Mrs. Twist’s Jolly Mix – Spotify Playlist for the Holidays

I love Christmas music. I start my season of holiday tunes November 1 every year.  If they had Thanksgiving music, I’d enjoy it, but they don’t so I go straight to my happy place.  I created my own playlist this year and I am sharing it with you on Spotify.*

103 tunes from classic to modern and everything in between.  I included some my favorite artists like Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis, but I’ve also added in a few twists.  I hope you enjoy it while baking, wrapping presents or entertaining guests.  Having just a little Home with a Twist in your homes makes me happy!

Merry listening!


*Go to and search Mrs. Twist’s Jolly Mix. It will pop up and you can save it to your phone or in your Spotify library.

The Best (and those to avoid) Flowers for Allergies

Here’s a quick  guide of the best and worst flowers for the allergy prone. And the good news is that a whole lot of pretty made the best list.

The Best….

RANUNCULUS.  First up on the A-ok list, we have one of the current “It girls” of the popular-flower crowd. Pleasingly symmetrical and packed with layer upon layer of tissue-thin petals, ranunculus are style chameleons that can play romantic, whimsical, or modern depending the vessel and setting.

TULIPS.    True story: Tulips come in a mind-blowing 3,000 varieties. So there are puh-lenty to love. And luckily, you and little Sneezy can! Especially since they’re one of the most no-arranging-needed flowers around. Just stick a bunch in a clear-glass vase highlighting the clean lines of their stems and you’ve got yourself an allergy-free display.

HYDRANGEAS.  As puffy as clouds, these blossoms are conveniently hypoallergenic and great for adding easy (affordable) volume to arrangements. It’s a win-win!

ROSES.    Whew. Your man can bring you a dozen of these beauties—long-stemmed—and you two won’t wind up with a red-eyed, runny-nosed kiddo on your hands. Allergy-issue solved, now you’ve just got to work on the hinting-you’d-like-flowers-every-now-and-again aspect of this equation.

Other blooms generally in the safe zone: Peonies, begonia, clematis, columbine, crocus, daffodil, orchids, geranium, hosta, iris, calla lilies, periwinkle, zinnia.

Sadly…the Ones to Avoid…

HYACINTHS.   Allergy sufferers will need to take a pass on these stalks bursting with fragrant, bell-shaped blooms. They have high concentrations of pollen likely to bring on the snuffles.

SUNFLOWERS.  Though nothing says summer like a bright, mood-boosting sunflower, each sunflower center is a little pollen factory and majorly allergy-triggering. Bummer.

DAISIES.  That fantasy of running through a field of daisies, plucking them willy-nilly, and sticking them devil-may-care in mason jars back home for the perfect just-picked look? Yeah. Forget it. And forget the daisy chains of your youth, too. Allergy central over here.

CHRYSANTHEMUMS.    Spiky, bold, and striking, these old-school classics should come with a tissue box on the side. But the good news is that several recent hybrid varieties have been developed with more petal, less pollen, so just take a careful look when purchasing.

Other blooms to avoid: Freesia, chamomile, jasmine, asters, single-flower baby’s breath.


What Would Holley Wear: Garden Party Style

Can you think of a better introduction to spring and summer than a garden party?  I can’t! From tea sandwiches to beautiful spring ensembles, it’s one of those traditions us Southern girls keep close to our hearts.  

When I decided to write this article, I reached out to my P.E.O. sisters to see if they would be willing to participate.  Our lovely hostess was Susan, and her beautiful home and garden was the perfect garden party setting. The ladies came dressed to the nines!  Floral scarfs and dresses were definitely on-trend, and our president, Mel, wore a beautiful floral scarf complemented with a monogram brooch….so classy!  Some of the ladies wore their finest pearls and others donned beautiful hats. Be sure to take a peek at all the party photos on our Pinterest board!

Dresses and hats go together like peanut butter and jelly…right?  We are loving the selection of hats from J Crew, Tory Burch, and Tuckernuck.  A floral yellow maxi dress paired with a straw hat is perfect for any outdoor soiree’.  Another Pinterest board favorite is a burlap dress with a scalloped hem, trimmed with red embroidered flowers.  And the best part is the watermelon picnic basket handbag. Can’t get any cuter than that…right?

And speaking of baskets….A tisket, a tasket, a woven leather basket full of berries from Kate Spade is the perfect accessory for any spring/summer occasion. Wicker and wooden handbags are definitely this season’s “it bags”.   We think J McLaughlin’s bamboo clutches are the perfect bag for parties, luncheons and resort wear. Another favorite is the black wicker honey pot bag from Frances Valentine. Ready for a spring fling?

To give your garden style a casual vibe, you can’t go wrong layering a denim jacket over your shoulders.  For the P.E.O. garden party, I wore a pearl enhanced denim jacket over a white blouse tied at the waist with a bright yellow skirt and blue denim blocked heels.  To add additional flair to my ensemble, I carried a wooden handbag with a navy bandana tied to the handle. BTW…the jacket was a gift from Susie, a dear P.E.O sister.  

Denim and chambray are the perfect combo for lace and florals.  Don’t you just love mixing casual with fancy? Think about wearing a denim jacket over a floral dress….and be sure to add a cute bag and sandals.  I bet you love eyelet and lace too….though it may seem a little dressy for a casual outdoor party. No worries…just wear a denim jacket with a lace dress or a chambray blouse with an eyelet skirt.  How casual and fancy does that sound?

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again…you can never go wrong with black and white!  There are so many fun options on our Pinterest board, and we are especially loving black and white stripes.  Sundresses, pants, and skirts….oh my! White lace dresses complemented with black accessories will definitely dress-up your garden party style.  At the P.E.O. party, everyone was crushing on Ann’s white eyelet dress accessorized with a straw hat and statement earrings…so garden chic!

So here’s my definition of a garden party:  A beautiful garden complemented by a really cute outfit, a few adorable accessories, delicious finger food, and most importantly…your friends and sisters!

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, closet organization and wardrobe consultation.  Contact Holley at [email protected]   Be sure to check out Holley’s updated Pinterest board here.

How to Make a Mini Bouquet for Mother’s Day

Here’s a fun way to celebrate all the Mothers in your life, especially the ones who are approaching their very first Mother’s Day.  Make mini flower bouquets using seasonal flowers, tissue paper, decorative paper, and twine.  For the music lover in your life, wouldn’t it be adorable to use sheet music!  Or for the  crossword puzzle lover a copy from the NY Times!  The possibilities to make their posey personal are endless.

For such small bouquets you only need two different types of flowers. Either pick your favorite, select what’s in season, or take inspiration from your special someone’s most requested posies. Trader Joe’s is the best place for fresh flowers at inexpensive prices.

Don’t you think these would make great bridal shower or baby shower favors, too?  Just picture them at each person’s place setting personalized with their name or as a fun activity to do during the party!

Supplies You Will Need:

  • At least two different types of flowers
  • Coordinating or Contrasting Tissue Paper
  • Decorative Scrapbook, Wrapping Paper, Newspaper, Sheet Music, whatever you fancy
  • Twine or ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Gift Tags (optional)


  1. Bunch a few flowers, at least one stem of each, together and trim them to your desired length. Each stem here is about six inches long.
  2. Tie the bottom of the bunch with twine.
  3. Using a square of tissue paper, place the bunch at one corner of the paper.
  4. Wrap the left side of the paper over to the opposite side, then fold the bottom corner up to the middle of the stem. Fold the right side over the top.
  5. Repeat with the decorative paper, but wrap a little lower so the tissue paper sticks out.
  6. Wrap the twine a few times around the bunch then add the gift tag and tie in a bow.

You can find all these ideas and more on my Alice’s Table Pinterest board here.

Content inspired by Rachel of An Eventful Life

DIY Vases That Are Just As Beautiful As The Flowers In Them

Photo courtesy of Sugar and Cloth

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it a thousands time, there’s simply nothing better than fresh-cut flowers. However, we know first hand that it can be difficult to find (or afford) a vase that’s as pretty as the bouquet itself. So, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite elevated DIY’s (trust us you’d never know) so you can finally upgrade that mason jar and say hello to beautiful vases that treat you flowers to the home they deserve.

Marble Dipped Vases

We couldn’t agree more with Ashley of Sugar & Cloth: “Marble runs a really close second (to all things gold) in my list of home decor obsessions”. Unfortunately, the cost of marble is just about as pricey to come by as gold is, plus it’s not particularly an at-home-friendly craft to pick up. Instead, we’re sticking with the nail polish budget version (quite literally), and designing our own DIY marble dipped vessels. By using neutral nail polishes and paint you can easily create a marble dip that instantly provides a sleek, seamless look.

Photo Courtesy of Say Yes

Gold Leaf Dipped

As the saying goes “All that glitters is not gold.” and this easy do-it-yourself project will upgrade any coffee table, while staying in budget and on trend. In under five minutes you can easily add a modern flare to one of those countless plain glass vases you have sitting in the cupboard. And once, you try your hand at these Gold Leaf Dipped Vases, we guarantee you’ll be looking for what other blasé items around your house you can add some shine to.

Photo courtesy of Brit & Co


After one too many Pinterest fails and DIY’s gone south, we were hesitant about these modern and minimalist vases. However, for the (very cheap) price of concrete and a few bottles or paper towel rolls, you can whip up this concrete-chic home essential. Plus, after you master the (very simple – we promise!) “art” of concrete, you can easily replicate the project to any shape you like. They can easily pack a punch as beautiful bud vases – perfect for the summer when those show-stopping garden roses and peonies bloom.

For more inspiring ideas, check out our blog at Alice’s Table.

NYC Flower Girl Inspiration: Four Gorgeous Flower Arrangements

1 Crushable Florist, 4 Gorgeous Arrangement Ideas
This story from One Kings Lane is too good not to share.  All the content is from their site.
Flower Girl founder and owner Denise Porcaro knows how to set a scene. Take her shop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side: vibrant, whimsical yet chic, and much like the effortlessly gorgeous arrangements she’s become known for.Originally a student of film production, Porcaro founded Flower Girl about a decade ago. After years of working with clients and later setting up shop with denim retailer Earnest Sewn, she landed in her current location in 2012. Though not large, the space—part store, part classroom, part studio—evolves with the seasons. “I grew up in Queens, so I have that city vibe, but I also spent weekends on Long Island, so I knew the appeal of surrounding myself with nature,” she says. We paid Porcaro a visit to borrow a few of her stunning bloom-styling secrets.
We asked Porcaro to show us how a single flower market haul could translate into several different arrangements, depending on the vessel you used. She began with lush, baby-pink peonies, along with armloads of other blooms, grasses, and fragrant foliage in a palette of purples, creamy whites, and pale greens. With this selection as a starting point, she created four very different but equally gorgeous looks.
#1: The Bedside Bouquet

To get this look, cut the stems so that the blooms rest right above the vase. Remove any leaves that will be below the water line to prevent bacterial growth, and keep the water fresh (change it every couple of days). And for the best effect, “stick with odd numbers,” she says. Three blooms or five—not four!

For next to the bed, think simple and sweet. Porcaro tucked a trio of peony blooms, and nothing else, into a low yellow vase for a result that’s calming, fragrant, and just plain lovely—perfect to wake up to.

For next to the bed, think simple and sweet. Porcaro tucked a trio of peony blooms, and nothing else, into a low yellow vase for a result that’s calming, fragrant, and just plain lovely—perfect to wake up to.

#2: The Kitchen SinkPorcaro started with a wide-mouth pitcher and tucked in some soft, fuzzy lamb’s ears before adding leggy scabiosa blooms. One of her own spring favorites, scabiosas are often found in the market in big, multicolored bunches, and they bring tons of life to a bouquet. Next she added branches of lilac (cutting a vertical slit into the woody stems with shears first, so they can drink), scented geraniums, and feathery ornamental grasses, then ruffly parrot tulips, and of course, peonies.

Porcaro dubbed this dramatic arrangement—which would be stunning on a kitchen counter but also totally worthy of the center of the dining table—the “kitchen sink” because it’s got some of everything in it.

Porcaro dubbed this dramatic arrangement—which would be stunning on a kitchen counter but also totally worthy of the center of the dining table—the “kitchen sink” because it’s got some of everything in it.

#3: The Beachy BundleOrnamental grasses with feathery purple tops were the starting point here. Easy and fun, they also create architecture to support anything else you want to add. Porcaro filled in with scabiosas in a range of colors, from light purple to deep, almost black red, and then finished with a single peony. “With clear glass, the stems are visible, and they’ll look better if you limit the arrangement to a couple of types, rather than a kitchen-sink style.”

A transparent container, like this blue-grass vase, evokes a casual, seaside mood. Set this bouquet in an entry as a cheerful welcome for guests.

A transparent container, like this blue-grass vase, evokes a casual, seaside mood. Set this bouquet in an entry as a cheerful welcome for guests.

#4: The Composed ArrangementFor this arrangement Porcaro removed most of the foliage from the stems and clustered a bunch of a single type of flower in one hand before tucking it into a sleek, Art Deco-style vase. Three peonies were followed by a cluster of lilacs. Next came parrot tulips, a bunch of lavender (the stems well cleaned), and finally some lamb’s ears. The result is a polished arrangement of bloom clusters, each its own mini vignette.

If you’re feeling intimidated by elaborate arrangements, Porcaro has a no-fail approach you’ll love: Focus only on flowers, in colors that play well together, and arrange them in groups.

If you’re feeling intimidated by elaborate arrangements, Porcaro has a no-fail approach you’ll love: Focus only on flowers, in colors that play well together, and arrange them in groups.

Flower Girl’s Flower Market Tip:

To keep from getting overwhelmed at the flower market, Porcaro suggests focusing on a single color. Knowing roughly what you need in terms of color, or perhaps what vessel you plan to fill, can help focus your shopping.

The inviting and inspiring exterior of Porcaro’s dreamy Lower East Side shop.

The inviting and inspiring exterior of Porcaro’s dreamy Lower East Side shop.

An old-school sign lets you know you’ve found the right spot.
An old-school sign lets you know you’ve found the right spot.

Brick walls painted soft white, flea market furniture, and artfully arranged natural elements lend Porcaro’s shop a whimsical yet chic feel.

Brick walls painted soft white, flea market furniture, and artfully arranged natural elements lend Porcaro’s shop a whimsical yet chic feel.

Photography by Lesley Unruh

10 Productivity Hacks Working Women Will Actually Use

We’ve compiled easy-to-implement tweaks tailored for busy, working women. Take a look, incorporate as many into your routine as possible (several are designed to work in tandem) and definitely let us know how shower coffee works out for you!

Shower coffee. It’s controversial, yes, but some hardcore folks swear by drinking their morning joe in the shower to save time. One pre-req: A shelf out of the reach of water and errant shampoo suds.

Strategic scheduling for calls and meetings. Take calls during your commute or little one’s naptime (if you’re a work-from-home mama). And schedule meetings for that coffee spot around the corner so you can dose up on caffeine at the same time.

The Pomodoro Technique. Developed by a gent named Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, this time-management technique breaks work into 25-minute chunks, interspersed by 5-minute breaks (with a longer one midday). Use a timer so you’re not constantly checking the clock. If you’re a work-from-home mom, use your 5-minute breaks for quick cleaning tasks like wiping down counters or watering plants (or say screw it and make a cup of tea).

Bucketing tasks. Don’t waste the cognitive overhead that comes from switching gears when you task-jump from responding to emails to brainstorming for a new project to filing expenses. Instead, bucket similar tasks, and tackle them all at once.

Smarter to-do lists. Craft a realistic daily to-do list from a master list that holds everything and the kitchen sink (because—don’t forget!—you need to call and get that fixed, too). Group tasks in order on your list to most efficiently work your way through them.

The 2-Minute Rule. Certain tasks—making doc appointments, writing a quick thank-you note, filing papers—tend to languish on your to-do list. Rather than letting them collect dust and stress you out (even minimally—they clog up your mental space), jump on them. The golden rule: If a task can be done in two minutes or less, just do it.

Lunch-break grocery runs. Hit the store during your break, stash your spoils in the company fridge (with your name scrawled on the bag as many times as needed), then take everything home that night. Obviously, this works best for just-need-a-few-things trips, not epic Costco excursions.

Personal-day prioritizing. Rather than scrambling to bring one kid to a dentist appointment at 11 on Monday, and another to a check-up at 2 on Wednesday, set up as many appointments as possible for the same day and take a personal day to get them all done.

Wearing headphones. They’re great for focused bursts of concentration and signal to your coworkers that now’s not the time for idle chit-chat. That said, give your ears breaks and keep the volume to a reasonable level since studies show that earbud use can cause hearing loss over time.

Embracing the daydream. No doubt, being in the zone and making great progress on a project can be exhilarating. But it’s impossible to keep up that momentum indefinitely. Creativity spikes when your mind wanders (ever had a great idea in the shower, or while blow-drying your hair?) so let it, and when you return to your task, you’ll have a fresh outlook and—probably—some new, even better ideas.

And one bonus: Hide your phone! Well, not literally, but if you have it tucked in your purse out of sight, not right by your mousepad singing its siren call, you’ll check it far less.

Content credit:  Alice’s Table.

How to Decorate with Flowering Branches

Southern Living magazine

Growing up Mother loved to garden.  I have vivid memories of Spirea (in the south also called “Bridal wreath”) blooming in our backyard.  Mother would clip some branches and let me play wedding — hence began my career as a party planner.

While branches are a cinch to source year round, looking out your window will confirm that spring is the season for flowering branches, when trees from coast to coast are aflutter with dreamy, delicate blossoms. Take advantage of nature’s offering and bring them inside to enjoy!

pc: Alice’s Table

With their height and presence, flowering branches are statement-makers—a little bit modern and a little bit girly. Plus they’re long-lasting and require zero floral skills: Get a bundle, stick it in a vase, add water you’re all set. Insta-arrangements.

The cheap and easy play is simply to target trees in your yard. Just approach the task as if you were pruning, going after the straggler branches that you’d eventually chop anyway, and cut right at the joint. Before you start working, it’s best to have a specific vase in mind (more on vases later) so you know about how long branches need to be. And powerful shears are a must—trust us, you don’t want to struggle using kitchen scissors as that might yield a visit to the ER and we don’t want that!

If there are no friendly neighborhood trees in need of a little trim, pop buy your local florist or flower market to check out the goods. Or, take your chances with a grocery-store run; sometimes even big-box brands can surprise you with a decent branch selection.

Photo: Johanna Eklöf

Prep 101

Split thin branch ends lengthwise, or smash thick branch ends with a hammer (yep, you read that right). This primes them for maximum water consumption. Then place them a vase filled with water so they’re submerged at least three inches. Change the water regularly and mist every few days so the petals have another source for hydration.

All About That Vase

You need a sturdy vase so that the heft and height of the branches doesn’t send it tumbling—so opt for something heavy or with a wide base (think pear-shape). And branches are besties with glass vases which show off their clean lines in a way that looks so sleek and architectural you almost feel guilty that “arranging” them took like no time at all.

How to Decorate With Them

Tall, upright branches like dogwood, quince, and curly willow look stunning on the credenza in your entryway, in the middle of your dining table, and even directly on the floor—in that lonely spot in the corner you’ve been wondering what to do with. While branches like silver dollar eucalyptus and wisteria, which lean to the romantic swoon, are ideal for your mantle, bedside table, and coffee table.

The Lane

“The Earth laughs in flowers.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tips for a Simple Easter Tablescape

An Eventful Life Blog

Sharing some inspiration from the Alice’s Table blog today on springtime entertaining.  We will soon be humming “Here Come’s Peter Cottontail” before you know it!

Does anyone else feel like we were just ringing in the new year and now we’re getting ready to celebrate Easter? Honestly, where has this year gone? As a group who can pretty much come up with any excuse to throw a party, holidays are our thing here at Alice’s Table. And right there on the same page is Chicago-based lifestyle blogger Rachel Geeser of An Eventful Life, who’s also a tad holiday-obsessed. Here she invites us to take at peek at her Easter table and shares guidance for pulling together a chic tableau that doesn’t break the bank.

This Easter keep things simple and focused on bright colors.  Here are her top tips for planning your own Easter or Spring tablescape:

Linens can make a big statement for a relatively small cost. Target and Home Goods are two great budget-friendly stores for finding linens and decor at good prices.  Look how simple it is to just wrap the napkin with ribbon and finish with hot pink tulip tucked in for good measure. Or how about this sweet napkin garnished with a radish — certainly Peter Rabbit approved.


Coconut Macaroon Nests from Skinnytaste

You don’t have to have a ton of decor for every holiday. These Coconut Macaroon Nests from Skinnytaste can serve as your Easter decor and dessert.  Look at these sweet little peat pots filled with candy.  Wouldn’t  a place card be adorable tucked inside at each guest’s place setting?

Yummy Healthy Easy

As far as an appetizer that will make a lasting impression, how about this adorable Easter carrot cheese ball from Yummy Healthy Easy.

And last, flowers.  They don’t have to cost a ton to make an impact and you don’t need to go to a florist. You can pick up a pretty bouquet of tulips or hydrangeas from your local grocery store for about $10. Other inexpensive blooms this time of year include spray roses and gerbera daisies. And don’t forget your own garden has plenty to contribute — like Dusty Miller, rosemary and daffodils.

Happy Spring!

The Tips and Tricks Every Floral-Novice Needs to Know

This article was made possible from our Alice’s Table blog – your source for tips and tricks for a simply joyous life.  These are the kind of tips you can look forward to in my classes. Check my events tab for the March class list!

Friends are coming over after dinner and you’re desperate to get fresh flowers on the table –  they’re the perfect little touch that pulls everything together and shows your guests that you’ve thought of every detail. So, you rush to the store to grab some flowers after work, you grab a pre-made arrangement, run home, stick it in a vase and voila… a very lackluster arrangement that could be diagnosed with a case of flower flops…trust us, we’ve all been there.

Relying on pre-made arrangements can quickly add up, and let’s be honest, it always takes a little too long to find a bunch that matches the aesthetic you entered the store with in mind. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to make it home with an arrangement you love, it always seems to end up in a sadder state than is started.

Today we’re here to tell you that even the freshest of floral novices can turn Whole Foods hydrangeas and Trader Joe’s lilies into a professional looking bouquet with these simple tips.


While the “English hand-tie” technique is seen as a classic technique in the floral world, it can be a little tricky to master because you have arrange and hold the bouquet just right before you tie it up forever. One of our favorite hacks for creating a sturdy centerpiece with no expert hand-eye coordination required, is a good ol’ tape grid. Using scotch or floral tape (either will work well, but floral tape is more water resistant), make a “tic tac toe” pattern on top of your vase. The grid will keep flowers upright as you start to build your arrangement, and best of all, will give you the flexibility to play around with different placements as you build out your centerpiece.


Designing your own arrangements can be overwhelming, but we always start with greenery and go from there. The benefits of greenery are endless! It usually lasts a long time, it’s inexpensive, and it makes your arrangements look more lush and full without having to load them up with flowers.

One of our favorites is ruscus, which works well in a water-based arrangement because of its waxy leaves. It won’t deteriorate quickly and bring your other flowers down with it. For a winter arrangement (or Valentines Day!), hypericum berries are a great touch because of their festive, holly-ish look. They come in a variety of colors, including holiday-ready red.

We recommend adding your greenery to your vase first, and from there, threading your flowers in between the greenery stems. This helps keep your flowers upright and also creates a base against which your flowers will pop.


It’s a common misconception that flowers need cold or room-temperature water to thrive. Pretend you’re making a bath for a baby, because cold water will actually shock the flowers’ stems and keep them from lasting. Warmer water will coax the flowers into opening up, really upping the wow-factor of your bouquet.

To make sure your flowers stay hydrated, cut them approximately one inch from the base at a 45 degree angle. Doing this before building your arrangement will give your flowers more surface area to absorb water.

And don’t forget to check your water frequently, especially in the beginning! Fresh flowers drink more than older flowers, so you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping the water supply up in the early days.