My Favorite Coffee Table Books

I love to collect pretty books that Mother used to call “Coffee Table” books.  I’m sharing a few of my favorites…

Martha Stewart Flowers  “Accompanied by beautiful photographs of displays in Martha’s home, bursting with ideas, and covering every step from seed to vase, Martha’s Flowers is a must-have handbook for flower gardeners and enthusiasts of all skill levels.”  One of the kind people I worked with recently gifted me an autographed copy of this gorgeous book.  It was such a thoughtful gift and one I will treasure always.

Modern Mix by Eddie Ross.  “With more than 350 full-color photographs, time-saving tips and real-life shortcuts to decorating and entertaining beautifully on a budget, Modern Mix will open your eyes to the extraordinary possibilities within your reach and inspire you to live every day colorfully and creatively.”  Bestie gifted me this one.  I adore it.  Eddie’s style and love of beautiful finds came from his grandparents.  The book is full of sweet stories of their relationship.   I would love a tour of his dish collection…

The Art of the Scarf by Libby VanderPloeg is such a cute book!  Holley from What Would Holley Wear fame treated me with this fun read — one of Miss Bee’s favorites.  “From belts to turbans, tops to bags, as well as all the classic knots and drapes, The Art of the Scarf is a must-have book for women who love to add that little something extra to every outfit.”

The Art of the Party by David Stark.  I had the terrific opportunity to hear David speak at an event planning conference in Las Vegas a few years ago and he autographed my copy during a book signing.  “Renowned event planner David Stark reveals whimsical, artistic, unexpected designs often created from sustainable, industrial, or low-cost materials to inspire readers—whether planning a wedding, dinner party, or holiday gathering—looking for ideas for their own events.”

So Much to Celebrate by Katie Jacobs.  This is my newest acquisition.  Katie has a beautiful blog Styling my Everyday. She is a stylist, photographer, graphic designer, and foodie.  A fourth-generation Nashvillian, she’s been featured in Martha Stewart LivingSouthern Living WeddingsNashville Lifestyles as well as on Inspired By This, Fashionable Hostess, and The Scout Guide.   She’s also a content contributer to one of my favorite retailers — Draper James!  Her book takes you through an entire year of seasonal celebrations and holidays.  It’s truly a how-to guide on entertaining.

It’s so hard to pick a favorite.  You really can tell a book by its cover!

My Easy Three: Suits, Beauty and a Book

This past week was my vacay.  I was looking forward to a week of sunning by the pool and doing projects around the house.  But, a nasty bronchitis bug decided to have a vacay in my lungs so all those plans were out the door.  Despite the fact that I felt terrible and did nothing, I ended up being productive at something:  Resting.  I had one week to be on the couch to watch tv, uninterrupted, nap and just be with myself.  Rest and antibiotics were exactly what the doctor ordered for my vacation.

What did I accomplish and how does this relate to My Easy Three installment (you can read more of MET stories here, here, here , here, and here)?  Well, here are three ideas for what you can do when you are stranded at home with nothing to do:

Binge watch Suits on USA network (I’m up to Season 5 thanks to Amazon Prime).  I wanted to see what all the fuss was with Meghan Markle since I got up at 5:45 a.m. to watch her get married.  My goal is to have Suits finished by the July 18 debut of season seven.  I didn’t watch Mad Men in real time during its heyday, but I managed to watch all seven seasons of that show in three weeks.    I mention Mad Men, because it reminds me a lot of Suits.    I love all the characters, and I thought I would do a fun parallel between characters from each show…

Don Draper and Harvey Specter.  Smoldering and hot.  Both look awesome in a suit and they yell in meetings.  Harvey actually has a better sense of ethics especially in the fidelity department.  Both have a secret and have a hard time sharing their feelings.

Donna Paulsen and Peggy Olson.  Both are loyal employees, smart, funny, sarcastic, quirky, and passionate.  Donna loves Harvey.  Peggy loathed Don at times, but also was probably the closest friend Don ever had.

Peter Campbell and Louis Litt.  There is a constant competition to be at the top for these fellas and beat out Don/Harvey at every turn.  The men you love to hate, but hate to not like.  Peter was too slimy for my taste, but Louis, oh, I would love to have a fun dinner with him.  His delivery of one-liners is the best. #youhavebeenlitt  And they both loved Peggy/Donna.

Last, the wardrobe on this show, omg.  Holley should do a story on what they wear.  The costume designer, Jolie Andreatta, came onto the show in season one, episode four and elevated their style –  “My belief is that men’s wealth gets shown through the women. Their women are the ones who represent the fashion in high-end wealth.”

Let’s just say, none of these women eat cheeseburgers.  Their dresses are tailored to a t — not even a tic-tac can move around.  Jessica and Donna wear dresses.   Rachel (Duchess of Sussex) always wears separates, I think to illustrate that she does not earn the money as a Paralegal by day, law student by night, to afford the Dolce Gabbana or Prada dresses.  And, I have never seen any female at the firm wear a pantsuit.  Jessica, the managing partner played by the amazing Gina Torres, has the BEST accessories.  I’d love to rummage around in her Goodwill bags.

Closing argument:  Watch the show.  You’ll laugh, cry and learn about Tortes.

My second easy three — the book for this month’s Mrs. Twist Reads This by Julie Maloney A Matter of Chance.  It’s been a great book to read during my respite.  I am looking forward to chatting with Ms. Maloney this Thursday when she Skypes with us!  The subject matter is tough, but it’s beautifully written.  If you want to join us for our reads in July and August, head here to learn what’s coming up and join our bookclub.

 

 

And three — pimple medicine.  There is no way to segue from Harvey Spector to zits and it’s not sexy folks, but it’s real.  Even though I am 53, I still get the occasional flare up.  This week’s “pop-up” happened during my sickness and the only person who saw it was my doctor and he’s bound to his terms of client privilege (see how I made that tie into Suits!).  My go-to is Mario Badescu’s drying lotion.

The award-winning on-the-spot solution helps dry up pesky problems overnight and features Salicylic Acid, Sulfur, and Calamine.

It’s my secret weapon and a little dab will do you so it lasts a long time.

Hope you enjoyed this installment!

My Favorite Podcasts — Some New Ones to Try

Podcasts are my favorite way to start the day.  If you are new to my go-to list of podcasts check  here for a basic starter list.  I prefer Podcasts over the news because I’d rather start the day being empowered and learn something new, rather than be depressed….After all, I eat rainbows and poop butterflies.

Here’s my new faves:

Happier in Hollywood by Liz Craft and Sarah Fain.  Liz is the sister of Gretchen Rubin from The Happier Podcast which you can find on my starter list.  Liz and Sarah are so funny.  They are veteran TV writers who demystify Hollywood by making career and personal struggles universal.  You get to learn all sorts of tv production stuff because right now they are producing a pilot based on the life of Marcia Clark!  It’s super cool.  I feel like I’m friends with a celebrity.

This is Fifty.  Sheri Salata, Executive Producer of the Oprah Winfrey Show and bestie Nancy Hala, Fortune 500 brand strategist, have set out to rebrand and redefine the middle of life.  They established the Seven Pillars of Living — Health & Wellness, Spirituality & Happiness, Romance & Sex, Friends & Family, Creativity and Innovation, Discovery and Innovation, Sanctuary and Beauty.  They have tons of guests they interview and so many of their stories are relatable to me — someone in their 50s.

What Should I Read Next.  Is the show for every reader who has ever finished a book and faced the problem of not knowing what to read next (which isn’t a problem for members of Mrs. Twist Reads This!).  Each week Anne Bogel, of the blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy, interviews a reader about the books they love, the books they hate, and the books they are reading now.  The real purpose of the show is to help YOU find your next read.

I’m always looking for new podcasts.  Be sure to share some of your favorites with me!

International Women’s Day – Behind Every Woman Giveaway

International Women’s Day is on March 8th. But a day isn’t long enough to pay tribute to all the women who inspire us.  Let’s inspire more women to share their work with more people to support one another.  Text or call a woman today who inspires you, then check out this amazing campaign from Moment and enter to win $5000 in products, art, and experiences from some of our favorite female-empowering brands.

Moment launched Behind Every Woman because they’re inspired by women who do cool stuff.  They want to help amplify the voices of females—filmmakers, photographers, foodies, architects, and brand makers – to inspire more women to share their work with more people to support one another.  In celebration of International Women’s Day, Moment will be sharing about inspiring everyday women and giving away a collection of goodies with a handful of brands that share their Behind Every Woman mission.  Enter here to win. #BehindEveryWoman

 

Send Nice Notes Challenge — Nicely Noted

“Gratitude is priceless, but conveying it costs no more than a postage stamp.”

A few months ago I signed up for a monthly subscription from Nicely Noted.  Each month I receive a packet of three curated stationary cards, a glassine envelope of unique and pretty postage stamps and a nice note from Perry Nelson, the founder.

Perry Nelson, Founder of Nicely Noted

“Nicely Noted was born out of my love for sending and receiving handwritten notes, as well as a lifelong obsession with stationery. My background in technology and design as Online Director at Dwell magazine, Online Editor at W magazine as well as at Dell and HomeAway only deepened my belief in the importance of sending old-fashioned, letters. Sitting down to write a note (with pen and paper!), selecting a stamp, and dropping it into the mail to a friend, provides a moment of calm from our harried lives and an opportunity to convey sincere emotions.

The idea of Nicely Noted came to me while walking my newly-acquired dog, Charlie. Growing up, I was an avid letter writer with an abundant stash of stationery to fuel my habit. But as an adult I found myself rushing to the store before birthdays and baby showers hunting for a suitable card. My hope is that the convenience of having the perfect, letterpress card on hand, complete with stamps, inspires more people to keep the wonderful practice of letter writing thriving.”

My job each month is to select three people to send them to!  Each card is hand made on gorgeous, heavy cardstock.

The Send Nice Notes Challenge

The inspiration mentioned in their end of year newsletter was from a Wall Street Journal story about Chief Justice’s commencement address (please take the time to read it and share it with a young person).  In his speech, he said “Once a week, you should write a note to someone. Not an email.
A note on a piece of paper. It will take you exactly 10 minutes.” Then, he urged, put the note in an envelope and send it off the old way: via U.S. mail.

Here’s your chance to start a manageable resolution in earnest now.
Nicely Noted is inviting folks to join their letter writing challenge to send a note every week for 40 weeks. And, to help you get started here is a free, downloadable tracking sheet – it has 40 spots for a name and a date, to help remind you to keep on top of your goal.

And if you use this special code, you receive $10 OFF your first month’s subscription to Nicely Noted.  Who will be your first recipient of a handwritten note?

“If you do that once a week for, say, 10 months, 40 people will feel a little more special because you did, and they will think you are very special because of what you did.”  Chief Justice John Roberts

It’s Buzzworthy – Gwen Makes it Feel Like Christmas!

I’m not a Gwen Stefani fan, or a Blake Shelton fan or a fan of The Voice, but I am a fan of vintage.  When I heard the buzz that her Christmas album had a retro twist I decided to download it to my phone.  OMG!  I am so glad I did.  It’s a throwback to the 1960’s swing with six holiday classics and six original numbers and the perfect fun and festive sound to get excited about Christmas!

Of course my favorite tune is the one she performs with Blake Shelton – You Make it Feel Like Christmas.  Hate to to clean house?  Well, if you play this song on repeat you can get it all done in no time.  Seriously.

The photos to promote her album are vintage inspired too, with a TV set I swear we had, a tinsel tree and the trio of candles.   Be sure to check out her Christmas special tonight  on NBC 9/8 central.  Here’s a description of the show:

“Gwen Stefani’s You Make It Feel Like Christmas” is a modern take on the traditional Christmas specials that we all grew up with and love. Featuring musical performances and fun holiday sketches, this one-hour primetime special will capture Stefani’s infectious spirit and iconic style. It will take her accessible joie de vivre and the love in her heart and share it with audiences around the country.

Special guest appearances will include Blake Shelton, the five-time winning coach on NBC’s “The Voice” and a multi-award-winning country music superstar. Shelton and Stefani perform the title track from Stefani’s new album, “You Make It Feel Like Christmas,” which the two co-wrote along with Justin Tranter and busbee.
 
So, pop this fun into your stocking or you will have a blue Christmas!

How to Create a Fall Tablescape with ThermoServ Dinnerware

I remember growing up eating meals on melamine dishes in colors of pink and aqua so when my friends at ThermoServ invited me to try their Chef’s Collection of American made 100% melamine (no fillers) tableware — Mrs. Twist said “yes!”

Made locally in Dallas, Texas this heavy-weight series resembles the look and feel of traditional fine china, but offers maximum durability ideal for my everyday use, especially for poolside dinners now that the weather has cooled off.  It was fun to get out my fall napkins and linens which coordinated perfectly with the color Canyon Coral.

The box set includes 4 place settings:  10″ dinner plate, 10″ oz entree bowl, and 18 oz heavy sham tumbler.

I used this opportunity to prepare an Alfresco picnic.  Here’s a fun tip to elevate just a plain sandwich — wrap it in waxed paper (another retro twist) and tie it up with baker’s twine.  It makes your guests feel special almost like unwrapping a gift of food.  I added SunChips new variety sweet potato chips and a serving of orzo pasta from my grocery store deli.  Miss Bee loves decorated sugar cookies and I thought the icing and sprinkles coordinated perfectly with the coral plates.  And I served Orange Spiced Iced Tea in the tumblers.  You can find the recipe here on my Just a Sip Pinterest board.

We took my sweet little niece to a real pumpkin farm over the weekend and picked “right from the vine” the cutest pumpkins.  I added personalized tags to the stems of the pumpkins for each guest’s place setting.

Mr. Bee commented on how sturdy the melamine dishes are and what a breeze they were to clean after our meal (double bonus they are dishwasher friendly).  Please don’t use in the microwave.  The Chef’s Collection would make the perfect gift for a housewarming or wedding gift.  Miss Bee will be heading to college next fall and I am thinking these would be perfect for a college student just starting out in the kitchen.  And the fact that virtually unbreakable tumblers are included – it’s a steal!  The collections come in lots of beautiful colors and patterns.  Retailers include:  Amazon, Steinmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, QVC, Bealls, Wayfair and Hayneedle.

Browsing on the ThermoServ sight, I found the cutest wide body travel mug — this so reminded me of taking soup in elementary school!  BPA free and keeps hot for two hours and cold for four.  And I loved the Everyday Collection Dogwood set on Steinmart’s webpage.  Click here to see ThermoServ’s full catalog of tableware.

Thank you ThermoServ for helping me to usher in the fall season with such a buzz-worthy table setting!

There’s Something Special about SusieCakes

Every time I post stories like Holley’s on her Aunt Pat or meet people like Susan Sarich, I am reminded of the reason I started my blog — to share the legacy of family.   Thanks to Tanglewood Moms for posting information on their instagram, I had the chance to meet Susie and her staff at the pre-grand opening cake decorating class they offered at their new location of SusieCakes in Fort Worth.

From Susie’s website:  “Every day Susie would come home from school to enjoy her grandmothers’ company over a glass of milk and a fresh baked treat. This daily baking ritual and special time together in the kitchen left a lasting impression. When Susie grew up to become Susan and moved to the West Coast, she brought along her grandmothers’ carefully recorded recipes on handwritten 4×6 cards. The pure and simple connection those recipes fostered helped Susan form SusieCakes bakeries to share her experience with others.

Through SusieCakes, Susan honors Mildred and Madeline: both in her dedication to their baking traditions, and her commitment to providing women with progressive careers in the food & hospitality industry.

“You most likely recall a cake as part of your life’s milestone celebrations. Cake has the unique ability to connect us with the people and events of our past. However, cake should not be reserved only for these special occasions. A delicious slice of cake can immediately bring a bit of celebration to an ordinary day. I hope you enjoy SusieCakes on your special occasions, as well as all the days in between.”

The store is bright white and beautiful with cases of bakery goods shining as the stars in the show.  When I checked in we were greeted with bubbly and then Susie stepped from the behind the counter!  It was a lovely surprise.  She is lovely, effervescent just like my Champagne and radiates happiness.  I mean, how can you not when you are surrounded by buttercream frosting and homemade cake!

And her staff exudes the same warmth and genuine love for what they do, too. Before class began, Susie shared how her company came to be. Launched in 2006, she now has 20 stores in the U.S.  Their signature color “Susie Blue” was inspired by her grandma’s blue Pyrex mixing bowl. Then it was time to put our aprons on and get to work.  They set up stations in the kitchen- one learning the crumb coating technique and icing; station two worked on decorating the cake with sprinkles and tubes of colored icing. The angels sang when I snapped a picture of my two favorite things in the world — bubbly and a giant bowl of frosting!

I doubt any of the staff realized how they were making my dreams come true by being behind the counter of the bakery.  It’s like my dream job. Sprinkles are my spirit animal!

When the class was over they sent us home with our boxed up creations and a goodie bag.  Before I left I snapped some pics of their confections in the cases. How fun would it be to receive a Happy Birthday cupcake on your special day!

SusieCakes has other sweet treats besides cake including pies, puddings, cheesecakes, cookies and lemon bars.  Check out their menu here.  Word on the street is that their pumpkin bread pudding is to die for! So remember that for your Thanksgiving entertaining.

If you are local to Fort Worth, be sure to check out their Grand Opening this Saturday.  They will have free samples, activities for the kids and a drawing for free cake for a year!  There are all sorts of specials they are running the following week, too.  You can check out the complete listing and location information here.

Welcome to Fort Worth Susie.  I know we are going to be sweet friends!

North Richland Hills Library — A Community Jewel

I stumbled across the North Richland Hills Public Library recently on-line as I was following Gretchen Rubin on social media.  Gretchen’s newest book The Four Tendencies releases today and she will be talking about her publication at the NRH library this Friday – free to the general public from 1-2 p.m.  Easy to get to from Fort Worth, the library is a beautiful building in the middle of Home Town community and retail space.

As I was looking through the library’s webpage, I stumbled across their “Behind the Book” series and couldn’t believe some of the well-known authors they have scheduled in their series. After I registered to attend the ticketed reception with Gretchen Rubin (which is now sold out), I also registered to meet Tess Gerritsen known for her crime novels which inspired the Rizzoli and Isles series on the TNT network.

The $35 ticketed reception includes entrance to an exclusive author meet-and-greet, a personalized signed copy of the author’s book, time to socialize with other book lovers, delicious refreshments prepared around the theme of the book and reserved seating at the author’s speaking engagement open to the general public.

The library staff did an outstanding job with all the touches throughout the event from the personal greeting in the lobby when you arrived to the food and decor.  The light luncheon was beautifully presented and their clever touches of recipes like “Boston Cream Pies” – – Gerritsen’s characters work in Boston — and the crime scene markers to identify the food on the buffet was inspired!  I took away some clever ideas to use for my Mrs. Twist Reads This book club.

After lunch we ventured upstairs to the general reception to find more props like evidence collection bags, crime scene tape and scene markers inspired by the characters of the series.

Actresses Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander star in the Rizzoli and Isles TNT series
Dr. Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli

We found our reserved seating and from 1-2 p.m. heard from Tess Gerritsen and the inspiration she finds for writing her books which have sold over 30 million copies.  Gerritsen shared that she scours three newspapers every morning for inspiration to delve into human relations. She went on to share some examples of how real life crime stories have been re-imagined onto the pages of her books.  She also shared some new projects she is working on which includes a limited series for Sasha Alexander who played Dr. Maura Isles in the TNT series.  Sasha shared with Gerritsen that she wasn’t ready to give up her character despite the ending of the TNT series.   She concluded the hour by taking questions from the audience.  It was a fascinating time learning about the publishing and television industry.

After the event I signed up to be a member of their Friends of the Library program which affords its members discounts and notifications of upcoming events. Most libraries offer a program similar to this so be sure to inquire at your local library.  Plus, it goes toward improving literacy for all ages.  There are two more “Behind the Book” events in October.  Check them out here for more information and to sign up.

I had a great time and I look forward to returning this Friday to hear from and meet Gretchen Rubin!

How I Start My Day: Podcasts

With Mr. Bee’s retirement came a change in my morning routine.  Since he doesn’t have to get up to a 9-5 job anymore, he’s become a nightowl. This means that when I get up early every morning, he’s still sleeping so I can’t watch my usual morning show.  I have solved that with something I actually like better:  Podcasts!  I have them downloaded to my Google Home and my phone through the apps — Player FM and Podcast Addict. Note:  Most all of these podcasts are available through Apple, but I am team Android/Google.  I have to use Podcast Addict for the shows not featured on Player FM.

Here are my favorite ones that I rotate through…

Young House Love by Sherry and John Petersik.  They are a fun couple who began chronicling their home improvement adventures in 2007 on the blog of the same name.  You can tune in weekly with episodes filled with casual decorating advice, DIY stories, along with what’s new around the house and interviews with designers, bloggers, TV personalities and more.  They have authored two best-selling books and have product lines at Target and Home Depot.  I had the chance to meet them last summer at Haven Conference and they are just as fun in person as they are on social media.

The Foodist podcast by Darya Rose, PhD., introduces you to real people on the journey of becoming foodists, learning how to get healthy and lose weight without dieting.  A foodist is someone who uses Real Food to optimize their life for health and happiness.  She is also the creator of Summer Tomato, one of Time’s 50 Best Websites.  Each week she talks with a guest at all stages of their journey in finding foods, habits and activities they love and that work for them.

What Should I Read Next by Anne Bogel is the show for every reader who has ever finished a book and faced with the problem of not knowing what to read next.  Each week Anne, of the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy, interviews a reader about the books they love, the books they hate, and the books they’re reading now.  Then, she makes recommendations about what to read next.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin.  The #1 bestselling author of the Happiness Project (a great read I might add) and Better Than Before gets more personal than ever as she brings her practical, manageable advice about happiness and good habits to this lively, thought-provoking podcast. Gretchen’s co-host is her sister, Elizabeth Craft, a TV writer and producer who lovingly refers to Gretchen as her “happiness bully.”  Gretchen will be at the North Richland Hills library in September signing her latest book The Four Tendencies.

And the newest Podcast is For the Love by Jen Hatmaker.  People. Home. Stories. Shoes. Family. Jesus.  Community. TV. Travel. Food. Culture.  The hilarious best-selling author and star of HGTV’s “My Big Family Renovation” invites you to drop by and catch up with her friends as they laugh and chat about all the things we love.

I listen to the podcasts while I sip my coffee, put on my makeup and dress for the day.  Most are about 30 minutes long so it’s the perfect pick-me-up before work where I learn something new and it’s always a positive message — which, to be honest, the morning news these days is not so positive.

Give these a try and be sure to let me know what podcasts you listen to and share in the comments.