A 1950s Thanksgiving Poem

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends and family, today I bring to you a special piece of Harris family history. This poem was written by our Grandma Harris in 1958. This is a picture of Grandma Thelma and Grandpa Paul.

Daddy tells the tale of this poem once a year in our household - always around Thanksgiving because of the topic of the poem.

As the story goes, Daddy's sister (affectionately known as "Hootsie" or "Hoop" to inner circle family members) needed to write a poem for a school project. As parents are often known to do (usually when deadlines are looming as are bedtimes), Grandma Harris wrote this poem for her. The poem was submitted for the school project and won an award.

What I love so much about this poem is that it is a true step back into the past. What's truly remarkable, though, is that a poem that mentions God, a "country that I love," and the Golden Rule was the prize-winning poem in a small North Carolina school in 1958. 

Happy to share this piece of nostalgia with you today.

Christmas Granny Square Afghan

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Today I'm sharing with you a crochet project that was actually quite simple to make. I've made several of these granny square afghans in the past, and if you're at all uncertain about crocheting a large project, such as an afghan, I would encourage you to go this route.

This particular project was a gift for Harris Sister Deanna, so I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it needed to be a Christmas colored afghan, as that is her favorite holiday. It is traditional red, white, and green in color, but the same process can be used to make a granny square afghan in any color of your choosing.

The reason the project was so simple is that I spread it out over the course of an entire year and completed it as part of a crochet-along, otherwise recognized in the craft community by the acronym CAL. Here are some photos of all of the squares "in progress":

If you choose to make a granny square afghan through a crochet-along, you're really only committing to one or two 12-inch squares per month plus additional assembly in the final month. And here's the finished product:

This afghan is comprised of 25 different 12-inch squares that are edged and joined in cream colored yarn. The afghan was then entirely edged in a red decorative stitch, making for a final product that is 5 1/2 feet x 5 1/2 feet square. I always edge in double crochet and finish with a picot stitch, but afghan joining and finishing techniques are your choice!

(Note: By making exactly 2 squares per month, you will end up with 24 squares that can be arranged in a 4 x 6 grid to make a rectangular afghan. I completed one additional square so that I would have 25 to make a square afghan.)

I used Caron One Pound in Cream, Red Heart in Cherry, and Red Heart in Tea Leaf to provide the Christmas color scheme you see here. 

The specific 12-inch granny square free crochet patterns that I used are linked below at original sources (where provided) and also to my personal squares on Ravelry so that you can see my color changes in Christmas colors for these squares and/or favorite and download the free crochet patterns from Ravelry:

  1. Mulberry Bush (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  2. Winter Burst (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  3. Popcorn Delight (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  4. Double Framed Lace (add to your Ravelry queue here
  5. Pavo (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  6. Majesty (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  7. Crown Jewels (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  8. Le Vesinet (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  9. Grannie's Red Flower (add to your Ravelry queue here)*
  10. Shell Around Square (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  11. More Vs Please (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  12. Impossible Hexagon (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  13. Chocolate Delight (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  14. Velvet and Lace (add to your Ravelry queue here)*
  15. Big June (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  16. Eternal Braid (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  17. On the Huh (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  18. Wandith (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  19. Tiptoe Through the Tulips (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  20. Half-n-Half (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  21. Easter Day (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  22. Violet (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  23. Sun Daze (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  24. Cute as a Button (add to your Ravelry queue here)
  25. E-ZEE V-ZEE (add to your Ravelry queue here)

Grannie's Red Flower Square is a 7-inch square pattern. I modified the original pattern to make it a 12-inch square pattern by adding three rows of dc chain one and one row of dc.

Velvet and Lace Square is a 7-inch square pattern. I modified the original pattern to make it a 12-inch square pattern by using a size H hook and a worsted weight yarn. I also an extra row or two to get it to the desired 12-inch size.

You'll need somewhere to keep all of the squares laying flat from month to month until you're ready to assemble them. I've heard people mention that new pizza boxes are good options, but they're very skinny boxes and you can only fit a few squares per box. I've found that a better option is Victoria's Secret large gift boxes. They are 15" x 15" x 5" and because they are 5" deep, they hold quite a few squares at one time. I always have a few of these stacked up holding a few squares for different projects. :-)

So there you have it! If you ever thought that an afghan was too big of a project for you to tackle, you're just looking at it all wrong. After all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. ;-)

What to Wear Over Your Thanksgiving Holiday

Thursday, November 19, 2015

With the big day just a week away, it's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving.  We all know we have many plans to make.  We have to plan the menu, the shopping list, perhaps even the decor.  We meticulously plan how long each dish will take to prepare, what can be made in advance, who will be helping in the kitchen,  and who will sit next to who.  We plan what big Thanksgiving Day games we will watch on tv and when they all start.  So why wouldn't we start thinking about what we should be wearing on Thanksgiving? 
There may be more to this outfit than you think, depending on what your big Thanksgiving Day looks like.  For example, will you be helping in the kitchen? (or spending the entire day in the kitchen?) Or will you be showing up to Grandma's just in time for the turkey carving?  Will you be traveling?  Or at home? Is your family Thanksgiving more formal or more casual?

Once you boil things down to your basic requirements, you can start to build your outfit from there. Regardless of how your day shapes up, there are a few things that we should all agree on.   And regardless of what you plans may include, Thanksgiving is in fact usually a time when family gets together.  In many cases, you are seeing family you don't see all that often.  And at some point, someone usually pulls out a camera to document the festivities.  You will want to look nice  for photos and of course for your family too.  
1. Comfort is key.  And while comfort is always important, I rarely say that comfort should come first when it comes to fashion.  However, the Thanksgiving holiday is in fact, an exception.  I mean the day basically revolves around cooking and eating, and then cooking and eating some more, which doesn't exactly lend itself to restrictive uncomfortable clothing choices.  However one should never confuse comfortable clothing choices for sloppy ones.  It is still very easy to create a cute and cozy ensemble that will have you looking well put together without sacrificing comfort.
2.  Jewel tones are a perfect choice.  These are the deep rich autumnal tones that line up so perfectly with the season, and are almost always universally flattering.   And let's face it, with a day dedicated to eating, you don't want to risk spots and stains on your lighter colored frocks.  Skip the bright reds, greens, and sparkle for now.  The holiday season is just beginning and there will be plenty of time for those closer to December.
3.  When in doubt, start by keeping it simple.  But remember, simple doesn't have to be boring.  Add interest to your outfit with some great accessories.  Gold toned jewelry will complement your jeweled toned pieces nicely.  Add a beautiful scarf or a vest.  
4.  Remember, there's more to dress for than just Thanksgiving Day itself.  There's also perhaps a travel day (or two), Black Friday, maybe a weekend get-together with friends...  Apply similar rules, keeping in mind what your activities will entail.
I hope this gives you a few good ideas for your upcoming Thanksgiving.  Whatever you choose, make it fun and festive, just like the holiday itself!  Cheers to a wonderful Thanksgiving to you all! 

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away. Have you made plans for the holiday yet? If you're like many of us, you might even be celebrating more than once. And as lucky and thankful as we are to have such an abundance of opportunities to celebrate, sometimes you just need some help getting it all together.

Now, I know I have my favorite recipes that are tried and true, and they are family favorites that we will make every year. But! What about those events that you're attending and you're just asked to bring a side or a dessert? Would you like to try something new? 

Well this list is for you! It's a roundup of The Harris Sisters' taste-tested and kid- and husband-approved, never-fail recipes that you can try too. They are simple to make and you'll just leave your family and friends amazed at your cooking or baking prowess! ;-)


These recipes are sure to keep your family and friends from staring blankly at you (stomachs growling) while you finish preparing the day's main meal. ;-)


Man cannot live by bread alone, but these particular recipes might have a few guests trying to prove that old saying wrong.


These sides are sure to impress. They'll fit right in among the sweet potatoes and corn, but they'll offer you're guests something new to try.


You REALLY can't go wrong with Grandma's recipes. These three in particular were favorites in the Harris household and made appearances at quite a few holiday dinners. Hope you enjoy these!


Toast all that you're thankful for with these seasonal beverages.

Holiday Helpers and How-To's

Make this Thanksgiving the best yet with these essential holiday how-to's.

Big List of Random Acts of Kindness

Friday, November 13, 2015

In celebration of World Kindness Day, which is an international observance that falls every year on November 13, I thought I'd bring you a big list of Random Acts of Kindness. These little gestures are sometimes also known by the acronym RAOK, and you don't really need an international holiday to do any of them. 

In fact, with the holidays upon us, many of us might be looking for ways to give back, and this list includes some ideas for you. But other ideas are just simple acts that you can perform in your everyday life. Pay it forward so that someone else might do the same for another person.

This list is in no particular order of importance, and I've tried to include ideas for different age groups. Enjoy!

Big List of Random Acts of Kindness - RAOK

  1. Help an elderly person cross the street.
  2. Help a younger sibling with homework.
  3. Let a car merge in front of you.
  4. Participate in a beach or roadside cleanup.
  5. If you are in the market for a new pet, adopt from a shelter.
  6. Help rebuild destroyed homes and communities.
  7. Pay the toll for the car behind you.
  8. Introduce yourself to neighbors and bring baked goods or sweets.
  9. Buy an extra cup of coffee in the morning to give to a co-worker.
  10. Open the door for someone.
  11. Help someone with their bags or luggage.
  12. Offer to take a picture for a group tourists so that everyone can be in the picture.
  13. Pay for the coffee for the person behind you.
  14. Share your notes with a classmate.
  15. Help a friend move.
  16. Talk to someone new and make a new friend.
  17. Help a lost tourist with directions.
  18. Pick up litter and put it in a trash can.
  19. Make a homemade treat for your pet.
  20. Give a generous tip to your waiter.
  21. Compliment a stranger.
  22. Let someone take the better parking spot.
  23. Volunteer to give a tour of your school.
  24. Bring sweet treats to the office to share.
  25. Donate your blood at a blood drive.
  26. Sit with someone who is eating alone.
  27. Read to young children or the elderly.
  28. Recommend your favorite restaurant to a tourist.
  29. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  30. Do a household chore that is assigned to someone else.
  31. Praise a child to his or her parents while the child is present.
  32. Hold the elevator door for others.
  33. Offer someone a piece of gum.
  34. Bring misplaced shopping carts back to the designated area.
  35. Organize a study session for your classmates.
  36. Send a photo in a frame to your parents (or grandparents).
  37. Offer to babysit your friends' kids for free so that they can go out on a date.
  38. Donate hair to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients.
  39. Sign up to be an organ donor.
  40. Leave extra time in a parking meter.
  41. Return a lost item to the owner (if identifiable) or otherwise to the nearest Lost and Found.
  42. Visit a nursing home and make a new friend.
  43. Make a donation to a charity.
  44. Bring homemade food, such as a lasagna or casserole, to a new mom.
  45. Teach a child how to ride a bike.
  46. Send a care package to your children, friends, or elderly parents.
  47. Say "good morning" and "thank you" to public service workers (bus drivers, police officers, mail carriers, and firefighters).
  48. Help a friend hunt for a job.
  49. Let someone else take your seat on public transportation.
  50. Praise the work of others.
  51. Share your umbrella with someone who didn't bring one.
  52. Help someone carry groceries to the car.
  53. Donate books to the local library or bookstore.
  54. Volunteer at an animal shelter during adoption events.
  55. Sponsor a child in a developing country.
  56. Write letters to your former school teachers and tell them how much they influenced you.
  57. Offer your seat on a plane so that a family or couple can sit together.
  58. Participate in a fund-raiser.
  59. Tell your spouse that he or she looks extra handsome or beautiful today.
  60. Offer to pick up your friend's children after school.
  61. Offer to pet-sit for your friend for free.
  62. Sing Christmas Carols at a nursing home.
  63. Donate your skills (photography, cooking, crochet, etc.)  -  offer to teach what you know.
  64. Offer to run errands for someone who is sick.
  65. Send a care package to a soldier.
  66. Send a Christmas card to a soldier.
  67. Help support small local businesses by shopping with them and offering word of mouth advertising.
  68. Rake leaves or shovel snow for your elderly neighbors.
  69. Fill up the gas tank or wash the car for your spouse. 
  70. Tell the person who is looking for a job when you hear about an opening.
  71. Pay for the person’s meal behind you at a drive through restaurant.
  72. Leave quarters in a vending machine for the next person to find.
  73. Leave any coupons you don’t need on top of the products at the store.
  74. Donate old children’s books or toys to a doctor’s office, a shelter, a daycare, etc.
  75. Loan a book to someone who you think might like it.
  76. Let your spouse sleep in late.
  77. Make your spouse breakfast in bed.
  78. Take someone’s shopping cart back. 
  79. Offer to give someone your cart as they are walking up to the store.
  80. Give someone extra vegetables and fruits from your garden.
  81. Host a neighborhood party.
  82. Leave arcade tickets at various games or give them to a young child before leaving.
  83. Leave $1 or $2 in one of the aisles at the dollar store near you.
  84. On trash day, take your neighbor’s trash can to the curb for them.
  85. Make cereal bird feeders to hang outdoors. 
  86. Offer to take your neighbor’s dog for a walk.
  87. Take cookies to a fire station to thank the firefighters for their hard work.
  88. Walk dogs at an animal shelter.
  89. Set up a lemonade stand and donate the profits.
  90. Donate food to a food pantry.
  91. Tape change to a parking meter.
  92. Donate socks and supplies to the homeless shelter.
  93. Give a lottery ticket to a stranger.
  94. Donate a toy to Toys for Tots.
  95. Assemble shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
  96. Participate in the local Salvation Army Stuff a Stocking Campaign.
  97. Donate coloring books and crayons to the children’s hospital.
  98. Ask for donations for your favorite charity instead of birthday gifts.
  99. Bake a special treat for someone. 
  100. Clean up someone else’s mess.
  101. Pass on nice hand me downs to someone rather than selling them.
  102. Cut the neighbor’s lawn.
  103. Invite someone over for a meal.
  104. Take someone out for coffee.
  105. Invite people who are not visiting their own families to celebrate holidays with your family.
  106. Send love letters in your children’s lunches.
  107. Send letters to your children, nieces, or nephews (through the mail); children love having mail delivered to their house.
  108. Read as many bedtime stories as your children want.
  109. Join your children in playing something you don’t normally play with them – jumping on the trampoline, roller skating, etc.
  110. Donate baby items (baby wipes, diapers, onesies) to a local crisis nursery.
  111. Donate a warm coat, sweaters or jeans to a local homeless shelter.
  112. Fill an expired, or about to be expired, parking meter.
  113. Leave an encouraging comment on a blog you admire, yet doesn’t regularly get many visitors.
  114. Donate your old eyeglasses.
  115. Purchase some extra dog or cat food for an animal shelter.
  116. Plant a tree.
  117. Let someone who has fewer items go in front of you in the checkout line.
  118. Promote a friend’s business on social media.
  119. Take old blankets, towels, and sheets to the animal shelter.
  120. Make blankets or hats for your local hospital.
  121. Let your kids stay up a bit later even though it’s clearly past their bedtime.
  122. Leave change in the “Leave a penny, take a penny” cup.
  123. Thank a veteran for his or her service.
  124. Collect Box Tops for a local school.
  125. Offer to reach something up high for someone who can’t reach it. 

Pioneer Woman's New Kitchenware Line

Thursday, November 12, 2015

First thing's first.  You all know the Pioneer Woman, right?  Her real name is Ree Drummond, and she's a wonderful cook, author, blogger, and television personality.  She lives on a farm with her husband (whom she calls "Marlboro Man") and their children, and documents their ranch life daily on her blog.  They have a wonderfully lazy ranch dog, a basset hound named Charlie, whom she has written several children's books about.  She also has a successful television show on the Food Network, and has written several cookbooks too.  She is a self-described "desperate housewife", who "channels Lucille Ball, Vivien Leigh, and Ethel Merman."  She's just a really neat lady.   
If you aren't familiar with her already, start by reading her blog.  There are tons of pictures, stories, recipes, and even giveaways there.  It's so much fun.  Can you tell I really like her- A LOT? 
Now, here's the real reason I set out to write this blog post.  The Pioneer Woman has created a new kitchenware line, and it's exclusively available at Walmart!  When I say kitchenware, I mean it includes everything you might need to cook, bake,  or set the table with.  But hold on to your hats!  The best part is the price.  I am still in disbelief at how AFFORDABLE she made the pieces in this line.  And there are a TON of pieces in her collection.  Here are a just a few for you to feast your eyes on.  It's soooo pretty, isn't it?  Told you I love this woman!

Here's that gorgeous Charlie the Ranch Dog.  He's a cookie jar, and trust me, he's perfect in every way.  The second these went on sale, my wonderful mother-in-law (who knows how much I love Charlie) ordered this online for me.  As she sat at the computer, I remember her asking me, "How much do you think this cookie jar costs?"  I thought to myself, he must be expensive.  I guessed maybe $50.  Nooooo, she said.  More?!?!  Gulp.  I guess I would cough up a little more.  He was so special.  She laughed.  His price tag was $12 and change.  I thought for that price he must be really small or really thin.  But let me tell you, Charlie stands 10 inches high- the height of a regular cookie jar and he's a good quality one, too.  He now proudly sits in our kitchen, and I wouldn't trade him for anything.  But I will tell you, he sold out quickly online.  So if you have your heart set on him, check locally in your store.   

Here's a look at some of her pretty coffee mugs.  I bought a couple of these in my local store.  I popped in one day specifically to see what they had in this collection.  I found these mugs for only $4 each, so I grabbed up a couple of them.  At that price, I couldn't pass them by.  They were so pretty!

And this is the reason I went to my local Walmart in the first place- this pie plate.  I loved it from the moment I saw it online, but they weren't selling it online- only in stores.  At my store, they only had one left in stock, and it was MINE!  YAY!- it will come in handy for the upcoming holiday season.  Incidentally, I paid $12 for this pretty plate, flutes and all. 

If you recently read my Thanksgiving Tablescape blog entry, then this creamer should look familiar.  It rounds out my current Pioneer Woman collection.  It was a whopping $5!  I still can't believe the price points on this stuff!  In any case, it shows that it is out of stock online, but if you are interested in one, I would check my local Walmart to see what they have on the shelves, but I wouldn't wait too long.  This stuff has gone really quickly.  It's quality and at these prices, you can see why it's literally flying off the shelves. 

Here is just a sample of some of the other items that are part of this pretty collection.  I would literally buy every single piece if I had the room for it.  I love it all that much!  Santa, if you are reading, just be ready because I will itemize a more specific list for you in the coming weeks!

Check out that butter dish!  Be still my beating heart!   And the jadeite pedestal... (with dome!)  I did actually see one of those in the store.  I took it out of the box and inspected it and everything.  It's a really good piece too.  I just didn't need it.  But dang- it was $20 for both pieces. 

Love this spatula! 

The color of this cookware is so fun!  Especially for the retro kitchen.  Isn't it pretty?

 Just take a peek at the dinnerware...

And these pretty ramekins...

And, and, and....

Ok, enough of my drooling.  But seriously, I could keep right on going.  Just do yourself and favor and go check it out.  There is a small selection available online through walmart.com.  In my opinion, your best bet might be to just go visit your local Walmart for the best selection.  The one and only time I did that, one of the employees told me that they have a display section of Pioneer Woman products, as well as many of her items mixed into their regular kitchen section, so be sure to check around and make sure you aren't missing anything.  Hopefully, they plan to stock up for Christmas!  Wouldn't these pieces just make the perfect gift?   

Decorating for Autumn: Thanksgiving Tablescape

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I felt like it was high time to share another tablescape with you.  And you got it- just in time for Turkey Day, it's my Thanksgiving tablescape for 2015.   Actually, the whole dining room transforms this time of year.  I'm talking pumpkins, leaves, and turkeys galore.  Here's the high level overview pic for you.  
And here's more of a bird's eye view down on the table itself.  
But as always, let's take a closer look at the details.  Each place setting has four plates at it.  I layer them because I like the look.  Too much of the turkey plates is overkill, but layered with my light aqua plates, now that breaks it up nicely and pulls it all together.  I also add our Irish linen placemats at each setting, along with a covered turkey soup bowl. 

Here's another look at the place setting in action.

And here's the centerpiece.  It takes up a good chunk of the table!  But I do love it.  Large varying sized candles, flanked with two huge hurricane globes at each end.  Add in some fall floral and a gigantic turkey, and there you have it.  :)
Here's a straight on photo of the centerpiece.  No room for food on this table.  No worries, we usually serve from the kitchen anyway.  It's a good thing!
 And just for my favorite father-in-law, who always (jokingly) complains of the lack of spoons around our house...  This is a vintage spoon holder.  I always point it out to him.  But seriously, I swoon every time I see it.  It's just so lovely.

Here's a look at our hutch all decked out for the season.  It sits in our dining room, and graciously holds my collection of vintage table linens and silver pieces, collected over the years.  It once belonged to my husband's grandmother.  Lots of love and history here. 

Here's another look.  Such a pretty piece.
And here's a close up of some of the items adorning it.  This cow creamer is new this year.  It's part of the Pioneer Woman collection that was recently launched this year.  I promise, promise, promise to tell you more about that soon, in case you still need details.  This particular pattern on the creamer is part of her "Flea Market" collection.  I loved the pattern so much to start with but when I discovered the name of the collection, I loved it EVEN more!

Since the table isn't fully set yet, I am "storing" my turkey shaped napkin rings in my vintage gravy boat.  Non-traditional, but I like the look.

Now for a vintage creamer.  This turkey shaped cream and sugar set once belonged to my mother-in-law.  She paired down her collection years ago, and these beauties now reside with us.
 More from our hutch...  Lots of floral, oversized acorns, and such...
This is the very first turkey I ever purchased.  Bought six years ago when we hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner at our house.  The d├ęcor was a little more minimal, shall we say, back then.  The butter dish in the foreground is vintage.  Add some seasonal gourds and this shelf is all set.
One more corner to share this go round.  I bought this ceramic pumpkin years ago, initially at Halloween time, but I've always used it as part of my fall/ Thanksgiving decorations instead.  The turkey platter is old.  We found it in an antique shop years ago.  The cow-shaped soup tureen is new to me as of this year.   I purchased her at an estate sale over the summer.  Now cows don't typically scream Thanksgiving, but the colors are perfect.  And I love her so much.  I was just waiting patiently to take her for a spin.  That's the fun part of decorating.  There are no rules.  It's what you like and what works for you.  And this works for me. 
As I sit here typing this very minute, my little 18 month old babe is gobbling at me. "Gobble, gobble!"  There is so, So, SO much to be thankful for.  It's the little things.  Let's all celebrate this wonderful season with a heart filled with thanksgiving.  Here's to the happiest of happy holidays to you and your family!