Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Leftovers - Twice as Nice!

I'm not going to wax poetic about Thanksgiving leftovers.  I'm the sneaky one rummaging through the refrigerator after everyone goes to bed for a Turkey Sandwich on left over bread smothered in cranberry sauce.  That's how I roll.  Thanksgiving leftovers are the BEST!  Sometimes there aren't enough days to finish the remainder of the feast.  SO.....make a leftover buffet complete with adorable take home bags and containers for your guests.  Allow everyone a take home treat that will be yummy to reheat!

Treats to Reheat!
This is a clever idea because you can put the kids to work on Thanksgiving morning decorating the bags for everyone to take home.  I stenciled some lunch bags and used a computer to print out some labels for containers.  The bags are 2 cents each ($1.96 for 100) at a discount store.  The Rubbermaid containers cost about 60 cents each.  The affordability makes this a thoughtful touch for dinner guests.  Leftover turkey is so, so good!

You can get super creative or really basic.  You'll need decorating supplies - markers, colored pencils, twine, and something to stencil the letters...or draw your own.  Craft and discount stores also have decorative take out boxes you may also purchase.  

Make one container and/or bag for each guest.  I stenciled letters on some and on others I punched holes at the top for ribbon or twine to tie through for a decorative tie.  It's up to you and what supplies you have at home.    

Easy Decorating
Once dinner is over, put all the serving dishes on the buffet or the kitchen island and allow each guests to make a leftover goodie bag for later.  You'll be the best dinner host on the block!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Leftover Buffet!

#thanksgiving #thanksgiving2015  #leftovers #recipe #yummy #food
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Land of the Perfect Christmas Tree

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday season is my favorite.  I love eating Thanksgiving dinner and decorating my home for Christmas in the same weekend.  I grew up in the isolated enclave of Avery County in the mountains of North Carolina.  Our county’s economy is based around one agricultural product.  Our export is the Christmas Tree! You’ll find no where else grows them as hearty or as beautiful as Avery County farms (No where).  We make Santa proud because our county is the Christmas tree capital of the world.  

Bank of America Stadium 2014 & 2015 tree provided by Sugar Mountain Nursery

Take a drive around the windy mountain roads and you’ll see thousands and thousands of Christmas trees waiting for their year to be the star attraction in your home.  There are all types of trees from Pines to Spruce to Fraser Fir.  The farms are still run by families that have been raising trees for generations.  Usually the whole family is in on the action as well.  There are trees to sell and decorative wreaths and roping to be made.  Starting in late October our community is a virtual North Pole of worker elves preparing the harvest for shipment around the world.  Avery County sends Christmas trees to the White House, New York City, and Bank of America Stadium – just to name a few of the famous spots you’ll see a piece of my hometown.

Christmas Corner Farm
If you’ve never experienced being in a tree patch with your family to select the perfect tree for your home – you’ve missed an integral part of the Santa experience.  Who wants to buy a tree (cut months ago, believe me) from a big box store?  A short drive into the mountains for a day trip to a Choose and Cut Farm is a quintessential holiday experience. 

I’ve compiled a list of Farms to visit.  These are family farms.  You will be able to meet the farmer, his wife, his parents, and the extended family….talk about shopping local!  Choose the perfect handmade wreaths and roping to Holiday-Up your house while sipping on hot cocoa and taking a hay ride through the tree fields.  There are tons to choose from so check out the list below.  See you soon in the mountains!

* Christmas Corner Choose and Cut 
   Intersection of Hwy 221 & Hwy 181
   Pineola, NC  28662

* Sams Nursery Choose and Cut Farm
   376 Logan's Lane, Newland NC  28657
   Highway 181 Pineola, NC  28662

* Larry's Choose and Cut Farm
   Highway 181 Pineola, NC  28662

* Snowy Mountain Christmas Tree Farm
   Christmas Shop / Farm Check In
   4699 Linville Falls Highway (221)
   Newland, NC  28657
* Elk River Evergreens
   Brooks Shell Road
   Elk Park, NC  28622

* Twin Pines Nursery
   87 Twin Pines Lane
   Pineola, NC  28662

* David Pittman Christmas Tree Farm
   986 Licklog Road
   Newland, NC  28657


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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Quick Thanksgiving Centerpieces

Thanksgiving is almost here.  Your list is a mile long and only the top two things are checked off - right?  I know, I'm there too.  Ain't nobody got time to feel sorry for themselves though, keep your head down and you've got this.  Next to the turkey the focus of the Thanksgiving table is usually the table itself.  The decorations, the color, the centerpiece, and the dishes all play a part in your meal.  If you're stumped for ideas and need one in a hurry, don't worry, Effortless Girl has you covered.  Use ingredients that you're probably going to use anyway (cranberries) to create a centerpiece in seconds, literally.  In fact, this centerpiece works for Thanksgiving or Christmas so it can do double duty.

5 Second Centerpiece
You'll need a clear glass bowl, tea light candles, and one bag of cranberries per centerpiece.  I think it would be stunning to make 3 of these bowls and place down the center of a long table.  I paid $ 1.49 per bag for the cranberries at the supermarket and the tea light candles cost about 20 cents each.

Pour one bag on cranberries into a glass bowl.  

Add Cranberries
Add enough water to the bowl so that the cranberries rise to just below the top edge.

Add Water
After the water is added, place the candles in the bowl.  Press them gently into the cranberries to the top of the candle is level with the top of the cranberries and light the candles.  The effect is beautiful!  

Happy Thanksgiving!
The entire project from start to finish takes less than one minute per bowl.  Simple and elegant - Happy Thanksgiving!

#thanksgiving  #happythanksgiving #thanksgiving2015 #decor #diy

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Friday, November 20, 2015

It's Beginning to Look a lot like...Effortless Christmas Tips and the Perfect Wreath

Nestled deep in the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina lies Avery County, a small but bustling enclave of Christmas agriculture.  Avery County produces the bulk of Fraser Fir trees and Christmas wreaths sold in North America, kind of like Santa's workshop for Christmas trees.  Growing trees line the mountain sides as "farmer elves" hastily work in the fields to ensure every home has a beautiful and fragrant tree to celebrate the season.  Nestled quietly within this hub of holiday agriculture lies a boutique family farm catering to a discerning clientele for which only the best in holiday greenery will suffice.  Upon arriving at Tommy and Sons Farm, I was greeted by Lora Daniels and her daughter Hailey.  They should be fashion models, both are gorgeous.  I felt like I should smooth my hair in fidgety self consciousness.

Lora Daniels
Lora warmly introduced me to her husband Brian and son Diesel.  Brian's father started the farm as a mail order business years ago and gradually Brian and his brother Jason joined the family venture.  Today both brothers along with their wives, Lora and Deanna, run the farm and hand make all greenery for purchase. 

Lora led me on a tour of the facility.  She comes from a family with a history of agriculture and horticulture, so she's well versed in the business of all things green.  Lora explained that the farm hires stay-at-home mom's during the holiday season to make all wreaths and greenery.

Handmade Wreaths
In fact these moms make the wreaths mostly in their own homes.  I thought the idea was progressive and novel!  The farm gives an opportunity for their 'worker mothers,' most having two to four children, to earn money during the holidays on a flexible schedule that works for their families.  A creative and empowering idea I thought - Brilliant!

Lora also explained that the farm focuses on quality over quantity.  The wreaths are much larger than the typical Christmas wreath purchased in a retail store and the attention to detail is very evident.  Roughly nine pounds of greenery goes into each wreath made which is considerably larger than the standard retail allowance.  Lora inspects each wreath meticulously and hand trims each tip to the perfect length.  This is what makes their product in such high demand as they ship countless hundreds of custom made wreaths in all shapes and sizes every year.  The farm only takes the orders that they can successfully fill with product meeting certain standards.

Everyone gets in on the action!
I asked Lora to give Effortless Girl readers a few general tips on holiday decorating.  She described a perfect table setting for a Christmas party in a pinch.  First a simple table cloth or place mats that are a solid color create the table base.  For the centerpiece, Lora would use a "candle holder" wreath made by the farm.  It is a small version of the standard wreath that looks beautiful with a simple candle in the center.   Fraser Fur bows could be spread down the table as a table runner and the party is ready to begin!  This is a simple and gorgeous setting - not to mention fragrant for everyone around the table. 

Next, Lora gave some decorating tips on how to dress up a plain wreath.  She explained the quickest way is to add a colorful bow.  Holiday trends this year include wrapping the wreath in strips of burlap or adding ornaments in strategic locations.  Her personal favorite is adding delicate white roses to the wreath.  Roses juxtaposed among the tree limbs adds a unique elegance to reflect Lora's personal style.

Fraser Fir Wreath

I asked Lora to show me the process of wreath making so here she goes!

Wreaths begin as piles of Fraser Fir limbs and Lora carefully selects and trims each tip to go into the wreath.

Tips are bunched together and mechanically bound onto a frame.

Lora arranges each branch just so as the wreath begins to take shape.

Each tip is layered for the perfect shape as the wreath forms.
Hailey and Lora trim, trim, trim each tip before it goes onto the wreath.


The finished product, almost as large as Lora!
Tommy and Sons Farm can be found on Facebook.  Orders are currently being accepted for the 2015 season.  Please email tommysonstrees@gmail.com or call 828-733-8118. 

#christmas  #christmastree #christmas2015 #girlpower

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pilgrim Pops!

Pilgrim Pops make a great Thanksgiving snack for kids and adults.  The cost investment is between $7-8 for 24 pops.  The time investment is about 30 minutes from start to a clean kitchen - a minimal investment for both time and money.  Easy Peasy - Let's get started!

Pilgrim Pops!
You'll need one box of fudge striped cookies with a fudge covered bottom, one bag of marshmallows, one package of Juicy Fruit gum, 1 package of chocolate chips for 12 pops (or 2 for 24 pops), and 12 or 24 lollipop sticks.

Prep the pops first.  Make a work space beside the pot in which you will melt the chocolate chips.  Cut one small square of Juicy Fruit gum for each pop you will make for the Pilgrim Hat buckle and set aside.  Place the lollipop sticks into the marshmallows and place each marshmallow onto an upside down cookie.  

Prepare the pops
Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler on the stove.  I like double boiler pots better than the microwave, but use what works best for you.  If you don't have a double boiler, stack 2 nesting pots and improvise a double boiler.  It works fine.

Melt the chocolate chips
Once the chocolate is melted, dip each marshmallow into the chocolate and place back on its fudge cookie.  After you have dipped every pop, place the small square of gum onto the marshmallow at the point it joins the cookie.  

Dip the marshmallows
Allow the chocolate to set and harden for at least a few hours.  I made these the day before and they were great the next day.  

Allow the chocolate to set
Serve the pops!  Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Effortless Thanksgiving on WCCB Rising!

It was an Effortless Girl Thanksgiving celebration this morning on Charlotte's WCCB Rising.  Everything from table decor to Thanksgiving snacks was "on the table."  Thanksgiving doesn't have to cost a turkey leg to be fabulous and fun.  The segment came in for under $30 total and the ideas take minutes to complete.  Send the kids outside to look for fall items and they can share in the creative process and take some of your load!  Check out the photos and videos below.  Happy Thanksgiving!

It's almost Thanksgiving y'all!

Check out @justjacinda

 The pilgrim pops are easier than they look.  Stay tuned for the how-to tomorrow!

Pilgrim Pops

Make easy table decor from dried beans and corn found in supermarkets!

Bean Candles
Or Thankful napkins...

Simple Napkin Ideas
Painted Pumpkins are elegant in a table setting.

Painted Pumpkins

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Effortless Thanksgiving on WCCB Rising - TOMORROW!

It's an Effortless Girl Thanksgiving on Charlotte's WCCB News Rising Tomorrow!  We'll talk about all things Thanksgiving for less from table decor to kids snacks to easy Thanksgiving tips - all for less.  You don't have to spend a fortune to be fabulous this Thanksgiving.  Tune in to Rising around 8:30 am (ish) to join in the fun.  You can also tune in online and watch WCCB streaming live.  It's going to be a great Monday, don't miss it....See your tomorrow!!!

Effortless Girl on WCCB Rising Tomorrow!

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