Composting: A Creative Twist on Spring Cleaning

Author: Rebecca Mills 

Learning the basics of composting -

This time of year has us thinking about de-cluttering our homes and getting our yards and gardens ready for summer. In the process of all this spring cleaning, we often create a fair amount of trash. Everything from broken housewares to branches and yard trimmings are gathered up for the garbage man to haul away. But does it really go “away” or are there some better alternatives?

In 2013, solid waste disposal facilities regulated by the State of Utah collected more than 4 million tons of non-hazardous waste; this figure doesn’t include all the collection happening at private, city or county facilities across the state. Nationally, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that 251 million tons of trash were collected in 2012.

Despite advances in landfill technology, the vast majority of the garbage you want out of sight, out of mind becomes stationary in the landfill — some of it will be stationary forever because it will never break down into something usable in our soils.

 What is one thing you can do this spring/summer to make a difference?

Consider getting your yard ready for composting!

Yard and garden waste and food scraps amount to 28 percent of the total national figures on waste collected. When yard, garden and food waste go to the landfill, the nutrients still present in the material are wasted (no pun intended). In fact, large amounts of organic materials such as leaves and grass clippings produce adverse gasses as they decompose in the landfill setting.

Utah State University Extension has great resources on composting to help you get started.  Check out the many ways you can compost below. The benefits will be great: you’ll be saving the landfill of bulk and getting a useable product in return!

benefits of composting and how to do it



Mills, Rebecca author bio: Rebecca Mills, Extension assistant professor in family consumer sciences and 4-H youth development, loves all things agriculture, is a wife, a mother to other  people’s kids through foster care and 4-H, a wanna-be runner and tries to make each day a healthy day.  Follow her on twitter @ext4all

Coming up – Baby Animal Days

It’s that favorite time of year again – Baby Animals Days!

Baby Animal days Utah

Join us in Kaysville on May 9th and 10th for this fun family event!

Activities include:

• Baby Reptiles

• Come meet ducklings, chicks, bunnies, kids, lambs, piglets, calves, baby llamas and miniature horses

• Children’s Activities

• Horse Rides

• Sheep Shearing Demos

• Food Vendors

• Miniature Train Rides

• Climbing Wall

• Bouncy Houses

You can click over for a detailed list of activities, hours, prices and more.

You won’t want to miss this once-a-year event! See you there in 2 weeks!

baby animal days

Spring Clean Your Personal Finances

Author – Amanda Christensen 

Spring Clean your Finances

The weather is warming up and I am itching to set aside a day to spring clean my…personal finances! Wait, what? Was that a typo? Surely I meant to say something like, “spring clean the garage or the yard” right? Wrong! Instead of sweeping out the garage, cleaning gutters and scrubbing windows I’m setting aside a day to spring clean my family’s personal finances. It’s a baby-step process that’s simpler than you think! I’ve shared my guidelines and step-by-step tasks with you in the outline below:


1)      Set aside a day: Send the kiddos to the sitter, clear your schedule

2)      Both spouses participate together:

3)      Reward yourself when finished: Key to future success!


1)      Personal Property Inventory: Update or start from scratch

  1. Take photos of big ticket items and serial numbers.
  2. A little more work the first time, after that you’ll just add new and update
  3. Store in the Cloud or on a jump drive in a fire-proof safe.

2)      De-Clutter Financial Paperwork

  1. Shred last year’s statements
  2. Go green-buy a scanner
  3. Know what to keep

3)      Get a Free copy of Each of Your Credit Reports

  2. Equifax, Transunion, Experian
  3. How to fix incorrect info?

4)      Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

  1. Ask, “What do we want our financial situation to look like at the end of this year?”
  2. Set goals related to debt, savings, retirement, investments, estate planning, etc.
  3. Be nice to yourself! Make sure goals are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound.

There’s a satisfaction that comes with a clean home. It’s the same with your personal finances. What baby steps can you take today to get started? How would this help you clear the financial cobwebs in the corner? See me talk about this very topic on the local lifestyle style Studio 5.

Christensen, Amanda-42

Amanda is an Extension Assistant Professor for Utah State University. She has a master’s degree in consumer sciences from Utah State and is proud to  call herself an Aggie! Amanda loves teaching and enabling individuals and families to make smart money decisions. @FamFinPro.

Hula Hooping for Exercise – Health Benefits

Author: Paula Scott

Using hula hoops for exercise is becoming all the rage for three reasons – the hoops are cheap, you burn calories and it’s fun!

As a form of aerobic activity, the hula hoop can help firm, tone and burn body fat. The hoops used aren’t the standard toys you played with as a child; instead, these large, customized hoops are weighted especially for the activity.

There is only1hula hoop exercise you need to do. Simply twirl it around your waist (insert how to link from part 2 here). You don’t need to get fancy or anything. That’s it!

Hooping is good for the body, mind and spirit:

›Gets your heart rate up                                       ›Promotes laughter

›Burns fat                                                               ›Helps overcome shyness

›Increases your overall fitness level                  ›Promotes happiness

›Increases energy level                                       ›Focuses the mind

›Helps with weight loss                                      ›Encourages creativity

›Burns calories                                                      ›Boosts self-esteem

›Improves core strength

›Improves coordination

›Strengthens torso muscles

›Improves posture

›Develops rhythm

›Improves motor skills

›Enhances flexibility

The Hoop may be one of the best and cheapest exercise pieces you ever buy! 

hula hoop games


The key is to put one foot in front of the other instead of standing with your feet side-by-side. Start with the hoop against your back at your waist. Give it a gentle push to start the rotation around your waist and shift your weight back and forth between your front and back foot to keep the hula hoop moving. Don’t move your hips in a circle to keep it rotating because the opposite will happen. As you shift your weight back and forth, your hips make more of a rocking motion than a circular movement. Keeping the hoop twirling around your waist is the most important of the hula hoop exercises. In fact, if you’re strictly using the hula hoop for exercise and don’t have a lot of time, this is the only exercise that’s needed. It can be used anywhere and your waistline will really show improvement as the unwanted fat burns off the midriff and the stomach muscles tighten.


To use the hula hoop to tone muscles in the arms, extend your arm to the side and roll the hoop around your arm in a circular motion. The idea is to keep the hoop moving around your arm. This exertion works to firm and melt body fat.


You can do a similar exercise for the legs. To avoid losing your balance, lie on your back to work the legs. With one leg perpendicular to the floor, or at a slight angle, start the hoop spinning around your extended leg and keep it spinning for one to two minutes.


Stand in a standard position, but instead of spinning the hoop around your waist; work it around your hips. However, the standard around-the-waist position will help with your hips, too.

Join a hooping club to get more from exercise with a hoop. If you find yourself enjoying hooping and want to take it to the next level, there’s nothing like a guided workout. Many routines teach you to dance with the hoop for a full body workout.

To begin with, 2 minutes or less is probably all you’ll be able to do before you get tired. That’s fine. Your metabolism gets much more of a boost doing short mini-workouts throughout the day.

Have I got you convinced now to try HOOPING? It will be a fun way to sneak some physical activity into your kids’ summer days or laugh and make memories at a family reunion!

Check out the history of the Hula Hoop

How to Hula Hoop

Scott, PaulaPaula Scott is a Utah State University Extension associate professor.  She is the state director of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).  Paula is a master’s graduate of Utah State University.  She has worked in food and nutrition positions for approximately 20 years focusing on educating people in the community.  Paula co-authored a national nutrition education curriculum for nutrition paraprofessionals. She is a Certified Family Home and Consumer Scientist, with experience in food and basic nutrition, and has always been interested in exercise and fitness, promoting the importance of nutrition and physical activity.


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Hula Hooping is as Easy as 1-2 -3

Author: Paula Scott


Hula hooping is both a fun and energizing form of exercise. Recently we talked about how it got its start, but today let’s take action and do it! (insert link from previous post here) It takes only a little bit of practice to master the skill, along with a bit of flexibility.

 Here’s an Easy 3-step Lesson How to Hoop:

1. Make sure you have the right sized hula hoop!
If you’re using a kid-sized hoop, forget it! Most hula hoops that you can buy at stores like Target or Toys R Us are kid-sized. Unless you’re the size of a child, a child-sized hoop is not going to work for you — especially if you’re a beginner! You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache (and gain a lot of fun) if you make or buy a hoop that’s the right size for you.

What’s the right size? Try this: Stand with your hoop in front of you. The general rule of thumb to follow is that when the hoop is resting on the ground, it should reach somewhere between stomach and chest height. However, if you have an apple-shaped body and a large waist, you’ll want to compensate for that as well. The bigger you are, the bigger the hoop should be. The bigger the hoop, the slower it will rotate around your body and the easier it is to use. The smaller the hoop, the more challenging it is. Larger hoops will rotate slower, making getting started easier. Smaller than that will make the hoop rotate faster, which is more challenging, but also better for doing tricks and exercising.

FYI – Weighted hula hoops, which are available at most sporting goods stores, are bigger and heavier than traditional hula hoops. Remember, any type of hula hooping can be an aerobic activity — especially if you’re able to hoop for 10 minutes or longer at a time. You can use weighted hula hoops or traditional hula hoops as part of an overall fitness program or simply as a fun way to burn calories or add variety to your workout routine.

2. Take hold of the hula hoop.  Lower it down to about ankle level.  Step into it (with both feet).  Bring it up to just below your waist.

Hold it with both hands and pull it forward so that it’s resting against your back.  With both hands, fling the hoop to the left so that its inner edge rolls in a circle around your body. Do this a few times so that you get the feel of it.

3. Put one foot in front of the other, and shift your weight.  Hold the hoop against your back. You can start it a little above your waist. Then, push the hoop around your waist, and shift your weight back and forth on your feet to keep the hoop moving.

Easier said than done? Having trouble keeping it up? Here are some more tips:

Many people try to move their hips in a circle with the hoop. This actually makes hooping much harder. Try this: put one foot in front of the other and just shift your weight back and forth from foot to foot. It’s less of a circular hip motion and more of just a rocking or pumping motion.

In terms of which direction to hoop in, try ’em both! You’ll know right away which one is right for you. Right-handed people generally hoop counter-clockwise, while lefties go clockwise, but many people are exceptions to this rule.

Be Patient. It can take awhile to get the hang of it. Don’t give up! 

Scott, PaulaPaula Scott is a Utah State University Extension associate professor.  She is the state director of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).  Paula is a master’s graduate of Utah State University.  She has worked in food and nutrition positions for approximately 20 years focusing on educating people in the community.  Paula co-authored a national nutrition education curriculum for nutrition paraprofessionals. She is a Certified Family Home and Consumer Scientist, with experience in food and basic nutrition, and has always been interested in exercise and fitness, promoting the importance of nutrition and physical activity.




References used to create this article:

Get HOOPING this SUMMER – History of the Hula Hoop

Author: Paula Scott

history of the hula hoop

There are lots of ways to get exercise into your daily routine, but have you ever thought about hula hooping? It is a fun pastime that has been around longer than you may think! Here’s a little history about it that may make you consider giving it a try!

Introduction to Hooping

“Hooping” is a term for hula hooping with large, customized hoops. There are more and more people hooping all over America and around the world.

Historical Background

The hoop has a long history, which pre-dates the 1950s hula hooping fad by several thousand years.

The hula hoop is an ancient invention — no modern company and no single inventor can claim that they invented the first hula hoop. The Greeks used hooping as a form of exercise.

Around 1300, hooping came to Great Britain; homemade versions of the toy became very popular. In the early 1800s, British sailors first witnessed hula dancing in the Hawaiian Islands. Hula dancing and hooping look somewhat similar, and the name “hula hoop” came together.

Richard Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Melin founded the Wham-O company, which helped popularize another ancient toy, the Frisbee.

Knerr and Melin started the Wham-O company from their Los Angeles garage in 1948. The men were marketing a slingshot originally invented for training pet falcons and hawks (it slung meat at the birds).

This slingshot was named “Wham-O” because of the sound it made when it hit the target. Wham-O also became the company’s name.

Wham-O has become the most successful manufacturer of hula hoops in modern times. They trademarked the name Hula Hoop® and started manufacturing the toy out of the new plastic Marlex in 1958. The toy itself could not be patented because it was such an ancient concept.

Twenty million Wham-O hula hoops sold for $1.98 in the first six months.  In the first two years, Wham-O sold more than 100 million.

Older hoops have been made from metal, bamboo, wood, grasses and even vines. However, modern companies “re-invented” their own versions of the hula hoop using unusual materials, for example; plastic hula hoops with added bits of glitter and noise makers, and hoops that are collapsible.

Hooping began creeping back into the American collective cultural consciousness a decade ago. Today, these hoops have grown from a child’s toy into a fun and useful tool. While lots of kids still enjoy hooping, many adults have joined in as well.

hula hoop

Hooping vs. Hula Hooping

“Hooping” is a term for hula hooping with large,  customized hoops.  Hooping is way more fun than the hula hooping you remember as a child, because the bigger and heavier the hoop, the slower it rotates around your body. This means that even if you think you can’t hoop, with one of these hoops, you can! If you can walk, you can hoop!  Everybody can hoop, regardless of age, size or sense of rhythm.

Are you ready to give HOOPING a try? Tomorrow I will give you step-by-step info on just how to do it!


Scott, PaulaPaula Scott is a Utah State University Extension associate professor.  She is the state director of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).  Paula is a master’s graduate of Utah State University.  She has worked in food and nutrition positions for approximately 20 years focusing on educating people in the community.  Paula co-authored a national nutrition education curriculum for nutrition paraprofessionals. She is a Certified Family Home and Consumer Scientist, with experience in food and basic nutrition, and has always been interested in exercise and fitness, promoting the importance of nutrition and physical activity.




references used in this article:

5 Traits that Make a Family Strong

Author – Kathleen Riggs

Have you ever looked at another family and wondered why they seem to have it all together? Have you wondered what their family has that yours doesn’t? Every family has its issues, but all families can be strong. Let’s take a look at five tips to help create and maintain strong families.

build a strong family

* Caring and Appreciation. A strong, healthy relationship is a worthwhile goal for everyone. Showing care and appreciation for another family member helps adults develop their potential and it provides a model for children.

* Time Together. In some ways, time is like money—it seems like we never have enough of either one. However, the truth is, we tend to find the time or money for those things that are most important. How important is time with your family?

* Encouragement. All families face tough times occasionally. Healthy families have confidence that they will survive any crisis and come back even stronger.

* Coping with Change. All families develop habits, routines and a set of rules. These patterns help deal with day-to-day life and provide continuity and stability. In strong families, patterns remain flexible or adaptable enough to cope with crises or other changes. These may require changes in habits, rules, power structure, roles and division of labor or ways of performing family tasks and functions.

* Clear Roles. Members of strong families have a clear idea about their day-to-day roles and obligations to the family. Roles must be flexible and can be shared. For instance, it’s okay for someone who usually cooks to take over fixing the car because of a need, or even boredom!

According to the experts, if you work on one trait, it will benefit another area (the spill-over effect).

Looking for more? I’ve included four more traits  in an easy and downloadable PDF. Click over to read, save and also PIN this post to reference later! These traits were identified by researchers from the University of Missouri Extension Service. Details are in their training for families titled: Building Strong Families: Challenges and Choices. 

kathy riggs Kathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences professor for Iron County. She loves yard/garden work, where  her favorite tasks are weeding and mowing the lawn. Her favorite appliance is the microwave oven, and her specialty is microwave caramels. She  loves family time and occasions that bring everyone together from near or far.

SOS Mix Recipe

Have you ever heard of the SOS mix? It stands for Soup or Sauce mix and it is quick and easy. One of our agents, Debbie Proctor from Wasatch County, shared this little cooking “secret” on a famous Utah blog called One Good Thing by Jillee.

sos mix


We love how Jillee took this simple recipe and ran with it. She created the jar and a round label for the top with the instructions as part of her pantry makeover.

If you’d like the SOS mix recipe, hop over to One Good Thing by Jillee . You can also get more than 30 recipes for sauces, gravies, soups and casseroles including the SOS mix recipe by downloading the free booklet that Debbie and Ellen Serfustini, Carbon County Extension agent, put together.

When to Start Planting – Northern Utah

Author – Shawn Olsen
When to start planting garden in Utah

With the weather warming up, it’s time to start planning for the upcoming growing season. While each location has its own unique weather conditions, here are some tips for planting along the Wasatch Front.

The average date of the last spring frost will vary with location and elevation. Listed below are the 30-year average last frost dates for various cities.

City Average Last Frost*

Bountiful – Val Verda, April 17
Farmington, May 5
Midvale, May 13
Ogden, May 3
Provo – Airport, May 21
Provo – BYU, May 1
Salt Lake City – Airport, April 26
Salt Lake City – U of U, May 1
Salt Lake County – Cottonwood Weir, April 30
Tooele, May 7
Tremonton, May 3

*For more information on freeze dates and Utah’s climate, go to

hardy plants in the garden

Hardy plants like rhubarb, broccoli, cabbage and peas can be planted as soon as the soil dries out in the spring.

Group A: Hardy
Average Planting Date: March 15 – May 1


Group B: Semi-Hardy

Plant a week or two after “A” group or about two weeks before average last spring frost.
Average Planting Date: March 20 – May 1

Swiss chard

When to plant yor garden in Utah

Tender plants like summer squash, cucumbers and sweet corn  can be planted  around the average date of the last spring frost, about when first apples reach full bloom.

Group C: Tender
Average Planting Date: May 5 – June 1

Summer squash
Dry beans
Sweet corn
Snap beans
Group D: Very Tender

Plant when the soil is warm, about two weeks after “C” group.
Average Planting Date: May 20 – June 10

Lima beans
Winter squash

Want all this information in an easy, printable list? Download it here.

Interested in a user-friendly, 100+ page guide to successful vegetable and fruit production in Utah? Check out “A Guide to Common Gardening Questions” at:


Olsen, Shawn-14 Shawn Olsen is an Extension professor with Utah State University Extension in Davis County. He has recently co-authored two books on growing fruits  and vegetables in Utah gardens.

FREE Family Finance Camps

Improve your family’s money habits! FREE classes for kids and adults.

free classes

Kids will learn about wants and needs, their earning power and how they can spend, save and share. Adults will become familiar with Habitudes, budgeting, raising money-smart kids and getting their credit score to rise. Classes are held on Tuesdays in Ogden. Remember they are free, but you need to register. Call 801.399.8207.