Wednesday, October 7, 2015

All Things Fall on Rising!

Happy Fall Y'all!  Fall is my favorite season so I say that lots!  This morning on Charlotte's WCCB Rising we celebrated fall the Effortless Girl way.  We covered everything from snacks to power tool pumpkins - all for less (of course!).  Everything on the table was under $15 and parents can enlist the kids for some extra fun child labor.  Pour on the pumpkin spice and pull out those cozy sweaters because fall is here!  Check out the segment and photos below. 

Fall on WCCB Rising

The setup
Check out the edible acorn how-to here!

Edible Acorns
The How-to for the power tool pumpkins is coming right up - see the video above in the mean time.

Power Tool Pumpkins
Check out the how-to for tissue paper pumpkins here.

Tissue Paper Pumpkins

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Happy Fall Y'all on WCCB Rising Tomorrow!

The rain is over, finally!  It's time to officially celebrate Fall!!  Join us Wednesday morning on Charlotte's WCCB Rising as we kick off the season in a big way with all things fall.  Tune in to WCCB around 8:30 am for the Effortless Girl segment featuring yummy snacks for kids (ahem and adults) and simple autumn decor that is fun and easy on the wallet.  We're having fall family fun day - say that 3 times as fast as you can!  WCCB Rising streams here online so you won't miss it if you're on the go.  See you tomorrow and Happy Fall Y'all!

Effortless Girl on Rising Tomorrow!!!

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Effortless Edible Acorns

Need a super fast autumn food idea for parties or gatherings?  How about a four ingredient, four step recipe that is adorable and effortless?  Try edible acorns.  Kids love to eat them and adults think they are a creative party treat.  They will be the most popular item on the menu for a minimal investment.  You'll need one bag of pretzel sticks, one small nutella, store bought doughnut holes, and chocolate sprinkles.  Voila, that's it.

Edible Acorns!
 First the ingredients:
Four Ingredients
Dip:  Dip a doughnut hole almost half way into a small bowl of nutella.

Dunk:  Next dunk the doughnut hole into the chocolate sprinkles, covering the nutella with sprinkles.
Stick:  Snap a pretzel stick in two pieces and insert one side into the top of the doughnut hole.                                  
Serve:  Now the doughnut hole is ready to serve.  Edible Acorns!

Dip, Dunk, Stick, Serve!  So easy and creative, no one has to know how simple they really are.



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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Get Ready for Christmas (for less) with Charlotte Parent!

This week The Effortless Girl Column on Charlotte Parent featured an easy Christmas gift.  You're probably thinking why now?  Yep, it's early, but why stress later when you can get a jump now?  I'm one of those ... those women (or men) that get extremely excited about Christmas. I love the meaning of the day, the goodwill, the celebratory vibe, the food, and the decorations. I'm a holiday fanatic. I pack the weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas with concerts, pageants, hot chocolate, Hallmark Channel movies, and driving around to look at the sights. I love browsing the mall to smell the peppermint and visit Santa, but shopping for gifts during the holiday season makes me stressed out. It is so much easier to get a jump on the presents now, when things are quiet and you have a minute to think. This month is the time to start the planning and I have a super easy gift that will make you the Belle of every Christmas Ball!
Homemade Vanilla!

I like to make vanilla extract myself. Because I bake often, I use lots of it. The store bought vanilla is expensive. Plus, the commercial vanilla, the "pure" vanilla extract has sugar and water added (things that make you go hmm). If you make your own vanilla, the taste difference is obvious and your cost savings are substantial. One 2-ounce bottle in the store costs about $4.75 for "pure" vanilla extract. You can make 64 ounces for about $40 or less at home. The price savings is huge and so is the taste and quality.

FYI — the strength of real vanilla extract is measured in "bolds." This means single bold is store bought quality, double bold is twice as strong and so on. The longer vanilla ages, the stronger it gets. The vanilla recipe I will share with you is double bold. I let mine age for months and then years so my old stuff is strong, super BOLD! This recipes needs to age at least 30 days before using.
Begin by purchasing a combination of vodka and bourbon. I like to use more vodka and a splash of bourbon for taste.  If you like bourbon, add more. Purchase 64 ounces of alcohol. I don't drink so I purchase whatever is on sale at the liquor store. The quality of the liquor doesn't matter a whole bunch because the beans will flavor the liquid. I purchased about $16 worth of vodka + bourbon. I order the beans online. There are literally hundreds of places to purchase bulk beans. Google "bulk Madagascar vanilla beans" and go shopping. Buy 1/2 pound of beans for $20-$25. If you pay more, you are just unnecessarily paying more.
The Ingredients
The beans should arrive sealed in plastic to preserve the moisture and quality of the bean. The photo above makes the beans look dried out. If they are not pliable and instead are dry and brittle, send them back. Brittle beans are old and don't pay for them. Cut the beans into small chunks. You may split them in the middle, or not, it doesn't matter. Use the 1/2 pound of beans for 64 ounces. The aging process will break down the beans and extract the yummy goodness from them regardless of how you chop them.
Chop the Vanilla Beans
 Pour the alcohol into a large glass jar with a lid that will properly seal. Use glass so that the plastic won't leach into the extract. I've been using the same jar of extract for several years that I made several years ago and I don't think that plastic would work over an extended period of time. Put the chopped beans into the jar as well.
Combine the Ingredients
 Tightly seal the jar. Give it a shake and place it in the back corner of your pantry. It doesn't need to be exposed to lots of light for the next few months. The jar needs to sit for at least 30 days before the vanilla is ready to use. After that, it can age for a long, long time. Below is the new jar on the left and an old jar that I made two years ago on the right. Note the color difference. 
New vs. Aged Vanilla
 I like to leave the chunks of beans in my vanilla. If you are making ice cream or a recipe that calls for vanilla beans, you can scoop a spoonful of the beans from the bottom of the jar and use them also. I think it makes my baking taste and feel more organic with whole chunks of beans that puree in the blender. The flavor is really rich. You can always strain the old beans out if you want, it is totally up to you.
Finally, pour the vanilla into containers to make perfect Christmas gifts for friends, teachers, book club friends in December!  I purchase 1-ounce jars online for 40 cents each and they come with a special lid that seals the liquid in the jar. It is also really creative to purchase decorative jars in different shapes or sizes to give away. Make sure you purchase a jar that will seal. The total cost of my vanilla including 64 small jars is about $65 for 64 jars.  
This makes a very thoughtful (and useful) gift that is super unique and totally affordable for $1 per jar – in total 64 gifts! Tie a small piece of ribbon around each jar and PRESTO an easy (on the budget AND to make) present! Spend this holiday season enjoying the time with your friends and family with your list already checked off. This gift idea is simple, fast, and far less stressful than looking for a parking space at the mall so Merry (early) Christmas!  Be sure to check out Charlotte Parent for more holiday happenings and all things kids!
Easy Gifts!

#charlotte #charlotteparent #christmas #christmaspresents #santa #holiday #christmas2015 #DIY

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Effortless Girl on Long Island Pulse!

Effortless Girl is in expansion mode.  We're featured today on Long Island Pulse!  Beth Ann Clyde is a digital editor and loved Effortless Girl's  simple pumpkins that are decorative (and never, ever rot)!  They're great for fall and Thanksgiving decor and easy on the wallet.  Check out Long Island Pulse for fun entertainment and lifestyle ideas and all things New England!  Thanks Beth Ann and Long Island Pulse!

Check out Effortless Girl!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Awesome Autumn Pumpkins!

Happy Fall Y'all!  Today on Charlotte Parent's new website, we made Awesome Autumn Pumpkins!  My favorite season is fall. The color, sights, and smells make the season extra special. Fall is fun for kids because Halloween is coming and a whole bunch of holidays are just around the corner. Children love a good project (and moms love the help).  This year give your kids a project that is fun and useful — homemade pumpkins!  Pumpkins are great for many reasons, both culinary and decorative. These pumpkins make beautiful autumn and Thanksgiving decorations for the home and table, and are a great way to involve the entire family in the seasonal preparations. My "pumpkins" cost about $1.50 and take 20 minutes or so to make. It really is so easy!

You will need one roll of toilet tissue and one roll of jute twine. I bought two because I made several pumpkins. The rolls of twine that I purchased make roughly two pumpkins per roll. The rolls of twine are just under $2 and the tissue paper is 50 cents per roll. So the cost is about $1.50 per pumpkin. Colored yard is also a nice touch.  It allows for custom colors like orange, brown, rust, or yellows that blend with fall decorations (or whatever color scheme is on your Thanksgiving table). You will also need a small dab of Elmer's or other craft glue at the end.

Begin by threading the end of the twine through the roll and tying a tight knot. After you tie the knot, shimmy the knot into the middle of the roll so it is hidden. Pull plenty of twine from the roll. Make a mental note to pull only the amount that you can force through the center of the paper roll. You should pull only half of what you need at first.  It is easy to tie another knot as you go along for more twine. Cut the end of the pulled twine from the roll.

Wrapping twine

 Wrap the twine four or five times around one section of the roll. Then turn the roll 1/4 around and repeat. This process will repeat until the entire roll is covered in twine. By doing it in quarter turns, the twine inside the roll stays firmly against the side so as you push and pull the excess in and out of the roll it doesn't tangle the extra twine. It also keeps the paper evenly mashed down so that one side doesn't bulge to the point you can't evenly cover it. No misshapen pumpkins here!
You may run out of twine from the wrapping process. Don't worry. Repeat the first step. Tie the end of the old twine to the new and conceal the knot inside the roll.  Pull extra twine from the roll at this point and clip the end from the roll when you have plenty.
Continue wrapping the roll in twine in quarter turns until it is fully covered. Once the roll is completely covered, take the end of the twine and tuck it under a strand that is already on the roll.  Dab a bit of glue over the entire edge of the twine and allow to dry. This will seal the end to keep the twine from unraveling. If you don’t have glue, just tuck the end into the twine, it’s not a problem. Go outside and look for a small stick that is roughly the width of the hole in the top of the roll for the pumpkin stem. Gently push the stick into the hole on the top of the pumpkin to finish the project.
Glue the end
The entire project takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. I let my glue dry overnight before I place the stick in the top. It is great to use different rolls of toilet tissue also because the thicknesses vary and the pumpkins will be varied in shapes. For taller pumpkins, use a cut paper towel roll. You can cut the roll in half or 3/4 of the way up the roll for giant pumpkins. Happy fall!

Happy Fall!

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Weekend Roundup + A New Book!

It's an all things southern weekend roundup!  This morning we woke up to 30 degree temperatures so fall has official arrived in the mountains!  Whew, I love fall, but that first chilly morning feels shockingly cold.  This past weekend was packed with birthdays,  nephews and food.  Overall it was A+.  We spent Saturday at the Asheville farmer's market.  The Moose Cafe is the restaurant at the farmers market that serves farm to table food (literally).  The menu is nothing but southern comfort food and everything is really delicious due to the fresh factor of the ingredients.  So, so, so good!

Moose Cafe's Southern Food Y'all!
On Saturday afternoon,  my nephew Bryce had a book signing at Barnes and Noble.  His first book was recently published entitled Things To Bring My Family When I Die.  I'm so proud of him.  He's been cooking since he was little.  Bryce wrote this fun little cookbook as his first venture into writing.  
Look it's Bryce's Book!

 And my photo (no makeup - don't judge) with the author!


Saturday night we celebrated my brother's birthday.  My brother is very special to me and his birthdays are extra special events.  The rest of the weekend I spent holding my newest nephew Wells (he's four months) and we spent the weekend napping and making sounds.  Wells lives 4 hours from me so I suffer from infant withdrawal.  I was present at his birth (via Skype) and I miss him every single day.  He is smart and wonderful - and I'm not just saying that because I'm his aunt.  My sister and her husband did very well making this one.

My Welly
I hope you all had a great weekend and are gearing up for a magnificent week!

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