Get Ready for Summer with Our Sun Safety Tips

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Now that summer is upon us and our minds wander to thoughts of long days lounging by the pool or maybe a WEEK (or more if you're lucky) of lazily kicking back at the beach, we need to be reminded to exercise caution while being exposed to all that extra sunshine. 

UV radiation is the cause. Protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all year round, although we are certainly exposed to it more frequently during the warmer months. 

UV rays from the sun can reach you on cloudy days, as well as sunny days. UV rays also reflect off of surfaces like cement (poolside!), sand, water (beach!), and snow (not just in summer months!). 

Did you know that it’s as easy as sitting in the shade or wearing sunglasses and a hat to reduce the rate of skin cancer?

With this in mind, we've put together a top ten list of sun safety tips:

1. Wherever you are, seek out shade. Don’t sit in direct sunlight. Large trees, a large Southern porch, or a beach umbrella provide the perfect solution.

2. When you think of sun protective clothing, consider a long sleeved chambray shirt or a crisp linen shirt. Because these cover your arms, they are perfect for sun protection. 

If using as a beach cover up, keep in mind that a wet shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one, and darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors.

3. Pack sunglasses wherever you go. Leave a spare pair in your car and carry extras in your purse. 

As a BONUS tip, opt for unisex styles that can be worn by anyone in your family! Aviators are the perfect style to swap if someone forgets a pair. You can buy stylish designs at lower prices at places like TJ Maxx, so you won't feel bad about purchasing multiple pairs! Of course, my boys will wear ANY sunglasses they happen to find - even the "girly" ones!

If you already WEAR glasses to correct your vision (like some of the Harris Sisters) then buy a pair of prescription sunglasses from your optometrist when you go for your annual checkup. I have worn prescription sunglasses since 2013.

4. Put a lid on it! A wide brimmed hat protects your scalp, your whole face, your ears, and the nape of your neck when poolside or at the beach. Consider a ball cap for all that extra time in the bleachers and/or on the sidelines at kids' sporting events.

5. Put on broad spectrum sunscreen with AT LEAST SPF 15 before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days. For children, aim for AT LEAST SPF 30. Remember to check the sunscreen’s expiration date before using it. 

Put a thick layer on all parts of exposed skin before you get dressed (which makes it easier not to "miss a spot"). Remember that exposed skin includes often forgotten areas such as ears, neck, toes, and scalp (if you have a part in your hair and are not wearing a hat). Get help for hard-to-reach places like your back.

Don't forget that sunscreen wears off. Reapply if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

6. Did you know that insect repellents reduce sunscreen’s SPF by up to 1/3? To avoid getting burned and being attacked by bugs, choose a sunscreen with a higher SPF to counteract the reduction in effectiveness. 

7. Our family loves the being outside in the summer, but we try to consider the times of day that we are outside during these months. The sun is most aggressive between the hours of 10 AM - 4 PM. So with keeping that in mind, you can visit the pool or beach in the early morning and evening hours and plan other activities during those peak sun hours. Remember, you'll never be able to enjoy beautiful sunrises or sunsets, if you're only out in the sun during the middle of the day! ;-)

8. Fake it till you make it! We Harris Sisters are fans of the fake tan and NEVER tan any other way than from a bottle. This is our review of the best products on the market for a perfect faux tan.

9. Don’t underestimate a cloudy day. Just because the clouds are out, doesn't mean the sun isn't out. Always remember your sun safety tips even if it doesn't seem all that sunny.

10. The BEST way to ensure you are sun protected is to use a combination of all the tips listed above. You can never be too cautious when it comes to sun protection.

What's in a Name?

Friday, May 22, 2015

By now, you should all know that the newest royal has been born across the pond, and her name is Charlotte.  What a wonderful name!  Of course, we have had our own Charlotte in the family for some time now.  Misty's daughter, Charlotte, became a teenager just this year, and for us, she will always be the "original" Charlotte.

This is one of my very favorite photos of her, taken a couple summers ago when she joined us on Girls' Weekend.


Columnist, Charlotte Atler, recently penned a wonderful piece for Time Magazine called "What to Expect When your Name is Charlotte".  I read it and just died laughing.  Oh my goodness.  I guess I never realized the plight of a Charlotte.  Although, I can tell you from personal experience the plight of a Deanna isn't that easy either.  Starbucks baristas also cringe trying to figure out the best way to misspell my name.  

But back to the Charlottes. She speaks of misspellings and odd nicknames among so many other truths.  Here's one passage to give you a preview.

Unlike Elizabeth, Margaret and Alexandra, the nicknames for Charlotte are few and peculiar. Charlotte is long on the page but short on the tongue, which gives the impression that the name should be shortened. Charlie, Lotte, and Lottie are nice options, but they don’t suit everyone. Your name will inevitably be shortened to Char, which evokes images of fish entrees or blackened meat. Ultimately, I cannot guide you here. Each Charlotte must find her own path.

If you too are a Charlotte, then this is a must read.  Or if you just need a laugh, definitely give this article a spin.  And to all the Charlottes out there, I would say your stock is definitely on the rise. Hang in there, my friends.

Broccoli and Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

Sunday, May 17, 2015

This is a simple side dish that ups the ante on your run of the mill baked potato AND its a good way to sneak veggies into the menu if you need to do that. :-)

Broccoli and Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

8 baking potatoes
2 bunches fresh broccoli, chopped into small florets
1 stick butter
1 cup sour cream
2 cups cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp garlic powder
3 green onions, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake potatoes for 1 hour, making sure they're cooked through.
  2. While potatoes cook, steam broccoli florets in microwave, about 2 minutes.
  3. Slice the butter into pats. Place in a large mixing bowl with sour cream. 
  4. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Lower the heat to 350 degrees.
  5. Allow potatoes to cool slightly before handling. Then, with a sharp knife cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides into the mixing bowl. 
  6. Place the potato shells on a baking sheet.
  7. Use a potato masher to combine the potatoes into the butter and sour cream. Add 1 cup cheese, milk, garlic powder, green onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together well. 
  8. Fill the potato shells with the filling. 
  9. Top each potato with more grated cheese and put them back into the oven until the potato is warmed through, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Lexi's Latest Jam: I Get So Emotional

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Now that our Lexi is teething (again- will this ever end?), I can only describe her demeanor lately as emotional.  She's not a fussy baby and she literally never cries, so I have zero room to complain. She's just a little on the emotional side while these latest teeth are trying to make their way through.      
And I know that as soon as they pop through, life will be back to normal once again.  Until then, sing it, Whitney.  You have provided us with our latest theme song.  And I mean it- it's on constant rotation on the old iPad.  Lexi really does like this one.  :)

I've been hearing your heartbeat inside of me

I keep your photo right beside my bed
Livin' in a world of fantasies
I can't get you out of my head

I've been waiting for the phone to ring all night

Why you want to make me feel so good
I got a love of my own
Shouldn't get so hung up on you

I remember the way that we touched I wish I didn't like it so much

I get so emotional, baby
Every time I think of you
I get so emotional, baby

Ain't it shocking what love can do

Ain't it shocking what love can do

I gotta watch you walk in the room, baby

I gotta watch you walk out
I like the animal way you move
And when you talk I just watch your mouth

I remember the way that we touched I wish I didn't like it so much

I get so emotional, baby
Every time I think of you
I get so emotional, baby

My Fair Lady: Remembering Mama

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Her name was Dorothy - Dorothy Jean to be exact.  Daddy often called her Dorothy Jane just to get a rise out of her.  Many of her friends called her Dottie or Dot.  Mostly, she just went by Dorothy. But we just called her "Mama".

She was many things to many people; she wore a lot of hats to be sure.  Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, coworker.  Mama was always the first up each day and the last one to bed each night. She worked outside the home 8 - 5 each day, came home and cooked dinner EVERY night, cleaned the dishes, started the laundry, checked homework, and the list just went on and on and on.  She never sat down.  She never missed a PTA meeting, school play, awards ceremony, or parent teacher conference, and with the three of us, there were many of those to attend.  I still don't know how she did it all.  She worked hard, but she never complained.  She loved us girls and it showed. 

But above all else, when I think of Mama, I always remember what a lady she was.

  • She never wore pants- only dresses or skirts.  She only owned one pair of jeans and she despised them.  I shudder to think what she would think of yoga pants. 
  • She wore makeup every day - NO MATTER WHAT.  But looking back now  I think she just had naturally beautiful skin.  She only wore blush, mascara, and lipstick.  Nothing more. 
  • She had really fair skin, a trait she passed on to all the Harris Sisters.  Her skin was so pretty that it glowed.  No wrinkles either.  She did have freckles that she didn't care for very much. She passed those on to me only.  I used to not like them either, but I do now.  They are a constant reminder of her. 
  • Mama always wore perfume - usually Avon.  She never left the house without it. 
  • She wore pantyhose every single day.  She didn't even own a pair of socks.  When she would occasionally don the pair of jeans to work in the yard, she would wear pantyhose underneath. Now that's dedication. 
  • Mama always wore high heels.  She hated flats - thought they made her feet look bigger.  She was 6 feet tall to start with, but would rather be taller with the heels than have her feet look too big.
  • She always wore a necklace.  She had several favorites and switched them out daily, but never left the house without one. 
  • Her nails were always polished. And they were never chipped.  She used a Revlon polish- usually in a shimmery rose color.  I can still see it now.  She often sat up late at night working on her nails and would fall asleep on the couch waiting for them to dry.  No quick drying polish back then.
  • She wore aprons every day.  She would put one on while cooking dinner and would wear it around the house all night.
  • At night, she always wore a full length night gown, a robe, and slippers. No sloppy pj's for her. She called her slippers her "house shoes" and her robe her "house coat".

There were so many other wonderful things about Mama too.

  • Her laugh was beyond wonderful.  It was infectious, as anyone would tell you.  She would laugh so hard she couldn't talk or hardly breathe, and when she tried to explain what she was laughing at, she would just laugh harder.  Misty has that same laugh today. Donna has her smile.  I have her disposition.   I think we all have her sense of humor. When something is funny to one of the Harris Sisters, it is usually funny to all of us- even if no one else knows what the heck we are laughing at.
  • She would tell you she wasn't a good cook.  But I still make some of her recipes today.  We all do.  I miss her homemade biscuits that she made once a year on Thanksgiving Day.  They were the best.
  • She took her coffee with cream only, no sugar.  Me too.  She also used to let us have milk with coffee in it when we were kids.  Now that was a treat.  I'll bet it's still good, note to self- must try this again soon.  
  • She was a lefty.  Harris Sister, Misty, is too.  And now, Misty's daughter, Charlotte is also a southpaw.  She had beautiful handwriting.  She and Misty always sat together on one side of the table so they wouldn't bump elbows with the rest of us who were all righties.
  • Even though she was left-handed, she did so many things with her right hand that many people considered her ambidextrous. For example, she would iron clothes right-handed. And those aforementioned painted fingernails? Well, those were always salon perfect on BOTH hands! But perhaps her most unusual talent was that she could flawlessly write her name forward with her right hand while simultaneously writing it backward (mirror image) with her left hand. It was a fascinating parlor trick that we girls often tried to duplicate, but we never quite managed. 
  • She took us to church on Sundays, and helped us say our prayers at night.  She taught us right from wrong.
  • Mama always taught us the important of knowledge, education, and learning.  She was a smart lady and wanted to be sure we were too. She taught us things like how to spell antidisestablishmentarianism, one of the longest words in the English language, when we were in second grade. We Harris Sisters have all inherited her love of knowledge in our own special ways. I will be the FIRST to tell you that I was the only Harris Sister to ever actually win a Spelling Bee, Misty currently homeschools her two daughters in all subject areas, and Donna turned her love of grammar into a career as a copy editor and proofreader at a well-known publisher.
  • She would probably hate the picture I used of her above.  I hope she will forgive me, but I love it.  Beautiful smile, cute pose, forever young.  That's Mama. 

Above all else, you were a good mom - the best.  You taught us how to be good mothers too. So on this Mother's Day - and always, Mama, we remember you, we miss you, we love you, and we will see you again.

Donna, Deanna, and Misty

Restoration Project: Kitchen Table and Chairs

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The time has come.  It is time to finally say goodbye to our counter-height kitchen table and chairs that we have used in our kitchen for many years. Every single niece and nephew who has come to visit us has fallen out of those chairs at some point or other over the years.  John has been ready to replace that set with a standard height table and chairs for a while now.   

So, without further ado, I give you our "new" kitchen set...

Although it certainly didn't start out looking this way, we actually purchased this table and chairs in it's original oak condition from a little junk shop we visit from time to time.  I loved the press back chairs and the table has working gears built into it to allow the table to open for the leaf.  We had a vision for this set, even though we knew it would require a little work.  Enter my handy husband, and this project was completed in a weekend!

We knew we wanted to paint the chairs and base of the table, and stain the table top, but had to settle on colors first.  We decided on black chalk paint with cream colored details showing through, and a dark wood finish for the table top.  Thankfully, painted furniture has become so popular lately that there are a ton of resources out there to guide you on your way, and a ton of stores sell the chalk paint now too. 

Here's a look at the the original base of the table.  Funny story- the table we bought didn't have those nice claw feet, but I wanted them.  About a week after we bought our table, we found a shop selling just a table base with those wonderful feet.  We paid a whopping $20 for that find, and finished off our table base. 

 Here's a closer look at the claw feet.  

...And the original detail on the press back chairs.  Incidentally, this is the only chair with the rounded top so it sits at my spot at the table now.  See the keyhole too?  I love this chair!

All the rest are this style. 

So the work began with a nice coat of cream colored chalk paint as the base coat for the chairs.  The good thing about chalk paint is that you don't have to sand your furniture before you start.  You just start painting.  And in this case, you don't have to be too careful.  We wanted to be sure to get this coat into the detail really well, but knew that we were applying another color over top so it didn't have to be perfect.   Here's hubby hard at work. 

And here's a look at the completed first step.  Notice that he only skimmed over the seat.  Most of that will be covered with the next coat of paint, without a ton of the white showing through. 

Here's another look at the chair in it's first coat of paint.  Oh, and if you only want one color, you could stop here.  Chalk paint doesn't take multiple coats.  But we wanted the white to show through the next coat, so we kept going to the next step. 

This is the chalk paint we used- Annie Sloan's Graphite- to create the black top coat. 

And here is the top coat being applied.  Hubby used a light touch to skim over top of the white, letting it show through in many places, especially all that detail on the press backs. 

It's better to paint it on thinly at this point.  You can always add more to create your desired look, but it's much harder to take it away. 

Same thing as he started painted on the spindles- letting a fair amount of that base coat shine through. 

You can see he also left a few splotched areas on the seat to make it look like it has seen some wear.  

At this point, you can add more of your top coat if you feel you have any areas with too much base coat showing through.  We did that on almost all the chairs until we got it just how we wanted it. 

Here's a closer look at how the chair back turned out. 

Repeat the process for all the chairs and the base of the table.   Easier said than done- not a hard process, but a little detailed. 

The table top was last.  Hubby stained it in cherry and black walnut, and cleared coated all of the pieces several times with a satin polyurethane to add some durability since we will be using this furniture daily.  FYI, most chalk painted pieces also have a coat of wax applied to finish them, but since we clear coated this set, we did not need to complete that step.  Finally, he attached the table top to the base once everything was dry.  

So here's a closer look at the completed project.  He actually didn't sand any of the paint away, although you certainly could to achieve a more distressed look.  Our look is more a product of multiple shades of paint strategically showing through. 

 Here's how those lovely claw feet turned out. 

 Hubby really did a great job!!

So there you have it!  Voila- the finished product- a labor of love.  And we are indeed in love with it.  

And the nice thing about painted furniture is that if you decide you want a different color down the road, you just paint over it.  How's that for options?

Flea Market Decor

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Toward the end of last year, I treated myself to a subscription to Flea Market Decor magazine.  It comes out quarterly, so by the time I receive one every 3 months I have usually forgotten that I am still subscribed, so it's always a wonderful little treat when it does arrive.

As I flipped through my latest copy recently, I thought others might be interested in this magazine as well.  It gives all sorts of decorating ideas on how to incorporate your vintage finds into your existing decor.  It also tells you approximately how much you can expect to pay for certain types of vintage items and lists some of the biggest and hottest flea markets and their dates around the country. Nashville's flea market has been mentioned several times already.    

I love seeing how other people decorate.  It helps me develop my own style and helps me to understand better what I like (or don't like).  They also show little DIY projects that you can make using vintage pieces to upcycle into something else.  I really enjoy reading this one.  

If you are interested in subscribing for yourself, it's currently $19 for a yearly subscription (4 issues) here.

As always, happy treasure hunting!