'Twas the Site by Three Sisters - 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Often imitated but never duplicated, it's the annual Harris Sisters "Year in Review" in the form of a "Twas the Night Before Christmas" parody. Enjoy!




'Twas the Site by Three Sisters - 2015


‘Twas the site by three sisters in Two Zero One Five
Happy to report that we're starting to thrive.
So let's kick off this report with the really BIG news,
In April, our blog hit 1 MILLION page views!

As Summer rolled around, we just could not wait,
To see The Main Event tour in The Bluegrass State.
More rapid than eagles our youth we reclaimed,
And we whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, DONNIE! now, DANNY! now, T-BOZ and CHILLY!
On, JORDAN! on JON! on JOEY and NELLY!"
From the front of the stage! Hangin' tough, Hangin' tough!
And Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh! The Right Stuff!

And then, in a twinkling, as Summer neared end
We brought you one after the other the year's hottest trends.
And don't forget to Share a Coke in your new Jordache Jeans.

We spoke not a word, but were quite taken aback,
And filled with all kinds of joy; when we were on FaithTap,
And setting our sites on 1,000 Facebook amigos,
By the end of the year, our numbers - they rose!

So as we bid another year adieu,
We wanted to offer an genuine 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, 2013, and 2014.

Donna's Favorite Things - Holiday 2015 Edition

Friday, December 18, 2015

Last year, we Harris Sisters brought you three lists of "Favorite Things" to get you in the Christmas spirit and to give you some great ideas for your last-minute shopping lists.

Those lists can be found here if you missed them:


This year, we bring ALL NEW lists to you. Hope you enjoy!


Good  Eats

These first few ideas will allow you to treat yourself, treat your friends, or get together a holiday party on short notice. ;-)


I have always been a little partial to these cookies ever since we got our baby Smithers (who is a tri-colored Tibetan terrier). You might think that these cookies wouldn't be that impressive since they're labelled as shortbread cookies, but you'd be wrong. They're made with real butter, and they just melt in your mouth. And it doesn't hurt that they're shaped like little Scottish terriers to up the cuteness quotient!

And if that weren't enough, the absolute best time to buy these cookies is at Christmas time, when you can find them in specialty tins. You can purchase these online, but you should also be able to find Christmas tins locally at shops like World Market and the goodie aisle of Homegoods. Happy hunting!



Locally owned and operated, this small business has been churning out the best tasting popcorn you could ever imagine. With more than 70 flavors to choose from, they truly have something for everyone. Their flavors run the gamut from traditional caramel to the more adventurous (dill pickle, anyone?). The mini size bags make great stocking stuffers, and their larger size bags are perfect to add to your holiday party table. You can order directly from them online if you're not local, and they'll pack it up and deliver directly to you.



OK, so I was completely unawares that people had such strong feelings about pimento cheese of all things. But, then I found out that we had this local fellow who made his own brand. Always one to support small business when I can, I searched for it AND IT IS DELICIOUS. Now, I must interject that Ryan Barrett Walkush much prefers the Smokin' Habanero because it is the spiciest version they make. All of them are fantastic because they are made from real cheese. (Most pimento cheese is made from processed cheese.) They are sold locally in North Carolina, but you can find them at Lowes Foods Stores as well as some independent retailers. Try these as an appetizer at your next holiday party!


4. Flavored Oil and Vinegar

Perfect for mixing and dipping homemade breads, these unique flavors are sure to liven up your next get-together. We found some interesting flavors at The Artsy Olive, a locally operated business that has two locations: Gatlinburg, TN and Dillsboro, NC. They were happy to let us sample different flavors before deciding on the ones we took home. Two of our favorites were Pineapple White Balsamic Vinegar and Calabrian Hot Chili Pepper Olive Oil - they taste amazing mixed together! With about 20 oil flavors and more than 40 balsamic vinegar flavors, you'll find the one for you. Different sized bottles are available to allow you to buy just a taste or buy more of your favorites.


Good for What Ails You

With the added stress of the holidays, these ideas will make sure that you're taking care of yourself too!

5. Trigger Point Massage

A trigger point (also referred to as trigger site or a muscle knot) is a very tender spot in the body, often an isolated area within a particular muscle group, which will cause shooting pain in other areas of the body when stimulated. Trigger points can make themselves apparent in visible knots or in tight bands of muscle fibers. Trigger point pain is one of the more common ailments that affect the muscles in the human body. It is also one of the most painful considering the pain does not occur in just one area, but can cause tingling, numbness, and various other discomforts in areas at a distance from the source of the trigger point itself. Trigger point massage, which should be readily available at most massage centers, helps to alleviate the pain and muscle stiffness associated with trigger points.



Let me be the first to say that I will TRULY try ANYTHING that purports to get rid of headaches. I have suffered from migraines since I first started college, so I have tried nearly every single remedy posted on Pinterest- twice - and then some. So, I was absolutely delighted to find this little gem. 

It is an aromatherapy blend of lavender and peppermint in a roll on dispenser that is small enough to carry in your purse. You roll it on your temples or the base of your neck (where ever the pain starts - as soon as it starts), and it will keep the pain at bay. Has it staved off every single migraine? No. But, it has prevented quite a few. And that, my friends, is a success.



Speaking of roll-ons, here's another to add to your list. This is a pain reliever that comes in a roll-on. I love this for many reasons. As you know, I had knee surgery on my left knee in 2014. It still whacks out on me every now and again. So, rather than popping a bunch of pain pills or slathering myself with stinky muscle rub, I just roll on some Biofreeze. It calms down my knee with little to no smell and I can get on with my day. And, because it's in a roll on format, you don't even have to get your hands messy. How simple is that? ;-)


Good Lookin'

These ideas will make sure you're looking good for all those holiday parties.


This product is truly a game-changer. You simply put your jewelry into the basket with a little water and dish detergent, set it for a pre-programmed amount of time, and let it run. It will shut off automatically, and when you pull out your jewelry, it will be sparkling! A must-have for anyone who is short on time and doesn't have the luxury of stopping by the jewelry store to have each piece of jewelry professionally cleaned.



This sunscreen is specially designed to provide sun protection without causing breakouts. Perfect for daily use underneath makeup to keep wrinkles and age-spots at bay, this liquid-lotion leaves a weightless, matte finish so skin can breathe. 

And after you've finished applying it to your face, rub what's left on the backs of your hands. Mama always taught us girls that you can always tell a person's age by their hands, so make sure those are daily sun-protected too! :-) Available in a variety of SPFs and you can find it online or at your local drug store.


Good Boy

This last idea is for your four-legged friends.


This is prescription medicine for your dog that replaces the topical medication that you've previously administered monthly for flea and tick protection. Bravecto is a chewable tablet that you only have to give once every three months. Not only is that more convenient, it's less messy than the topical "skunk stripe" as our family so affectionately calls it. Ask your vet about this medication for your pet to take advantage of this convenience.


And here's Deanna's Favorite Thing's List for 2015 if you missed it.

I hope you've enjoyed these lists.  You've got a few more days to wrap up Christmas shopping and parties. Hope we've given you some good ideas - happy shopping!

This post contains affiliate links.

Grandma Elizabeth's Magic Fruit Cake

Thursday, December 17, 2015

This recipe is one that was created by our Grandma Elizabeth many years ago.  And we Harris Sisters grew up on this magic fruit cake at Christmastime.  I still make it every year, and even the fruit cake critics in my family have come around to my way of thinking.  You see, this fruit cake is so unlike any other fruit cake you've ever tried, it's likely to convert even the strongest hold out in your group too!




Grandma Elizabeth's Magic Fruit Cake


16 oz pecan halves
16 oz red candied cherries
7 oz  bag of coconut
16 oz dates (I usually substitute 8 oz candied pineapple and 8 oz green candied cherries for the dates)
2 cans condensed milk

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line a tube pan with parchment paper and spray liberally with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients until well blended.  Make a wish while you are stirring; that's the "magic" part of this recipe.  So don't forget!
  4. Bake for 1 hour or until coconut and pecans are toasty brown.
  5. Cool for 15 minutes in pan before flipping onto a wire cooling rack.
This is Grandma Elizabeth's actual recipe, written in her handwriting, with notes made by me.  She was an excellent cook.  It's one of the things she is best known for.  I'm so glad we have her old recipes.


Notes:
This fruit cake recipe is unlike almost every other.  It's not so much a "cake" (note the lack of flour) as a very sticky candy held together with condensed milk.  So it is critical that you use both parchment paper as well as cooking spray if you want to be able to release the cake from it's pan.  However, it does release very simply if you make sure to use both.
This recipe makes one large fruit cake in a tube pan or two loaf pans, and can be easily halved if desired.  Cooking time will vary depending on the size and type of pan you use so check periodically to ensure you don't overcook your fruit cake.

And I leave you with this image.  Last year was Lexi's first Christmas, and of course, her first turn at wishing on the fruit cake.  Here she is in action.  I love family traditions, but never more than at Christmas.

How to Make Your Very Own Star Wars Christmas Decorations

Saturday, December 12, 2015

With Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens opening in theaters in less than one week and with a release date merely one week before Christmas, I thought it would be fun for the boys to have their very own Star Wars Christmas decorations.

If you recall, this family has always been firmly aligned with Star Wars. In 2006, we dressed like Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Yoda for Halloween. (Yoda is our now ten-year-old son Aidyn.)


And I've also recommended Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI on our 50 Classic Kids Movies List. Why? Because those are the classic movies and also because those were the best in the franchise.

So, needless to say, THIS family is very excited that yet another installment is being added, but this time with some of the original characters.

I thought this would be the perfect year to let the boys celebrate with a small Star Wars Christmas tree of their own. They also added a few other decorations around the tree to complete the display, and it turned out great.


This was very simple to do. We just dug around in the toy box for all of the classic Star Wars character action figures and pulled those out along with a small Millennium Falcon. 


We then put 6 blue and silver star ornaments on the small Christmas tree to add some holiday sparkle and mixed the characters in between the ornaments. Because the characters all have moveable arms and legs, it was easy to position them in the branches of the tree without any additional wires or strings. We finished by adding the Millennium Falcon as the tree topper.

Here's a closeup view of some of the characters: Lando Calrission, an Ewok, R2-D2, C-3PO


I made sure to put Han Solo and Princess Leia next to each other on the tree. ;-) Luke Skywalker is hanging out near them.


The finishing touches are an AT-AT with reindeer antlers, Chewbacca with a Santa Claus hat, and Darth Vader with an elf hat. The antlers and hats are made for dogs, which means they're the perfect small size for toys.



Hope this inspired you to create your own Star Wars Christmas decorations! May the Force Be with You.

Meet Hipster Santa

Friday, December 11, 2015

Let me first begin by saying I don't make the news; I just report it.  Further, I am about the last person on Earth who should be providing any insight on hipsters.  I mean, about once a year Harris Sister Misty tries in vain to once again explain the concept of "hipsters" to me.  I'm not too proud to say I still don't get it (and probably never will).  

 
But I do know what Santa Claus is supposed to look like.  Remember...  He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf.  And he was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot.  Pictures of the classic Father Christmas come to mind in his timeless red suit and hat, tall black boots, and wide black belt.   The Coca Cola Santa featured so prominently in ads from my childhood will always be "my" version of Santa.
 
 

I certainly don't recall anything about Santa wearing thick-rimmed glasses, jeans, sneakers, and a Mr. Rogers style sweater to say nothing of the man bun he's sporting these days at a mall in Portland, Oregon.  Just check old Saint Nick out.  Not a swatch of red suit or hat to be found.  Oh dear.  I think the pendulum may have just swung too far the other way this time.

 

In any case, he's been getting a lot of attention, mostly good, really.  Parents in the area like him, noting that he's less imposing without the red suit.  And the kids don't seem to mind as long as he will still take their Christmas lists.  So maybe he's not so bad, right?  I'm sure he's a nice fellow and all, but I think we will just be sticking with the classic version of Santa for our foreseeable future. You gotta give it to the guy though.  He's one hip Santa.  

Deanna's Favorite Things - Holiday 2015 Edition

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Last year around the holidays, we listed out our very favorite things for you.  If you are new to the blog, or would like to review them again, here are the lists we created for 2014:


And here we are once again with the holidays looming.  As it happens, I have another list for you just in time for Christmas this year.   So without further ado, here you are...



1.  Plaid (anything and everything)
I have been a long-time fan of plaid, and it would seem that the fashion world is catching up.  It's everywhere, and it's wonderful!  Take a look at the two plaid flannel shirts from American Eagle Outfitters below.  I have them both!  I bought them both when they were running a huge sale, which is something they do often, especially this time of year, so check them out.  These are the softest shirts I own, no kidding.  And they have an extra long back hem, another thing I love about them.  So fun, festive, and cozy too. 



2.  Fair Isle Sweaters

Another favorite of mine is the Fair Isle pattern.  I've seen it a LOT this season in sweaters, socks, jackets, and more.  The sweaters shown below are both from Ann Taylor LOFT, another favorite shop of mine.  In fact, I'm wearing the reindeer sweater as I type this.  :)  Fair Isle screams winter, ski lodge, cozy to me.  I can't get enough!



3.  Sweater Dresses
Nothing makes you look more put together with less effort than a dress. It's one piece- nothing to think about.  Throw it on and you're done.  But a sweater dress takes the comfort factor to a new level, and again, it's perfect for this time of year.  The sweater dresses shown here are both from Old Navy, another retailer that usually offers deep discounts, particularly this close the holidays.




4.  Blanket Scarf
I became obsessed with blanket scarves, like the rest of the nation, last winter.  But the obsession didn't end there.  I still love them.  Take a look at this trend- such an easy way to add a layer of warmth or to add visual interest to an otherwise simple outfit.  I snagged a couple of these scarves from Target last year, and haven't seen them there since. But they are widely available online and through lots of other retailers.  Also, check Pinterest for tons of good ideas on how to style your blanket scarf.





This is a new product for me, but one that has already changed my life.  Ok, maybe that's a little much, but when your eyelashes are a wimpy as mine, you would get excited too.  It's new to the Maybelline mascara line; it's their Lash Sensational Full Fan Effect mascara.  And the magic is all in the brush.  The fan brush separates your lashes and makes them look so pretty and full.  I'm in love.  Check it out.  You won't be disappointed.


Here's another product that I've been using for several months now, and I can't get enough of it.  It's the Younique Touch Mineral Pressed Powder Foundation. I use it as a true powder (over my regular foundation) but lots of people use it as their only foundation.  It's AMAZING.  Trust me, lots of products claim to leave your skin looking flawless, but this one actually does.  It's a little on the pricey side, but I'm finding that it takes me 2-3 months to use an entire compact, which helps to offset the cost a bit.  This stuff it pure magic.  I promise.


As I just mentioned, I use a liquid foundation under my Younique Pressed Powder, and this is the one I have been using literally for years.  It stays put all day, provides full coverage, and comes in options to best suit your skin type.  I use the one for oily/ combination skin.  And my skin never shines with this foundation.  I'm talking NEVER.  They actually just redesigned the bottle so now it has a pump top, and I even like that better than the old version.  This is another winner. 





This bottle is something I use every single day.  I cannot say enough how it helps to keep my on track with drinking enough water.  The ounces are clearly marked on the side of the bottle, so you know exactly how much you have had.  And another plus- you can operate the spout on this bottle with only one hand (important when you are a mom to a busy toddler).  Use the button on the front to flip the spout open, or press it back down until it clicks to close it.  I try to drink a full 24 oz bottle each morning, noon, and night.  :)  Even if I come up a little short, I'm still getting much more water than I ever did before.





And don't forget some of the other "favorite things" I have introduced you to throughout the year.  Here are the links to some of my still favorite things:
I hope you've enjoyed this little list.  If you are like me, you are still shopping for the holidays, so maybe this will help to give you some ideas.  Happy Holidays and happy shopping! 

This post contains affiliate links.

An Old World Christmas

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Harris Sister Misty and I recently had the opportunity to visit eight Old World countries in one weekend! Of course, we did that by visiting the St. Nicholas European Christmas Market in Cary, NC, which features vendors with wares from Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Scandinavia (representing more than one country), and Mexico. 




Also featured were Baba's Kitchen for kolach rolls, pierogi, kielbasa, and other handmade goodies, Niche de Noel for an assortment of gift and decorative items, and a variety of pop-up vendors. Country tents, Baba's Kitchen, and Niche de Noel are labelled with these charming, old-fashioned street signs to help you navigate the market and determine where your newly found treasure hails from.





This quaint little market was best described as a treasure hunt! Set up in the tradition of an outdoor European Christmas Market, shoppers can stroll through each "country" and enjoy the best of European baked goods, decorative items, gifts, and both new and vintage items for the home. Here's a look at some of the beautiful items we spied while we were there:

Handmade Czech Glass Christmas Trees



Russian Nesting Dolls


Vintage Linens




The Legend of the Nutcracker


Handmade Preserves and Mustards


Misty and I had such a fantastic time scouring this quaint, old-world European Market for gorgeous handmade and vintage Christmas decorations as well as some unique gifts and stocking stuffers! And of course, we came home with a few goodies for ourselves: 

Misty scored one of those beautiful handmade Czech glass Christmas trees, a set of old-world ornaments, a hand-carved crucifix, homemade German mustard, and a box of chocolates for a Christmas present.




I scored a basket of traditional colored vintage glass ornaments including four pine cone shaped ornaments and a Santa ornament, a folding paper frieze from Sweden showing an elf-like Santa, and a few more goodies that are not pictured because they may be viewed by a reader of this blog. ;-) 




After we were finished shopping, we also enjoyed a Slavic lunch while listening to the Little German Band. They played mostly traditional Christmas music, but also the Beer Barrel Polka (which I had not heard in 16 years - since my wedding)!  




Czech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself - Tips for First-Time Visitors


Because this is an outdoor market, make sure to keep the weather in mind and dress appropriately for your shopping adventure. However, do not let that deter you from this wonderful experience. Now in their eighth year, this traditional Old World Market experience is still going strong and is definitely an annual tradition that you should start with your family.

Market parking is available on-site, across and down the street, on neighboring side streets, and via shuttle or a short walk down the sidewalk from the Lowes Foods parking lot on the corner of Tryon and Cary Parkway. We opted to park in the Lowes Foods parking lot and it really was a short walk directly to the market. Parking on-site is limited, but there is plenty of parking in the Lowes Foods shopping center.

Cash and credit cards are accepted at this market. You'll pay separately for any purchases at pop-up vendors, and collect all your goods and pay once at the main register tent for the country, Baba's Kitchen, and Niche de Noel tents. 

All vendors that we visited offered plastic bags, but you may also want to bring a reusable shopping bag with you to bring your finds home with you.

They have wrapped up the Christmas Market for this year, but please follow them on Facebook. for updates on their upcoming Easter Market and next year's Christmas Market. Follow them on Pinterest to see what types of treasures they'll have at the Market, including the pastries and other baked goodies you'll be able to find there.