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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.

  • Alina Gersib

Honey Poached Pears with Dark Chocolate Sauce Taste Test


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

www.thefrankincensetree.com

info@thefrankincensetree.com

Each of our Taste Test Reviews comes with the original recipe and the tester's notes/changes listed with the ingredient list in blue. We hope you enjoy!


This dessert is absolutely spectacular. The poached pear and chocolate blend together in a marvelous way to create a dish that pairs perfectly with the Sauvignon Blanc. The wine adds a crisp balance to the sweetness of the dish. On the more decadent side, my fiancé and I split one pear, and it was the perfect amount.


Make sure you read through the recipe before you begin as there are a few steps you will want to complete before starting. The pears need to chill for 2 hours before topping with chocolate so account for this extra sitting time. When it comes to making a double boiler one website suggested you can use two pots stacked, however, I would recommend a glass bowl on top of a pot so you can see how hot the water is below. I used a pot and my chocolate got a bit too hot and overly thick.



Honey Poached Pears with Dark Chocolate
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Download • 2.42MB

Makes 6 servings

Preparation Time: 15 Minutes + 2 Hours for chilling

Cook Time: 45 Minutes


Ingredients for Pears:

*6 Bosc pears, firm, with stem still attached (buy these firm and 3 days before you need them so they can ripen during this time).

*1 (750-ml) bottle dry vermouth

*1 cup water

*6 tablespoons honey

*1 pinch flaky salt, plus more to finish (Flaky salt is different than regular salt. You need flaky. Maldon is a good brand.)


Preparation for Pears:

*Find a pot that comfortably fits the 6 pears in a standing position (3-quart saucepan). Don’t add the pears, yet.

*Add the vermouth, water, honey and a pinch of salt to the pot.

*Set on the stove over medium heat to bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the honey dissolves.

*Peel the pears in big, long strips from the top to almost the bottom. Stem stays attached to the pear.

*Carefully add the pears to the simmering poaching liquid. Cover the pears with a lid that’s one size too small for the pot, so it helps to keep the pears submerged.

*Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer (boiling is too harsh for the fragile fruit).

*Simmer the pears, covered, for 10 to 25 minutes. (Mine took about 20 minutes)

*Turn them every so often so they cook evenly.

*After 10 minutes, start checking them often so they don’t overcook.

*To check: Pierce the bottom of the pear with a cake tester or toothpick; it should meet little resistance. Since the pears will continue to cook off the heat (thanks to carry-over cooking), you want them slightly less tender than you’d like to serve them.

*After you’ve removed the pears, raise the heat under the pot and bring sauce to a boil.

*Boil for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened into a syrupy consistency.

*Pour the syrup over the pears.

*Refrigerate until totally chilled, at least 2 hours.


Ingredients for Chocolate Sauce:

*8 ounces chopped dark semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

*7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

*1/2 cup sugar

*1/2 cup almond milk

*1/4 cup hot water

*1 teaspoon vanilla

*1 pinch salt


Preparation for Chocolate Sauce:

*Combine the first five ingredients in the top of a double boiler.

*Simmer on a medium low heat and stir until chocolate is smooth, about 5 minutes.

*Remove from heat and add vanilla and pinch of salt.


To Serve the Pears:

*Add each whole pear to a shallow bowl.

*Pour an even amount of syrup on top of each pear.



Recipe and Taste Tester - Alina Gersib

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