March 20, 2018

A piece of hardware cloth encircles a small, layered pile of organic waste.

Compost is a great soil conditioner. It helps the soil hold water and improves clay and sandy soils. Starting your own pile is easy and can help keep organic waste out of landfills. (Photo by Gary Bachman)

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Several rows of fruit including apple slices, tangerine segments, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes and a pear are arranged on a white platter in the shape of a turkey.

How to Make a Fun Fruit Appetizer for Thanksgiving

November 13, 2017

Need a healthy snack to keep everyone out of the kitchen while you cook on Thanksgiving? Or are you interested in skipping the cheesy contribution to the office party? Then check out this fun and easy fruit platter you can build in just minutes. If you have kids, you might get them to build it for you, and even snack on the fruit while they work!

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Close-up photos showing a side-by-side comparison of a red ladybug with black spots on a green leaf and an orange Asian lady beetle on a green leaf. (Photos by Canstock and MSU Extension Service)

From the Field: Beetles Invasion!

November 9, 2017

If you live in a wooded area, it’s likely you’ve already noticed: THEY’RE BAAA-AACK!

Every autumn Asian lady beetles start seeking shelter, and, given the lack of convenient caves around, wind up trying to overwinter in Mississippi homes.

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Invasive fire ants crawl over a mound of soil. (File photo by MSU Extension/Kat Lawrence)

Fire Ants: The War Continues

November 8, 2017

Just when we think we’ve conquered our tiny foes, it rains, and fresh fire ant mounds pop up in our yard.

Like many tasks around the house, fighting fire ants feels like a constant battle. My husband and I finally started seeing some progress when we followed recommendations from MSU Extension’s expert, Dr. Blake Layton. (Yeah, that’s a side benefit of my job, learning all kinds of practical information!)

You can find information specifically targeted for the areas in which you want to control fire ants at this dedicated fire ant ...Read more

A group of people stand beside a magnolia tree outside preparing to plant it as a way to honor Mississippi's bicentennial.

From the Field: Mississippi's Bicentennial

November 2, 2017

Did you know 2017 is the year Mississippi celebrates its bicentennial? That’s right—The state is 200 years old! You only turn 200 once, so MSU Extension wanted to do something to celebrate!
Since the state tree is a magnolia, we thought it would be great to encourage our Master Gardener clubs to plant one in their communities as a way to honor the bicentennial.

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Close-up of a fall decorative basket with pine cones, pumpkins, gourds and artificial flowers and grasses.

How to Make a Fall Decorative Basket

October 31, 2017

If you want to freshen up your fall décor or add a new piece to the mix, this project is for you. Our MSU Extension Service floral specialist Jim DelPrince shows you how to make an easy and pretty basket to hang on a wall or door.

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Two women stand while holding award plaques at the Mississippi Forestry Association annual meeting.

From the Field: To the Forest

October 26, 2017

We are excited to shine a spotlight on the Mississippi Forestry Association! They just concluded their annual meeting in Biloxi. Hurricane Nate almost interrupted, but the event was pulled off without a hitch!

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a thumbs up symbol for remembering to say thank you while trick or treating.

Trick-or-Treat Safety Tips

October 23, 2017

Halloween brings back all kinds of memories from my childhood. From uncomfortable masks to itchy, thick face paint, not all of my brilliant costumes turned out as well as I had imagined. When I got too old to go out, I loved to answer the door and ask the kids to demonstrate skills related to their costume. 

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A cotton baler drops a yellow-wrapped, round cotton bale in a cotton field.

From the Field: Southern Snow, or Cotton in the Delta

October 20, 2017

On one of my first visits to Mississippi, I bought a postcard featuring the iconic “Ski Mississippi” image of someone decked out in winter wear in the middle of a field of white that was obviously not snow.

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Sage green, bright orange, and golden Cinderella pumpkins line a hay-covered walkway at a pumpkin patch.

Which pumpkins are best for eating?

October 17, 2017

Most of the time I consider myself a person who exercises self-control. But take me to the pumpkin patch and I lose all reason. So many colors, shapes, and textures! Tiny pumpkins! HUGE pumpkins! I don’t want just one of each, I want multiples of everything available.

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A young girl stands beside a cow at the Mississippi State Fair.

From the Field: Mississippi State Fair

October 12, 2017

You see the Ferris wheel lit up, you smell the funnel cakes and you hear barn animal sounds….That’s right! It’s the Mississippi State Fair! Many 4-H’ers from across the state travel to Jackson for a chance to compete in the show ring. We wanted to share some of our favorite pictures from this past weekend!

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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