January 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!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Blueberry Donut Smackdown!

Beware, this post is a combination of my foodie tendencies, my scientific side and my obsessive need to try everything insatiable zest for life!  This is the story of how a couple of girls conducted a very serious blueberry donut experiment, straight from the gym no less.




I'm not sure if you subscribe to the Yelp newsletter in your area, but it has been really invaluable for me to learn about what goes on in my area.  They usually have a section that recaps the weekend events, and more importantly a roundup of some type of food or activity in the area (acai bowls, local hikes, pho).

Some time ago they had a roundup of donuts, so a bunch of the suggestions went on the list.  As if I hadn't had enough donuts this week.

Now, I was headed to the supermarket after the gym with a friend of mine, and I noticed a few of the donut stops were on the way there.  Awesome!  There's nothing worse than going to a supermarket hungry.  For two of the shops, it was recommended to try the blueberry donut and there was even a crosstown rivalry between them on Yelp.  Well, a 0.8 mile rivalry because they're around the corner from each other.  When I checked on the third, people also recommended the blueberry donut and the idea for an experiment was born!



(Null) Hypothesis

There will be no statistically significant difference between blueberry donuts purchased at King's Donuts, Mel's Donuts, and M & M Donuts.


Method

Buy and eat donuts, duh!



Old school signs with one table in the front.  Fancy!



Check out this awesome table!  Unofficial extra points for decor.  :)





Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Weekend Review: LA + OC = twice as nice!

This week was another doozy!  There was a little bit of everything and bouncing between L.A. & Orange County, so I am already itching for the weekend!

I got some shopping in at the Gilt warehouse sale, went to a favorite Korean BBQ (yum!), strolled through the very pretty OC Mart Mix, saw Argo finally, ate tons of donuts, and went to the Ben Folds Five concert!

Jump to: Gilt Warehouse sale, Gen Korean BBQ, OC Mart Mix, Donut Deli, Ben Folds Five Concert



Friday - Gilt Warehouse sale

My guy wanted to go to the semi-annual Gilt warehouse sale, so we bought us a couple of tickets.  I thought I was just going to give my opinion on a few items to help him get some new stuff...  Boy was I wrong!

Now, this is not going to turn into one of those websites where I share all purchases, but a couple of these things were too cute not to share!




I love this bag's contrasting colors.  The designer is Charlotte Ronson, but it doesn't scream it everywhere like other printed bags do with the name just around the grommets.  I would like to think that Emma Pillsbury would bring this bag to work!

Next up, Kate Spade iPad covers!  They are both adorable, and a steal for $19 a piece!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sewing Rewind: My first wearable clothing!

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone who has been amazing with comments and emails of support and compliments.  I am certainly having a lot of "aw-shucks" moments lately!

Also, I updated my previous post here to include (slightly) better pictures of my Christmas dress, "fur" wrap, and NYE dress.

So for today, I thought I would share some of the first garments that I actually wore in public.  The first time I wore each of these items, I thought that either everyone would point and laugh or that it would completely disintegrate like a paper doll dress.

Luckily none of these things have happened, and I even had a couple of compliments!  Victory!

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In this post:


Orange Maxi Dress

Remember, I first began sewing in April and for the first several weeks I did a bunch of beginner projects (pillow cases, binder covers, etc.).  Then, I moved on to my first dress which I will blog about later.  It was a trial for a lot of techniques, but I knew I wouldn't wear it anytime soon.

By the time I finished, it was the end of June and I was in need of a fun summer dress!

I only decided to attempt a maxi dress because my sister (who is as short as I am) told me about how it actually made her look taller.  Sold!

I decided to use Simplicity 3503 and an orange stretch jersey with white stripes bought at the swap for $1/yard.  Because it had stripes, I didn't want to resemble a jailbird, referee, Waldo, etc. so I decided to cut the skirt with the stripes running diagonally at the bias.  I'm thrilled at how it turned out!

A tall drink of orange.  :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Lettuce Wraps


Last week, Andie from Can You Stay For Dinner made some very tasty looking lettuce wraps that she dubbed Chinese Turkey Lettuce Wraps.  Immediately, I knew I was going to make them!

Typically, I tend to have trouble incorporating protein into my diet.  I'm not sure what it is, but uncooked meat just looks so unappetizing.  I never think "Mmmmm!  This looks scrumptious!" at the supermarket as I do when I see colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables.  Yep, never an impulse buy for me.

Also, I've never been accustomed to the idea of having a slab of dry, tasteless protein smothered in a sauce with veggies & starch on the side.  It was always something I forced myself to eat rather than enjoyed.  Thus, I end up having to sneak protein into veggie-based dishes: Chili!  Soup!  Paella!

Thankfully, I now have another recipe to add to the mix!


Lettuce Wraps on Diane's Vintage Zest!  #recipe #healthy



Chinese Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from Can You Stay For Dinner

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday synopsis!

Nearly a month of blogging done!  Up for this weekend: a warehouse sale and lots of travel planning.

Any fun plans for anyone else out there?




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

Friday, January 25, 2013

(Non) Sewing rewind: Sewing Basket edition #2!

Last week I shared a few goodies that I made for my sewing basket: my pincushion cuff, sewing machine quilt, and the tailor's ham & seam roll.  This week, I wanted to share more items that all sewists need, which I made at home to save a penny or two.

Get ready to meet my ironing board, pattern weights, and dress form!

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In this post:




Pattern weights

There are a million and half tutorials out there for making pattern weights.  Some people don't mind spending $12 for 4 weights at the store, while others use soup cans, etc.  I am neither of those people!  I like to save money, and I prefer something pretty (besides I make my soup from scratch)!

Enter the ribbon-wrapped pattern weight.  Since making these, I would consider using fabric instead, but at the time I didn't have many cute scraps.  Besides, my mom had tons of ribbon she was itching to get rid of at the time.  Maybe one day I will redo them with a different scrap of fabric from each project I've done!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Weekend Review: Lakers, a movie, archery, burgers, and cutting fabric!

I like the idea of wrapping up the week by summarizing my mini-adventures and project updates.

Most people look at the natural end of the week as Friday, with Wednesday as the hump day to get over.  I like Wednesdays as a reflection what happened the past weekend (it needs a couple of days to settle in), and a day to plan what happens for the next weekend!

So from now on, weekend reviews will be on Wednesday!*

*Starting next week

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Closet Clean-out!

*Update* Here are the posts of my DIY folding tool and my DIY belt organization!


Last week I carved out some much needed time to clean out my closet.  The change of seasons, my new interest in sewing, and the holidays had all contributed to new items in my closet.  I temporarily  housed them in a plastic bin stuck in my closet, but it blocked access so it was time for a minor clean out and folding!

One thing to mention is that I have very little lighting in my closet, so hopefully things show up okay.  Also, this is what my closet looks like 90+% of the time.  No styling here, just showing how I actually keep my closet, and a few tips for organizing!




First of all, I have a bureau of drawers where I keep my smaller folded T-shirts, blouses, cardigans, and workout items.


Folded shirts!
Sweaters & cardigans


I have a handy-dandy homemade tool that I use in order to fold my clothing right size.  That way, folding is much easier and more uniform!


Now for my closet!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sewing Rewind: A skirt, a shirt, and a coat... Oh my!

This post is a little late today because I needed to take photographs of this next set of clothing using the fancy camera I mentioned yesterday.  It was my first crack at a DSLR camera.  Fun!

The next few pictures are of items that I've made and actually worn!  And yes, I know I need to invest in a dress form eventually.

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In this post:





Red Beignet (high-waisted) skirt

My friend and I went to the Sew L.A. event back in September when Colette Patterns released their Fall patterns, which was the first time I encountered the beautiful patterns they offer!

Since I had only made a few other pieces of clothing (most not my style, but for practice purposes), this seemed like a good place to start with an actual piece of clothing I would like to wear one day!

I chose the Beignet pattern, even though it said intermediate!




For the fabric, I used some red poplin that I bought at M & L fabrics for $1.98/yard and the lining was left behind by someone in my class.  I bought the buttons at a swap meet, so I most likely spent $1 or less.  Definitely less than $5 all in all!

And here is how it turned out.


Red Colette Beignet skirt (unironed)  :(


My intention for this project was to serve as a muslin, figuring that if it turned out to be wearable, I could use it as a casual skirt.  Luckily, it turned out pretty well, and now I can avoid a few problems that I had while sewing it and make a few adjustments for my more expensive fabric.

I absolutely love the pop of lining that I used!  I almost wish I could have it peek out from the skirt a little.  Or maybe make some piping along the skirt with it next time.


Lovely lining

Monday, January 21, 2013

Camera Shy Projects

So, I realize that not everyone is a natural born photographer but I have some pretty subpar photos of my projects.  This weekend was very, very busy so I'm going to devote some time to photographing properly this week!

I'm borrowing my guy's Sony NEX-3, and being very, very careful with it.  It will be my first time using a DSLR camera.  It'll definitely be a learning experience!


My new friend for the week!


If anyone has any tips, I would appreciate them!

In fact, think in the blogging world, we all need a little help.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday synopsis!

I'm glad that I had a chance to share a few of my projects this weekend with my friends, both virtual and in real life.  Up for this weekend: a movie, archery (for the first time ever), a food swap, and maybe bringing out my sewing machine for the first time this year.  Yes!




Here are last week's posts if you missed any!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sewing Rewind: Sewing Basket edition!


When I start anything in life, I dive in head first.  My family lovingly calls me obsessive, and I wholeheartedly accept that label!  Then again, I think of it as being thorough, or detail oriented, or something a bit nicer sounding.  :)

Hence, when I started this whole sewing venture, I wanted to have a well-stocked sewing basket with all of the supplies I would ever need.  My mother bequeathed a lot of her items to me, which my late grandmother used when she sewed at our house.

However, when I showed up to my first class, I realized that there were other items that I wanted!  So, I asked myself, "How can I have all the things I want, without spending an arm and a leg?"  DIY of course!

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In this post:


Pincushion Cuff

First on the list was a pincushion cuff.  I had the standard tomato & pepper pincushion, but I wanted to be able to wear it on my wrist just like my teacher.  I searched the internet and found a very cute tutorial from Michelle patterns here.

I used fabric that someone left at class for the flower, scrap fabric from my stash for the cuff, embroidery floss & a button from my mom's stash, extra stuffing from my stash, and a cottage cheese cover for the plastic inside.  All in all, $0 for this project!


Sewing Rewind: Sewing Basket edition! on Diane's Vintage Zest! #sewing #upcycle
Pincushion cuff in action!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Persimmons for Dessert AND Breakfast

This weekend was great!  I went out to a nice dinner on Saturday at the Ritz (complete with Hazelnut souffles and Steak Diane for the significant other).  Delectable!

Anyways, I had a bit of time on Sunday before having to rush out to go to the Sew L.A. event.  I knew I had to cook something for this week, even though I didn't have time to go shopping for more ingredients and we had to get out of the house quick!  The time limit, plus the fact that I had to use a "secret ingredient" made me feel like I was on Iron Chef.

And this week's secret ingredient was...




Persimmon!




Before the holidays, my mom went to a farm in Porterville and brought back all kinds of fresh fruits & veggies.  She must have come back with a hundred persimmons, so I knew that I would eventually get my hands on some really ripe ones if I was patient!

Anyways, I scoured Pinterest and remembered that I had already pinned a Persimmon Spice Tea Cake from Desserts for Breakfast.  It just looked so lovely!  See?


Cake made by a professional


Mine is a bit more, uh, rustic?


And one made by an amateur...


 photo PersimmonSpiceTeaCakeTitle_zps502e197f.jpg


I didn't have another Bundt pan, so the rest became a lovely persimmon spice tea loaf!




I knew that even if I doubled the recipe I'd still have a TON of persimmons left, and I thought four cakes might be just a bit too much (especially with New Year's resolutions still fresh).

A quick search for persimmon led me to a Persimmon & Cranberry Baked Oatmeal recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon.  I had very ripe persimmons that didn't hold its shape well after mixing and I only had dried cranberries.



 photo PersimmonampCranberryOatmealBake_zps544899a2.jpg


It doesn't look great, but it tastes super yummy!

I definitely recommend both recipes, but if you're expecting strong persimmon flavor, you'll be disappointed.  The baked oatmeal may work better with less ripe fruit, so if you have mushy fruit go with the spice cake.

Next time, I'm going to try a jam recipe but for right now, I have tons of cake to devour!




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sew L.A. & LAMILL Coffee adventures!

I wanted to mention a few things that I was able to do this week that were so fun I had to share!  I hadn't noticed until I just typed it, but there is coincidentally an L.A. theme involved in their names.



Gertie's Book Party & Retro Picnic

First of all, I didn't mention that this weekend I went to the Sew L.A. event for Gertie's book launch.




It was sooo cute and the picnic theme was adorable!  Check out the spread below.


Credit: http://christinehaynes.blogspot.com/


Also, they had an adorable photobooth station set up with the retro theme.  Cute!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sewing Rewind: Holiday Edition!

I wanted to recap some of the sewing projects that I made before starting this blog in my new mini-series "Sewing Rewind."  Remember, I only started sewing last April, so be nice!

In this post:


Holiday Edition

These are the three garments I made for the holiday season.  Ups and downs, but I learned a LOT about drafting my own patterns.


*Update* New (and better) photographs of each article of clothing are now included!





Christmas Dress

I bought some flowy fabric from the swap meet at $1/yard because I thought it was so pretty!  I immediately knew that I wanted to use Butterick 5750.  Later on, I found the same fabric (in different colors) in a Forever 21 blouse.



The results were pretty good, and my cousin's three-year-old called me Princess the whole night because it was so swishy.  Yay!

Ignore the black tights at the bottom.  It was cold on Christmas!



I didn't notice until adding this picture that the lining wasn't pulled down all around.  Doh!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Soup's On!

I have a huge appetite.

When I say huge, I don't mean huge for a girl my size (5'0").  I mean huge for anyone.  I went to a Street Food Festival last summer with my dad, my significant other, my sister and my sister's significant other.  Now, it wasn't a contest to see how much we could eat, but with so many things to try, it was hard not to stop and eat everything!  It was held at the Rose Bowl, and there were tons of restaurants and food trucks serving up goodies.  See below!




I can't remember how long we were there for, but my sister dropped out first, then my guy, and then my dad.  My sister's significant other who is over 6 feet tall and a well-built guy was the only one who hung in there with me.  Now, I'm not sure who would have won, but the rest of my family made us go home to soothe their aching bellies.

Now the only way to keep my monster appetite from pushing me into roly-poly territory is to have a strategy to my meals.  In a perfect world this is how I would eat every day, but at least I have a semi-plan.  I like to start my meals with a big salad and a bowl of homemade soup.  That way I've at least filled up somewhat before I get to the main event.  So every week I like to make a big pot of soup chock full of veggies.


Soup's On! on Diane's Vintage Zest

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday synopsis!

My first full week of blogging done!  It was a very stressful week, career-wise, and I'm glad I had something fun to do during my downtime.  This weekend is going to include a friend's karaoke party, a fancy dinner, and hopefully a bit of sewing.

I hope you all have a fun weekend too!



Friday, January 11, 2013

Foodie Friday!

I was supposed to do some cooking this week, but I had something important to focus on for my career.  Thus, I ended up having to eat out this week a bit more than normal.

Therefore, I figured I would round up some yummy items I ate!

Precap:   UMAMIcatessen, cha2oSimmzy's

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UMAMIcatessen

Last Friday when I went to the Fashion District, I ended up stopping by UMAMIcatessen for takeout.  Soooo worth it!

These pictures aren't mine, but they illustrate how tasty everything is much better than mine do.

For appetizers, the pickle platter & caramelized butternut squash.  The pickles are amazing, but the squash could have been better.  I love squash, but it was lacking sweetness that I wanted when I hear the word caramelized.




For the burgers, the original Umamiburger and the Earth burger.  The Umamiburger is just the best, hands down.  I mean, look at that cheese crisp!  So good!  The earth burger was decent for a veggie burger, but I wanted it to be a little better...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Etched Beer Steins

I had some presents that were long overdue, and I finished them up today.  Whew, another item checked off of my list!


Etched Beer Steins on Diane's Vintage Zest!


The first time I etched a beer stein for my friend, I ended up with pretty good results.  However, it took forever!!!  I printed out a font that I liked, and used a blade to cut contact paper for my stencil.  The combination of tough contact paper, a dull blade, and an ornate font made me NEVER want to attempt this again.


Etched Beer Steins on Diane's Vintage Zest!
Attempt #1 (taken by my friend's much nicer camera)


However, it was present time, and I decided that it would be much easier with my new Silhouette!  I was absolutely right.  So much easier to make my own design and have it cut out.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Project Inspiration + Confessions of an Emotional Pinner

Let's say that you're a reasonably crafty girl who has her sights set on making the perfect home decor item/dessert/dress.  Where do you look for inspiration?

As for me, I could not live with Pinterest.  In the old days, it used to be Real Simple magazine and Martha Stewart on TV.  But with everything digital, it is so much easier and faster to compose a board of all the things I love on this super easy website/app, especially when I'm on the go.

From there, I've found blogs that I find myself subscribing to, and then more pinners that I follow, and so on, and so on...


Then, I fall into that pit of despair thinking, "I could never make anything as lovely as her!" or "Why bother putting all this work into something that will just end up looking homemade when I could just buy it?"


Project Inspiration + Confessions of an Emotional Pinner on Diane's Vintage Zest!
Sewing fail: Drawstring mat for my scraps that doesn't close all the way.

Yes, it is easy to feel less than ordinary when you see all of the amazing ideas and projects on Pinterest.  But I have to remind myself that it is a way to receive inspiration, and although it would be great to have the perfect home, dinner, and wardrobe, I should to be thankful for what I have!

So, I think of the blogs/pinners that I follow as coaches in my corner for their respective fields.  On a day like today, when I need to take my mind off of some scary career changes, I choose to get lost in a project or a blog.


My favorite blogs, in no particular order (but grouped by topic), are as follows!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Organizing & Folding Fabric

What an interesting post title!  Um, not really...

Although I would love to show some great projects that I worked on this weekend, I didn't have any free time to dedicate to my projects except to the fabric I bought.  So, I decided that I should at least show how I organize and store my fabrics!


Organizing and Folding Fabric on Diane's Vintage Zest!


What you will need:
  • A flat surface (I used my homemade ironing board)
  • A flat board to wrap your fabric around (I use an acrylic ruler, but you could use a piece of foam core board cut to your desired width)
  • Your big, messy pile of fabric
  • Plastic bins for your finished bundles
  • Many episodes of your favorite TV show or an audiobook, because this may take a while...

Organizing and Folding Fabric on Diane's Vintage Zest!



Directions

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fabric Shopping Weekend

So I had an appointment in Downtown L.A. this weekend, and since I had driven all the way there I thought to myself,"Why not take a trip to the Fashion District?"

Since I started sewing in April, most of the fabric I have bought has been from local stores, swap meets, and giveaways from my sewing class.  I had heard about the tons and tons of items you can find at the Fashion District, and it is definitely true!  Every type of zipper, buckle, trim, and embellishment in every color, size, and fabric is available if you don't mind doing some treasure hunting.  Fortunately for my wallet Unfortunately, I was limited by my parking meter, so I made sure to do some damage in under an hour.

There are tons of stores all smashed together in the tiniest spaces imaginable.  I had the chance to pop into only around eight stores and I bought from three different ones.  I'm by no means an expert on fabric type, name, appropriateness for garments.  I just kind of guess and see what works and what doesn't.  Also, please help me correct any incorrect terminology wherever you notice it.  Thanks! By the way, I don't have a great camera and I'm not sure how to photograph fabric, which is super obvious.  Please leave me any tips for how to achieve better lighting, etc. or if I just need a fancy camera altogether.


Stop 1 - Not sure what the name was...


Fabric Shopping Weekend on Diane's Vintage Zest!

1. Black stretch lining: I was in desperate need of black lining fabric for my current obsession with colored lace!

2. Navy striped jersey: You can't tell but there are three sizes of stripes.  Will make a fun summer maxi dress!

3. Cream polka dot "lace": Combines my love of lace and polka dots.

4. Purple loose weave knit:  So soft and dreamy, I can't decide if this should be a top or a dress.  The color doesn't quite show well in the picture.





Stop 2 - Ari's Fabrics

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday Synopsis!

I've seen this feature on one of the blogs I follow (Something Turquoise) and I think it's a great idea that I'll borrow!

This has been a short week of introductions (hello and nice to meet you), and next week I'm excited to get to some projects.  Here's to a great 2013!


Saturday Synopsis! on Vintage Zest


Saturday Synopsis!

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Customized 2013 Calendar & Planner!

So, I promised a peek at my 2013 calendar & planner with my customization, and here it goes!

First of all, I decided the cover was beautiful but needed a little pizzazz.  I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out vinyl decorations.  I found a beautiful damask pattern (to match the blog and my personalized sewing labels) and used the same font I use in my sewing labels as well.  Here is the result!


My Customized 2013 Calendar and Planner on Vintage Zest


I obscured my last name's initial for privacy, but I absolutely adore everything else!

As for the inside, I used the pockets for a few items such as sticky notes, flags, and blank To Do list forms.  I used a personalized stamp to enter my information, should my planner get lost.  And my favorite part of the inside is my vinyl labeled tabs!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Planning 101 for 2013

I confess, I'm a huge fan of organization.  My favorite things to do are to make schedules, checklists, and labels for everything.  I research the best way to streamline a process and optimize my time.

So in theory, I would never, ever let anything fall through the cracks and always be on time.  However, I am constantly shuffling through endless To Do lists on my phone and more lists written on the back of printer paper.  And I'm almost always rushing to finish projects with a deadline, which is the opposite of how I like to use my creative time!

I have tried and failed to use all of the so-called "Best Apps" for organization, and not without trying!  There's something that I just can't get used to using my phone to keep track of anything.  It's super convenient, but unfortunately just not functional.


Planning 101 for 2013 on Vintage Zest
Maybe the organization thing could work if I had 5 phones!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Beginnings!

My first post of the year and ever!  Very exciting stuff.  :)

Not having kept a blog before, I'm not sure what the first post really should convey.  However, I'm sure there will be many growing pains before I get the hang of it.

Having googled the phrase "what to include in a first blog post," I was inundated with all kinds of advice from format, to content, and advertisement advice.  I'm pretty sure that this blog will be read by just a few close friends, so I've nixed the idea of the "perfect blog post."


So who am I?

.