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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

Lemon and Basil Crème Brulee Tart Taste Test

Happy Foodie Friday! This recipe review and taste test come courtesy of Penny and Eleazar Martinez.

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!

There's nothing I love more than a tangy, sweet treat at the end of a fantastic meal. I am very rarely someone to skip dessert after dinner. As my husband and his family always say, "There's always room in the hotel for dessert!" I truly do not remember the last time I baked before trying out this recipe. My sister turned out to be the baker of the family, so when I'm with her, I never have to worry about one of the rooms in my hotel being vacant. After baking the Lemon and Basil Creme Brulee Tart, I have realized she might have some competition! This recipe was a breeze to make using two ingredients I have never tried together before: lemon and basil. They compliment each other beautifully to create a fluffy, tangy, creamy treat. In the beginning I found myself a bit intimidated since I have mostly only baked brownies out of a box, but then I realized how simple it really was. If you are an inexperienced baker like I am, I would recommend going over the recipe a few times to understand the steps so you can execute it without a hitch.

Download PDF • 1.59MB

Makes 8 Servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Bake/Cool Time: 35 minutes

Cost: About $15.00


*Pre-baked graham cracker pie crust/shell

*1 1/2 cups heavy cream

*1 bunch of basil, chopped

*4 egg yolks, plus one whole egg

*Zest of two lemons

*Pinch of salt

*3 lemons, juiced

*1/2 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons sugar


*Heat the cream with the basil over medium heat until hot but not boiling.

*Let the basil steep in the cream for 20 minutes, then discard basil and set aside to cool.

*Meanwhile, whisk together yolks, whole egg, 1/2 cup of sugar, then lemon zest and salt in a quart measuring cup.

*Whisk the mixture from the quart measuring cup into the basil cream until smooth.

*Strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps.

*Place tart shell in a 4 sided sheet pan. Then pour custard into shell. Now add water to the sheet pan (1 inch high).

*Bake until just set but still slightly wobbly in center, 30 to 35 minutes. (I baked it at 350F for 35 minutes)

*Remove tart from sheet pan and set aside to cool.

*Prior to serving, sprinkle 3 remaining tablespoons sugar evenly over top of tart.

*With a culinary torch, evenly distribute heat until sugar is caramelized. (If you do not have a torch, you can broil in oven or just skip this step).

Recipe and Taste Tester - Cecelia Zook