Lexi's Latest Jams: Wagon Wheel

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Soooo, I wouldn't exactly say this is Lexi's *latest* jam- she's been jamming to this one since she was just a babe, but we were reminded of it recently at this year's annual Bluegrass Along the Harpeth Festival


Wagon Wheel was originally sketched by Bob Dylan, and later made popular by the Old Crow Medicine Show.  It has been covered countless times, most recently- if not most famously- by Darius Rucker in 2013, who took it straight to the top of the country music charts.  

As for little Lex, she started jamming to this one early on because the lyrics say: "Rock me, Mama, like a wagon wheel.  Rock me, Mama, any way you feel.  Hey, Mama, rock me..."  I used to sing this one to her over and over as I rocked her to sleep at night.  Ever since, this has officially been "our song".

Here we are dancing to it at this year's Bluegrass Festival.  That's what the band behind us was playing.  :)



And here's Darius Rucker's version for you.  It's a good one.



And just in case you feel like rocking right along too, here are the lyrics.  Enjoy!

Heading down south to the land of the pines
I'm thumbing my way into North Caroline
Staring up the road and pray to God I see headlights
I made it down the coast in seventeen hours
Picking me a bouquet of dogwood flowers
And I'm a-hopin' for Raleigh, I can see my baby tonight


So rock me momma like a wagon wheel
Rock me momma any way you feel
Hey, momma rock me
Rock me momma like the wind and the rain
Rock me momma like a south bound train
Hey, momma rock me


I'm running from the cold up in New England
I was born to be a fiddler in an old time string band
My baby plays a guitar, I pick a banjo now
Oh, north country winters keep a-getting me down
Lost my money playing poker so I had to leave town
But I ain't turning back to living that old life no more


So rock me momma like a wagon wheel
Rock me momma any way you feel
Hey, momma rock me
Hey, rock me momma like the wind and the rain
Rock me momma like a south bound train
Hey, momma rock me


Walkin' to the south out of Roanoke
Caught a trucker out of Philly had a nice long toke
But he's a heading west from the Cumberland gap
To Johnson City, Tennessee
And I gotta get a move on before the sun
I hear my baby calling my name and I know that she's the only one
And if I die in Raleigh at least I will die free


So rock me momma like a wagon wheel
Rock me momma any way you feel
Hey, momma rock me
Oh, rock me momma like the wind and the rain
Rock me momma like a south bound train
Hey momma rock me


Oh, so rock me momma like a wagon wheel
Rock me momma any way you feel
Hey, momma rock me (mama rock me, mama rock me)
Rock me momma like the wind and the rain
Rock me momma like a south bound train
Hey, ey yeah momma rock me (you can rock me, rock me)


Road Trip Radio

Monday, July 27, 2015

Road Trip Radio on Sirius XM is back!  For those of you who are Sirius users, it's Channel 147 on the dial.  It's a mish mosh of music, all genres, from the past 50 years or so.  It's all upbeat, uptempo, roll your windows down and crank the radio up load kind of music- perfect for the last of your summer road trips!



I was planning to tell you all about this a few weeks ago when I first stumbled upon it, but then I tried to pull the channel back up and it was gone just as quickly as I had discovered it.  Apparently, it was a limited-run channel and was scheduled only through the 4th of July weekend.  But listeners were in love with it and raised holy heck when it vanished.  So Sirius agreed to bring it back for a few more weeks to round out the summer.  It is available on Channel 147 until August 12, 2015, so head on over and give it a listen (while you still can). 

Or, you can always rely on the Harris Sisters Road Trip playlist for inspiration in building your own personal playlist of tunes. Check that out here.

Thunder Road: Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Growing up in North Carolina, we Harris Sisters have visited Carowinds Amusement Park more than our fair share of times. We knew the ins and outs of it and had our favorite rides. Some rides, of course, were staples that we visited year after year. 

And it's with a very heavy heart that I report that one of those rides is being taken down this weekend after having been with the park since 1976. Thunder Road, one of the park's few remaining wooden roller coasters, is being taken out of commission this Sunday, July 26.


Thunder Road was always very special because even though it may not have offered the speed, thrills, loops, or twirls that its steel counterparts offered, IT ran on dual tracks with one riding in North Carolina and one riding in South Carolina. Riders could choose which state they wanted to ride in as they filtered onto the ride. THAT was very special.

AND, with two young kids in tow, I must say that it's becoming increasingly difficult to find rides that they can enjoy. They are completely uninterested in level 1 or 2 "thrills" (think carousel), and they're not tall enough to ride those super fast steel coasters in many cases. That's where our good friend, Thunder Road, and coasters like it come into play.


This year Jaxon was just tall enough to ride Thunder Road. So, we made a special trip just so that he'd have the opportunity to ride it as many times as he wanted.

Of course, both boys loved it. And we ended up riding it eight times (we think). You tend to lose track of these sorts of things, as wooden roller coasters shake your brains up a bit (but that's all part of the fun).


We found that Carowinds had placed signs outside of the exit commemorating the ride. Note, two of the things pictured here are Bicentennial Babies, which is why I think it's so sad that they're doing away with this roller coaster. Poor thing didn't even make it to 40 years!


Here are closeups of the signs. The first one features photos of Thunder Road in action over the years:


The second one features facts about the roller coaster. If you've ridden it before, do you remember, "Grit your teeth. Bear the load. Enjoy your ride, on Thunder Road." I sure do!


We noted throughout the day how much the park has changed even since the last time we'd visited in 2011. On the way out, we grabbed two fresh park maps to commemorate the day, as we knew that this was the last year the map would show good old Thunder Road in D7 - the space it  has held on the map my entire life. Wooden roller coasters, it seems, are going the way of the dinosaur (literally - check out Dinosaurs Alive in B10 - but only if you're willing to pay a $5 per person upcharge).


Ironically Bruce Springsteen perfectly summed up our many rides on Thunder Road yesterday with some of the lyrics to his 1975 hit of the same name: 

"We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven's waiting on down the tracks
Oh oh, come take my hand
We're riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh oh oh, Thunder Road"


Goodbye, old friend. Thanks for the memories!

Williams-Sonoma Lemon Pound Cake

Last fall, I purchased a lemon loaf pan from Williams-Sonoma on a DEEP discount.  It was the beginning of their holiday season, and they were trying to clear out all their summer wares.  I'm pretty sure I ended up bringing home this beautiful pan for something like $5 or $6; it was definitely less than $10.  

In any case, I promised myself then that I would put this pretty pan to good use this summer and I tucked it away until now.  When I pulled it out earlier this week, I realized that good ole Williams- Sonoma also happened to include a lemon pound cake recipe with the pan, so I decided to give it a whirl, and I must say I'm glad I did.  

SO....  Two things:

1.  ALWAYS check there at the end of the season for a super sweet deal on their clearance table, and

2.  Don't forget that Williams- Sonoma is the source of some really good recipes too. 

So without further ado, I give you...


Williams-Sonoma Lemon Pound Cake

Pound Cake:
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbs cake flour
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
9 Tbs unsalted butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

  1. Bring all ingredients to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour loaf pan. 
  3. Mix together flour, soda, and salt.  Set aside. 
  4. Beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until creamy and smooth (about 30 seconds).
  5. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
  6. Increase mixer speed to medium high and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  7. Then beat in vanilla and lemon juice.
  8. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, beating each addition until just incorporated and then stopping.
  9. Using a spatula, fold in lemon zest. 
  10. Spoon the batter into prepared pan.
  11. Bake until cake is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 70 minutes. 
  12. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool upright in pan for 15 minutes. 

Lemon Glaze:
3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together lemon juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved. 
  2. Invert pan onto wire rack and lift off. 
  3. Using a pastry brush, brush warm cake with glaze. 
  4. Let cake cool completely before serving. 
Enjoy!  This is a good one!

One Man's Trash: Vintage Pinocchios

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Just last month, both my husband and I found vintage Pinocchios on the same day, but on completely different picking expeditions.  I was away on Girls' Weekend with the other Harris Sisters, while he was spending the weekend visiting family. 

Here's a look at the super awesome Pinocchio that I scored!  He's a marionette, and in pretty good shape for his age, I would say.  He is old, there's no doubt about it.  He still has his strings attached, but a few are in need of repair.  I'm not really planning to use him as a puppet, so that doesn't really bother me so much. 


I just love his look. His painted face and clothing are still in excellent condition. 



And the price was right too.  I think the seller was asking $25 originally for him, but I ended up buying him for $20.  He's worth far more than that, but he's priceless to me. 



And here's what my hubbie scored for me!  It's a vintage Pinocchio cookie jar.  I just love his freckles and bow tie.  


It's not in perfect condition.  There is a little wear on the paint on his hat and a very minor chip there as well, but the price couldn't be beat- only $5 for this vintage find!


Our love of Pinocchio was born from our travels to Italy, the birthplace of this beloved character himself.  On our last trip there, we went to a flea market in Rome, and found this treasure- a large vintage Pinocchio toy, which now resides in Lexi's nursery alongside all her other vintage toys.  


Goodness knows what other Pinocchios are out there just waiting to join this collection.  Until then, until then.  Happy picking, everyone!

Coconut Cake

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I cannot tell you how long it's been since I've had coconut cake. Ryan Barrett Walkush does not like coconut, and since it's not advisable to devour an entire two-layer cake in its entirety all by your lonesome, I haven't made one in ages.

As luck would have it, I ordered a slice at a restaurant a few months ago and found out that both Aidyn and Jaxon like it! Woot! I have some partners in crime to help me eat this delicious dessert!

For those of you who have never attempted a coconut cake before, the magic is all in the frosting and this recipe doesn't disappoint. This frosting is one of the easiest to make - leave your electric beater stored away, you can mix this one by hand with a wooden spoon!


Coconut Cake

Yellow Cake:

  1. Prepare yellow cake of choosing per directions listed. 
  2. Frost cake with Coconut Frosting (recipe follows).
  3. Sprinkle reserved coconut on top layer of cake.
  4. If desired, garnish cake with one stemmed maraschino cherry in the center of the cake.
  5. Refrigerate cake.
Coconut Frosting:
8 oz sour cream
2 cups powdered sugar
12 oz Cool Whip
14 oz sweetened coconut

  1. Stir together sour cream and sugar.
  2. Fold in Cool Whip. 
  3. Reserve a small amount of coconut to sprinkle on top of the cake as a final garnish. 
  4. Fold in the remaining coconut.

Note: This recipe makes a generous amount of frosting for a two layer cake, so make sure to frost the middle, sides, and top layer of your cake thickly. 


If using maraschino cherry as a garnish, drain it on a napkin or paper towel before placing on top of the cake so that the red juice does not bleed onto the white coconut.

Catch the Waze Craze

Saturday, July 18, 2015

For those who aren't yet familiar, WAZE is the latest craze in navigation apps.  It is free from your app store, and it's really one of the coolest ways to navigate I've used in a long time.



It relies on users to report incidents such as cars on the side of the road, police presence, construction, accidents, traffic slowdowns and much more.  When you are about to reach a user-reported incident, the alert pops up on your phone to let you know.   You can also confirm that the incident is still active, or report that it is no longer there.  Of course, the app also provides turn by turn guidance to get you where you are trying to go and redirects you around traffic slowdowns and onto the timeliest routes.  

One of the coolest features I have taken advantage of lately are the celebrity voices that provide the navigation guidance.   About a month or so ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger started providing turn by turn guidance for me.  And it was pretty cool.  Whenever we came to a "hazard", he would say "Get Down!!", and when we arrived to our destination, he would tell me "Hasta la vista, baby."  The only problem was I kept calling him Bruce Willis, and he did kind of get stuck on phrases to the point that it was wearing me out.  He kept saying "I insist" after every turn.  I'm not sure what that was supposed to mean- is that a phrase from one of his movies, I guess?

In any case, his days were numbered and Waze has now rolled out the next celebrity voice.  It's none other than Rusty Griswold!!  Actually, it's Ed Helms who plays good old Russ in the latest upcoming Vacation movie.  He says things like "Breaker, breaker one nine, there's a hazard reported ahead.  Over."  And when you reach your destination, he wants to know if you are at Wally World.  I like this one.   Has me wondering who will be next.  Celebrity voices seem to coincide with new movie releases and last about a month.

So that's the nitty gritty on this app.  They also have a Facebook page to keep you up to date on all the latest (including which new voices are available and when existing voices are about to come to an end.)  Check it out and see if you aren't catching the craze too!

Summertime Cherry Tablescape Revisited

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

It's been a little while since I've last shared my summertime cherry tablescape with you all.  Two years, to be exact.  I ALWAYS set my summertime table with cherry decor, but I don't always share it because the pieces don't really change that often.  But in case you haven't seen it before and want to view the full table and all the pieces, here is the link for you. 

I snapped these few pics just the other day.  Cherries just make me so happy and I do love this table setting.  The mini chalk board is a new addition.  My favorite father-in-law just picked it up while out rummaging recently.  When he showed it to me, I told him immediately I was going to add it to my table setting, and here it is!


Here's a broader look at the table with most of the pieces.  


Most of the pieces you see here are ones that I use year after year, but I did add new "picnic" checkered plates to the mix this year.  I thought they matched great, and I love the sunny color.  They are not part of the original Department 56 collection, but I like mixing things up. 


And here's one more view.  I think I will be using this chalk board with other table settings too.  I just love it!  My next table setting will be my Halloween table for the fall.  I feel certain I can come up with some cute and spooky saying to switch this sign out to. 


Do you have favorite dishes that you love too?  And use over and over?  I'd love to see and hear all about it.  We always love to hear from you and love getting inspiration from new places.  Comment below or on our Facebook page.  

Independence Day: What a Difference a Year Makes

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What a difference one year makes.  Just this time last year, Lexi was only a couple months old, and enjoying her very first Fourth of July.   Of course, we captured it in photos.  Fast forward one year, and we recreated the same pics to mark the milestone. 

Here she is last year, just an infant.





And here she is now, as a toddler on the move.






Last year, she wasn't old enough to sit in the wagon, so I held her up in the corner for a couple pictures. 





This year, I joined her for a few pics in an attempt to keep her in the wagon!



And then there's Lexi's best pal and "sister", Izzie.  It's always a walk on the wild side when she joins the pics, but we captured it two years in a row now.  Here they are last year.




And here they are now.  These girls do love each other.  It's such a sweet sweet thing.  Lexi was hugging Izzie in this picture. 





Of course, it's the moments between the moments that always make for the best candid (and often funniest) photos.  And if you have a photographer like my husband, then they just keep snapping photos constantly, leaving you with lots of "in between" moments to sort through.  :) Here are the outtakes from this year (notice how they all include Izzie, the Wonder Pup)...





So that's it for this year's pics.  Stay tuned for more, I'm sure, next summer!

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Monday, July 6, 2015

Eat your heart out, Elvis! This recipe is a yummy treat for the kids AND just look at that ingredient list. If you opt out of the mix in, there are only 5 ingredients! How simple is that?

No flour, sugar, milk, or butter/oil required for these muffins, thank you. Thankyouverymuch.


Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

1 cup peanut butter 
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup mix in of choice (chocolate chips, coconut, craisins, etc.) - optional

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Place peanut butter, eggs, bananas, baking soda, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes, until ingredients are well incorporated.
  3. If desired, add 2/3 cup of mix in of choice. Stir until just combined.
  4. Divide batter evenly into muffin tin.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 9-13 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.
  6. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then, turn out onto wire racks and allow to cool for another 10 minutes.
Notes:

Because this makes a small batch of muffins with very few ingredients, you can also put all of the ingredients into a high-powered mixer and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

The muffins pictured were made with 1/3 cup butterscotch chips plus 1/3 cup white chocolate chips. Quite tasty!

If you prefer a more traditional recipe, check out the Harris Sisters' tried and true Banana Nut Muffin recipe.

This post contains affiliate links.

Caramelized Onion Dip

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I don't know about your family, but in the Summertime, we tend to do A LOT of grilling out and eating appetizer-y type foods instead of full blown heavy meals.

Of course, I'll break down and actually cook a full dinner every now and again, but when we're on the go between fun Summer activities, these lighter and quicker menus seem to do the trick.

I recently made this homemade onion dip as one of the appetizers to bring to Girls' Weekend. It's a nice complement for both chips or fresh veggies. Give this one a try!


Caramelized Onion Dip


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced*
1/4 tsp salt
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp Sriracha sauce
1/4 cup chopped green onions, plus more for garnish
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
  1. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and melt butter. Put yellow onions into the saute pan with 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir. Cook, stirring, until the onions begin to soften and start to release their juices. 
  2. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned. This will take about 30-45 minutes.
  3. When the onions are finished cooking, add garlic and saute for an additional minute or two until the garlic softens. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. While the onions are cooking, mix sour cream, mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, white pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt together in a bowl. 
  5. Add the caramelized onion mixture and stir to combine. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. 
  6. Garnish with chopped green onions.
  7. Serve with chips or fresh chopped vegetables.

Note: 
The original recipe called for thinly sliced onions, but I found that this made for a chunky dip. If you have people in your family who aren't the biggest fans of onions (but don't mind onion flavored things, like dip), then finely chop or mince your onions to smooth out the texture of the final dip. Make sure to watch the onions as they cook, as they might cook more quickly. You'll want to stop cooking them when they're browned.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Fudge Frosting

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

THIS cake is a real winner. I have made it many, many times. Most recently, I made it as a birthday cake. But not just any birthday cake, mind you. Jaxon's stuffed pig, Piggy, was turning 3 and Jaxon wanted us to have a party for him.

While he set to work making party hats for the guests, I set to work on this cake. ;-) Since it's a doctored cake, it's easy to prepare. And since it's a fudge cake, it's a fan favorite.



Chocolate Fudge Cake with Fudge Frosting


CAKE 

1 package plain yellow cake mix 
1 1/3 cups water 
1 cup chocolate syrup 
1, 3.9 oz package chocolate instant pudding mix 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
3 large eggs 

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray and dust with cocoa. Shake out the excess cocoa and set aside the pans. 
  2. Place the cake mix, water, chocolate syrup, pudding mix, cocoa powder, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend on low speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the ingredients are incorporated, then stop the machine and scrape down the sides. Blend again on medium speed for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until the batter is smooth and thickened. 
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it equally. Place the pans in the oven side by side. 
  4. Bake until the center springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the layers from the oven, and place them on a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. 
  5. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the layers, and invert them once onto a rack, then again onto another rack so that the layers cool right side up for 15 more minutes. The cakes may sink a bit in the middle, that is due to the brownie-like texture of the cake.
  6. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting (recipe follows). 
FROSTING 

1 stick butter, softened 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/2 cup chocolate syrup 
4 cups confectioners sugar 
1/8 - 1/4 cup milk 
1 tsp vanilla
Dash of salt 

  1. Place the butter, cocoa powder, and chocolate syrup in a large mixing bowl. Blend on low speed until just combined. 
  2. Add the confectioners sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk, vanilla, and salt, and blend on low speed until the sugar is combined, then increase the mixer to medium-high speed and blend 1 minute longer. Add more milk - 2 tablespoons at a time until smooth and spreadable. 
  3. Apply frosting to cooled cake.
Get ready to PAR-TAY!




If you're a fan of "doctored" cake mix cakes, make sure to check out these other Harris Sisters' recipes: