KSU EXTENSION: Whether you're spending or snacking, make wise choices





Before you spend that tax refund, consider moving toward financial security by paying off debt, planning ahead and setting money aside for your future goals. Consider these steps:

1) Pay off bills. First priority: regular monthly bills (utilities, phone, etc.) and then those with the highest interest rate.

2) Save for upcoming needs. Start with an emergency fund — enough to get you through a couple of months if you have unexpected expenses or lose your job. Next, put money aside for irregular expenses like holidays or back-to-school.

3) Long-term savings. Plan for future goals like a home or a comfortable retirement.

4) Special purchases. Ask yourself "Do I need or just want that new TV, sofa or refrigerator?"

Healthy snack

Whether you snack because you're busy, bored or stressed, pick a healthy one: lower in calories, higher in fiber or antioxidants.

Make a snack plan. Keep whole, fresh foods on hand. Steer clear of packaged items loaded with sugar, fat and salt. Whether snacking out of necessity, for fun or as a planned part of how you eat every day, these tips can help you snack smarter and meet your daily nutrient needs. Consider these tips for healthy snacking starting in the morning:

* Pick protein. One study showed that eating protein early in the day is more inclined to fill you up so you're more likely to feel fuller longer. Choose dairy foods like yogurt and milk-based drinks over fruit juices and drinks. Other protein-packed snack options are a handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg or cheese stick.

* Pick a better bar. If you're fond of breakfast bars, choose one that is higher in fiber and lower in sugar and fat so that you're not just fueling up on a candy bar in disguise. Check the nutrition label and pass on those with sugar (or its sweeter cousins such as syrup, honey and anything ending in "ose") as the first ingredient.

* Plan ahead. Instead of buying a baked treat at the corner coffee shop to go with your java, bake whole-grain scones and muffins to tuck in the freezer. Package these breakfast options individually so they're ready to pack in your purse, backpack or briefcase in the morning. Mixing up and baking in quantity to have on hand is easy and saves money, too.

For more information, call Léhisa de Fornoza at the Finney County Extension Office at 272-3670.


Dandelion control

Don't you enjoy seeing spring flowers? I have noticed daffodils, some hyacinths and tulips starting to bloom. Forsythia, quince flowering pears, plums and redbuds are exhibiting beautiful flowers. But some lawns are flowering with yellow and purple flowers that are not so desirable.¬ 

The best time to control dandelions is by spraying during October or early November. But if you missed the fall application, a second opportunity for dandelion control is available now. Research shows that good control can be achieved with a herbicide applied during or soon after the first flush of flowers. Use a combination product that contains 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba. Examples would include products such as Trimec, Weed Out, Weed-B-Gon and Weed Free Zone. If you have a buffalo grass lawn, be careful about using these products.

If you only have a few dandelions, consider spot treatment rather than a blanket application. Some ornamental plants are very sensitive to drift from these herbicides, so be careful. Avoid spraying on windy days. The three indicator plants that usually are the first to show damage are tomatoes, grapes and redbud trees.

Dandelions and other broadleaf weeds are especially noticeable in buffalo grass lawns during early to mid-spring because the green weeds stand out against the dormant buffalo grass. So, just go out and hit the dandelions with the combination products mentioned above. Wrong! When buffalo grass is greening up, it is more sensitive to broadleaf herbicides. Herbicides containing dicamba cause the most damage. But you can expect some temporary yellowish discoloration from just about any broadleaf herbicide available. The key word is temporary — the buffalo grass will come out of the discoloration, or burning, in two to three weeks if the herbicides are used at the proper rates.


Henbit control

Some lawns in Finney County are filled with purple. I like purple because it is Kansas State University's color, but most people do not like yards full of henbit. Though it actually comes up in the fall, henbit really draws attention when it starts to flower. Trying to kill it at this late stage with an herbicide is usually a waste of time and money. Though the plant may be burned back, it will rarely be killed.

So what do we do? Remember, this is a winter annual; it comes up in the fall, matures in the spring and dies as soon as it starts to get hot. All that we can do now is keep it mowed until nature takes its course. However, we can do something next fall that will help next spring. Henbit usually germinates about mid-October. Spraying with 2,4-D, Weed-B-Gon, Weed Free Zone, Weed Out or Trimec in early November can go a long way toward eliminating henbit next spring.

If you have any questions about controlling lawn weeds or any other concerns, call David Coltrain at 272-3670 or email coltrain@ksu.edu.


Youth camp

Kids like camp because they get away from home and try new things like horseback riding and canoeing. Camp is a great place to meet new friends and to see another part of the country. Kids should go to camp because it teaches them responsibility and to respect others and have fun at the same time.

Youth counselors find themselves in the role of role model, teacher, guide, disciplinarian, cheerleader, storyteller and friend as they take on the responsibility of caring for children. This is an excellent learning experience for them as they consider the safety and well-being of children entrusted to their care.¬ 

Sending a child to summer camp might seem like a good idea to the parent who wants their child to have an invigorating experience learning a variety of things. Parents should keep in mind the following tips to make sure their child is ready for a summer camp adventure:

* Get as much information as you can about the camp, such as the daily schedule, the facilities, other campers and activities to share with your child.

* Gently encourage this new experience and encourage your child to talk about what can be gained from going to camp.

* Prepare for camp together. Decisions about what to pack can be a joint venture, keeping in mind your child's level of maturity. If your child feels some part of the decision-making progress, the chances of having a positive experience will improve.

* Do some practice runs by having your child spend the night with a friend to see how he/she copes. If the child calls at bedtime to be picked up and is consistently uncomfortable being away the entire night, summer camp may have to wait.

* If your child just seems nervous about camp, talk about it. Encourage your child to share anticipated anxieties of going to camp.¬ 

* Decide what you can do to address these fears rather than ignore them. Camping can be a wonderful experience. It provides opportunities for increased self-awareness, a chance to practice team work, decision making, problem solving and development of a greater sensitivity for others.

Finney County has a wealth of camping opportunities available for our youth. We will all be richer this summer as we reap the benefits of youth involvement in educational camps.

Listed are 4-H Camp opportunities available:

* 4-H Discovery Day, June 3 to 6, is held at the KSU campus. It is open to all youth age 13 to 18 by Jan. 1 of the current year. Registration is due today.¬ 

* Lakeside 4-H Camp, June 12 and 13, Scott County Lake, Lakeside Conference Center. It is open to all youth, first to third grades complete. Registration deadline is May 15.

* Heart of Kansas 4-H Camp, June 23 to 26, Rock Springs 4-H Center south of Junction City. It is open for all youth in fourth to seventh grades complete. Registration deadline is May 1.

* Photo Adventure Camp, "Images with an Edge," June 14 to 17, Rock Springs 4-H Center. Open for ages 13 to 16 as of Jan. 1, 2014. Registration is due May 1.¬ 

* 4-H Campference, June 23 to 26, Rock Springs 4-H Center. For youth age 12 to 14 as of Jan. 1, 2014. Acquaints youth to leadership activities and some camping activities. Registration due May 15 or until slots are filled.

* Wildcat Sewing Fun Camp, K-State — Salina Campus, June 30 to July 2 will be Junior Camp for 4-H age 9 to 12; July 1 to 3 will be Senior Camp for 4-H age 13 and older. Registration is due May 15. 4-H members and friends can come and explore clothing and textiles.

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