A Letter From Santa

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Last year, when my in-laws moved closer to our part of the world, they went through a lot of their belongings, as we tend to do when we are preparing for a big move, and my mother-in-law came across a wonderful letter that she received from Santa when she was a little girl.  She passed it along to me because she thought I would appreciate it.  And boy was she right!!


It was still tucked away inside it's original envelope, dated December 21, 1953, complete with the Santa Claus, IN postmark.  Her mother saved it for her for many years, and then she kept it for many years herself.  Now, I share it with you because it's too special not to. 


Here's a look at the special letter inside. Just look at the letterhead.  I love it!!


And here's the full letter.  (You can click on the image to view a larger photo.) 


Signed by Santa himself.  


The letter reads: 

Hello there- 

Just the other day, I got the nicest letter from you, and because it was so nice, I'm answering it myself.  My helpers are just finishing up the biggest and best bagful of surprises ever. 

It's a pretty big job making sure that everybody gets their share, but Mrs. Claus and I can do it because we've spent hundreds of years learning what boys and girls like to find underneath their trees Christmas morning. 

Remember, if you don't find every single thing on your list, it's just because some of it went to your friend down the street or in the next town or maybe even across the ocean. 

I'll be around Christmas Eve.  'Til then, here's a very Merry Christmas from -

Santa Claus





Oh how sweet and special and magical.  And oh to find a letter like this from Santa himself.  What a wonderful surprise that must have been.  

Creative parents have come up with all sorts of ways to do similar things over the years.  But I will close by sharing a little tip with you.  There is only one place in whole entire world that bears the Santa Claus postmark.  Santa Claus is in fact a real little town in Indiana.  (We have been there and seen it first hand.)  And there is a sure-fired way to receive a letter similar to this one with that special postmark on it.  

Just send your letter to Santa to: 

SANTA CLAUS
P.O. BOX 1
SANTA CLAUS, IN 47579


As long as your letter to Santa has been received by December 21, 2017, and a legible return address is included in the letter, the child will receive a reply.  And it's FREE!!

Merry Christmas, my friends!

30 Traditions to Help You Celebrate an Old-Fashioned Christmas

Sunday, December 3, 2017

If you've been following our blog for any amount of time, you'll know that The Harris Sisters are old souls who like to incorporate vintage items and old-fashioned traditions into our modern lives.

Christmas is the perfect time to look back to old family traditions and see which ones you might be able to work into your celebrations this year. You might be surprised at how fun some things from your childhood still are, and your children might enjoy them too!

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas

30 Ways to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas

Settle in for a healthy dose of nostalgia. How many of these Christmas traditions do you remember from your childhood?

Decorations

1. Set up a toy train to go around the base of your Christmas tree. This will provide hours of fun for little kiddos!

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 30 Ways to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


2. String bubble lights on your Christmas tree. Even if you have a pre-lit tree, you can string a few strands of these on the tree for a colorful vintage effect.

3. Place an (electric) candle in each of your windows.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas



Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 30 Ways to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


5. Collect pine cones from your yard and use them to create a wreath or tuck them into a garland.

6. If you have holly bushes in your yard, snip a few pieces and use them to decorate.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


7. Share the stories of your ornaments with your kids as they help you hang them on the tree.


Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 30 Ways to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


9. Hang fresh mistletoe in your doorway.

10. Decorate your tree with vintage decorations, ornaments, and icicles.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


11. Make pomanders out of oranges and cloves.

Food

12. Hunt down some old-fashioned Christmas candy - just like the kind that used to be at Grandma's house.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


13. Decorate a gingerbread house.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 30 Ways to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


14. Bake from scratch. Pull out your family recipes and set aside a day (or two) to make Christmas goodies and maybe even a favorite meal. These are The Harris Sisters' favorite family recipes for Christmas time:




15. Enjoy homemade wassail.


Presents

16. Mail holiday cards. Even with social media keeping everyone up-to-date on your daily activities, it's nice to sit down and actually mail physical cards. Display any cards you receive so that you can enjoy them throughout the season.

17. Make homemade gifts for loved ones. Here are some ideas to get you started:




Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 30 Ways to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


18. If you want to put together old-fashioned stockings, make sure to include a citrus fruit (like an orange or a tangerine), a pack of gum (we used to always get Doublemint), some chocolates, some nuts (still in shells), and a candy cane.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


19. Wrap your gifts in brown paper tied with baker's twine.

Activities

20. Get together with a group of friends or neighbors to go caroling.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


21. Attend Christmas Eve church service.

22. Grab some blankets and hot chocolate and go for a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 30 Ways to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


23. Take the opportunity to dress up and get at least one family photo. Our parents and grandparents were far less casual with their dressing than we are now. So, while those matching Christmas jammies for the whole family are nice, they wouldn't have been considered photo attire back in the day. :-) 

24. Combine fruits and spices to create a crockpot potpourri.

25. Bundle up and go ice skating.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


26. Read Christmas stories.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 30 Ways to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas


27. Drive around to look at Christmas lights while listening to Christmas music.

28. Make paper snowflakes with your kiddos to decorate your house.

29. Watch your favorite Christmas movie together as a family.

30. Go to your town's local Christmas parade.


Harris Sisters GirlTalk: 30 Ways to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas

Christmas is a time for you to remember everything you have to be thankful for. 

If you want to recreate a simple, old-fashioned Christmas, the best way to start is by taking out your calendar and marking out everything that isn't an absolute "must do." Then add in a few of the old-fashioned Christmas traditions listed above.

They will help to bring back the Christmas you remember from your childhood and add some extra joy to your Christmas celebrations.

Hope you enjoy a fun, old-fashioned merry Christmas!

This post contains affiliate links.

How to Get the Cozy Hygge Feeling at Home

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to relax and be cozy at home. 

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Get the Cozy Hygge Feeling at Home

You may have heard of the Danish idea of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) that embodies a feeling of contentment, coziness, enjoying the little things in life, and viewing those little things as special.

Source
So autumn and winter are the perfect time to shed the stress and busyness of the season in favor of practicing self-care that will help you enjoy all the little things that happen every day.

You might be thinking, "Why now? My calendar is filling up quickly (or is already full) with holiday commitments! Now is not the time to try to fit these things in too!"

But NOW is the perfect time!

First off, take a look at your calendar. Do you really NEED to do everything you've scheduled? Do you have anything that is penciled in as just a "want to do" but not a "need to do"? Maybe that might be something you'd be willing to forgo in favor of a day of relaxing. 

If not, don't worry about trying to accomplish all of the things on this list. These are just a few ideas to get you started. Some don't take a lot of time to do, but the ones that take more time are certainly not intended to cause more stress. Work them into your schedule as time allows.

20 Ways to Fill Your Home with the Feeling of Hygge



1. Bring out warm blankets to layer on your bed.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Get the Cozy Hygge Feeling at Home

2. Turn off your phone before going to sleep on the weekend. Sleep late.
3. Eat breakfast in bed.
4. Spend an entire day in your cozy pajamas and fluffy slippers.
5. Make comfort foods like chilisoup, or homemade bread.
6. Light candles.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Get the Cozy Hygge Feeling at Home

7. If you knit or crochet, settle into a cozy nook and make an afghan. 
8. Enjoy a fire in the fireplace or a bonfire outside.
9. Bundle up for a hike in the woods. Take pictures of nature along the way.
10. Listen to music on a record player. Sing along to your favorite songs.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Get the Cozy Hygge Feeling at Home

11. Open the curtains to let the sunshine in.
12. Plan your spring garden.
13. Enjoy your morning coffee or tea by the light of your Christmas tree.
14. Make time to read a new book or re-read an old favorite.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Get the Cozy Hygge Feeling at Home

15. Enjoy a family movie night with popcorn.
16. Bake cookies and share them with neighbors and friends.
17. Start a gratitude journal and write down three good things that happened each day. 

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Get the Cozy Hygge Feeling at Home
Source

18. Relax in a bubble bath.
19. Take advantage of the shorter days and watch the sunset.
20. Have an old-fashioned family board game night.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: How to Get the Cozy Hygge Feeling at Home



Most of all, enjoy your cozy time at home!

Mischief Managed: Our Harry Potter Family Halloween Costumes

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

So, if you're a new reader of the blog, you might not know that we go to great lengths to plan out an entire family Halloween costume theme every year. You can read the story of how that all began and catch up on some of our previous years' costumes here. And every year, we do a big reveal here on the blog to let everyone know what theme we picked for this year.

Actually, the boys picked this year's theme last year. They couldn't decide between superheroes and Harry Potter for last year, so they came to the compromise to do superheroes last year and Harry Potter this year.

That actually worked out really well, since 2017 marked the 20th anniversary of the release of the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

So without further ado, here are our costumes this year. We needed a Harry Potter. Aidyn fit the bill well for this character.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes


And we needed a Ron Weasley. Jaxon was about right for this role.


Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

And you can't really have a Harry and a Ron without a Hermione. That ended up being me. As an aside, the boys had QUITE the conversation about who I should be this year. They were going back and forth between Hermione and Professor McGonagall. They ultimately ended up with Hermione thanks to Jaxon's reasoning that "Mama is a lot closer in age to Hermione than she is to Professor McGonagall who is at least 200!" Bless him! I will have to make sure he gets extra Halloween candy! :-)

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes


And last but not least, the boys whittled down their choices for Ryan to Snape or Hagrid, ultimately landing on Hagrid. Of course, that would give us the opportunity to incorporate our dogs, Smitty and Chance, as "magical beasts" without wrangling them into costumes. (I'm sure they will be forever grateful for this.)

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Harry Potter Family Costumes


And here's the whole motley crew casting a spell for a Happy Halloween:


The Devil's in the Details

This year's costumes were fairly easy to put together. Most all of the pieces can be bought at costume stores, and some of the pieces we already owned.


Take a look at what you'll need and see if you might already have some of these items in your home:
  • Student costumes (Harry, Ron, and Hermione): White button down shirt, black pants for boys, black pleated skirt for Hermione, knee socks for Hermione, Gryffindor robe, Gryffindor tie, glasses for Harry, orange hairspray for Ron, lightning bolt drawn on Harry's forehead with eyeliner
  • Hagrid costume: brown pants, red shirt, brown vest or jacket, brown belt, brown overcoat, wig and beard, boots
  • Props: wands (we got these at Universal Studios), pink umbrella for Hagrid, books for Hermione (any hardbound book will do), white owl stuffed animal for Harry (also from Universal), duct tape for Ron, Quidditch book for Harry, stuffed dragon for Hagrid, keys for Hagrid

How to Make the Perfect Wine Spritzer

Monday, October 30, 2017

If wine is your thing, but you like to change it up sometimes OR if you prefer a sweeter and colder beverage, then maybe you should consider a wine spritzer. It's the easiest drink to prepare and will have you wondering why you never gave this a try before. 


The key to a wine spritzer is to start with super-chilled wine and then add either club soda, lemon lime soda, or ginger ale.  Any one of those will do- just whatever suits your taste, but be sure to super chill them too before adding them to the mix.   Finish off with a wedge of lime to garnish a white wine spritzer or a slice of orange or a handful of frozen berries to garnish a red wine spritzer. 

The ratio is 3/4 part wine to 1/4 part mixer. 


Note: Super chilled ingredients are the key here.  Your glass should frost up on you.  That's how you know you've done it right!  Using extra COLD liquids will prevent you from having to add ice to your wine.  That's a no-no for this wine lover. You can certainly also freeze your fruit if you have the time and use it like ice cubes as well. 

Cheers!

Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

So, you've signed up to participate in your local Trunk or Treat. It's this weekend, and you've already bought all of the candy you plan to hand out. Boy, you're ahead of the game!

But, you really haven't given much thought to how you're going to decorate your trunk. What?

Give these ideas a look see for some inspiration. And even if you're all set for this year, you might want to pin some for next year.

These first three were at our local Fall Festival just last weekend. 

A classic It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown theme for this trunk. The ghosts out front were tomato cages draped in white plastic table cloths and had black construction paper eye holes. Don't forget to make one with extra eye holes for Charlie Brown - he had a little trouble with the scissors! And if you wanted to dress up with the theme, it would be easy to purchase a yellow shirt from a craft store and use a black marker to draw the signature zigzag stripe on it.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas

This cute little blue dune buggy was dressed up like Cookie Monster. The front was draped in blue fabric and the mouth and "cookies" were cardboard. The person handing out treats at this trunk was also dressed in a sandwich board style costume made out of cardboard that looked like a big cookie. This trunk was handing out little bags of Famous Amos and Keebler cookies.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas

This spooky trunk was draped in spiderwebs that you can purchase from the Dollar Store. Then they hung construction paper bats and finished with a cardboard coffin and a large skeleton. It would be easy to dress as a skeleton (t-shirt or makeup) for this trunk.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas

Here's a great idea for an '80s Dance Party Trunk. It's bright and colorful and uses only cardboard and items you can buy at the local party store. If you're interested in dressing in a 1980's costume, check out The Harris Sisters' tips and tricks to recreate a look from the 1980's.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas
Kelly Sarvabui poses with her 80's Dance Party Trunk
This elaborate pirate-themed trunk looks a lot more complicated to put together than it really is. First, place a chest, box, or crate in the trunk to hold all of your "treasure" - in this case they chose all candy with gold wrappers (Snickers, Hershey's Nuggets, and Rolos). Add a toy sword and a toy chain to decorate, and add a skeleton, pirate map, lantern, and pirate banner to finish. 

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas
Aaarrgh, Mateys! Thar be gold in this pirate themed trunk!
This Harry Potter themed trunk looks pretty easy to make. The "brick" backdrop looks to be fabric stamped with sponges dipped in red paint to create a brick pattern. Of course the brick backdrop is labeled with a 9 3/4 sign, which you could make yourself. Here's a DIY tutorial for the floating candles. And the rest is just staging with some spell books, wands, an owl, and a bird cage. Don't forget to dress like your favorite Harry Potter character!

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas
Michelle Lunt featured this impressive Harry Potter themed trunk on her blog

You'll need to get your hands on some large appliance boxes for this one! Those will make the best skyscrapers. And other than colorful paper and paints, the only other craft item you'll need to put this together is some cotton batting. And if you want to dress like a superhero, take a look at how Harris Sister Donna's family dressed up as members of the Justice League.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Last Minute Trunk or Treat Decoration Ideas
Wham! This Superhero Trunk will knock your socks off!
Hope these trunks give you some inspiration for your upcoming trunk or treats! 

Baked Apple Pancake

Thursday, October 19, 2017

We recently gave this breakfast casserole a try, and we were impressed! Not only was it easy to make, but it was also a welcome warm breakfast for a chilly fall morning.

What makes this so easy is that you mix everything up and then put it in a casserole dish to bake. So while it might taste like apple pancakes, you don't have to make them one by one. Give this recipe a try - you'll be happy to add it to your fall breakfast rotation.

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Baked Apple Pancake

Baked Apple Pancake

6 medium apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
12 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled, divided
6 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 3 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Place apple slices in a skillet with lemon juice. Toss with cinnamon and confectioner's sugar. Add 8 Tablespoons butter. Cook on low-medium heat, stirring, for 4 minutes until apples are tender.
  3. Add flour, salt, eggs, milk, vanilla, and remaining butter to a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Spread apples evenly in bottom of casserole dish. Pour batter over top.
  5. Bake about 20-25 minutes, until no moist spots are left in the batter.
  6. Remove from oven and serve by flipping portions onto plates and sprinkling with confectioner's sugar. Serve warm.
Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Baked Apple Pancake

Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Baked Apple Pancake

Your family will really love this breakfast treat - it's almost like having apple pie for breakfast! (And who can resist that?) If you're looking for other tried and true fall breakfast recipes, give these a try: