Beef Brisket Au Jus Sandwiches

Au Jus Sandwiches
I just found that Beef Brisket gives Au Jus sandwiches the most delicious flavor.  I had never cooked a brisket before until a friend made it for me.  Now I am a fan of this less tender cut of meat.  The trick is to braise the brisket in a slow oven.  This makes it very tender.
So to begin, you sear on both sides a brisket of beef, about 3 minutes per side in a frying pan.  Then you transfer it to a heavy roasting pan and add about 1/4 cup of water.
Smear about 2 tablespoons of a thick liquid beef bouillon over the top of the brisket.
This is just one brand of the beef stock.  I know Costco carries another brand too.  Cover the  pan with a lid and put it into a 325 degree oven for about 3 hours.  When you take it out of the oven, slice it thinly on the diagonal against the grain.
The remaining juice in the pan is your Au Jus for dipping.  Put the Au Jus in individual small dishes for each person.  If you can get Ciabatta rolls they are wonderful.  I butter them and toast them under the broiler.  If you like, serve them with a grainy mustard.  Try this.  You'll like it.
For more delicious recipes and tempting pictures click here.  Thanks to Michael at Designs by Gollum for hosting this Foodie Friday event.


Illuminating Idea for January Blahs

If you are tired of the gray, cold January weather and  looking for a way to light up your life and home you might try making or buying a new lampshade.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

A friend of mine took this old  embroidered runner (probably for a bureau top) and adhered  it to the two sides of my lampshade.  The sides she made of blue and white strip ticking and the ruffle of red and white ticking.  I love it.

This one is the same idea using another old embroidery piece except this was a circle.  It probably went in the center of a table.  To make this one she just cut a circle in the center and placed it on top of the lampshade.  It is only attached to the shade at the top.  This would be very easy to do.
Now if you don't want to make one yourself, you can just buy one.  The following are some that I found at Hobby Lobby.

  Maybe you could just tie the shade you have and add a jewel like this one from your jewelry box.

This shade looks very prim and proper but is the same idea with the tie in the center.

Or you could just add your favorite motif like this fleur de lis.  It could be done with a purchased motif or one that you cut out of fabric or felt.

This is another great idea of using two different fabrics with the inside one showing through the thinner outside one.

If you have a very plain shade already you could add a random design on the shade and fringe on the bottom like these shades

I thought this design was very nice using a bias strip of the same fabric and winding around and around.

Here's the close up of that one.

This one was just so fun and flirty that it made me smile. It is made of ribbons and beads.  So I hope these fun shades have helped light up your life and given you a lift.
When you try one of these send me back a picture so I can see it too.
Happy last days of January!



Jewelry Storage #2

I have almost finished  organizing my jewelry.  My necklaces now hang inside my closet doors on a cabinet in my bathroom.  

I posted about this here.

I used the round tins with clear lids (from Ikea) on a magnet board to hold my rings and small bracelets.

The magnet board can either be hung on the wall or it can lay flat on the shelf.
For my bracelets I found a square tray with indents at Target.

Also I purchased a couple of dishes, one round and one square that fit into two of the indents.  These were perfect for the big bangle bracelets. 
The other indents worked great for the "shapeless" bracelets.   It is nice to have everything all in the same area but be able to find what I need when I want it without hunting through the whole lot of jewelry.
What have you found that works for your jewelry?


Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today January 25, 2010

Outside my window... clear skies today.  Chance of snow this week.  Turn up the electric blanket!

I am thinking... about my dear, sweet mom whose birthday it is today.  She would be 97!  She taught me many things while growing up in our home.  She was a fierce independent woman with a career, which was unusual for the 50's.  She was a life long learner and always was participating in or taught courses.  One summer when my grandparents were needing help she traveled out of state to care for them and managed to take a class at the University near them one evening a week.  While she was gone my job was to fix dinner one night a week.  It consisted of opening a can of Chef Boyardee Lasagna.  But I felt I had been given a special assignment and I carried it out with care and the attention that I thought she would have if she was there. She taught school and in the summer she would teach us three daughters how to sew, paint, upholster, wallpaper and any other chore that she needed to achieve that summer. I miss her unconditional love even now.  Her favorite color was purple!

I am thankful for... a family that had its ups and downs but gave me the foundation to achieve my goals despite odds put in my path.

I am wearing... long underwear underneath my jeans, a red sweater and black vest, my Uggs and cashmere socks.  Trying to stay warm here!

I am remembering
... skates held onto our shoes with a key and push button starters on cars years ago.

I am going... to a cooking class on the new digital pressure cookers Tuesday,  and having 34 people over for a pot luck dinner on Thursday evening and sewing with dear friends on Monday.

I have just read... our book club book which is Everything Is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis  I am looking forward to the discussion about it.

I am looking forward to...my trip to California and staying at a beach house in Carmel with friends. Bring on the sunshine!

On my mind... some of my friends who need prayers for their children and one who's husband has Parkinson's Disease.

Noticing that... my grandchildren are growing taller and I am getting shorter!

Pondering these words..."To handle yourself, use your head...To handle others, use your heart."

From the kitchen... wonderful leftovers of Beef Au Jus sandwiches and Cherry Chocolate Cake.  I am planning on making the Homemade Granola that I really enjoy.

Around the house... The floors need attention.  Although I love the dark wood floors, they do demand more care since they show every footprint winter or summer. And then tables need setting up for the dinner on Thursday.

One of my favorite things~ knowing my children are in a happy place.

From my picture journal...

To read other women's day books click here


Foodie Friday

Petits Pots de Chocolat for your Valentine
These wonderful little pots of Chocolate are so deliciously sweet just right for that Valentine of yours.  They are a cinch to make but be sure to use good chocolate.  I serve them in red ramekins or little heart shaped bowls.
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
2 cups good quality Bittersweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt

Pour milk in heavy saucepan and heat to boiling point.  Combine remaining ingredients in blender contaier.  Pour in the hot milk, then blend at low speed for 1 minute or until smooth.  pour into 6 custard cups or small footed glasses, then chill for at least 2 hours before serving.  This makes 6 servings.

Note:  If you can get the chopped Bittersweet chocolate from Trader Joe's Pound Plus bar, it is very good, but Ghiradelli chips work just as well.  To garnish, top with whipped cream, mint leaf and a whole raspberry.  Very rich and delicious!!  Enjoy!
Happy Valentines Day to you!

Thanks to Michael at Designs By Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday.  Click here to find more tempting recipes.


Tablescape Thursday I love Dishes! How I store them

I have always loved plates!  When I moved into this house I made a decision to use one of the closets as a dish pantry.  As I am trying to organize my house again after the holidays I thought I would share how I use this closet - turned dish pantry. 
The door in it leads into the hall to my master bedroom.  There is a closet on either side of the hallway.  I chose to keep one closet for clothes and use this one for storage of kitchen items.  I just used the existing shelves and re-purposed them.

On one half of this side of the closet I have used the existing shelves for stacks of  plates.
I try to keep like dishes together...All good china, Christmas,Thanksgiving etc.
(These shelves were meant for shoes but work great for plates)

Below these plates I keep baskets, and silverware in their wooden containers.
On the very top shelf (out of the picture) I have
footed cake plates, trifle bowls and other tall items.

On the other half I keep large bowls on top, more cake plates
On the next shelf and below them, pitchers.

Below that is for platters and serving dishes.
On the bottom shelf are tall stacks of plates and chargers 
 that would not fit on the other side because there were too tall.

On the floor are my crock pots and seasonal boxed plates.
(Valentines, birthday etc.)

On the other side of the closet are my stacked washer and dryer
and above them are trays and narrow items.
I did have some of the dividing boards made and put in this area for the trays.

  Next to the washer/dryer is a section that I use for
tablecloths, napkins  placemats and soft goods.

Below the tablecloths are vases and flower containers.
On the floor are baskets of cleaning cloths.
This room works for me because I have a small kitchen
with very little storage.  Because it contains the washer and dryer,
it is an all-purpose room.  I had another door built across from the first one
which leads out  into my family room and makes accessing this room from the kitchen more convenient.

On the back of both doors I keep my aprons
I love to be able to find just the right dishes and tableware when I need it.
If you are a dish lover, where do you store your dishes?
I am linking to Susan's Between Naps on the Porch. Click here to see fabulous tablescapes.


Organizing My Jewelry #1

As part of my organizing effort I have been working on my necklace storage.  It has been all jumbled in a drawer.  I tried keeping like things in the original jewelry boxes but it wasn't working and I couldn't find what I wanted.

I found these great hooks at Wal Mart that come three to a package for about $3.00.  I used them on the back of a closet in my bathroom.  They are simple to use.  First, clean the surface with alcohol.

Peel off the red tape and put it on the back of the hook.  Then you peel off the black tape and put the hook onto the surface you are attaching the hook to.  I used 6 on each door.  And went from this to this.

The directions say to wait one hour before hanging anything on them.  That is the longest part of this whole project. It was a very fast project that I am quite happy about.   It took me less than 15 minutes to put the hooks on the doors.  Next is my bracelet storage!


When Communication Fails

Last week was interesting because one day every phone in my house quit working so I began using my cell phone which was a good solution until it fell out of my pocket onto the floor and then it, too, quit.  It is an awful feeling not having communication to the outside world.  This was the same week that my lap top computer decided to go on vacation.  Actually it showed up for work in that I knew it was on, the buttons turned blue and it hummed when I opened it up.  But, the screen was black and I could not figure out how to get a "picture" on the screen.  I asked every savvy computer person that I knew and tried every thing they suggested with no luck.  When I finally took it to a computer geek, (after 3 days), he opened it up and it had come back from Tahiti or where ever it had been!  Who knows why things like this happen.  At any rate, if this happens to you, do what I did:

#1  Guess where I went last week:

I encourage every woman to self exam and to get a mammogram every year just to be safe.
Mine took less than 15 minutes!
Other things of note:
The gowns are real cotton material (not paper make-believe ones)
You can catch up on your magazine reading while you wait!
There are lots of signs things to read.
The technicians are so nice and gentle.
The room is warm.
It could save your life.


January 10 Club Project

January Service Club project
Our little Service Club always has so much fun when we meet to work on our projects.  This month when we got together we worked fast and furious and still had time to mingle and laugh and catch up on each other's lives.

We cut encouraging saying strips and

 filled cute Valentine jars

We cut borders on fleece fabric

 Then we tied the edges to make the blankets

We wrote encouraging letters.  When we were finished in our two hour time frame

we had made 8 blankets,

filled 30 jars with 70 encouraging thoughts each, and had written 21 letters of hope for an organization that helps substance abuse women and their children.  Last week when we delivered these items to the home we were made aware of the great need of so many there when we talked to the director of the center.  What wonderful work is done there and lives changed forever for the better.  I am grateful there are resources available and compassionate people who work so hard to make a difference to so many.  In our daily ordinary life we live and take so much for granted.  I am resolved to be grateful for all that I have and the life that I am living with it's challenges and opportunities.