Heaven South

Friday, April 21, 2017

Brad Paisley just released a new album today, for the first time in three years.  And among the new releases is a song called Heaven South.  As a long time Brad Paisley fan, of course I like it.  But once I caught a glimpse of the video, I was sold even more.  He actually filmed the video in our own backyard- downtown Franklin, TN.  GASP!!!

We have lived here for years.  It is just a few miles south of Nashville (perhaps appropriately lending itself to the song title "Heaven South") and has all the small town southern charm that you could ever hope for.  It's a modern day Norman Rockwell painting come to life.  It's also home to many of the great country music stars old and new- Brad Paisley included.   What a beautiful place to call home!  

Brad Paisley hasn't even released this video yet to his YouTube channel, but he did pop it out on his official Facebook page yesterday, and my little town has once again become "Facebook famous"!  

Yep, that's our town square, our courthouse, our local theatre, our main street, and our little back roads.  Yes, we live in Heaven South.  We kind of always knew it. 

Finding a Little Free Library Near You

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

In honor of National Library Week, which falls on the second full week of April each year, and National Bookmobile Day, which falls on the Wednesday of that week, I thought I'd remind you guys of Little Free Libraries, which is one of the newer ways to scout out books.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

The idea of the bookmobile started in the 1800s in England.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

Concerned that the library was not reaching everyone that it could, a Maryland librarian started the first bookmobile in the United States in the early 1900s.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

While bookmobiles are still in service, they are more rare than they once were. Possibly as rare as a paper library card? This is my library card from my childhood, and today's library cards look nothing like this. This one was certainly well loved.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

The first Little Free Library was built in 2009, and the movement is still going strong.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Finding a Little Free Library Near You

A Little Free Library is a neighborhood book exchange where people passing by can take a book to read or leave a book for someone else to find. In order to keep a Little Free Library stocked with new books, it's a good idea to bring a few books to share each time you visit.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Finding a Little Free Library Near You

While most of them look like little houses with a protective roof and door to keep the books safe from inclement weather, some people have gotten really creative with the design of their Little Free Libraries.

This one's a colorful, whimsical design:

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

This one's designed to look like one of Britain's iconic red phone boxes:

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

This beach Little Free Library is made of a hollowed out piece of driftwood:

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

And this one looks like Dr. Who's TARDIS (a blue British police box):

The first day of our Spring Break, I took the boys to the Little Free Library in our neighborhood. The one in our neighborhood is less than a mile from our house, so it only took a nice early morning walk with the dogs to visit.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

It is designed to look like a little house, and the interior is wallpapered with book pages.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

We left a set of level 1-3 readers that the boys have grown out of:

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

Two storybooks, and a set of bookmarks:

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

Aidyn found a copy of Bridge to Terabithia, and Jaxon found a new in package Disney Haunted Mansion Pop-Up Book and Amelia Bedelia Helps Out:

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Little Free Libraries Near You

If you'd like to find a registered Little Free Library near you, you can visit this Little Free Library map. As of November 2016, there were 50,000 registered Little Free Libraries worldwide.

If you find that you don't have a Little Free Library in your area, you can start your own with a little information about how to start a Little Free Library.

This is definitely a fun activity that you should get your kids interested in and a sure-fire way to help beat summer boredom. 

For another way to get free books for kids under age 5, sign up for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

Make sure to check out our big list of 100 Things to Do This Summer for other great ideas or check out 40 Books Your Kids Should Read for some great summertime reading ideas.

Happy reading!

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One Man's Trash: Vintage Mickey Mouse Shooting Target

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

We have long collected vintage toys- since well before our little one came to be.  Once she was born and we started decorating her little bedroom, we used our stash of vintage toys to decorate her old fashioned nursery

Some things never change.  While we were out at one of our favorite small town thrift stores recently, I spied this vintage Mickey Mouse Shooting Target- still in nearly perfect condition.  (It has a little wear from the years, but clearly it was never used for shooting practice.) It is made of tin with a cardboard back stand, and features vivid colors and some well known cartoon character friends on the front.  It measures about 7 x 11 inches.  And at $2, it was a steal by any standards.  

This little beauty is going right into Lexi's now-big-girl bedroom with her other vintage toys on display.  What a cute find!  

How to Hula Hoop

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

One thing you might not know about The Harris Sisters is that we can all hula hoop. You might remember us hula hooping at our Girls' Weekend in Beaufort, NC

What's the big deal about knowing how to hula hoop, you might ask. 

Well, not everyone knows what to do to keep a hula hoop going after you've started it (and spinning a hoop around your waist only to watch it immediately fall to the ground is really no fun at all).

Since summer will be here  soon and you might be looking for fun things to do with your kiddos, learning to hula hoop is a sure winner!

Here's a quick hula hoop tutorial to get you started:

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Hula Hoop

Hoop Size

Make sure you're using the right size hoop. Stand holding the hoop in front of you with the bottom on the ground and make sure the top of the hoop hits somewhere in your midsection. The general rule of thumb is that the hoop should come at least to your belly button. 

So, while it's easy to find kid-sized hoops, they're probably not the right size for an adult (especially if you're a beginner). Bigger hoops will rotate around you slower, making it easier to get started. Smaller hoops rotate faster, which is more challenging.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Hula Hoop

How to Hula Hoop

The motion you'll need to master is this: 

  • Plant your feet to the sides, a little wider than your hips with one foot slightly in front of the other.
  • Bend your knees just a little and stand up straight.
  • Shift your weight back and forth.

Once you've got the motion down, hold the hoop against your back a little above your waist. Then, push the hoop around your waist toward your belly button, keeping your arms up and out of the way. Shift your weight back and forth on your feet to keep the hoop moving.

In terms of which direction to spin your hoop, give both a try! Right handed people generally hoop counterclockwise (pushing off with their right hand), while left handed people generally push off with their left hand and hoop clockwise. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Here's a picture of left handed Harris Sister Misty hula hooping, and she's clearly pushing off with her right hand.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Hula Hoop

How NOT to Hula Hoop

Many people try to move their hips in a circular motion with the hula hoop, which actually makes hooping a lot harder. Remember: you are not Elvis! (He was singing about the actual hula dance in Rock-A-Hula Baby, not hula hooping.)

If you master the motion described above, you'll notice that you're not moving your hips in a circle at all, but just rocking back and forth on your feet.

The Benefits of Hula Hooping

You may never have expected this, but hula hooping is an excellent form of exercise for the entire body. By helping you burn calories, hula hooping can help you lose weight around your midsection and tone your core muscles to create a slim and strong waist.

I actually purchased a weighted exercise hula hoop right after Aidyn was born, and hula hooping was my main form of exercise to lose the baby weight (after having both my boys).

The continual rocking back and forth to keep the hoop spinning activates all of the muscles in your core, which helps slim your waist while you're having fun!

AND! Hula hooping helps to calm the mind and relax the body, which can help relieve stress.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Hula Hoop

Give hula hooping a try for yourself - you'll have more fun than you know! 

This post contains affiliate links.

Roxboro Rocks

Monday, March 27, 2017

Has the rock hiding trend hit your town yet?

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Rock Hiding Game

Here in our very own Little Town, USA (aka Roxboro) people are painting and decorating rocks, and then hiding them at parks and restaurants, in downtown, in the Walmart, even!  Then, other people (like my rock adoring child) hunt them down (at which point, you can re-hide it or keep it, if it suits your fancy).

There is even a Facebook page to give out hints and share photos of your newly acquired treasures.  I have actually been seeing little posts here and there for a while about this, but I just checked it out today.  We got a nice haul, and then proceeded to dig out our rock painting kits (because rock fiends like my child own not one but two of such kits!) and proceeded to fancy up some rocks of our own.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Rock Hiding Game

I chose to paint a few to represent plays my oldest has been in over the years. On the back, I included a nice little saying from the play and the tag Roxboro Rocks, so people know, "Hey, this rock is definitely for you!"

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Rock Hiding Game

We tried out geocaching a few years back.  You can read about our adventures here.  Spoiler alert: We found Oz--as in the Wizard of!  Somehow, though, it didn't produce as much excitement as these rocks have.

This post contains affiliate links.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Spring is the perfect time of year to make a homemade carrot cake. With Easter right around the corner, this cake would be a perfect dessert for your Easter celebration. (Because what does the Easter Bunny like more than carrots? Carrot cake, right?)

And don't let a made from scratch carrot cake intimidate you! This recipe is really easy to make, and it tastes delicious!

Harris Sisters Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

1¼ cups unsweetened applesauce
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 cups all­ purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup crushed pineapple (not drained)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine applesauce, sugar, and eggs. 
  3. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. 
  4. Stir in carrots, coconut, nuts, vanilla, and pineapple.
  5. Divide cake batter evenly between two prepared pans.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Let cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pans. Then, remove to cooling racks and let cool completely.
  8. Prepare cream cheese frosting while cakes cool (recipe follows).

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup butter (softened)
16 oz cream cheese (softened)
2 tsp vanilla
2 lbs confectioners sugar

  1. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. 
  3. Use to frost the top and sides of the cake of your choice.
  4. Refrigerate frosted cake for an hour before serving for best results.
Harris Sisters Carrot Cake

If you're looking for other recipes for your Easter get-together, give these tried and true Harris Sisters recipes a try:

Vegetable Pot Pie

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This vegetable pot pie recipe is perfect for our current weather. 

I've dispensed with soups for the time being because any given day could be warmer than usual. But at the same time, we might have a cooler spring day that is decidedly not warm at all.

Such was the case this week when I thought that a homemade pot pie recipe would do the trick.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Veggie Pot Pie

Vegetable Pot Pie

  • 4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 pound red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Approximately 1/2 pound frozen puff pastry, defrosted following package instructions
  • 1 large egg

  1. Chop all vegetables and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large, tall saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to remove lumps. Add the vegetable stock. Cook this mixture for 5-10 minutes while continuously stirring. Mixture should be thickened. Continue to cook and stir the sauce over medium heat until you reach the correct consistency.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using). Add the cream and stir to combine. 
  4. Add the chopped mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, onion, peas, and garlic to the sauce. Cook the vegetables in the sauce for three minutes. Transfer the filling into a clean bowl and chill in the refrigerator for one hour, or until cool.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Flour your work surface (to ensure the puff pastry doesn’t stick). Roll out the puff pastry to slightly larger than your casserole dish. 
  7. Carefully spoon in your chilled filling into your casserole dish.
  8. Break the egg in a small dish and add a tablespoon of water. Whisk with a fork and brush this egg wash on the edges of your casserole dish. Lay your puff pastry over the top, being careful not to stretch it. Seal the edges of the puff pastry by lightly pushing it onto the rim of your casserole dish to make sure it is secure. Then brush the top and sides with more egg wash. 
  9. Bake your pot pie for 45-55 minutes. Bake until the puff pastry is evenly golden brown.
  10. Let cool for ten minutes before serving.

Your crust should be brown when the pot pie is finished cooking. If the edges brown before the center of the crust, you can wrap them in aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Veggie Pot Pie

This recipe is very versatile. If you'd rather substitute different vegetables, it will turn out just as delicious. And, if you'd prefer chicken pot pie, you can substitute 1 lb. cooked and shredded chicken for one of the vegetables.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Veggie Pot Pie