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As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

How can you tell if someone will be successful? When I was in high school, they still had a category for a graduating senior titled: Voted Most Likely to Succeed. How, at 18-years-old, could classmates look at someone and say, “Yeah, I think they will be the most successful person in our graduating class.”

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

The way my husband structures his day is different from how I organize mine, but there is one thing we both do. We start with a morning routine. I make coffee, read the news while eating my breakfast, and then dive into an hour of bible study. Once I finish, I pull out my journal and plan my day. About 2 years ago I discovered an organizational method that resonated with me.

Remember as children, during holidays, we would spend what seemed like hours creating homemade craft projects for our parents? It might be a paper Christmas snowflake sprinkled with glitter or a cutout heart for Valentine’s Day. We would address it: To: Mom or To: Dad. We would sign our name, and this become the gift we gave our parents. The act of giving is how we should view all letters, especially a thank you note. We may not be cutting out cute hearts, but when we take time to put pen to paper and share a little of ourselves with someone else, we are giving a part of our heart to another.  

People give to make you feel loved and remembered. Sometimes gifts are given out of obligation, but mostly they are presented to honor a special relationship or occasion. No matter the reason, we need to know how to show our appreciation. Here are my 7 tips to become a gracious gift receiver.  

Table manners seem to be the area in which I receive most of my questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in handling an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction.

I recently bumped into a friend at the store, and as we began talking, she expressed how she struggles with the holidays. When January rolls around, she feels like she somehow “missed out.” I understand this feeling because I, too, have often felt this way. Life was so busy with the preparation of celebration, that I missed the joy that awaited each of us this time of year.

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party that looked scared to death, unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screaming, “I wish I was anywhere but here!” Entering a room full of people that you do not know can be intimidating. I get that. Yet, your entrance is important in displaying overall confidence and portraying a strong image.

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.

  • 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

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