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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.

When attending a party, there are certain expectations we have of our hostess. We will enjoy and appreciate everything she has done, but we do assume there will be food and drinks. We would also like a clean bathroom and a home that does not smell like the local pet store. What some people forget is there are also expectations of the guest.

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.

Attire: Shabby Chic; Razzle Dazzle; Cowboy Couture


WHAT????

Word to hostesses: when listing the attire on the invitation for your party, make it clear. Do not let your creative thoughts have you writing a description that requires an interpreter.  We do not want to force our guests to solve a riddle to understand what is expected of them. There is a phrase I like to quote, “To be unclear is to be unkind.”

There is something special we feel when we receive an invitation. It is the anticipation of a celebration, the excitement of choosing what to wear, but more importantly, it is the affirmation that tells us, “I was chosen!” We know a hostess has responsibilities to ensure her party is a success, but did you know there are expectations of the guests? And your first job begins when you receive an invitation that says RSVP.

Do you believe there is a creator behind this painting, or did it create itself? I believe if I polled 1,000 people, 100% would say, “Of course, there is a creator. That’s common sense.” Do you believe there is a Creator behind this picture? If I polled 1,000 people with the same question, stats show I would not receive 100% agreement that there was a Creator behind this picture.

People are returning to work, which means many of us will be navigating changes that would otherwise seem mundane. Elevator etiquette? Did you know there was such a thing? Below are 9 basic reminders when riding the lift. I have thrown in a few exceptions while we live in a COVID world. 

Throughout history we have seen God place people in power that made us say, “What is He thinking?” Yet God clearly reminds us in Isaiah that the way He thinks is far beyond what we can sometimes understand. In a child’s eyes, a parent giving her yucky medicine when she already feels poorly can seem cruel. “Why would Mommy make me take this?” The child lives in her “here and now” moment of life, yet the parent sees the big picture. The mother knows what is best for the child, even when the child does not understand. 

Our 4-part series on living as Christians in a political world was written in response to questions I have been receiving on knowing how to separate truth from lies, when to engage in our political system, and the most effective way to stay informed. In Part 1 we learned the biblical formula for seeking truth. In Part 2 we discussed the importance of knowing your foundation. In this post, Part 3, I will provide you with 7 practical tips I use to find truth in our news driven world. 

We are living in a time where many do not know who or what to believe. It seems our national 24-hour news media seeks ratings more than they seek truth (regardless of which way their bias leans). Many journalists receive bonuses based on how many clicks their story receives, and companies earn more advertising revenue if they can show a high click-through rate on articles. It has become too common to read endless bait-and-switch headlines.

“How do I know what is real? How do I know truth when I see it? I want to stay informed, but where do I turn when I feel every news source is somehow deceiving me?”


Giving you tips on hosting a Halloween party during COVID is sure easier than tackling subjects on news, politics, and finding truth. Yet these are the questions filling my inbox. 

Does this blog seem early? Did you know we only have 10 weeks before we move into December? It is time to start planning!
1. Decide how much you can spend. If you have a $500 budget and 10 people you need to give gifts, then you can only spend $50 a person.

Halloween in 2020 will be different than past years, but there are still ways to enjoy this festive start to the holiday season. This blog may seem early, but October 31st is only 7 weeks away! It is time to start planning. Below are my top 10 ideas for a jovial and happy start to your fall celebrations.

  • 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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