Home Hack

Are you STORM READY?

Florida is prime storm territory and being prepared can make all the difference. Here are some ideas to help you with your hurricane preparedness.

When hurricane season begins (even though there may be no named storms) part of “being prepared” means creating an emergency supply inventory. There are lots of items you can gather or purchase before there is a threat. Think about the things that are not easy to find when there IS an actual storm approaching. Items include things like canned and packaged non perishable foods, batteries, flashlights, and any other high demand items that are snapped up as soon as the spaghetti models start showing up on the news. Start early and you’ll have no problem creating your emergency inventory.

Found on Amazon

Food: Canned and packaged non-perishable food items should make up the bulk of your emergency food supply. The best part is, if canned goods are not your thing in everyday life, you can donate the goods after hurricane season when many organizations do food drives. We found these “emergency food supply kits” on Amazon, and have seen versions available at stores like Walmart too.

Pro Tip: Paper plates, napkins, cups, and cutlery are also a great thing to have in your emergency supply for easy clean up during a long power outage.

Water: In general, if you drink soda, have soda. If you drink tea, make tea. But you will still want to have some plain drinking water on hand for your emergency supply. If there is a water pressure loss or boil advisory during a power outage, you’ll need safe water for making food, brushing teeth, drinking, pets, etc. We read it’s recommended to have one gallon of water per person for every day, and most places recommend at least a 3-day supply.

PRO TIP: 5 gallon water bottles make it easier to store a water supply for family-sized needs.

When it comes to non-perishable and storm-friendly foods, there’s a lot more than Spam to choose from these days. But yeah, there’s still Spam. If you have a grill, camping recipes are a great source for better-than-beans-in-a-can hurricane cuisine.

STORM-READY:

Print out important contacts – Your phones may not work in the storm. Your phones may get damaged or you may lose power and have no way to charge them. Print or write out any contact information for family, friends, doctors, veterinarians, banks, etc. or other information you may need a hard copy of.

Refill prescriptions – Storm damage can effect supply times. If a storm is approaching, get any low/necessary prescriptions filled.

Fill the tank – Fill the car, but please NEVER fill any unapproved gas containers.

Charge the phones… and the laptops, the tablets, the headphones, the power cells, etc.

Games and activities – Waiting out the storm and being without power can be long and boring. Board games, cards, puzzles, and crafts are ways to pass the time with no electricity required.

Don’t forget the pets – Food, water, meds, snacks, and know where your nearest pet-friendly emergency shelter is.

Freeze some water – Freezing a few gallon bags of water can help keep the fridge cool or be used in a cooler should you lose power.

When gathering supplies take what you need, but remember there are others in need too.

Wishing you an uneventful, safe, and Storm Ready hurricane season!

Recipes

Soda Pop Popsicles

These delicious popsicles are delicious and very easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk. Low fat, fat free, or full fat all work.
  • 20 oz. (one small bottle) of the soda of your choice – orange, grape, lime, strawberry… even diet sodas make great pops!

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, slowly combine the soda of your choice with the sweetened condensed milk using a silicone spatula to combine.
  2. Fill popsicle molds a little over 3/4 of the way, allowing for expansion in the freezer.
  3. Freeze until firm.

Popsicle Alternatives:

  • No popsicle molds? Use a silicone ice cube tray, or paper cups with popsicle sticks.
  • Don’t like popsicles? You can use this same mixture in an ice cream maker to make a delicious sorbet.
  • TOO SWEET? Use diet soda instead of regular soda to cut the amount of sugar. We make ours with diet soda and fat free sweetened condensed milk – we can’t even tell there’s diet soda in it because the sweetened condensed milk has sugar in it, no matter how low fat it is.
  • MAKE IT FANCY: Add fruit bits or flavor enhancers that match or compliment your soda flavor.
    • Pineapple bits with pineapple soda
    • Thin strawberry slices with strawberry soda
    • Raspberries or blackberry bits with lemon lime soda
    • A squirt of matching water enhancer flavoring to boost flavor intensity.

ENJOY!

Curb Appeal

Hey There, Hosta!

Simply edging the grass can really make a visual impact in your yard’s appearance. However, adding a plant or light edging to your pathway can take your curb appeal to the next level!

A few plants to consider for your path edges:

Hostas: This shade loving plant produces wide plush leaves, available in variegated colors. This plant’s consistent growth makes maintenance simple. Established plants also produce flower stalks.

Liriope: This is a low maintenance, fairly drought tolerant option to beautify your walkways. This grass like plant comes in a few varieties of colors and grow tiny flower stalks too.

Vinca: This pretty flower-based bush is a very hearty plant that reseeds – which means it continuously fills dedicated areas with vibrant flowers. These relatively low maintenance flowers are available in a variety of colors too!

Lighting: Path lights are an easy way to upgrade your walkways. These days solar and dusk-to-dawn options make installation and maintenance even more simple. We found the options below on Amazon.

Okay, I chose my plant or light, now how do I arrange them?

Plants: Plan for what size the plant will be, not what it is when you buy it. Check the information label on your plant, if the plant will grow to be at least 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall, we’d want to plant them at least 4 feet apart.

Plants AND Lights: Place the lights evenly between each plant so it looks like a planned design.

Lights Only: Use a yard stick or measuring tape to evenly space the lights.

PLANT TIPS:

  • A yard stick is a great tool for spacing.
  • Lay out the plants in their containers to visualize the spacing before digging holes. (Use sticks or paint stirrers to do the same thing for spacing lights.)
  • Be sure to choose plants that are right for the amount of sun or shade in your selected area.
  • Water regularly, this is especially important when newly planted.
  • Before you buy, be sure to research and/or check with a plant specialist at the nursery for information on the plants you like. A good nursery will usually have specific plant information, care tips, and will give you suggestions for planting them to flourish.
  • Research plant safety around pets and children.
Home Hack

Cutting the Cable Cord

Thinking about getting rid of cable tv?

Switching from traditional cable tv to streaming television did take a small amount of time to adjust to. Here’s what to expect.

PROS TO STREAMING:

  • There’s always something “on,” because you are choosing what to stream at any moment.
  • There were a lot more on-demand options with streaming than we ever experienced with cable.
  • Ability to build your own programming content through a variety of subscriptions.

CONS TO STREAMING:

  • DVR options with streaming live tv aren’t as robust.
  • You also can’t skip or fast forward through a lot of commercials unless you’re on “ad free” subscription plans, which cost more.
  • If you watch a lot of tv you may need to subscribe to a few services to feel satisfied with the amount of content you can stream at any moment. So far, we have not found a one-stop sort of app that gives us everything we want, so we have a few.

Remember, getting rid of cable television doesn’t mean you won’t have a cable bill.

You still need an internet connection in order to stream tv, which means a cable company to provide the internet.

Streaming takes data, so be sure to watch closely over the first month to see how much data you are using and if you need to adjust your internet plan. Some cable providers allow you to adjust your data plan at any time BEFORE you go over your data threshold for the month.

Will I save tons of money?

That depends on how much content (streaming subscriptions) you want. If you have one basic streaming subscription, you will likely be saving some money. However, most people get several subscriptions as a way to build their own programming – so that something is always “on” vs. flipping through cable channels hoping for something good to watch. In our experience, having 3-4 basic streaming subscriptions and internet was about 10% to 15% less than our traditional cable tv and internet bundle.

What are the most notable “adjustments” to expect between traditional cable and streaming?

What I missed most at first was the plug-and-play of leaving cable tv on a channel in the background as I go about my day. I even missed commercials, if you can believe that. A Sling TV blue subscription remedied this with live tv streaming from the handful of cable channels we missed. (More details on streaming subscriptions later in this article.)

Every streaming service or device has their own way of doing things.

Whether it’s the type of device you are using to stream (a Smart TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, etc.*) or the apps you are using on that device (Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, etc.**) – they all have their own apps that navigate in their own way. With cable, it’s one guide and one hub where you look for something to watch – but streaming will be one main hub (*your streaming device) with various guides from as many apps (**your subscription services) as you want to use.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

What do I need to stream tv and movies?

You’ll need a streaming enabled device. If you have a “Smart TV,” you’re all set. If your tv is not a smart tv, there are streaming devices that you plug into the tv to enable it to stream: Fire TV Stick by Amazon, Roku, and the original Apple TV device to name a few. We have tried all of the above and prefer the Fire Stick by Amazon. It’s easy to navigate, had less bugs, great definition, and a nice intuitive interface. The other devices performed fine too, but the Fire TV felt more user friendly. Once you have a streaming device attached to your tv, you download apps (some of which require subscriptions) to it to watch tv and movies.

Can I have cable tv AND streaming?

Absolutely!

What subscription apps are the best?

For movies and series: You can’t beat Netflix. It’s like having your own Blockbuster Video store on your tv.

Disney+ is also great for movies and original series.

For the feeling of cable television, with live TV: We enjoy Sling TV for accessing cable channels live like Bravo, cable news channels, Comedy Central, TBS, etc. Sling TV was a reasonable price, and their lowest plan “blue” gave us the ability to have all the channels we enjoyed from cable. The subscription also includes a simple DVR type feature to record shows. Hulu and YouTube TV also have live tv subscriptions at higher price points than their basic subscriptions.

Are there free things to watch?

YES!

Amazon Prime has a lot of shows and movies for free with your Prime subscription. If you have a Fire TV Stick (made by Amazon) or their app, you can access them all very easily.

IMDB has a free app with a lot of free movies and shows on it.

The original YouTube app is also free, it’s the same YouTube where everyone looks up tutorials or reviews, just on your tv screen instead of your computer or phone. Many popular talk shows have their own channels and upload episodes to YouTube the day after they air on live tv. It’s also a great place to find music videos, or ambiance music to play in the background.

Pluto TV gives the feeling of cable tv with a guide and “live” channels. It’s free, so there will be a lot of shows you may have never heard of before – but we did find ones to enjoy and explore. Navigation is made easy with their selection of themed channels. Think: Comedy, Romance, Holiday, Reality, etc.

CHECK WITH YOUR CELL PHONE PROVIDER: There are several carriers offering yearly freebie subscriptions (Apple TV+, Hulu, Netflix, Disney+) with certain cell phone plans, for new customers, or when buying new phones, etc. Be sure to check with your cell provider for any promotions you might not know you have access to.

How can I get local channels?

You can get local channels with a modern over-the-air digital antenna. Antennas now days are not like the bunny ears or roof-mounted ones of yore, but thin plastic rectangles you secure in a window to pick up over-the-air programming. It’s probably best to first research online if you live in an area that has decent over-the-air broadcasting coverage.

In a nutshell, life without cable tv is different – but with all the content available for streaming these days, it’s not necessarily a sacrifice.

Recipes

Red, White, and Blue Bark

This DeAnna specialty is absolutely delicious, and the perfect way to celebrate the holiday with a themed dessert!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of White Chocolate Chips, or 3 White Chocolate Bars
  • 1 package of fresh Raspberries
  • 1 package of fresh Blueberries
  • 1 box of Vanilla Wafers
  • Vegetable, Coconut, or Olive Oil

Instructions:

  1. Place a sheet of wax paper in the tray of a cookie sheet.
  2. Arrange Vanilla Wafer cookies in a single layer on top of the wax paper. The cookies should be touching.
  3. In a microwave-safe glass bowl, melt white chocolate with a tablespoon of vegetable, coconut, or olive oil – slowly and carefully in the microwave. Stir the melting chocolate every 15 to 30 seconds until smooth and pourable. Do not over heat the chocolate, it will become stiff and burn.
  4. Pour the melted white chocolate over the vanilla wafers and work quickly to spread the chocolate evenly over they entire sheet with a silicone spatula. (Spray spatula with a little cooking spray to prevent sticking.)
  5. Quickly sprinkle as many of the blueberries and raspberries as you would like over the white chocolate.
  6. Cool the entire cookie sheet in fridge for at least 1 hour until the white chocolate has hardened.
  7. Lift the bark from the cookie sheet using the wax paper, and transfer the bark to a large open space on the counter. Carefully break the hardened bark to produce random shaped pieces. Try to avoid smashing the fruit. Arrange on plate and serve.

Store left over bark in fridge to keep the fruit fresh and to avoid melting.

GET FANCY:

Instead of sprinkling the fruit on top, you can arrange it in a USA flag pattern by creating a grid of blueberries in the top left corner, and using the raspberries to create the red horizontal stripes, leaving the white chocolate to shine through between the red stripes.

 

Curb Appeal

Front Door Face Lift

Painting the front door can refresh the look of your home in just an afternoon. Learn how-to’s, the products we used, and get some color inspiration below!

Q: Do I need special paint?

“Front Door Paint” as seen on Amazon

A: We recommend a paint that is formulated for use on doors. We choose Modern Masters “Front Door Paint.” It had almost five stars on Amazon, so we felt pretty confident it would work well for our door. The paint is made by Rustoleum, and was available in a lot of fun colors. The “Calm” color performed perfectly and covered everything on a previously burgundy colored door exactly as anticipated without a primer. After painting a standard sized door with two coats plus detailing, there was more than 3/4 of the jar left over.

Q: What color should I choose?

A: Coordinate the front door color with the home’s exterior color.

Choosing colors can be tricky. Ideally, you should choose a door color that coordinates with your home’s exterior color. Visiting paint brands online, like Sherwin-Williams or Behr, is helpful for choosing colors and visualizing. Find the color of your home (or one that is similar from their paint options), and see what “coordinating color” suggestions pop up for accents. Those coordinating colors should give you a simple way to explore color options for your front door. Many paint brands’ websites allow you to upload your own photo for testing colors to make visualizing even easier.

OKAY, LET’S PAINT!

Q: What materials will I need?

For Prepping the Door:

  • Sandpaper
  • Multisurface Cleaner
  • Paper Towels
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Primer as needed (depends on your current door color)
  • Newspapers to protect floor from paint drips

For Painting:

  • Paint formulated for doors
  • Art brushes for details
  • Small roller brush
  • Paint tray
  • Paper towels/damp rag for drips and mistakes

Turn That Drab Door Fab!

  • Clean the door and frame thoroughly, ideally the day before you intend to paint – so that the area has time to dry completely before you begin. Pay special attention to cleaning and detailing the hardware like the handle and the key insert. Get them looking shiny and new so your door looks tip top when it’s finished.
  • Lightly sand any rough spots as needed for a smoother application
  • Keep in mind: If you are choosing a new door color that is lighter than your current color, (example a black door that you want to make light pink) you may need to use a door primer paint first. Primer and let dry before using the door paint.
  • Use painter’s tape to mask off any areas where the paint could bleed over: glass panes, edges, hardware, moulding, house trim, etc.
  • Use a small roller to paint the majority of the door.
  • Use art brushes to hand-paint the details/places the roller cannot get to; around handles, windows, edges, corners, etc.
  • Roller the door with a second coat after you have completed hand-painting the details. This will help to blend any brush marks.
  • Leave the door slightly open to dry* so your wet door doesn’t become painted shut or ruined where the door frame meets the door front.

PRO TIP: Paint the door in thinner even layers. Too much paint on the brush or roller leads to thick drippy layers that run before they get to dry, leaving visible streaks and drips on the door.

  • Even if you roller and paint perfectly, sometimes paint just drips. If you notice drips, use a brush fix them (scoop them up) while they are wet.
  • If the roller is slipping or paint is running, you’re probably using too much paint. Try working it into the brush or roller using the ridges of the paint pan before you paint on the door.
  • Once the door has dried, you may notice some see-through spots. Use a roller or hand brush to evenly cover those areas.

We can’t wait to see your door updates! Share your photos with us via email, and we may feature your door on our social media! @DeAnnaAndCompany

Curb Appeal

Keeping Cool with No Pool

Just because you don’t have a pool doesn’t mean you can’t create your own little back yard or patio oasis! We found all of these fun products on Amazon to keep you cool this summer.

Shade
Shade sails and umbrellas are great for giving your space a little shade and style!

Cool
Every oasis needs a little breeze. Keep yourself comfortable with a small fan. Misting fans or even those water bottle spray fans (popular at the theme parks) provide some air movement and a little cooling mist too. Cell phone fans are small enough to fit in your pocket or bag, and even though they are tiny, the small breeze still feels good in the Florida heat.

Refreshments
If you have never tried a Tervis, now is the time! These tumblers keep hot things hot and cold things cold, for hours! Even when outdoors for a while, there will still be remnants of ice cubes in the cup. Amazing!

Lounging
Relaxing is all about a great chair.
Consider a towel for your lounge chair with pockets on the sides that conveniently hold things like cell phone and books. Or if you’re a picnic blanket kind of lounger, there’s items for you too!

No Pool? No problem!
You can beat the heat with water misters or mini pools!

Tunes & More
Waterproof mini bluetooth speakers, glare protectors, and more things to make your piece of paradise more fun!
Reader sunglasses, anti glare boxes, hand free book holders, and even a device to lotion your back for you!

What kind of back yard paradise will you be creating? Share your “keeping cool with no pool” pics and finds with us on Instagram and Facebook! #DandCOol

 

Recipes

Pineapple Whiskey Sour

Note: This drink recipe contains alcohol, but you can skip the alcohol, replace it with ginger ale, or add more lemon and water for a lovely non-alcoholic drink too.

Ingredients:

1 to 2 parts whiskey of choice (depending on how strong you’d like it to be)
5 parts pineapple juice
3 parts water
1+ teaspoon sugar or honey (to taste)
1 squeeze of lemon

Directions: 

  • Combine all ingredients into shaker, add ice. Shake until sugar is dissolved.
  • Strain into sugar rimmed glass and enjoy!

How to sugar rim a glass:

  • Place 1/2″ of water or pineapple juice in small bowl that is slightly wider than your cup
  • Place a small pile of rimming or turbinado sugar crystals on a small plate or bowl
  • Turn your cup upside down and dip rim into the liquid
  • Press cup rim into the sugar – gently rolling it around as needed to pick up the sugar crystals