Mischief Managed: Our Harry Potter Family Halloween Costumes

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

So, if you're a new reader of the blog, you might not know that we go to great lengths to plan out an entire family Halloween costume theme every year. You can read the story of how that all began and catch up on some of our previous years' costumes here. And every year, we do a big reveal here on the blog to let everyone know what theme we picked for this year.

Actually, the boys picked this year's theme last year. They couldn't decide between superheroes and Harry Potter for last year, so they came to the compromise to do superheroes last year and Harry Potter this year.

That actually worked out really well, since 2017 marked the 20th anniversary of the release of the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

So without further ado, here are our costumes this year. We needed a Harry Potter. Aidyn fit the bill well for this character.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

And we needed a Ron Weasley. Jaxon was about right for this role.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

And you can't really have a Harry and a Ron without a Hermione. That ended up being me. As an aside, the boys had QUITE the conversation about who I should be this year. They were going back and forth between Hermione and Professor McGonagall. They ultimately ended up with Hermione thanks to Jaxon's reasoning that "Mama is a lot closer in age to Hermione than she is to Professor McGonagall who is at least 200!" Bless him! I will have to make sure he gets extra Halloween candy! :-)

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

And last but not least, the boys whittled down their choices for Ryan to Snape or Hagrid, ultimately landing on Hagrid. Of course, that would give us the opportunity to incorporate our dogs, Smitty and Chance, as "magical beasts" without wrangling them into costumes. (I'm sure they will be forever grateful for this.)

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

And here's the whole motley crew casting a spell for a Happy Halloween:

The Devil's in the Details

This year's costumes were fairly easy to put together. Most all of the pieces can be bought at costume stores, and some of the pieces we already owned.

Take a look at what you'll need and see if you might already have some of these items in your home:
  • Student costumes (Harry, Ron, and Hermione): White button down shirt, black pants for boys, black pleated skirt for Hermione, knee socks for Hermione, Gryffindor robe, Gryffindor tie, glasses for Harry, orange hairspray for Ron, lightning bolt drawn on Harry's forehead with eyeliner
  • Hagrid costume: brown pants, red shirt, brown vest or jacket, brown belt, brown overcoat, wig and beard, boots
  • Props: wands (we got these at Universal Studios), pink umbrella for Hagrid, books for Hermione (any hardbound book will do), white owl stuffed animal for Harry (also from Universal), duct tape for Ron, Quidditch book for Harry, stuffed dragon for Hagrid, keys for Hagrid

How to Make the Perfect Wine Spritzer

Monday, October 30, 2017

If wine is your thing, but you like to change it up sometimes OR if you prefer a sweeter and colder beverage, then maybe you should consider a wine spritzer. It's the easiest drink to prepare and will have you wondering why you never gave this a try before. 

The key to a wine spritzer is to start with super-chilled wine and then add either club soda, lemon lime soda, or ginger ale.  Any one of those will do- just whatever suits your taste, but be sure to super chill them too before adding them to the mix.   Finish off with a wedge of lime to garnish a white wine spritzer or a slice of orange or a handful of frozen berries to garnish a red wine spritzer. 

The ratio is 3/4 part wine to 1/4 part mixer. 

Note: Super chilled ingredients are the key here.  Your glass should frost up on you.  That's how you know you've done it right!  Using extra COLD liquids will prevent you from having to add ice to your wine.  That's a no-no for this wine lover. You can certainly also freeze your fruit if you have the time and use it like ice cubes as well. 


Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

So, you've signed up to participate in your local Trunk or Treat. It's this weekend, and you've already bought all of the candy you plan to hand out. Boy, you're ahead of the game!

But, you really haven't given much thought to how you're going to decorate your trunk. What?

Give these ideas a look see for some inspiration. And even if you're all set for this year, you might want to pin some for next year.

These first three were at our local Fall Festival just last weekend. 

A classic It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown theme for this trunk. The ghosts out front were tomato cages draped in white plastic table cloths and had black construction paper eye holes. Don't forget to make one with extra eye holes for Charlie Brown - he had a little trouble with the scissors! And if you wanted to dress up with the theme, it would be easy to purchase a yellow shirt from a craft store and use a black marker to draw the signature zigzag stripe on it.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas

This cute little blue dune buggy was dressed up like Cookie Monster. The front was draped in blue fabric and the mouth and "cookies" were cardboard. The person handing out treats at this trunk was also dressed in a sandwich board style costume made out of cardboard that looked like a big cookie. This trunk was handing out little bags of Famous Amos and Keebler cookies.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas

This spooky trunk was draped in spiderwebs that you can purchase from the Dollar Store. Then they hung construction paper bats and finished with a cardboard coffin and a large skeleton. It would be easy to dress as a skeleton (t-shirt or makeup) for this trunk.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas

Here's a great idea for an '80s Dance Party Trunk. It's bright and colorful and uses only cardboard and items you can buy at the local party store. If you're interested in dressing in a 1980's costume, check out The Harris Sisters' tips and tricks to recreate a look from the 1980's.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas
Kelly Sarvabui poses with her 80's Dance Party Trunk
This elaborate pirate-themed trunk looks a lot more complicated to put together than it really is. First, place a chest, box, or crate in the trunk to hold all of your "treasure" - in this case they chose all candy with gold wrappers (Snickers, Hershey's Nuggets, and Rolos). Add a toy sword and a toy chain to decorate, and add a skeleton, pirate map, lantern, and pirate banner to finish. 

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas
Aaarrgh, Mateys! Thar be gold in this pirate themed trunk!
This Harry Potter themed trunk looks pretty easy to make. The "brick" backdrop looks to be fabric stamped with sponges dipped in red paint to create a brick pattern. Of course the brick backdrop is labeled with a 9 3/4 sign, which you could make yourself. Here's a DIY tutorial for the floating candles. And the rest is just staging with some spell books, wands, an owl, and a bird cage. Don't forget to dress like your favorite Harry Potter character!

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas
Michelle Lunt featured this impressive Harry Potter themed trunk on her blog

You'll need to get your hands on some large appliance boxes for this one! Those will make the best skyscrapers. And other than colorful paper and paints, the only other craft item you'll need to put this together is some cotton batting. And if you want to dress like a superhero, take a look at how Harris Sister Donna's family dressed up as members of the Justice League.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas
Wham! This Superhero Trunk will knock your socks off!
Hope these trunks give you some inspiration for your upcoming trunk or treats! 

Baked Apple Pancake

Thursday, October 19, 2017

We recently gave this breakfast casserole a try, and we were impressed! Not only was it easy to make, but it was also a welcome warm breakfast for a chilly fall morning.

What makes this so easy is that you mix everything up and then put it in a casserole dish to bake. So while it might taste like apple pancakes, you don't have to make them one by one. Give this recipe a try - you'll be happy to add it to your fall breakfast rotation.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Baked Apple Pancake

Baked Apple Pancake

6 medium apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
12 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled, divided
6 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 3 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Place apple slices in a skillet with lemon juice. Toss with cinnamon and confectioner's sugar. Add 8 Tablespoons butter. Cook on low-medium heat, stirring, for 4 minutes until apples are tender.
  3. Add flour, salt, eggs, milk, vanilla, and remaining butter to a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Spread apples evenly in bottom of casserole dish. Pour batter over top.
  5. Bake about 20-25 minutes, until no moist spots are left in the batter.
  6. Remove from oven and serve by flipping portions onto plates and sprinkling with confectioner's sugar. Serve warm.
Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Baked Apple Pancake

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Baked Apple Pancake

Your family will really love this breakfast treat - it's almost like having apple pie for breakfast! (And who can resist that?) If you're looking for other tried and true fall breakfast recipes, give these a try:

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The season for pumpkin is here! If you're looking for a new cookie recipe for fall, give this one a try. 

These yummy cookies have a cake-like consistency, and the pumpkin and spice flavors are perfect for the fall season. These are the perfect dessert to bring to any upcoming Halloween parties you might have - you'll be glad you tried this recipe!

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 sticks butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 oz. white chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
  3. Add pumpkin and eggs and beat until smooth.
  4. Add flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and baking soda and beat until well blended.
  5. Stir in white chocolate chips.
  6. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake about 12-14 minutes (until set and bottoms are browned).
  7. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheets and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Making pumpkin puree is easy (especially this time of year when you can find pumpkins)! Give it a try! Directions for making your own pumpkin puree to freeze and use throughout the year are here.

Takin' It Back to the Old School

Monday, October 9, 2017

It's that time of year again! This year, the Harris Sisters decided to go "old school" and dress up from the 1980s for Halloween. Since this is one of the decades we grew up in, we were all too familiar with the details we'd need to bring these costumes together.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 1980s Halloween Costumes

Choosing some items from our own closets, some from the local party store, and some actual vintage 1980s items, we were able to recreate three different looks from this decade.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 1980s Halloween Costumes

For those of you who might not remember, there were a lot of different popular styles in the 1980s, so the first step in creating a 1980s costume is choosing which style you'd like to replicate.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 1980s Halloween Costumes

1980s icons Madonna and Cyndi Lauper are good places to start, but you can also research 1980s street style and other popular 1980s characters like Jem and the Holograms.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 1980s Halloween Costumes

The Devil's in the Details:

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 1980s Halloween Costumes
  • As always, shopping your closet will be the easiest way to acquire the items you need for a 1980s costume. Pieces like light colored denim, neon/bright colors, and graphic T-shirts are items that you might be able to find.
  • Thrift stores are another good resource for purchasing items like bright colored shoes, belts, and 1980s jewelry.
  • Bright makeup and glitter eye shadow are a must for your costume! You can purchase these at your local dollar store around Halloween.
  • You can purchase any additional 1980s accessories you need to fill out your costume, such as scrunchies, big lace hair bowsslouch socks, neon jelly bracelets, buttons, crimped hair extensions, and leg warmers, online or at your local party store.
  • We used many props and pieces that were original to the 1980s, such as a 1982 Little Orphan Annie necklace, an oversized acid-washed jean jacket, Coca-Cola sunglasses, Pepsi sunglasses, Swatch watches, a Mickey Mouse watch, and a few 1980s yearbooks.
  • Because all of the Harris Sisters were in elementary school in the 1980s, we chose a local elementary school as our photo shoot location.
Make sure to check out our costume section of the blog for more tips, tricks, and ideas for this Halloween!

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Old Fashioned Lima Beans and Ham

Thursday, October 5, 2017

I am a fan of good old fashioned ham and beans.  It's a southern thing, and it just doesn't get much better.  So I cooked up a batch of these oversized limas with ham earlier this week, and they were PERFECTION.  Slow cooker meals are so easy, and there is just nothing better than a pot of beans on an early autumn evening.  

Old Fashioned Lima Beans and Ham

1 lb. dried lima beans- sorted, rinsed, and soaked
2-4 cups meaty ham hocks or leftover ham
2 onions, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups chicken broth
Additional water

  1. Place beans in your slow cooker.  
  2. Add ham and onions.
  3. Add broth and additional water needed to bring liquid 2 inches above beans. 
  4. Stir in seasonings. 
  5. Cook on high for 2 hours, then switch to low for an additional 4 hours, or until beans are tender.


I followed this recipe exactly as it is written and it was hands down the best ham and beans I've ever tried.  Enjoy!