Archive | December, 2012

Holiday Dirndl Skirt à la Gertie

24 Dec


I bet you were thinking I had given up sewing.  I have actually been doing a fair amount of sewing I just haven’t had time to get things photographed and blogged.  I did have a chance to snap a few pics of this skirt, though, the other Sunday when we went out for brunch and a wonderful Christmas jazz concert.


I made this skirt last year using Gertie’s Dirndl skirt tutorial and it is such a quick and easy project, especially if you are a new seamstress or don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a project.  My fabric is a beautiful green silk dupioni with large tonal polka dots (which are hard to see in the photos).

I did stray from Gertie’s tutorial a little bit in two ways.  One, I made the waistband from one piece of fabric.  If you are going to sew two pieces together, why not just cut one and fold it in half?  Two, I don’t really think a pattern is necessary for this skirt.  I just tear my fabric on grain to get my skirt panels in the desired length, then I fold them in half and cut any excess width off after making sure the edge is straight.  Other than that, I followed the directions she outlines.

If you are looking for a quick and satisfying make or a beginning sewing project, I definitely recommend this skirt.


Styling Notes:

Top and black bead necklace: The Limited

Cardigan:  Talbots

Shoes:  Cole Haan

Belt:  Target

Crinoline slip:  Trashy Diva

Lipstick:  MAC Russian Red

Crack(er) Candy

23 Dec


Merry Christmas, everyone!  I am going to keep this post short and sweet and will just tell you that you should add this to your holiday sweets table ASAP.  And that will be easy to do because all of the ingredients will probably be on hand and it takes no time to throw together.  Plus, it is the most delicious and addictive stuff.  Trust me, I have been getting requests for this candy and the recipe left and right.  This candy is the perfect combination of crunchy, salty, and sweet.  No one can believe that it all starts with Saltine crackers!!

I hope everyone enjoys some relaxing time with their loved ones over the next week and safe travels to those who will be on the road.


Crack(er) Candy

1-2 sleeves Saltine crackers

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

generous pinch salt

12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips

coarse sea salt for garnish (or toasted nuts or crushed pretzels if you prefer)


Preheat oven to 350F.  Line the bottom and sides of a 11″ x 17″ or 12″ x 18″ jelly roll pan with foil then lay a piece of parchment paper cut to fit in the bottom of the pan.  Arrange the Saltine crackers in straight rows and columns in a single layer in the pan, making sure they are all touching.  (My 12″ x 18″ pan holds about 48 crackers.)  In a medium saucepan heat the butter and sugar to a boil.  Boil and stir continuously for 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and pinch of salt.  Immediately spread the sugar mixture evenly over the crackers.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until bubbly but not starting to burn.  Remove from the oven and spread the chocolate chips evenly over the crackers.  Allow to set for 2 to 3 minutes then use an offset spatula to spread the melted chips over the crackers.  If desired, used a fork to swirl a pattern into the chocolate.  Sprinkle the coarse sea salt (or nuts or crushed pretzels) over the top and allow to set at room temperature overnight for the chocolate to harden before breaking or cutting into squares.  If you can’t wait that long (and honestly, who can?), chill the pan in the fridge until the chocolate is set, then return to room temperature for 30 minute before cutting or breaking into squares.  Now share with your friends before you eat the whole batch yourself.


Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Thirsty Thursday — Perfect Eggnog

20 Dec


I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far.  Is your calendar full of engagements with family and friends?  We are trying to lay low this year during the holidays and are succeeding moderately so.  We decided not to host our annual Christmas party because we have been so very busy recently.  We plan to pick the tradition back up next year.  That doesn’t keep me from sharing some of my favorite holiday entertaining recipes with you, though, and this eggnog is one of those.  We served it this past weekend at our (much smaller) supper club Christmas gathering and it garnered rave reviews as usual.

My husband initially found the recipe and I have adopted it in recent years.  I typically am not a fan of things that contain eggs or bourbon as a central flavor but I must say that this cocktail is quite tasty and will warm you up on a cold winter night.  I suggest you whip up a batch for your next gathering, large or small.  I have not measured the recipe exactly, but a full batch goes in my 2 gallon punch bowl and a half batch (which I made for our supper club group of 11), fit into my crystal salad bowl with just a little left over.

If you are concerned about raw eggs, please see this link for information about safely pasteurizing your eggs to reduce the risk of Salmonella transmission.  I have to point out, though, that the risk of Salmonella from US store-bought eggs is about 1 in 30,000 (source) versus the risk of dying in a car crash in your lifetime which is about 1 in 100 (source).  Sometimes I pasteurize, sometimes I don’t.  But I always wear my seatbelt so maybe I should just always pasteurize my eggs, too…

As written, the ‘nog is slightly stout.  Feel free to add half the alcohol then adjust up from there the first time you make it.  Or if you know your crowd will want it tame, leave out half the bourbon.  It will mellow out as it sits in the fridge, though.

Perfect Eggnog

Serves 24

12 eggs, separated

4 1/2 cups sugar

750 ml bourbon

375 ml dark rum

1 1/2 quarts whipping cream

2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups brandy

1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional, if you hate the stuff like I do)

With an electric mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and light-colored.  Slowly blend in bourbon and rum then mix until sugar is dissolved.  Let stand one hour.  Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.  Stir the whipping cream and milk into the egg yolk mixture until thoroughly blended.  Slowly stir in the brandy.  Fold in the egg whites, blending evenly.  Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least two hours) before serving.  Serve in small cups dusted with nutmeg (if desired, of course).  May be stored in the refrigerator for one week.

Adapted from Allrecipes