County Extension

  • Think before you search

        The hype has started. You know what I’m talking about; the claims are literally popping up everywhere. “Lose 10 pounds overnight.” “Reshape your tummy — with no work.” “Eat (name of food) to burn fat!” Promises, promises, promises.

    Your New Year’s resolution is to get healthier. Should you jump on one of these articles on the web for your diet and health advice?

  • Your One-Thirty Plan for the New Year

    By Linda Arnold


    Here we are — with a clean slate on which to create!

    New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday, holding the promise of 365 delicious days, 52 wonderful weeks and 12 marvelous months. 


    How could this year be different?

    Like me, you probably have some ambitious goals for 2016. My usual tendency is to blast out of the gate with a long list. This year I’m putting into practice something different: a discipline I call the One-Thirty Plan.

  • New magnolia varieties for coastal landscapes



    Sam Marshall

    Horticulture Agent


    When I worked for the state Forest Service, I remember one day while doing plant inventories stumbling upon a most unusual forest specimen. The large, fragrant white flowers were surrounded by a whorl of leaves nearly the length of my forearm and twice the width of my hand.

  • Safe eggnog ideas

     Eggnog is one of the many special flavors of the holidays. While many people purchase commercially prepared eggnog, making homemade eggnog is a tradition for others. Hopefully, you’ve heard over the past few years the importance of updating your eggnog recipe to avoid potential foodborne illness. But there are still lots of recipes out there that may be putting your family at risk.

  • Deck the halls with boughs of holly — and more

    By Al Hight

    My selective recall kicks into high gear this time of year as I think of holiday seasons past. Memories of family, friends, tacky decorations, pick-up football games in the back yard and sweet potato pie all come flooding in.

    It doesn’t matter that the holidays were usually more like Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas from the Family” than the holiday special of “The Waltons.” We at least kept the fistfights and wrestling (actually, rasslin’) matches in the backyard out of the watchful eye of my mother.

  • Safe holiday food gifts

     People love to make (and get) homemade food gifts. It shows your creativity and that you care enough to spend time making something special. Holiday cookie exchanges are also fun and popular and a great way to get a variety of goodies without having to make them all yourself.

    However, the food safety alarms in my head are going off! First off (I’ve said this before), just because a recipe is on the Internet, Pinterest or television does not make it safe! Choose only safe, tested recipes from research-based resources when creating homemade gifts.

  • Are you guilty of food dumping?

     For the last couple weeks, I’ve been getting daily emails from the Holiday Challenge. These messages offer tips, suggestions and reminders on healthful living. The whole concept of the Holiday Challenge is to help people not gain weight during this festive season filled with eating. The Holiday Challenge is part of the Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina program.

  • Celebrate ‘Dine-in for Healthy Families Day’ on Dec. 3

     What are you doing for dinner today? I hope you’re planning a nice meal at home with your family in celebration of “Dine-in Day.” Thursday, Dec. 3, marks the second annual Family and Consumer Sciences “Dine-in for Healthy Families Day.” In observance of this day, the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) and the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) are asking families to plan, prepare and eat a healthy meal together.

  • Stolen kisses on the rise as mistletoe makes appearance

      By Sam Marshall


    As leaves begin to fall in earnest this time of year, you notice lingering bunches of green in your trees. This plant, which is largely blamed for an increase in the number of stolen kisses this time of year, is often considered an unsightly and unwanted addition in the winter landscape. Of course, we also know this plant as mistletoe. However, before attempting to have it (or your entire tree) removed, first consider the benefits of mistletoe in the landscape (aside from those kisses).


  • Last-minute thoughts on Thanksgiving

     Each year as I write this pre-Thanksgiving column, I wonder what else can be said about holiday foods. I know the column will be published the day before, but with all the pre-holiday prep and houseguests arriving, I’m guessing that some of you are reading this after Thanksgiving.

    So here are a couple last-minute thoughts and recommendations on that holiday meal. If you’re reading this later in the weekend, I hope you’ll keep these in mind for another year.