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Archive | Seasonal

Add Some Sparkle to Your Holiday Décor

HOL-Holiday-decorating

By Melinda Myers

Liven up your holiday décor with lights, a bit of glitz and some colorful blossoms this season.

Start by gathering greenery from your landscape. Use needled evergreens like pines and firs, broadleaf evergreens like boxwood, holly and evergreen magnolia as well as junipers and arborvitaes to create wreaths, swags, centerpieces and garland. And don’t forget to include cones, holly berries, crabapples and the bluish-colored fruit of junipers.

Be selective as you prune your trees and shrubs when collecting these materials. Use sharp bypass pruners that have two sharp blades and will make a clean cut that closes more quickly. Make your cuts above a healthy bud, where the branches join another branch, or back to the main trunk. Take only a few branches from each tree or shrub to maintain the plants’ beauty.

Place freshly cut greens in a cool location away from heaters, fireplaces and open flames. Set them on colorful fabric or paper to catch the sap and avoid damaging your woodwork and furnishings.

Check your greenery for freshness every few days. The needles, leaves and stems should bend, but not break. Replace dried greens with fresh materials.

Then brighten up the display with some cool burning LED lights. Create a mantle display or centerpiece with the help of LED pillar lights. Or add a string of LEDs to your garland. Look for something unusual like pinecone string lights (gardeners.com) to add sparkle and charm to your display.

If you have artificial greens that could use a facelift, add fresh berries, cones and seedpods for a more natural look. Increase the glitz with the help of silver and gold metallic paint or glitter.  Paint milkweed, lotus and other pods and then tuck them into the greens. Painting allium seedheads white will add the appearance of flowery snowflakes in your indoor arrangements and outdoor container gardens.

And don’t forget the fresh flowers and flowering plants. Poinsettias are a long-time favorite, but you may want to change things up with Amaryllis, spring flowering bulbs and lily of the valley.  Look for unusual varieties or combinations to increase your enjoyment. Combine large flowered amaryllis with small flowering bulbs like star of Bethlehem. Or go for a unique size shape or flower color like that of the Honeybee Amaryllis with its beautiful yellow flowers that are sure to brighten your days.

Add a few flowers to your greenery and houseplants for some instant color.  Stick your greenery and flowers in dampened floral foam to create a long-lasting holiday centerpiece. Or place cut flowers in floral picks and set them in dish gardens and houseplants to brighten things up. Then swap out the flowers as they fade.

And consider making a few extra planters or centerpieces to give as holiday and hostess gifts this year.

Now is the time to put on your gardening shoes, grab the pruners and get started decorating for the holiday season ahead.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has a master’s degree in horticulture and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. Her web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos, podcasts and monthly tips.

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‘Tis the Season to Safeguard Your Identity

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

(Family Features) The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is an exciting time. But from the crowded malls to the big online markdowns, a silent threat lurks – one with the ability to wipe out your good financial standing and make it a not-so-jolly holiday for you and your family.

Just as you would assess your holiday gift budget, it’s equally important to understand and evaluate the status of your identity, taking special precautions to help safeguard your information.

Giving information is inevitable

In the digital world, sharing your identity to obtain credit, make online holiday purchases or even receive coupons is commonplace and necessary – but it opens the door to new risks. Today, data breaches are frequent and they can put your personal information in the wrong hands.

In fact, a new study of more than 1,200 consumers conducted by Morpace on behalf of LifeLock, a comprehensive identity theft protection service, found that almost two-thirds (64 percent) of data breach victims experienced it within the last 12 months1. And while data breaches can certainly cause considerable damage to someone’s financial standing, the stakes in identity theft are exponentially higher.

The survey also found that about half of respondents who experienced identity theft do not know how their information was obtained2. While most people assume these criminal acts occur to only those with an online presence, anyone can be a target. Even unique, permanent credentials, such as Social Security numbers and birthdates, can live online regardless of an owner’s physical presence or real-world activity.

Identity theft can have uncontrollable and significant long-term financial implications, with thieves going as far as opening a bank loan, or committing tax fraud in your name.

Take protective measures

The specialists at LifeLock offer these tips to help protect you while shopping this holiday season:

Know where your info goes. Many online stores offer helpful apps for quicker, more efficient holiday shopping. Before you download any app, make sure it comes from a reputable source. Copycat apps exist which, once downloaded, may capture your personal information and use it for fraudulent purchases. Overall, it is important to know where your information is being stored – whether on your device, the hard drive of your computer or in a file at home.

Be vigilant on public Wi-Fi. Whether at your local coffee shop or while traveling, do not transact on public Wi-Fi and be wary of any passwords you enter. It’s always safer if you can wait until you get to a secure or private network.

Change passwords frequently. Make sure the passwords you use when setting up accounts with online merchants are complex and difficult for a thief to figure out. It is always a good idea to change passwords to all your accounts on a regular basis – especially with banks, email accounts and social networking sites – to add an extra layer of protection to your personal data.

Consider using a credit card. When you choose your debit card over your credit card, you may be exposing yourself to more risk. The most you’d have to pay for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50, no matter when you report it. If you report your debit card lost or stolen more than two days after you learn about the loss or theft, but less than 60 days after your statement is sent, you could lose up to $500. And if you wait more than 60 days after your statement is sent, you could be out all the money taken from your account.

As a consumer educated on identity theft, you’ll have some peace of mind and be more able to focus on the fun of the shopping season. For more information, visit LifeLock.com.

1 Based on the responses of 1,200+ U.S. consumers surveyed by Morpace, an independent third-party research firm, September 2014. Page 13.

2 Based on the responses of 1,200+ U.S. consumers surveyed by Morpace, an independent third-party research firm, September 2014. Page 62.

 

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How to help a grieving child during the holidays

HOL-Supporting-children

Advice for caregivers and parents 

The holidays can be a magical time of year, but for children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or another significant person in their lives, the holiday season can be tough. It also poses challenges for still-grieving family members and caregivers around them.

“The holiday season can be particularly difficult for families, because children carry their own expectations about the holidays, as well as their own grief over the death,” said Bonnie Carroll, military widow and founder of the nonprofit organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). “The holidays can be full of bittersweet moments. They can also be an opportunity to honor and remember the person who died and the legacy that special person left for a child.”

Since its founding in 1994 by bereaved military families, TAPS has offered comfort and care to more than 50,000 people grieving the death of someone who served in the military and their caregivers, and is a recognized expert in child bereavement. TAPS Good Grief Camps are attended by thousands of children and teens annually. TAPS offers the following tips to help families supporting a bereaved child over the holidays:

Talk with your child about the holiday season. Anticipating the holiday, especially if it’s the first holiday without a family member, can be worse than the actual holiday. Talk with your child about their feelings and expectations for the holiday season. Discuss the activities your child would like to participate in or attend.

Even if your child does not talk frequently about the death, do not expect for your child to be “over it.” Children grieve on their own time frame and differently from adults. Significant milestones, such as the first holiday after the loss, may cause the child’s feelings about the loss to re-surface, even if the child has not talked about the death for a while.

Make holiday plans that help your child feel nurtured, emotionally safe, and comfortable. Review your plans for the holidays with your child. Spend the holidays where you and your child feel supported, nurtured and comfortable.

Encourage your child to attend holiday functions. Consider attending holiday parties and activities, especially if you and your child will be able to spend time with supportive family members and friends. Make an escape plan in case the event is more than you or your child can handle and trust your hosts to understand if you need to slip out.

Laughter, play and joy are good for your child. Children do not grieve continuously and they need to take breaks from grieving. Encourage your child to play, run and do recreational activities he or she would normally do. Clowning around and laughing (which releases endorphins into the brain) are healthy and normal for children.

Be observant about your child’s emotions. Realize that familiar traditions, sights, smells and tastes, may be comforting, or may jolt emotions. Watch how your child responds to events and be ready to be supportive and comfort your child.

Comfort items that remind the child of the loved one who died may help. Allowing your child to sleep in a favorite shirt that belonged to the person who died may offer comfort. Letting your child carry a special item that reminds him or her of the person who died may help the child feel connected. Placing a photograph of the child with the person who died or from a holiday celebration in a special place, may help.

Pay attention to your child’s health. It’s often difficult for adults and children alike who have experienced a recent death to sleep. Make sure your child gets regular rest, eats well and drink lots of water. Holiday treats are ok, but in moderation. Bed wetting, acting out and nightmares may be signs of struggling. Talk with your medical care provider if you become concerned about your child’s health.

Do not pretend your family has not experienced a loss. Let your child know that you also miss the person who died. Tell your child that you don’t like that things cannot be exactly like they were before the person died, and that you love your child. Children may need to hear this in order to feel it is permissible to discuss their own feelings.

Find sustenance for the soul. Your church, synagogue, mosque, or another faith community may offer services, resources and support networks to help you and your child through the holiday season.

Talk with your child about holiday traditions and how they will be observed this year. Some children insist that holiday customs remain exactly the same each year. Discuss with your child why he or she wants to hold onto a particular tradition or custom. Do not feel that you must do something because you have always done it that way, but consider your child’s feelings when making a change. Talk with your child about any changes before they occur.

Stick to daily routines when possible. The holidays tend to cause a lot of upheaval in schedules and routines. The friends your child plays with may go out of town. The daily schedule your child is accustomed to may change when schools close for the holidays. Try to keep your child on a regular bedtime routine and talk with your child about any changes.

Allow your child to remember a lost loved one through a tribute. Light a candle together at dinner time to remember the person who died. Hang an ornament on the tree that reminds the child of the loved one who died. Help your child offer a blessing at a holiday meal that honors the person who died. Create a picture or collage with your child, display a favorite photograph in your home, or let your child help you set a place at the dinner table to represent the loved one who died.

Help your child write a letter to the person who died that honors the legacy that person gave the child. Help your child write a letter to the person they love who died thanking him or her for the gifts the person gave to the child, the special things they would do together and expressing how the child feels about the person. Some children may want to mail their letter to the person, take the letter to the cemetery or “send it to heaven” on a helium-filled balloon.

Honor the lost loved one through a gift. Encourage your child to draw pictures or create gifts for others that are inspired by the memories of the person who died. Help your child make a donation to a charity or cause the loved one cared about. Consider volunteering as a family at the charity.

Use family connections to help your child. Connections with other family members can help your child feel comforted, loved and safe. These family connections can also help you as a parent or caregiver cope with the holidays. Encourage your child to build ties with other family members, but you may need to remain nearby to reassure your child with your presence.

For more tips on dealing with grief during the holidays, go to the TAPS website at www.taps.org and look for our holiday survival guide. 

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the national organization providing compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes and has offered support to more than 50,000 surviving family members of our fallen military and their caregivers since 1994.

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Holiday Happenings

Check out some of the fun, family activities going on around the area for the holidays. Start a new tradition!

 

HOL-Tree-lighting1-SantaCEDAR SPRINGS

2014 Cedar Springs Christmas – Come Mingle with Kris Kringle

Dec. 6: Celebrate the kick off to the Christmas season with “Come Mingle with Kris Kringle,” presented by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Looking for something sweet? Pick up some awesome baked goods at the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion Bake Sale at Alpha omega Coffee and Games.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Make an ornament at the Cedar Springs Library, 43 W. Cherry Street, and take it with you to decorate the tree at 1 p.m. (see below).

1:00-2:00 p.m. Decorate the town Christmas Tree with the Cedar Springs Cheerleaders at the corner of Main and Ash Street.

1:00-3:00 p.m. Feets and Seats and Personal Care For North Kent Community Services by the Christmas Tree. Bring your new and unused socks, undergarments, and personal care items, for people in need in the community.

1:00-3:00 p.m. Free Hot Chocolate at the corner of Ash and Main Street provided by ReMax.

2:00-3:00 p.m. Story time with Mrs. Claus at Perry’s Place llc for herbs, teas, and more.

3:00-4:00 p.m. Christmas Puzzle Time with Santa’s Elves at Alpha Omega Coffee and Games.

4:00 p.m. Double K Farms & Animal Junction 4H Club  Petting Zoo & Bake Sale at corner of Main and Ash Street, while waiting for Santa.

4:00 p.m. Parade Line Up corner of Second and Maple Street.

4:30 p.m. Christmas Parade brings Santa from Second and Maple to corner of Ash and Main St.

HOL-Tree-lighting2-Tree4:45 p.m. Christmas Tree Lighting and Caroling, corner of Main and Ash St.

5:00 p.m. Live Nativity Scene, then Mingle with Kris Kringle. Tell him what you want for Christmas! The CS Cheerleaders will be handing out candy canes.

5:00-7:00pm Candlelight Tour at the CS Historical Museum at Morley Park. Inside the museum there is an antique sleigh set up in front of a wintery scene backdrop. Families are welcome to take pictures of their children in the old sleigh.

A Christmas night of worship

Dec. 7: Coffee, Candles, Carols, and Praise. Solon Center Wesleyan Church presents “A Christmas night of worship,” on Sunday evening, December 7, at 6 p.m. World-class desserts and coffee will be served during the concert. The church is located on Algoma Avenue, just north of 19 Mile Road. Join us for a great night of celebrating Christmas. All are welcome! www.scwchurch.org.

Edible Christmas Tree Decorating at the library

Dec. 13: Make an ordinary ice cream cone magically turn into a fabulous Christmas tree at the Cedar Springs Public Library! RSVP for sessions starting at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Great for kids ages preschool and up. RSVP by calling 616-696-1910 or stop by and sign up at 43 W. Cherry Street during open hours.

2014 Kent Theatre Christmas Concert

Dec. 13: The 2014 Annual Kent Theatre Christmas Concert hosted by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce (CSACOC) is scheduled for December 13th from 3pm to 5pm. Come out an have some holiday family fun! Admission tickets are $3 per person.

2014 Kent Theatre Dance Extravaganza

Dec. 14: The 2014 Annual Kent Theatre Christmas Dance Extravaganza hosted by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce (CSACOC) is scheduled for December 14th from 3pm to 5pm. Come out an have some holiday family fun! Admission tickets are $3 per person!

 

GREENVILLE

2014 Christmas block party and parade

Dec. 5: Come join the fun in downtown Greenville on December 5th! The Block party will take place from 4:00-5:30 p.m. Get your picture taken with Santa, then watch while Santa magically lights the Christmas Tree at 5:45 p.m. The parade will start at 6:00 p.m. on Lafayette Street. You won’t want to miss out on all the fun!

Classic Movie Series at Flat River Library

Dec. 8: See a holiday classic at the Flat River Library suitable for the whole family. Popcorn will be provided. 5:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. www.flatriverlibrary.org.

Extreme Duct Tape: Holiday Edition

Dec. 9: Teens Only! Get into the holiday spirit at the Flat River Library by making your own duct tape ornament or gift. We will provide all the materials, or you can bring your own duct tape for a custom look. Either way, we look forward to crafting with you! 4-5 p.m. www.flatriverlibrary.org/events/

Make-A-Gift

Dec. 13: Get into the holiday spirit at the Flat River Librar by making your own duct tape ornament or gift. We will provide all the materials, or you can bring your own duct tape for a custom look. Either way, we look forward to crafting with you! For all ages, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

HOWARD CITY

Homes for the Holiday Tour

Dec. 6: The Friends of the Timothy C. Hauenstein Reynolds Township Library is holding their Homes for the Holiday Tour on December 6, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Advance tickets may be purchased at the Library or at Kindel & Company. Advance tickets are $10, on the day of the event $12. Ticket price includes refreshments at the library after 2 p.m. Follow the Snowflake Signs. Homes on the tour are; Jerry and Brenda Gartszke, Poisson Family, Susan Sunden, Brenda Tumosa and Jessie Vogel and Bob Visser.

 

Howard Christensen Nature Center

Holiday Make & Take

Dec. 6: You will not want your kids to miss this one! Bring your child to Howard Christenesen Nature Center on Saturday, Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., where they will make unique gifts and wrap them up with the assistance of our volunteer team. Voila! Your children’s holiday shopping is done. This event is most appropriate for K-5th graders. A cherished gift from your child’s heart, what could be better! Donation $6 per child. The nature center is located at 16190 Red Pine Drive, Kent City, Michigan, 49330.

Learn to Snowshoe

Dec. 21: You and your loved ones can enjoy snowshoeing together on our scenic trails with a snowshoe guide from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Build a team and join the festive fun, snow permitting (about 6 inches of snow for snowshoeing). This would be a great opportunity for a “date” day! Donation $5.00/person – snowshoes included or bring your own. Hot chocolate will be served in our gorgeous Interpretive Center after our hike. The nature center is located at 16190 Red Pine Drive, Kent City, Michigan, 49330.

 

ROCKFORD

Discover a Rockford Christmas

Take a step back in time and capture the magic of the holidays with these special events!

Dec. 5: Holiday Lighting Ceremony at Peppler Park, Friday, Dec. 5 at 6:00 p.m.

Dec. 6: Santa Parade, Downtown Rockford, Saturday, Dec. 6 at 11:00 a.m. Visit Santa in Rotary Pavilion immediately after parade.

Dec. 6: Carriage Rides (FREE) by Classic Carriages, LLC, Saturday, Dec. 6, from noon to 2:00 p.m.

Dec. 10: Santa Visits & Free Cocoa at the Rotary Pavilion, Wednesday, Dec. 10 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Dec. 11-12: Carriage Rides (FREE) by Classic Carriages, LLC, sponsored by Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 11-12, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Load in front of Custard by the Dam.

Dec. 17: Santa Visits, Free Cocoa, and live reindeer at the Rotary Pavilion, Wednesday, Dec. 17 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Dec. 18-19: Carriage Rides (FREE) by Classic Carriages, LLC, sponsored by Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 18-19, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Load in front of Custard by the Dam.

 

SAND LAKE

Sand Lake Christmas 2014

Experience a Sand Lake Christmas, sponsored by the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Nov. 30: Tree Lighting  & Concert 6:30 p.m. by Resurrection Lutheran Preschool

Dec. 6: Craft Sale 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. at Resurrection Lutheran Church.

Dec. 12: Bake Sale SLUMW 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at Independent Bank

Dec. 13: Kick off of 12 Days of Christmas 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m.-Noon Santa at the Library

10:00 am-2:00 p.m. Vintage Snowmobile Show

10:00 am-4:00 pm Quilt Show and Raffle at United Methodist Hall.

10:00 am-1:00 p.m. Kids Activities at Resurrection Lutheran Church.

1:00-3:00 p.m. Kids activities at Mary Queen of Apostles Hall.

11:00am-2:00 p.m. Soup Luncheon at United Methodist Hall.

11:30 am-1:00 p.m. Community Caroling.

3:00 p.m. Out House Races

Christmas Cookie Contest

Dec. 13: Bring at least one dozen cookies and your recipe to the Sand Lake United Methodist Church between 8:30-9:30 a.m. Judging begins at 10 a.m. A $25 award will be given in each category: drop cookies, bars (cut squares), and rolled (cookie cutters). An additional $25 will be awarded for overall best cookie. Entries will be judged on first impression, taste and quality. Homemade only, no boxed mixes. May enter multiple recipes. A separate entry form must be filled out for each one. Winners will be announced at noon at the church hall. All extra cookies will be sold at the soup luncheon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sand Lake Village Churches Progressive Advent Activities

Dec. 5: Indoor Live Nativity 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Sand Lake United Methodist Church Hall.

Dec. 6: Indoor Live Nativity 1:00-3:00 p.m. at Sand Lake United Methodist Church Hall.

Dec. 14: “Journey to Bethlehem” 6:00-7:30 p.m. at Mary Queen of Apostle Catholic Church Hall.

Dec. 21: Christmas Program 11:00 a.m. at Church of the Full Gospel.

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Service 7:00 p.m. at Resurrection Lutheran Church.

 

SPARTA

‘Tis the season! Sparta holiday calendar events brought to you by the Sparta Area Chamber and Sparta DDA.

Nov. 27: Turkey Trot in Sparta, Thursday, Nov. 27, 9 a.m. Race begins at Sparta Civic Center, 75 N. Union. $15 plus two canned food items. Registration forms at spartachamber.com.

Nov. 29: Ugly Sweater 5K Run, 9:30 a.m. Starts/finishes: Mamrelund Lutheran Church, 4085 Lutheran Church Rd., Kent City. Proceeds support local food pantries. Visit Facebook: The Ugly Christmas Sweater 5K run/walk.

Dec. 2: Santa Workshop 5-8 pm at Maddie LaRoues, 126 E. Division. Hosted by Independent Bank. Free photos with Santa, activities, & more!

Dec. 9: Gingerbread House Decorating Party, 6-8 p.m. at Sparta Township Library, 80 N. Union. For all ages! Houses & decorating items will be supplied.

Dec. 13: Visit Santa Claus in the Santa House, 9-11 a.m., 94 N. Union St. Behind Sparta Library. Free! Bring your own camera!

Dec. 18: Visit Santa Claus in the Santa House, 5-7:30 p.m., 94 N. Union St. Behind Sparta Library. Free. Bring your own camera.

Dec. 20 Visit Santa Claus in the Santa House, 9-noon, 94 N. Union St. Behind Sparta Library. Free. Bring your own camera.

Dec. 21: Sparta Nazarene Christmas Candlelight Service, 10:30 a.m. at Sparta Church of the Nazarene, 665 13 Mile Road.

Dec. 21-24: Ballard Church of Christ, 1633 10 Mile Road, presents “The Living Nativity,” from 7-8 p.m.

Dec. 22: Visit Santa Claus in the Santa House, 9-11 a.m. and 5-7 p.m., 94 N. Union St. Behind Sparta Library. Free. Bring your own camera.

Dec. 23: Visit Santa Claus in the Santa House, 11-1 and 5-7 p.m., 94 N. Union St. Behind Sparta Library. Free. Bring your own camera.

 

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A Spooky snack and drink for Halloween

Monster Mash Float

Monster Mash Float

Family Features

If your family’s Halloween consists of pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating and transforming your home into a haunted house, you’ll be happy to know that the “double, double, toil and trouble” doesn’t have to stop there. You can add a little extra hocus pocus to your season by brewing up these chillingly creative treats with the whole family.

The Monster Mash Float and Paranormal Pudding are two ghoulishly good treats that kids and adults alike will love, and they’re easy to make. The fun is all in the Limited Edition TruMoo Orange Scream milk. Inspired by an orange frozen pop with vanilla ice cream, this new creamy orange milk is so frightfully delicious, it’s sure to make you scream. Because it’s made with wholesome low-fat white milk, no artificial growth hormones or high fructose corn syrup, and is brought to you by your local trusted TruMoo dairy, you can feel great about serving it to your family.

TruMoo Orange Scream is delicious as an ingredient in your favorite Halloween treats or served by itself. Just make sure to drink it fast—it might disappear into the night like the headless horseman.

For more frightening fun visit www.TruMoo.com, www.facebook.com/TruMooMilk, www.twitter.com/TruMooMilk and www.pinterest.com/TruMooMilk.

 

Monster Mash Float

Servings: 1

1 cup TruMoo Orange Scream milk

1 large scoop low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream

1 cup chilled seltzer

In tall glass, pour in milk. Add scoop of frozen yogurt. Slowly add seltzer to create foamy, web-like effect on top of float.

Serve immediately.

Paranormal Pudding

Paranormal Pudding

Paranormal Pudding

Servings: 2

2 cups TruMoo Orange Scream milk

1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding and pie filling

1/2 cup low-fat granola

2 tablespoons low-fat plain Greek yogurt

Multicolored sprinkles

In large bowl, with wire whisk beat milk and instant pudding until well blended and thickened.

Spoon 1/3 of pudding mixture into two dessert or parfait glasses; sprinkle with some granola. Repeat layering two more times. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, top each with dollop of yogurt and Halloween-themed sprinkles.

 

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Pumpkin Coloring Contest Winners!

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Pumpkin Coloring Contest. Winners may pick up their prizes at the Cedar Springs Post office, located at 36 E. Maple St., Cedar Springs, on or after Friday, October 31, 2014 10am-5pm. Or call 616-696-3655 to make other arrangements.

Age Group 3-4 years Caylee Kidder, age 4, of Howard City

Age Group 3-4 years
Caylee Kidder, age 4, of Howard City

Age Group 5-7 years Lyssa Smith, age 7, of Rockford

Age Group 5-7 years
Lyssa Smith, age 7, of Rockford

Age Group 8-10 years Madalyn Houck, age 10, of Sand Lake

Age Group 8-10 years Madalyn Houck, age 10, of Sand Lake

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Halloween Happenings

Halloween-leadin

Check out some of the fun, fall activities going on in our area for Halloween!

 

MCC Haunted Indoor Forest

Oct. 24, 25: Montcalm Community College Art Club hosts a Haunted Indoor Forest from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Instruction North Building, on the college’s Sidney campus. A $2 donation is suggested.

Harvest Brains at Sand Lake/Nelson Library

Oct. 25: Program for teens, at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, October 25. Save your brains! Build a survival bag, practice your aim, and learn what it takes to stay alive during a zombie apocalypse. The library is located at 88 Eighth St., Sand Lake.

Harvest party

Oct. 25: Cedar Creek Community Church, at 2969 14 Mile RD NE Sparta, will host a harvest party on Saturday, October 25, from 5-8 p.m. There will be hayrides (using straw due to allergies), pumpkin painting, dunking for apples, cake walk, games, face painting, soup, hot dogs, popcorn, and lots of fun! All are welcome. Call 866-9829 for more info.

Pumpkin Carving and Lit Trails Walk

Oct. 25: Pumpkin/Carving and Pumpkin lit trail hike from 5-8:30 p.m. at Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16290 Red Pine Dr., Kent City, on Saturday, October 25. Suggested donation is $8 per person or $30 for family of four or more, including pumpkin to take home. (No one turned away for inability to pay. This donation helps keep HCNC operating.) Pumpkin carving from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and pumpkin lit walk through our spooky Enchanted Forest from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (Friendly enough for your toddlers. Non scary animals will be on display in the forest, weather permitting for the mock-animals). Includes pumpkin to take home or leave at the center for the wild animals to munch on. Dress up as your favorite nature character. Open to all ages.

Trunk ‘r Treat at Courtland-Oakfield UMC 

Oct. 25: It’s our fourth annual Trunk ‘r Treat for kids of all ages. Saturday, October 25, 5:30-7:00 p.m. at Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church, 10295 Myers Lake NE. Candy outdoors; hot dogs & baked beans indoors.

Trunk or Treat at East Nelson UMC

Oct. 25: Bring your kids and come “Trunk or Treat” at East Nelson UM Church, 9024 18 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs on Saturday, October 25 from 5-7 p.m. Warm up with hot chocolate and sloppy joes. Games and fun for all.

Fall Festival  

Oct. 29: Fall Festival for all ages at the Solon Center Wesleyan Church, 15671 Algoma Ave., Cedar Springs on Wednesday, October 29, from 6:30- 8 p.m. For families with children 5th grade and under. Games, prizes, snacks, boy and girl door prizes and candy, candy, candy! The church is located on Algoma, just north of 19 Mile Road.

Nightmare on Cherry Street

Oct. 30: Calling all 4th to 6th graders!  You are officially invited to come to our “Nightmare on Cherry Street” party at the Cedar Springs Library! The fun, games, and food will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 30 and go until 7:30. Registration is required, so come into the library to sign up or call 616-696-1910

Trick or Treat Trail Walk

Oct. 31: From 3-5 p.m. on Halloween, bring your kiddos by Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16290 Red Pine Dr., Kent City, to take a short walk down one of our trails to collect some candy, so we don’t get tricked!

Cedar Springs Spooktacular

Oct. 31:  The Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, businesses and churches in Cedar Springs are sponsoring the annual Main Street Halloween Spooktacular on Friday, October 31. Some of the free events include: spooky storytelling and crafts at the Cedar Springs Public Library, 4:30 p.m.; a haunted school house at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum in Morley Park 5-7 p.m.; a Kids Carnival, hosted by Calvary Assembly of God 5-7 p.m.; Trick-or-Treating at local businesses between 5-7pm; and Trunk or Treat at The Springs Church from 6 to 8 p.m. (see more details below).

Kids carnival

Oct. 31: Calvary Assembly of God will be presenting a free carnival during the Chamber of Commerce’s Spooktacular event from 5-7pm on Friday, October 31. The carnival will be at the corner of Ash and Main Street, next to DJ Nails, and will have lots of family-friendy games, with prizes and candy.

Haunted school house

Oct. 31: The Haunted School House is back this year at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum in Morley Park from 5-7 p.m. again. Nolan Patin has worked up another fun spooky event for the museum. We do adapt our spookiness when young children are coming through and will be handing out treats.

Trunk or Treat at The Springs

Oct. 31: Creative costumes—check. Oodles of goodies—check. Lots of giggles and loads of fun—doublecheck! You’ll experience it all at The Springs Church at Trunk or Treat on Halloween night from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be lots of candy for the taking, carnival games, a giant slide, and refreshments. It will be fun for the whole family, and a safe, well-lit environment for kids. The church is located at 135 N. Grant St., in Cedar Springs.

Traffic Squad/Fire Department

Oct. 31: There will be cider, donuts and candy at the Cedar Springs Fire Department on Maple Street from 5 to 7 p.m. or while supplies last.

Halloween Hospitality Center

Oct. 31: Warm up station at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, 140 S. Main Street, Cedar Springs, on Friday, October 31, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Serving hot chocolate and popcorn, everyone is welcome to join us.

Halloween party – Courtland Fire

Oct 31:  Stop by the Halloween party at the Courtland Fire station #2, 9535 Myers Lake road from 5-9 p.m. Games, snacks candy, cider, coffee,  car trunks with treats welcome. Sponsored by women auxiliary, and many stores in the area.

Family Harvest Celebration

Oct. 31: Pine Ridge Bible Camp invites you to its annual Family Harvest Celebration on Friday, October 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. This free event includes hayride, games, puppet show, cider, donuts and trip through Treat Town. Please bring a bag for collecting treats. It is a fun night for the whole family. Costumes welcome but not necessary. Please no witches, ghosts, monsters, etc. Pine Ridge is located just 5 miles east of town at 8415 17 Mile Rd. Call 616-696-8675 for more information.

Trunk or Treat at Crossfire Church

Oct. 31: Trunk or Treat at Crossfire Church, 4780 Cornfield Drive, Cedar Springs, from 6-8 p.m. There will be games and prizes, candy for the kids, hot dogs and chips available.

Ghostbusters at the Kent Theatre

Oct. 31, Nov. 1, Nov.2: Don’t let the Halloween weekend go by without spending some time at the Kent Theatre. A special showing of Ghostbusters will be on the big screen October 31, November 1 and 2, in celebration of Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary. Now in digital format, watch your favorite ghost busting team in action! Showing Halloween night at 6 and 9 p.m., Saturday at 3, 6 and 9 p.m. and Sunday at 3 and 6 pm. Tickets are only $3.00.

Sand Lake Fire Department

Oct. 31: The Sand Lake Fireman’s Association will host their annual Halloween festivities at the fire station at 2 Maple Street in Sand Lake from 6-8 p.m. There will be games, a bounce house, prize drawings, goody bags, cider, donuts, and coffee. There will also be a costume contest. Judging is at 7:15, must be present to win the contest. Call 636-8854 for more info.

Trick or Treat at Meadowlark

Oct. 31: Meadowlark Retirement Village in Sparta loves having trick or treaters. Their doors will be open from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, October 31. The residents can’t wait to see all the kids dressed up! Meadowlark is located at 65 Ida Red Ave, Sparta. Call 887-8891 ext. 102 for more info.

 

 

 

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Fresh Market: The Pumpkin—a Halloween tradition

HAL-FreshMarket-Pumpkin

By Vicky Babcock

Google “pumpkin” and you will find everything from riots in (Keene) New Hampshire to Ichabod Crane’s unfortunate encounter with the headless horseman, to pumpkin scones. We have pumpkin festivals, pumpkin carving contests, smashing pumpkins, pumpkin tossing, pumpkin baking and biggest pumpkin contests.

A true Native American, the pumpkin has been embraced by our cultures as both an important food source for people and livestock, and an excellent medium for carving. Something about these colorful canvasses really stirs the creative juices in artists of all ages! Throw in a candle and you have a lovely Jack-o-lantern. With its growing season complete from early to mid October, is it any wonder that this vibrantly colored fruit has become synonymous with Halloween? Yet pumpkins have a relatively short history with the holiday known as Halloween, which is believed to have evolved from the ancient festival of Samhain. It has its origins in European culture. Samhain was the Celtic harvest festival, a time to stock up supplies for the winter. The ancient Gaels believed the final day in October to be a time when the two worlds (the living and the dead) overlapped allowing the dead to return to Earth and cause havoc among the living. Offerings from the harvest were left outside their doors to appease the spirits in an effort to prevent them from bringing sickness and blight to the crops. Door to door begging, or “souling,” (a precursor to our modern day trick-or-treat) came much later and was associated with All Souls Day.

Our native pumpkin entered into the holiday when Irish immigrants brought the tradition of the Jack-o-lantern—originally a carved turnip or gourd—to the U.S. during the 1700s. Turnips had their drawbacks; they were relatively small and dense, with no pre-formed cavity in which to place a lit coal. With its broad base and large capacity, the pumpkin quickly became the preferred medium for the practice. Today, a large percentage of fresh bought pumpkins lends itself to this Halloween tradition, decorating our porches and giving young artists a chance to stretch their creative wings. Once used as a welcoming light for the spirits of our loved ones and to ward off any malevolent spirits, the Jack-o-Lantern has become a Halloween fantasy, a joyful pastime and a profitable market for farmers of the crop. Unfortunately, few of us these days consume pumpkin that does not come out of a can.

Unfortunate, because pumpkin, one of the winter squashes, is an excellent source of dietary nutrition. Pumpkins are rich in beta-carotene, an important antioxidant, which the body uses to convert to vitamin A. Foods rich in beta-carotene have been linked to lower risk of certain cancers and offer protection against heart disease as well as an aid in the degenerative aspects of aging. Pumpkin is high in potassium and dietary fiber as well, necessary nutrients for the heart and digestive tract respectively. A cup of cooked pumpkin contains about 49 calories, a dieter’s dream!

So, as you carve your pumpkins this year, consider using the cut outs (minus the rind) in soups, stews or rice dishes. Or try some pumpkin chili. Any way you slice it, it comes out deliciously nutritious.

Like pumpkins—and despite its ancestry—Halloween is a true American treat. With the mix of cultures that make up today’s Halloween, what greater place to celebrate than the Great Melting Pot of the world? Have a safe and happy Halloween. And happy “souling.”

 

Pumpkin Chili

1 ½ pounds lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, diced

2 large carrots, washed and diced (ends removed)

2 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and diced

1 jar salsa—medium heat

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

Chili powder (to taste)

In a large skillet, brown beef. Drain most of the oils and remove beef to a Dutch oven. In saucepan in remaining oil, cook and stir onion, garlic, carrots and pumpkin for about two minutes, until onion is tender. Drain the rest of the oil and add to the beef. Add remaining ingredients except for the chili powder. Cook and stir until boiling. Reduce heat and add chili powder to taste. This will gain some heat as it cooks, so start lightly. Cook over med to low heat about 30 minutes or until pumpkin is tender and flavors have mixed. Add additional chili powder about 15 minutes into the cooking process if you wish.

Serve with grated cheese, crushed corn chips (I like Frito’s™ Chili Cheese) and sour cream if desired. Other additions include chopped fresh onions or chopped bell peppers. This is even better the next day.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

 

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Building bonds between Dads and kids

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features)

For many adults, the times spent with their fathers are among their most treasured memories. However, today as many as one in three children in America live in a home where a biological father is not present.

The reasons for paternal absence can vary. For example, fathers may stay distant from a child out of fear of being inadequate or failing the child. Despite difficult circumstances, in many cases there are solutions that allow fathers to maintain an important presence in their children’s lives.

The following are many of the common reasons for fathers’ absences along with guidance on how to help resolve the situation, provided by Dr. Janet Taylor, an author and community psychiatrist.

Guilt

Many fathers have guilt for not having the financial means to buy things for their kids. Fathers need to understand their children love them because they are their father and not because of the “things” they give them.

“A father’s time and involvement in a child’s life is a true gift,” Dr. Taylor says. “Give the gift of your time and it will mean the world to them.”

Family Conflict

Disputes among family members may also keep a father away. When conflicts arise with a mother, grandparents or other family members, a child should know he or she is not the problem, Dr. Taylor cautions.

Doubts about paternity can be an especially trying source of family conflict. A paternity test can help eliminate this uncertainty. To help address paternity questions, Identigene offers an affordable DNA paternity test kit that is sold in drug stores and supercenters and is 100 percent accurate.

Dr. Taylor advocates for fathers to make an effort to spend time with their children in the midst of conflict, even if circumstances dictate that time together is in a group setting rather than one-on-one.

Failed Personal Connections 

Another reason a father might stay away is the result of a lack of a father figure in his own life. Dr. Taylor calls parenting the ultimate “on the job training.” She recommends working to make a connection to break the cycle from repeating in the next generation.

Fathers Have Value

“Fathers also need to recognize their value in their kids’ lives,” Dr. Taylor says. A recent survey sponsored by Identigene found that most Americans who are looking to address a paternity issue understand there are many benefits of having a biological father in a child’s life, including providing the child with a sense of family and self (73%), enhancing the child’s self-esteem (70%) and offering the child with a masculine parental figure (69%). According to Fatherhood.org, children who do not have a father figure in their life are more likely to endure financial hardship, use drugs, quit school or engage in criminal behavior.

“This data serves as a testament that a father’s active participation does make a difference,” Dr. Taylor says. “Hopefully it encourages those fathers who have not had a role in their child’s life to develop a bond that can truly re-shape a young person’s entire childhood.”

For more information, visit www.DNAtesting.com.

 

 

 

 

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Help Dad perfect his grill skills this season

FATH-Perfect-grill-skills(StatePoint) The seasoned griller commands an arsenal of experience and recipes, all having been painstakingly passed through the generations and perfected over time and temperature. The origin of these tasty traditions usually can be found in family, and the one often deserving the credit is dear old Dad.

Southern grilling guru Fred Thompson, author of the new book “Williams-Sonoma Grill Master” a collection of back-to-basics tips and recipes, recalls the influence of his father as early as nine years old. “Every Saturday night my father grilled rib-eye steaks. I wanted to keep up with daddy so I hung out at the grill,” he says. “I was fascinated with what my father could do.”

This Father’s Day and BBQ season, try honoring the Old Man with delicious tradition.  So light that fire!

Take a page out of Thompson’s book and learn the secrets to grilling the perfect steak:

• Buy good meat: Grass-fed and grass-finished beef tastes better and has a bolder flavor that holds up particularly well against the lick of the grill’s flames.

• Simple seasoning: Sprinkle steak liberally on both sides with salt and pepper when you take it out of the refrigerator. Brush steaks on both sides with a little olive oil (not extra virgin). This facilitates the heat transfer, so you can get an evenly browned crust and a delicious steak house flavor.

• Timing is important: There’s nothing worse than a rubbery, tasteless overcooked steak. Professionals use touch to gauge doneness, and so can you. Touch your index finger to your cheek. When the meat feels this way, the steak is rare. Touch the tip of your nose. That firmness equates to medium. Your forehead is well done. “But please don’t go there,” says Thompson.

• Let it rest: If you cut into a piece of beef as soon as it comes off the grill, you will lose precious juices. Give the proteins in the steak the opportunity to unwind a little bit from the heat they have just experienced. Let most steaks rest at least five to 10 minutes to give the juices time to redistribute evenly throughout the meat.

• Goes great with: Skip the steak sauce. A pat of plain or compound butter is the perfect finish.

Even experienced grillers need new tips, tools and tricks to perfect their steaks, ribs and dry rub techniques. Consider gifting dad a successful grilling season with “Grill Master.” Grill tips, BBQ recipes and information about the book can be found at www.WeldonOwen.com.

“There’s a mystique that happens with smoke and flame that you just can’t get any way else, and it’s pretty simple to create,” says Thompson.

 

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