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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.

  • Cecelia Zook

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake Taste Test



Happy Foodie Friday! These recipes come courtesy of Penny and Eleazar Martinez.

www.thefrankincensetree.com

info@thefrankincensetree.com

We hope you enjoy!


While baking this recipe, I had no idea how it was going to turn out because it seemed too easy. Little did I know, it would turn out to be my favorite recipe I’ve ever baked! Not only was it incredibly easy, but the entire experience from baking it to eating it was enjoyable. There is a wonderful balance of the bitter oranges on the top and the sweet orange zest in the batter. The cake was light, fluffy, and very moist - I couldn’t get enough! 



Blood Orange Upside Down Cake
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Makes 8 Servings

Preparation Time: 1 Hour

Cook Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes


Ingredients for the oranges:

*4 blood oranges (3 used for slices, the 4th for zest + juice)

*2/3 cup granulated or cane sugar

*5 tablespoons butter + additional for greasing the pan


Preparation of the pan and orange slices:

*Preheat oven to 350F.

*Butter a 9 inch cake pan well.

*Cut the 5 tablespoons of butter into small chunks and scatter them in the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

*Slice your blood oranges: cut each end off, then stand the orange on end and slice the outer skin off.

*Cut into thin slices. Set on a large plate and pour the 2/3 cup of sugar over them. Let sit for 5 minutes. Lay oranges in an even layer in the bottom of the pan and set aside.


Ingredients for the cake:

*1 stick butter, softened

*1 cup + 3 tablespoons cane or granulated sugar

*2 tablespoons brown sugar

*2 eggs

*Zest of one blood orange

*2 tablespoons orange juice

*1 teaspoon vanilla

*1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

*1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

*1/4 teaspoon salt

*1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream


Preparation for the cake batter:

*Cream softened butter in a large mixing bowl until smooth and creamy then add the sugar and mix until creamed together.

*Mix in one egg at a time.

*Add the orange zest, orange juice and vanilla and mix until combined.

*In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

*Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, 1/3 of the mixture at a time, alternating with the Greek yogurt.

*Pour batter over the oranges in the cake pan.


Ingredients for the crumb layer:

*1/3 cup all-purpose flour

*3 tablespoons white whole wheat flour (can substitute all-purpose flour)

*1/4 cup cane or granulated sugar

*4 tablespoons melted butter

*Pinch of salt


Preparation for the crumb topping:

*In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt.

*Add the melted butter and stir until different size crumbs form.

*Sprinkle the crumbs over the cake batter.


Preparation for the cake:

*Once the entire cake is prepared, bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

*When done, a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean.

*Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen, then invert cake onto a cooling rack. (Don't let it sit longer than this because the oranges can begin to stick in the bottom of the pan. If the cake seems to be sticking, gently, but firmly, tap on the bottom of the cake pan with the butt of a butter knife while the cake pan is flipped upside down on the cooling rack. If any stray oranges stick to the pan, gently remove them and place them back on the cake.)

*Let cake cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

*Store at room temperature for up to 4 days, tightly covered with foil, plastic wrap or in a large plastic container.


Recipe and Taste Tester - Cecelia Zook