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 Rakutun 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!
In all the personality assessments – like Strengthsfinder, EmotionaIntellegence, and Strengths Deployment Inventory, my top strengths are relationship building. I love to help people make connections. When I am having a conversation with someone I am immediately assessing who I can introduce them to – whether for personal or professional connections. It’s in my DNA to make people feel important, valued and respected. As a result, because I care so much about being respectful of people’s time, I am often cautious about asking busy people to help me, this is particularly so in my career. Our team works so hard producing events, many times well beyond the 40-hour work week. I am reluctant to seek help, because I know they are just as tired as I am. What’s ironic is I sometimes put more effort into other’s feelings than I do my own.
For the last five months I have been planning a very important women’s retreat. I knew this ambitious endeavor was going to require alot of my attention and in order for it to be successful, I was going to have to ask for help. Here’s why. For many years, the older group I also program for have told me “we don’t care what the napkin folds look like, we just want you sit down with us and visit.” Translation – stop making things perfect around you and focus on what matters – the guests. If I can empower other people to take from me the to-do list that pulls me in a million directions, I will feel and look less frazzled. The end result is I get to engage with the people I like to spend my time with. It’s very much the Mary & Martha story. Click here for the 5-lessons we can learn from this parable.
So, I reached out to 10 women and asked for their help and they all said yes! I came up with a list of areas of responsibility, had them choose what they felt was their gift, wrote up job descriptions for each person, and I assigned one member to be the volunteer coordinator. We met twice before the event to review everything that needed to be done, gave them jobs to do before hand so we were prepared – all of which gave me the extra time to focus on details and cross off checklists. By the day of the event, I was confident and rested. It felt amazing.
As I gathered the women beside me for our pep talk before we started, I shared with them my story of letting go and having others help me and how important they were to me. In return they replied how thankful they were that I asked them to help! So, everyone felt honored and valued. That’s the power of asking for help. It creates an alliance, a tribe, a community of people wanting to see each other succeed. See me in the middle of all these amazing women – see my face! That’s happiness. That’s a rested face. See all the women’s faces? Those are faces of joy! If I hadn’t been open to accept their help, I would have robbed them of the joy from our experience.
That day was my best yes. In the over 20 years I have been in the event production business, it was the best event I have ever been apart of. Our volunteers worked every single minute, thinking outside the box to problem solve. Everyone had smiles on their faces. It left me so fulfilled and thankful that I let go and listened to my instincts. I floated on a cloud that day, and the next several days afterward because I allowed someone to help me. It cost me nothing and I gained so much more in return.
Tricia Brouk says, “Saying yes means allowing room for opportunity. It means giving myself permission to try and to fail, while knowing you’ll be changed afterwards having learned something new. Saying yes, can be terrifying, but if you say yes, you might be surprised at what is possible. You can start saying yes right now. Wake up and say, yes, I’m going to hit the gym. Say yes, to how amazing you are each day. Say yes to a project that is out of your comfort zone and blow it out of the water. Say yes to trying something new and surprise yourself at the joy you feel. Say yes to staying at home with a good book because you are that important. Say yes to having the biggest life possible, because your happiness will create happiness in others. And when you say yes in business, people will be attracted to you by your willingness to say yes and your ability to back it up with expertise.”
I leaned in and I feel amazing. Ready to tackle another yes. What can you say yes to?
I follow The Wish List Atlanta on Instagram. When Laurie posted a photo of a pile of vintage hotel keys, I messaged her right away and told her I had to have them. I could imagine a big bowl of keys on the coffee table and the conversations that would ensue of sharing memories of vacations!
When the package arrived I couldn’t wait to look at each one, imagining their story. Like the kitschy look of this key — meet me for cocktails at the Madhatter Lounge.
From Toledo, Ohio to Kailua, Kona, Hawaii to The Royal Caribbean Montego Bay, Jamaica. The size of some of these keys made me chuckle. To think how now we are mostly issued plastic, disposable key cards. No story to tell there.
Holiday Inn Town in Lansing, Michigan to the 89er Inn in Oklahoma City to the Hospitality Motor inn in Lansing, Michigan.
There were also a few airport locker keys. Mystery.
And this one from Kenya.
Fun stories in this pile, and I am sure a few bittersweet ones like perhaps from the Medical Center Motel. I have something new to search for at antique stores and estate sales. I love things that tell a story. These might just be the key…
If you have been following my blog for a while now, thank you! If you are new to my journey to #seekjoy everyday – then welcome! I suggest you start here to find out how I started my blog and the life experiences that inspire me. Since I launched Home with a Twist, I’ve published almost 700 posts and last October I started a Podcast you can find here.
In January rather than establishing a “resolution” which to me is a one and done way to approach life, I choose to have an open-ended theme. Like in 2018 – my theme was “Joie de Vivre — Seek Joy everyday.” I really tried to be intentional to find something good in every day. Whether it’s happiness over a hot cup of Starbucks or an up-close parking space, I was laser focused on intentionally celebrating life. You know what? I had a great year. That’s not to say there weren’t days of frustration or disappointment, but since my mind was in the habit of seeking joy, I found myself trying to find ways to flip the sad to glad!
This year, my mantra is “Seek the Sunshine.” You know the friendly little sunflower? This Helianthus or commonly referred to as the “sunflower” tilts its head during the day to face the Sun as it rises in the east and follows the Sun across the sky until it sets in the west. Continuously facing towards the east also helps the flowers to heat up quickly. This gives them an advantage in pollination as warm flowers attract insects. Therefore, it’s in the plant’s best interest that the flower always faces the Sun, so it is always highly visible to these important pollinators. The fascinating phenomenon of flowers following the sun across the sky is called heliotropism.
What’s the take away on this? Well, to me, the metaphor in life is that if I always face the sunshine – which could be alot of things like God’s warmth, having a sunny disposition, or choosing the happiness of it’s bright orange radiance – I can focus on the positives in my life. I can face the sunshine all day from the time the sun comes up until the day comes to an end. Because the “sun” warms me, like the sunflower, I will be attracting goodness, kindness, joy – just like the flower attracts bees (which happen to be my favorite insect…Melissa means honeybee, you know). The sunflower also has a special meaning in our family because they were my daddy’s favorite flower. You can read a sweet story about them here. We called them his “Pockets of Sunshine.”
So, this year ask yourself this question “Does this support the life I am trying to create?” Sometimes we have to move to bloom.
Here’s to a fantastic 2019 my friends. I look forward to our journey together.
Here is a “best of” for you to enjoy while I take a little break to enjoy time with Mr. Bee. I’ll have something fun to share when I return. This story will take you back to 2014 when I went into PetSmart to buy fish food and came home with a puppy.
Where have you been? I’ve had several followers email or call me asking me if I’ve died. Why has the story about the disinfectant wipes been on your blog for over a month? What in the world is going on? This is what’s been going on…I went into PetSmart to buy Beta food for Consuela VonFinn. She’s really a he, but I liked the name Consuela. I don’t even like her, but she/he’s pretty on my counter top. All blue and swirly. I actually got he/her to use for a centerpiece for a fish themed baby shower back in July. It’s still alive and I have to feed it. While I was perusing the Halloween dog costume area for Ruthie the Wienerful, I spotted the adoption section of the store. That was when I saw her. “Can I play with her for a bit?” I asked the kennel lady. She brought her into the puppy viewing room (also known as room for suckers with husbands that will leave you if you bring anymore animals home). We played, we bonded. I brought her home along with all the gear you buy for a new puppy. The $10 deal of a puppy was the story I was sticking to.
Mr. Bee texted me “what are you doing?” I responded that I was potty training our new puppy. Silence. Then I texted him the pic of her in our kitchen. He replied, “what is that?” That was one month ago. He’s just now speaking to me.
Seriously, I have to give him credit. We’d I’d been talking about getting a second dog casually, but this should have been a group decision. I was afraid he’d say no. And, he would have. So, for the last month I’ve been potty training, taking her to the vet for de-worming, de-puppying the house, running a puppy day-care, and racking up the FitBit steps going on walks to wear her out. Then, Sunday, I hit an emotional wall.
I sat and cried. Big tears. Sobbing. What have I done? As Mr. Bee was consoling me, telling me he didn’t hate me or the puppy, that he actually thought she was cute and good for Ruthie to have a playmate, I blurted out “I just wanted something else to take care of!” That was it. To the very core. I think I miss being a caregiver. I miss Mother. Miss Bee is a teen. On some crazy level having a puppy keeps me busy, productive and makes me feel loved and needed. Hey, it could be worse, I could be having a real baby…right?
I named her Hazel, by the way (animal control named her Aruba). Ruth was my grandmother’s name and she had a sister named Hazel. Ruthie and Hazel. I now have two dogs…four cats…and a beta. Ruthie and etc…
Like all rescue dogs, they are so happy to be loved. Hazel is spunky, sweet and has lots of energy. She loves to go on walks with me (Ruthie has no legs, not really but she hates to go for walks) and fetch. I think she will be my show dog. I’m pretty sure I can teach her to jump through hula hoops and catch Frisbees. On the flip side, she rarely sits still. Heck, with a dogsister and four cats to chase, there is always something going on. When Hazel is still long enough she looks up at me with those big, brown eyes and I know she’s saying, “thank you for shopping at PetSmart that day and taking a chance on me. I won’t let you down.”
Update to October 2018: Hazel is still perfect for our family. She’s learned to be calm and is the best lap dog. We’ve since lost our beloved Ruthie and while I long for another doxie, Hazel is just fine being my girl.
I found the cutest artwork recently from an artist named Evelyn Henson. She has all sorts of designs, but I immediately zoned in on her monthly to-lists with inspired ways to celebrate the month! I mean we all have our “to-do” list which usually involves the daily tasks of life like pick up the dry cleaning, clean the litter box, etc… but wouldn’t it be fun to add “Bring Funfetti Popcorn to Work” on your list!And with January 23 being National Handwriting Day — when I was reading my February issue of Real Simple one of their featured “Things we Love” stories was Nicely Noted, a monthly subscription service where three curated, letterpress blank cards of all themes and envelopes are packaged with gorgeous postage stamps and sent right to your door the first of every month – all in an effort to help promote the art of pen and ink mail. I love the idea! When you go to their site and enter your email address they will email you a promo code for 20% off your first month’s subscription. This idea is perfect with the gratitude letters I talked about here in the Creating Your Own Personal Inventory Days.
Here’s another idea for a fun to-do list from Paper and Glam. We are supposed to get winter weather overnight so I might just get to check off making a snowman and snowman pancakes! I used to think January was a tad depressing with the holidays being over and decorations put away, but this inspiration actually makes me excited about all the adventures 2018 will bring!
Scrolling through Instagram one day, I came across artist Sarah Maddox and was immediately taken with her watercolor art featuring people and their pets.
She has an Etsy shop (SMaddoxArtShop) and I immediately contacted her to see if she was available to paint a piece for my friend Holley – What Would Holley Wear – as a thank you for all her work on her weekly fashion articles. Sarah was so easy to work with and from start to finish I received my art within two weeks. Sarah studies Instagram photos and ones you send her. She shows you the sketch first for approval and then goes from there with adding in the watercolor. Even if you don’t have a pet, reach out to Sarah to have her do something for you. Here’s a sample of her work from her Etsy site…
And here is the one she did for me of Holley and her bulldog, Junior…
If you look at Holley’s post from her trip to Aspen here, the outfit Holley was wearing is what Sarah used for inspiration. Junior, on the other hand, was a little bit more of a challenge to draw because he’s a senior fellow and doesn’t sit up much…and since he’s vision and hearing impaired, a full frontal view was tricky. I think Sarah did a great job capturing him for Holley as a keepsake. I had Sarah add the Central Park sign since I know NY is one of Holley’s favorite places to visit.
Sarah’s art is very affordable, starting at $33 and would make the perfect gift. You can follow her on Instagram @smaddoxart or check out her Etsy store. I can’t wait to have her do one of me with these two yahoos…
Sharing some “hot” ideas — things I’d like to try this spring, because why not round up the days to March 21 — the first day of spring. Food, flowers, gardening, and travel — something for everyone!
I love spring. To me, it’s a time of new beginnings. Tender bulbs we planted in the fall are starting to pop their heads up in our garden. The phlox are blooming bright purple right now. I missed my window of time to plant pansies like I usually do in the fall, and since it looks like we are going to skip winter all together here, I may just wait and plant my usual burst of color from zinnias.
If you’ve never tried to plant zinnias, give it a try this spring. They are hearty, heat and drought tolerant and make the perfect cutting flowers.
I have been saving up photos to my gardening Pinterest board to show Mr. Bee for a spring project…a container vegetable/herb garden in a galvanized water trough.
Two things I like about this, is it’s higher up from the ground so it will be easier to access for watering, weeding and harvesting. And, it will be up off the ground so our pets cannot get into it. This DIY article from Apartment Therapy walks you through how to create your own. I want to plant cooking herbs like rosemary, basil, thyme, parsley and cilantro. And a few vegetables we enjoy like cucumbers, zucchini and peppers. I wish I could grow tomatoes, but I leave that up to my farmer’s market because tomatoes are so persnickety.
Next, before it gets too hot outside I want to perfect a recipe for fried chicken.
I eat fried chicken once about every 5 years, but it’s just so nostalgic like Sunday suppers after church.
And I want to host a party just so I can put hot french fries in a mason jar lined with parchment paper. Recipe here.
My grandmother used to make the best french fries when I would go and spend the weekend at her house. She’d cut big steak fry slices from Idaho potatoes and toss them into a cast iron skillet of hot Crisco oil. Once they were golden brown, she’d remove them to a paper towel lined pan and take her big, metal silver salt shaker and drench the fries in salt. Add a side of ketchup and I was a happy camper. She’d also pan-fry hamburger patties in Worcestershire sauce. This is why I liked spending weekends at her house.
And, while we are on the subject of food, I can’t leave out something related to cake. That was the other thing we always made at my grandmother’s house – a cake. Grandmother wasn’t a baker. She was more of an entree kinda cook. So, my mother would always supply me with a box of cake mix and the add-ins. When this story appeared on my Facebook timeline today, again courtesy of Country Living, it shared the simple trick to make boxed cake mix taste 1,000 times better. Butter. Replace the oil in the mix with almost the same amount of butter. I feel it is my duty to research this and report back this week. Miss Bee is totally on board.
Next, if you want to plan a long weekend trip this spring, two fun places to try are Waco, Texas and Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
This fun article from Country Living shares a 72-hour itinerary in Waco and includes “the nitty-gritty on the city, a mix of both editor picks and the requisite “Chip & Jo Were Here” attractions for true devotees.” It’s a great how-to including wine, coffee, antiquing, eating and site-seeing. I have been to Waco many times, and have spent an evening with the Gaines (which you can read about here), but the itinerary is something I would really like to try.
Then, there’s Pawhuska, Oklahoma — the land of the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Again, Country Living shares the details on her fab new venture here.
The Mercantile is a 25,000 square foot space that includes a restaurant, retail store, deli, coffee bar and bakery. The town only has 3,500 residents, yet sees 6,000 people A DAY to the town to get a taste of her great frontier. Here are two snaps I found on Instagram…
So, this is my “Honey, it’s Hot” list. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know if there is something new you’d like to try and I will check it out. I’d love to hear your suggestions, too.
Wow. That’s a hard topic — things you like about yourself. First, to find five things, then to be bold enough to say them out loud without seeming bragadocious (it’s a real word but it sounds less brag-gy). But, I think every once in while we need to take the opportunity to identify things we like about ourselves and embrace the positive, rather than the negative. So, here goes:
I’m funny. I have a good sense of humor. I get that from my parents. I like to make people laugh. I have been entertaining the world since I was old enough to realize I could get a response –isn’t that at about 6 weeks old?
I love to talk to people. I like to find out what makes them tick. I always leave a store or restaurant with a new friend (I get this from Daddy). My profession requires me to be a good conversationalist. As a result, it’s also exhausting which means sometimes I need alone time to recharge, kind of like you recharge your phone.
I am a good listener. I can really empathize with how people feel. It’s not something I have always been good at. In fact, I think before I suffered from the major loss of losing a child, I didn’t take the time to listen to what people are really saying. Now, I understand that feeling of emptiness and hurt. Sometimes it makes my heart ache.
I’m creative. I’m really good at conceptualizing how something should look and feel. I love to think of and try ways to put a new “spin” on ideas. This has proved useful in both my personal and professional life.
I’m passionate. About a lot of things that are important to me — from how God has played such an important role in my life, to my pets and love of animals, to surrounding myself with things that are beautiful and make me feel happy, to searching for the best place for bakery cake, to organizing my pencil drawer, to being the best wife, mother, sister, aunt, and friend I can possibly be.
I am not perfect and I have more faults I could probably list than successes. But, I like myself and the person I hope to grow into for the next 40+ years.
“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
P.S. I asked Miss Bee what are the five things she liked about me. In her words: 1. I’m funny 2. I cook good 3. I like to go shopping 4. I’m a good listener and 5. I am smart. Wow. I guess she is paying attention after all.
Fellas, if you happen to read my blog (hopefully on your own or because your gal says “oh, this? Mrs. Twist told me about it.”) I am sharing some deliciousness to make you look like a King gifting the Queen on Valentine’s Day. Fourteen ideas…
One: Sur la Table Cooking Class. She can pick her own class — maybe for a GNO, or baking, or perhaps she will book a couple’s night out class with you!
Two: A limited edition Le Creuset pink heart shaped Dutch oven. A splurge, but what a way to show her you love her not only on Valentine’s Day, but also when she makes Aunt Helen’s pot roast!
Three: This is an easy one — Trader Joe’s Chocolate heart-shaped cookies. They are a shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate and covered in sprinkles. I took one of my Ikea jars (from this post) and filled it with a box of these cookies. Such a pretty, inexpensive gift. Add a gift card to Starbucks and it will be a perfect girlfriend gift.
Four: Hurley House Cupid Corn. Katherine posted this beautiful pic on Instagram today and I knew it would be perfect for my list. “Candy covered popcorn with sprinkles, packaged in a sweet single-served box.” Call (817) 349-8934 to place an order for everyone in your office!
Five: Mix Tape. Kickin’ it old school. If you have no clue what a “mix tape” is you are probably too young to be interested in Mrs. Twist. Popular in the 80s and 90s before you could easily download music, you’d make a mix tape (i.e. the dinosaur cassette tape — or as Mother used to refer as Kay-sette) to give to someone you were crushing on. But, now you could put it on a thumb drive. Load it with classic love songs and you are good as gold.
Six: Fizzing Bath Bombs from Whole Foods. I love to go to their beauty aisle, it smells amazing. Lidded jars full of bath bombs and salts. They come in six amazing scents — my favorites are Rose Petal and Muscle Soak. And you can package them in cute brown paper sacks.
Seven: Microwave Popcorn Maker from Uncommon Goods. This little teapot shaped popcorn maker has a port in the top for a pat of butter to melt right onto your corn! Combine with a good bottle of wine and a Redbox movie and you have a fun date night.
Eight: Bird Feeder. It’s that time of year when birds will need access to food because winter has arrived and soon springtime will mean nesting. This adorable birdfeeder how-to video would be a fun project to do with the kids. Don’t want to make one, Wild Bird Center has a wide variety of feeders and seed to get her started with bird watching.
Nine: Diffuser with Essential Oils. I have practically one diffuser for every room in the house and I take one with me when I travel. There are all sorts of oils available out there. I prefer Young Living Essential Oils. They are a bit more expensive, but they are pharmaceutical grade and the company really does set the highest standard possible with their Seed to Seal promise.
My favorite relaxing scents are lavender and jasmine. I love Purification and Thieves, but that doesn’t really say “Happy Valentine’s Day” to me.
Ten: Sees Candy. This “BigAss Elegant Heart.” I mean I would fly to the moon if Mr. Bee gave me this.
Hello, lover. I can do serious damage to my hips on this one, but I don’t care.
Eleven: Professional Organizer Services. I know this isn’t really romantic, but maybe after you present her with the BigASS Elegant Heart candy box you could say something heartfelt like “I thought it would be nice for you to have someone help you organize the pantry like you’ve been talking about doing.” Men don’t get how organizing makes a woman’s heart sing. My friend, Elizabeth, gets it done. She’s helped me transform most every room in my nest.
Twelve: Fun house slippers with a pedicure gift card tucked inside. If I could click around the house in these, I might never leave. I mean one can never have too many mink, turquoise lucite slippers.
Thirteen: Farmgirl Flowers. They ship nationwide and only use locally sourced farms, not greenhouses, to create a unique bouquet. Their signature burlap, hand-tied wrapped posies look hand-picked from the garden. Use code SWEETS for 10% off your order.
Fourteen: Jesus Calling. I saved the best for last. Mother had a copy of this book in her room when I was going through her things after she died. Mother attended church all her life, but I honestly didn’t know she was as faithful to God until after her death. It’s something I regret not sharing with her.
This beautiful daily devotional lays out words and scripture that Jesus laid on Sarah Young’s heart. It’s no accident when you read your daily passage, that you will say to yourself, “How did He know I was feeling this way today?” Ask someone who owns a copy of Jesus Calling and they will tell you the same thing. Since Valentine’s Day is a day of love — why not give her a gift that she can use every single day from the person who loves her the most (behind you, of course).
So, there you are. Now, go forth and get it done. You have two weeks and no excuses. Mrs. Twist saves the day.