Living Well In The Panhandle

Clean It Up with Homemade Cleaners

Clean It Up with Homemade Cleaners

laundry-666487_1920Spring has sprung and this is the perfect time to clean and freshen your house.  But you don’t have to spend a lot of money on cleaning products when you can whip up your own with a few simple, inexpensive ingredients.

The basic ingredient list includes:

  • White Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Ammonia
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Washing soda (can be found in the laundry products aisle)
  • Borax (also in the laundry section)

Use clean jars or bottles for mixing and storage.  Do not use food containers – children can think the contents are something to eat.  Also, don’t mix your products in empty cleaning product bottles; residue from the original product may interact with your product, causing a dangerous reaction. Label each product and store out of reach of children.  NEVER mix chlorine bleach with ammonia or vinegar – it will create dangerous, toxic fumes!

Here are a few recipes to get you started:


Mix in a 16 oz. or larger spray bottle:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Use on sinks, countertops, lightly soiled range surfaces, floors, toilets, and showers.


  • 3 tablespoons ammonia
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Put in a spray bottle and fill the rest with water.


  • 1 bar Ivory® or 1/3 bar Fels Naptha® soap
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax powder

Grate the bar soap into a cooking pot.  Add 6 cups of water and heat until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and borax and stir until dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into a clean bucket.  Add the soap mixture from the pot and stir.  Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel slightly.  Optional:  Add 1 ounce essential oil or fragrance oil of your choice.

Use 1/2 cup per load.  This is a low-sudsing soap which removes dirt and odor and can be used in high-efficiency machines.

For more product recipes, check out Homemade Household Cleaners and Green Cleaning:  Recipes for a Healthy Home.

Sources:  Homemade Household Cleaners

Clean It Green!, C. Rogers, UF/IFAS Extension Suwannee County.



Author: Judy Corbus –

Judy Corbus is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Washington and Holmes Counties.;

Judy Corbus

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Breaking Bread: Feeding Family and Friends

“Breaking bread”, or eating a meal with others, is a deeply personal way to foster a sense of belonging. Food is a social glue; it brings us together for conversation, a time to catch up, a chance to connect with loved ones, and it fills our bellies as well.

If you wish to “break bread” (with actual bread), here are some nice, tasty bites of information.bread 2

  • The hypnotic, heavenly, warm, welcoming aroma of freshly baked bread makes many of us feel that all is right with the world and provides a sense of comfort.
  • Researchers have found that the smell of baking bread triggers a positive mood that leads to a higher degree of benevolence, kindness, and concern for the welfare of others.

“Bread – like real love – took time, cultivation, strong loving hands, and patience. It lived, rising and growing to fruition only under the most perfect circumstances”. – Melissa Hill, Something from Tiffany’s

  • A fascinating thing about bread is that though it is often viewed as a “poverty fuel”, it can feel like a luxury to even the most monetarily wealthy of individuals.

“”There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread”. – Mahatma Gandhi

  • If you’re going to break bread with bread, go for healthy whole grain varieties for plenty of good-for-you minerals, vitamins, and fiber.

Break bread for a healthy life.


Author: Angela Hinkle –

Angela Hinkle is the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Agent in Escambia County.

Angela Hinkle

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Celebrate Earth Day, Then Make Earth Day Every Day!

Earth Day

Earth Day is honored around the world on April 22, with many festivals, activities and events being held in in the weeks prior. April 22 marks Earth Day. Help build a better future and preserve Mother Earth by committing to protect our environment year-round.

The origin of Earth Day is linked to the 1969 Santa Barbara, California oil spill. Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson, envisioned protecting the nation’s environment after the massive oil spill in California. This led to a movement to increase awareness of environmental pollution. Nelson, partnered with Congressman Pete McCloskey and Denis Hayes of Harvard University to put the Earth Day plan in motion. Earth Day, April 22, 1970 was the catalyst to increase environmental awareness and led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Hayes further expanded the Earth Day movement in 1990 into a global event.

Why do we need an Earth Day? Because it works! Earth Day broadens the base of support for environmental programs, rekindles public commitment and builds community activism around the world through a broad range of events and activities.

What can I do for Earth Day? The possibilities for getting involved are endless! Volunteer. Change a habit. Plant a garden. Do something nice for the Earth. April 22 marks Earth Day. Mark your calendar to attend an event or do something positive to preserve your little piece of Mother Earth.

A few Earth Day Events

Earth Day Bay County, April 9, 2016 10 am to 4 pm at McKenzie Park. The University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History will host an Earth Day Exploration on Saturday, April 16, 2016 from 10 am to 3 pm. Earth Day Pensacola, April 23, 2016 10 am to 4 pm. .


Author: Marie Arick –

Originally from Starkville, Mississippi, Arick obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Mississippi State University. With her bachelor’s degree in Fitness Management/Exercise Science, Arick spent 18 years in the medical field primarily in Cardiology before obtaining her Master’s degree in Health Promotion. “I witnessed first-hand the impact on one’s health and overall wellness produced by a serious ailment and the need for more educational programs to aid in improving the overall quality of life for people. This is not just isolated to health education and wellness, but also financial literacy and job skill programs as well. I feel addressing issues with a holistic approach can help people maximize their abilities and that small changes over time can provide a very positive and beneficial impact on people’s lives”

Marie Arick

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Small Steps Are the Key to Healthy Change

drinking waterOliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said, “The greatest thing in the world is not so much where we are, but in which direction we are moving.” That saying holds true when it comes to our health and our finances.

Health and personal financial issues affect millions of Americans. We struggle with epidemic obesity rates, over 79 million Americans have “pre-diabetes”, debt and bankruptcy filings remain high and millions of Americans live on the “financial edge” with less than the recommended three months’ emergency fund set aside for the future. Problems that develop gradually soon become overwhelming.

Many of us, when faced with the need to change, see our problems as unbeatable and “freeze” instead of moving forward. It is true that there is no easy way to lose weight, gain wealth or become debt-free. Even drastic fixes like weight loss surgery or bankruptcy come with huge risks. So, what is the secret?

According to Former HHS Secretary Tommy G.Thompson, small steps are the key! Mr. Thompson stated, “Consumers don’t need to go to extremes – such as joining a gym or taking part in the latest diet plan – to make improvements to their health. But they do need to get active and eat healthier.” No step is too small to get started and you can never be too early or too late. Examples might include walking during your lunch break, cutting out 100 calories a day, saving the change you accumulate each day or tracking your spending for a month. Anything you do daily over a period of time will soon become a habit, or an “automated” behavior. When your healthy behaviors become automated – no matter how small – you’ve just taken a step toward physical and/or financial wellness.

In the end, your health is in your hands. Set realistic goals, take small steps to reach them, learn from the obstacles and believe that you can achieve. And remember, “In the end, the only people who fail are those who do not try.” – David Viscott


Adapted from Small Steps to Health and Wealth, B. O’Neill and K. Ensle, 2013.


Author: Ginny Hinton –

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent with UF/IFAS. Focus areas include nutrition, food safety, injury prevention, and healthy families. Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from University of West Florida. Master’s degree in Public Health/Health Education from University of South Florida.

Ginny Hinton

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Renting Or Owning

renting or owningHome ownership means different things to different individuals.

  • “We feel that owning our own house is a sign of wealth.”
  • “We would purchase a house so our kids would be in the right school zone.”
  • “It was property we could sell once the children had moved out. We could down size and sell the house and use the funds toward retirement.”

You might purchase a home for one or all of the reasons listed above. Some people want the comfort but not the issues of lawn maintenance and repairs. Many of us have very busy schedules and do not want the hassle of maintenance.

In some cities you have the rising cost of leasing an apartment. It can be cheaper to purchase a house than rent an apartment. Always factor in utilities, lawn care, repairs, insurance and taxes. If you are buying your house, the insurance and taxes can be included with the mortgage.

Keep in mind that the interest you paid on your mortgage and taxes can be claimed on your income taxes. Your rent payment cannot be claimed on your income taxes. Equity also builds up in your home. Even if you are renting you should have renter’s insurance.

When renting, you have the freedom of movement once your lease has expired. If you own your house, you can rent it or sell it, but you would need to move.

Owning your home gives you freedom to decorate your home as you please. If you do not abide by the restrictions of your apartment lease, you could forfeit your deposit.


Whether you decide to own or rent is your personal choice. Make the right decision for you.




Author: sbouie –

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent in Jefferson County. I am a Florida A & M University graduate. My teaching experience includes Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Texas and South Korea.


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April: What’s in Season Now?

Can you believe Florida fresh fruits and veggies are supplied to 160 countries around the globe!  Particularly abundant right now are the vegetables commonly referred to as cruciferous vegetables.   (However, many scientists are starting to favor the term brassica vegetables over cruciferous vegetables)  These nutritious veggies are ones that you will want to eat on a regular basis as they are bursting with both macronutrients and micronutrients.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services lists, cabbage, cauliflower, and radishes as being abundant in April for world production.  Locally though, growers are  turning out broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, Chinese cabbage and arugula, as well as radishes.

cruciferous veggiesThere are many simple ways to include cruciferous/brassica vegetables into your diet.

  • Eat them raw! Raw vegetables can make a delicious, crunchy snack especially when served with a low-fat dip.
  • Use in recipes! Make slaw, soup or salad, main dishes and even condiments!
  • Substitute! Did you know steamed, mashed cauliflower can replace mashed potatoes? Or that coarsely grated cauliflower can replace rice?  Folks have even substituted a cauliflower mixture as pizza crust!  (okay, it might be a stretch but it does taste good)

Shopping, preparing and storing

  • Cruciferous/brassica vegetables are typically inexpensive and can also be found year-round, fresh or frozen.
  • Store raw, uncut and unwashed vegetables in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for up to five days.

Cooking methods:

There are three factors affecting nutrient loss when you cook cruciferous/brassica vegetables:

  1. Temperature
  2. Time
  3. Amount of water used.

The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible.

  • Using the microwave with a small amount of water essentially steams food from the inside out keeping more vitamins and minerals than almost any other cooking method.
  • Steam vegetables over a small amount of boiling water until a fork can just barely pierce it. (You can save the nutrients that are lost when steaming cauliflower by using the leftover water in a soup)
  • Braise, bake or broil, stir-fry or sauté

Cruciferous/brassica vegetables are very unique in that the flower, the root, the stalk and even the leaves can be eaten depending on which plant you are eating.

Try a cruciferous/brassica vegetable a new way or even try a new cruciferous/brassica vegetable a traditional way!


Cauliflower Salad

(Or even use a combination of cauliflower and broccoli and kohlrabi)


2 Tablespoons sliced or diced onion, red, green or white

1 head of cauliflower – including the tender stems, cut into small pieces (or even cut into small florets)

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon vinegar (red wine, white wine, apple cider, or rice wine)

¼ cup mayonnaise

½ cup dried cranberries (or favorite dried fruit)

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, vinegar and mayonnaise together.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss in the onion, cauliflower and cranberries and stir until well coated.  Eat it right away or savor for a few days.






Author: Heidi Copeland –

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Leon County Florida Educational Program Focus: •Food, Nutrition and Wellness •Child Development and Parenting

Heidi Copeland

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De-Clutter Your Financial Life

De-Clutter Your Financial Life

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

In spring cleaning mode? If so, now is the perfect time to de-clutter your financial life. Organizing important papers as well as purging unnecessary ones will reduce paper clutter and stress and help you to locate what you need when you need it. Let’s get started!

Store home files as follows:

  • Current files – day-to-day records. These include bank account information, bills and receipts, loan agreements, and certain medical information. For a list of suggested categories, check out Financial Recordkeeping: Organizing Your Financial Life.
  • Permanent files – on-going records used infrequently, such as employment and education records and health benefit information.
  • Dead storage – anything you feel uncomfortable discarding, such as old tax records or real estate you’ve sold. These can be stored in less accessible drawers or boxes.

Discard the following monthly: Credit card, grocery, ATM, and debit card receipts after they appear on the statement unless they are needed for taxes, business, or proof of purchase.

Keep these items for one year:

  • Paycheck stubs – save until you compare with your W-2 and Social Security earnings statements then shred.
  • Canceled checks and bank statements – shred unless needed for tax purposes or can be retrieved online.
  • Quarterly investment statements – double-check with year-end statements then shred.

How Long to Keep Tax Records
The IRS recommends 3-6 years for income tax records, worksheets, and documentation of deductions. Keep records for as long as needed for administration of the IRS code. Tax records often are useful in situations where financial history is relevant.

Do Not Toss:

  • Birth and death certificates, adoption decrees
  • Marriage licenses and divorce decrees
  • Social Security cards
  • Military discharge papers, including spouse, even if deceased
  • Immigration documents
  • Pension plan information from current and former employers
  • Estate planning documents
  • Life insurance policies
  • Titles for property still owned

De-clutter a section at a time – if the task seems overwhelming, work at it 15 minutes a day until you’re finished. Then, enjoy less stress with organized files!

Adapted from De-Clutter Your Financial Life, Julie England, UF/IFAS Extension Lake County, and Lisa Leslie, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 02/16.



Author: Judy Corbus –

Judy Corbus is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Washington and Holmes Counties.;

Judy Corbus

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Why Eggs?

Why Eggs?

This is the time of year when people hear “Easter,” they think of Easter egg hunt. Eggs can be used for more than just an Easter Egg Hunt, although Easter is when you can purchaseEgg picture eggs at their lowest price.

While eggs often are eaten for the protein value, they also contain other nutrients. Eggs provide vitamin A, riboflavin, minerals, and other vitamins. The yolk contains saturated fat and cholesterol, which is a concern for those with high cholesterol.

There is a vast variety of egg substitutes* on the market if you need to avoid the cholesterol. Some examples are:
o Egg whites ®
o Egg Beaters ®
o No eggs ®
o Egg Replacer ®
o Vegan Egg Replacer ®
o Gluten-free Egg Substitute ®

Why eggs? Because they are healthy – whether you select the real thing or a substitute.

*The use of trade names in this article is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this article does not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition.


Author: sbouie –

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent in Jefferson County. I am a Florida A & M University graduate. My teaching experience includes Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Texas and South Korea.


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“Egg”cellent Food Safety Tips for Your Holiday

“Egg”cellent Food Safety Tips for Your Holiday

Easter Egg picIt seems that everywhere you look, an egg hunt is being advertised, egg dye kits are on every corner in the store, and the Internet is a-buzz with cool decorating ideas. Keep in mind this season that this fun family activity could turn rotten if you forget food safety.

Outbreaks of foodborne illness, especially salmonella, have been associated with the improper preparation and storage of eggs. Salmonella is not something you want to remember when you think back to memories of decorating and hunting eggs in the spring.

Common symptoms of salmonella include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and headache. Children are one population most susceptible to foodborne illness.

There is no reason to worry about potential food safety hazards associated with your holiday eggs as long as you remember to follow these guidelines:

  • Clean and sanitize your hands, preparation area, and utensils before, during, and after the cooking process.
  • Use eggs that are clean and free of cracks and leaks.
  • Cook eggs completely – no rushing or short cuts. If you don’t have the time, pick another day to do it.
  • Use only food-grade dyes; these include food coloring and dye sold in egg dye kits.  Use beet juice, blueberry juice, etc. as alternatives to artificial dye.
  • Refrigerate eggs as soon as you are finished decorating or, if decorating later, after cooking and drying.
  • The refrigerator door is the warmest spot in your fridge; store eggs in the carton in the main compartment, not in the door.
  • Toss eggs that have been out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.  If eggs are not “found” or eaten, within this time, make the sacrifice and throw them away (of course, do this while the kids aren’t looking.)
  • When hiding eggs for a hunt, keep them in areas that are clean, free of dirt, and away from pets or pests.  Consider decorating one set for hunting and another for eating.
  • Hard-boiled eggs are safe for up to one week with proper cooking, storing, and handling procedures.

Keep these guidelines in mind for an “egg”cellent holiday with family, friends, and fun!



Author: jbreslawski –


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Starch Madness

Starch Madness

Starch MadnessStarchy foods are healthy – eat them! Starchy foods make you fat – don’t eat them! How do you score a healthy starch bracket with all this contradictory madness? For each round of your daily eating game, choose a variety of healthy starchy foods made up of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. These starchy foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are the main source of carbohydrates to provide our muscles, brain, and other organs with energy.

Choose starchy foods with little or no added fats, sugar, or sodium. Give these starchy foods a spin in your diet:  whole wheat flour, pumpkin, popcorn, brown rice, potato with the skin, corn, whole grain barley, acorn squash, oatmeal, quinoa, green peas, and plantains or bananas.

Try whole grain cereals for breakfast, a baked potato with the skin as part of your lunch, and squash with brown rice with your dinner.

Try to keep the processed white flour products with added sugar to a minimum. These starchy foods are the ones that tend to add on the pounds without the good-for-you nutrients.

Don’t just stay in the game, be a slam dunk winner! Eat healthy starchy foods every day.

For more information, check out this site from the American Diabetes Association.



Author: Angela Hinkle –

Angela Hinkle is the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Agent in Escambia County.

Angela Hinkle

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