Forever Country

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

In celebration of CMA's 50 year anniversary this year, they recently created and released the Forever Country music video.  It is a mash up of three iconic country music songs- John Denver's Country Road, Willie Nelson's On the Road Again, and Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You.  The Harris Sisters recently shared this video among ourselves, and while we don't always agree on music, this was one that satisfied even our diverse musical tastes. 



The video features 30 CMA Award Winning artists- everyone from Ronnie Milsap and Charlie Pride to 1990s sensations Reba and Brooks and Dunn to newer artists like Brett Eldridge and Kacy Musgraves.   Brad Paisley is the first artist to sing on the track. Faith Hill is the first female artist to add her vocals.  Little Big Town is the first country group to chime in (and incidentally, they appear in the video and throughout the song more than any other artist).  Willie Nelson (of course) sings parts of his famous On the Road Again, and Dolly Parton is the last artist to appear as she finishes off the track with her famous I Will Always Love You lyrics. John Denver is no longer with us to add his talents to his famous Country Road, and his absence makes you miss him, and lots of others, who have already passed on.

For those paying close attention, you will also note that Randy Travis makes a cameo in the video, though he doesn't actually sing.  Sadly, he suffered a stroke a while back and isn't able to but I love that he is included in the piece.  He is also credited as one of the 30 artists. Here's the video.  Check it out.  I keep watching over and over (and over).  I see and hear something new every time, and I cannot get enough. 


I thought this video was really neat too.  It's the making of the video, and shows and explains how they put it all together- lots of behind the scenes too.  


And in case you are still trying to figure out who's who in the video and who's singing which parts (especially as the songs start to layer over one another), here's the breakdown you are looking for.


Part 1: John Denver, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

Almost heaven, West Virginia (Brad Paisley) / Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River (Keith Urban) / Life is old there, older than the trees (Tim McGraw) / Younger than the mountains (Faith Hill) / Growing like a breeze (Hill, McGraw) / Country roads, take me home (Little Big Town) / To the place (Luke Bryan) / I belong (Bryan, Miranda Lambert) / West Virginia (Lambert), Mountain mama (Bryan) / Take me home (Blake Shelton) / Country roads (George Strait).”

Part 2: Dolly Parton, “I Will Always Love You” mashup with “Take Me Home Country Roads”

If I … (Kacy Musgraves), All my memories (Eric Church) / Should stay (Musgraves), They gather ‘round her (Church) / I would only be in your way (Musgraves), Miner’s lady, stranger to blue water (Ronnie Milsap) / So I’ll go (Charley Pride), Dark and dusty (Dierks Bentley) / Yet I know (Pride, Musgraves), Painted on the sky (Bentley) / I’ll think of you each step of the way (Trisha Yearwood), Misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye (Bentley) / Country roads, take me home (Lady Antebellum) / To the place, I belong (Shelton),And I … (Carrie Underwood) / West Virginia, mountain mama (Strait), And I … (Underwood, continued) / Take me home, country roads (Darius Rucker), Will always love you (Martina McBride).”

Part 3: Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again” mashup with “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “I Will Always Love You”

On the road again (Jason Aldean) / Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway (Rascal Flatts) / We’re the best of friends (Aldean) / Insisting that the world keep turning our way, and our way (Willie Nelson) / Country roads, take me home (Brooks & Dunnwith a reply from Alabama) / To the place (Rucker), And I … (LBT) / I belong (Rucker), Will always love you you (LBT) / West Virginia, mountain mama (Brett Eldredge), I will always love you (Reba McEntire) / Oh take me home, country roads (Urban).”

Part 4: The Finale — An all-song mashup

Oh I hope life treats you kind, and I hope you have all you dreamed of (Reba McEntire) / I wish you joy and happiness (Alan Jackson) / But above all this I wish you love (Vince Gill) / And I … (Carrie Underwood) / Will always love you, I … (Underwood with Paisley) / Will always love you (McBride), Take me home (LBT) / Country roads (LBT) / Take me home (Bentley, Musgraves) / And I … (Yearwood), Country roads (Bentley, Musgraves) / On the road again (McGraw), Will always (Yearwood) / Love You (Yearwood) / I will (Hill) /Just can’t wait to get on the road again (Jackson), Will always (Hill), Take me home (Bryan) / Love (Hill) / Country roads (Church) / You (Hill), The life I love is making (Eldredge) / Music with my friends (Eldredge), Take me home (Milsap) / And I will always love you… (McBride), With my friends (McEntireLambert) / Country roads (Milsap) / I can’t wait to get on the road again (Aldean) / Take me home, country roads (LBT) / And I will always love you, I will always love you (Dolly Parton).”


The 2016 CMA Awards will air on Nov. 2 at 8PM ET on ABC.

One Man's Trash: Vintage Book Stash

Friday, September 23, 2016

Recently, my husband scored a bit of magic at an early morning rummage sale.  He came home grinning from ear to ear, saying he had a surprise for me.  I wasn't sure what he had come up with, but I was pretty sure that it was going to be good.  And IT WAS!  He found a stash of vintage classic books for sale and carefully picked through them to bring back what has become an instant collection.  Just take a look!

THIS was the book that he was so excited to give to me, and I was equally excited to receive it, for many many reasons.  He knows that I am a long time fan of Alice in Wonderland, so this copy was automatically a winner.


But what's more, it was still in it's original book case, and wonderfully preserved. 


As I pulled it out of it's case and starting gushing over it, I checked to see how old this copy was, and there it was- 1946 (70 years young), and published right here in Tennessee too.  


But there is nothing- I mean NOTHING- that I love more than a book that has been inscribed to someone, and such is the case with this wonderful copy.  It says: "To Patty, with love from Godmother, Christmas '55".  I have no idea who Patty or Godmother are, and I wasn't even around in 1955.  But isn't this a very special part of this book?  It gives it history, and a glimpse into the life that it lived before it found it's new home with me.


Just take a look at the whimsical illustrations all throughout this book.





So, of course, when my thoughtful husband brought this book home to me he knew he hit it out of the park, and I agree.  He DID!!  But the surprise didn't end with Alice in Wonderland.  No, that was just the beginning.  Notice, there's another book from the same publisher here.  It's Pinocchio!  Same wonderful illustrations too!


Here's one that caught my eye- Young Readers Indian Stories.  All of these books are dated to the early to mid 1900s.   And they all came from the same rummage sale, and presumably the same former owner. 


There's Huckleberry Finn, and Tom Sawyer too. 


And two copies of Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates. No good book left behind.  We will take them all!


In total, he came away with 13 vintage classic books, and get ready for this.  He paid $1 for each of them.  ONE DOLLAR for that awesome Alice in Wonderland.  ONE DOLLAR for Pinocchio.  ONE DOLLAR for Little Women, etc, etc, etc.  


I have already completely rearranged my bookcase to make room for these new and very special additions to the old library.  I am still smiling at this find, and in truth, I think these books are too. We are a match made in heaven. 

Sleeping on Silk

Friday, September 16, 2016

For years now, I have heard that silk pillowcases are the secret weapon for preventing wrinkles- both in your skin and your hair.  And I have often thought- hmmm, that's interesting.  I should look into that.  And then I promptly forget all about it and move on to something else.  Well, this summer I actually took the plunge and purchased a silk pillowcase for my favorite pillow.  So let me just tell you how it's working out so far. 


My primary interest in silk pillowcases was for my hair.  You see, I have the softest hair known to man.  It is very impressionable, shall we say.  It bends and crimps at my slightest little movement each and every night. And I usually awake to very weird hair that I have to spend time flattening and straightening to work back into it's usual shape.  When I started looking into silk pillowcases, people were reporting that they kept their hair super smooth all night.  I thought perhaps it could do the same for me, and I was very excited to give it a try. 

I've had my pillowcase for about a month or so now.  And I have to agree with the reviews that I read. It does indeed protect your hair from frizzies and wrinkles.  I awake (most) mornings to very smooth and straight hair, which saves me a lot of time getting ready in the morning, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. 

People also swear that sleeping on silk also helps to prevent skin wrinkles.  It is far too soon for me to accurately report on that.  However, I can say that I have not awoken to any weird pillow marks on my face or neck since I've been using my new pillowcase, and that's a definite plus.  Those marks take forever to fade, and always give the impression that you just rolled out of bed no matter how long you've been awake. 

A couple of words of warning though- satin is not at all the same as silk.  If you are looking to take the plunge on this endeavor, make sure you are buying the right thing.  It has to be SILK.  And you will need to hand wash and air dry your pillowcase so don't just throw it in the laundry with the rest of your things when it's time to change your bedding. 

Overall, I do love my new silk pillowcase.  It feels like a dream- very cool and comfortable to sleep on.  And I love the effects it has had on my hair (and presumably on my skin too) so far.  I purchased mine on Amazon, and carefully read all the reviews first.  Here's the link to the one I bought if you are interested.  I'm sure there are lots of good ones out there.  Just be sure to do your homework first. Happy sleeping!

A Date with Destiny: My Night with Dolly Parton

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Last month, I fulfilled one of my long time bucket list items.  I saw Dolly Parton in concert, and I cannot even begin to tell you what a treat it was for me.  I am a fan from YEARS back.  I remember growing up on her songs in the 70s and 80s, listening to her new music in the 90s, and following her career all along the way ever since.   There is just something so completely genuine about Dolly that makes you feel like you know her (and want to know her more).  And let me tell you, her voice was just as pure as it ever was.  The night was amazing from beginning to end, and I doubt that I will ever forget it.  So let me share a little with you. 



To begin, Dolly Parton is 70 years old, and she hasn't been on a nationwide US tour like this in decades.  She has been busy recording and making movies, and she does a lot of touring overseas. So when I read earlier this year that she would be launching her Pure and Simple Tour across the US this summer, I knew I would have to be there.  Little by little dates began to go on sale, and we were able to secure really good tickets for this once in a lifetime show. I don't know how many other tours and shows she will perform (or if she will ever actually "retire") but I sure am glad I finally got to see her live in concert. 

The name of her show "Pure and Simple" couldn't have been a better fit for the treat we were in for.   There were no jumbo tron screens, no opening acts, no announcer to bring her out onto stage, and her band consisted of only three musicians in addition to herself.  But as she was quick to point out "Pure and Simple" did not mean no rhinestones, no glitz or glitter.  No. Dolly is always true to herself, and those sorts of things seem to just follow her.  Maybe that's another reason I love her so much. 

So, when the time came for the show to begin, the lights dimmed and the crowded roared with excitement.  Just then one by one, the three musicians came out onto the stage, and began to sing "Hello Dolly", and then on cue, she walked into the spotlight and the show began.  She started the show with "Why'd You Come in Here (Looking Like That)", a hit from 1989.  I instantly recognized it and started singing right along.  So did everyone else.  The excitement was palpable.  She quickly followed with "Jolene"- one of my all time favorites!  Bang, bang, right out of the gate, she was one fire.  

She sang song after song, hit after hit.  All of her big hits that we all immediately know and love. But as if that weren't enough, it was the time between the songs that was so incredibly special.  She told stories about her life, about her family, her childhood and her upbringing, her faith, her husband, her music and her career, and on and on.  She was so funny,  Many of her stories led her into another song.  And then she would pause and tell another one.  It was like you were chatting with an old friend in your living room.  She was not just singing to us or performing for us.  We felt included in this very special night.  We were a part of something so big and so wonderful.  She was genuine and sincere.  One of her stories even made me cry.  This woman is a legend and a pro.  I can't say enough.

I found a clip on some of the concert that we attended on You Tube.  Take a look and a listen here

And as if all that weren't enough, she played virtually every musical instrument known to man over the course of the evening.  Of course, we knew she played the guitar.  But she soon switched out to a mandolin, a dulcimer, a violin, the harmonica, even a saxophone, and then the piano.  I know I'm missing a few because we kept count that night and it was close to 10.  Every single instrument she played was white and covered in rhinestones.  What a talent!

She filled us in on the projects she's been working on, including her new album by the same name as her tour- Pure and Simple.  At the time of the concert it had not even been released yet, but it is available now.  She played us a few of her new songs, which were fabulous, of course.  She also mentioned that she was working on releasing another album with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. Apparently, they recorded many songs together back in the day that never made it to an album, so they are resurrecting those and compiling them into an album for release later this year, I believe.  And we all remember her wonderful "Coat of Many Colors" movie from last Christmas.  It was such a huge hit, and there was so much more of that story to tell, that she has made another movie to follow it for this Christmas season, called "Christmas of Many Colors".   And Dolly herself will be playing a very special part in that movie.  I just cannot wait!!

She finished the show with "I Will Always Love You" which sum up my sentiments about Dolly exactly.  This concert did not disappoint.  On the contrary it was far more than I could have ever expected.  There are still a few dates her concert tour calendar, so if you are lucky enough to find her coming your way, definitely make time to see this show.  You will not regret it, I PROMISE!

One Man's Trash: Vintage Disney Halloween Record

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Well, the calendar says it is September now AND we are also past Labor Day, which is the unofficial start to fall time.  That's good enough for me.  Time to start getting into the Halloween swing of things.  And what better way to start than with a brand new edition of One Man's Trash.  

And what a score I have to share with you.  Take a look at this vintage Disney Halloween record.  I just so happen to have a two year old who has recently discovered (and fallen in love with Huey, Dewey, and Louie). And she also is starting to understand what Halloween is too!  (We've been talking it up a lot lately!) In any case, this darling record was a no-brainer when I discovered it at a little antique shop a few weeks ago. 


The record itself is in great shape, and dates back to 1974.  It contains Halloween songs and stories, as shared by the great Disney company.  To be honest though I would have still bought this just for the album cover.  It is darling.  Great vintage graphics and in very good condition. 


The cover noted that there were two bonus masks inside.  Yeah right, I thought.  Now that would be too good to be true.  But alas...


They were there!  They were paper masks on each side of the interior record cover.  No one ever cut into them, so they were still there, and in perfect condition!  Double score!  The first mask is a Jack-o-lantern. 


But the second mask- oh that second mask!.  I am in love with this vintage Witch Hazel mask.  She sure is a beauty!


So how much did I pay for all this gorgeous vintage Halloween goodness?  One dollar!!!  Yep, I also couldn't believe my good fortune.  It was meant to be.  And I couldn't resist checking to see what similar records are selling for.  A quick search today shows upward of $25 for this exact record in far lesser condition.  


So there's a little look at my most recent vintage score.  And just in time for Halloween, which is right around the corner.  What vintage treasures have you been finding lately?

How to Make Fried Okra

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fried okra is a Southern delicacy that you really need to try if you haven't yet. And with Summer bringing in fresh okra from the garden, there's really no excuse for not giving this recipe a go at least once.

It's really very simple to make. Just swing by your local Farmers Market and buy a big bag of okra to get started. If you've really never made it before, a handy tip is that you'll want to choose smaller sized okra because they'll be more tender than larger ones.

Southern Fried Okra

Fried Okra


Oil for frying
2 lbs fresh okra
1 c milk
1 c plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 c yellow cornmeal
4 tsp seasoned salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch

  1. Prepare okra by washing and removing stem ends. Cut remaining pieces in 1/2 inch rounds.
  2. In a large straight sided skillet, pour oil to a depth of 2 1/2 inches. Heat oil until a candy thermometer reaches 350 degrees.
  3. In a large bowl combine okra and milk. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, seasoned salt, and cornstarch.
  5. Working in batches, drain okra and dredge in flour mixture. Use a spider skimmer or a slotted spoon to lower into hot oil. Fry for about 4 minutes or until golden brown.


Southern Fried Okra


Now that you have fried okra under your belt, you might want to add some other Southern dishes to your repertoire. These are tried and true Harris Sisters recipes that won't disappoint:



Chocolate Cake with Mint Frosting

Saturday, August 20, 2016

We've just finished celebrating Jaxon's birthday again this year. Fun fact about Jaxon: he was born on 8/8/08. The number 8 is considered to be lucky in China, and this year was his eighth birthday, so we've joked that this was his "lucky" birthday.

So, what did the lucky birthday boy request for his birthday cake this year?

He wanted a chocolate cake with mint frosting. Since this was no ordinary cake, I decorated it with Junior Mints for our Birthday Boy and it was delicious! This scratch cake was simple to make and you'll be able to make one for yourself in no time flat. Lucky you!

Homemade Junior Mints Chocolate Cake with Mint Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Cake with Mint Frosting
(Junior Mints Cake)


CAKE


FROSTING

1 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
4 drops of green food coloring

GARNISH

22 Junior Mints candies

  1. Prepare Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake as directed. Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter, powdered sugar, milk, and peppermint extract. 
  3. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the food coloring. Beat until blended. 
  4. Use to frost cake as desired. 
  5. Arrange 15 Junior Mints candies around outside perimeter of cake. Place one Junior Mint in the center of the cake and arrange the remaining 6 Junior Mints around that candy to create a flower pattern.
  6. Refrigerate cake.
Homemade Junior Mints Chocolate Cake with Mint Buttercream Frosting


The Hershey's Perfectly Perfect Chocolate Cake is a tried and true Harris Sisters recipe. Harris Sister Deanna has it every year for her birthday cake.

It might also taste good with these other frosting recipes - give them a looksee: