Decluttering Your Whole Home in 15 Minutes a Day

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New year, new goals!  One of my New Year's resolutions always seems to be home organization and decluttering- which, let's face it, is an ongoing task, but the new year always seems a good time to start this task anew.  


This year, I stumbled onto a new-to-me site that helps you organize your life in a mere 15 minutes a day- the Declutter 365 Challenge.  Of course, some tasks will take a little more than 15 minutes- some less. But the idea is that you break your tasks down into manageable ones so that you can actually accomplish them.  At the end of the week, you have quite a bit to show for your efforts.  This works a lot better than saying to yourself, "I have to clean up and clean out my whole house."  Now THAT'S a big effort with no set place to start or direction on how to accomplish the task exactly.  The Declutter 365 challenge gives you a small task to work on each day.  Of course, the idea is that you maintain your good work and reevaluate as you go to make sure you stay on track.  

If you visit the Declutter 365 website, you can register for free to receive your daily tasks.  Once you do this, you also gain access to a printable calendar that you can print off to keep you on track.  You can also sign up to "join" their Facebook group.  By doing so, you will receive your daily task in your Facebook newsfeed.  And others comment and post their before and after pics there too that you can use as inspiration for your own efforts.  There is strength in numbers, right?


I have been completing my daily tasks for a few days now, and it is super easy to work in 15 minutes chunks of time on small tasks.  So far, I have set up a donation box to discard items that we will end up donating or reselling later.  I have organized my kitchen sink area, and cleared our kitchen counters and island.  Today's task is the kitchen table.  I believe tomorrow is organizing my kitchen towels and utensils.  And then we move on to the cabinets and fridge next week.  Once the kitchen is complete, the tasks will take us on to another part of the house.  

Aaaahhhh, I can feel our home breathing a sigh of relief already.  

A Memorable Gift

Saturday, December 24, 2016

There is no gift I like to put together more than a tangible memory, so when Daddy regaled me with one of his epic childhood tales a few months ago, I had the beginnings of an epic gift!

As the story goes, Daddy, along with his brothers and sister, would often go on a walk with their father.  Each trip would culminate in a special treat, namely, cornbread which would be crumbled into the bottom of a cup to be joined with milk poured over the top. 


Thankfully, I made a mental note, and after whipping up some of my sweet honey cornbread, I headed over there with a bottle of fresh cow's milk for a splendid start to our Christmas festivities.


'Twas the Site by Three Sisters - 2016

We know you've been waiting for this ALL YEAR. So, without further ado, it's the Harris Sisters 2016 Christmas Eve year in review in the form of a "Twas the Night Before Christmas" parody. (Hey, we Harris Sisters wouldn't disappoint you!)

Twas the Night Before Christmas Vintage Store Display

'Twas the Site by Three Sisters - 2016


'Twas the site by three sisters, Twenty Sixteen
And what an exciting year it has been!
In January, we went under the sea,
With a Mermaid and Shark Tail crochet spree.

As June popped up, we just couldn't wait,
To lounge at the beach in the Tarheel State.
More rapid than eagles, our childhood reclaimed,
And we traveled, and toured, and visited again!

"Now, RALEIGH! now, SHACKLEFORD! now, BEAUFORT and TURKLE!
On, SWANSBORO! On, TRIPLE S! FORT MACON and EMERALD!
From the top of the porch (wine glasses and all),
We fended off our fair share of catcalls!

For the smoothest of skin, makeup primer by E.L.F.
And you'll want to make sure Retin-A's on your shelf!
In the wink of an eye and without twisting a lead,
Wunderbrow gives you nothing to dread.

We'll speak not a word, but go straight to our work,
And write ALL NEW blog posts (it sounds so berserk)
In twenty seventeen as we sit and compose,
And give a nod, up on the blog they will go!

So as we bid another year toodle-oo,
We wanted to express our sincere gratitude,
To all who have followed, shared, commented, and liked
"HARRIS CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!"

Merry Christmas from Donna, Deanna, and Misty!

Find our previous year's Christmas Eve parodies here: 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Twas the Night Before Christmas Santa and Child

Grandma Elizabeth's Oatmeal Cake

Friday, December 23, 2016

Just in time for Christmas, I'm sharing one of our Grandma Elizabeth's old-fashioned family recipes. This one is straight out of our cherished family cookbook, and it does not disappoint. It's an oatmeal cake with a brown sugar, coconut, and pecan frosting that offers a break from the all-chocolate, all-the-time Christmas treats that you may be experiencing this time of year.

Harris Sisters Girltalk: Grandma Elizabeth's Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake


This recipe is truly a treasure, and you might already have all of the ingredients in your pantry to whip it up today!


Harris Sisters Girltalk: Grandma Elizabeth's Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake

Grandma Elizabeth's Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake

1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour*
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 3 quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt to a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add oats. Let stand while mixing remaining ingredients.
  3. Mix together in a large mixing bowl sugars, cinnamon, and flour. Add oil and eggs and stir until incorporated.
  4. Add oats and water mixture and stir until entire mixture is combined.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
  6. Remove cake from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  7. While cake is cooling, prepare frosting.

Frosting

1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
7 oz. sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped pecans**

  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the brown sugar, 1/2 cup milk, and vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more.
  3. Add coconut and nuts and blend on low speed until incorporated.
  4. Frost oatmeal cake while still warm.
  5. If desired, put cake in oven under broiler to brown top.


Harris Sisters Girltalk: Grandma Elizabeth's Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake

Notes:


If you do not have self-rising flour on hand (I did not), you can make this substitution for the 1 1/2 cups of flour required for the recipe:

Add to one measuring cup:

  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • enough all-purpose flour to fill the cup

PLUS another 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

You can substitute walnuts in the recipe for pecans if you'd prefer.

If you enjoyed this old-fashioned recipe, make sure to check out the other old-fashioned recipes we've posted:





A Country Christmas Playlist

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas and country music- two of my very favorite things!  And never better than when you combine the two.  Here's a quick list of some of my favorite country Christmas songs, most of which aren't on the regular rotation on the Christmas radio stations this time of year.  So they might just give you a break from the same old songs, and will definitely be sure to give you a smile and a big helping of Christmas cheer!


  1. A Christmas to Remember - Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
  2. Hard Candy Christmas - Dolly Parton
  3. O Holy Night - John Berry
  4. All I Want for Christmas is You - Vince Vance and the Valiants
  5. Beautiful Star of Bethlehem - The Judds
  6. Two Step 'Round the Christmas Tree - Suzy Bogguss
  7. The Christmas Guest - Reba McEntire
  8. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer - Elmo and Patsy
  9. Tennessee Christmas - Alabama
  10. Meet Me Under the Mistletoe - Randy Travis
  11. Merry Christmas from the Family - Montgomery Gentry
  12. Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy - Garth Brooks
  13. Let There Be Peace on Earth - Vince Gill
  14. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
  15. Pretty Paper - Willie Nelson
  16. Where are you Christmas? - Faith Hill
  17. Christmas in Dixie - Alabama
  18. Mary Did You Know? - Kenny Rogers, featuring Wynonna Judd
  19. Thank God for Kids - The Oak Ridge Boys
  20. Redneck 12 Days of Christmas - Jeff Foxworthy


Am I Allergic to Christmas?

Monday, December 19, 2016

I am the last person who ever thought I would utter these words. I am a lover of  all things Christmas from way back. I love the music, the food, the movies, the traditions, the time spent with family and friends, and the making of new memories every year.  I literally start my decorating for Christmas on November 1 every year and bask in the glow of the holiday spirit well into the new year.   So am I allergic to Christmas? Well, technically the answer is no. However, apparently I do have a pretty severe allergy to some of the trimmings and trappings that go with Christmas.  And it would seem that I'm not the only one.



This year at Thanksgiving, we spent the long weekend with family out of town. And over that weekend our family decided to purchase a lovely real Christmas tree for their home. We all visited the Christmas tree farm together and then helped them erect their beautiful new tree into the living room.  Of course, I, like so many others, went directly over to the tree and breathed in it's intoxicating aroma over and over and over.  And it didn't dawn on me at the time, but I spent the entire weekend sniffling, sneezing, wheezing, and rubbing my itchy bloodshot eyes. Clearly I was having some sort of allergic reaction, but I attributed it to the amount of time that we had spent outside over the weekend. And then as soon as we came home, whatever the allergic reaction that I was having cleared itself right up and went completely away.

Then my well-intentioned husband brought home a beautiful fresh wreath made of evergreen and matching evergreen garland to hang in our home.  We hung the garland on the banister of our stairs and the wreath on the backside of our front door. And lo and behold, my symptoms started to return. Every single morning I would awake with horribly bloodshot eyes and I was so congested I could barely breathe.  It started to dawn on me that maybe I was having a reaction to the fresh Christmas greens. So I did a little research and it turns out that this is a real thing. So much so that it has been given a name - Christmas Tree Syndrome. There was a medical study completed in 2011 that references all of this. The bottom line is that fresh Christmas trees and similar greens carry mold spores which increase exponentially in the warmth of your holiday home.  For those with a sensitivity to these mold spores, (and I can't believe that that's not everyone- who wouldn't be allergic to mold???) it produces allergic symptoms similar to that of hay fever.  Ding ding ding!!  So that's what's been going on!

My wonderful husband offered to take all of our live greens down shortly after he had just put them up, and I kept saying no because it was so nice of him to get them for us to begin with. But my symptoms persisted and like the Grinch slinking through our house one morning, he took down the garland and our evergreen wreath while I was still sleeping. I actually awoke that morning to significantly better breathing and my eyes were actually clear for the first time in weeks.   So there you have it.  Case closed.

I'm not sure that I am excited about having an allergy to fresh evergreens, but I am definitely excited to be breathing a little easier at least. I guess this Christmas lover will just be lighting a pine scented candle and calling it a day as I breathe in my allergen-free artificial Christmas tree.

Becky Crocker's Old Fashioned Thumbprint cookies

Thursday, December 15, 2016

We attend our neighborhood Christmas Cookie exchange party every year about this time, and I always like to bring a new and different kind of cookie.  Thumbprint cookies are classic and timeless treats.  And even though I had not ever made them before, they came together quickly and easily and looked super festive for our cookie exchange. 


Betty Crocker's Old Fashioned Thumbprint Cookies


1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 brown sugar, packed
1 egg, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
Jelly or tinted confectioner sugar icing

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. 
  3. Work in flour and salt until dough holds together. 
  4. Shape dough into one inch balls.
  5. Beat egg white slightly.  Dip each ball into egg white and roll in nuts. 
  6. Place one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Press thumb deeply into the center of each. 
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  8. Immediately remove from baking sheet; cool.  Fill thumbprints with jelly. 

Notes: This recipe is said to make 3 dozen one inch cookies.  They are meant to be small.  And mine were. Even still, I struggled to stretch to 2 dozen cookies with this recipe.  I will double this batch the next time I make them!

If you are wondering where I found green jelly, it is mint apple flavored and was sold with all the other jellies at my local grocery store.  It was really festive looking.  I also used raspberry jelly (for the red) and apricot (for the gold).