A Memorable Gift

Saturday, December 24, 2016

There is no gift I like to put together more than a tangible memory, so when Daddy regaled me with one of his epic childhood tales a few months ago, I had the beginnings of an epic gift!

As the story goes, Daddy, along with his brothers and sister, would often go on a walk with their father.  Each trip would culminate in a special treat, namely, cornbread which would be crumbled into the bottom of a cup to be joined with milk poured over the top. 


Thankfully, I made a mental note, and after whipping up some of my sweet honey cornbread, I headed over there with a bottle of fresh cow's milk for a splendid start to our Christmas festivities.


'Twas the Site by Three Sisters - 2016

We know you've been waiting for this ALL YEAR. So, without further ado, it's the Harris Sisters 2016 Christmas Eve year in review in the form of a "Twas the Night Before Christmas" parody. (Hey, we Harris Sisters wouldn't disappoint you!)

Twas the Night Before Christmas Vintage Store Display

'Twas the Site by Three Sisters - 2016


'Twas the site by three sisters, Twenty Sixteen
And what an exciting year it has been!
In January, we went under the sea,
With a Mermaid and Shark Tail crochet spree.

As June popped up, we just couldn't wait,
To lounge at the beach in the Tarheel State.
More rapid than eagles, our childhood reclaimed,
And we traveled, and toured, and visited again!

"Now, RALEIGH! now, SHACKLEFORD! now, BEAUFORT and TURKLE!
On, SWANSBORO! On, TRIPLE S! FORT MACON and EMERALD!
From the top of the porch (wine glasses and all),
We fended off our fair share of catcalls!

For the smoothest of skin, makeup primer by E.L.F.
And you'll want to make sure Retin-A's on your shelf!
In the wink of an eye and without twisting a lead,
Wunderbrow gives you nothing to dread.

We'll speak not a word, but go straight to our work,
And write ALL NEW blog posts (it sounds so berserk)
In twenty seventeen as we sit and compose,
And give a nod, up on the blog they will go!

So as we bid another year toodle-oo,
We wanted to express our sincere gratitude,
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, 2014, and 2015.

Twas the Night Before Christmas Santa and Child

Grandma Elizabeth's Oatmeal Cake

Friday, December 23, 2016

Just in time for Christmas, I'm sharing one of our Grandma Elizabeth's old-fashioned family recipes. This one is straight out of our cherished family cookbook, and it does not disappoint. It's an oatmeal cake with a brown sugar, coconut, and pecan frosting that offers a break from the all-chocolate, all-the-time Christmas treats that you may be experiencing this time of year.

Harris Sisters Girltalk: Grandma Elizabeth's Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake


This recipe is truly a treasure, and you might already have all of the ingredients in your pantry to whip it up today!


Harris Sisters Girltalk: Grandma Elizabeth's Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake

Grandma Elizabeth's Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake

1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour*
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 3 quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt to a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add oats. Let stand while mixing remaining ingredients.
  3. Mix together in a large mixing bowl sugars, cinnamon, and flour. Add oil and eggs and stir until incorporated.
  4. Add oats and water mixture and stir until entire mixture is combined.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
  6. Remove cake from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  7. While cake is cooling, prepare frosting.

Frosting

1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
7 oz. sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped pecans**

  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the brown sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 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. Add coconut and nuts and blend on low speed until incorporated.
  4. Frost oatmeal cake while still warm.
  5. If desired, put cake in oven under broiler to brown top.


Harris Sisters Girltalk: Grandma Elizabeth's Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake

Notes:


If you do not have self-rising flour on hand (I did not), you can make this substitution for the 1 1/2 cups of flour required for the recipe:

Add to one measuring cup:

  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • enough all-purpose flour to fill the cup

PLUS another 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

You can substitute walnuts in the recipe for pecans if you'd prefer.

If you enjoyed this old-fashioned recipe, make sure to check out the other old-fashioned recipes we've posted:





A Country Christmas Playlist

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas and country music- two of my very favorite things!  And never better than when you combine the two.  Here's a quick list of some of my favorite country Christmas songs, most of which aren't on the regular rotation on the Christmas radio stations this time of year.  So they might just give you a break from the same old songs, and will definitely be sure to give you a smile and a big helping of Christmas cheer!


  1. A Christmas to Remember - Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
  2. Hard Candy Christmas - Dolly Parton
  3. O Holy Night - John Berry
  4. All I Want for Christmas is You - Vince Vance and the Valiants
  5. Beautiful Star of Bethlehem - The Judds
  6. Two Step 'Round the Christmas Tree - Suzy Bogguss
  7. The Christmas Guest - Reba McEntire
  8. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer - Elmo and Patsy
  9. Tennessee Christmas - Alabama
  10. Meet Me Under the Mistletoe - Randy Travis
  11. Merry Christmas from the Family - Montgomery Gentry
  12. Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy - Garth Brooks
  13. Let There Be Peace on Earth - Vince Gill
  14. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
  15. Pretty Paper - Willie Nelson
  16. Where are you Christmas? - Faith Hill
  17. Christmas in Dixie - Alabama
  18. Mary Did You Know? - Kenny Rogers, featuring Wynonna Judd
  19. Thank God for Kids - The Oak Ridge Boys
  20. Redneck 12 Days of Christmas - Jeff Foxworthy


Am I Allergic to Christmas?

Monday, December 19, 2016

I am the last person who ever thought I would utter these words. I am a lover of  all things Christmas from way back. I love the music, the food, the movies, the traditions, the time spent with family and friends, and the making of new memories every year.  I literally start my decorating for Christmas on November 1 every year and bask in the glow of the holiday spirit well into the new year.   So am I allergic to Christmas? Well, technically the answer is no. However, apparently I do have a pretty severe allergy to some of the trimmings and trappings that go with Christmas.  And it would seem that I'm not the only one.



This year at Thanksgiving, we spent the long weekend with family out of town. And over that weekend our family decided to purchase a lovely real Christmas tree for their home. We all visited the Christmas tree farm together and then helped them erect their beautiful new tree into the living room.  Of course, I, like so many others, went directly over to the tree and breathed in it's intoxicating aroma over and over and over.  And it didn't dawn on me at the time, but I spent the entire weekend sniffling, sneezing, wheezing, and rubbing my itchy bloodshot eyes. Clearly I was having some sort of allergic reaction, but I attributed it to the amount of time that we had spent outside over the weekend. And then as soon as we came home, whatever the allergic reaction that I was having cleared itself right up and went completely away.

Then my well-intentioned husband brought home a beautiful fresh wreath made of evergreen and matching evergreen garland to hang in our home.  We hung the garland on the banister of our stairs and the wreath on the backside of our front door. And lo and behold, my symptoms started to return. Every single morning I would awake with horribly bloodshot eyes and I was so congested I could barely breathe.  It started to dawn on me that maybe I was having a reaction to the fresh Christmas greens. So I did a little research and it turns out that this is a real thing. So much so that it has been given a name - Christmas Tree Syndrome. There was a medical study completed in 2011 that references all of this. The bottom line is that fresh Christmas trees and similar greens carry mold spores which increase exponentially in the warmth of your holiday home.  For those with a sensitivity to these mold spores, (and I can't believe that that's not everyone- who wouldn't be allergic to mold???) it produces allergic symptoms similar to that of hay fever.  Ding ding ding!!  So that's what's been going on!

My wonderful husband offered to take all of our live greens down shortly after he had just put them up, and I kept saying no because it was so nice of him to get them for us to begin with. But my symptoms persisted and like the Grinch slinking through our house one morning, he took down the garland and our evergreen wreath while I was still sleeping. I actually awoke that morning to significantly better breathing and my eyes were actually clear for the first time in weeks.   So there you have it.  Case closed.

I'm not sure that I am excited about having an allergy to fresh evergreens, but I am definitely excited to be breathing a little easier at least. I guess this Christmas lover will just be lighting a pine scented candle and calling it a day as I breathe in my allergen-free artificial Christmas tree.

Becky Crocker's Old Fashioned Thumbprint cookies

Thursday, December 15, 2016

We attend our neighborhood Christmas Cookie exchange party every year about this time, and I always like to bring a new and different kind of cookie.  Thumbprint cookies are classic and timeless treats.  And even though I had not ever made them before, they came together quickly and easily and looked super festive for our cookie exchange. 


Betty Crocker's Old Fashioned Thumbprint Cookies


1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 brown sugar, packed
1 egg, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
Jelly or tinted confectioner sugar icing

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. 
  3. Work in flour and salt until dough holds together. 
  4. Shape dough into one inch balls.
  5. Beat egg white slightly.  Dip each ball into egg white and roll in nuts. 
  6. Place one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Press thumb deeply into the center of each. 
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  8. Immediately remove from baking sheet; cool.  Fill thumbprints with jelly. 

Notes: This recipe is said to make 3 dozen one inch cookies.  They are meant to be small.  And mine were. Even still, I struggled to stretch to 2 dozen cookies with this recipe.  I will double this batch the next time I make them!

If you are wondering where I found green jelly, it is mint apple flavored and was sold with all the other jellies at my local grocery store.  It was really festive looking.  I also used raspberry jelly (for the red) and apricot (for the gold). 



How to String Popcorn Garland

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Every year, I always decorate my dining room with all my wonderful vintage Christmas decorations, and every year, I always declare that this will be the year that I will string popcorn for the dining room Christmas tree. Well, this year, I actually did it FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME!  And while it might just seem obvious to most, there's actually more to stringing popcorn than meets the eye.  And since this was my first time stringing popcorn, I thought I would share a bit of what I learned with you.  It's FUN and it's the perfect time of year to give it a try!

 Do's!

  • First off, try to use unsalted and non-buttered popcorn. Working with plain popcorn is so much easier and mess free.  Trust me on this one.  I air popped corn in the microwave and it was perfect for this little project.
  • Stale popcorn is a lot easier to work with than fresh popcorn. Fresh popcorn is a lot more likely to break easily, while stale popcorn is roughly the consistency of styrofoam.  I popped my corn around lunchtime and let it sit out all afternoon before beginning to string after dinner.  Even then, I found that it wasn't quite stale enough.  I let it sit out again until the next day and it was much much easier to work with. 
  • When you are ready to begin the process of stringing, pick a neutral colored thread or yarn.  I used a cream colored thread, and you cannot see it at all when the popcorn is on the tree.  
  • I initially chose a large needle thinking it would be easier to work with, but it actually ended up working against me and breaking the popcorn kernels.  A smaller needle will save you a lot of trial and error. 
  • Take it from me and use two bowls- a big bowl for your popcorn, and a smaller bowl for any discards.  Trust me, when you break a piece of popcorn (and you will) if you just throw it back into your big bowl, you will pick up the same half piece of popcorn 20 more times before you find a nice fresh piece again.  It's Murphy's Law.  Also discard any burnt or unpopped kernels into your second bowl and continue stringing.  
  • Work it one strand at a time rather than one super long strand.  The farther the popcorn has to travel down your string, the more likely it is to break.  So I used several shorter strands instead. This also helps to assure that your strings remain tangle free. 
  • Make sure to knot both ends of your popcorn strings so your popcorn doesn't accidentally fall off the end!

Don'ts

  • I have also thought about stringing cranberries too, but in reading up on this process, it would seem that fresh cranberries have a very short shelf life- like they start rotting within a couple days of stringing them.  So I quickly ditched that idea and stuck with popcorn only. 
  • Some people actually spend time shellacking their popcorn strands once they are complete. However, this step is not only unnecessary, it also doesn't really help to preserve your popcorn. There are a few people out there who claim that they have been able to save and store their popcorn strings year over year.  I would not recommend this as popcorn is still food and will tend to attract unwanted pests.  And as fragile as these pieces are, I still cannot imagine a good outcome after a year of storage.  If this is a fun Christmas tradition that you and your family enjoy, then just restring the popcorn each year and forget about trying to store them. 
So how did this little endeavor turn out for us?  Well, Lexi is honestly too young to participate just yet. Older kids might enjoy it.  This big kid sure did!  I curled up on the couch and strung my popcorn while we watched a Christmas movie.  Lexi enjoyed eating the popcorn.  And I do love the way it turned out on the dining room tree.  I think this might just be a new little tradition for our family!



Donna's Favorite Things - Holiday 2016 Edition

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Here's a brand spankin' new list of favorite things for 2016. This list is sure to give you ideas  for that hard to shop for person and maybe a few ideas for yourself! :-)

Harris Sisters Favorite Things 2016



Black Essential Oil Diffuser

Essential oil diffusers let you enjoy the benefits of essential oil aromatherapy in any room in your home. This particular one automatically shuts off by itself when it is out of water and also has a light function (we use ours as a nightlight).


Puffin in Bloom Collection

Puffin in Bloom Heidi
Puffin in Bloom Collection

These classic books ranging from Little Women to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland have beautifully illustrated covers, which make them perfect for gift-giving. Originally only available for purchase at Anthropologie, these books with newly illustrated covers in retro floral patterns are now readily available on Amazon. Buy the whole collection or individually - both make lovely gifts.


Nessie Ladle

Harris Sisters Nessie Ladle


This is a fun gift for the practicing chef on your list (and also makes a funny gag-gift or White Elephant exchange gift). Is the famous Loch Ness Monster real? Sure! She's swimming in your pot of soup! 


Harris Sisters Retro Chutes & Ladders

Harris Sisters Retro Candyland

Harris Sisters Retro Clue Game
What is better than a board game for Christmas? A retro version of that game! And if you're having trouble hunting those down, Target has a line of retro board games to help you out. Board games in the line feature a box with classic illustrations from different years. Pictured here are Chutes and Ladders 1978 Edition, Candyland 1967 Edition, and Clue 1986 Edition (which is the same version that I own - only mine is the ORIGINAL 1986 version). 

The full line includes Mastermind, Sorry, Guess Who?, Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, Candyland, Battleship, Clue, Scrabble, Rummikub, Skip-Bo, UNO, Rack-O, Monopoly, Payday, Trouble, and Chutes and Ladders.


Harris Sisters Spirograph

Harris Sisters Fisher Price Record Player

Harris Sisters ViewMaster

Another favorite for gift-giving is retro toys, and World Market still has plenty of these in supply. From Fisher Price Record Player to ViewMaster to Spirograph, these gifts cover a wide range of ages and can go to both boys and girls on your list.


Harris Sisters Retro Candy

Harris Sisters Retro Soda

Stuff a stocking with retro candy and soda to bring back some memories of days gone by. Rocket Fizz has locations across the United States and offers up nostalgia in the form of both types of sweets. If you don't have one close to you, look for a local general store such as Mast General Store. Those types of stores will usually sell candy by the pound, and some offer glass bottled sodas as well.

Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

With all of the Christmas shopping, it's nice to put a little money back in your pocket. These websites and apps help you do just that! These are easy to use and pay you back for shopping that you're doing anyway.


Harris Sisters Receipt Hog

Receipt Hog is a free app that you download to your iOS or Android phone. Once you create a free account, you can scan any and all new receipts you and anyone in your family brings home. You will either earn coins, spins for Hog Slots (opportunities to win more coins), or sweepstakes entries for each qualifying receipt that you scan. You will collect coins in your account and are able to redeem them for Amazon gift cards, magazine subscriptions, or payout to a PayPal account.

The boys like this particular app because it's easy to just take a picture of the receipts and they like to spin the Hog Slots wheel to see if we won coins. Jaxon, in particular, likes this one because its mascot is a pig and he is fascinated with all things pig-related.

8. Ibotta

Harris Sisters Ibotta
Ibotta is a free app that you download to your iOS or Android phone. Once you create a free account, you unlock rebates on items that you are going to purchase. After you've purchased the products at a partner store, you scan the barcodes of the items you purchased and the receipt. The amount of the rebates you redeem is deposited into your Ibotta account within 48 hours (but my experience is that this happens almost instantly).

The bigger your team, the faster you earn. The more friends on your team, the easier it is to earn your Teamwork bonuses, each and every month.

When you join Ibotta with the referral code above and redeem a rebate, you'll get $10 deposited into your account.

Ibotta earnings can be transferred to a PayPal or Venmo as soon as you’ve earned. Or you can convert your earnings into a gift card.


Harris Sisters SavingStar

SavingStar is a website that offers digital coupons for grocery items. They also offer a free app that you can download to your iOS or Android phone, but the app and the website work the same. Once you create a free account, you link your store loyalty cards and then click on items that you are going to purchase. Once you make the purchase, SavingStar deposits the amount of the coupon into your account. Savings will post within 2-22 days depending on the store.

You can cash out out to a bank account or PayPal account once you save $5. They also offer the option to donate to charity.

This is one of the accounts I've had the longest. My lifetime "earnings" with this account is $220.06.

10. Ebates

Harris Sisters Ebates

I wrote about Ebates all the way back in 2012 when we first started the blog, and let me tell you, I'm still a believer! Ebates is a website that offers cash back for online purchases. They also offer a free app that you can download to your iOS or Android phone, but the app and the website work the same.

Once you open a free account, you go to the Ebates website to find the website you want to purchase from. They have more than 2,000 stores to choose from, so no worries with finding "your usual store."

You click through their link to find extra coupons and deals, and once you're shopping through their link, it records your sale and puts a percentage of the sale back in your account.

Each quarter, they'll send you whatever amount of money is currently in your account. Christmas time is when I rack up the most! 

When you join Ebates with the referral code above and redeem a rebate, you'll get a $10 gift card upon making your first $25 purchase.

I've had this account for a long time, and my lifetime "earnings" with them is $860.10.

Bonus Favorite Thing!

I'm adding this bonus favorite thing because we needed a little help with a hard-to-find Christmas gift this year, and THIS website was the thing that saved our sanity. 


Harris Sisters NowInStock.net


After visiting toy store after toy store and then searching online to find the gift was out of stock at traditional retailers and only being sold by resellers at outrageous prices, we found this gem of a website to send alerts to us of when the product was in stock.

NowInStock is a free web service that tracks the availability of hard-to-find items online and alerts you whenever these items are available for purchase at the retailers they are tracking.

The only caveat is that you have to ACT FAST. For example, we received a text alert last night at 6:40 PM that our item was available, and by the time we went to check the retailer at 6:43 PM, the item was GONE.

(If you're wondering, we were lucky enough to score our item this morning, so I give this service and the elves who run it a ringing endorsement.)

Hope you're Christmas is shaping up nicely!

If you haven't had a chance to check out Deanna's 2016 Favorite Things List, go give that a looksee.

And don't forget to check out my previous years lists too:

Donna's 2014 Favorite Things List

This post contains affiliate links.

Deanna's Favorite Things - Holiday 2016 Edition

Friday, December 9, 2016

It's that time of year again! Time to make your list and check it twice. And since it has become a bit of a tradition for the past few years, I wanted to share a few of my very own favorite things with you. So let's get the ball rolling with number one:



I bought this CD a couple weeks ago, and have had it on constant rotation ever since.  It's a winner! Lots of traditional Christmas favorites mixed with several original Christmas songs, and all by Garth and Trisha themselves.  



I just discovered this nail color, and I LOVE IT!  It's the perfect blend of sparkle, shine, metallic, and neutral.  And it looks great with my skin tone- pretty pale.  Most neutrals tend to completely wash me out, but this one is just perfect.  And the champagne colored shine just screams holidays to me!




These are just plain AWESOME!  These bath bombs made by Lush are basically a huge ball of bath salts that dissolve in your bath water, but they are so unlike regular bath salts. 


First off, when I say they are huge, I mean HUGE!


But, here's what they do to your bath water.  They fizz and bubble, and color and scent your bath water like a little light show.  It is so so so pretty, I can hardly describe it, and when they are finished with the "show", your bath remains a gorgeous color (depending on which bomb you are using- they are all different).  But they don't stain you or your tub.  Everything goes right down the drain when you are done.  But the lasting scent remains.  This may be my favorite on my whole list!




Last year, when we were looking for gingerbread houses, I ran across several people saying that Trader Joe's had really good ones that were cute and different from the norm.  I called our local store and they were already sold out for the season.  But I didn't forget that little gem of information, and sure enough we scored one this year!  They are like little Swiss chalets.  


Just take a look!  Aren't they adorable?!?



I have blogged before about the Pioneer Woman kitchenware line that is available at Walmart.  I am still a big fan of her and this line.  And what's more- she put out a new collection just in time for Christmas!  Here's a look at some of the pieces.  They are all so sweet and mix so well with the other pieces you may already have from her regular line.  And they are super reasonably priced.  











I have never really worn nude lipstick very well.  I love it on other people, but I could never seem to find a shade that didn't totally wash me out.  (the curse of fair skin and fair hair).  Until now... Rimmel's Notting Hill Nude is saturated with color, and provides just enough to offer a really pretty shade of nudy pink.  It actually reminds me a lot of Cindy Crawford's signature look.  And the price is right.  You can easily find this lip color for $5 or less. 




I adore the three wick candles from Bath and Body Works.  They are so pretty and smell devine. They burn for a long time, and come in all sorts of seasonal and original scents.  But take it from me, never pay the full price for these.  They come and go on sale so wait for a sale to snatch them up.  They recently went on sale for $8.50 each and I grabbed up a bunch then.  I've never gotten them that cheap before.  Usually a sale will price them somewhere between $10-$12 each, which is still a great deal for what you are getting.  





Here's another winner at a great price.  These notepads are only $4 each, and are the perfect size to toss into your handbag.  They have a little velcro closure so they don't accidentally open and bend the pages.  And they come in all sorts of designs and colors.  





This year Gap has done it again.  They have created a whole line of striped sweaters in sizes and shapes for your entire family!  I snapped up the ladies version for myself and the matching sweater dress for Lexi.  I did not commit to one for hubby, though I think the men's version is really cool too. Check them out.  They have lots of versions of all of these!





I actually went out and bought the necklace in this set as soon as it was available this year.  It was calling my name, and I've worn it a lot already this Christmas season.  In truth, I think the bracelet is my favorite of the three pieces (I love that double strand), but I need another bracelet like I need a hole in my head.  So I pass it along to you.  Maybe you need the bracelet, or the earrings, or the necklace.  Or all three!  Have at it!

And don't forget about these other favorites I have also blogged about this year:





And here are my "Favorite Things" from the past few years, in case you need to catch up, or just like to take a stroll down memory lane.



Oh how I hope you are enjoying this holiday season!  Merry Christmas, my friends!

This post contains affiliate links.