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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.

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.

  • 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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