Your Guide to Fall Fun in Southern Maryland

Pumpkin Patch

It’s that time again. Can you feel it? There’s a distinct crispness in the air and the leaves are beginning to change. Cozy sweaters and warm drinks are calling your name!

If you’re all about appreciating the autumn in all its glory, we’ve put together this brief guide to help you explore all the fall fun that Southern Maryland has to offer. Take a moment to learn a little about Bowles Farms, Forrest Hall Farm, Serenity Farm, Inc., and Shlagel farms by reading the descriptions for all four below.

Bowles Farms

Bowles Farms

Bowles Farms provides the whole family with plenty of autumn activities that’ll make this season a blast. These include things like the Corn Maze Express, Barn Yard animals, Straw Jumping Pits, and Giant Slides. There’s also pumpkin picking and face painting. They even boast the largest cornfield maze and pumpkin patch in Southern Maryland!

Get a glimpse of what’s coming your way over at Bowles Farms by visiting them on Facebook.

Forrest Hall Farm

Corn maze

Owned by the Wood family, the farm dates back to the 1600s as an old plantation that stretched for miles. Today, you can find plenty of fall family activities at the farm including a petting zoo, face painting, a hayride, and a corn maze. You can also purchase their fresh produce, meat, flowers and home décor at their shop, Avie’s Place!

You can get a sneak peek at some of the sights you can expect to find at Forrest Hall Farm when you stop by their Facebookpage.

Serenity Farm, Inc.

Petting Zoo

During the autumn months, Serenity Farm, Inc. is home to Kasper’s Kastle, their Fall Extravaganza! Fall festivities include Hayrides, the Halloween Barn, the Hay Bale Maze, Petting Zoo, Face Painting, and the Pumpkin Patch. Serenity Farm, Inc. also created a new non-profit organization, the Farm Heritage Conservancy, which aims to “Reconnect People to the Land through Preservation, Cultivation, and Education”

Check out all the fun they’re having on the farm by going to their Facebook page.

Shlagel Farms

Pumpkin Picking

At Shlagel Farms, you’re sure to have a great time picking your own pumpkins, visiting the farm animals in the petting zoo, and taking the wagon ride through the fields. The Shlagel family is celebrating their 107th year of continuous farming in 2019.

Go to Shlagel Farms’ Facebook page to find out what’s new.

Get Out There and Enjoy the Fall Today

Bowles Farms, Forrest Hall Farm, Serenity Farm, Inc., and Shlagel farms are all waiting to help you make this fall a memorable one for you and your entire family. Now that you know they’re out there delighting the Southern Maryland community, be sure to head out to each one this fall.  

Best Maryland Auto Blogs

2019 Toyota Camry

If you’re anything like our team at Toyota of Southern Maryland, you can’t get enough of cars. In fact, you’re always looking for new resources to follow that provide you with insider knowledge of the latest advancements in the automotive world.

Well, we’re here to help car enthusiasts near Lexington Park, St. Mary’s County, and Mechanicsville track down the best Maryland auto blogs that’ll keep you in pace with everything going on in the automotive industry. Let’s take a look!

BA Auto Care

Auto CareWhether you’re looking for expert insight on a particular vehicle brand or need some advice on how to better care for your car, BA Auto Care offers a wide range of valuable blog posts.

In addition to service advice, BA Auto Car provides its readers with tips on when it might be time for you to trade your car in or sell it yourself.

Looking for some advice on how to keep both yourself and your vehicle safe on the roads this winter? All you have to do is check out the Winter Driving section of this informative blog.

Here, you’ll learn more about preparing your car for the colder months and how to improve your visibility while driving in snowy conditions.

Car Corporation of Maryland

Teen TipsFrom fun posts covering family road trip games to educational content with step-by-step instructions on how to perform basic automotive services, Car Corporation of Maryland has it all. In addition, this blog provides easily digestible information for people of all ages.

For instance, their “Tips for Teen Drivers” post is ideal for both new drivers and their parents to read before hitting the road.

If you’re more concerned with finding advice on pre-owned cars, this site offers helpful articles, which give you a rundown on questions you should ask before purchasing a used car. That way, you’ll know exactly how to tackle the process before you head to your local dealership.

Maryland Auto Insurance

2019 Toyota CHRLet’s face it: it’s always helpful to have some extra tips from automotive insurance experts. Luckily, that’s exactly what they’re serving up on the Maryland Auto Insurance blog.

Each article equips you with insurance-related insights that make it even easier for you to avoid accidents and choose the right auto insurance coverage.

Of course, that’s only one example of the many different topics covered by these insurance professionals. The posts found on their site cover a vast selection of topics that focus on driving safety during various holidays and event—from Halloween to prom and more.

By taking some time to read through guides, you’ll successfully navigate the world of auto insurance and learn more about how to keep your vehicle safe.

Stay Informed with the Best Maryland Auto Blogs!

At Toyota of Southern Maryland, we’re committed to keeping drivers near Lexington Park, St. Mary’s County, and Mechanicsville in the know about all things automotive—from car maintenance to road trip tips and everything in between.

So, if you’ve been scouring the internet in search of a reliable, local auto blog, we’ve got just what you need. Check out our picks for the best Maryland auto blogs today!

Local Spotlight: Patuxent Habitat for Humanity

Volunteering near Me

When you participate in local volunteer opportunities, you’re not only helping those in need, but also helping yourself to live a more fulfilled and gratifying life. Joining Patuxent Habitat for Humanity is a great way to make your community a better place for all, and to feel good while doing it.

Discover more about this great organization and see how you can get involved by reading the sections below.

How It All Began

When John Wagner visited the home of the Weems family in 1999, he found nine children crammed together in one tiny apartment, mattresses scattered across the floor, and plastic trash bags used as dressers. He knew then and there that something had to be done.

With approval from Habitat for Humanity for Southern Maryland, Wagner began construction of the Weems home, and in 2003 held the dedication for their first Patuxent Habitat for Humanity house.

Since then, Patuxent Habitat for Humanity has continued to grow, providing safe housing to the people who need it most through donations, volunteering, and generosity.

A World Where Everyone Has a Decent Place to Live

“Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.”

Through this mission, Patuxent Habitat for Humanity invites anyone to join in their construction efforts. As long as you believe everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to live, you’re welcome to help with the work. Furthermore, they show no discrimination towards those in need of housing. Patuxent Habitat for Humanity is open to all, regardless of race, religion, age, or gender.

Today, Habitat for Humanity International operates in nearly 1,400 communities across the United States, and in over 70 countries worldwide. With added financial support, volunteering, or adding your voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help make a difference.

Serving Those Who Served Us

One of the major aspects of Patuxent Habitat for Humanity is their Veteran Critical Repair Program. This program is designed to help rebuild the homes of military veterans and their families.

Repairs vary from structural walls and roofing, to installing wheelchair ramps and remodeling bathrooms for better accessibility for the disabled. Everyone deserves the chance to live in comfort and safety, no matter their physical condition.

Recently, Patuxent Habitat for Humanity helped World War II veteran William Hall easily enter and exit his home by installing a larger landing platform. They also made his bathroom more secure with the addition of a grab rail.

Get Involved Today

There are tons of ways to get involved with Patuxent Habitat for Humanity! To see them all, and to read inspiring stories of those whose lives they have helped improve, be sure to check out Patuxent Habitat for Humanity’s Facebook page.


The Arc Southern Maryland

The Arc Southern Maryland

The Arc Southern Maryland

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) deserve more than just job opportunities—they deserve to live in communities that support and help them lead fulfilling lives.

The Arc Southern Maryland was created to help make that vision a reality. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has been helping children and adults with I/DD since 1975. Its mission is to “create opportunities for independence and personal success for people with different abilities in inclusive communities.”

Read on to see what it does to work toward this mission and how you can get involved.

Making a Difference

The Arc Southern Maryland offers a wide range of programs, services, and support to help fulfill its mission.
The Arc Southern Maryland Programs

Several of these programs are created to provide adults and children with I/DD with more opportunities to become independent. For instance, a digital literacy
program teaches folks how technology can help with everyday things like grocery shopping, work, and more.

Meanwhile, transition services help young people transition from the public-school system into employment or post-secondary education. This can take on many forms, from teaching interview etiquette to providing paid work-based experiences or developing vocational skills.

Additional programs available for individuals with I/DD include:

  • Benefits counseling
  • Behavioral support services
  • Personal support
  • Vocational support
  • Community learning services

Advocacy and First Responder Training

A large part of this effort includes working with the community at large to ensure there are opportunities for individuals with I/DD. That’s why The Arc Southern Maryland advocates for changes beyond the individual.
First Responder Training

This includes political advocacy to push for legislation that can improve the quality of life for disabled individuals. It also involves teaching the public about the rights, strengths, needs, and interests of those with I/DD.

One specific piece of this puzzle is the Ethan Saylors First Responders Training. Individuals with I/DD can respond to law enforcement in seemingly unusual ways, and this training helps members of the police force better respond. By bringing together law enforcement and people with I/DD in an uncharged setting, future encounters can be more safely managed.

Get Involved

Want to help The Arc Southern Maryland reach its goal? There are several ways you can get involved. Financial support is always helpful, and can take the form of general donations, event sponsorship, wish-list fulfillment, vehicle donations, and other fundraisers.

You can also offer your skills to the nonprofit by applying to volunteer. Contact them to discuss teaching a class on painting, Zumba®, and more. Or, sign up to help with a special event!

If you’re in charge of hiring at your business, consider becoming an employment partner. After all, what better way to support individuals with I/DD than by hiring them as part of your workforce?

If you’re interested in learning more about the work this organization does, make sure to follow The Arc Southern Maryland on Facebook. That way, you can stay up to date on its latest efforts, events, and successes.

How Long Should My Auto Loan Term Be?

You are getting all set to try to find financing for your dream car and you’re trying to decide how long your auto loan should be. The answer is that it depends on your situation.

A typical loan term used to be about five years, now it’s common for it to be six to eight years. The fact is, the longer your loan term the more you pay in interest on your vehicle. However, you don’t want to have a really short term and not be able to make your payments. You really have to find the situation that is best for you.

There are two major things to consider when working out an auto loan. Those are your monthly payment and the interest rate.

Monthly Payment

This factor is something most people think about. Dealerships will tell you how low your monthly payment can be because they want to help you find a payment that fits into your budget. When looking at monthly payments, it is important to find a monthly payment that is small enough that you will be able to handle it every month, but you don’t want it to be too small because then you will probably have a longer loan term that forces you to pay more in total interest.

Interest Rate

Your interest rate is often quite dependent on your credit score. Those with a lower credit score can expect to have higher interest rates on their auto loans. If you do have a higher interest rate, you may want to try to shorten your loan term to lessen the amount of interest you have to pay.

If you are curious about the ways in which your payments could work out, check out our payment calculator here to give you a better idea of the types of payments you could be making. Also, if you have any specific questions about financing, let us know.

What Factors Affect Your Credit Score?







Worried about your credit? Not sure where your score comes from? We can help. Let’s take a closer look at the factors that make up your FICO score, so you can know how to improve your score for the future. Many banks use the FICO Credit Score to determine whether they will give you a loan, so let’s check out what makes up a FICO Credit Score.

Payment History – 35%

The first, and biggest, section of your credit score is made up of payment history. This is because banks and other lenders want to be able to tell if you are going to pay your loan back. They feel, a good way to determine that is by how you have paid back other loans or credit in the past. This is why it is very important to make all your payments on time.

Amounts Owed – 30%

This section Amounts Owed or Credit Utilization is how you use your credit. If you are frequently maxing out credit cards that is not good. It is okay to owe money, as long as you are making timely payments back to your lender.

Length of Credit History – 15%

The length of time you have had credit accounts open accounts for 15% of your FICO score. This determines that you can pay back money owed over a period of time. If you are a new credit user, this may account for your score being a little bit lower because you simply haven’t built up the length to have this section boost your score.

New Credit – 10%

This section New Credit accounts for 10% of your score. This section  monitors how often people are taking on new lines of credit. For instance, if you open several new lines of credit at once, it can suggest that you are in financial distress. This makes lenders less likely to loan you money.

Credit Mix – 10%

This category is comprised of looking at the different types of credit that you have. It is good to have more than one type of credit or more than one account because that gives a lender the option to look at how you’ve made payments on a few different accounts.

To improve your credit score, you first have to know what your credit score is made of. We hope that this article helped you on your way to better credit!

How to Buy a Car with Bad Credit

car-loan-applicationYou may be wondering how you could possibly buy a car with bad credit, the good news is it is possible and you can improve your credit along the way.

Bad Credit is not a permanent situation. If you have had financial difficulties in the past, your current credit score may not be great, but the good news about a bad credit score is it can change. Check out the steps below to get an auto loan with bad credit.

Know Your Credit Score

The first step to getting a loan is knowing your credit score. When you go in to talk about financing options, you don’t want to be surprised by your credit. Know what you have going for you and know where you need to improve.

Improve Your Credit Score

If you want, you can try to wait several months to get a car so you can improve your credit score. Making timely payments over the course of several months will improve your credit, which can lead to better financing options.

Be Ready to Make a Large Down Payment

If you have a little bit more money saved up and you can make a larger down payment, lenders may be more willing to work with you even if you don’t have the best credit score. Showing that you have saved and you have the money to make a decent down payment will give them more confidence in your abilty

Shop Around for Good Offers

Take some time to look around for good offers. This includes offers on vehicles as well as offers on financing. Find something that will truly fit within your budget and will allow you to make timely payments. If you have a bad credit score, you are likely to have a higher interest rate on any auto loan you take out. This is because your credit score indicates you may be more of a risk to lenders. However, you can still shop around for different offers, and after you have made timely payments for several months, you may be able to lower your interest rate.

Financing your car can be a stressful situation, but it doesn’t have to be. If you prepare in advance and go into the situation with confidence, you will probably be able to find the financing you need. If you have questions or are simply interested in learning more, you can contact us.

Should I Buy or Lease a Car?


When you are looking to upgrade your vehicle, you may run across lease offers as well as offers to buy a new vehicle. Which is better? Whether or not leasing or buying a vehicle is better is really up to you and your situation. However, there are some things to take into consideration when making this decision, so check out the information below to help you with your decision.



There are many good things about deciding to lease a car. One big one of these is low monthly payments. If you are not willing to commit to a large monthly payment, leasing may be a good option. Leasing also offers you the advantage of little or no money necessary for a down payment. Other advantages include low repair costs because you are usually under warranty and the lack of hassle in transitioning to a new car.


The disadvantages include a limited amount of miles you can travel, you don’t own the car at the end of the lease and it can be more expensive to lease long term. Something else to keep in mind is that it can cost you money to terminate a car lease early.



The major advantage of buying a car is flexibility. It is your car to do with what you choose and you can drive as many miles as you want. It is also more economical to buy a car in the long term. If you are looking to finance a car, you can do so here.


The major disadvantage of buying a car is that it can be more expensive initially. Buying a car requires a sizable down payment and higher monthly payments than leasing.

Take these factors into consideration as you determine what you will do on your next upgrade, but be sure to stay true to yourself and your lifestyle!

What Do I Need to Bring to Buy a Car?

car-keys-new-carBeing at the point where you are ready to go to the dealership and officially buy that car you’ve been looking for is an exciting step! Getting a new set of wheel is exciting, but it can also be stressful. We want to help take away some of that stress for you. If you are ready to get that new car check out the items you will need to bring with you below.


This is something you will definitely need if you want to test drive a car and get a quote for that car. Don’t forget your license!

Current Pay Stub

A pay stub will be important if you want to get approved for an auto loan. Your credit score will be something that goes into the process of loan approval, but you will also want to show how much money you’re making in order to know how much your monthly payments can be.

Proof of Residence

This will also be a part of getting approved for a loan. A utility or cell phone bill will work great as a proof of residence document.

Insurance Card

Your car insurance information is something important to bring to the dealership so you can make sure you transfer your insurance and you are covered when you are driving your car home.

Any Trade Documents

If you currently have a car that you would like to trade-in, you can also bring any documents you have related to that. This could include a title or registration of the car as well as any documentation about your auto loan if it is not paid off.

If you remember to bring these documents to the dealership with you, it will help you speed up the process of buying your new car!

The Basics of an Auto Loan

car-loan-applicationEveryone needs transportation to get around, but cars and trucks can be expensive. Realistically speaking, you may need to take out an auto loan to cover the cost of your car up front. If you don’t know what to expect when getting an auto loan, it can be a stressful experience. Learn what you can before you need to get a loan and you will be prepared walking into that bank or dealership. Check out the anatomy of a car loan below and get the information you need to get your new set of wheels!

Down Payment

It is often necessary to put a certain amount of money down on a car in order to be approved for an auto loan. An average down payment is about 20% of the vehicle’s worth, but 10% down payments are also common. Down payments are important because the more money you put down now, the less you have to pay off later.

Interest Rate

The interest rate is the money that the lender makes off the loan. They give you the money to buy the car, but you have to pay them back a little bit extra. Your specific interest rate will be determined by your credit score. People with a higher credit score can get a lower interest rate, and the sooner you pay off the loan, the less interest you will have to pay.

Term of Loan

This is a very important factor to consider when taking out a loan. You want to make sure you have a good loan term because you will need to have an affordable payment every month. The longer your loan term, the less your loan payments will be a month, but the longer your loan term the more interest you will have to pay. A typical loan term is anywhere from 4-7 years, but you will want to pick a term that fits with your financial situation.

Vehicle Trade-in

This isn’t a necessary part of an auto loan, but if you do have a vehicle to trade-in, it could help you save some money on that new vehicle. The dealership can deduct the value of your trade-in from the price of your new vehicle, so you can get rid of your old car and get some money for it.