I enjoy walking during my lunchtime. When I do, this break away from my desk refreshes me. It helps me re-focus as I breathe in the fresh air and take a few minutes to get out of the “work mode”.

A few weeks ago, while crossing the railroad tracks behind my office, I noticed that someone ran through the railroad crossing bar in their haste to “beat the train”.  I see this happen every few weeks – someone hears the signal that a train is approaching; they speed up and try to get through the tracks before the cross bar comes down. It always surprises me that we are in such a hurry that we would risk our lives to save a few minutes.

Rail Road crossing bar hit by a vehicleAs my picture shows, the person made it through without being hit by a train but they damaged the safety bar at this railroad crossing – I’m sure their car was also damaged. We called the number of the RR company and the sheriff to report this violation.

I saw another example of stress, haste and anxiety during my morning commute this week. While at a red light, I glanced over at the driver beside me. She covered her face/eyes with her hands as she realized something that she remembered she needed to do. She pulled into a place of business to text, turn around or get re-focused. I was happy she decided to pull over and handle the situation she faced. This was a safe solution to her dilemma.

Why is this important? In the frantic pace of our lives, we make quick and impulsive decisions that may affect many lives in a negative way. Check out these stats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at U.S. Department of Transportation:

Three out of four crashes occur within 25 miles of a motorist’s home.  Fifty percent of all crashes occur within five miles of home.

A calculation of NHTSA statistics on the rate of deaths per collision in vehicle/vehicle crashes versus the Federal Railroad Administration statistics of deaths per collision in vehicle/train crashes reveals:

A motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle. 

What can you do to pause the hectic pace of your life? 

  • Practice a savoring walk where you avoid distractions and focus on your surroundings.
  • Explore mindfulness practices to help you tame your mind, relax, or re-focus.
  • Slow your pace and practice walking meditation. This relaxed pace can help you focus on your surroundings and the sensations you experience.
  • Try a relaxing activity. Tai Chi, meditation, yoga or focused breathing can help you cope with stress.

How can you pause and savor your life? Share your comments below.

Writer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu











“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  – Audrey Hepburn

We’re moving into fall and eventually those long winter days and nights, so what better time to “Plan” a Vegetable Garden?”  According to Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Agriculture/Natural Resources, Wayne County Ohio State University Extension, “The potential benefits of home vegetable gardening are numerous.  Successful gardens are the result of good planning, management, and careful workmanship.”

Interested in learning more about the various activities required for a successful home vegetable garden?  If you said “yes,” then you’ve come to the right place!

Why Have A Garden?

  • A well planned and a properly cared for garden can provide considerable food for family use from a small plot of land.  planting garden
  • Most home gardeners agree that “home grown” vegetables, freshly harvested, prepared, and eaten are the ultimate in fine vegetable flavor.
  • Fresh or preserved homegrown vegetables can help reduce family expenditures for food and make a valuable contribution to family nutrition.
  • Vegetable gardening can be an educational and fun activity for all individuals, families, and communities.
  • You can create real-life experiences and connections between gardening, health, cooking, food preservation, local foods, grocery stores, farmers markets, and community kitchens.
  • Good gardening results can be shared with others through vegetable exhibits at local, county, and state fairs. Gardeners find these activities exciting, fun, and challenging.

The “Favorite Fives” for a Successful Home Vegetable Garden!

  • Location – A good location provides adequate plant exposure to sunlight, fertile and well-drained soil, a nearby source of water, is close to the house, and is appropriate to the service area of the home landscape.
  • Soils – Vegetable plants grow best in a fertile, well-drained soil of loamy texture. However, most gardeners do not have such soil. Don’t overlook the aspect of soil preparation as less desirable soils can be modified with soil conditioners such as peat moss, compost, sawdust, or other available organic materials.
  • Garden Size – The garden should not be so large that the crops fail to receive proper care. Often times more high quality vegetables are obtained from small, well cared for plots than from large, neglected gardens. Don’t have any available ground?  Don’t forget about container gardening and/or community/rent-a-garden space.
  • What to Grow – More than 40 different vegetable crops can be grown in Ohio. If you’re from another state or location, check with your local cooperative extension service and/or agencies to see what’s available to you. The choice of crops depends largely upon the needs and tastes of the family and the amount of available growing space. If space is limited, consider planting crops that will be more productive.
  • The Fall Garden – Late summer or early fall plantings of vegetables that make rapid growth and mature crops before extremely cold weather sets in will enable the home gardener to extend the gardening season and get best use of the garden area.

Please refer to an excellent publication titled “Planning for the Garden” by Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Agriculture/Natural Resources, Wayne County Ohio State University Extension.

Adapted by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Program Assistant, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County, dellifield.2@osu.edu


Planning for the Garden.  Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Agriculture/Natural Resources, Wayne County Ohio State University Extension.

Ohioline.  Ohioline is an information resource produced by Ohio State University Extension. Through Ohioline, you have access to hundreds of OSU Extension fact sheets covering a wide array of subjects such as agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, community development, and 4-H youth development.

Food Safety in Gardens.  Sanja Ilic, PhD, Assistant Professor and Food Safety State Specialist, Department of Human Sciences, Human Nutrition and Melanie Lewis Ivey, PhD, Assistant Professor, Fruit Pathologist, Department of Plant Pathology.

We have all heard the saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. When I was younger, I did not eat breakfast before going off to school. Like all families, we were busy in the mornings and my mom did not make it a priority for us to eat breakfast. Several years ago, I started taking medicine in the morning. I realized quickly that if I did not eat breakfast with it I would get sick. I still struggle with eating breakfast each morning.

Next year my daughter will be starting college. So I have stressed to her about how important it is to eat breakfast each morning. To meet our needs I have been looking for quick and easy ideas. I have discovered there are many great web sites out there to help in getting ideas for healthy breakfasts.

The American Dietetic Association states that children who eat a healthy breakfast are more apt to have better concentration, alertness, creativity, miss fewer days of school, and be more active.

Here are some ideas from the Eatright.org web site on how to insure you and your children are getting a healthy breakfast each morning.Yogurt and apple slices

If You Wake Up on Time, Eat …

  • Scrambled Eggs: Serve with turkey bacon, fruit and whole-grain toast.
  • Whole-Grain Waffles: If you have a waffle iron, try a whole-grain waffle mix from the grocery store for a special treat. Serve topped with fresh fruit.

If You Hit the Snooze Button One Time, Eat …

  • English Muffin Sandwich: Toast a whole-grain English muffin. Put low-fat cheese and sliced deli ham on the toasted muffin. Warm the sandwich in the microwave to melt the cheese. Grab a piece of fruit for a complete breakfast.
  • Breakfast Tacos: Scramble and cook one egg (or two egg whites). Serve eggs, salsa and low-fat cheese in corn tortillas.
  • Classic Cereal Gets an Upgrade: Cut up some fresh fruit and add to an unsweetened breakfast cereal.
  • Yogurt Parfait: Layer yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit and granola.

If You Hit the Snooze Button Three (or More) Times, Eat …

  • Instant Oatmeal: Look for varieties without added sugar and just add boiling water.
  • 45-Second Scrambled Eggs: Put eggs and a splash of milk in a bowl, whisk it up and put it in a microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and put back in for another 10 seconds.
  • Peanut Butter Sandwich: Grab a banana while you’re at it.
  • Cream Cheese on Whole-Grain Bread: Try it on a bagel or tortillas.


Breakfast Ideas for Busy Mornings, eatright.org

September: Breakfast Month
By Lisa Franzen-Castle, PhD, RD Extension Nutrition Specialist UNL Panhandle Research & Extension Center


Written by: Brenda Sandman-Stover, Extension Program Assistant, 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Greene County

Reviewed by: Melanie Hart, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension,

Recently, I had to be off my feet for a few weeks following a surgery. In order to ease the burden on my family, I put about 15 meals in the freezer that I prepared ahead of time … in less than 2 hours. I looked up “freezer meals” and found a wealth of helpful ideas. Most of the freezer meals included assembling ingredients for recipes that will go from freezer to refrigerator (to thaw) and into my slow cooker. The meals proved to be so easy and helpful that I plan to continue this method regularly throughout the year to have several meals in the freezer all the time.

Freezer meals can be helpful for a busy schedule any time you need a meal that’s ready-to-go or when you take a meal to someone else in need. Freezer meals can save you time by prepping all the ingredients ahead of time, and then only taking minutes to put in the oven or slow cooker after they are thawed. Freezer meals can also save you money because you can purchase ingredients when they are on sale to enjoy them later.

Here are a few steps to get you started…

  1. Plan

There are several approaches to freezer meals, including making a double batch of a recipe and freezing one batch, pre-cooking part of the recipe (like browning ground beef), or assembling ingredients to freeze and later cook in the oven or slow cooker. Be sure to consider nutrition. Use MyPlate as a guide for your menus, plan a variety of low-fat proteins and dairy along with plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Consider avoiding ingredients that don’t freeze well, such as mayonnaise and lettuce. There are entire websites and cookbooks dedicated to freezer meals. This Extension fact sheet on Freezer Meal Planning includes recipe ideas and a grocery list.

Picture of slow cooker recipe ingredients, ready to freeze.

  1. Assemble

Gather all the ingredients and containers for freezing ahead of time. Freezer bags or cartons work well. Label the bag or container with a permanent marker before filling. Label with the name of the recipe, date, and instructions for cooking. You can do several recipes at once or one at a time.

  1. Freeze

Lay freezer bags flat to freeze so they are easier to thaw. Consider freezing on a pan or baking sheet until frozen then stacking in freezer, or standing bags up to freeze vertically. Foods kept at zero degrees are safe indefinitely although quality might deteriorate after 3-6 months. This resource has more tips on freezing foods.

  1. Thaw

The safest and easiest way to thaw frozen foods is in the refrigerator, although it takes a little planning ahead. A gallon-sized bag of food will usually thaw in the refrigerator in about 24 hours. You can also defrost frozen foods in the microwave and then cook immediately.

  1. Cook

If using the slow cooker, be sure foods are thawed before cooking. For more information on slow cooking, check out these resources from Ohio State University Extension: College of Food, Agriculture and Environment Sciences Blog and Live Healthy Live Well.


Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by:  Joanna Fifner, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County.



Barlage, L. “Slow Cooker Season!” Ohio State University Extension, Live Healthy Live Well. 10/30/2015. Live Healthy Live Well.

Brinkman, P. “Safely Using Your Slow Cooker.” Ohio State University Extension. Retrieved on 9/5/18. https://cfaes.osu.edu/slow-cooker-safety

Christensen, D. “Freezer Meal Planning.” Utah State University. May 2009. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1303&context=extension_curall

Henneman, A. & Jensen, J. “Freezing Cooked Food for Future Meals: Freezer Bag Tips.” University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County and Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. Retrieved on 9/6/2018. https://food.unl.edu/freezing-cooked-food-future-meals-freezer-bag-tips

A Life Well Lived


While scanning the paper recently, an obituary caught my eye:

“After 96 years of vigorous living, Ralph passed peacefully. His enthusiasm for life was contagious. He made friends easily wherever he went.  He made a difference in people’s lives, challenging people to do their best in business, sports, in their families and even in their fun.   He mentored many associates both young and old.  Believing in the rights and dignity of all, he organized an open housing committee at the peak of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. His family was the most important part of his life, especially his wife with whom everyday was a party. Their life together was fun. Join us to celebrate his life at the 18th green with a reception to follow in the clubhouse.”

After reading this, I wondered.  Are we living our best life? We all want to live better, more fulfilling and happier lives. Are we taking the time and necessary steps to achieve these goals?

Start today:

  • Be grateful
  • Be kind to others
  • Get enough sleep
  • Spend more time with loved ones
  • Smile more
  • Forgive
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Spread positive energy
  • Get more sleep
  • Get fresh air
  • Volunteer
  • Enjoy a part of everyday

We only get one life. Forget about what other people are doing and focus on your life and your path to happiness.  At the end of the day and at the end of your life, that is all that matters.

I wish I had known Ralph.   He has inspired me to live my best life.  Thank you Ralph.

Written by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu








Most parents need ways of staying organized that are tailored to the specific needs of their family. The Bullet Journal®, an analog system designed by Ryder Carroll “to track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future” has gained much interest from people who seek a better way to log their schedules, tasks, and events. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, you can watch a short video that explains the idea here:


This revolutionary (and yet, brilliantly simple) way of tracking life and to-do lists, has inspired some rather artistic approaches (Google it, you’ll see!) and has people creating systems with good old-fashioned pen and paper to manage their chores, goals, and schedules.Journal pages

Some users also implement the system to go beyond their schedules & to-do lists by creating logs of important reminders for themselves such as charting their daily water intake, physical activity tracking, and progress toward personal goals.  Examples are shown on this post about Self-Care and Bullet Journaling.

Research tells us that writing down our goals helps us achieve them, and we see in our Live Healthy Live Well challenges that tracking your progress keeps you motivated along the way.

Consider creating logs for yourself and your family to stay on-track with the things you want or need to accomplish.  Some ideas are:

  • Daily water intake
  • Exercise
  • Daily mindfulness practices or daily “unplugged” time
  • Minutes spent reading (especially great for children)
  • Weekly family meals, aiming for 3 per week
  • Daily fruit & vegetable intake, aiming for 5 servings per day
  • Meal planning
  • Scheduling annual checkups, dental cleanings, etc.Reading calendar log example

Some people are motivated and inspired by creating colorful and visually appealing logs, like the ones in the post linked above, but simple, clean ones work best for others.

Journals don’t have to be organized daily. You can create different logs for the frequency that is most appropriate. I have several tasks that are best tracked monthly, so for those, I have created a simple table for the whole year, organized by month. I found it made the most sense to combine my work and personal monthly tasks into one list. At the end of each month, or the start of a new one, I go down and make sure all of my monthly tasks are complete.

Water intake log exampleThe Bullet Journal® is an actual product that uses dots  instead of lines that you traditionally see on the pages of a journal. But the Bullet Journal creator says that the concept can be used with any journal of your choice – lines, dots, grids or blank pages.

What do you log or journal to keep you & your family healthy, organized, and happy?





Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Go Nuts!

Bowl of mixed nuts

Growing up, nut consumption always came with the recommendation to watch out for the high fat content. And that recommendation hasn’t changed.  Nuts are still high in fat and calories. But today we know that many health benefits are accrued from eating nuts, although quantity-wise we still need to watch portion size.

Health Benefits

Researchers have found that eating an ounce of nuts five or more times per week results in a 14 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease (defined as a heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular disease) and a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease (defined as a fatal or nonfatal heart attack or stroke).

In addition, that same nut-eating regimen (5x per week) may reduce your risk for developing diabetes by up to 27 percent. What do nuts possess that help lower your risk for those two chronic diseases?

  • Nuts are good sources of protein, fiber, antioxidants, phytosterols, and minerals.
  • The arginine in nuts significantly improves endothelial function (dilation of blood vessels increases blood flow).
  • Nuts improve cholesterol profiles—specifically reducing LDL (bad cholesterol).
  • Nut consumption yields a minimal glycemic response.
  • Nuts aid in weight maintenance because the high-fat content results in higher levels of satiety.
  • Nuts have anti-inflammatory effects that may help to prevent insulin resistance.
  • Nuts are an important part of a diabetes-reversal diet.

Researchers from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy estimate that in 2012 over 300,000 deaths from heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes were associated with eating too little of 10 nutrient-rich foods, of which nuts was one.

In addition, a 2013 Harvard study found that people who ate nuts every day lived longer, healthier lives than people who didn’t eat nuts. They found that nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, and/or respiratory disease than those who didn’t eat nuts.

The following chart from the USDA shows in detail a breakdown of the calorie and fat content found in a variety of nut products:

Nut and seed sources of healthy fats

Nuts and seeds contain mixtures of fats, including monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and omega-3 fatty acids, along with saturated fat. Although saturated fat is generally regarded as a less healthful form of fat, it is more than balanced out in plant-based foods by the higher levels of healthy fats.
Food (1 ounce) Calories Total fat Saturated fat Mono-un-saturates Poly-un-saturates Omega-3s
Almonds 169 15 g 1 g 10 g 4 g 0 mg
Brazil nuts 185 19 g 4 g 7 g 6 g 5 mg
Cashews 155 12 g 2 g 7 g 2 g 17 mg
Chia seeds 137 9 g 1 g 1 g 7 g 4,915 mg
Flaxseeds 150 12 g 1 g 2 g 8 g 6,388 mg
Hazelnuts 181 18 g 1 g 13 g 2 g 17 mg
Hemp seeds 160 12 g 1 g 1 g 9 g 2,264 mg
Macadamia nuts 203 22 g 3 g 17 g 0 g 55 mg
Peanuts 164 14 g 2 g 7 g 4 g 1 mg
Pecans 199 21 g 2 g 12 g 6 g 278 mg
Pine nuts 190 19 g 1 g 5 g 10 g 32 mg
Pistachios 157 13 g 2 g 7 g 4 g 72 mg
Pumpkin seeds 153 13 g 3 g 4 g 6 g 51 mg
Sesame seeds 160 14 2 g 5 g 6 g 105 mg
Sunflower seeds 163 14 g 2 g 3 g 9 g 19 mg
Walnuts 185 18 g 2 g 3 g 13 g 2,565 mg
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.


Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu