Life Times Newsletter

November/December 2002
Vol. 4, No. 6
A bimonthly publication to enhance
the quality of life of individuals,
families, and communities

Issue Theme:  Holidays

  1. Where is the holiday peace?

  2. Shrink holiday expenditures with consumer psychology

  3. Gifts from the kitchen

  4. New resources available for grandparents

1. Where is the holiday peace?

Elizabeth Reinsch, LCSW/ACSW
Human Development Specialist

As we approach the holidays, we might want to consider whether the phrase "holiday peace" reflects our own experiences of that period of time from Thanksgiving through New Yearís Day. Or do we only recall the shoulder-to-shoulder-crowds, credit card bills for over-spending on gifts, the hurrying here and there, indulging in too much food and drink? Indeed, we might want to ask, "Where is the holiday peace?"

While we have time before the full rush of the season is upon us, letís reflect on past holiday experiences. Perhaps there are some things we can do to help us have the holiday peace we recall from years past. Consider a few questions:

  1. What is one cause of seasonal stress you would like to eliminate or change this year?
  2. Is there something you would really like to add to this yearís celebration?
  3. Can you identify one reasonable thing you can do on a daily basis to bring more peace into your life?

Share these questions with your family or friends, encouraging one another to find simpler, more positive ways to renew your family with peace.

Peace has been described as an inner state of alert calmness and vibrant tranquility. It is harmony between you and your environment. True peace does not depend on others, or our situation, but rather it is our ability to accept whatever challenges come our way. True inner peace comes with a quiet feeling of power and energy.

How do we achieve this peace? Here are some tips:

During the holiday season give yourself, your family and friends the greatest gift of all: a peaceful YOU.

Adapted from: Holiday Survival Guide 2000, Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

2. Shrink holiday expenditures
with consumer psychology
(back to top)

Cynthia Fauser, MS, RD, LD
Nutrition Specialist

Anticipating holiday hordes? Stocking up for incoming house guests, making food gifts or just feeling celebratory? The holidays stimulate all manner of non-typical buying that can put the household budget in a spin for months.

Getting a handle on food dollars can be especially helpful this time of year. But does that mean stocking up at the warehouse membership club and buying those super-size packages to get the best unit price? Not necessarily, according to Brian Wansink, PhD.

Dr. Wansinkís Food & Brand Lab, a series of test kitchens and cooperating grocery stores, studies how consumers "choose and use" brands, particularly packaged goods. And while he may be sought after by large food corporations, Dr. Wansink is quick to point out that his research is just as helpful to the consumer. "Anything that can work for the manufacturer can also work for the consumer. I orient to the consumer," he says.

Dr. Wansinkís research on a wide variety of food and household products shows that we just tend to eat up the savings when items are in large packagesĖfrom 18 percent to 40 percent more! Study after study, the behavior holds true for everything from M&Mís to laundry detergent. We only seem to be dose conscious about medicine and bleach, items we know could cause harm in the wrong amount.

In one study, Dr. Wansink and crew passed out free popcorn to movie-goers in medium and large buckets. The popcorn eaters did not realize each bucket had been weighed. Yet when the researchers collected the buckets after the show, those with the large buckets had eaten 40 percent more than those with the medium buckets.

Given the popcorn example, it is not too hard to see how subdividing food into smaller serving bowls would be useful to waist-watchers. The principle of measuring or re-portioning into smaller containers also saves money on food and household products all over the house, all year long. Super-size jugs and bottles are difficult to lift and pour just the right amount. Extra rarely gets poured back. Sometimes unused product goes bad before it is used, eliminating savings.

Here are some tips from Dr. Wansink's research to help keep the lid on holiday food costs:

3. Gifts from the kitchen
(back to top)

Cynthia Fauser, MS, RD, LD
Nutrition Specialist

Gifts from the kitchen are an excellent way to share something of yourself. They need not be elaborate or contain costly ingredients. They should be a bit out of the ordinary and be something the recipient is not likely to make or already have.

Here are a couple of recipe suggestions:

Spiced & Fruity Tea Mix

This flavorful tea is good hot or cold.

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Store tightly sealed.


Follow above recipe, except substitute different flavors for the cherry drink mix such as: strawberry or orange.

Directions for gift card: To serve, stir 2 tablespoons Spiced & Fruity Tea Mix into 8 oz. hot or cold water.

Glazed Pecans

These are very easy, delicious, and take only about 10 minutes to make.

Boil all ingredients 3 to 5 minutes, tossing and stirring. Spread on wax paper to cool. Store in airtight container.

4. New resources available for grandparents
(back to top)

Elizabeth Reinsch, LCSW/ACSW
Human Development Specialist

For grandparents, the challenges of raising a grandchild can be overwhelming, but two new resources can help.

A free 38-page "Grandparents Acting As Parents Resource and Information Guide" is available for grandparents and other relatives caring for related children.

The guide includes helpful resource numbers and contact information for services in St. Louis City and County, as well as Franklin, Jefferson and St. Charles counties. The resource manual will be available soon on the web at

A second resource is a new "Relatives as Parents/Grandparents Information Warm-Line." This telephone resource and referral service provides information on public benefits, legal services, support groups and other community services for grandparents and older relatives caring for kin. Cardinal Ritter Institute and Legal Services of Eastern Missouri sponsor the project.

The Warm-Line telephone number is 314-652-3600, ext. 242. Callers should leave a message; a social worker will return the call.

For a copy of the resource guide, call the St. Louis County Extension Center, 314-615-2911.

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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller