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Helpful Holiday Tips and Tricks- Save Money, Less Stress, and More Fun!

hands making holiday craftsWhile the holiday season can be a wonderful time, it can also be busy and stressful. We have several tools and ideas to help you be stress-free this year so you can fully enjoy your time with family and friends. Below are quick links to some of our most read and rated articles. Hopefully one or two of these will be just what you need this time of year!

Holiday Savings

  1. Managing the Holidays without Breaking the Bank– this article includes five practical strategies, and even includes step-by-step directions for some homemade gifts.
  2. Christmas Memories Gifts in a Jar– Make memories with your kids or grandkids (and save some money) by crafting gifts in a jar. This article includes some creative ideas and step-by-step instructions

Holiday Health (Physical & Mental)

  1. Three ways to Incorporate Mindfulness During the Holidaysthis article shares three steps to using mindfulness as a way to mitigate the stress of the season.
  2. Handling the Holiday Blues– The holidays can be hard- especially if you are experiencing loss. If you or a loved one has the Holiday Blues, this article has eight helpful tips to make this time a little bit easier.
  3. Healthy Holiday Meals– This article includes ideas for making your favorite holiday dishes a little healthier.

Holiday Fun

  1. Including Youth in Holiday Traditions– some great ideas for sharing your favorite holiday traditions with youth (or creating new ones)
  2. Pin a Holiday Memory with Homemade Magnets– this article gives step-by-step instructions on creating magnets to represent your favorite holiday memories (past and present).

How to Help Your Picky Eaters

With the holiday season fast approaching, everyone’s favorite dishes will soon appear on the dinner table. Everyone has different taste buds, so that means everyone has different favorite dishes. I know that I am looking forward to sweet potato soufflé and deviled eggs, but I could definitely do without the cranberry sauce. Unfortunately, many parents find themselves in a bind trying to feed their picky eaters. Remember, you are not alone in this battle, and try not to get too frustrated by this typical behavior. This article includes some tips on what to avoid and strategies to help your favorite picky eater!

DO:

Eat family style. Trying sharing a meal together, as a whole family, as often as you can. This means sitting at a table and turning off the distractions like TV, radio, or cell phones at mealtime. When preparing for your family’s well-balanced meal, incorporate at least one food you know that your picky eater likes. Eating family style also allows for you to set a good example! That squash on your plate may not look appetizing to your picky eater, but if they see you try it, they may be more apt to as well!

 Try, try again! Just because a picky eater refuses different foods once, doesn’t mean they won’t ever like it. Keep offering new foods and those your picky eater didn’t like before. It can take as many as seven times to taste food before your taste buds accept it. I can remember as a child disliking anything colored with green vegetables. This could have been salad, peas, green beans, lima beans, or another vegetable. As an adult, I have come to enjoy all of these vegetables and many more! If I had not tried them again, I still may not know if I like them or not.

Make food fun. There are many ways to accomplish this. Youth are typically open to trying foods arranged in eye-popping, creative ways. Make foods look irresistible by arranging them in fun, colorful shapes they can recognize. Finger foods and foods that you dip are also a big hit! Try involving your picky eater in meal planning and prep. Let them pick which fruit and vegetable to add to dinner, or pick them out at the grocery store. Read kid-friendly cookbooks together and let them pick out new recipes to try. Involve them in some of the cooking tasks, such as sifting, stirring, counting ingredients, or picking garden fresh herbs or vegetables.

Finding the right pair. When serving unfamiliar foods, pair the food with something that is familiar. Many picky eaters will not try broccoli alone, but if you add cheese to it, it becomes a whole new dish!

DON’T:

Fight over food. If your picky eater refuses to eat their meal, avoid making a hassle over it. It is important for individuals to learn to listen to their bodies, which will tell them when they are hungry or not. It is up to the adult to provide the food, and it is the other’s decision to eat. Pressuring them into eating, or punishing them if they don’t, can make them actively dislike foods they may otherwise have liked.

Bribes. This goes along with fighting over their food. While it may be tempting to bribe your picky eater to try something, this is not how food should be handled. Bribing to eat the “yucky” food makes the “prize” food that much more exciting. This can lead to future trouble at the dinner table.

Sources:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/nutrition/Pages/Picky-Eaters.aspx

2022 4-H Tailgate Contest Winners- and Recipe Book!

Did you get to do any grilling this summer?  Many of our 4-Hers did! Over 100 youth from throughout the Florida panhandle participated in 4-H summer day camps that taught them food and fire safety, safe grilling, and proper cooking skills.

Day camps offered unique experiences to youth on grilling techniques all summer and helped youth prepare for our District Competition. On July 30, 2022, 28 youth from eight counties participated in the Northwest District Tailgating Contest at the Washington County Ag Center in Chipley, Florida.  Youth participated in competitions in beef, pork, chicken, and shrimp divisions and were judged on their food and fire safety skills around the grill and the taste of their chosen protein.  In all, $3,200 was awarded to panhandle youth for placing 1st-4th in their competitions.

Now the top two youth in each protein category will compete at the Florida 4-H Tailgating Contest in Gainesville on October 1, 2022.  They will compete against youth from across Florida for an opportunity to win college scholarships.  For the state contest, the first-place winner in each protein area receives a $1,500 college scholarship and the second-place winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship.

Join us as we cheer on the following NW District 4-H participants as they represent us at the Florida 4-H State Tailgating Contest:

2022 Seafood Category Winners

  • 2022 Beef Category Winners

    Beef Division

    • Aubrie D.-Escambia County
    • Aidden Y.-Walton County
  • Pork Division
    • Brooke H.-Escambia County
    • Cate B.-Okaloosa County
  • Chicken Division
    • Vanessa E.-Wakulla County
    • Jamison S.-Jackson County
  • Shrimp Division
    • Addie M.-Escambia County

      2022 Pork Category Winners

    • Mason K.-Escambia County

      2022 Chicken Category Winners

If you are interested in furthering your grilling skills, please check out the Florida 4-H Tailgate Series of EDIS documents.  If you would like more information on the Tailgating Contest to prepare for next year, check out our brand new handbook!  Finally, the top two winners in each protein category are sharing their award-winning recipes in this free, downloadable eBook!

Celebrate with Safety in Mind!

It’s hard to believe the 4th of July is already upon us!

youth in front of charcoal grill

Youth learning to grill during 4-H tailgate program

Many of us will be celebrating with picnics, cookouts, and family get-togethers. One of my colleagues in Clay County, Samantha Murray, did a great article about preventing food poisoning while celebrating. Our youth have also been attending grilling summer camp programs and learning many of these tips plus lots more. The youth have learned about how to use a grill safely, how to prepare food safely and prevent cross-contamination or food-borne illness, and the nutritional benefits of animal protein in diets. Our district will have its annual competition to advance to the state-level competition on July 30 at the Washington County Extension Office, in Chipley, Florida.

I just wanted to take a moment to recap the tips Samantha gave to keep all of us safe and healthy while celebrating.

  • Keep raw meats in a separate cooler than ready-to-eat items or beverages.
  • Foods with mayonnaise are less acidic creating a better environment for bacterial growth
  • Chicken and ground beef needs to be cooked to 165°F
  • Wash hands if soap and water are not available use hand sanitizer to reduce the risk of contaminating food.
  • Use different tongs or spatulas for cooked and uncooked meat or wash them after being in contact with raw meat.
  • It is recommended to refrigerate leftovers within two hours unless it’s really hot, then the window shrinks to about an hour.

Other items you may want to think about.

  • Keep beverages in a separate cooler from other foods, people will be going in and out of beverage coolers much more keeping the temperature higher and allowing bacterial growth.
  • Cook cuts of pork, beef, or shrimp to 145°F
  • Don’t sit charcoal grills on plastic tables and make sure the area is free from debris that can catch fire, including limbs or tents overhead.
  • Clean up after yourself leaving only footprints in the area you were in!
  • Enjoy time with friends and family safely!

For more information about educational programs, check out our webpage or contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office.

Heading into Summer with 4-H Fun and Sun Safety

Summer is right around the corner. As much as we all love the sunshine feeling on our face and body, too much of a good thing can be harmful!  It is always important to remember our family’s well-being, take responsibility for our personal safety, and make healthy decisions, even while having a fun time. Here are some short sun safety reminders to make your summer a fun and enjoyable experience for you and your family members!

SUN SAFETY

Plan Your Day Around the Clock

The sun shares its most harmful rays in the middle of the day so plan this time for indoor use. The sun’s rays are most harmful between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM so make outdoor time in the early morning or early evening when it is less intense.  This also keeps your food at safer temperatures as well so your ice (or you) won’t melt as fast.

Protect Your Body

Spraying sunscreen on arm

Look for SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.

One of the easiest defenses against the sun is sometimes one of the most forgotten, sunscreen! Be sure to lather up in sunscreen BEFORE you go outside.  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends liberally applying a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 or higher, as these formulas will block UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to apply at least 30 minutes prior to going outside.  Once outside, continue to apply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming.  Not sure what kind of sunscreen blocks UVA and UVB rays?  Look for a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher with the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these ingredients will do the job.  Remember to coat your ears, neck, tops of feet, etc.

Remember to grab your sunglasses too!  Your eyeballs are just as sensitive as your skin so blocking UVA and UBA rays from your eyes are important to.  Fashionable sunglasses are great if you are into that but being able to protect your eyes is the goal.

Limit Time

dog wearing sunglasses

Remember to keep your pets cool too!

Most everyone enjoys getting outside this time of year to soak up some sunshine and enjoy the beautiful day. In fact, it’s true that some amount of sunlight is healthy for your body and mind. However, as we know all too well sometimes, too much exposure can be detrimental and lead to sunburn, heat exhaustion and more. Thus, it is a good idea to find balance by setting a time limit on sun exposure, if possible. If time slips past you because you and your family are having too much fun, set an alarm as a friendly reminder. Make this your “shade time” for a water break, game of cards, or a brief nap. Be sure to always have an umbrella or tent on hand in case no shade is available.

Hydrate

It is very easy to get dehydrated in the summertime.  Drink water throughout the day.  Don’t wait until you get hot and thirsty. Drink water to maintain your hydration before it is depleted.  This will help avoid those nasty summer headaches and tummy aches.  Taking your pet with you?  Don’t forget Fido’s water bowl too!

4-H PROGRAMMING  

UV Bead Activity

Looking for a really cool lesson to teach your children about the risk factors associated with sun exposure and UV rays? Check out this 4-H activity  4-H + Me = Health: Sun Safety from Minnesota Extension Service’s Exploring Your Body, Helper’s Guide. In this activity, children can make their own beaded bracelets that change colors when exposed to UV light. This is a great way for children to understand UV light, cloud coverage, sunscreen SPFs and more!

UV Beads with no sun

UV Beads with no sun exposure.

4-H has plenty of educational programming, both outdoors and indoors, to keep your children engaged this summer!  From gardening to robots, archery to grilling, 4-H has something for everyone.  If you are looking for fun, educational activities during the summer while maintaining a safe environment for your child, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org

 

UV Beads with sun exposure

UV Beads with sun exposure.

 

Recognizing the Signs of Human Trafficking

image with National Human Trafficking Hotline

To get help for someone call or text this number

Understanding Signs of Human Trafficking

The common misconception when the average person hears about human trafficking is that the victim has been kidnapped and sold into slavery across the world.  The visions of young people restrained in the back of a semi tuck or cargo ship may come to mind.  The reality of the matter is kidnapping of victims only happens in about 9% of these cases.  The sad fact is that most victims are trafficked by someone they know and trusted at one point.  Many victims even feel they are doing their trafficker a favor now and then in exchange for a new cell phone, video game, or some other type of prized possession.

Understanding the signs of human trafficking is the first step to helping the victims find their freedom.  Many youth who are venerable can be influenced and controlled by savvy individuals they initially see as a trusted adult.  Through research, the susceptible victims are targeted and are in over their heads before they know what has happened.  Often, these victims feel stuck without any hopes of relief or rescue.

The signs to look for are subtle and for experienced traffickers, sometimes well hidden.  A sudden change in appearance or attitude could be a sign of youth hanging out with a new crowd.  If you notice youth that have a new friend who is considerably older, this could also be a signal that the relationship may not be healthy.  Here is a sample of additional signs to look for:

  • Sudden absences from school
  • Repeatedly running away
  • Abrupt change in attire, behavior, or relationships
  • The existence of an older “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”
  • Being escorted by an older male or female who is not their guardian
  • Sudden existence of costly material belongings
  • Homelessness
  • Signs of psychological pressure, such as anxiety, depression,
  • An overly submissive attitude
  • Tattoos or other branding marks
  • Lack of control over their schedule or money
  • Unable to possess their own proof of identification
  • Signs of physical trauma (like bruises, cuts, burns, or scars)
  • Coached or rehearsed responses to questions

If you are a trusted adult and changes are noticed, a few well-placed questions, may help the victim open up a little.  Victims may be resistant to questioning but may speak more freely with an open-ended conversation.  Can you tell me more about, “the new friend’s name here”?  What do you do when you hang out with “new friend”?  Why did “new friend” buy you such a nice cell phone?  It is not necessary to confirm abuse before calling the Florida Abuse Hotline to report suspicion.  Remember, these victims can also be young adults that have been trapped inside a human trafficking ring for years.   If abuse is suspected, please call Florida Abuse Hotline (report abuse for children) TEL: 1-800-962-2873 TTY: 1-800-4955-8771 The Florida Abuse Hotline accepts reports 24 hours a day and 7 days a week of known or suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment and reports of known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Please use the links below to report a child or adult abuse.  National Human Trafficking Resource Center 24/7 (for adults).  1 (888) 373-7888

BeFree Textline 24/7 Text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE) Send a text for crisis support, referrals, and more – to get help for victims and survivors of human trafficking or to connect with local services.