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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

Braised Short Ribs Taste Test

Happy Foodie Friday! This recipe comes courtesy of Penny and Eleazar Martinez.

We hope you enjoy!

I have one word to describe this recipe: WOW! My husband got home while the ribs were cooking in the oven. He was on the phone with someone, but right when he walked through the door, he stopped in mid sentence and his jaw dropped because the house was filled with the smell of ribs!

I can confidently say that the braised short ribs is the best meal I have ever cooked. I have never made ribs before, and I have to admit, I was a little intimidated before going into this recipe. Not only were the ribs incredibly delicious, but it turned out to be very simple to make. If you're not very experienced with chopping, I do recommend giving yourself a bit of time before to get all of your ingredients together. That way when it's time for you to start, everything is ready to go!

Braised Short Ribs
Download PDF • 2.49MB

Makes 16 servings

Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 2.5 hours


*5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces

*Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

*3 tablespoons vegetable oil

*3 medium onions, chopped

*3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped

*2 celery stalks, chopped

*3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

*1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)

*1 tablespoon tomato paste

*10 sprigs parsley

*8 sprigs thyme

*4 sprigs oregano

*2 sprigs rosemary

*2 fresh or dried bay leaves

*1 head of garlic, halved crosswise

*4 cups low-salt beef stock


*Preheat oven to 350F.

*Season short ribs with salt and pepper.

*Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high.

*Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch.

*Transfer short ribs to a plate and pour off all but 3 tablespoons drippings from pot.

*Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes.

*Add flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red. About 2-3 minutes.

*Stir in wine, then add short ribs back in the pot with all those good juices!

*Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes.

*Add all herbs to pot along with garlic.

*Stir in beef stock.

*Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to oven.

*Cook until short ribs are tender, 2–2½ hours.

*Transfer short ribs to a platter.

*Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup.

*Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard.

*Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

*Serve in shallow bowls.

Recipe and Taste Tester - Cecelia Zook