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Cutting excursions are fun for the family; plus, fresh-cut Christmas trees are safer and smell better

Until 1970, when I published the first directory of Choose and Cut Christmas trees in Maryland, only two growers in the state were marketing their Christmas trees — with limited success — by inviting people to cut their own. Thinking it was a good idea, I convinced another 10 Christmas tree growers to give it a try....

What to call a giant octopus?

The National Zoo’s new giant Pacific octopus will pick its own name, but suggestions from local kids are welcome. The zoo asks invertebrate enthusiasts ages five to 15 to submit their favorite name for the rapidly growing cephalopod.
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Five heart-warming ways to expand your giving circle

“The need in the world is so great that we cannot reach everyone by doing just our part. We must expand our reach exponentially so more and more lives can be touched,” says Steve Anstett of Severna Park, executive director of Giving Back, Linda’s Legacy.
    From Thanksgiving to Chanukah and Christmas, we live in the season of giving.
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Fill up on these heavenly views

Friday’s new moon re-emerges as a razor-thin crescent with sunset Saturday, at 4:45. Look for it low in the southwest, its bottom tip pointing to dazzling Venus just a few degrees higher. Mercury lurks a little farther from the moon but closer to the horizon and buried so deep you’ll likely need binoculars to pick it out before it sets at 5:30.
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Your gift makes room in the inn, warmth in the stable

The Christmas story tells us that animals made the only warmth in the stable where baby Jesus was born. If animals have also warmed your home and your heart, making a gift to the animals may be the right way for you to give back this season.
    Especially because so many animals nowadays lose their warm homes because their owners no longer have the means to afford their pets.
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Women don’t need brains when they have a man

Leaving Breaking Dawn Part 1, mercifully the second-to-last installment in the Twilight Saga, I heard a little girl cry:
    “I have so many feelings about this movie, but I can’t put them into words!”
    Me too, kiddo, but they pay me to try.
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So now’s the time to turn thanks into giving

On last week’s visit to St. Louis, six-year-old granddaughter Ada showed us how high she can count: all the way to 100.
    On Thanksgiving Day’s annual inventory, she needs all those numbers and more to count her blessings.
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Thanks to my garden, we eat fresh and well all year long

This year’s fall vegetable garden has been a success.
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Even this time of year, you might find a rockfish. Or two.

The temperatures were actually mild the other day. Rain and wind were forecast as an all-day certainty, but I kept a close eye on the weather. Late that afternoon, sure enough, the stiff breeze lay down. With no looming sign of rain from the heavy cloud cover, I hooked up my trailered skiff and headed for the Bay. My heart was set on a fresh rockfish dinner.
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The Annapolis Community Foundation’s exponentially expanded reach

Anne Arundel County has two Community Foundations. Both remind us that giving helps keep us strong.
    The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel is big, visible and rich with caring people.
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