What is your favorite item?

My favorite item, which is my signature item would be one of  my Kimonos. The Moto kimono is probably one of my favorites. Using my hand dying process it makes each one unique, they're like snow flakes no matter how hard you try to make them similar the textile always ends up different.

-silk tie-dyed kimono up close on model

What is your most popular item?

Handmade Gift Feature, GIVEAWAY & Promo from Reclamation Dept.

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!  Do you plan on heading out for Black Friday?  Well, if you do, I highly suggest that you spend a few minutes reading this great interview with Heather before heading out!  Both Heather and her sister Casey (who is modeling a few items in the pictures below) of Reclamation Department, are ridiculously talented and use my favorite kind of materials in much of their work: upcycled!  Not only are they repurposing, each of the materials has an awesome history.  Just read through the interview to find out about a few of them!

Not only do you get to see some of their creative items below, they are offering BOTH a giveaway of one of their awesome bags and a promo code for you, which is good until February 2014!


Tell me a little bit about yourself!

My sister Casey and I (Heather Filbey) took over the Reclamation Dept in April of this year.  Our amazingly talented friends, Mychelle and Ben, started it in 2010, then passed the torch to “the Filbey Sisters” when they decided to go travel the world.  Ben built the vending cart from a vintage bicycle and reclaimed wood, Mychelle sewed fabulous purses out of reclaimed big-rig truck innertube rubber and together they established accounts, ran their Etsy shop and traveled to many different Art and Craft shows to peddle their wares.  Casey apprenticed under Mychelle and Ben for about a year, and I am a fashion design student with a lot of sewing experience, so when the couple decided they didn’t want to run the business any longer, it was a very clean transition.

Casey and I are best friends and we love working together.  We have very different personalities- Casey is much more free spirited and whimsical where I am more practical and business minded, but our strengths and weaknesses compliment each other and make for a well-rounded operation.

-98 Reclamation Dept

Where did the name of your store come from?

Mychelle and Ben had a warehouse workspace in the industrial area of Long Beach.  You would never know by looking at the outside of the building that there was this incredible art operation going on inside.  They started calling it the Reclamation Dept because it sounded so official, like they were in charge of some government operation to find ways to use the junk that is piling up in the landfills.

Why did you start making goods for Reclamation Dept?

Casey and I started making goods for Reclamation Dept when Mychelle and Ben left the country.  We were thrilled to have to opportunity to keep their vision alive and to build upon it in our own way.

-100 Reclamation Dept

What is your favorite item?

Handmade Gift Feature, GIVEAWAY & Freebie from Warren Tales!

Today is a day of thanks, so for all of you, today's "25 Days of Handmade Gifts" feature is accompanied by a fabulous giveaway and freebie made possible by the generous Lindsey of Warren Tales!  If you like your cards infused with a lot of personality and a dash of quirkiness, then you will love these cards as much as I do.  After you check out the wonderful items Lindsey creates, make sure to enter the giveaway to win your choice of some of her beautiful items!


Tell me a little bit about yourself! 

After a lifetime of finding, folding, making, and molding any paper I could get my hands on, I was struck with the cockameme idea of going into business. My greatest influences can all be accredited to innate dexterity, my Mother's insistence on recycling, and my Father's fabulously (terribly) punny sense of humour; all of which shaped me into the bowler hat-wearing Warriner (etymology: "rabbit keeper" . . . get it) you see today.

Where did the name of your store come from?

My last name, Warriner, derives from the term “rabbit keeper,” and a passion for book binding, along with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing (Emerson College) had me day-dreaming of running a small chapbook press. So when the two combined, I got Warren Tales. An alternate name was Little Big City (after my “small-town” city of Boston), but “Warren Tales” just felt right.

-26 Warren Tales

Why did you start making goods for Warren Tales?

All professional guise and mystique aside: I loathed greeting cards and the saccharine Hallmark of it all (sorry, Hallmark…), but my best friend in College—who I was unknowingly madly in love with—adored them, so I started scouring shelves for the well-designed, well-made, and well-phrased. At the bad ones, I scoffed that I could do better; at the good ones, I felt inspired to actually do so. I started following small presses like bands: pining for a new release or limited print run. After finishing our degree, my best friend/girlfriend (wahoo!) moved across the country and we went our separate ways...until it dawned on me that this was something I could DO—anywhere! Suddenly, my puns had purpose, and the prospect of playing a supporting role in someone’s life, while independently charging ahead with my own was a dream come true. I packed up and went from publishing to peddling (gotta love alliteration). Years later, I make cards because I love to, but it started and resulted in something more.

What is your favorite item? 

My favorite card is Mrs Lincoln, featuring a silhouette and the caption “Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?” This was my grandmother’s favorite expression, and one she used liberally in the last few months of her life. Shortly before her passing, Anne unearthed an old silhouette of herself, cut after finishing college and just before meeting Oscar, my grandfather, at a party in Boston: “She had jet black hair and blue blue eyes, and my, she was just so pretty.” Their courtship carried on through correspondence as he left the country soon after for a Naval tour in the Mediterranean Sea, and, confident that they had each met their soul-mates, they married by the end of that year. This card is a memorial to her fantastic humor and playful personality.


Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to pop in before I get to all the cooking & eating today to with everyone a happy holiday!

This past year, I have had lots of changes going on, including starting this blog.  I just wanted to say that I have much to be thankful for in my life, and this year I am lucky to add one more big thing...

All of you, my fantastic readers!

I have had nothing but love, sweetness, and kindness sent my way by people who were once strangers and have become companions and friends!


Today, I have a few "tips" for you this weekend:

Handmade Gift Feature & Discount from Traditionally Unique!

Today's feature is from Jenn of Traditionally Unique!  She has soooo many cute fabrics for her cloth napkins and aprons, I had such a hard time deciding what to photograph!  Not only does she sew every piece herself, she offers sewing lessons for anyone who wants to learn locally.  So, this is like a two-in-one feature with both her beautiful goods and sewing lessons for anyone who wants to use their neglected sewing machine.  :)

Check out the interview below and the discounts that Jenn is offering this holiday season!


Tell me a little bit about yourself!

My name is Jenn Gomez and I am the owner of Traditionally Unique.  I grew up sewing with my mom and a close family friend.  Over the past 25+ years I have made everything from housewares to formal wear.  Nowadays many of my projects are made with my 2 year old daughter perched on my lap, learning the same way I did.  I am lucky enough to have the most supportive husband who is the muscles behind my creativity and helps me tremendously by building displays and working through new ideas with me.

Where did the name of your store come from?

I wanted a name to reflect the fact that although I make things that are considered to be very traditional (cloth napkins and aprons) I am doing it in a way that is fresh, fun, and works in our modern lifestyle.

-164 Traditionally Unique

Why did you start making goods for Traditionally Unique?

About four years ago I was given a stack of fabric that I turned into cloth napkins for everyday use in my household.  We stopped buying paper products and haven’t missed them one bit.  I thought that I must not be the only one who wants cloth napkins that are easy to care for, look great, save money, and cut environmental waste.

What is your favorite item?

Weekly Wrap-Up: 10th Anniversary plans & Thanksgiving prep!

This week, I did a bunch of really fun things so check them all out!



Our 10th anniversary was on Thursday, but we decided that we would be better off celebrating our special day on a night when we didn't have to get up early the next morning!  As I mentioned here, we had a plan to visit our stomping grounds and have a chocolate wine and strawberries picnic.  But first, we headed to Mio Babbo's to recreate one of our first dates.

Head over to The Episodic Eater to see the whole meal from this beautiful salad below to a lasagna to die for!

Then, we continued to our tour of our alma mater...

A basketball game was going on, so we checked in on that, but the game was sold out.  Oh well.  We continued on to campus, walking up the normally busy walkway!

Weekly Wrap-Up on Diane's Vintage Zest!

We really walked around the entire campus, taking our time to reminisce and comment on the changes, so I just took a couple of photos.  Nothing has changed with this gorgeous building in the middle of campus!

Handmade Gift Feature & GIVEAWAY with Small and Great!

Today's feature is one of my favorites!  I looove everything that Kate makes for Small and Great.  At Patchwork, we chatted about how math comes in handy in coming up with crochet patterns, which I never knew!  I took my time photographing practically every piece, because they're just so darn cute!  In addition to her adorable crochet creations, she hand-dyes her yarn for hats and scarves.  Totally multi-talented!

And lucky you, Kate is giving you the chance to win one of her cute creations.  I'm super jealous...  You will get the chance to choose your favorite prize, so scroll down to enter the giveaway!

Before that, you should definitely check out my interview with Kate, and not just because she's a wordy gal like me!  I love the inspiration for her shop name, as well as the story of how she started making these amigurumi.  Oh, and find out what amigurumi are!


Tell me a little bit about yourself!

I've been doing arts and crafts my entire life. My father is an artist (oil painting, he's a graphic designer by trade), and my mother has always been a handmade enthusiast (mainly knitting, but when I was growing up she did a lot of quilting and now is into furniture reupholstery, rehabilitating her "roadside treasures"). So as a child I was always around plenty of art supplies. I liked drawing best, but I did everything from painting to pottery. I always took art classes in and outside of school, up through AP art in high school.

I started crocheting only after a long dormant period of creating. I had gone to college thinking I'd major in studio art, and wound up taking not even one class in it (getting a low score in AP art was a major setback for me, and I really regret that I took it so hard!). Instead, I majored in sociology with a focus in media studies. I went on to work as a magazine editor in New York City, and later moved to California to pursue a graduate degree in sociology. Near the end of my graduate career (I made it almost all the way to a PhD and coauthored an academic book along the way), my mom taught me the basic crochet stitches while I was on a trip home back east in spring of 2011. It had always bothered me that I had never gotten the hang of knitting -- my mom is a great knitter, and her mother, whom I was very close to, was an amazing knitter -- but crochet came miraculously easily. Before that weekend was out, I'd taught myself granny squares, and within weeks I'd made an afghan!

I found lots of inspiration and kindred spirits on -- I had no idea so many people were into crochet, and that there were so many things you could do with it. My first amigurumi (Japanese for, more or less, soft knitted toy) was a very simple owl made for my husband, but after that, I took off. Between books and the internet, I taught myself all kinds of crochet techniques (Tunisian crochet, tapestry crochet, intarsia), and I soon started designing my own patterns for amigurumi.

Making amigurumi really turned a corner for me -- it reawakened this part of me that had been dormant for years. For the first time since high school, I find myself drawing all the time, and my patterns are born from these sketches. (I've also had to relearn some basic math and geometry that my high school self thought I'd never need to know later!) I was crocheting every day, and creating new things all the time, and pretty soon my friends' and families' homes (not to mention my apartment) were overflowing with the stuff.

When people I made things for would show my crochet to their friends (in particular, new moms -- I'm at the age where I make a lot of people baby gifts), they'd inevitably ask, "Is she on Etsy?" I only had a fuzzy awareness of Etsy at the time. But by last winter, disillusioned with academia and starting a new 9-to-5 job (I work for an internet startup), I started looking into it more seriously. I bought every book I could find on starting a handmade business, and on Groundhog Day (see, more animals!) Small and Great Crochet was born. It's funny, because it often feels to me that this is the last thing I would have wound up doing, but people who've known me the longest always say it absolutely makes sense.

-37 Small and Great

Tangy Spiced Brisket

In my quest to FINALLY share all of my holiday recipes from this past spring, I am at the last one!  The great thing is that it is perfect timing for you to add to your Thanksgiving menu!  This is the last recipe I'll be sharing before Thanksgiving, because I'll be scurrying around the kitchen after work to cook up a storm.  :)  Let the festivities begin!

I just wish I had more pictures because I did not originally intend to post this.  This will be due for an update soon!

Tangy Spiced Brisket on Diane's Vintage Zest!

Tangy Spiced Brisket
From Smitten Kitchen via Emeril Lagasse

  • 3 large onions, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 cups beef stock (no or low sodium)
  • 1 cup ketchup*
  • 1 cup chili sauce (Like Deb, I used Heinz, which is not very spicy)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 8 to 10 pound brisket

Tangy Spiced Brisket on Diane's Vintage Zest!


Holiday Shopping: Finding the Best Wireless Unlimited Plan for My Niece!

Disclosure #ad #FamilyMobileSaves #shop #cbias

It's the time of year again!  Holiday shopping, holiday parties, holiday lists...  It can be overwhelming!  I like to break up my holiday shopping into four parts.  Make a long list of family/friends/coworkers; brainstorm for gifts; research prices; brave the crowds!  It's MUCH more manageable that way, but I still feel pressure to get the perfect gift for a few special people.  The closer I am to someone, the more I want to get a gift that knocks their socks off!  You may remember my cousin's kid (whom I'll refer to as my niece) that I teach how to sew, craft with, and take on fun outings, to give my cousin and her husband some breathing room!  I sometimes pick her up from school and both her mom and I would like to communicate last minute changes to her. Well, I came up with the perfect solution to both this problem AND what gift to get my little buddy!  With her mom's permission, I am getting my niece her first mobile phone!  I needed to conduct some extra research for the lowest price rate plan since I didn't want to stick my cousin with a ridiculously expensive monthly rate.  After looking through the options, I found an affordable yet quality smartphone plus a cell phone service from Walmart Family Mobile that will be the perfect holiday gift!  And best of all, the cost is super low even though you don't have to sign up for a year-long contract.  Score!

#ad #FamilyMobileSaves #shop #cbias

When I got to Walmart, I found the exact phone and plan I wanted on this advertisment.  Perfect!

Handmade Gift Feature: atiliay

It is Day 3 of the "25 Days of Handmade Gifts" series and I have a wonderful one to share with you today.  In my short blurb, I mentioned that the lovely cards, prints, and cake boxes from atiliay are even more special because a portion of the proceeds are donated to a non-profit organization with a worthy cause.  As I noted, it is a wonderful reminder that during the holidays we should give back, and Olivia has made it her mission to do this every day of the year!


Tell me a little bit about yourself!

Drawing, painting, sketching, and creating things was something I did ever since I could hold a crayon!  I always knew art would play a role in my future but was not always sure what the medium would be, which has taken me on a journey that has finally led me here!  I graduated from FIDM with a degree in fashion design which led me to work in the corporate fashion world.  It made me realize I was not fit for a cubicle job and I found it very unsatisfying to work for a big company that didn't do much for the world we live in and I missed working with my hands as everything is so digital these days.

This led me to start making custom cakes and at the same time I got to go to South Africa with TOMS shoes in 2007.  I met a group called Food4Africa who provides meals for toddlers and children in poverty stricken areas of South Africa.  Their work really inspired me and shaped my future-- the whole F4A team has become very special to me and to this day we continue to keep in touch via email.

I came back to California with a new mission to help support Food4Africa's work by donating proceeds from cakes that I made to help provide meals.  Eventually I left fashion, and started making lots of custom cakes!  I got burnt out and created a children's clothing line with my friend.  Then while freelancing in fashion to make ends meet, I came up with the idea to make paper goods that would give back, which leads me to where I am today!

I feel like I have been searching for what I wanted to do with my life for many years and finally found it after exploring different options!  I am inspired everyday by the different non-profits I pair my items with and the amazing work they do for people and animals all over the world.

When I am not creating items for the shop and working on atiliay, I love to hang out with my 2 rescue dogs and 3 rescue kitties, watch the Amazing Race and think about what to do for my audition tape, bake / cook / eat vegan food, listen to music, blog, read, and find things to make out of pallets on Pinterest. :)

In South Africa!

Where did the name of your store come from?

atiliay is a play off the French word "atelier" which means workshop.  I feel that my shop / site / blog is my workshop and wanted to spell it the way I felt like it was pronounced.  I also liked the idea of creating a new name and not using something that already existed.

The Easiest Thumbprint Cookies Ever - Perfect for Holiday Baking!


It's almost, almost time to eat that turkey, stuffing, cornbread, sweet potatoes...  and then just like that it will be time for the holiday rush!  This year, I thought it was time to streamline my cookie recipes so I could get them done in a fraction of the time.  Still, they would have to be impressive enough to bring to all of the holiday parties we have coming up!  I have a popular butter cookie recipe on the blog, which I wanted to sweeten up just a bit more for the perfect holiday treat.  That's where the idea for these easy, delicious thumbprint cookies filled with jam came from!  This recipe is super simple with easy-to-find ingredients, a quick prep time plus cooking time, and very little cleanup.  You basically just throw everything into your stand mixer's bowl.  Easy!  I hope you add these cookies to your holiday baking list!

Also, to celebrate the holidays, Walmart is having a Pinterest Contest where you can win $250!  For all of the details on how to enter in a few simple steps, make sure to read at the end of the post!

You may wonder how these cookies are different from any other thumbprint cookies.  First of all, I have made thumbprint cookies several times, and there is something usually just a bit off about them.  One time, I practically wore out my food processor trying to pulse whole almonds.  Another one asked for only egg yolks, which just seemed like extra work to separate egg whites for no reason.  Others added all kind of odd ingredients like coconut, shortening, or espresso.  Really, I love just a basic, traditional thumbprint cookie with butter, sugar, flour, whole eggs, jam, and not much else!

The Easiest Thumbprint Cookies with Land O' Lakes Holiday Baking #ad #HolidayButter #shop #cbias 2

On a side note, I used several kinds of jam and preserves for this recipe: Strawberry (2 kinds), blackberry, apple jelly, and lemon curd!  The strawberry preserves and lemon curd were from my London trip earlier this year (see the Travel tab above) and the other ones were from gift baskets we received.  It's a wonderful way to use (and enjoy) your favorite fruity concoction.  I would not use a very chunky preserves, even though it would taste good, only because it would end up as an uneven cookie.  Otherwise, let your imagination go wild!

Now, lets get to the recipe... finally!

The Easiest Thumbprint Cookies with Land O' Lakes Holiday Baking #ad #HolidayButter #shop #cbias 3

The Easiest Thumbprint Cookies - Ever!
A Vintage Zest Original

Handmade Gift Feature & GIVEAWAY with Santore Company!

It's the second day of the "25 Days of Handmade Gifts" and I have a two-in-one for you!  The lovely Kat from Santore Company AND Petite Santore is sharing her wonderful goods with us.  I am totally in love with her reversible headbands for myself, and I knew I had to share these unique little creations for babies and little girls.  They're adorable!  She was so, so nice at the Patchwork Show last week and has given us a lot of info about her company.

Not only that, she has given the chance for one of my lucky readers to win a beautiful leather bow AND a discount code for all of you, perfect for your holiday shopping!  But first, find out all about Santore Company with a bunch of interesting tidbits, including how she came up with her shop name!


Tell me a little bit about yourself!

I am a so-cal native and have always been interested in detail, design, and fashion. I grew up reading fashion magazines with my girlfriends every day and thrifting to find unique things to wear and accessorize with. My mom had a fairly successful clothing line, and was also a manufactures sales rep. My dad worked finance for the Broadway department stores and was a store manager. So, I was constantly around the garment industry, market centers, and retail stores. Previous to this venture, I worked 12+ years with a small artistic clothing and accessory line. I assisted in the development and growth of this line, creating products that are sold in boutiques across the country. After the birth of my daughter it was important that I switch gears to be able to work while be at home with her.  In my personal time (like I have much of that with a 2 year old!) I love to snowboard, practice yoga, cook, garden, and design.

Where did the name of your store come from?

This is a twofold answer for me....When deciding on names I came across a beautiful random post on Etsy. This crafter said something to the effect of, if she made something herself she should be proud to put her name on it.  This made me think of the story of my grandfather and grandmother immigrating to America.  My grandfather changed his last name from "Santoro" to "Santore" to be more lets say "Americanized". So, when I was in my business development and thinking of names, both of these stories influenced my decision on Santore Company. It felt like a nice decision to honor to my heritage and use the family name for quality, American made products.

-169 Petite Santore
There's Kat on the left!

Why did you start making goods for Santore Company?

I really wanted to figure out a way to be home with my daughter while fulfilling my creative needs and supplying an income. With experience in the garment/accessory industry it seemed natural to develop a product line.

Petite Santore came first… A collection of clothing and accessories for babies and kids.  This clothing line takes my multi-media artwork and translates it into wearable art. The collection includes items with an image/art patch which has been designed, created, and carefully sewn onto each of the garments. This process was developed at my former job. As a parting gift, my employer graciously gave me the rights to create a children's line in the process we developed.

Santore Company happened because I had a personal desire for quality hair accessories.  I have always been a hair jewelry kind of gal, and being a new mom I honestly needed help in the hair department. I had a hard time finding great accessories on the market for hair that were easy to wear, modern, and fun.  I wear nice jewelry, carry a nice bag, and want my hair accessories to be just as unique and quality made.  I became excited to develop products just for this.  I wear all of my products and it is essential that all the headbands are super comfortable to wear all day.  I also develop the styles to be very versatile because most are reversible!

Santore Company DoubleBand

What is your favorite item?

Handmade Gift Feature & Discount with Point A 2 Point B Designs!

Today, I'm chatting with Point A 2 Point B Designs for my second feature of "25 Days of Handmade Gifts!"  You may have noticed on my Pinterest page that I have a board dedicated to sewing projects and I pinned a bag for my bicycle AGES ago.  Well, since I'll never get around to making my own and I don't want to settle for something "eh" looking, I was happy to see these cute bags!  Not only are they fun, they're convertible to a regular purse when you're done with your bike ride.  Genius!

Also, they are offering my readers a discount code for your next purchase, just in time for the holidays!  Now on with the show!


Tell me a little bit about yourself!

I have always made things as far back as I can remember.  I collected shells and pebbles at the beach and glued them onto scraps of wood creating 3-D collages. My favorite thing to do as a child was to go to Canal Street in New York City, buy bags of metal machine parts and transform them into jewelry.  I attended art school (BFA from Philadelphia College of Art (University of the Arts) and my MFA from Tyler School of Art (Temple University) and was a ceramic sculpture and a designer and maker of architectural tile for many years.  I took a break to live in Germany and work as a fashion jewelry designer. I then got married and had three children (including twins) shortly after and moved to California in 1999. I was very busy for many years!!!

Then about three years ago, while planning a bike ride with my family, I looked for something to hold my necessities: wallet, phone, keys, towel and water bottle. All my fanny packs were gone (my kids wouldn’t be caught dead with me if I wore one) and I didn’t want to wear a backpack. I set to work designing and creating the prototype for my “bike bag”. Not a spandex kind of a gal, I wanted something that worked with normal clothes. I developed a design that attaches to the handlebars but converts to a shoulder bag. My daughters wanted something smaller for their teen essentials. I want my bags to go where the average woman goes: shopping, dinner and work. My bags work with bikes, strollers, and walkers. I finally settled on oilcloth for the exterior of the bag, as it seemed both practical and fun.  I love the vintage patterns and color schemes.

Where did the name of your store come from?

I named my store Point A 2 Point B Designs, as I see my bags as a way to help get your things from Point A (starting point) to Point B (your destination).  I found, too, that baskets were inconvenient when trying to lock up a bunch of bikes and that if you hit a bump the basket could pop off or the contents could fly out.  I wanted a safe, secure and fun way to get (and keep track of) my essentials when on a bike ride.  I have also found that my smaller bag is like a “pocket” for my bike so I can easily keep track of my wallet, phone and keys.

-201 PointA2PointB

Why did you start making goods for Point A to Point B Designs?

I have a passion for cycling as part of life and I see my bags as an extension and expression of my passion.

What is your favorite item?

I like all my items ;) but I especially like my solid yellow bags.  It reminds me of the raincoat I would always wear as a child in New Jersey.  Obviously there is not a lot of rain here in Southern California but the color reminds me of protection and staying dry and safe, factors I considered when designing my bags!

What is your most popular item?

My most popular item is the mint green and white polka dot bag.  It also matches the bike I currently ride perfectly!

Mint Polka Bikepath

Where do you get the inspiration for your work?

I think I am most inspired by beach cruiser culture here in southern California and I think oilcloth is such a nice complement to the colors and designs of contemporary beach cruisers and vintage bikes.

Handmade Gift Feature & GIVEAWAY with Little Gents in Training!

Today is the first day of the "25 Days of Handmade Gifts" series that I mentioned in my Patchwork show round up post!  Before I officially dive in, I wanted to let you know how this series will run.  For the next 25 days, I'm going to feature different shops with handmade gifts that I think would be perfect for your holiday shopping!  What this means for my regular readers is that in addition to my regular daily post, you will be lucky enough to see these posts plus a couple more on the weekends when I usually don't post.  Saturday synopses will be combined with my Wednesday Weekly Wrap-Up posts so I'm not posting too often.  So many extra goodies this season!

Some of the lovely owners will be offering giveaways and discount codes, in addition to their great interviews and sharing all about their unique handmade goods!  So make sure to tune in every day for awesome new gift ideas.  :)


For our first feature (yay!), I wanted to start things off huge!  Well actually, it's pretty small and cute because I am sharing this adorable line of onesies and shirts from Little Gents In Training!  I feel like I'm buying baby gifts every month, and it's so nice to see something unique.  I love Kristy's designs and I am definitely a fan of her handmade work.  She is also giving away one of her cute creations to one of you lucky readers, so read through Kristy's fantastic interview and enter via the Rafflecopter widget below!

-65 Little Gents in Training

Tell me a little bit about yourself!

My mom taught me to sew and be creative with my clothes as a young girl.  Sewing was one of her hobbies, and I had to do it too!  I've been in the fashion industry since 2000, and found a great liking for children's wear.

Where did the name of your brand come from?

I was playing with a few names for the business, but the final name of Little Gents in Training came from my husband!


What is your favorite item?

My personal favorite piece is the "After Hours" style.  The reaction from adults buying it for their Little Gents is always hilarious.  They can't wait to get home and dress up the little guy with it, or can't wait to give it to the parents!

What is your most popular item?

Celebrating our 10th Anniversary with a Chocolate Wine Picnic!

The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or over.

To those of you that are new around here, I talk about my man from time to time.  Usually it is mostly in passing, like when I mention a favorite recipe, talk about our football "Pick Em" league, or talk about our vacations.  Well, as of yesterday we have been a couple for 10 years!  Today, we have some special plans, which my guy planned all by himself!  I'll embarrass him by sharing our plans below.  :)  Anyways, I wanted to contribute at least a one special moment on our anniversary, so I decided to pack a little picnic basket with a bottle of ChocolatRouge Wine and strawberries for dessert.  Sweets with my sweetie pie?  A winning combination every time!

For our plans today, we are going to drive up to our alma mater where we met when we were both just teenagers.  It took a couple of years for us to get together, but now we have been in a relationship for 10 whole years!  We'll go to the place where we first met, have dinner at one of our first date spots, and finish it off with our picnic.  So you might be wondering I chose chocolate wine to accompany our dessert strawberries!

Anniversary Picnic with ChocolatRouge Milk Chocolate Wine #Cheers2Chocolate #shop #ad 1

7 Thanksgiving Fails (and How to Avoid Them!)

As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving Menu Ideas post, I have had to come up with all of our family recipes over the last several years.  There are MANY things I have learned, and last year was the first time everything went off without a hitch.  I hope I don't jinx myself!

Here are seven of my past Thanksgiving fails and how you can avoid them!

1. Not Delegating / Making EVERYTHING From Scratch

Thanksgiving Fails 1 - Ham

When we first started having Thanksgiving at our house, I wanted to cook the whole thing myself (with some mom and sister help) from scratch!  If I were to plan everything out perfectly, I would have to cook day and night and with work nowadays, it's just not possible.  Now, I delegate more!  First of all, I don't eat pork, so it would be impossible for me to make a ham myself.  I have tons of family who always offer to bring a dish, so why not let them!  Also, I have to let go of the fact that not everything is going to be made from scratch, so I ignore my inner perfectionist.  When my aunt brings us a pre-made ham, I'm just happy to see her and celebrate the holiday!

2. Cooking Dishes Because I'm "Supposed" To Make Them

My pies made from scratch.  Ugly but tasty!

My family is funny.  They decided long ago that my sweet potato casserole is their favorite dessert and they wouldn't eat apple pie or pumpkin pie, even if you bribed them.  It's just not their favorite, even when I bought storebought pies the next year.  I thought we HAD to have pies because it's what you do on Thanksgiving.  Basically, if you know no one will eat it, don't bother make it!  Same thing for cranberry sauce, it just never gets eaten.  It's off the menu!

3. Serving an Untested Dish

Thanksgiving Fails 5 - Two Stuffings

Mixed Berry Cobbler from Ellie Krieger

Not to be punny or anything, but here is another short and sweet recipe.  Short because it's in a shallow pan and sweet because it's a yummy dessert! This is definitely one of my favorite recipes that I make at home on a regular basis.  Usually, I make this in individual ramekins (the ones I used in this and this recipe), but for company I make it in a large casserole dish.

For anyone who is not familiar with Ellie Krieger, she had a show on the Food Network  called "Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger."  I totally love her approach to cooking and health, and I even bought a couple of her recent cookbooks!

Back to this recipe: It is super simple and the ingredients can be kept in your pantry and freezer year round (even the buttermilk) so you can make this really quickly without a trip to the store!  I don't have a step-by-step for you this time because the directions are so easy.  Taste-wise, it is a crowd pleaser!  I had reservations about serving a fruit-based, healthy desserts to my family, but they loved it.  The berry filling is juicy, slightly tart yet sweet, and almost creamy, which contrasts with the fluffy topping.  The topping is almost like a sweet buttermilk pancake, dusted with sugar, which is caramelized in spots.  Mmmm!  Read below for the full recipe!

Mixed Berry Cobbler
From Ellie Krieger

Happy 25th Birthday to the Energizer Bunny PLUS a $10 Walmart Gift Card for You!


This weekend, I was so excited to play a new video game we bought...  Let's just say it involves dancing!  :)  Anyways, I was bummed when I realized the batteries were dead in the controller and there weren't any in the house!  A quick trip to Walmart and I was able to take advantage of this great deal that I get to share with you today!  First of all, I made it to the Battery Center and spied a red tag with an incredible deal on Energizer Max batteries.  I know you'll want to see what it is, especially with the holidays coming up with all of those gifts that you'll need batteries for!

#ad Energizer Max Birthday Promotion at Walmart #ad #BunnyBirthdayWMT #shop 1

There are so many batteries to choose from, but all of those red tags on the right were screaming, "Look at me!  Look at me!"

#ad Energizer Max Birthday Promotion at Walmart #ad #BunnyBirthdayWMT #shop 2

So here's the lowdown on this great deal.  When you buy 2 specially marked packages of Energizer Max at Walmart, you will receive a $10 Walmart gift card via mail.  Why?  It's the Energizer Bunny's 25th birthday!

#ad Energizer Max Birthday Promotion at Walmart #ad #BunnyBirthdayWMT #shop 3

And did you see that the batteries are only $6.37 each?  Guess what, there's also $1 off at, so the grand total for two packs of batteries is $.74!  So what's the catch?  All you have to do is buy the specially marked packages.  Not hard to do at all!  See all of the ones I circled below?