Chickens in Sweaters

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Earlier this week, Country brought us an article that featured chickens in sweaters. While the topic of animals in clothing is not new to the Harris Sisters, I thought that this was just too good not to share.

According to the article, a sweater can keep a chicken warm during molting season and prevent picking as new feathers grow in. Also, it is typical for rescue chickens to be missing a lot of feathers because of stress and cramped cages. A sweater can help them stay warm while they adjust to their new surroundings. 



Talk about your fancy chickens! I wholeheartedly approve.

The sweaters featured in the article were all knitted, but as crochet is my craft of choice, I've located and linked below some free patterns for crochet chicken sweaters (in case the mood strikes you to whip up some for your flock).

Life Alaskan Style
Plum Creek Mama

The French Dog

Friday, January 23, 2015

When I saw this coffee table book the other day in a little shop in Leiper's Fork, TN, I was all over it. I immediately picked it up and started leafing through it.  And what I saw was nothing short of beauty. The French Dog features the most gorgeous photographs you've ever seen of the many dogs of France: city dogs, country dogs, lazy dogs, playful dogs, and everything in between.  The dog lover in me knew this was meant to be.  

Here is a look at some of the other images and quotes, but this is just a taste.  Trust me, this is such a magically wonderful book.  

We have traveled to Europe several times over the past few years, and it hasn't escaped my notice that Europeans definitely regard their dogs in a way we Americans do not.  Yes, we love our four legged friends, and they are indeed family to us.  But it's different in Europe.  Dogs are a part of the culture. They go wherever their people go.  It's completely commonplace to see dogs in the shops, the market, the cafes, bakeries, coffeehouses and pubs.  Businesses place dog bowls filled with water outside their doors.  It is completely accepted that dogs will be frequenting these places just as their owners do.  

And as I flipped through this book, I remembered some of the wonderful pups we have met in our travels to Europe.  Here are some of the photographs taken by yours truly of the sweet dogs that have made our travels all the brighter. 

If you are more of a cat lover, you are in luck, the same author/ photographer has also created The French Cat, and a trip to Europe will indeed confirm that cats are all around, just as much if not more so, than the dogs you see here.  Either way, these books are something special.  I think those of you who are also animal lovers will agree.  Enjoy!

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

With the teams for the Super Bowl now decided, it's time to start thinking about your snack menu for the big game day ahead.  This one is a sure-fired crowd pleaser, combining spicy sausage with plump mushrooms.  But here's the rub, they sure do go fast, so plan accordingly.  :)

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

3 Italian hot sausages, casings removed
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg yolk

Olive oil
24 large mushrooms, stemmed
1/3 cup dry white wine

  1. Saute sausage and oregano in a large skillet over medium-high heat until sausage is cooked through and brown, breaking into small pieces.  Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage mixture to a large bowl to cool.
  2. Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder, then cream cheese. Season filling with salt and pepper; mix in egg yolk.
  3. Brush glass baking dish with olive oil to coat. 
  4. Brush cavity of each mushroom cap with white wine; fill with 1 Tbsp filling and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
  5. Arrange mushrooms, filling side up in prepared dish.  (Can be made a day ahead, cover and chill.)
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Baked uncovered until mushrooms are tender and filling is brown on top, about 25 minutes. 

This would also make an excellent appetizer for Thanksgiving Day, methinks.  

Granny Square Baby Blanket

Monday, January 19, 2015

I recently made this baby blanket for a friend's new bundle of joy. Her new baby boy's nursery was decorated in green and gray, so I thought a traditional granny square pattern featuring those colors along with some white would make a lovely blanket for the dapper young fellow. Turns out I was right. :-)

This could not have been simpler to make and it's easy to adjust for any size and colors that you want.

This particular blanket is 33 1/2 inches square, which can be used as a baby blanket, but then also as a toddler size blanket as the baby grows bigger (and that happens very quickly - I speak from experience). To recreate this blanket, you'll need the following:

Loops and Threads Impeccable yarn in Kelly Green, True Grey, and White (about 2 skeins of each color)
I crochet hook
Tapestry needle

dc cluster = 3 dc into the same stitch

Round 1: Using your first color, ch 3. 2 dc into the first ch, ch 1. *dc cluster into the same stitch, ch 1* 3 times. Sl st to the top of the beginning ch. (4 dc clusters and 4 ch 1 spaces)

Round 2: Sl st in the next two stitches and into ch 1 space. Ch 2, 2 dc into the same ch 1 space. Ch 1, dc cluster into the same ch 1 space. *dc cluster, ch 1, dc cluster in the next ch 1 space* around. Sl st to the top of the first ch 2. (8 dc clusters and 4 ch 1 spaces)

Round 3: Sl st in the next two stitches and into the ch 1 space. Ch 2, 2 dc into the same ch 1 space. Ch 1, dc cluster into the same ch 1 space. Dc cluster into the space between the clusters on the previous round. *dc cluster, ch 1, dc cluster in the next ch 1 space. dc cluster into the space between the clusters on the previous row* around. Sl st to the top of the first ch 2. (12 dc clusters and 4 ch 1 spaces)

Continue with this pattern for all remaining rounds. Work two double crochet clusters into each corner, with a ch 1 in between them. Work 1 dc cluster into each space between the clusters in the previous round. 

When it’s time to change colors, cut your first color and weave ends. Join your second color in any of the ch 1 spaces. Continue the same pattern with the next color.

Round 1: Using the same color as the final round of clusters from previous round, hdc around the entire blanket working 3 hdc into each corner stitch. Cut yarn and weave ends. 
Round 2: To create picot edging, join white yarn using a slip stitch  *sc in the next five stitches, ch 3, hdc in the first chain* around. (Note: If you would like to have a picot in each corner, you may need to sc more or fewer stitches between picots as you approach the corners.)

For the blanket shown, the color pattern I used was:
6 rounds of Kelly Green
2 rounds of White
2 rounds of True Grey
2 rounds of Kelley Green
2 rounds of White
2 rounds of True Grey
2 rounds of Kelley Green
2 rounds of White
2 rounds of True Grey
2 rounds of Kelley Green
2 rounds of White
2 rounds of True Grey
2 rounds of Kelley Green
1 round of Kelley Green (hdc border round)
1 round of White (picot edging round)

Strawberry Syrup

Friday, January 16, 2015

This syrup is a companion to our Overnight Strawberry French Toast Casserole recipe. It gives the recipe a little extra oomph. But, if you're short on time and can't make the entire casserole and syrup combo, the syrup alone is also a sure-fired way to jazz up regular pancakes or waffles too. Give it a try - I know you'll love it!

Strawberry Syrup

1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup water
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 Tbsp butter

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Stirring constantly, cook 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Mix in the strawberries. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
  5. Serve over your favorite waffles, pancakes, French toast, or crepes. Alternately, this versatile sauce also makes a nice companion to desserts, so drizzle it over ice cream or cake and serve with a side of whipped cream.
If you prefer blueberries, give our homemade Blueberry Syrup recipe a try.

She Refused to Be Bored . . .

Today's Words of Wisdom come from Zelda Fitzgerald: "She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Something to think about!

We regularly post Words of Wisdom to our Facebook Page. If you're not a follower, you can find us here Give us a Like for your daily dose of Harris Sisters Wisdom.

You can also find our Friday posts and many others on my Words to Live By Pinterest board so make sure to pop over there and start following for all the latest updates.

Overnight Strawberry French Toast Casserole

Thursday, January 15, 2015

If you're already a fan of Baked French Toast Casserole, which is a great breakfast recipe to prepare the night before you need it and then pop in the oven to bake in the morning, you're going to love this recipe! THIS recipe uses the same concept except it incorporates a layer of strawberries and another layer of cream cheese filling. Wowsa!

Overnight Baked Strawberry French Toast Casserole

12 slices Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2, 8 oz packages cream cheese
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
6 Tbsp milk
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
6 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup maple syrup

  1. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange half of the bread cubes in the dish. Set aside. 
  2. Mix together cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and 6 Tbsp milk, and spread over bread cubes. 
  3. Spread 2 cups strawberries over the cream cheese mixture and top with remaining bread cubes.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Pour over the bread cubes. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, covered. Uncover and continue baking for another 25 to 30 minutes, until center is firm and surface is lightly browned.
  7. Serve with confectioner's sugar, maple syrup, or homemade Strawberry Syrup