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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

S’mores with Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows 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!


Wow! These marshmallows are absolutely a treat. They turned out as the fluffiest dessert I've ever consumed. The vanilla flavor is strong, which I love, and gives the s'mores a dimension that isn't usually present with the store-bought variety. A tried and true summer and campout classic, this s'more tasted more like something you'd find at a starred restaurant.


A few years back a friend introduced me to using Whole Foods Milk Chocolate instead of the usual Hersheys, and this is one thing I HIGHLY recommend. The chocolate is much more flavorful and enhances the whole experience.


If you make the homemade marshmallows (which are insanely delicious) just be careful when heating, they dissolved and melted much faster than store-bought marshmallows, and I was left with a bit of a sticky mess. I visited three different stores and they were all out of corn syrup so I substituted agave syrup. This could have caused the extra stickiness. If you're able to find corn syrup, definitely opt for that. Overall, these tasted amazing and you're in for a real treat!


S'mores with homemade vanilla marshmallo
Download • 1.90MB

Makes 16 servings

Preparation Time: 4 hours 15 minutes (With 3 hours rest)

Cooking Time: 10 Minutes

Cost: $17 (If you make the homemade marshmallows)


Ingredients for S'mores:

*1 box graham crackers

*8 milk chocolate bars (Recommend Whole Foods Milk Chocolate)

*Homemade marshmallows (Ok, we are getting fancy here. You can always just use

store bought marshmallows, but these homemade ones are awesome!)


Ingredients for Homemade Marshmallows:

*Vegetable oil, for brushing

*4 envelopes unflavored powder gelatin (3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons)

*3 cups granulated sugar

*1 1/4 cups light corn syrup

*1/4 teaspoon salt

*2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

*1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar


Preparation:

*Brush a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with oil.

*Line with parchment, allowing a 2 inch overhang on the long sides. Brush parchment with oil, set aside.

*Put granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 3/4 cup water into a medium saucepan.

*Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

*Cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 238F on a candy thermometer, about 9 minutes.

*Meanwhile, put 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle with gelatin.

*Let soften 5 minutes.

*Attach bowl with gelatin to a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

*With mixer on low speed, beat hot syrup into gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high. Beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes.

*Beat in vanilla.

*Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with a spatula.

*Set aside, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours.

*Sift 1 cup confectioner’s sugar onto a work surface.

*Unmold marshmallow onto confectioner’s sugar, remove parchment.

*Lightly brush a sharp knife with oil, then cut marshmallow into 2-inch squares. (Oiled knife keeps from sticking to marshmallows.)

*Sift remaining 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar into a small bowl and roll each marshmallow in sugar to coat.


For S' mores:

*Light fire.

*Break graham crackers and chocolate into squares.

*Roast marshmallow on a stick until light brown.

*Sandwich chocolate and marshmallow between two graham crackers.


Recipe and Taste Tester - Alina Gersib

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