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One of the greatest FREE places that everyone should take advantage of is the public library. Well, its not really FREE if you have paid taxes sometime in your life but that should make you more compelled to use the service whenever you can. The library has evolved over the last few decades to not only include books, magazines and newspapers but also computers, internet, classes, storytime, videos and DVD’s! YES! DVDs! I’m not just talking about the documentaries that you were possibly forced to watch in school but the newest releases like Avatar and Book of Eli. No need to pay for Netflix or those extra movie channels that you barely watch anyway when you could go to the library to get it for less or even FREE. Older books, magazines and newspapers are available for a lower cost or FREE to anyone who wants it.

Visit your local library website to get a listing of services that you can take advantage of.  Remember since you already paid for it, you might as well use it!

One of Maryland’s best kept secrets is The Book Thing. It’s mission is to put unwanted books in the hands of someone who wants them. With the vast number of books at this location, there is something here for everyone. Categories include children, fiction, non-fiction, beauty, health &  finance. All of which are nicely organized on shelves throughout. The best thing about The Book Thing is that everything is FREE. The Book Thing operates exclusively on donations from the community. Donations of books, money, volunteers, beverages (for the volunteers), lumber and many other supplies help to keep it up and running.

You can drop off any book that you no longer want or you can pick out any books you might want to read. There’s no limit. All books are stamped with NO-RESALE so you can’t pull a fast one and try to sell them somewhere else. They do ask that when you leave, you write down the number of books you have taken and dropped off so they can have and estimate of their inventory.

With Back To School right around the corner, save some money by visiting The Book Thing. You may find what you are looking for, for FREE!

If you are going to visit Irvine Nature Center, make sure you have your hiking shoes. I thought it was just a FREE nature park but I found out it is so much more. I arrive at 11am sharp, nicely dressed with my capris and flip flops on, which I later regret wearing. I was greeted at the nature center’s main building by a friendly gentleman who told me about the facility. Irvine has been around for 35 years but only 3 years at this location. He directed me over to a large map of the area pointing out some highlights of the park like the Raptor Aviary & the Wildlife Blind.  To our right was the gift shop and to my left was a small educational animal center. I was also informed that there are activities throughout the year and today was my lucky day. There was a nature walk at 12pm that I could participate in. It’s FREE to members and a whooping $2.00 to non-members. I walked around the facility and I was becoming impressed. They have various small animals on display like snakes, turtles & birds along with a few interactive displays that the kids would like.

By the time I completed my walk around the Nature Center main building I was ready for my walk around the nature center trails so I declined the nature walk and the nice gentleman handed me a map (which he asked that I return at the end of my walk to conserve paper) and pointed me to the start of the trail. Every step I took I became more and more excited to walk further. I came upon the Raptor Aviary where I saw an owl, a wildlife blind where I saw the first of many chipmunks and the gazebo where there is a spectacular view.

I walked up one trail and down another, taking numerous pictures in between. And an hour and a half later I still wasn’t able to finish the entire park.  I walked back into the nature center building with a sense of defeat. I was tired. I returned my map and headed home. I will definitely return to the Irvine Nature Center. And next time, I will be prepared!

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