Simple Fall Decor For Your Home


Happy Fall Y’all! I LOVE the cooler weather! Now is the perfect time to start decorating for the season, so I thought I would share some simple ways to bring a little fall into your décor!

Decorate With Mason Jars! You can buy mason jars in bulk at Publix, Walmart or other stores. They are very plentiful now because people are canning their summer produce.

Distressed Can Be Good! Check out these cute, painted & distressed mason jars! I used Krylon Flat White Spray paint from Michael’s, sprayed the clean mason jars, then, when they were dry, I used a fine sandpaper to lightly distress the jars. I finished them off by wrapping natural twine around the top and added fall hydrangea! So simple!




Get Leafy With It! If you like the look of fall leaves, grab a few, use glossy Modge Podge to affix the fall leaves to the mason jars – I use silk leaves when I do this project!

Love the Mercury Glass look? Grab a can of Krylon “Looking Glass” spray paint (I found it at a Michael’s Store) and spray the INSIDE of your mason jars. Add an LED candle inside and you have a cute candle! (Another Great Idea: You can also use the paint on the inside of one of those glass vases that come with flowers! I always have a few around the house! Or buy a simple glass vase from the Dollar Store!)


Bring A Little Nature Into The Home: Grab some pine cones from outside and use them in your decor! (But first be sure to dry & “debug” them with this simple tip from

Pine cones & Flowers – Now check out this cute Flower display – it looks like the flowers are sitting in a jar of pine cones! (the Trick is, you have 2 vases – one small, one large. Put small inside the large, then add pinecones in between the two! Flower stems go inside the smaller vase!)


Shop Your Home! Using pine cones and items around your home, you can create a Fall Tablescape that can take you from early Fall, Halloween on through to Thanksgiving! The tray is one that has been sitting in my bedroom. I had the three glass jars. I got the pine cones from outside, and then I just added items appropriate for the season – orange berry sprays for Fall, glitter pumpkins for Halloween, and I can add small gourds & mini pumpkins for Thanksgiving! The only thing I bought were the candles!


Dollar Store Deals – If you want to decorate for the fall, you’ve got to check out dollar stores NOW! They have all their products out for fall and Halloween! (And even a little Christmas now, too!) I found cute little mini pumpkins, felt placemats in the shape of fall leaves, and forms for wreaths!

Special Giveaway! I will be cooking things up on the Jacksonville Magazine Cooking Stage Sunday, October 2, 11:30 a.m. at the Jacksonville Home + Patio Show. I have 4 pairs of tickets to the Jacksonville Home + Patio Show, September 29-October 2. The first four people to email me at will win the tickets.

If you don’t win, don’t be upset because I have a coupon code you can use to get discounted tickets at the Home & Patio Show – Use the code DIVA!

Thank you to WTLV-TV’s First Coast Living for inviting me on to share these simple tips!


Getting Creative With Veggies – Carrot “Pumpkins”

I know from experience it can be difficult to get kids to eat their veggies! For some reason, two and three year olds just don’t care when you explain that veggies are good for them! But like all good parents, we try to sneak vegetables into their diet – some with success, some without!

So I knew when I saw these adorable carrot “pumpkins” they would be a perfect fall treat for kids – and something a parent can feel good about giving them!



I hope you like the cutting demonstration in the video!  Disclaimer: When using a big knife, I don’t recommend letting the kids cut the carrots! If you want to get them involved, give them the job of peeling and washing the carrots!

A close-up of the cuts you need to make on your carrot - So cute!
A close-up of the cut carrot – So cute!


What kid could refuse these sweet & crunchy “pumpkins” – especially if they are served with dip! Or add them to chicken noodle soup for a Fall or Halloween theme!



However you serve them, you and your child are sure to love them! (FYI – Even my teenagers happily munched away on these – before I was done filming!)


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!



Homemade Honey Dijon Dressing


Honey Dijon Dressing – it could be another food group for some kids! My kids put it on everything, so I thought I would try to make it from scratch – no preservatives and full of flavor! Try this tangy version is sure to make everyone happy in your home!


Honey Dijon Dressing2

Homemade Honey Dijon Dressing
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Sweet & Tangy! Sure to be a hit!!
Recipe type: Salad Dressing
Cuisine: American
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  1. Combine the first four ingredients and whisk.
  2. Slowly whisk in the olive oil - you may find you don't want to use the entire ¼ cup - feel free to adjust to your taste.
  3. Serve immediately!


Honey Dijon Dressing1

Creamy Feta Cheese Dressing

Oh yes, I am thinking of my trip to Greece when I make this dressing! This recipe comes together so easily you will be making it every week! Pour it over salad, make it thicker and use it as a dip for veggies and pita chips!


Feta Dressing2


Creamy Feta Cheese Dressing
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Creamy Feta Cheese dressing is perfect for a summer time salad and it comes together in minutes!!
Recipe type: Salad Dressing
Cuisine: Greek
Serves: ½ cup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ cup feta cheese - use plain or flavored
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • Adjust the liquid ingredients to your preference to make it thinker or thinned out.
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend! That easy! Store in an air tight container in fridge for up to 5 days.


Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing


“Why serve store-bought salad dressing to your family, when it is so easy to make it fresh?”

That is what I kept hearing over the years from different people. I thought, “Who has time for that, when there are such good dressings at my local market?” Besides, my kids use bottled ranch dressing like it is ketchup (and if you have kids, I’m sure you understand!). When I tell you we usually have 4 bottles of bottled ranch dressing in the pantry, I’m not embarrassed – it is a way of life!

Well, after making my own dressing (not just a simple vinaigrette), I realized they are right!! It tastes so much better than bottled!

Ranch Dressing2

So I am sharing a simple and OH SO TASTY Buttermilk Ranch Dressing recipe with you! My kids love it, I love it, and you actually use less because it is so full of flavor!

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
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A creamy Ranch Dressing sure to be a hit! Once you taste the difference between fresh and bottled, you may never go back to store-bought salad dressing again!
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T chopped, fresh chives
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • ⅓ cup Buttermilk (plus a little more, to thin out the dressing if it is too thick for your taste)
  • ⅓ cup sour cream (you can substitute greek yogurt here!)
  • ⅓ cup mayo (you can use light mayo)
  • NOTE: Feel free to play around with the amounts of each ingredient to suit your taste!
  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients together.
  2. Whisk the ingredients.
  3. Store in an air tight container in the fridge.
  4. Lasts up to 5 days.


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Chocolate Covered Almonds With Salted Caramel Sugar

Any of my friends or family can tell you that I am a chocoholic – and DARNED proud of it! I even had a chocolate-themed Christmas tree in my first apartment! So when I tell you I look for chocolate recipes that I can even remotely say MIGHT be healthy for me, I try to latch on them and use them (sparingly, of course!).

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This recipe is super simple, requires only a few ingredients, and tastes amazing!! Be sure to have napkins handy — you will have messy hands and face after eating these!

If you want to find the Salted Caramel Sugar from Spice & Tea Exchange of St. Augustine, click HERE!

Chocolate Covered Almonds With Salted Caramel Sugar
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So simple and so tasty - make sure you have plenty of napkins when you eat these delicious chocolate clusters!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 20-24
  • 2 cups whole, toasted almonds (Toast in 350 degree oven, 5-10 mins)
  • 8 ounces chocolate, melted (I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet, but works great with dark chocolate, too!)
  • Salted Caramel Sugar for topping-You can use course turbinado sugar and course sea salt (I used a product from Spice & Tea Exchange Of St. Augustine, FL)
  1. In a double boiler (or microwave), melt the chocolate.
  2. Place toasted almonds into a bowl, then pour chocolate over the almonds. Mix thoroughly.
  3. On a parchment paper covered pan, place rounded spoonfuls of the chocolate/almond mixture.
  4. Lightly sprinkle with sugar/salt topping.
  5. Allow to cool in the refrigerator until set.
  6. When serving, eat immediately! (Of course, they WILL go fast!)


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SSD Chocolate Almonds

Lemon Mint Martini

Ah, yes! Hot summers, sitting on the porch, indulging in the summer-fresh flavor of a Lemon Mint Martini!  A little tart, a little sweet – sort of like lemonade, but with a kick! Feel free to adjust the amounts on this recipe – some people like it more sweet, some less! (I’ve been told I tend to go light on the sweet, so you may want to add more simple syrup to the recipe!)

For The Simple Syrup: Go a little crazy and make the simple syrup with fresh mint (be sure to strain the syrup before storing)! Here is my recipe for simple syrup, with several flavor variations: Click Here


Lemon Mint Martini
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The summer-fresh flavor of a Lemon Mint Martini just can't be beat on a hot summer evening!
Recipe type: Cocktails
Serves: 2-3
  • 6 lemons - juiced (approximately 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice)
  • 2-4 Tablespoons Simple Syrup (you can go wild and make mint simple syrup!)
  • 4 shots vodka - I used Tito's Vodka
  • A handful of fresh mint, washed and torn into small pieces
  • Ice
  • Martini Shaker
  • Martini Glasses
  1. Combine in the shaker (make sure it is full of ice) the lemon juice, simple syrup and mint.
  2. Shake vigorously.
  3. Pour into chilled martini glasses.
  4. Drink promptly (and responsibly!)



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.


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