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February 23, 2021

A worker bee sips honey from a piece of honeycomb in a frame.

While it seemed like winter would never end last week, many parts of Mississippi are already experiencing spring-like temperatures. I can’t think about the return of spring without thinking about bees!

For several years, my husband and I kept several bee colonies after he took an MSU Extension beekeeping course. When people ask us how to get started beekeeping, it’s no surprise our first recommendation is always, “Talk to your local Extension agent!”


Baked boneless porkchops on sliced sweet potatoes topped with orange slices in a glass baking dish

The Food Factor: Orange Sweet Potato Pork Chops

May 8, 2020

If you are cooking for just one or two, this recipe is for you! It features one of our favorite ingredients – Mississippi-grown sweet potatoes. You can expand this recipe as needed for a larger crowd.

You’ll want to save this recipe for a weeknight when you have a little extra time or cook it on the weekend, as it requires browning the pork chops first, then baking them.

I love the combination of tangy, sweet, and savory flavors! While the recipe doesn’t specify an order, The Food Factor crew put the sweet potatoes on the bottom of the baking dish with a sprinkle of cinnamon, then we topped the potatoes with the chops. Sprinkle the meat with a bit of salt and pepper before the orange slices.

A bowl of blueberry baked oatmeal.

Breakfast Recipe Roundup

May 5, 2020

My husband and I cook dinner at home 99 percent of the time. Now that we are practicing social distancing under the governor’s safer-at-home order, our kitchen is really getting a workout.

Hands typing on laptop keyboard

5 Tips to Help Manage Personal Finances During COVID-19

May 1, 2020

If social distancing measures and the shelter-in-place order have left you with reduced income or without a paycheck, we have some tips to help you take control of your finances.

A group of purple, yellow, and red petunias.

Gardening Tasks for May

April 28, 2020

With so many Mississippians staying at home more than usual, it’s the perfect time to start planning your summer landscape. 

A pile of blueberries

Tips for Harvesting Blueberries

April 24, 2020

Blueberries are a nutrient- and antioxidant-rich food. Harvesting them at the peak of ripeness ensures you get the greatest health benefits and the best taste.

slices of French toast on a colorful plate

The Food Factor Makeover: French Toast

April 21, 2020

Traditionally, French toast recipes include white bread, eggs, butter and/or oil, and maple syrup. This French toast makeover substitutes whole wheat bread for white bread, mashed banana for the egg, and cooking spray for the oil. As long as you top it with fruit instead of butter and maple syrup, this French toast has a fraction of the calories compared to the traditional option.

A person holding a fork and plate with food on it.

Ideas to Help Avoid Stress Eating

April 17, 2020

The current COVID-19 pandemic may have you feeling more stressed than usual. With the amount of time spent at home, all of the food in your kitchen is at your fingertips at any time of the day.

four hummingbirds feed at two feeders.

Keep Hummingbirds Coming Back to Your Yard

April 14, 2020

Hummingbirds are now out in full force. The arrival of these tiny acrobats marks the beginning of spring, and people love to put out feeders for them.

A person running with purple tennis shoes on.

Tips for Exercising At Home

April 10, 2020

I had a friend challenge me recently to pick up one good habit during this period of social distancing. Use this time to establish good habits for health and exercise!

A light pink native azalea.

Top Six Plants for Shade

April 7, 2020

With some spare time on your hands, now is a great time to think about ways to spruce up your landscape over the next year.

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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