Super Simple Salsa

Friday, September 19, 2014

As our thoughts turn to Fall, we've got to come to terms with the fact that we're giving up on fresh garden tomatoes until next Summer rolls around. 

I know. What the heck kind of way is that to start a post, woman?!? ;-) We've got to make room for pumpkin-y and apple-y goodness somehow, people!

BUT! If you're not quite ready to give up on homemade salsa, you can use this recipe throughout Fall and Winter to get you over the hump until the fresh tomatoes are back. It's quick and simple, and you can add as much heat as you'd like. Give it a try!


Super Simple Salsa

14 oz. can diced tomatoes
10 oz. can original Rotel
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried cilantro
1 Tbsp. lime juice

  1. Add all ingredients into a food processor and process until desired consistency.
  2. Serve with tortilla chips.
  3. Store leftover salsa in refrigerator for up to one week.
Note: if you like super spicy salsa, remember to leave the seeds in your jalapeno before processing.

The Flat Stanley Project

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Now that the kids are back in school, I thought you might be interested in hearing about how we completed our Flat Stanley project at the end of last school year with our nephew, Aidyn (Harris Sister Donna's son).


If you are anything like us, you may not have heard of Flat Stanley before.  This project is designed to help school children learn about geography.  So each child creates a paper "Flat Stanley" and then mails him to a friend or relative who lives in another state (or country), and then good old Stanley lives with them for a while, having adventures in another part of the world.  His hosts document what Flat Stanley did and learned while he was there with journals, pictures, etc, and ultimately sends it all back to the student at the conclusion of the project. 

As it turned out, we had a trip planned to Los Angeles, CA right around the time Flat Stanley arrived so we decided to just take him with us.  Here's a look at some of the things Flat Stanley did during his time in LA. 

First it was a quick plane ride out to California...


Then right down to business.  First stop was for a treat at Randy's Donuts.  


Stanley toured the Paramount Film Studios with us.  


Including a tour of the Dr. Phil show. 


He was front and center when we found the "Hansel and Gretel" house in Burbank. 


And I think he might have eaten a berry or two before he saw this sign.  Eeek!!


He really wanted to visit the beach, so we took him.




 

He made his way to the famous Hollywood sign, of course. 


 And then it was off to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  He found all his favorite stars. 












And when Stanley finished his whirlwind tour of the big city, he did a little souvenir shopping for his friend back home in North Carolina.  


Good old Stanley did indeed make it back home safe and sound toward the end of the school year, and by all accounts, I'd say it all turned out pretty well. 


So, if you ever find yourself in possession of a Flat Stanley, take a little helpful advice from me.  Just drop him in your purse and take him with you everywhere.  I plunked him down everywhere we went and just whipped out the camera for a few shots.  Trust me, no one batted an eye, and more often than I could count, people actually knew who Flat Stanley was.  As it turns out, he's pretty well traveled.  ;)

The BEST Ever Homemade Margarita Recipe

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fridays around these parts are usually Fiesta Fridays, meaning we hit our favorite Mexican dive to start the weekend.  And now that we have found the perfect margarita recipe, weekends are suddenly even better!


The BEST Ever Homemade Margaritas

12 oz limeaid concentrate
3/4 can of tequila (fill the limeaid can 3/4 way with tequila)
3/4 can of triplesec (same measurement here)
2 cap fulls (not cup fulls) Rose's sweetened lime juice

  1. Shake all ingredients together and serve over ice, or blend with ice for a frozen drink.
Notes:
You can play with the ingredients here, but this is a great base recipe.   We have added orange juice to this recipe, and it is equally fantastic.  

If you plan to drink these on the rocks, I would add some water to the recipe as well.  Frozen margaritas already get a little extra water because they are blended with ice.  


This one is definitely Harris Sisters approved!  And just in time for the weekend.  Enjoy!!

Tips for a Successful (and Fun) Staycation

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I must say it is rare that we spend a long holiday weekend at home.  More often we tend to plan a getaway somewhere - anywhere.  However, this year Labor Day sneaked up on us before we knew it, and at the last minute, we made the decision to stay home and enjoy the opportunity to relax and just spend some time in our own part of the world.



So a few days before we began our long holiday weekend, I plotted out a plan for our Staycation, and I think we would all agree that it was not only fun, but also super relaxing.   So here are a few tips for you when planning your own Staycation. 

1.  Get your house in order - literally.  The last thing you want to do over your Staycation is laundry, or dishes, or well, any housework really.  So a day or two before you begin your Staycation, get all those necessary unpleasantries caught up.  The number one rule of Staycation is that there is no work to be done while you are "vacationing".  It's a lot easier to make that happen if all the work is already completed!

2.  Figure out where you will stay.  That's not a trick.  I know we are talking about Staycations here, but don't limit yourself to your normal routine just because you aren't traveling.  Some people rent a hotel room locally.  Others camp in their own back yards, or their living rooms even.  We decided to move into our guest room for the long holiday weekend.  Whatever you do, make it fun.  Change it up!

3.  Create a Staycation playlist for yourself.  This could include your family's favorite tunes, or something more vacation "themed".  For me, I knew it had to include "Holiday Road" and "The Girl from Ipanema".  We threw in a few others- and bam!- we were good to go.  Play your tunes in the car or at home to set the mood.

4.  Make it special.  Every night, our innkeeper (yours truly) provided us with turn down service, including mints on our pillows, and an itinerary of the upcoming day's planned activities.  Every morning, our head chef (my hubby) made us a special breakfast.

5.  Be a tourist in your own town.  We all know there is fun stuff to do locally, but sometimes we run out of time to check it out.  Make the time, and explore in your own back yard, so to speak.  We visited the Johnny Cash Museum in Downtown Nashville, and tromped through the streets with all the other tourists.  We even bought a couple of t-shirts for ourselves.  :)

6.  Plan season-appropriate activities for your family.  Since it was a hot weekend, we planned to visit the pool, have a backyard movie night, and spend some time barbecuing.  If you are staycationing in colder weather, think pajama day, endless hot cocoa, and fireside stories and games.

7.  Make sure you make time for all your favorites.  There is a special pizza place in Nashville that we love but don't really visit that often.  So it was one of the first places we visited on our Staycation.  We dined on their covered patio, took advantage of their two for one drink specials, and enjoyed our leisurely meal.  After that, we made our way down the road for ice cream at one of John's favorite spots.

8.  Take pictures!  It is vacation, after all.  Be sure to document your family and the memories you create on your special Staycation.

9.  Enjoy your down time.  Just like when you go away on vacation, make sure you make time to relax, whatever that means to you.  We lounged by the pool while babydoll napped in the shade.  Read a good book, take a nap.  You get the idea.

10.  Finally- remember, there is no work on Staycation.  Some extend that rule to include no email, social media, etc.  The idea is to enjoy your time away as if you were literally away from home.  So no breaks to mow the grass or do the laundry.  It can all wait until you are back into the swing of things after your Staycation is complete!

Super Moist Pumpkin Bread

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I waited a WHOLE week past Labor Day to post this pumpkin recipe. THAT's self control people.


Super Moist Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 cups packed dark brown sugar 
2/3 cup white sugar 
2 teaspoons baking soda 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
2 cups pumpkin puree 
1 cup vegetable oil 
2/3 cup coconut milk 
2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut 
1 cup chopped walnuts 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8x4 inch loaf pans. 
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. 
  3. Add the pumpkin puree, oil, and coconut milk, and mix until all of the flour is absorbed. Fold in the flaked coconut and walnuts. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. 
  4. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  5. Remove from oven, and cover loaves tightly with foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove foil, and turn out onto a cooling rack. Tent loosely with the foil, and allow to cool completely. 

Notes:
You can easily mix this recipe by hand (the way your grandmother used to - unless your grandmother was Grandma Cuisnart or Nana KitchenAid).

If you like this recipe, make sure to try out other Harris Sisters tried and true Pumpkin Recipes:

Roasted Pumpkin Puree (stock up on this for recipes throughout the season!)

Whew! I feel like Bubba and Forrest:


That's all I have to say about that . . . .

Color Block Toddler Dress

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I made this dress recently for my niece Emma. The original crochet pattern called for a variegated yarn, which I wasn't too impressed with, but I did like the pattern itself. So, I set to work to change it into a more updated color block pattern.

In general, I like this silhouette for a dress pattern because if you choose the right colors it can be worn as is in Spring and Summer, and with a long sleeved top underneath in Fall and Winter. And as the child gets taller, as long as it still fits in the arm area, it can still be worn as a top over jeans, leggings, and pants.


I used the Girl's Lace Pinafore free crochet pattern and followed directions for a size four. (Sizes for 18 months, 2 years, 4 years, and 6 years are included with the pattern.) The only modifications I made were to the colors of yarn used. I made the entire dress with yarn that I inherited, so I don't know if these exact colors are still available. The colors I used are Red Heart Medium Coral, Windsor Blue, and Shocking Pink. I changed colors only in the last 12 rows of the pattern, working 6 rows of blue and then 6 rows of pink.

Instead of finishing the pattern with decorative buttons as recommended, I completed a Ginormous Flat Detachable Flower free crochet pattern using more of the pink yarn and sewed two decorative buttons to the center. 


This flower pattern is great because it creates a tab on the back that allows you to move the flower on your finished piece. AND it means that you don't have to wash the flower every time you wash the dress! 

Really genius! I will use this pattern again. Take a look - here's the flower on the shoulder of the dress instead of the center as pictured above.


You can add these patterns to your Ravelry queue here:


Two thumbs up for both of them.

Girls' Weekend 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Another Girls' Weekend is officially in the books.  We Harris Sisters get together- just us girls- every summer and spend a fun-filled weekend catching up and enjoying each other's company.  This year, we did just that last weekend. 


This time we met in Asheville, NC.  We got ourselves a sweet little cabin in the woods for the weekend and enjoyed Asheville's annual Food and Wine Festival. 

Over the course of the weekend, we also spent hours and hours talking about everything under the sun.  In fact, here's a little list of some of our hot topics:

  • Tax Free Weekend (or lack thereof)
  • Shutterbugs (as in, "I'm a bit of a...)
  • Mims
  • The Outsiders
  • Gang Signs
  • Video Games (I'm sure there was more to this topic, but I'm clueless.)
  • Sweet Wine
  • Grease (the movie, and yes, John Travolta did sing his parts)
  • Ryan Reynolds (Hey girl...)
  • Family Trees
  • House of Cards
  • Bubble Wands (missing ones, in particular)
  • Pinterest
  • Hummus and Bean Sprouts
  • Broadway Shows
  • (Because of) Bears
  • Party Plates (gotta find us some of these before the next food and wine event)
  • Birkenstocks
  • Bruises, Bee Stings, and Bug Bites (Oh my!)
  • T-shirt Alterations
  • Survivor
  • Vegas Acts
  • Back to School
  • Stinky Rental Cars
  • Dog Cartoons
  • Subarus
  • Hipsters (I'm still not clear on what or who this group is?!?!?)
  • ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (We Harris Sisters have an important cause that is near and dear to our hearts that we will all be participating in in October- Relay for Life- in support of cancer research.)
  • How to Make a Fire (without an actual lighter or proper kindling, but somehow we did it)
  • Orange in the New Black
If most of this makes no sense to you, fear not.  It probably didn't make much sense to us either, but that's the fun of Girls' Weekend.  Aren't sisters just the best?

We also squeezed in a little time for blog planning, and upon departure of our cabin we left the owner a note that they were sadly missing both scissors and lighters.  While we were at it, we should have just requested a hatchet and a blowtorch too.  :)  In any case, it was a fantastic weekend.  Once a year just isn't enough!!