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January 26, 2021

Chicken tortilla soup in a colorful bowl with a small glass bowl of cilantro in the background

In wintertime, I want to come home to a supper that’s ready to eat and will warm me up, inside and out. This spicy soup hits the spot! If you like more zip in your soup, use hot green chiles or hot salsa instead of mild.

Rinse the canned beans to reduce the sodium in this recipe and keep your broth clear. Don’t forget our handy trick for shredding chicken in a hurry: you can use a hand-held mixer on low speed to shred it!


A hand with a a grey glove on planting a series of bulbs in the soil.

Gardening Tasks for October

September 29, 2020

Video by Michaela Parker

We’ve finally made it to fall! The temperatures are dropping, the leaves are changing colors, and I can’t wait to purchase pumpkins and mums for my front porch! 

If you’re trying to stay on top of what tasks you should be doing in your yard and garden, check out these four for the month of October.

  1. It’s time to plant your spring flowering bulbs, such as daffodil, daylilly, & iris! Hold off on planting tulips and hyacinths until later in the year. If you purchase them now, place them in the refrigerator for
  2. ...
A person using their foot to shovel dirt from a trench.

How to Install a French Drain

September 25, 2020

Backyard drainage problems are not fun to deal with. A big rain comes and suddenly your backyard turns into a puddled mess! Having standing water in your yard can lead to turf diseases, mold, or wood rot to your home. Nobody wants to have to deal with that! Consider installing a French drain in your yard during the upcoming fall and winter months. A French drain allows water to naturally drain from your yard. 

Strawberry cookie dough balls coated in coconut on a plate

The Food Factor: Strawberry Oatmeal Cookie Balls

September 22, 2020

Fresh fruit is a delicious and healthy snack, but sometimes you need something more portable and less messy. That’s when homemade snacks, like these Strawberry Oatmeal Cookie Balls, come in handy!

What makes these healthier than regular cookies? The ingredients are high in fiber, natural sugars, and healthy fats. And they are loaded with flavor!

An assortment of litter retrieved from a watershed displayed on a wooden dock.

How to Reduce Pandemic Litter

September 18, 2020

Are you tired of seeing used masks and gloves dropped in the parking lot at the grocery store? Me, too!

“Pandemic litter” is a relatively new problem, but pollution is nothing new. I grew up watching the ad that admonished, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute!”

Battling the coronavirus requires the use of some single-use items, but they don’t have to end up on the ground!

Here are three tips to help keep Mississippi beautiful!

Potato salad in a small clear glass bowl

The Food Factor: Ranch Potato Salad

September 15, 2020

If you aren’t a fan of traditional potato salad, give this Ranch Potato Salad a try! Low-fat mayonnaise reduces the calories and fat to make this a healthier choice.

A bowl of uncooked brown rice.

Celebrate Rice Month with Tasty Recipes from The Food Factor

September 11, 2020

September is National Rice Month! So, let’s celebrate with some great tasting rice recipes that have been featured on the blog.

A woman stands in front of a brick wall.

How to Slow Brain Aging

September 8, 2020

Research shows that eating certain foods may slow brain aging. Here are some power foods to include in your diet.

Close-up of a fire ant mound

How to Reduce Fire Ants in Your Yard

September 4, 2020

If you want fewer fire ant beds in your yard, the best way to achieve that goal is to maintain a consistent management plan throughout the year.

Grilled sweet potato slices on a bright turquoise blue plate

The Food Factor: Grilled Sweet Potatoes

September 1, 2020

Just because sweet potatoes are harvested in the fall doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them year-round! With this recipe for Grilled Sweet Potatoes, you don’t even have to heat up the oven!

Four house plants in white pots.

Gardening Tasks for September

August 28, 2020

And just like that, we’re three-fourths through the year! Cooler temperatures will be here before we know it, hopefully sooner rather than later. Even though we all know the heat will stay around a little longer, it’s time to start preparing for fall and winter.

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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.

Blog content is created by a core team of communicators, including Susan Collins-Smith, Ellen Graves, Natasha Haynes, Keri Lewis, Michaela Parker, and Jonathan Parrish. 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