Henrico County VA
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In the garden

Selecting a live Christmas tree
One of the favorite family traditions of the holidays is selecting a live Christmas tree and putting it up at home.

“To me, it’s the fragrance,” said Henrico Extension Agent Lisa Sanderson. “When you put a live tree in your home, it just smells like the holidays.”

Live Christmas trees can be purchased from a number of different sources including nurseries and garden centers and by mail-order, but the most popular are retail lots and choose-and-cut farms.

Retail lots, often operated as fund-raisers for charitable groups, offer convenience for time-strapped shoppers. When choosing your tree, check for freshness. Look for a healthy, green appearance and needles that are flexible and don’t come off in your hand when you gently stroke a branch.

The most popular species of Christmas trees in Virginia are the eastern white pine, Fraser fir, Scotch pine, and Norway spruce. A study conducted at Cornell University rated the Fraser fir as the best of these four species for needle retention and fragrance and equal to or better than the others for “resistance to ignition.”

“When you get your tree home, you need to cut an inch off the bottom,” said Sanderson. “Cutting the bottom helps ensure your tree will take in the water it needs to stay fresh in your home.”

Your Christmas tree can absorb as much as a gallon of water the first day you have it up, so placing it in an adequately-sized stand with a sufficient reservoir for water is important. You’ll also need to keep it away from heaters and fireplaces.

“If the tree dries out, you need to take it down and cut the bottom off again,” said Sanderson. “It may be a little inconvenient, but you have to check the water every day, maybe even twice a day.”

Sanderson says a good rule of thumb is to treat a green Christmas tree like a fresh bouquet of cut flowers.

Living, balled-and-burlapped Christmas trees are another popular choice especially since the late-December or early-January climate in Virginia is often conducive to planting. These trees need to be conditioned in an unheated garage or shed for a couple of days before being brought into a heated home. They also need water, but not as much as cut trees, and they shouldn’t be kept inside more than ten days.

A choose-and-cut farm can provide a fun outdoor recreational experience for your family as well as a beautiful Christmas tree. Some farmers provide hand saws for you to cut your tree while others will cut the tree for you. To find a choose-and-cut farm, go to http://www.virginiagrown.com.

“I’ve gone with my family to cut a Christmas tree,” said Sanderson. “I have to tell you, it was wonderful!”
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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The Henrico County Community Author Showcase, a new program that connects writers and readers in the community, will begin at 7 p.m. and continue on Thursdays at various libraries. Vivian… Full text

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