Mrs. Twist Reads This Bookclub – The Girls at 17 Swann Street

Our bookclub selection for March is The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib. This People magazine pick, a debut novel by Zgheib, is a poetic, poignant, haunting portrait of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia on an intimate journey to reclaim her life.

“The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.”

If you are looking to join a bookclub, I promise you will love our group.  I started Mrs. Twist Reads This Bookclub in 2017 because I wanted to spend more time reading and less time using technology.  We have over 80 members, many who live around the country and just want to be a part of a community of women who read!  It’s thrilling to see this for sure.  The best part is that many of the authors we read have enthusiastically joined us via FaceTime or in person to chat about their books.  Our group is gathering on Thursday, March 28 at 7 p.m. in Fort Worth.  Even if you can’t join us in person, we’d love to have you join our bookclub community.

So, how do you join us?  Go here to Book Movement and set up a free account.  It gives you members-only access to our book club page to see the latest book we are reading, receive email invitations to upcoming meetings and create your own personal queue of books you want to read on your own.

Happy reading!

How to Use Pinterest for Weekly Meal Planning

Since January I have been weekly meal planning.  It’s been a very effective tool to keep me on track with mindful eating not only with dinner, but planning my breakfast and lunch meals as well.  Knowing what you will be eating in advance increases the likelihood you will make healthier choices.  If you think about how many times you have left work, tired from a full day and say “what am I going to fix for dinner?”  If you don’t have a plan you will likely pull into fast food and spend the money and calories on food that really wasn’t that tasty or healthy.  Did you know the average American spends $2,625 per year on restaurants (Motley Fool) and wastes around $525 annually tossing groceries in the trash from lack of planning (USA Today)?

There are many techniques for meal planning.  You can make your own journal, you can print the recipes every week and some cookbook authors have their own meal planners  like Skinnytaste .

I like using Pinterest.  It’s free and convenient.  I can meal plan anywhere without having to write anything down.  Here’s the bonus:  Not only do I create my  Weekly Meal Plan from recipes I’ve found on Pinterest, but I can also add recipes from cookbooks I have at home. So, everything is saved to one centralized location.  No photocopying recipes.  Plus, Pinterest has really evolved with allowing users to upload just about anything you can find online.  Love that recipe you saw posted on Facebook?  Love getting your recipes from the daily newspaper?  You can even save links directly from Instagram to Pinterest.

Each Saturday, I look through my Pinterest recipes and my own cookbooks to plan at least three meals for the week.  The other four days we will eat leftovers,  go out to eat at least one night a week, or if we both have evening committments we will just eat a sandwich.

This week was spring break.  Miss Bee is home from school so I planned a menu I knew she would eat.  I also planned to watch a movie for my graduate school class and I wanted to prepare Indian Food to accompany the theme of the film.  I found recipes for Samosas, Hummus, Naan, Indian Butter Chicken, Butternut Squash Lasagna, and Honey Siracha Salmon.  All these recipes are here on my March 11 Weekly Meal Plan board on Pinterest.

When I create my shopping list, I click on each recipe on my Pinterest board and record the ingredients I need to shop for.  Since I use Shipt to do my shopping for me I record the ingredients I need directly into my Shipt shopping cart.

Each week, I create a brand new board with that week’s date.  I’ve also planned my recipes for next week March 18 (you can check those out here).

When it’s time to prepare the meal, I just pull up my Pinterest board, access the recipe and set my device on the kitchen counter to follow the recipe.  No cookbooks to search through or papers to fumble.

Are there recipes in a hardcopy cookbook you love  or maybe a hand-written recipe?  Here are the steps to upload your own recipes to your Pinterest board.

  1.  First, you need a Pinterest account.  It’s free and easy. Just go to www.Pinterest.com.
  2. Now your Pinterest page won’t look like mine because I have had my account for about ten years and it’s full of content.  You will have a blank page.  First, you want to create a board.   Think of ‘boards’ as bulletin boards for each topic of your interest.  See the gray box with the red circle.  Click on that circle and give your board a name, then click on create.  Now you have a board to pin recipes to.

If you want to add your own recipes, not found on Pinterest, this next step shows you how to take your personal recipes and upload them to your newly created menu board.

3. Take screen shots with your phone of the pages of the cookbook or hand-written recipes you want to load on your pinterest board.  Then go to the next step.

4. See the arrow in the upper right hand corner of my Pinterest home page, that little red circle with the plus sign – that’s how you create pins. When you click on it a drop down menu will pop up and you will click on “create pin”

I have added arrows and text with numbers 1-3 on the steps. Your screen will not have all of theses arrows and instructions.

Step 1. What is the name of your pin?  More than likely it’s the name of your recipe.  Let’s say it’s Southern Living meatloaf, well then that’s what you will title it.

Step 2. Click on the gray box and upload your screen shot of the recipe.  Your phone gallery will pop up and click on the photo you want to upload.  It will now show up here.

Step 3.  You must tell Pinterest where you want to save the photo.  Since you created the Board ‘Weekly Meal Plan March 18’, click on the down arrow and scroll until you find that board’s title and select it (if you are new to Pinterest you won’t have many boards to choose from).

Step 4.  Click on the red “SAVE” button at the top of the screen.  You have now successfully saved your pin!

I hope this helps give you inspiration to start menu planning and create a system that works for you to make it happen.  Be sure to check back and let me know how it’s going!

What Would Holley Wear: Lookin’ All Fly

True confession:  I love it when someone compliments an outfit I’m wearing!  Point proven when a young man working in the produce department at Walmart said this to me…“Look at you girl…lookin’ all fly!”.

That really happened y’all!  You may be wondering, what does a produce guy know about style?  Truthfully, I don’t know, and I don’t care. But I do know this….it made my day!  So let’s get started and talk about some complimentary looks that will definitely have you “lookin’ all fly”!

Speaking of making my day….my friend, Laurie Blum, recently treated me to an “autograph party” in honor of my 360 West Magazine spread!  Laurie is not only an amazing hostess, but also has a great sense of style. She wore a beautiful floral Ana Sui dress with a pair of black polka-dot Kate Spade pumps….the perfect print mix for the perfect hostess.  And I loved how my friend and wardrobe client, Amy Gotcher, styled her LBD with a red shawl and matching red shoes!

My party outfit included a pair of Kate Spade block heels, black H&M jeans, a vintage Carlisle belt, and a Zara blouse topped off with a pink animal print blazer from Nordstrom’s/Top Shop!  From dresses to blazers, I loved how our party guests complemented their style with a pop of red! Dr. Asad Dean, Ft. Worth fashion icon, stole the show with his red slacks…so debonair! Our Pinterest board features an array of red ensembles from dresses to pantsuits.

 

For a cool vibe, pair black jeans with a white t-shirt and white or a black blazer.  For daytime, I suggest a cute pair of black and white checked kitten heels matched with a trendy translucent bag.  To turn up your night-time style a bit, wear a pair of red heels. Look who’s making a statement now!

Speaking of cool vibes, a printed t-shirt worn with a blazer and jeans says one thing to me…“Shut yo mouth!”.  Seriously…when paired with a cute pair of shoes and handbag, your look can’t get any cooler than this. And no one knows that better than Mrs. Twist.  Her signature look….indeed!

From her “Heels on Fire” t-shirt matched with a camo jacket to her “Feelin’ Foxy” tee complemented with a black tweed jacket….she’s definitely “all fly”!  And I’m loving how her red handbag with bamboo handles pairs so well with both outfits! Another favorite Mrs. Twist look is a black and white checked vest, printed red t-shirt, and monogramed duck boots.  Fabulous and fly!!!

So here’s the deal, the next time a stranger gives you a compliment or a friend throws you a party.…be sure to let them know how special they made your feel!  And don’t forget to pay it forward….because a compliment is the gift that keep on giving!

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 Season of Lent — Free Downloadable Guide

March 6 is Ash Wednesday which begins the season of Lent, a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline.  Ash Wednesday emphasizes two themes: Our sinfulness before God and our human mortality. The service focuses on both themes, helping us realize that both have been triumphed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In earlier centuries people were sprinkled with ashes as a sign of sorrow for their sins and their commitment to seek renewal in Christian life through this season.  You can read more about it here.

The season of Lent is 40-days (not counting Sundays) of prayer and preparation in which we, as followers of Jesus, are invited to consider anew the disciplines and practices that we employ in our daily lives to help us in becoming better disciples.  My church has put together a book with devotionals for each day of Lent, to help keep this season at the forefront of our minds.  Click here for the link to learn more or download a copy here.

To help us find ways to remember the holy in the midst of our routines—something we should strive for every day—here is a great link on the 10 Ideas for a More Meaningful Ash Wednesday… things like worship, serve, give, and pray and some other creative suggestions.

If you don’t have a church home I extend an open invitation from my family to yours to join us at Arborlawn United Methodist Church.  We offer three worship services with childcare and you can join me in Sunday School as well.

There’s always room for everyone at the table of Christ.  Peace be with you this season.

What Would Holley Wear: I’m Nicer When…

Okay I’m putting this out there….“I’m nicer when I like my outfit!”  I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page and thought it was just too good not to share!  And truthfully….this really hit home with me!

Shoes, belts, and handbags most definitely make me a nicer person. So, let’s start with the base of all niceness…shoes! My favorite style for spring is the slingback.  A pair of Chanel cap-toe slingbacks is the ultimate in a luxury shoe. Be sure to look at some less expensive copies on our Pinterest board.  And if I owned a pair of Ganni’s slingback kitten heels in snake print…I think I would be extra nice!

Belts are our friends….because they complete an outfit and mainly because they nicely cinch our waists. A trendy way to wear a belt is over a suit, blazer, or coat. We love how a long wrapped silver belt cinches a white pantsuit.  Styling a cocktail dress with a belted blazer helps maximize the pieces you already have in your closet. Sounds like someone is taking nice to the max!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belt bags are still on-trend and can be worn two ways…around your waist as a belt or over your shoulder as a cross-body bag.  We are loving the resort vibe a Max Mara belt bag gives a white pants ensemble. A street style star shows us how to stay on trend by draping a belt bag over one shoulder. And we think a pale pink leopard print dress worn with a pink Gucci belt bag is especially nice!

So what do you get when you pair an “it” bag with a style influencer?  That would be a whole lot of niceness! And please know, when I say “it” bag, that doesn’t necessarily mean an expensive designer bag.  Translucent bags are so on-trend and you can spend as little or as much as you want. My style hack is pairing an inexpensive clear bag with a designer clutch.  How genius and nice does that sound?

My go-to look is a blazer and a blouse.  BTW….having a go-to look definitely makes me a nicer person.  I am always on the lookout for a statement blouse. That way I can push my blazer sleeves up and show off the beautiful cuffs.  I’m loving a Floryday lace and ruffled button down shirt…perfect for my springtime go-to look!

I’m pretty sure anything in animal print will bring out your inner niceness!  That’s because it’s considered a neutral and goes with every color and texture.  I have a major crush on snake print skirts and pants. Wear them now with a sweater and booties.  In a few months, wear them with a white blouse tied at the waist and sandals….twice as nice!

 

I don’t know about you, but I love how being “nice” has its perks!  And one more thing….don’t forget to “have a nice day!”

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.

Mother’s Volcanic Lipstick

This post was written in June 2013, just a month after Mother passed away.  It’s a sweet story of the things left undisturbed on her vanity and my discovery of her favorite shade of lipstick.  Enjoy.

One of the first things I did when I came home from my trip with Mr. Bee was to go into Earnie’s bathroom.  I sat down at her vanity.  Her room is exactly the way she left it that Wednesday she became ill.  It’s like a ghost town.  I feel like there should be a velvet rope to prevent the general public from intruding into her space.

This gentile, southern lady was a firecracker in the lipstick department.

An empty coke can, a bottle of Miralax (you know the funny story about Miralax and ear wax), her makeup.  I suddenly became very overwhelmed by all of her things.  Thinking about how sweet it was that she sat down each day at that vanity and put on makeup.  How getting older, she thought, had betrayed her beauty.  But, she was wrong.  She was still beautiful. She had the prettiest skin.  I touched each of the small, sample jars of creams she had in the drawer.  Opening each one, imagining her using them.  I opened a tube of eyelash product that was supposed to make your lashes longer and fuller.  Reeves women didn’t inherit long eyelashes.  Long, slender fingers yes, but alas not eyelashes.  I picked up her comb that she used to lift the back of her hair up.  Then, I opened all her lipsticks.  I marveled at the bright colors she picked.  She boldly wore lipstick.  Especially the coral, pinkish orange variety.  As I was opening each tube, I noticed the shades were very similar.  I kept thinking I was picking up the same tube over and over again.  Then, I realized she had four tubes of the same color.  Specifically, L’Oreal’s Volcanic.

When I have moments of tears part are because I miss her physical presence beside me and the other part of me cry tears of thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving for a God that made a woman like Earnie to be my mother.  Thankful she taught me so many important things that I have used all my life.  God loved her enough to give her grace not only throughout her life, but he orchestrated the last week of her life to be filled with lots of church, outings with friends and her last meal to be pizza.
Today, Mr. Bee and I were talking about Earnie’s last moments.   She had a smile on her face as she drew her last breath.  I always thought it was because she probably saw Daddy or Jesus taking her hand.  But, today Mr. Bee said he thinks it was because she was smiling down at her family.  Seeing us all together.  Loving her.  Proud.
Back to the Volcanic lipstick.  I picked something a little more subtle for her to wear with her favorite purple dress….passion pink.  She can probably pick up a tube of the former in heaven.

Trellis House Coffee Cake

I tried a new recipe for my Saturday night baking ritual — The Trellis House signature coffee cake.   You can read all about our fabulous trip to Ogunquit, Maine here last October and our stay at this Trip Advisor 2019 Travelers’ Choice winner The Trellis House Bed & Breakfast. The proprietor, Laurence Plotkin, has a cookbook full of the delicious recipes they prepare for their guests.  I picked up a signed copy during my stay.  Glen and Laurence, and their adorable dog Bentley, are the perfect hosts.  We fell in love with them and still keep in touch.  We are even preparing for another trip in October.  And, Laurence hinted that when I visit if I bring friends with me he will lead a lobster dinner cooking class.  Do I hear the sound of my friends out there booking a reservation?!  Wouldn’t that be the best ever to fill the house with Home with a Twist readers!

Laurence graciously offered to let me share his recipe for this yummy coffee cake.

At the Trellis House we must have the perfect breakfast coffee cake!  This is our signature recipe and we couldn’t be more proud of it.  We adapt the recipe by adding 2 cups of blueberries, raspberries, diced apples, or any fruit that is at its peak and it is perfect each time.  This recipe can be made up ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen before baking…a real time-saver.

Streusel:

1/3 cup of packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

4 TBL butter, softened

1 TBL ground cinnamon

1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 TBL to toss with berries

1 TBL baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups sour cream room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

7 TBL butter, melted and cooled

2 cups fresh berries (or other fruit) sorted and stemmed

For the streusel:  Using your fingers, mix brown sugar, sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon together in bowl until mixture resembles wet sand.  Stir in pecans.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350.  Butter two 9-inch square cake pans.  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, brown sugar, sugar, eggs and melted butter until smooth.  Gently fold in egg mixture or other fruit with one tablespoon of flour and then fold into batter.  Scrape batter equally into prepared pans, smooth tops, and sprinkle with topping.

Gently tap pans on counter to settle batter.  Bake cake until tops are golden and puffed and toothpick inserted in centers comes out with few crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes.  Let cakes cool in pans for 30 minutes.  Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Laurence’s cookbook is a must for your library.  It’s full of those delicious, yummy recipes we long for after we’ve returned home from vacations.  It features first courses and starters, breakfast breads, pancakes, french toast and waffles, egg dishes, happy hour and sides, turndown favorites and Glen’s favorites.  You can purchase a signed copy directly from The Trellis House or from Amazon.

Home with a Twist Podcast Episode Nine: Food for Friends

I received a question from a reader…

“I was wondering if you had any great, easy food/dinner ideas for friends that are in mourning, recovering from surgery, ill, or that just need a night off from the kitchen. I am looking for a yummy easy salad, main course, and dessert, and preferably something that can be frozen (main dish) in case the recipient isn’t able to eat the food right away. Also, it needs to be able to travel in the car well. Nothing fancy, just a good, comfort dish. Thanks!”

On my lastest podcast episode I answer her question, but it took me 40 minutes just to talk about my passion for casseroles, so I decided to break it up into installments.  This first episode includes five of top my favorite casserole recipes and ideas for prepared food from restaurants you can take (if you are not a cook).  I will try to work on a downloadable file for all the recipes that you can access.  Until then, sit down with a pen and paper (or your laptop) and listen to episode nine.

For the next several episodes I will share side dishes, dessert and breakfast ideas so stay tuned.

On the topic of gardening, I share the secret to longlasting, colorful mounds of pansies in your garden to enjoy from fall to late spring.  You should see my pansies and daffodils right now.  Soon I will have bright red poppies stunning my front lawn.

I’ll get photos of my garden and share them on Instagram and Facebook.

Have a beautiful Monday and be sure to head over for a listen to my podcast here, on Soundcloud and where most podcasts are heard.

My Mother’s Beauty Secret

Thank you to everyone who participated in my contest giveaway for a free pair of satin pillowcases from our sponsor Morning Glamour.  The challenge to win was to share your mother’s favorite beauty secret.  I loved reading all your replies and I’m excited to share them with you.

But first, let me share a few tips from my mother.  Listen to my latest podcast here where I shared that one of her secrets was the religious use of her satin pillowcases.  Next, was her love of bright lipstick.  I share a sweet story here about her favorite shade.  And last, her insistence that I always wear sunscreen.  When all my girlfriends were sunning themselves on rooftops and lakeside slathered in baby oil, she had me covered from head- to-toe in longsleeves and Pre-Sun on any skin that was showing.  She’d say every single time, “you’ll thank me someday.”  Believe me, I’ve thanked her many times as I’ve gotten older.

Here’s the fun roundup of responses…

“Always have a great hairstylist and always wear a smile.”  Mandy H.

“Wash every night with plain soap and water, pat, don’t rub dry. Oil of Olay. Stay out of the sun. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and drink mostly water.” Kristen D.

“Stay out of the sun and use Pond’s cold cream.❤️” Joyce H.

“My mom has great skin at 87. She swore by OJ’s Beauty Lotion for many years.”  Helen K.

“Ironically it was pink satin pillow cases and that was 50 years ago! She went to the “beauty parlor” every Thursday and the pillow cases kept her looking good in between. 💗 pink was her favorite color. Miss her very much.”  Janice M.

“My mom didn’t really have a beauty secret that I can remember. She never wore a lot of makeup but did cleanse and moisturize with Clinique products! And wore sunscreen!”  Becky H.

“Always wear lipstick!” Rebekah B.

“My mom has beautiful skin.. Avon Moisture Rich cream is all she ever used.. plus she is beautiful inside too!”  Debra W.

“My mom loved satin pillow cases, too!❤️”  Deanna B.

“Pond’s cold cream.”  Patti M.

“Pond’s cold cream was my grandma’s secret. My mother mixed egg, mayo, olive oil and honey to make a hair mask.”  Christina R.

“Oil of Olay moisturizer every morning and night.  And, Jergens lotion for hands and never leave the house without lipstick!” Lisa R.

“Scotch tape on the 11’s between her eyebrows – her ‘worry lines’.” Carol R. (this wins the award for the most unique secret!)

“Always dab moisturizer around the eyes with your ring finger.”  Kimberly B.

“Oil of Olay.”  Leigh C.

“Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.” Ali B.

“Silk, satin pillowcases.  Mother always slept with one on her baby pillow made of down feathers.  I still have her pillow.”  G. Greenblatt

Remember you can still use promo code MG25 to receive 25% off your satinpillow case order.  Thanks for sharing!  I loved each and every response.

What Would Holley Wear: One Weekend/One Carry-On Challenge

Photo credit 360 magazine

After reading my “Five Day No Denim Challenge,” my son, Chris, presented me with another challenge…“One Weekend/One Carry-On”.  If I could sum up this challenge with one word, it would be….YIKES!!!

True Confession:  I’m an over-packer, especially when I travel to New York.  And since I stay with Chris in his “small-ish” apartment, he has hinted that it would be nice if I just brought one small carry-on bag.  So, my first challenge was to find the right carry-on….good quality, a spinner, light weight, and easy to pack. In the end, I went with a 22 inch hard-side Hartman carry-on spinner….love it!

Here’s what I packed:  One pair of faux leather pants, one white blouse, one sweater, a black blazer, and a mini bag.  I also brought pajamas and undergarments.  A space saver was packing socks instead of my UGG house shoes (too bulky).  And of course I packed a few small bags for makeup and hair supplies. Be sure to look at the The Best Amazon Travel Essentials on our Pinterest board.

 

For the first time, I tried the “KonMari” vertical packing method from the hit show, Tidying Up.  Be sure to watch her video on our Pinterest board. And a little trick I’ve used for years is wrapping my clothes in plastic cleaner bags to keep them from wrinkling.  Though I did place my blazer in the hanging bag that came with my carryon…very convenient. The good news….everything was wrinkle free when I unpacked!

Getting there was the easy part (except for delays).  My secret weapon was layering! On the plane, I wore black jeans over tights, socks, knee-high boots, a camel turtleneck sweater, a blazer, plaid scarf, and a puffer coat.   I also carried a large tote on the plane. Thank goodness for totes…mine included a travel pillow, my credit card holder, plus a few magazines.

At the last minute, I packed a white blouse to dress up my style a bit for a record release party to which we were invited.  Some of our excursions included MoMA, a church service, dining out, the record release party, and vintage shopping in Williamsburg.  To complete a fabulous weekend we had drinks at Westlight at the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg. The view of Manhattan was breathtaking…the best I’ve ever seen!  

Chris and Holley at Record Release Party
Vintage Shopping
View from Westlight at the William Vale Hotel

So, what did I learn from this experience?  In the past, I took way more than I needed and did not wear half of the stuff I packed. Sound familiar? Another perk, no baggage fee, and I didn’t have to wait for my luggage. Within minutes, I was in my Lyft ride on my way to Mid-town!  Did I mention happy hour couldn’t come fast enough?

So now I’m challenging you….“One Weekend/One Carry-On”!  Do you think you are up for the challenge?

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.