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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

Rosemary Crusted Filet of Beef and Asparagus


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!


As soon as I read this delicious recipe I was sold! Between the colorful and flavorful herbs and the butter-soaked filet, it was definitely a dinner to remember. My husband and I love cooking filets and always enjoy trying something new. We had never covered our filets in a buttery herb spread, but we will from now on! The red wine sauce really brought everything together. It was rich, creamy, flavorful, and simple. The recipe had all the steps clearly laid out so it was very easy to follow. The asparagus was the cherry on top because it only took minutes to make while the tenderloin was resting. We decided to add mashed potatoes to our meal, but it also would have paired nicely with some mac and cheese, roasted potatoes, or grain rice. 


Rosemary Crusted Filet of Beef
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Makes 6 Servings

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Cost: About $45, depending on the size and price of the beef tenderloin


Ingredients for Filet:

*8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

*2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced

*2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced

*2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced

*2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced

*2 garlic cloves

*Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

*1 beef tenderloin, about 4 pounds


Preparation for Filet:

*Preheat oven to 450°F.

*Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

*In a food processor combine the butter, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, garlic and a large pinch each of salt and pepper.

*Pulse until the mixture is creamy and the garlic is minced and blended into the butter.

*Place the beef tenderloin on the prepared baking sheet.

*Rub the herb butter over the entire surface of the meat (silicone spatula works best).

*Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 130F for medium-rare, 40 to 45 minutes (or until done to your liking).

*Transfer the tenderloin to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

*Cut the tenderloin into 1/2 inch thick slices and arrange on a platter. Place 3 slices on each plate.


Ingredients for the Red Wine Sauce:

*1 bottle of your favorite California red wine (preferably a Cabernet)

*1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

*1 sprig rosemary

*1 cup beef stock

*1 tablespoon butter

*Salt and pepper, to taste


Preparation for the Red Wine Sauce:

*For the red wine sauce, reserve 1 tablespoon of the steak drippings and place in a pot over medium heat.

*Add red wine, balsamic vinegar, rosemary sprig and thyme sprigs, bring mixture to a rapid bowl.

*Allow wine mixture to reduce until thickened, about 1/4 cup, 3 to 5 minutes.

*Add in beef stock and bring to a rapid boil until the sauce is reduced and thickened to about 1/2 cup, about 4 to 5 minutes.

*Remove rosemary and thyme, discard.

*Turn off heat and whisk in 1 tablespoon of butter.

*Taste the red wine sauce and season with more salt and pepper as desired.

*Garnish steaks with chopped thyme, rosemary and parsley a few minutes before serving.

*Place red wine sauce in separate bowl for guests to use as they wish.



Aspargus
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Ingredients:

*Thick asparagus (you choose quantity of spears)

*Oil, as needed

*Salt and black pepper, to taste

*1 teaspoon garlic powder


Preparation:

*Trim 1 inch off the asparagus from the root side.

*Peel the asparagus and coat with remainder of ingredients (easiest to do this on a sheet pan.)

*Stir well and cook on the grill for 3 to 5 minutes. (Can be cooked in the oven under the broiler for 2 to 4 minutes.)


Recipe and Taste Tester - Cecelia Zook

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