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.

What Would Holley Wear: Skirts and Sneakers

Without question, the sneaker trend is here to stay.  Here’s the deal…once style influencers started wearing sneakers with skirts and dresses….all bets were off.  

There are so many fun ways to style skirts and sneakers.  One of my favorite fall looks is a skirt paired with an oversized sweater and sneakers.  For fall, think about repurposing the floral midi you wore all summer….just add cute sneakers.  Know what you get when you wear a maxi skirt, sweatshirt, and high-tops?  An adorable bohemian look!

Animal print skirts paired with sneakers are super on-trend.  A Pinterest look we adore shows an animal print skirt worn three ways…with a sweater and booties…with heels and a blazer…and with a sweatshirt and sneakers.  Another favorite is a tiered leopard skirt topped with a t-shirt, jean jacket, and Chanel bag.  And the Golden Goose sneakers definitely give it that extra pop of style!

 

If you’ve been on the lookout for stylish sneakers, Anthropologie is the place to shop.  On top of having sneakers that go with every outfit, they share an online variety of ways to style them.  I’m loving how they combine a dainty orange tulle maxi skirt with leather high-tops.  If I were styling this outfit, my personal pick would be their Dolce Vita snake-embossed leather sneakers.  

 

Typically, you see pleated skirts paired with heels.  But there is no excuse these days for being uncomfortable.  So think about kicking up your work style wearing sneakers with your skirt.  A pleated skirt looks fun and flirty with an oversized sweater and business-like with a blazer.  Another way to dress-up your skirt/sneaker look is with a leather jacket.

Women in their 50s and older are also sporting the sneaker/skirt trend.  I’m loving how a “60ish” style influencer from Bochum, Germany styles a green pleated skirt with a blazer and sneakers.  And don’t you think she looks adorable in a leopard print skirt with a red and white striped sweater…and sneakers, of course?  

From travel to running errands to a professional career….the sneaker/skirt trend is definitely here to stay.  Is that a smile I see on your face?  

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].  

Pumpkin Caramel Bars

I pinned so many pumpkin recipes over the weekend and decided to give the Fudgy Pumpkin Caramel Swirl Bars from the Food Charlatan a try.  I have over 250 bars and brownie recipes pinned to my Pinterest board — you can check them out here.

I put my own twist on them by adding one-half cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top of the melted caramel.  The end result was a cross between a spice cookie, a snickerdoodle, and a salted caramel brownie.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 and 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vanilla (not a typo — yes Tablespoons)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (11 ounce) package caramels
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional:  I added this, it was not included in the original recipe)

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper, or grease the pan. (You can do foil too. Grease the foil).
2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, melt the butter.
3. Add the brown sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla, and beat well.
4. Add the flour to the bowl but don’t mix. Spoon the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into the flour and gently stir into the flour.
5. Beat well, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
6. Pour about half of the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it on the bottom of the pan.
7. Bake at 350 for about 19-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and it is set in the middle.
8. Remove from the oven but don’t turn it off.
9. Meanwhile, melt the caramels and milk in a medium microwave safe bowl. Start with 45 seconds, then stir well. Continue to heat in 30-45 second intervals, stirring well each time. When the caramels are almost smooth, stop microwaving and stir until smooth.
10. Pour the caramel over the hot baked layer in pan, spreading to within 1/2 inch of the edges.  Sprinkle the optional chocolate chips over the caramel.
11. Drop reserved batter by spoonfuls over caramel layer. Cut through batter with knife several times for a marble effect.
12. Bake a second time for 25-30 minutes or until center is set. A toothpick test won’t work because the caramel layer is too gooey.

What Would Holley Wear: Style Influencers

As a fashion writer, it’s my joy/job to stay on top of fashion trends.  In the past, magazines were my go-to, but today I’m inspired by style influencers….even when their style is totally different from mine. 

One of my favorite influencers is Veronica from the Lombard & Fifth Blog.  She’s also the mother of two daughters and works in the wine industry.  Show her anything from a blazer to a sweater, and she’ll show you multiple ways to style it.  Plus, she’s an expert when it comes to mixing highs with lows.  For example, in one of her photoshoots…her jeans are Levis, her blazer is from Express, and her fabulous royal blue satin shoes are Manola Blahniks.

For one of Veronica’s “Friday Five” photoshoots, she features a feminine H&M chiffon dress.  For a casual look, she layers it with a white cardigan styled with Golden Goose sneakers.  How fashion forward is that?  And I have to admit, I’m smitten with how she layers a sweater over a dress….instant skirt!   

When I first started following influencers, it was a challenge to find blogs featuring women 40 and older….with great style.  Though, recently, I discovered her blog called The Tennille Life.  Tennille is a 40-something-year-old blogger and a corporate flight attendant.  She shares everything from style to beauty tips, and her fabulous silver hair is definitely “her crown of glory”!  

Here’s what I’ve learned from Tennille….how to look stylish and age-defying while rocking gray hair!  “Too sexy for your shirt” ring a bell?  From tucking it into tying it at the waist, I love how she isn’t afraid to show a little skin….in a tasteful way, of course.  A casual look to copy shows Tennille wearing a black blouse tied at the waist with khaki crop pants and dad sandals.    

Tennille’s “workcation” photos from a 2019 trip to Rome and Nice make me want to escape to a fabulous European destination!  You too?  How amazing does she look sporting flip-flops with a satin leopard skirt?  Plus, I’m loving how she rocks a black blouse and jeans.  As the song goes…“Yeah baby, she’s got it!”  

Without question, reading blogs and following style influencers is the new way to stay fashionably informed.  And don’t you just love their style?  

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 Create A Fall Coffee Station

My favorite time of the year is finally here – fall!  I love coffee year round, but there is no better time to elevate just about the most perfect drink.  And, it doesn’t cost a lot to pull together a fall coffee station. Let’s get started.

First, you need a tray. I picked up a silver one with tortoiseshell handles from HomeGoods several years go.  Here’s a similar one in my Amazon Store where you can find everything I mention in this post.

Next, since I love the color of copper – it reminds me of all the copper pieces Mother used to entertain – I pulled a few mugs from the bar and placed them on the tray to hold spoons and packets of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix. It is totally on-trend right now to mix your metals. The spoons are some fun ones I found from the Pioneer Woman reminiscent of vintage bakelite enamel.  You have to buy the whole set but you will use all the pieces, I promise.

I store my coffee pods, both Costco brand Pacific Bold, and flavored coffees, teas, cocoa, and cider in anchor hocking lidded jars. One of my jars is a vintage Tom’s red-lidded jar. I tied each jar with a label and twine.

Here comes the fun part – red hots, sugar cubes and spice blend for your add-ins. We love to drink spiced apple cider and nothing is more fun than to stir in a few red hots! I filled some Kilner preserve jars (my bestie gave me for my birthday) with red hots. And, I think sugar cubes make any cup of coffee delicious. How adorable are these tea pot shaped sugar cubes?!

I found the cutest ceramic, plaid travel mugs with lids in the dollar section at Target. I picked up a set of six. Won’t they be adorable on the table at Thanksgiving filled with mulled wine?

I also make sure to have a set of disposable mugs, especially when I’d host Book Club gatherings. You can put out a sharpie for people to personalize their mug with their name. I think this set is cute!

You can also fill little jars with mini chocolate chips and peppermint sticks for your cocoa. And, we always have a can of Reddi-whip in the refrigerator because you can’t have cocoa without whipped cream!

I hope this post inspires you to put together a welcoming tray to usher in the season. Remember, you can find all the supplies listed here in my Amazon Store.*

*I am a member of the Amazon affiliate partnership program. If I link to a product on Amazon, I am paid a small commission, at no cost to you, when you make a purchase. This helps to support my blog expenses so I can continue to bring you fun, fresh content. I appreciate your support.

 

School of Gracious Living – October Schedule of Virtual Classes

“True hospitality is welcoming the stranger on her own terms. This kind of hospitality can only be offered by those who have found the center of their lives in their own hearts.” Henri Nouwen

If you are new to Home with a Twist, welcome! I launched my School of Gracious Living in May as my perfect solution to virtually connect with women during the pandemic while sharing my love of entertaining and hospitality.  I welcome you into my home through a virtual experience without you having to leave yours! People make the party, not the space. I thoughtfully prepare a curriculum of classes covering a variety of topics. I look forward to hosting each of your virtual learning experiences. The full class offerings and registration are available here.

Each class includes 90-minutes of cooking tips, instruction, and hands-on cooking. After you register you will receive an instructional email with the recipe to orient you to the classroom experience. At the end of our time together you will have created something spectacular. Ask a friend to join you, or host a group of your girlfriends. Since we meet virtually you can connect with your friend from around the world.

Here’s the October schedule:

“Cook the Book” series A Taste of. Cooking with Cast Iron – Let’s Make Dinner Together. Sloppy Joe’s with a Twist.  Saturday, September 26, 5:30 p.m. CDT  Learn more here.

“Cook the Book” series with Sister Pie. Pie Making 101: How to Make Pie Crust. Saturday, October 10, 10:30 a.m. CDT. Learn more here.

Pie Making 101: Mother’s Buttermilk Pie. Saturday, October 10, 2 p.m. CDT. Learn more here.

Pumpkin Flower Arranging Class, Saturday, October 17, 10:30 a.m. CDT. Learn more here.

“Cook the Book” series Dinner: A Love Story. Chicken and Sweet Potato Pot Pie. Saturday, October 24, 4 p.m. CDT. Learn more here.

Be sure to register early. I limit each class size to ten students. I look forward to seeing you!

From the Writer’s Desk – Things Said, Read, Loved

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

– William Wordsworth

I oftentimes find interesting stories or posts and I think “this is really good, I want to share this.” In grade school, my favorite day of the week was Friday when the teacher would lead “current events.” Each student was charged with the task of bringing to school a newspaper clipping to share with the class. I loved sitting in the reading circle and couldn’t wait until it was my time to shine. This was a terrific way to learn new ideas, form critical thinking, and develop presentation skills.

So, I am bringing back current events of things said, something I read, and something I learned. I may even toss in something I loved about the week.

Something that I read and learned – I subscribe to The Washington Post digital paper. It’s $1 week and you can choose all kinds of news that interest you. For me, it’s books to read, weekly meal planning, health, fitness, baking, the top stories for the week, life after 50, cookbooks, 5-minutes or less of top political stories, and About Us.  The latter is about candid conversations about identity in America. This article is a must-read about something I had no clue – the “Verzuz” phenomenon.  Basically, two artists perform (or in the case of producers, play) up to 20 songs of their discography and discuss them while streaming on Instagram (and now AppleTV) in a nominal “battle of the bands” — though, really, it’s viewers who win. Beginning in the early days of the coronavirus quarantine, matches were between current stars, but over time “Verzuz” has evolved — technologically and otherwise — to include the greats of past decades. This past weekend featured Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight with their special guest Dionne Warwick!

Something I love – I discovered the new Netflix series Get Organized with the Home Edit. Of course, I binged all the episodes and now I am bored. But, I signed up to attend Joanna and Clea’s Virtual Book Club Tour. I paid the extra bit to get signed copies of both of their books.  The show makes me want to sort 10,000 pieces of rainbow candy into glass jars and sip champagne while I do it.

And I love this:  Pumpkin Spice Latte Chex Mix

Heck yes!  I am ready for fall. I think everyone is so hopefully cooler days can lift our mood. I may whip this up for my weekend study snack.

Ingredient List:

  • 8 cups Cinnamon Chex™ cereal
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 package (12 oz) white vanilla baking chips (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preparation:

  1. Place cereal in large microwavable bowl; set aside.
  2. In a 2-cup microwavable measuring cup, microwave butter uncovered on High 30 to 45 seconds or until melted; stir in brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of the pumpkin pie spice. Microwave uncovered on High about 1 minute or until smooth and bubbly. Stir in vanilla. Pour over cereal in bowl; stir until evenly coated. Microwave uncovered on High 3 to 4 minutes, stirring after each minute, until cereal is glazed and toasted; leave in bowl, and set aside.
  3. In a medium microwavable bowl, microwave white vanilla baking chips uncovered on High 45 seconds; stir. Continue heating in 15-second intervals, stirring vigorously after each, until chips are melted and stirred smooth.
  4. Pour melted chips over cereal in bowl; stir until well coated. Transfer cereal to a large food-storage plastic bag or container; add powdered sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool, about 20 minutes.

Have a great weekend y’all.

What Would Holley Wear: Almost Fall Style

Don’t you think a beige and black outfit is a great way to mentally transition to an autumn state of mind?  From shorts to dresses…wearing these neutral colors will give your “almost fall” style a sophisticated edge.

If you’ve got the legs for shorts, then I say…go for it!  Short suits are so on-trend and can be worn to work or for date night.  A pair of beige shorts, white tee, and a black blazer looks great with sandals, sneakers, or heels.  Did you know a new trend is wearing biker shorts with a blazer?  And even better….a pair of Bermuda shorts is just as cool! 

If you are looking for a way to update your fall athleisure style, think about pairing black leggings with a white tee and beige cargo jacket.  Please know, you don’t have to pay a fortune for fitness attire….my go-to for leggings is Target.  For chilly mornings, I’m suggesting a two-tone cargo jacket from Jones of New York.  To escalate your style, add a pair of On sneakers from Stanley Eisenman’s and a monogrammed baseball cap from Amazon Fashion.  Even better….you won’t miss a fitness beat with a Garmin smartwatch!  

Speaking of two-toned, I’m smitten with a pair of Dune of London sandals in beige and black….so cute when paired with an athleisure ensemble.  And if you have to walk a few city blocks every day, you will look super on-trend wearing a  pair of “dad sandals” with a skirt or dress.  A great accessory to add to your neutral look is a two-toned handbag….and we just happen to be partial to Yuzefi’s black and beige Delores bag.  A less expensive version is a Boho Couture copy!   

Know what’s great about faux leather pants?  They’re ideal for seasonal transitioning.  A Pinterest look I’m smitten with shows a style influencer sporting baggy faux leather pants complemented with a dark orange tee, a Lowe’s tote, and sandals.  Doesn’t that sound like a classic “almost fall” Texas look?  Be sure to browse our Pinterest board for more leather pants from Bloomingdale’s and Other Stories.  

Hmmm….I don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready for fall and all the new trends!   

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].  

Fall is Coming Y’all – Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

Y’all!  I am ready for fall, and a change of scenery with pumpkins, and pumpkin waffle candles a burning! It’s technically not until September 22, but as soon as pumpkin hits the shelves at Trader Joe’s my happy season has begun.  I had my first PSL from Starbucks on August 29 – fall is my favorite!

This recipe from Crazy for Crust for Pumpkin Coffee Cake will be your new fall friend.  Here’s the thing, it doesn’t call for any eggs.  Don’t panic, it turns out fine (I was worried, so I wanted to offer you some reassurance).

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

For the Streusel
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch salt

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

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

What Would Holley Wear: Orange Crush

Remember back in the day when women would swoon over Frank Sinatra singing, “I’ve got a Crush on you Sweetie Pie”?  That’s exactly how we feel about orange outfits and accessories…swoon-worthy!  

Here’s the deal…not only is it a great color for summer but also for fall.  Don’t you think a pair of orange loafers is a fun way to step into fall?  No wonder we’re loving a pair of Tod’s driving shoes.  Wicker totes are ideal for both seasons, and a Lowe’s wicker tote with orange trim is great for seasonal transitioning.

When was the last time you drank an ice-cold Orange Crush?  Just like this delicious beverage, an orange dress looks so refreshing on a hot September day. Planning a trip to the farmer’s market?  Spell & Gypsy’s printed midi dress will give you that effortless farm girl look….just add Birkenstocks or Teva’s!  

Are you looking for a cool new alfresco dining location?  Tinie’s rooftop terrace at 113 S Main Street in Near Southside gives our hometown a LA vibe!  Anthropologie’s tiered maxi dress is a great choice for rooftop dining.  Wear it on or off your shoulders…your choice!  And we think Shop Bop’s polka dot belted midi skirt makes a charming statement.  Wear it with white sneakers and a tee or with sandals and a blouse tied at the waist.  Make that a “Casita Margarita”…please!

Don’t you just love how a kimono dresses up jeans and shorts outfits?  I’m especially loving a printed maxi kimono I recently purchased from Cotton Rose.  It looks adorable with jeans and sandals, and later this fall, I’ll wear it with boots.  Whether you are relaxing on the patio or by the pool, Anthropologie’s orange printed caftan is perfect for a lazy end of summer day.

 Show me an orange accessory, and I’ll show you a chic way to complement your outfit!  Hazen & Co.’s stunning Catalina bracelet pairs perfectly with a Johanna Ortiz pareo or wrap skirt…the ultimate in chicness!  Another way to make a posh statement is with one of Lowe’s two-toned handbags, or a Boho Couture copy….scene stealers, indeed!

So, I have to ask….are you swooning?  And one more question….“orange” you glad it’s almost fall? 

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].