Increase the Joy with Forgiveness

joy through forgiveness graphicSo much of our happiness is within our own control. Find out how to increase joy in your marriage or relationship through forgiveness.


Isn’t it amazing that the people we are closest to have the ability to offend us the most?  One reason for this is that when we love someone, we lower our protective emotional wall so we are more vulnerable to getting hurt.  It works the same with the people who love us – none of us are perfect – we have all said or done things that offend those we love the most. It is the way we REACT to offending or being offended that determines the effect on our relationship. It is important to think about how we really want to feel. Do you want to feel anger, resentment, bitterness, pain, and misery or do you want to feel love, peace, joy, and happiness? There are two responses that will bring about the positive feelings we all want to enjoy – forgiving your spouse when you are offended, and offering a sincere apology when you have offended your loved one.

The following five steps can help you in the forgiveness process and will allow you to replace the feelings of bitterness and hurt with positive feelings of love:

  1. Take time to calm down before speaking to your spouse. This allows your brain to switch from the “fight or flight” area of the brain to the higher level thinking part of the brain.
  2. Talk with your spouse about what happened to offend you. Sometimes you will find it was a misunderstanding or totally unintentional.        
  3. Recognize you aren’t perfect either. Think of the many times your spouse has forgiven you for offenses.
  4. Think of at least three memories when your feelings of love were especially strong for your spouse. Whenever you feel negative emotions of anger, hurt etc., think of these memories.
  5. Give yourself time for the hurt feelings to be replaced with feelings of love. It may take some time, but don’t give up!

It is also important to learn how to offer a sincere apology. Three crucial steps are:

  1. Recognize exactly what you did to offend your spouse.
  2. Develop a plan to avoid repeating the same mistake again.
  3. Tell your spouse you are sorry.

Making sure you include the first two steps will make the third step more meaningful and effective.

So…think of something you may have done recently to offend your spouse and begin the steps of apologizing — and think of something your spouse has done that offended you and begin the steps of forgiveness. Don’t forget the three memories!

Marriage can be hard work when you think about giving and taking, forgiving and asking for forgiveness – but when you are snuggling in the arms of the one you love, it is well worth it!


This article was written by GaeLynn Peterson, Wayne County Director and Extension Assistant Professor, FCS and 4-H Youth




The Secret Life of Bees

Secret Life of BeesBees are critical to our food system, and yet many people still see them as a nuisance. Increase your understanding with these five facts about bees.


  1. One in three bites of food are a result of pollination
  2. Honeybees pollinate 80% of fruit, nut and vegetable crops
  3. One hive can have between 40,000-60,000 bees
  4. A queen bee can lay about 800 – 1,200 eggs per day
  5. Honeybees can fly up to 15 mph and can forage up to 3 miles away from their hive

Learn More

Are you a beekeeper, or are you interested in being one? Backyard beekeeping is increasing in popularity, and USU Extension has a new series of classes to promote healthy hive management. The classes can be taken individually, or you can complete the whole series and receive a USU Extension Advanced Beekeeping Certificate.

Register for the Thriving Hive Series




Ask An Expert // Six Tips for Portable Emergency Food Storage

emergency foodWhat would your family eat in an emergency? Get prepared with these six expert tips on portable emergency food storage.


Weather can regularly create emergency situations such as massive power outages, dangerous road conditions or flooding across the nation. In Utah, we are not without our share of emergency weather-caused situations that can leave people stranded, without heat or lights for several hours or stopped on the freeway due to a car accident.

While these situations can be frustrating at best, some can mean there will be no relief for up to 72 hours. How would you fare if you were home or in your car “stuck” with only what you have on hand to help you survive? Would you have sufficient supplies of food and water and a source of heat/warmth and other emergency items to last for 3 or more days?

If you are new to food storage and/or emergency preparedness, this question may be difficult to answer. However, even for those who think they are prepared, it’s good to review some basics and examine what goes in a 72-hour emergency kit.

Below are six tips for preparing your portable emergency supply, adapted from USU’s online publication, “A Guide to Food Storage for Emergencies.”

1. Foods to include in the 3-day/72-hour kit:

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA 2012), the general guidelines are to stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation along with a manual can opener and eating utensils. Examples include:

  •  Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts, chips or crackers
  • Food for infants
  • Powdered drink mixes to add to water
  • Comfort/stress foods, candy bars, etc.

2. Beverages to include in the 3-day/72-hour kit:

  • Bottled water
  • Soda or juices (Avoid diet sodas if possible since the artificial sweeteners break down and can cause an off flavor in soda stored beyond the expiration date. Regular soda will just taste flat.)
  • Non-perishable pasteurized milk (Sold in cartons; does not require refrigeration.)

3. How to store the 3-day/72-hour supply kit:

In case you are home and need to evacuate on short notice, these supplies should be stored in a convenient location close to a front door or garage. Use one or two portable containers. Consider a tote on wheels with a handle, backpacks, etc., that are easy to move. Be sure they will fit in your car and that they can be carried or pulled to a safe location if you need to leave the car.

4. Amount of water to include:

The recommendation is 1 gallon of water per person (adult) per day. However, the requirement for staying hydrated varies according to age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate. Bottled water is the easiest to store; whether it is purchased in individual serving sizes or larger containers such as 3-liter jugs. Again, consider how you will carry this with you.

5.  How to keep food cold or frozen at home:

If you experience a power outage that doesn’t require you to leave your home, make certain perishable foods remain useable for as long as possible. If you have enough warning or have extra space in the freezer, fill empty spaces with bagged blocks of ice or fill clean plastic containers/jugs with water and freeze. Food in the freezer may not stay completely frozen but will stay cold for 1-2 days. Foods in the refrigerator may fare better if they can be transferred into insulated ice chests and covered with cubed ice.

6. How to maintain emergency food storage:

It is not only important to obtain a 72-hour supply of food and water, but also to store it safely and rotate the food to keep it appetizing and safe to eat.

  • Keep the foods in a cool, dry place.
  • Store in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend shelf life.
  • Throw out any canned goods that have become dented, show signs of corrosion or are bulging.
  • Use foods by their expiration/freshness dates and replace as necessary.
  • Rotate water storage annually.
  • Re-evaluate your food and water storage needs annually as families expand or get smaller in numbers.

The initial expense of time and money to establish a 3-day emergency food supply may seem daunting. However, once established, you can reduce the sense of fear, knowing you are prepared and can keep your family nourished during an emergency situation.


This article was written by Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu, 435-586-8132




Did You Know? Free Tax Assistance Programs

tax assistanceHave you filed your taxes yet this year? There’s a reason so many people opt to hire someone else to do their taxes for them— it can be a daunting task! Doing them yourself is a good way to save a little money. Today we’re featuring some free programs to help you get them done.


Spring is here, and you know what that means: tax season. If you haven’t filed yet, there are some great programs through Utah Tax Help that can guide you through the process of filing online or even file your taxes for you, depending on your household income.

Earn it. Keep it. Save it. is a coalition of Utah statewide partners from the public, private, and non-profit sectors and provides free tax preparation and filing assistance for people who make $64,000 or less and want to prepare their own federal and state tax return, FOR FREE, with limited assistance. To get started taxpayers need basic computer skills, internet access, an email address, a valid Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), and tax documentation.  CAP Utah leads this coalition.  T

To file your federal and state tax return for FREE visit,www.UtahTaxHelp.org (tax filing software is provided by unitedway.org/myfreetaxes).

If your household income is less than $54,000, you can qualify to have your taxes prepared for free at a VITA site located in many of your local communities.  Call 211 or 1-888-826-9790 and they can set up appointments in your area.  This Volunteer Income Tax Assistance service is provided by Earn it. Keep it. Save it Coalition.

1: Visit a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Site

You can file your taxes utilizing the skills and expertise of one of our IRS certified volunteers by visiting a designated Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. There you will be matched with a volunteer trained to assist you. If your household income is $54,000 or less you qualify to have your taxes prepared for free at a VITA site.

Call 2-1-1 or 1-888-826-9790 to schedule an appointment.

Find a VITA Site.

2: File Online Now for FREE

You can also file your taxes for free from the comfort of your own home. All you need is a computer, internet access, an email account, and all of your tax documentation. The process takes about 60 minutes. If your household income is $64,000 or less, you qualify to file online for free. 

File online for free now.

If you are going to file online for free make sure to download and print these instructions to help you through the process.

pdfDownload the instructions.

If you have questions or are experiencing difficulties (including if you are accidentally charged by the online software), please contact the national helpline:

  • 1-855-My-Tx-Help or 1-855-698-9435
  • Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday, 7:00AM – 8:00PM MST
  • Email support: info@myfreetaxes.com

Visit utahtaxhelp.org for more information on these great programs.




10 Tips for Romance on a Budget

Romance on a budgetYou don’t have to break the bank to add a little romance back into your relationship. Try these 10 tips to make it happen.


When couples first meet, romantic feelings are usually very strong and partners go out of their way to create romantic experiences together.  Over time, it can become challenging to find time, money and energy to create romantic moments together. However, creating romantic moments together does not have to be time consuming or expensive. Consider the following tips to reignite the romance in your relationship.   

  1. Candlelight dinner. Going out for an expensive dinner is a popular way to show your partner that you care, but is often reserved for special occasions because of the cost. Almost any meal (even take-out) can be made special by adding a nice ambiance of candles and soft music.  Just be sure to keep the television off and focus instead on having a conversation with your sweetheart. To make the night extra special, dress up in your best clothes to make it feel like you are at a special event.
  2. Express yourself. Take a moment to reflect on the things you really like or appreciate about your partner but often don’t say. Write them a short note and put it some place where it will surprise him or her, like their car’s dashboard or tucked inside their tablet case. While handwritten notes are a bit more personal, romantic text messages can also be a nice surprise.
  3. De-stress together. Forget about life’s challenges while watching a movie you both enjoy and giving each other a massage or a pedicure.
  4. Take a stroll. Going on a walk with you partner can provide a relaxing time to talk, and provide a boost of feel-good endorphins. For extra romance, try going for a walk at sunset.
  5. Get “board.” Board games are a timeless and inexpensive way of having fun together. To add some extra fun, decide on a prize that the “winner” will get such as a favorite treat or doing a chore for the other person, and be sure to make an effort to flirt with each other while playing.
  6. Catch some culture. Concerts or plays can make a fun date night but can also be expensive. As an alternative, check out the local newspaper and community websites for local band concerts, school plays and community-hosted events.
  7. Dream together. Escape from your current financial situation and let your imagination run free as you dream together about your hopes and dreams for the future. Consider creating a dream board or book of ideas and pictures that you can reflect on together at a later time.
  8. Get cozy. Snuggle up together in a blanket and enjoy the night sky together. For an added bonus, find a place to star gaze where you can also cozy up together in the glow of a small fire.
  9. Take a class together. Research indicates that couples who take time to learn relationship skills and insights together have stronger and happier relationships. Consider attending a healthy relationship class in your area or reading and discussing a relationship book or article aimed at keeping your relationship strong. Find classes and resources at www.strongermarriage.org.
  10. Expand your experiences. Attending community date nights can be fun because you can try new experiences and you can have a fun night out without all of the event planning! They also provide opportunities to interact with other couples who are committed to strengthening their relationships. Check out the low-cost date nights coming up this spring across the Wasatch Front found on www.strongermarriage.org under classes and events in Weber County.

This article was written by Naomi Brower, Utah State University Extension professor, naomi.brower@usu.edu, 801-399-8206




Water // The First Step for Family Preparedness

Water Preparedness.jpgWant to build up your family’s emergency supplies, but not sure where to start? A great first step is to store water. Find out how to get started here!


The human body is made up of 65 percent water, and it is necessary for our existence. Water helps our blood flow, carries oxygen and nutrients to our cells, flushes waste products from our body and even cushions our tissues and joints. It is also a critical component in food digestion. Water is fundamental for our daily life.

Providing for our water needs in the event of a disaster becomes a top priority, as water may have been interrupted or contaminated. Each person will need at least 1 gallon of water per day. For home storage, you should have at least a 2-week supply of water available for each person for drinking and sanitation. Water should be stored in food-grade containers such as glass jars, metal or plastic containers. Previously used juice and milk containers are not acceptable, as food proteins are difficult to remove, and the grade of plastic might not be adequate.

Treatments may be necessary if water is from a non-sterile source. Suggested methods are:

  •    Heat treatment-boil water 5-10 minutes. Use water bath processing for glass jars. 
  •    Chemical treatment Unscented Chlorine Treatment –8 drops per gallons (less than 1/8 tsp), or 2 drops per quart. Let stand for 30 minutes. For cloudy water, use 24 drops per 2 gallons (4 drops per quart). If still cloudy, repeat, let stand 15 minutes, and dispose if still cloudy. Water should have a slight bleach odor. If not, repeat and wait another 15 minutes. The treated water can then be made palatable by pouring it between clean containers several times. 

    Nearly all available liquid chlorine bleach is now concentrated. Amounts that are required for treatment are less than in previous years. Beware of expiration dates. If the bottle of bleach is older than 4 months, it should not be used as a water purifying agent. Bleach will dissipate after 1 year.

  •      Other forms of treatment are iodine, water purification tablets, distillation and filtration. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has recently approved the use of colloidal silver in low doses for maintaining microbiological quality of stored water.  

Additional emergency sources of water may be:  Potable water from pipes, water heater, ice cube trays and beverages. Do not use water from swimming pools, toilet tanks or waterbeds for drinking. Chemicals have been added to these, making them unsafe.

When potable (drinkable) water is properly disinfected and stored in ideal conditions, it should have an indefinite shelf life.  To maintain the optimum quality, water should be rotated every 6 months.    

Water storage is the first important step to preparedness. It is cost effective and something you can do today. Begin by storing in small containers, then work toward the 50-gallon barrels.  These should not be stored on the dirt or direct concrete, as they will absorb orders. Containers that are filled from the tap (city water) will not need treatments.  


This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, USU Professor




5 Steps to Spring Clean Your Finances

Get started on your spring cleaning—no elbow grease required! Try these 5 steps to spring clean your finances from USU Extension Family Finance Pro Amanda Christensen.


 

 




Cranberry Orange Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Cranberry Orange CookiesFresh orange and dried cranberries add a zesty flavor to these chewy, whole wheat cookies.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 6 T unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  •  1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 orange (for zest and juice)
  • 1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries*
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (for the icing)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Add vanilla and zest from 3/4 of the orange. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to butter/sugar/egg mixture, and mix until well combined. Stir in oats and dried cranberries.

Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet (I like to use silicone baking mats or parchment paper), about 1-2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cookies cool, prepare the icing. Mix together powdered sugar, remaining orange zest, and juice from half the orange until smooth. Drizzle a generous amount of icing over cooled cookies, and allow to set.

*Commercially dried cranberries often have a good amount of added sugar. In this recipe I used home-dried cranberries with minimal sweetener added.


This article was written by Marta Nielsen, blog editor for Live Well Utah, marta.nielsen@usu.edu




How to have Themed Family Mealtime

themed mealtime.jpg


Enjoying a family meal is a great way for families to bond and create lifelong memories, however it is something that some families struggle to do five or more times a week. A themed family meal can get all family members involved and put a spin on an everyday, mundane event. Here are some fun ways to start having family mealtimes or if you already have family mealtimes, change up the routine!

1. Have one night a week dedicated to a theme, i.e. Taco Tuesday, Meatless Monday, Wok Wednesday, Western Wednesdays, etc.

2. Try adding decorations to your meal to really get your family involved. Put a red and white checkered tablecloth on the floor and have your own picnic inside (if weather permits go all out and have a picnic outside).

3. Highlight a holiday each month and have a meal centered around it. For example, cook green foods or traditional Irish cuisine for St. Patrick’s Day.

4. Travel the world by cooking traditional dishes from different countries. Add some fun facts from that country for interesting family table talk!

5. Make it a whole night. Dinner and a movie -have dinner, some movie theater treats, and then watch a movie together. Try tying your movie into your dinner theme, like fried chicken and What About Bob?, or spaghetti with Lady and the Tramp.

6. Your very own chopped! Provide three ingredients to family members and let them come up with a meal for the whole family with other ingredients in the kitchen.

This month try something new with your family. Here are a few recipes to kick start your own St. Patrick’s Day themed dinner— or you could go with the classic corned beef and cabbage!

Irish Stew

  • 2 lbs stewing steak cut into small pieces
  • 8 large potatoes, diced
  • 4 to 6 large carrots, diced
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Brown beef and add to stewing pot or slow cooker along with juices. Add potatoes, salt and pepper, and 4 quarts water (more or less, as desired). Bring to a boil. Add carrots and onions. Simmer on low for 1 to 2 hours until potatoes can be pierced with a fork.

Optional variations: Add 1 to 2 cups of diced celery with carrots and onions. Add 1 to 2 tsp of dried thyme with potatoes. Use beef broth in place of water. If desired, you can add a little flour mixed with water (a roux) to the simmering soup about 20 – 30 minutes before serving to thicken broth, but traditionally, it is a fairly thin soup.

Recipe Source

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ Cup butter, softened
  • 1 Cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ Cup butter, melted
  • ¼ Cup buttermilk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and softened butter. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an ‘X’ into the top of the loaf.

3. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Check for doneness after 30 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.

Colcannon (Irish Potatoes and Cabbage)

  • 6 medium potatoes, washed, peeled (optional) and quartered
  • 2 cups grated cabbage
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 stems of green onion, chopped

Add potatoes to a large pot of boiling, salted water, and cook until tender, about 20 – 25 minutes. When the potatoes have cooked 15 minutes, add the cabbage and continue boiling until the potatoes are fork tender. Right before draining the potatoes and cabbage, add the chopped green onion and cook for one minute. Drain the potatoes and mash them. Add the milk and butter. Adjust milk if potatoes are too dry.

Recipe Source

Key Lime Meringue Pie

One baked 9-inch pie crust of your choice

Key Lime Curd:

  • Finely grated zest from 4 limes
  • ⅓ cup lime juice
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Green food coloring, if desired.

In top of double boiler, whisk lime zest, lime juice, sugar, eggs, egg yolks and salt. Whisk constantly until the mixture becomes thick, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter one piece at a time until smooth. Add a few drops of food coloring for a brighter green, if desired. Strain curd through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl. Line the surface of the curd with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Whip cream to soft peaks and fold into the chilled curd. Pour into completely cooled pie crust.

Meringue:

  • Egg whites from 4 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375° F with the rack positioned about 8-inches from the top of the oven. Beat egg whites for about 5 minutes and gradually add granulated and powdered sugars in a slow and steady stream. Add vanilla and salt. Increase the speed and beat for about 10 minutes or until the meringue becomes very thick.

Spread the meringue over the curd and cover up to the edges of the curd and crust. Swirl and create peaks using a spatula. Place pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating it halfway through the baking time. Meringue peaks should be a beautiful light golden brown with white “valleys”. Completely cool pie on a wire rack before chilling in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Best served the same day it is made.

Recipe Source 


By: Jaqueline Neid-Avila, RDN, CD Extension Nutrition Assistant Professor




Put Your Best Fork Forward!

National Nutrition Month 2017

You can make healthier food choices for yourself and your family. Take the leap this month to celebrate National Nutrition Month, and try to decrease the amount of added sugar in your diet.


March is National Nutrition Month and now is the time to go back to the basics of healthy eating. “Put Your Best Fork Forward” is the theme for National Nutrition Month 2017 and reminds us that we each have the tools to help us make healthier food choices. One way make to put your best fork forward this month is to reduce the amount of added sugar you consume. Added sugars have not only been linked to higher dental cavities but also type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Here are some tips to reduce the amount of added sugars you and your family consume:

  1. Check food labels and avoid foods with added sweeteners. Instead, fill your grocery cart with naturally sweet foods like fruits and vegetables (think bell peppers, carrots, and sugar snap peas). 
  2. Avoid high sugar beverages and drink beverages like milk and water instead.
  3. Cook from scratch. Try making your own granola or homemade baked goods. By cooking from scratch you are more in control of the ingredients and amount of added sugar. For example, try chocolate avocado frosting on your favorite cupcakes or brownies  for a low sugar recipe that uses a healthy fat (recipe below).
  4. Ditch the sweetened yogurt— a common source of added sugars. Eat plain yogurt flavored with naturally sweet fruit. You can also try mixing half flavored yogurt with plain, unsweetened yogurt. This will allow for you and your family to adjust your taste buds, eventually using less sweetened varieties.
  5. Develop a healthy relationship with food instead of focusing on completely removing sugar. Save the sweet treats for special occasions!

Chocolate Avocado Frosting

  •      2 very ripe avocados
  •      ¼ cup chopped baking chocolate (around 65% cacao)
  •      ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •      ¼ cup agave
  •      1 teaspoon vanilla
  •      ¼ cup almond milk/soy milk
  •   pinch of salt

Instruction

Melt the baking chocolate in the microwave (careful not to burn it). Let it cool slightly. In a food processor mix all ingredients together. Taste and adjust. Let chill in the fridge for at least 15 or so minutes.


This article was written by Jaqueline Neid- Avila, RDN, CD, Nutrition Faculty