Make Your House Smell Like Christmas with this Homemade Stovetop Potpourri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vintage Memories of Christmas and Mother’s Cheese Grits

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

Here are the top things I remember:

Tons of Friends Coming Over for Parties:

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

Playing Christmas Records on the stereo:

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

Christmas Decor:

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

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

Cheese Grits on Christmas morning:

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas!

Mrs. Twist Gives This: Gift Ideas for Her

I’ve got some great gift ideas for the sweet lady in your life.  If you want to check out the others ideas I’ve shared previously I’ve linked those stories at the end of this post.

First, pajamas from Soma.  Right now they are offering a great deal on their PJ sets for only $29 (normally priced $64)!  They are really soft and have the coolnights fabrication.  Check out all the styles both long and short sleeved.

Next, I would love a Mark & Graham monogrammed pill case.  I think it’s such a nice way to personalize and hide away the drug store plastic pill box.  Right now they are on sale for $38.99 (add an additional $9 for monogramming).

Next, this is going to seem random, but I love this blowdryer!  One of my bestie’s Mary introduced me to the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer.  I detest blowdrying my hair — it’s a total time suck.  Having long hair there are so many other things I could be doing during the time it takes me to dry my hair.  However, this blow dryer has a built in large brush that smooths, volumizes, curls and dries your hair all in one.  The barrel of the brush is really big so you won’t get your hair stuck in it.  Plus, it has cut down on the time it takes to dry my hair.  It’s been a game changer for me. I got mine from Amazon for $51 because Target was sold out.

This is wrapped under my tree ready to give someone on my gift list.   How about this adorable mini drink dispenser for their desk!  It’s from Packed Party. It holds 8-ounces of water, or whatever you’d like to enjoy!  $42

And last, for the cook, I picked up a set of these wooden measuring spoons from Euna Mae’s.  This handmade wood two-sided measuring spoon is a kitchen must-have! Because each end features the two most widely-used measures, it becomes a go-to for your baking, cooking, and more! Each spoon is branded with the year it was crafted, making it an instant heirloom that will be in your kitchen and kitchens to come. Use it to spoon out condiments, sauces and spreads from smaller jars, too.  $24.99

If you missed my previous ideas you can find them here and here.  Happy gift giving!

Gingerbread Project: A Sweet Way to Celebrate the Season

One of my most favorite projects to-date was the time I built a gingerbread retro-camper from scratch!  I wanted to share this story with you.  It was alot of work, but oh so fun.  Enjoy!

My friend Jessica invite me to be a “celebrity” participant in her sorority’s 16th annual Cookies and Castles charity event benefiting Cook Children’s Medical Center. Since 2001, the Gingerbread Extravaganza, has become a holiday tradition cherished by many in Fort Worth.

I love a challenge, and of course the first place I went for inspiration was Pinterest.  Representing Home with a Twist, I wanted something special that told a story and represented me.  As soon as I saw this idea I went to work on my plan!

Sugar and Clothsugar-and-cloth-retro-camper posted this retro gingerbread camper on Pinterest last Christmas.  I grew up going camping in my parent’s motor home and I thought this would be the perfect way to pay tribute to my childhood, but with a modern twist.

I took my calling card shopping with me to find just the right fondant colors to complement my blog’s color scheme.  I settled on red, teal and white for the camper and pulled in the Kelly Green for the trees.

This post is less about how to construct it because Sugar and Cloth gives you a template including the recipe for making the gingerbread.  But, I will hit the highlights in case you think you want to make this project.

  1.  The funny thing about this project is that when I told Bestie we were going to make a gingerbread house, she thought it was going to be one of the ones you purchase at the store and assemble during a Michael Buble Christmas special.  An hour tops.  This took 45 hours to plan for and construct.
  2.  I could not have done this without help.  While it was fun, it was intense.  Mainly because we didn’t know what we were doing and had to wing it.
  3.  Help was Mr. Bee, Miss Bee, my bestie, her husband and teenage son (who is like a son to me; I can boss him and he either tunes me out or doesn’t mind).  He was our engineer on the project and helped to reinforce the structure inside the camper so it didn’t collapse.  Bestie was the maker and baker of the gingerbread.  The husbands chimed in every once in while with tips or suggestions.
  4. There was a lot of strategy that went into this.  We had to think through each step, the “what ifs” and develop a timeline of what needed to bake when, what was next and we had to allow time for the royal icing “glue” to set up.  It was like mission control at NASA.
  5. We started on Friday afternoon and finished about 9 p.m. Saturday night.
  6. I took about 3 days to shop for candy and think of what I needed to make each of the parts.
  7. I kept having to say a famous phrase coined by my friend Terry…”we aren’t saving lives here people, we are just crafting.”
  8. No glue was used.  Everything was assembled using royal icing (which is made of powdered sugar, meringue powder and water).

I used belt candy to resemble a Saltillo tile front porch — cutting out each section, arranging a pattern, and adhering it to a piece of cardboard with royal icing.  I bordered the sides with red and green dot candy.

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I put Garrett in charge of creating the campfire.  He used scraps from the gingerbread, crushed ribbon candy and red belt candy.

I made the lounge chairs from scraps of gingerbread, belt candy and Bestie cut pieces of candy canes for the base and lumbar pillows.  I also put Bestie in charge of (yes, I did do things, but mostly I was the project manager and bossed people around) making the little packages around trees and by the campfire.

We took pieces of ribbon candy and German candy called “hamburger” I found at World Market and Bestie tied red and green twine around them to create the look of wrapped presents.  She then glued sugar candy decoration on top like a gift tag.

Miss Bee made the Rice Krispie treats and shaped them into trees, a wreath and the shrubbery.  She also designed the Christmas trees which are sugar cones with tinted royal icing.

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I thought she did an amazing job adding the sprinkle accents of white and red to all the trees.  She free handed the wreath by the front door and added sweet little white pearls.

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The wheels are discs of gingerbread with a Necco wafer and sugar cookie sprinkle.

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The best part is that the windows of the camper are melted butterscotch candies for a stained glass effect. Garrett placed battery operated lights inside so the windows glow as if someone is inside the camper!  It was Bestie’s idea to use a battery operated ornament necklace for the lights hanging around the camper.   Shredded coconut surrounds the snow scene. It’s all just so sweet (literally) and life-like.

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We all agreed our favorite part of the scene is the snowman that Miss Bee created.  She used white chocolate malt balls and stacked them using royal icing.  Red gum drops cut in half were fashioned as the ear muffs, and an orange sliver of a gum drop his nose. A black edible pen finished off his buttons, eyes and smile.  We wrapped red twine around his neck for the scarf.  Raspberry candies circle him as the base for stability with his tiny gingerbread sidekick.   Isn’t he adorable?

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I hope the person that bid on this project enjoyed it as much as we did creating it.  I’d love to make another gingerbread project again someday.  Anyone want to help (I think Bestie wants a pass)?

Mrs. Twist Gives This — Gifts for the beverage lover

Welcome to part two of my gift guide (you can read part one here).  Today, I will be sharing ideas for the friend that loves iced tea and coffee.  First, the Takeya Iced Tea Maker.  For years I relied on my trusty Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker.  The machine worked fine, but over the years the design of the pitcher to brew the tea  changed and the quality was not the same which meant that each time I brewed tea, the pitcher would leak.  Well, when I was at my friend Pam’s house she used the Takeya Iced Tea Maker and it brewed the most delicious glass of iced tea.  I always have a pitcher of iced tea in the refrigerator ready to go, and second I like to use PGTips loose tea and the Takeya checks both boxes.  You boil a kettle of water and pour it straight into the heat safe pitcher.  Add 6 teaspoons of loose tea to the removable basket and lower it down into the pitcher.  Screw on the lid and let it steep.  No need to add water or ice unless you want to.  It’s a game changer.  It comes in black, blueberry, raspberry and avocado (as shown).  $24.99

Next, I really want this SMEG Italian made coffee maker because it is SO cute and retro. Since I would likely only use it for parties, I probably won’t splurge on it.  But, this is a close second – the Nostalgia programmable drip coffee maker also in aqua.  It looks like something from Disney PrimeTime diner.  I love it.

And if you know someone that just loves to go camping or bought a camper, how about this cutie — the Nostalgia Breakfast Station!  $76And if you want to throw in a bag of coffee for good measure, Pioneer Woman’s coffee is the best.  When I need to make brewed coffee I like to use her whole beans, ground them and it makes a delicious cup of coffee.  If you never want to run out, sign up for their coffee subscription and customize your delivery time and the type of beans you want.  $14 per bag.

I’ll be back soon for installment three — personalized gifts.  Happy giving!

Mrs. Twist’s 12 Days of Gifts — Google Hub and Carl the Snowman

Thirty four days and counting until Christmas. I’ve got a great list of ideas to share with you for gifts – at least I would love these under my tree!

Gift One:   The Google Hub.  I love my Hub.  I am team Google, so everything in my house is compatible with my Samsung devices.  If you love iPhone, there’s a home device out there for you.  I purchased Hub from Target for $149 and since I have a Target Redcard I saved an additional 5%, plus free shipping.  It took less than two minutes to set up and sync to my phone.  Housed in my kitchen,Hub has access to my calendar for the day, my contacts, can scroll through my photos, and is voice activated.  I walk into the kitchen in the morning to make my coffee and I say, “Hey, Google Good morning.”  Hub replies back “Good morning Melissa, here’s your schedule for the day” and then shows a five minute top world news video for the day and shares the weather forecast.  When my hands are full cooking I can ask Hub to look up a recipe on my Pinterest or find a video on how to cut a mango.  If you know someone on your list that loves to stay organized, this would be the perfect gift.

Gift number two:  Carl the Snowman from Kate Weiser Chocolate.  This cutie was named as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things for 2018. Carl the Snowman is a dark chocolate hollow figure filled with hot cocoa mix and mini marshmallows.  Heat up a pot of milk, place Carl in the pot and watch him slowly melt into hot cocoa for the entire family!  He comes with a recipe card for two version of hot cocoa (traditional and thick and creamy).   There are less than 6,000 less to sell and a two snowman limit per order so be sure to snag Carl fast before he melts away.  I picked up one for our Christmas Eve gathering. What a perfect hostess gift!  Carl sells for $38.

I’ll be back next week with more gift ideas.

Newsy Tuesday: These three ladies are making my Thanksgiving

I’m planning my Thanksgiving menu and since I am working more hours this year, I know that I won’t have as much time to cook.  So big news — I’ve hired out my sides and pies!  This is big because not only do I love to cook, but I love my recipes.  However, I’d rather trade the time and effort of cramming in the cooking for a leisure, relaxed holiday.  There. I said it.  And, I am happy.

However, Mr. Bee will still cook his turkey. And the recipe we love to use comes from my sweet friend and super talented hair stylist Mandy Hancock (who is a #bossbabe and owns a super chic salon called Prominence Parlor).

She shared her secret with me a few seasons ago and we never looked back on our turkey prep.  It’s moist, flavorful and delish.  Here’s her recipe:

Mandy’s Holiday Cheer Slow Roasted Turkey recipe!! 🤤

Rub some olive oil all over the bird, season generously with garlic salt and creole seasoning. Garlic cloves and Cheer Beer go in the cavity (fill til it starts to barely spill out). Roast it, breast up, at 500* for 20 min uncovered. After 20 min take out, turn bird breast down then cover tightly with foil and slow roast at 200* for 45 min per pound!!! Don’t expect to be able to slice it though, it will literally be falling off the bone!! Use the juices as brown gravy! Your house will smell soooo good all night and morning!!! I always take all the leftover juices, neck, giblets and carcass and boil it down to make make an insane broth too. OMG sooo good!

*do the math on how long your bird needs to cook first! Big birds can take a long time! I always do mine overnight so it’s perfect by Thanksgiving lunch at noon 🧡

**Shiner Holiday Cheer Beer packaging has changed from this photo but the beer itself is the same!

Now for the sides, my niece is making the mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.  Miss Bee put her foot down that she’s making Mother’s sweet potato delight, plus Dorcas Reilly’s famous green bean casserole.  However, I am having my favorite place, Hurley House, make their cornbread dressing and cranberry relish.  Oh, and I snagged a pan of her cinnamon rolls to eat while I watch the Macy’s Parade.  Call 817.349.8934 to place your order.

On to the pies, I have ordered from my favorite pie gal, Lindsey Lawing of Sweet Lucy’s Pies.  On my list are Pumpkin, Pecan, Chocolate Chess and Buttermilk.  Dear Lordy, her pies are so good and frankly better than mine.  Connect with her through Facebook to place your order.

I am so excited to delegate this out.  It will be the first Thanksgiving Miss Bee is home from college and I want to spend as much time as possible hanging out with her.  I’ll still allow myself the chance to set a stunning table, wash my crystal and shine the silver, but the time someone else is taking to make my meal perfection is a gift I plan to savor.

What’s something you can delegate this holiday?

Alphabet Printable Valentine’s Cards

There are so many different ways to tell your spouse or child you love them. But instead of giving them the typical card, consider creating an entire book telling them all the ways you love them—from A to Z. Not only does it force you to be really creative, but it gives your partner, child, or even BFF a list of traits that make them unique. And it shows how much you care!

Thanks to my nice friends from Shari’s Berries, who happened to like my post on “Finding the Perfect Valentine Gift based on your love language” here, they offered to share this Alphabet of Our Love book with HWT readers! 

Instructions for Alphabet of Our Love

  1. First, download the alphabet cards. 
  2. Print out the cards on either hard cardstock or regular paper.
  3. Write out one reason you love your partner or child for each letter of the alphabet on each card. For example, for the letter “A,” you could write “Always ready to help me out” or “Advocate for family time.”
  4. Once you have finished writing the alphabet of love, laminate the cards. If you chose to print on cardstock you may skip this step.
  5. Bind your cards together using a binder clip or ribbon. You can do this by hole-punching a hole in the left corner of the cards and then looping a ribbon or clip through the holes so it flips like a book.
  6. Give your sweetie their alphabet of our love book!

What a fun way to do something as a family!  Wouldn’t it be fun tonight to work on this project together, then share the cards on Valentine’s Day!

Just a Minute Centerpiece

I have an easy Valentine’s Day centerpiece to share.  You could do this for any occasion, like a birthday party, ice cream social, baby shower or July 4th by changing up the colors of the flowers.

What you’ll need:

Carnations — I love Carnations and I think they get a bad rap.  They are fragrant, inexpensive and can go a long time without water which is perfect for this centerpiece project.  I bought three bunches at $3.99 each from Central Market.

Red Hots — I bought several scoops from the bulk bin at Central Market, or you could buy a large bag in the candy aisle.

Ice Cream Sugar Cones — I used nine cones which was one box.

Glass Cylinders or Vases – You can find these anywhere.  I just used ones I had in my vase stash.

I cut the carnation stems short enough to fit in the ice cream cone so the bottom petals of the carnation set just around the rim of the cone.  I put all one color in each cone.  As it worked out, I had enough to make three cones for each of the colors.  A rule of thumb, tablescapes always looks better in odd numbers — in this case three vases, three cones per vase.

I filled the bottom of each cylinder with red hots.  You don’t need to measure, just pour enough in each vase so it looks even.  Then, nestle the cones down into the vase.  That’s it!

The carnations went without water for 24 hours, and I put them into water the next day.  They are still fresh a week a later.

I styled the vases on top of cake pedestals I found last year in the dollar section of Target along with sweets we had.  My milk glass collection is always a perfect backdrop for the yummy treats from McKinley’s Bakery. The cute little chalkboard menus are from the Container Store.

These centerpieces would be so cute lined up on an ice cream sundae bar for July 4th, a baby “gender” reveal party or birthday!  If you put love into it, everything turns out amazing!

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Bread Recipes

To say that Miss Bee loves bread is an understatement.  She has been known to ask my Sister Bee to bring several pans of rolls for Thanksgivings — one pan for her, and one for everyone else.

She’s been helping put together our menu for next week and we have a few recipes to consider.  We have had good luck with this recipe Easy Garlic Butter Hawaiian Rolls.  I like them because they are also perfect for making turkey sandwiches later that evening or the next day.

Twist:  For recipes where butter is the star, I only bake with European-style butter. Plugra is one brand and Land O Lakes also has a great product. European-style butter has higher milk fat and a richer taste and creamier texture than regular butter.

Ingredients

1  package of King’s Original Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, divided in half.

1 TBL garlic, minced

Sea salt flakes, coarse sea salt or Kosher salt

Instructions

Preheat over to 350.

Heat 1/4 cup of butter (4 TBL) in small skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles.  Add garlic and reduce heat to low.  Cook 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup butter in the bottom of 8×11 baking sheet.

Place baking sheet in the oven until butter is melted.  Remove baking sheet from the oven and place rolls in the pan.

Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut a deep “X” into the top middle of each roll.

Brush the rolls with garlic butter and sprinkle with sea salt flakes.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Rolls can be cooled and reheated.

Garlic Parmesan Rolls

A recipe we want to try is for Garlic Parmesan Butterflake Rolls.

4 Rhodes Dinner Rolls, thawed but still cold,
    or 12 Texas-Size Rolls
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbl. Mayonnaise
1/2 – 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
3 Tbl. grated Parmesan cheese  

Place 24 frozen rolls in a 9×13-inch baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and thaw in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, combine two thawed rolls and roll into a ball.  Using clean kitchen scissors, cut four or five deep cuts, almost to the bottom of the roll.  Place in a greased muffin tin.  Repeat with remaining rolls.

Combine melted butter, Mayonnaise, garlic powder, dried parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.  Generously brush all over the rolls, covering every last bit and getting into all the slits.  Spray plastic wrap with cooking spray and cover rolls.  Allow to rise until doubled.

When rolls have risen, remove plastic wrap and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Serve.  Makes 12 rolls.

One Hour Dinner Rolls

And click on this link for One Hour Dinner Rolls using yeast.  They sound delicious.

I’ve got lots more recipes on my Breads and Muffins Pinterest Board.