Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Prom Closet 2016


What does a sea of 2500 prom dresses look like? Feast your eyes on the 8th annual free prom dress giveaway at St Andrew UMC in Plano, Texas.

 

Each year an amazing group of women volunteer to help coordinate this week long event that will offer girls dresses for their prom as well as jewelry, shoes, handbags and shawls all for free. Yes, free.



It takes a village, literally, to coordinate this event and the women of St Andrew UMC of Plano, Texas, work a full year to ensure a seamless event happens each spring.

Senior Prom is a special event in a young lady's life but it can be cost prohibitive at a whopping $1000 - $1500 to attend making it impossible for many families.

Thanks to the many generous donors, prom dresses and accessories are collected throughout the year and stored in preparation for the following year. The month before the event the dresses are taken out of storage and sorted in size and color, the same with the jewelry and accessories. The team will clean and repair the donations and start organizing getting ready for the big event.


This year is the 8th annual Prom Closet and it was perfect! Considering 2015 was such a huge success, over 850 girls were given the chance to have their dreams come true. This year a projected 1000 girls will pass through the doors so expansion was a must. 22 dressing rooms were built and the accessories area was made larger and more efficient.


This year over 2200 jewelry items were donated, Urban Pearl Studio was not only a proud sponsor but again had the true pleasure of working side by side with the team of coordinators and volunteers this past week.


Life should come with a handbook - mine is still a work in progress and my top two rules are : a) Wake each day and make it count. Make a difference in someone's life! b) Always give more than you take!

The women that coordinate this fabulous event surly have some of the same rules in their books of life.

It's an honor and pleasure to be a part of The Prom Closet.

Would you like to help?
Email Address
Facebook Page Link

I would like to personally thank some dear friends that were more than generous with their time and jewelry donations

Joyce Bryan
Brenda Alexander
Michelle Alves - See Her Etsy Jewelry Shop Here
Judy Lott - See Her Etsy Jewelry Shop Here
Babrara Moore - See Her Etsy Jewelry Shop Here
Mollie Meserve - See Her Etsy Jewelry Shop Here
Nancy Russell  - See Her Etsy Jewelry Shop Here

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Paddy's Day Fun! Corned Beef And Cabbage

Happy St. Paddy's Day! I realize this blog is mostly about jewelry or related fashion items but I can't help but share one of my favorite recipes on my 2nd favorite holiday, St. Patrick's Day. Don't get me wrong, feel free to look about the blog for past posts on jewelry but today, we celebrate green beer and great food.

The aroma is captivating when cooking and it would tend to drive one crazy wanting to nibble ahead but the key is long slow cooking of the corned beef brisket.

I developed this recipe over the course of 15 years and I think I have landed on a winner. For those that prefer a lean fall-apart tender brisket, this recipe is for you. I'm not a fan of oily greasy corned beef and prefer it lean and mean.

My method is a combination of theories on how to cook a corned beef brisket and will yield a tender and moist delicious meal. The key here is to make sure you start with enough brisket to ensure you will have some leftovers. I used to invite a crew over to help celebrate but at the end of the day, there wasn't a speck of food left on the platters so I learned to keep it secret when we were having our blissful St. Paddy's Day meal.

While I am not one to cook by formal recipe, I would rather take several recipes and use the overall concepts to meld them in to one great dish. On that note, you may use this recipe and tweak it to your liking but this one really works (if given time and you don't go snitching early). Friends have shared horror stories of flavorless un-chewable 'boiled' corned beef or ghastly slow cooker brisket that was swimming in fat. Enough said on those, let's get cooking!

As I mentioned, I prefer a lean cut so I buy the 'flat cut' vs the 'point cut'. There is usually around a $1.00 per pound difference in price but a world of difference in yield and quality. The point cut is well marbled and has more fat veins within whereas the flat cut usually has a fat cap that is easily removed and the meat has very little marbling. One would tend to think it would be a tougher cut of meat and you may be correct if you under cook the brisket. I have to give a shout out to Sy Ginsberg brand corned beef available at most Costco stores. Our Costco sells only the flat cut and during this time of year they dedicate an entire refrigerator case for the brisket (thank you, Costco).

Most years I will get 2 briskets (think leftovers!) but this year I found the most gorgeous 6.5 pound brisket

When I am ready to get cooking, I will preheat my oven to 350 degrees and set my racks lower to accommodate my large roaster. I use my large turkey roaster (you know, the dark blue with white speckled type) and my theory behind the larger roaster will be explained later.

Take your brisket and place the pack in a clean sink. Slice open the cryovac bag and remove the brisket, then wash all the brine off the brisket and place it on a cutting board. Using a good sharp knife, another shout out to Wusthof knives, and your objective here is to remove all visible fat from the top, bottom and sides of the brisket. Use caution as the brisket will still be slippery so you may wish to use dampened paper towels under your cutting board as well as a few to hold down the brisket while trimming the fat. Toss all the fat.






Now place your trimmed brisket in to your large roaster. Open the included packet of spices and sprinkle along the side of the brisket. Fully cover the brisket with water *note, do not use broth, stock or similar items as the brisket is so salty to start with that you may end up with an inedible overly salty product. The reason I use my large roaster is to be able to add more water to leech out the bulk of the salts from the brined meat. Now add a little fresh cracked pepper, bay leaves and 4 whole allspice to the water. Cover the roaster and place in the oven at 350 degrees. Make sure you keep the lid on tightly so the water doesn't evaporate and cause the brisket to dry out on top.



Considering there is no true formula for timing on cooking your brisket, your 'smeller' will tell you when things are well underway in the oven. Much of my cooking method here is by instinct so you will have to go by the looks of the end result and a good old fork test to know how it is progressing.

I used a 6.5 pound brisket this year and it took just a little over 4 hours to bake. I have used 2 smaller briskets or a single brisket in past and have had it fully cooked in around 2.5 hours so here are a few suggestions on how to test it.

Again, your nose will tell you when things are progressing nicely. Taking in to consideration the size of the brisket you purchased, remove the brisket from the oven about 2 hours in to the roasting time and place on your cooktop. Open the lid carefully and take a fork to the grain of the meat. Is it starting to pull away and 'flake' or is it still very firm. If it is still quite firm, make sure your water still covers the brisket (add HOT water if needed) and pop back in the over, checking again 45 min later. Once the meat clearly has started getting very tender, add your vegetables

Add a full head of cabbage cut in quarters
Add a full bag of mini carrots
Add several scrubbed whole red new potatoes about 2  1/2" size
Make sure you get your veggies in to the water so they absorb all the flavor goodness. Cover the roaster and put back in the oven for another 45, checking the meat again until it is fall apart tender.

Once you feel the meat is as tender as you prefer, remove from the oven. Have a large serving platter or something with a lip to retain the juices. Place all of your veggies on the platter leaving the room in the middle for the sliced meat.

Place your corned beef on a cutting board and start slicing across the grain. Thick or thin, that is your preference. Place the slices on your serving platter and serve with a side of fresh horseradish and a sliced loaf of seeded rye bread and Irish butter.






Pure Bliss! I am headed to the fridge right now to sneak a little of the leftovers. Enjoy!