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It’s GRILL Season!

Grilling season is upon us, so we’re here to share all of the grill products, tips, and accessories we LOVE!

NOTE: ZERO of the items show in this article are sponsored or ads from us. We buy things with our own money and simply loved the results enough to share. Most of the examples below were found on Amazon.

The BEST Grill Sauces:


Hands down, the most crowd pleasing barbecue sauce? ANY style of Sweet Baby Rays. We prefer the original or honey flavors. It’s just dang tasty! If you’re a bbq mustard person, Sonny’s sells bottles of their sauces in the restaurant – and their Carolina style mustard is a great one (so is their sweet bbq sauce).


We find the Kikkoman brand has a nice tasting *thick* teriyaki sauce; however our FAVORITE version is a thinner “Island Soyaki” from Trader Joe’s. It even has the sesame seeds in it! It makes noodles, veggies, and fried rice taste just like your favorite Hibachi restaurant. Publix also has a thin teriyaki sauce (Publix brand) that we use in a pinch. Terry Ho’s Yum Yum Sauce (we buy it at Publix) is the closest we’ve found to restaurant-style white sauce.  If you’re a ginger sauce person, Makoto makes great restaurant matches too – find it in the Publix (and Walmart) produce section by the refrigerated dressings.

THE SECRET to the MOST DELICIOUS Grilled Chicken and Corn:

BRINE IT. That’s right, a long soak in salty water does wonders for chicken breast, and fresh corn on the cob. See our recipe of the month for cooking corn on the grill!

Safe to Eat:

The easiest way to tell when things are done cooking? A good thermometer! No more squishing all of the delicious juices out of your burgers or chicken. You’ll know when dinner’s ready by temperature alone.

Precision Grilling:

Use a temperature gun to find the exact temperature of your grill. These are especially useful for low and slow barbecuing or making pizzas on the grill.

Charcoal Chimneys:

If you are grilling with charcoal, a starter chimney is a MUST! It gets the coals to grilling temperatures quicker so you can have those hot dogs ready ASAP!

Grilling Baskets:

These little baskets are wonderful for cooking stick-to-the-grill things, like shish-kebabs, veggies, or fish; but also S’MORES, toasted sandwiches, or little pie turnovers. Yes please! 😋

Cast Iron Grill Forms:

Similar to baskets, use these little cast iron forms to enclose sandwiches; like ham and cheese or “grilled” cheese; make pie turnovers with crescent rolls and canned pie filling; omelets and more! Basically any ooey-gooey thing you want to cook on a grill or campfire works great in these. (We love these for the fire pit!)


Blackstone – is an AWESOME grill accessory or alternative that you can use to make all of the typical grill stuff, BUT ALSO hibachi style noodles or fried rice, hot cakes, fish, veg; it’s so versatile!

The best part is the 22″ (fits about 12 burgers) it’s small enough to be portable, so you can take it camping, on vacation, or even use after those post-storm power outages. WE LOVE OURS! You can buy direct or on Amazon, as shown below.

HIBACHI STYLE Pro Tip: Cold day-old noodles and rice make for the best hibachi-style noodles and fried rice on the griddle. Cook (boil) the plain rice and noodles you plan to use the night before and store it in air tight containers in the fridge until it’s hibachi time!

Easier Clean-Up:

Reynold’s Wrap NON-STICK Aluminum Foil is a DREAM! We use it in the oven and on the grill and the food just slides off! Look for this box that says “NONSTICK”:

Dawn’s Power Wash Spray makes tough scrubs SO EASY! Not just for inside dishes, but getting all the baked on goo off of grill baskets or pans too! You just spray it on and let it sit a few minutes, the little micro bubbles break down all the gunk and then it’s super easy to wash. Bonus, the “apple” scented one smells like a big ol’ basket of Granny Smith apples! 🍏

Make the Grill Last:

We noticed a marked difference in how long our grill lasts when it is covered, vs. the ones we thought would be okay because it’s stored under the shade and protection of a roof. Our 5-year-old grill still looks relatively new, and we think that is all thanks to using a weather proof cover that is vented. We usually cover it the morning after we’ve used the grill, to make sure everything is cooled down.

We find this type of brush/scraper cleans the gunk off the easiest.


Do you have a favorite grill accessory? Favorite type of grill? Share all of your product recommendations and grill tips with us on Instagram or Facebook @DeAnnaAndCompany


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What to Expect When You’re… Resurfacing the Pool

If you own an in-ground pool, you’ll likely face the dreaded “pool resurfacing” at some point. Don’t worry, when you hire a reputable company, it’s not as bad as one would think! This process is necessary to keep your pool healthy, and also provides an opportunity to sneak in a few design updates. With a new water tint and a few new pool tiles, your dated pool can feel like a brand new paradise, potentially with minimal increase to the budget. (We’ll explain.)

To start, we recommend asking your neighbors and friends with pools for a good local pool resurfacing company recommendation. Google reviews are another place to find current customer feedback. Make sure the company you hire is licensed, insured, and experienced. Visit local pool tile stores for inspiration and recommendations. We got our natural-stone-pool-artist recommendation by visiting our local pool tile store. (The pool tile store didn’t sell natural stones or do that service, but they knew who did.)

pool water

Q: What can I expect when I have my pool resurfaced?

Your pool will be drained. It’s gonna get weird.

The pool will look strange for a bit. It will be sanded down in stages and then built back up. You’ll likely be surprised at how DEEP and SCARY it looks when it’s empty. There’s a lot of dust and the work can get noisy at times. A good contractor will keep things as tidy, safe, and as efficient as possible.

pool resurfacing

The resurfacing process is an average of 5 to 7 days.

Our pool is small (12,000 gallons) and it took 7 days. HOWEVER, we had significant upgrades to change the pool from plain plaster and 4×4″ tiles to large natural stones, which required a special pool stone artist and a bit more time to fit them together like a giant mosaic. If we had stuck with plain tile and plaster, it probably would have been completed in about 4 days.

Filling the pool takes a while.

You’d think a full blast hose would fill it in no time, but pools are much larger than you think! This means don’t try and schedule your pool resurfacing and a pool party in the same week. Give it some breathing room.

filling a pool with garden hose


DYK? You can save money on the water used to refill the pool by contacting your water company.

Water companies typically have lower rates for filling a pool. You have to contact your provider before you pay the bill so your account can be adjusted; they basically charge you for the fresh water and take out the automatic sewage costs associated with the relevant gallon usage. The sewage waste cost is twice the price of the fresh water cost, so the savings is significant. Since this is a special rate, it can only be applied every so many months for special circumstances like this.

Pro-Tip: This special savings is usually applicable for the water usage caring for newly installed sod lawns too!

fill the pool with hose

Things can cost less if you plan ahead.

When you’re faced with a resurface, there’s a lot of opportunity to save money and time by getting things done now while the pool is stripped down instead of down the road. Save yourself the time and headache by getting pool problems addressed at the same time. Now is a great opportunity for:

  • Design updates like new tiles/ coloring

pool tile

Tired of the old, dated, or maybe clashing tile design? Now’s a great time to switch it out. Simple 4×4″ tile accent (edge) changes are usually the least expensive way to give the ol’ swimming hole a facelift above the water line.

  • Adding or changing railing, the tint of the pool water, etc.

Pro Tip: If you have an older pool, consider adding some design elements to the stairs, such as a tile accent edge, or even just a few 4×4″ tile diamonds to the step make stairs easier to see and judge for depth.

pool stairs

  • Fixes that need to be accomplished by emptying the pool; electrical, lighting issues, leaks, fixing pipes, etc.

Don’t wait to have a leak investigated or a light fixed. Seize the opportunity to get a specialist in there to fix things before it’s a beautifully renovated pool. At the very least, you’ll save the money it costs to refill the pool again should any of that work require a draining.

Pro Tip: Our resurfacing company offered a service to verify everything was in proper working condition. They checked for leaks, lighting issues, and mechanical function so that we could have any repairs done while the pool was stripped down.

pool fix

Don’t get stuck in the rutt of what-was.

We’ve seen many people treat a pool resurface like they treat house paint colors – they paint it whatever it originally was, never having considered if they could create something they like more. This is an opportunity to make an entirely new look! Just because the pool was plain and boring when you bought it, doesn’t mean you need to stick with that color palette. There are so many resurfacing color choices now days, you can really make any pool into a turquoise waters oasis. Create your own little paradise with new tile colors and colored aggregate plaster.

How do I get colored water, like the ocean?

ocean water colors

While this process costs a little more than a plain white plaster surface, it’s been worth the money in durability alone; it also achieved the exact ocean type color we wanted for our pool’s water. Tiny colored specks in the grit (“aggregate”) of the pool walls and floors, works just like the ocean floor; light passing through the water reflects the color of the pool (ocean) floor and walls. This grit is in the plaster that is the finishing coat of the resurfacing process. Our brand of aggregate plaster was called “Diamond Brite” and it gives the pool water its color, makes the pool less slick, and resists stains and deterioration from plant matter and pool chemicals.

Skilled technicians will know what specks of colors produce what color waters. Find an inspiration pool or water picture to communicate your desired color of water to the resurfacing company.

pool and deck

Be sure to check our social media posts about pool-resurfacing; we’re asking our community to share their best LOCAL recommendations for pool-related professionals including care and upkeep, resurfacing companies, maintenance specialists and more.

Share your LOCAL POOL SPECIALISTS recommendations in the comments on social too!

@DeAnnaAndCompany on Instagram and Facebook.


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St. Augustine Lawn Care

Keeping a lawn alive in Florida can be a daunting task, but we’ve got all of the tips to keep a St. Augustine lawn plush and weed-free year round!

The trickiest thing about keeping St. Augustine weed-free is that MOST of the sprays you buy at a big box home store is not made for St. Augustine grass, and can even kill it. Read the label to find out if a spray or food is appropriate for St. Augustine before you purchase and use. We’ve found the most knowledgeable info about lawn care products from our local nursery, because they specialize in and curate their selection of products based on the exact area we live in.

Feeding and weeding – These chemicals are only applied at certain times of the year in a certain range of temperature. Going outside of those guidelines can kill your lawn. Read labels carefully and apply when the weather and time is right.

Fertilizer – Make sure you are following your city ordinance when it comes to the type of fertilizer you use and how you use it. Because run off from this chemical is detrimental to our beautiful Florida water ways, many counties only allow for it during small windows or under specific conditions. Make sure you check your city’s website for guidance.

Cutting – The taller any type of grass is, the deeper the roots are. The deeper the roots, the healthier your lawn will be because it can find resources to better protect itself from the hot Florida sun. SO, when it comes to mowing your lawn you want to set the blade on the highest (tallest) setting possible; if what you desire is a plush lawn that always looks healthy. Cutting a Florida lawn (regardless of the type of grass) on the lowest (shortest) blade setting results in burns and dead patches because the lawn likely has shorter roots, blunted blades and no way to protect itself from the burning sun.

Mulching Blade – Ideally select a mower with a mulching blade, where it cuts the grass very finely into a mulch that you do not bag, but instead leave distributed on the lawn as you mow it. This mulch feeds nutrients back into the lawn and also helps to block out weeds. If you have the appropriate “mulching blade” on your mower, there should never be big mounds of mulch – it’s so finely chopped and distributed evenly as you mow, you can barely notice it’s there at all.

Schedule – We cut the lawn once every 1.5 to 2 weeks in the summer. Cutting it weakens the blade’s protection in the sun – so if it is especially hot and sunny out we will try to push it towards two weeks.

Cut in the cooler times of the day – Cutting the lawn shocks it, so do it in the gentler parts of a Florida summer day, like just before sunset, the night before the sprinklers will go off. We also look for overcast days as well.

WATER –While St. Augustine grass is drought tolerant, it still needs water. Water on the days your city allots for. Water it regularly to supply the roots with everything it needs to survive and thrive in a Florida summer. Best time to water is early in the morning, just before sunrise.

Winter – Usually around October we stop cutting the lawn as regularly. When it’s in the most dormant part of the season it’s is also vulnerable. Spread your mowing out to “as needed” instead of maintaining a regular schedule. St. Augustine grows slower in the winter as well, so there’s no need to be as aggressive with the maintenance. Let it rest.


Looking for more lawn tips? Check out these past articles:

Tools: Hedgers and Edgers

Sod vs. Seed, which is better?

Stop Bagging Leaves



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Updating Door Hardware

We recently updated an exterior door, painted the front door, and upgraded our fence door; so now we have door hardware on our minds! We’ve found a LOT of modern options for doors when it comes to aesthetics AND security. Let’s see what we can find on Amazon!

Did you know?! Copper, brass, and bronze door handles are naturally “antimicrobial?” Meaning, door knobs made of these materials continuously fight germs and bacteria all on their own, while standing up to the wear and tear of daily living. Who knew!

Entryway Doors:

The hardware on a door can make an old door look more modern. (Once you update the hardware, you’re probably going to want to paint it too – luckily we have an article to show you how we did it and what products we used.)

If security is your concern:

Touch pad and keyless options are popular, because most models allow you to change the “pin” as often as you want. That’s like getting a new lock and key every month, should you desire it. There’s also models where you can set specific PIN numbers for specific people so you know what happened, by who, and when; should anything go awry.

For an extra sense of doorway security, consider popular doorbell camera options. Even upgrading an old non-working doorbell can help better alert you to guests on your doorstep.

Security isn’t just for entry doors and doorways. Secure closets and storage spaces with interior versions.

Non-Locking Doors:

“Passage doors” (doors without locks) are fantastic places to introduce a little decorative flare. Consider these “pretty” door knobs that are faceted shimmering glass, brushed brass, or oiled bronze.

Speaking of non-locking doors; you can even update dresser and cabinet pulls to match your fancy new door knobs with these options.

Sliding Doors:

Bring an old patio door back to life with new slider hardware.

Don’t Forget the Garage:

A garage door might not have traditional handles, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give this door a simple update with accent magnets, keyless entry, and rubber moulding to help keep the rain out during storms.

Fence Gates:

You can even update old rickety fence door handles. (However, updating the whole fence tends to warrant a professional.)

How will you be sprucing up your home this spring? Share your home project wins with us on our social @DeAnnaAndCompany 

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Buying a Home in 2023

It’s no secret that the 2022 real estate market was a volatile one. Today we’re discussing the current real estate market to decide if home ownership in 2023 is a viable option for you.

  • Goldman Sachs’ G-10 home price model suggests home prices will decline by around 5% to 10%from the peak.
  • Freddie Mac anticipates the for-sale cost of a home to drop .2% in 2023.
  • These stats are from this article on Houwzer.

While it is not predicted that housing costs will drop significantly in 2023, it is widely predicted that prices and loan rates will remain more stable, rising slowly instead of the craziness that was 2022. However, in order to get that stabilization of the market, interest rates remain higher than average. What that means for consumers is less home for more payment.

All hope is not lost. Home ownership is still an option for a lot of people with steady incomes and good credit. It’s important that you start behaving like you are applying for a home loan, even before you start looking for the house.

  • Keep paying the rent on time.
  • Make credit card payments on time.
  • Make auto loan payments on time.
  • Do not make any new big purchases.
  • Do not apply for new credit; which includes not financing things like furniture or big trips.
  • Do not buy a new car just because you are tired of the old one.

“How do I buy a home in this market? Everything I want is so expensive and home ownership seems impossible.”

This is the hard part. We believe, if you are committed to being a home owner, you must enter the market as soon as you can, even if the house you can afford does not check ALL of your boxes. To explain, you might have to get a starter home that appropriately reflects your budget, not your dreams. While you may *want* 5 bedrooms, but only *need* 2; find a desirable property that gets you into a home and matches your budget. In other words, new home hunters will likely have to settle for a bit less than they desire.

“If I buy within my budget, what should I be looking for?”

You should still look for *smaller* versions of your ideal home. Find the “worst” house in the best neighborhood.

“What do you mean by ‘Worst home in the Best Neighborhood?'”

Think mild to moderate fixer upper. Look for a solid home with “good bones,” but may need help with cosmetic things like paint, landscaping, updating cabinetry or faucets, etc. Ask your realtor if there is any inspection information available for the homes you are interested in. If you find a home, be sure to get an inspection on the property before you buy the home. Find a home that needs a little love, but not one that will become a money pit. Home Inspectors can help you identify the potential of expensive problems like:

  • Outdated electrical
  • Structural issues
  • Plumbing problems (especially ones that seem to be reoccurring)
  • Water well trouble
  • Sink hole warnings
  • Septic tank issues

“Why should I buy a home that is not my dream home?”

When you are a home owner, you leverage your current home to get you into your next home. It becomes easier to buy the next level of home when your current home increases in value.

“If I am already a home owner but am struggling with inflation and making mortgage payments, what is your advice?”

Make. Your. Mortgage. Payments. Defaulting on your mortgage impacts your credit score significantly. You need good credit to get credit. Equally important payments to attend to are:

  • Credit Cards
  • Auto Loans

If you are struggling, do not put items you cannot afford on credit. Credit cards should only be used to buy you a little time and build your credit, not to “worry about later” or purchase things you cannot afford.

We have created a list of income leeching culprits to investigate to help you FIND MONEY QUICKLY without creating a “budget.” Check out the article here.

What is the downside to owning a home?

The downside is, you pay for everything. There is no more landlord to “fix” things for free, so you want to keep in mind that there will be hidden costs of home ownership. Typical expenses that arise (usually over several years) of owning a home are;

  • Lawn Care
  • Pest Control
  • Tools
  • Broken Appliances
  • Broken Water Heaters
  • Failing Air Conditioners
  • Plumbing Issues
  • Roofing and Leaks

What is the upside of owning a home, rather than renting?

YOUR Investment: The upside of home ownership is the money you used to pay to some else as rent, becomes an investment in something YOU OWN and can leverage for future housing.

Predictable Payments: Home ownership with a fixed rate also locks you into a predictable payment, instead of getting the rent raised on you again and again.

No more moving to save money: In a similar vein, when you own a home, you don’t have to move again every 6 months to a year just to get a better rental rate from another landlord.

Refinancing for even lower payments/loan rates: A few years in to owning the home, should interest rates drop, you can refinance your mortgage loan to potentially receive an even lower predictable payment. (That’s where you call us again! 😃)

How can I help my children buy a home in the future?

If you can afford to finance a second property, that is the best way you can secure a home for your children in the future. This is a means to lock in today’s purchase prices, instead of the potentially higher home pricing that will exist 10 to 20 years from now. The idea is; investing in a second property now and using that home as a way to generate extra income through renters. In the future the property would be turned over to their grown children; to live in, leverage for another home, or manage the rental for income.

Home Ownership is a topic that we could discuss forever, and this article is aimed to give a general insight into purchasing a home in 2023. We feel it is better to get advice based on real-world numbers for individual situations. Call us for a more personalized suggestion based on your client’s or your own exact situation.

Contact DeAnna today! D&CO. is always here to help with your mortgage and industry questions.

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Shop Small!

Here are a few of our favorite places for SHOPPING SMALL and LOCAL in Central Florida this holiday season!


  • Kim’s Cabbage Patch – Local produce, plants, and specialty items.
  • The Winter Garden Farmer’s Market – Local vendors, food, crafts, and artists. Saturday mornings.
  • Sunshine Book Company – An independent book store with goods from creative vendors.
  • South Lake Animal League Thrift Shop – Find some gifts and help animals at the same time.
  • Gray Bridal Boutique – Not just for weddings. They have a great selection of non-bridal jewelry and clothing.
  • McKenley Rae Boutique – Fashion, sunglasses, and jewelry.
  • Sugar Mama’s Candy Bar – “A sweet experience” candy store with retro favorites and holiday finds, but check out their handmade candy-inspired beverage counter. Their “coolers” are Instagram-worthy drink creations!
  • Ritter’s Frozen Custard – Stop in for burgers, frozen custards, but also whole frozen custard cakes and pies for holiday meals and parties. 


  • Kasheta Farms, Inc. – Live Christmas trees, a farmer’s market, with a small vendors fair on the weekends. 
  • Deb’s Garden Shop at the Liner Patch – Plants and pottery.
  • Aunt Gingibread’s Bakery – Delicious cakes, pies, and GINGERBREAD!
  • Yalaha Bakery – Breads, rolls, soft pretzels, cookies, desserts.
  • Yalaha Bootlegging Company – If gifting alcohol is your thing: this is a local Craft Distillery. They also sell AMAZING PIES!
  • Maters & Taters Produce – Local produce.
  • Trader Mae’s – Local vendors with all kinds of goods, candles, jams, antiques, furniture, and handmade merchandise too.
  • Porky’s BBQ – If you’re hosting a holiday party, Porky’s smoked ribs, pork, chicken, or brisket by the pound are a crowd pleaser.
  • Sweet Memories Cookie Co. – Our favorite custom cookie maker in Lady Lake!

 Just incase you need to REST from all that shopping in Apopka: 


  • Stroll down 5th Avenue or Donnelly. Most shops in downtown Mount Dora are small businesses, and this town KNOWS HOW TO SHOW IT’S HOLIDAY CHEER! Lights and decorations everywhere!
  • Maggie’s Attic – A great single-bottle beer and wine selection – often with many seasonal and celebratory flavors. Drink them there or bag bottles to go.


  • The Southern Home Bakery – Sugar cookies that are as beautiful as they are absolutely DELICIOUS! Makes great gifts! (Edgewater)
  • Petty’s – Gourmet meats, cheeses, and more. (Longwood)
  • The Winter Park Farmer’s Market – Local produce, handmade goods, food, plants, and more. Saturday mornings in the park near the train station.
  • Light on the Sugar – Light and airy pastry desserts (Winter Park)
  • The East End Market – Small business food vendors (desserts, breads, cheeses, cured meats). Also vendors with gift-worthy goods too. (Main level and upstairs.) They also host outdoor pop-up events with local art/craft/handmade/artisan vendors outside too. (Audubon Park)

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Choosing the Perfect Christmas Tree!

Does shopping for a tree leave you confused? We’ve got our tried and true tips for picking the perfect tree whether it’s artificial or real.

Artificial vs. Real Trees? Which is better?

It’s really up to you, there is no one option that is “better” than the other. This is really a question of your personal aesthetics. Modern artificial trees are pretty convincing in look and feel, yet there is also something magical about the smell and look of a real tree.

If you still can’t decide, consider your home’s storage space:

  • If you have space to store it, an artificial tree is typically less maintenance because it doesn’t have to be watered.
  • If you are short on space, a real tree is great because you get rid of it at the end of the holiday season. Note: real trees are more maintenance because they need regular watering to stay green and not turn into a fire hazard.

Think of a real tree as a giant bouquet of flowers,

no water = no longevity.

Start with the basics, know your numbers:

    • How tall are the ceilings in the space where the Christmas tree will be displayed? Ideally, your tree should have at least a foot or two of space over the top of it. No one wants a smooshed angel.
    • How wide is the area?
    • Bring a tape measure with you to verify your selection. Don’t end up like the Griswold’s. 😅
    • Trees on the lot are usually LARGER than you think. Trees bought online or in a box are often SMALLER than you think. (We’ll get into why below.)

How to choose an artificial tree:

  • If shopping online, or by an unopened box, trees are often smaller than we think. They are measured from the tallest point on the tree, which is usually a long stick to hold the tree topper. I bought a 3′ tree online, and it seems much smaller than that in person, but when I measured it, it is exactly 3′ to the tip top, and that top stick is about 7″ on it’s own.
  • Pre-lit trees are beautiful, but don’t count on it lasting forever. The lights on these go out as often as a string of lights would. However, they do make it much easier to concentrate on the fun parts of decorating, rather than untangling strings of lights. Just know at some point, you will probably need to supplement pre-lit trees with string lights.
    • You can extend the life of the tree and lights by storing the tree in a cooler place like a closet, rather than a garage or attic.
    • Keep the box. Follow breakdown and set up instructions for optimal performance.
    • Look for tree options with LED lights, as they often have a longer shelf life and cost less to operate.

How to choose a real tree:

  • Shop at a tree lot, where the trees have been sustainably harvested – ideally from a Christmas tree farm. Trees that are harvested properly, shaped, and cared for often last longer.
  • Look for green needles. A healthy tree will have springy needles on somewhat flexible branches. If the needles immediately fall off and the branches are brittle, the tree is too dry.
  • Be cautious with festive “colorful” trees: sometimes the vibrantly colored trees can be hiding imperfections or a withering tree.
  • Remember: trees on the lot or farm will always LOOK smaller than they actually are because there is so much open space above and around them. Be sure to measure.
  • Timing is everything: The trees are usually freshest and most maintained at the start of the holiday season. The longer trees are sitting on the lot (especially in the Florida heat) the more dried out they become.

Live tree care is pretty simple:

  • If the x-mas tree lot has the service or if you are confident doing it yourself, cut an inch or so off of the trunk to assure the tree is drawing enough fresh water to sustain itself.
  • Top off the water often, we do it daily – you’d be surprised how much water a tree drinks!

The best kind of stands for live trees:

After trying every kind of stand on the market, the ones that are a wide solid base are the best. (Like these options found on Amazon, shown above.) The water stays inside, the stands don’t tip, there’s no assembly required, and the screws make it possible to hold varying sizes of tree trunks. (Even uneven trunks.)

If you’re choosing between trees that have already been wrapped up:

Sometimes big box stores like Walmart sell trees that are already wrapped up. These are a little trickier to choose from, but:

  • Inspect the top of the tree area to ensure it is full all they way up to the tallest point.
  • Look for an even body of the package. If it sinks in on one side, that side is less full.
  • Look at the trunk where it is cut, it should look fresh and light brown.
  • Again, look for green needles. A healthy tree will have springy needles on somewhat flexible branches. If the needles immediately fall off and the branches are brittle, the tree is too dry.
  • If there are ones sitting in water, and ones laying out on a fence – start with the ones in the water. They have been kept hydrated.
  • When you unbundle your tree, don’t panic if it looks smooshed. It takes a little while for the branches to fall into place.
    • Set the tree in it’s stand with water, unwrap and gently train the branches.
    • Leave the tree to hydrate in the stand for an hour or longer before decorating. The tree should be settled by then.

Christmas trees might be our absolute favorite thing about the holiday season!

Share your tree designs and tips with us on our social!

Tag @DeAnnaAndCompany on Facebook or Instagram.

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Fall Table Decor

Autumnal Tablescapes

A tablescape doesn’t have to be extremely elaborate to be enjoyable. Using simple things like fall colored vases, candles, with seasonal ceramics and crockery can create a wonderfully inviting table for the big meal. Here are some ideas to get you brainstorming.

When gathering items, think “FALL” colors: creams, mustards, oranges, cranberry reds, chocolate browns, etc.

You might already have everything you need! These common household items can make charming tablescapes: 

    • Candles and votives (Don’t light them though, it gets too hot, and becomes a fire hazard when guests are jumbling dinner plates. Opt for LED pillars if you’d like the flickering ambiance.)
    • Small frosted vases
    • Decorative teacups and kettles
    • Creamers, saucers, salt and pepper shakers
    • Cake plates
    • Wooden bowls, spoons, plates
    • Mix and match place settings

Get Creative:

  • Create a grateful jar, where guests can write down things they are grateful for this year, and place them into a cookie-type jar at the center of the table; read the submissions together over dinner or dessert.
  • Add texture to your design with (*washed and air dried*) sprigs of pine, twigs, leaves, or pine cones you find in the yard.
  • Arrange a variety of small photo frames with pictures of:
    • Joyous shared occasions, milestones, and celebrations
    • People, pets, and things you (the host) are grateful for
    • Invite guests to bring small photos of people/pets/things they are grateful for, share stories about the photos
    • Old black and white photos
    • Photos of older friends and family when they were very young, ask them about the photos
    • Pretty photos of fall nature
  • Hand lettered name cards
  • Fancy folded napkins – we used this video on YouTube.
  • Make focal arrangements with faux pumpkins, or miniature real pumpkins and squash

However, if you’re looking to *up* your fall table decor game, check out these finds from Amazon!

Pumpkin Soup Bowls:

Autumn colored/themed Dinnerware:

Harvest Colored Drinkware:

Reusable Name Plates:

Pumpkin Salt and Pepper Shakers:

Remote Controlled LED Fall Candles:

Fall Decoration Stems:

Autumnal Table Runners:

Best Browsing for Fall Finds:

Some of our favorite places to browse for fall decor is right here around town!

Big box retailers: Tuesday Mornings, Homegoods, TJ Maxx, Michael’s, Ross, and Hobby Lobby never disappoint with their seasonal offerings.

Try antiquing: Renniger’s, the various shops in downtown Mount Dora, and the Antique District near downtown Orlando have a good selection of antiques in fall colors and holiday themes too.

Pop-Up Markets and Craft Festivals: Winter Garden, Sanford, Mount Dora, the Milk District in downtown Orlando, and the Audubon Park area near Leu Gardens usually have fall and holiday themed festivals with many vendors offering holiday decor.

If you know of additional places around town for holiday decorating finds, share with us on Facebook or Instagram: @DeAnnaAndCompany

Thanksgiving is really about being together and enjoying each other’s company. Decorating should be simply for the fun of it. Any design elements you incorporate to the table are a bonus on this day of gratitude, not required to make your meal more meaningful.