Thursday, January 29, 2015

Effortless Girl TOMORROW Morning on WCCB News Rising

Watch our Effortless Girl segment Friday morning (tomorrow) on Charlotte's WCCB News Rising!  We will talk about effortless and inexpensive last minute Super Bowl Party ideas you can do with the kids.  Tune in either on your television or streaming online here.  Don't miss it - great ideas you can use in a pinch and keep the kids busy on game day!

WCCB News Rising

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Valentine's Day Sneak Peek

Valentine's Day is coming up.  It's a mixed bag holiday for me.  I love the sweets and all things pink and love...but I was also single for many years and I'm extremely cognizant that it can be a tricky day to navigate.  So I decided to ease into the holiday of love with a theme breakfast.  Everyone has to eat (even if you are anti-romance) and cinnamon rolls for breakfast are delicious.  Combining Valentine's pink hearts with sweet cinnamon rolls will please everyone at the table.  This idea takes about 15 minutes and costs less than $2 for the entire family to have a Valentine's treat.  It's a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to spread a little love with Iced Cinnamon Hearts - yummy!

Valentine's Breakfast
Start with refrigerated cinnamon roll dough from the supermarket.  I purchased this package of dough with a doubled coupon and the total cost was $1.50.  You will need two to three drops of red food coloring and a baking pan.

Unroll each cinnamon roll into a long piece of dough shaped like a bread stick.  

Unroll the dough
Curl each end of the dough inwards to form a heart.  Pinch the bottom of the heart into a point to emphasize the heart shape.

Form the heart
Place the hearts on a baking sheet.  I used one of the rolls and cut some smaller hearts from the dough.  Bake according to the package directions.  I baked the rolls for 11 minutes on 400 degrees.

Ready to Bake
While the rolls are in the oven, stir the icing that comes in the dough package.  Bring the icing to room temperature to make it easier to use.

Stir the icing
Add 2-3 drops of red food coloring to the icing.

Add food coloring
Stir the icing very well to blend the food coloring to a deep pink color.

Blend the color
Once the hearts are baked, remove from oven and allow to briefly cool.  Spread the icing across the cinnamon hearts. 

Iced Cinnamon Hearts
Start Valentine's day off right by giving your sweetie and your family or friends a bit of love for breakfast - for less (time and money).  Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Effortless Girl on WJHL News!

Last Thursday The Effortless Girl was honored with an invitation to appear on WJHL's News at 7 with Kylie McGivern.  Kylie and the WJHL crew are so much fun and professional people!  Our Effortless Girl segment featured Super Bowl party ideas for less by using and repurposing things you already have and simple recipes to whip up before the big game.  Game day is for fun and not slaving away in the kitchen or spending too much money!  It was great to appear on WJHL and a special thank you to super producer Karissa for making the day a breeze!

Game Day for Less on WJHL

Julie and news anchor Kylie McGivern

WJHL Studios
Oh and the blog, the segments...none of it would be possible without Team Effortless Girl.  My mom and dad along with my nephew Bryce helped me set up for the segment and dad took the photos.  Thanks to the're amazing.

Team Effortless Girl

Waiting for the Segment to Begin
Be sure to visit WJHL on Facebook and Twitter and follow Kylie on Twitter!

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Effortless Valentine's Day Gifts!

Finding the perfect Valentine's Day gift can be a chore. That's where we come in. From sentimental personalized gifts to gifts for the beer lover, we've put together this slideshow of suggestions the man or woman in your life are sure to love! Scroll down and browse through to see our favorites for 2015.
(Click on pictures to see where to go to product page.)                                                                                                                                            


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Saturday, January 24, 2015

January Book Club - An Effortless Winter Break!

I love winter.  I truly do.  But I have to confess, after the holidays, I’m just looking for spring on the horizon.  I guess it also reflects in my book choices, because recently, I found myself looking for a book that might serve as the mid-winter vacation that I can’t afford…

Image from

So after a bit of searching, I stumbled on The French House by Don Wallace.  I’ve never read anything by this author, but the description on Amazon sounded like the perfect, funny little getaway that I’ve been in the mood for, so I gave it a try.

The French House is essentially a true story about a young couple taking enormous risks to realize a dream-living in a cottage in a beautiful spot by the sea.  Of course, like most of us, they are plagued by the usual realities of life: a shrinking family budget, crazy in-laws, career indecision, and the like.  Wallace describes all their trials with a lightheartedness, though, that will leave you giggling, rather than crying.  

When they finally decide to take the plunge, buying a ruined French cottage on a beautiful island (no, really, the island is called Belle Isle) they are suddenly thrown into a whole new world, one filled with new characters, beautiful landscapes, and lots of impossible DIY home renovations that might remind you of Under the Tuscan Sun.

And yes, in some ways, I’d consider this a bit of a love story, albeit, an unconventional one.  It’s about the love one couple finds in defining what family means amidst a group of strangers who suddenly become a strong part of that family.  The book takes a humorous, but rich approach to describing the French, and more importantly, island culture.  I fell in love with Belle Isle and its inhabitants a little bit myself, and take comfort knowing that even if I never meet them, at least I know that they are REAL.  And of course, it doesn’t hurt to drown yourself in a book about a beautiful island off the coast of Brittany when you are looking at an ice storm knocking at your door!

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Game Day Cupcakes & Brownies - Perfect for Playoff Season!

It's playoff season y'all!  The collegiate national championship is coming up and the NFL playoff season is in full swing.  Now is the perfect time to amp up your game day party food with a little football themed fare!  Everybody likes cupcakes and brownies so combining football season with cake is the perfect play.  Game day is big at my house and a game day party is super fun.  It is simple to take your next party to another level for less.  Who's gonna win with football field cupcakes and brownies?  You are!

Game Day!
Go Team!
I like to start with a banner to hang above the food table or display near the drinks & ice.  I recycled the cardboard backing from my old 2014 desk calendar.  Using some left over paint or chalk write a football theme or a cheer for your favorite team.  I used a whitish gray paint to resemble a chalk board like the boards coaches draw their plays on.  It just adds a bit of whimsy and keeps things sporty.

Make a theme sign
Next I took green construction paper and masking tape for a football field themed paper to use as a display base for the table.  Tape rows of masking tape across the paper, that's it.  

Paper Ball Field Displays
And the table settings are done in a matter of minutes.  The cost is negligible.  I made my table for less than $1, probably more like 50 cents.  They make the perfect mat for the cupcake display.

Table setting materials
And now for the cake...You may use whatever cake method works best for you.  For this article I used a chocolate cake mix and brownie mix.  You can make your own from scratch or not, the base is up to you.  Whatever flavor of cupcake is your favorite, use it.  You will also need ingredients to make frosting, shredded coconut, a box of whopper candy, and food coloring.  

Make the brownies and the cupcakes.  While they are baking pour a bag at least 2 cups of shredded coconut into a bowl.  Add a few drops of green food coloring to the coconut and stir.  
Add food coloring to coconut
Continue adding food coloring drops to the coconut until you reach the color of grass.

Add coloring until a grass color is achieved
As the cupcakes and brownies cool, make icing.  You can make butter cream or purchase store bought.  I like homemade butter cream.  The recipe is one stick of melted butter, 1 1/2 pounds confectioners sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and a splash of milk.  Beat ingredients together until you have the consistency you like.  Add milk as needed for proper consistency.  When making chocolate icing, add a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder to the butter cream recipe.

Ice the tops of half of the cupcakes with the plain butter cream.  Immediately sprinkle shredded coconut to the tops of these cupcakes.

Add frosting and coconut to the cupcakes
Place one whopper candy onto the "grass" of the frosted cupcake for the football.  Using a plastic fork, break the two center tines from the fork.  Also break the fork handle in half and insert into the cupcake for the "field goal post."  Now you have a game winning cupcake!

Before you complete the second half of the cupcakes, frost the brownies with the plain butter cream.  You will only need a thin layer.  Once the frosting is complete, add the shredded coconut to the entire surface of the brownies.  Also, you may choose to leave them in the pan or place them on a flat platter.  It doesn't really matter.  You are making a football field for Ball Field Brownies.

Almost ready to play
Using about 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar, sprinkle the sugar onto the brownie surface in straight lines.  My lines are not so good, but you get the idea.  Place another whopper candy in the center for the ball....You are now ready to play ball!

Football Field Brownies
The last step...Spoon a couple of tablespoons of butter cream into a small sandwich bag or piping bag.  With the remainder of the butter cream, add cocoa powder and make chocolate frosting.  Ice the other half of the cupcakes with this frosting.

Add chocolate icing
Cut a small hole in the corner of the sandwich bag.  Pipe a small dab of icing onto the chocolate cupcake surface in the shape of a football's laces.  The cupcakes are ready to play!

Football Cupcakes!
To recap:  

Ball Field Brownies

Football Cupcakes

Touchdown Treats!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Watch Effortless Girl Thursday on WJHL - Super Bowl Edition!

Calling all Effortless Girl Football Fans!!! The Superbowl is just around the corner - that means game day parties and snacks are on the menu.  Watch Johnson City's WJHL News Channel 11 on Thursday evening's 7:00 pm news for an effortless and affordable snacks and party decorations that you can make in a blitz!  Your celebration will score a winning touchdown with recipes and tips from the Effortless Girl!  If you don't have WJHL News Channel 11 on your channel list at home, tune in live online to the streaming broadcast here.  Join the Effortless Girl Team - See you Thursday!

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