Radio Classics on Sirius Radio

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sometimes you just stumble onto something good, and it takes you by surprise.  Such was the case recently when I discovered Sirius Channel 148.  This channel is the Radio Classics channel on Sirius radio and it features classic shows from the Golden Age of Radio, from the 1920s through the 1950s, before television took over in the American household. Occasionally, they also broadcast the original vintage commercials from this era on the air too. 

Oh, and what a treat it is.  Especially if you are going to be listening in long enough to hear an entire episode.  Most episodes they air are about 30 minutes in length, and you can tune in at the next scheduled time to pick up on your favorite radio show where you left off, just like they did it back in the good old days.  

They have all the old familiar classic radio shows.  Not sure which one I was listening in on recently, but it was a mystery, and you could hear all the radio sound effects.  I can just picture all the actors by their microphones with their scripts and the sound guys with all their gadgets chiming in at just the right time.  

Here's the link to the Radio Classics webpage for more info on programming and scheduling.  Check it out.  This is a good one.  I promise. 

Sourcing Halloween Costumes: Your Local Goodwill

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ok, so Halloween is on it's way.  And that means you only have a couple weeks left to put together the perfect costume without breaking the bank.  If you have visited a costume shop recently, you will probably already know that shopping there will likely land you with a very mediocre quality costume (at best) and a hefty bill to boot.  Never fear, the Harris Sisters have all sorts of costuming tips to help fit any budget.   Check out all our costume ideas here.  We have everything from costume ideas and makeup tips, to how to make your own costumes, to where to find the parts and pieces for your perfect costume. 

And maybe you will remember one of my tried and true costuming tips- start by shopping your own closet for the basics.   It's a great place to start.  But if you find yourself still in need of certain items to complete your costume, then your next stop should be your local Goodwill store!

Your local Goodwill is the perfect place to score all the pieces you will need to put a costume together.  My Goodwill store actually also has a rack or two of donated ready-to-wear costumes near the front of the store so you can certainly start there.  But if you already have a specific look in mind, then you will need to start working the racks of clothing and accessories to see what you can come up with to meet your needs.  And I almost guarantee that you can find what you are looking for.  You see, we have done this many times before. :)  Let me show you.  

Our two year old daughter is IN LOVE with Scrooge McDuck.  She has the plush version that she carries with her everywhere.  She watches his Ducktales cartoon on video like they are going out of style.  She talks about him nonstop.  He is just her best buddy.  And a few months ago, she declared that my husband would be dressing up like Uncle Scrooge for Halloween.  Oh dear.  Now, that's not a costume you can just go out and buy.  I'm not sure that was EVER a widely available costume.  In any case, my husband is a good sport and there's nothing he wouldn't do for our dear daughter.  So we knew that a trip to Goodwill was in order to find the key components for this outfit.  

For reference, here's a look at what Scrooge McDuck looks like. 

So we knew roughly what we were looking for.  I always start with the main pieces of the outfit first. We needed a bright blue coat, a red under shirt, and white pants.  Technically, Uncle Scrooge doesn't wear pants, but since that's not a practical solution, I thought white pants would work best since he is a white duck.  And I pulled up the reference picture of Scrooge on my phone as we searched the racks.  After a quick look, here's what we ended up with.  Not bad, if you ask me.  

The pants are actually white band pants!  They were a whopping $5!  And I actually loved that they had a blue pin stripe down the side of the leg.  It matches the blue top really well.  The blue "overcoat" that we ended up with was actually a bright blue sweater vest- again ringing in at $5.  And we added a red long sleeved button up shirt to achieve Scrooge's signature red collar and cuffs.  That shirt was only $2.   So we had the basics and the main components of the outfit squared away for only $12.  And let's face it.  This is the largest, most important, and usually most expensive part of your costume. 

But I have always said that it's the accessories that make any costume.  So we purchased the necessary accessories from a costume shop to complete the look.  If you are lucky,  you might actually be able to find some of your accessories at the Goodwill as well.  In any case, buying accessories at full retail price is still a lot better than buying a full costume at full retail price. We actually found the top hat and glasses in a costume shop in Canada over the summer.  I don't recall the prices on those, but since the US Dollar is strong in Canada right now (yay us!), we ended up saving close to 30% off whatever we paid.  :) And then I recently added the cane and spats from a local costume store.  The cane was only $3 and the spats were $5.  Costume shop accessories are usually pretty inexpensive. 

So with the addition of the accessories, here's the final look.  I would say we nailed this one.  AND it was fun to find all the pieces and put them together!  Did I mention my husband is a good sport?

Yep, I can barely tell the difference between these two.  When putting together a costume, I like to replicate the look without making it look identical.  It's fun to put your own spin on things too.  And trust me, this look is close enough to the original that our daughter knew EXACTLY who her Daddy was dressed up as.  :)

When putting together your own costume, I will recommend that you try everything on beforehand to ensure fit of all the pieces and also that you have all the important components before heading out on Halloween night.  Here's hoping you have a fun costume in the works too.  Or at least that you are inspired to create your own.  There's just something extra fun about putting your own Halloween costume together!

One Man's Trash: How to Host a Clothing Swap Party

Sunday, October 16, 2016

If you've never heard of a clothing swap party, then you're missing out. The idea is that you clean out your closet, pull any gently used (and sometimes new with tags/never used) items that you no longer want, and then get together with a bunch of your girlfriends to swap till you drop!

Not only is this a fun get-together with your friends, it's an opportunity for you to clean out your closet while also scoring some new-to-you clothes, shoes, and accessories for free! It really does not get any better than this.

We Harris Sisters have been doing this among ourselves for many years.

Swap Till You Drop - How to Host a Clothes Swap Party

Tips for Hosting a Clothing Swap Party

  1. Guests: Decide how large of a party you'd like to host. Remember, the more people you invite, the more items you're group will have to choose from. But, the larger the group, the longer the party will last. Then invite family and friends of all shapes and sizes. Make sure that for each size person you invite, that person has at least one or two other people to be matched with size-wise. For example, do not invite only one size 2 person to your party because she will not have any clothing items to swap with anyone.
  2. Space: Find a space. If you’re hosting a small event, your living room will probably suffice. If you're hosting a larger party, check to see if your local community center or church has a large room available.
  3. Theme: Will your swap have a theme? If you want to limit the types of items that people bring, make sure to include the theme on your invitations. Some types of themes you might want to consider are formal dress (including clothing, shoes, purses), kids clothes and toys, seasonal (specify the season), accessories only, the list goes on.
  4. Announcements: Give people a few weeks' notice before a clothing swap. This will give them time to clean out their closets and make sure they are available for the date you've chosen.
  5. Collect Donations: Have guests drop off their donations a few days in advance if possible so that you can sort clothing before the party. Alternately, you can extend the hours of your party to accommodate time for each guest to help sort her clothes as she arrives.
  6. Sort Donations: Sort clothes, accessories, and shoes into based on type. This will make it easier for people to find what they're looking for and will also make it easier to sort the donations as they come in.
  7. Rules of Play: Make sure people know what they should bring and what should go straight in the Goodwill donation bin. Here are some guidelines:
  • No holey, ripped, stained, pilled, scuffed, or otherwise shabby clothes or accessories. All clothing, shoes, and accessories to be swapped must be in good clean condition similar to what you would find in an upscale consignment store. If someone wouldn't pay you money for it, don't bring it.
  • Unmentionables are called that for a reason. If you have any underthings that are unworn and new with tags, you may bring them to swap with the understanding that you may be openly mocked for doing so. Mocking will be allowed and encouraged. Your NWT drawers may be modeled for others' amusement purposes.
  • When scouring your closet, please follow the Frozen rule. If you haven't worn it in a year, it's time to "Let it go!"
Hanging Rack of Clothing: Dresses and Furs

Make Sure Your Party Goes Off Without a Hitch

  1. Designate one area for guests to leave their personal shoes, coats, and purses so they don’t accidentally become part of the swap. You don't want anyone driving home barefoot!
  2. If you want to let guests try on clothes before taking them home, then make sure to have a separate changing area or room with mirrors. Let guests know that you will have this area so that they can choose to wear leggings and/or camisoles to make changing in a large group of ladies more comfortable. The benefits of providing a changing area is that guests won't leave with a piece that doesn't fit and that they may also need to get rid of at the next swap (one that might have been right for someone else). To up the "fun quotient", if a guest tries on an item and looks awesome in it, make sure you give her the opportunity to "stomp the runway" and show it off to the other guests. You better work!
  3. Make sure each guest brings a large empty tote bag or shopping bag to store the clothes she arrived wearing as she tries on new items (and to also hold swap items she will go home with).
  4. Play fair. If you know that you can't squeeze your feet into those killer shoes, don't be tempted to take them just because they're gorgeous. You won't be able to hobble around in them anyway. Let the lady next to you (who actually fits them) take them home. There will be plenty of swap items that will actually be the perfect fit and style for you and if everybody plays by these rules, it will be a much more enjoyable experience.

Little Extras to Make the Party Super-Special

Have your guests bring an appetizer or wine along with their donations. Then you've got a real party on your hands! If you're hosting your party in the morning, consider serving mimosas instead of wine. If you're hosting a seasonal party, consider serving a champagne punch or wassail. Or mix up a batch of margaritas, sangria, or Caribbean rum punch for a summer themed swap. Give your guests a chance to mix and mingle a bit after they've sorted their clothes and then get down to the business of swapping. You'll have a blast!

Wine and Appetizers

You may want to have hanging racks handy so that you can hang clothes as they come in. This method is optimal if you're inviting a large group of people because they can browse the racks by themselves. If you're inviting a small group of people, it's fun to have each person go through the items that she brought, model it, and "sell" it to the other shoppers. For example, if you know the designer, you would mention that, the size of the item, and any additional features. This is the method that The Harris Sisters use. However, we are very silly about it and often mention things like "this is a pair of shoes; there are TWO of them." Maybe we drink too much wine at these parties? Here's Harris Sister Deanna modeling a dress and showing off that it has pockets, which is an actual feature that you would want to highlight. (I assume that it has TWO pockets).

Clothing Swap Modeling Clothes

If you use the method of each person modeling and "selling" her own clothes, it's also fun to "vote" on them. You can either make paddles that say 1-10 to be very professional about this. But, since we Harris Sisters are silly (have you caught on to this by now?), we use the good old-fashioned thumbs-up and thumbs-down. This part of the party will only work if you have invited a very close-knit group of people who will not be offended if people dislike/thumbs-down something that they brought. Here are Harris Sister Misty and Niece Charlotte giving a big thumbs-down to something they both disliked.

Two Girls Dislike Clothing Swap Items

Take candid photos at your party! You might not think that this is the optimal party for photos (after all, people will be digging through clothing racks, trying things on, trying to sell you items, and evidently liking or disliking what you're selling), but just like any other party with your girlfriends, this will be an opportunity to snap some candid shots. Don't focus on photos the whole night, but do make a point to snap a few pics to commemorate the occasion. You'll be glad that you did.

Before everyone heads home with their finds, make sure that everyone takes one last pass at the "No Pile" for any possible items that could easily be repurposed into Halloween costumes. These are some items that we set aside for the Halloween closet this year.

This is a Free People beaded Bohemian style dress.

Beaded Bohemian Dress

When it was passed up, we added it to the Halloween closet because we thought it would make the perfect Hippie/Flower Child costume if paired with some long beaded necklaces and some wide legged jeans.

Hippie Costume

This is a black 3/4 length sleeve Old Navy maxi dress.

Black Maxi Dress

When accessorized with a pair of square toed boots (also from the "No Pile"), some owl jewelry, and a cape and witch's hat from the Halloween closet, you've got the perfect Witch's costume.

Witch Costume Collage

This is a short-sleeved, knee-length red dress with white trim.

Red Dress with White Trim

Harris Sister Misty was quick to make this costume connection, and I'm so glad she did. This would make the perfect Little Orphan Annie costume if paired with some black flats, a red wig, and a heart pendant. I've also shown it here with my original 1982 Little Orphan Annie necklace. I think I would have a hard time deciding whether to wear that one or the heart pendant!

Little Orphan Annie Costume Collage

Bonus points if you have a scruffy little dog named Smitty that could be your Sandy for the night:

Tibetan Terrier

When It's All Said and Done

When you've filled your bags and scoured the "No Pile" for Halloween costumes, make sure you collect all of the leftovers and donate them to a local charity.

Product Review: e.l.f. Tone Adjusting Face Primer

Thursday, October 13, 2016

I bought this product on a whim recently.  It totaled a whopping $6 (a little less actually) so I figured what the heck.  I would give it a try.  Let me just tell you now- quite possibly the best six bucks I have ever spent.  Read on for more. 

I have used other makeup primers here and there.  And I always think the same thing every time.  I should really use makeup primers more often.  I mean I use makeup almost every day of my life. And a makeup primer prepares your skin to receive the makeup.  It creates a silky soft smooth layer over your skin so your makeup just glides right on over top.  It really does make an incredible difference. But this one has an added little bonus feature to it.  It does some skin tone correcting too! I have a slight red/ pinky undertone to my skin, so I chose the green primer.  The green tint helps to neutralize your skin's natural redness, making you look all fresh faced and evened out.  Wow, who knew $6 could do all that?!?!

In the bottle, this one looks the color of pistachio green, but once you pump it out onto your hand, it looks more the color of the Wicked Witch of the West.  Fear not, it actually goes on clear, but that green tint works it's magic and leaves you looking more like Glenda, my pretties!

The smart folks at e.l.f. also created this primer in a brightening lavender, a radiant glow, and a clear, in addition to the tone adjusting green that I show here,   Check it out online here.  Or find it at your local drug store or other retailer.  I bought mine at Walmart for five dollars and change.  :)  Not all good things have to be super expensive.  This one sure isn't and it's a winner!

Sourcing Halloween Costumes: Your Local Theater Company

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

On our most recent family weekend with all the Harris Sisters together, Harris Sister Donna mentioned that her local theater group recently had a sale to the public to sell off many of their extra costumes.  Unfortunately, she wasn't able to go.  But it got me remembering that our local theater group did the same thing last year.  Hmmm...  I wondered if they would be doing that again anytime soon.  And then as if they were reading my mind, I got an email that very week that they were indeed hosting another costume and prop sale- just in time for Halloween!  I marked my calendar and made it a priority to get down there as soon as the doors opened.  Oh, I am so glad that I did!  With Halloween coming, it's the perfect time (and way) to find a cool costume, or add to your costume closet for later use.  

Here's a look at some the inventory they were selling.  Lots of holiday costumes donated by none other than the Grand Ole Opry.  WHAT?!?!?!  You better believe I shopped this rack!

Shoes of every color and size you could imagine. 

Children's costumes and adult costumes

Racks and racks and racks of clothes in all sizes for men, women, and children.  All of it was either used in their theater productions, or was donated by other entertainment groups for their use.  But they use it and turn it over quickly because they don't have the room to store tons of costumes, year over year. 

These were the first things I saw as soon as I arrived.  Incidentally, I was the first person there- arriving about 30 minutes before their advertised start time.  Everything was already set up and ready to go and they gave me the green light to go ahead and start shopping.  I literally had first pick of the entire lot!!!  I also brought my father-in-law with me to help hunt out the deals since this is right up his alley.

Since I had never shopped this kind of sale before, I had no idea what sort of pricing to expect, so I just quickly looked at a tag or two to see what I was in for, and it turned out to be the most pleasant of surprises.  The green harem costume pictured in the center above was only $5.  So was the purple fairy dress to the left and the red belly dancing costume on the right.  WOW!  At those prices, I knew I would be taking home some good finds!  

Racks and racks of cowboy costumes.  We are in Tennessee, after all!  This one came home with me!

Look at this lovely!  I wish I had snapped it up now, but I did not.  I wasn't 100% sure what I would do with it, but isn't she lovely?

So there's a look at what they were selling, but let me show you just what I bought, because it's good- really good!

First up- the handmade Raggedy Ann and Andy costumes.  These are both a child's size 7/8 so no one in our family will fit them (yet).  These are going straight in the costume closet for future use.  They were $5 each!

Next up is the only men's costume I scored on this shopping trip.  There weren't very many men's costumes available in this sale, but I'm sure that's subject to change from year to year. It's a sailor suit from their production of Anything Goes.  It came complete with the sailor hat you see here as well as the jacket and pants.  All of that for $10!

Just look at the detail.  I was impressed!

Next up is my find of the day.  This was the holiday costume I scored that was donated from Opryland!  It is completely custom made and it fits me like it was made just for me!  I rather think it looks like Mrs. Claus.  It's priceless to me, although I still can't believe I only paid $10 for the set- custom made jacket and skirt. 

Here's a look at the back of the jacket and the volume on that skirt!

This one is my close second in terms of favorites.  It's a 1950's poodle skirt- only this one features a record instead of a poodle.  It's made of shiny satin and completely lined with a built in tulle crinoline. That much I knew when I bought it.  

What I didn't know is that it's also completely reversible to this gorgeous solid red satin on the other side.  This skirt was $10!  If you are so inclined, you can certainly try your hand at making one of these for yourself.  The Harris Sisters have and here's how it's done

Here's another sweet donation that was made to my local theater company by the Country Music Tour Company.  It is clearly handmade, and even has the name of the performer who this costume was assigned to written on the inside of each piece.  Again, only $10 for the set!

And then I couldn't leave this sale without bringing home my very own cowgirl costume.  This one came with the beaded and fringed shirt you see here, as well as the chaps and red cowboy hat too! All for $10!

The shirt has pearl snaps on it, and check out the fringe on the chaps too!

And last but not least were a few vintage accessories that I couldn't leave behind.  This muff and hat set were calling to me.  

And just as we were leaving, we spotted one more set.  So I added it to my pile, and was on my way!

This is the first time I have shopped such a sale.  Oh, but it won't be the last.  So here are a few tips for you if you happen to shop a similar sale. 

  • Make sure you know when your sale starts and try to be there as soon as the doors open.  You will get the best selection, and won't see the good stuff walking out the door as you are walking in.  :)  I arrived about 30 minutes early to this sale and they let me start immediately. By the time the sale started (and other people started showing up) I was already finished shopping and checking out. 
  • Ask to try things on if you need to.  This sale had a close by area for people to do just that. 
  • Browse the online photos your sale provides before you go so you know what you are most interested in.  My sale had advertised the Opry costumes specifically and I knew I wanted that Christmas dress so I made a b-line there first. 
  • Ask for a deal.  It never hurts to ask, especially if you are buying several items.  In this case, I did not because all the costumes ranged between an unbelievable $5-$10 to begin with!  But usually I do. 
  • Sign up for your local theater company's mailing list.  That's how I knew about this sale.  They also advertised it on Facebook.  If you aren't sure if your group has this sort of sale, just give them a call at their offices.  I'm sure they would be happy to talk with you.   Speaking of which, my group told me that they planned to donate any unsold items to our local Goodwill at the end of their sale.  Hmmm, I wonder if that orange feathery number made it there?  
And finally, I will leave you with a link to some of the Harris Sisters costume ideas for even more inspiration.  Happy costuming to you all!

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Saturday, October 8, 2016

This pumpkin cake recipe is an oldie but a goodie, so if you haven't tried this fall time recipe yet, I urge you to give it a try today.

Never a better time to put it into your rotation! This is a quick and easy recipe, and it has all the pumpkin spice flavors of fall that we love.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

12 oz. evaporated milk*
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of 9 X 13 casserole dish. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Mix until incorporated, then pour it into your prepared dish.
  3. Sprinkle dry yellow cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture.
  4. Sprinkle chopped pecans evenly over the cake mix.
  5. Drizzle melted butter evenly over top of pecans and cake mix.
  6. Bake for 55 minutes or until top is golden brown. 
  7. Cool completely before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
Note: Can substitute coconut milk for evaporated milk in the recipe if desired.

Take a look at these drool-worthy photos. Doesn't it just look yummy? And perfect for your fall pumpkin cravings?

Pumpkin Crunch Cake Closeup

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

If you're looking for more fall recipe inspiration, make sure to check out these tried and true Harris Sisters' recipes:



Goodbye, Norma Jean . . .

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Or rather hello, Marilyn. You might recall that the Harris Sisters visited with Marilyn Monroe on our Girls' Weekend trip in July:

Harris Sisters Pose with Marilyn Monroe Statue

What you might NOT know is that we cook up all sorts of crazy ideas whenever all three of us are together. So NATURALLY, we discussed what we should plan to be for our Halloween costumes! (I mean, what else would we talk about at the beach in July, right???)

And running into Marilyn was JUST the thing to get our minds on the right track! We felt like channeling Marilyn would make for a good Halloween costume because she is:
  1. Recognizable
  2. Iconic
  3. Glamorous
... And 2016 marks what would have been her 90th birthday.

Our run in with Marilyn was a true sign! If you look closely at the photo above, you will see that the statue is of Marilyn in her famous white dress from the 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch. 

Marilyn Monroe Dress Blowing

That is the look we chose to recreate. So without further ado, here are the results. First up is Harris Sister Donna:

Next is Harris Sister Deanna:

And here's Harris Sister Misty:

In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes

New York artist Andy Warhol painted several version of Marilyn Monroe, using different colors, sizes, and formats. The artist was fascinated with fame for himself, but also of those who were famous. 

Andy Warhol used a publicity photo of Marilyn Monroe from the 1953 film Niagara for his paintings. Marilyn Monroe died at the age of 36 from an overdose of sleeping pills on August 5, 1962. Between then and the end of that year, Warhol made at least 23 silkscreen paintings of her using that same photo.

We have recreated the Warhol version of Marilyn here:

The Devil's in the Details

  • Both the iconic Marilyn dress and wig can be purchased from your local costume or party store
  • You'll need to use a wide toothed comb to shape the wig and hairspray to set it into shape after pulling it out of the packaging

  • Because the Marilyn look requires so much red lipstick, don't forget the old "finger in the mouth" trick to get any extra off your lips before heading out. This will prevent getting any extra on your teeth.
  • The Harris Sisters used our favorite Halloween costume trick of shopping your closet to find a pair of champagne colored slingback heels that were similar in style to the ones Marilyn was wearing for the photos. The ones pictured were ones that Harris Sister Donna already owned.
  • You'll notice that in the original photo, Marilyn is only wearing earrings (no necklace, bracelets, or rings) - this makes for a very simple costume to recreate.
  • If you're looking to recreate photos like the ones featured here, twirl your skirt to get volume that mimics the blowing skirt action in the original photo.