Friday, August 26, 2011

Local Ladies are Enjoying Sewing

Vickie Dumford, Cathy Bevin and Vicki Watson proudly displaying their totes made in the Cherokee County Sewing and So-On Class!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grape Creek Extension and Community Association Sew Up Some Love

Who doesn’t love a Teddy Bear? The members of the Grape Creek Extension and Community Association demonstrated this in a big way with their Victory Junction Bears. The Victory Junction Gang Camp is a camp for terminally ill, and chronically ill children located in Randleman, NC. The camp was created in the memory of Adam Petty, teenage son of Kyle Petty. Adam was killed in a racing practice accident in 2000. The Victory Junction Gang Camp is open year –round for campers. When the campers arrive at VJGC, they receive a hand made Teddy Bear. The bears must be made using black and white checkered fabric. Cherokee County Victory Junction Bears are certainly well represented since the Grape Creek members assembled over eighty bears for the campers.
The teddy bear committee worked tirelessly cutting, sewing, and stuffing the Victory Junction Teddy Bears. The rest of the club was very supportive and assisted in the efforts to complete the bears and deliver them to the camp located in Randleman, NC. Since part of the Grape Creek ECA mission is volunteer work, what better way to show the great spirit of Grape Creek volunteerism than the labor of love involved with the Victory Junction teddy bear project.

Photo 1 – Teddy Bear Committee
Left to right:
Robin Johnson, Ann Mingus, Sue Rhodes, Jan Rose, Madelyn Rose, Joyce Pastore, Carolyn Willer

Photo 2 – Grape Creek Members
Left to right:
Front row: Glenda Sneed, Neva Jean Whitener, Madelyn Rose, Francis Fisher, Glenda Sanders, Vera Bond, Clydie Rogers
Back row: Ethel Fisher, Joyce Pastore, Jan Rose, Carolyn Willer, Jane Kidd, Della Johnson, Jenny Keith, Ann Mingus, Helen Dockery, Shirley Whitener, Sue Rhodes, Robin Johnson.

Photo 3 – Sue Rhodes
Photo 4 – Robin Johnson

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Preparing for 4-H District Activity Day

There’s nothing that quite compares to a project completed. At the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year two students met with me each day after school to learn basic sewing skills. Leah Wood, fifteen and Alyssa Marescalco, thirteen consequently applied these skills to a presentation to be used at the North Carolina 4-H District Activity Day that was held on June 23rd in Cullowhee. Leah decided to focus her presentation on “The Shock Factor of Fashion.” Alyssa took a different approach by researching the history of brocade and damask fabrics both woven on the Jacquard loom. Leah and Alyssa both learned many sewing techniques including how to operate a different type of sewing machine, the serger. Leah fashioned her dress of emerald green satin after one that was worn in the movie musical “Burlesque.” Alyssa decided to construct a garment that would have been typically made from brocade. Her Shakespearean period costume featured a soft white under dress layered with a brocade over dress. The dark teal over dress was trimmed with silver. The bodice and the sleeves of Alyssa’s dress both featured silver lace ups. The girls have been working on their presentations since they completed the actual costumes that will be worn to illustrate their individual topics. Hopefully the girls will take the skills that they learned this year and apply them to a project for the 2012 District Activity Day.

Pictured: Alyssa Marescalco

Teresa's Purple Peppers

Purple. Purple, and more Purple! My purple plot has started producing. I have harvested purple eggplant, purple peppers, purple Brussel sprouts, and even purple green beans! The purple green beans are so tender and without any strings. It is so fascinating to watch them cook-they go from deep purple to green! The best part is that you know that you are getting antioxidants from the purple phytochemicals. Keep watching the blog as more purple is harvested!

Vickie Dumford and Her Sewing Skills

Vickie Dumford is the master of recycling using her sewing skills. She recently purchased curtains that simply did not give her the desired effect that she was after. In true Scarlet O’Hara style, Vickie took those curtains and made a lovely mandarin styled dress. She learned the new skills of applying a zipper and a mandarin style collar. Vickie is a great student who is eager to learn more sewing skills in the “Sewing and So-On” program that is scheduled to begin July 11th at the Agriculture Learning Center in Murphy, NC.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Good News About Fruits and Vegetables

More good news on eating more fresh fruits and vegetables- they help with cholesterol levels! Most contain lots of fiber, which lowers cholesterol. Why then do so many of us have problems getting enough fruits and vegetables? One problem is that too many of us have become accustomed to convenience. We prefer the foods that require minimal prepping and consequently are often highly processed. Many balk at having to wash, peel, slice, and serve. Stated as such it seems pretty. Choose a time to prep your fruits and vegetables when you are not pressed for time. Then store the good food in proper storage containers and use within a few days. I also think that many of us are bored with the same fruits and vegetables that we have been eating for years. Look for new recipes to give the produce a new taste. Also, since we are becoming a more global world look for fruits and vegetables that you have never tried before. Have you ever tasted jicama, artichokes, arugula, daikon, rutabaga, fennel, butternut squash, or parsnips? Fruits that you may not have tried include mango, papaya, guava, kiwi, pummelo, quince, lychee fruits, passion fruit, pomegranate, kumquats, and ugli fruit. I was curious about the ugli fruit and found that “UGLI® is the registered trade mark under which Cabel Hall Citrus Ltd. markets its brand of tangelos from Jamaica. You should make it a goal to try at least one new type of produce every week. This could be fun and help prevent boredom with our fruit and vegetables. The following recipe is from the George Mateljan Foundation.
Calabacitas (Mexican-flavored vegetable side dish)
Total Time: 20 minutes Serves 4
• 1 medium onion, sliced thin
• 4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
• 2 cups zucchini, 1/2 -inch cubes
• 2 cups yellow squash, 1-inch cubes
• 15 oz diced tomatoes, drained
• 4 oz diced green chili
• 1 TBS + 3 TBS chicken or vegetable broth
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
• 3 TBS fresh chopped fresh oregano (or 1 TBS dried oregano)
• salt and black pepper to taste
• *Optional: drizzle with olive oil before serving
1. Slice onion and chop garlic and let sit for 10 minutes to bring out their health-promoting benefits.
2. Heat 1 TBS broth in 11-12 skillet. Sauté onions in broth over medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring frequently, until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
3. Add zucchini, yellow squash, remaining broth, green chili, and cook for another 3 minutes or so until vegetables are tender, stirring often. Add tomatoes and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.
4. Add herbs, salt, and pepper.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Preserving the Bounty

It feels as though summer has been here for a couple of months instead of being a couple of weeks away. Most of us agreed not to complain about hot weather if we could ever see the end of our long cold winter. Our memories get very short when we must make good on such promises. Well it is hot and that can be a good thing if you have a garden planted. It is that bright warm sunshine that makes the tomatoes sweet and the other garden vegetables have the wonderful summer flavors. Now is the time to start planning how you will use the bounty that can be harvested from even a small garden plot. Remember that most of the summer vegetables are low acid and need to be preserved using a pressure canner if you are planning to can the vegetables. There is also the option of freezing and dehydrating in addition to canning. Simple dehydrators can be constructed to dry apples, tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables. I have talked to some people who prefer to dehydrate their green beans. These are called leather britches. Fruit can also be pureed and dried to make fruit leathers. Dehydrated foods are perfect for people who enjoy camping and hiking. High acid foods, which include most fruits, can be preserved using the hot water bath. Of course making jams and jellies is another option for preserving fruits. If you are concerned with the large amount of sugar that is used with the jams and jellies, look for a recipe that uses less sugar or low sugar pectin recipes. The tomato varieties that we have today have less acid than some of the heirloom varieties. These tomatoes can still be preserved using the hot water bath but lemon juice needs to be added to the tomatoes to make them more acidic. If you plan to make a batch of tomato vegetable soup using a variety of vegetables, plan to preserve that soup either by freezing or using the pressure canner. The low acid vegetables need to be pressure canned. Botulism is the concern of low acid foods. When water boils in a hot water bath it never gets hotter than 212 degrees, the boiling point of water. The botulism spore can only be killed at temperatures that are around 240 degrees. The only way to get to this temperature is using the pressure canner. Another option for any extra produce that you may have is to donate excess food to the local food banks in the county. There are many people in the county that are not able to plant a garden and can certainly use the extra food!

Teresa Wiley
FCS Agent

Friday, May 27, 2011

Teresa's Newest Friend

I am convinced that some of Cherokee County’s greatest resources are the people living here. I continue to meet the most interesting people. I recently received a call from Cliff Wilbur after he read one of my articles. He invited me to come out and visit for a while, that it would definitely be worth my time. He was so right! Cliff has carved out an amazing organic garden on the top of his multi acre mountain top farm. We strolled down the gravel roads that he has created as he pointed out the various plants. He has his own method of selective propagation. He simply selects the hardiest, best tasting of his fruits and vegetables and saves the seed for next year’s planting. While this method is not extremely complicated, it seems to be a proven method that is working very well for him. It proves to me that a PhD in agriculture is not needed to be successful gardener. As a retired high school principal, Mr. Wilbur moved into the area with a keen interest in organic gardening and a sincere love and respect for the land. He could inspire anyone to be better stewards of the land. This directly relates to his additional concern for healthy living and assisting his fellow man. He told me that he gives away baskets of fresh organic fruits and vegetables every year. He is more than willing to help anyone who is willing to help themselves. As for healthy living, he appears to be a specimen of good health at 80 years of age. Clear skin, a light step and clear blue eyes tell me that he pays attention to his diet and exercise. Just walking the steep roads on a daily basis gives him plenty of aerobic exercise. He filters all of his water for purity. Combine this with his organic food and you have the perfect combination for good health. His daughter, Vickie, lives with him and assists him with the daily chores of maintaining the property. She graciously treated me to strawberry shortcake with home made whipped cream that she has just made. The strawberries had been harvested on the morning of my visit. It just doesn’t get any better! In keeping with my love of receiving plants from friends, Cliff gave me my very own little peach tree. He showed me how he tenderly plants the new trees beside a bamboo stalk and prunes away the excess leaves as the new little tree grows straight, tied along side the bamboo stalk. You have probably already guessed the name of my new little peach tree- yep, Cliff it is!

Teresa Wiley
FCS Agent

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Everyone Needs Sewing Skills

It seems that sewing skills are becoming a thing of the past. At one time, most of the schools taught basic sewing skills. Once you mastered your project, usually an apron, most students retained at least enough knowledge to make clothing repairs. Many students went a step further and attempted sewing clothing for themselves and their children. I think that it is a great loss that sewing has been removed from many schools. I have had several requests from adults who wish to learn how to sew. They either missed their chance while in school or simply want to become more proficient. At the extension office I offer Thursday afternoon sewing for adults and for students after school. These sessions are informal with the participants working on individual projects. I am present to answer questions and offer guidance. During the summer I plan to offer an 8 to 10 week sewing program that will cover specific skills. We will discuss sewing machine operation and minor maintenance. Included in this portion will be operating the serger or overlock machine. Other topics include zipper application, pockets, sleeves, casings, collars, and facings. These skills can also be used when sewing items other than clothing. Many dollars can be saved sewing items such as curtains, decorative pillows, pillow shams, and bed-skirts. I have found that I thoroughly enjoy finding a spread or comforter that I like and then coordinate other fabrics with it to make the accessories. I can create my own interior designer look for a lot less money. I can never seem to find bed skirts that are long enough. I have bought a bed skirt and added a contrasting layer to make it longer. Of course if I make the entire bed skirt I do not have a problem getting it long enough. Curtains are fairly easy and quick. Draperies, on the other hand, are another story. I really need to be in the mood to tackle draperies! Pinch pleats must be accurately measured for the pleats to be even. It is really a mathematical challenge because the return must be calculated for each panel also. Thus, I submit to purchasing if I want draperies. I have assisted many mommies decorating their baby’s nursery. This is so much fun and the possibilities are endless with all of the cute fabric prints on the market today. The main problem with sewing is finding a good fabric source. Many of the fabric stores are out of business. I am sure that this is partly because the number of people sewing has dropped dramatically in the past twenty years. There are still good fabric stores available if you are willing to make the drive!

Keeping Food Safe After the Storm

North Carolina has not been traditionally known as another tornado alley. However, some would wonder as we witness our recent turbulent weather. With any severe weather power outages are sure to follow. As food prices escalate every day, we all need to know how to keep our food safe in the event of loss of power. If you keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed, your food will be safe for a while. If food is kept at 41 degrees or cooler, it should last for several days. If food in the freezer does begin to thaw, it can be refrozen if ice crystals are still present. According to the Cooperative Extension specialist at Clemson University, “Leave the freezer door closed. A full freezer should keep food safe about two days, a half-full freezer, about a day. If freezer is not full, group packages together quickly. Group meat and poultry to one side or on separate trays so their juices will not contaminate each other or other foods if the meat and poultry thaw. Then avoid opening the freezer door to prevent the cold air from escaping.” The food specialist with the NC Cooperative Extension Service provides helpful info sheets that can be accessed using the following link: WWW.FOODSAFETYINFOSHEETS.COM
If food has been thawed and not refrigerated for two hours or more, do not taste the food to determine if it is safe. Some food may look and smell fine but still contain dangerous pathogens. The extension service also provides other helpful tips regarding food. For example, did you know that you could hasten the ripening of fruit such as tomatoes, peaches, and pears if you place them in a closed brown paper bag with an apple or banana? Good to know since much of our produce comes from distant farms and is often under ripe at the time of purchase. As the fresh produce season arrives, it is also important to remember that safety precautions are needed with cloth shopping bags. They need to be washed weekly since harmful bacteria can cling to the fibers of these bags. We are definitely helping our environment by using these bags instead of plastic bags. However, we need to pay attention and probably just get in the habit of tossing the fabric bags in the washing machine after each shopping trip. I even have one fabric bag that is insulated for transporting

Miss Jessie Cox

May is upon us and everything has never looked greener! Many of us who have children are secretly hoping that our mother’s day gift might include some beautiful plants for our yards. I enjoy receiving perennials. Then as the plant comes back each year I am reminded of the person that gave me the plant. I also enjoy receiving plants that friends dig up for me from their yards. I always name the plant after the person. I suppose this custom started with me when I was in the fifth grade. My teacher at the time, Miss Jessie Cox gave me a little Dixie cup with a very small chrysanthemum that I was to give my mother for mother’s day. I placed the little cup under my bed so that it would be a surprise for my mother. Now my mom was not an avid gardener and seemed to have very little interest in plants of any sort. So here I go. I plant the little flower beside the front porch. Soon it was infested with little varmints; aphids I later determined. All that I knew at the time was that some sort of bug was on my beloved little plant that Miss Cox entrusted to my care. I devised my own pesticide. I had a bottle of strong perfume that I considered unsuitable but could not bring myself to throw away. My little plant was doused with the “smelly” perfume. Guess what – the bugs didn’t like the scent either. The little plant somehow survived my dad’s lawn mower and multiplied each year. The plant, now known as Miss Jessie Cox has accompanied me on all of my moves since college. Miss Jessie Cox has now been faithfully planted from coast to coast. Since this little plant, I have added more personalities to my flower garden. There was the Ginger Iris bed, the Cathy hostas, and now I even have the Barbara Forsythia. When I moved to my house in Murphy, the one endearing thing that probably sold me on the house was the yard and all the plants. Bill and Charlene Brackett gave me a tour of the yard pointing out different plants and their origins. There were many rose bushes and rhododendrons that were mother’s day gifts from Charlene’s children. Charlene loves purple so most of these plants are shades of purple and lavender. There were also bushes from Charlene’s mother’s yard. The yard is a cacophony of colors and varieties. I knew a lady from my previous home that had an interesting comment about different colors in one’s yard. She said, “What God sends, blends.” I like this philosophy. I never did like things too “matchy, matchy!”

Poor Nutrition Results in Overweight Children

I am especially concerned for our youth who are dependent on their caretakers for general health needs. Children must be given nutritious food to meet their growing needs. Fast food and convenience foods that are consumed on a regular basis do not provide all of the essential vitamins and minerals that growing bodies need. When poor nutrition is combined with low physical activity levels, the result is overweight children. Not only are these children overweight, they are showing symptoms of chronic disease once seen primarily in adults. More and more children are being diagnosed with type II diabetes. Our children are also showing symptoms of brittle bones. This is mainly because children are drinking less milk and participating in very few exercises that are weight bearing. Weight bearing exercises would be jumping rope, climbing trees, doing pull-ups, and simply chasing each other. Many statisticians feel that the current generation may be the first in a very long time to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. As a result of these staggering statistics we are being bombarded with news articles, specials on television and books addressing the problem of being overweight. It seems that children are not the only overweight segment of our population. Over 60% of North Carolinians are either overweight or obese. This is the popular buzzword –obesity. Most of us tend to associate obesity with morbid obesity, extreme overweight. Television reality shows are exploiting our concern with obesity. We can see everything from the Biggest Losers to a sitcom featuring an overweight policeman and his wife. This is not a totally new trend. Rose Ann and her husband were the average overweight American middle class couple years ago. It is about time that we wake up and face the dangers of being overweight. Health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes are known to be associated with excessive weight. Add to that the fact that many insurance companies are now increasing premiums to the health insurance policy if the policyholder is overweight.
Another health risk that may make your premium increase is if you use tobacco products. It is a shame that our general population needs the insurance companies to force us to take responsibility for our own health.
Take a long hard look at yourself and your family. Answer these few questions to determine whether your family needs to make some changes!
1. Are all family members in the healthy weight range according to reliable weight charts?
2. Do all family members get regular physical exercise appropriate for their age? (Children need at least an hour each day)
3. Does the family eat meals at home at least five out of the seven days?

Teresa Really Does Practice What She Preaches!!!!

Hooray! We are officially in season for fresh fruits and vegetables! Shannon Coleman, the Cherokee County 4-H agent surprised me on my birthday with a fruit medley instead of the traditional birthday cake! Since I have been lovingly dubbed the food police around our office, the fruit was greatly appreciated! I will be able to indulge on my “cake” all day long and will not have the remorse of falling off my healthy eating wagon! I am nibbling on grapes, pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries, and watermelon. Just this morning I was reading an article about the health benefits of strawberries.
The following strawberry smoothie recipe has about 174 calories and is packed with the health benefits of strawberries.

Strawberry Smoothie

Prep and Cook Time: 5 minutes
• 4 large strawberries
• ¼ cup low-fat plain yogurt
• 1 cup fresh orange juice
• 1 TBS tahini
• 1 medium size banana
• ½ tsp vanilla
• 1 TBS honey

1. Remove stems from strawberries and wash.
2. Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth.
Serve 2 (8 oz glass servings)

According to the George Mateljan Foundation, “researchers have recently ranked the 50 best antioxidant sources among commonly eaten foods and found strawberries to be quite exceptional. When total antioxidant capacity was measured against a uniform amount of food (100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces), strawberries ranked 27th best among U.S. foods. In addition, when only fruits were considered, strawberries came out 4th among all fruits (behind blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries.)” Strawberries are a popular fruit for many desserts. While the strawberries provide that exceptional color and flavor, the added sugar probably negates the health benefits of strawberries. The same would hold true for strawberry jams and jellies. Enjoy the season of strawberries! They are in peak season right now and best enjoyed just as they are when picked! Simply rinse and enjoy. Remember, strawberries should not be soaked in water. They tend to absorb too much water.

Helen Dockery Inducted into ECA Hall of Fame

We have Hall of Fame awards for many of life’s accomplishments. There are Hall of Fame awards for sports, writers, actors, and the list goes on. I am proud to add one more Hall of Fame to the list- ECA Hall of Fame. ECA stands for Extension and Community Association. There are two ECA groups in Cherokee county. There are the Bizzy Bees ECA and the Grape Creek ECA. Helen Dockery, long standing member of the Grape Creek ECA has been a member for over forty years. She has recently received notification that she will be inducted into the North Carolina ECA Hall of Fame. Congratulations to Helen! Helen will receive her honor at the North Carolina state ECA meeting on May 25th in Raleigh. Helen has many fond memories of her years as an ECA member. She remembers the day when the Family and Consumer Science agent, then called the Home Agent, would travel throughout the county delivering programs to the ECA members. During the peak of ECA clubs in the county, there have been nine organizations. Gone but not forgotten are the clubs that have since disbanded:
Texana, Martin’s Creek, Sunrisers, Grape Creek Lady Volunteers, Peachtree, Ranger, and Valley Town. Programs from the home agent often covered life skills that could help improve conditions for the rural family. Everything from parenting skills to canning programs was delivered in local homes. Some of the programs were just for fun- such as making candles and mattresses and hat decorating. I imagine there were some fancy bonnets in the Easter Parade in Cherokee County some years back! Helen values the education that she received from the home agent and the ECA programs. Helen states that she is very proud and appreciative of the education that she received from Cooperative Extension. She attributes her knowledge and love of ECA to the county home agent, Miss Thelma Wheeler. “She made us want to do better,” states Helen as she fondly recalls the stern home agent. Her no nonsense approach to rural living helped the local families strive to improve their homes. Today we tend to take advantage of our indoor plumbing and screened windows and doors. Miss Wheeler, who had previously worked in Kentucky, pushed the local residents to strive for these two household amenities, if nothing else. Helen says that she remembers when most people did not have grass in their yards. I also remember my own mother talking about sweeping the front yard since there was no grass. Helen also recalls a conversation with Miss Wheeler. She warned Miss Wheeler that the rural residents of Cherokee County might not be quite as behind as Kentucky but our folks are mighty prideful!

Teachers at Ranger are Getting Healthy

Teachers at Ranger and Murphy schools are on board for Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less! I believe in this program and am very excited to have so many participants involved for the next fifteen weeks. Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less is dedicated to encouraging people to eat better and move more! Participants decide on their own personal goal, weigh in each week, and participate in class discussions about strategies to achieve their goal. We discuss the importance of realizing that involvement in this program is a life-long commitment. With all the demands that families must juggle on a daily basis, it is often difficult to carve out the time to take care of yourself. For optimum health benefits, it is recommended that we try to be physically active for about 300 minutes a week. This could be interpreted as working out an hour a day for five days. Making time to exercise for an hour each day, Monday through Friday would leave the weekends free! Of course, we still need to be diligent with our food intake. I also think that it is important to practice moderation. Depriving yourself completely of any one food will make that particular food become almost obsessive. However, if you really are craving chocolate, permit yourself to eat a very small amount, just enough to curb the craving. Now, don ‘t tell me that your craving for chocolate can only be satisfied with a pound of chocolate! Discipline, discipline, discipline is the name of the game. It may take a week or so for your metabolism to get on board with your new daily routine. If you have not been exercising for a while, your muscles will probably be a little sore at first. This will pass. Your digestive system might also be a little upset if you suddenly change your eating habits. An increase in fiber may upset your system a little. Soluble fiber is found in your fresh fruits and vegetables and is a great way to insure that you feel full. Insoluble fiber is found in many of the peelings and in some of the fiber cereals. While your system does not directly absorb insoluble fiber, this fiber does help remove your body’s waste efficiently. I am very proud of the Ranger teachers who have completed several weeks of ESMMWl. After their first week the seventeen participants lost a total of 44 pounds. This was a fantastic achievement since the recommended safe amount of weight to lose per week is 2 pounds. The group seems to be dedicated and having a fun time so far. Good luck teachers!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Watch for Spring Scams

A few warm days and I am pulling out the screwdrivers and paintbrushes! Depending on the outside temperature. I am also anxious to get back to yard work. While I am able to do many small household chores myself, I know my limitations and call in the professionals when a job goes beyond my capabilities. Spring seems to be a time when many scammers come out of the woodwork. There was a recent scam reported on one of the Chattanooga news channels. A team of men rode through neighborhoods asking if they could repair damaged driveways. Their work was extremely inadequate and they workers were nowhere to be found when victims tried to complain about the quality of the work. Unfortunately these scammers seem to focus on the elderly in many cases. According to Carolyn L. Bird, Family and Resource Management Specialist for North Carolina State University, a paving scam press release appeared 2/25/2011 from Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Raleigh: A Forsyth County man is under court order to stop performing driveway paving and gravel work, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
“Paving scams often pop up in different parts of the state, change company names frequently and disappear when consumers catch on to their con,” Cooper said. “By being vigilant and not giving into high-pressure tactics, homeowners can protect their money and help us catch the scammers.”
To check out a home repair company or file a complaint against one, North Carolina consumers can call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within state. Consumers can also file a complaint online.
Contact: Jennifer Canada, (919) 716-6413
Even though we are not in the Raleigh area, we are not protected against unethical contractors in our area. Many times these people are from other places and are passing through our area with their services. If you are in need of a professional, ask someone who has lived in the area for a number of years. They may have had similar work done or know someone else who has paid to have work done for them. Local contractors are less likely to be scammers since they live in the area and cannot afford bad references. However, there could be differences in the quality and price of services rendered, even in local communities. Once again, asking several people for local recommendations will probably give you names you can trust. There is still the possibility that you might not be satisfied with the results. I recently purchased a used riding lawnmower. I felt that I had taken the necessary precautions. The mower made exactly one loop around my yard before smoke poured out from the engine. Bottom line, be extremely cautious, and do your homework before writing the check!

Teresa Wiley
FCS Agent

Less is Best at Moog!

For the next eight weeks I will be doing a program for Moog employees called “Less is Best!” The central theme is to cook using less energy, less time and less money. The classes at Moog on Less is Best are held during the employee lunch period. Most of us have such a busy schedule that spending less time in the kitchen preparing meals is important to us. Shortcuts in the kitchen are also important as I try to convince people to prepare and eat more of their meals at home. Eating at home can save you money. It also allows the family to spend more quality time together. Most busy moms are looking for suggestions that will help them to prepare nutritious food for their family in the short amount of time that they have to devote to meal preparation. I will feature a different recipe each week using a small appliance. Small appliances can mean substantial savings for the average consumer. During the first class a food processor was used to make Fusilli with Spicy Pesto. According to Duke Energy, a 400-watt food processor can be used for five minutes once a week for about one cent for the month. Compare this to your electric water heater that costs about $21.32 per month for general use. Of course the water heater and clothes dryer are two of the biggest energy users. I was somewhat surprised to learn that my dehumidifier costs a whopping $23.62 A month to remove the moisture from my basement. Of course that is a dehumidifier that runs constantly. We could all benefit from using a little more energy conservation in our homes. I am sure that you have used the same statements on your children that your parents used with you. “Close that door, we’re not cooling (or heating) the outdoors!” How about this one, “Turn out that light when you leave the room,” and the list could go on. Their admonishments are still true today. We, too, need to remind everyone about the importance of closing the doors and turning out the lights. Another important tip to remember about using small appliances: store them in an area that makes them easily accessible. If I have to unpack the appliance from its box that is on the top shelf I probably will not use it very often. While we probably do not want to clutter our counter space, try to find the small appliance a home in the area where you are most likely to be using it. The small appliances are a great way to save you time and money.

Teresa Wiley
FCS Agent

Tatting and Chatting With Hazel Harper

I love getting phone calls from people in the county. I recently talked with Hazel Harper. She wanted to talk with me about tatting. This interesting woman will celebrate her 100th birthday October 11th this year. She excitedly told me, “This is my centennial year!” To me, that is truly worth celebrating!

During our conversation, not only did I learn about her tatting skills, but she also told me that she is able to recite all fifty states and their capitals. How many of us can do that at any age? I, too, was required to learn the state capitals when I was in the fifth grade. However, I am only able to retrieve a fraction of those capitals. Why are some people able to do so well as they age into their golden years and still be vibrant, interesting people? Of course genetics will play a large role in aging. However, I also believe that our future health depends on how well we take care of ourselves long before old age. As I would imagine, Hazel was an active youngster who played outside most of the time she was not in school or doing household chores. “We played outside all the time. We got a few toys at Christmas but we made most of our toys.” When I asked Hazel about other physical activity, she related that people walked all the time. “We walked to church and school- about a two-mile trip, one-way.” I imagine that fast food was not part of her young life. “We raised all that we ate on the farm where I grew up in Boiling Springs. “ Hazel was born in Ohio and later moved to Cherokee County with her family. She married in 1930. She and her husband lived many years in Ohio where he worked with International Harvester until he retired. At that time they moved back to Boiling Springs where she currently resides. She lives alone except for the nights when Donna Allen keeps her company. They spend many evenings playing Scrabble. With such a good foundation, she probably had the essentials for living a long life. As she became an adult, additional healthy decisions probably came into effect. Choosing not to smoke or drink alcoholic beverages probably added more years to her life. She stated that there were whiskey stills abundant in the coves in the area but she and her family did not partake. As simple as it sounds, making sure that she was still able to recite all fifty states and their capitals has certainly kept the cobwebs cleared in her mind. If you were to ask her the secret to long life, her answer is, “Clean living!”

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Andrews Seniors Enjoy Salads

The Andrew's senior center enjoyed a delicious salad as they learned the health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables on February 21st at the senior center in Andrews. The Steps to Health Program is offered to seniors two times a month for a five month period. North Carolina Cooperative Extension is hoping that the program will encourage seniors to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Financial Fitness Fair

On Thursday, Feb 17 I partnered with Claudie Birchfield with Office of Economic Opportunities/Catholic Social Services to assist with a Financial Fitness Fair- open to the public 11:00 - 3:00 at the Peachtree Athletic Rehabilitation Center.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eat a Rainbow of Foods for Your Health

Eat a Rainbow for Your Health

I have written about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables in the purple or blue color range. What about the other colors? Research is bearing out the health benefits of eating a rainbow of colors. Many health benefits simply cannot be obtained by taking supplements. And of course fresh is best. The next best choice would be frozen since many fruits and vegetables are flash frozen at the farm site ensuring optimum freshness and retention of nutrients. According to information found in the Steps to Health curriculum for North Carolina Extension, ”No single food is better than any other. They all work together in synergy. When food digests, synergy happens as two or more nutrients combine to do what neither could do as well by itself.” Specific colors and their associations are as follows: Red is found in delicious strawberries, tomatoes, radishes, watermelon, and apples. Red fruits and vegetables have important properties that fight against cancer, memory loss, heart conditions, and urinary tract problems. Blue and purple also help with cancer prevention, heart conditions, and memory loss. It seems that prevention of heart problems and cancer are primary benefits of eating a colorful diet. Yellow and orange, found in carrots, squash, cantaloupe, peaches and corn also are important for these two conditions in addition to helping with one’s immunity. Our mothers have told us for years to eat our greens. Most of them knew that green fruits and vegetables were good for us, they just did not know specifically why. Green is the color that helps our vision, bones, teeth, and immune system also. The last color to be discussed is white or tan and the fruits and vegetables that fall into this category. Here we have our potatoes, mushrooms, pears, onions, turnips, and garlic. These foods help with cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. I seriously cannot think of a health condition that is not discussed here except maybe diabetes. According to the February edition of Diabetes Forecast, “Eating a diet high in potassium may help stave off type 2 diabetes, according to a large study. Potassium is an essential mineral (found in foods like bananas and prunes) that is believed to stimulate the production of insulin, the blood glucose-lowering hormone that is deficient in people with diabetes. Participants with the highest potassium levels at the start of the study were 64 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the following 17 years than those with the lowest levels.” Taking responsibility for our own health is everybody’s business and to be healthy is not rocket science. It does not even require a lot of money. It simply takes a little planning. Eat a rainbow of colors!

Teresa Wiley
FCS Agent

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Winter Blues

This has certainly been a winter to remember. We have had colder temperatures, more snow, and more cloudy days than usual. No wonder that many of us are suffering from the Winter blues. A more severe form of the winter blues is called seasonal affective disorder. This condition affects women more than men, generally starts in the fall, and lasts until spring. Many medical professionals believe that the lack of sunlight is the culprit. We leave for school and work before the sun is up and we get home just as the sun is setting. We would do much better with the winter blues if we could force ourselves to brave the elements and go for a daily walk. A brisk walk outside in the sunshine for at least an hour is recommended. People with winter blues tend to crave more carbohydrates, particularly sweets, and hence gain weight. They sleep more and have less energy. Are there other factors that contribute to our feelings of malcontent during these long cold winter days? I, for one, suffer the blues when my gas tank has to be refilled and it’s not even February! I heartily agree that more exercise outside would help. However, many of us do not have jobs that allow us to exercise during the hours of sunlight. It is extremely difficult for me to discipline myself to go for a walk during my lunch hour, especially if it is extremely cold outside. Even forcing myself to go to the gym is hard when it is cold and dark when my workday is done. I think that understanding the problem is a step in the right direction. If the sun is shining make an effort to get outside. Bundle your children up and get them out in the sunshine also! There are probably a number of families out there suffering from cabin fever. The first snow is a novelty and children generally have a great time playing in it. However, once they get cold and wet, the fun is over. Then by time we are into multiple snows, the fun is gone. It should be no surprise that people who live near the equator rarely suffer from seasonal affective disorder. They have mostly warm, tropical sunny days. I’m feeling the need for a tropical vacation- too bad my propane tank got to the checkbook first.

Teresa Wiley
FCS Agent

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Using Auxillary Heating

Being snowed in with my backup propane space heater working full time made me pause to think about safety issues using such auxiliary heaters. According to a publication entitled “Space Heater Safety: Using Kerosene and Propane” by Sonja Koukel, Assistant Professor of Extension in Alaska, kerosene and propane space heaters can be used safely with a little good sense information. Most of us are probably aware of burn issues but less is known about the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that interferes with the oxygen availability throughout the body. Even low levels of CO will cause fatigue and chest pain in people with
chronic heart disease. As exposure to this gas increases, one may experience drowsiness, nausea, headaches, vomiting, confusion, and disorientation. A high level of exposure can result in loss of consciousness and even death. If you are using a heater that is not vented, do not close the door to the room in which it is being used. Some sources recommend that you open a window just a tiny bit to allow fresh air to circulate in the room and dilute any dangerous gas levels. “Propane is a cleaner fuel than kerosene. When burned, it emits ultra-low emissions of carbon monoxide. However, unvented propane space heaters still require proper ventilation from outside air,” states Ms. Kookily. Then there is the inconvenience of power outages during snow and ice storms. Many people have already inspected their generators in the event of losing power. Using a gasoline-powered generator can also be dangerous. Never use a generator in a closed or partially closed off area. The levels of CO can build up very quickly. Since the gas is colorless and odorless, a dangerous situation can happen before danger is even suspected. It is important to remember that CO buildup can happen with extended use of a generator even if you think that proper ventilation is in place. For this reason, the generator should always be located outside and away from windows, doors, and vents that could possible draw the gas to the inside. In Cherokee County, many people enjoy gas logs. However, since there is not a natural gas line in the county, gas logs are also powered with propane gas. It is much safer to have vented gas logs as opposed to the ventless logs if you have a choice. Propane does have an odor added to it since it is an odorless gas. Thus, a technician should be called if you smell gas in your home to make sure that you do not have a leak. Thus, with all of this winter weather, just take a little time to be extra cautious.

Teresa Wiley
Family and Consumer Science Agent

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 New Year's Resolutions

Have you ever wondered why some New Year’s resolutions only last a few weeks or days? It seems that health and finances may be two important motivators. Consider the resolution that many make to quit smoking. It is often a life threatening illness such as emphysema that makes the resolution easier. Breathing becomes an issue. Financial motivators also make a change easier. In the example of smoking, consider the cost of smoking. Over a thousand dollars can be saved in one year smoking is kicked. What about the number one resolution to lose weight or become more physically fit? A number of health problems can be improved with the loss of excess pounds. Everything from high blood pressure to diabetes is often improved with losing excess pounds. On the financial side, insurance premiums may be affected by being overweight. Research bears out the fact that chronic health conditions are related to being overweight. Since everyone can relate to health and finances, maybe this is the angle to take in order to make your resolution stick and become a lifelong change. Smoking and weight loss have already been addressed. What about other popular resolutions? Relate them to health or finances and see if that makes a difference. Maybe you are not overweight but your eating habits leave much to be desired. The first bad habit that comes to mind is the habit of excess salt in our diets. We do need some salt but only one-teaspoon a day! We can easily get that in food without adding any to cooking or at the table. Be prepared if you decide to make this small, but extremely important change to your diet. Your food will taste very bland for a few weeks but your body will make the adjustment if given the opportunity. There is a popular snack food company that just released their new line of snacks made with all natural ingredients. I will be interested to see how the improved snacks address the financial aspect with the health benefits taken care of. It is interesting to me how some foods that have less fat, less sugar, less sodium, etc. are often more expensive. Why is this? Does it really cost more to remove or substitute chemicals for natural products? I love potato chips and may put them back in my list of healthy snacks if the sodium and fat issues are resolved without tripling the cost. Even the president of our country is battling the smoking issue. In the latest news it is reported that the president has now been smoke free for nine months. I guess he sees the health and financial benefits of making this change.

Teresa Wiley
Family and Consumer Science Agent