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Winter Safe Driving Tips


Winter Safe Driving tips

Snowplow operators work hard for the safety of the traveling public, however, changing weather conditions could quickly alter road conditions and drivers need to pay special attention to ensure safe travel. To ensure that you arrive at your destination safely, it’s a good idea for motorists to follow some basic safety tips while behind the wheel:

  1. “Know Before You Go” by checking road conditions BEFORE you travel. Check the Travel Information Map or call 511.
  2. Turn on your lights. This will increase your visibility to other motorists and snowplow operators. Brush snow from your car that could cover your tail lights.
  3. Slow down and drive according to the conditions. Most winter crashes are caused by driving too fast for conditions. Snowplows typically move at slower speeds.
  4. Never drive through “white-outs” or “snow fog” caused by cross winds or plowing snow. Wait until you can see.
  5. Stay back at least five car lengths behind the plow, far from the snow fog and any sanding material being spread; snowplow operators will turn off the sander, pull over, or raise the plow for better visibility when it is safe to do so to allow traffic to pass.
  6. Be patient. Allow more time to get to your destination. Remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.
  7. Know where the plow is on multi-lane roadways. The plow could be in either lane or on the shoulder.
  8. Be extremely cautious when passing a snowplow. They can be moved sideways by drifts and hard snow pack.
  9. Watch for plow trucks on interstate ramps and “authorized vehicle only” cross-overs.
  10. Don’t assume that you’ll have good traction because the road looks sanded. The sand can sink into the snow pack, leaving a slick surface.
  11. Never use cruise control on wet or icy roadways.

Make sure you are prepared for winter travel: check your vehicle, carry a winter survival kit, and adhere to winter travel trips.


Winter Travel Tips


The best tip for winter travel is to avoid travelling in dangerous or blizzard conditions. The problem in this area is that the weather and travel conditions can change dramatically within 30 minute or 30 miles for that matter. Please read these tips for winter travel.

winter travel tips

General Information:

  1. Carry a cell phone.
  2. Let someone know when you depart, your route, and expected arrival time.
  3. Dress according to weather conditions. Keep dry and wear clothing in layers.
  4. Do not leave without a full fuel tank.


If Stranded:

  1. Stay with your vehicle.
  2. Run the engine sparingly. Start with 15 minutes every hour and adjust if needed.
  3. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow.
  4. If the cold is extreme, it may be necessary to keep the engine running continuously. It may not restart if shut off.
  5. Keep your feet off the floor if the heater is not on.
  6. Never go to sleep with the engine running.
  7. Read to pass the time.
  8. Position car so it faces into the wind.
  9. Tie a colorful banner on the car antenna. If you need to leave the car for any distance during the storm, tie a nylon rope to the car and yourself so you will be able to find your way back to the car.
  10. Move all your emergency supplies from the trunk to the interior of the car as soon as you realize you will be staying for a while. Put on warm clothing now, before you get cold. It is easier to stay warm than it is to regain lost warmth. Loosen tight clothing so body heat can circulate. Remove metal jewelry as it can chill you.
  11. Check your supplies to see what you have to work with and arrange them in order for their use. This will help you ration them in case you are stranded for a long period of time.
  12. Here’s a tip from cold weather campers: eat a snack of high calorie food just before sleeping to stimulate your metabolism (heat production). If you awaken due to the cold, eat some more high energy food and add another layer of insulation such as more clothing or a blanket.


Vehicle Equipment:

  1. Carry repair tools such as pliers, wrenches, screw drivers, pocket knife.
  2. Carry tire chains, booster cables, tow rope, gas line antifreeze, and container of sand.

It’s also a good idea be sure you vehicle is prepared for the weather conditions and to carry a winter survival kit.


Winter Car Care Tips


Winter car care

The frigid temperatures experienced here in the Upper Midwest can wreak havoc on your vehicle.  Here are a few tips to help your vehicle survive.

  1. Batteries are much weaker in cold weather, so keep your vehicle’s battery fully charged.
  2. Tires should have M+S or All Season tread and be in good condition.
  3. Brakes should be checked and serviced if necessary. Even braking on all four wheels will lessen the chance of skids on slippery roads.
  4. Make sure your vehicle’s exhaust system has no leaks. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and can accumulate quickly in closed vehicles.
  5. Make sure your wiper blades are in good condition. Keep the windshield washer reservoir filled with antifreeze solvent.
  6. Check the radiator, heater core and all hoses that carry anti-freeze solution to see that they are in good condition and free of leaks. Also check to see that the solution is good to at least 40 below zero.
  7. Make sure you have winter weight oil (usually 5W-30) in the engine.
  8. Emergencies can happen when you least expect them, so be sure to carry a winter survival kit in your vehicle.

Kid Friendly Recipe – Chic’ Penne


Kid Friendly Recipes - Chic' PennePrep time: 55 minutes

Servings:  6

What you need:

  • 1 box whole-wheat penne pasta (14 ounces)
  • 3 cups of raw broccoli florettes
  • ¾ cup of precooked chicken strips (4 ounces)
  • ½ cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (2 ounces)
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons skim milk (1.5 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper

Equipment and supplies:

  • Pot for cooking pasta and steaming broccoli
  • Colander for draining pasta
  • 13×9-inch baking dish
  • Steamer basket for broccoli
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon
  • Skillet
  • Oven/stove

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions until crisp-tender. Drain pasta.
  3. Place drained pasta in a 13×9 baking dish.
  4. Place broccoli in a stockpot of boiling water or a steamer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Rinse with cool water.
  6. Add the drained broccoli and the precooked chicken strips to the pasta.
  7. Sprinkle shredded cheeses over pasta mixture.
  8. In a mixing bowl, combine milk, chicken broth, salt, and pepper.
  9. Pour milk mixture evenly over the pasta mixture and mix in with a spoon.
  10. Cover baking dish with foil.
  11. Bake 30 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and cheese is melted.

Winter Survival Kit


winter survival kitEven with cell phones, it’s still a good idea to keep a survival kit in your vehicle for winter travel.  You never know when you may not have cell service or just how long it will take help to get to you.  Here are a few items to keep packed:

  1. Several blankets and warm clothing, such as parka, boots, long underwear, heavy socks, mittens, ski mask.
  2. A source of heat, such as a multiple wick candle can heater. It is best to also have matches to light your candle, because some lighters won’t work in extreme cold.
  3. Water and a metal container suitable for melting ice or snow to be used for drinking water.
  4. A radio and flashlight with extra batteries.
  5. Food, such as hard candy, jellybeans, raisins, nuts, candy bars, dehydrated fruit, and jerky.
  6. Something to read to help keep you awake.
  7. A folding cup.
  8. Toilet tissue.
  9. Bright red or orange cloth and whistle to signal help.
  10. Nylon rope.

Five Easy Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions


It’s the end of the year, so it makes sense that we discuss how to make those New Year’s resolutions come true (for a change!). If you’re serious about keeping those resolutions, then you’ll appreciate this article. I’ve outlined five tips to help make you more successful when making those resolutions.

Happy New Year 2014

1. Pick Realistic Goals
One of the biggest problems in keeping a resolution is that we simply aim too high. Resolving to look more like Cindy Crawford is an unrealistic resolution for anyone. Resolving to lose a few pounds or cut back on sweets are more realistic goals. Setting a goal of completely changing your life, your career, your family relations, etc. is too broad. Keep the goals small and simple. You’ll find this tip alone will help you attain your goals.

Educate yourself about realistic goals, too. There are dozens of reliable and informative online sources to help you learn how to reduce your financial debt, lose weight, quit smoking, and improve your relationships, among many other things. If you need more information, now is the time to read-up on the things of interest to you to help you keep your resolution.

2. Define Those Goals
Saying you’ll lose weight, change your job, or go back to school isn’t good enough. You need to write down how specifically you are going to move toward those goals.

Want to lose a few pounds? Develop a weight loss plan which includes sensible eating with aregular exercise plan. Don’t rely on magical solutions or weight loss pills to keep the weight off long-term.

Develop specific, concrete ways to reach your goal, but keep each step along the way small. Deciding to quit your job tomorrow without having even begun a new job search is not realistic. Instead, find one or two job possibilities online, or in your local newspaper’s classified ads section. Tailor your resume for each job possibility, and send one or two out. Keep the quantities small and easily manageable.

Improving your relationship with your family or significant other is a good goal, but you need to figure out how exactly you will do that. Is it by talking more often to them and opening up with what’s going on in your life? Or is it by doing more things with them? You decide, then set up small but specific tasks to accomplish which you believe will help the relationship (such as calling them on the telephone more often, or setting aside more time each week to just talk to them).

3. Set a Schedule
No goal is attainable without deciding when you’re going to make the small changes needed to reach that goal. If you set no schedule for yourself, or — as most people do — set an unrealistic schedule, you are setting yourself up to fail. The schedule should be written down, just like your goal and the steps you will take to reach each goal. Losing a few pounds over a few months is realistic; losing a few pounds in a few days is not. Finding a new job within six months is realistic; finding one by the end of January is not. Improving your relationship with your significant other over the entire year is realistic; trying to do so overnight is impossible.

If your schedule involves things which need to be done daily or weekly, set specific times of the day or specific days of the week which you will use to work on it. Then do it, and keep written track of your keeping to that schedule. If you find a part of your schedule isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it. The key is to stay flexible and adopt to changes needed to be successful in your goals.

4. Don’t Be Upset by Setbacks
The old adage in therapy is two steps forward, one step back. The same could be said for New Year’s Resolutions, which can often be the most difficult to keep. It may help, though, to remember that we’re all human, we all make mistakes. It does no good to get depressed or disillusioned by setbacks in trying to reach your goals. In fact, if you know ahead of time that there are going to be times in which your resolve weakens or you don’t live up to a certain step or schedule you’ve set, it can help when it does happen. It’s a part of the process and means nothing more than a temporary setback. Putting such temporary setbacks into their proper perspective can help you move beyond them and put them behind you.

5. Enlist Additional Help or Support
Some people will find they just can’t quit smoking on their own, or reduce their financial debt without additional help and support. Whether it’s in the form of a professional, a family member, a friend, or some type of formal support group, consider enlisting someone’s help. This shows that you are not only serious about keeping the resolution, but that you realize your own strengths and limitations.

For instance, a friend can help you practice communication skills, such as those you’d like to improve with your family or significant other. A financial manager can help you develop a realistic plan to get out of debt. A weight loss program or nutritionist can help a person lose weight and lead a more healthy lifestyle. Family members, friends, or even a professional can help you plan a career change, or a school advisor can help you decide whether to go back to school or not. Getting additional help or support in this manner is sensible way to help increase your success in maintaining your New Year’s resolutions.

And remember…
Not every New Year’s resolution was meant to be kept. Some are easier to keep than others. Sometimes it helps for a person to make a few fun resolutions you know are unrealistic and have no intentions of keeping. Since you’ll break those right away, you will then have more time and energy to focus on the real ones. This may or may not work for everyone, so give it a try.

Keeping these few simple tips in mind this New Year may help to increase your chances of success. Consider that the new year is not only a time to make changes in your life, but also a time to be thankful for being alive and well for another year

Comfort Foods – Comfort Breakfast Bake


Comfort Foods - Comfort Breakfast Break

5 eggs
1/4 cup milk
16 oz refrigerated breakfast biscuits (Pillsbury flakey kind) ***DO NOT COOK FIRST!!!***
4 scallions (green onions, spring onions, whatever you prefer to call them)
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
If you’re into the meats – cooked center cut bacon or cooked sausage
11×17 pan, sprayed with cooking spray (Note: I think a 9×13 works better, but it might need to bake a little longer)

1. Mix your eggs and milk in a large bowl. Cut each biscuit (I’m all about scissors in the kitchen) into fours and add it to the bowl. I like to do this before I cook the bacon or cut up the scallions – give the biscuits some time to really soak in the eggs.

2. Cut up your scallions, shred your cheese, cook and break up your bacon (or sausage). Add everything to the bowl.

3. Mix it all up and pour into your pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes .. closer to 30 so it isn’t runny

Hint/Tip *** – If you want to make this the night before, leave it in the mixing bowl covered with saran and put in fridge overnight. The next morn, give it a good stir and bake as directed!!

YUMMY!! Serve with Fresh Fruit Salad and lotsa coffee/tea and assorted juices


New Year’s Paper Plate Shakers


Paper Plate Shakers

A fun little craft to encourage your child’s creativity.  They’ll love having their own, special noise maker to ring in the New Year.

paper plate New Year's shakers


  • Small or large paper plate
  • Feathers or ribbon (various colors)
  • Jewels or stickers (various shapes and sizes)
  • Paint, markers, and/or crayons
  • Glue
  • Stapler
  • Scissors
  • Rice, beads, dried beans, popcorn kernels, or macaroni shells



  1. Have your child decorate the paper plate with paint, markers, or crayons and let it dry.
  2. Once the paint has dried, fold the paper plate in half so you can see where the center is and then unfold.
  3. Let your child glue the feathers or ribbon to the rim of the plate (only on one side) leaving most of the feather/ribbon sticking out. The glued end of the feathers/ribbon should be on the inside of the plate once it has been folded.
  4. Fold the plate and place some rice, beads, beans, popcorn kernels, or macaroni shells inside. Then glue or staple the plate closed.
  5. Give your child jewels and/or stickers to decorate the outside of the plate.
  6. As the countdown ends: 3….2….1…. Happy New Year! Shake your noise makers and celebrate the new year!

New Year’s Activity – Blessings Jar


Blessings Jar


Blessings Jar

This is a great tradition to begin with your children in the New Year.  Whenever you recognize a “blessing” in your life throughout the year, just write it on a piece of paper, fold it up, and stick it in The Blessing Jar. On New Year’s Eve, dump out all the blessings from the entire year and go through it together as a family.  (And if you’re scrambling on New Years Eve to write all the blessings down that you forgot to write during the year like we often do…that’s okay too).

Here is one idea on how to decorate your jar, but really you can be creative and really make it yoru own.

Here are the instructions for making a Blessing Jar:

1.  Grab a clean jar with a lid (old spaghetti sauce jar is what is used here).

2.  Download and print the sheet music to Count Your Blessings (an old hymn).  Tape it on your jar.

Blessings Jar sheet music

3.  Add a label using scrapbook paper and stickers.

Blessings jar label

4.  Add a ribbon (or you could even make one of these adorable felt roses).

Blessings jar bow

5.  Start adding blessings!


New Year’s Facts by the Numbers Infographic


New Years Facts by the Numbers Infographic