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Archive | Hometown Holidays

Tour of lights

This home is located on Shaner Avenue, south of 15 Mile.

This home is located on Shaner Avenue, south of 15 Mile.

There’s nothing like the warm glow of Christmas lights this time of year to give you a good dose of Christmas cheer! Pack up the kids, go for a ride, and enjoy the decorations your friends and neighbors have put up this year. We’re sure you’ll find a few other treasures along the way!

1. 427 Northland Drive, near the corner of South Street and Northland. See the 90-foot evergreen Christmas tree at the Reep family home.

2. 65 E. Muskegon, corner of First and Muskegon Streets. The home of Larry and Audrey Young is a classic home decorated with style.

3. Downtown Cedar Springs is aglow with lights and decorations on the lampposts and the town Christmas tree is at the corner of Main and Ash.

4. The Fieldstone Meadows subdivision, first cul de sac, just off 18 Mile. Head north on Main Street in Cedar Springs, turn east on 18 Mile. Go around curve, past mobile home park, and then east into Fieldstone.

5. 345 Tall Grass Drive (corner of Tall Grass and Prairie Run). Many other homes in this subdivision off of Pine Street also have many lights.

6. 2207 15 Mile Rd, one block west of Algoma Ave. Nolan Patin, 13, set up a Christmas display to music. It runs now through Jan. 6, 2015, every night from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Although the light show is small in size (only about 4,000 lights), it is a fun show set to 3 popular songs. Pull right into the driveway to enjoy it completely, tuning your radio to 103.5 FM. and don’t forget to make a donation to him to support the Cedar Springs Historical Museum.

7. Shaner Avenue, between 14 Mile and 16 Mile – several homes are decorated, including the one pictured above.

 

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Tips for enjoying a healthier holiday 

HOL-Tips-healthier-holiday

(Family Features)

The holidays bring lights, cheer, TV specials and treats – plenty of them. While it is tempting to eat all that gets placed in front of you, it isn’t worth the extra pounds you may gain during the holidays.

Here are some tips to balance healthy living with enjoying the holiday spirit:

Get in a festive mood with wintry activities. Bring the holidays to life by planning some fun seasonal activities with loved ones, such as ice skating, sledding, going to a tree farm to pick your tree, or decorating for the holidays. You will create some great memories with your favorite people, which is what the season is all about.

Share the joy. Sharing is encouraged when it comes to holiday deliveries loaded with carb-filled goodies. Instead of keeping temptations around your house, share them with your neighbors or coworkers along with a holiday card to spread the cheer.

Don’t drink your carbs. If you’re not careful with loaded winter beverages, you could derail your healthy eating efforts. Instead of hot chocolate, opt for peppermint tea or add peppermint extract to your coffee for some holiday flavor. This also applies to alcohol consumption – red wine or spirits with low-glycemic mixers are best.

Bake yummy low-carb goodies. This is a good approach both for sweets around the house and for attending a party. Your friends and family will love your thoughtful contribution and you get to enjoy a healthier holiday treat.

For example, bake a classic like the Holiday Cookies below from www.Atkins.com, where you can find many low-carb versions of your favorite holiday treats.

Holiday Cookies

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 12 minutes

Makes: 24 servings

1 cup sifted soy flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

3 tablespoons granular sugar substitute (Sucralose)

4 ounces cream cheese

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In food processor, pulse soy flour, baking soda, sugar substitute, cream cheese and butter for 30 seconds, until texture resembles coarse meal.

In mall bowl, mix together sour cream, egg and vanilla extract. Add sour cream mixture to soy mix mixture and pulse until just-combined, about 15 seconds. Chill in freezer 10 minutes or until firm.

Roll dough out between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper to 1/8 thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out dough in desired shapes. Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheet and bake cookies 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Allow to cool completely before decorating.

Nutritional information per serving: Net carbs: 1.4 g; Fiber: 0.3 g; Protein: 1.8 g; Fat: 3.7 g; Calories: 46.

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Pop Up Wintertime Fun

Red and green sprinkles, chocolate and popcorn make a happy winter treat.

Red and green sprinkles, chocolate and popcorn make a happy winter treat.

(NAPS)—Often defined as a time of quiet hibernation, winter is, in fact, one of the busiest times of the year. Consider the numerous celebratory occasions that begin with the harvest and continue on through the holidays and beyond, not to mention all the fun and frosty get-togethers prompted by skiing, skating and sledding.

Keep popcorn on hand and you’re only minutes away from a satisfying and healthful treat. When friends drop in or as you make your way through neighborhood parties, pop up some wintertime fun by making these simple and delicious popcorn treats.

The following recipes vary a basic method: melt chocolate, drizzle over popcorn and mix in flavorings or sprinkles. You can easily adapt these for any number of occasions—substitute holiday sprinkles with colors of your favorite Super Bowl team, red for Valentine’s Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day and so on. You’ll love having this quick “go-to” in your recipe file.

 

Easy, Elegant Holiday Popcorn

Yield: 8 cups

Ingredients:

8cups popped popcorn

2ounces white chocolate, melted

2ounces dark chocolate, melted

Red and green holiday sprinkles

Directions:

1.Place popcorn on a large baking sheet. Set aside.

2.Drizzle popcorn with melted white chocolate and melted dark chocolate.

3.Scatter sprinkles over top. Let stand until chocolate is set.

4.Break into clusters if needed. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

White chocolate and peppermint plus popcorn can bring warmth to the coldest night.

White chocolate and peppermint plus popcorn can bring warmth to the coldest night.

White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn Bark

Yield: 1 pound

Ingredients:

5cups popped popcorn

12ounces white chocolate, melted

1cup crushed hard candy peppermints

Directions:

1.Cover a baking pan with foil or wax paper; set aside.

2.Place popcorn in a large bowl; set aside.

3.Melt chocolate in a double boiler OR according to package directions.

4.Stir in crushed peppermints after chocolate is melted.

5.Pour chocolate mixture over popcorn mixture and stir to coat.

6.Spread onto prepared pan; allow to cool completely.

7.When chocolate is set, break into chunks for serving.

8.Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

Variation:

Cranberries & Almond Bark

Omit candy peppermints. Mix 1⁄2 cup dried sweetened cranberries and 1⁄2 cup sliced almonds with the popcorn. Pour chocolate over the mixture after it is melted.

With these, you can create gourmet gifts for friends and neighbors, and munchable snacks for the whole family. You’ll find more creative wintertime recipes at www.popcorn.org.

 

 

 

 

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Celebrate the joy of Christmas at one of the churches in our community:

 

Dec. 14, 21, 24:  Solon Center Wesleyan Church invites you to attend our special Sunday Christmas services beginning with a Children’s program, called “What’s in the Manger?” on Sunday, December 14. We’ll continue to celebrate the coming King on Sunday, December 21. Sunday services are at 9:30 & 11:15 am. And finally, a Christmas Eve Candlelight service celebrating the birth of our Savior will be held on Wednesday, December 24 a 6 p.m. Come enjoy carols and a family atmosphere of worship and praise! Please join us! The church is located at 15671 Algoma Avenue. See more about the church online at www.scwchurch.org. 

December 14, 21, 24: Join us at The Springs Church as we celebrate the birth of Jesus with our Advent message series, First Christmas: Stories from the Birth of Christ, on December 14 and 21 at 9:45 and 11:15 a.m. Nursery and Kids church provided for kids up to 6th grade. Then celebrate with us at our Candlelight Christmas Eve Service, December 24, at 7 p.m. Children are invited to wear their pajamas. Feel free to come as you are. Don’t forget to invite your family and your friends, too! The church is located at 135 N. Grant in Cedar Springs. For more information visit our website www.thespringschurch.info or call 616.696.2970. We hope to see you at The Springs this Christmas!

Dec. 14, 24, 25, Jan. 1, 4: Mary Queen of Apostles Catholic Church in Sand Lake will have an intergenerational gathering called “Journey to Bethlehem” on December 14, from 6-7:30 p.m. It is a time filled with Scripture and activity, families are asked to bring a snack to share. Our Christmas Eve/Christmas Mass schedule is Christmas Eve 7:30 p.m.; Midnight Mass and 8 a.m. Mass on Christmas; our New Year Day, Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, Mass is at 9:30 a.m. (Thursday Morning). On Sunday, January 4 at noon, we will have an Epiphany Celebration which includes pageantry, music, potluck and prayer. Please bring a dish to Pass. Regular Sunday Mass Schedule is Saturdays 4 p.m., Sundays 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. May your Advent season be a time of refreshment and your Christmas time be joy-filled. The church is located at 1 W Maple Sand Lake.

December 14, 24: Resurrection Lutheran Church welcomes you on Sunday, December 14, at 9:30 a.m., as the youth of the church perform in a play entitled Christmas Comes To Lickety Split, and as we also sing Christmas carols together. On December 24, at 7:00 p.m., join us as we celebrate the birth of Jesus at a Candlelight Worship Service. We are located at 180 Northland Dr. Sand Lake, Mi. For any questions please call 616-636-5502.

December 21: Grace Evangelical Free Church invites you to our Christmas service on Sunday, December 21, from 10:45 a.m.-noon. Our children will be performing during the morning service. The church is located at 4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford.

December 21: Hillcrest Community Church of God welcomes you on Sunday, December 21, at 10:45 a.m., and on December 24, at 6:30 p.m., to enjoy an Unplugged Christmas.  The cast is trying to put on The Biggest, Brightest Christmas Show Ever, to win a Contest, and the power goes out. Come and see what happens next! Come and sing Christmas Carols, and have hot chocolate, coffee and Christmas goodies. Come and join in on the Celebration of the New Born King! We are located at 5994 18 mile Rd, Cedar Springs, MI. For more information please call 616-696-9333.

December 24: Calvary Assembly of God and Pastor Craig Owens invite you to our annual Candlelight Christmas Eve service at 6 p.m. Hot chocolate, Christmas carols, a special Christmas story for the kids, and a reminder of why we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We are located at 810 17 Mile Road (2 miles west of Algoma Avenue). More details on our Facebook page or on our website http://cscalvary.org

December 24: East Nelson United Methodist Church, 9024 - 18 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs, will be having a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 7 p.m., in celebration of the birth of Jesus. Please join us!

December 24: Celebrate and contemplate the birthday of a King on Christmas Eve, December 24, at 7 p.m., at Courtland-Oakfield UMC, 10295 Myers Lake NE. We’ll lift our voices with the angels and ponder the mystery of God’s grace by candlelight.

December 24:  Please join us at 7 p.m. for a traditional Christmas Eve Worship service with music and Holy Eucharist at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church. We are located at 1200 Post Drive NE, Belmont, at the intersection of Post & Pine Island drives, 1/4 mile west of Exit 95 (Belmont) of US Route 131. Visit us online at www.holyspiritbelmont.org or www.facebook.com/holyspiritbelmont.

December 24:  Rockford Springs Community Church invites you to join us for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on Wednesday, December 24 at 9:00 p.m. Rejoice at the birth of our Savior with fellow believers! We are located at 5815 -14 Mile Rd NE, Rockford, (2 1/2 miles East of US 131).  For questions, please call 616.696.3656.

 

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Letters to Santa

Letter-to-SantaIt’s that time of year again, when kids can’t wait to mail their letters to Santa! To help parents out, the Cedar Springs Post has set up a special North Pole drop box. Every year dozens of kids use our special box for express delivery to the North Pole, and we make sure Santa reads each and every one! So, if you’d like to send a letter to Santa, and maybe get it printed in the newspaper, just drop off your letter in the bright red box labeled “Santa Mail” outside our office at 36 E. Maple Street, or mail your letter to: Letters to Santa, c/o the Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 

 

 

HOL-SantaLetter-Emily-web

HOL-SantaLetter-Ethan-web

Dear Santa

My name is Owen. I am 4 years old. I have been a good boy. Could you please bring me a present? I would like a trailer with ramps for my power wheels, a fertilizer spreader, three power wheels lawn mowers. One is a push mower, one is a feet stand mower and one is a buckler mower. The old one is leaking oil. I’m so tired of fixing it. I also need a new lunch box. Could you fill it with cheese and boiled eggs. They’re my favorite. Mrs. Holloway makes them for snack time at school. She’s my teacher. Could you please bring Mrs. Holloway some new toys for her classroom? A lot of them got stepped on and broken. But I didn’t step on any, I’ll leave a bell for your reindeer.

From Owen Spicer

 


 

Dear Santa

This is my first Christmas so I want rattles, musical toys, and outfits because I’m growing fast. And my mom to get a good night sleep.

Love,

Jeremiah 

Russell

 

 


 

Dear Santa

My name is Oliver. could bring me a nerf gun please?

I have been kinda a good  boy for 5 days in a row.

 

From

Oliver


Dear Santa i hope you  Get my Good or  Bab List and The Things Theat i watid

from Gracie. aBBott

 

to: Santa

i Love You Santa

Santa i wat a Monster high american Girl Polly Pocites toy horses

Schleich s woves and pups shopkin Pok’emon Game DS CanDy

Colering Book Books Monster high Books Gift

Cards money and a american Girl Horses. american Girl outfit for me and the american Girl.

 


 

Dear Santa,

I would ask for a few

things. First bands… Lime, orange, brown, red, blue/baby blue, purple, sparkley, clear, Black, yellow, dark green, raseberry, white, & pink! please Santa. Next I want a cute just white jacket for my puppy bella. Last please! please! please! get 2 things 1. The movie star wolf and Amercan doll cloths!

 Love, 

Chandyce Novak

P.S. Please get my brother a pet!

P.S.S. Please!

P.S.S.S. Please put me and  are presents under the snow tree!

Please get me a camra

 

Last Get my dog a BIG doggy bed!


 

Dear Santa

I would like camo

stuff, batman nemoto

car, spring shoes, ralph.

 

thank you, Keegan Nix


 

 

Dear Santa

I love you, I am 4 years old. For Christmas I want a

really big tool Box filled with Little screwdrivers,

A beautiful necklace with A angel on it, and a match

Letters game. for my mom I would like a ring with a

jewel in it. For my Dad I would like some wood Island Stools.

for my brothers I would like smelly soap

and last my dog Audrey a sqweeky toy.

Merry Christmas.

Colton Ream


 

Dear Santa

My Name is Ben Dorrance

all I want for Christmas

is a beebee gun and

football, cars, clothes.

Thank you

From

  Ben


 

12-1-14

Dear Santa,

This is River Oligney from Cedar Springs, MI. What I want for Christmas is call of duty advanced warfare for my X-box 360. And farcry 4 for Xbox 360.

I also want a GoldenTate Jersey and call of duty legos

I also want to get internet at my place because my mom said it cost to much    I would like to get Xbox live also    Thank you very much.

Please get me some stuff I know you are real and you can do it.

Luv River Oligney

AKA X-BOX!

P.S Dont forget my little sister

Brooklyn Archer. Even if she is a brat!


 

12-1-14

Dear Santa,

Hello My name is Brooklyn Archer and I live in Cedar Springs MI

I am 3 years old so mommy is helping me write this to you. I would like for you to bring me a woofer hound dog guitar and Doc McStuffins walk n go doll and a Doc McStuffins get better talking mobile cart and a puppy suprise and the game shark mania and a Hello Kitty Sports Car 6 volt ride on with bonus 3 wheel scooter. I’m trying to be good at home and school.

But at home im a little bad. But my brother River Oligney is real bad. But you can still bring him stuff if you want. I love you Santa. Dont forget me please!

 

Love Brooklyn Archer

from Cedar Springs.


Dear Santa,

 

Legos

Sled’s

BarBie’s

Monsterhigh Doll’s

Book’s

Jakt’s

Frosen Poster

 

That is all

I love you Santa


LTS-JosephDrier-web

 

LTS-BenDrier-web


 

LTS-Jackson-web

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Baby’s First Christmas

Babys1stXMAS-2013We want to give you the opportunity to celebrate your baby’s very first Christmas in a special way. The Cedar Springs POST will be featuring area newborns in “Baby’s First Christmas,” a special feature for babies celebrating their first Christmas.

Photos will be run at no cost to our readers, but space is limited so get your photos in early. Deadline is Monday, December 22 by 5 p.m. and pictures with name and date of birth will appear in the December 24th issue. We cannot guarantee return of photos. Show the community your precious gift!

Photos may be dropped off at the Cedar Springs POST – 36 E. Maple St., or mailed to Baby’s First Christmas, P.O. Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319, or emailed to news@    cedarspringspost.com. Please include baby’s name, and birth date, as well as a contact name and phone number.

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Holiday Shipping 101

Photo courtesy of Daniel Afzal for U.S. Postal Service

Photo courtesy of Daniel Afzal for U.S. Postal Service

(Family Features)

If one of your holiday tasks is shipping gifts to family and friends across the nation, knowing a few tips and tricks will ensure your packages get to them in time for the festivities.

From shipping deadlines to packaging, there are many factors to consider when sending gifts, especially during a busy time like the holiday season. Fortunately, there are dozens of resources available to help make shipping holiday gifts more convenient than ever.

“Priority Mail is a convenient and affordable shipping option for holiday gifts,” said John Budzynski, consumer advocate at the U.S. Postal Service. “It offers features like package redirect, free package pickup and text update alerts.”

Budzynski offers this advice to help make your holiday shipping simple and stress-free.

Take advantage of services that make shipping more convenient. For example, the U.S. Postal Service lets you order free Priority Mail shipping supplies from usps.com and delivers them right to your door – from boxes to envelopes and stickers.

Be informed about policies for handling fragile gifts or items that may be hazardous, such as perfume, cologne and other liquids.

Always include a return address. It tells the shipper where to return the package if it can’t be delivered.

Pack smart. Pick a strong and sturdy box, cushion contents with packing peanuts, newspaper or bubble wrap, and tape it closed with strong packing tape.

Print postage at home using Click-N-Ship from the U.S. Postal Service at usps.com/clicknship. It not only saves time, but money too; you can receive up to an 11 percent discount by buying postage online.

Don’t get caught in the holiday rush. Schedule a free package pickup from your home or office.

Stay updated on the status of your package. Use Priority Mail to receive tracking to monitor your package’s progress toward its destination. You also can sign up for text and email alerts through my.usps.com to help you track package delivery.

Check key shipping dates to ensure your package arrives in time for the holiday. The U.S. Postal Service provides these deadlines to help you plan ahead for delivery by Dec. 25:

Dec. 2 – International First-Class Mail

Dec. 2 – Priority Mail International

Dec. 10 – Priority Mail Express International

Dec. 15 – Standard Post

Dec. 17 – Global Express Guaranteed

Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail

Dec. 20 – Priority Mail

Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express

Note: Priority Mail Express postage refund eligibility is adjusted for shipments mailed December 22-25.

“The U.S. Postal Service prepares all year for the holidays,” Budzynski said. “This is our season. We are ready to help customers ensure their packages are packed, tracked and delivered with ease.”

For more shipping tips and online tools, visit usps.com.

 

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Holiday Treats to Impress

Caramel Apple Pie Eggnog

Caramel Apple Pie Eggnog

(Family Features)

When planning a holiday menu, two of the most important elements to consider are cocktails and dessert, of course. Consider a twist on two seasonal staples:  eggnog and pie. With a little extra effort, and a pinch of pizzazz, these holiday treats go from mainstream to memorable.
A prominent ingredient in both recipes, raw eggs are safe to use thanks to Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs.* Undergoing an all-natural warm water pasteurization process, the risk of salmonella is eliminated inside the shell, making the eggs the ideal choice for raw and gently cooked consumption.

Elevate your eggnog

Classic eggnog receives a makeover in the delightfully indulgent Caramel Apple Pie Eggnog cocktail. With the sweetness of apple pie filling and the smooth taste of homemade eggnog, the addition of dark spiced rum creates a rich, full-bodied flavor for a satisfying adult dessert drink. For younger guests, simply omit the rum for a sophisticated, yet fun, alternative to the average “kiddy drink.”

HOL-Holiday-treats-peppermint-pie

Chocolate Peppermint Pie

Oh my, what a pie

A holiday showstopper, treat your guests to Chocolate Peppermint Pie. Featuring a blend of white and semisweet or dark chocolate chips, crushed peppermint candy and whipped cream, the flavors and textures harmoniously combine to create a truly decadent dessert.  Use a knife to make decorative chocolate swirls on the pie’s top layer, and you have your very own masterpiece.

During the holidays, and all year round, look for the red circle “P” on the shell to ensure you are making the Safest Choice every time. Remember, pasteurized equals peace of mind.

For more recipes for all seasons and occasions, visit www.safeeggs.com.

Caramel Apple Pie Eggnog

Prep time: 15 minutes

Servings: 10 half-cup servings

4Safest Choice

Pasteurized Eggs*

1can (21 ounces) apple

pie filling

1 1/2cups milk

1teaspoon apple or

pumpkin pie spice

10tablespoons whipped cream

5teaspoons caramel icecream topping,

divided

Apple or pumpkin pie spice (optional topping)

In blender container, combine eggs and apple pie filling. Blend on high speed until very smooth, scraping container as needed. Add milk and apple pie spice. Blend on high speed until smooth.

Top each serving with 1 tablespoon whipped cream and 1/2 teaspoon caramel topping. Sprinkle with additional apple pie spice, if desired.

Note: If desired, 3/4 to 1 cup dark spiced rum can be stirred into mixture after final blending.

*Editor’s note: This brand of pasteurized egg is not available in our area. Either use a different pasteurized egg product, or use a cooked egg base. According to the FDA, here is how to make a cooked egg base:

Combine eggs and half the milk as indicated in the recipe. (Other ingredients, such as sugar may be added at this step.)

Cook the mixture gently to an internal temperature of 160 °F, stirring constantly. The cooking will destroy Salmonella, if present. At this temperature, the mixture will firmly coat a metal spoon. After cooking, chill the mixture before adding the rest of the milk and other ingredients.

 

Chocolate Peppermint Pie

Prep time: 30 minutes

Chill time: 15 minutes

Freeze time: 6-8 hours or overnight

Servings: 10-12

 

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

3 Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs*

1 cup white chocolate chips, melted and cooled

1 cup whipped cream

½ cup crushed peppermint candy (about 20 candy rounds)

1 (9-inch) pie crust

½ cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly

Place cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer on low speed to combine. Increase speed to high; beat until smooth, scraping bowl as necessary. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Remove 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture; set aside. Add white chocolate to remaining mixture; beat on medium to combine. Fold in whipped cream. Gently stir in peppermint. Pour into pie crust. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir semisweet chocolate into reserved 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture. Remove pie from refrigerator. Slowly pour chocolate mixture over pie. Spread to cover pie, or use knife to swirl chocolate. Freeze, covered, about 6 hours or until firm.

Note: Baked pastry crust or crumb crust such as chocolate or graham cracker may be used.

*Editor’s note: This brand of pasteurized egg is not available in our area. Use an alternative pasteurized egg product. 

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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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