A Page from My Planner: Create Themed-Days

This Forbes interview with Mike Vardy, a productivity specialist, addresses how daily theming is a great way to boost your productivity. It gives you an overarching focus for every single day.  It’s a framework, but it’s a framework with flexibility. “What day is it? This day. This day means this.” Vardy’s website Productivityist is full of all sorts of articles, tips, and resources to help you better manage your time.  His company is built with the quest to help people stop “doing” productive and start “being” productive through developing practical and tactical approaches to their work and lives.  He also has a podcast here.

In my 90-day planner (My Next 90 Days), there is a section designated for “structure” and an outline on creating my themed-days. This allows me to batch projects together, creating a weekly rhythm and gives me peace of mind.  I sat down and created mine:

Motivation Monday – start the week with the mindset to have a positive attitude and practice flexibility so I can overcome unexpected obstacles with as little stress as possible. I want to achieve the desire to profit from my week ahead, professionally, and personally.

Try it Tuesday could be lots of things – listen to a new podcast while I get ready for work, try an original recipe, try out a new machine at the gym, and so on. The goal for Tuesday is to be open to new things.

Weed Out Wednesday is dedicated to decluttering and organizing. I will set this weekly goal to drop off one new bag of things for Goodwill, or clothes to take to the resale shop, go through a junk pile, or sort through old mail I’ve stacked on my desk, organize a drawer.

Thoughtful Thursday is intentionally thanking someone with a hand-written note, and the best part it could be for someone not even expecting it. Keep a stash of pretty thank you notes in your desk, a few stamps and set aside just a few minutes every Thursday to express your gratitude.

Feel Good Friday  – yay! I finished the week! Today I get to do something that makes me happy.  Meeting a friend for a cocktail after work, going on a date-night with Mr. Bee, taking my dog for a walk.  This is my day to choose to #celebrateeveryday.

Self-Care Saturday – Whew, I made it through the week, and today I focus on putting myself into a charger for a reboot for the next week. Self-care could be napping or cleaning my house – because a clean house makes me feel productive and happy.  Or it could be “nesting” in my home – moving furniture around, decorating for a holiday, and planting flowers on my front porch.

Strategy Sunday – Prepare my weekly meal plan for dinners and lunches, get out my planner and schedule days I will go to the gym, look ahead at meetings or evening events on my calendar where I might need to adjust my free time.  Get my clothes ready for the week, or make my grocery list for Walmart pickup on Monday.

Do you see how I have planned my week, so I am intention and not spinning my wheels overlapping things or double-dipping? The spinning makes me feel out of control and overwhelmed.

To help you give this strategy a try, I am gifting you with a blank printable here. Print and create your themed-days.  Put into your planner, in a frame on your desk or your fridge.

Let me know how it works for you! #nourishtoflourish

What Would Holley Wear: Five Winter White Coats

We think white coats and jackets are the perfect winter wrap.  From dressy coats to puffers, they can be dressed up or go casual…you get to decide!

So let’s start with a casual look…puffers!  Calvin Klein’s quilted coat with a faux fur hood from Dillard’s is great for our Texas weather ($101.40).  And a bonus…it’s water-resistant. Another Dillard’s white puffer we are smitten with is Donna Karan’s faux fur-trimmed hooded puffer ($143.40).  The good news…both coats have been permanently reduced!

 Shearling and Sherpas meets the warm and cozy test!  A shearling knock-off we love is Top Shop’s biker jacket trimmed in brown faux leather ($150.00).  Wear it with slacks or jeans…the ideal “town and country” look. The perfect coat for our Texas weather is a Northface water repellent, reversible Sherpa parka…available at Dillard’s ($179).    

For the ultimate in a dressy coat, a wrap sets the pace for elegance.  Point proven with a Theory ($635) crepe wrap coat from Neiman Marcus. If you are like me, and like a bargain, you will love TJ Maxx’s wrap coat or H&M’s ($109.65) wool blend wrap.   Wear them over a dress or with slacks to the office, and after work to a Cliburn Series concert.

Ever since real furs became a fashion “no”…the quality of faux furs has escalated to a whole new level.  Bloomingdales proves my point with an affordable faux fur by Bagatelle NYC ($103.60). Popular style influencer, Fashion Jackson, shows us how to look ultra-chic in a white faux fur by Aqua from Bloomingdales ($134.40).  She’s pairing it with black-coated jeans, booties, and bag to give it a classy edge.

Rain, rain, come our way!  Be sure to take a look at a few of our favorite trenches from ASOS ($76), and Belk’s ($60) on our Pinterest board.  These coats are terrific for the office and also for those days you need to dash out in the rain. Calvin Klein’s trench jacket in faux wool is ideal for our winter/spring transition in Texas! ($101.40)   

I don’t know about you, but wearing a white coat makes me look forward to cold winter days and evenings!

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, and wardrobe consultation.  Be sure to check her Holley Williams Style on Pinterest.  Contact Holley at [email protected]

14 Valentines – Ideas for Giving

Valentine’s Day is my second favorite holiday behind Thanksgiving. I love conversation hearts, cherry sours, chocolates, and anything pink and red. I’ve rounded up fourteen ideas to celebrate this sweet little holiday. I’ve pinned all of these ideas and more on my Pinterest page “Be Still My Heart.”

College student – Amazon has a RedBox Movie Night Kit ready to go. Free Prime shipping includes one movie code, candy, and popcorn.  How fun for them to receive this in their mailbox at school. Add a note “Even though you’re far away, you’re still my Valentine every day!” Love, Mom.

Personalized Gifts:  I found a ton of things on Personalization Mall and it was hard to narrow it down, but I did find two unique gift ideas:

Personalized collar stays. This is perfect for the man that has everything. If your guy wears dress shirts and is always needing collar stays – these are perfect. A set of six stays personalized with whatever you want!

And, if you want to give a really special keepsake, how about a silver, personalized fortune cookie! Go to your favorite Chinese restaurant (mine is Cannon Chinese) and have the waiter put this on a tray.  Maybe the message is a clue to the next destination on your date!

Sweetheart Breakfast in Bed.  This idea from Wilton is really clever. It’s something special without spending a lot of money and the kids can help. If you need a fantastic pancake recipe, I will share mine for Vanilla Cinnamon Pancakes with you here.

For the classroom or co-workers I am suggesting two ideas – one is Valentine’s Day Chex Mix. This recipe is from a blogger I follow Inspired by Charm.  He shares several ways to package this treat that serves 12.

Several years ago I started ordering these personalized classroom Valentine’s Day cards for my co-workers from Minted. So many cute designs. These are the ones I am gifting this year with big, juicy green apples! They are printed on heavy cardstock and come with the most precious tiny white envelopes.

A Letterboard – They sell these everywhere in all shapes and sizes. Back when they were first coming to the scene I ordered one from LetterFolk. Now they sell fun tile mats with interchangeable vintage-inspired hexagon tiles to create endless patterns, designs, and words.

Here’s a gift for yourself. Winter is the perfect time to spruce up your skincare routine and add a pop of color to your face – so why not find the perfect red lippy for your Valentine’s Day date?  Loreal Paris has a great guide to finding the perfect red lip here.

World Market Mug $7.99

Set up a gift for your visitors who stop by your home with a Valentine’s Day Beverage Bar. I found these adorable red and white polka dot mug at World Market.  On a recent trip to Euna Mae’s in Arkansas, she set pods of Apple Cider like these from Amazon and a mason jar of cinnamon hot candy next to her Keurig.

I think it would be brilliant to place a tray next to your Keurig with a bowl full of Cider Keurig pods, a mason jar with cinnamon hots, a package of Valentine’s napkins and mugs and a dish of these cookies from Trader Joe’s.  Too tempting to keep a plate of cookies out, then put them into an apothecary jar as I did on my desk at work. This tray idea is also perfect to take to a sick friend or have out in the reception area at your business or Sunday school class. Talk about welcoming!

If you and your sweetie have sworn off gifts and candy and 2020 is your year to be healthy, then make the gift of a smoothie your gesture. Trader Joe’s has a yummy recipe for a sweetheart smoothie I’ve pinned to my Pinterest board here.

A cinnamon candle. My friend Jacqui gifted me with a cinnamon candle for Christmas, but I am saving it for Valentine’s Day. It’s a beautiful red and smells just like red hots! I plan to put this in the kitchen on a white tray with my blue and white ginger jars. Blue and red look gorgeous together.

 

There are always flowers.  I have received these luscious blooms before from my dear friend Laurie, just because. Farmgirl Flowers are stunning and will make any Valentine blush. Designer quality, burlap-wrapped, super fast delivery and ethically grown you can’t go wrong with the investment in these blooms.

I love this idea from Uncommon Goods – a birth month flower kit. The kit includes an upcycled glass wine bottle planter, soil, seeds, cork-lid coaster and a card that tells the meaning behind their birth month flower. Transplant in their garden after it is grown and they’ll have an annual reminder of your love.

And last, for the dog-lover in your life, she will love this t-shirt from Target. Now, if I could just find one for cats…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

What Would Holley Wear: Five Ways to Wear Winter Brights

If what you wear shouts so loud, we can’t hear what you say…then obviously you love color.  And just like you….we think January is the perfect month to brighten things up!  

An easy way to accomplish this is by wearing a bright winter vest!  We are feeling warm and cozy with all the vests featured on our Pinterest board…perfect for running around town.  To give your vest a preppy vibe, wear it over a layered shirt and sweater. A bright vest will also add a fun pop to your fitness style, and think about color blocking with a vibrant scarf!  So, who’s up for a brisk walk?  

Remember when bright puffer jackets were just seen on the ski slopes?  Not anymore….these vivid beauties are ideal for any scenario. And who doesn’t love a double-duty ski jacket?  From Bloomingdale’s aqua packable puffer to Aritzia’s super puffer, (available in 7 neon shades), they will take you from the slopes to shopping!  

Show me a girl styling a pair of bright boots, and I’ll show you a girl who likes to stand out in a crowd!  Amazon’s waterproof snow boot comes in a selection of rainbow colors….perfect for snowy or a cold rainy day.  If you are wanting to make a fashion splash, then think about purchasing a pair of bright rubber boots from Belk’s.

It’s sweater weather!  From neons to rainbow stripes, it’s the best time of year to wear a sweater.  Amazon’s bold striped turtlenecks go great with jeans or leggings. And their hot-pink pullover sweater makes it easy to “steal” style icon, Jenna Lyon’s, party style.  

If you want to brighten up your winter wardrobe with an accessory…a Skagen watch will do the trick.  You can find these colorful watches online at Dillard’s and Nordstrom’s. If you are an Apple watch fan, then think about brightening up your watch style with one of their colorful bands.  Keeping time never looked so bright!  

There is no question about it…we are loving what your style shouts! 

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, and wardrobe consultation.  Be sure to check her Holley Williams Style on Pinterest.  Contact Holley at [email protected]

The Healthy Way to Start the Day – From Ritual

This article, from Ritual, is too good to not share with you – word for word.

Extolling the virtues of a nutritious breakfast? We know—groundbreaking. But even if you don’t need to see yet another study that measures the influence of “the most important meal of the day” on our physical well-being, can we point out that starting things off on a healthy note can have a fresh psychological impact, too?

A quick reminder: Research tells us that good habits tend to breed good habits, so there is something to be said for setting the bar high as soon as you wake up and riding that wave of motivation. But the pressure doesn’t have to be high—it can come down to simple decisions like waking up, drinking some water, taking your vitamins, and whipping up a nutritious breakfast recipe you actually enjoy (avocado toast, Greek yogurt parfait, veggie frittata, or blueberry smoothie, anyone?).

In other words, it’s not just about striking a solid balance of protein, energy-sustaining carbs, and healthy fats—the mindset of doing something beautiful for yourself can also really make a difference.

This is the kind of philosophy dietitian and maternal nutrition expert Jessica Diamond, MPH, RDN, likes to emphasize with her clients. “The initial hours of the day before heading to work are so crucial—I see them as the time to make conscious decisions that guide the rest of your day,” she says. “It sets the tone for the rest of your day and can be integral for sound nutrition. It gets your mind and body going in a healthy way.”

And you can bet that Diamond practices what she preaches. Keep reading for a look inside her morning routine—as well as a few easy breakfast ideas. (Spoiler: she has vegan-friendly and gluten-free suggestions, too.)

jessica-body

“I have three main things I focus on in the morning.  The first thing I do when I wake up is drink a glass of water that is waiting for me on my nightstand from the night before. Focusing on adequate hydration is something I need always to be conscious about, so knowing I have already consumed 8 ounces before 8 am makes me feel accomplished—I’ve already contributed to my hydration goal for the day.”

“I have a little boy, so the next thing I do is breastfeed him. I love the early morning snuggles, just the two of us. During his early morning feeding, I try to be completely present with him. I stay off my phone, keep the lights dimmed, and spend time talking to him about the day ahead. I love the feeling of being able to leave for work in the morning, knowing I already had special one-on-one time with him.”

“And finally, I enjoy a nourishing breakfast, of course. I love sitting down to have a yummy breakfast, no matter how long I have—5 minutes or 30 minutes. Sitting down and nourishing myself before I leave for work is something I look forward to daily. It helps give me the energy I need for the day as well as some time to focus on myself before I head out the door.”

“A nourishing, sound breakfast is also key from a nutritional standpoint. You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s true. Studies show that skipping breakfast can have a significant impact on our health (1)—and it’s the perfect opportunity to fill up on whole grains, fresh fruits, and veggies.”

“I am really into overnight oats right now. I use One Degree Organic Foods sprouted rolled oats—their oats are free of glyphosate, a common herbicide—and add in a bunch of nuts (almond butter, peanut butter, walnuts), seeds (flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds), and fruit (whatever berries that are fresh from the farmers market). I also love a good smoothie in the morning. I currently love the New Mom Blend from Seedlyfe, which I mix with almond milk, greens, and any fresh fruit I have on hand.”

References: *Rong, S., Snetselaar, L. G., Xu, G., Sun, Y., Liu, B., Wallace, R. B., & Bao, W. (2019). Association of Skipping Breakfast With Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality. Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Cast Iron Cooking – Fleischmann’s Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are my #spiritanimal – that and white cake and sprinkles. I love to cook in my grandmother’s cast iron skillet.  You know you can use it for anything, not just savory. It’s the perfect baking dish for cakes, cobblers, biscuits and cinnamon rolls.

I was flipping through a magazine recently and saw an advertisement for Fleischmann’s yeast.  I looked up their website which has tons of terrific sweet and savory recipes and gave the one for cinnamon rolls a whirl. Do not be intimidated by making homemade bread.  It’s super easy, you just can’t be rushed.  This is a Saturday afternoon kind of activity.  Here’s the link to the recipe.  They bake beautifully!

Homemade Skillet Cinnamon Rolls
These easy homemade skillet cinnamon rolls are ready to eat in
under two hours and will bring the entire family to the table.

Yield 10 servings Prep Time 40 minutes
Rise Time 45 minutes Bake Time 23 to 25 minutes

Ingredients
DOUGH:
2-1/2 to 3 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 packet Fleischmann’s® RapidRise Yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 egg
CARAMEL SYRUP:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup corn syrup, light OR dark
FILLING:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
FROSTING:
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Directions:

Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, dry yeast, and salt in a large mixer bowl and stir until blended. Place water and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH in 15-second increments until very warm but not hot to the touch (120° to 130°F. Butter won’t melt completely). (My note: 110 degrees is the ideal temperature for yeast to survive – I think 120-130 is too high).

Add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, add egg and mix, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in just enough remaining flour so that the dough will form into a ball.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic about 6 to 8 minutes. Dough should spring back when lightly pressed with 2 fingers. Cover with a towel; let rest for 10 minutes.

While dough is resting, prepare caramel syrup. Combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a 10-inch iron (ovenproof) skillet. Heat on stovetop until butter melts completely. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Roll dough to a 12 x 15-inch rectangle. For filling, mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Spread the softened butter over dough and sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Roll up from long side, pinching seam to seal. Cut into 10 equal slices. Arrange rolls, cut side down, on top of syrup in skillet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 23 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool skillet for 10 minutes on a wire rack, do not remove cinnamon rolls from skillet.

Combine butter, vanilla, and sugar in a small bowl, adding enough milk to reach desired consistency. Drizzle or spread frosting over warm cinnamon rolls while still in the skillet.

Be sure to check out Fleischmann’s website for other recipes – especially for pizza!

Best Planners for 2020

If you want to start the year with a fresh, new planner, I’ve researched for you!  I’ve got a few to share with you based on different themes.  Here goes:

Savor Life Planner – This is a 90-day concept planner with a self-care meets soul-care for successful living. The mission of founder, Angela Jia Kim, is to help you nourish to flourish, create daily rituals, and organize your “gorgeous chaos,” so you can make time to savor the sweet parts of life.  Use the planner for 90 days, then purchase a new one to re-set for the next 90 days and so on. Since my Word for 2020 is Nourish – this is the planner, I chose to help me track my goals.  I like the prompts on each page as you plan your day, week, and month. Cost: $29.95

Hope Planner – This 6-month planner is a combination of a daily planner and prayer journal. Their concept is “put it on your list and lay it at the cross.”  This is perfect for people who want to connect more with their spirituality in the new year.  Take back your day from “all-the-things” and cultivate the relationship with Christ you’ve always wanted by making time
for Christ on your schedule like you do everything else. If your priority is to put your faith first every day, this planner is for you. Cost: $34.95

Mama Love – This planner helps mamas and mamas-to-be tackle their busy lives while carving out time for daily and monthly self-care. It also helps mamas put the spiritual aspects of their life first by drawing attention to spiritual goals, affirmations for their lives, and incorporating a gratitude practice.  Most mamas spend so much time and love on others that there isn’t enough time, energy, and love left for themselves. This planner is a practical tool to change this pattern. I think this would make a perfect gift for a new mother. Cost: $39.97

Commit 30 – Fitness Journal:  If you’re committed to making this your year to get in shape, this planner is for you! The Commit30 Fitness Journal helps you focus on movement, nutrition, mindfulness & motivation one day at a time. Set up similarly to their popular Commit30 planner, there are monthly calendars, weekly layouts, 30-day challenges, meal planning sections, exercise tracking, and more. With customizable rows to track anything from steps to miles to carbs to weight, this is the tool to help you reach your fitness and wellness goals.  If you love stickers, they have an add-on kit. Tuck this in your gym bag and go! Cost: $29.99 (it’s on sale right now).

Daily Greatness Journal – The Dailygreatness concept will move you from wishing to achieving and from dreaming about it to doing something about it, and that’s the “magical” shift. That’s what you’ve been looking for.

The intuitive flow of the Dailygreatness concept gives you a foundation and a structure to your days that support you in achieving your goals. It’s a simple process that’s fun, creative, and engaging. We know we learn best when we play. They offer journals for all areas you want to plan – yoga, wellness, parenting, personal training, business, and the traditional yearly planner. Cost: $29.99 and up.
There are so many other great planners out there, in addition to the few I have shared.  I hope this helps to give you ideas and inspire you to consider adding a planner to your success toolbox for 2020. What’s a planner you’ve been using with success? Share it with us in the comments.

What’s Your Word for 2020?

I had such a great time leading a workshop recently for the members of my book club helping them craft their vision for 2020. It was empowering for us to spend this time together focusing on what’s important.

We discussed the big differences between the more traditional style of “making a resolution” versus the recent philosophy of intentions. Simply put, resolutions are fixed absolutes, somewhat inflexible demands we put on ourselves to commit to a change in our behavior. It’s the goal we want to achieve but does not outline the steps to get there.  Here is an article on the “Top Five Resolutions” and I have made all of them over the years.  Did you know 80% of us will fail at the follow-through of our resolution by mid-February?  This is due largely to our lack of self-discipline (link here for a great article).  A resolution doesn’t focus on “the why.”

In contrast, an intention is “the why.”  It’s the steps we need to take to reach our goal.  Intentions can be adjusted and are more forgiving and allow us to stay on course even while changing direction.  Here’s an article on how to take those top five resolutions and change them into intentions.

Ready to find your word?  Still need more ideas?  Here’s a link to brainstorm ideas for your Word for 2020.  My word for 2019 was #movetobloom and in 2018 it was #celebrateeveryday – which turned into my mantra for my blog that I still use today. For 2020 I chose “Nourish”. I am focusing on three key areas in my life – Body, Mind and Soul and how I can practice nourishing each of these.

At the end of the workshop, we created our own My Intent bracelets stamping by-hand the word we chose. Each woman selected something different and unique to the season of their life – Bloom, Create, Worthy, Courage, Grace, Balance, Forward, Trust, Bold, Strength, Present, Be Still, Connect, Boundary, and Simplify.

Finding your WORD is a simple, fun, and empowering exercise.
In a world inundated with distractions, it’s powerful to have a daily reminder of what you want to actively focus on, or manifest, every day. The WORD you choose will evolve over time, it’s what you want to remind yourself for this chapter of your life, it may be a few weeks or months.

To cap the day off, we shared our takeaways from our January book club selection – The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates.  Here’s an article outlining “Seven Lessons” from Gates’s first book in which she discusses the complexities of feminism and the phenomenon that communities can only flourish when women are lifted alongside men. It’s an enlightening book and made me realize I have formed prejudices that I need to reframe.  I highly recommend all women (and men, for that matter) read this book.

For 2020, forget setting a resolution. Instead, ring in the New Year with an intention. This slight change to how you set your goal can actually improve your success in achieving whatever it is that you desire.

What Would Holley Wear: True Confessions of a Fashion Writer

So…I’m starting off the New Year sharing some style confessions!  Here’s the deal…I don’t own or wear everything I write about. That being said, I’m happy to research and share what I do know.  Whew…glad to get that off my chest!   

True Confession:  I prefer wearing a skirt versus a dress because it allows for stylish creativity!

How many ways can you style a printed skirt?  More than I can count. Some Pinterest looks I’m loving feature animal print skirts styled with a sweater, or a t-shirt, or layered with a leather or denim jacket, etc.  

True Confession:  A pop of color is a style influencer’s best friend!

Bag matching is my favorite way to do this.  And here’s the good news…nothing has to match exactly.  Another idea is matching accessories. For example, match a bracelet with a belt or your boots with a scarf.  How fun is that?   

True Confession:  I’m a frugal shopper…always looking for a deal!

My go-to is H&M and even though, they have great prices…I go to the sale rack first.  A favorite purchase this winter was a tiger-print sweater. It looks great with a camel blazer and faux leather pants and also with a black pleated skirt. Always think about how many ways you can style an outfit!  

True Confession:  I believe these two words should be banned from our vocabulary:  “age-appropriate.” 

Instead, think about “aging fabulously” by adding a trendy pop to a classic look. A great Pinterest example shows a woman wearing a gray cowl-neck sweater with a trendy pair of snake print skinnies.  Camouflage skinnies and leggings are also age-defying. Another way to “age fabulously” is with a pair of embellished booties. And who doesn’t love a hip grandma?

True Confession:  Fashion and styling are my avenues for encouraging women!

Yes, it’s true…I don’t know everything about fashion, but I’m happy to research and share what I do know.  And one thing I know for sure…. “We rise when we lift others!”  

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, and wardrobe consultation.  Be sure to check her Holley Williams Style on Pinterest.  Contact Holley at [email protected]

It Happened in Pawhuska, Oklahoma! Travel Tips to see the Pioneer Woman

Bestie and I made a pilgrimage to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to check out all things Pioneer Woman and it did not disappoint.  Located in Osage county in the northeastern part of the state it should be called “Pawhuska:  Pretty Happy People.”  The hospitality in this town was by-far the best I have ever received.

We started our 72 hour getaway with a stop in OKC to tour the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Musuem.  We spent several hours just taking in all the powerful moments captured in the thought provoking exhibits.  Honestly, I could have stayed at least another few hours, but we needed to head on to Pawhuska another three hours down the road.  If you’ve never toured this memorial, it’s a must.   Beautiful, reverent and inspiring.

Our next stop was for a treat at Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies.  Who wouldn’t brake for fried pie dough stuffed with filling!  We picked our faves — me cherry and apricot.  I ate mine while Bestie tried to drive.  I kept moaning “this is SOOO good!”  She finally had to pull over to eat hers properly.  I tucked the apricot away for another time.

We were so hungry having eaten early in the day at Sarah’s in Gainesville, Texas before we crossed into Oklahoma that we stopped in Cleveland at Hungry Eye’s for dinner.  We both ordered the red beans and cornbread and I named it the best beans I have ever eaten in my entire life.  Seriously.  We asked “who made these beans?!” and learned the bean maker extraordinaire was Sally.  So, if you see or know Sally in Cleveland be sure to tell her that her beans are legendary.  For reals.

Back in the car we arrive in Pawhuska.  Most everything was closed up for the night, but we stopped at the Mercantile to just peak through the windows.  Like kids looking through candy shop windows we were in awe over the decorations and pretty displays.  Amy, the manager, saw us through the windows and I told her through the crack in the door “don’t mind us, we’re just dreaming of a Mercantile Christmas.”  She sweetly came to the door and asked us if we’d like to come in while she straightened up the store.  We almost knocked her over jumping up and down with glee.  Andy Williams was singing and birds were flying around putting ribbon in our hair, y’all!  Ornaments, kitchen gadets and dishware, gifts, candles, toys, mugs, a wrapping paper station, Pioneer Woman Barbie, it was jaw dropping.  I had to check my pulse several times.

After we were treated to such a warm welcome, we headed to check into our hotel the Historic Whiting Hotel Suites.  Built in the 1920’s, the Hotel was once all efficiency apartments for newlyweds and workers in the oil field. Over the last 30 years it has been converted into individual suites each with different themes. Furnished with locally resources antiques and local memorabilia. Not only is the Hotel historic but each suite is full of history. Some rooms still have the original Murphy bed frames that have been in use since the 1920’s. Our room was the #16 the American Suite.

Within just a few blocks from the Mercantile, dining and shopping, it was a great location to retreat.  After a long day we nestled into our pjs for a nice, relaxing sleep to wake up early for the next day.

7:30 a.m. breakfast at the Mercantile.  Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, biscuits, tomatoes, cinnamon rolls and coffee.  We dined sufficiently and were treated well by Autumn, our server. Afterwards we headed over to do our shopping.  I picked up some new Santa mugs for my collection, a Pioneer Woman Barbie for my little niece to enjoy when she comes for visits, and a few gifts for Christmas that I had beautifully wrapped for a nominal fee.  Tip:  Be sure to eat and shop early in the Mercantile because later in the day when we popped in for coffee and to pick up my wrapped gifts, it was really crowded.

Scenic view of The Lodge at Drummond Ranch

While we were in the store we picked up our free tickets to tour The Lodge on Drummond Ranch and upon the advice from our server we made the drive out there as soon as we loaded our purchases in the car.  It was a 30-minute drive, most of it along a gravel road.  The Lodge is their family guest house, which also serves as the production location for Ree’s Food Network show.

We stood at Ree’s kitchen Island, peaked into her pantry to see her emense supply of cast iron, Le Creuset, bowls, measuring cups and racks and racks of kitchen props.  In the back of The Lodge is a commercial kitchen where I am sure she does the actual cooking and preps recipes and the food for the camera. We even saw her fancy KitchenAid mixers.  We enjoyed the view from the deck and then headed back to town for more shopping.  Tip:  Do plan to make a trip to The Lodge as soon as it opens at 9 a.m. so you miss the crowds.  By the time we left alot more people (and screaming children) were arriving.

Back into town, next on our “must-see” list was Handy’s convenience store.  I had read this article on Pinterest from the blog Postcard Jar for “70 Things to do in Pawhuska.” They said you “must stop in Handy’s for an icy cold drink of “pop” from the soda fountain.”  Why? Because they have the best ice for drinks — your choice of cubed, pellet or if you ask they will make you shaved ice in the back!  The store is run by twins Margie and Martha, almost 80 year old pieces of dynamite.  Martha was running the store and greeted us immediately.  We told her all about her being famous on Pinterest and would she pose for a photo with us.  We chatted her up and Martha told us they sell more “pop” in their store than on the highway.  That’s quite an accomplishment!  We snapped a pic with her and then she told us to hightail it over to RedBud Cottage their Airbnb that her sister Margie runs.  Being good tourists we did and Margie gave us a grand tour of their lovely home that you rent here.  Seriously next time we go to Pawhuska we are staying there and inviting the twins over for a BBQ and to bring along some of their famous ice for margaritas.  I bet they are real fun at parties!

There are a lot of cute stores and antique shops along the main street.  I mentioned to Bestie that the Constantine Theatre was showing “It Happenened on 5th Avenue” and that we should see it, but alas the showtime was on Saturday evening after we would already be back in Fort Worth.  I said outloud, “there has got to be someone in this town that can let us in here to watch this movie.”  The next store down was The Lilac Bench and I told the owner Lisa of my unusual request to find someone to let us into the theatre to watch the movie.  She said she knew just who to call.  Less than five minutes later I was chatting on the phone with Gary who said he’d be happy to let us into the theatre for our own private viewing of the movie and oh, by the way did we want popcorn ready when we arrived?  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done in Smalltown, America!  We agreed on a 6 p.m. showtime and headed back to our hotel for a little nap.

4 p.m. arrives and we dine at P Town Wood Fired Pizza.  We  split the Pizza-Ree-A a cross between a pizza and bruschetta and an order of the Caprese Salad.  While we were eating, Ree’s eldest son Bryce be bopped in with his friends and we scooped him up for a picture.   He’s a cutie and I am sure used to the old-lady charm.

Then we met Gary Hartness at the Constantine for our movie.  He couldn’t have been nicer and so excited to share its history. The Constantine Theatre (a.k.a. Constantine Center) was originally created to be the Pawhuska House Hotel in the 1880s. It wasn’t until 1911 that C. C. Constantine purchased and remodeled the hotel into a theatre. The Constantine was remodeled in Greek Revival Style, and can hold 589 people. After many years of use, the theatre deteriorated and was finally abandoned in the 1970s. In 1986, a group of determined citizens began their efforts to restore the theatre back to its early glory.  The theatre is recognized by both the National Registry of Historic Places and the National League of Historic Theatres and is one of the oldest working theatres in Oklahoma.   We had our pick of any seat and settled for right in the center of the theatre.  I will never be able to see this movie (one of my favorites at Christmastime) without thinking about this night.  It was magical.

Saturday morning came and we dined again at the Mercantile.  Johanna did a wonderful job waiting on us and sharing the stories of how they opened the restaurant in 2016.  Sarah made a great Cafe Americano.  And, of course, I had to have another cinnamon roll.

We headed upstairs to the coffee bar, bakery and candy counter that we had missed the day before.

We could have easily spent one more full day seeing tons more sites like the swinging bridge, the Woolaroc Museum and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, but alas it was time to head home.  We left with our stomachs full and our hearts warmed by the hospitality of this sweet little town.  We will definitely be back for more fun!