Baby Proofing for Cameron

Our grandson has just turned one and is starting to walk more. As exciting as that is, it also reminds me that I need to do even more babyproofing to our house!  With the help of several wonderful Extension publications these are the steps that I have taken so far:

  • I have purchased baby gates for the stairs going both up and down. Even with a door that closes it could still be opened by a toddler. The basement baby gate can be moved to the bottom of the basement stairs when we are playing in the basement.
  • Latches have been attached to my kitchen and bathroom closets where I keep cleaning supplies.
  • Medications have been moved from a lower drawer in my bathroom to a high cabinet.
  • Furniture has been moved away from windows.
  • Cords for the computer, television, phone chargers etc. are out of reach. This includes keeping the baby monitor far enough away from the crib that it can’t be grabbed.
  • The cords on the blinds have been securely attached to the wall.
  • I discarded the car seats that I had stored in our attic from our kids. They now come with expiration dates and are made much safer! That was the same for the crib that we used raising our kids. The slats were too far apart so I opted for a new portable crib that is easy to set up.
  • I keep my purse off the floor when I am babysitting so there is no risk of getting into medication I keep in there.

One thing that really helped me was to look through the house at a toddler level. By getting on your hands and knees you can see things that might interest a toddler that you don’t notice when you are standing up.  I want to have a child friendly house where our kids feel comfortable leaving our grandson with us and they know that we have done everything we can to keep him safe.  Here are some resources with even more ideas for babyproofing.

http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=C1049#title6

http://umm.edu/programs/childrens/health/about/child-proof-your-home

http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/safehome.htm

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Winter Weather Preparation

We just got home from one of our favorite places to vacation, the mountains in Colorado. The weather was deceivingly cold.  Even when the sun was out and our skiers and snow boarders came home with many spots that needed to be warmed up!  Fortunately we didn’t have any cases of frostbite, but I thought it would be helpful to review how to dress for the cold weather and what to do when someone does show signs of frostbite or hypothermia.

Here are some important things to remember when you are outside exposed to the elements for long periods of time:

  • Wear a hat to prevent thermal loss from your head. Even better; a mask that covers your nose and cheeks will help keep more parts of your face from getting frostbite. Mittens that are water resistant (mittens are said to keep your fingers warmer). Warm wool socks (again not cotton) and well insulated boots that will stay dry and will keep your feet protected and warm.
  • Dress in layers. Avoid cotton since it is not a good insulator. When cotton gets wet it takes longer to dry and your body temperature will rapidly drop. Better materials are synthetics like polypropylene and performance fabrics or wools that wick wetness away from you skin. The middle layer should offer some insulation even if it gets wet from snow or sweat. Wear a thick insulating fabric over your wicking layers. Have waterproof or at least water resistant outside layers.
  • If you feel body parts getting really cold it is time to come inside and find shelter to warm up. Waiting too long can cause your body temperature to drop which could become life threatening.
  • Remember you burn more calories in cold weather so make sure you have snacks and liquids to refresh yourself.

According to Mayo Clinic Frostbite occurs in several stages:

  • Frostnip. The first stage of frostbite is frostnip. With this mild form of frostbite, your skin pales or turns red and feels very cold. Continued exposure leads to prickling and numbness in the affected area. As your skin warms, you may feel pain and tingling. Frostnip doesn’t permanently damage the skin.
  • Superficial frostbite. The second stage of frostbite appears as reddened skin that turns white or pale. The skin may remain soft, but some ice crystals may form in the tissue. Your skin may begin to feel warm — a sign of serious skin involvement. If you treat frostbite with rewarming at this stage, the surface of your skin may appear mottled, blue or purple. And you may notice stinging, burning and swelling. A fluid-filled blister may appear 24 to 36 hours after rewarming the skin.
  • Severe (deep) frostbite. As frostbite progresses, it affects all layers of the skin, including the tissues that lie below. You may experience numbness, losing all sensation of cold, pain or discomfort in the affected area. Joints or muscles may no longer work. Large blisters form 24 to 48 hours after rewarming. Afterward, the area turns black and hard as the tissue dies.

Rewarm mild frostbite areas by using warm water (101 to 104 degrees) NOT hot water or by applying warm cloths to the area. Make sure you remove any jewelry before rewarming since swelling may occur and NEVER rub or massage the frozen area.

Seek medical attention for frostbite if you experience:

  • Signs and symptoms of superficial or deep frostbite — such as white or pale skin, numbness, or blisters
  • Increased pain, swelling, redness or discharge in the area that was frostbitten
  • Fever
  • New, unexplained symptoms

Get emergency medical help if you suspect hypothermia, a condition in which your body loses heat faster than it can be produced.

Signs and symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Intense shivering
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness and loss of coordination

The winter weather offers many fun things to do but care needs to be taken to make sure you are not endangering your health. Remember to dress correctly and watch to make sure that frostbite is not going to spoil your fun in the snow!

 

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Putting Your Canner to Bed

canner1This is the time of year when the garden has stopped producing and it is time to think about storing your canning equipment.   If you spend time in the fall to clean and pack your canner and supplies your equipment will be ready to go when your produce is ready to harvest in the spring.

Here are some tips from the National Center for Home Food Preservation that you can do:

Begin with your canner.

  • Check and clean your vent and safety valve. Clean the vent by drawing a small cloth or string through the opening. In order for it to operate it needs to be free of any food or debris. Clean the valve by removing it if possible or by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Check your gasket. The gasket is what seals the canner and keeps steam from leaking when canning. If you need to replace your gasket order a new one from a hardware store that sells canning supplies or from the manufacturer. It is better to do this now than having to wait for one to be ordered when you are ready to use your canner.
  • Dial gauge canner need to be tested yearly. Call us at AnswerLine and we will be able to tell you where you can have your canner dial gauge tested. If your gauge is off you will have time to get a new gauge ordered before spring. Weighted gauge canners do not need to be tested.
  • If the inside of your canner has turned dark fill the canner above the dark line with a mixture of 1 tablespoon cream of tartar to each quart of water. Put the canner on the stove and heat to boiling. Boil covered until the dark deposits are gone. Dump out the water and finish cleaning with soapy water. If you struggle with hard water try adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to the water in the canner when you are processing your jars.
  • Store your canner with crumpled clean paper towels inside. This will help absorb any moisture. Place the lid upside down on the canner. Never store it with the lid sealed.

Now check on your jars and lids.

  • Look over all of your jars for any chips or cracks. By taking the time now you can prevent jar breakage during canning.
  • Make sure to remove all rings from the home canned foods when storing them. Wash and dry them completely and store them in a dry place. Bands can be reused unless they rust.
  • The flat lids can only be used once so discard after using the jar of food. If you have some flats left over, write the date on the package. The sealing compound should be good for 3 to 5 years after purchase if stored in a cool dry place.

Remember to use your home canned foods within a year or two years at the longest.

By taking the time now to “put your canner to bed” you will be ready when the warmer days of spring come and the canning season begins again!

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Preserving Pumpkin Safely

pie-pumpkin1Its fall and time to visit your local pumpkin farm to get pumpkins and gourds to decorate your house. Carving pumpkins and roasting the seeds is a tradition for many families including ours.  While you are there getting jack-o-lanterns why not get a pie pumpkin as well.  These are the pumpkins grown for use in pies, breads and bars.  They are sweeter and have less water in them than the traditional carving pumpkins which tend to have a stringy flesh.

If you are cooking a pie pumpkin this year remember that pumpkin puree cannot be safely canned at home.  The best way to preserve puree would be to freeze it.  To freeze simply wash the pumpkin and cut into cooking size pieces and remove the seeds.  It can be cooked in boiling water, in steam, in the oven or in a pressure cooker.  Cook until soft then remove pulp from rind and mash the pulp.  Place the pumpkin puree bowl in another bowl filled with cold water and stir occasionally till cool. Package in freezer containers in the size you want to use (2 cups equals 1 can).  Remember to thaw it in the refrigerator when you are ready to use it.

If you would prefer to pressure can pumpkin it can only be done in cubes and in a pressure canner.  The steps to can cubed pumpkin are to first wash and remove the seeds.  Next cut the pumpkin into 1 inch wide slices.  Then peel and cut the flesh into 1 inch cubes.  Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes.  Fill the jars with the cubes and cover with the cooking liquid leaving 1 inch headspace.  Process according to your altitude using this chart from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Pumpkin can be dried or made into fruit leather. To dry cut strips no more than one inch wide by 1/8 inch thick.  Steam the strips over boiling water for 3 minutes then dip in cold water to stop the heating process.  Drain well then dehydrate in a food dehydrator until brittle.  For making pumpkin fruit leather use pumpkin puree and spices with this recipe from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Be sure to follow safe preservation methods when dealing with pumpkin. Using safe freezing and canning methods will allow you to enjoy your pumpkin all winter!

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Preparing your home for winter

fall-tree1The leaves on the trees are turning beautiful colors outside our windows reminding us that fall is here and winter is on its way! Is your home ready for winter?  Doing some simple tasks now can reduce your utility bills and keep problems away.

  • Clean out your gutters. The leaves and debris can cause water to back up. In the fall that could cause water to overflow and instead of being diverted away from your house it could cause basement water problems. In the winter frozen water from thawing snow can cause ice dams that can cause moisture damage to your roof and interior ceiling. Running water through the gutter will also show if there are leaks that need to be fixed.
  • Have your furnace checked. Regular maintenance of both your air conditioning and furnace will keep them running well. There is nothing worse than waking up on a cold morning and not having the furnace working! Changing the furnace filter regularly will help with utility costs since air does not circulate well through dirty filters.
  • Check the weather stripping on doors and windows. Sealing gaps around doors and windows will keep cold air out and warm air in.
  • If you have a wood burning fireplace be sure and have the chimney inspected. Regular cleaning can keep soot or creosol from depositing inside the chimney. Regular cleaning reduces the risk of a chimney fire.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.   This should be done once a year. Test the detectors monthly to make sure they are working properly.
  • Since the days are shorter replace light bulbs with LED or CFL lights. These ENERGY STAR bulbs last longer and save you a lot of money on your electric bills. When you are decorating for the holidays look for LED Christmas lights.
  • Make sure you drain your outdoor hoses and store them in the garage for the winter. Drain any irrigation system and rain barrels that you have been using this summer. Allowing water to freeze can cause damage that you will find in the spring.

Many of these items can be done without hiring a professional. By spending some time in the fall you will enjoy the energy saving and the peace of mind knowing you are ready for the snow to fly!

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Do you have more apples than you know what to do with this fall?

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Apple trees seems to be fully loaded this fall! Are you looking for some new ideas to preserve your apples?  Here are a few that you can try this year!

 

 

 

 

 

Apple butter

This is like a concentrated applesauce that is excellent on muffins or toast. It is a great flavor paired with pork chops.  Try it instead of jelly on a peanut butter sandwich.

Spiced Apple Rings

Add these beautiful red pickled apple slices to a relish tray or add them to a salad for flavor and color. Serve them on the side with turkey or ham.

Apple Pie Filling

There couldn’t be anything simpler than opening a jar of home canned pie filling and adding it to a pie crust. This tested recipe calls for Clear Jel which is a modified corn starch for thickening.  This is the only thickener that should be used when canning pie filling.

Dehydrated Apple Leather

Make your own apple fruit rollups in your dehydrator. Fruit leathers can be made without sugar so it is a very health snack for your kids or grandkids. If you have apple pulp left from making apple jelly use that for your fruit leather.  Add other fruits to come up with your own favorite flavor.

Applesauce Frozen or Canned

Freezing and canning are both options for preserving applesauce. Instructions for both are listed here.

Enjoy the abundance of apples and the variety of ways to preserve them. You will appreciate your efforts this winter when you are enjoying them!

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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How to use your frozen fruit

frozen-berries

 

We have had many calls about food preservation this summer and fall. Many people have chosen to freeze extra produce. I thought it might be good to review the best ways to thaw and use the fruit you have in your freezer.

 

Here are some tips for using frozen fruit:

  • Don’t allow the fruit to completely thaw if you are serving frozen fruit as a dessert. If allowed to thaw completely it will have a mushy texture but if a few ice crystals remain the texture will be much better.
  • According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation frozen fruit can be thawed safely in the refrigerator, in a sealed bag under running water or in a microwave if you are using it immediately.
  • If you plan to use the frozen fruit in baked goods like muffins or bread keep the fruit frozen when adding. If it is thawed the fruit will be soft and the color will bleed into the final product.
  • If sugar was added when freezing be sure and count that when making a baked good. Be sure and mark the packages with amounts before putting them in the freezer.
  • Only thaw the amount that you are needing for a recipe. If too much fruit is thawed you may refreeze it (if it was thawed safely) but the texture will be even softer when you are using it.
  • You can use frozen fruit to make jam and jelly. Thaw it in the refrigerator and measure the fruit and the juice after it is thawed.
  • Use frozen fruit in smoothies instead of adding extra ice cubes. Your drink will contain even more nutrition since you are not watering it down.
  • Frozen fruit will remain safe indefinitely as long as they stay solidly frozen. They will lose quality if they aren’t well protected. Use freezer bags or containers since the more protection you give them the better quality they will be.
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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Try Grilling Pizza

Have you ever tried using your grill to cook a homemade pizza? If you haven’t done it before you should try it!  Not only is it easy to do, the pizza has a wonderful crispy crust and you are not heating up your house cooking it inside!  I usually make a homemade crust but there are several options available at the grocery store if you want to save that step and purchase one.  If you use your favorite homemade pizza dough recipe spread both sides with corn meal to keep it from sticking to the grill grates.

grilled-pizza-3

You are then ready to put the pizza crust on a hot grill. The crust will cook quickly so watch it carefully to make sure it doesn’t get to dark. Usually it will only take a couple of minutes. Once you see grill marks simply flip it over so both sides are cooked evenly. *We will be putting it back on the grill with the toppings for the final cooking.)  When finished the crust should have char marks on it.

grilled-pizza-1

When it is done remove the crust to a cutting board or cookie sheet. Now you are ready for your toppings. We like to be creative but you can use any toppings that you like. Our favorite is chicken, bacon, ranch with spinach. The ranch dressing is our pizza sauce   Make sure that your toppings aren’t piled too high since we will be returning it to the grill to finish cooking.

grilled-pizza

If you have a charcoal grill the last cooking will be done with indirect heat meaning that you will want to gather your coals to one side of the grill. The pizza will cook in the other side. I have a gas grill so I simply turn off one side of the burners. This indirect heat will be like putting it in your oven. The toppings will heat and the cheese will melt. The result will be a pizza that your family will rave about!

grilled-pizza-2

 

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Too many berries? Freeze a pie!

imageMy family loves pie! My son, who lives on the east coast, firmly believes you can’t find a pie there that equals what you can find in the Midwest. With berry season here, you may want to consider making some extra pies now to freeze for later use.

If freezing an UNBAKED filled pie, add an extra 1-2 Tablespoons flour or ½ Tablespoon cornstarch to compensate for the extra moisture that will exude while baking. Do not cut vents in the top of double crust pies before freezing. Wrap, label, and freeze for up to three months. Bake unthawed pies at 425 degrees 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees, and bake an additional 25-35 minutes. For easier clean-up, bake the pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

BAKED and filled double-crust pies may be frozen up to 6 months. Be sure to wrap them well and label them before freezing. When ready to eat the pie, loosen the wrapping, and thaw in the refrigerator. Warm thawed pies in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent burning if necessary.

I plan to freeze some pies for the next time my son comes home!

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Removing More Summer Stains

baseballWe talked in an earlier blog post about the challenge of summer food stains but there are other stains that challenge us in the summer months. I thought we would address some of these as well.

Pollen – Resist the urge to rub the fabric to remove pollen! Instead gently shake the item to remove as much pollen as you can.  Then use the sticky side of a piece of tape to lift off the remaining particles.  Treat with a pre-treater before laundering.  You may also wash with chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric or a color safe enzyme cleaner like Biz or Clorox 2.

Tree sap – Spray or sponge with a dry-cleaning solvent like an aerosol Shout, Spray’n Wash or K2R Spot Lifter and rub in some liquid laundry detergent. Allow to work for 10-15 minutes then scrub the spot with hot water in your sink.  Treat again before washing in water temperature safe for the fabric.  You could also try using a cleaning solvent like Goo-Gone or Goof-Off and then washing the garment.

Sunscreen – If the stain is oil based treat as an oil stain by applying a pre-treater and washing in the hottest water that is safe for the fabric. If your sunscreen contains avobenzone and you have hard water you may notice an orange stain on your clothing.  This is caused when the avobenzone oxidizes the iron minerals found in the water resulting in the orange color spotting.  If this has happened, soak in a color safe enzyme cleaner and then wash in the hottest water safe for the fabric.  Make sure the stain is gone before putting it in the dryer.  To avoid this from happening again apply your sunscreen and allow it to dry on your skin before you put on your clothing.  There are also avobenzone-free sunscreens available.

Mud or dirt – Let it dry and scrape or brush off as much as you can. Use a pre-treater or liquid laundry detergent and rinse in hot water in your sink.  Then wash in the hottest water safe for the fabric.  Do not dry until the stain has been removed.

Latex based paint – Treat the paint while wet. Soak in cold water or wash in cool water with detergent.  After paint has dried for 6 to 8 hours removal is very difficult.  After soaking treat with a dry cleaning solvent and rub in some liquid laundry detergent.  Allow to work for 10-15 minutes then scrub the spot with hot water.  Treat again before washing in the temperature recommended for the fabric.

Oil based paint – Again treat this spill while wet. Use a thinner that is recommended for paint.  Use a spot treatment method*(directions below) and thinner on spots until paint is softened and can be flushed away in the washing machine.  Usually turpentine, paint thinner or alcohol work as solvents.

By treating stains promptly you can avoid permanent spots. As always if you have a stain you need help getting out call us at AnswerLine and we will give you some suggestions.

*The spot cleaning method sometimes called “sponging,” confines the stain to a small area and keeps it from spreading. You need absorbent material, such as clean rags or white paper towels, and a dry-cleaning solvent, spot remover, or aerosol pretreatment spray.  Follow these steps:

  1. Pad the working surface with clean rags or paper towels that can absorb stains.
  2. Place the stained area or spot on the garment face-down over the padded surface.
  3. Dampen a small white cloth with solvent.
  4. Use the dampened cloth to pat the stain from the wrong side. Feather the edges of the stain working from the outside toward the center to keep the stained area from getting larger.
  5. As the stain transfers to the absorbent material beneath the fabric, move the stain to a clean place on the absorbent material so the stain has a clean place on which to transfer.
  6. Repeat this procedure until all traces of stain are gone. Launder to remove any ring that might be left by the solvent.
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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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