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It is summer in Houston, and last night our bedroom A/C went kaput! My first reaction was to grumble, but then I reminded myself to “choose happiness!” I was thankful we had a guestroom to sleep in that had cool air and a fan. As we crawled into an unfamiliar bed, I was quickly reminded of the times I preached to others: “Every good hostess should sleep in her own guestroom for one full night. You will immediately see what is missing!”

Today, where we see every form of fashion on our streets, the question of men and shorts still produces uncertainty among many. There is a reason for this that is embedded in our DNA, and to fully understand we need to explore a little history.

“What are the main table manners children should know?” A common question I am frequently asked. Yet I have a tough time narrowing my answer. I pick my top three, then a fourth pops into my mind. Then a fifth. We may not all attend black-tie events, but we do all eat. Your children will one day be placed in a situation where they need to skillfully know their way around a dining table.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I would like to take a special look at the precious women in our lives that hold the title of Mother-in-law. Do you remember the movie Monster-in-Law? It starred Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy centered around the tumultuous relationship between a bride and her future mother-in-law. If you have not seen it, you should. It will keep you laughing but, sadly, may hit closer to home than you would like to admit.

I recently asked a group of college students these questions showing them the same photos. I had them shout out adjectives for the pictures they were viewing. For the home I heard: beautiful; wealthy; cared for; loving family; a place I want to live. For the broken-down home they said: old; no curb appeal; I wouldn’t go near it; scary; unstable.

“Rules without reason equals rebellion.” -Cynthia Grosso, Charleston School of Protocol. This could be my motto! I have a stubborn streak that can serve me well, but when it gets me into trouble, I just blame it on my DNA. No matter the reason, I am not the best rule follower unless I know why a rule was created. 

Remove your hat! Don’t set it on the table! Never let someone see the lining! Women, keep your hat on! Women, take your hat off! Ahhh…..I’m so confused!!! The old rules of hat etiquette were so straight forward, and everyone knew what to do. A gentleman removing his hat inside a building was as second nature as brushing his teeth. In today’s changing society, there is much confusion about hat etiquette, for both men and women, so let’s solve this mystery by starting with the “why” of hat protocol.

Do you find your spouse often saying, “Are you listening to me?” Or maybe you feel your child is not being an active part of the dinner conversation. If this resonates with you, it might be time to brush up on the finer points of being a good listener, while teaching your family to do the same. Below are 11 tips to help you get back on track so you can start enjoying deeper and more meaningful communication with those you love.

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 ESV).

 

When I am tired and my mind does not seem to focus on a deep study of the Bible, I will flip to Proverbs to keep focused on God’s Word in a more simplistic way. Yet, every time I read this book, I walk away amazed at the power it brings and thankful for the renewal I feel. The verse I read today really resonated with me.

As a stay-at-home mom to 2 toddlers, a large part of my day is spent in the kitchen preparing food. Meal planning at the beginning of the week is essential to ensuring my family is well fed with home cooked nutrition (I give myself a break on the weekends)! If you get overwhelmed with meal planning like I used to, try these tips to sooth your soul:

As a wife and mother of two rambunctious toddlers, it is a challenge to get a home-cooked dinner on the table at a reasonable time. Pulling the children away from their toys, getting them seated at the table, cutting up their meal, blowing on food that is too hot, and calling my husband away from his work can be exhausting.

Sometimes you just need to re-post tips that were great to read. I find myself saying this quite often when it comes to The Gottman Institute. They are some of the leading relationship experts in our country, and the research they did on trustworthiness is very informative.

Meeting friends for dinner after work, grabbing coffee with your girlfriend or just ordering pizza on a Friday night with neighbors. We all have a deep desire to be connected in a world that often forgets the importance of relationships. Many of us have the desire to entertain, but we let our circumstances keep us from extending hospitality. Often it revolves around our lack of confidence in our ability to host events. I get this!

A perfect entertaining year for me would be hosting a different themed party each month! Will I do that? No. Will I dream about it? Yes! If I cannot have a party every 4 weeks, I can at least help my Lisa Lou family with ideas so hopefully a few of you can carry the torch of hospitality for the rest of us.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

  • Lisa Lou

4th of July Recipes

I love celebrating the 4th of July! I have so many memories over the years of bike parades, money dives, and belly flop contests at the neighborhood pool. As well as helping my mom prepare for a big family cookout. At night, we would dress in our most festive red, white, and blue attire, stuff ourselves full of BBQ, and eagerly anticipate the main event – fireworks! Since coronavirus hit this year, many of those celebrations will be cancelled or socially distanced. Although the holiday will not be quite the same, there are still fun ways to celebrate our nation’s birth. Our family is planning a stay-at-home celebration with a backyard cookout featuring a festive red, white, and blue themed menu. There are fabulous options available this time of year with delicious seasonal produce. Posted are recipes for the starter and dessert along with ideas for an easy main menu. Enjoy!

MENU

For starters:

Burrata with roasted tomatoes

For the main course:

Blue-cheese burgers

BBQ chicken

Red skinned potato salad

Sliced watermelon

For dessert:

Pretzel Crust Key Lime Pie



RECIPES

Burrata with roasted tomatoes - serves 6-8

To make the roasted tomatoes:

2 pints cherry tomatoes, assorted colors, and sizes if available

4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 t. fresh thyme

¼ t. crushed red pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ cup olive oil

1 t. balsamic vinegar

2 balls burrata cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the first five ingredients in the olive oil and place in a small roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 25 minutes until they begin to soften and blacken in spots.

While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare the burrata. Place 2 balls of cheese on a large platter. When tomatoes are warm and bubbly, remove from oven and immediately pour over the cheese. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top of the tomatoes and garnish with fresh herbs such as chopped thyme or basil.

Enjoy with crackers or a toasted baguette.

Note: Burrata cheese is also delicious for dessert with watermelon and fresh mint, roasted peaches with brown sugar or strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar. These options would be good with toasted bread or grilled pound cake.


Pretzel Crust Key Lime Pie – serves 8-10

Crust:

1 ½ cups finely ground graham crackers

1 ½ cups finely ground graham crackers

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted

1 t. sugar

Key Lime Filling:

1 ¼ cups freshly lime juice (can use either Key Limes or regular limes)

1 T. finely grated lime peel

2 14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk

2 large eggs

Whipped Cream:

2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled

½ cup powdered sugar

1 t. vanilla

Fresh berries for garnish

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray an 11 inch by 1-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray.

Using a food processor, crush graham crackers and pretzels until finely ground. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse to combine. This mixture should resemble wet sand. Press the crumbs into tart pan, covering bottom and sides evenly.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sweetened condensed milk together. Add lime juice and lime peel until thoroughly mixed. Pour filling into prepared crust.

Bake pie for 35 minutes until filling is set and crust is slightly browned. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet to prevent spilling since the crust will be very full. Remove pie from oven and let cool before refrigerating. Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Right before serving, whip the cream then garnish decoratively. Serve with a mixture of fresh berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

Mother/Daughter Contributors

Mom: Lisa O’Connor and Daughters: Megan and Allie