Recipe of the Month: Barbeque Cocktail Wieners

Memorial Day is just around the corner (Monday the 30th) and many will be grilling out, having friends and family over, and more.

One of my favorite snacks for get-togethers is Barbecue Cocktail Wieners aka “Lil Smokies”. This is a super easy recipe with only 2 ingredients. You can make a fancy tray of them with toothpicks or serve them straight out of the slow cooker. Either way, they never disappoint.

My family loves it, and I hope yours will too! Let me know what you think!

Ingredients

1 Package cocktail-size wieners or smoked sausages
1 bottle of your choice barbecue sauce

Directions

Put the entire package of smoked sausages in a slow cooker and turn it on high.
Cover sausages fully with barbecue sauce and stir.
Place lid on the slow cooker and leave for approximately 2 hours.
Serve while warm.

Enjoy!

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7 Tips to Keep Your Summer from Going Up in Smoke

I hope that you and your family have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend! I have always enjoyed the unofficial start of summer and what it represents to me and to this country. Thank you to all those who have served and are serving our country now to protect what we hold dear. Words cannot express how much your sacrifice means.

Now that summer is (unofficially) here, my family plans to bring the grill back out and keep it fired up for most of the next few months. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean. 🙂

I just love this time of year and always look forward to spending more time outdoors with my family and enjoying the nice weather.

In my house, grilling is a big part of summer, so I wanted to share with you some grilling safety tips. (What kind of Insurance Agent would I be if I didn’t keep safety first!?) 🙂

Fire in the grill, cooking delicious burger patties and franks, is wonderful, but fire outside the grill… not so much.

The only urgent call I want from you this summer is the one telling me there’s an emergency pool party and to get everybody there now, not one saying you’ve had a grill fire and need to file a claim.

Keep yourself and your family safe while grilling by following the tips below:

  1. Only grill outdoors. Never attempt to use a propane or charcoal grill indoors or underneath a low-hanging ceiling.
  2. Keep the grill a safe distance from the home, far enough that it is out of the way of the home, a deck or porch, overhangs, as well as any landscaping or trees.
  3. Always keep children and pets away from the grill and surrounding area.
  4. Clean your grill regularly and do not allow grease or fat to build up in it as it is a fire risk. Allow it to instead collect in a grill tray below the grill and dispose of it safely.
  5. Never leave your grill unattended.
  6. If using a propane grill, check the major connection points between the tank and hose before each use. Tighten if loose and inspect the cord for any holes. Do not use it if you smell gas or suspect the cord is damaged. Turn off the gas and do not attempt to move the grill or propane tank. Contact someone qualified to properly service the grill or call the fire department.
  7. If you are using a charcoal grill, use caution when igniting and handling coals. When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Use these tips (and your head!) while enjoying the great things summer has to offer. Feel free to share these with your friends and family so they can stay safe too.

Get more tips for staying safe while grilling online by visiting the National Fire Prevention Association’s website – https://www.nfpa.org/

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Be Prepared When the Storm Hits

Along with flowers and warmer weather, spring can bring something that’s not so pleasant—the threat of severe weather.

I wanted to make sure that you and your family were aware of some important preventative tips to keep in mind if severe storms come your way this season.

  • It’s best to always keep a battery-powered radio in your home so that you can tune to radio stations if you lose electricity. Don’t forget to check or change the batteries every so often.
  • Keep a flashlight in an easily accessible spot on every floor of your home. Check the batteries monthly, and replace them as needed.
  • As a safety precaution before leaving the house on vacation, unplug all electrical appliances except for lights connected to automatic timers.
  • If you live in a storm-prone area, nail down roof shingles or use adequate adhesive to keep them from blowing off in a violent wind. For roofs with shingles that are not the seal-down type, applying a little dab of roofing cement under each tab will do the trick.
  • A lightning-protection system should offer an easy, direct path for the bolt to follow into the ground and thus prevent injury or damage. Grounding rods (at least two for a house) should be placed at opposite corners of the house.
  • Don’t go out during a tornado or hurricane. If there’s the possibility of flooding, get to higher ground.
  • When a major storm is on its way, close shutters, board windows, or tape the inside of larger panes with an “X” along the full length of their diagonals. Even a light material like masking tape may give the glass enough extra strength it needs to resist cracking.

On top of the safety of your family, the safety of your house and property are important, too. In the case that anything in your house is damaged, you must take steps to keep those items safe. If you have to make a claim, you will need to have:

  • Pictures or videos of items of value
  • Receipts for large purchases (television or computer, for example)
  • Serial numbers for the items that require them

You will want to make sure to keep all records in a safe place – like a fire safe lockbox or a safety deposit box.


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May is National Asthma and Allergies Awareness Month

May is the peak season for allergy and asthma sufferers which makes it the perfect time to educate people about these two diseases.

Asthma is a disease of the lungs that occurs when airways become blocked or narrowed making it difficult to breathe. While asthma affects about 25 million Americans, each case is unique. Some people are born with it although it sometimes doesn’t show up until later in life.

If you have asthma, it is important to make sure you have your asthma under control. The most common preventative measure is the prescription of an inhaler. Once starting with this preventative measure, you should have fewer asthma attacks and be able to better maintain a normal, healthy lifestyle.

It is important to understand what triggers your asthma attacks; sometimes these triggers are more of aftershocks that don’t appear until after the attack has already happened. You may find that you are your own physical detective. This will help you attempt to cut down on the number of your asthma attacks.

Every year in the U.S. Asthma leads to:

  • 2 million Emergency Room visits
  • 1/2 million hospitalizations
  • 14 million doctor visits
  • 14 million missed school days
  • 3,400—3,600 deaths

Allergies are a disease of the immune system that causes an overreaction to substances. You may experience allergies from external or internal influences. Allergies are grouped by kinds of triggers, such as time of year, food, medicine, pollutants in the air, etc.

You may want to schedule an allergy test with a specialist to find out what you are allergic to…some triggers you may not have realized on your own.

For more information and tips check out aafa.org.

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Recipe of the Month: Grandma’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

My family has made many memories with this classic recipe. I hope you and your family enjoy these cookies as much as you enjoy spending time together making them.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy!

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Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd

The theme this year for Earth Day is “Invest in Our Planet”. It focuses on accelerating solutions to combat our greatest threat, climate change, and to activate everyone from governments, businesses, and YOU to do their part.

There are many environmental issues that we are dealing with as a society, and sometimes it may feel like there is no way you can possibly make a difference with such a tremendous amount of needs that the Earth’s environment has.

However, I assure you that every little bit counts! And, if we all just made a few simple changes in our daily lives, those changes would have an enormous positive impact on our Mother Earth.

Here are a few tips to help our planet:

  • Minimize waste and recycle everything you can.
  • Use reusable grocery bags instead of paper or plastic bags.
  • Carpool when possible to save on gas, emissions, and fumes that go into the atmosphere.
  • Use reusable water bottles and water filters instead of purchasing plastic water bottles.
  • Unplug unused electronics – computers, TVs, DVRs, etc
  • Turn down the temperature on your water heater
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room.
  • Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle – look for the special triangle on all your products to know if it can be recycled.
  • Plant a tree or bush that will help the Earth as well as your curb appeal.

Making these changes can help give us a healthier and more wonderful world to live in. For more information on how you can celebrate Earth Day go to https://www.earthday.org/.

Every little bit counts, so start today and make a difference!

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10 Motorcycle Safety Tips for Spring

This time of year is when many motorcyclists start taking to the road. After the long, cold winter, many riders are eager to start taking their bikes out. If you are not a motorcycle rider, please be particularly diligent at this time, and all others, of motorcyclists. If you are, please be informed to help better protect yourself on the road.

Before you take the bike out, call or come by our office to make sure you have the proper motorcycle coverage. We can answer any questions you might have.

Don’t take to the road after a long winter without giving your bike the once-over:

  • Test the lights, brakes, and turn signals.
  • Check the oil and fuel levels.
  • Make sure the mirrors are positioned correctly.
  • Check the cables to make sure they aren’t worn or frayed.

While you’re on the road, be sure that you are driving responsibly. Here are a few things to be conscious of:

  • Always wear a helmet that fits. Pick one that has a DOT label, showing that it meets federal safety standards.
  • Know your bike’s limits and stick to the speed limit
  • Use your signals properly and at all times when turning or making a lane change.
  • Be respectful of other drivers. Don’t tailgate other vehicles, weave through traffic, or drive on the shoulder.
  • Make sure other drivers can see you. Don’t ride in blind spots and always use your headlights.
  • Brake smart. Use both brakes at the same time, slow and steady.

Use these tips and keep safety top of mind when you get your motorcycle out this spring, and be sure to remember them while you’re on the road throughout the year!

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April is National Stress Awareness Month

Everyone feels stressed from time to time with their busy lifestyle. If left unchecked, it tends to be a real joy-killer. Stress can also lead to several major health problems, ranging from anxiety to severe depression and from mild acne to life-threatening heart attacks. It is easy to see why it is so vitally important to keep life’s major stressors in check.

What is stress? We hear people talk about stress all the time. We say we’re “stressed out”, but many of us may not know what stress really is. The term ‘stress’ refers to the response you have when facing circumstances that force you to act, change, or adjust in some way to maintain your footing or to keep things balanced.

Here are 5 tips that, when observed, will help you take charge and beat the stress:

  1. Focus on Your Health —You are not healthy when you’re constantly tired and run down. Make an annual physical appointment with your doctor. Staying healthy and feeling good is essential to reducing stress.
  2. Learn to Relax — Take a moment to just breathe, meditate, pray, etc. Take a breath and think about something positive, peaceful, and soothing. It’s a perfect way to break the cycle of task-related stresses.
  3. Get Some Exercise — When you’re stressed, exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing. However, helping your body relieve stress through regular exercise will improve your stamina, help you feel good about yourself, and help avoid exhaustion in the long run. Walking 3-5 times a week is a great way to start an exercise regimen.
  4. Talk to Your Inner Self — Keep a journal or talk to yourself while driving. It doesn’t matter if the conversation is one-sided and reflective. It just matters that you take the time to think about your experiences. You’ll be amazed at how getting things out will lighten your spirit.
  5. Smile — Seriously, just smile. It will help. It’s a fact. You can’t hold a negative thought with a genuine smile on your face. Very few things can reduce stress better than a funny moment and the smile it brings. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine.
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Recipe of the Month: Peanut Butter Potato Candy

If you are still in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day or just want to try something different, try out this traditional Irish recipe. This easy-to-make, surprisingly yummy recipe will be loved by the entire family, plus everyone can help in the kitchen… it’s super simple!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mashed potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar
  • Extra powdered sugar for dusting
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter, or as desired

Directions

  1. Combine mashed potatoes, milk, vanilla extract, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Stir powdered sugar into mixture until dough forms. Refrigerate until chilled, approx. 1 hour.
  3. Sprinkle powdered sugar on waxed paper and roll dough into a large square on top. Layer peanut butter on top of the dough and then roll into a log.
  4. Refrigerate for approx. 1 hour then slice into pinwheels and serve.
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What You Need to Know About Renter’s Insurance

Many people choose to move during the springtime and early summer when more flexible schedules allow the time, and the kids are out of school. Springtime means changes of all kinds for many families… you may even have a teen you’re going to be moving out on their own soon! If you’re planning an upcoming move (especially with kiddos!), now is the time to get started. I wanted to talk to you about something that you may forget to pack… renter’s insurance!

Many times, when moving, families have to stay in an apartment or rental property for a short time while relocating, finishing building, or finalizing the purchase of a new home. While you’re there, if your apartment is robbed or the apartment above you has a fire and the water used to extinguish it floods your apartment, your landlord’s policy likely won’t pay to replace any of your stuff. That’s up to you. You may need Renter’s Insurance.

Many renters pass on Renter’s Insurance because they think that they don’t have anything worth protecting. However, for many renters, the things in their rental property are the majority (sometimes all) of their possessions. You do have a lot of money invested in your personal property, and it’s worth protecting. Remember, as a renter, you could experience a loss due to something you have no control over.

A Renters Policy will protect your personal property the same way it would if you owned a home. Ask us what level of coverage is right for you.

Your Renter’s Insurance Policy includes:

  • Personal Property Protection – Covers the loss of damage to your “stuff” (furniture, clothing, and other personal property).
  • Family Liability Protection – Covers you in case someone gets hurt and claims you are responsible. This also covers attorney’s fees.
  • Guest Medical Protection – Covers medical costs for visitors who are accidentally injured at your home or apartment.
  • Additional Living Expenses – Reimbursements for costs of temporary housing during reconstruction. For example, if you were forced to find other temporary housing because of a fire or storm, your renter’s insurance would reimburse you for temporary housing costs.

Coverage Choices:

  • Replacement Coverage – Allows you to receive the full purchase price of lost items. (You will receive the amount of brand new “stuff” at today’s cost with no depreciation.)
  • Scheduled Personal Property – Extends protection beyond your basic policy limits for certain high-value items

Do you have any questions about your renter’s or other insurance policies? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at the agency. We are happy to discuss your coverages and answer any questions you may have.

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