Home Hack

Create a Cozy Coffee Bar

Do you love coffee/tea or have a coffee lover in your life? A cozy coffee bar would make a thoughtful yet functional gift for Valentine’s Day! Here’s a few ideas and items to get that daily coffee consumption dialed in.

If you read our last article, you know we are trying to stay more on budget by reducing our coffee outings. The presentation and ease of use is what makes fixing a cup at home thus staying on budget easier. When designing your stations, be sure to create a fun *experience* through presentation, taste options, and functionality.

Creating a cozy coffee bar is pretty simple, and you might even already own everything you need to make it, remember the key is the presentation and experience. *magical twinkle noises*

Start with a list: What do items do you (or who you’re creating for) use to make coffee? What are the “must have” items? Is it coffee beans vs. k-cups situation? Need filters? Are there pumps for flavors? Sugar? Splenda packets? Tea bags? Paper cups? Make a list with two columns; one for what is currently used every time you make coffee, and another for wish list things that would make a home coffee experience better. It will also let you know how many containers and the type of storage that will be most useful for individual’s needs.

Space: Select a nook, unused counter space, or a small cabinet. When choosing a cabinet look for one with a flat top space, and a deep drawer or cabinet with doors for hiding supplies away.

Pro Tip: Old buffets and sideboards make for great coffee bars. Try upgrading a used cabinet if you have one with good bones.

Location: Will the location be far from water and/or the fridge? Is a trash bin nearby? Consider a mini fridge, water source, and waste basket to make the space more functional.

Organize: Small clear acrylic trays are fantastic for organizing items like tea bags, sugar packets, and non-dairy creamer cups.

Incorporate some canisters: Pretty canisters not only organize your brewing supplies, but keep the design aesthetic going too!

Pick a color scheme before you start purchasing items.

Specifically a three colors scheme:

  • Choose a main color (aqua, for example) and purchase as many items as you can in that color.
  • Choose a secondary neutral color for other items that you can’t find in the main color. (Grey or black are usually safe choices in the coffee world.)
  • Decide if you are going to have silver or gold accents, then choose items like silverware and door handles or knobs in that metal.

Choosing a consistent color palate is more visually appealing because it unified. Bonus; things will *appear* visually organized simply because the colors are the same.

Pick a theme: Will it be whimsical -or- matching to the home’s decor? Do they love Disney? Harry Potter? That’s “whimsical.” Are they more Farmhouse? Mid Century? That’s decor matching. Look up items online to get a sense of what you’re looking for to create a cohesive look. Note: You *can* create whimsical coffee bars that match the decor of a home.

Accessorize: This is the fun part! Use cake trays and baker’s tiers to further organize your coffee bar. Little signs, and small decor in your theme make it fun too.

Make it fancy: Add syrup flavor pumps or accessories like an automatic frother to feel even more like your own personal coffee shoppe.

Upgrade the brewing: If your love’s coffee maker is looking rough, give it a good deep cleaning, or upgrade to a newer model.

Deals: There are so many cute items like the ones pictured here that I have found around town. Stop in and see what you can find for less locally.

  • Target: in the “Bullseye Playground” at Target. This is the value/dollar spot at the entrance of the store. Most items are usually $5. This week they had wooden organizers, cups, tiered trays, mini shelves, mini trash cans, and so much more.
  • Dollar Tree: Placemats and runners, candy-type glass jars with tin lids for organizing, spoons, cups, mini trash cans, etc.
  • Goodwill or Garage Sales: A good resource for used furniture to convert into your coffee bar (buffets, sideboards, cabinets), bar accessories and decorations, things to use as organizers, vintage glassware, cake stands, and tiered stands too.
  • Hobby Lobby: for upgrading doorknobs and handles, little signs, decor. Don’t forget to get the 40% off coupon on their website.
  • Ross: Silverware, cute mugs, decor, coffee syrups, fancy teas and honey, even decorative disposable coffee cup packs.
  • TJ Maxx: Decor, silverware, and cute mugs – especially in popular themes like Disney, Rae Dunn, Harry Potter, etc.
  • Tuesday Mornings: Decor, mugs, and decorative disposable coffee cup packs.
Home Hack

How to Save $$$ Without a BUDGET

Time to get a jump on Spring Cleaning by starting with our bank accounts! There are likely SEVERAL ways you are losing hard earned cash every month. The good news is; most of the items outlined below just require a closer look at your spending than sticking to a dreaded “budget.”

TV Streaming Services

If you are like us, you have so many streaming services you forget they are even there. Cable, this app, that app plus; chances are you do not need them ALL. UNSUBSCRIBE to the streaming services you rarely access. Don’t even go in and explore the app to make your decision; if you haven’t watched it in the last month or more, get it out of here. (Don’t worry, you can always reinstate your account in the future.)

  • Make sure you go into whatever settings and actually hit “unsubscribe.” Deleting the app does not stop it from charging you.

“FREE TRIAL!”

Many apps; like music, sports, audio books, certain cable channels; offer *so many months free,* then start charging you. If you ever took the free trial on anything, it’s time to see if you accidentally became a paying subscriber!

Cable Providers

Unfortunately, most of us need cable for the internet. That’s how they keep us from being completely cable-free, but many cable companies have accepted our streaming ways and offer streaming-only options that are lower in cost. They don’t usually talk about these plans, you have to inquire about them.

If you signed up for x amount of dollars a month and think cable keeps it that way forever; they don’t. Check your account to see how much you think you are paying versus what you are actually paying now that they “discontinued” your deal.

Ask for a deal. Sometimes, if you tell the cable companies you simply cannot afford to keep paying this high of rate, they will give you a discount for a period of time – but they never just offer it up, you have to tell them the bill is too high and ASK if you qualify for any discounts. This is especially true if you live in an area with multiple cable providers.

Shop around! Cable companies compete with each other, see if one will give you a better deal for longer by switching providers.

Your Cell Phone Carrier

Your mobile phone subscription might have freebies already included in your plan! Inquire with an agent to see what streaming apps might be free with your cell phone plan. For example, Apple TV+ was included with our new iPhone purchase, and Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ were included with many Verizon unlimited subscriptions.

This sounds odd, but check to see if your CABLE PROVIDER offers CELL PHONE SERVICE. Yep, you read that right, most major cable companies offer cell phone service now. In our experience, bundling our cell phone plan with our cable provider brought the bill down to less than 1/4 of the normal cost. The only catch is you have to remain their cable customer and live within their service area to qualify for their cell phone plans and service.

Streaming Music

If you have streaming radio, be sure to check the bill. They sneakily raise the subscription, sometimes MORE THAN DOUBLE, after a period of time. However, if you call and tell them you cannot afford to keep paying that rate they will often give you another deal for a certain amount of months. Then, you call again.

Stored Credit Cards and Saved Passwords

Go through a month of charges to see what charges are going to where for what. Check the apps you share with family to make sure nothing is a wry. Uber, Amazon, Walmart, Grub Hub, even Taco Bell has an app. If your card is stored in it, if you ever shared the password to it, chances are someone could be using it without you knowing or accounting for the extra costs from it.

Amazon

If you have children and family members who you have given access to your Amazon account, consider going in and tightening up those purse strings. We have a friend who, unbeknownst to her, was ordering over $200 of Amazon orders a month… only it wasn’t her, it was her teenagers treating it like a free shopping market and video store because they had total access to the account with the password.

  • Start by changing the password and see who comes a knocking.
  • You can share “Prime” with your family without sharing your password and credit cards.
  • Services like two factor authentication on your credit cards often sends a text or email to you to ensure you approve any cards trying to be added to apps or stored online. Check with your credit card provider for what safety measures are offered with your exact card.

Other Subscriptions

Especially as a small business owner, there were a few subscriptions I was unaware of were recurring. When you sign up for something for the year to get free or reduced shipping is a good place to start investigating.

Food Delivery Services

The services that run and pick up food for you and deliver it to your door cost a LOT of money. Even worse, they actually TAKE a lot of money from the restaurants you love. Often menu prices are inflated to cover the expense, then add on the fees and tip and you’ve turned a burrito into the cost of fine dining. You’ll be surprised how much money can be saved by simply calling or visiting your local restaurants for take out.

Dining Out

Now, we all love a good meal at our favorite spot. Things are more expensive theses days and continuous dining out costs A LOT. We’re talking new car payment “a lot.” It’s not just meals, it’s drinks, coffees, cocktails, desserts too. Daily cheap Fast Food off of the value menus cost us more in our overall health. Set a monthly dining out budget and try to stick to it. If you stop for coffee 7 days a week, try only 5, then 3, etc. etc.

“But I love restaurant meals!!!” Try a meal subscription service like Every Plate or Hello Fresh. It’s restaurant quality meals that you make at home, for less. Makes sticking to the budget easier too!

“For just the cost of a cup of coffee a day…”

This phrase is buried in our subconscious equating coffee with “inexpensive.” That’s because back in the day, plain coffee was about seventy-five cents. Now days a custom coffee order can easily reach $6 to $7 dollars for the MEDIUM. (This just happened to me!) Switch to cheaper coffee experiences. For example, opt for McCafe instead of Starbucks more often. Order a simple cup of coffee from your favorite place instead of lattes and mochachino-frappe-what-ies. Try to make coffee at home more enjoyable. Even office coffee can be delicious when you bring your own coffee making supplies like flavored creamers and/or syrups. Many major coffee chains even have grocery store options of their products that will make it easier to enjoy what you love for less money at home.

Shop Around for Insurance Providers

It is a time consuming task, but take the time to compare rates at different insurance agencies (for auto, home, renters, business, etc.). When shopping, it’s important to make sure you are getting the SAME COVERAGE and with a reputable agency. We have found significant savings just by shopping our policies around.

D&CO. wishes you a prosperous 2023!

Curb Appeal, Home Hack

Shop Small!

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

CLERMONT AREA 

  • 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. 

 NEAR APOPKA 

  • 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: 

 MOUNT DORA 

  • 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.

 ORLANDO-ISH 

  • 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)

Home Hack

Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas?

Merry Christmas AND Happy Holidays!

Here at D&CO. we LOVE Christmastime, and we fully embrace the “Happy Holidays” greeting. When we wish someone Happy Holidays, we’re not rejecting the notion of Christmas, but wishing others to celebrate whatever holiday or traditions they embrace during this wonderful time of year.

For us that means, “Christmas!”

For others it may be:

Hanukkah – Sunday December 18th to Monday December 26, 2022

“Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, commonly called a menorah or hanukkiah. … Hanukkah festivities include singing Hanukkah songs, playing the game of dreidel and eating oil-based foods, such as latkes and sufganiyot, and dairy foods.” (Read more about Hanukkah from this article on Wikipedia)

Kwanzaa – Monday December 26th to Sunday January 1, 2023

“During the Civil Rights Movement, Kwanzaa founder Maulana Karenga, PhD, professor and chairman of Black studies at California State University, Long Beach, was determined to find a way to bring the African American community together to persevere through hardship. And that’s how the week-long cultural celebration highlighting family, friends, and community was born.” (Read more about Kwanzaa from this article in Cosmopolitan)

Winter Solstice – Wednesday December 21, 2022

Winter solstice is the longest night of the year and is observed in many cultures around the world. One of the most popular things to do for this observance is appreciate the natural world. Many give back to nature on the day by spreading some birdseed for wildlife. (Read more ways to celebrate the Winter Solstice from this article in Sunset Magazine.)

 

Boxing Day – Monday December 26, 2022

“Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated after Christmas Day, occurring on the second day of Christmastide (26 December). Though it originated as a holiday to give gifts to the poor, today Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday. It originated in Great Britain and is celebrated in a number of countries that previously formed part of the British Empire. The attached bank holiday or public holiday may take place on 28 December if necessary to ensure it falls on a weekday. Boxing Day is also concurrent with the Catholic holiday Saint Stephen’s Day.” (Read more about Boxing Day from this article on Wikipedia.)

Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and no two families celebrate any holiday exactly alike – but that is how traditions are created, after all. The common thread we see among all of these holidays and traditions seems to carry a message about caring for one another. Cheers to embracing others’ happiness during all of the holidays that fall in this most magical time of year!

D&CO. Wishes you and yours a very Happy Holiday of your own tradition, and a Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it!

Home Hack

Ultimate Thanksgiving Leftovers

We love Thanksgiving leftovers more than Thanksgiving Dinner itself! We’ve rounded up all of our favorite ways to dish up those day-after helpings.

Note: These links are from various cooking blogs we found on the internet. We have no association or affiliation with any of these sites, we just love the recipes! Links open in a separate window.

Make Quiches!

Green Bean Casserole Quiche

We found this idea using left over green bean casserole here. They suggested using a basic quiche recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction here. Then, they augmented the quiche to be Thanksgiving-focused:

“Here’s a tip: Buy an extra frozen deep-dish pie crust before Thanksgiving, then bring it out over the weekend to whip up a quick quiche with the rest of your green bean casserole.

Follow the basic quiche ratio of 4 large eggs, 1 cup dairy (whole milk, half-and-half or cream), 1 cup shredded cheese and 2 cups vegetables or other mix-ins to fill your pie crust.

Pre-bake the pie crust shell according to package directions, then fill and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 60 minutes, until the quiche no longer jiggles in the center. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.”

Delicious Pull Apart Sammies:

To be honest, we make these with turkey or ham all year! https://bestrecipebox.com/thanksgiving-leftovers-pull-apart-sliders/ 

Munch with Crunch:

Do we love Crunchwraps? YES. Do we love Thanksgiving Crunchwraps? ABSOLUTELY! https://cookingwithjanica.com/thanksgiving-leftovers-crunchwrap/ 

Thanksgiving Pizza:

It’s not your ordinary pizza, it’s holiday pizza! Mmm… https://www.landolakes.com/recipe/20559/thanksgiving-leftovers-pizza/ 

Holiday Sandwich:

A sandwich never tasted so good! https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a25103566/thanksgiving-sandwich-recipe/

Leftovers Rigatoni:

Creamy, rustic, rigatoni deliciousness! https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a29429290/turkey-pasta-casserole-recipe/ 

Potato Leek Soup using leftover mashed potatoes:

Give those mashed potatoes a longer shelf life! https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/easy/a29428925/potato-leek-soup-recipe/ 

Cranberry Hand Pies using leftover cranberry sauce:

Turn leftover cranberry sauces and jellies into a flaky pastry dessert! https://www.oliveandmango.com/cranberry-hand-pies/ 

Turkey Black Bean Enchiladas:

Great for those wanting a completely different taste profile for their Thanksgiving surplus. https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/turkey_enchiladas/ 

Waffles using leftover stuffing:

Waffles? Good. Stuffing? Goooood. https://www.justataste.com/thanksgiving-leftover-stuffing-waffles-recipe/ 

Save those Potato Skins:

Turn those normally tossed potato skins into this twist on the classic. Perfect for munching on while watching all of the games! https://www.threeolivesbranch.com/thanksgiving-leftovers-potato-skins/ 

Do you have a favorite way to refresh your Thanksgiving feasts?

Share your favorite recipes with us on our Instagram or Facebook posts this month!  @DeAnnaAndCompany

Home Hack

Crock Pots, UNITE!

Our favorite time to use our Crock Pots is the fall, but these slow cooker creations are delicious all year long!

Here is a compilation of our go-to recipes.

  • Of course, our number one being Minestrone Soup! Just dump all of the ingredients from our own recipe here and slow cook until the carrots are your desired softness. About 3 to 4 hours on high.
  • Pinch of Yum’s “Chicken Gnocchi Soup” It’s creamy and delicious!
  • Well Plated by Erin’s “Turkey Quinoa Chili” Let’s face it, this tasty recipe is the only way we’re getting quinoa in our diet.

  • Pip and Debbie’s “Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup” Need we say more?
  • Gather and Dine’s “Creamy Turkey Rice Soup” The perfect care package soup for a friend or family member who’s feeling under the weather. We’d gift it in a mason jar with a little ribbon.
  • Homemade Hooplah’s “Zuppa Toscana” Yup! The closest version we’ve found of our most favorite soup from the Olive Garden!
  • THE EASIEST QUESO ON EARTH – the D&CO. recipe of the month!

Speaking of queso, for those of us that hate cleaning up after, we also use Reynolds Kitchens Slow Cooker Liners. (Especially helpful for cheesy recipes!) Links to Amazon.

Maybe you don’t have a Crock Pot? GASP! May we suggest the “Crock Pot Hook Up Connectable Entertaining System.” We use this for cooking at home, entertaining, and even for D&CO. events. What we like most about these specific Crock Pots are the pretty colors, and that you can hook them together to create your own buffet. Here’s a pic of these little beauties on Amazon. If you’d like to start small you can find Crock Pot brand slow cookers on Amazon, and from local places like Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, even Best Buy too.

 

Did we mention how much we LOVE our

CROCK POTS?!

What do you make in yours?

Share your go-to slow cooker recipes in the comments on our Facebook or Instagram: @DeAnnaAndCompany.

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:

PIZZA ON THE GRILL!

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

 

 

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.

Batteries

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.

Poncho

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…

Medication

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.

Gas

  • 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.

Coolers

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.

Water

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?”