Six Tips For Spring Cleaning Your Freezer

The weather is getting warmer, the flowers are blooming and spring is in the air! The scents, sights and temperatures are close to perfect. Getting organized and doing a bit of spring cleaning helps bring that wonderful fresh feeling into your home!

Start Your Spring Cleaning Off Right!

Many foods freeze well and are great to have on hand for family meals. It may take a spring-cleaning event to get freezer compartments cleaned, organized and ready for more food, but it will be well worth the effort. Consider the following freezer tips from the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

1. Choose appropriate and high quality food – As with other methods of home food preservation, choose foods at optimum freshness when freezing. For example, if you have fresh meat that has been in the refrigerator for several days before you decide to freeze it, the quality, once thawed, may be marginal at best. Not all foods freeze well. Such things as mayonnaise, cream sauce and lettuce may be frozen, but once thawed they are generally not very appetizing.

2. Package correctly – Proper packaging helps maintain quality and prevent freezer burn. It is safe to freeze meat or poultry in the original packaging, however this type of wrap is permeable to air, and quality may diminish over time. For prolonged storage, over-wrap these packages as you would any food for long-term storage. It is not necessary to rinse meat and poultry. Freeze unopened vacuum packages as is. If you notice that a package has accidentally been torn, the food is still safe to use, it will just need to be re-wrapped or over-wrapped.

3. Freeze quickly – Freeze foods quickly to maintain quality. Rapid freezing prevents large ice crystals from forming on and throughout the food. This may require dividing food into smaller containers or packages.

4. Watch for freezer burn—Basic guidelines for how long foods will store well in the freezer can be found here. However, freezer life also depends on how well the food is packaged and the temperature of the freezer compartment (0 degrees F. or lower is recommended). It is especially important to double or triple wrap foods to prevent exposure to the circulating air in a frost-free freezer since it will dry out foods and make them more susceptible to freezer burn. Freezer burn does not make foods unsafe, but it diminishes quality. It appears as grayish-brown leathery spots and is caused by air coming in contact with the surface of the food. Cut freezer-burned portions off either before or after cooking. Foods with heavy freezer burn may have to be discarded for quality reasons.

5. Date and rotate — Write the storage date on foods, and rotate packages regularly (place newest/freshest in the back and move older foods to the front or top) to prevent having to throw away older food that has been pushed to the back and forgotten. Freezing does not stop foods from ripening or stop enzymes, but it does substantially slow the process.

6. Practice safe thawing – Never thaw foods in the garage, basement or on the kitchen counter. Three safe ways to thaw food are in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. It is best and safest to thaw in the refrigerator. Small items may defrost overnight; most foods require a day or two. Large items like turkeys may take longer. Approximately 1 day for each 5 pounds of weight is recommended. For faster thawing, place food in a leak-proof plastic bag and immerse in cold water. Check the water frequently to be sure it stays cold, and change it every 30 minutes. After thawing, cook immediately. When microwave-defrosting food, cook it immediately since some areas of the food may begin to cook during microwaving.

Freezers are indeed a convenience to keep food on hand and to store large quantities of food. See the Food Safety and Inspection Service site, or contact your local USU Extension office for answers to specific questions.

This article was written by Kathy Riggs, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor.

4 Quick Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Safe Online Shopping

Have peace of mind while shopping online!

Check Before You Spend

As tax return season is fast approaching, you may have money coming your way. If you choose to spend it online, consider these tips to keep your personal information safe.

Choose online businesses wisely. If you’re not sure a company looks legitimate or that it is a safe online retailer, check it out on the Better Business Bureau’s website at www.bbb.org. Here you can find information about a company, both good and bad, that can help you make an informed decision.

Use a safe payment method. Do not shop online with a debit card. Credit cards are a safer choice since they have added security measures, and credit card companies hold you liable for much less in the event that someone gets ahold of your card information online.

Go directly to the source to make a purchase. Don’t click through an email or an ad on social media to get to the website. Going directly to the source ensures that you’re at the actual website instead of a phony site that’s been created to steal your personal information via phishing or other online scams.

Look for the “s” in the address bar of the browser. Before you ever enter your credit card information for an online payment, make sure you see “https” in the address bar of the browser.

The “s” helps you know the site is secure with measures in place to safely collect your personal information. The “s” isn’t always there in the address bar of the browser, but it should appear when you enter your payment information.

For more financial tips, follow @FamFinPro on Twitter or Facebook.

Upcoming Event: Marriage Survival Course!


Can Your Marriage Survive?

It’s a Jungle Out There!

Married, engaged, and seriously dating couples are invited to participate in a five-week course that will help couples enrich their relationship and build a healthier marriage.

Topics that will be covered in the classes include:
increasing commitment, communication skills, financial harmony, strengthening your relationship, and protecting your marriage.

Come join us for a fun evening while learning about healthy relationships. A light dinner will be served. Class size is limited.

Register here!

Tuesdays, March 1-29
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Wetland Discovery Point, Kaysville
$20 Per Couple for series, includes light Dinner

Tips for Incorporating Family Dinners


Enjoy the benefits of having dinner as a family!

Makin’ it Easy

Family meals benefit children both psychologically and academically.

Studies indicate that teens of all races, ages and ethnic groups who participated in family mealtime were better adjusted emotionally and socially, had better grades and had lower rates of negative behaviors such as alcohol and drug use (Satter, 2005).

In addition, family meals contribute nutritionally to a child’s development. Children and teens who participated in family dinners consumed less fat, soda and fried foods and more fruits and vegetables and nutrients (Gillman et al., 2000).

Despite the positive results of eating meals together, families often struggle trying to fit them in with sports, afterschool activities, workplace engagements, etc. But, even the busiest families can incorporate family mealtimes with a little planning and consistency.

Tips for Incorporating Family Meals:

• Set a goal:
You may not be able to eat every meal together, so start with twice a week and build from there.

• Keep it simple:
You don’t have to make a four-course meal every night. Making a veggie pizza or heating up leftovers counts. Add a salad or side of fruit for a complete meal.

• Plan ahead:
Keep ingredients for healthy meals on hand, including plenty of fruits and vegetables.

• Make it a family affair:
Get the entire family involved in meal preparation. Young children can stir and set the table and older children can cut vegetables for a salad.

• Use the crock pot:
Put all ingredients together before work in the morning. You’ll come home to a delicious meal that is ready to be served.

• Make it enjoyable:
Family meals are for nourishment, comfort and support. Ask each member to share something special that happened that the day.

• Turn off the TV:
Make sharing the meal the priority. Leave television, phone calls and texting till later.

Families share different activities and schedules, so family mealtimes are unique to each individual family. Even though there may be barriers, it is possible to make successful family meals happen for you and your family.


Gillman, M. W., Rifas-Shiman, S. L., Frazier, Rockett, H. R., Camargo, C. A., Field, A. E., Berkey, C. S., & Colditz, G. A. (2000). Family dinner and diet quality among older children and adolescents. Archives of Family Medicine, 9, 235-240.

Satter, E. (2005). Your child’s weight: Helping without harming. Madison, WI: Kelcy Press.

This article was written by Shannon Cromwell, Extension Assistant Professor

Family Volunteering // Benefits All Around


Find out how helping others can help your family!

Service with a Smile

Volunteering as a family can be fun, but it can also be challenging.

Telling the kids that you are going to go work somewhere as a family may not be received with a “Yippee!” However, knowing the benefits may make the scheduling and needed “family pep talk” worth it.

Families that took a volunteering survey reported the benefits of volunteering as a family.

Benefits reported by parents:
• It bonded them to their children and created a team atmosphere.
• The children got along better and recognized that they need each other.
• The children focused on someone other than themselves.

Benefits reported by children:
• They gained appreciation and respect for their parents for how much they care for the community.
• Siblings were seen as role models.
• It made them feel good.

Other benefits of volunteering as a family include:
• The experience of sharing experiences and values.
• Having fun as a family.
• Individuals and families can learn about new resources (education, social support, family services and financial assistance).
• Children gain real-world experiences and learn about careers
• Parent-child bonding can promote healthy development

In addition to the benefits of volunteering together, a study reported that there are also benefits to the individual family members.

Depending on what the family is volunteering for, opportunities where the baby can tag along can benefit their psychosocial needs. Parents are able to give consistent care and continue building trust.

Who said these little ones couldn’t volunteer? Toddlers can develop sensorimotor skills and language through the different experiences and environments of volunteering.

4-7 Year-olds
Volunteering provides opportunities to look at different choices and develop decision- making skills. Children can help decide where the family will volunteer and/or how to do the project. They can begin learning about responsibility and cause and effect.

8-12 Year-olds
Volunteering as a family provides school-aged children a safe environment for making mistakes, practicing skills and eventually succeeding at different tasks and settings. Children experience encouragement from parents and older siblings. Having flexibility in volunteer activities can be motivating.

It is not a secret that adolescents are working on figuring out their identity, values, beliefs and how to accomplish tasks. Volunteering as a family provides teens with parental examples of values and civic responsibility. They are also exposed to different experiences, learn new skills and gain new perspectives.

Young Adults
Family volunteering for young adults helps to maintain and strengthen family networks. Relationships may even be mended through the experience. Volunteering together helps meet the need to have healthy relationships in their lives through opportunities as simple as talking, learning something new and bonding.

Volunteering with children provides adults with the opportunity to share their culture, beliefs and values. Volunteering for adults promotes a sense of caring, compassion and empathy. They feed their need to give back by sharing experiences, knowledge and other resources.

Elderly Adults
Volunteering brings meaning and purpose to the life of elderly adults. Volunteering with family helps their mental well-being.

1Littlepage, L., Obergfell, E., & Zanin, G. (2003). Family Volunteering: An exploratory study of the impact on families. Center for Urban Policy and the Environment. Retrieved from: http://policyinstitute.iu.edu/Uploads/ProjectFiles/31_03-C05_Family_Volunteering.pdf

2Lewton, A. R., Nievar, M. A. (2012). Strengthening Families Through Volunteerism: Integrating family volunteerism and family life education. Marriage & Family Review, 48, 7, 689-710. DOI: 10.1080/01494929.2012.700909

This article was written by Zuri Garcia, Extension Assistant Professor, Davis County Extension

8 Top Tips for Strong Family Relationships


Follow these tips to help strengthen your family.

Strength Training

Today’s families face greater challenges than families of years ago. Family time can build strong family values, healthy relationships, and resilient family members.

Families that work together, eat together, talk together, and play together can better weather the storms that families will face.

Here are a few tips to help encourage quality family time:

1. Quality family time together in doing great activities such as games, hiking, reading, playing outdoors and visiting family and friends.
2. Meal time is family time. Families who eat 3-5 meals together a week have stronger relationships, kids who do better in school, and avoid risky behaviors. Plan simple meals where family members can assist with cooking and meal planning.

3. Take time for weekly family meetings where family members can communicate about emotions, family issues, family finance, family plans, and upcoming events. Make sure all family members have a chance to communicate and share.

4. Build a family crest that illustrates your family values. When children understand what is important to the family, they can incorporate these values into their lives.

5. Encourage a routine that schedules homework and reading time, limiting TV, video games, and computer time.

6. Share household responsibilities. Encourage all family members to have some responsibilities that help family members. Teamwork builds pride in each family member doing their part.

7. Show love and caring to all members. Share the great things family members do. Have a bulletin board, give “love notes”, and always praise the good things you want your children to do.

8. Keep spousal relationships strong. Parents need to keep their relationship strong and be sturdy role models to their children. Weekly date nights help parents focus on and enjoy one another.

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Extension Professor, Washington County

Are Your Linen-Washing Habits Out of Line?


Find out if you need to clean up your laundry act!

Laundry 101

How often do you change your sheets? How often is your kitchen towel swapped out? Do you use your bath towels for too long?

While these may be personal questions, they are still important questions to consider!

Fortunately, Teresa Hunsaker from USU Extension answers all of these questions and more during this video from Studio 5.

Watch the video to find out what Teresa has to say and see if your linen-washing habits need to be cleaned up!


5 Quick Tips for Managing Money as a Couple


These 5 tips will help you manage money as a team!

The Cost That Money Can Have

Successful couples have learned to blend their money styles by being in harmony with the way they build a budget and spend money. So how do they do it?

Everyone has a money style. Many people love to save, others enjoy spending and unfortunately some just don’t want to be bothered with thinking about money, and they are the avoiders.

Often spouses are opposite in their habits, which can work well; but unless they can discuss it and make a successful plan, it can lead to arguments and dissatisfaction in the relationship.

It may have been learned from parents or developed later in life, but everyone values money differently and has a preferred style for handling it. No style is right or wrong, but how it is handled is critically important.

Some regard money as a security and have a desire to save and protect it. Some enjoy spending money because it makes them feel good, and still some don’t want to even open an envelope that might have a bill inside.

Unless you understand how your partner values money, it can cause frustration in a relationship.

When a couple fails to communicate about how each person values money and there is not a financial plan, arguments often arise. Many unhappy marriages and divorces are a direct result of financial issues.

A strong relationship will put the value of money into what makes family members happy and content. Money will be used for meeting goals and planning ahead for the future. When you can build a financial plan, you will have the freedom to work on areas of need for your family.

Consider these tips for building a financial plan:

1. Discuss how you value money and what is important (saving, spending or not discussing it). Visit Olivia Mellan’s website if unfamiliar with money styles. Take the quiz at https://www.moneyharmony.com/moneyharmony-quiz.

2. Discuss your family goals for this year, the next five years and then for future needs and retirement.

3. Make a financial plan (a budget) where you can set aside money to save and money for charity. If things are tight, start where you can. Most financial planners will encourage you to set aside 10 percent for each of these; however, you can begin with less. Even a little can make a difference because it sets a precedence.

4. Set up a plan for your family needs and wants and review it monthly.

5. Be sure to set aside weekly activity nights for the two of you. Spending quality time together can help you discuss your financial plans in a more direct and positive way.

Couples with strong relationships have developed money management skills that work for them. For example, they set aside time each month to go over finances, talk about how they value money and set goals.

Generally one of the individuals will be the money manager; however, both should discuss and look at the plans each month. Both partners must be happy with the spending arrangement.

Understanding the value each person places on money helps build respect in a relationship. Both partners should have input about where the money goes.

Relationships are fragile, and money is a major issue. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have, but how you work as a team to plan and be content with your financial decisions.

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor

Ask an Expert // How to Avoid Investment Fraud

Avoid Ivestment Fraud Pic

Follow this advice to avoid being hornswoggled!

Mess-Free Investments

Research statistics on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) website show that eight in 10 individuals have been solicited about potentially fraudulent investment offers.

Con artists are successful because they eliminate rational behavior and prey on your emotion.

Financial fraud flourishes in Utah because of the strong entrepreneurial spirit and residents’ tendency to trust others. In order to avoid falling victim to a con artist, it is important to recognize common tactics and know where to go for help. (FINRA Foundation, 2016)

Common tactics of con artists include:

Reciprocity:Free lunch or dinner seminars, books or gifts are often used to guilt investors into giving an investment adviser money. A free lunch is not really free if you give away your life’s savings.

Affinity fraud: Con artists typically take advantage of commonalities they share with unsuspecting investors. They may claim to be part of your religious group, professional organization, an alumnus of your university or have children in the same school. Be cautious when someone tries to convince you that an investment decision should be based on a similarity.

Source credibility: Does the investment professional drive a very expensive car? Is he/she wearing very nice clothing or trying to impress you with credentials? Many times con artists will use their surroundings to lead an investor into believing they are credible.

Scarcity: Limited time offers on land, gold, securities and commodities are designed to pressure you into making a quick decision. Be cautious of secret deals or when they tell you not to share details of the opportunity with anyone.

Phantom riches: Some professionals will promise you extremely high rates of return to support a lifestyle that you dream of attaining. The average rate of return in the stock market is 10 percent; any promised return above and beyond the market average should be a red flag.

When in doubt, check it out. Before you invest:

Check out the person: FINRA keeps a detailed database of an investment professional’s history, credentials and licensure suspensions. To investigate a prospective investment professional, go to
BrokerCheck by FINRA.

Research the professional designations: Investment professionals can receive a number of licenses and designations. To understand licensure acronyms at the end of an investment professional’s name, go to: Investors Professional Designations.

Investigate the product: Transparency is critical. Company filings and event reports should be available if the investment has been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Search the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR) database at the SEC for information on 20 million investments.

Investment fraud is very common and costs consumers $50 billion a year. If you have been a victim of fraud, contact FINRA, the SEC or the Utah Division of Securities for help. Your experience could protect and save future investors from falling prey to fraudsters. For more information, call the Utah Division of Securities at 801-530-6600.

Keep 2016 Looking Bright

Looking Bright Blog
Keep up with those 2016 goals!

New Year, New You

Have you made your resolutions for 2016? If not, here are some amazing ideas to get the ball rolling. If you have, check this list and make sure that your goals are on-track!

Make sure your goals are SMART:

If you plan to set goals, make sure they are SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and has a Time frame. Add as many intermediate action steps to your goal plan as possible. A written goal with these elements puts your brain to work faster than if you merely have the thoughts in your mind. A few minutes each day taking action on your goals can put you farther ahead in attaining them as opposed to spending hours periodically. There are many goal setting resources on the internet to help you with the goal setting, planning and completion process.

Make your goals VISUAL:

Create a vision board with pictures and words of your goals. Put a frame around, which can be as simple as painter’s tape, to give your brain parameters on which to focus. Spending a few minutes a day concentrating intently on the images and words, 2-3 minutes in the morning and at night can be very effective. As you attain your goals, put your completed goals in a binder with the date you accomplished them. This will give you momentum to complete your goals faster. Again, there are many resources on the internet on vision boards, but one I like is 3KeyElements.com.


Even more important than knowing your credit score, which is often provided for free by credit card companies, is knowing that your credit history is secure and accurate. Incorrect information and fraudulent activity can affect your credit standing greatly. Annualcreditreport.com is the official site to get your free annual credit report for the three credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. If you stagger pulling your report throughout the year it will help keep a monitor on your credit. Consider getting your report in January, one at tax time and one in the fall.

Make some positive HEALTH changes:

You can find useful tips and tools for healthy activity and food choices on ChooseMyPlate.gov. Consider shopping more on the perimeter of the grocery store where you can find healthier choices such as fruit and vegetable produce and dairy and meats. Choose lean dairy and meats. Choose more whole grain products. Making your changes gradually is more effective than trying to do too much and giving up.

Monitor your ACTIVITY level:

Get a good device to track your activity level. If you are tracking steps, 7,500 – 10,000 is considered active, with 10,000 being the better goal of the range. Start where you are and add steps gradually till you reach your goal. Smart phones often have activity tracking options and there are many apps to help with tracking your activity and food intake. Be sure to check with a doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Strengthen your family RELATIONSHIPS:

Eating dinner together is a great way to increase family togetherness. The benefits of eating together are better communication, better nutrition and better well-being. Eating dinner around the table has greater benefits than watching TV while eating.

Make a PLAN:

If you have a business or plan to start a business, make sure you have a plan and the know how to run a successful business. Be sure you have thought everything through before starting a business. Many small businesses end within the first two years after having put a lot of time and resources into it. There are many business planning tools available through SBA.gov and SBDC.gov. Watch for the Garfield County Business Conference in March, which is open to everyone to attend.

Use the USU Extension Office as a RESOURCE:

Check your local County Utah State University Extension Offices for classes, resources and information on these and other topics. Or check the state USU Extension website extension.usu.edu for additional information, fact sheets and articles.

This article was written by SuzAnne Jorgensen, Extension Agent, Garfield County