March 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, March 30, 2013

Saturday Synopsis!

My last Saturday Synopsis in the U.S. for a month!  I promise I'm not bragging, I'm just super excited.  :)

It's been 3 months of blogging so far for me so far!  I'm so excited about how many people I've "met" and the inspiration that I've been able to give to you guys.  :)  Thanks!

Enough planning...  Let's get this trip started!


Saturday Synopsis!

Monday: Delicious chicken parmesan burgers.  One of my new favorites recipes!

Tuesday:  Sewing rewind: Bag & Pouch edition!  Just a couple more rewinds left until I'm done cataloging my 2012 projects.

Wednesday:  Weekly Wrap-up: I was sick, but had a few meals out.  Yum!

Thursday:  Quick and easy photo fix for those dark night pictures that us bloggers hate to post!

Friday: Congrats to the winners of my first giveaway ever!  Remember to enter the new Chakoner giveaway on this post, and the Duck Tape giveaway ending next week.




Friday, March 29, 2013

Giveaway Winners + Chakoner Giveaway! *CLOSED*

First of all, I have to mention that I recently had a ton of traffic to the Sunglasses Case Tutorial after someone submitted it to Craft Gossip.  In the last week, I had over 4,000 people look at just this one post.  I know that's nothing compared to the large blogs out there, but it's crazy for me!

Honestly, I started this blog with the intention of cataloging my sewing projects and food adventures for myself and two of my friends.  On my last blog, I had 64 posts and 11 pageviews.  This was back in college, when we put our info in our AIM profiles anyways.  So yeah, I wasn't expecting much from this venture.  :)

Thus, when I shared this pattern, I was thinking maybe 50 people at most would take a peek.  After about three days, it became my most viewed post.  Thanks to whomever submitted it!  It totally made my day!



Now, let's get down to business!  The lucky winners of the sunglasses cases are...


Lynn (Thimblemouse) following via Bloglovin'

and

SkyOak69 following via E-mail


Congratulations!


And to everybody else who entered but did not win, you can make your own from my pattern.  I would love to see the results of what you all make!


Or even better, I have ANOTHER giveaway for you guys!



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tip: Super Easy Photo Fixes

Before sitting down to write this, I wondered, "Should I really be the person to dispense photographic technical advice?"  With my track record of losing data and terrible photographs (click on any post to see evidence), maybe not.

Then again, if I can make this simple improvement to a picture, ANYONE can!



I noticed that my pictures taken at night are drastically different than those taken in the daylight.  Duh!  While trying to increase the brightness, I happened upon these three minor adjustments that make for a quick fix!



What You Will Need
A terrible photograph (or about a million in my case)
Photo Editing software: I used an old version of Photoshop on my trusty old Mac

Disclaimer: The process will be different in newer versions of the software or on PCs.  Also, there are much better adjustments that can be made, or filters that can make amazing photographs.  Basically, if you are willing to put in time and effort to manually fix each aspect, it will lead to beautiful photographs...  but that's completely over my head.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up: Being sick...

There isn't too much to wrap up this week, for two reasons:

1) I was still sick over the weekend.
2) I'm leaving for Europe next week!  Eek!

I have sooo much to do and being sick was not good for my pre-travel schedule.  Well, hopefully I won't be sick ON my trip, and at least I'm well now!


Precap (jump to):


Weekly Wrap-Up on Diane's Vintage Zest!



Wednesday

We went to Spago for the first time since the redesign with the whole family.  There were mixed reviews from the table on both the decor and food, but it's probably because we loved the old restaurant so much.  : \

FYI, Wolfgang Puck was there and shook hands with everyone at the table.  Such soft, meaty hands!  We've seen him before, but I hadn't shaken hands with him.  What a nice guy?  :)  Also, I almost pulled out my Little Miss to take a picture with him, but it would have been a bit silly!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sewing Rewind: Bag & Pouch Edition!

Do you know the reason why I took my first sewing class?  I received an e-mail from one of those websites that send you daily deals.  It was $19 to make a tote bag, and even though I wanted to make garments, I was sold on just being able to touch a sewing machine for the first time.

I was excited to tell my friend at the gym, and she told me about the adult school that offered 8 weeks of classes for somewhere around $35.  REALLY?!?!?!?  And that's how I got started.

Of course, I couldn't start off making super tailored clothing.  I didn't even know what a bobbin was!  Therefore, I went along with the project syllabus during each class session.

Outside of class, I was super antsy!  I looked up all kinds of projects online and found tutorials galore!  Still, I was too timid to try out clothing on my own.  Thus, came my bag and pouch phase.  :)





Embroidered Tote Bag
The first bag I finished was the tote bag during my $19 class.  We started and finished it in the class time, while using their fancy embroidery machine.  


Although it turned out well, I didn't really feel like I had really made something on my own.  It was great, no doubt, but all of the materials were pre-cut.  The whole process seemed like one of those semi-homemade recipes, which is kind of cheating.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Just last week, I was lamenting about how I wouldn't be able to share these burgers with you.  It was a sad, sad thing.  What a difference a week makes!  Just seven days and $90 later (to recover my data), you get this amazing recipe!

I have eaten my share of my burgers.  I mean just check out the past couple of months: here, here, here, here, and here!  This totally stands up thanks to the mozzarella and marinara.  I think I could eat a shoe if you smothered it in sauce and cheese!  But seriously, the burger is moist for a poultry patty (thanks to the veggies) and has tons of flavor too!


Chicken Parmesan Burgers on Diane's Vintage Zest!


Chicken Parmesan Burgers
Adapted from Can You Stay For Dinner
Makes 4 - 6 burgers (depending on size)

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound 93% lean ground chicken or turkey breast (I used turkey)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped (or 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil)

Toppings:
  • 4 ounces (1 cup shredded) mozzarella cheese (I used presliced fresh mozzarella)
  • 1 ½ cups marinara sauce (I used leftover arabbiata sauce)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Synopsis!

Time for another Saturday synopsis, when I round up this week's posts.

This week has been crazy!  First of all, I have been sick, so everything is a bit hazy right now as I write this...  I just hope I get healthy quick!  Second, I have just over a week until I go on my month long trip!  I am sooo not ready! Third, my project was on Craft Gossip post this week, and it sent a flood of people over to my tiny blog.  I wasn't aware of someone sending my sunglasses case in, until I noticed a huge spike in my pageviews when I woke up that morning.

Up for this weekend, a flurry of last minute crafting projects before I have to pack and leave.  :)

P.S. - Don't forget to enter both of my giveaways here and here before it's too late!
P.P.S. - Vote for my blog to get a makeover here before Monday!

Some crafting supplies for this weekend!


Saturday Synopsis!

Monday: I learned my lesson about not backing up data regularly.  In fact, now that I mention it, it's that time of the week again!  Also, I shared some useful tips for Bloglovin' for all us readers and bloggers out there.

Tuesday:  Sewing rewind: Recon edition!  I refashioned a shirt, XL shirt into a dress, XXL shirt for my man, and salvaged a Marc Jacobs cardigan $1 find at a swap meet.  Awesome!

Wednesday:  Weekly Wrap-up: The Maroon 5 concert and a night out, followed by tons of food.  No wonder I'm sick!  I must have been exposed to tons of germs at the Staples Center.

Thursday:  I shared the crocheted pouch I made for my external hard drive.  Technology and yarn meet once again at my house.  :)

Friday: My second tutorial, second giveaway, and second dress form!  I love Lily.  :)  Poor Jade, I think I'm going to give her a makeover, and not trash her.  Yep, I'm adding it to the looong list of crafts for when I get back in May!




Friday, March 22, 2013

Tutorial: Duct Tape Dress Form + Duck Tape Giveaway! *CLOSED*

A while ago I introduced you to Jade, the turquoise duct tape version of me.  She was one of the first sewing aids I ever made, and unfortunately she isn't in the best shape anymore...  A little bit lumpy, and she's gotten shorter over time.  This isn't supposed to happen for a few more decades!

I had to perform all kinds of cropping acrobatics with my garment pictures, and it was honestly embarrassing.  So, a plan was born!

My plans for a new dress form included the following improvements:
1. Neutral color
2. Better stuffing
3. Improve surface contouring & appearance
4. Affix more sturdily on the coat rack
5. Close the neckholes and arm holes with a better method

I was able to work with Duck Tape brands in order to find the best tape for the job, and they generously provided me with 5 rolls of their Original Duck Tape in white.  And the best part of it is, they are offering my readers the chance to win some of their fantastic products!  Six rolls of solid colors and six rolls of patterns.  Wow!  Yes, this is the same Duck Tape used on the Project Runway episode three weeks ago on those fantastic Prom Dresses!  More on that later and read on for the giveaway details.  :)

But first, the tutorial!  I have included several handy tips from both of my experiences making the dress forms.


Hello, Lily!
Bye, bye Jade.  :(  She's so smushed and wrinkly!


What You Will Need
  • Duck Tape, (3 - 5 rolls) - I used just over 4 rolls for the total of 4 layers.  I'm 5'0" so adjust accordingly!
  • Scissors
  • Hanger (sturdy enough to hold the weight of your dress form and garments)
  • Cardboard
  • Stuffing (the kind used for upholstery, or newspapers in a pinch)
  • Coat rack or lamp (optional)
  • Paper towel rolls (1 - 2, optional)
  • A very patient and detailed assistant!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Crochet Rewind!

You're probably thinking, where did the crochet rewind come from?  Isn't this a sewing rewind series?  Don't worry, this will be the one and only of its kind, because I don't crochet much anymore and nobody wants to see a bunch of boring scarves that I made back in college!

Well, as you know, I shared with you my technology woes, and found myself in need of a good old-fashioned computer back-up from scratch.  That meant digging out my trusty external hard drive and firing up Time Machine to back up all my data since last time in...  September 2011!  Eep!

Anyways, I decided to snap a few pictures during the hours that my computer was backing up to share this with you!


Well, what is it?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up: a class, a concert, a night out, and LOTS of food

I'm writing this while being completely under the weather.  The only thing I want right now is a box of tissues by my side, but at least I can revel in the last week of adventures that I had.  :)


Precap (jump to):


Friday

I know that last week I promised pictures from my serger class.  However, even though I had an easy time figuring out how to get the machine threaded and tensions perfect during the first class...  It was IMPOSSIBLE this time!  Basically, I ended up showing up late, forgot all of my supplies, and only had enough time to thread the machine and cut out the pattern.  Total fail!


Afterwards, my friend and I had lunch at the Blackbird Cafe.  I had a delicious veggie sandwich and lentil soup.  I was so hungry, and it hit the spot!




Then, for dessert, the Tropical French Toast.  It looks crazy and really was perfect with the coconut coating.




Afterwards, we went to a couple of antique shops to just browse.  I did bring home one of the cute birds below.  :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sewing Rewind: Recon Edition!

So what does this recon edition mean?  Reconstructing a garment typically means that you get something tired and dated out of your closet, and create something new and exciting!  These are all pieces that needed a bit of TLC or refitting and now they don't just take up space in the closet anymore, they're totally wearable!

Before...


Laker's Shirt Recon
If you're a regular reader, you know that I have a Lakers loving family.  A few years back, the family went to a game on Christmas day, and they gave each of us T-shirts.  Yep, XL T-shirts that are basically dresses on 5'0" girls like me...


So wait a minute, why not make it a dress then?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Diane + Technology = Recipe for Disaster

Well, I am officially inducted into the world of bloggers...

I lost a ton of my pictures from my flash drive (along with personal photos for the past few months) and unfortunately the pictures for the post I scheduled for today were included.  Sigh...  I'm just crossing my fingers that the computer people can recover my data.  My version of Andie's Chicken Parmesan Burgers will be here another day, hopefully sooner rather than later.  :)

In the meantime, view this burger from Umamicatessen that I ate once upon a time...


Two other technology-related items that I wanted to share with you all is about the Pimp My Blog Giveaway I shared on Saturday and a couple of tips for moving to Bloglovin', which I've noticed that all of my Google followers have yet to do.  I don't want to lose you!


Update: The giveaway is over, and thank you to all who voted!
Pimp My Blog Giveaway
1. Vote for me here!
2. Tell other people to vote for me here!
3. Await my new blog makeover (assuming you did steps #1 & 2 enough times).
4. Ooh and aah over the amazing changes that Cindy made.  :)



Bloglovin' Reader Tips
First of all, there are a few items that I thought I should point you all towards on Bloglovin', should you choose this as your new reader.  And for those of you with a blog, make sure to read the next section for tips to claim your blog.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Synopsis + Blog Update Contest

It's yet another Saturday synopsis, where I round up my week of posts.  Welcome to all my new readers, it's lovely to see you!  :)

Source


Saturday Synopsis!

Monday: Super easy and relatively healthy banana muffins for when you're feeling lazy...  No one needs to know, except you and your blender!

Tuesday:  Sewing rewind: Gifts edition!  Answer:  Pouches, a wine bag, clothing, a phone case, a monogram taggie, and a goggles case.  The question is: What is the list of gifts Diane sewed for her friends and family, Alex?  Correct!

Wednesday:  Weekly Wrap-up: Besides Vegas, not a ton to report this week.  Just the way I like it!

Thursday:  A vinyl aquarium decal made for the turtles' tank.  So cute and so easy!

Friday: My very first tutorial and first giveaway too!  Easily my most used item because sunglasses are important here in California.  :)



Update: The contest is over, and thank you to all who voted!
Blog Update Contest

Normally, I don't write new information on the weekend because I am super busy!  However, I HAD to enter this contest before the due date, and believe me folks, I need to win!



1. Why I need to win.

I have so much in progress here and the blog has grown a ton in just a couple of months!  The new Facebook group, new tutorials and patterns, giveaways (with a few more in the works), and my first feature are just a few of the more exciting developments around here.  There is more and more traffic from people popping by and I'd love for it to reflect more of who I am and not just the free template that was closest to what I like.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tutorial: Sunglasses Case & Giveaway

*Update* The giveaway is over, but the pattern is still free!

Hello everybody!  Remember my post from about a month ago about the soft sunglasses cases I sewed for myself and as a couple of gifts?

Well, here is my tutorial on how to make your own, and a giveaway of the two cases below!


Sewing Tutorial + Pattern - Sunglasses Case on Diane's Vintage Zest!


This is my first pattern tutorial so please let me know in the comments or e-mail me with any suggestions for improvements.  Thanks!


Sewing Tutorial + Pattern - Sunglasses Case on Diane's Vintage Zest!


What You Will Need
- My pattern - download here
- Main fabric - only small pieces needed for all fabrics
- Lining fabric
- Contrast fabric, if desired
- Batting (For a more rigid case, use purse interfacing)
- Elastic
- Button


Sewing Tutorial + Pattern - Sunglasses Case on Diane's Vintage Zest!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

DIY Custom Aquarium Decal


This is a super short post, but after my long-winded weekly wrap-ups it's nice to have something short, sweet, and to the point.

Remember a couple weeks ago when I gave you a sneak peek of a project that I worked on for my mom?  I showed you our turtles Bertha and Kobe swimming around happily in their aquarium.

Welcome to their new home!


Custom Aquarium Decal on Diane's Vintage Zest!  #diy #craft #vinyl #pets


My sister bought Bertha when she was in college and brought her home once she graduated.  My mom decided that she needed a friend, so she bought and named Kobe.  She loves her Lakers, which she passed down to us!

Anyways, I had seen a few projects with vinyl that I was itching to try out.  Of course, I had already done my magnetic inspiration boards and with the Silhouette still up and running, I decided to put together a decal for my mom's aquarium.

Here's the before:


Custom Aquarium Decal on Diane's Vintage Zest!  #diy #craft #vinyl #pets


She provided me with the measurements and picked her favorite font from a few of my suggestions, and I designed the rest.

I think it turned out pretty great!


Custom Aquarium Decal on Diane's Vintage Zest!  #diy #craft #vinyl #pets


Here's a close-up of our third turtle with the model below...  :)  And another view of the text, which is cute in person!


Custom Aquarium Decal on Diane's Vintage Zest!  #diy #craft #vinyl #pets


Lastly, here are Bertha and Kobe under the wrong spots.  Either they're trying to trick me, or it's possible that turtles don't know how to read.


Custom Aquarium Decal on Diane's Vintage Zest!  #diy #craft #vinyl #pets


This is such a whimsical, fun project that I'm on the lookout for more things to cover in vinyl!  Hmmmm, what to do next...

What's your newest craft obsession?



Custom Aquarium Decal on Diane's Vintage Zest!  #diy #craft #vinyl #pets



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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up: Viva Las Vegas!

Do you ever feel like you need a vacation after taking a trip?  Well, my trip to Vegas was super tiring and I'm only just recovering!  Yes, they're problems that aren't really problems.  :)

Oh, and daylight savings time is totally messing with my head...


Hello Little Miss!

Precap: Serger class, Vegas fun: Bouchon, outlet shopping, Noodle Asia, Pinot Brasserie, gelato, I  Burgers


Friday
This may not be super exciting to most people, but I enrolled in a serger class!  It's only three weeks long, but it'll be just enough time for me to figure out whether or not I'll want to get one of these machines sooner rather than later.

So far, I learned how to thread the thing and adjust the tensions to get a somewhat even stitch.  Also, now I know how to move around the knife down and change to a rolled hem.  Next class is cutting a pattern to actually create a garment!  I'll share pictures next week.  :)


We headed to Vegas and had dinner at Bouchon as soon as we arrived.  Yum!

Mussels and fries to start.  We're practicing for Belgium!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sewing Rewind: Gifts Edition!

It is better to give than it is to receive, right?  But for us crafters who DIY gifts, it can be a nerve-wracking to hand over a handmade present for scrutiny!

Here are a few gifts that I gave to friends and family over the past several months!

Disclaimer: These are all pictures taken with my phone, prior to the development of my still mediocre camera skills !


The first item I ever gifted to someone is the goggles case that I already blogged about here.  At least I had input prior to its creation, so I wasn't as nervous as I could have been...


Next, came an item for my cousin's kid's first birthday.  I wanted to sew something for a baby so desperately that I searched through a multitude of free baby clothes patterns.  But then I realized that I didn't know his size!

Instead, I decided to sew a monogram taggie that he could use for longer anyways!  I used a few fabric, batting, and velcro scraps along with some ribbon from my mom's stash.  I put in a lot of effort because my fabric & batting sandwich was wrong twice!  However, it ended up costing a total of $0!

.