Calling with good newsWhen Baltimorean Bonnie Perlberg...


Calling with good news

When Baltimorean Bonnie Perlberg realized that no one has time for handwritten birth announcements anymore, she came up with the idea for a brand-new service: 1-888-Storktime. Expectant parents register in advance, and when the baby is born, they record their personal announcement. 1-888-Storktime sees that everyone on their list gets the message as quickly as possible within 48 hours. All long-distance charges are included in the price: up to 20 calls, $34.95; 21-30, $44.95; 31-40, $49.95.

To register, call toll-free at 888-Storktime, or register on the Internet at

Open just for the holidays, Shalom (410-825-0083) brings an extensive collection of Judaica to Towson Town Center: beautiful craft items, many by local artists; menorahs in all styles, from traditional to ultra modern; candles; Seder plates; and hand-blown glass from Israel.

Shalom is owned by Susannah Siger, whose permanent shop, Oh Said Rose in Hampden, also carries some of these items. Shalom is open through Dec. 28 and is located on the second level of the mall.

During the holidays, Americans increase their trash by about 25 percent, says the ULS Report, an environmental newsletter. (ULS stands for "Use Less Stuff.") Here are some tips to help you cut down on Yuletide waste:

* Give gifts that don't have to be wrapped, like concert tickets.

* Make your own gift wrap from comics, fancy shopping bags, old ribbon and such.

* Consolidate your shopping trips; it means less wasted gas and less stress.

* Think natural when decorating; use materials from your own yard.

* Call 800 numbers and cancel 10 unwanted mail-order catalogs this holiday season.

* Save film -- and holiday memories -- by printing clearly. Each year Kodak disposes of 400,000 rolls of film because of illegible return addresses.

* Combine unused "free with purchase" cosmetics as a gift to a teen-age girl or donate them to a women's shelter.

* Have your kids trace cookie-cutter shapes onto old Christmas cards, cut them out and string them together for fun garlands.

Looking for stocking stuffers for under $15? Menagerie (316 Wyndhurst Ave., 410-435-4107) has all sorts of possibilities, particularly if you like animal themes. The Roland Park gift and decorative-accessories shop has charming, carved wooden animals, miniature decoys, little Noah's arks, tiny trees decorated with animals and furry wild-animal print coasters. If animals aren't your thing, there are candles in the shape of a birthday cake, linen cocktail napkins, canape spreaders, little boxes and books and miniature tea sets. And much, much more.

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