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Ways to Stay Sane During a New England Winter

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jan 16, 2017


If you’re shaking your head at all that white stuff that’s started to fall from the sky, you may be susceptible to what I refer to as “Winter Depressive Disorder”.  What is this you ask?  The term applies to those who struggle, suffer and strive bitterly through the colder months of the calendar making them irritable and sometimes downright nasty.  The ailment is considered quite common for many of those who live on the east coast and can fluctuate in intensity from mild to extreme measures based on the individual. Depression is nothing to mess with, especially when it comes to finding the right antidote to defuse the situation so if this sounds familiar, you need to get help fast.  “Winter Depressive Disorder” can be treated with a variety of different means and usually can be alleviated by enjoying a special activity, added exposure to light or simply making a few tweaks to your everyday diet.  


In the past, I’ve experienced similar effects of the malady and have since come up with a plan that helps to assuage some of the symptoms.  Irritation, exhaustion and plain old crabbiness can really put a damper on your personal health as well as your personal relationships.  Believing you can wait it out until the spring thaw arrives is just silly and even a little dangerous so if you’re open to learning a few tips they may just save you from another tough year in the cold.  Here’s my go-to list of special soothers that help sustain my sanity until the warmer months roll around once again-maybe they can assist you.

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Light

Light deprivation is the number one factor, which makes people petulant, depressed and moody.  Scientifically known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder, doctors believe that the inner circadian rhythm is disrupted during winter and the body is actually yearning for a longer connection to direct sunlight.  I fit perfectly within this category and try to make extra time for long walks in the morning- the time of day recommended by many experts.  Phototherapy is another option which means skin exposure to ultraviolet light on a regular bases.  You can either do this at home or receive treatment in a medical office.  


Diet

I know it’s the time of year where comfort foods are the main source of fuel but dishes saturated in butter, fat and oil can literally pull your immune system down to lower functioning levels.  Cookies and pies give an immediate satisfaction but hours later, you’re paying for it with a plummeting sugar levels that turns a “high” into a “low”.  Opt for fresh foods such as fish, veggies and ripe fruits that will make you feel healthier as well as trick your system into thinking that the season is warmer than it really is.  


Color

I know it sounds funny but many of us don’t realize that we wear darker colors in the winter than in the spring or summer.  If we can pair more pops of bright reds, blues, greens, yellows and purples into our attire, we’ll begin to feel happier just from the reinforcement of happier hues around us.  

Tags: January, winter, Health

Great Desserts For Winter Weather in Boston

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 13, 2017

Who says a blizzard makes you want to just eat hot foods?  What about all of the yummy desserts inspired by the New England winter season?  Okay, crock-pots filled with simmering chicken noodle soup might seem nice but we can’t forget to sugar up on all of the delicious sweet treats made perfect for this chill infested weather!  No, I’m not just talking about stopping by the ice cream aisle before the next storm arrives.   I’m talking decadent, sensational blizzard ready concoctions that will be adored by the whole family.  Not only are they tasty, but they can be a fun project to make together when the house bound boredom sets in.  Easy to create and simple instructions, you won’t be disappointed by these festive New England indulgences.

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photo credit via allrecipes.com

Vanilla Snow Ice cream

This one is so fabulous because the main additive is the stuff piling up outside your door-SNOW!  Have the kids go outside and grab a bucket of snow that is clean and un-dirtied by salt or soot.  In a mixing bowl, combine the fresh snow with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 1 cup of sugar, a half-cup of milk (or added until desired consistency) and a teaspoon of salt.  Stir thoroughly until your batch resonates an ice cream body.  Put in the freezer for 2 hours and serve into white or light blue bowls for an extra creative flair.  You will flip over the reactions to this easy peasy ice cream recipe!


Snow-Capped Winter Cookies

This is a great one to make with your children on a snow day because the very name is thematic after the season and contains a very simple list of ingredients.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and take out confectioners sugar, flour, salt, butter and vanilla extract.  Mix together 1 cup of confectioners sugar with 1½ cups of melted butter.  Add a ½ teaspoon of vanilla and 2 ¼ cups of white flour.  Add a pinch of salt for seasoning.  Stir together until a soft consistency gels and put in the refrigerator to chill for about a half hour.  Then roll the dough into small balls placing them on a cookie sheet setting them evenly apart.  Bake for 12 minutes and then sprinkle with more confectioners sugar to get a snowy effect.  Let the cookies cool and store in an airtight container until serving time.


Blizzard S’more Frappes

I love this one because again, its fuss free and tastes of so delicious!  All you need is 2 scoops of really good vanilla ice cream, 1 crumbled graham cracker, 1 cup of chocolate chips, 1 cup of whole milk and ½ cup of mini marshmallows.  Throw everything into a blender and lightly mix until the desert resembles a white mound of blizzard delight!  Serve in high ice cream flasks and sprinkle with white sugar or confectioner’s sugar.  Everyone will love the presentation and you’ll love how little effort this desert was to make!

Tags: Dessert, Snow, cooking, winter

The Black Pearl Has Landed in Boston

Posted by Rick Canale on Thu, Jan 12, 2017

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At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we continue to import the best roses from Ecuador. After working with the Rosaprima Black Pearl Rose this Christmas, we are convinced that our friends and clients in Boston will love them. Grown in the mountains of Ecuador, this velvety red rose took more than ten years to bring to market. 

Tags: Exotic Roses, Ecuadorean Roses, Roses, Black Pearl

Tips For Snow Shoveling

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jan 11, 2017

It’s only the beginning of the year but New Englanders are starting to feel the bitterness of the blizzards arriving one after another.  Sure, it’s pretty at first but who are we kidding?  Snow removal is a tough and strenuous business when you’re talking about 24 inches + surrounding the inner and outer areas of Boston.  Plows and snow blowers are a bonus but the reality of it is, we are all out there in the chilly outdoors shoveling our walkways and driveways in order to make sure that our lives go on as usual.  Although there might be an occasional delay or school cancellation, in general New Englanders are preprogrammed to understand that life must go on.  Even the brutality of Juno didn’t slow us down for long and that’s a great thing because undoubtedly, there is more coming!   

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If you’re like me, you might still be achy from hoisting mounds of snow from the last one but recently I’ve learned a few tips on how to shovel after even the wettest and heaviest storms.  By following a few recommendations, we can get the job done without breaking our backs, necks and arms and actually receive a safe and healthy workout in the process.  We don’t have to feel as if we need to be hospitalized after an hour’s work of winter clean up when statistically speaking, 87% of us are doing it incorrectly and more importantly, dangerously.  There is a better way to engage in these movements of lifting if we take a minute to review these ideas to assist in our safety.  


When we first see the piles growing outside of our windows, we get a little anxious and overwhelmed, causing a rushed reaction of bounding outside to attack the situation.  Seldom do we calmly pre-think a plan, which would allow us to strategically move the unwanted precipitation without using unnecessary energy.  Take a couple of minutes to thoroughly analyze the layout and then decide how to go about it.  This will save you time and the frustration of re-shoveling sections over and over again.  You’ll get the job done quicker and have more time to relax in front of the roaring fire.


Another tip is to always bend at the knees when kneeling or lowering to the ground to plunge the snow.  Sudden jerks can cause fractions within the legs and hips and cause permanent damage.  Slow and steady wins this race and you’ll also be pleasantly surprised in the amazing toning your quads will receive!


If your shoulders are the problem, try to cross the shovel across your body instead of throwing the snow over your head.  Many times you’re just putting the snow back into the path behind you so this way, your arms will firm up the right way and you will be able to accomplish the blizzard’s aftermath in a cleaner and more efficient manner.   Be sure to dress warmly with layers and hang in there-spring is on its way!

Tags: Snow, winter, Snowmageddon, Health

Golden Globe Awards 2017- Flowers that Dazzled

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Jan 10, 2017

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photo credit via Mark's Garden, Los Angeles, CA

As many of you who sat in front of their TVs on Sunday know, The 73rd Golden Globe Awards were telecasted at 8:00pm with Jimmy Fallon hosting the event.  There was a lot of news that generated early in the evening such as celebrity wardrobe, top picks for wins and of course, Meryl Streep’s unforgettable speech about changing the world.  It was the typical Hollywood glitz and glamour you’d expect accept this year’s real head turner weren’t the ones walking the red carpet.  No, the real show stopper were the insanely stunning arrangements that graced each table throughout the room and I’m not talking about Carrie Underwood’s interesting pink rose appliqué gown.  Audiences were supposed to be held captured by the anticipation of who would win the next shining gold trophy but in all honesty, the floral designing was what made the night complete.

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photo credit via US Magazine

Mark Helms, owner of Mark’s Garden, was the florist responsible for the amazing massive, globular creations and true to his reputation-his work was once again handed a standing ovation.  For years, he’s been crowned the premier florist to the stars, serving A-List names with an abundance of beautiful blossoms and has grown to become a household name on Beverly Hills.  Mark holds no expense back when it comes to impressing his clients and the Golden Globes were no exception. The floral mogul flew in over 15, 000 roses from Holland and South America, displaying a chic combination of orange hues.  Fashion reviewers are claiming that actors and actresses opted for fabrics toned in metallic and yellow, which Helm’s floral contribution complemented to the “T”.  

 

If you missed last night’s winners, here’s a complete recap of what was hot in 2017.  

 

Movies

Best picture, drama: “Moonlight”

Best picture, comedy or musical: “La La Land”

Actress, drama: Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

Actor, drama: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

Actress, comedy or musical: Emma Stone, “La La Land”

Actor, comedy or musical: Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”

Supporting actress: Viola Davis, “Fences”

Supporting actor: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, “Nocturnal Animals”

Director: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

Screenplay: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

Animated film: “Zootopia”

Foreign language film: “Elle” (France)

Original score: Justin Hurwitz, “La La Land”

Original song: “City of Stars,” “La La Land”

Slide Show

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photo credit via people.com

Television

Best series, drama: “The Crown,” Netflix

Best series, comedy or musical: “Atlanta,” FX

Best television movie or mini-series: “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” FX

Actress, mini-series or television movie: Sarah Paulson, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

Actor, mini-series or television movie: Tom Hiddleston, “The Night Manager”

Actor, drama: Billy Bob Thornton, “Goliath”

Actress, comedy or musical: Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish”

Actor, comedy or musical: Donald Glover, “Atlanta”

Supporting actress: Olivia Colman, “The Night Manager”

Supporting actor: Hugh Laurie, “The Night Manager”

Tags: Celebrity Florist, Hollywood Florist, Golden Globes, Marks Garden

Art used as a De-Stressor

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jan 09, 2017

I’ve always loved the arts.  Painting, singing, dancing, music, crafting, you name it-I’ve tried it.  I used to think that it was because I’ve been deemed a “creative” type but truthfully, I think it’s my attraction to the emotional health benefits associated with these activities.  Have you ever had trouble with anxiety, stress or simply feel overwhelmed 90% of the day?  According to new research, activities such as these can actively reduce symptoms making someone a happier, healthier you!  Even if you mildly experience waves of anxiousness or depression, according to a majority of doctors, a half hour of art can help work towards fixing the problem.  Do you have to be Picasso or Liberace to participate?  Heck no!  All you have to be is willing and able to try something new and let these creative exercises mold and sculpt you into a better frame of mind.  Here are the most popular areas of interest for those seeking artistic healing… Does one of them appeal to you?

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Dance

Many times, the body craves movement to readjust itself against strain and stress.  Turning, sliding and swaying your hips can alleviate tension and create endorphins that heighten a person’s mood.  Twenty minutes of sashaying across your kitchen floor while doing dishes or laundry will help produce more of the happy hormone and also provide a fun and easy workout.  

 

Music

The noises that we hear affect our dispositions more than we realize.  Loud sounds impede on our ability to cope while softer sounds soothe the brain’s membrane to increase our willingness to relax.  By selecting a preferred genre of music such as classic, new age or alternative, we can provide ourselves with audio therapy just by sitting back and listening.  

 

Painting

Although many famous artists have a reputation for being a bit crazy, there is supporting science behind the fact that painting can be incredibly therapeutic to those with high blood pressure.  The reason lies behind the visual stimulation of combining color as well as the calming motion of making swirls and strokes with a paintbrush.  Don’t worry about your artistic talents, just let your imagination take over and allow yourself to escape tension from everyday life if only for twenty minutes a day.

 

Sculpting

Sculpting is another wonderful way to free yourself from suppressing emotional weight and works the most successfully for those who express themselves with their hands.  Do you crack your knuckles or bite your nails often?  If this sounds like you, than sculpting is your ticket!  The massaging pressure applied to the clay from your hands is actually acting as a release for stress and it won’t hurt tender tendons or joints in the process.  

 

Tags: The Arts, Artist, Music, Health

The Symbolic Meaning of the Hyacinth

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jan 09, 2017

"Innocent Hyacinth Tinted with Mint"

Innocent Hyacinth tinted with mint

Tingèd grey hinged on stem singed

With chestnut leaves flowing, to me a fair hint


Of off-centered carousing, black eyes perusing

Wares of all sorts and stocks of all shares

The leading on of a pleasure most gracefully enthusing…


By Guy Braddock

Mar 24, 2014


The hyacinth is probably the most famous blossom associated with the end of winter in New England and the beginning of a new spring season.  Although it is customarily tied to native Boston gardening, the hyacinth actually originated in western Asia and was eventually brought to Europe where their popularity expanded across the continents.  The bulbs are typically planted in the fall and are the first to arrive as soon as the temperatures begin to raise up into the low forty to fifty degree weather patterns.  They are quite popular in flower shops and nurseries because they are available in a wide array of colors including purple, pink, peach, white and even salmon.  The hyacinth is world renowned by the largest importers of the world and has maintained one of the top five spots for most exported flower for gifts within holidays such as Easter, Valentine’s and Mother’s Day.  One of the reasons is due to their incredible scent that usually registers as a sweet infused aroma.  Its ability to outlast many of its other floral companions is another reason it keeps itself in high demand.  Many believe its sturdy shape and compacted bell-like heads acquires the asset of longevity for the plant.   The petals climb up a durable stem and form a tree-like formation with several flowers blossoming one on top of the other.  

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Symbolically, the hyacinth is dated back to the Greeks, where both the gods, Apollo and Zephyrus pined after the goddess, “Hyacinth”.  When Zephyrus became jealous of his fierce competition from the handsome boy, he changed the course of the wind, causing a discus to hit Apollo and kill him.  Broken hearted, the goddess decided that flowering hyacinth would forever bloom wherever her lover’s blood had shed as a sign for remembrance.  This is why themes such as sorrow were originally tied to the bloom although constancy and discretion are also mentioned in reference to hyacinth.  


Through the years and cultivation of the species, the eclectic assortments of colors that are now grown have brought about a new way of categorizing the hyacinth’s meaning.  Refer to the chart below to see a chart of each color and what it means.


            Pink-Bashfulness/Happiness        Yellow- Jealousy          Purple-Sadness

            Blue- Sincerity     White-Purity

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Hyacinth, Flower Meanings

The History of Ballerinas Gifted with Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 06, 2017

We live in a city where the Performing Arts are celebrated by millions of Bostonians.  Home to several stunning theaters, we have the opportunity to explore talented artists on stage and consume the beauty of the dramatics, especially within the realm of dance.  The Boston Ballet encompasses a long history of ballerinas who have pirouetted their way to stardom by undertaking renditions of “The Nutcracker”, “Swan Lake” and “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”.  How many of us have witnessed the magnificence of some of the world’s greatest dancers and may have perhaps hoped to follow in their footsteps one day?  The hum of music, the intricate costumes and the precise movements of bodies gracefully flowing across the stage are all part of the fantasy that so many are drawn to.   

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photo credit via The New York Times

One of the reasons why the ballet remains popular is the perceived “glamour” that has always blanketed over performers.  Interestingly enough, things weren’t always so wonderful for the dancers as you might have expected.  A ballerina’s wages were paid very low and were often impossible to make a living from.  Dating back to the 1930’s, silks, furs and even diamonds had once been acceptable gifts but they were not given without retribution.  Depending on the bauble’s value, if a dancer accepted, she was expected to return the gesture in exchange for intimacy.  If she chose to seek less provocative ways to meet her means, ballerinas might receive food and simple clothing from audience members.  If she received flowers, she would turn around and sell them for cash.  

 

Over time, bouquets became the customary gift to congratulate the artists and were given as either a wrapped bundle or by single stem. Years ago, etiquette preached that no dancer was given her bouquet until the principal performer had received hers first.  In the case where the lead was forgotten, companies would have a cash reserve saved in case the occasion arose.  

 

Today, flowers are still given as a sign of praise of a job well done and continue to cover stages after curtain call.  Florists located in close proximity to theaters are constantly expected to supply sometimes five to six bouquets per week when the ballet arrives in town.  If you’re curious as to what are the most requested varieties, here’s a list of popular blossoms associated with ballerina bouquets.

 

Five Flowers Associated with Ballerina Bouquets

 

  1. Roses
  2. Lilies
  3. Peonies
  4. Cymbidium Orchids
  5. Peonies
  6. Iris
  7. Gerbera Daisies
  8. Carnations
  9. Cornflower
  10. Freesia

Tags: The Arts, Presentation Bouquets, Bouquets, Ballet

Nancy Reagan Left a White Orchid for Barbara Bush

Posted by Rick Canale on Thu, Jan 05, 2017

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the above photo and below text appeared on The New York TImes archives page on Instagram 1/5/2017 https://www.instagram.com/nytarchives/

nytarchivesBefore he left the Oval Office to attend the inauguration of President George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan took one last look at his desk. @jrlopeznyc — a retired staff photographer who now works as a freelance picture editor for @nytimes — captured this scene on January 20, 1989. He was one of about a dozen photographers in the room that day. “Unlike other situations, we were not being held back or put in a certain area in the Oval,” @jrlopeznyc recalls. He decided to wait near the desk, but he remembers watching @whitehouse photographer @petesouza take photos from a 12-foot ladder. The next day, @nytimes published this photo and described the president and first lady's departure. “Mr. Reagan put out both hands to touch the desk as though to hold it in his memory," we reported. Meanwhile, Nancy Reagan spent the morning searching the @whitehouse, making sure she’d packed everything. In an empty drawer, she left a note for Barbara Bush, along with a small white orchid. — @kermac, @nytimes social photo editor #inauguration #regram

 

Tags: President, Character, Presidental Flowers, Presidents Like Flowers, Orchids

Different Ways to Gift with Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jan 04, 2017

When we meet that special person, we often seek ways to impress him or her in order to show them how we feel.  Maybe it’s a dinner to a fancy restaurant or maybe it’s a Hallmark card that’s says just the right sentiment, but whatever we decide, we want it to be a perfect match for that individual.   If you’re a flower lover, you probably choose to send flowers that perhaps might consist of a dozen roses, a bouquet of favorite blossoms or even a single stem of buttercup or daisy.  Yes, flowers have been the most popular way to connect with a person and have continuously been an effective conduit to show them how you feel.  

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photo credit via aboutflowers.com

Here’s an idea… what if you could be a bit clever on how you gifted them? Instead of just wrapping up any old bunch of flowers, how about using your noggin to think of interesting ways to impress their unique sense of self?  What are their likes, dislikes, hobbies or dreams?  As soon as you figure that out, you can implement your creativeness to really give them something special!  No two people are the same and neither are two roses.  Here are a few ideas to get the wheels really turning towards impressing the love of your life!  


For Those Who Love to Bake

A colleague recently told me about this movie she watched where a baker was wooed with a case of “flour”-you know, the cooking kind?  I thought this was so brilliant and really showed his love for her individuality while still sticking to a traditional gesture.  By making a pun based on her occupation, he was able to connect with her in a deeper, more meaningful way as well as show a sense of humor.  Sure, she probably would have kissed the guy anyways if he handed over a pile of orchids, but the effect wouldn’t have been nearly as strong, nor would have been the scene.  If you’re trying to get a special baker’s attention, this might be the “sweetest” way to do it!

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For the Book Lover

If you’re trying to get the attention of a book lover, you’re going to have to use your head.  Although a vase full of wildflowers will surely be adored, why not pick out a few titles that are written about flowers instead?  You can either grab a few floral designing books, gardening manuals or even a novel such as, “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh or “Flowers in the Attic” by V.C. Andrews if they like a good thriller.  Your courtship will be extra intellectually sentimental as well as useful reading material for the future!


For the Gardener

I personally love this approach because not only will a gardener appreciate the message but they’ll be extra excited to have a head start for planting.  Seeds that are the most thoughtful would either be varieties of their favorites or choosing perennials instead of annuals.  Perennials will come back year after year and will remind them of you each time they bloom.  

Tags: Gardening, cooking, Flowers, Gifts, book

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