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Kill Pesky Mosquitoes Before They Can Bite!


With concerns of the Zika virus spreading during the summer months, I wanted to address one way to prevent mosquitoes in our gardens and back yards. Specifically for those who love to have bird baths and fountains running in our gardens. My recommendations are not meant to replace, in any way, the constantly updating recommendations of the Centers For Disease Control (CDC). For complete and updated information, check out the CDC website (Click Here).

FYI – A running fountain is a deterrent to mosquitoes (they don’t want to land and lay eggs) –but if that motor stops and water becomes stagnant, even for a few days, it can become a breeding ground!


ssd Mosquitoes

Home Decor Trend: Succulents

Succulents add a touch of greenery and texture to any room, whether indoors or outside! While In California on a recent trip, I was inspired by these cute, textured pots that held little succulents, so I took a photo:

succulent 4


I used this photo to find inspiration to recreate the look, but more tailored to my home style.

I was lucky enough to stumble upon some adorable, textured mercury glass candleholders at West Elm. (If you aren’t familiar with the store, you can check them out here: West Elm Mercury Glass Candleholders) So, I used them as pots!

succulent 3

So these little guys are perfect indoors:

succulent 2


Or outdoors!

succulent 1

Home Decor Succulents


Worth Noting: West Elm deserves a little recognition for support of local, small businesses and entrepreneurs! They sponsor something called West Elm Local, where they invite selected, local creators of handmade items into their stores to sell their products! (For More Info – West Elm LOCAL).


When I went into their Jacksonville, FL store, they had 6 different merchants there, selling handmade items like soaps, baked goods, essential oils and more. They also happened to have someone selling handmade cement planters that were formed by using recycled materials! Of course, I bought one! Check Out Green Crete’s most recent work on Instagram.



Got Armadillos? Keep Them Away Naturally & Humanely!

DIY Bird Seed Wreath

I enjoy having birds visit my back yard feeders, and I thought this DIY Bird Seed Wreath would make a great holiday gift for anyone who loves birds! And best of all, it is EASY to make!

SSD Bird Seed Wreath 2

Notice in this photo, I added to the bottom of the bundt pan (before I added the seed mixture) dried, unsweetened red cranberries — just to add to a festive look!

The wreath dries in about 24 hours. And then you can hang it on your favorite tree for the birds to enjoy!


DIY Bird Seed Wreath
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Make this simple holiday gift for the Bird Lover in your life!
Recipe type: Recipe For Birds
Serves: 0
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 4 cups bird seed
  • Dried red fruits, such as dried cherries or cranberries (unsweetened)- optional
  • Holiday Ribbon
  • Bundt Pan
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  1. Combine water and gelatin in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add flour and corn syrup and whisk until it is a thick paste.
  2. Add in bird seed and mix until all seeds are well coated.
  3. Spray bundt pan with cooking spray.
  4. Add selected dried fruits to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Firmly press the bird seed mixture into the bottom of pan.
  6. Set aside in a cool, dry place for 24 hours, or until dried completely.
  7. Remove from pan and add holiday ribbon. Hang on a tree outside and watch the birds enjoy!


SSD Bird Seedc Wreath




Simple DIY Projects For Our Feathered Friends

SSD Bird Projects

Spring is here and the birds are all aflutter! How about trying a few small DIY projects that are for the birds, literally! With a little creativity and a little elbow grease, you can make some adorable (AND Simple!) projects that will have all the birds tweeting! Best of all, these projects are perfect for the kids to make – with a little adult help!

DIY Bird Feeder

SSD Bird Feeder 2This simple feeder can be made with any teacup and saucer!

What You Need:

  • Teacup & Saucer (I used a mug small enough to fit on saucer)
  • Gorilla Glue (or other waterproof adhesive that works with ceramics)
  • Copper Floral Wire (optional)
  • Bird Seed
All you need for this little project!
All you need for this little project!


Clean and remove all stickers from the teacup and saucer. Dry thoroughly.

With a spray bottle or damp cloth, moisten the saucer. Using the Gorilla Glue, draw a thin line of glue on the side of the teacup opposite of the handle. Place the teacup, glue side down, on the saucer. Hold in place for two hours. (I used a small hand weight to keep constant pressure and to keep teacup in place.) NOTE: These instructions are specific to using Gorilla Glue as your adhesive. If using something other than Gorilla Glue, follow the directions for that product.

You can use the handle of the cup as a hook, or you can create an extended hanger by using copper floral wire (optional). Use the Gorilla Glue to secure the wire in place on the cup handle.

Add birdseed and hang in location where you can enjoy watching the birds visit!

DIY Birdhouse

SSD Birdhouse 2A little clay pot, a clay saucer, a hole cutter drill bit and you’ve got one cute Birdhouse! This project requires the use of power tools (a drill), so gather your materials before beginning the project!

What You Need:

  • Clay Pot – I had several on hand in case I broke one while drilling (which I did!).
  • Clay Saucer that is a bit larger than the top of clay pot.
  • Electric Drill
  • Hole Cutter Drill Bit, or progressively larger series of drill bits. I used an adjustable hole saw by Skil – Click link to find a Skil Adjustable Dial Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Protective Eyewear
  • Gorilla Glue
  • Eye Bolt & Nut
  • Two Fender Washers
  • Clear, Protective Coating Spray Paint (I used Krylon Fusion, Clear UV Protection)
  • Acrylic paints, small paintbrushes (optional)
Everything you need to build a simple little birdhouse!
Everything you need to build a simple little birdhouse!


Remove all labels from pots and saucers. Soak the pots in water for approximately 5-10 minutes. This will soften the clay and will lessen the likelihood of the pot breaking into shards. (Keep a bucket of water handy while drilling – you may need to dunk the pot in the water occasionally to keep things damp.)

On a safe, flat work surface, using something to secure the pot in place on the work surface, use the drill and hole cutter drill bit to cut the hole in the pot. Be sure to use protective eyewear! Size of hole will depend on the size of the pot. I cut a hole about 1.5 inches in diameter. I also used sand paper to smooth out the edges of the hole.

Turn the pot upside down on a clean, flat work surface. Feed one washer onto the eyebolt, then feed eyebolt through bottom of the pot. Turn pot right side up, feed second washer onto eyebolt. Add the nut and secure the eyebolt to the pot.

Using the Gorilla Glue, and following the directions on the label, glue the saucer to the top of the pot. Allow 2 hours to affix completely.

If desired, paint the birdhouse with acrylic paints. Spray clear, protective coasting spray over entire birdhouse. Hang in a tree and enjoy the new visitors!



Spring Crafts Fun!

Spring Craft Ideas From
Spring Craft Ideas From

With Easter and Passover fast approaching, we will have lots of family time – what can you do that’s fun with the kids and adults to keep everyone busy? Try some springtime crafts!

“Beach Glass” Vases

"Beach Glass" Vases from
“Beach Glass” Vases from

I love the look of beach glass. Muted hues of blues, greens and whites. You can make any glass item look like a piece of beach glass by just using special glass paint. I used Martha Stewart Crafts Frost Translucent Glass Paint — The effect is translucent, frost-like with a slight pebbly texture that resembles sea glass.  Beautiful and easy!

What You Need:

  • Martha Stewart Crafts Frost Translucent Glass Paint (Available at most craft stores) I used colors of beach glass green, sea lavender and white. (Click Here To See Product And Color Selection Available)
  • Sponge applicators – I like to use sponge applicators because they leave a nice, pebbly texture behind in the paint.
  • Glass vase or other glass items – Check out the selection at dollar stores (love these stores!). You can find some great pieces that can be painted!
  • Rubbing Alcohol/cotton balls
  • Small paper plates or other item to squeeze paint on to


Find a clean, flat work surface and cover with old newspapers. Wipe down the glass vase surface to be painted with rubbing alcohol and allow it to dry.

Squeeze out a dab of glass paint onto paper plate. Using the sponge applicator, dip the applicator in the glass paint and dab the paint onto the glass surface. Cover the entire surface. Allow to dry for one hour.

The paint is permanent after it has dried for 21 days.  You can speed the process along by curing the paint by baking it. Here are the instructions from Martha Stewart Crafts: Let project air dry 1 hour, place in cool oven. Set temperature to 350 degrees. Once oven reaches 350 degrees, bake for 30 minutes (glass must heat gradually). After 30 minutes, turn oven off. Let glass cool completely in oven. Wait 72 hours before using. **

**NOTE: If you use the white frosted paint, baking the project might slightly darken the paint. Mine turned from a pretty white to a creamy, slightly toasted color.


Spring “Impressionist” Glass Painted Votives

Spring "Impressionist" Votives from
Spring “Impressionist” Votives from

Spring brings beautiful colors and softness to our landscape.  I always think of Monet paintings when I think of Spring.   I love the slightly unfocused visual and blended soft colors. THis little project makes me think of Impressionist paintings.   And best of all, with this project, you don’t have to be perfect! Just keep it simple!

What You Need:

  • Glass votives – Again, the dollar stores are a great source for these types of items!
  • Glass Paint – I used Folk Art Brand Multi Surface Acrylic Paints, because I can use the paints for many other projects in the future. I would use no more than 3 complimentary colors. (I chose 2 colors, plus white.) Click Here to see product and color selection.
  • Paper plate to squeeze paint on
  • Cup of Water
  • Paintbrush
  • Rubbing Alcohol/cotton balls


Clean the inside of glass votive with rubbing alcohol and cotton balls. Alow them to dry.

There is no one method for this – just listen your inner artist!! The first one I did I was not thrilled with, but once I limited my colors to 2 colors plus white, I found the ideal combination for me!

My technique for 3 colors: Take your paintbrush and dip in the cup of water. Swirl brush into your 1st paint of choice and apply dabs to inside of the votive.  Clean the brush and repeat the “swirl and dab” process above with second color. Using the same process, finish with the white, using it to blend and swirl the other colors inside the votive. You will be really surprised when you are done how nice it looks! Just don’t use too many colors or it will start to get “muddied”.

Allow to dry 21 days or cure the glass using the same instructions under the Beach Glass Vases above.

Edible Robin’s Egg Nest

Edible Bird Nests from
Edible Bird Nests from

I love making food related crafts with the kids! They love getting messy and they enjoy “cleaning” (read licking) their fingers when done. These little bird nests are adorable and pretty yummy.  They are a twist on an old favorite I remember eating as a kid.


  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz.)
  • 1 bag butterscotch chips (11 oz)
  • 10 oz.  Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles
  • 1 bag of bird egg shaped candies of your choice (I used Whoppers malted milk balls in the shape of bird eggs, but M&M’s or jelly beans would work, too.)
  • Parchment paper or wax paper


Combine and melt both bags of chips in a microwave safe bowl, on 50% power for 60 seconds. Stir. Repeat the process until all chips are melted. Gently stir in the chow mein noodles until well coated.

On a flat work surface, spread out parchment paper/wax paper. Using clean hands, take a small handful of the chocolate/chow mein mixture and put it in a shape of a small nest on the parchment paper. Repeat the process until you have used all the mixture.  Take 3 “eggs” (egg-shaped candies) and arrange on each nest. Let harden or place in fridge to speed up the hardening process.

Ladybug Garden Décor

Lady Bug Garden Decor from
Lady Bug Garden Decor from

This is a cute little project kids of all ages will enjoy and it is very simple & inexpensive to do!!

What You Need:

  • Flat rocks of various sizes (I used river rocks I bought at the dollar store)
  • Assortment of acrylic paints, including black paint. I used Folk Art Multi Surface Acrylic paints.
  • “Wiggly” eyes for the ladybugs.
  • Glue
  • Clear Acrylic Sealing paint to seal the rocks once painted.
  • Paintbrush – I used a large one for the overall colors and a fine tipped one for the ladybug dots and wing line.


Wash and dry the rocks to be used.

On a flat, protected work surface, lay your rocks out and paint them the overall colors you want. Allow to dry for about ½ hour.

Now for the details!  Taking the black color paint, paint the head of the ladybug. Draw a lie down the back of the lady bug using the black paint and the thin, small tipped brush. Add dots to the ladybug’s back. Allow to dry.  Apply Clear Acrylic Sealing paint to the ladybugs and allow to dry.

Add 2 small dots of glue to the ladybug head. Place a wiggly eye on each dot and allow to dry.

Place in the garden, indoor planters, display on desk or table. They also make adorable paperweights!

Easter Centerpiece

Image 2
Easter Centerpiece from

This is a fun way to bring Easter to the table and let the kids get involved! I have seen it all over Pinterest and thought I needed to try making it – SUPER simple!

What You Need:

  • Two vases, one smaller that can fit into the larger vase, allowing for at least a ½ inch space between the two.
  • 1 bag of jellybeans
  • 1-2 packages of Peeps bunnies
  • Flowers of choice


Place smaller vase inside larger vase, making sure it is centered. Pour jelly beans into space between the two vases, making sure you make it as level as possible around the vase. Take Peep bunnies out of package and slide a row of them into the space between the two vases, letting them rest on the jellybeans.  Repeat the process until the bunnies go all the way around the vase.

Trim your flowers to fit the inside vase. Pour water into the inside vase and arrange flowers. Voila! You have a beautiful centerpiece the kids helped with!


Thank you to WTLV-TV’s First Coast Living for inviting me on to talk about these fun craft projects!

Catch Simple Solutions Diva On TV Every Friday In January

Join Laura Morey, your Simple Solutions Diva, every Friday in January on First Coast Living, WTLV-TV/Ch. 12 at 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.!

Tune in to see the following topics:

Friday, January 10:  Simple Ideas, Gadgets and Applications For Healthy Eating

Friday, January 17:   Simple Cleaning Ideas For The Home

Friday, January 24:   Simple Ways To Bring The Garden Indoors

Friday, January 31:   Simple Super Bowl Party Ideas

You can check this site every Friday at Noon to get all the details of each segment!
The Simple Solutions Diva herself, Laura Morey!

Simple Halloween Decor “How-To” Round-Up

Here are a few  “How-To’s” for some simple Halloween decor ideas that I featured on First Coast Living, WTLV-TV/NBC 12 (Jacksonville, FL).  I’ve tried to include ideas that were inexpensive and fun to make with the kids! Enjoy!


Spooky Eyes In The Bushes (or Trees, or really anywhere dark!)

Spooky Eyes In The Bushes, from
Spooky Eyes In The Bushes, from

Items Needed For Project:

  • Empty Toilet Paper Rolls
  • Scissors or Exacto Knife (if doing project with children, an adult should be in charge of work with Exacto knife)
  • LED/Battery Operated Tea Lights (Or you can use a string of colored or clear twinkle lights)
  • Duct Tape – Dark works best, so it will blend into the bushes.

Take empty toilet paper rolls and cut out spooky (or silly) eye holes. Then make a small slit in the back of the toilet paper roll.

Insert an LED/Battery Operated Tea Light into the slit in the back of the roll, and secure it with duct tape, leaving on/off switch exposed. (If using twinkle lights, insert bulb into slit, then secure cord/bulb to back of roll using duct tape)

Duct tape over the the open ends of the toilet rolls so no light escapes either side.

Place in bushes along walkway, or in dark corners of the house. Turn on tea lights (or plug in twinkle light cord) and you have spooky eyes twinkling in the bushes on Halloween night!


Table Top Ghost Decoration

Items Needed For Project:

  • Empty 2-litre soda bottle, or other tall empty bottle/jug.
  • One wire hanger, unraveled
  • One large styrofoam ball
  • Duct Tape
  • Cheese Cloth (Available in supermarkets and craft stores)
  • Spray Starch – Extra crisp spray, if possible.
  • washable towel (to protect surface)
  • Black felt circle (for eyes and mouth)



Create the “form” for ghost – Lay towel down to protect your work surface. Wrap wire hanger around neck of empty soda bottle, creating arms that extend out from the bottle.  Secure wire hanger in place with duct tape. Press styrofoam ball onto top of soda bottle to create the shape of the ghost’s head.

Drape cheesecloth over the ghost “form” to create illusion of a ghost. Arrange the “skirt” of the ghost at the bottom of the figure.

Spray heavily with spray starch. Let dry completely. Gently remove the ghost from the mold, being careful to retain the shape of the ghost.  Using black felt cut outs, glue eyes to the ghost. Set up on your table for a ghostly guardian of your Halloween table!


 Ghost Pathway Markers

Image 3
Ghost Pathway Markers, from

Items Needed For Project:

  • Multiple clear,empty plastic milk jugs (washed and dried)
  • Scissors or Exacto Knife
  • LED/Battery Operated Tea Lights or Glow Sticks (do not use real candles)
  • Black Permanent Markers (or black felt cut outs for eyes, nose and mouth)

Cut off top of milk jug. jugs

Using black permanent marker, draw ghostly eyes and mouth on front of milk jug.  Place LED/Battery Operated Tea Light or activated glow stick into milk jug and place along walkway or driveway.


Pumpkin Planters

Pumpkin Planters from
Pumpkin Planters from

Items Needed For Project:

  • Artificial pumpkin
  • Pumpkin carving tool or small, serrated knife
  • Screwdriver, or other pointy tool
  • Potting Soil
  • Pea Stone for drainage (available from hardware stores)
  • One Fall Plant of equal (or slightly smaller) size  to the artificial pumpkin. I love using mums because they are a hearty plant and can take a little abuse!
  • Optional – Garden gloves, gardening trowel.

Cut off the top of the artificial pumpkin, cutting at approximately the pumpkin starts to become wider. (usually about 1-2 inches from the top).  Using a screwdriver or other pointy tool, poke drainage holes in the bottom of your pumpkin. Pour about an 1-2 inches of pea stone into bottom of pumpkin to provide drainage AND heaviness to keep the pot upright.

Arrange potting soil in bottom of pumpkin, allowing enough room to place the plant.  Arrange until plant looks right to you in the pumpkin, then fill remainder with potting soil. Place outside and water thoroughly. For a more visual explanation, Click Here for video!

Glowing Ghosts – The Great Pumpkin

Image 5
The Great Pumpkin Glowing Ghost, from

Items Needed For Project:

  • Black or White cheese cloth/gauze
  • Large plastic pumpkin bucket
  • Glow sticks
  • Fishing wire or string

Set up paper wedding bells. Drape cheese cloth over pumpkin bucket in ghostly fashion, being sure to create a hole to attach a string on handle.

When ready to display at night, activate glow stick and place in bottom of bucket. Use fishing wire or string to hang the “Great Pumpkin ghost from trees outside.


Simple Recipe: Roasted Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce

Enjoy the bounty of your summer garden (or tomato sale at the grocery!) with this simple and flavorful Roasted Grape Tomato Pasta Sauce!


2 pints grape tomatoes, rinsed (dry with paper towels) – Note: you CAN use cherry tomatoes, or Roma tomatoes, just slice the Romas in half before cooking.

3-4  large whole cloves fresh garlic, peeled

4 Tbs. olive oil

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2-3 Tbs. fresh sweet basil, rinsed & dried with paper towel, then rough chopped

3/4 cup  chicken broth (or 1/4 cup white wine with 1/2 cup chicken broth)

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: For spicy flavor, add 1/4 t. red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.



Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet (preferably a jelly roll pan that has low sides) with tin foil.

In a large bowl, place tomatoes, garlic cloves and 2 Tbs olive oil. Mix so ingredients are covered with olive oil. Turn out mixture on to the baking sheet. Place on center rack in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until roasted (I like to get a slightly charred look on the skin, but don’t over cook/dry out the tomatoes!).

While the tomatoes & garlic are cooking, cook the onions in the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large pan. Set aside.

Once tomatoes and garlic are done, remove from oven and place into at food processor or powerful blender. Blend for a couple of pulses, until it is a rough/chunky look (and the garlic is chopped!). Pour blended mixture into pan with onions.

Cook the tomato/garlic/onion mixture for 15-20 minutes. In last 5 minutes of cooking, add the fresh chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste. (if including optional pepper flakes, add them at this time.) Makes a chunky, thick sauce that is light – not your regular, bottled sauce!

Serve over favorite pasta with fresh parmesan cheese!



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