What Would Holley Wear: Bring on the Gray

In our humble, yet accurate opinion…gray doesn’t have to be that in-between shade that denotes “blah”.  So from cozy to glamorous….we say, “bring on the gray!”.

Gray skies…no problem.  Grab a cup of tea and cuddle up in something cozy and gray!  We are loving all the gray sweats and sweater combos on our Pinterest board.  If you plan to head outside, don’t forget a cute cap. An oversized gray cardigan is perfect for our southern winter weather. Think about topping off your comfy outfit with a gray blanket scarf….nothing “blah” about these cute outfits!

If you like to blend-in with the crowd in a classy way, you will love a monochromatic look.  If you don’t own a pair of gray jeans…you need to. They go with everything and are the perfect base for an all-gray ensemble. One of our Pinterest favs shows gray jeans paired with a gray turtleneck, grey coat, and snakeskin booties…so chic! To give your jean ensemble a posh vibe, think about accessorizing with a gray tote.   

Are you of the opinion that the color gray sometimes gets a bad rap?  Yep…me too. Let’s put a stop to this nonsense and “wrap” up in a gray winter coat.  Who doesn’t love an ultra-soft faux fur or teddy bear coat? We think Kenzie’s notched-collar gray teddy is ideal for a cloudy winter day.  And a faux fur collar gives a gray Anthropologie cardigan a luxurious touch of cozy.

For a business meeting, a gray pleated skirt coordinated with a sweater will definitely add polish to your professional style.  Wondering what to wear to a job interview? Nothing says, “I’m an executive” like a gray pantsuit. Be sure to take a look at our Pinterest board, and check out Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, and Banana Republic online for more pantsuit options.  

What’s your favorite color to coordinate with gray?  We are loving pink! Since every color goes with gray, just add an accessory in your favorite color to give your gray outfit a pop.  A great Pinterest board look features a gray coat, plaid scarf, and jeans paired with a pink Chloe’ handbag and pink sneakers. And a pair of gray plaid pants, pink blazer, and handbag topped with a gray overcoat was a show-stealer at Paris Fashion Week!

It’s easy to glam up a gray outfit by wearing a beautiful brooch on your coat or blazer.  We think a Chanel brooch pinned to a coat, complemented with a gray Hermes’ bag is the ultimate!  By adding a pair of Oscar de la Renta fringed earrings or a pair of Alexis Bittar teardrops, your look will instantly transform from professional to glamorous!  And think about topping off your luxe look with a metallic Dior evening bag. How glam does that sound?

With so many stylish and glamorous ways to wear gray….we are definitely saying goodbye to “blah” and hello to gray!  

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.

The Randomness of January: Breaking Up with Cable, Simmer Sauce, Kind Replies and Other Stuff

Coming down from the hustle and bustle of the holidays is a challenge.  I had such a great two-week staycation from work and did exactly what I set out to do — nothing.  I slept late, binge watched tv and movies, took naps, read, cooked and spent alot of time with my brother who was in town for almost three weeks and stayed with me.  He makes me laugh like no one else can.  It’s like “home” to be with him.

When you don’t have a schedule, it’s so easy to get out of routine, especially with your sleep schedule, so last week I leaped out of bed on Monday for work and by Thursday I was so sleepy.  My brain is also not firing on all cylinders for blogging, but I thought I would at least share a few random things I am finding fun, helpful or interesting.  And, I hope to post a podcast this week, too.

First, I broke up with cable television.  I was paying almost $250 a month for channels I have no interest in.  I took a poll at home and the only two channels Mr. Bee was adament we keep was the History Channel and MSNBC.  Me — I only care about HGTV, the Hallmark Channel and cooking shows.  I did some shopping around and found this helpful article  comparing all the companies out there that provide low cost streaming services.  I was already strongly considering Sling TV, and based on my research, they offered just what I wanted for my budget (with a free month of service).  Now I am paying about $50 for Sling, Netflix and DVR.  Then, I spent about an hour on live chat to negotiate my internet bill down to $40 for internet. For less than $100 (a $150 monthly savings) I am done for all the TV and internet I can possibly want.  AT&T took it like a champ and let me ship my equipment back for free at the UPS store.  I also lowered my insane phone bill by $15 a month with bundling my phone and internet.  Monthly savings in total – $165.  Thank you.

I made a list of two foods I want to perfect this year — Roasted chicken and souffles.   I follow this cutie Trent from Store Bought is Fine blog.  His mission is to cook every single one of Ina Garten’s recipes.  I think Trent is up to 663.  He’s inspired me to try new recipes this year and Ina’s Perfect Roast Chicken was the recipe Harry and Meghan were cooking when he proposed.  My brother got me a French cookbook on souffles so that is also on my list.

I made the most amazing meal this weekend.   I did a little grocery shopping on Saturday morning and saw these simmer sauces from Albertson’s Signature Select.  They were on sale for $2.49 a jar so I bought several varieties.  I decided to prepare the Chile Verde with pork.  I got a pork shoulder for about $5, a box of lime cilantro rice, a package of Hatch green tortillas and a can of black beans.  For about $12 I had a dinner meal that ended up making enough servings for lunch the next two days.  The meat was flavorful and the entire meal was delicious.  Really, one of the best meals I’ve made in a while.  I plan to keep these sauces on my shelf.

Kind replies and comments.  I have met some of the sweetest people in my blogging journey.  Strangers send me the kindest notes letting me know how much they appreciate my posts and most recently my podcast.  Here’s a recent message I received in my email inbox last week…

“I just wanted you to know I found your website and podcast, from following Euna Mae’s. I have binged listened to your podcast this past week, and I can’t wait to hear more! I have also looked through a lot of your blog.  Just wanted to say “hi”. Can’t wait to read and hear more!!!!  K.”

Let’s see what else…I cleaned out my pantry so I can start fresh.  Alot of the food I didn’t need any more (our eating habits have changed alot since Miss Bee is away at school), I took up to my church’s food pantry for someone else to enjoy.  I plan to go through all my cabinets in the kitchen and do a purge of things I am not using.  I usually always have at least one “donation” bag going at all times so as I find things I don’t want it goes into the bag.  When the bag is full it goes into the car for drop off the next day.  This trick keeps things from piling up and causing clutter.

I learned something new from  The Kitchen Counter Podcast, which I love, about the difference between convection and conventional cooking.  A “light bulb” moment was that I have the convection feature on my oven and I never use it.  Well, no more!  I made a batch of my favorite chocolate chip cookies with chopped dried cherries (that I found when I organized my pantry) and used the convection mode.  They were amazing.  Seriously.  I love learning and trying new things.  Another fun tip from this podcast is to shop your pantry.  Try to challenge yourself to cook from what you already have instead of buying more.  My pantry purge made me realize I have 100 cans of tomatoes of all varieties.  I need to make a great sauce and freeze it!

So, that’s it for this Monday.  I hope your week is great!

What Would Holley Wear: Pleats & Thank You

Let’s start first with a thank you.  Because of Melissa’s encouragement, I’ve been writing fashion articles for Home with a Twist for over two years!  For the confidence she has in me and the support she gives me, I am extremely thankful!

When Melissa first asked me to be her fashion writer, I was afraid to try something new.  But just like a pleated skirt, she slowly brought me into the “fold,” and 117 articles later…I’m still writing!  Since pleated skirts are touted as a trend every few seasons, I like to call them a trendy-classic. A favorite outfit from Pinterest features a light gray cable sweater paired with a dark gray pleated skirt.  With heels, this look is ultra-classy, and a pair of booties would add a hip vibe! Yep…I’m “com-pleat-ly” in love with this look!

Okay, I realize this is not exactly an Academy Award speech.  That being said, another special thank you goes to my editor, Rochelle Moses.  She edits every article with expertise and kindness, and for that I am beyond grateful!  So, what’s the magic word? That would be “pleats”! And just like a great editor, a mid-length pleated skirt crosses all my “t’s”!  Point proven with a pink pleated skirt complemented with a black turtleneck sweater and leather jacket.

If you cross all your “t’s”, ya gotta dot all the “i’s” too!  So let’s think about sharpening our editorial style with a striped pleated skirt.  My Pinterest favorite shows a striped rainbow skirt with a bit of sparkle from Anthropology.  Wear it now with a sweater and later this spring, with a white blouse tied at the waist. Another “i-dotter” on our Pinterest board is a bright fuchsia skirt paired with a light pink embroidered sweater.  Don’t you just love pleats with personality?

When writing a weekly fashion article, you definitely put yourself out there! Would you be willing to step out on a fashion limb in a pleated gold metallic maxi skirt paired with a black leather biker jacket?  Another hip look is a rose-gold metallic midi skirt matched with a gray sweatshirt and metallic rose-gold trimmed sneakers. Wow…who knew pleats were so cool?

We think pleats are ideal for the office.  A Pinterest look that exudes confidence highlights a fashionista wearing a blue pleated skirt with a tucked blouse and a camel coat draped over her shoulders.  A matching burgundy sweater and skirt will bring a monochromatic look to your executive style. Though, I have to admit, my pleat preference is a green cable sweater worn with a green skirt!

What do you get when you pair a classic pleated skirt with sneakers?  A cool new trend…of course! We are loving how two style-stars wear their satin skirts with sneakers.  One matched a pink sweatshirt with her cute skirt, and the other styled her skirt with a bomber jacket.  Are you a girl who likes to twirl? A pleated tulle or satin skirt is a flirty way to add femininity to your style.  So for a party look, think about twirling the night away in one of these beauties!

Okay…one last thank you to my readers.  Thank you so much for reading my articles, for “liking” them on Instagram and Facebook, for sharing them, and most of all….for sending encouraging and positive messages.  Trust me when I say…you “com-pleat” me!

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.

My Easy Three for January: Emails, linen closet, medicine cabinet and Marie Kondo

I haven’t done a My Easy Three post in a long time, but it’s time to get back to sharing three simple things you can try each month to feel like you’ve accomplished something.  By breaking it down into “just three”things it’s doable and achievable – not overwhelming.

One:  Emails – Clear the Clutter.  Do you have a stockpile of unread emails like from stores you don’t really shop or did one time to get the discount?  Do you want to start the new year sticking to a budget and don’t want the temptation to buy something?  Introducing — UNSUBSCRIBE!  Don’t just delete, because it will be back again tomorrow and you will just feel like you are on a hamster wheel.

I took about 30 minutes one day going through this process.  It might take a few times to unsubscribe until they get the message, but be persistent.  This activity can easily be done while you are waiting for an appointment, in the carpool line, or drinking your morning coffee.  If you don’t already have inbox folders designated for family members, coupons, photos, important correspondence, for example, set those up.  Then move all the emails from your current inbox into folders.  You should probably have no more than ten emails at one time in your inbox.  If it needs action leave it there, otherwise, it needs to be deleted or put into a folder.  You defeat the point with having 50,100 or 300 emails at one time.  How can you easily find something amidst that clutter?  Think of it has pieces of paper on your desk.  Once you’ve cleared the clutter, try to spend time each day purging, moving and minimizing your inbox clutter.

Two:  Clear out the linen closet, cabinet and drawer.  January is a great time to take advantage of what has been traditionally called a “white sale”  Fun fact:  In 1878, John Wanamaker of Philadelphia department store fame decreed January to be the time for a “White sale.” Bed linens, which were available in white only, were sold at a discount. This was done to increase sales for these items at a time of the year when sales were normally slow.

For this activity, go through all your towels (bath and kitchen), sheets, blankets, comforters and quilts.  Are they stained, torn or worn?  You know who could use them — animal shelters!   Have you stopped using a comforter or quilt because it’s out of style or the wrong color, then give it to a homeless shelter.  Give to someone else what once gave you joy, then it doesn’t feel like such a waste.  Go through your inventory of bath and hand towels and washcloths — do you have too many of one thing, are they random colors and you’d rather just narrow it down to two, then donate the standouts.  Sort everything in its proper place either in stacks or in baskets and if it’s not clear, then label them.  Want inspiration?  Click here for 20 Beautifully Organized Linen Closets like this one!

Three:  Clear out the medicine cabinet and prepare for flu and cold season!  Our home wasn’t built with medicine cabinets, so we use storage bins with snap off lids I bought at Dollar General.  They easily stack and I label them to distinguish between prescription, over the counter, and first aid medicines.  Physically touch each bottle or tube.  Check the expiration date.  Most medicine loses it’s potentcy and can actually be toxic past its expiration date, so be sure to error on the side of caution.  Wipe out the shelves so they are clean and free from goop.  Most drug stores are running good sales right now to prepare people for the cough and cold season.  Here’s a list from Real Simple on Medicine Cabinet Essentials.  I keep a small first aid kit in my powder room.  If guests need a bandaid or headache medicine they can help themselves to supplies on their own.

Bonus Thing:  Please watch Marie Kondo’s Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.  Her mission is to clear the clutter and spark joy — my kinda gal!  Her show is really inspiring.  There are a few rituals she strongly believes in to help ground her clients and steer them toward appreciating the process.   There’s always tears, frustration, yelling and then boom the realization.  You will leave each episode with at least one great idea to apply in your own home (like the proper way to fold a fitted sheet!).  You can watch the trailer here.

Go forth, organize, declutter and #seekjoy!

What Would Holley Wear: Style Resolution

Even though I do not have a good history keeping a New Year’s resolution, I’ve decided to give it one more try!  But this time I’m calling it a “Style Resolution.” So…here’s to a stylish 2019!!!

This year my plan is to move toward a more classic direction with my style. One of these classic looks I’m loving is loafers. Besides being comfy and easy to walk in, they complete any classic look.  In the fall, I purchased a pair of faux snakeskin Sam Edelman loafers and ever since then, I’ve been hooked. They were perfect for our fall weather, and I will be bringing them back in the spring.  How classic does that sound?

In my opinion, Tod’s offers the ultimate when it comes to a classic loafer. If these lovelies were in my budget, I’m pretty sure I would own a pair of their orange driving moccasins.  But back to reality….between J Crew and Banana Republic, there are so many beautiful and affordable loafers to choose from.  My favorite is J Crew’s Ryan loafer which comes in six classic colors. Hmmm…should I purchase a yellow pair or a red pair? You will definitely want to browse our Pinterest board to see all the loafer options!

My go-to boot style is a pair of black knee-high Aquatalia boots….flat heels, water resistant, and ideal for city walking.  And the best part is they never go out of style. Last year, I purchased a pair of faux snakeskin booties with block heels from Zara.  Not only is snake print super on-trend this season, it’s also considered a classic.

 To give my everyday jeans a polished look, I pair a checked blazer, jeans, and a creamy ruffled blouse with my snakeskin booties.  A Pinterest board look I copied shows cropped/fringed jeans with snake print boots topped with a brown suede coat. How cool and classic does that sound?  And please know….I’m predicting you will see this classic print in the spring and summer as well!

 For me, the ultimate classic accessory is a handbag.  My style tip: If you can only make one major fashion investment a year….it should be a leather handbag.  The reason I say “leather” is because it will stand the test of time. When it comes to classic style, Ann Taylor has the market cornered.  We are loving a few of her leather satchels…ideal for a career woman. Another beauty is J Crew’s Harper satchel in dark evergreen….great for work or running errands.  

If you are in need of a little “New Year’s” retail therapy, you may want to consider a designer bag. Tory Burch offers so many fabulous styles. Her Kira eel double strap shoulder bag is the ultimate! Plus, we are loving how her Miller cross-body bag is styled as a belt bag over a trench coat.  And the good news…one of her totes will definitely bring the “it” factor to a classic ensemble.

 As I write throughout the year, my plan will be to talk about classic looks and include ways to add a trendy pop!  Because the beauty of a classic style is, it’s just like a fine wine….pairs well when blended! So again….here’s to a stylish 2019!  

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

Mrs. Twist Reads This — The Classic Little Women

Mrs. Twist Reads This is kicking off 2019 with a goal to read at least three classic novels and I am super excited!  One of our members proposed the idea to me that she wanted to try reading the classics and I thought it was a perfect way to expand our reach in helping our members grow in their reading.   I passed around this list 25 Must-Read Classics for Women from Modern Mrs. Darcy and took a vote on which book to start with first.  So in January, join us in reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888).

Little Women was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. Alcott wrote the books rapidly over several months at the request of her publisher. The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood, and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters.  Little Women was an immediate commercial and critical success, and readers demanded to know more about the characters. Alcott quickly completed a second volume (entitled Good Wives in the United Kingdom, although this name derived from the publisher and not from Alcott). It was also successful. The two volumes were issued in 1880 in a single work entitled Little Women. Alcott also wrote two sequels to her popular work, both of which also featured the March sisters: Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886). Although Little Women was a novel for girls, it differed notably from the current writings for children, especially girls. The novel addressed three major themes: “domesticity, work, and true love, all of them interdependent and each necessary to the achievement of its heroine’s individual identity.”

We will meet on Tuesday, January 29 at 7 p.m. to discuss the book.  I am hoping to find some fun activities to do around the book at our meeting.  This will be a different read than we normally do and I expect it will be challening to get through.  But, we will give it our best try.  The last time I attempted little women was 18 years ago when I brought Miss Bee home from the hospital and I was determined to be the best mother possible by reading to her every single day even at one week old.  What book did I pick – Little Women!  The things we do when we are shiny, brand new moms.

If you’d like to join our bookclub, we’d love to have you.  Just go to BookMovement to set up a free account and use this invitation link to join. Even if you don’t live local to our monthly meetings, but want accountability to read, we’d love to have you be in our group.  We are alot of fun, eat yummy snacks and drink delicious sips.

Cheers to new reads, fun and adventure in 2019!

Make Your House Smell Like Christmas with this Homemade Stovetop Potpourri

Here is a last minute gift idea I made for friends that would be a perfect way to engage your children and teens when they are home for Christmas — homemade stovetop potpourri!

When I was little, Sister and I would make crafts together as my gift to family members.  One year we made spice ropes, another year we filled hairspray caps with plaster and stuck a fork inside to make a recipe holder.  Our creative skills were on fire!  I have fun memories working with her on these crafts instilling in me the spirit of giving.

For this project, I got the idea here on Pinterest from The Crafting Chicks.  All the ingredients and a free printable are available on the link.  But, I’ll give you the CliffsNotes version.

Gather all your ingredients and Ball jars.  I always purchase my Ball jars at Jabo’s Ace Hardware because they have the best selection and I can use the $5 off coupons they send me in the mail for being a reward customer (and if you use Ebates they reward 2.5% back to you).  I purchased the cinnamon sticks at Fiesta International Market and sourced the cloves and cinnamon in bulk from Whole Foods.  The cranberries and oranges came from my local grocery store.

Then I got to work bagging up the spices into small snack size ziploc bags.  I placed the oranges and cranberries inside first and tucked the spice bags to the side.  Your little children could help with counting each orange and cranberries that go into the jars.  Note: I didn’t slice the oranges, per the recipe, because I wasn’t sure when people would make their potpourri.

Once the jars are filled, I wrote messages on black scrapbook paper and cut the paper into oversized circles to place over the top of the jar seal, and then finished with the Ball jar rim.  I tied the printable around the mouth of the jar with baker’s twine.  Your older kids could write the message in gold paint pen.

Now, pile the jars into a basket and take your little ones with you for deliveries.    Your friends and family will delight in seeing their faces bring a gift to fill their home with the smells of Christmas that was made with love!

What Would Holley Wear: Dreaming of a White Christmas

I’m having a difficult time shaking off this OCD bug (Obsessive Christmas Disorder).  And to make things worse, now I’ve started dreaming of a white Christmas. My therapist says the best remedy is to journal about it!  So let’s do this and talk about all the beautiful white/neutral ensembles to wear during the winter holidays.

“Over the river and though the woods to grandmother’s house we go!” Sarah Vickers, our favorite classy blogger, shows us how to travel to grandmother’s house in-style.  Her gray Kate Spade sweater with sparkly buttons paired with a metallic gray pleated skirt is over-the-top classy.  We love how she complements her outfit with a pink pearl embellished purse and pearl pumps! After all….she is “the classy girl who wears pearls!”

Wondering what to wear to a holiday party?  A vest is always a great option. A preppy-party look on our Pinterest board features a white puffer vest, white sweater and jeans accented with gold Tory Burch flats and gold jewelry.  If you need to dress your style up a bit, think about wearing white slacks with a gray sweater and gray and white faux fur vest….party perfection!

Show me a white faux fur coat, and I’m 100% crushing!  Point proven with a beautiful white coat accented with a touch of apricot….stunning!  And the bigger and fluffier…the better! According to Jennifer Lopez, “her love don’t cost a thing,” but it looks like her coat sure does!   Take a look at our Pinterest board to see some of these beauties!

It’s that time of year to start wearing an overcoat.  My board favorite is a white teddy-bear coat matched with a white sweater and gray plaid pants…ideal for our Texas winter. Gap gives us their usual preppy vibe with a white cable sweater and white jeans topped with a neutral brown cargo coat from Zara. Add a pair of LL Bean rubber boots and a knit beanie cap….and I’m calling it a “snow day”!

I don’t know about you, but eating s’mores fireside in the snow sounds like the ultimate holiday experience to me.  For this dreamy occasion, we suggest a white shearling jacket, white sweater and jeans paired with over the knee boots.  A white puffer coat worn over a pink sweater with white jeans and suede boots will definitely impress the ski crowd. Hmmm….I wonder what the snow is like in Aspen.   

Baby its cold outside!  One of my favorite holiday activities is sitting inside by a warm cozy fireplace.  And of course this means wearing something really comfy. A pair of gray sweats and an oversized white cable sweater is perfect for tree decorating.  A pair of black and white polka-dot pajamas says one thing to me….“let it snow!”

Whether you are gathering around a flocked Christmas tree for a cup of hot cocoa or playing outside in the snow with your pup….we hope all your Christmas dreams come true!  

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.

Home with a Twist Podcast Episode Seven

I just uploaded a new episode of the Home with a Twist podcast you can find here and on any channel where you listen to podcasts.

This week I share all my favorite memories of Christmas growing up and how Mother made everything magical for our family.

I shared a fun game you can play called the “Great Candy Cane Pass” which you can find here on my Pinterest board “Ice breakers” where I literally have 103 games.  The idea is you pass peppermints right or left depending on your responses and the person with the most peppermints wins.  I think this might be fun to play on Christmas Eve.

Next, we talked about a delicious and clever cocktail idea called a Very Merry Ornamentini from Inspired by Charm.  I purchased these glass ball oranments I found on Amazon so guests can pour their own cocktails into glasses.  Here is the recipe for the sugared cranberries to use as a garnish.

I will serve the sip along side a tray of a traditional Southern appetizer recipe for Crispy Cheese Wafers.  They also make a perfect gift packaged up to give to neighbors, co-workers or as a hostess gift.  A twist on serving these wafers is along side a dish of pepper jelly and goat cheese.

And we finished the podcast sharing our bookclub selection for January — the classic Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  Go here to read more and to sign up to join our bookclub.  We will be meeting January 27 at 7 p.m. to discuss the book.  This is a twist on our normal reads, but our goal for 2019 is to read at least 3-4 classics.  If you want to join our bookclub, go here to BookMovement our on-line, free platform that manages our bookclub.  Membership is free!

That’s a wrap for this week’s chat.  I hope to sneak in a few more shows before we move into 2019.  Thank you for your positive feedback on my podcast project.  Let me know what you want to hear.  Remember, seek joy in everyday!

Vintage Memories of Christmas and Mother’s Cheese Grits

If you could go back to any point in time at Christmas when would it be?  Mine would be in the late 60’s, early 70’s during the “wonder” years, when I was little and I knew for sure there was a larger than life, fatherly man coming down the chimney after midnight.

Here are the top things I remember:

Tons of Friends Coming Over for Parties:

People like Mary, Rhoda and Lou were always at our house. Mother had such
great friends (just like me) who never had to come up with a reason to
throw a party.    Mother and Daddy would have parties for their employees,
a Christmas Eve party for close friends, neighbors and family, then get
together for Christmas day with family for an entire day of eating,
playing, and celebrating.  Not to mention the luncheons and coffees with
close friends she’d host mid-week.  I remember going with Mother to the
Winn-Dixie to load up grocery carts of jams and jellies so she could make gift baskets for people who dropped by.

Playing Christmas Records on the stereo:

It’s really Christmas for me when I hear songs by Perry Como, Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams.   Their smooth musical stylings and TV Christmas specials were the best way to spend an evening.

Christmas Decor:

Mother decorated every room in the Meadowbrook house.  She had a storage area that housed all of her decor and would hand me things telling me the room they were to be delivered to.  By the end of the day each room in our house was transformed into Christmas magic.  BTW — this could easily be her on the ladder decorating the tree…and I swear she had every party supply in this picture, including that rad percolator.

I don’t think we ever had an aluminum tree, rather it was always a giant white flocked tree from Hilscher’s Nursery on East Lancaster.  Mr. Hilscher would call Mother right after Thanksgiving to ask her what kind of tree she wanted delivered and within a few days the biggest, most fragrant tree would arrive!

Cheese Grits on Christmas morning:

This was a Christmas brunch staple in our house.  Mother would serve her grits in a lovely copper chafing dish on her beautifully decorated buffet
complete with a long centerpiece of greenery and candles down the middle of the table.

Here’s Mother’s recipe
from Jane Justin’s cookbook “Prescriptions for Hunger” copyright 1968:

Preheat Oven to 350
Put 8 cups of water in a large saucepan and add 1 TBL of salt.
When water starts to boil add 2 cups of grits
Cook slowly until grits are thick
Pour grits into a large bowl and add:
1 TBL Worcestershire sauce
1 Cup of whole milk
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp black pepper
3 TBL melted butter
1 Cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Mix well and pour into a greased casserole.
Sprinkle with more grated cheese and a few dashes of paprika
Bake one hour at 350 degrees.  She usually served the grits with fruit, scrambled eggs, tiny link sausages and a yummy coffee cake she would get from the bakery.

Merry Christmas!