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.

Serving Up “The Dish” on Finds at the Grocery Store

Serving up four things I am loving right now from the grocery store…

Quaker Overnight Oats.  They were running a promotion on these at my grocer — one totally for free.  So, I picked up the toasted coconut and almond crunch variety.  You fill the container to the measure line with milk, replace the lid and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.  The next morning, take the lid off, stir and enjoy.  If cold oatmeal is not your thing — it’s kinda like muesli — they give you a heating option.  I loved it cold.  It was flavorful and filling.  So filling that I totally forgot to eat lunch.  It’s that seriously good!  330 calories, plus your milk choice (I use almond milk).  Check out their website for recipes making overnight oats from scratch in a mason jar.  You know I love glass jars in the fridge!

Next, La Croix Peach and Pear sparkling water.  I love the flavor combination.  It’s fresh and different.  Add a sprig of lime and it would make a lovely non-alcoholic beverage when you are enjoying a summer’s day by the pool.  For me, this is a good switch for iced tea.

 

And, speaking of cute glass jars.  I stopped dead in my tracks perusing the yogurt aisle and found Oui artisanal French-style yogurt by Yoplait.  Just released in July, Oui is made with simple, non-GMO ingredients – like whole milk, pure cane sugar, real fruit and yogurt cultures.  It contains no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors and no colors from artificial sources.  You can read a fun story here on how the creation of this yogurt came from an innovation product designer for General Mills who grew up in France watching his mother create “pot-set” yogurt.  When you try it the first time you will know what that means.

It’s a 5-oz glass jar with a sealed foil lid in the prettiest little pattern.  The fruit is on the bottom and it has a smooth, yummy flavor.  The best part — the label peels right off.  I put the jars in the dishwasher and can re-use them for making pudding, or trifles, or my own yogurt parfait, or heck use as small juice glasses.  I can totally see these nesting on each person’s place setting as the starter for brunch with a warm croissant and butter. They were $1.69 a jar, but my grocer was running a special buy three for $4.  So, they are little more than the average yogurt price, but the fact that I can re-use the glass jars is a win for me.

Last, from the creators of Eating Well magazine,  has a new line of frozen entrees. These are a brand new item in the grocer right now and my store didn’t have all the varieties, but I picked up a few to keep on-hand at work.  Add a big salad, a piece of fruit and you can have a good for you lunch.

The thing I like about the meals is the presentation.  The food is vacuum sealed so you actually get to see what the food looks like for real — not just the stylized photo on the box.  Whole vegetables and pieces of meat.  That appeals to me.

Let me know if you try any of these new-to-me foods!  And, let me know if there is something new I need to try!

Trader Joe’s: What’s Buzzworthy?

The day the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer arrives in my mailbox, it’s like when I was little and the postman delivered the Sears catalog! The flyer is packed with all the great stuff Trader Joe’s is offering for the season.  I go through each page putting a circle around things I am interested in trying.

Mrs. Twist’s Tip:  Trader Joe’s can be overwhelming if you are not a frequent shopper.  The first few times I visited TJ’s when they opened, I always found a Crew Member to help me by asking for their input and recommendations.  Everything in TJs is taste-tasted by employees so they know if it’s good.  I still ask for help when I am looking for new features in the flyers.  It saves me time because they are familiar with where items are in the store.  And, it’s not uncommon for me to drop in and say, “what should I make for dinner?”  I’ve never been disappointed.

New to me:  Mexican-Style Roasted Corn with Cojita Cheese.  OMG!  This tastes like street corn.  It’s smokey and perfectly seasoned.  You cook it in the microwave for about 3 minutes then sprinkle with the enclosed cheese packet.

Chicken Enchiladas Rojo.  I served the corn as a side to this delish dish. You take the enchiladas out of the plastic packaging and bake them in your own pan.  Yes, this is how homemade and delicious the dish looked before I baked it!  Topped with tons of cilantro and cheese. Miss Bee ate 2 1/2 enchiladas. This is big news, folks.

Sunscreen SPF50 Spray which contains aloe, vitamin E and coconut oil.  It has a new technology using BOV pressure — sort of like a turbo charged sunscreen.  And it’s only $5.99 a bottle!

Refresh Citrus Body Wash.  I loved the label and it’s citrus-y smell — formulated with orange, grapefruit, tangerine and lemon.  Only $2.99 a bottle.

Carrot Spirals.  I have been stalking these curls of carotene for some time because they were being sold in some parts of the country and finally made it to my Fort Worth location.  From frozen you can cook them in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil and sea salt and use them as a substitute for pasta.

Always in my Cart:  Miss Bee loves their Mac & Cheese.  She pops a package in the microwave and within minutes has comfort food at its finest.  They also have a chili-hatch variety that’s just as good.

Almond Croissants.  They are individually packaged.  You take them out the night before you want them to proof (also known as “rise”) and bake in the morning.  Crispy on the outside with gooey almond filling on the inside, sprinkled with powdered sugar, they are a perfect pastry with morning coffee.

A few final suggestions:  The ready-made salads are perfect for Miss Bee’s school lunches.  The chicken salad is first class and makes the best sandwich.  The flowers are always fresh and affordable, and Charles Shaw wines — lovingly referred to as “Two-Buck Chuck” by wine drinkers.

Bon Appetite!

My March Easy Three

Home With a Twist

The last time I did a “My Easy Three” series, I got a lot of great feedback that these tips were easily achievable and you would like to see more ideas.  So, here is simple inspiration for March.

Add a punch of color

First — Make an Entrance!  It’s time for spring cleaning.  But, if cleaning the entire house top to bottom is overwhelming, then start with your front porch. Here’s a post I did in 2012 with a step-by-step list on tasks to accomplish this goal.  If you want more spring cleaning tips, here is a cleaning check list from Joanna Gaines.

Second — Replace watch batteries.  I have some fun, costume jewelry watches and none of them seem to have working batteries.  There is a battery store near me and for about $6 each I can take all my watches in for fresh batteries getting them running again for the year and have some like-new accessories for my spring wardrobe.

Pioneer Woman Sloppy Joes

Third, March is Sloppy Joe month.  Fun fact for conversation at your next cocktail party (because I always try to educate my HWT readers…) Marilyn Brown, Director of the Consumer Test Kitchen at H.J. Heinz in Pittsburgh, says their research at the Carnegie Library suggests that the sloppy Joe began in a Sioux City, Iowa cafe as a “loose meat” sandwich” in 1930, the creation of a cook named Joe.

Here’s an awesome recipe from the Pioneer Woman.  I have made it for my family and it is devoured every time. I substitute mine with ground turkey because Miss Bee doesn’t eat beef.  Most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry.  Make this for Friday night dinner and your kids will thank you and think you are so cool because you know who invented the sandwich!