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Three southern sisters who share family traditions, our favorite recipes, craft and DIY ideas, decorating projects, beauty tips, our love of vintage, and our lives with you.

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Spicy Mexican Lentils

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cinco de Mayo is coming soon - and if you'd rather celebrate at home by making your own Mexican food, this is a great recipe to try.

You can use these spicy Mexican lentils to make a vegetarian burrito bowl or as taco filling. OR you can just eat them all by themselves. This quick and easy recipe is so yummy!



Spicy Mexican Lentils

2 cups lentils, cooked according to package instructions and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes, not drained
1 10 oz. can Ro-Tel, not drained
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Optional for serving:
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Rice
Taco shells
Lettuce
Salsa


  1. Prepare lentils as instructed on package. Measure out two cups and set aside.
  2. In a large pan, add chopped onions and olive oil and saute over medium heat until slightly browned, about 7-9 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add all of the spices and stir into the onion and garlic mixture. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes, Ro-Tel, and lentils. Stir to incorporate.
  6. Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Serve hot and garnish as desired.

Notes:


You can increase the spicy factor in these lentils by:

  • adding more red pepper flakes to the recipe 
  • using the Hot variety of Ro-Tel
If you cook an entire bag of lentils, you will have more than the 2 cups needed for this recipe. You can either:

  • increase the recipe (which is great for a large group)
  • freeze the cooked lentils in a Ziploc bag to use the next time you make this recipe
  • use canned lentils instead of fresh
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Karaoke and Corona

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Are you in the market for a new feel-good, warm-weather, fun-loving, bring-on-the-good-times kind of song?  Well, I've got just the tune for you to try. It's my new go-to song for the weekend, and it's called Karaoke and Corona. Just mentioning the name of this tune is already putting you in the mood for the weekend, right?

And if you aren't already familiar with the band, let me introduce you to O'Shea.   They are an award-winning country music husband and wife duo from Australia- two of the most talented and genuinely humble artists/musicians/good people I have had the pleasure of meeting. They are the real deal, and so is their music.  In fact, they just launched their most recent album, 61-615, which pays homage to their roots in Australia (61 is the country code there) as well as their country music home here in Nashville (615 is the area code here.)  You can learn all about Mark and Jay, and their amazing music here: http://therealoshea.com/.




But back to Karaoke and Corona!  It was recently taken for a spin on The Highway on Sirius XM.  What a huge deal!!  And it's such a fun and funky summertime anthem.  I just can't wait to hear more.  Here's the click for the video.  It's tons of fun too!  So, what are you listening to these days?

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16 Free (or Cheap) Things for Your Garden

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

When we moved into our house 10 years ago, we knew that it had great potential. However, we also knew that we had a LONG way to go before it would be exactly what we wanted.


Not only were we going to need renovations inside, we were also going to have to do a serious makeover on the "landscaping."

Did you notice that I put landscaping in quotation marks? Well, there's a reason for that. When we first bought this house, we had some foundation shrubs (many were alive and seriously overgrown, but some were dying) and an abundance of trees and daffodils.



Do you see what is decidedly missing from these photos? That's right! Lush, green grass! And let me tell you, we spent quite a bit of time and effort just trying to grow grass for our yard. The backyard was a muddy mess if it rained, so we had to make that our first priority.

But now, we've moved on actual landscaping! Because we have so much area to cover in front, back, and side yards, we are taking on this task a little at a time.



With such a large, blank slate to work with, affordable DIY tips for gardening really come in handy. Here are a few tricks I've learned for updating your landscaping on a budget.

16 Ways to Get Free (or Cheap) Stuff for Your Garden


1. Compost is something that every yard can benefit from, and the best part is that you use things like lawn clippings, leaves, banana peels, coffee grounds, and vegetable scraps to build it. 

We don't even have a fancy container for ours. We drilled holes in the sides of three plastic garbage cans that came with the house. We use them for compost that is freshly started, compost that has "cooked" a little bit, and finished compost.

via Robin Clugston

2. If you need a jump start on your compost, consider visiting your local Starbucks. They package and giveaway used coffee grounds for free. While you might not want to put too much coffee in your compost, this is the perfect way to acquire this compost ingredient for free (especially if you don't drink a lot of coffee).



3. Seeds are easy to collect from certain plants (and even organic vegetables). I've had success with collecting and drying marigold seeds, zinnia seeds, and gaillardia. So, every time I plant a new plant now, I wonder if it will be a good candidate for collecting seeds to use the next season! Not only do you get free seeds for your garden, but collecting seeds is a fun project to do with the kiddos.

4. If you want to start your seeds indoors, look no farther than your recycling bin for seed starting containers! Rather than tossing yogurt containers, applesauce cups, or K-Cups, wash them and set them aside for seed planting time. You can recycle them after you've planted the seedlings  in your garden.



5. If you're starting a whole new garden bed, you might also want to save cardboard and grass clippings. We started a new bed in our backyard last fall, and we simply saved enough cardboard to cover the grassy area that was currently there. We laid the cardboard out in a double layer and then covered the entire area with about 12" of lawn clippings. 

Because we did this in the fall, the lawn clippings contained both grass and leaves. If you let this set until the following spring, not only will you have a brand new bed, but the grass (and any weeds) will be gone and you'll have much improved garden soil in that area.

6. What do you REALLY want when you start out, though? Free plants for your garden! You can divide many existing plants and replant them around your yard. Those daffodils that were the only flowers in our yard when we bought our home? They've been divided and replanted around the front and back yards. Next they'll be making an appearance in our side yard.  



Iris are another excellent candidate for dividing. At this point, the iris in my yard (that I brought from our previous home -  just 10 rhizomes!) have been divided and replanted all around my yard and shared with Daddy, Harris Sisters Deanna and Misty, my sister-in-law, and my mother in law. It's the Sisterhood of the Travelling Iris! 

This is our 2012 Easter photo, and as you can see, those 10 rhizomes that I brought to this house with the move had already multiplied by then.



7. Other plants are easy to propagate, which makes this the perfect experiment for the beginning gardener. Plants like roses, hydrangeas, camellias, azaleas, and succulents root well from cuttings. So, if you have a plant that you like and you'd like more of the same for other parts of your yard, this is a good way to get those plants for free.

8. Some fruits, vegetables, and herbs are easy to root from scraps. Green onions, celery, and pineapple are ones that I have personally grown in my kitchen windowsill from scraps. Others that are easy to root in water are lettuce, avocados, potatoes, garlic, cilantro, basil, and ginger. Not only is this a cheap way to get a start on your vegetable garden, it's also a fun little science project to do with the kiddos.

via Top 10 Home Remedies

9. Once you've planted your new seeds and clippings, you should mark your new plants so that they don't accidentally get pulled with actual weeds. Cough . . . .Ryan Walkush . . . cough, cough.

One of the cheapest ways I've found to make plant markers is to buy a big pack of clear plastic forks and write the plants' names on them with a Sharpie permanent marker.

You can stick the fork tines directly in the soil next to your plant, and because the forks are clear, they blend into the landscaping and aren't noticeable unless you are right next to them. Here are a few plant markers beside some newly planted Solomon's seal and hellebore.


10. You'll also need to mulch your new plants to help them retain moisture and to help control weeds. Check with your local Public Works Department and see if they offer free mulch. Our Public Works Department offers free mulch as long as you pick it up with your own truck and cover it with a tarp upon leaving.

11. We mulch in the springtime, but in the fall we use leaves as mulch. Remember all those trees that were on our property when we bought it? Well, they turned out to be very beneficial for our garden in the fall. If you have enough trees on your property, it is easy to blow the leaves into the natural areas to provide an added layer of free mulch for the winter.

12. You can reuse cooking water to water your garden. Instead of pouring it down the drain when your meal is cooked, just let it cool on the back of your stove, and then use it to water your plants. Once you've cooked vegetables or pasta in the water, the water contains additional nutrients. Just make sure you don't use any water that you've added salt to!

13. To save on watering your plants altogether, you can easily choose drought tolerant plants for your zone. Unless you live in a particularly rainy area, planting drought tolerant plants can save you the time, effort, and money associated with watering during dry times. Plants like sedum, yarrow, gaillardia, Russian sage, lavender, lamb's ear, and purple coneflower grow well even with a lack of water.



14. To make sure your plants come back year after year, choose perennials rather than annuals. Yes, annuals make a pretty splash of color in your yard, but after all that work planting them, you'll just have to buy and plant them again next year. 

If some of your favorites plants are annuals, save them for your potted plants, and make sure that the plants you put in your garden are perennial.

If you research the bloom time of the plants you want and plant a variety that bloom in different seasons, your garden will be colorful right up until winter. Some examples of easy-to-grow perennials that are colorful (just like annuals) are phlox, asters, astilbe, peonies, iris, daffodils, black-eyed susan, hibiscus, and daylilies. Make sure to check out what will work in your zone and growing conditions.



15. Don't overlook buying plants and bulbs at places other than garden centers. For example, our local Aldi starts selling garden items (including plants) around March. Last year I bought a bag of gigantic allium bulbs that were as large as my hand. These bulbs are selling at online retailers for as much as $11 per bulb, and Aldi had the same ones for $5 for a package of 3 bulbs.

16. For even cheaper plants, wait until after a holiday to purchase them. For example, the nicely potted Easter lilies, hyacinths, and tulips that are often on sale to give as gifts around Easter, will go on sale for 50% off the day after. 





You can plant these bulbs directly in your garden and they will bloom for you again for years to come. This is one group of hyacinths that I planted last year from an Easter pot. I've planted six more groups this year so that these won't be lonely.


Bonus Tips


17. If you are really starting from scratch and you don't have any plants to separate, make cuttings, or take seeds from, reach out to your family, friends, and neighbors. When they are separating their plants, I'm sure they'd be happy for you to come over and help dig some up. That's less work for them!

My side yard is planted with ferns and poppies from my mother-in-law. And just this past week the boys and I went over to a neighbor's house to dig up some plants that she wanted to thin out. We left with two large boxes full of Solomon's seal, blue flag iris, columbine, hellebore, sedum, and money plant.

This is a great way to start off our spring planting all for about 1 hour of our time!

 


18. If you are new to your neighborhood and haven't met too many of your neighbors yet, contact your HOA or your local government to see if there's a neighborhood garden club or a community garden club that you can join. 

Many garden clubs will exchange free information (which will be helpful to learn about growing conditions in a new area). And many times, they'll host seed and plant exchanges, which is a great way to try new plants in your garden for free.


Hope these tips about how to improve your garden for free or cheap will help you this spring. Happy gardening!

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One Man's Trash: Grand Old Opry Trinket Box

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Here's a sweet little vintage trinket box that I picked up for a steal recently.  It depicts the Grand Ole Opry and is just big enough to store a few little treasures inside.  It's definitely older, though I have done a couple of online searches and haven't managed to find another one yet that would provide more clues about it's age.  


When I initially turned this baby over and saw it's $2 price tag at one of my favorite little thrift stores, I snagged it quickly.  Living in Nashville anyway, I am not only a fan of the Grand Ole Opry itself, but also a fan of vintage "Nashville" items.  But the bottom of this trinket box also provides a little more information about it.  It is in fact bone china and was made in England.  SCORE!!  


It's also lined in what I assume is gold plating on the inside, but who knows?  Maybe this is the real deal.  Wouldn't that be a hoot?!?!  If you are familiar with this particular little treasure box, I would love to find out more about it.  Although I will go ahead and say now that it's not for sale.  :)  




It is just big enough to hold a few pieces of my go-to jewelry that I wear frequently.   And it tucks in perfectly in my dressing area.  This little $2 box just makes my heart smile every time I look at it.  Sometimes all it takes is the smallest thing to make this girl happy, and this one just did it for me!


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Dry Your Hair in Half the Time!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I found a new product that I have tried out recently, and I have to share it with you all.  It's a hair towel that actually delivers on its promise to help cut your hair drying time in half.  A little hard to believe, I know, but it really does work!



I have super fine hair, but a lot of it.  And I have color treated my hair for years.  Apparently that combination is the perfect one for hair that takes forever to dry.  My hair just holds onto water, even when I towel dry it first.  It still takes way too long with the blow dryer.  So when I found this magic towel on Amazon, I swooped it up.  It has well over 2000 reviews and still gets close to 5 stars.  People were swearing by its claims.  I figured if it didn't do what it promised, I would just return it. But that never happened.  It was awesome right out of the gate, and well worth the asking price.



So here's how I use it.  After I wash my hair, I squeeze out the excess water and then twist it right up into this towel.  **I should point out that this is not a full sized bath towel.  It is smaller, but just the right size for my hair.**  I then proceed on to my after-shower moisturizer routine, etc.  I probably leave my hair in this towel for somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 to 5 minutes before taking it down.  Then I give it a quick towel dry with the same towel and just start blow drying.  It used to take me at least five minutes before I would notice even the smallest amount of drying of my hair once I started blow drying. Now, I notice my hair is starting to dry almost as soon as I turn my hairdryer on! It really is amazing!  In fact,  I liked this towel so much, I bought a second one for my daughter, and it's working wonders on her hair too!

Just wanted to share this new-to-me product with you guys.  It's the real deal, and I bet you all will love it too.


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Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hi yall!  It's been a little while since I've been active on the blog- like before the holidays.  My  sincere apologies.  I do miss this, and you all too.  What can I say?  I'm busy.  Life is busy, but you already knew that, I'm sure, because you all have wonderful and busy lives too.  I am working on  cooking up several new blog posts for you, but to kick things off, I thought I would share the following with you.  
I posted this on my personal Facebook page on my birthday last month, and I feel like it pretty accurately sums up my life these days.  Aside from my mention of being a wife, I feel like this also could double as a singles' ad.  Heaven help me.  


42- Wow. My heart and my thoughts are full. I don’t believe in hiding your age. Why bother? You are what you are. And for all my years, I can now say that I am living my best life.
I am a wife, a mother (to a 3 year old- how many 40-somethings can say that?), a sister (to 2 of the best women I’ve ever known), a daughter, a friend- to a fabulous group of women whom I cherish, a niece, a cousin, an aunt (many times over), a sister-in-law, a daughter-in-law, a dance mom, a class mom, and a stay-at-home mom (which by the way, is the hardest and most rewarding job I have personally ever known, and I’ve had some doozies).
My life has taken so many twists and turns. But it has all led me here. At 42, I know what I like, what I want, who I like. And I know the things that make me happy and those that do not. I sing out loud- usually badly, but occasionally I find an actual key and surprise myself. I dance with strangers. I talk - a lot- sometimes about things that matter. The years have taught me of the virtues of patience. I have known loss and I have known love. My cup overflows daily.
I believe youth is wasted on the young, and I also believe that is something that old(er) people say.  I am older than I’ve ever been, but also younger than I’ve ever been. I no longer try to impress anyone but myself. If I can do that, then I’ve accomplished something. I am humbled daily. I learn daily. I don’t care what other people think about me anymore. But occasionally I still do. I am a complex conundrum, but aren’t we all?
Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my Mama. Now she was a good woman. Someone that I try to be every day. She wasn’t much of a cook, but neither am I. She loved with all her heart. She taught me how to work hard, and I do. Every single day of my life.
I have traveled all over this world, but I still believe there is no better place than my bed. I nap EVERY SINGLE DAY. I love red wine and coffee. If I have vices, I suppose you could say those are it. But I have never smoked a cigarette in my life and that’s saying something for a small-town North Carolina girl.
I like me. Almost always. But sometimes I get cranky. See the aforementioned need for sleep, coffee, and red wine. Pretty much in that order. I believe in love, being kind to one another, and lifting each other up. We all need a little help from time to time, so pay it forward and just be a good person.
42- Double the legal drinking age, but occasionally a good-intentioned young’un still cards me. Bless my heart and all of my 42 years. And may the good Lord see fit to bless me with a few more so I can learn a few more things between here and the other side, because, y’all, I think it’s just getting good.

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Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Monday, March 5, 2018

I've been making this recipe for homemade dog treats for years. The recipe is so simple (there are only 4 ingredients!), and my dogs really love them.

So, you're probably thinking, "Who in the world has time to make their own dog cookies?" Well, to tell you the truth, I was skeptical at first too. 

But, I was convinced years ago after trying to think of something different to bring to work at Christmastime. Christmas cookies, fudge, candy, etc., were lining the treat tables at my office, but I thought that these treats might make a lasting impression. (They don't add any calories since YOU'RE not the one eating them. LOL)

I set them out on a big (clearly labeled) tray with some Ziploc bags for people to take however many they needed for their pets. They were a hit!

I think you'll like this recipe too!


Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups oatmeal
1/2 - 3/4 cups chunky peanut butter
2 1/2 cups hot water

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients, adding hot water in a few small batches to ensure dough does not become too sticky.
  3. If dough is too sticky, add more flour until dough-like consistency is achieved.
  4. Roll out dough onto a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. (Any shape will work, but I use a dog bone shaped cookie cutter.)
  5. Bake cookies on a greased cookie sheet for 40 minutes.

Notes:

Dough will look like this when you're done mixing all ingredients together.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats

These dog treats do not "spread" when baking like regular cookies. This means that you can place them closer to each other on the cookie sheets when baking.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats

These DIY dog biscuits are really quick to make, and making homemade treats for your dogs is a fun activity to do with your kids any time of year. If your pup likes other flavors, you can mix in things like bacon or substitute chicken broth for the water. 

And in case you were wondering, these homemade dog cookies are Smitty and Chance approved. Hope your pups like these peanut butter dog treats as much as mine do!

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Smitty and Chance love homemade peanut butter dog treats.

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