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Simple Holiday Survival: How To Create A Beautiful Ice Lantern

An Ice Lantern – Such a pretty centerpiece, or use multiple ones to line a sidewalk leading to a holiday party!

Supplies You Need:

  • Distilled Water (or water that has been boiled and cooled off)
  • An empty and cleaned 2 liter soda bottle, with top cut off
  • A hard plastic water bottle (smaller than the 2 liter bottle)
  • Various items to freeze in the ice – flowers, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, pine needles, etc.
  • Duct tape to hold the smaller bottle in the larger bottle without floating.

See the video for the full instructions!


SSD ice lantern 2

Simple Holiday Survival: The Easy Way To Clean Silverware

Welcome to the FIRST Simple Holiday Survival Tip for 2014! For the next six weeks, I will feature a tip that will save you time during the holiday season!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and for many of us, that means pulling out the good china and silverware to set the table. I can pretty much count on my silverware being tarnished – and I really don’t enjoy cleaning silverware.  I thought there had to be a better way,

WELL, I could not believe how easy this tip was until I tried it myself! And check out the before and after:

Silverware before after

Simple Holiday Survival Begins Saturday, November 22, 2014!

It’s that time of year again! The third year of the series, Simple Holiday Survival! Every Saturday for the next six weeks, I will feature a video tip that is sure to make your holidays a little easier!

You can also search our database for all of our past Simple Holiday Survival Tips by searching that word in our search bar, or just by clicking the link below!

Check Out The Diva’s Simple Holiday Survival Tips

So sit back and enjoy your holidays this year!

Slider SImple Holiday Survival Tips

Simple Holiday Survival: Easy Christmas Cake With Cranberries

This wonderful recipe is the perfect blend of sweet and tart (I happen to LOVE cranberries)!  Here is the recipe:

SSD Cake


  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries, rinsed


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 pan.

Mix together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl, using a mixer on high speed, for 5-7 minutes. The mixture should double in size and lighten to a soft yellow color. Do not skip or shorten this step – it is what provides the cake’s light texture.

Add the vanilla and softened butter, beating until the butter is thoroughly mixed in – approximately 2 minutes. Add the flour, mixing until it is completely moistened. Stir in the cranberries using a spoon, then pour the batter into the buttered pan.

Bake 40-50 minutes, until the top of the cake is light brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before cutting.


I found this recipe on, a site chockfull of wonderful recipes!  Check them out when you have a chance!

Simple Holiday Survival Recipe: Turkey Breast Of Wonder (Crockpot)

Turkey Breast of Wonder (and photo credit) from
Turkey Breast of Wonder (and photo credit) from

I did not make up the title of this recipe, but I have to be in full agreement with the title!  I discovered this recipe online on the site, a great site with lots of family friendly recipes. My first reaction was, “Yuck, turkey in a crockpot?”, but then I thought about how simple it sounded. And how great this would be for, perhaps, someone with very little room in their kitchen or oven (like apartment dwellers). A perfect way to save space in the mad dash to cook up a Thanksgiving Day meal!

I made the recipe a week ago, with the intention of taking photos of the final product. Well, the final product was so good, there was nothing left to take pictures of! (Photos are taken directly from!)

Though the skin was not golden brown like when you roast the turkey, this dish was seriously good, easy to make, and the turkey was very moist and fell off the bone!  And the drippings left in the crockpot make a TASTY gravy!


  • One 5-6 pound turkey breast (bone in)
  • 1/2 Cup Orange Juice (or chicken broth)
  • One packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • One can whole cranberry sauce (14 oz.)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste (I did not use salt, because soup mix had enough for me!)


Place turkey breast in crockpot (be sure crockpot is large enough- you need to make sure the lid will fit over the turkey!).

In a bowl or measuring cup, mix together the OJ, onion soup mix and cranberry sauce. Pour mixture over the turkey breast, cover with lid, and let cook on low for 8-9 hours.

That is it!! Enjoy!! For my video version of this recipe, Click Here!

Be sure to check out the original post from!  I think she’s a cooking genius!

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Turkey Breast of Wonder (and photo credit) from


Simple Holiday Survival: Top Spices For The Holidays

Did you know spices have a shelf life?  Humidity, heat, sunlight, and exposure to air can pull the flavor and aroma right out of spices and dried herbs. With the holidays here, now is the perfect time to replace those holiday spices you bought last year!  Colleen Messner of The Spice & Tea Exchange in St. Augustine, Florida, has a list of the top spices you should have in your cabinet for the holidays. (And most of them can be used year round!)

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Top Spices For The Holidays

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Photo from

Nutmeg – This brown seed, when grated, provides a warm, spicy/sweet flavor to dishes. A whole seed can be stored indefinitely in an airtight container. Best when freshly grated.


Allspice – This spice tastes/smells like a combination of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I love it on pork tenderloin!


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Photo from

Cloves – This fragrant, nail-head shaped spice is perfect for decorating a ham or whole orange. Imparts a warm and sweet flavor.



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Green Pod Cardamom
Photo from



Green Pod Cardamom – Cardamom has a strong, unique spicy-sweet taste. Best when purchased in pods, which are removed and discarded before grinding the seeds. Adds great flavor to danish and other pastries.



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Star Anise
Photo from

 Star Anise – Sweet/warm spice with a licorice flavor. Great to use in pastries, stews or even asian cooking (It is one element in Chinese 5 Spice Blend).





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Candied Ginger
Photo from


Candied Ginger – Perfect to use in gingerbread or even chopped as decorative (and tasty!) topping for cupcakes!

Cinnamon – The favorite in the Simple Solutions Diva household! Warm and sweet, cinnamon works well in so many recipes during the holidays!


Storage Tips

  • Keep all spices in a dark, cool and dry place, away from heat. (So I guess that means I need to move my spice shelves away from the stove!)
  • Leafy items, such as oregano, basil, bay leaves do best when stored in the fridge.

Order Fresh Spices and Dried Herbs

If you would like to order any or all of these spices FRESH from the Spice & Tea Exchange, follow this link HERE to be taken directly to the products page of their website!

Simple Holiday Survival: Gluten Free Guests And Holiday Meals


Holidays are a wonderful time to bring family to the table to share meals and enjoy time together, but what do you do when extended family or friends are gluten intolerant? Make Gluten Free side dishes that everyone will love! It doesn’t take much to do gluten free, and your family won’t be able to taste the difference!  Tammy Barr, personal chef and owner of Change Your Crave, gives some simple tips and recipes to help you provide gluten free options for your guests.

Food ingredient lists don’t include the actual word for gluten, so it can be difficult to know if something is gluten free. You can look for a few Warning Words: Caramel Coloring, Malt, Barley, Rye, and Monosodium Glutamate. These ingredients are usually derived from wheat products or contain gluten.

Gluten Free Symbol

The easiest way to make sure the items you buy are gluten free is to look for the GF symbol on the shelf tags at your grocery store. You can usually find these in the organic aisle, and these are products specifically marketed/approved as gluten free.

Try one or both of these simple and TASTY recipes, both provided by Chef Tammy. No one will know they are gluten free!

Gluten Free Classic Thanksgiving Stuffing

From Tammy Barr, Personal Chef, Change Your Crave


  • 1 loaf white sliced Gluten Free bread (Tammy likes to use Udi White Sandwich Bread), toast each piece
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes!)
  • 4 large celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 -2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 (10 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 C Sliced Almonds
  • 3 C Turkey Broth or Turkey drippings if you have them
  1. Toast all the bread slices and cut into cubes.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat until HOT and sizzling.
  3. Add in onions, garlic and celery, stir immediately with wooden spoon; add in the poultry seasoning, Kosher salt and black pepper; sauté for about 5-6 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
  4. Stir in the chopped water chestnuts, sliced almonds and cubed GF toast cubes; toss well to combine.
  5. Add the turkey broth 1 cup at a time.  Carefully combine so bread does not completely fall apart. Continue adding broth until everything is well combined.
  6. Transfer into a baking dish and drizzle Olive Oil over the top.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes at 360 degrees.

Gluten Free Classic Thanksgiving Gravy

From Tammy Barr, Personal Chef, Change Your Crave



  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 cups pan drippings from turkey (or see **Options below the recipe)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (I use freshly ground pepper)


  1. Drain the pan drippings for the roasted turkey through a fine strainer.
  2. Let sit and then remove any fat from the top of the drippings.
  3. Add in chicken broth or water to make 4 cups if necessary.
  4. In a medium saucepan, melt butter.
  5. Add in black pepper.
  6. Add in 1/2 cup brown rice flour; constantly whisk for about 3 minutes over low heat.
  7. Slowly add in the evaporated milk and then 4 cups turkey broth/drippings; whisk constantly over medium-low heat until bubbly and thickened (about 3 minutes).
  8. Use right away or keep warm over lowest heat setting, whisk again before serving.

**Options: You can use more evaporated milk or drippings to thin out if it’s too thick.

Newly diagnosed as gluten sensitive? Chef Tammy teaches families how to cook terrific gluten free recipes. To schedule an appointment with her, visit
IMG_4495To find the book, Gluten Is My Bitch by April Peveteaux, a humorous and informative book on how to be gluten free, you can find it on by clicking on the link below:

Simple Holiday Survival Starts Saturday, November 16, 2013!

Let’s face it, the holidays can get a little crazy! Between cooking, cleaning and general holiday celebrating, it can get a little exhausting! Join Simple Solutions Diva every Saturday through Christmas for Simple Holiday Survival, where she celebrates this harried season with simple ideas to make things a little easier!

And to help you get into the mood, and hopefully a little more organized, she has a Free Printable: the Simple Holiday Survival Calendar.  This 11×17 inch, two page calendar features helpful tips on planning your holidays and really enjoying what truly matters to you. Use it to plan out your holiday activities!

Be sure to check out Simple Solutions Diva on Facebook and Twitter as she rebroadcasts her 2012 Simple Holiday Survival videos – or simply click on the Simple Holiday Survival link under the Topics Bar to the right of this page.

Here’s to Happy, and Simple, Holidays to you!!


Simple Holiday Survival Calendar Printable
Simple Holiday Survival Calendar Printable

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