Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back to School: DIY Bulletin Boards

I have to be organized.  Call me OCD or a neat freak, but I need order in my life and especially around my desk.  Even though I love my phone, nothing replaces a calendar that I can glance at or a post-it stuck up on the bulletin board about something important I shouldn't forget.  Bulletin boards can be made for pennies and just like the dry erase board you may use items already in your home for a greater cost savings.  Today we'll show you for different styles of boards to craft.  These are so simple kids can make them and tailor them to specific tastes and decor.

DIY Bulletin Boards

The four options are shown in the photo below.  The base of each is made from inexpensive photo frames or disposable plates - how easy is that?

The options
 You'll need plastic plates (I used one I had at home and purchased a plastic serving tray for 99 cents at a discount store),  inexpensive photo frames (buy the $1 ones at the dollar store), an 8 x 11 piece of fabric or felt, cork board sheets, glue, and patterned duct tape.

The first board is easy.  I chose to cover the cork in patterned felt.  This one costs about $2.50.

Fabric Covered Cork
Cut the cork sheet to fit snugly into the photo frame.  This frame is an expensive pop-off cover frame.  I threw the glass cover away because it wasn't needed (and I didn't want to cut myself).   Place the cork down in the frame where the glass used to be.
Trim the cork
Glue the fabric onto the cork.  I needed to trim mine just a bit but otherwise it was ready to glue.  Allow the glue to dry before hanging.
Glue the fabric onto the cork

Next I decided to walk on the wild side.  Leopard is such a fun print and leopard print tape is really underutilized in my opinion.

Leopard Print Board
Again cut the cork to fit inside the photo frame.

Cut the cork to fit the frame
Using the tape as a border, line all four edges with the printed tape.  Once the inside edges are lined, repeat on the four outside edges of the frame.  Roar!
Line the edges of the frame with printed tape
The next option uses a disposable plastic serving tray found at most discount stores.  It's easy as pie.

Cut the cork to fit inside the tray.  This tray was a larger size so I only needed to barely trim the edges.

Trim the cork edges
Glue the cork to the tray.  I used plenty of glue so it will never, ever come off.

Glue the cork
My last option is also my most inexpensive option.  I used small, round plastic plates. The cork is covered in printed, in this case silver glittered, duct tape.  The cost of this board is about 75 cents.  It would be really cool to make 3-4 of these and display them together on a wall.

Glitter Board!
Cut the cork into a round shape.  I could get 2-3 round shapes from one sheet of cork board so it was really inexpensive per bulletin board.
Cut a round shape
Glue the round cork shape onto the plate.  Again use plenty of glue.

Glue the round cork
You'll be ready to study (and remember) with these Back to School Bulletin Boards!


#backtoschool #school #firstday #bulletinboard #glitter #leopard #leopardprint

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Back to School: Easy Dry Erase Boards

It's time to go back to school.  I had a love hate relationship with Back to School season.  It's filled with so much promise and anticipation and yet so much responsibility and homework.  This week we'll show you simple and really, really inexpensive ways to ease some of the stress - on you and on the budget with simple Back to School DIY tips.  Many of the materials you'll need are already around the house so let's get busy.

Dry erase boards are a must have for dorm rooms, study desks, and beside the kitchen door.  They're a great way to jot down everything from the empty milk bottle to a quick message to a roommate.  Sure you can buy one like everyone else has from the office supply store.....or you can make a super amazing personalized board for free (or pennies).

DIY Dry Erase Board
This dry erase board came from a photo frame I already had.   I also already had dry erase markers.  If you don't have the markers, they may be purchased from a discount store in packages of three for $ 1.50 per package.  This frame would cost about $5 at a discount store.  You'll need a piece of printed or colored paper or fabric of your choice that fits the frame.  This allows you to perfectly match your room or study area.

This assembles in seconds.  Place the fabric or paper into the frame where the photo would normally go.  Once the the material is centered, put the back of the frame in place.  That's it, you're done.  What's nice about using a photo frame is that the hanging hardware is already attached to the back so it's ready to frame without extra effort.

Center your material

Now you've got the perfect personalized Back to School dry erase board!


#backtoschool #school #schoolyear #firstdayofschool

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Happy National S'mores Day!

It's National S'mores Day! S'mores are one of my favorite desserts. The chocolate, the gooey marshmallows, the yummy crunch....what's not to like?  The great thing about s'mores is that they made be made indoors or out.  S'mores are popular in a crowd and make excellent party favors.  A kit may be easily crafted and handed out to guests as a party treat or an extra special take home present.   

There are many, many ways to package a s'more kit.  If your party, wedding, or special event has a specific theme - use it!  Small favor boxes, theme bags, or novelty containers make clever packages for s'more kits.  You can be as creative as you like from specialty printed packaging with printed tags to simple bags for single serve s'mores.  The basics for the kit are in the photo below.  Purchase graham crackers, marshmallows, Hershey's chocolate, and skewers for the s'more.  I also use Junior Mints for an added twist.

S'more ingredients
Make your kits with enough ingredients for two s'mores per kit.  Break the graham cracker sheets in half and stack four halves.  

Graham Crackers
Next pull the marshmallows into two pieces.  You may choose to use the marshmallows that are flat and specially made for s'mores.  I place one Junior Mint on one half of each marshmallow.

Junior Mints
Close the marshmallow with the Junior Mint in the center and stick the skewer through it - like a candy kabob.  Use two marshmallows per skewer.  Once the marshmallow is roasted, there is chocolatey mint goodness in each s'more bite!

Junior Mint Kabob
Unwrap the Hershey's bars.  It is also delicious to use Ghirardelli chocolate pieces in mint, peppermint bark, or chocolate caramel pieces for a gourmet take on the traditional s'more.

Hershey's chocolate
Stack the graham crackers on the bottom, then the chocolate into whatever packaging you choose to use.  Place two marshmallow skewers in each package.  Cross the skewers and tie the bag close at the point where the skewers cross.  This creates stability for the bag.  Use a twist tie so if you only eat once s'more, the bag may be closed easily and the other s'more eaten later.

The kit

 In the s'more kit, I like to place one skewer with Junior Mints and one without for variety.  


  Enjoy your s'mores with friends and family!


#autumn  #hersheys #juniormints #chocolate #marshmallow #diy #yummy #delicious
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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Cool Tips to Beat the Heat!

Need a fast fix for the hot weather we're all enduring this summer (that doesn't seem to end)? Check out the video and tips below for an Ice, Ice baby theme that makes it simple to beat the heat.  Whip up a popsicle party in no time or something a tad more ice-elegant for a sophisticated soirĂ©e - and all our Effortless Girl tips are easy on the wallet so you don't have to sweat the cost!  Click on the link to the WCCB Rising segment below and stay cool y'all!

Ice, Ice Baby

Beat The Heat With Effortless Girl Julie Loven - WCCB Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC - A heatwave has been plaguing the Charlotte area here lately, so we're showing you some cool ideas on how you can beat the heat. The Effortless Girl Julie Loven stops by with some fun ideas that will cool you off.
Popsicle Decor

Elegant Ice Buckets

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Beat the Heat on RISING Tomorrow!

OMG, it is SO hot outside!  The heat hits you as soon as you open the door - it's hot, your hair gets frizzy and I personally feel icky when it's this hot out.  Tomorrow on Charlotte's WCCB News Rising we're gonna show you quick and easy ways to beat the heat.  It's called the Ice, Ice Baby edition with all things yummy and crafty to help you stay cool (literally and figuratively).  The segment airs around 8:40ish Wednesday morning.  If WCCB isn't part of your channel lineup, you can watch the live streaming broadcast online here.  Stay cool and we'll see you tomorrow!

Ice, Ice Baby on RISING Tomorrow!

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer's Best Lemonade!

Lemonade is one of my favorite summer treats.  I love the touch of sweet combined with that pucker up tart lemon flavor.  Homemade lemonade is also more healthy than soda or other sugary drinks.  The recipe today is inspired by lemonade with fresh herbs served for my wedding shower and it was delicious.  This lemonade is simple to make.  If you have an electric juicer the effort is minimal, if you don't (like me) there is a bit of work involved but it's not hard labor.

Happy Summer!
This recipe will make two gallons of lemonade.  I used 10 very small lemons, 2 cups of sugar, water, and a handful of fresh mint and fresh basil from my plants.  The investment is about $4 - and the lemons were not on sale.  For measuring purposes, count on one cup of sugar per gallon and 1 1/2 cups of lemon juice per gallon.  If you want to add more sugar or more lemons, add them.  I don't like syrupy sweet lemonade so this recipe isn't overly sweet.

Ingredient List
Begin by making a simple syrup with about 4 cups of water and the sugar.  Slowly heat the water and pour the sugar in.  Stir frequently until the sugar dissolves.  Don't let it burn.  Once the sugar has dissolved, turn off the burner and set the pot aside.

Dissolve sugar into a simple syrup
Before juicing the lemons, I added zest from 2-3 of them into the bottom of the lemon juice bowl. It adds more lemon flavor to use the entire lemon.

Zest lemon into the bowl
Juice the lemons.  I made 3 cups of juice for two gallons of lemonade.  It took about 30 minutes to juice 10 by hand.  Be sure you completely juice the lemons so you won't waste any juice.

Juice the lemons
Lemon Juice at Last!  Whew!

Lemon Juice
Make sachets of herbs to float in the lemonade.  I used an onion bag.  Some lemons come in a net bag so use whatever you have.

Prepare the herbs
 Roughly chop the herbs into the net.

Tie the ends of the netting into a knot. Leave room for the liquid to circulate around the herbs and don't pack them in the netting too tightly.

Herbs ready for lemonade
Pour the simple syrup and the lemon juice into your container and stir.  Drop the herb satchel into the lemonade.  Add one gallon of water and stir and then the rest of the water as needed.  Taste the lemonade as you add water so you don't water down the flavor beyond what you like.  Once the water is added, allow the lemonade to refrigerate overnight so the herbs will marinate in the citrus acid and flavor the lemonade.

Almost ready to drink!
Serve with slices of lemon floating in the pitcher for visual effect.  You may also slice left over lemons to for individual servings on glasses with fresh herbs.

Lemonade ready to serve
 Invite your friends over for an afternoon on the front porch and enjoy your summer!


#summer #summertime #lemonade #kids #lemons #recipe #diy
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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Simple Summer Popsicles!

It’s SO hot outside!  This summer heat isn’t going away any time soon.  The best way to beat the heat is to cool down with something delicious and fun – popsicles! It is incredibly easy to make your own and tailor the treats with your favorite flavors.  Making popsicles yourself also allows you to have more control over the nutrition and specifically sugar content.  Let’s be honest, those plastic packages with colored water waiting to be frozen in the supermarket are a little scary (have you checked out the ingredient list?).
Beat The Heat Popsicles!

The prep time is minimal and homemade popsicles can freeze overnight for a simple next-day treat.  Popsicles also make a quirky after dinner dessert for a chic party.  Each recipe below is a suggestion – add or substitute any fruits or juices you like.  Popsicle molds may be purchased at any dollar or discount store at a minimal cost.  Get the kids involved and they’ll be excited to gobble up their creations!

Tooty-Fruity Popsicles 

(Makes 6 Popsicles)
  • 1 Cup Red or White Grape Juice (you may also sub orange or another juice)
  • ½ Cup Water
  • ½ Cup Blueberries
  • ½ Cup Sliced Strawberries
  • ½ Cup Sliced Peach or Nectarine
  • 1-2 Kiwis Sliced
Place the fruits into the popsicle molds.  The slices need to be firmly in place in the mold.  Combine the juice with the water (you may use straight juice; I add water to lower the sugar content).  Place the lids on the mold cups or add popsicle sticks into each one.  Freeze overnight.

Southern Peach Popsicles

(Makes 6 Popsicles)
  • 3 Cups Ripe, Peeled Peaches
  • 2 TBS Brown Sugar or Honey
Puree 2 cups peaches in blender or food processor.  Add Sugar/Honey once puree is smooth.  Add remaining cup of peaches and pulse a couple of times for the peaches added to be chopped but not pureed (you want chunks in the mixture).  Pour mixture into popsicle mold and place lids or sticks on top.  Freeze overnight.  This recipe also works well with nectarines, strawberries, watermelon, or berries of your choice.

My Personal Go-To Snack

(Makes 6 Popsicles)
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice or Red Grape Juice
Pour the juice into the popsicle molds and place lids or popsicle sticks on top.  Freeze overnight. This is one of my favorite summer snacks, especially when I’m craving a sweet snack with a low fat content.  Sometimes, I’ll eat two!
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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Easy 4th of July Tips & Last Minute Tricks!

The 4th of July is here!  I'm loving the long weekend and all the festivities that surround the holiday.  I've already seen fireworks and been to outdoor cook-outs and it isn't even the big day.  So if you're a little behind or stumped for your 4th celebration (because it's already been done), check out the video and how-to's below for some new twists on fun food and decor originals.....and all for less time and dollars.  Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July!


Red, White and BOOM: DIY Tips to Turn Your Patio Into a Party

Amp up your S'mores game with a DIY S'mores bar.  I like to add a gourmet element by replacing the graham crackers with thin mint cookies or rice krispie treats.  Using flavored chocolates is really, really delicious too.  Ghirardelli Mini's are great for S'mores because they're sized just right for the marshmallows......and they're filled with yummy things like caramel!  These S'mores may be made over an open fire or pots filled with stone and sterno if the weather is inclement.

Gourmet DIY S'mores Bar
Use yard sticks and Christmas lights to make a "two for" holiday star.  This star may be used for the 4th and also Christmas - and it's easy to assemble!

Holiday Star
The photo below tells the story.  You'll need 5 yard sticks, spray paint (or markers and glitter), small nails, and thumb tacks.  Paint the sticks and nail them together in a star pattern with small nails.  Use thumb tacks or electrical tape to affix the lights to the back and presto - a star for less than $6.

How-to star style
The smaller stars are super simple.  Spray paint stirring sticks (they're free) at any hardware or discount store that sells paint.  Use wood glue to glue them in a star shape.  These are great because kids may decorate them with markers or stickers or glitter and they're a great project to keep the little ones busy.

How-to stars for kids
And to end on a yummy star note......frozen star watermelon pops!  Cut star shapes from slices of watermelon.  I added a lollipop stick and froze them for a good-for-you popsicle!  Frozen watermelon chunks in lieu of ice in cocktails or flavored water is also delicious.  Send the kids outside with a holiday treat that they'll love - plus they're inexpensive and take minutes to make.  So, so good!

Frozen watermelon pops

#julyfourth #4thofjuly

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