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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
Home Hack

Central Florida Springs

Sometimes the best way to appreciate your home, is to get out for a day. Today we’re sharing our experiences with several springs within driving distance of Central Florida. They’re the perfect location for a day trip with family and/or friends. Let’s go!

Rock Springs (Bar and Grill)
4939 Rock Springs Rd. – Apopka, Florida
Rock Springs is a unique experience because it’s the only one where you rent big inner tubes and float down a creek. You’ll see people floating with coolers and their snacks for the day, but there’s also a little bar/restaurant along the way “Rock Springs Bar and Grill,” that is known for the most delicious hamburgers, and they rent the tubes too. Stop in to rent your tube and get a burger!

Wekiva Island
1014 Miami Springs Dr. – Longwood, Florida
This is a really fun place to visit, but it is VERY popular and can reach capacity early in the day (which means you get turned away at the gate). They have an open lagoon area for day swimming, cabana rentals, a beautiful large open bar, corn hole, food trucks, canoe rentals… it’s the whole package for a day of fun at the springs whether you’re swimming or not. The bar and food trucks are open late if you just want to skip swimming and hang out for the late afternoon/evening.

Blue Spring
2100 W French Ave. – Orange City, Florida (on the St. John’s River)
We rented a boat to visit Blue Spring. This spring is often crowded from all of the boat traffic on the St. John’s River. If you plan to boat, be patient for “parking” and expect a watery trek through trees to get to the walkway that will lead you to the springs. Straight off the boat, the water was a little higher than ankle deep, about 30 feet from the shore to the walkway. It was about a 1/2 mile walk on the path to the spring.

Alexander Springs – Ocala National Forest
This is a very relaxing spring experience. The blue color of the water is beautiful. There is a grass area and several shelter spaces for picnics, and a couple of benches where you can set up a spot right on the water’s edge. We especially enjoy visiting the little general store for snacks, as it was like stepping back in time. Mainly because they have real Slush Puppies and a variety of familiar frozen treats you could buy at an ice cream truck back in the day.

Silver Glen Springs
Ocala National Forest Salt Springs, Florida
This was an interesting springs experience, because we did not expect to see all the boaters parked right at the far edge of the spring. If you have a small boat or pontoon it might be a fun experience from the boat side too, but expect a crowd – it looked like a boat parking lot out there.

Ponce De Leon Springs, Specifically: The Old Spanish Sugar Mill
601 Ponce Deleon Blvd. – Ponce De Leon Springs, Florida
Okay, so we have never had an experience swimming in these springs because we were too busy making our own pancakes in the old sugar mill! The Old Spanish Sugar Mill is just that, an old sugar mill complete with water wheel, where guests sit at informal tables with built-in griddles where you can cook your own pancakes and eggs! You can order a number of different pancake mix-ins and toppings and it’s a fun experience for the whole family. If you’re not in the cooking mood, you can also order various items like sandwiches, salads, and burgers from the kitchen.
Pro Tip: Get there early or expect a wait, especially on the weekends. Tables fill up fast!

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 S Suncoast Blvd – Homosassa, Florida

This was a fun experience for visiting springs in a non-swimmer way. They have a wildlife sanctuary that you get to via ferry from the Visitor Center. The wildlife sanctuary has walking paths that lead you to manatee, wolves, bears, and a lovely garden type area, all in an open natural park setting. The springs also have a large number of wild manatee that settle here when the weather is cooler (winter/spring). We did see boaters in part of the spring, but did not see or experience any open areas for walk up swimming.

PACK A DAY BAG:
If you’re going to have a day of fun and swimming, better be prepared!

SPRINGS VISIT CHECK LIST:
sunblock/sun glasses/sun hat
towels
drinks
snacks
waterproof case
snorkel
floats

Here are some items we found on Amazon that made our springs trips more enjoyable.

Floats! We definitely recommend bringing a small float. Something simple, like a pool noodle so you can float and maneuver with ease. We especially liked using simple submerged chair type floats (shown below). We found large novelty floats and traditional floats too cumbersome in this setting. Mainly because they were a pain to maneuver, especially if there are a lot of swimmers around.

Sun Protection! Don’t let the 72 degree cool spring water fool you, you’ll get burned out there in a snap! Make sure you protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.

Waterproof! Waterproof phone cases will help you get those Insta-worthy pics without accidentally dropping your phone into the spring. Make sure you read the reviews and find a good one that won’t leak. Waterproof cases are also great for keeping important things like IDs and cash on you – and they come in really handy at traditional water parks too!

Snorkel! To truly experience the crystal clear waters of the springs, you might want a mask that allows you to see more. We love our panoramic mask (style pictured on the middle and left masks), because you can see more, and the breathing tube is attached to the top so you just breathe normally. The mask feels a little more comfortable too.

Where are you going to staycation this summer? Share your Central Florida day fun finds and tips with us on Facebook or Instagram!

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!