How to Decorate with Flowering Branches

Southern Living magazine

Growing up Mother loved to garden.  I have vivid memories of Spirea (in the south also called “Bridal wreath”) blooming in our backyard.  Mother would clip some branches and let me play wedding — hence began my career as a party planner.

While branches are a cinch to source year round, looking out your window will confirm that spring is the season for flowering branches, when trees from coast to coast are aflutter with dreamy, delicate blossoms. Take advantage of nature’s offering and bring them inside to enjoy!

pc: Alice’s Table

With their height and presence, flowering branches are statement-makers—a little bit modern and a little bit girly. Plus they’re long-lasting and require zero floral skills: Get a bundle, stick it in a vase, add water you’re all set. Insta-arrangements.

The cheap and easy play is simply to target trees in your yard. Just approach the task as if you were pruning, going after the straggler branches that you’d eventually chop anyway, and cut right at the joint. Before you start working, it’s best to have a specific vase in mind (more on vases later) so you know about how long branches need to be. And powerful shears are a must—trust us, you don’t want to struggle using kitchen scissors as that might yield a visit to the ER and we don’t want that!

If there are no friendly neighborhood trees in need of a little trim, pop buy your local florist or flower market to check out the goods. Or, take your chances with a grocery-store run; sometimes even big-box brands can surprise you with a decent branch selection.

Photo: Johanna Eklöf

Prep 101

Split thin branch ends lengthwise, or smash thick branch ends with a hammer (yep, you read that right). This primes them for maximum water consumption. Then place them a vase filled with water so they’re submerged at least three inches. Change the water regularly and mist every few days so the petals have another source for hydration.

All About That Vase

You need a sturdy vase so that the heft and height of the branches doesn’t send it tumbling—so opt for something heavy or with a wide base (think pear-shape). And branches are besties with glass vases which show off their clean lines in a way that looks so sleek and architectural you almost feel guilty that “arranging” them took like no time at all.

How to Decorate With Them

Tall, upright branches like dogwood, quince, and curly willow look stunning on the credenza in your entryway, in the middle of your dining table, and even directly on the floor—in that lonely spot in the corner you’ve been wondering what to do with. While branches like silver dollar eucalyptus and wisteria, which lean to the romantic swoon, are ideal for your mantle, bedside table, and coffee table.

The Lane

“The Earth laughs in flowers.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mrs. Twist Reads This: Dumplin’

It’s time for this month’s read from our book club — Mrs. Twist Reads This — Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy.  Our book for March will surely put a smile on your face.   Written by Julie Murphy, a YA author, this beloved novel, a #1 New York Times bestseller, will soon be a major motion picture starring Danielle Macdonald and Jennifer Aniston. I hope to see you at our book club meeting the last Thursday of the month, March 29 at 7 p.m.  Tell a friend and get them to read along with us!

For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel with the most fearless heroine—self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson—from Julie Murphy, the acclaimed author of Side Effects May Vary. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . .  until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.  

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

Want to sign up to read along with us?  Whether you are local to our Fort Worth monthly meetings, or just want to be apart of a community of women reading more and spending less time using technology, sign up for  free here on our Mrs. Twist Reads This page at Bookmovement.

What Would Holley Wear This Weekend

Are you familiar with the word, “weekending”?  Here’s the Urban Dictionary’s definition:

To be participating in the activities generally associated with the weekend.  Such activities include going out with friends, watching television, procrastinating from unpleasant tasks, etc.  Antonym of Mondaying.

So, let’s get started and talk about what to wear when you are “weekending”!  My husband and I like to start the weekend off on Friday night going out to dinner or to a movie.  A pair of flared jeans, black pullover sweater, and Nike sneakers are perfect for movie night. Because the benefits of a blazer cannot be overstated, jeans and a t-shirt worn with a blazer are also perfect for a Friday date night.  Comfy and stylish!

For me, the perfect start to the weekend is lying around the house on Saturday morning reading a book or magazine and drinking coffee.  A red Vineyard and Vine long sleeve t-shirt worn with Nike leggings and UGG boots is the perfect look for a lazy weekend. And if you plan on running errands, be sure to add a monogramed baseball cap, a pair of Kate Spade earrings, and don’t forget your Fitbit!

Interested in joining me for a walk in the park?    Fitness style is the perfect look for strolling or a brisk walk.  A look I’m loving on our Pinterest board is black leggings with a white top and a mint jacket…all from Lululemon.  And for a pop of color, they added a pair of bright power-pink Nikes. The good news is you don’t have to sweat your style with TJ Maxx and Marshall’s selection of spring fitness wear!

Our favorite place to go to lunch after church is the Kimbell Art Museum Café. One way I like to combine my church style with museum lunching is by wearing neutrals.    One of my favorite spring neutrals is gray. From skirts to pantsuits….it’s the perfect complement to any art exhibit! An all-white pantsuit is always spot-on for church and art browsing!  Did I mention that visiting a museum makes me feel like I’m on vacation?

Speaking of vacations, there’s nothing like a short weekend trip to revive your soul.  Have you considered “weekending” in Southlake? I’m thinking a red, white, and blue ensemble would be perfect for dining and shopping at this all-American town square.  Think about wearing a red blazer….just add blue jeans, a white blouse, and sneakers. A red handbag will definitely add flair to your “all-American” weekending style!

 For a quick and luxurious weekend get-a-way, a trip to Dallas sounds perfect to me.  My fantasy Dallas weekend would include a night at the Ritz Carlton and visiting the Nasher Sculptor Garden. White jeans paired with a classic camel trench coat or cape is the perfect look for the Ritz and for taking a walk through the garden!  Any way you look at it…such a classy way to make an entrance!

Another classic look on our board is a pair of white jeans, black and white striped blouse, short black boots, and a mid-length black coat.  This classic style will take you from the museum to a fabulous restaurant. Sounds fancy, but first things first….who can meet me at The W’s rooftop bar?   

Whether you are weekending at home or a ritzy hotel, the whole idea is to relax and have fun….in a stylish way, of course!

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.

St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail — Green Apple Ginger Martini

Here’s a lively twist on a classically chic cocktail perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

When crafting cocktails we love incorporating seasonal ingredients. While apples are typically thought of as a part of the fall harvest, tart green apples offer a crispness for the sunny spring days, while ginger provides a warming flavor profile for the cooler nights. Shake this cocktail up for a cozy night in or as a dessert pairing at your next dinner party.

We love cocktails that are a bit more of an experience to mix up, as it makes them all the more worthwhile. However, if you’re not feeling quite like Betty Crocker, you can easily substitute a premade simple syrup alongside a high-quality store bought apple juice — it will be our little secret!


  • 1 green apple
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped ginger


  1. To create your apple-ginger simple syrup bring the water, sugar, ginger, and peel of the green apple to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Quickly transfer the simple syrup pan to a cold ice bath, stirring occasionally. Once cooled strain the simple syrup to remove the apple peel and ginger.
  3. Place the peeled green apple into a juicer, and strain if necessary.
  4. Fill your cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the vodka, 2 ounces of the apple-ginger simple syrup, and ⅓ cup of the apple juice. Shake well, and pour into two martini glasses.
  5. Garnish with a fresh apple slice or apple peel garland. Enjoy!

Tips for a Simple Easter Tablescape

An Eventful Life Blog

Sharing some inspiration from the Alice’s Table blog today on springtime entertaining.  We will soon be humming “Here Come’s Peter Cottontail” before you know it!

Does anyone else feel like we were just ringing in the new year and now we’re getting ready to celebrate Easter? Honestly, where has this year gone? As a group who can pretty much come up with any excuse to throw a party, holidays are our thing here at Alice’s Table. And right there on the same page is Chicago-based lifestyle blogger Rachel Geeser of An Eventful Life, who’s also a tad holiday-obsessed. Here she invites us to take at peek at her Easter table and shares guidance for pulling together a chic tableau that doesn’t break the bank.

This Easter keep things simple and focused on bright colors.  Here are her top tips for planning your own Easter or Spring tablescape:

Linens can make a big statement for a relatively small cost. Target and Home Goods are two great budget-friendly stores for finding linens and decor at good prices.  Look how simple it is to just wrap the napkin with ribbon and finish with hot pink tulip tucked in for good measure. Or how about this sweet napkin garnished with a radish — certainly Peter Rabbit approved.


Coconut Macaroon Nests from Skinnytaste

You don’t have to have a ton of decor for every holiday. These Coconut Macaroon Nests from Skinnytaste can serve as your Easter decor and dessert.  Look at these sweet little peat pots filled with candy.  Wouldn’t  a place card be adorable tucked inside at each guest’s place setting?

Yummy Healthy Easy

As far as an appetizer that will make a lasting impression, how about this adorable Easter carrot cheese ball from Yummy Healthy Easy.

And last, flowers.  They don’t have to cost a ton to make an impact and you don’t need to go to a florist. You can pick up a pretty bouquet of tulips or hydrangeas from your local grocery store for about $10. Other inexpensive blooms this time of year include spray roses and gerbera daisies. And don’t forget your own garden has plenty to contribute — like Dusty Miller, rosemary and daffodils.

Happy Spring!

International Women’s Day – Behind Every Woman Giveaway

International Women’s Day is on March 8th. But a day isn’t long enough to pay tribute to all the women who inspire us.  Let’s inspire more women to share their work with more people to support one another.  Text or call a woman today who inspires you, then check out this amazing campaign from Moment and enter to win $5000 in products, art, and experiences from some of our favorite female-empowering brands.

Moment launched Behind Every Woman because they’re inspired by women who do cool stuff.  They want to help amplify the voices of females—filmmakers, photographers, foodies, architects, and brand makers – to inspire more women to share their work with more people to support one another.  In celebration of International Women’s Day, Moment will be sharing about inspiring everyday women and giving away a collection of goodies with a handful of brands that share their Behind Every Woman mission.  Enter here to win. #BehindEveryWoman


What Would Holley Wear: Ladies Who Lunch

Are you a lady who likes to lunch?  I have to admit “lunching” is one of my guilty pleasures!  

So two reasons I love “lunching”:

…It is a great way to spend precious one-on-one time with a dear friend.

…And I’m pretty sure…during these precious moments, all of the world’s problems are solved!  

 So let’s talk about a luxury lunch!  And I’m not talking about the place or food but about the luxe fashion accessories that complement the table setting.  It seems like everyone has their smart phone nearby in a designer-ish phone case at luncheons. If you are interested in a designer look, you can’t go wrong with a Louis Vuitton or Gucci phone case.  Though, the good news is there are so many cute and inexpensive cases to choose from. One of my favorites is the Kate Spade “Shake Things Up” case…glitter included!

Stylish handbags are another luncheon must!  We are loving all of the new “it bags” and think they make for the perfect tablescape.  The Faye mini suede and leather cross-body bag by Chloe’ will add a classy touch to any table setting.  For the table centerpiece, think about displaying a Cult Gia wooden tote…the “it bag” that doesn’t break the bank!  And just for fun, be sure to browse my Pinterest board, “It Bags”!

Don’t you just love all of the outdoor lunch venues around town?  You will definitely need a cool pair of sunshades for the patio. Designer shades like Prada and Chanel are the perfect complement for any outdoor table.  But, if you are like me and tend to lose or break your shades, then go for a less expensive designer copy. Some of my go-to places to purchase shades on the cheap are Free People, Agaci’, and Francesca’s.  

Cute shoes are a lunching must!  Why? Because that’s the first thing your girlfriends will notice when you sit down and cross your legs.  Have you been to Stanley Eisenman’s new shoe store at Clearfork? Not only are the shoes fabulous, but the store design is an architectural masterpiece!  

Stanley still carries all of the fabulous brands they are famous for:  Stuart Weitzman, Paul Green, Donald Pliner, Brunate, and Pedro Garcia….just to name a few.  And I am loving their new shoe stars like On Sneakers, Dee Keller, Bettye Muller, Joan Oloff, and Materia Prima.  From their stunning collection of Catherine Page jewelry to beautiful handbags, Stanley Eisenman’s also has the perfect accessory to complement a gorgeous pair of shoes!   

What you wear to lunch sometimes depends on where you’re coming from or where you are going. A great look on our board is a pair of vegan leather black ankle pants with a grey sweater worn over a white t-shirt…and the Converse sneakers give the outfit a youthful flair!  Thanks to the rise in athleisure wear, you don’t have to make a wardrobe change in-between your Sunday spin class and brunch with the girls.

Think about wearing a stylish athleisure outfit from T by Talbots.  Their comfortable fitness wear comes in a multitude of colors and fabrics…just add a cute baseball cap and a pair of On sneakers from Stanley’s.  But please be forewarned….with your cool leisure style, you could be mistaken for a “brunch-babe”!

Ladies who lunch these days may not be dressed to the nines like ladies from the past, but their styling is way more creative and youthful.  Jeans are perfect for just about any occasion. I tend to favor dressed-up jeans…so easy to accomplish with a blazer, blouse, and a cute new pair of shoes from Stanley’s.  So stylish and perfect for a patio lunch at B&B…don’t you think?

Wow…is it just me, or has Fort Worth become the “New San Diego”?  I’m pretty sure the ladies who lunch deserve all the credit for bringing the cool factor back to our hometown!  

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.

Send Nice Notes Challenge — Nicely Noted

“Gratitude is priceless, but conveying it costs no more than a postage stamp.”

A few months ago I signed up for a monthly subscription from Nicely Noted.  Each month I receive a packet of three curated stationary cards, a glassine envelope of unique and pretty postage stamps and a nice note from Perry Nelson, the founder.

Perry Nelson, Founder of Nicely Noted

“Nicely Noted was born out of my love for sending and receiving handwritten notes, as well as a lifelong obsession with stationery. My background in technology and design as Online Director at Dwell magazine, Online Editor at W magazine as well as at Dell and HomeAway only deepened my belief in the importance of sending old-fashioned, letters. Sitting down to write a note (with pen and paper!), selecting a stamp, and dropping it into the mail to a friend, provides a moment of calm from our harried lives and an opportunity to convey sincere emotions.

The idea of Nicely Noted came to me while walking my newly-acquired dog, Charlie. Growing up, I was an avid letter writer with an abundant stash of stationery to fuel my habit. But as an adult I found myself rushing to the store before birthdays and baby showers hunting for a suitable card. My hope is that the convenience of having the perfect, letterpress card on hand, complete with stamps, inspires more people to keep the wonderful practice of letter writing thriving.”

My job each month is to select three people to send them to!  Each card is hand made on gorgeous, heavy cardstock.

The Send Nice Notes Challenge

The inspiration mentioned in their end of year newsletter was from a Wall Street Journal story about Chief Justice’s commencement address (please take the time to read it and share it with a young person).  In his speech, he said “Once a week, you should write a note to someone. Not an email.
A note on a piece of paper. It will take you exactly 10 minutes.” Then, he urged, put the note in an envelope and send it off the old way: via U.S. mail.

Here’s your chance to start a manageable resolution in earnest now.
Nicely Noted is inviting folks to join their letter writing challenge to send a note every week for 40 weeks. And, to help you get started here is a free, downloadable tracking sheet – it has 40 spots for a name and a date, to help remind you to keep on top of your goal.

And if you use this special code, you receive $10 OFF your first month’s subscription to Nicely Noted.  Who will be your first recipient of a handwritten note?

“If you do that once a week for, say, 10 months, 40 people will feel a little more special because you did, and they will think you are very special because of what you did.”  Chief Justice John Roberts

March Monthly Devotional and Tips for Starting a Bible Study

As an ambassador for LifeWay Women, I always enjoy sharing all the good stuff they offer on their website including this month’s devotional calendar.  You can access the free downloadable calendar here.

And another favorite publication is Life Beautiful magazine.  If you are feeling called to start a Bible study, this is a terrific article on everything you need to know to Build a Better Bible Study.

Have a lovely weekend!



Blueberry Muffin Cookies

We’ve been making alot of cookies lately.  Sugar cookies to be exact for Miss Bee’s fundraiser at church.  So, when I came across this recipe for Blueberry Muffin Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction I thought they would be a nice treat for bookclub.  They are a soft lemon cookie, full of juicy blueberries and taste very much like the top of a blueberry muffin.  And the added touch of lemon zest icing make for a surprisingly nice cookie.


  • 2 and 1/2 cups (310g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (about 1 and 1/2 6-ounce packages)*

Lemon Glaze:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons (15-30ml) half-and-half (or heavy cream or milk)


  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and milk. Beat everything just until incorporated. Do not overmix. Dough will be very creamy, sticky, and thick. With a spoon or rubber spatula, carefully fold blueberries into cookie dough. Handle with care because some may break a little. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes and up to 2-3 days.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
  4. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator. Scoop cookie dough, about 1.5 Tablespoons each, and place 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. If desired, sprinkle each with a little coarse sugar. Gives the cookies an extra crunch. Bake for 15-16 minutes or until a cookie springs back when lightly poked with your finger. (That’s how I test them!)
  5. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
  6. Make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and half-and-half together until smooth. Add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken or more lemon juice/half-and-half to thin, if desired. Spoon over cookies. If applied lightly, the glaze will set within a couple hours.
  7. Glazed cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Be sure to check out all my other cookie recipes on Pinterest.