Our Monthly Newsletter


How Do I Love Thee?

Robert was an unknown writer. One day, he ran across a volume of poetry that moved him so much, he wrote to the author: “I love your verses with all my heart, dear…”

The author of the poetry, Elizabeth, was flattered, but let him know she had survived a childhood disease that left her unable to breathe correctly. She spent most of her time at home, and her strict father did not want her in a relationship. She had plenty of money, but no love in her life.

Although Elizabeth remained distant, she fell in love through Robert’s poetry. He painted a picture of the two of them on long walks; he described their home, their children. Letter by letter, he created a relationship with her through his writing.

One winter afternoon, Elizabeth sat at the window seat, reading her dear friend’s love letters yet again when she glanced outside. It was a cold day, but sunny, with a snap in the air. Without a second thought, she pulled on her boots, grabbed her coat, and walked straight outside.

She continued down the road, and as she walked, she recited her beloved’s poetry, long since learned by heart. The walk changed her life.

When she got home, she wrote to Robert that she was ready to take action and within the year, they had a small wedding, then left for Italy on a honeymoon that never ended. Although they called each other husband and wife, we know them as the famous poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning.

For the next 15 years, they worked together and produced some of the most romantic poetry ever written. Truly, love conquers all.

Elisa McNinch

Our Featured Listings

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“Let us always meet each other with a smile, the beginning of love.”  ~ Mother Teresa

Fight the Good Fight

Have you ever gotten into a fight, and then wondered whether it was worth the bother? Being an adult means choosing your battles carefully. One of the hardest aspects of maintaining healthy relationships is deciding when to fight about something and when to simply let things go.

There are many times that letting go of something is the right thing to do – for everyone involved. However, if someone is violating your space or assaulting your integrity, you need to defend your territory. Listen to your anger without giving in to it.

Psychotherapist Paula Hall gives these tips on the BBC Web site for keeping the peace and fighting fairly:

  • Develop your self-awareness. Be ready to assume responsibility for that which is rightfully yours. Check your conscience for reasons you might be fighting and be honest with yourself. Make sure you’re just not protecting your pride.
  • Believe the best about the other person… until you have a real reason not to. Giving your opponent the benefit of the doubt is the right thing to do.
  • Consider the effect of other influences. Are you stressed, tired, sick, or hungry? How much do you believe these factors have to do with the fight?
  • Stay calm. Don’t fall into the trap of sulking, blaming, or being overly critical.
  • Truly listen to what the other person is saying. Admit when the other person has a valid point


It’s that time of year again… Time to check and/or change out the batteries in your smoke alarms. Still think there is a little life left in the old ones? Use them in a less crucial device to save money without risking the lives of your friends and family.

International Beans

Planning on giving your sweetie a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day? According to thechocolatewebsite, there is international history in that box!

In roughly 1527, Spanish explorer Cortès brought cacao beans, equipment, and recipes for preparing chocolate from Mexico to the Spanish court of King Charles V.

It made a profitable industry for Spain, which planted cocoa trees in its overseas colonies. Conveniently, the Spanish had taken over many Caribbean islands, and on those islands was sugar.

Over the next 60 years, small but noticeable changes were made in how chocolate was prepared. Spanish nuns in Oaxaca, Mexico were the first to sweeten chocolate with honey, cinnamon, and cane sugar, making the drink popular with colonials. For many Europeans, drinking chocolate was an acquired taste.

Around 1641, cocoa was introduced to Germany by a German scientist named Johann Georg Voldkammer, who discovered it in Naples, Italy. The Germans instituted the habit of a cup of hot chocolate before bedtime. By 1657, the first chocolate house was opened in London…by a Frenchman! Coffee houses were already popular; now one could go to a chocolate house to have a drink and talk over cards. Eventually, the chocolate drinks began to include milk and cinnamon.

By the turn of the 18th century, chocolate had made its way back to the Americas. In little more than a decade, Massachusetts sea captains were bringing back cargoes of cocoa beans. Boston apothecary shops were advertising and selling chocolate imported from Europe. In 1861, Richard Cadbury created the first known heart-shaped candy box for Valentine’s Day.

Sweet Blueberry Dessert Pizza

By Land O’ Lakes

Blueberry Dessert Pizza Recipe

Check out this delicious and genre-bending recipe from Landolakes.com.  There’s an enormous variety of different sweet topping combinations that you can try to enhance and personalize this treat as you would on a normal pizza.  Just don’t go adding pepperoni and mozzarella!


Complimentary Colors

February 6th is international Pay-a-Compliment day! Sure, it can be embarrassing for some to openly talk to a stranger, but if you think about the extra bounce you feel in your step when someone pays you a compliment, it might give you the motivation to glance around for someone who could use a bit of recognition.

Look for the most introverted person in the room and see how fast you can make them smile. After all, kindness is free, and you can change someone’s entire day just by reaching out to them.

Are you the sort of person who walks right up and talks to anyone? Try to double your kind comments today and hand out a few compliments to people who might not normally be on your list for small talk. Or, hang on to this idea and try to give out a compliment every day in February.

Tell a Story, See Results

One of the greatest conversational storytellers of all time was Abraham Lincoln. He once explained to a friend why he so often fell to storytelling while holding conversations: “They say I tell a great many stories. I reckon I do; but I have learned from long experience that most people, take them as they run, are more easily influenced through the medium of a broad and humorous illustration than in any other way…”

Likewise, when you want to get your point across to someone, often the best way to do it is to tell a story. Think about when you meet with your friends over a long dinner or catch up at a warm coffee shop, what is it you enjoy? Likely the answer is the stories and the anecdotes about your lives that you share.

Think of that same storytelling scenario the next time you need to explain something in a business situation. That same approach can work in different settings.

If you have achieved any level of success, then pour it into someone else. Success is not success without a successor.  ~ T.D. Jakes

DIY: Mail Holder

Check out this article from southernliving.com on how to make a stylish mail holder.  In a well curated home, the daily clutter of unanswered mail can be a sore sight, so why not place it in something that enhances your home decor?


Communication 101

The I’s have it – when you’re talking about a touchy subject, it’s usually a good idea to use the word “I” instead of “you.”

For example, if your co-worker Tom frequently uses the copy machine and does not refill the empty paper tray, instead of saying, “Tom, you always leave the copy machine empty,” you might try the following, “Tom, I get annoyed that I often have to interrupt my workflow to fill the copy machine with paper.” Chances are, it will divert accusation.

It’s also a good idea to stay away from all- encompassing words – “Tom, I always have to fill the copy machine.” He’s likely put paper in the machine at least once, and because of that, he will be able to throw the example out and dampen the credibility of your observation.

Be Your Own Friend

Callie Khouri, the screenwriter of the classic hit film Thelma and Louise, suggests this reality check to see if you are being too hard on yourself.

In a commencement speech she gave at Sweet Briar College, she had this to say: “Would you say to a friend the kind of things that you say to yourself? For instance, let’s say you, like I, perpetually misplace your keys… Do you, when looking for your keys, find yourself saying things to yourself like, ‘Why can’t you just figure out how to put them in one place? I can’t believe how STUPID you are!’

Or do you say, ‘Now, let’s see, where would someone who’s got something important on her mind leave her keys?’

See what I’m getting at? Don’t listen to things from yourself that you wouldn’t accept from a friend. You wouldn’t want a friend who wasn’t supportive, so don’t accept any less from yourself. You’re only human, so learn to forgive yourself the little things, and do the best you can on the big things. No one is perfect and expecting perfection from yourself or anyone else is a waste of time.”

Post Haste

The ubiquitous Post-it note can be mighty persuasive, according to a study by psychology professor Randy Garner at Sam Houston University in Texas.

Participants were given a survey; some of the packets handed out had a handwritten note on the cover of the survey, and some packets had Post-it notes with a handwritten note written on it. Garner found that participants were more likely to comply and fill out the survey if there was a handwritten note on a Post-it.

Not only that, but participants also returned the materials more promptly, and they gave higher quality responses. The research points to the conclusion that requests made on Post-its are interpreted as a request for a personal favor, and people are therefore more likely to comply with requests written on them, even if the person making the request is a total stranger.

Chores Work

Kids usually hate doing chores, but it’s an important part of growing up. That’s what Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult and former dean of freshmen at Stanford University, said in an interview that was reviewed on the People magazine website.

Tech Insider also says that children who do chores grow up to be more independent at work. In particular, they’re good at spotting when their co-workers are dealing with tasks that are challenging.

By making them do chores – taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry – they realize ‘I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life,’ ” Lythcott-Haims says.


If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them,” says Lythcott-Haims. “…they’re absolved of not only the work, but of learning that work has to be done and that each one of us must contribute for the sake of the whole.

January 2020 Trivia Answer

Question:  What is the world’s biggest island?

Answer:  Greenland

Congratulations to Ashley LopezYour name was randomly selected from all of the correct entries. You won a $50 gift card to one of the following: Amazon.com, Academy, Target, Khol’s, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, HEB grocery, Willie’s Icehouse, OR Pappas restaurants. Your choice!

February 2020 Trivia Question

Question:  Major League Baseball began (as the National League) in February of what year?

Everyone who contacts Elisa via email (elisa@brunerteam.com) or phone (832-746-7911) with the correct answer by February 20th will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to one of the following: Amazon.com, Academy, Target, Khol’s, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, HEB grocery, Willie’s Icehouse, OR Pappas restaurants. Your choice!