What is Your Tendency?

I am reading an interesting book right now in my book club Mrs. Twist Reads This (read more here).  The Four Tendencies by NYT best-selling author, Gretchen Rubin, is an indispensable personality profile that reveals how to make your life better, and other people’s lives, too.

During her multi-book investigation into human nature, Gretchen Rubin realized that by asking the suspiciously simple question “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain explosive self-knowledge.

She discovered that people fit into Four Tendencies:  Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels.  Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding this framework lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.

The first step is to determine what your tendency is.  Visit her website here to take a free, simple quiz.  After you have completed the quiz you will automatically learn your tendency.  Then dive into the book to learn more about how to use your tendency to become happier, healthier, more productive and more creative.  It will be fun to guess what other people are.  For example, I know that Mr. Bee is a Questioner.  I can’t tell you my tendency…you have to wait until book club night!

The Four Tendencies hold practical answers if you’ve ever wondered:

  • People rely on me, so why can’t I rely on myself?
  • Why do people tell me that I ask too many questions?
  • How do I work with someone who refuses to do what I ask – or one who keeps telling me what to do?
  • How do I stop by teenager from dropping out of school?
  • Why can’t I convince my patients to take their prescriptions?
  • How can my team become more effective, with less wasted time and conflict?

At our book club meeting on October 26 we are going to do a fun activity to learn what our tendencies are and help each other to harness our strengths.  Wanna join the fun?  Visit BookMovement, our book club website to sign up for a free account.  Use this invitation code to join our club, and whether you are local or far away, you can be a part of a community spending more time reading and less time using technology!

What Would Holley Wear: Fall Transition

For everything there is a season. This applies to fashion just as much as anything else in life.  Because fashion is divided into seasons, sometimes it can be challenging to keep up with. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the four seasons are determined by shifts in sunlight, which is determined by how our planet orbits the sun and the tilt of the axis.  

 So, two things:

…If you want to know what tilts my axis, it’s a new fashion season…

…and when you throw in a transitional season, then that makes me “fall” in love with the fashion seasons even more!

The beginning of fall was September 22 this year.  Sounds great, unless you live in Texas where it’s still in the 80’s and 90’s.  But please know….if there is a will, there is a way.  So, let’s talk about a few ways to transition into fall even when it’s still hot and humid outside.

The best way to transition to a new fashion season is with color.  The whole idea is to stay cool and comfortable.  One way to do that is by adding fall colors to your wardrobe.  Army green is a great autumn color. I love to stick with basics like a pair of army green pants worn with a white button-down shirt.  For some flair, drape a camouflage jacket over your shoulders (because we know it’s still too hot to actually wear it), and either brown sandals or animal print heels.  A cute pair of animal print block heels is the perfect complement to anything army green.  Even consider adding an army green statement necklace to your transitional wardrobe.

And of course when we think about fall, we think about the color orange…right?  You can continue wearing your bright orange pieces, but also consider adding a few rusty orange pieces to your fall style. There are two looks on our Pinterest board that I especially adore.  One is a bright orange Lavin one-shoulder top, taupe trousers from Zara, and purple Fendi sandals.  The other is a rust colored dress with a detailed black bag and purple platform shoes.  Did you know purple is another great fall transition color and pairs well with orange and army green?

Remember the “you can’t wear white after Labor Day” rule?  Thank goodness that rule is definitely out of style.  What’s your favorite fall color to pair with white?  One of my favorites is camel.  A polished fall transitional ensemble on our board is a camel coat worn over white pants with a long white top and nude heels.  A camel suede midi skirt with a white blouse is a perfect transition look for the fall.  Be sure to roll your sleeves up and drape your coat over your shoulders when it turns cool-ish outside.  And the icing on the cake is a camel JW Anderson pierced bag…one of fall’s new “it” bags.

A lot of times we think of blue as a spring and summer hue, but not anymore.  It’s a great time to start wearing denim again.  From jeans to jackets, this look is timeless.  A recent fall purchase I made was a car coat length denim jacket.  It looks so on-trend over a pair of white jeans worn with a pair of taupe block heels.  A crisp fall look to check out on our Pinterest board is a navy blue pin-striped pant suit worn by style star Miroslava Duma. Don’t you love how she matches her bag and shoes with a neutral beige? We are also crushing on a navy pleated midi skirt with a white tie shirt, and for a hint of fall, they added a Louis Vuitton brown clutch with a fur pom-pom. Beyond “fall-bulous!!!

A style trend from the spring and summer season was pleated metallic skirts.  Please don’t retire them to the back of your closet just yet because there are so many fun and stylish ways to re-purpose them for fall and winter.  A look that works in and out of the office is a silver metallic skirt, white blouse, black flats, and think about draping a cardigan sweater over your shoulders.  For a youthful vibe, re-purpose your metallic skirt by wearing it with a white t-shirt, denim jacket, and a pair of fashion sneakers.  Cute and comfortable!  Can’t beat that…right?  

Autumn in Texas is definitely not like the picturesque scenes of a New England countryside in the fall.  Though here’s the good news…you can easily add all the beautiful fall colors, textures, and layers to your wardrobe!  Don’t you just love a smooth transition?  

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, closet organization and wardrobe consultation.  Contact Holley at holleywilliams1@gmail.com.

What Would Holley Wear: Home Town Style

With the new school year, it brings back fun memories of my school days. Would you be surprised if I told you some of my favorite school memories have to do with fashion?  That’s right…even in a small town in south Arkansas, I found fashion inspiration!

 So, two things you need to know about girls from my home town:

…The most beautiful girls I ever knew were from my home town…

…and to this day, I still remember their style and how they inspired me!

I can actually go back as far as 1st grade and remember what girls were wearing.  My favorite fashion memory from my early elementary days was petticoats, and the way I remember it, Tamra Parker was the petticoat queen.  Today’s petticoat equal would be a tulle skirt. Don’t you just love it when designers teach an old fabric new tricks?  The good news is they are appropriate for all ages and come in all lengths and colors.  I love to wear a taupe tulle maxi skirt I purchased a few years ago with a denim shirt, add a wide brown belt, and top it with a jean jacket and flat brown boots.  And by the way, I’m definitely giving Tamara my “petticoat inspiration” award!

Growing up, my mom was a wonderful seamstress and made my clothes. My favorite back to school look was a plaid skirt or dress, complemented by a new book satchel.  I never tired of this look and even remember wearing a plaid mini skirt in high school.  I rolled the skirt up (after I left the house) and paired it with a blouse, sweater vest, knee socks and loafers.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Britney Spears….eat your heart out!?!   My favorite plaid look today is still a skirt but midi length instead of mini length. I love all the new ruffled plaid skirts, which make for a great transition into fall and a new school year!

There were so many beauties at my high school.   My best friend from third grade, Janet Crumpler, was crowned Miss Derrick our junior year of high school (and BTW…Tamra Parker was Miss Derrick 1971!)  What I remember about Janet’s style was her beautiful wardrobe, and that she was even voted “best dressed” our senior year.  Most of us wore homemade clothes, but Janet’s were store-bought.  I have a feeling they came from Sample’s or the El Dorado House….the two best department stores in south Arkansas in the 60’s and 70’s. Years later, I discovered Donna Axum, Miss America 1964, purchased her pageant clothes at the El Dorado House.  Be sure to check out this week’s styles on our Pinterest board.

Remember the television show, The Mod Squad?  There were 3 girls from my class who nailed the mod look…Verlyn Carr, Belinda Counter, and JoLynn Dennis.  These three were the “it girls” from the Class of ’73.  From their afros to their minis….they brought “groovy” to a whole new level at Smackover High!  I think we need to talk about bringing groovy back!  Don’t you?

 One of my favorite groovy trends this season is a pair of wide leg jeans or pants.  And to get your “groove on,” pair them with a sweatshirt, sweater, or oversized blouse, and add a pair of boots or sneakers.  Another fun back to school trend is track pants. These can be worn so many ways…for example, with a blazer or a button-down tucked or untucked and even with heels. And just so you know, these pants are definitely not for running track.  

Another school-day fashion memory was from the first day of gym class my sophomore year.  I remember sitting in the bleachers before class and admiring everyone’s new school shoes, especially Cheryl Gandy’s.  Truly, this was a fashion eye-opening experience!  Who knew how popular a pair of shoes could be? And by the way, Cheryl was the varsity cheerleader captain and very popular.  This fall, blocked heels and fashion sneakers are on my “most popular” list.  And a new pair of fall booties will definitely win you class favorite votes!  

 

Hopefully, this article will motivate you to incorporate some of the new fall trends into your own “back-to-school” style.  And if nothing else, maybe it will inspire you to dig out your high school yearbooks and reminisce about your “glory days!”

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, closet organization and wardrobe consultation.  Contact Holley at holleywilliams1@gmail.com.

72 Hours in Granbury, Texas

Growing up, one of our favorite places to go for a day of fun was Granbury, Texas.  Just 45 minutes from Fort Worth it’s a charming place for a long weekend or mid-week getaway.  Thank you to Visit Granbury for affording me the chance to re-experience Granbury in a whole new way.

My first day started at the Iron Horse Inn — where history meets hospitality. Throughout its history as a bed and breakfast the Iron Horse Inn has been featured in D Magazine, Southern Inns, Texas highways, and numerous Fort Worth and Dallas newspaper articles. Its owners, Don and Diana McBride, continue that tradition.  They greeted me upon arrival and gave me a tour of the grand mansion built in 1907 by Daniel C. Cogdell and his family after their 22-room Victorian mansion was completely destroyed in a fire. It has been lovingly restored to its original design by the McBrides.  I spent the night in the Cogdell Suite complete with a king sized bed with the most heavenly linens and a sun porch with a view of the neighborhood park.

The attached bathroom featured spa like amenities including toiletries and one of my favorite features — a monogrammed makeup removal cloth.  I love touches like this.

Before I headed to dinner, I sipped the complimentary wine they offer while sitting in the front living room glancing through books on the history of Granbury.  If I had more time, I would have curled up with one of the many books on the shelves available for guests to enjoy.

What I didn’t realize until I finished my stay in Granbury was that I was about to embark on some of the best food I have eaten in a long time.  First stop was dinner at Farina’s Winery and Cafe.  A family owned restaurant, their recipes date back to the owner’s grandparents.  As we enjoyed our meal, I noticed all the locals engaged in conversation and a glass of wine.  I had always thought of Granbury as a destination, so it was nice to sit back and see it’s a community as well!

The next morning I enjoyed a beautiful breakfast, hot coffee and fun conversation with the McBrides.  Diana is famous for her homemade cinnamon rolls that she serves on the weekends.  For weekday guests she takes leftover cinnamon rolls and makes bread pudding.  It did not disappoint — I ate the entire thing!  They also served a delicious egg and sausage strata, fresh fruit and Parmesan crusted potatoes.

With a full stomach it was time to explore the new Granbury Memorial Lane just next door.  The Jim Burks Firefighters Memorial Park is a place dedicated to the memory of those lost in the line of duty and honors all those serving or who have served. Situated on the Hike & Bike Trail at the North Travis Street intersection, the park offers a moving statue of a lone firefighter. At the time of dedication, this was one of only three such playgrounds in the world.

Renowned artist Mike Scovel has dedicated his time, heart, and skills to developing the one-of-a-kind life-size statues that enhance the park and lane. Within the Law Enforcement section, there is a statue of a young girl with her head bowed, holding a folded flag, entitled “Tears For The Fallen.”

From there I walked to the historic Granbury square lined with boutiques from home decor, clothing, gifts, and art.  I picked up some cute game day clothes at Hope Boutique, sipped a cup of coffee and spied the cutest glassware at The Pan Handle, purchased some pretty greeting cards at St. Helen’s, and found the cutest fall pumpkin at Spell Bound.  Visit Granbury has a link here to all the shops on the square.

All this shopping made me hungry and I decided on German Cuisine at Ketzler’s.  This was an adventure for me and I was grateful to my server Amanda for all the helpful suggestions.  I decided on their original Schnitzel Teller — a center cut pork loin breaded and fried, topped with onions and sides of sauerkraut and red cabbage.  It was outstanding.  During my meal I met Marcel, the owner.  This four generation restaurant serves recipes from his grandparents and his son was the chef that prepared my meal.  Amanda begged me to try their homemade apple strudel with a side of vanilla ice cream.  I was not disappointed in the indulgence of my entire meal.

It was time for me to check into my next stop the Hilton Garden Inn for my second night’s stay.  Located on the boardwalk it overlooks Lake Granbury.  It’s within walking distance to the square and is a beautiful property for visitors that prefer the privacy of a hotel room.  I enjoyed walking along the boardwalk before my afternoon appointment for a wine tasting and then again the next morning after breakfast.

My next stop was D’Vine Wine.  I enjoyed a one-on-one tasting with owner Diane Hedges.  She shared their story of how they came to be wine makers and took me in the back of their store to show me their wine making process.  All their wine is made and bottled on-site in their store producing up to 18,000 bottles of wine each year.  You can even create your own blend working with the staff to choose the grapes you want, bottle it and design your very own personalized label.  D’Vine Wine and Fossil Rim have teamed up to create a signature series of wines to benefit the wildlife center in nearby Glen Rose.   Wine with a cause!

After my wine time, I walked across the square for dinner at the 1890 Grille and Lounge.  It’s nestled inside a historic building with a wine bar on the first floor and would be the perfect place for a date night.  The staff was very friendly and accommodating.  Scott, my server, offered some terrific suggestions to enhance my meal including the addition of lump crab to my shrimp and grits — quite literally the best meal I have ever eaten!  The ingredients were farm fresh and beautifully plated.

And who could resist a dessert tray like this?  I honestly wanted one of everything, but decided to stay in the southern cooking realm and ordered “Not Your Grandmother’s Banana Pudding.”  With hints of Grand Marnier, crushed vanilla cookies, caramel, bananas, custard and homemade whipped cream, I licked the dish.

I walked around the square, did some window shopping and enjoyed the breeze then headed back to my heavenly bed at the Hilton.

The next morning after a walk along the lake, I ate a leisure made-to-order breakfast at the hotel, read the newspaper in the lobby by the fireplace and planned my morning shopping destinations.

I couldn’t miss meeting Cynthia James, an award-winning artist, and seeing her store Artefactz.  This ‘Gallerie of Gifts’ is the perfect place to find unusual and rare nature inspired artisan gifts.   Resident artist and owner Cynthia James creates one-of-a kind museum quality art glass jewelry and sculptures. Working in dichroic glass, mold-able precious metal, clay, and found objects, Cynthia James creates works of art for your home and art you can wear.  When I entered the store, Cynthia was sitting at a table creating and immediately welcomed me and introduced herself.  She showed me all of her works, both in the gallery and in her studio behind the store, explaining how she created them, their significance, and shared her personal story of embracing her love of and passion for art by making it her career.   

We finished our time together in her office talking about her labor of love to chair the Harvest Moon Festival of the Arts each year the third weekend of October.  It truly was a fantastic experience to meet her!

My time in Granbury, at least for now, came to an end and it was time to head back home.  I can’t wait to return to explore more treasures this historic little town has in store for me next time.  Be sure to check out Visit Granbury’s website for an extensive list of accommodations, events, dining and attractions to help you plan your visit.

 

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios Bars

My stockpile of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios is growing and I picked up some Pumpkin Spice Special K and Frosted Shredded Wheat today.  I still haven’t made it to Trader Joe’s for my pumpkin haul, but that’s coming this weekend.

My niece sent me this recipe from We are Not Martha and I thought I would give them a try for bookclub last night — Pumpkin Cheerios Marshmallow Treats.  They are like Rice Krispie treats, but with Cheerios.

Ingredients:

  • ½ stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 11.5 oz. bag marshmallows (I used mini marshmallows)
  • 7 cups Pumpkin Spice Cheerios (I think you could cut back to 6 cups so the bars aren’t too dry)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp ginger
  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips
  • Note:  I think you could easily increase the spices to 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and nutmeg and 1/4 tsp ginger.

Directions:

  1. Spray 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.
  3. Add marshmallows to saucepan and stir until melted.
  4. Turn off heat and add spices then the Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. Stir until Cheerios are completed coated in marshmallow.
  5. Fold in white chocolate chips.  I took the extra from the bag and sprinkled them on top while the bars were warm and spread them out with a knife.
  6. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and let sit for about an hour to cool and harden.
  7. Cut into squares.

I could see this recipe working with other flavors of Cheerios, even the chocolate variety.  They were tasty and an interesting twist on the normal krispie bars.  They’d be fun to wrap up individually for a school treat or fall hostess gift.

I’ve got tons of other recipes on my Bars and Brownies and Something Kinda Sweet over on Pinterest, so check out more ideas for weekend baking.

What a Clothing Stylist Taught Me

I am filling in for Holley today to show off her skills as a personal stylist. Disclaimer:  That is not a photo of my closet, but wouldn’t it be nice if it were?

First, before your stylist arrives you need to do two things:

  1.  Go through everything in your closet.  Try on every piece of clothing, and touch every accessory, shoe, scarf and handbag.  Clean anything out that doesn’t fit, is stained, yellowed, need repairs or doesn’t make you feel fabulous.  Be brutal and honest with yourself. Do you really need seven black t-shirts?  If you wish you could fit into the pants or dress again, and you don’t now, chances are when you finally lose those 10 pounds you will want something new to celebrate, not a five year old dress.  Donate or if you have nice things that just don’t work for you anymore take them to a resale shop to get some extra cash.  I have a Clothes Mentor near me and my church takes clothing donations. If it’s an item that just needs a repair or you want the sleeve length adjusted take it to the tailor, don’t put it back into the closet because it will never get done.  This process may require a few Saturdays or a day but it will be worth it to start with a clean slate of things you love. There is no sense in having a stylist work with clothes you don’t look good in or don’t plan to keep.
  2. Be thinking about what you need help with.  Do you want ideas for work, weekends or both? This will help your stylist to zero in on what exactly their job is when they arrive.

Okay, Holley is at my house and I have done my homework.  Since I wanted to photograph each of the outfits she put together for my blog post we used the top of my bed to lay everything out — clothes, accessories, handbag and shoes.  It might help you, too, to take photos of each of the outfits so you have them to refer to when getting ready in the morning.  You can just use your phone or print them from your computer and put the photos in a binder.

Holley asked me what my goals were for her visit:  1)  I wanted ideas for work attire.  I need to look professional but it’s a not a formal work environment.  I didn’t need help with weekends, because jeans are what I normally wear anyway.  2) I wanted an outfit I could start with in the morning and make a simple switch to take me into happy hour with friends or dinner out with Mr. Bee.

Then, Holley went “shopping” in my closet, pulling things out and we got started.

These were a few of my favorite outfits:

The top and skirt are last season from CABi.  I have worn their clothes for several years now.  My stylist from CABi Stacy Stoltz, brings her seasonal line to me and I get to shop from my own home.  CABi remind me of the kind of clothing my mother and I would shop for — well made, fun finishes on the interior, with retro touches.  The bracelet is from this season.  The handbag is from Draper James, one of my favorite retail stores.  The shoes are this season from Ann Taylor and come in black, too (40% off with code FALLFORITALL).

If you haven’t noticed this about me, I love graphic t-shirts.  Fun, uplifting quotes are my jam.  This cute foxy fella is from Draper James. Holley paired it with dark washed jeans, and an Ann Taylor frayed hem jacket (similar style here), an animal print belt with the same heels from above, but in black.  Here’s a similar Dana Buchman handbag here.

The great thing about the above two styles she created is they can be switched out.  The jackets could be switched or the tops.

Here’s another example of three ways to style a Camo jacket (similar here).

Remember, camo is neutral (hence, the reason it’s used to disguise you in the wildnerness), so it can go with anything.  Look how fab it is paired with red!  The bottoms are each different as well — dark washed jeans, distressed jeans and a denim pencil skirt.

Here’s an example of day to evening…

The raspberry colored trousers are from Ann Taylor.  For the daytime look Holley paired it with a cute t-shirt from Talbots and a black bomber style jacket.  Same earrings and purse.  For night time, we kept the pants but swapped them out for a jacket from H&M and a white tunic top.

The shoes in the top photo are from Kohls here.  The animal print D’Orsay shoes in the bottom pic are Sam and Libby from Target (similar here).

Here are some last few photos of more ideas.

Tip:  Whenever I am looking through a catalog, at first glance I see things I want.  But, then I go back through and look at what I already have in my closet.  It may not be exactly like the photo, but it’s possible you have some basics to work with.  Most people have a denim jacket and a pair a jeans. Maybe you just need to add an animal print jacket and pair of olive green jeans and already you have created four outfits from just purchasing two items.

Holley, left me with a very small shopping list of items I didn’t have that would be great to add to my closet:  Black skinny jeans, a few small mini or clutch bags in black, gold and neutral.  While she was out shopping the next day (which is another service she offers) she snapped a few pictures of some very affordable bags at Forever 21.

Visit my Pinterest board for Closet Organization tips including this guide for essential items you need in your closet, tips on what to wear and where to keep it in your closet.

All in all, Holley spent about 2 1/2 hours with me and helped me create 25 outfits.  We talked about trying to put together my wardrobe the night before with all the accessories and shoe choices so it makes it a time saver in the morning rush of getting to work and affords for a more pulled together look.  So, I have been trying to work on that.  Not only was my time with Holley fun, but I learned a lot and now feel confident with choices of outfits so my wardrobe feels new to me!

Be sure to visit with Holley via email to book your appointment for a closet inventory, style session or personal shopping experience.  Just for HWT readers – Holley is offering 25% off her services.  Offer expires 10/4/17.

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, closet organization and wardrobe consultation.  Contact Holley at holleywilliams1@gmail.com.

Mrs. Twist Reads This: Book Club This Thursday

Have you finished this month’s book club selection — The Heirs. It’s been fun hearing from our book club members as they get into each book to say “I love reading again” or “I am so glad I am learning to read different kinds of books.”  I echo these sentiments.  I love a good mystery, but it’s been enlightening to find myself reading books I wouldn’t normally pick up.  Rieger’s writing style is very descriptive and pulled me into the relationships that unfolded. Siblings, parents, spouses, lovers, history, she included everything. I gained perspective from each character, yet she left just enough mystery for me to wonder.  This is a good read and made me want her to write a sequel.*

That’s exactly why I started Mrs. Twist Reads This — to broaden my horizons of books and to spend more time reading and less time using technology.  We are up to 35 members and would love to have you join us. Using BookMovement as our free, online repository for suggestions to see what other book clubs are reading, we can stay connected to upcoming books and build our own personal queue of books even if you live hundreds of miles away.  We meet once monthly for a cocktail or iced tea and a snack while we chat about the book.  It’s fun to be in the company of other women to form our own community!

You can still sign up here and once you do you will start receiving periodic email reminders of upcoming meetings.  This month’s meeting is Thursday, September 28 from 7-8:30 p.m.  That’s when you will find out what we are reading in October!

Happy reading!

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

There’s Something Special about SusieCakes

Every time I post stories like Holley’s on her Aunt Pat or meet people like Susan Sarich, I am reminded of the reason I started my blog — to share the legacy of family.   Thanks to Tanglewood Moms for posting information on their instagram, I had the chance to meet Susie and her staff at the pre-grand opening cake decorating class they offered at their new location of SusieCakes in Fort Worth.

From Susie’s website:  “Every day Susie would come home from school to enjoy her grandmothers’ company over a glass of milk and a fresh baked treat. This daily baking ritual and special time together in the kitchen left a lasting impression. When Susie grew up to become Susan and moved to the West Coast, she brought along her grandmothers’ carefully recorded recipes on handwritten 4×6 cards. The pure and simple connection those recipes fostered helped Susan form SusieCakes bakeries to share her experience with others.

Through SusieCakes, Susan honors Mildred and Madeline: both in her dedication to their baking traditions, and her commitment to providing women with progressive careers in the food & hospitality industry.

“You most likely recall a cake as part of your life’s milestone celebrations. Cake has the unique ability to connect us with the people and events of our past. However, cake should not be reserved only for these special occasions. A delicious slice of cake can immediately bring a bit of celebration to an ordinary day. I hope you enjoy SusieCakes on your special occasions, as well as all the days in between.”

The store is bright white and beautiful with cases of bakery goods shining as the stars in the show.  When I checked in we were greeted with bubbly and then Susie stepped from the behind the counter!  It was a lovely surprise.  She is lovely, effervescent just like my Champagne and radiates happiness.  I mean, how can you not when you are surrounded by buttercream frosting and homemade cake!

And her staff exudes the same warmth and genuine love for what they do, too. Before class began, Susie shared how her company came to be. Launched in 2006, she now has 20 stores in the U.S.  Their signature color “Susie Blue” was inspired by her grandma’s blue Pyrex mixing bowl. Then it was time to put our aprons on and get to work.  They set up stations in the kitchen- one learning the crumb coating technique and icing; station two worked on decorating the cake with sprinkles and tubes of colored icing. The angels sang when I snapped a picture of my two favorite things in the world — bubbly and a giant bowl of frosting!

I doubt any of the staff realized how they were making my dreams come true by being behind the counter of the bakery.  It’s like my dream job. Sprinkles are my spirit animal!

When the class was over they sent us home with our boxed up creations and a goodie bag.  Before I left I snapped some pics of their confections in the cases. How fun would it be to receive a Happy Birthday cupcake on your special day!

SusieCakes has other sweet treats besides cake including pies, puddings, cheesecakes, cookies and lemon bars.  Check out their menu here.  Word on the street is that their pumpkin bread pudding is to die for! So remember that for your Thanksgiving entertaining.

If you are local to Fort Worth, be sure to check out their Grand Opening this Saturday.  They will have free samples, activities for the kids and a drawing for free cake for a year!  There are all sorts of specials they are running the following week, too.  You can check out the complete listing and location information here.

Welcome to Fort Worth Susie.  I know we are going to be sweet friends!

My Easy Three: In the Kitchen

My Easy Three are achievable tasks you can apply to keep you and your home organized.  For September I’ve got three easy things to do in the kitchen.

First — go through your plastic storage containers.  Every few months or so, I sit down on the floor in my kitchen in front of the cabinet that stores all my plastic and glass food storage containers.  I take each base and try to find its lid.  Does the lid snap on easy, does it even fit?  Is the container stained, warped? Toss or recycle the rejects.I got a set of Pyrex glass containers from Costso.  They are easy to clean and don’t melt or warp in the microwave or dishwasher.  I keep the lids snapped on and stack them in the cabinet.  Having this nice set means I only need a few plastic or disposable ones for food I might want to give away.  For those containers, I stack them inside each other and I use a divider to stand up the lids.  It keeps everything neat and organized.

Second — Do the same process from your travel cups and mugs. Do they work, are they cracked, stained, do they have matching tight fitting lids? Do you even like them?  Recycle all the ones you don’t have an attachment to. Do you really need 20 travel cups?  I have 3 travel mugs and about 8 tumblers with lids like this.  I like to drink from something with style not a faded, old Quicktrip cup.  I stack the cups and keep the lids in a long, skinny drawer divider and the straws stored upright in a cup.

Third, — Kitchen towels and dishcloths.  Go through each one. Is it faded, torn, stained?  Some can be recycled to the cleaning or car wash container in the garage.  Invest in a new matching pretty set for the fall.  I roll my towels into cylinders and keep about 20 in a drawer.  This method keeps the drawer from being over stuffed with towels.  If I bring a new towel into the drawer, I clean out the drawer again.  Here’s a pretty set for the holidays from Williams Sonoma.

What’s a constant trouble area in your home you’d like help with?  Leave a comment and I’ll try to help.  For more ideas from My Easy Three check out the Homekeeping and Organization tab under HomeStyle.

What Would Holley Wear: Aunt Pat Style

Growing up, one of my heroes was my Aunt Pat.  She was the Mother of three daughters, had a PhD in Literature, and was a professor at the University of Missouri.  She was an inspiration to me and left this world way too soon.  

One fond memory of Aunt Pat was her perspective on aging. Instead of saying someone was in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, etc., she would say they were in their “5th row, 6th row, or 7th row,” etc. The more I have thought about her view point over the years, and the older I become, I have to say her insight was genius.  

 So, two things you should know about me:

…I am in my 6th row of life…

…and I love fashion just as much now as I did in all of my former rows!

But, like a lot of things with aging, I’ve had to adjust my style…a little.  So with Aunt Pat as my inspiration, this article is about how ladies (at any age) can wear the latest looks and trends.  My hope is that it will inspire women to stay stylish, current, and row appropriate!  Check out our Pinterest board for inspiration.

So, let’s start with a maxi or midi skirt or dress.  Here’s the deal…these skirts and dresses are age defying! I’m not kidding.  Every year women spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on products and procedures trying to look younger, when all they really need to do is wear a maxi or midi. Why?  Because they hide so many signs of aging and give you a youthful vibe.  Plus, both looks will elongate you, and who doesn’t want to look a little younger and a little taller?

 

Another row-defying and trendy style is wide-leg pants.  I recently purchased a pair of wide-leg floral pants at Zara and wore them to a wedding shower with a green button-down blouse tied at the waist.   This fall, I plan to do a little print mixing and pair them with a red and white striped shirt from H&M and top it off with a denim jacket.  A pair of culottes is another way to stay in-style and not look frumpy.  I love a pair of vertical stripped culottes I purchase this summer at Dillard’s.  For a casual look, I like to wear them with a white button down and jean jacket, and for a dressier look, I pair them with a flowy blouse with an attached sash, and add pop of color with orange suede block heels….so “row appropriate”!

Another way to add an age defying edge to my style is with a blazer.  A great place to find a current and updated blazer is at Zara (and there’s a Zara at Northpark Mall in Dallas).  My uniform is a black blazer, and white shirt worn with jeans.  The key is to wear your shirt half or front tucked, with or without a belt.  Skinny jeans are another “row defying” look.  My favorite pair of skinnies are from H&M. They are long, which works great for me, and there is a lot of give, but they do not stretch out. Unlike capris that cut you off, full length jeans will make you look taller, and slimmer.  So, on the count of three….everyone say bye-bye capris!  

The absolute best way to give yourself an updated look is with accessories. The way I see it, sunshades can either say, “I’m frumpy,” or “Grandma’s hip”!  If you want to throw caution to the wind….go for a pair of Dior shades.  Or if you are like me and tend to lose or break shades, then check out the selections at Urban Outfitters and Free People…trendy and inexpensive.  Your handbag can also erase years/rows.  Think about investing in a designer bag like Chloe or Gucci, but if you are frugal, just know Target and Dillard’s have great options.  

Updating your jewelry is always age-defying, and you do not have to spend a lot of money.  Here’s a little secret…a few of my favorite places to purchase fashion jewelry are TJ Maxx and Old Navy.  And both J Crew and Anthropology have a wonderful selection of large statement pieces.

For more age-defying looks, be sure to check out my Pinterest board, Ageless Style!    

Isn’t it exciting to know that no matter what “row” of life you are in, there are so many style options to choose from?  The way I see it, Aunt Pat really was ahead of her time and row appropriate…of course!

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, closet organization and wardrobe consultation.  Contact Holley at holleywilliams1@gmail.com.