Kid-Friendly Creations // Strawberry Ghosts

Strawberry Ghosts Post

A fun and easy kitchen creation for you and your little ones!

Spooky Strawberry Ghosts!

Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes


24 fresh strawberries (washed and dried)
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup chocolate chips
1 tsp. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla


1. Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.
2. Wash and dry strawberries. Make sure all of the excess water is gone or the chocolate will have trouble sticking to the strawberry.
3. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt white chocolate and shortening at 50 percent power; stir every 30 seconds until smooth. Stir in vanilla.
4. Hold strawberries by the stems and dip in melted chocolate, making sure to coat all sides. Place on cookie sheet.
5. Chill strawberries in the fridge for 10 minutes to allow chocolate to set.
6. Stick chocolate chips on each strawberry to create a face.

Chocolate Melting Tips!!

1. Make sure all utensils and bowls used to melt the chocolate are dry. Any amount of water will cause the chocolate to clump and harden.

2. To avoid scorching your chocolate in the microwave, melt it using a makeshift double boiler.

Makeshift double boiler:
1 medium to large glass bowl
1 medium saucepan.

Make sure the glass bowl is large enough that it rests on the rim of the saucepan. The bowl should be suspended a few inches from the bottom of the pan.

To use the double boiler, simply add water to the bottom of the saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Place bowl filled with chocolate on top of the pan and start stirring. In no time you will have perfectly smooth, melted chocolate.

3. If you’re planning on using your melted chocolate for an extended period of time, simply place your bowl of chocolate on a heating pad! It will be kept warm enough to use, but the risk of scorching will be avoided.


Photo Credit
Made it. Ate it. Loved it.

Closet Rescue // Creative Shoe Storage

Creative Shoes Storage

Follow these tips to help you make the most of your limited closet space!

Don’t Lose Your Shoes!

It’s easy to take your shoes off after a long day at work and simply throw them into a pile at the bottom of your closet. However, looking for a matching pair of shoes the next morning with this system is not quite so easy.

Fortunately, Teresa Hunsaker from USU Extension has thought of 7 ingenious ways to help you organize your shoe pile and maximize your shoe storage space.

Having your shoes organized will help you know where each pair of shoes is and will help keep your shoes in tip-top condition. Who knows, you may even organize so well you will have room for a new pair of shoes! 😉


10 Things You Should Do Before Saying “I Do”

I Do 2

Consider these tips to help you have a successful relationship and marriage!

Creating a Happily Ever After

Being in love is exciting and wonderful, and for some people it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of romance. Many people spend more time planning for a wedding than they spend planning for a marriage. Before deciding to tie the knot, consider these tips to help create a more happily ever after.

1. Ask: Am I ready? The happiest relationships are built on a foundation of two happy and healthy people who are ready to take on the challenges of a new life together. Those who are ready to be in a long-term relationship have dealt with their own personal challenges and issues and are not looking for someone to make them happy or to “fix” them in some way (or vice versa).

2. Take time. In order to really get to know someone, it takes talking (mutual self-disclosure) + being together (in a variety of situations) + time (at least 90 days) (Van Epp, 2007). Because we are usually on our best behavior when we first meet and it takes time for patterns of behavior to emerge, this is a process that can’t be rushed, even if you spend a lot of time together.

3. Be extra cautious in long-distance relationships. While online dating is a common way to meet people, steer clear of commitment without spending a lot of time in person in many different situations. It is easier to show only our best selves in long-distance relationships.

4. Play detective. Ask deep and meaningful questions that will help you know if you are compatible with the person you are dating. For example, check out these 10 Questions to Ask Before Saying I Do. To make sure we aren’t biased about how we are viewing the person we are dating, it may also be helpful to think about how others might view him or her, or even ask others about their opinions and listen for warning signs you may have missed.

5. Start to become part of the family. Much of who we are was learned from growing up in our family, so we can learn a lot about what someone will be like as a partner and parent from observing, asking questions and spending time with their family. If there are concerns about a partner’s family or negative traits that a partner has learned from his or her family, you may want to think twice before getting too serious. While change is possible, it takes time and effort, and it is much easier to change before getting into a serious relationship.

6. Watch for personality compatibility. While we probably won’t have everything in common with our partner, happy relationships often have many of these traits in common: emotional temperament, sense of humor, intelligence, energy levels, similar recreation interests and how affection is expressed.

7. Be aware of each other’s values. Some of the biggest arguments in relationships relate to those things we value most because we have strong feelings and opinions about them. Having similarities in how religious/spiritual you are, having common financial views and goals and having similar views about family life are all major factors in lasting relationship satisfaction.

8. Watch for daily life compatibility. While it may not be romantic, the truth is that most of the time we spend with someone in a long-term relationship will be in the everyday routine of life. Consider such things as: Who will earn and manage the money? How will household responsibilities be divided? How will free time be spent? The answers to these questions can be crucial to the happiness of relationships.

9. Learn conflict resolution skills. Because we are all different, conflict is inevitable in even the happiest of relationships. When handled in a positive manner, overcoming conflict can strengthen relationships. Having a conflict plan in place can be helpful. Begin by setting the ground rules, such as choosing when and where to deal with conflict and remember to practice good listening and communication skills.

10. Plan now to keep your relationship strong. Just like cars, relationships need regular preventative maintenance in order to run smoothly and prevent problems. Research suggests that relationship education (such as attending a class or reading a relationship book together, etc.) can help relationships stay strong. Consider what you will do as a couple to keep your relationship strong.

For more information and class schedules on relationships, visit HealthyRelationshipsUtah.org.

This article was written by Naomi Brower, USU Extension associate professor

Top 10 // Ways to Practice Money Management with Kids

Teach Kids Money

It’s never too early to start educating your kids about money!

10 Ways to Practice Money Management Skills

If you teach them, they will learn. One of the most important things that parents can do to help their children develop positive money attitudes and behaviors is to get them involved with the real life, day-to-day financial workings of the family. Additionally, children need opportunities to earn, spend, and save money.

1. Hold regular family discussions about money with specific details about the family’s income and expenses.

2. Keep a family income and spending log/diary for 30 days (individual family members can also do this for their personal income and spending).

3. Solicit ideas (and commitments), especially from older children, on how to reduce spending – allow children to keep a % of the savings resulting from any of their cost-cutting efforts.

4. Have older children participate in monthly bill paying and grocery shopping. Teach them about sales and coupons.

5. Have an older child teach a younger child an important money concept.

6. Have family members get together and make short, medium and long term savings goals. Have each family member sign the agreement, and then post it in a prominent location of the home to remind everyone of the things they are working towards.

7. Have children develop a specific family spending goal (vacation, big screen TV, etc.). Allow them to contribute some of their allowance or earnings toward the goal.

8. Have each child set personal earning and spending goals. Regularly discuss progress and setbacks. Teach them to avoid compulsive buying.

9. Given a certain amount of money, regularly have children plan a meal, purchase the ingredients, and prepare the meal.

10. Regularly have a “no -frills” entertainment night (“old fashioned” board games, $1 video rental, talent shows, sandwiches in the park, storytelling, etc.). Fun activities don’t have to be expensive.

This article was written by Margie P. Memmott, M.S., C.F.C.S., Juab County.

Get Creative! // Storage in a Small Space

Storing Food

Here are some fun and creative ways to store food and emergency supplies when space is tight!

Becoming the Master of Disguise

September is National Preparedness Month, and for many people that means stocking up at the case lot sale, storing water and updating 72-hour kits. However, not everyone has the luxury of ample storage space. For those who live in a small house, apartment or dorm, finding a place to store extra food and emergency preparedness items can be a challenge.

Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension associate professor, said it might require a little creativity to find storage space, but it can usually be done.

“Closets are great places to start since there is often unused space,” she said. “Food can be stored in the very top back shelves that you can’t use or on the floor in the back of the closet. Also consider the back of cupboards where access is difficult. For instance if you have number 10 cans, you can store them in the back of the cupboard and leave them, then place the foods you use regularly in front of the cans.”

In addition, the space under beds can be used for storing food and water, she said. Short-term storing of water in the garage is an option, but be aware of temperatures. Heat will not hurt or crack the plastic but the cold will.

“You can also get creative by filling two 5-gallon buckets or totes with food storage items and making a TV stand with a 5 foot, 2X12 piece of wood across the buckets and a tablecloth over the top,” she said. “Or make a coffee table by using three or four buckets or large totes with a cloth on top. A bedside table can be made using one bucket or tote. There are many furniture/storage possibilities if you look at your space and come up with a plan.”

Washburn said to store food in a cool, dark location when possible, and to keep it out of direct sunlight and moisture.

She said the top 10 foods to include in food storage are wheat; beans, legumes and lentils; white rice; pasta; dehydrated fruits and vegetables such as raisins, apples or tomatoes; nonfat powdered milk; sugar including honey or jam; oil and/or olive oil; salt, soda and baking powder; and nuts or peanut butter.

The top 10 foods for students to store include wheat; beans (chick peas, lentils that are easy to reconstitute); pasta; rice; canned meats including tuna, sardines and chicken; jam or honey; peanut butter; dehydrated fruits and vegetables such as raisins, apples or tomatoes; nonfat dehydrated milk; and beef jerky and cheese, which only have a 6-months shelf life, but provide good nutrition and are easy to grab.

Washburn said to be sure to have a 72-hour kit for each person and to include a solar cell phone and flashlight charger in case the power goes out.

“Besides the food and emergency kit, also be sure to store as much water as you have storage space for,” she said. “Recommendations are 1 gallon per person per day.”

When we become prepared for an emergency, we can reduce fear, anxiety and loses, Washburn said. Food storage preparedness can provide security and alleviate fear. Becoming better prepared strengthens families and communities.



This article was written by Julene Reese

What’s for Dinner? // Mashed Potatoes and Happy Families

Family Mealtime

Make the most of family mealtime!

Bonding Over Brisket

With the average husband and wife both having to work full-time, or a single mother or father juggling the children and work, sitting down to have dinner together is probably one of the most difficult but important things a family can do.

Sitting down together at the family table and talking to each other about the events of the day without interruptions from the TV or other electronic devices has proven to be very beneficial.

Families should ensure spending time together is built into their weekly schedule. And since we all have to eat, why not make it a point for family time to be spent sharing a meal together?

Here’s how family mealtime will benefit your family beyond the dinner table:

• Encourages better nutrition. According to the FDA, Americans now consume about one-third of their total calories on foods prepared outside the home. The Center for Disease Control has linked obesity to the propensity of Americans to eat in restaurants where portions are large. Home cooking allows a family to select healthy ingredients, tailor meals to suit its own particular nutritional needs and tastes, serve portions appropriate to age and activity level and monitor methods of preparation.

• Saves money. According to the National Restaurant Association, Americans spend 45 percent of their food budget dining out. A family that eats most meals cooked at home saves substantial food dollars.

• Promotes long-term health care savings. Consistently eating high-calorie, high-fat foods can lead to obesity and heart disease, among other chronic issues. Eating healthier, home-cooked meals and adopting a healthier lifestyle will leave a person less likely to develop these health conditions. This practice will save money in the future on costs related to health care and prescriptions.

• Builds life skills. Manners and etiquette help build character and self-esteem, and help build a positive environment. Eating together provides the opportunity to test drive etiquette and manners. Family mealtime is a perfect occasion for everyone in the family to learn how to set the table, prepare food and clean the dishes. Parents are able to role model healthy eating habits and table manners during family meals.

• Strengthens communication skills. The number one source of conflict in a family is lack of or mis-communication. Conversations during the meal provide opportunities for the family to bond, plan, connect, and learn from one another. In a series of focus groups conducted with low-income program participants by the Nutrition Education Network of Washington, participants said they believed that the primary benefit to eating together was strengthening relationships by providing opportunities for communication. Other studies report similar perceptions on the part of parents.

Other things happen during mealtimes as well, including: socialization of children; establishment of family unity, safety, and security for children; and increased literacy and language development.

Data suggests that eating dinner as a family can provide positive life-improving benefits. These benefits for children, especially adolescents, have been shown to cross racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines, but some glaring distinctions exist between families who share meals and those who don’t.


Campbell, C. Bond with your Family: Eat Together. http://powertochange.com/family/bonddinner/.
Jan 13, 2012
Forthun, L.F. (2008a). Family Nutrition: The Truth About Family Meals. Gainesville, FL: Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication number: FCS8871. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1061
Hand, B. The Benefits of Eating Together, The Family Who Eats Together Stays Together. Retrieved April 10, from http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=439.

This article was written by Paula Scott, Utah EFNEP State Director, Heidi LeBlanc, Food $ense State Director and Debra Christofferson, Utah Food $ense Assist. Director.

Utah Prepare // Emergency Preparedness Made Easy

Utah Prepare

Saturday, September 12, 2015
South Towne Expo Center, Sandy, Utah
Utah’s Largest One Day
Preparedness Conference and Expo
50+ Exhibitors  |  30+ Preparedness Classes

Utahns interested in learning about emergency preparedness can visit the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for workshops, speakers, emergency preparedness vendors, door prizes and giveaways.

“We began this Utah State University Extension-sponsored conference in 2009 to help people understand that there are things they can do to be in charge, even when there is much out of their control during an emergency,” said Teresa Hunsaker, USU Extension family and consumer sciences agent. “By thinking ahead and having necessary items on hand, they can better ride out the storm, so to speak.”

Workshop topics include mock root cellars, meals in minutes with food storage, sheltering in place, emergency fuel storage, emergency communications, emergency childbirth, powerless cooking, special needs preparation, survival tips from the experts, water purification, preparedness and terrorism, water and emergency first aid.

Keynote speaker is Lori Prichard, morning anchor for KSL TV, who will share her first-hand experience with preparedness while in Joplin, Missouri.

“We really try to have this be a one-stop shop where Utahns can become educated and learn what they can do to help themselves, their families and their pets in the event of a barrage of emergency scenarios,” said Hunsaker. “Our goal is to help keep damage and casualties to a minimum should one of these events take place.”

Cost of conference is $5. Tickets are available online or at the door.

Find more information at utahprepare.com

You Can Can, But Can you Can Safely?

Can you Can?

Make sure you’re canning your food safely!

Three Simple Steps to Safe Canning

Preserving your own foods can save you money and is a great way to know what is in the foods you eat. It is important to follow the safest canning guidelines and use up-to-date equipment to ensure your product is safe.

1. Be sure to check the source of your recipe. Extensive research and testing have resulted in scientific-based guidelines, which are the safest. To ensure you are using a science-based resource, your recipe and guidelines should come from Utah State University Extension, The National Center for Home Food Preservation, University of Georgia or The Ball Blue Book. Information should have been released after 2009. No other sources, including recipes on the Internet, can be presumed safe.

2. Pressure canner gauges should be tested once a year. Low-acid foods should be canned using a pressure canner. Watch for pressure canner gauge testing by your local Extension office in your area.

3. Attend a class to ensure you are current on your canning techniques. Look for a MASTER FOOD PRESERVER Course in your area. This class is an in-depth series on food preservation for optimum food safety in all areas of food preservation including pressure canning, water bath canning, dehydrating, and freezing.

For more current information on canning and food preservation, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation online at nchfp.uga.edu or extension.usu.edu/canning.

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

Emergency Checklist // Are You Prepared?


Overwhelmed by emergency preparedness? Here’s a simple checklist to help you get started!

Preparing to Prepare

Have you ever wondered how to prepare for an emergency? Here is a checklist of basic emergency preparedness questions that need answers if you are to be safe in an emergency.

If you answer NO to any of them, take time to work on getting them completed.


If you are to evacuate your home, do you and your family have an identified common meeting place?

Have you established an out-of-state contact? Does each family member know the name, phone number and address of this contact?

Do you have a working emergency radio to receive emergency instructions?

Do you have a functional flashlight in every occupied bedroom? (Candles are not recommended unless you are sure there is not a natural gas leak nearby.)

Do you have a first-aid kit in your home and each vehicle? If you have a motor home, be sure to put one in there too.

Do you have work gloves and basic tools for minor rescue and clean up?

Do you have emergency cash on hand? (Small bills and coins. During emergencies or loss of power, banks and ATM machines are closed.)

Have you stored/rotated a month’s supply of needed medications?

If you wear glasses/contacts, do you have an extra pair in case of breakage?


Do you keep shoes (not sandals) near your bed to protect your feet against broken glass and other objects that may be on the floor?

Does your family know what to do before, during and after an earthquake or other emergency situation?

Do you have heavy unsecured objects hanging over beds that can fall during  an earthquake?


If water lines are ruptured, do you know how to shut off the main water line?

Can the main water valve be turned off by hand without using a special tool?

If a special tool is needed to shut off the water main, do you have one near the turn off or know where to find one in an emergency?

Do you know where the main gas shut-off valve to your house is located?

Natural gas valves need a special tool to turn off. Do you have one nearby?

Without electricity and gas, do you have the means to heat at least part of the house?

Do you have means to cover broken windows and doors?

Do you have a plan for toilet facilities if there is an extended water shortage?


Has your family rehearsed fire escape routes from your home?

In case of a minor fire, do you have a fire extinguisher? Do you know how to operate it? Is it charged?

Do you have working smoke alarms in the proper locations in your home?


Do you have duplicate keys and copies of important documents stored outside of your home or in your evacuation kit?

Do you have a copy of your will, trust and insurance papers that can be taken with you?

Do you have a copy of your household inventory (CD or photos with serial numbers, etc.) for insurance purposes?


Do you have a supply of food, clothing and fuel (where appropriate) for 1 month, 6 months or 1 year?

Do you have sufficient food?

Do you have means to cook food without gas or electricity?

Do you have sufficient water for drinking, cooking and sanitary needs?

Do you have a 72-hour evacuation kit? Could you or someone in your family carry it?

This article was written by Christine Jensen

christine-jensenChristine Jensen has been employed by Utah State University Extension in Emery County for 15 years.

Quick, Kid-Friendly Lunches on a Budget

Kid Lunches

Make lunches your kids will love!

How to Win the Battle

Now that school is in full swing, mornings are filled with getting ready, making lunches and heading out the door in a timely fashion.

When it comes to busy mornings, healthy lunches are one of the first things that get removed from the radar! Have you thought much about the food you toss in your child’s lunch box each morning? Is the meal balanced with a variety of nutrient dense foods your child loves?

Right now you are probably saying “My kids won’t eat healthy foods! And I don’t have time or money to make healthier lunches!” Well, we have some tips to make this mealtime a bit healthier and less stressful without breaking the bank.

Here are a few tips for making healthy lunches for children on a limited food budget!

1. Plan lunches before the week starts to make sure you have all the ingredients you need to make healthy lunches. This prevents unplanned visits to the grocery store, which saves time and money. Also consider what you will be eating for dinner that week so you can use leftovers!

2. Involve your kids by inviting them to help you make a list of grains, proteins, dairy products, and fruits/veggies they would enjoy eating at lunchtime. To save some money, have children look through the grocery ads and circle the items from each food group they would like in their lunches that week. They will enjoy getting to help create their own lunches and it helps make sure your not spending money on food that will go to waste later.

3. Make preparing lunches a family activity. Preparing daily lunches for your kids doesn’t just have to be a task you do by yourself. Spend a few minutes each night together gathering items they picked out from each food group to create a unique lunch for them to have the next day. Try giving your children options. Cheese stick or yogurt. Carrot sticks or cucumber slices. This way, they get a say in what they will eat which increases the likelihood they will actually eat it and less food will be wasted. This allows you to prepare a healthier meal for your child without having to sacrifice time during your busy morning.

4. Make healthy lunches fun for kids by cutting foods like fruit, veggies, cheese, and bread into fun shapes like stars or hearts. Use cookie cutters to save time. Try making an open face sandwich with different veggies as the eyes, nose, and mouth. You can also let your child pick out a lunch box at the beginning of the year so they are excited about bringing lunch each day! Making food look fun is one large step towards helping your children eat healthy foods at lunchtime.

5. Make it tasty! Still having a hard time getting your kids to eat fruits and vegetables? Try adding a special dipping sauce like a salad dressing, hummus, or fruit dip to increase acceptance. Having something to dunk fruits and veggies into makes them fun and tasty!

Here is one idea of a quick and simple lunch to put together for you kiddos.

Sandwich Kabobs

This kid friendly recipe takes simple foods and puts them together in a unique way. All you need is meat, cheese, lettuce, bread and tomato (or any other veggie your child likes). Cut the foods into 1 in sections and slide them onto a skewer for a kid friendly kabob! Add a side of grapes, pretzels, carrots and celery to make a meal. Within minutes you have yourself a fun and healthy meal for your child’s lunch.

To get your children involved in this recipe, have them pick out and wash the produce. They can also help put the food on the skewer in whatever order they want!

This article was written by Mateja Savoie Roskos MPH, RD, CD, CNP and Sheri Winn

Mateja Lady2

Sheri Winn2