Finney County Extension agents

Poinsettias represent 80 percent of all potted plant sales in the United States during the holiday season.

There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available today. They come in a myriad of colors, like red, white, pink and burgundy. Keeping your poinsettias healthy during the holiday season in the dry indoor environments in many homes can be a challenge.

A few tips for keeping poinsettias healthy:

* Purchase a poinsettia with fully colored bracts (modified leaves) and tightly closed flower buds. The plant will start to decline after the flower buds have completely opened.

* After purchasing the poinsettia, make sure it is wrapped completely. Exposure to temperatures below 50 degrees in just the short walk to the car can damage the bracts and leaves.

* Place the poinsettia near a south-, west- or east-facing window. Six hours of indirect light is ideal. Placing the plant in direct light may cause the colorful bracts to fade.

* Indoor temperatures between 65 to 70 degrees are ideal for long plant life. Placing the plant in a room a few degrees cooler at night will extend the color show of the poinsettia. Temperatures above 80 degrees will shorten the life of the bracts.

* Keep the poinsettia away from warm or cold drafts. Drafts can cause premature leaf drop.

* Overwatering is the number one poinsettia killer. Water the plant when the soil is dry to the touch. After watering, thoroughly empty any water in the pot's saucer. Be sure to punch holes in the decorative foil to allow water to drain through.

* Do not fertilize when the poinsettia is in bloom. Apply a houseplant fertilizer once a month after it blooms.

* Research at the Ohio State University has shown that poinsettias are not poisonous. Some people are sensitive to the plant's sap, causing skin irritation.

For pets, the poinsettia sap may cause mild irritation or nausea. It is probably best to keep pets away from the plant, especially puppies and kittens.

Information taken from Illinois Extension

Time management for teenagers

The fast pace of life can be like a circus for teens, as well as adults. Having some time management skills for balancing school and life is beneficial for teens preparing for their adult life. Jones Loflin and Todd Musig wrote a very inspirational book "Juggling with Elephants." The book is useful in a lighthearted way to show how to balance the most important things in life's circus.

Teens have to understand the need to take conscious control of their time and energy, and be proactive about planning their schedule. They need to work effectively with others and also take time for themselves to become successful adults. It is very easy to have a discussion on the fast-paced nature of school and life. Just like adults, youth need a system or structure to better focus their time and energy. By using the image of looking at one's situation like a circus, it is easy to understand and develop some time management skills.

Teens need to see themselves as the "ringmaster" of their circus. In the circus, there are three rings. The three rings for a teenager are: 1) School junior high school, high school or technical school, college, etc.; 2) Relationships friends, team, club, etc.; 3) Self exercise, healthy eating, resting, etc.

Youth need to focus on a goal for their schedule and the importance of each ring to be successful (the circus uses a spotlight). Focusing on all three rings at one time would be like trying to juggle elephants. Just as a circus needs a good "line up" to flow and be successful, the teenager's lineup plan needs to have set goals in their schedules with the three rings. How can teens accomplish these goals? Here are some suggestions:

Use calendars

Is there a master calendar so that each family member can check the lineup daily? Do you have your own calendar to keep with you to ensure that acts don't "get lost" because they are added to one calendar, but not the master family calendar? An example would be the "school" ring and a big test that may be scheduled. The "spot light" needs to be on it to attain the goal of a good grade.

Get a timer

While this may seem silly, using a timer to help manage practice time, computer time, video games, TV, homework, etc., has its benefits. This will help with the distractions that take up valuable time needed for a set goal, like getting a good grade on an upcoming exam that will influence further education like college or trade school.

Avoid "over programming" yourself

Set limits to what you will say "yes" to. Build time in your schedule to spend with family, friends, yourself and those unexpected acts that show up at any time. This will benefit your "relationship" ring (say you have a friend that needs your support) and your "self" ring in avoiding physical burn out.

By being the "ringmaster," teens can understand the need to take conscious control of their time and energy for a successful show.

Next week, there will be an article on Act II of the circus. With the skills of time management, may all your days be circus days!

Information taken from MSU Extension

Fight holiday pounds with Meltdown 4 Life

Battle those holiday pounds with the 2013 Meltdown 4 Life, Jan. 15 to March 12, 2013. This team event is an eight-week health and fitness competition focusing on implementing a healthier lifestyle for life. Teams of five people will work together to learn, become active, lose weight and have fun.

The Meltdown 4 Life kick-off speaker will be Dr. Mary Meck Higgins, a registered licensed dietitian and an associate professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University.

Dr. Higgins will speak on "Making Everyday Choices for a Healthy Sustainable Life" at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 15, at the Garden City Community College Fine Arts auditorium. Come and learn how to use your food and food-related purchases to reinforce what you value. This lesson offers dozens of ideas for simple, everyday ways to have a tasty, healthful and sustainable diet.

There will be prizes for weight loss and physical activity winners, as well as door prizes at each weekly educational session. The cost is $25 per person ($125 per team) which includes a free blood lipid profile test, body composition analysis, motivational learning sessions and admittance to local fitness centers.

Register your team at Garden City Recreation Commission Monday through Jan. 11 to start the new year lighter and healthier. The competition is limited to the first 60 teams.

Organizers of the event are Garden City Recreation, Kansas State Research Extension Finney County, Garden City Community College Community Services program, and the Southwest Kansas Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, a project of United Methodist Mexican-American Ministries.

K-State Research Extension Finney County is the front-door source to your everyday questions for information and knowledge. Every question is of value to you and us. Give us a call at 272-3670, or better, walk in our front door at 501 S. Ninth St,, for information to help you make a better decision.