May 25, 2018

Natasha Haynes, an African American female wearing a plaid dress shirt stands in a kitchen and uses tongs to mix food ingredients in a stainless steel bowl. A tall bottle of olive oil is on the table.

If you want an inexpensive vegetable, this time of year you can find zucchini *everywhere.* If you have friends with big gardens, they might even give it away. Some of my Extension agent friends in other states joke about locking their car doors to keep people from putting bags of this versatile squash in there when no one is looking! 

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A logo that represents the Mississippi Crop Situation Podcast. The logo contains graphics that represent a tractor, the sun and a plant.

New Mississippi Crop Situation Podcast

May 22, 2018

We’re excited to announce MSU Extension has recently launched the Mississippi Crop Situation Podcast!

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Pink coneflowers which are native to Mississippi.

Choose Native Plants for a Fuss-Free Landscape

May 18, 2018

Native plants are excellent choices for any landscape. They are adapted to the climate, which makes them low-maintenance. Planting native varieties of flowers, plants and shrubs provides food and shelter for native wildlife. (Photo by Tim Allison)

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A white bowl contains red grape tomatoes, sliced strawberries, sliced red apples, green sugar snap peas, orange carrots, and a dark purple grape.

Food Tossed is Money Lost: Tips for Saving Food and Money

May 15, 2018

Every weekend before I go grocery shopping, I clean out the refrigerator and experience guilt.

Partially full yogurt containers past their expiration date. Shriveling squash. Browning celery. Leftovers I saved with good intentions but never ate. (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

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Magnolia leaves star in a small floral arrangement with white flowers.

How to Use Magnolia Leaves in a Flower Arrangement

May 10, 2018

Magnolias are synonymous with Mississippi, and the leaves and flowers are popular materials for all kinds of floral arrangements – wreaths, swags, table runners and other seasonal arrangements. (Photo by Zac Ashmore)

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The Food Factor Logo

How to Make a Microwave Southwest Scramble

May 4, 2018

I love cooking eggs for breakfast. However, my omelets end up being more scrambled than the fancy folded-over works of art served in restaurants. With that in mind, I’m usually looking for quick and creative scrambled eggs ideas. (Photo by Zac Ashmore and Jonathan Parrish)

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A red-throated hummingbird hovers over a red geranium.

How to Attract Hummingbirds

May 3, 2018

Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures and fun to watch. We usually begin to see them in Mississippi in March. Here are a few tips to draw them to your landscape.

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A pan of prepared Italian sausages with onions and green and red peppers.

How to Make a Sheet Pan Italian Sausage & Pepper Bake

May 1, 2018

Everybody loves to save time in the kitchen. Sheet pan suppers have become a very trendy topic lately – Pinterest is LOADED with recipes and ideas. For me, a sheet pan meal is a surefire way to clean up in a hurry, because I line the pan with foil.

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The Food Factor logo is a light green pear with a chemistry beaker in the place of the A in the title, The Food Factor, on a peach-colored background.

Behind the Scenes with Natasha Haynes

April 27, 2018

I never knew how much I learned about cooking from my mother and her mother, whom we called Mou, until I grew up and started cooking on my own. With today’s busy lifestyles, many families no longer have the advantage of experienced home cooks passing their skills to the next generation. (Photo by Zac Ashmore and Jonathan Parrish)

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A coiled copperhead snake looks at the camera.

Learn How to Identify Snakes

April 24, 2018

If you like to enjoy the great outdoors during spring and summer, you are not alone.

Whether you’re out hiking, fishing, camping, kayaking, horseback riding, or working in your backyard, you’ll likely come across many types of wildlife, including snakes. Just the thought of a snake can cause many people to shudder with fear. But learning about the kinds of snakes you may encounter in your area and how they behave can help you avoid a dangerous encounter.

Most people refer to snakes as poisonous and nonpoisonous, but the actual scientific terms are venomous and nonvenomous...Read more

On the left is a close-up photo of a worker bee specimen, on the right is a close-up photo of a Southern yellow jacket specimen.

Honey Bee or Yellow Jacket?

April 19, 2018

A yellow-gold insect buzzes around your head and your first instinct is to swat. Or run. Or swat while running.

The fear of being stung can send me into fight or flight mode in seconds . . . and I’m a beekeeper. True story. No one likes being stung! (Photo by Mississippi Entomological Museum/Joe Macgown)

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About Extension for Real Life

Extension for Real Life is a product of the MSU Extension Service’s Office of Agricultural Communications.

That’s a long way of saying we are professional communicators who get to talk about food, families, 4-H, flowers, and farming for a living. Pretty good gig, right?

The three main writers for the blog are Ellen Graves (Seamstress of Social Media Strategy), Susan Collins-Smith (Content Connector) and Keri Lewis (Captain Cat Herder). But we get by with a lot of help from our friends in Ag Comm and Extension!

You can reach us at 662-325-2262 or extreallife@msstate.edu