Blog Archives

Guest Post: Spring is in the Air, Pollen is Everywhere

By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS

Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County

Spring means beautiful flowers, blooming trees, and fresh cut grass.  But if you are 1 out of the 50+ million people in the U.S. that suffer from nasal allergies, it can be miserable!

  • Allergies are abnormal immune system reactions to things that are typically harmless to most people.
  • Allergens or triggers are substances that cause the allergic reaction.
  • Sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and throat, nasal congestion, but no fever are all symptoms of allergic rhinitis also commonly known as “hay fever.”
  • Seasonal allergies are caused by tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen and airborne mold spores.
  • Perennial allergies, which occur year round, are caused by animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, and indoor mold spores.

Tips to Reduce Your Exposure:allergies

  • Use air-conditioning in your home and car.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Avoid pets in the home.
  • Bathe dogs twice a week.
  • Vacuum carpets weekly using a HEPA filter.
  • Wash sheets and blankets weekly in hot water 130°F.
  • Don’t dry laundry outside.
  • Stay indoors on dry windy days.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed during pollen season.
  • Avoid mowing grass or raking leaves.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning.

You can also attend out upcoming Using Essential Oils to Prepare our Sinuses for Spring event. Preparing for spring sinuses and maintaining our sinuses is key to having a great season. Learn how to use Essential Oils to keep our sinuses happy.

Essential Oils 2 (2)

 

Guest Post: Keep Your Holidays in the Green

By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS
Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County

Keep you Holidays green by saving money. Follow these tips:

budget

  • Make a holiday budget for all holiday spending and Stick To It!
  • Pay cash for all purchases
  • Just say NO – you don’t have to do everything
  • Avoid the store card discount traps- do NOT sign up for a new credit card in exchange for 10%-20% off your purchase
  • Make a holiday shopping list and include the maximum amount to be spent for each item
  • Start early – so you don’t panic
  • Remember money does not equal love or affection

Avoid these Holiday Spending Mistakespost

  • Going overboard with gift wrap. Recycle- Reuse is totally acceptable.
  • Overuse of credit cards. Set a spending limit and stick to it!
  • Guilty Spending. Don’t shop with negative emotions. Don’t shop in a rush or when you are tired.
  • Not trimming your gift list. You don’t have to buy everyone a gift. Send a card or note.
  • Confusing buying with celebrating. Remember the real reason for the season.

Guest Post: National Food Safety Month

By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS
Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County

Did you know? Food poisoning not only sends more than 100,000 Americans to the hospital each year, but it can also have long-term health consequences. Follow these 4 steps to keep your family safe from food poisoning at home.

clean

  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Wash surfaces, cutting boards, dishes, and cooking utensils with hot soapy water after each use to prevent bacteria from spreading.
  • Wash produce under running water, but not meat, poultry, or eggs.

sep

  • Don’t cross-contaminate! Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods in the grocery cart, grocery bags and in your refrigerator.
  • Use separate cutting boards/plates/utensils for produce and raw meat.

 

cook

  • Cook to the right temperature. Use a food thermometer.
  • Keep food hot after cooking (at 140oF or above). Bacterial growth increases as food cools.
  • Microwave food thoroughly (to 165oF).

chill

  • Refrigerate perishable foods at or below 40oF within 2 hours, or 1 hour if in weather over 90oF
  • Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Bacteria grows rapidly.
  •  Know when to throw food out. Be sure to toss expired foods.

 


Food Safety myths

Myth #1:
When cleaning my kitchen, the more bleach I use, the better. More bleach kills more bacteria
Fact:
There is no advantage to using more bleach than needed. Use 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart of water.

Myth #2:
I don’t need to wash fruits and vegetables if I’m going to peel them.
Fact:
You can transfer bacteria from the peel or rind you’re cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies.

Myth #3:
Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad.
Fact:
The kind of bacteria that cause food poisoning do not affect the look, smell, or taste of food.

Myth #4:
Cross- contamination doesn’t happen in the refrigerator – it’s too cold for bacteria to survive!
Fact:
Bacteria can survive and some can grow in cool, moist environments like the refrigerator.

bac

Guest Post: Adventure is out there!

By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS

Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County8603567984_fdceae3bea_o(1)

Whether you have a few days to leave town or two weeks, packing all the essentials into a carry on seems like an impossible task. Pack like a professional using these tips:

  1. Pack fast-drying or athletic tops. If it gets dirty, you can wash it and be ready to go within the half hour.
  2. Wear your walking shoes to stay comfortable and pack a dressier pair of shoes for a night out.
  3. Pack items by type in plastic bags with dryer sheets to keep the suitcase
    organized and smelling fresh.
  4. Use a multipurpose soap in a refillable bottle to cut down on liquids.
  5. Buy a solar keychain charger for organization and to keep your phone ready for pictures.

npsLooking for a quick family adventure on a dime? There are many opportunities for families to enjoy each other’s company and for parents to teach children many life lessons.

  • Visit a nursery where you can choose plants and flowers that you would like to grow as a You don’t have to have tons of space, many plants can be enjoyed from small containers. Turn this into a science experiment for children.
  • Go on a There are many trails and areas where families can explore on their own. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the great outdoors. National parks have several free entrance days throughout the year. Check out www.nps.gov to find a date that works for your family.
  • Geocaching adds adventure for young and old Enjoy this “treasure hunt” together and see new places and things in old places near or far. Geocaching is an engaging adventure that combines technology, the outdoors, and exploration.
  • Groupon, Living Social and many other travel websites offer hidden gems at over half the Explore every corner of your state with these tools.
  • Search for local festivals across the Tennessee has free events year round that include toy train shows, reenactments, music, and various food, and garden festivals. Enjoy a weekend and potentially find new hobbies for the family.

 

Guest Post: Have a Healthy Christmas!

8760623100_c7f6553d6b_bBy Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS

Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County

Every family has traditional holiday foods. Instead of using the holidays as an excuse for high-fat, high calorie feasting, use these 5 easy tips to remake your holiday favorites with good health in mind.

Holiday Tip #1: Control Portions

Set the holiday table with dinner plates 9 inches or so in diameter. No one will notice a decrease in portion sizes when you use smaller plates and glasses. Cut cake into 18 servings, make 4 dozen smaller cookies instead of 3 dozen larger ones, and use 4-ounce glasses for your favorite sparkling punch.

Holiday Tip #2: Double Up on Vegetables

Serve vitamin-packed, lower carbohydrate vegetables like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or broccoli in large bowls. Put higher calorie mashed potatoes and winter squashes in smaller bowls and use a smaller serving spoon. Your family will unknowingly serve themselves smaller portions. Instead of meatballs and cheese logs, feature vegetable appetizers like marinated mushrooms, tomato bruschetta, roasted asparagus, etc.

Holiday Tip #3: Give Healthful Gifts

Give homemade gifts that are made with healthful ingredients. Bake breads that feature whole grains, send a basket of fresh fruit instead of a box of candy, or tie a bow around a bag of nuts instead of cookies.

Holiday Tip #4: Lighten Up

Lighten up favorite recipes. Use fat-free evaporated skim milk instead of cream in custard pies and sauces, boost flavor in casseroles with spices instead of butter or salt, and bake foods instead of frying them. No one will notice the changes!

Holiday Tip #5: Make Fruit the Star

Give colorful fruit a starring role. Serve fresh berries for a holiday breakfast, include fresh fruit such as pineapple, mango, kiwi, and red grapes on bamboo skewers for a holiday buffet. Offer dates and grapes instead of cheese and crackers, etc.

Guest Post: The Thanksgiving Turkey

By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS

Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County

Thanksgiving is a festival harvest holiday meant to celebrate and be thankful for whatever you feel you’ve been blessed with (good health, family, friends, raises, completing a goal, etc…).  And in its current form, Thanksgiving is filled with wonderful (and delicious!) traditions, such as watching the Macy’s Day Parade, or football games, and cooking a giant feast with cranberries, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and the famous Turkey.  4255257070_f1ce2e9dd3_zOne tradition associated with the turkey is the wishbone (which all turkeys and chickens have), where two people each take hold of the ends of the bone, they make a wish, and pull!  Whoever has the larger part of the bone gets their wish. Turkey for Thanksgiving has become such a famous tradition that Thanksgiving is even sometimes called “Turkey Day.”  Each year, the President of the United States pardons a live turkey at a White House ceremony, allowing the turkey to live out the rest of its life on a farm.

Having a cooked turkey is a staple tradition of Thanksgiving but there are some important things to know when cooking your Thanksgiving bird this year.turkey

  • Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds when thawing your turkey in the refrigerator.
  • When thawing in cold water, allow approximately 30 minutes per pound and change the water every 30 minutes.
  • When roasting your turkey, set the oven temperature no lower than 325° A whole turkey is safe to eat when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F measured with a food thermometer.
  • Always wash hands, utensils, the sink, and anything else that comes into contact with the raw turkey and its juices.
  • For fresh turkeys, allow 1 pound of turkey per person, buy your turkey only 1-2 days before you plan to cook it, keep it stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook, and do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys.
  • For frozen turkeys, allow 1 pound of turkey per person and keep frozen until you’re ready to thaw it. Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely; however cook within a year for best quality!
  • When storing your leftovers, discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours, 1 hour in temperatures above 90°F. Divide leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerate in shallow containers. Eat refrigerated leftovers within 3 to 4 days after initial cooking.

Sources:

Kids National Geographic

www.fsis.usda.gov

Williamson County Health Department & UT Extension Offering Free Take Charge of Your Diabetes Program Workshops

For more information, or to sign up for the program, please contact Patsy Watkins, FCS Agent at 790-5721, or pwatkin2@utk.edu.

Diabetes is a complicated disease that can strike fear, confusion, and helplessness in diagnosed people and caregivers. People with diabetes must deal not only with their disease, but also with the impact this has on their lives and emotions. A self-management approach to diabetes education gives people the knowledge, tools and confidence to take day-by-day responsibility of their diabetes care.

On October 21, 2014 the Williamson County Health Department and University of Tennessee Extension will be offering a free Take Charge of Your Diabetes Program workshop. The 6-week program is designed for people with diabetes and caregivers to learn basic skills necessary to self-manage their diabetes and work effectively with their health care professionals. The Take Charge of Your Diabetes Program is conducted by two leaders certified by Stanford University Diabetes Self-Management Program Master Trainers. Classes will be held every Tuesday from 1-3 p.m. at the Williamson County Public Library. This is a free class.

All sessions are held from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Williamson County Public Library 1314 Columbia Ave. Franklin, TN 37064

Session 1: Tuesday, October 21st
• Introduction – Identifying Common Problems
• Workshop Overview and Responsibilities
• What is Diabetes?
• Introduction to Healthy EatingBlue_Circle_1
• Introduction to Action Plans

Session 2: Tuesday, October 28th
• Feedback/Problem-Solving Session
• Formula for a Healthy Eating Plan
• Preventing a Low Blood Sugar: Hypoglycemia
• Making an Action Planwdd-300x195

Session 3: Tuesday, November 4th
• Feedback/Problem-Solving Session
• Preventing or Delaying Complications
• Planning Low Fat Meals
• Introduction to Physical Activity and Exercise
• Dealing with Stress
• Muscle Relaxation
• Making an Action Plan

Session 4: Tuesday, November 11th
• Feedback/Problem-Solving Session
• Dealing with Difficult Emotions
• Reading Nutrition Labels
• Endurance Activities
• Guided Imagery
• Making an Action Plan

Session 5: Tuesday, November 18th
• Feedback/Problem-Solving Session
• Depression Management
• Positive Thinking
• Communication Skills
• Medication Usage
• Making an Action Plan

Session 6: Tuesday, November 25th
• Feedback/Problem-Solving Session
• Strategies for Sick Days
• Foot Care
• Working With Your Health Care Professional and the Health Care System
• Looking Back and Planning for the Future

Guest Post: Flu Prevention

By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS

Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County

Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.stop flu

All types of flu have similar symptoms that include:
•A 100°F or higherfever
•Coughing or sorethroat
•A runny or stuffynose
•Headaches and/orbody aches
•Chills
•Fatigue
•Nausea, vomiting,and/or diarrhea

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold and a test can determine whether you have the cold or flu.

Everyday steps that can help stop the spread of germs are washing hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub; avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth; get plenty of sleep and exercise, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy foods; and cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Getting Vaccinated each season is the single best way to prevent the flu. The people who should get vaccinated are people who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease, pregnant women, and people who are 65 years or older, and everyone 6 months of age or older should get the vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people get vaccinated as soon as the flu season vaccine becomes available because it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

 

Sources:

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