Stress Less for the Holidays

Stress Less for the Holidays

Holiday Stress

Holiday Stress
Photo source: Dorothy Lee

Tis the Season Merry and Bright:

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve there are greater incidences of stress and tension related headaches and migraines. Family stresses, long shopping lines, and unrealistic expectations are enough to trigger tension headaches even in people who are not headache prone. To avoid these aches and pains a strategic plan may be necessary. 

Planning is crucial not only at the holidays but throughout the year.  Having a plan and being organized makes everything easier and more manageable.  The key is to start early and don’t wait until December. This is where Christmas in July becomes useful thinking. 

The following are some tips to help avoid stress during the holiday season.  Make a schedule that includes all tasks you have to complete, how long you think each task will take, and when each task needs to be completed.  This is why Santa makes a list and checks it twice.

  •             Start shopping early to reduce time wasted in long lines with early-bird hour sales
  •             To avoid long period of times wrapping, shop in stores where gift wrap is free
  •             Shop on-line while drinking your coffee in your pajamas
  •             Track your purchases in a notebook or in note section of your cell phone
  •             Prioritize your social events and don’t spread yourself too thin
  •             Use your computer for online postal mailing to avoid lines at the post office
  •             Instead of mailing gifts, order gifts on-line, and have gifts directly sent to gift recipient
  •             Practice relaxation and stretching to reduce stress
  •             Establish a spending limit and stick to it

Be realistic about how much you can do as nobody likes a cranky Santa.  By following these tips, you will be as jolly as old Saint Nick.

Enjoy the holiday season with family and friends as it is the greatest gift you can give yourself.  And remember, laugher is the best medicine for stress! 

Happy Holidays!

 

       

 

           

      

 

Dine In:  Thanksgiving Favorites

Dine In: Thanksgiving Favorites

FCS Ine In Day December 3 Banner

FCS Dine In Day December 3

What’s your favorite family meal? Is it an event like a picnic or Super Bowl Party? Is it reoccurring like Wednesday night church dinner? Maybe it’s an annual meal like Thanksgiving. Check out some of these special Thanksgiving meals, then think about a favorite meal for your family to share on Dine In Day.

What about Sweet Potatoes?

I think my favorite holiday meal story is from about 10 years ago when our oldest daughter was away at college.  She asked me what we were going to have for Thanksgiving Dinner and as I went through the list she said, “what about sweet potatoes?” to which I answered “but you don’t like sweet potatoes”.  Then she said, “No, I don’t, but I they’re supposed to be on the table at Thanksgiving”!

It’s such a tiny thing, but it touched my heart because it meant she had fond memories and that our family holiday dinners meant something to her!  PS – now she loves sweet potatoes and serves them to her family all the time!   Susan H.

My “Found” Family

Favorite Fall Things: pumpkins, scarecrow, leaves, flowers, and multi-colored corn

Favorite Fall Things
Photo Source:: Angela Hinkle

My favorite family meal of the year is on Thanksgiving, with my “found” family in Bradenton. Especially now that I live in Tallahassee, taking the trip down there to spend a few days with my best friend and her crazy family is definitely a highlight. It’s even more special now since I don’t get to see her every day anymore.  Plus? Turkey and deviled eggs! Yummy.   Sam K.

Memory We Will Always Cherish

My favorite meal happened 6 years ago during Thanksgiving. It was the first year that I hosted my own Thanksgiving dinner and my husband and I invited everyone we knew- family, friends, coworkers. We had 30 people share their holiday with us and we had so much fun. It was a lot of work and a lot of cooking, but it was so special to us. That day we were able to honor the ones we loved by hosting them and sharing that experience. One day, we will do that again. But for now, it’s a great memory that we will always cherish.   Christina W.

Imagining Warm and Cozy

One of my most memorable meals was Thanksgiving when I was in the 11th grade. My family decided to go camping in our pop-up camper for the weekend at a nice campground in central Florida. In keeping with the season, a cold front passed through that weekend, dropping the temperature significantly. Our little camper did not have a heater, so we shivered in our bunks and scurried to the central bathhouse, passing motor homes and travel trailers with condensation on the windows, imagining how warm and cozy their occupants must be. Despite the frigid temperatures, we enjoyed a campground-wide Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings in the community room. We made fond memories of the weekend, which we still laugh about, and are thankful for a warm house and the comforts and conveniences of home to enjoy the holiday and everyday meals with family and friends.   Judy C.

 

FCS Dine In Day circle logo

FCS Dine In Day

December 3rd is Dine In Day.  It’s a chance to make a commitment to have a meal at home with family. Research tells us families are healthier in so many ways when they eat at home together. So, make the decision to eat with your family at home this December 3rd.  Maybe you can tell us about your favorite family meal or be inspired to make new ones – for Thanksgiving or any time of year.

 

Peanut Butter Helps Hurricane Victims

Peanut Butter Helps Hurricane Victims

You want to help but don’t know how? Maybe you don’t have much money and you don’t have skills, time, or transportation to get to hurricane Michael victims for clean up or rebuild. One easy, low-cost way to help is peanut butter.

 Yes, peanut butter helps hurricane victims

Peanut butter tastes good. It is safe at room temperature – no need to refrigerate or heat. Great when there is no electricity. And it’s super easy. Spread on bread or nosh on a spoonful.

Nutty for Peanut Butter
Photo Source: Angela Hinkle

“I am so hungry. What are we going to eat?”

These words were repeated throughout affected areas of the Florida panhandle after the Michael disaster ripped through towns. Peanut butter was the answer for many. A great filler upper loaded with important protein.

The Peanut Butter Challenge

During the months of October and November, UF/IFAS Extension offices in the Florida panhandle are collecting peanut butter for the Peanut Butter Challenge. Peanut butter is dropped off at collection sites by gracious donors – like you. Then at the beginning of December, the peanut butter is distributed to hungry families in need at local food pantries. Because so many of our family, neighbors, and friends were affected by hurricane Michael, much of this peanut butter will also be headed to them this year.

Peanut Proud

Peanut Proud and others have already donated 36,000 jars of peanut butter to affected areas. While many jars will be “spread” throughout all Florida panhandle county pantries, much peanut butter will be distributed to hurricane Michael affected areas.

Gift Cards

Looking for other ways to help. Gift cards to Home Depot, Lowes, Ace, Walmart, etc. are greatly appreciated. These cards allow people to get what they need. No guesswork involved.

To find out how and where to donate as well additional recovery information, contact your local Northwest District UF/IFAS Extension office. University of Florida IFAS directory

4-H Sewing Camp

4-H Sewing Camp

Have you ever read the book Something from Nothing, by Phoebe Gilman?  It is a wonderful story, with a sewing theme, of sewing/creating something beautiful over and over again.   My fervent hope is that the 4-H sewing camp participants feel the same way about all of their creations generated during sewing camp!

Recently, the Tallahassee Chapter of the American Sewing Guild (ASG, part of a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the art and love of sewing) generously volunteered their time, talent, and supplies to enrich the experience of every 4-H sewing camp participant.

The ASG philosophy, coupled with the 4-H history of helping youth “learn by doing” is a good fit. Both organizations focus on teaching new topics and life skills development through experiences thus enhancing self-confidence through skill building.

In today’s world, sewing is seemingly no longer a necessity.  Sewing can even be expensive!   But, can we put a price on self-confidence or creativity, sustainability or even a life skill?

4-H Sewing Campers Photo source: Heidi Copeland

Think of all the things learned while sewing.  Sewing helps teach:

  • Finger dexterity and the development of fine motor skills.
  • The value of patience.
  • Systematic following of directions – both verbal and written.
  • Creativity!
  • Vocabulary as well as techniques.
  • Pride in accomplishment for a job well done!

Moreover, sewing truly integrates science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).  And it is FUN!  Campers:

  • Learned first-hand about fibers (science).
  • Experienced technology using various sewing machines and equipment – some even computer driven.
  • Became adept at trouble shooting their own machine repair (engineering).
  • Artistically bedazzled their creations.
  • Utilized practical applications of many mathematical concepts to measure and sew as well as critical thinking and problem solving.

The 4-H Club pledge says, “I pledge … My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to larger service and My Health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world”.  ALL of the campers contributed to a community service project sewing a pillowcase destined for the Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend Read a Child to Sleep campaign.  This fostered the idea that empathy, sharing, nurturing relationships and giving is important too.

Sewing certainly did not stop when camp ended.  A budding entrepreneur posted on Facebook she is taking orders for her creations while another camper is helping a local theatre group fashion costumes to obtain her community service hours fulfilling a high school graduation requirement.

There is no better feeling than the pride of accomplishment. Sewing campers learned by doing and while they were at it learned a skills they will carry throughout life.

To find out more about the American Sewing Guild: https://www.asg.org/

To find out more about Leon County 4-H programs: http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu/4h

If you are interested in learning more about 4-H, go to florida4h.org.

Don’t Let A Tick Ruin Your Summer!

Don’t Let A Tick Ruin Your Summer!

Check for ticks after being outside.
Photo source: http://photos.ifas.ufl.edu

Does the mere thought of ticks make you feel itchy all over? Ticks are not a fun thing to talk about, but we can’t ignore them. Ticks can pose a real threat to your outdoor summer fun. Here in the Florida Panhandle, you can find ticks all year-long. But ticks are the most active in warm weather, from April through September.

There are many varieties of ticks in the world, but only a few spread disease to people. Of the ticks that can be found in North Florida, the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick, is the most dangerous because it is the primary vector of Lyme disease in humans. Learn more about the black-legged tick.

Symptoms of a Tick Bite

According to the UF/IFAS Extension’s Department of Entomology and Nematology guidebook, Pests In and Around the Southern Home, the most common symptoms associated with tick bites are rash, fever, chills, aches, and pains. If you have been bitten by a tick that carries Lyme disease, a bullseye-shaped rash may appear within 3-30 days. This circular rash usually appears before you experience fever or any other symptoms.

Although the rash tends to show up in most Lyme disease cases, it doesn’t always develop at the spot where you were bitten. If you’ve been bitten by a tick and are suffering from any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor ASAP. They will evaluate the tick bite and decide the best treatment option for you. However, in most cases, when the tick is removed, these symptoms should subside within 24 hours.  For more information, visit Ticks & Disease in Florida.

Checking Yourself and Your Family for Ticks

Ticks can be very small and hard to see. It is important to routinely check for ticks on all members of your family, including your pets. Examine your clothes, gear, and pets thoroughly after spending time outside. Experts advise us to wear light-colored clothing and closed-toe shoes when outside. Make sure to check your legs and ankles first, then move up your body. It’s important to remember that ticks are especially fond of warm areas on the body, so don’t forget to check all head and body hair, under your arms, the inside and outside of your ears and inside your belly button. Use a hand-held mirror for the best view of these spots on your body.

What is the Safest Way to Remove a Tick?

If you find a tick attached to your skin, don’t panic! It is important to remove the tick as soon as you spot it. The best way to remove the whole tick is with a pair of tweezers. Avoid twisting or yanking on the tick too quickly; this may cause some of the tick to remain attached to your skin. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the site with soap, water, and rubbing alcohol.

Some believe the best way to remove a tick is by coating it with nail polish or petroleum jelly, causing the tick to detach itself from the skin. However, tweezers remain the quickest and safest way to remove the entire tick that is attached to the skin.

Preventing Ticks in Your Yard and On Your Pets

Check pets regularly for ticks.
Photo source: Pam Nobles

Our own backyard can be high-risk tick zones. We can help rid our yards of ticks by removing old trash and excess leaves, clearing tall grass, and mowing the lawn frequently. This is important especially around walkways, gardens, and the areas used for family activity.

Once you have protected your yard from ticks, don’t forget about your family pet. Adult ticks can attach themselves to your pet, who, unknowingly, bring these pests into your home. Once inside, they can easily spread disease to you or your family. You can defend your pets from these nuisances by talking to your veterinarian about the tick protective products they recommend for your pet.

To learn more about ticks and tick bites, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) website for a comprehensive guide to all tickborne diseases in the United States.