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May 7, 2021

A black and white skunk.

A skunk knows how to make its presence known. With their furry black and white coats and pungent odor, they’re hard to miss! Mississippi is home to two species of skunks: the spotted skunk and the striped skunk. The striped skunk is the most commonly found skunk in the state and are easily identified by, you guessed it, a white stripe on their back. 


A white mask hanging on Christmas garland.

Tips for a Happy, Healthy Holiday Season

December 4, 2020

Looking for the top gift to give your loved ones this holiday season? Here’s an idea: a COVID-free celebration! The holidays are normally a time when we open our homes to friends and family and celebrate together. The spread of COVID-19 has caused us all to reimagine the way we enjoy the holidays. 

Just how do you celebrate this time of year, while limiting the spread of COVID-19?? It’s not an easy answer, but here are a few tips to help your holidays be as safe and festive as possible. Please note, this information is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease...

Hot cocoa sprinkled with cinnamon in a terra cotta mug

The Food Factor: Spiced Cocoa

December 1, 2020

Nothing says “happy holidays” like a cup of hot cocoa! This year, treat yourself to a homemade treat—spiced cocoa from scratch!

Sure, opening a premade mix is easy, but once you try these delicious homemade options, it will be hard to go back to the packets!

Enjoy, and happy holidays from The Food Factor crew!

Yellow flowers turned brown.

Gardening Tasks for December

November 27, 2020

12/12. We’ve finally reached the end of 2020. I think everyone can agree that it’s been a heavy year. Here’s to 2021, right? I hope staying active in your lawn and garden has brought you a sense of normalcy during this crazy year. If anything, hopefully it’s been a good distraction!

Oven-roasted carrots in a clear glass bowl

The Food Factor: Balsamic Roasted Carrots

November 24, 2020

Need a quick side dish? Tired of your usual preparation methods? Try these Balsamic Roasted Carrots for a budget-friendly, flavorful veggie that goes with almost any main dish!

roasted turkey on a platter with herbs, cranberries, and orange slices

Don’t Rinse Your Turkey!

November 20, 2020

Before you put that giant turkey in the sink, STOP! Rinsing your bird before baking won’t reduce your chances of foodborne illness.

In fact, if you rinse the turkey, you have a greater chance of getting sick because of cross-contamination.

Butternut macaroni and cheese in a clear glass bowl.

The Food Factor: Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

November 16, 2020

For many people, macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Traditionally, this calorie-laden dish is loaded with fat, fat, and more fat, plus simple carbohydrates in the pasta. Definitely not on the menu for people interested in healthier foods!

But wait! You can have your mac and eat it too!

Closeup of ornaments and lights on a Christmas tree

How to Care for a Real Christmas Tree

November 13, 2020

Choosing, cutting, and bringing home a real Christmas tree is a fun, family tradition that makes memories to last a lifetime. If you plan to have a real tree this year, be sure to observe some safety rules.

A woman smiles in a kitchen.

How Nutrition Impacts Diabetes

November 9, 2020

More than 308,000 Mississippians live with diabetes, and approximately 600,000-750,000 Mississippians have prediabetes. Managing diabetes starts with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Balancing what you eat is a great place to start. Here are a few tips!

A close-up of a campfire.

How to Build a Campfire

November 6, 2020

Video by Michaela Parker

Cooler temperatures mean it’s campfire season! There’s nothing like spending time outside roasting marshmallows over an open fire. Whether you’re in your back yard or on a camping trip, knowing how to build a campfire is a skill everyone needs to know! You never know when knowing how to build one will come in handy. 

  • Prepare your area. It’s recommended to select an area away from flammable materials. Choose an open area that’s clear of trees. If you’re building a campfire from the ground up, build a
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pumpkin spice oatmeal muffins on a colorful plate

The Food Factor: Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins

November 3, 2020

Whether you love or hate the pumpkin spice craze that takes over every fall, you can’t deny that pumpkin is a healthy food! High in fiber, low in calories, and packed with vitamin A, pumpkin is a terrific addition to your diet.

When shopping for pumpkin puree, be sure you don’t buy pumpkin pie filling. For even healthier muffins, substitute whole-wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour. You can make these in a mini-muffin pan or in a standard-size muffin pan.

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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