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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.

Decor Ideas:
1. Use a decorative wine bucket filled with flowers as your table centerpiece. This works if you have a separate table where you will place the food. If the wine tasting is conducted at one table where your guests are sitting, then you need lower height decorations where everyone can see over the arrangements. Use wine glasses randomly placed down the table with sprigs of flowers in them. 

  • Cecelia Zook

White Bean and Mushroom Soup Taste Test

Updated: Jul 10


Happy Foodie Friday! This recipe review and taste test 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!


What a fun time I had making the White Bean and Mushroom Soup! It was incredibly easy to make and an absolutely delicious starter to a wonderful meal. I made one minor change to the recipe by substituting 3 teaspoons of garlic powder with 4 cloves of garlic. I added the cloves to the cooking sheet still in the shell which we removed prior to adding them in the blender along with the other veggies. Being a longtime lover of mushroom soup, I was shocked to see that this was a completely clean meal. It is gluten and dairy-free and can be made vegetarian or vegan by swapping chicken broth with vegetable broth. It was a very filling soup, so I would recommend having smaller servings. I decided to garnish the soup with fresh parsley, but the soup is so versatile that you could top it with anything like avocado, a dollop of sour cream, or, if you're adventurous, jalapeños. I can't wait to serve this soup at my next gathering! 


Additionally, I have no clue where that stick of butter came from in the ingredient picture. Butter is my most used ingredient so I usually just have it always lying around when I cook. I guess it was just natural for me to put it in an ingredient picture. That should show you how shocked I was that there was no butter included and I always thought there had been - that's how good it is!



White Bean and Mushroom Soup
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Download PDF • 1.58MB

Makes 6 Servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Cost: $15, but I used my own fresh herbs. If I purchased fresh thyme and sage, it would be around $23.


Ingredients:

1 pound mushrooms, halved or quartered

2 large sweet onions, quartered

3 cloves of garlic (I like garlic so I put 4 cloves)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, divided

8-10 fresh sage leaves

8-10 stems + 1 tablespoon leaves fresh thyme, divided

48 ounces chicken broth (vegetable broth can be substituted for a vegetarian version)

45 ounces canned white beans, not drained (cannellini beans)

Additional salt and pepper for seasoning


Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450F.

Arrange mushrooms, garlic and onion separately in single layer on large baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Toss to coat, keeping mushrooms separate from garlic and onions. Add sage leaves and stems of thyme on top of the mushrooms.

Roast at 450F in oven for 10 minutes.

Toss and roast for additional 15 minutes.

While vegetables are roasting, add broth, beans, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves to a large stock pot and simmer over medium heat, about 5 minutes.

When vegetables are done roasting, let cool slightly.

Retrieve 2 cups of the white beans and 1 cup of broth from the stock pot. Add to a blender along with the roasted onions, garlic and herbs.

Cover and blend until smooth.


Notes:

There were about 2 cups of broth and 1 cup of beans left over after taking out some broth and beans to blend with the veggies. The recipe doesn't say what to do with what's left in the pot, so I decided to use this in another meal for dinner tonight!


I learned that some soup recipes have you add the puree back to the extra broth. This wasn't clear in the recipe, so I'm not sure if that's what I was supposed to do. Looking back, I think that's what the recipe wanted me to do.


Recipe and Taste Tester - Cecelia Zook

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