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Simple Ways To Bring The Garden Indoors

Right about this time of year (late January), I start imagining all the things I want to do in my garden. Lush plantings, beautiful and colorful flowers, clever statues or topiaries. Now mind you, most of those things never actually happen, but a girl can dream, right?!

So to satisfy my need for soil under my nails, I’m featuring a few, simple ways to bring the garden indoors, even in winter!

For The Cook: An Indoor Herb Garden


Herb Planter

If you love to cook with fresh herbs and you have a room that has enough bright light, you can have a mini garden at your fingertips.  I selected some healthy looking herbs that I use when cooking (oregano, peppermint and thyme), planted them in a beautiful pot, and added cute plant markers I made from leftover wine corks and long wooden skewers.

Herb Planter 2

A decorative and useful planting that has a touch of whimsy!

For The Brown Thumb Gardener:  A Colorful Cactus Garden



Cactus  are easy, don’t require much, and if you choose the right ones, they can be very colorful!  The key is to have a soil that supports the cactus’ needs – Think sandy! I mix together potting soil and simple play sand from the hardware store. Add a base layer at the bottom of the pot of pea stone to allow for good drainage.  Once I have the stone, soil and cactus in place, I add a top layer of decorative stone (I used polished, black river rocks) to make it attractive and to help keep the soil in place.  A little bit of water goes a long way to keep the cactus alive. A good, sunny spot in the house will help keep the cactus happy and healthy.

Bulb Happy!



A burst of Spring in the middle of Winter – I love using fast growing bulbs and setting them up in shallow glass containers with river rocks and water. They grow so quickly and it is wonderfully satisfying to see them change from brown, ugly bulbs to fragrant, flowering plants in a matter of weeks! Paper Whites or Narcissus are terrific, and you can chose decorative stones to enhance the color of your flowers.  Keep an eye on the water level – you want it to just touch the very bottom of your bulbs. It is also a fun project to do with kids – they can see the roots of the plants growing daily. A suggestion: Be sure to rotate your container so the plants don’t grow sideways.

Create A Simple Seed Starter Kit


Seed Starter Kit

All you need is a sunny window, potting soil, an old ice cube tray or empty egg carton, and your selection of seeds. Fill the ice cube tray’s reservoirs with potting soil, plant your seeds to the proper depth according to the back of the seed packet, water and place in a sunny window! Monitor the water, and you should see your plants growing within a week or two (depending on the types of seeds you selected). Another great project to do with the kids – select some veggie seeds and get your kids interested in growing their own veggies (if they grow them, they may eat them!).

Encourage Stealth Gardening With Seed Bombs

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A great project to do with your kids! As I walk along the public sidewalks in my home town, I’m always impressed when I see wildflowers growing where nothing else grows. They are a beautiful pop of color. Try helping nature along by making your own Seed Bombs! In the Spring, you can do a little stealth gardening with the kids – plant or throw your seed bombs into open or bare areas around your neighborhood or town! The newspaper cocoon gives the seeds a medium in which to start growing, and once wildflowers get growing, WATCH OUT! Flowers everywhere!

IMG_4842You need:

  • 4 Sheets of Newspaper, shredded into small pieces
  • A tall glass container (you will be mixing in this)
  • Warm Water (approximately 1 cup)
  • An Immersion Blender
  • Cheese cloth (or you can use an old, thin rag)
  • A selection of wildflower seeds or other hearty flower seeds (if in doubt, ask your garden center for recommendations).
  • Ice cube tray or other molds (I used ice cube tray and I experimented with small, decorative cookie cutters that worked out well)


IMG_4846Place shredded newspaper into the tall glass container and add warm water until the newspaper is covered. Using immersion blender, blend until the paper is completely shredded.



IMG_4853Add seeds and mix using hands so seeds are dispersed through the mixture. place cheese cloth into a strainer and pour mixture into the cheese cloth. wrap the cloth around the mixture and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.



IMG_4856 Take small balls of the mixture and press into the trays (or molds). Let dry overnight. Remove the seed bombs from the tray and let them continue to dry until there is no moisture left. (I actually had them sit on my dryer while a load was drying!)



Now you have a bunch of seed bombs you can use to share with the community!


Thank you to WTLV-TV for inviting me on to First Coast Living to speak on this topic!



Mid-Summer Patio and Garden Perk-Up Ideas

During the summer, we spend so much time outdoors enjoying our gardens and patios! Time to perk things up mid-summer!  Here are just a few ideas on perking up the garden and patio for this summer!


A Lively Border For The Patio

Photo Credit: Courtesy of
Photo Credit: Courtesy of

So many gardeners use river rocks or gravel as a border for the patio or to fill the gap between pavers. Why not add a little pop of color?  These colorful glass pebbles are easy to find at dollar stores and craft stores – use one color to coordinate your outdoor color scheme, or use multi-colored for a vibrant effect.


Change Up That Wooden Deck

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Have a wooden deck that is in need of an upgrade? Consider painting your deck with an unexpected design, like this patio featured on To check out more pictures of this beautiful deck, Click Here.

For tips on painting a wooden deck, you can find information provided by the experts from “For Dummies” people at

Finish off your look with updated cushions and pillows for your outdoor furniture – mid-summer is the perfect time to find some new favorites on sale!  Check WorldMarket or  PierOne for some great outdoor pillow sales.



Add Mood Lighting Through Gardening

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 8.26.42 AM

With this REALLY simple project, planters become mood lighting for the deck or patio. Plant favorite flowers along the outside edge of your pot, leaving space for hurricane glass and candle. A beautiful way to bring the garden onto your deck!



Get Glowing!

Krylon Glowz Spray Paint
Krylon Glowz Spray Paint

Add some nighttime visual interest to your garden with Glow-in-The-Dark spray paint. Choose to paint a pot, stepping stones, or anything your want to highlight in the garden. (Not for use on plants or animals!) Works best on products that have a white base.

Gardeners Rejoice!

Gardeners Rejoice!  You may not know this, but when you buy a plant and pot from Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers, many of the Lowe’s have a station in the greenhouse where you can repot your new plant into the pot, right there!  They even keep a pile of potting soil under the station for easy access if you need more soil to repot.  Or you can choose to purchase potting soil to use.

Either way, it is a convenience that is hard to pass up!  This free service from Lowe’s keeps dirt out of your home and keeps it at Lowe’s where it belongs.  Thanks, Lowe’s!

Lowe's offers station to repot your plants that you purchase at Lowe's!
Lowe’s Repotting Station – See the extra potting soil under the grate?
You can use that, too!


Putting Pinterest To The Test: Can You Regrow Lettuce?


Ever thought some of those Pinterest Pins were a little too good to be true? Well, Simple Solutions Diva likes to test out some of Pinterest’s most popular pins to see how they work! Today, she features a pin that said you could easily regrow lettuce – basically giving you free lettuce! So does it work? Watch the video and see for yourself!

Also, if you want to save all that freshly cut lettuce, why not follow the Diva’s instructions on how to best store lettuce – Make Your Own Bagged Salad!



How To Propagate Succulents


I was thrilled when my succulents began to send out little offshoots, but then I thought, “What do I do with them now?”



But after some research, I found the process was simple:

1. Clip the offshoots and let the ends dry out for a week or two until the cut hardens, forming a “callous”.



2.  Lay the offshoots on top of a thin layer of cactus potting soil. Add a little water and then leave it in a bright area, but not in direct sun. After a few weeks, you should see little roots grow!



3.  Plant the rooted offshoots into cactus potting soil and place pot in a sunny spot -but not direct sunlight- until they take hold. Water weekly until the plants take hold and thrive! Enjoy them!



Grilled Watermelon, Feta & Basil Salad

Fresh watermelon – so plentiful this time of year! Combine it’s juicy flavor with fresh feta cheese, basil straight from the garden, and balsamic glaze, and you have a delicious summer salad! Kick it up a notch by grilling the watermelon first – it brings out the sweetness of the melon, adding a new depth of flavor!

Grilled Watermelon, Feta & Basil Salad from


How To Grill Watermelon: Brush both sides of sliced watermelon with olive oil and grill on high heat until grill marks show up on the melon slices:


Grilled Watermelon, Feta & Basil Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Juicy Watermelon only gets better when grilled! Combine it with fresh feta, basil and balsamic to make a delicious summer-fresh salad!
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
  • 6-7 watermelon slices, brushed with olive oil, then grilled.
  • Feta Cheese crumbles - approximately 3-5 ounces, depending on how much you like Feta!
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • Fresh Basil, chopped (approx. 2-3 tablespoons
  • 2 pinches of kosher salt
  • On pic ground black pepper, or more, to taste
  • Balsamic Glaze from drizzling!
  1. Slice off the rind of the grilled watermelon and cut into cubes.
  2. Add the lime, salt and pepper and toss.
  3. Add the feta cheese and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
  4. Serve Immediately (The watermelon will continue to release juice, so if you wait too long to serve, it will become soupy!)

Balsamic Glaze: You can quickly make a balsamic glaze by combining 1 cup balsamic vinegar with 1/4 cup brown sugar in a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until it boils. Reduce the heat and simmer until it reduces by half. Glaze is done when it coats the back of a spoon. Cool and store in air-tight container in the fridge.


Summer Cool Off – Greek Tzatziki Sauce

“Can’t we just do something that a Greek person in TODAY’S world would do?”

And with that challenge, my 19 year old got me thinking out of the box for a family trip! A little backstory:

We decided to take the kids on a trip to Greece: Touring ALL the historical sites throughout Athens, seeing the beautiful, white buildings and blue waters of Greek Island – with two teenage girls, in the summer, taking them away from their friends for 10 days. A recipe for Family Awesomeness, right?! (Those of you with teenagers are probably laughing right now at my blessed ignorance!)

SIMPLE VACATION TIP: The trip WAS actually awesome because we included activities the girls wanted to do!

So back to the challenge my 19 year old gave me. My daughter wanted to experience something culturally relevant to the modern, Greek citizen. It was a brilliant idea! I suggested a cooking class, which was greeted with much enthusiasm. Working with our travel agent, we settled on a private cooking class with Teta, owner of Mykonian Spiti, on the island of Mykonos.

The whole family in Teta’s beautiful, light-filled kitchen

Held in Teta’s kitchen in her traditional, Mykonian home, we had a FANTASTIC experience! We spent the whole day making Tzatziki Sauce, Spinach Pie, Stuffed Peppers & Tomatoes, and Beef With Orzo. The entire family was involved in the class.

Teta and my oldest making spinach pie.
Teta and my oldest making spinach pie.

Here is Teta’s Recipe for Tzatziki Sauce – a sauce perfect for grilled meats, or as a dip for pita and fresh veggies. I am including a link to her recipes page of her website. (FYI –  I’ve translated the measurements into U.S. measurements. PLUS, she forgot to add dill to her written tzatziki sauce recipe – trust me, it is supposed to be in there!)


Greek Tzatziki Sauce
Prep time
Total time
This versatile Greek sauce goes great as an accompaniment to grilled meats, or as a dip for veggies and pita bread!
Recipe type: Sauce/Dip/Appetizer
Cuisine: Greek
Serves: 1.5 cups
  • 1 Cup Greek Yogurt - I used Fage Greek Yogurt, recommended by my friend in Greece!
  • 1 large cucumber, grated, with water squeezed out as much as possible!
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  1. Mix all ingredients together and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Serve with grilled meats or as an appetizer served with pita and fresh veggies! Store, covered, in the fridge for up to one week.

Note About Mykonian Spiti: Teta is a one woman dynamo and I couldn’t be more impressed with her. Between her family’s two businesses, Teta and her husband employ about 35-45 Mykonians and house approximately 25 during the summer months. (Amazing, when you consider the economic upheaval Greece is currently experiencing!) Check out her website, Mykonian Spiti – there you can read all about her business, her efforts to give visitors a true cultural experience. PLUS, she has some of her recipes posted – you will love the way she writes in English!!

The tzatziki sauce "resting" for 30 minutes.
The tzatziki sauce “resting” for 30 minutes.
My husband "relaxing" his eyes for 30 minutes.
My husband “resting” his eyes for 30 minutes!


SSD Tzatziki Sauce


Teta's rooftop garden!
Teta’s rooftop garden!
Even the vegetables are presented beautifully at Mykonian Spiti!

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