20 Summer Hacks You NEED to Know

20 Summer Hacks You NEED to Know

It’s summertime and the living is easy—or rather it will be with these clever summer hacks.

Here are our all-time favorite tips and tricks for entertaining, keeping the bugs away, summer fun, and staying cool and comfortable in the summertime heat.


Entertaining hacks

#1: Cupcake liners for popsicles: Insert the stick of a popsicle or ice pop through the center of a cupcake liner and voila! There are no drips and no mess. The liner catches it all so your hands stay clean and dry. (Keep some extra cupcake liners for the tops of open drink cans to keep the bugs out!)

#2: Quick ice-cold drinks: Forgot to chill the beer, wine, or soda? No worries. Wrap a wet paper towel around the bottle or can and put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Have more time? Fill some water bottles halfway with water and lay them on their side in the freezer. When they’re frozen, fill them up with your beverage of choice. It will stay chilled for hours.

#3. Condiment carrier: Don’t throw away that cardboard six-pack carrier! Repurpose it to carry your mustard, ketchup, napkins, and fixings. Reinforce it and make it fancier by adding some contact paper to the sides and bottom.

#4. Unstick marshmallows: If you’ve bought a bag of marshmallows only to discover they’re stuck together, you’re not alone. Luckily, you can make them “s’mores ready” with this trick. Add at least 1 teaspoon of cornstarch to the bag and shake it. It will absorb the moisture and unstick your marshmallows. Store them in a container for easy use.

#5. Clean your grill with an onion: Cut a raw onion in half. Stick a BBQ fork into the rounded part and rub the cut side along the grill grates. The onion’s juices will create steam and help to remove the bits of food residue.

BONUS TIP: Instead of putting out a whole spread to entertain your guests, try some simple Jarcuterie!



Keeping the bugs away

#6. Coffee grounds prevent ants: Coffee’s high nitrogen content actually burns bugs. Sprinkle some coffee grounds outside entrances to your home or other places where ants might enter. They won’t walk across it.

#7. A fruity bug repellent: Limes or lemons and cloves make a great natural mosquito repellent as well as a great table decoration. They also work for wasps. Simply slice the lime or lemon in half and press a few whole cloves into the inside. The scent will help to keep mosquitos away from your table, too.

#8. Burn sage or rosemary on your fire: The scent of sage and rosemary helps keep flying bugs of all sorts away. Buy a bundle of one or the other from your local grocery store. Both herbs will catch fire easily. You can put them on your fire pit or even on your barbecue.

#9. Debug your car: Summer often means sticky, smashed bugs on your car’s windshield and grille. Give your car a spritz of nonstick cooking spray and wipe them off easily.

#10: Take the plunge: If you’re searching for a place to hold the citronella candles that keep bugs away, look no further than your local plumbing store. A toilet plunger is the perfect candle holder. Simply put the plunger handle in the ground, and the candle in the rubber top. Use a new plunger, and then you can keep it for its usual use later.



Summer fun hacks

#11. Applique your kiddie pool: Kiddie pools can be slippery. Make them easier to navigate for little feet with bathtub appliques. Add some to the sides, too, for places to grip. Your kids can even help you to apply them!

#12. Camping trick for toilet paper: Bring an empty coffee can container along for your next camping trip. It’s the perfect size to store toilet paper and keep it dry, in high humidity or when it rains. It works for canoe and boat trips too.

#13. Brush off your beach chairs: Use a large clean and dry paintbrush to remove sand from your beach chairs, toys, and even the kids! Do it before you get in the car and you’ll have a lot less to clean up.

#14. Firefly collection hack: Kids love to catch fireflies. Instead of piercing holes into the metal lid of a jar, cut a 6-inch square from old pantyhose. Attach it with a rubber band. This will let plenty of air in and out, and be easier when it’s time to let the bugs go.

#15. Makeup blender sponge for sunscreen: Use a makeup blender sponge to apply sunscreen to young faces. This will help for a more even application and keep sunscreen out of their eyes.



Keeping your cool

#16. Change direction for your ceiling fan: Make sure your fan’s blades are rotating counterclockwise in warmer months. This will help push cooler air down.

#17. Make your own dehumidifier: Since lower humidity feels cooler, a dehumidifier will allow you to reduce the use of your air conditioner, thus reducing your cooling costs. Though not as effective as a dehumidifier, you can try DIY versions:

    • A basket or can of charcoal briquettes can absorb humidity in a room. Replace it every 2-3 months.
    • Rock salt or kitty litter also absorbs moisture in the air. Take two similarly size buckets. Drill holes in the bottom of one. Stack the drilled bucket inside the other bucket – making sure to leave a gap. You may wish to put an object in between the buckets to create that space. Fill the top-drilled bucket with salt or kitty litter. Then, check it every few days. Water will collect in the bottom bucket. Empty as needed.

#18. Freeze your pillow: Bunch up your pillow. Put it in a plastic bag and place it in your freezer for 10 minutes. You can also save some space and just freeze your pillowcase. Keep some extra pillowcases in the freezer if you want to switch them out.

#19. Window dressing: No air conditioning? Hang a damp sheet in front of an open window. The hot air will evaporate the water in the sheet and the result is a cooling breeze.

#20. Trade-in your ice pack for a rice pack: Ice packs are great but condensation can create dampness where you may not want it. Instead, fill a clean sock with rice and put it in the freezer. Bring it out whenever you need a cold pack that’s moldable to your body.

Have a favorite summer hack that’s not listed here? Share it with us!


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

New Employee Spotlight: Taylor Christianson

We have amazing employees at California Casualty. The New Employee Spotlight is a series aiming to highlight the talented individuals that are brand new to our team. Please help us give them a warm welcome!

Today we’re spotlighting Customer Care Specialist, Taylor Christianson

Let’s get to know, Taylor!


Taylor C


Where are you from?

Minnesota, but I work in the Colorado Springs office. 


What is one interesting fact you want us to know about you?

I’m a golfer 🙂


If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?



What do you like to do on the weekends?

Hiking with my husky

EDM concerts/ bass music

Epoxy resin art


What made you want to start your new career with California Casualty?

New opportunities!


If you want to learn more about Taylor or are interested in a career at California Casualty, connect with her on LinkedIn! Or visit our careers page at https://www.calcas.com/careers

Introducing Bianca Odom, Your CTA Account Manager for California Casualty


To say that becoming the Strategic Account Manager for one of the most significant partners in our company’s history could be a little intimidating is an understatement. The partnership between the two organizations has-

1. Influenced our company’s affinity insurance model,

2. Been in existence since 1951

3. Managed by only a small group of distinguished individuals over the years.

However, Bianca Odom is ready and eager to make this role one to remember, “I couldn’t be more excited for this new opportunity!”

We thought now would be a great time to formally introduce you – and your fellow CTA Leaders/Members – to Bianca, who became the Strategic Account Manager for our valued California Teachers Association as of March 2022.

Here’s a little detail about her California Casualty career; appreciation for CTA and CTA members, and other contributing factors that we know make her well-rounded and the perfect person for the job.

Bianca has been with California Casualty for 22 Years – since January 2000. Given the employee tenure at the company, it’s not surprising. And as she describes in the following interview, the roles that she has held throughout that time have truly prepared her for this new position.

Describe the breadth of your career with CalCas. I began my California Casualty career in the Sales Dept., which truly helped me to learn the foundation of what we do and who we serve. In order to be a successful Sales Representative at California Casualty, you really have to understand our affinity group partners, how long we’ve held a relationship with them, and what we have to offer our group members.

I moved over to our Customer Service Department, as a Customer Service Team Manager in December 2010. Working in Customer Service provided me the opportunity to fully understand the customer experience after onboarding and I gained more extensive knowledge of our policy contracts.

Two years later, I was promoted to a unique role of a Senior Customer Service Team Manager, which also included the responsibility of managing the entire operations of our in-house Agency Services Department. During the close to 9 years of managing the Agency, I learned so much about the insurance products that California Casualty does not underwrite i.e. umbrella, earthquake, flood insurance etc., and had the opportunity to regularly work with our business partners outside of California Casualty.

What was your previous connection with CTA and its members throughout your career? I’ve had the pleasure of speaking directly with CTA members for the entire 22 years that I’ve worked for California Casualty. I’ve heard their challenges and their fun success stories. I’ll never forget the teacher who was so happy with my service, they sent me a letter and a cute book of stickers, which meant a lot to me. I still have them!

What would you define as your strengths and growth opportunities in correlation to your new role? I really believe that my collective experience of working in Sales, Customer Service, and Agency Services, while also needing to understand our Underwriting guidelines and some Claims coverage questions, has really helped prepare me for this new role. My exposure to all of these areas has given me a well-rounded understanding of the full customer experience, from the time they start a policy, to having been insured with us for many years.

I also have a great deal of insurance knowledge as I obtained my P&C insurance license in 1999 and my Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation in 2018. I continue to take at least 20 hours of continuing insurance education every year.

Now I’m really looking forward to obtaining new knowledge while working in our Partner Relations Department. I am currently learning how to coordinate school site visits, to include the process of getting in front of our members in order to share the great things that California Casualty has to offer them, as part of their CTA benefits. This process is completely new to me and provides an opportunity for me to broaden my experience around the different aspects of marketing, as this is truly where it all starts.

What do you do outside of “work” – what are some of your favorite ways to spend your time? My husband and I have been married for 23 years and we’re still best friends. We genuinely enjoy spending time together, whether it’s going on vacation or just watching our favorite TV shows and movies. I also really enjoy doing creative-type things, such as decorating or scrapbooking, etc. Although I wouldn’t consider myself outdoorsy, I do enjoy spending time outside going for a walk or just enjoying the Colorado air in my backyard.

What three traits describe your character best? Honest, Loyal, Compassionate Why? Honesty – I’ve always been that person that likes to follow rules and to be someone others can trust to tell you the truth, no matter how big or small. I think it’s my honesty that also lends itself to being a hard worker – I want to do right by everyone. Loyalty – Not only have I shown loyalty by having one employer for 22 years and one husband for 23 years, I have also maintained the same friendships since elementary school and we still communicate regularly. My friends are my chosen family and I plan to keep it that way forever. Compassion – Those who know me, know I care a great deal for people and I’m easily affected by things that someone else is going through. I’ve also been told that these three attributes combined have helped me to be a leader that others can depend on and that really warms my heart.

What makes you most excited about your new role? Where do I start?! I’ve always had so much respect for teachers and everything they do; as they say – “there’s no position that isn’t first created from teachers”.

As I started preparing for this role, I have done a lot of research on CTA specifically, and I was so moved by how much they’ve done in their communities and their fight for the rights of others. I truly feel honored to work so closely with them and help ensure that we, at California Casualty, are going to do everything we can to support them and their membership engagement.

Like with our other departments, I also have so much respect for the people in our Partner Relations Department. It’s just a different challenge to go into the schools and generate interest in California Casualty when teachers are busy and needing to focus on other things. We wouldn’t have customers to serve if we didn’t have the people in the field telling them about California Casualty.

Anything else that you would like to add? I would like to add that California Casualty has been so great to me over the years. While it hasn’t always been easy, just like with any job, the experience has only made me stronger. I think my story is an example of all of the great things California Casualty has to offer. You don’t have to stay confined to one area. If you want to grow – go for it!



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

JARcuterie – For Your Next Gathering

JARcuterie – For Your Next Gathering

Have you heard about Jarcuterie? It’s a party in a jar—or at least the start of it. If you’re planning an elegant Mother’s Day brunch, a great graduation party, or just a fun get-together, you’ll want to know about this latest craze in entertaining.


What is Jarcuterie exactly?

Jarcuterie is a new twist on Charcuterie boards, traditionally a platter of meats and cheese offered as an appetizer or part of a meal. However, instead of a board or platter, Jarcuterie is served in individual jars. The contents don’t even have to be meat and cheese—in fact, the more creative, the better.


Why is Jarcuterie so popular?

It’s pretty to look at, easy to serve, and you can customize it for your guests’ dietary needs. But the main reason for its growth in popularity is due to the pandemic. Rather than touching a platter that others touch too, you can enjoy this socially distant snack safely. And you’ll feel more comfortable as a host that you are doing your part in keeping everyone healthy and safe.


How do I create a Jarcuterie?

The options are endless, which is why a little forethought and planning will make a difference. Do you want savory or sweet? (Yes, dessert Jarcuterie is a thing!) There are no rules, but keep simplicity in mind; generally, Jarcuterie features small finger food and sometimes dips.

Start with a clear container. Popular choices include a mason jar, plastic cup, or small bowl. Choose a size that’s easy to hold because this snack is portable.

Choose a flavor or theme. An Italian-themed Jarcuterie could feature antipasto ingredients such as meats, cheeses, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, and breadsticks. A Mediterranean Jarcuterie could include fresh vegetables with hummus, olives, and feta cheese. A breakfast Jarcuterie might feature mini-muffins, bacon strips, yogurt, and fresh fruit.

Dips go at the bottom. If you include them, dips are best at the base. That way, guests can dip the items into the bottom without getting their fingers messy.

Include a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. This will create a beautiful display that also balances with its ingredients. Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of cheese or other items. Roll meats and cheeses together for a festive look. Keep wet snacks away from crunchy ones or assemble the crunchy ones at the last moment so nothing gets soggy.

Keep height in mind. Display food on skewers or cocktail sticks for varying heights. Vary the items on the skewer such as meat, then cheese. Try 1-2 skewers per jar. Add some tall vegetables like celery, which are great for dipping.

Fill in the gaps with tiny treats. Add nuts, dried fruit, pretzels, or other items to fill in the gaps.

Garnish and decorate. Tie the Jarcuterie glass with a bow. Garnish the food with a fresh herb that goes with the flavor palate.

Still not sure what you’re going to make? We scoured the Internet for some popular Jarcuterie recipes. Here are some of our favorites.


Basic Savory Jarcuterie

Jarcuterie: Cheese Boards in a Jar

This basic Jarcuterie recipe combines meat, cheese, crackers, nuts, fruit, pretzels, and more. It’s kid-friendly and they can even help with the preparation!


Flower Garden Jarcuterie

How to Make a Jarcuterie

This recipe uses broccoli flowers and radish roses to create a beautiful garden on top of a base of peanuts. Switch out the nuts for some salad dressing dip or hummus for a different sping.


Disney Jarcuterie

Disney Jarcuterie

This recipe requires a Disney cookie cutter to create Mickey Mouse ears and any other shape for your child’s favorite character. Definitely a dessert version, this Jarcuterie features M&M candy as the base with fresh fruit and cheese displayed on spears.


Colorful Spring Jarcuterie

10 Simple Spring Grazing Table Food Ideas | La Cucina di Kerrs

For those who like to go over the top, this Jarcuterie comes with suggestions on how to dye your vegetables and even spell out the word, spring, with tiny vegetable cutters.


Sweet Ending Jarcuterie

Sweet Jarcuterie – It’s a Jar Full of Sweets

What’s better than a mason jar filled with your favorite sweets? This dessert Jarcuterie pairs mini marshmallows with chocolate drizzled pretzels and strawberries. You can even add your own candied fruit. Pro Tip: use different colors of chocolate for the drizzle to make your Jarcuterie look extra festive!


DIY Charcuterie Bouquets

How to Make a Charcuterie Bouquet for Entertaining

This Jarcuterie isn’t in a jar, but its single-serving paper bouquet wrap has the same idea. Deli meat roses pair with strawberries and herbs for a beautiful presentation.

For more JARcuterie ideas, check out our Pinterest Board, “JARcuterie” and be sure to follow us on Pinterest for every other fun idea we find!


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

New Employee Spotlight: Erin Halvorson

We have amazing employees at California Casualty. The New Employee Spotlight is a series aiming to highlight the talented individuals that are brand new to our team. Please help us give them a warm welcome!

Today we’re spotlighting Inbound Sales Representative, Erin Halvorson

Let’s get to know, Erin!


new employee spotlight


Where are you from?

All over, I was born in Oklahoma, but I’m an Air Force brat.  My dad served for 21 years, I had the pleasure of living all over the place!

Now I work in the Colorado Springs office.


What is one interesting fact you want us to know about you?

I love bowling and when I was in 5th grade, I bowled my best game yet a 200!


If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?



What do you like to do on the weekends?

 Anything with my family.

Disc Golfing with my husband.

Girls Night’s with my close group of friends.


What made you want to start your new career with California Casualty?

The culture, the people, and my husband.  He was hired here, and raved about it.  I decided I couldn’t let him have all the fun without me! 


If you want to learn more about Erin or are interested in a career at California Casualty, connect with her on LinkedIn! Or visit our careers page at https://www.calcas.com/careers

California Casualty Elects Jonathan D. Adkisson President and CEO

new CEO

Jonathan D. Adkisson, FCAS, has been elected President and CEO of California Casualty Management Company (“CCMC”) effective June 1, 2022.

In this role, Adkisson will run the operations of the reciprocal California Casualty Indemnity Exchange (“CCIE”) as CEO of its attorney-in-fact, and Adkisson will serve as President of CCIE’s four insurance company subsidiaries, which together are known as the California Casualty Group.

Adkisson has more than 30 years of experience in the insurance industry, with a majority of his career spent as an executive in the personal lines direct-to-consumer segment. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Virginia and is a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society. Adkisson was most recently General Manager for Allstate Direct Distribution, a combination of Esurance and Allstate’s direct operation. Adkisson was President of Esurance from 2015 until its integration with Allstate in 2020. As Esurance President, he was responsible for all functional departments of the wholly-owned subsidiary including over 3,000 employees in 17 offices. Earlier in his career, he held several actuarial roles at Farmers and GEICO.

“I am humbled and honored to be asked to serve as the next president and CEO of California Casualty,” Adkisson said. “California Casualty has a rich tradition of serving those who are heroes in our communities. I am excited at the opportunity to continue that legacy of service as I lead California Casualty’s team of capable insurance professionals.”

Robert R. Nicolay III, CCMC’s interim CEO and member of the CCMC Board and CCIE Advisory Board stated, “I view Jonathan’s experience and industry knowledge as a significant asset to California Casualty and the executive management team. He will be instrumental in building a future of growth for the company.”

Adkisson impressed our CEO Search Committee and CCMC’s Board with the obvious qualifications and capabilities he brings to lead CCMC. But what really stood out was the energy and enthusiasm he shared for the opportunities he sees in front of California Casualty. Based on this energy and enthusiasm and the interactions we have had with Jonathan over nearly two months, we are confident that his management style will be an excellent fit with our organization.

Jonathan resides in Novato, California, with his wife of 30 years, Anne. They have two children. Jonathan is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow (honor society of the Boy Scouts of America).

Karen M. Padovese, CCIE Advisory Board Chair, commented: “Jonathan’s focused customer orientation and his demonstrated ability to lead and inspire employees will ensure that California Casualty continues to deliver uniquely for the dedicated public servants we exist to serve.”


About California Casualty: Founded in 1914 and headquartered in San Mateo, CA, California Casualty has service centers in Arizona, Colorado, and Kansas. The company provides auto and home insurance with special rates, generous discounts, and unique benefits not available to the general public to educators, education support professionals, peace officers, firefighters, and nurses across the country. To learn more about California Casualty, or to request an auto insurance quote, please visit www.calcas.com or call 1.800.800.9410.

Pin It on Pinterest