Simple Ideas

Simple Ways To Make The First Day Of School Easier

SSD BTS Breakfast TipsThe first day of school is rapidly approaching for students, and the Simple Solutions Diva has some great Back-To-School breakfast ideas and helpful tips to get the kids ready for school!

Give Them A Great Breakfast!

Fuel those little brains with good, healthy breakfasts they will like and they will greet the day full & happy! Here are some easy breakfast ideas that are packed with protein:

Waffle Breakfast Sundae


Healthy Waffle Sundae for Breakfast, From
Healthy Waffle Sundae for Breakfast, From

No, this is not a super sweet sundae for breakfast, but one made with a whole wheat (or gluten free) waffle of your choice (toasted), topped with greek yogurt, sliced fruits (I used strawberries and bananas,) and you can sprinkle some granola on top (optional) for a yummy treat! The greek yogurt is high in protein, the fruit gives them the natural sugar and the granola is crunchy good!

For video instructions, view HERE!

Almond Cereal Bars

Almond Cereal Bars (Photo: Travis Rathbone for
Almond Cereal Bars (Photo: Travis Rathbone for

These are a great way to have cereal on the go – have a bar and glass of milk and you are set! And you know exactly what is in the cereal bar (and don’t tell the kids there’s bran in it – they don’t have to know!).


  • 2/3 cup almond butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 4 cups bran cereal flakes
  • 4 cups Cheerios cereal
  • 4 tablespoons chopped, dried cherries
  • 4 tablespoons chopped almonds (optional)


Spray bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the almond butter and honey. Microwave on high for 30-45 seconds – stir to combine.

In another, larger microwave-safe bowl, combine the cereals and the cherries (and almonds, if using) and microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until the cereal mixture is warm.

Stir the almond-honey mixture over the cereal mixture. Be sure to stir until all cereal is thoroughly coated. Pour into greased pan and press mixture into the bottom of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. Cut into bars and serve, or save bars in plastic bags for later. Makes approximately 20 bars.

Adapted from

Southwest Breakfast Wraps

Southwest Breakfast Wrap, from
Southwest Breakfast Wrap, from

These are a great grab & go breakfast for the kids!


  • Tortilla Wrap (can use whole wheat wraps if desired)
  • 1 egg, scrambled – You can cook the egg in the microwave (in microwave safe cup!) on high for 1.5 minutes! (See video instructions HERE)
  • 2 teaspoons black beans, rinsed
  • Cheese
  • Salsa
  • 2-3 Spinach leaves, washed
  • Sour cream (if desired)


Place tortilla on a microwave-safe plate. Top with cooked egg, cheese, beans, and salsa. Microwave on high for 30-45 seconds, or until tortilla is warm. Add sour cream and spinach leaves, then roll tortilla up!  Wrap them in tin foil and serve warm!

Breakfast Smoothie Ideas:

Click For These Breakfast Smoothie Recipes: (The Superfood, The Tropical, and The Strawberry & Banana)

Get Them To Bed Early!

clockDuring the summer, sleep schedules are crazy! Get them back on track by having them get to bed a little early every day for a week. Reduce the time in front of a TV or computer screen in the evening. Start the process by reading to them in bed (or have the children read to themselves), getting in bed 10 minutes earlier every day for the week leading up to school.


Calm The Nerves!

Many kids get worried about the start of school, or going to a new school or grade. The transition from middle school to high school (or elementary to middle) can be scary, so take advantage of the school orientations. Get a map of the school and highlight where the child’s classes will be (and what period) so they know exactly where they need to go. Talk to them about what they are excited about for school, and then find out if they are nervous about anything. Sometimes just hearing that everything will be OK from mom or dad can make things easier. For the little ones, leaving mom and dad is scary – Give them a laminated photo of the family that they can carry with them at school.


Fourth Of July Crafts For Kids!

SSD July collageIndependence Day is a favorite holiday in my house! It happens to be the day AFTER my birthday, so I always looked at it as a celebration of MY birthday as well as our country’s! My neighbor and I both love it so much, we started our neighborhood’s Fourth Of July Bike Parade 15 years ago and it is STILL going strong!

My partner in crime, Pegine and I, celebrating at last year's Neighborhood Independence Day Bike Parade we established 15 years ago!
My partner in crime, Pegine and I, celebrating at last year’s Neighborhood Independence Day Bike Parade we established 15 years ago!

Here are a few simple crafts you can do with the kids this year, plus a few decorating & celebrating ideas I found that were just too good not to include!

Liberty Paper Plate Hat


This is a simple project that requires just a few items!

What You Need:

  • White paper plates
  • Blue acrylic paint & paint brushes
  • White and red construction paper
  • Hole punch
  • Glue or glue dots to eliminate dry time
  • Elastic

IMG_7409 copy


Cut the paper plate in half, then on the cut side, cut a half moon out of the bottom using the other half of the paper plate as a guide (sounds complicated, but see photo below!). Paint one side of the plate blue. Set aside to dry.

IMG_7397 copy

Cut elongated triangles out of the red and white paper.

Flip the dried plate over and glue the paper triangles to the back of the paper plate (along the top-curved part), alternating red and white-points pointed up. Allow to dry.

Using hole punch, punch a hole on either side of the bottom of the plate. Thread elastic through each hole and tie off (estimate amount of elastic needed based on the child’s head size). You can also use a hard headband and put the headband ends through the holes on either end!

Fireworks Art


Bendy straws make this simple craft fun AND pretty!

What You Need:

  • 7 bendy straws per person
  • Tape
  • Blue and Red acrylic paint
  • Paper plate
  • White paper
  • Red, white or blue glitter (optional)



Pull each of the bendy straws so they are fully extended. Holding the 7 straws in a bundle in your hand (making sure the ends are aligned), wrap tape around the bottom and then right under where the straws bend. Once secured, bend and spread out the bendy end of the straws to create a pinwheel shape. (See photo below!)

straw tape

Pour blue paint onto a paper plate and have the kids dip the pinwheeled end of the straws in the paint. Have them stamp the pinwheel all over the white paper; repeat with red paint. (You may need to press the straws to the paper so they make full contact with the paper.) If desired, while paint is wet, sprinkle sparkles on the artwork.

Flag Handiwork!


Give the flag a hand! Use your child’s hand to re-create the flag!  (Don’t laugh, but since I have teens, not toddlers, at home I used my own hand for demo purposes!)

What You Need:

  • Red, White and Blue Acrylic Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Light Blue Paper for the print
  • Red Paper for Mounting
  • White Paint or Paint Marker


Assemble your paints, brushes, and light blue paper. Have your child hold out their hand (I used left hand) and gently paint a blue square on their palm, followed by alternating red and white stripes leading out onto their fingers. (See photo) NOTE: Plan to work quickly so the paint doesn’t dry on their hand!!


Press the painted hand onto the light blue paper. Once dried, paint a white star on the blue square. Mount the artwork onto slightly larger red paper.

Patriotic “Lantern”

SSD lantern

This is always fun for kids to make and they are perfect to display on the porch, in the bedroom or even attached to a stick to carry in the neighborhood bike parade!

What You Need:

  • Blue & Red Construction Paper, cut into long, inch wide strips (I used heavier paper that I had on hand)
  • White Paper, cut into free-formed stars, various sizes
  • Craft Glue
  • Glitter (optional)


Lay two blue strips vertically with a few inches between them. Lay your red strips between the blue strips horizontally and glue (see photo below).

IMG_7400Once dry, join the each end of the two blue strips together and glue.

Add the white stars as desired, and put a few dots of glue here and there, then sprinkle with glitter if you want to add a little more pizzazz! (You could add streamers off the bottom if you want to turn this into a windsock!)

Glue a red strip to the top as a handle and you are ready for the parade!

Sparkler Guard

SSD Sparkler

You might see a red cup, I see a Sparkler Guard! I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was brilliant! I love sparklers, but when I was little I was always afraid that I would get burned. This solves that problem!

Just cut a small hole in the bottom of the cup and stick the sparkler handle into the cup. That’s it! But now, a few notes and disclaimers on this one:

  • Never leave a child alone with matches, sparklers, fire or anything else flammable!
  • Always supervise your children during this activity – This is not meant to be a “Light It & Leave” activity!
  • Always have a container of water on hand to place the used sparklers in to douse any heat or flame.
  • Make sure the entire “business end” of the sparkler is sticking out, so the only part on the inside of the cup is the handle and your hand. You don’t want it to burn down INTO the cup!

Other Great Ideas From Around The Web:

There are so many fun 4th Of July activities & crafts out there, I couldn’t cover them all! I’ve selected a few of my favorites below. Be sure to click on each link to visit the sites for directions!

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 8.11.51 PMPatriotic NecklaceClick Here







Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 8.01.30 PMPainted Lawn StarsClick Here (I LOVE this idea and may have to do it next year!)







Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 8.05.18 PMDIY Independence Day Flag T-ShirtsClick Here






Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 8.06.09 PMPatriotic Ice Cream Sandwich Pops (So Easy!) – Click Here




Simple Style AND Sun Protection From Cabana Life

SSD CabanalifeThe heat and sun of summer is upon us, and you know, you’ve got to protect your skin! Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of meeting Melissa Papock, owner of, a line of SPF 50+ clothing and beachwear. A fantastic person and a wonderful clothing line!

Melissa’s journey to a sun safety clothing line is unique – she was a merchandising expert in New York, working for top fashion and beauty magazines. But then, at age 26, she was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

After fighting the big “C” she began her quest to find, and ultimately CREATE, a stylish line of sun protective clothing. It is adorable, preppy and colorful!

Being the great person she is, Melissa is offering a Friends & Family Discount for readers – 25% OFF your on-line order!! Simply plug in the code CABANA25 at checkout! So take advantage of this terrific deal and protect your skin (and your children’s!).

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 7.37.21 AMScreen Shot 2015-06-03 at 7.38.46 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 7.41.19 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 7.42.22 AM

Nitty Gritty Basics For The Dorm Room


What do you pack for your first time in college? The Diva shares some simple basics for the dorm room that are “mom recommended” for college freshmen! Use this as a starting point for your student, taking into consideration their wants and likes!

This video is part of the series, “Heading Off To College” — simple tips & helpful hints to make it easier to send your students off to college!

SSD Dorm Basics


Create A College Emergency Kit


You get that dreaded call from your college freshman, “Mom, I’m sick! My head hurts!” (or stomach, or ears, etc.). What can you do? Send them off to college with an emergency kit, full of items they can use to combat some of the simplest, (yet most annoying) of health problems!

The Diva shows you how to assemble a kit, with Mom-Recommended items that might help your student help themselves!

Note: Items in the kit are suggestions – choose items that are appropriate for your student. If you know they have allergies, add in allergy medicine you know works for them. You know they get a sour stomach during mid-terms? Pack in some tummy meds that you know work.

This video is part of the “Heading Off To College” series, featuring simple tips and helpful hints to make it easier to send your students off to college!

SSD Emergency Kit

Tips for Surviving Daylight Savings Time

SSD Daylight Savings
Whether you are a parent trying to help your child, or you are just not a morning person, Daylight Savings time can really throw people for a loop – you lose 1 hour of sleep, it makes you groggy! It is well documented there are many more car accidents, more workplace accidents, and more heart attacks on the Monday after Daylight Savings! So here are a few tips to Survive Daylight Savings Time:

Start The Transition Tonight! It’s Wednesday – you have four days to get adjusted! Get the kids to bed (and yourself!) 15 minutes earlier each night through Saturday. Get yourself up 15 minutes earlier each morning. This will help reset your internal clock. Plus, avoid the TV, computer screen and phone screen at least one hour before bed – the screen glow interferes with your sleep rhythms. Use the time to relax – do a little yoga, meditation, or read a book.

Eat A Little Earlier Just like your sleep schedule, adjust your meal schedule throughout the week to get you used to the time change. And eat a little lighter.

Get Your Early Morning Vitamin D! Step outside early in the morning and get some sun exposure on your face! This will help adjust your circadian rhythm to the earlier time.

Work Out In The Early Part of The Day Exercise will help tire you out for the evening. But be sure to do it in the morning – later in the day will actually stimulate you, rather than relax you.

Nap! Sometimes, you are just so sleepy you have to take a nap. Well go ahead and take one. But make sure it is early afternoon, and is no more than 20 minutes. Set a timer on your phone or your kitchen timer to keep from oversleeping.

SSD Daylight Savings Tips

Heartfelt (& Last Minute!) Valentine’s Day Ideas

Lsat Minute ValentinesIt is the day before Valentine’s Day, and you haven’t gotten anything for your sweetheart? No worries! I’ve got some simple ideas sure to make your sweetie swoon!

Make a Personalized & Romantic Valentine’s Day Crossword Puzzle

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 7.35.49 PM

What would be better than to create something based on your own relationship? Follow this link to to have your choice of making a crossword puzzle, word search and so much more!



Make “Good Morning, I Love You” Biscuits 

"I Love You" Biscuits. Photo Credit:
“I Love You” Biscuits. Photo Credit:

With a sweet little heart in the center, who wouldn’t melt for these in the morning? They are easy to make using Pillsbury Biscuit Dough and your favorite jelly (and a little powdered sugar for decoration!). These are good for both your significant other AND the kids! Get the recipe here at

“Count The Ways” Jar

An ode to Shakespeare’s famous sonnet, show him or her how many ways you love them! Decorate a unique-looking jar or box. Write numerous love notes, love quotes, and why you love your sweetie on small pieces of paper and fill the jar with them. Present the jar to your sweetheart. Need a little inspiration? Check out the site,, for quotes on love!

Go Retro With A “Mix Tape”

Create an iTunes playlist with songs that make you think of your sweetheart. Share it through Home Share on iTunes, or export it to your sweetheart’s computer. Or go really retro and burn it on a CD and give it to him/her! Need some song inspiration? Check out for their Top 50 Love Songs of All Time List!  Instructions on how to export your playlist are  below:

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 4.26.57 PM

LOVE On A Chocolate, Wine, or Beer Tour!

Indulge your sweetheart in one of their favorite things! In the Jacksonville, FL area, Whetstone’s Chocolates in St. Augustine offers factory tours (Click Here for Reservations and Pricing). Love wine or beer?  The Tasting Tours in St. Augustine has a special discount just for Simple Solutions Diva viewers! Visit their website and choose from the Vittles & Vino VIP Carriage Tour (3 hours of food and wine tastings via carriage) or Beer About Town Tour (2.5 hours of sipping & savoring on this walking tour). At checkout, use the code “DIVA” and you get 10% off the regular price on either of the tasting adventures. (Code is valid thru 12/31/15)

The Tasting Tours' Vittles & Vino VIP Carriage Tour
The Tasting Tours Vittles & Vino VIP Carriage Tour

A very Happy Valentine’s day to all!

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

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