Mrs. Twist Reads This – Our Fall Books

We are excited about our fall selection of books. Here’s our lineup so you can put all our meetings on your calendar now. We are still meeting virtually via Zoom.

Tuesday, October 27, 7 p.m.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Dannie Kohan lives her life by the numbers.

She is nothing like her lifelong best friend—the wild, whimsical, believes-in-fate Bella. Her meticulous planning seems to have paid off after she nails the most important job interview of her career and accepts her boyfriend’s marriage proposal in one fell swoop, falling asleep completely content.

But when she awakens, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight—but it is one hour she cannot shake. In Five Years is an unforgettable love story, but it is not the one you’re expecting. 

Saturday, November 21, 10:30 a.m. (Note we are meeting on a Saturday morning due to the Thanksgiving holiday).

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. Buzz on this – Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts are teaming up again to star in the made for Netflix film.

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong.

From the bestselling author of Rich and Pretty comes a suspenseful and provocative novel keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis.

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other? 

Thursday, December 17, 7 p.m.

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult. Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: Prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband but of a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, their beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, in which she helps ease the transition between life and death for her clients.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a career Dawn once studied for but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures that the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation to wherever they want to go. The obvious destination is to fly home, but she could take another path: return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways—the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried with them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices . . . or do our choices make us? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?

Be sure to save all the dates. Check our membership page on Bookmovement for the Zoom access code.

Not a member of our book club?  Even if you aren’t local to my area, you can join our book club, membership is free, through Bookmovement.  By signing up you will receive notifications on our upcoming meetings and the books we will be reading.  Plus, you can create your personal queue of books you want to read outside of our group and find out new releases and trends in all genres of books.  Friends are always welcome.  Be sure to visit our Bookmovement page to see the books we are reading for the summer.

New to Zoom and not quite sure how to use it?  Here is a helpful printable walking you through the steps to create and use Zoom like a pro. Be sure to remember to practice Zoom “netiquette” during our meeting.

No matter where you live, we’d love to have you join us!

What Would Holley Wear: Autumn Whites

Of course, you wore whites all summer and soon you’ll be wearing winter whites.  But have you thought about introducing whites into your fall wardrobe?

An easy way to transition is with white jeans.  A look I’m partial to is white jeans paired with a camel blazer, coat, or cardigan…basically anything in camel.  A classic trench worn with white jeans is so chic.  A bit more casual, but just as stylish is a long camel sweater coat paired with Sorel boots and a ranch hat…perfect for roasting s’ mores.  

Please don’t put your white shoes in storage just yet.  White mules are so on-trend for fall, which makes it so easy to repurpose a spring/summer pair.  For the ultimate in luxe…a pair of fur-lined white Gucci mules are so chic, and to save money, try Amazon’s version. We’re also smitten with Sam Edelman’s white mules.

No matter what kind of “bidness” you work in, a blazer paired with white jeans transitions from a hectic workday to a happy hour after work.  A classic look we are loving is Bloglovin’s “The Perfect Look #51”….white jeans, plaid blazer, a camel tee, and loafers.  FYI…a plaid blazer from H&M, will make this sophisticated ensemble affordable. 

A monochromatic look is ideal for fall.  Style Influencer, Julia Berolzheimer, looks super comfy in all-white James Perse sweatpants matched with a polar-fleece jacket from Amazon.  A comfy sweater dress paired with sneakers is another great way to wear all-white this fall.  Be sure to check out ASOS’ selection of sweater dresses…just add sneakers or boots.  

Nothing beats the chicness of a jeans and sweater combo in black and white.  If you’re looking for a way to update your French girl style, a pair of white cropped jeans topped with a black coat or blazer is the look for you.  A black faux leather jacket worn over a white dress with sneakers or mules is another French girl style stealer.   

For once and for all….let’s put an end to the old fashion “no white after Labor Day” rule.  And besides that….just think of all the new outfits you’ll create!

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].  

Brown Butter Streusel Apple Pie

Since the pandemic, our neighborhood HOA hosts food trucks once weekly. It’s been such a nice relief to look forward to a dinner prepared by someone else. This past week a vendor sold produce. I couldn’t resist the pile of golden delicious apples in a basket. I brought them home and made a pie over the weekend. Here’s the recipe from Bakefeed.

It is really good. A twist on the traditional apple pie. I am sharing the recipe with you below. Don’t be overwhelmed with the length. It’s worth the extra time.

Apple Pie with Browned Butter-Oat Streusel

Ingredients
Deep-Dish Piecrust Dough (recipe follows)
6 to 8 medium (840 to 1,120 grams) Granny Smith or Pink Lady apples
⅓ cup (73 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
⅓ cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons (24 grams) cornstarch
Browned Butter-Oat Streusel (recipe follows)

Instructions
1. On a lightly floured surface, roll Deep-Dish Piecrust Dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate, pressing into bottom and up sides. Trim excess dough to ½ inch beyond edge of plate. Fold edges under, and crimp as desired. Freeze for 30 minutes.
2. Peel, core, and slice apples. In a large bowl, toss apples with sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
4. Transfer apples to a colander; drain and discard liquid. Toss drained apples with cornstarch, and spoon into prepared crust. Top with Browned Butter-Oat Streusel.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (180°C), and bake until golden brown and bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes more. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Deep-Dish Piecrust Dough
Makes 1 (9-inch) deep-dish crust
Ingredients
1¼ cups (156 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (12 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
½ cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
5 to 7 tablespoons (75 to 105 grams) ice water

Instructions
1. In the work bowl of a food processor, place flour, sugar, and salt; pulse until combined. Add cold butter, and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon (15 grams) at a time, just until dough comes together.
2. Shape dough into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Dough may be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Browned Butter-Oat Streusel
Makes 1¼ cups
Ingredients
¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter
¾ cup (94 grams) all-purpose flour
½ cup (40 grams) old-fashioned oats
¼ cup (55 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt

Instructions

1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook until butter turns a medium-brown color and has a nutty aroma, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, sugars, and salt. Drizzle with browned butter, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Crumble with your fingertips until desired consistency is reached.

Dr. Laurie Santos’s Five Favorite Coping Tips

Let’s be candid. I haven’t made a “C” since I was in 6th grade  – and that was in volleyball. I remember telling Coach Chrisman – “how can someone make a “C” in P.E. if they try? I show up here every day, wearing this terrible gym outfit and give it my best even though I hate this sport.”  He just blinked at me, not knowing how to respond to a 12-year old girl who speaks in complete sentences.

Fast forward, I am taking the most challenging class of my MLA pursuit – Freedom of Speech. I am learning a lot, but I can definitely see how my left brain is frustrated with this topic. While I still have an “A” in the class I have made C’s on the last two quizzes, despite all the studying I have done. It’s driving me mad I tell you!  I can completely understand how college students feel so defeated and unworthy when they make grades lower than what they had hoped.

When I got an email from Coursera on the Science of Wellbeing from Dr. Laurie Santos and her Five Tips for Coping for World Mental Health Day – it gave me pause. I need to let up on myself. Watch her video for her explanation. But here’s my takeaway:

  1. Exercise – a half-hour of cardio is as effective as a prescription for Zoloft.
  2. Taking some time for gratitude – happy people focus on the positive. Data shows by simply writing down 3-5 things every day can significantly improve your well-being in just two weeks.
  3. Sleep – get rid of technology before bed.
  4. Get social – happy people are more social. Double down with other coping strategies.
  5. Be with your emotions – it’s easy to run away from your emotions. She recommends a meditation exercise RAIN – Recognize, Accept, Investigate, Nurture.  This last coping skill really resonated with me.

She also has a great article here on how to deal with COVID. Check out her Happiness Lab podcast here. She’s takes listeners you through the latest scientific research and shares some surprising and inspiring stories that will forever alter the way you think about happiness. She’s changed the lives of thousands of people through her class “Psychology and the Good Life,” and she’ll change yours, too.

Are you ready to feel better?

 

What Would Holley Wear: Her Favorite Fall Trends

“Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels, doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles; wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings; these are a few of my favorite things.”

Since autumn is my favorite time of the year, it goes without saying….I have more favorites to add to my list!  So this time, let’s start with utility jackets.  They are considered essentials this time of year and complement our Texas fall style.  A waist-length utility jacket pairs perfectly with a fall floral dress or skirt.  And long utility jackets go great with jeans, cargo pants, and joggers.  

 

Speaking of joggers….they are ideal for the quarantine environment we are living in.  If you are working from home, these comfy pants are great for an afternoon stroll and even for a zoom meeting.  Remember, your colleagues only see you from the waist up….so just add your utility jacket, a button-down, and sneakers.  From Abercrombie & Fitch and Gap to Old Navy’s selection of joggers, your fall style will be extra versatile and comfortable!

Let’s talk “dad sandals”.  If you are wanting to make a fashion statement, a pair of Birkenstocks, Tevas, or Dr. Martens will give your style a pop.  And don’t you think they look ultra-cozy when lined with faux fur?  I’m partial to wearing dad sandals with joggers and cargo pants, but style influencers are pairing them with dresses and skirts.  Trendsetters, indeed!

One of my favorite fall accessories is an initial necklace.  So no wonder I’m loving a dainty initial lock necklace from Amazon Fashion….great for layering and makes a lovely gift.  Have you heard of Sequin jewelry (sequin-nyc.com)?  Their pearl initial choker is another fall fave of mine…a gold-plated initial encrusted with glass pearls.  And of course, we all know….classy girls wear pearls!  

Without question, I’m crazy about my Garmin vivomove watch…one of my 65th birthday gifts.  Besides keeping up with my steps, sleep pattern, etc., it can be customized with a multi-selection of bands….which complement any fall outfit.  Just like my watch, an Amazon monogrammed baseball cap is also ideal for my daily walks….available in fabulous fall colors. 

 “When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad….I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad!”

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].  

Hot Golden Fall Punch

I found this recipe years ago, 30 to be exact, from the Junior League of Austin cookbook. I love to serve it in the fall when I host parties, especially as a pre-Thanksgiving sip before we sit down for our meal.

A fun and unexpected, way to serve your punch is setting up this hot punch in a percolator on your front porch with a tray of fall mugs and cinnamon stick stirs.  When guests arrive they will smell the spices from their cars and instantly enter your home with mugs full of happiness. They will never forget your hospitality, for sure!

Hot Golden Fall Punch

4 cups of unsweetened pineapple juice

1 12 oz can of apricot nectar

4 cups of apple cider

1 cup of orange juice

2 cinnamon sticks

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp whole cloves

Pour juices into electric percolator*.  Place the remaining ingredients in the basket and perk.  Serve steaming hot. Serves 18-20.

*Without a percolator, pour juices in a large pot.  Simmer 10 minutes and remove spices before serving.

Pie 101: My Six Essential Pie Baking Tools

We are entering the pie season, everyone!  Think of all the fall flavors – pumpkin, pecan, apple, oh my! If you love pie and want to learn how to make a delicious, flaky crust but have been afraid to try – join me this Saturday, October 10, 10:30 a.m. for a hands-on pie crust class. We will take a short break to let the crust chill, and you can register for part two, where I will teach you how to make my mother’s Buttermilk Pie. It’s THE best y’all!

Regardless if you learn your pie skills from YouTube or me, there are some basic tools you will need to bake pies like the British Baking pros. Here are my Six Pie Baking Tools:

What kind of pie pan do I need? I have done the work for you. Research says the two best types of pie pans – are either a 9-inch glass Pyrex dish or a metal pie plate. Let’s break it down.

Pyrex Easy Grab Pie Plate

Glass heats slowly and allows heat to build gradually and evenly. It also allows you to check on the progress of the bottom of your pie. This set is the Pyrex Easy Grab Glass Pie Plate. Comes in a set of two at Amazon here.

Goldtouch Pie Pan

Aluminum and steel pie plates heat up quickly and evenly, which tends to be great — unless your pie needs to be in the oven for a long time, and then you run the risk of over-browning. This pan is the Williams-Sonoma GoldTouch Pie Pan here.

Rolling Pin. I like a wooden French rolling pin, but that’s my preference. I feel like I have more control over the dough’s thickness because I can guide the dough with my hands instead of the handles. It’s lighter and more maneuverable than its American cousin.  I like this one from Amazon.

Non-Stick Baking Pat.  I like to roll my pie, cookies, and bread dough on a non-stick baking mat. What’s nice about a baking mat is it’s oven safe up to 480 degrees so you can also use it to not only roll your doughs but bake your cookies and other baked goods on it assuring non-stick features—no need for oil, parchment paper, or cooking sprays.  For easy cleanup, I prefer not using my countertops to roll out the dough. You can roll mats up to store in the cabinet. I like this set from Amazon.

Pie Weights. I bought a container of pie weights years ago, and I am so glad I did. Pie weights come in handy when the recipe requires you to pre-bake the pie shell before pouring in the filling. The weights keep the dough from shrinking, bubbling, or buckling while it bakes. You can pick up a set at Amazon for less than $6.

Pastry Cutter and Bench Scraper. Some recipes will instruct you to use a food processor, but I prefer to mix my dough by hand. A pastry cutter is helpful during the first step of breaking down your butter and flour. After you’ve rolled out dough, a sturdy bench scraper will make quick work of any mess. It’ll scrape up all the flour and stubborn dough scraps left behind, helping you clean up in a few easy swipes. Plus, it’s handy for dividing blocks of dough without scratching the counters. This set is from Amazon.

Pie Shield. I use a pie shield every time I bake a pie. The shield allows pies to rise, reduces spillage, and prevents pie crusts from burning or over-browning. It’s a great tool. This one is from Amazon for $7.

You can add other things to your tool kit, but for now, these six kitchen tools will be a great start to your pie-making success!

If you want to register for this Saturday’s Pie 101 Class, check it out here. After you register, I send you the recipe, instructions, and Zoom access link.

Then, on October 24 you can put your pie dough making skills to good use when we meet again to make Chicken and Sweet Potato Pot Pie here.

I hope this helps to inspire you to take advantage of the cooler weather to bake something fabulous. Let’s meet me in my kitchen without ever having to leave your home!

What Would Holley Wear: Fall Favorites

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.  Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.  Brown paper packages tied up with strings. These are a few of my favorite things.”

So speaking of “a few of my favorite things,” this week I’m sharing a few of my favorite fall trends!  I never thought I would say this….but let’s start with masks.  I recently discovered designer knock-offs at Pro Tailors on Overton Ridge.  From Gucci to Chanel copies, you will definitely be on-trend sporting a “designer-ish” mask…and tell them “Holley sent you”.  You will also want to check out Old Navy’s selection of masks in fall colors on our Pinterest board.  

Fall Florals are next on my list, and they’re the perfect introduction to fall.  While it’s still warm outside consider wearing a floral dress with mules, and on chilly days pair them with booties.  A great look to copy from our Pinterest board is a floral Sam Edelman tiered midi dress.  It pairs perfectly with a Tory Burch crossbody bag and a pair of suede booties from All Saints….fall favorites, indeed!

I have to admit, I’ll be living in mules the remainder of the year….and of course, they made my “favorite things list”.   I’m loving the Steve Madden mules from this year’s Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale.  You’ll definitely add some flair to your work style with either their white croc-embossed or leopard print mules…which easily transition to a casual weekend look.  I’m also loving a pair of fur-lined mules from Amazon, or as I like to call them…Gucci’s cheap cousin!

A long cardigan is perfect for autumn in Texas.  If you’re looking for a chill fall uniform….make it a pair of jeans, t-shirt, booties, and a cardigan.  And don’t you just love how a long cardigan does double-duty as loungewear?  After you’ve homeschooled your kiddos or grandchildren all day, there’s nothing cozier than a pair of lounge pants topped with a cardigan.  And I know you’ll be thrilled with Amazon’s amazing selection…ideal for cool-ish fall weather.  

   “When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad…I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad!”

 

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].  

How to Use Cook Books as Home Decor

For years I stored my cookbooks on a shelf in my pantry.  In the last several years, I transformed my formal dining room into a “lady’s lounge.” It’s a quiet and inviting space for reading or gathering with friends. I put two large bookshelves from World Market on one of the walls and decided to display not only serving pieces, and cake pedestals, but also my cookbooks.

Cookbooks are much more than reference books, they are works of art. They make perfect coffee table books. Sometimes I like to just prop cookbook on a stand on the counter in the kitchen to inspire me with a photo of beautiful cupcakes. Or, I will stack several on the kitchen counter with a plant on top.

One trick for organizing your books is to sort them by color. I take off the book’s jacket and file the cover away if I decide to donate the book later. The spine of the book brings out the pretty colors.

Speaking of donating, here is an article on five ways to recycle cookbooks you no longer want.

I usually try to donate a book when I bring a new one to the shelf.

Here’s more inspiration from my Pinterest board on the ways you can use books to bring color and interest into a room.

Apartment Therapy
The Home Edit
Stray Dog Designs

I also use chalkboard bins to sort my books by category – Let’s Bake, French cooking, What’s for Dinner. A calligrapher friend, Megan Clegg, lettered the bins for me.

And I love this idea of putting cookbooks in a basket on the counter with a few wooden cutting boards.

The few last tricks, stack books next to a chair or sofa to create a twist on an end-table.

Or pile them on a coffee table, especially if they are all one color scheme.

Driver by Decor

The point is, use your cookbooks like art, share them with guests, and open the pages to reveal the beauty inside.

How to Make Your Home Smell Clean

As the weather gets cooler, I think we all want to treat our homes to a good cleaning from being cooped up from the summer heat.  I love to make a batch of homemade three-ingredient stovetop simmering potpourri to fill the home with the smell of clean.

Slice one lemon, add three rosemary sprigs, one teaspoon of vanilla, and enough water to cover.  I let it sit on the stove at a low simmer.*  It fills the house with the smell of the soaps you purchase at Williams-Sonoma.  I usually have all the ingredients on-hand, especially the rosemary from the garden. You could also use oranges or cloves.

And here’s a time-saver from PureWow for the upcoming holidays regarding cleaning — fake a clean home!  “A deep clean would be lovely, but you’ve got 45 minutes, woman. The most important thing you can do: Clear every counter and tabletop of clutter and hide the mess away, you can deal with that stack of mail in the hamper later.  Then give each surface a spritz of all-purpose cleaner for a little extra shine. No one will be scrutinizing the corners of your baseboards anyway.”  Try this set of Holiday scent counter sprays for your countertops — people will be so obsessed over how yummy your house smells they won’t even notice the cobwebs!

That’s a tip I need to tattoo on my arm — why do we clean before company comes when the mess is after they leave?  I am raising my hand guilty on all counts on this because I get so overwhelmed with cleaning before a party that it makes me crazy.

*Be sure to add water, as needed, and never leave the saucepan unattended.  Turn the stove off when you leave the house or go to bed.