Y2K Turns 15 This Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Do you remember the hype that surrounded Y2K? Well, I certainly do. 

To refresh your memory, while Prince had long been inviting us to "party like it's 1999," and that was GOING TO BE HIS YEAR to wear out this song for New Years, instead the entire world went crazy thinking that all of our computers would crash because they hadn't been programmed to differentiate between the year 2000 and the year 1900. (Because, you know "ye old computers of yore" were still alive and kickin' from 1900. I kid - I kid.)

So, instead of typical New Year's celebrations:


We had mass hysteria fueled by media outlets:


And general panic in the streets:


On the up side, nearly everyone learned how to spell millennium correctly. So there's that. Score one for grammar! ;-)

In 1999, two of the three Harris Sisters lived in Greensboro, NC, so we went out to dinner with friends. Of course, since we had an IT guru (Ryan Barrett Walkush) in our midst, he ensured us that the city wasn't going to go dark at midnight. (He was right - the restaurant even managed to bring our checks as per usual, go figure!)

Here we are on that night:


So as you prepare for the night's festivities, if you're thinking about partying like it's 1999, think back to the Y2K scare that happened a whopping 15 years ago, and maybe instead party like all of our technology and social media will work correctly on January 1. Now, THAT's a party!

'Twas the Site by Three Sisters - 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Back by popular demand, it's the annual Harris Sisters "Year in Review" in the form of a "Twas the Night Before Christmas" parody. Sure, I guess we could have *technically* generated one via the Facebooks, but where would the fun be in that? ;-)



'Twas the Site by Three Sisters - 2014


‘Twas the site by three sisters in Two Zero One Four
I believe last year we promised you MORE.
Starting in January and throughout the year,
We brought you free printables. (We'll keep that up - never fear!)

And January, February, and March brought snow to the extreme,
So we shared a favorite recipe for snow cream!
When April rolled around (not to toot our own horn),
But beautiful baby Lexi was born!

Summer flew by quickly, but we made it through the heat,
With Orangeade, Punch, and Margaritas - what a treat!
As Fall ushered in the cool wind and the leaves,
We brought you costume ideas for All Hallow’s Eve.

You might be wondering what we’ve got up our sleeves,
For 2015 - we've got BIG plans (you’ll see).
More rapid than eagles, the topics we'll post,
And we'll whistle and shout (though we don’t mean to boast):

"Hooray, RECIPES! And CROCHET! And HOLIDAYS and DECOR!
Woot, FAMILY! Woot BEAUTY! Woot, VINTAGE and MORE!"
No matter the topic - the big and the small - 
We'll blog away! Blog away! Blog away all!

With 550+ posts and more than 820,000 page views,
We wanted to offer an earnest thank you,
To all who have followed, shared, commented, and "liked"
"HARRIS CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!"

Merry Christmas from Donna, Deanna, and Misty!

Find our previous year's Christmas Eve parodies here: 2012 and 2013.

Grandma Elizabeth's Applesauce Cake

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I got a bee in my bonnet this year after Harris Sister Deanna brought over this cake for Christmas a few years ago. THIS cake is Grandma Elizabeth's recipe. Of course we love this recipe and remember growing up with it as kids, but to my surprise, the boys loved it too. So, I decided to make it for Christmas this year. 

With spice and fruit and nuts, it's a sure winner for a Christmas dessert. I hope you'll add it to the Christmas rotation at your house. You'll be glad you did.


Grandma Elizabeth's Applesauce Cake

2 cups sugar
1 cup self rising flour
2 cups applesauce
3 eggs
2 cups chopped walnuts
15 oz raisins
1 cup butter, melted
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9" cake pans and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together sugar and flour.
  3. Add applesauce and eggs, and mix together.
  4. Add in walnuts, raisins, butter, and spices and mix together.
  5. Divide batter evenly into the two prepared pans.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until cakes test done with a toothpick.
  7. Remove pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the pans and invert onto the racks. Allow them to cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile prepare the frosting (recipes follows).
  9. Frost cakes after they have cooled completely.


Cooked Coconut Frosting

1, 14 oz bag sweetened flaked coconut
1, 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
pat of butter
1 Tbsp of flour

  1. In a small medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk, sugar, and butter.
  2. Cook, stirring frequently, until it comes to a full rolling boil (then it will begin to make a "smacking sound" as the bubbles pop).
  3. Let it "smack" boil for at least 5 minutes. Turn off heat.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in coconut.
  5. Frosting will thicken as it cools. 
  6. Frost middle and top layer of cake with frosting.  
Notes:
Even though the frosting will thicken as it cools, it will not be a thick frosting. If you frost the middle and top layer, this frosting will drip down the sides of the cake like this. Some of it also seeps into the cake and keeps it very moist.



If you are not a fan of raisins, try substituting other dried fruits like dried cranberries (craisins) or dried blueberries.

Try to get some cute little elves to help you make it (not completely necessary - but it sure makes it a fun process):


Hope you enjoy this old-fashioned recipe! Make sure to check out a few more of Grandma Elizabeth's recipes while you're here:

Grandma Elizabeth's Coconut Custard Pie
Grandma Elizabeth's Old Fashioned Cobbler

It's a Wonderful Life

Monday, December 22, 2014

Now that the boys are a older and they can take direction a little better, we are free to add a little oomph to our Christmas card photos. And they know that I only ask them to dress up and take nice photos ONE time a year on Christmas . . . and at Easter which is really two times a year and also Halloween which makes three, but who's counting?

I digress.

So this year, I thought we might go with the theme It's a Wonderful Life - a crowd favorite that's played in movie theaters every Christmas.


We had many inspirations to draw from, including movie posters:




But, while graphically beautiful, they either had not enough people represented or WAY too many. Sure, Aidyn and I could have looked lovingly up into Ryan's eyes as Jaxon was hoisted onto his back, but we didn't want the photos to look too staged. So, I turned to other inspirations such as movie quotes.



And after some thinking, I knew what would work for our family. With the purchase of an inexpensive movie board clapper and the participation of my two little hams, I got to be Donna Reed for our 2014 Christmas card. (Note: Jaxon later told us that he was "trying to be a squirrel" in this photo! Aah, method acting - wrong movie (National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation) but A+ for effort!)


And we chose to use Clarence's quote and some of the day's funny "outtake" photos for the back:


Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season from our family to yours! Remember, it truly is a wonderful life!

Make sure to check out our Superhero Christmas Card if that's more your speed.

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Christmas Vacation - Do You See What I See?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

By now, you have likely viewed The National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation approximately 3.6 million times if you are anything like our family.  But here are a few little known facts that just might have you viewing it once more this season, if only to check for yourself.  Read on for more.



Rocky never speaks in this movie.  Not one line, not even a mumble, nothing.  Maybe it was that lip fungus he was dealing with.  But then that didn't stop him from biting his sister, Ruby Sue, one fateful night. Hmmm, interesting.



In the scene where Clark finally gets his exterior lights working, and he goes up to each family member one by one and says a little something, his son, Rusty, is not present.



This is the only National Lampoon's Vacation movie that doesn't feature the song Holiday Road. Instead, the now famous Christmas Vacation song replaces the standard tune for this movie only.



Even though the family truckster has since become almost as famous as the movie series itself, the Griswolds drive a different car in this movie, a Ford Taurus station wagon.



Audrey somehow miraculously morphs into the older sibling for this movie.  In both the original Vacation as well as European Vacation, Rusty was portrayed as the older of the two.



At the time of the film's shooting, there was a minor earthquake that occurred during the filming of the arrival scene of Uncle Louis and Aunt Bethany.  If you look closely, you can see the camera shake slightly when Aunt Bethany enters the house.



In the final scene, Ellen tells the cops it is their family's first kidnapping.  But technically that isn't true.  Remember how they kidnapped the security guard at Wally World in the original Vacation
movie?  How quickly we forget.



Ironically, no part of this movie actually takes place on Christmas Day.



Go ahead, check for yourself.  Permission granted to watch this holiday classic just once more.  :)

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Farmer's Almanac Grow Days

Friday, December 19, 2014

If you are like me, and almost every other woman I know, then you are constantly trying to grow your hair longer.  Oh, I've tried all the tricks in the book, but this one was a new one on me.  At a recent hair appointment, my hair stylist clued me in on Farmer's Almanac grow days.  I had never heard of such before (at least in reference to anything hair-related).  Have you?



Apparently, the fine folks at the Farmer's Almanac not only predict weather patterns and the best dates to plant your vegetable garden.  They also predict the best dates to cut your hair to increase growth.  Who knew???  Apparently, all the stylists at my salon.  My stylist told me that they all trim each other's hair on these prized days.  No wonder they all have fabulous locks!

You can get the next 60 days worth of dates online, but if you are planning your hair appointments farther out than that, then you will need to invest in the good old fashioned hard copy publication.

If you are reading this entry today, the following are the best dates to cut your hair to increase growth for the next 60 days, and some of these are coming up, so start making your hair appointments now!

December:  22, 23, 26, 27, 30, 31
January: 3, 22, 23, 26, 27, 31
February: 1

Likewise, they also list the best dates to cut your hair to retard growth.  Hmmm, might want to avoid those dates if you are shooting for maximum growth.  Is there anything to all of this?  Who knows.  I cannot personally vouch for this system, but what can it hurt?  I'm certainly willing to give it a try. Marking the calendar now!  Who else is with me?

Misty's Favorite Things-Holiday 2014 Edition

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I guess it is my turn for a big reveal of ten things that bless me. I have to say, I struggled a little because the first thing I thought of was these guys:


and the hubs (in no particular order):


but I guess this is more along the lines of what we are looking for:


I have to say, I have not been particularly good at even picking out lipstick shades as of late, so I really had to delve deep into the recesses of my brain here.





Like I said, this is really delving. When I went to Russia fifteen years ago, I was really impressed by the heated towel bars in the hotel bathrooms. I was so impressed that when I returned home, I sought one out and found one at my local Bed, Bath and Beyond, one of my go-to stores, and I must say, it comes in very handy living in a log cabin!

2.  Christmas Socks


Well, it's all about staying warm over here, so every Christmas when I dig out my socks that have long since been retired for Summer, I am pleasantly surprised to find these little numbers just waiting to be donned. They are almost akin to hospital socks and probably second cousins with an ugly Christmas sweater, but even looking at them now puts a smile on my face. They are magnificent!

3.  Hazelnut Coffee Creamer



Anyone who has ever had coffee with me has probably laughed, if not to my face, then after the fact. In fact, I have snickered at myself from time to time over how much sugar I put in my coffee. I discovered Hazelnut creamer just last year. I may be the last person on the planet to have found it, but it is awesome and whenever I want to treat myself, I head for the coffee aisle. With this little addition to my morning coffee, I don't add quite as much sugar (most of the time, that is).

4.  Jane Eyre


Last Spring, I broke two toes while bicycling with flip flops on, so let me first recommend against that. During my recovery period, I nurtured a slight obsession with Jane Eyre, in which I watched almost every movie adaptation made. What a heroine! Jane is well worth a read and a gander.



I am a long time fan of Once Upon a Time. It takes the fairy tales that we all grew up with and tells the back story, all the while knitting all of the characters from the different stories together. It is written very smartly by the same writers who gave us Lost, and it is peppered with funnies which I quite enjoy. You can check it out on Netflix where they are streaming the first three seasons.

6.  Shutterfly Photo Book


I'm not sure this would fall into the category of treat or guilty pleasure, but every year at about this time, I like to compile a photo book on Shutterfly. It is almost like making a scrapbook. You can choose a theme, how to place your pictures on each page, and add wording. You set up your photo book how you want it, and they print it out for you and ship it directly to your door. It is a little time consuming but so much easier to keep track of pictures. I have started doing one per year, (and they have gotten thicker and thicker with each passing year) but you can also do them for special occasions or whatever you want really. 




Yes, that's right--when you hit middle age, this is what makes you excited! I discovered a hole in my sheets the other day and was pretty miffed that this sheet set that I distinctly remember purchasing around the time of Black Friday last year has already bit the dust. In the midst of me Googling darning and reorganizing our linen closet and pretty much doing frenzied laps around my husband on the couch, he took it upon himself to order two new sets. I was thrilled and then a little leery because I have ordered sheets off the Internet before, and though the thread count met with my approval, the elastic most certainly did not. Clara Clark knows her sheets! I am happy to report, this deluxe sheet set lives up to its name.



'nuff said!

So those are my personal faves, but I did have a few gifts that I have given out throughout the year that I thought were pretty awesome and since it is that time of year, check these out:


Granted these are on the small side (unless you live in Texas, I guess), but they are so cute, I couldn't resist doling them out as gifts. If nothing else they would make a nice cheese tray. I found them at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and you can't go wrong with their 20% off coupon.



Last year, we went to a soap making demonstration. We brought home some of this goat milk soap and continued to order it as gifts. It is sold at our local farmers' market in such heavenly scents as lavender and peppermint (which we found out is very cooling and actually a good summer soap).

Looking back on this year, I feel like I have been consistently making costumes throughout the year. From plays to Halloween to mud run costumes, I am surprised I don't have more recommendations for fabric paints or glues! So, even if you feel like you live on Broadway, don't forget to treat yo self!



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Holiday Wassail

'Tis the season for all things spicy and warm.  We Harris Sisters have introduced you to a Crockpot Wassail once before.  Now, we bring you yet another version to try.  This one can be made on the stovetop or in the slow cooker- whichever you prefer, or have time for.

I made this wassail for the Thanksgiving weekend this year, and the whole family really enjoyed it, including my somewhat reluctant husband.   So, I'm thinking of adding it to the Christmas rotation as well because it just screams of the holidays to me.

Holiday Wassail

1 gallon apple cider
4 cups orange juice
4 earl grey tea bags
6 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cloves
1 Tbsp juniper berries
2 inch piece of fresh ginger (cut into slices)
1 apple (sliced)
1 orange (sliced into rounds)
Brandy (to serve)

  1. Place all ingredients, except the brandy, in a dutch oven and bring to a simmer. Then let steep for 10-15 minutes.  Alternatively, place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for an hour and a half.   Remove tea bags.
  2. To serve spiked, pour two ounces of brandy into a glass and top with hot cider.  Otherwise, serve as is.  It's delicious either way!
Note:
This makes a large batch of wassail, but this recipe can easily be cut down if you need less.  It also keeps well in the refrigerator.  Just strain to remove all fruit, tea bags, and spices.  Then reheat by the cupful in the microwave.

Donna's Favorite Things - Holiday 2014 Edition

Monday, December 8, 2014

As I sit here in my cozy socks and Nick and Nora pajamas, I see the irony of Harris Sister Deanna penning her Favorite Things List FIRST and then challenging us other Harris Sisters to write our own lists.

Well played, Deanna, well played. ;-)


Let's see if I can come up with a full list of 10 things, shall we?




I know I've started this list off with an expensive "favorite," but Ryan bought this for me as a gift and I can't say enough good things about it. He bought it so that I could have a way to play Mama's old records because we'd long since upgraded our music technology and had lost that ability along the way.

This is the perfect way to keep that nostalgia alive! If you have a music lover on your list, he or she would love to find this under the tree (I know I did). Ours is currently playing all of the old Christmas records I remember from when we grew up, including one of my favorites the Elvis Christmas Album.



I'm sure you've had Moravian cookies before. But, were those cookies you purchased handmade? The good folks as Mrs. Hanes' Cookies start their day at 6:30 AM and start rolling out cookie dough. And they still cut their cookies by hand with cookie cutters. These cookies just melt in your mouth. They're available in ginger, sugar, chocolate, butterscotch, lemon, and black walnut flavors.

We've tried several of the flavors and I couldn't tell you which one is the best. If you get the chance to stop by their bakery, they'll give you a quick tour and let you sample the flavors. Otherwise, you can order from their website before December 15, they'll get the order to you before Christmas. Can't beat that!


The idea behind these glasses is that you put them on and look at Christmas lights. The lights are then "transformed" into the image shown on the pair of glasses you're wearing. This YouTube video shows them in action. They sell them in bulk on their website, but they make great stocking stuffers or party favors, so buying 25 won't seem so bad. Hint: go for the mixed bundle so that you can try lots of different themes. The kids (old and young) really love these! We put these out every year!




Pepperidge Farm regular swirl breads are pretty awesome, but during the holidays they usually release limited edition swirl breads. According to their Facebook page (linked above), Gingerbread Swirl was released to stores in early November. And, Caramel Apple and Pumpkin Spice (their Fall flavors) were still on shelves as late as last week. (I picked up two then.)

In years past, they have also offered Cranberry Swirl around Christmas, so be on the lookout for that too. Hints: All of these make excellent bread choices for Baked French Toast Casserole and they're really tasty when slathered with homemade Apple Butter. Remember, if you buy more than one at a time, pop the extra in the freezer until you need it, thaw, and then toast away as per usual.




This "favorite" is definitely one that I look forward to every year. In the very beginning, we would wait in line for hours on end to visit with Santa. One year, we noticed that a select number of VIPs were being ushered in to see Santa right away. So while the boys were sitting on Santa's lap, I chatted up one of the elves and found out about Santa's Fast Pass and we haven't waited in line since!

You go online and pay for your photos in advance, schedule your photos for a certain day, and show up any time that day. You go to the Fast Pass line entrance and give the elves your receipt and they make sure you're the next in line to take photos. It really is that simple. AND because the folks at Fast Pass are affiliated with Shutterfly, most photo packages come with a $10 or $20 Shutterfly gift card gifted back to you. 

Hints: Remember to bring your photo ID with your receipt - they'll want to see that. Also, as tempting as it may sound, if you go to see Santa theverysecond that he shows up for the day, you're just going to land yourself in a "Fast Pass" line (consisting of everyone else who had this same fantastic idea), which kind of defeats the purpose.





Vintage Bee is a local North Carolina shop that has garnered a pretty widespread distribution for their fantastic product. They offer 12 different flavors of creamed honey that come in adorable honeycomb shaped jars. Because of its thick and smooth consistency, it’s perfect on toast; in oatmeal; on pancakes or waffles; as a healthy sweetener for coffee, tea, or hot chocolate; or heated as a dessert topping. It's quite tasty! With 12 flavors to choose from, I'm sure you can find a flavor that tickles your fancy. These also make great gifts (if you can bear parting with them).

7. Holiday Shenanigans Courtesy of Face in Hole.com



Visit this website and upload your own photos into one of their many templates to make funny photos. The two above are Christmas Vacation themed, but they have many holiday themed templates including Santa Claus, It's a Wonderful Life, Elf, and A Christmas Story, among others. These are PERFECT for embarrassing your loved ones over the holidays. Enjoy!



When the dreaded cold sneaks up on you, THESE will keep you warm. Even more so than regular tights. I wore a black pair to a Christmas party the other night and I was nice and toasty even though the event was held in a drafty old castle. So, if you're cold natured like me, this might be the find of the season!



I cannot recommend this book enough. Or, more specifically, any book by Laurie Notaro. This happens to be her Christmas themed book, where she recants 13 true (& hilarious) stories of her Christmases past. Standout stories include Deck the Mall (where she takes Nana Christmas shopping) and Have Yourself a Kmart Little Christmas (where she rather unfortunately finds herself in Kmart on Christmas Eve).



Deanna has written about this service twice before on the blog, and you know it wouldn't be too long before one of us other Harris Sisters jumped on board. Read her two accounts here and here. After scouring several stores for a cocktail dress for Ryan's Christmas party, I came up with nothing. (Note, ugly Christmas sweaters are easy to come by nowadays if THAT's what you're looking for instead. The stores were lousy with them.) Anyhoot, after renting this $295, green Halston number for $40, I'm a convert!

Hints: Make sure to read any fit info they provide so that you can size up or down appropriately for your free second size. Also, take note of how tall the model shown wearing the dress is (that info is listed). I might have zipped right by this dress had I not noticed that it was being shown on an Amazon and that on my 5'6" frame, the dress would hit me right above the knee (which is exactly the level of appropriateness I was looking for with a work function).

Hope I've given you some good ideas for the holidays!

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