Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: Sound Living

Better Kansas – March 5, 2020

Header image for the Better Kansas Blog

In this week’s Better Kansas, we take a look at managing sugar cravings, smart grocery shopping, personal money management, basic gardening guidelines, spring wheat, and beef cattle production – in other words more events, resources and other information designed to make your life, businesses, communities and state better. This is a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Share on social media and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter

Better Living, Better Communities

COMING OUT OF THE WINTER HOLIDAYS, it’s easy to stay in that mode where eating sweets is routine. It seems like sugar cravings beget sugar cravings. And no wonder! I’ve just learned that carbohydrates, especially sugar, stimulate the “feel good” chemical dopamine in the brain. That explains why it’s so hard to pass up that Kit Kat bar staring at me in the checkout line! Sugar-sweetened beverages are by far the greatest sources of added sugar in our diet, but plenty of other foods have added sugar, including breakfast cereals, yogurt and even my favorite pasta sauce. The article Taming Those Sugar Cravings has tips to help curb the Cookie Monster within us. One of them is to eat just a little of what you’re craving. An idea that works for me is to keep a bag of semi-sweet chocolate morsels in the pantry. When the craving hits, eat just a few of them. The fat and calories can add up fast, but still beats eating that same number of morsels in cookies. Eating a few grapes sometimes works, too.


HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT THE HEALTHIER FOODS at your grocery store tend to be around the perimeter of the store, while more processed foods are in the center aisles? Think fresh produce, lean meat, fresh dairy … and then think about where the cookies, cake mixes and canned foods are. Some of the ways we can shop smarter, cut down on food waste, eat healthier and save money involve planning meals ahead of time, checking what we already have on hand, and making a list before we even set out for the store. Listen to this Sound Living segment on Navigating the Grocery Store. I love the part about looking down. Check it out. And where’s that milk that we always seem to run into the store for? Typically, at the very back of the store, right?!


I GREW UP IN A WONDERFUL FAMILY, but there was never really talk about money – good, bad or ugly. And financial education? No way! So, for those of us who missed out on some of those Adulting 101 lessons, or even if you could use a refresher or reminder, take a look at the Financially $peaking page, produced by extension agents and specialists from across the state who are focused on supporting individuals and families with their financial health and wellness. I’ll be mentioning some of the nuggets they come up with from time to time, like this April 2019 article with financial tips on navigating disasters. If you find yourself buying supplies to clean up after a flood, for example, one of the key things to remember, says a FEMA official, is to save receipts from those purchases!

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

WE HAVE A NEW BIG BOX LUMBER/HARDWARE STORE NOT FAR FROM WHERE I LIVE and not surprisingly on my first trip there, I was drawn to the garden section. It’s early March, but like many of you, I’m so eager to get outside and try growing new flowers and maybe some vegetables in my little postage stamp of a back yard. Over the next few months I’ll be sharing many resources aimed at helping you do everything from growing healthier lawns to pest management to pruning shrubs and more. I found this short article on Good Gardening Practices to get us started. Let the season begin!!!! (Surely, if we think it, it must be so.)


WE GROW A LOT OF EXCELLENT HARD RED WINTER WHEAT in Kansas – in fact it’s what we’re known for. But what about spring wheat? Our HRW wheat, which is typically planted in September or October, vernalizes (goes dormant) in the winter, and is harvested in early summer of the following year. HRW wheat often ends up as yeast breads and rolls, but is also suited for other things. About 95% of the wheat grown in Kansas is HRW. Alternatively, hard red spring wheat is planted in early spring, has a shorter growing season and does not vernalize over the winter. Its high protein and strong gluten make it a good ingredient for artisan breads, rolls, croissants, bagels and pizza crust. To help growers in northwest Kansas who may be considering giving HRS wheat a try, K-State has tested some potential varieties. Take a look at a summary of what they’ve learned and other things to consider if thinking of growing hard red spring wheat in northwest Kansas or if you just want to learn more about HRS wheat.


FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE BEEF CATTLE BUSINESS (there are just a few of you in Kansas, right?), this month’s Beef Tips has articles highlighting a Stock Growers Field Day on March 31 in Beloit, rules of thumb for grazing management, an estrus synchronization tool, supplementing cows during cold weather and much more. I always appreciate the Management Minute section. Much of what’s written in that segment can be applied to many workplaces besides cattle production operations.


For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here:

Better Kansas – Oct. 31, 2019

Happy Halloween! And welcome to Better Kansas, where every Thursday we shed light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, businesses, communities and state better. Share on social media and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter

Better Living, Better Communities

A FEW WEEKS AGO, I WROTE ABOUT CHILD DEVELOPMENT and linked to a fact sheet on milestones that children typically reach in the first year. But what about the second and third years and so on? Check out Understanding Your Child’s Development for activities children often accomplish by certain ages. Remember, these are AVERAGES! For babysitters, parents, grandparents and ANYONE who’s trying to calm a crying baby, there’s even a section on that. Where is Dr. Spock when you need him?! For you Trekkers, that’s not Mr. Spock. Again, I digress!


AS I WRITE THIS, WE’RE STARING WINTER RIGHT IN THE FACE! Listen to a Sound Living radio interview about what forecasters are expecting in the next few months and how you can prepare your home or car to avoid problems as the temperatures (and snow and sleet) fall. This was a good reminder for me to add to my own car … things like a phone charger, blanket, snacks and other items. And while you’re at it, consider giving your spouse, teenager, grown-up kid or friend an early Christmas gift of an emergency kit for their own car. These are not the kinds of things people tend to buy for themselves! It may not be as well received as tickets to a big concert, but …. 😊 Click here for a more complete list.

WHAT BETTER WAY TO REACH MORE PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY IS THERE than training others to be trainers? That’s how the Master Food Volunteers program works in several communities across the state. Extension agents and specialists provide training to volunteers who are interested in food and nutrition. Those volunteers, in turn, work with others in their communities in myriad ways, from teaching children – and sometimes adults – basic cooking skills to safe food preservation, menu planning and much more. While you’re on the site, check out the “Making a Difference” reports for examples of MFV activities.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

YEARS AGO, I LEARNED THE HARD WAY after a costly trip from the plumber, that we’re supposed to disconnect garden hoses from the spigot before it freezes. One of those Adulting 101 things I missed! Depending on your plumbing setup, not detaching them can lead to a burst pipe and interior water damage. And by the way, if you have a lawn irrigation system, they need the water blown out with an air compressor. Find further tips in the Draining Hoses and Irrigation Lines section of the Oct. 29 Horticulture 2019 Newsletter, along with other seasonal info about garden mums, fertilizing lawns in late fall and … roasting pumpkin seeds. Now there’s a left turn! Also found a YouTube video showing what can happen and why if you don’t detach those hoses.


WE KNOW THAT THE VAST UNDERGROUND RESERVOIR OF WATER known as the Ogallala Aquifer, a critical source of water for parts of eight states including western Kansas, is depleting faster than it can recharge. So, figuring out the best ways to maximize the benefits of rainwater and nutrients for crops on southern Plains farms is the goal of a new research effort led by Kansas State University. In addition to the K-State team, the five-year, $10 million project includes researchers, educators and extension specialists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma State University and the University of Maryland. Take a look at this news article for more information.

IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO SIGN UP FOR ONE OF THE 2019 KANSAS INCOME TAX INSTITUTE sessions happening in numerous locations around the state in November and December. The two-day sessions, offered by the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics, are designed for tax professionals and anyone interested in training on current tax law, regulations and updates. Check here for more information and online registration or call 785-532-1504.


For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here: