Home Hack

Creative Grilling

It’s the end of the summer – are you tired of hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill? We’ve got an idea to start grilling creatively this fall:


That’s right pizza! You can make your own dough, or if you want a quicker pizza making experience, pop over to your local Publix bakery for their dough. Ask any bakery worker for it if it’s not easily spotted in the Bakery.

Make sure your grill grate is scraped/cleaned. Use a paper towel to rub a little olive oil on the grate if it is very old or seems dry.

We turn the grill to high and let it pre-heat for about 10 minutes, while we assemble our masterpiece. Then turn down to medium-low for cooking.


Sauce, Toppings, Cheese, COOK!

  • Place a little flour on a clean counter and form your pizza shape(s). Publix often have pre-rolled, perfectly shaped pizza doughs for a few cents more than their bagged dough.
  • Design your pizza quickly. We find that the longer your pizza dough sits with sauce on it, the harder it will be to transfer to the grill or oven. If the dough starts to stick, used your hand to try to gently dust some flour underneath it.
Pro Tip: If you have a peel, try creating the pizza right on the peel for easier transfer to the grill. Dust the peel with a little flour before placing the dough on it.
  • Transfer the pizza directly to the grill grate and close the lid. Let it cook for about — minutes before peeking.

If this is your first time with dough on a grill, panic may occur. Imagining all the dough will fall through the grates may lead one to aimlessly try and reposition the raw pizza. Don’t. The dough cooks quickly and sometimes it makes a bigger mess trying to “save” what doesn’t need much saving at all. Pizza on the grill may not always be a perfect circle, but that’s part of the appeal! Burn marks, mis-shaped, thumb print, topping gaps… just call it all “rustic.” 🙃 All pizza making perfection and aesthetics will be worked out in time as you make more pizzas. You’ll get there.

Some Other Grill Alternatives:

  • Calzones or Strombolis – They are kind of like a pizza burritos! Roll your dough out the same way as you would for a pizza, place the toppings and cheese on half. Fold the unused half on top of the made side, and use your fingers to pinch the edges closed. Calzones are typically cheese, ham, and ricotta. Strombolis are usually more toppings and no ricotta. Both are delicious! Serve with the sauce on the side.
  • Dessert Pizza – Try Nutella as the “sauce,” then as the toppings: white chocolate chips, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas.
  • Cherry Turnovers – Use crescent rolls and cherry pie filling to create little calzones. Use a fork to pinch the edges closed. Place them on a grilling sheet, or put a piece of foil down on the grill grate to cook them. Peek after about 2 minutes. Flip.
  • Party S’mores – You create a little s’more sandwich ahead of time, wrap it in foil, then pop them all on the grill at the same time. Place a graham cracker square on a piece of foil. Use Nutella or a like topping to “butter” the cracker, then stick large marshmallows to it. Add a square of chocolate. Top your s’more sandwich with another graham cracker square. Fold the foil over to enclose the s’more and grill away. About 1 minute per side, or longer if you like them extra ooey gooey.
  • Bacon Wrapped Bananas – Yup. Wrap 1/2 a banana up in a slice of bacon and throw it on the grill until the bacon is cooked. Delicious!

What kind of creative things are you cooking on the grill? Share your ideas with us on Facebook and Instagram! @DeAnnaAndCompany




Homemade Pizza Sauce

This is a *secret* family recipe, and the result is a light, super fresh tasting sauce delightful for pizzas, pasta, dipping… it’s delicious! The consistency  and flavor profile of this sauce is what is typically used on “margarita” style pizzas.

  • 1 extra large can of Whole Tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon minced jarred garlic
  • Fresh Basil
  • 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt, Pepper to taste
  • Garlic Powder*, Onion Powder* to taste (optional) *POWDERS not salts.
  1. Empty tomatoes and juices into a glass dish. (Note: GLASS dish because, tomatoes will stain most plastic, and metal bowls can change the taste of the tomatoes.)
  2. Using *freshly cleaned* hands, break the whole tomatoes up into large but separate pulpy pieces. (Bite-sized)
  3. Add garlic and about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix.
  4. Wash and dry basil, then use hands to tear the leaves of basil into small pieces, drop them into the sauce and lightly stir to make sure all ingredients are combined. In our opinion, the more basil you use, the “fresher” it tastes. We typically use 1/2 of a fresh basil jewel package from the supermarket.
  5. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder to taste. Note: Garlic and onion “powders” not salts. We typically use about 15 turns of pepper, 2 turns of regular salt, and a good dusting of onion and garlic powders.

That’s it! The freshest (and easiest) pizza sauce on the planet!


Curb Appeal

We Tested Three House Painting Methods So You Don’t Have To

The long and short of it is: there is no “fast” way to paint a house that produces a “professional” end result. No matter which method you choose, achieving that professional level look means a LOT of time must be spent on the fine details. “Details” like of taping off moulding and bases, blocking out the windows, pressure washing, clearing a path in bushes and shrubs along the house, prepping machines and tools, cleaning brushes and paint equipment, etc. All these little things ate up the majority of our time, but it really made a difference in the end result. The good news is, when it comes to physically painting – there ARE faster ways! We tested three different methods for painting. Here’s how it went.

The ratings below are based on painting the house exterior only.

Professional Paint Sprayer:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5 Stars

We used the Graco Magnum X5 True Airless Sprayer, purchased at our local Sherwin Williams.

This machine works, and works well, and fast too! Coverage was even and we could paint for quite a while before running out of paint. The end result looks like a professional paint job. There were never any machine malfunctions to troubleshoot. We followed the directions closely and there were no road blocks to getting the painting done.

The downside: It takes a lot of prep work just to paint and clean up. There are buckets you need for water, meshes to strain the paint, a series of steps for priming the machine, some steps to walk through when you need to change out the paint, then just about as much to clean the machine when you are done. Once you are all set up though, painting with this machine was the fastest, most accurate painting method of the three we tried.

Would I use this machine inside? I don’t think so. Unless, it was an empty house, and no one was living there at the time. There seemed to be a lot of super fine paint mist, so I can’t see that fairing well inside of a lived-in home.

Hand Held Spray Painter:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3.75/5 Stars

We purchased the Wagner Power Painter Wide Shot Pro at our local Lowes. We think this model might have been updated, because we can no longer find this exact one on their website.

This little thing worked well too. The coverage was better than expected. While the tiny reservoir and coverage was no comparison to the professional machine, it did last *much* longer than paint would on a roller brush, so it was still way faster than traditional painting. It got into stucco nooks, cover wood, and porous cement with no problems.

I started a stucco wall in the back yard with a roller brush while my husband used the professional machine out front, and very quickly thought I was going to lose my mind – so I was extremely happy to have this little Wagner painter machine, flaws and all!

The downside: Refilling was a little messy, and there was time lost in troubleshooting malfunction. The machine seemed to clog easily. A spring inside also broke while we were using it, and the only place with replacements was Amazon – which meant waiting another day or two to finish.

Would I use this machine inside? If it were a very large room and wall… maybe. But again, there is a fine mist when you use it. However, the outside application was very good.

Traditional Brush and Roller:

⭐️ 1/5 Stars*

*Note: 1/5 stars rating is for EXTERIORS. Brushes and rollers remain our 5/5 favorite method for detail work and interiors.

We purchased a variety of brushes and rollers for stucco, wood, concrete, and smooth surfaces from our local Home Depot and Lowe’s stores.

Would I use this method outside? Only on the detail painting, like window trims and doors. With the majority of Florida homes having stucco exteriors, rolling paint – even with the appropriate roller or brush for the surface means going over spots several times just to get in all of the nooks and crannies. Painting with a sprayer is MUCH faster. I’m talking easily 10 times as fast. We will never paint the majority of a house exterior without a paint spray machine ever again.

Note: No matter what way you decide to paint a house, make sure to follow the paint directions for application, climate, and clean up guidelines. Don’t forget to use the appropriate ventilator mask and eye protection. Paint particles and eyes/lungs just don’t mix.

Have you recently painted your house? What are your tips? Share them in the comments on our Facebook and Instagram: @DeAnnaAndCompany

Home Hack

Hurricane Prep

If you’ve joined us for our “Storm Ready” events, you know D&CO. encourages clients and partners to be proactive with their hurricane preparedness plans. We like building our supplies up month by month, so that if a named storm quickly approaches, we have little we need to rush out and get. These are our hurricane prep basics:

Long BEFORE there’s trouble in paradise…

Gas Can

A good gas can will be VERY hard to find once a storm is named. Buy a quality gas can now to have on hand. When choosing a gas can, walk through the steps of operating it. We have bought at least three in the pandemonium of an approaching hurricane that turned out to be worthless. If you can’t figure out how to open in, fill it, or gas doesn’t flow efficiently or easily it will be nothing but a headache (and potential mess or safety hazard) after the storm.

Pro Tip: Fill the gas can only when you need it. Gas doesn’t last, so don’t fill it and let it sit for months. Purchase only what you need when you need it.


This one can be a little tricky. We don’t want to have too many batteries on hand for too long or they may be drained right when we need them most. Invest in batteries with the power level indicator on the side, or a simple battery power tester and verify your power source is good to go before the lights go out. Light and heat are the nemesis of batteries. Store them indoors, in a cool, dry, dark place (like a closet or drawer) to ensure batteries last as long as possible. Modern rechargeable options have come a long way. We’ve found the rechargeable Ikea and Energizer systems work well.

Surge Protector

Start recharging things in advance with a reliable surge protector power strip. A good extension cord also may come in handy.

Rechargeable Accessories

Luckily, we have the wonders of Amazon reviews to help us find good products that actually work. Consider and research rechargeable items like personal fans, battery cells, batteries, flashlights, and even lightbulbs. All of these seemingly minor items will provide comfort should the power go out for a few hours or days.

Canned Goods

A hurricane kit should have enough recently purchased canned goods, non-perishables, and water to last at least three days. (For people and pets.) Consume these items after hurricane season ends in November, or donate them to charity.


Hopefully you won’t ever need it, but we pack them in our kit (and have had to use them more times than we’d care to) just in case.

As a storm approaches…


Call the pharmacy and fill those prescriptions. Check and replenish first aid kits with bandaids, antibiotic cream, and even over the counter headache medicine. Some other items to consider having on hand: bug spray, calamine type lotion, sun block, and antihistamine, to name a few. Just try to think of what you would need if the power goes out and you’re forced to spend more time outdoors or with the windows open.


  • Dispense gas into safe and approved gas containers only. Take only what you need. There’s no need to panic purchase excess because you are pre-prepared, after all.
  • When we lose power we default to cooking on the grill, so we always make sure we have a fresh propane tank ready to go there too.


Wash and ready coolers. Freezing gallon freezer bags with water before the storm can work as make-shift ice packs until you are able to purchase bags of ice after the storm passes.

Pro Tip: If power is lost, keep the fridge and freezer closed to conserve the cold. Instead of endless fridge-gazing, set up a little cooler of commonly accessed items like drinks and snacks to use during the storm.

Charge It!

Charge your phones, radios, tablets, batteries, fans, light bulbs, flashlights, and anything else you will need to pass the time or keep you connected.


In addition to purchasing bottle water or whatever you prefer to drink (you can do this early, as water and beverages have a pretty good shelf life), most homes may need tap water for flushing the toilets. Keep it simple by filling a tub or bucket for various usage as the storm approaches.

Sand Bags

If you have an area of your yard that tends to pool in regular storms, sandbags might be good to have on hand this storm season. Here in Orange County, there are always free sandbag pop-up spots for residents. Check on your local government site or local news channels for free sandbag opportunities and other helpful emergency information.

Central Florida emergency services information links below:

For more ideas and tips on hurricane preparedness, check out our past article “Are You Storm Ready?”



Bailey’s Colada

On a recent trip to Panama City Beach, we discovered “Banana Bailey’s Coladas.” All of our colada days will never be the same! Here’s how to make it:


  • 1 fresh Banana or Banana liquor (optional)
  • 1 can of Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut*
  • Irish Cream liquor, we prefer Bailey’s
  • Pineapple Juice*
  • Milk
  • Ice

*In place of the Coco Lopez and Pineapple Juice, you can use a ready-made Pina Colada mix, we suggest Daily’s.


  1. We make this drink in “parts” using the cap from the top of the blender, or other measuring cup.
    • 4 parts Coco Lopez
    • 3 parts Pineapple Juice
    • 2 parts Bailey’s
    • (optional) 1 part Banana Liquor and/or 1 fresh Banana
  2. Place “parts” in blender, fill blender with ice and blend until smooth. Use a small amount of Milk, Pina Colada mix, or Pineapple Juice to loosen the mixture if necessary.
  3. Garnish cups with a sugar rim, or pineapple slice.

We have made this with and without the banana. Both ways are delicious!