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When attending a party, there are certain expectations we have of our hostess. We will enjoy and appreciate everything she has done, but we do assume there will be food and drinks. We would also like a clean bathroom and a home that does not smell like the local pet store. What some people forget is there are also expectations of the guest.

Giving a party, of any type, requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost between $15-$30, but there are less expensive things you can find at the local discount store.

Attire: Shabby Chic; Razzle Dazzle; Cowboy Couture


WHAT????

Word to hostesses: when listing the attire on the invitation for your party, make it clear. Do not let your creative thoughts have you writing a description that requires an interpreter.  We do not want to force our guests to solve a riddle to understand what is expected of them. There is a phrase I like to quote, “To be unclear is to be unkind.”

There is something special we feel when we receive an invitation. It is the anticipation of a celebration, the excitement of choosing what to wear, but more importantly, it is the affirmation that tells us, “I was chosen!” We know a hostess has responsibilities to ensure her party is a success, but did you know there are expectations of the guests? And your first job begins when you receive an invitation that says RSVP.

Do you believe there is a creator behind this painting, or did it create itself? I believe if I polled 1,000 people, 100% would say, “Of course, there is a creator. That’s common sense.” Do you believe there is a Creator behind this picture? If I polled 1,000 people with the same question, stats show I would not receive 100% agreement that there was a Creator behind this picture.

People are returning to work, which means many of us will be navigating changes that would otherwise seem mundane. Elevator etiquette? Did you know there was such a thing? Below are 9 basic reminders when riding the lift. I have thrown in a few exceptions while we live in a COVID world. 

Throughout history we have seen God place people in power that made us say, “What is He thinking?” Yet God clearly reminds us in Isaiah that the way He thinks is far beyond what we can sometimes understand. In a child’s eyes, a parent giving her yucky medicine when she already feels poorly can seem cruel. “Why would Mommy make me take this?” The child lives in her “here and now” moment of life, yet the parent sees the big picture. The mother knows what is best for the child, even when the child does not understand. 

Our 4-part series on living as Christians in a political world was written in response to questions I have been receiving on knowing how to separate truth from lies, when to engage in our political system, and the most effective way to stay informed. In Part 1 we learned the biblical formula for seeking truth. In Part 2 we discussed the importance of knowing your foundation. In this post, Part 3, I will provide you with 7 practical tips I use to find truth in our news driven world. 

We are living in a time where many do not know who or what to believe. It seems our national 24-hour news media seeks ratings more than they seek truth (regardless of which way their bias leans). Many journalists receive bonuses based on how many clicks their story receives, and companies earn more advertising revenue if they can show a high click-through rate on articles. It has become too common to read endless bait-and-switch headlines.

“How do I know what is real? How do I know truth when I see it? I want to stay informed, but where do I turn when I feel every news source is somehow deceiving me?”


Giving you tips on hosting a Halloween party during COVID is sure easier than tackling subjects on news, politics, and finding truth. Yet these are the questions filling my inbox. 

Does this blog seem early? Did you know we only have 10 weeks before we move into December? It is time to start planning!
1. Decide how much you can spend. If you have a $500 budget and 10 people you need to give gifts, then you can only spend $50 a person.

Halloween in 2020 will be different than past years, but there are still ways to enjoy this festive start to the holiday season. This blog may seem early, but October 31st is only 7 weeks away! It is time to start planning. Below are my top 10 ideas for a jovial and happy start to your fall celebrations.

Decor Ideas:
1. Use a decorative wine bucket filled with flowers as your table centerpiece. This works if you have a separate table where you will place the food. If the wine tasting is conducted at one table where your guests are sitting, then you need lower height decorations where everyone can see over the arrangements. Use wine glasses randomly placed down the table with sprigs of flowers in them. 

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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

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