Maine Extension Homemakers Newsletter, January–March 2024

Table of Contents

Presidential Ponderings

Homemakers President Marie TemmHappy New Year Everyone! I’m looking ahead with new eyes and new excitement as we continue to grow and gather together. In looking forward to 2024, we are revisiting our statewide Spring and Fall meeting’s structure, and have chosen to have one large, two-day meeting per year during the summer. This will allow us time to socialize with the whole state of homemakers and rework our programs.

I am looking forward to seeing you at the February 5 Advisory Board Meeting in Bangor. Wishing you all good health. Be kind and always remember to encourage and stand beside each other going forward.

– Best wishes to you all, your MEHC President, Marie Temm

Around the State

Aroostook County

Three Extension Homemakers members at an installation of new officers
Aroostook County President Dianna Day (with the crown) and Vice President Diane Parent  (center) were installed by Betty Thompson.

Aroostook County held its annual Fall Meeting and installed a new President, Dianna Day, and Vice President, Diane Parent.  The theme of the meeting was Pumpkin Time and the clubs contributed to a delicious potluck. Many thanks to outgoing President, Carolyn Kelley, and Vice President, Mona Cyr.

Androscoggin County

Androscoggin members participated in a workshop dedicated to making holiday cards and gift tags. The class was led by advisor Heidi Palmer.

Cumberland County

Three Extension Homemaker members from Cumberland County attending a holiday luncheon
Members of Cumberland County’s New Beginnings held a white elephant auction and enjoyed a holiday lunch.

Cumberland County held a Holiday gathering at a local restaurant and participated in a White Elephant auction. Fun times for all!

Franklin County

Four Extension Homemakers members from Franklin County gathered around a Christmas tree used for an auction fundraiser
Franklin County members Betty Snell, Mary Kalel, Amy Palmer and Linda Gramlich set up the Rotary Tree ahead of the auction. – Photo: Courtesy Linda Gramlich

Franklin County has had a busy few months. In October they held three training opportunities for members, including Making Your Wishes Known, Making Homemade Cleaners, and Care of Fall Flower Bulbs. The theme of the Rotary Christmas Tree was “Bow Wows and Meows” and earned $375.00. The annual tissue drive to collect tissues for all Franklin County elementary schools is currently in progress, and tissues will be distributed in January.

Hancock County

Hancock County members enjoyed a fun holiday gathering that included a potluck lunch and a fun present swap.

York County

York County Extension Homemakers in Limington met to create their 2024 calendar. Due to the retirement of Donna Flit, the administrative support contact is now Elizabeth Belanger. Check out the Staff Highlight in this newsletter.

Janet’s Jammies

One of the projects the clubs are working on for 2024 is a continuation of Janet’s Jammies. Jammies may be made through January and must be turned in to County Presidents by February 4, 2024.  The pajamas will be paired up with coordinating sleep shirts and packaged for distribution before Valentine’s Day to United Way locations serving all Maine Counties. Reach out to Lisa Fishman A.S.A.P. for patterns, fabric and tags, size labels and felt hearts. Lisa can be reached at 800.287.1421.

Maine 4-H Days-Service Project

The Maine Extension Homemakers are once again collecting items to be put in shelter bags and distributed throughout Maine during 2024. Youth participating in Maine 4-H Days at Windsor Fair Grounds in July will be filling shelter bags for men, women, and youth and have requested the following items:

  • Shampoo (not over 15-ounce bottles)
  • Toothbrushes with cases or caps
  • Tooth paste (2–3-ounce size)
  • Body wash or bar soap (with travel container)
  • Wash cloths and hand towels
  • Combs and brushes
  • Deodorant
  • Body lotion
  • Small packets of tissues
  • Razors with shaving cream
  • Puzzle books (assorted)
  • Journals
  • Writing implements
  • Socks
  • Decks of playing cards
  • Feminine products

Your County President will determine the date the items should be brought in. If you would like to help volunteer for the Maine 4-H Days Shelter Bag project, please contact Heidi Palmer at 207.310.4235. Maine 4-H Days will run from July 19-22. The exact date of the service project has not yet been determined.

Hot Topics at Extension

Reporting Time is here!

It’s time to tally up all the member volunteer hours, your club donations, your educational programming and complete your club’s annual report. Your County President will need your club reports by mid-March so they can be included in your County Annual Report.

Food Preservation classes

Food preservation classes are happening throughout the State of Maine. This is a great time to make jam from the fruits that you froze last summer, or to pull out that pressure canner, make a big batch of chicken soup and can it for use during this cold season. To find a workshop near you, or to request a workshop in your part of the state, visit the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Food & Health website’s Food Preservation Hands-On Workshops page for more information.

4-H Looking for Volunteers

Are you wishing you could get more involved with young people?  4-H is always looking for volunteers, and they are offering volunteer training in many locations. To sign up, visit the 4-H website for additional information.

All About Earmuffs

a pair of ear muffsHave you ever heard of Chester Greenwood? If you have, chances are pretty good that you live in Franklin County, where Chester Greenwood, at the age of just 15, invented the earmuff.

  • Farmington is the earmuff capital of the world, thanks to this invention, and March 13 is National Earmuff Day.
  • Chester Greenwood Day is celebrated in December of each year.

Mark Your Calendars

  • January 23: National Pie Day
  • February 4: National Homemade Soup Day
  • February 5:  MEHC Board meeting-Bangor 10:00 a.m.
    (pajama packing immediately following)
  • February 20: National Muffin Day
  • March 10: Daylight Savings Time begins-Spring Forward!
  • March 13: National Earmuff Day

Staff Highlight

Elizabeth Belanger and her child
Elizabeth Belanger.

Let’s take a minute to catch up with one of the friendly faces in the York County Extension office, Elizabeth Belanger. Elizabeth has been with UMaine Extension for a little over five years. Along with her husband and their two little kiddos, they own and operate 207 Tappers Sugarhouse in Arundel, Maine where they also co-own, with Elizabeth’s parents, a small hobby Dairy farm, Blue Star Farm, in Lyman, Maine. Elizabeth loves spending time outside with her family.

Gardening Tips-Winter Care of House Plants

House plants give us a lot of joy during the long, cold winter. They remind us of summer with their green leaves and blooms. However, indoor plants can suffer from pests just like outside plants. In the table on the following page are some of the common pests of house plants, and what you can do to control them.

For additional information on growing houseplants in Maine, see UMaine Cooperative Extension bulletin #2611, Tips for Growing Houseplants in Maine: Caring for Houseplants in Maine.

Review the article, particularly Table 1: Common Houseplant Insects and How to Control Them of the Preventing, Diagnosing, and Correcting Common Houseplant Problems page (Penn State University).

Table 1 based on information from:


Recipes to celebrate National Pie, Soup and Muffin Days, from our Expanded Food Nutrition and Education Program (EFNEP) friends.

Beef Taco Pie

Beef Taco Pie Food Nutrition Facts Label: Click on this image for complete nutrition informationMakes 12 Servings  | Serving Size: 1 serving

  • 1½ pounds lean ground beef, 90% or more lean
  • ¼ cup reduced sodium taco seasoning mix
  • ½ cup water
  • ⅔ cup salsa (choose hot if you dare!)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 1 (more) Tablespoon reduced sodium taco seasoning mix* 6 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 2 cups low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded

* Try the “Convenience Taco Seasoning Mix”

  1. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef until it is thoroughly cooked.
  2. Drain and discard fat from beef.
  3. Add ¼ cup taco seasoning mix and ½ cup water to beef. Stir to mix, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Combine salsa, tomato paste, water, and 1 tablespoon taco mix in a bowl.
  5. Cut each tortilla in half (12 half tortillas).
  6. Assemble the casserole as follows:
  7. In a 9” x 13” x 2” baking dish prepared with cooking spray, place 4 half tortillas.
  8. Spread ½ cup salsa mixture on top of the tortillas. Add 1½ cups meat mixture over the salsa. Top with ¾ cup grated cheese.
  9. Repeat layering: 4 half tortillas, the rest of the meat mixture, and ¾ cup grated cheese.
  10. Place the last 4 tortilla halves on top, and spread the remaining salsa mixture and cheese.
  11. Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F or until heated thoroughly.
  12. Allow pie to set for 5 minutes before cutting into 12 even portions.

Serve with a light spring salad of fresh greens and a low-fat dressing.

Carrot Leek Soup

Carrot Leek Soup Food Nutrition Facts Label: Click on this image for complete nutrition information.Makes 6 servings  | Serving Size: 1 serving

  • 1 medium leek, thinly sliced and soaked in water to remove sand 4 teaspoons butter
  • 6 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cans (14½ ounces each ) low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, sauté leek in butter until tender.
  2. Add carrots, potatoes and broth; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until vegetables are tender.
  4. Remove vegetables from heat and put into a blender or food processor.
  5. Add enough cooking liquid to cover, blend until smooth and return to pan.
  6. Stir in milk and pepper and heat through.

Low-Fat Lemon Yogurt Muffins

Lowfat Lemon Yogurt Muffins Food Nutrition Facts Label: Click on this image for complete nutrition information
Click for enlarged view and full text content of label.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sugar, honey, eggs, yogurt and lemon zest.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture. Stir just until combined.  Do not over mix.
  5. Divide the batter between 12 greased muffin cups.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden and inserted toothpick comes out clean.

*Moister than most muffins.  You may want to refrigerate them after they have cooled.


Use nonfat lemon yogurt for a stronger lemon flavor.

Photos: All photos property of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, unless otherwise noted.

Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2024

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