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Simple Holiday Survival

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!

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DIY Bird Seed Wreath
 
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Make this simple holiday gift for the Bird Lover in your life!
Author:
Recipe type: Recipe For Birds
Serves: 0
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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

 

 

 

The Way To Store Silver To Reduce Tarnish

 

I live in Florida and was so surprised at how quickly my silver tarnished! Trust me, I am not one who likes to do much silver cleaning (Click HERE to see my tip to clean large amounts of silver without a lot of elbow grease!). At the suggestion of one of my readers, I decided to seek out a solution to the problem! So today’s Simple Holiday Survival Tip focuses on how to store your silver to prevent, or at least reduce, tarnishing!

A little prevention can go a long way!

SSD Tarnish

Apple Pie Sangria

This is a perfect cocktail to serve at Thanksgiving or any Fall event! This makes a large batch – you can cut the recipe in half and have a nice amount for 6-8 people.

SSD Apple Pie Sangria 5

Apple Pie Sangria
 
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A sweet sangria perfect for Fall events like Thanksgiving! Make the day ahead so all the flavors blend together.
Author:
Recipe type: Cocktail - Large Batch
Cuisine: Cocktails
Serves: 12-16
Ingredients
  • 2 bottle sweet wine, like resiling or muscato
  • 5 cups fresh apple cider
  • 2 cups ginger ale
  • 2 cups caramel flavored vodka
  • 3 honey crisp apple, cored & chopped
  • 3 pears, cored & chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
Instructions
  1. In a large serving container, add the pears and apples. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the cinnamon sticks. Stir well and cover. Refrigerate overnight (or at least 6 hours).
  2. About 4 hours before serving, add the cinnamon sticks.
  3. Optional: Remove a cup or two of the apples and pears and place in bowl to add to glasses. (Keep in mind, the fruit is now soaked in alcohol, so don't give to kids or pets!)
  4. Serve over ice!

 

 

 

SSD Apple Pie Sangria 4SSD Apple Pie Sangria 1

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

mandy

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

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Directions:

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.

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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

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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)

Directions:

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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!

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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

Directions:

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!!

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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”

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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)

Directions:

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 Recipe: Party Potatoes!

This super-simple potato casserole will become your go-to favorite. Probably the easiest recipe, besides buying pre-made potatoes! I’m whipping this up for Easter Dinner this year. How will YOU use them? At a party? A family meal?
A big thank you to my sister-in-law, Lisa, who shared this recipe with me!
SSD Party Potatoes

Party Potatoes

Ingredients:
  • 1 30 oz. Bag Frozen Shredded Potatoes (I used Oreida Frozen Hash Brown Potatoes)
  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1 Pint Sour Cream (NOTE: I used 1 cup of sour cream by accident in the video, and they still tasted good! )
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 chopped, sauteed onions (optional)
Directions:
Using cooking spray, grease the bottom of a 13×9 inch pan. Line the bottom of the pan with the frozen, shredded potatoes.
In a large bowl, mix together the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and shredded cheese (add the onions, too, if using them!)
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes – 1 hr. It will bubble all along the sides!
Enjoy!

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

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What would be better than to create something based on your own relationship? Follow this link to DiscoveryEducation.com 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: Pillsbury.com.
“I Love You” Biscuits. Photo Credit: Pillsbury.com.

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 Pillsbury.com.

“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, BrainyQuote.com, 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 Billboard.com for their Top 50 Love Songs of All Time List!  Instructions on how to export your playlist are  below:

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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!

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!

 

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Share The Love With A Holiday Giving Plate

The Simple Solutions Diva has an answer to an age old question:

How do you get your plate back from a holiday party?

The simple answer? Don’t ask for it back — Create a Season of Giving Plate!

The concept is: you share the plate, along with the food you bring to a party. Then the host is free to use it when THEY go to a holiday party, and the plate moves from home to home throughout the holidays!

The instructions are easy: It is as simple as buying a pretty plate from the Dollar Tree Store, writing a nice verse (for suggestion, see below) on the plate in permanent marker, baking it at 350 degrees for approximately 30 mins. This baking process will set the permanent marker so it won’t wash off.

You can write whatever you would like, but if you are in need of something, try this:

Season Of Giving

In this Season Of Giving, we share so much joy,

& plates full of cookies for all to enjoy!

This plate is for giving, not keeping for one.

So pass this plate on to others, and share all the fun!

 

It is a beautiful way to share the love this holiday season!

Season Of Giving Plate
Season Of Giving Plate from SimpleSolutionsDiva.com.

Chocolate Spiced Truffles

 

SSD Truffle 1

I was amazed at how simple this recipe is! My friends at The Spice & Tea Exchange gave me this recipe – they are a wonderful source for rich spices and flavored teas! If you ever have a chance to go to their store in St. Augustine, FL, it is a treat for your senses! The smells of the spices, the beautiful jars of spices and specialty teas – Wonderful!

The basic recipe is as follows:

Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup heavy whipping cream
  • 11 oz. Bittersweet chocolate or semi sweet chocolate (I used bittersweet for a dark, rich flavor)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons favorite liqueur  (My suggestions: brandy, rum, spiced rum, Chambord, Kahlua or other favorite.)

Assorted Spices and Other Toppings:

Preparation:

Place the chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl.  Scald the cream in a small saucepan, pour over the chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes.

Whisk gently until fully incorporated, add the liqueur and stir until smooth.

Place in fridge until it has hardened. Scoop out about 1 tsp of the cold ganache and roll it into a truffle.  Roll in favorite sugars or spices, then chill until firm. Serve at room temperature.

To see the original recipe from The Spice & Tea Exchange, click here.

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Spiced Chocolate Truffle (left) and Candy Cane Truffle (right).

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