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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

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

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