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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

Chilled White Peach Gazpacho & Camembert and Fig Salad Taste Test

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

We hope you enjoy!

There's nothing like a chilled gazpacho and fig salad on a hot day! These two recipes were a breeze to make and filled with delightful flavors and pair beautifully with a glass of Moscato d'Asti and Riesling. The gazpacho has ingredients that wonderfully compliment each other to make a light, sweet, yet tangy taste. My favorite part about this recipe was the unique balance of the vinegar, lime, hot sauce, and sugar. The fig salad is also incredibly flavorful with the bite of the blood orange vinaigrette and the sweetness of the fresh fig. Fig and prosciutto is one of my favorite pairings, and I was so excited to try them together in a salad. I was not disappointed!

Chilled White Peach Gazpacho

Chilled White Peach Gazpacho
Download PDF • 2.40MB

Makes 12 Servings

Time: About 30-45 minutes depending on chopping skills


*3 cups sliced, peeled fresh or frozen peaches (thawed)**

*3 medium yellow tomatoes, chopped**

*1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped

*1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped**

*1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

*1 garlic clove, minced

*1/3 cup lime juice

*2 tablespoons rice vinegar

*1 teaspoon salt

*1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

*1 to 3 teaspoons sugar, optional

**Buy additional peaches, cucumber and tomatoes (about 1 cup of each), if you would like to add as a garnish.


*Place the first six ingredients in a food processor; process until blended.

*Add lime juice, vinegar, salt and hot pepper sauce. (Add sugar, if desired.)

*Process until smooth.

*Refrigerate, covered, at least 4 hours.

*Top servings with additional chopped peaches, cucumber and tomatoes (used as garnish, so may omit.)

Camembert and Fig Salad

Camembert and Fig Salad
Download PDF • 2.40MB

Makes 5 Servings

Time: 30 minutes


*4 ounces Feta or smoked gouda cheese, in pieces

*5 fresh figs, cut into quarters

*4 tablespoon shaved toasted almonds

*6 each thin slices prosciutto di Parma, cut into large pieces

*4 cups spring mix of lettuce

*Blood Orange Vinaigrette, as needed (recipe below)

Ingredients for the Blood Orange Vinaigrette:

*1/2 cup fresh blood orange or orange juice

*1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

*1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

*1 ½ cups olive oil

*2 tablespoons honey

*1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation: *For the vinaigrette place all the ingredients in a blender and process on medium speed for 10 seconds.

*Pour into a saucer container and reserve until needed.

*Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss to blend nicely.

*Place a handful of salad on a plate making sure to have 4 to 5 pieces of figs in each plate.

*Drizzle the vinaigrette on top of salad.

Recipe and Taste Tester - Cecelia Zook