Recipes

DeAnna’s Crock Pot Beans

If you’ve ever had this DeAnna specialty in person, you already know it’s an absolute crowd pleaser! The secret is: it’s her spin on another recipe from her favorite vintage Betty Crocker cook book!

Ingredients:

1 cup chunky salsa
1 oz. envelope of taco seasoning
4 (15 oz.) cans of baked beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can of kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can of black eyed peas, drained
9 oz. package of frozen lima beans
12 oz. package of spicy ground pork sausage

Directions: 

  • Cook sausage on stovetop, and drain.
  • Combine cooked sausage and all other ingredients in crock pot, stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours
Curb Appeal

Plants That Keep Pests Away

Mosquitoes and other bugs can become a bother when you’re trying to enjoy the outdoors. Did you know you can make your favorite outdoor spaces less desirable to pests with a few simple plants?

Herb Appeal

We’ve learned a lot of the plants that bugs dislike are simple herbs. Which means you can grow a beautiful herb garden for cooking and keep the pests at bay at the same time. Seems like a win-win!

Pops of Color

Lavender is a colorful plant with a popular scent to us humans, but bugs and other pests don’t like it. Marigolds are also great for pops of color but they don’t smell nice to most humans, AND mosquitos, bugs, and snakes. Luckily, we can’t smell them as easy as they can!

Tears of Joy

A lot of the onion and garlic family of plants repel mosquitos, snakes, beetles, snails, mites, and other bugs.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Lemongrass, lemon bee balm, the grass version of Citronella… basically most lemon scented plants in the garden seem to be listed as a bug deterrent. Mint is another scented plant that apparently mosquitos, flies, spiders, ants, and even some snakes dislike.

WITH ANY PLANTS: Always research the plants for care tips, planting needs, and safety precautions. If you are planting in an area used by pets or curious children, be sure to check labels and with a plant specialist for information on what plants may be harmful.

Deter insects from invading the inside of your home:

TRIM
Trim plants away from the house. You don’t want any limbs or leaves touching the house or roof. A good rule of thumb is to keep 1 foot of space between your house and plants. This way, you don’t give the bugs any highways into your home.

EMPTY WATER
Mosquitos love standing water. Drain any planters or lids that may have collected water.

REMOVE OLD LEAVES
Ants love old leaves and brush. Pack it up in paper bags and get it to the curb before they build a tiny ant town in your backyard.

KEEP AN EYE OUT
Use caution when you’re poking around in old leaves and brush or moving pots and lids. That’s often where critters like to hide.

Discarding Yard Waste:

I know it seems like buying those black plastic “yard and lawn” bags, seems like the right thing to buy for yard waste – but they’re not. Yard Waste facilities can’t take/process them. Make life easier for your yard waste collection team (and the environment) by placing it in open garbage cans (plant material only, no trash), paper bags from the grocery store, or purchase large paper yard bags from home improvement stores. We love the ones from Ace Home Improvement, but have also gotten them from Home Depot and Lowes. We even found them on Amazon:

Here’s to enjoying our outdoor spaces! 

Home Hack

HOW TO BE A MORE COMPETITIVE BUYER IN TODAY’S HOT REAL ESTATE MARKET!

Today’s Real Estate market is more competitive than ever before. Sellers are looking for the most qualified offers and buyers. BE PREPARED!

Being “pre-qualified” may not be enough. Loan approvals are often verified by the Sellers’ representatives and a fully documented loan approval may make all the difference in your offer being ACCEPTED!

D&CO. aims to make the loan process as pleasant and efficient for our customers as possible. The more prepared you are at the start, the smoother and more efficient your experience should be.

Loan application information required when you apply for a mortgage loan:

  • Full name, date of birth, social security number
  • Phone number and email address
  • Marital status, number of children and ages
  • Residence history for at least years
  • Employment history for at least 2 years, including addresses, phone numbers and position
  • Asset account balances including checking, savings, investment and retirement accounts

Documentation that will be required to support your loan application:

  • Government issued, unexpired photo ID
  • If you’ve had a bankruptcy in the past seven years, your bankruptcy papers, including all schedules and discharge will be required
  • If you rent, your rent payment and landlord information is required. If you own, all mortgage statements, proof of taxes and insurance are required for ALL properties owned
  • Pay stubs covering the most recent 30-day period
  • 2 years W2 forms
  • If you receive commissions, bonuses, or are self-employed, you must provide 2 years of Federal income tax returns will be required
  • Social security, pension and disability income will require form SSA-1099, award letter and bank statements confirming deposits
  • If you are divorced and receive or pay alimony or child support, a divorce decree will be required
  • Most recent 2 months statements for all bank accounts – you MUST include all pages even if a page says “intentionally left blank” or you think there is no relevant information on that page **all large deposits or transfers will need to be documented
  • If you are receiving gift funds, a gift letter will be required with signatures from all donors and recipients verifying the gift isn’t a loan – the donor’s accounts for verification may be required

Please note: the items listed here are a general guide. Circumstances are different for every individual, so your particular documentation requirements may vary. Your loan officer will guide you through the process to gather all of the items specific to your application.

D&CO. loves guiding customers through the loan process.

Questions? D&CO. is here to help! Contact DeAnna or Kaylie today, to experience why they’re everyone’s favorite mortgage advisors!

Home Hack

Declutter Those Closets – The Practically Painless Way!

This spring cleaning season, make the closet less of a chore with this month’s Home Hack. Use the method below to do a lot of the sorting work for you while you live your normal day-to-day.

Reverse Hanger Trick

Face hanger hook openings toward you…

You simply take all of your clothes that are currently on hangers, and reverse them from their normal way of hanging. To explain, turn the hangers backwards so that the hanger hook opening faces outwards, towards you. (If you already hang your clothes this way, you’ll just make it the opposite.) When you use an item, place it back on the rack with the hanger hook opening facing the wall, away from you. Then as you go through the next month you’ll see what clothes you actually use, and the ones you never touch. The hanger hook openings still facing out are all your potential donations, yard sale, or give-away/hand-me-down items.

You can use this method for shoes as well. Place all of the shoes on the floor, and as you use a pair place them on a shoe rack or in another part of your room. The ones you never touch are the potential donations, yard sale, or hand-me-down items.

Donations

There are some common misconceptions about clothing donations. Here are a few simple rules to help the donation facility of your choosing while you clean your closet at the same time.

  • Only donate clean clothing. Many people assume their donations are cleaned at the donation facility before they sell them. This is false. Most donation places do not have the budget or capacity to clean donated items. Only donate CLEAN clothing and goods.
  • If it’s broken or torn, toss it – don’t donate it. They don’t mend clothing or repair things either.
  • Try to Recycle. Have items you just don’t want to give away? There are shops that actually buy lightly used clothes, shoes, jewelry, accessories, and even interesting books for “upcycling.” Check with local consignment shops and vintage stores for selling and upcycling opportunities.

Storage Solutions

Once you’ve sorted through your clothes, it’s SO much easier (and kinda fun?) to organize it. There are a lot of cost-effective closet storage solutions out there these days. Ikea has several full closet systems and storage options that are meant to accommodate any size home. We also found some great organizational solutions on Amazon (pictured below).

Easy View Shoe Storage

Simple Dresser Solutions
Simple, and even the stackable utility drawers work great for things like socks, light clothing, and undergarments.

Drawer Organization
Organizers are great for all the things that tend to get jumbled in drawers.


Compact Hangers and Dust Cover Storage
These options aim to take the bulk out of your closet, which should make finding and retrieving clothes so much easier – and make closets feel more spacious too.


Folding the Clothes
If you’d like to have your folded clothes as neat as a store display, folding boards are the trick!

HAPPY SPRING CLEANING!

Recipes

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

Ingredients:
Fresh egg whites – 5 (from actual eggs, not a box)

Lemon – 1 slice

Vanilla – 1 teaspoon

Sugar – 1.5 cups

Chocolate Chips

Directions:
Heat oven to 220 degrees

For this recipe, you will need a stand mixer or electric hand mixer.

In a small bowl, collect the egg whites by separating the egg whites from yolks. Make certain to not get any yolk in the egg whites. Let the egg whites sit for a few minutes to come closer to room temperature before you start mixing.

  • Slide lemon slice over the mixer beaters and the inside of a large mixing bowl
  • Add egg whites to the bowl you’ve rubbed the lemon on
  • Add the vanilla to the egg whites
  • Blend on medium speed, until you have soft peaks
  • Add sugar SLOWLY by sprinkling a thin layer at a time into the bowl as you continue to mix on medium speed. Adding the sugar should take several minutes.
  • Blend until all the sugar is fully incorporated, and the mixture forms very stiff, glossy, white peaks
  • Turn off mixer to add chocolate chips – I try to keep it to 3/4 cup or less so that the cookies stay big and fluffy – gently sprinkle the chocolate chips in an even layer over the surface of meringue mixture, then use a spatula to gently fold them in by hand. Mix just enough to incorporate the chocolate chips, do not over mix.

Use an ice cream scooper to drop big even portions onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, keeping cookies an inch or two apart. (You can use cooking spray if you don’t have parchment, but it can discolor the bottoms of the cookie slightly.)

Bake for 60 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the oven closed for several hours to cool. The longer you leave the cookies to cool in the (turned off) oven, the better they will be. Properly dried meringue cookies will be crunchy and sound hollow when you tap on the bottom.

GET FANCY WITH YOUR MERINGUES:

  • You can eat them plain, of if you’d like to get fancier: dip/drizzle with milk chocolate or sprinkle with a cocoa/powdered sugar mixture (pictured).
  • Make them spring/Easter themed by adding a tiny drop of food coloring to lightly color your meringues just before you add your chocolate chips.
  • If you’re great with a piping bag, you can skip the chocolate chips and use an extra large star attachment, or freehand pipe large Peep shapes.

HAPPY SPRING!

Curb Appeal

Create an Instant Butterfly Garden

Grab the garden gloves! Today, we’re creating a not-so-secret garden that continuously attracts beautiful butterflies and their whimsical friends. The best news is, you can create a butterfly garden on a small budget with just a few good plants – which means you can have fun growing your garden by collecting plants little by little if the need be.

D&CO. PRO TIP: Buy in threes. Three always seems to be the magic number for how many plants to buy, especially when starting out. Grouping three of the same plants together (planting a few feet apart for growth) usually makes the best visual, and also makes it easy for butterflies to find.

Most of the plants that attract butterflies love the Florida sunshine, therefore a great area for a butterfly garden is one that has at least part sun – check plant labels or with an associate for specific plant care and warnings*. Butterfly plants are usually simple looking, with lots of green leaves and small flower accents. A butterfly garden should grow a little more wild than be perfectly trimmed and shaped all the time, if you want the plants to attract the most winged visitors. (Too frequent trimming gets rid of flowers and buds, which are what attracts the butterflies.) Approach your butterfly garden design more like you are building a theme park for butterflies, than creating a traditional tightly manicured garden.

Common Butterfly Attractors:


Monarch Caterpillar eating Milkweed leaves

Milkweed
The easiest way to get butterflies to show up in your yard is to plant some Milkweed. Milkweed is a host plant for Monarch butterflies and comes in a few varieties. We like the type pictured here best. It’s labeled a “host plant” because Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the plant so caterpillars have something to eat when they hatch. The caterpillars will eat this plant down to a nub. Don’t worry, the plant continuously leafs out and grows back again. We suggest planting it behind or among other plants so that you don’t notice as much when the caterpillars eat it all – and they will absolutely eat it ALL! Note: Milkweed is toxic to nearly everything but the Monarch caterpillar, so keep it away from curious children and animals. 


Penta flowers with butterfly

Pentas
These tiny star flowers come in a variety of colors and attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, honey bees, bumble bees… all of the little creatures that make a garden magical. Note: Some varieties are long and leggy, some are neat and shrub-like. Be sure to check labels or ask an associate about the type of penta you are purchasing, so that you know what space is best for planting it.


Yellow Shrimp Plant

Shrimp Plants
Shrimp plants have flowers that kind of look like little shrimps from a distance. It’s a butterfly favorite in any color. Note: Hummingbirds LOVE this plant too. In our yard, they seem to gravitate to the red variety. 

 

 


Plumbago with lots of flowers!

Plumbago
This one is a large loose bush that butterflies and hummingbirds love. You want to keep it a little wild so that the flowers are always plentiful and present – it’s what the butterflies are attracted to and feeding on. 

 

Plumbago

By adding all or any of these four simple butterfly attractors, your garden is sure to be a hit with all kinds of butterflies.  

Share your butterfly gardens with @DeAnnaAndCompany by using the hashtag #GrowWithDandCO

* Keep in mind: some plants can be toxic to animals and humans. Be sure to check labels and with a knowledgable plant associate for information. Additionally, it’s a good rule of thumb to always wear gloves and eye protection while gardening, and to thoroughly wash hands/shower after.

Home Hack

3 Easy Ways to WOW Home Buyers!

If you are selling your home, there are three easy things you can do to WOW your potential buyers:

Remove Personalization, Declutter, and Clean

There is a difference between decluttering and cleaning, we’ll explain that below – but let’s start with removing personalization.

1. Remove Personalization. This is an easy one. Start the packing process immediately with items that are personal to you. Meaning, if it’s something that is “so you,” pack it up. This means pictures of you, your friends, your family, your feelings, your favorites… pack it all up. Packing things now that you don’t need everyday will not only help you in the long run, but also help your home to look its best for buyers at the same time. You want to do everything you can to allow a buyer to picture themselves living there. Transforming your home into a more generic space allows the majority of buyers to see the potential your home offers, and allows them to imagine how they will decorate and customize it. If you’re having trouble with this step, just imagine the things you would remove or store to make your home a vacation rental. Here’s a general checklist of personal things to pack up and/or securely store:

  • Photos and Art: Anything depicting friends, family, pets, degrees, favorite sports teams, political themes, religious themes, awards, names, initials, etc.
  • Signs and Banners
  • Collections and Knick Knacks
  • Hobbies and Supplies

D&CO. TIP: If you are having in-person showings and open houses, strangers will be in your home. Don’t forget to securely store personal items like medication, mail, personal papers, jewelry, and other valuables. 

2. Declutter. Clutter is something we all become immune to over time. Piles of mail or magazines, everyday conveniences like snacks or water bottles on kitchen counters – it may be everyday living to you, but all of these items are clutter in the buyer’s eye. Clutter makes it harder for buyers to imagine themselves living in the space. It literally “clutters” their view. Pack it up, neatly store it, or toss it. Here are some clutter culprits:

  • Piles of mail or magazines
  • Stacked items on counters; snacks, bottles, dishes, spices, books, mail, newspapers, etc.
  • Shopping Bags
  • Mail Packages
  • SHOES and Clothes
  • Collectibles
  • Office and Craft Supplies

3. CLEAN. We’re talking deep clean. Windows make a big impact. Sparkling windows make for great looking photos and beautiful views of the vistas for those in-person showings. Here are other overlooked items to consider for deep cleaning – they all make a big impact to the feel of your home:

  • Windows
  • Floor Boards
  • Doors and Cabinets
  • Back Splashes and Appliances – look for splashes and hand prints
  • Door Knobs and Hardware – look for the hand prints
  • Tile Grout Lines
  • Mirrors, Toilets, Showers
  • Corners – along wall edges, where the carpet/floor meets the wall is a dust magnet!
  • High Traffic Floors, Doors, and Walls – paint touch ups and cleaning where needed

Removing personalization, decluttering, and deep cleaning can instantly improve your home’s image – all it takes is some time and elbow grease.

Recipes

Pub-Style Shepherd’s Pie (Hello Fresh)

We have been relying on (and LOVING) our Hello Fresh subscription for fun and delicious meals safe at home during the pandemic. The Pub-Style Shepherd’s Pie was one of our many favorite meal kits from them.

 

Since Hello Fresh sends us the exact portions to make each dish, the recipe here is more of a “little-of-this, a little-of-that” approach.

Note: *This is not an ad, we really have a Hello Fresh subscription and we really enjoy this recipe!

 

Ingredients:
Mashed Potatoes (5 to 6 Yukon Gold or 2 to 3 Russet)
Sour Cream – about 2 tablespoons (for making the mashed potatoes)
Carrots – 2 to 3
Onion – 1
Celery – 3 stalks
Ground Beef – 1 pound – OR make it plant-based with Impossible Burger instead, same directions.
Tomato Paste – 1.5 ounces
Flour – 1 tablespoon
Beef Stock – 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup
White Cheddar Cheese – 1/2 cup
Garlic Powder – 1 teaspoon
Fresh Thyme – 1 teaspoon for mashed potatoes, 2 teaspoons for meat mixture
Vegetable Oil
Butter – 1 to 2 tablespoons
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions:

Wash and dry all produce

  • Finely chop onion and celery. Peel, then slice carrots length wise and chop into 1/4″ half moons. Strip thyme leaves from stems and roughly chop leaves. Cut potatoes into 1/2″ cubes.

Next, make mashed potatoes and vegetables separately but simultaneously.

  • Mashed Potatoes: Place potatoes in large pot and cover with cold water (2″ of water above potatoes), add a little salt. Bring to boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain. Return potatoes to original pot. Mash potatoes with sour cream, butter, and about 1 tsp of fresh thyme. Add splash of water as needed to loosen.
  • Vegetables: Drizzle oil in large pan, (use an oven safe pan if you’d like to make  the pie assembly easier). Cook carrots in a little salt and pepper for 3-5 minutes until slightly softened. Add celery, onion, and a large drizzle of oil. Cook 5-7 minutes until tender. Add splashes of water to keep veggies from browning. When veggies are fully cooked, add garlic powder, and 2 tsp of fresh thyme and cook for 30 seconds.

Add ground beef to vegetables, and season with a little salt and pepper. Break meat apart while cooking. Cook until meat is browned and thoroughly cooked.

  • Add 1 tablespoon of flour and 1.5 ounces of tomato paste to ground beef and vegetables and cook until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
  • Gradually add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of beef stock to ground beef and vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture is very thick, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If using oven safe pan: top ground beef/veggie mixture with even layer of mashed potatoes, leaving a gap around the pan edge. Sprinkle with shredded white cheddar cheese. BROIL about 3 minutes until browned. CAREFULLY WATCH it to avoid burning.

If using a baking dish: If you don’t have an oven safe pan, assemble pie in baking dish. Ground beef with veggies in the bottom. Top with even layer of mashed potatoes, leaving a gap around the pan edge. Sprinkle with shredded white cheddar cheese. BROIL about 3 minutes until browned. CAREFULLY WATCH it to avoid burning.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK‘S DAY!