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    Deck the mall...fa la la la

    ‘Twas the wee hours in early November when, throughout the Portland-Vancouver area, just a few creatures were stirring — among them a crew at Vancouver Mall, who hustled and bustled to transform the sprawling building with a festive collection of holiday lights and decorations. This year’s display, themed “Winter Wonderland,” includes icicle lights; oversize, lighted, decorative snowballs; large wreaths; and garland swags. The display builds on a centerpiece familiar to Vancouver Mall shoppers in years past: Santa’s Wish House, where youngsters share with the North Pole’s most famous resident what’s on their Christmas list.

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    'Green' shopping for the holidays

    Looking for unusual holiday decorations, the perfect gift for the person with everything, or a one-of-a-kind toy for a grandchild? Instead of heading to the crowded mall, consider a trip to an antiques shop. Buying collectibles and antiques is a way of “green’ shopping, or recycling and reusing goods from yesteryear. It’s great fun to poke around in a shop as you never know what hidden treasure you’ll discover: a piece of jewelry, wacky knick-knack, vintage wooden toy, or a pretty crystal bowl. And, there is always the remote possibility of having an Antiques Roadshow experience when that $5 vase turns out to be worth $5,000.

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    Honor Flight: WWII Vets visit capitol

    With wheelchairs, walkers and canes, 42 World War II veterans from Oregon recently visited war memorials in Washington, D.C., — some for the first time — on four overcast days. Welcomed in the Capitol by Congressman Greg Walden, the gray-haired group moved slowly, touching names of the fallen on black walls, passing precise lines of white tombstones standing at attention in Arlington, and watching fellow Oregon veterans lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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    The queen of salvage

    For Jen Tapscott, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is more than a cliché, it’s a way of life. For years, she has enjoyed the creativity of taking something old and making use of it, often in a totally new way. Salvage-seekers seem to find themselves in one of two categories: those who peruse shops and fairs, on the hunt for that something-special, for themselves or as a one-of-a-kind gift; and the artists who possess the drive, skill and eye for discovering and innovating rubbish into treasurers.

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    A room with a view: The Jazz Station is run by volunteers with a focus on learning

    If you’re feeling like jazz clubs are few and far between in Oregon, you’re not alone. With only one jazz club left in Portland, Eugene’s Jazz Station has filled a niche jazz lovers are looking for.

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    Restoring nature’s handiwork: Walama Restoration Project’s volunteers seek a more natural habitat

    Lane County’s landscape didn’t always look like it does today. In fact, Alton Baker Park once was a homestead and area for raising cattle. And while volunteers with Walama Restoration Project don’t expect the park to return to its roots, they are doing what they can to restore some of the landscape.

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    Warm and Fuzzy: Salem Friends of Felines has just the kitty for you

    For Salem Friends of Felines, the holiday season is simply “meow-velous.” “Kittens are in high demand come holiday season,” says Heather Clark, SFOF’s director of marketing and fundraising. “Unfortunately, the breeding season, also known as the kitten season, is generally over by the time the holidays come so there are very few available. We do, however, have many young adults and senior (kitties) deserving of love waiting for find homes year-round.” Although many people like choosing a feline “gift” for their loved ones, SFOF prefers adopters meet the kitty in person to make sure there is chemistry between them, Clark says.

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    Singing -- Just for fun

    Fun happens when friends get together to sing. “Spreading joy through music gives meaning to my life,” says Jerry Jeffreys, one of many “best friends” singing in the all-volunteer, mixed-voice choir, Just for Fun Singers.

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    Honoring the real you

    Why is it that so many of us are able to console a friend with kind words but are unable to do the same for ourselves? It would take an entire book to answer that question. So many are hard on themselves, living a lifetime of shame and guilt, or driving themselves toward perfection and acceptance. Or maybe to prove themselves to their parents. An eight-week mindfulness self-compassion program is helping thousands all over the world to change their self-destructive patterns.

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    Through the lens

    While it may take a village to raise a child, it’s taken a photographer to show who works and how in a Mexican village. Corvallis resident Richard Keis spends about half a year in Oregon and the remaining six months — usually during the winter — in Mexico. His pictures feature the denizens of a couple of villages and their careers. These include black and silver smiths, cloth and palm weavers, a tanner, an organ grinder, a tavern owner, a bird seller and even a papier-mache puppet maker.

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    Your home, and the holiday spirit

    Making seasonal changes to your home is more than just getting out the Christmas decorations. Interior designer Dulce Roberto says making seasonal changes to your home’s interior is no different than wardrobe changes when summer turns to fall, and fall turns to winter — you’re taking out your gloves and coats, and putting away flip flops and short-sleeve shirts.

    Get in sync with your internal clock

    To say that humans are a creature of habit is not just a cliché, it’s a scientifically pro-ven statement. All mammals, including humans, are subject to circadian rhythms, which are regular changes in mental and physical characteristics that occur in the course of a day.

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Northwest Life

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    What's cooking for the holidays?

    Family and food are everything to Portland chef Josh Gibler. In fact, the one word Gibler uses with heartfelt feeling is “family,” as he remembers holidays as joyous and fun occasions with his large Italian family gathered at his grandparents’ house when he was growing up. Those holiday gatherings were loud with cousins, aunts and uncles, and other grandparents who arrived for Thanksgiving and Christmas, sharing news, stories and laughter.

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    Through the lens

    While it may take a village to raise a child, it’s taken a photographer to show who works and how in a Mexican village. Corvallis resident Richard Keis spends about half a year in Oregon and the remaining six months — usually during the winter — in Mexico. His pictures feature the denizens of a couple of villages and their careers. These include black and silver smiths, cloth and palm weavers, a tanner, an organ grinder, a tavern owner, a bird seller and even a papier-mache puppet maker.

    Tease photo

    Singing -- Just for fun

    Fun happens when friends get together to sing. “Spreading joy through music gives meaning to my life,” says Jerry Jeffreys, one of many “best friends” singing in the all-volunteer, mixed-voice choir, Just for Fun Singers.

Travel

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    Exploring the High Rhine

    The Rhine River begins its 766-mile journey in the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland and flows north to empty into the North Sea in the Netherlands.

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    FLY or DRIVE? Actually it’s both — fly over the rails and let someone else do the driving

    Whether it’s a short-distance jaunt from town to town or a cross-country journey, the notion of train travel comes with a sense of charm and industriousness.

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    The ‘crown jewel’ of Oregon State Parks

    Silver Falls State Park is known as the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Parks system, and once you visit, you’ll know why. The 9,200-acre park lies about 20 miles east of Salem on Highway 214, a wonder-land that must be added to your bucket list. Where else can you take in 10 waterfalls, and even walk behind four of them?

Home & Garden

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    DIGGIN' IT: Good books for the gardener

    In this last month of 2016— yes, I’m also wondering where the year went — I thought I’d inspire you with a little armchair gardening. While I don’t read garden books as much as I did when I was new to gardening, I still enjoy a good read now and then. My favorite books are ones that are personal, taking me inside the gardener’s head to understand her thought processes and her vision. If the book is superior, it’s because I’ve forged a connection and see myself in her.

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    DIGGIN' IT: No rain? No-worry shrubs

    I admit I’m a plant-a-holic. I’m always checking out new introductions and what’s on sale, fantasizing about what new plant I can stuff into my already overly-stuffed borders.

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    DIGGIN' IT! Lovely ornamental grasses can flourish in the October garden

    I have  a  confession:  I’m not a huge fan of autumn. Tree leaf colors are gorgeous and all but I don’t care for all the plant degeneration and death. And I don’t like goodbyes. I want my garden to be “summer” all year. I know that’s silly. But it’s the truth.

Health & Wellness

    Gather your family’s health history now

    The most powerful gift you could give to your family this holiday season may not be wrapped up in a bow, but it could save a life. When you see your family during the holidays, you have a unique opportunity to compile family medical histories, which could make a difference for your children and grand-children in the future.

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    Honoring the real you

    Why is it that so many of us are able to console a friend with kind words but are unable to do the same for ourselves? It would take an entire book to answer that question. So many are hard on themselves, living a lifetime of shame and guilt, or driving themselves toward perfection and acceptance. Or maybe to prove themselves to their parents. An eight-week mindfulness self-compassion program is helping thousands all over the world to change their self-destructive patterns.

    Get in sync with your internal clock

    To say that humans are a creature of habit is not just a cliché, it’s a scientifically pro-ven statement. All mammals, including humans, are subject to circadian rhythms, which are regular changes in mental and physical characteristics that occur in the course of a day.

Tech tips

    Social media: The risks and rewards

    It took him 85 years, but even tycoon Warren Buffett finally decided it was time to defy his own aversion to investing in high technology. He took a risk by scooping up 10 million sagging shares of Apple, Inc., earlier this year. And it may be a lesson for the rest of us.

Aging

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    Meals on Wheels People Hosts Thanksgiving Dinner, Delivers to Homebound Elderly

    Meals on Wheels People will deliver more than 1,000 hot turkey dinners to homebound seniors on Thanksgiving Day. The organization will also host community Thanksgiving Dinners at several locations in the Portland metro area.

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    Author wants boomer romance stories

    Author Jan Fowler is looking for stories of how couples met. Couples must have met after age 50 and be in a committed relationship, but do not need to be married.

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    Preserving dignity: Geriatric nurse Joanne Rader pioneered research in dementia care

    Geriatric nurse Joanne Rader’s passion and devotion for people with dementia and their families has led to policy changes on the national level that bring comfort to the afflicted. “Forty plus years ago, we knew nothing about dementia and the cause … we still don’t,” she says. “How care-(givers) dealt with dementia was to literally tie them up in their beds, in wheelchairs, in homes and in hospitals.”

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