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My Town: 'Teaching Is An Art' exhibit turns attention to local educators

My Town: 'Teaching Is An Art' exhibit turns attention to local educators

ROCKFORD, Mich.– For the first time, current and retired Rockford area art teachers are being recognized in a special show, “Teaching Is An Art” hosted by Arts Rockford in their new facility at 52 Courtland in downtown Rockford.

Retired Rockford East Middle School art teacher Patti Mollema came up with the concept and communicated with art teachers throughout the school system to encourage participation and involvement with the exhibit, which will run through Feb. 16.

“In addition to being excellent teachers, these individuals are also artists themselves and we’re delighted to give them an opportunity to show and sell their work,” said Mollema.

Eight teachers from the Rockford school system have work in the show, along with another four retired art teachers from the Rockford area.  Each teacher and artist was given a space to fill in the gallery for this varied show with something for everyone.

My Town: Mail-in cancer tests, produce programs get state funding

My Town: Mail-in cancer tests, produce programs get state funding

LANSING, Mich. – Making fruits and vegetables more readily available, cancer screenings by mail, health coaches and exercise programs are just several of the local initiatives getting funding from the Michigan Department of Community Health.

The MDCH recently announced 44 projects are getting approximately $1.34 million, including a dozen projects in West Michigan.  The grants include:

My Town: What 2015 will hold for West Michigan's economy

My Town: What 2015 will hold for West Michigan's economy

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--- Consumers in West Michigan are more optimistic about what 2015 will bring.

In fact, consumers in this market are the most optimistic in the region, according to a new study released by Huntington Bank.  The financial firm found local residents say they are much more likely to buy a new vehicle this year; 17 percent said they plan to purchase a new car, compared to just four percent in 2014.

Home improvement stores may also be busy; 47-percent of West Michiganders surveyed for the Huntington Bank Midwest Economic Index said they were planning some home renovations for 2015, compared to 32 percent in 2014.

More green for eating greens: Eat local movement gets federal boost

More green for eating greens: Eat local movement gets federal boost

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The eat local movement is getting a federal boost.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded Local First a two-year $94,000 grant for Community Supported Agriculture.  Local First is teaming up with West Michigan Growers Group and Michigan State University Extension to provide resources for farmers to grow their CSA programs. With CSAs, community members purchase a share of a local farm, which then divides its harvest among investors.  The CSA form of farming provides stability for farmers and allows investors to enjoy seasonable, locally grown produce. The program provides the health, relational and economic benefits that come with eating local.

My Town Walker: The Candy Games this Weekend

My Town Walker: The Candy Games this Weekend

WALKER, Mich.-- The community is invited to reserve free tickets for this delightful Christmas musical that combines Candy Land and "The Hunger Games."

This is a family-friendly production in which children hunt to find the perfect candy for Christmas and the candies are competing to be the perfect choice.

This musical will take place at Orchardhill Church, located at 1465 Three Mile Road NW. Performance times are Friday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 13 and Sunday, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are free and available by e-mailing  tickets@orchardhill.org or by calling (616) 784-4060.

My Town: Sixth grade students face off in Cupcake War

My Town: Sixth grade students face off in Cupcake War

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— The baking battle is over, and the winner is West Michigan charities.

Wednesday, sixth grade students from Blandford School, Zoo School and CA Frost Environmental Science Academy competed in their own Cupcake War to raise money for local charities.  The students worked in teams of four to create a cupcake that would take top ratings in theme, appearance, design and taste.  They also had to incorporate a special ingredient.

The Best of Show award went to Blandford School.  Zoo School sold the highest percentage of their cupcakes, and CA Frost Environmental Science Academy sold the most cupcakes.  Altogether, the schools raised $656 selling their cupcakes, which will go to the schools’ charity of their choice.

In the Kitchen with Kal: Pastry Cream - the versatile dessert

In the Kitchen with Kal: Pastry Cream - the versatile dessert

If you are looking for something unique for a dessert during the holidays, here is a versatile dish. I had a basic recipe for this pastry cream, but tweaked it to my liking. I think it is a fairly easy recipe. I certainly recommend using a double boiler when making a filling like this.

This cream would really look nice in a pretty stemware glass with fresh berries on it along with the other suggestions I have at the bottom of this recipe.

PASTRY CREAM                        Makes enough for a deep dish pie crust