Monday Motivation: Being Brave, Pancakes for Dinner and French-inspired living

Via the Culinary Bee

I love this letterboard quote from the Culinary Bee, Anna Mae H. Worth.

Here are some ideas to inspire you for the first day of the week…

Start a daily journal with this new book I got:

This past weekend my church hosted a program from their Women at the Well series for our women’s ministry.  It was facilitated by author, counselor and life coach Kelly Johnson.  She has a new book entitled Being Brave:  A 40-day journey to the life God dreams for you.  I can’t wait to start day one tomorrow.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

God has made us brave, not fearful beings. In a forty-day devotional format, author and blogger Kelly Johnson invites you to consider a new way of thinking about what it means to be brave and challenges you to seek a greater intimacy with God and the people God has placed in your life. 

Through Scripture, stories, prayers, and thought-provoking questions, you will recognize the seeds of divinely inspired bravery and learn the strength found in community. Using letters of the word brave as a guide, Being Brave highlights what God’s Word has to say about the characteristics of bravery: Bold, Resilient, Authentic, Vulnerable, and Engaged and Empowered by the Spirit. Banish the fear that holds you back.

Eat pancakes this week.

National Pancake Day is September 26.  One of my favorite memories of cooler weather was when Mother would make breakfast for dinner.  This weekend I bought a bottle of Trader Joe’s vanilla bean infused maple syrup.  There are two big vanilla bean pods floating in the bottle and when you pour it out over your pancakes, you can see the flecks of vanilla bean.  Drop whatever you are doing this week and stock up on these bottles.  I bought the last one on Friday, it’s that good folks.  Even the butter on my cakes formed a heart shape!  A bottle of this and TJ’s Pumpkin Spice Pancake Mix would make a wonderful gift this season.

Listen to this podcast:

The Simple Sophisticate podcast is from the Simple Luxurious Life blogger and author Shannon Ables.  Do yourself a favor this week and take a coffee or hot tea break and listen to her podcasts or read her blog.  It’s beautiful.  “If you are someone who is trying to live their best life, reach their full potential if only you could figure out which one of your many strengths to tap into, all the while love and appreciate simplicity, but a welcoming home and well-stocked kitchen are a must, oh and don’t forget the style quotient: if you are someone who loves to dress well, but could do without the fuss and confusion with the trend, let’s just say it, if you could dress like the French women that appear effortlessly chic, yep, life would be complete, then this blog is for you.” 

This is Shannon walking her dogs….

This is Shannon’s breakfast…

I want to be Shannon for a day and dip my toast points in a poached egg…

Have a blessed week y’all!

What Would Holley Wear: Parisian Chic

Do you suffer from FGO (French Girl Obsession)?  I’m pretty sure I do.  One thing I’ve observed about French girls/women is their minimalistic approach to fashion and beauty.   Not only are their clothes low-key, but also their hair and makeup. And of course…that is exactly why I adore their chic style!

First let’s talk about a French basic…denim.  Have you ever wondered how French women spin denim into something so sophisticated?  One denim look seen on the streets of Paris during fashion week was cropped jeans complemented with kitten heels. We are especially crushing on a pair of frayed jeans shown with a white tee, Chanel suspenders, plaid jacket, Dior kitten heels and a camel beret.  A pair of flared cropped jeans and a trench coat will add a little extra French flavor to your style! So sassy and so French!

Mrs. Twist Flips!  When I saw Holley’s post I had to share that I found these kitten heels at Target.  Don’t they look alot like the Dior inspiration!

 

For me, striped tops are a classic French style, and I have to admit, I love stereotypes.  Soooo…show me a girl wearing a striped tee while riding a bike in Paris, and I’m totally in awe!  I love how an American blogger shares her French style riding a pink bike wearing white skinnies and a green striped top….she even matches her shoes and purse to her pink bike.  French perfection….right?

A French girl must:  Bright red lipstick! Ooh la la!!!  

If I were visiting Paris one of my style goals would be to look so French, tourists would ask me for directions! BTW….does anyone know how to say “y’all” in French? An easy way to accomplish this look is by wearing a monochromatic ensemble.  What shouts “French Cuisine” more than a yummy peach blazer and crops complemented by a straw boater hat? Sounds like the perfect look for the French Riviera….Oui!   

Jeanne Damas, a Parisian “it girl,” exudes that elusive French style. In fact I love her style so much, I dedicated a section to her on my Pinterest board, “Feeling French”!  One of her trademark looks is wearing dresses and skirts that emphasis her long legs. Be sure to check out a few of her Paris Fashion Week front-row looks.   Another French icon and muse, Ines de la Fressange, reveals her long legs and classic style wearing a green floral dress. Don’t you just love their subtle sex appeal?  

Parisian Nostalgia:  Be sure to take a look at two photos I made in Paris over 13 years ago.  Their Parisian style is so classic and timely, you would think the photos were taken this year.

Another thing I adore about French women is they “appear” to live a life that includes consuming lots of croissants and no regular exercise.  Call me crazy, but I’m starting to wonder if my DNA test will prove I’m 100% French! That being said, I will not be talking about French fitness style, because I’m pretty sure there is no such thing.  

And finally…who doesn’t love a beret?  Even though a beret is not exactly considered French…for me, it completes my French fantasy.  The good news is berets are back in style and or not just a cute souvenir. A classic look on our Pinterest board shows wide leg trousers paired with a sweater, YSL handbag, boots, and complemented with a black beret….of course!  And a red beret worn with a plaid jacket is not only classic French but also on-trend.

 

Since it doesn’t look like a trip to Paris is in the near future for me, I think I will just mosey on over to la Madeleine!  Who wants to meet me for a coffee and a croissant…or two?!?!?

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, closet organization and wardrobe consultation.  Contact Holley at [email protected]   Be sure to check out Holley’s updated Pinterest board here.

Monday Motivation: Take a bath, cook with garlic, self-care checklist

I’ve rounded up three ideas for inspiration to get you motivated for the week.

First, take a bath…I’ve blogged about the positive effects of using Epsom salts for foot soaks here, but let’s also add it to your tub.

Via Pinterest

Roasted garlic.  It makes the house smell like you have been cooking for days.  It is super easy to do and you can use it for so many recipes, including spreading it all over french bread, or on the base of your pizza dough.  Simply Recipes has the step-by-step directions and a video tutorial, too.

Lastly, how about a self-care checklist.  One of our readers, Stacy, said she printed last week’s “night before Monday” checklist and taped it to her bathroom mirror.  Maybe this will inspire you as well.

Via Pinterest

Have a great Monday out there, folks!

Fall-ish Friday: Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

Hello, it’s fall y’all!  Well, technically not until September 22, but as soon as pumpkin hits the shelves at Trader Joe’s my happy season has begun.  I did wait until this week, at least, to have a PSL from Starbucks to show some restraint.

Last weekend it was rainy and I baked up a storm — three new recipes in fact and I have to say they were all pretty tasty.  This recipe from Crazy for Crust for Pumpkin Coffee Cake was my favorite.  Here’s the thing, it doesn’t call for any eggs.  Don’t panic, it turns out fine (I was worried, so I wanted to offer you some reassurance).

Ingredients
For the Coffee Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used pastry flour)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pure pumpkin puree (I swear by Trader Joe’s organic canned pumpkin)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup nonfat milk
For the Streusel
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch salt

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×9” pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
Stir in pumpkin, vegetable oil, vanilla and milk until mixed. Pour into prepared pan. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, mix melted butter with 1/4 cup flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir with a fork to
combine. Spread on top of pumpkin cake layer.
4. Bake 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted 2” from the side of the pan comes out clean.
5. Store covered on the counter for up to 2 days or freeze for up to one month

This recipe along with 400 other yummy recipes for breads and muffins can be found on my Pinterest board.  Please feel free to follow!

Have fall-ish Friday!

What Would Holley Wear: Sneaker Style

I have a “sneaky” little feeling you are loving the sneaker trend as much as I am….right?  What’s your go-to sneaker style? My Converse sneakers have definitely been my sneaker style this summer, especially at the airport and on vacation.  

Speaking of the airport, you can’t beat the comfort and practicality of a loafer sneaker.  Not TSA approved? Yikes…then you will definitely want to wear shoes you can easily slip on and off.  Dolce Vita’s black and white woven slip-on will give your sneaker ensemble a sophisticated look. We are also crazy about Steve Madden’s selection of quilted slip-on loafers….especially the pink ones!  And slip-on Converse sneakers are not only airport friendly but also super cute.

Printed sneakers are another way to add a comfy flair to your everyday style. From plaids to animal print, these fun kicks will easily transition into fall. With a pair of Chiko or Converse plaid sneakers, this casual trend never looked so hip.  Though, if I’m perfectly honest, I have to admit animal print sneakers are my absolute favorite! A grey blazer, t-shirt, and jeans paired with animal print sneakers is a great fall transition style.

Have you ever worn sneakers to work?  For years, working women have been wearing sneakers when walking to and from the train in cities.  The difference today is they wear them all day long. Think about saying hello to Monday with a plaid pantsuit and white Converse sneakers.  Want to look effortlessly chic at the office? Then you will certainly want to match a pair of sneakers to your skirt or dress. And be sure to check out all the cute options on our Pinterest board!  

Do you have an “out of the office” style?  I figured you did! A cool way to update this look is by wearing a pair of light blue jeans, black sweater, and black Converse sneakers to your next meeting at Starbucks.  And we’re loving the photo on our Pinterest board that shows a working girl wearing a checked dress while trading out her heels for sneakers….so out-of-the-office smart!

Do you count your steps?  Good for you! When I visited New York this summer, I made a special trip to the Allbirds store in SoHo to see what the shoe buzz was all about. After trying on and purchasing a pair of their gray loafer sneakers, let’s just say….I’m a believer! Besides being water resistant and ultra-comfortable, you do not have to wear socks with them! How awesome is that? Not only do I wear them when I’m counting my steps, but also with jeans and a blazer….the perfect sneaker for any season.

Today’s brides and bridesmaids have absolutely got the sneaker style down. We love how Kate Spade gives a classic pair of Ked’s a heaping dose of sparkle. A rubber-soled sneaker is not only suited for the sidewalk but also the dance floor.  So the next time you plan to dance the night away, whether at a wedding reception or a honky-tonk, think about wearing some sparkly Keds.  

 

If you are getting a “kick” out of this article, then that tells me you are ready to jump into the sneaker trend!  Have fun and enjoy your new kicks!

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, closet organization and wardrobe consultation.  Contact Holley at [email protected]   Be sure to check out Holley’s updated Pinterest board here.

Monday Motivation

Years, and years ago, my Sunday night ritual was to watch the television show Murder, She Wrote.  Jessica Fletcher was my routine for easing into the work week solving the lastest crime in Cabot Cove (frankly, if that many murders happened in that little fishing town, I’d move). When the show was canceled, it threw my globe off its axis.  This weekly bonding with Jessica helped me prepare for the Monday morning blues.   According to a study conducted by the University of Vermont, Monday was named the worst day of the week with moods improving through the rest of the week and peaking on Saturday.

But, on the flip side, according to a study conducted by The Association for Psychological Science Monday is the best day of the week for setting new goals.  It’s referred to as the “Fresh Start Effect.” New research in Psychological Science suggests that we may be more likely to actually follow through with our professional and personal goals if we start on a Monday rather than a Thursday.

To help us approach Mondays, we have coined terms like “Move-it Monday“, Meatless Monday, “DeStress Monday.

I am seeking the positive route — Motivation Monday!  Here is a terrific idea I saw on Pinterest that I think could inspire us daily, but especially on a Sunday evening if we are facing a busy professional and personal week ahead. I have pinned it to my Joie de Vivre board (a collection of ideas to help me find “Joy in Life” in 2018).

This really could be adapted for everyday, but I think particular care should be focused the night before on a day you are worried about facing.  I love the last two suggestions.  “Pray” –  for gratitude of what your day did afford you and pray for grace to get through to the next day.  “Read” – you can start reading the book from Mrs. Twist Reads This!

I’d love to hear your ideas on how you can transform Monday to be the best day of your week!

The Friyay Fit: Go Frogs Attire

Now that TCU football season has begun, on Fridays we wear purple!  I’ve rounded up some of my favorite accessories — shoes, earrings and a scarf to bring home the win!

For my birthday I treated myself to a fancy new pair of TCU Palm Beach Sandals from Fort Worth’s haute couture boutique Keeping Up with the Joneses.  Be sure to stop by and see Judy for all your purple apparel and accessories.  She offers a special purple 15% off discount on Fridays, too!

Next up, earrings!  You must get a pair of Horned Frog earrings from Lola+Lina!  Everytime I wear my pair, people stop me and say, “Go Frogs!”  They really are show stoppers.  They also have a smaller version and a few choices of metals, too.

A scarf is a must for when the chilly, autumn days arrive.  Spirit Snob has the exclusive Horned Frog scarf designed by Fort Worth artist Allison Castillo.  There are so many ways to wear these wraps—twisted, double-up, wrapped, tied—it’s sure to be your most versatile collegiate accessory and wardrobe piece!  Incredibly soft and lightweight on, perfect all year long!  And, it comes in a cute, muslin drawstring bag perfect for gifts (and a bottle of wine)!  Not sure how to wear a large scarf?  Well, check out this video on all the ways to style your work of art.

Spirit Snob is also offering a new square scarf available for a pre-sale price of $35!  Wrap it around your neck for an old-school-cool retro vibe, twist it in your hair to jazz up a high pony, or tie it around your favorite bag! Get all this while still sporting your favorite collegiate attire.

Once you get the shoes, scarf and earrings just add jeans – either dark wash or white, and a cute top and you are set to cheer on the Frogs!

My Secret Confessions…

I came across a journal from 2016 when I was doing a “30-day prompt” challenge.  Across the top of the page was “Don’t judge me, but…”  I thought my responses were funny…and not surprising…

I’d rather spend the day in my pjs, in bed watching TV than doing anything else. (Still true, especially if it’s raining).

I hide cake in my room from other people in the house (Not currently true, however I will not deny that it has happened recently…)

I hate to get my teeth cleaned.  (Still do.  I have no trauma related to visiting the dentist when I was little, and I have a great dentist now.  I think it’s the scraping and the buzzing that bother me.)

 

 

I only use sunscreen intentionally when I know I am going to be out in the sun for extended periods of time, but I don’t wear it everyday. (Still true.)

I’d rather putter around my house than go to a party or out with friends. (I LOVE being in my house. It’s like a big phone charger for me.  I get my energy and creativity from being around my things, cooking, baking, reading and being with my family).

I buy books then don’t read them. (Now it’s false.  I have really enjoyed reading again.  I have read more books this year than I ever have.  Yay me!).

 

 

I keep everything in the house neat and organized, but my own desk and dresser top, why?  (Ugh.  Still true.  It’s my nemisis. Why?)

What would be your secret confession?

Mrs. Twist Reads This — Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

It was such an honor to have Frances Mayes join us last month via Face Time.  I sat back and looked at all our members leaning in to listen to her every word and I just was in awe.  To think I started this book club over a year ago to help me become a book lover so that I’d spend less time watching television, and now 70 members later we are in my living room with best selling authors — is mind blowing!  I am just so thankful and excited.  I want to share it with everyone.

Our selection this month is Clock Dance by Anne Tyler.

Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother but isn’t sure she ever will be. Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory–surrounded by eccentric neighbors who treat each other like family, she finds solace and fulfillment in unexpected places. A bewitching novel of hope and transformation, Clock Dance gives us Anne Tyler at the height of her powers.

Join us on Wednesday, September 26 at 7 p.m. for sips, snacks and discussion.  If you are new to our book club, you can sign up for free through Book Movement.  To set up your free account use this special invitation code to join Mrs. Twist Reads This.  You’ll receive email notifications from me, preview what we are reading, what’s in our queue and create your own library of reads.  Even if you are not local to Fort Worth, you can still read with us.  Friends are always welcome.

Happy reading!

Art of Gathering Book Club Party!

In May, when Priya Parker launched her book The Art of Gathering, I knew it would be the perfect read for my co-workers.  Since I am always looking for an opportunity to host a party, I offered to lead the discussion.   I already lead my own personal bookclub Mrs. Twist Reads This,  and I was up for the challenge.

Book selection:

The Art of Gatheringdraws on Parker’s expertise as a facilitator of high-powered gatherings around the world, and takes us inside events of all kinds to show what works, what doesn’t, and why. She investigates a wide array of gatherings–conferences, meetings, a courtroom, a flash-mob party, an Arab-Israeli summer camp–and explains how simple, specific changes can invigorate any group experience.

The result is a book that’s both journey and guide, full of exciting ideas with real-world applications. The Art of Gathering will forever alter the way you look at your next meeting, industry conference, dinner party, and backyard barbecue–and how you host and attend them.”

Homework:

I wanted this to be interactive, not just me sitting at the front of the room talking, so I enlisted the help of Kahoot – an online game-based learning and trivia platform used on our campus by professors, but it’s also a popular tool in business.  It helps you create all kinds of fun ways to facilitate learning.  I wrote seven questions I came up with using important points in the book and the group played along.  We also used the book to find key concepts that coordinated with the questions.

Before the book club gathering,  I asked the group to come with three ideas they found interesting and willing to adapt or try and a concept that seemed out of their comfort zone.  We took time between trivia questions to share their responses.

Getting personal:

Since we combined two different departments to collaborate on this book club, I felt it was important to get to know one another to find common interests.  Before we started, everyone shared their name and two fun facts about themselves.  When they arrived at our gathering they were asked to write down on a slip of paper their favorite book as a child.  I pulled out the slips of paper throughout our discussion and it was fun trying to figure out who wrote what.

Snacks:

The most important rule:  You cannot have a book club without food!  I enlisted the help of Georgie Girl Bake Shop for the delicious and stunningly creative sugar cookies.  She designed Miss Bee’s graduation party cookies so I knew she could make something fab.  I showed her a copy of the cover art from the book and TCU’s current tagline “Lead On.”  She made cute bookmarks and purple bookworms, too.

I also had my niece, who is very handy with her sewing machine, help me construct candy bags from pages of an old book.  She sewed up the sides with colorful thread.  They were the perfect pouches for everyone’s personal candy stash.

Speaking of color, I knew this gathering called for a big tray of colorful candy!  I bought bags of Dots, Hot Tamales, Lemon Heads, Sour Patch Kids, Licorce twists, Skittles and jelly beans and filled a white tray.

And to wash all the sugar down…little cans of sparkling lemonade piled in an ice bucket with colorful napkins and matching straws!

Everybody wins at the end of a gathering is the moral to this story.  We fed our intellect with a new subject matter.  We noshed on fun and creative snacks.  We learned something new and we made connections.  I’d said we scored an A+ at The Art of Gathering!