Misty's Favorite Things-Holiday 2014 Edition

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I guess it is my turn for a big reveal of ten things that bless me.  I have to say, I struggled a little because the first thing I thought of was these guys:

and the hubs (in no particular order):

but I guess this is more along the lines of what we are looking for:

I have to say, I have not been particularly good at even picking out lipstick shades as of late, so I really had to delve deep into the recesses of my brain here.

Like I said, this is really delving.  Fifteen years ago, when I went to Russia, I was really impressed by the heated towel bars in the hotel bathrooms; so much so, that when I returned home, I sought one out, and found one at my local Bed, Bath and Beyond, one of my go to stores, and I must say, it comes in very handy living in a log cabin!

2.  Christmas Socks

Well, it's all about staying warm over here, so every Christmas when I dig out my socks that have long since been retired for Summer, I am pleasantly surprised to find these little numbers just waiting to be donned. They are almost akin to hospital socks and probably second cousins with an ugly Christmas sweater, but even looking at them now puts a smile on my face.  They are magnificent!

3.  Hazelnut Coffee Creamer

Anyone who has ever taken coffee with me has probably laughed, if not to my face, then after the fact.  In fact, I have snickered at myself from time to time over how much sugar I take in my coffee.  I discovered this Hazelnut creamer just last year.  I may be the last person on the planet to have found it, but it is awesome and whenever I want to treat myself, I head for the coffee aisle.  With this little addition to my morning coffee, I don't add quite as much sugar, most of the time, that is.

4.  Jane Eyre

Last Spring, the first time ever in my life, I broke two toes while bicycling with flip flops on, so let me first recommend against that.  During my recovery period, I nurtured a slight obsession with Jane Eyre, in which I watched almost every movie adaptation made.  What a heroine!  Janie is well worth a read and a gander.

5.  Once Upon a Time

I am a long time fan of Once Upon a Time.  Once takes the fairy tales that we all grew up hearing and tells the back story, all the while knitting all of the characters from the different stories together.  It is written very smartly by the same writers who gave us Lost, and it is peppered with funnies which I quite enjoy.  You can check it out on Netflix where they are streaming the first three seasons.

6.  Shutterfly Photo Book

I'm not sure this would fall into the category of treat or guilty pleasure, but every year at about this time, I like to compile a photo book on Shutterfly.  It is almost like making a scrapbook.  You can choose a theme, how to place your pictures on each page; you can add wording.  You set up your photo book how you want it, and they print it out for you and ship it directly to your door.  It is a little time consuming, but so much easier to keep track of pictures.  I have started doing one per year, (and they have gotten thicker and thicker with each passing year) but you can also do them for special occasions or whatever you want really. 

7.  Sheets!

Yes, that's right--when you hit middle age, this is what makes you excited!  I discovered a hole in my sheets the other day and was pretty miffed that this sheet set that I distinctly remember purchasing around the time of Black Friday last year has already bit the dust.  In the midst of me googling darning and reorganizing our linen closet and pretty much doing frenzied laps around my husband on the couch, he took it upon himself to order two new sets.  I was thrilled and then a little leary because I have ordered sheets off the internet before, and though the thread count met with my approval, the elastic most certainly did not.  Clara Clark knows her sheets!  I am happy to report, this deluxe sheet set lives up to its name.

8.  Lindt Truffles

'nuff said!

So those are my personal faves, but I did have a few gifts that I have given out throughout the year that I thought were pretty awesome and since it is that time of year, check these out:

Granted these are on the small side (unless you live in Texas, I guess), but they are so cute, I couldn't resist doling them out as gifts.  If nothing else they would make a nice cheese tray.  I found them at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and actually price checked a couple of other places, but you can't go wrong with their 20% off coupon.

Last year, we went to a soap making demonstration.  We brought home some of this goat milk soap and continued to order it as gifts.  It is sold at our local farmer's market in such heavenly scents as lavendar and peppermint (which we found out is very cooling and actually a good summer soap).

Looking back on this year, I feel like I have been consistently making costumes throughout the year.  From plays to Halloween  to mud run costumes, I am surprised I don't have more recommendations for fabric paints or glues!  So, even if you feel like you live on Broadway, don't forget to treat yo self!

Holiday Wassail

'Tis the season for all things spicy and warm.  We Harris Sisters have introduced you to a Crockpot Wassail once before.  Now, we bring you yet another version to try.  This one can be made on the stovetop or in the slow cooker- whichever you prefer, or have time for.

I made this wassail for the Thanksgiving weekend this year, and the whole family really enjoyed it, including my somewhat reluctant husband.   So, I'm thinking of adding it to the Christmas rotation as well because it just screams of the holidays to me.

Holiday Wassail

1 gallon apple cider
4 cups orange juice
4 earl grey tea bags
6 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cloves
1 Tbsp juniper berries
2 inch piece of fresh ginger (cut into slices)
1 apple (sliced)
1 orange (sliced into rounds)
Brandy (to serve)

  1. Place all ingredients, except the brandy, in a dutch oven and bring to a simmer. Then let steep for 10-15 minutes.  Alternatively, place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for an hour and a half.   Remove tea bags.
  2. To serve spiked, pour two ounces of brandy into a glass and top with hot cider.  Otherwise, serve as is.  It's delicious either way!
This makes a large batch of wassail, but this recipe can easily be cut down if you need less.  It also keeps well in the refrigerator.  Just strain to remove all fruit, tea bags, and spices.  Then reheat by the cupful in the microwave.

Donna's Favorite Things - Holiday 2014 Edition

Monday, December 8, 2014

As I sit here in my cozy socks and Nick and Nora pajamas, I see the irony of Harris Sister Deanna penning her Favorite Things List FIRST and then challenging us other Harris Sisters to write our own lists.

Well played, Deanna, well played. ;-)

Let's see if I can come up with a full list of 10 things, shall we?

I know I've started this list off with an expensive "favorite," but Ryan bought this for me as a gift and I can't say enough good things about it. He bought it so that I could have a way to play Mama's old records because we'd long since upgraded our music technology and had lost that ability along the way.

This is the perfect way to keep that nostalgia alive! If you have a music lover on your list, he or she would love to find this under the tree (I know I did). Ours is currently playing all of the old Christmas records I remember from when we grew up, including one of my favorites the Elvis Christmas Album.

I'm sure you've had Moravian cookies before. But, were those cookies you purchased handmade? The good folks as Mrs. Hanes' Cookies start their day at 6:30 AM and start rolling out cookie dough. And they still cut their cookies by hand with cookie cutters. These cookies just melt in your mouth. They're available in ginger, sugar, chocolate, butterscotch, lemon, and black walnut flavors.

We've tried several of the flavors and I couldn't tell you which one is the best. If you get the chance to stop by their bakery, they'll give you a quick tour and let you sample the flavors. Otherwise, you can order from their website before December 15, they'll get the order to you before Christmas. Can't beat that!

The idea behind these glasses is that you put them on and look at Christmas lights. The lights are then "transformed" into the image shown on the pair of glasses you're wearing. This YouTube video shows them in action. They sell them in bulk on their website, but they make great stocking stuffers or party favors, so buying 25 won't seem so bad. Hint: go for the mixed bundle so that you can try lots of different themes. The kids (old and young) really love these! We put these out every year!

Pepperidge Farm regular swirl breads are pretty awesome, but during the holidays they usually release limited edition swirl breads. According to their Facebook page (linked above), Gingerbread Swirl was released to stores in early November. And, Caramel Apple and Pumpkin Spice (their Fall flavors) were still on shelves as late as last week. (I picked up two then.)

In years past, they have also offered Cranberry Swirl around Christmas, so be on the lookout for that too. Hints: All of these make excellent bread choices for Baked French Toast Casserole and they're really tasty when slathered with homemade Apple Butter. Remember, if you buy more than one at a time, pop the extra in the freezer until you need it, thaw, and then toast away as per usual.

This "favorite" is definitely one that I look forward to every year. In the very beginning, we would wait in line for hours on end to visit with Santa. One year, we noticed that a select number of VIPs were being ushered in to see Santa right away. So while the boys were sitting on Santa's lap, I chatted up one of the elves and found out about Santa's Fast Pass and we haven't waited in line since!

You go online and pay for your photos in advance, schedule your photos for a certain day, and show up any time that day. You go to the Fast Pass line entrance and give the elves your receipt and they make sure you're the next in line to take photos. It really is that simple. AND because the folks at Fast Pass are affiliated with Shutterfly, most photo packages come with a $10 or $20 Shutterfly gift card gifted back to you. 

Hints: Remember to bring your photo ID with your receipt - they'll want to see that. Also, as tempting as it may sound, if you go to see Santa theverysecond that he shows up for the day, you're just going to land yourself in a "Fast Pass" line (consisting of everyone else who had this same fantastic idea), which kind of defeats the purpose.

Vintage Bee is a local North Carolina shop that has garnered a pretty widespread distribution for their fantastic product. They offer 12 different flavors of creamed honey that come in adorable honeycomb shaped jars. Because of its thick and smooth consistency, it’s perfect on toast; in oatmeal; on pancakes or waffles; as a healthy sweetener for coffee, tea, or hot chocolate; or heated as a dessert topping. It's quite tasty! With 12 flavors to choose from, I'm sure you can find a flavor that tickles your fancy. These also make great gifts (if you can bear parting with them).

7. Holiday Shenanigans Courtesy of Face in Hole.com

Visit this website and upload your own photos into one of their many templates to make funny photos. The two above are Christmas Vacation themed, but they have many holiday themed templates including Santa Claus, It's a Wonderful Life, Elf, and A Christmas Story, among others. These are PERFECT for embarrassing your loved ones over the holidays. Enjoy!

When the dreaded cold sneaks up on you, THESE will keep you warm. Even more so than regular tights. I wore a black pair to a Christmas party the other night and I was nice and toasty even though the event was held in a drafty old castle. So, if you're cold natured like me, this might be the find of the season!

I cannot recommend this book enough. Or, more specifically, any book by Laurie Notaro. This happens to be her Christmas themed book, where she recants 13 true (& hilarious) stories of her Christmases past. Standout stories include Deck the Mall (where she takes Nana Christmas shopping) and Have Yourself a Kmart Little Christmas (where she rather unfortunately finds herself in Kmart on Christmas Eve).

Deanna has written about this service twice before on the blog, and you know it wouldn't be too long before one of us other Harris Sisters jumped on board. Read her two accounts here and here. After scouring several stores for a cocktail dress for Ryan's Christmas party, I came up with nothing. (Note, ugly Christmas sweaters are easy to come by nowadays if THAT's what you're looking for instead. The stores were lousy with them.) Anyhoot, after renting this $295, green Halston number for $40, I'm a convert!

Hints: Make sure to read any fit info they provide so that you can size up or down appropriately for your free second size. Also, take note of how tall the model shown wearing the dress is (that info is listed). I might have zipped right by this dress had I not noticed that it was being shown on an Amazon and that on my 5'6" frame, the dress would hit me right above the knee (which is exactly the level of appropriateness I was looking for with a work function).

Hope I've given you some good ideas for the holidays!

Our Old Fashioned Nursery is All Dolled Up for Christmas

Our love of vintage Christmas decor has already been well documented, right along with our vintage baby nursery.  So as we head into Christmas, we thought why not combine the two? We wanted to keep with the theme of her nursery and incorporate vintage Christmas charm in soft pastels to match the existing decor.   Babydoll has been just fascinated with the results.  It is so magical to see her little eyes shine at the Christmas glow.

Here's a look at what we've done...

An old fashioned rag wreath leads the way into the nursery.  Just beyond, you can see a glimpse of more to come.

Her bedside table has been transformed for the season with a vintage aluminum tree.  This one is four feet tall, and has 42 pom pom style branches.  It still had the original box, instructions, and sleeves for all of the branches.  Assembly took no time, but it was the decorating that was the fun part. 

Babydoll's tree is filled with old fashioned Shiny Brite ornaments, all pastel in color.  Of course, I offered up some of my very favorites to this special tree.    Here is a closer look at the glass balls adorning her tree. 

Then, under the tree, we wrapped the base with a hand knit baby blanket for the tree skirt, and added a few of her vintage toys to complete the display. 

But the real magic comes from this lovely.  It's a color wheel!!  And babydoll is mesmerized by it.  I turn it on each night and it shines changing colors up onto the tree.  She leans way over from the chair to catch a closer glimpse of the magical light wheel.  So precious!

We also dolled up her oversized giraffe coat rack for the season.  We added a Santa hat- animal print, of course- as well as her winter coats and vests.  

This coat rack was another Nashville flea market find.  It's from the 1960s, in really good shape, and as you can see here, it's pretty big too.  It stands nearly as tall as the high boy dresser beside it. :)

 A Rudolph bubble light lights the night with a soft holiday glow. 

And to round it all out, we added her newest favorite bedtime story to the mix.  Apparently, Santa is coming to town.  That's what the old song says anyway.  I'm certain he's coming to this house.  :) What a cute read.  It is customized for Nashville with lots of references to Music City and it's landmarks.  How fun!!

So there you have it.  The holidays are in full swing in our house, and with Babydoll gearing up for her first Christmas, it's sure to be one for the history books. 

Deanna's Favorite Things- Holiday 2014 Edition

Friday, December 5, 2014

Everyone has their favorite things.  Julie Andrews started it all in The Sound of Music.  Remember those raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, and such? Then there was Oprah with her now famous list.  Even my mother-in-law has hopped on board.  Check out her list here; there are some real goodies on there.  

So here is my holiday-centric list of favorite things.  None of these are going to break the bank. Think of these more as stocking stuffers, or little pick-me-ups for yourself to help you enjoy your holiday season now that it's officially underway. 

This is a downloadable advent calendar for your computer.  I have used it each year for the past three or four years now, and absolutely cannot wait each year for her newest one to come out.  Each day features a lovely scene that unfolds as you count down to Christmas.  There is a music player to accompany it all, along with games and puzzles to play.  This year features the festive holiday market scene shown above, and it's so whimsical and gorgeous, and sure to put you in the Christmas spirit!  

Nothing smells like holidays more than cranberries, and I am loving this scent made by Febreze.  It's their sugared cranberries wax melts.  You melt them in your wax warmer and the whole house suddenly smells divine. 

Oh my, there is nothing in this world better than a comfy cozy pair of socks first thing in the morning, or right after a warm bath.  I am in love with the ones pictured here.

This is a blend of coffee and unsweetened cocoa.  I bought it on a whim at my last visit to Trader Joe's, and I'm so glad I did.  Now I have never taken sweetener in my coffee, but I wondered whether this blend might just need it because of the unsweetened cocoa.  However, I brewed my first cup and took a sip without sweetener.  And, it didn't need it.  You can taste the cocoa, but it just makes the coffee really smooth and rich.  One of these days, I will add some sugar and maybe some warm milk to make more of a mocha.  What a find!!

Here is another Trader Joe's find that I personally look forward to each year.  These gingerbread men cookies are topped with white fudge icing.  What's not to love?

I am in love with this book.  I re-read it every year at Christmas time.  Here is my book review if you want to know more.   It's everything I love.  Enough said.

I recently discovered this shade, and have determined that it is the perfect mix of both red and pink, and therefore the best possible shade for all your holiday festivities.  It doesn't hurt that this polish also has an awesome name.  Did someone say cherry?

This is the shower gel I'm currently using.  I have been sold on Philosophy for a long while now.  I love their scented lotions and bath products, but this one was a new one for me.  It smells just like honey with a touch of sweetness to it.  But it's not overpoweringly sweet.  It's just right, and the perfect way to start my mornings.  

These are my latest pj obsession.  They are the macaroon design by Nick and Nora. Target has them on sale now.  I do love a comfy cozy pair of pajamas for the winter time.  

It has literally been years since I last stepped into a Bath and Body Works, but I recently did.  Of course, the entire store was on sale.  Isn't it always?  In any case, I decided to try this new body cream, and I must admit, it is pretty awesome.  I love, love, love the scent and it's so creamy and thick.  Perfect body cream to give a try for the cold and dry winter days ahead. 

Bonus time for those of you expecting a top ten list... In case you were wondering what I'm currently listening to, this is it.  Of course, my husband said, "Who is Michael Buble?"  No matter.  Just give it a listen.  Guaranteed to have you fa la la-ing right along. 

So that rounds out my personal list of favorites for this time of year.  I'm sure the other Harris Sisters have their own as well.  Maybe if we get lucky they will consider sharing theirs too.  Wink, wink.

**Update** - Donna and Misty have both added their list of favorites to the blog.

Be sure to check out Donna's list here.
And Misty's list here.

Happy Holidays!!