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A Summer Book Recommendation for a Real Plant Lover

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Aug 11, 2015

It’s summertime and this season tends to be the time when we put a little extra “oomph” into reading more.  Although our schedules slow down and we’re apt to take some vacation time, it’s the perfect opportunity to stimulate our minds with material that we can enjoy and learn from!  Mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, historical, sports and a thousand other genres pique the curiosity of avid book lovers which all offer the gift of both educating, entertaining and exciting whoever browses through their pages.  Ordinarily, I’m a James Patterson or Elin Hilderbrand fan but lately I’ve been experimenting with dramatic fiction including the titles, “Lost in the Sun”, “Fangirl”, “Eleanor and Park “ and my recent conquest, “Sure Signs of Crazy”.  This last one I really enjoyed (although the others are fantastic too), because for one thing, it was incredibly well written (author’s name is Karen Harrington) and second, the main character’s best friend just so happens to be a plant!  If you’re confused I’ll fill you in a bit…

Sure Signs of Crazy” is a story about a twelve-year-old girl named Sarah who struggles with the tragic truth of having a mentally insane mother.  Ten years ago, she was institutionalized for murdering Sarah’s twin brother at the age of just two by drowning him in the kitchen sink.  The main character survives the incident but is now left with an alcoholic father who is vacant at best and incapable of realizing his daughter’s need to come of age.  That all changes during the summer going into seventh grade when our heroine takes control and forces her family to cope with the past and move on.  Now this might seem a little depressing but here’s the interesting part…

Having incredible writing skills (Sarah pens letters to Atticus Finch from “To Kill A Mockingbird” for a school assignment which ends up being therapeutic to her deeper understanding), she lacks ease with verbal communication and naturally befriends a plant.  Now you’d think the plant would just sit there and wilt but the author brilliantly personifies it to have opinions, likes and dislikes.  Harrington introduces situations where the plant is exposed to alcohol and feared to become “sick” as well as neglected and “lonely”, all things we know a pe plant was a real person.  My favorite example of this is seen when Sarah attempts to run away but is fearful of the needs of her plant.  She decides to dig a hole in the ground for her friend and describes this procedure where she clearly identifies with the plant as having human physical features:

“I placed her into the hole and pressed the old dirt around her waist.  I kneel at her new spot and try not to cry.  Tell her all the cool things she will be able to see from this view.”  (page 225-226)

As the book continues, she begins to open up to more person to person connections including her neighbors, grandmother, father and even her mother.  We learn through unpeeling the layers surrounding the little girl’s life that she is not the meek character from the beginning and in fact is a strong young woman who the world eagerly awaits to read her own words.  The reader is probed into believing that her friendship with the plant is at least partly responsible for this breakthrough.

Try “Sure Signs of Cralant is incapable of feeling.   In several passages the plant disagrees with Sarah and at other times, requests its caretaker to turn it around for appropriate sun as” for a fun yet intriguing read this summer!

Tags: Books, #EXFL, Plants, Summer

Best Valentine’s Day Children’s Books

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, Feb 01, 2015

Children have amazing little minds because they often learn the first key components of a new concept through words and images found in picture books.  For my five-year-old son, it was books where he learned all about Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween including the colors and traditions associated with these holidays.  Now that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I’ve made a conscience effort to search far and wide for the best picture books, which explain this time for red and pink hearts.  I look for stories that have a clear story, are simple enough to apply to things he actually sees around him and ones that contain illustrations which legitimately reflect common images related to Valentine’s Day.  Incredibly enough, more and more authors are choosing to write about February 14th making it easier for us parents to select the right material appropriate for our children.  After carefully reading the selection available in my local library I came up with these beautiful children’s books that are perfectly paired with the spirit of Valentine’s Day. 


Happy Valentine’s Day Mouse

By Laura Joffe Numeroff

From the author of, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” is the Valentine’s Day inspired board book, “Happy Valentine’s Day Mouse”.  Geared towards toddlers and early reading youngsters, mouse begins to make his valentines for friends and then explains the reasons why he loves them each.  The story is very simplistic to understand and contains bold illustrations that are easy to follow along with the story. 


Llama Llama I Love You

Anna Dewdney


Another hit series writer, Anna Dewdney, writes and illustrates this lovely holiday accompaniment to her other “Llama Llama” books with a fresh and sweet story about giving hugs and hearts for Valentine’s Day.  Published as a board book, this is great for the young readers who are learning to sound out words and also a great gift for the teeny weenie reader who may have destructible hands. 


The Land of Chocolate Cosmos

Suzie Canale

“The Land of Chocolate Cosmos” is filled with a delicious “chocolate” theme, which we all know is symbolic of Valentine’s Day.  Written with a sweet message regarding the importance of recycling, kids will drool over the scrumptious images illustrated by Kevin Coffey while learning a valuable lesson about preserving our natural resources.   This is a wonderful book for kindergarteners through 2nd grade.

suzie_c Suzie and Ryan Canale, Boston 2014

In addition The Land of Chocolate Cosmos, Suzie has published three other children's books. They are available to purchase at Exotic Flowers in Boston or available at The Westwood Public Library.

Tags: Books, Childrens Book, Kids, #EXFL, Valentines Day

How To Survive A Snow Day

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jan 26, 2015

The snow is piling up outside and inch-by-inch the outlook doesn’t look so hot.  Your family is crowded around the television listening intently to see whether or not school will be closed for the day.  Kids are getting excited while mom and dad shake their heads in fear of the fatal news and then it happens…school is officially closed due to inclement weather.  You start to panic as your children cheer “Snow Day!” with zeal and you wonder how you will make it through a twenty-four hour period trapped in the house?  It’s a familiar situation for many Bostonian families as the winter is flung into full gear.  Blizzards, ice storms and frigid temperatures are all part of the New England package but don’t fret yet.  There are a few sure fire tips to surviving these messy predicaments that will allow you and your children a comfortable, stress free and (dare I say), fun snow day together!



I don’t care what other experts say, food is key to surviving a snow day so make sure that you’ve made a trip to your grocery store before the storm hits.  Stock up on munchies like chips and ice cream, something that is a special treat that you don’t ordinarily buy on a regular basis.  Water, fruits and veggies of course are a staple, but make sure that you have some fun nibbles.  Foods that make the house smell good are also a great idea like pot roasts, Crockpot dishes and marinara sauces.  Baked goods like cupcakes and cookies that you can make together are also smart choices and will help to entertain the troops if boredom sets in.



Never underestimate the power of playing games to whisk away the hours while still spending quality time together.  My favorites are Clue, Sorry, Monopoly, Parcheesi and Scrabble.  A deck of cards can come in handy, too and will supply your family with entertaining tournaments of war, go fish, rummy and old maid so always have a deck on hand. 



Along with making a stop to your grocery, don’t forget to drop by your local library for a great selection of DVD’s.  Movies are a wonderful way to pass the time and you’ll be happy with the cost since it’s free.  Trilogies are smart since you can watch one right after the other like Home Alone, Star Wars and Jurassic Park.  Pop up some popcorn and enjoy a great show!


Arts and Crafts

Grabbing a few projects for the kiddos is another fabulous way to get through a snowstorm and can be very inexpensive if you have the right supplies.  Empty egg cartons, pipe cleaners, tissue, construction paper, crayons and paints are a simple way to bulk up your arts and craft inventory.  Browse Pinterst from some great ideas or just let the creativity flow with some fun winter themes like making snowflakes or glitter snowmen!

RICKY_AND_SUZIE_CANALE Suzie, Lance, Rick & Ryan Canale, Westwood, MA 

Suzie works in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library. She can help supply you with books and movies to combat any winter storm.

Tags: Movies, Books, Childrens Book, Kids, cooking, January, winter, February

Recycled Storybook Paper Roses

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 23, 2015

I have always loved flowers from a very young age.  I’m not sure when this affair began, but my first baby pictures were always images of me crawling in my mother’s gardens and there’s one when I’m around 1 ½ years old where I’m playing with yellow daisies that lined my grandparents driveway.  It seems that my connection to the piece of the world that “grows” has been a long-standing relationship, one that seems to have blossomed throughout my entire life.  Because of this adoration, I have utilized this in several areas including three children’s tales I’ve written where all contain themes of flowers.  I also cook with flowers, decorate with flowers and often draw my favorites using charcoal.  They are everywhere around me.  Recently, another opportunity arose to express floral appreciation, one that combined two other preferred hobbies, crafting and books!

story book roses

If you have kids, you’re going to really get into this art project that was shown to me by a children’s librarian.  Using pages from books that were going to be recycled (which is environmentally responsible), I could actually make roses by following only a few easy steps.  Perfect for tiny fingers, this craft is simple to do because the materials needed are inexpensive and commonly found around the house.  There’s also little mess and teaches fantastic hand-eye coordination skills.  The snowy weather is soon approaching, so read on for this perfect indoor winter art project for kids and adults!



  1. 3 pages of recycled book pages (try to find ones that have bold writing, titles, numbers and pictures.  It will make your flower more interesting looking.)
  2. 1 black/brown pipe cleaner
  3. 3 green pipe cleaners



  1. Cut out shapes from the book pages that resemble petals.  Make them different sizes, using the smaller ones first for the inner bud. 
  2. Take the black/brown pipe cleaner and wrap a petal around it, making sure that it curls completely around the stem.  Add more petals as you pinch the stem and the surrounding petals. Continue until they are all wrapped around forming a rose shaped head. 
  3. Use one of the green pipe cleaners to secure the head around the stem by tightly coiling in a circle shape.
  4. Form leaves and intertwine the last two green pipe cleaners around the stem to complete the rose.


suzie-1 Suzie works in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library.

Tags: Books, Childrens Book, Roses, Kids

The Three Best Childrens Christmas Books

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 19, 2014

The Christmas season is embodied by a rich sense of love, comfort and joy which we gleefully show within our decorations, celebrations and feasts with one another.  Children in particular make this time of year especially wonderful, as they expel the enchanting spirit of “still believing”.  As parents, our own spirits are lifted because of our little one’s excitement and we relish in the fun of making every child’s wish come true.   Over time, many authors have captured these beloved aspects of Christmas by writing stories and illustrating images that not only teach the traditional customs of hanging up the lights, baking the cookies and singing the hymns to carols, but also bringing new and whimsical storylines to broaden our imaginations.  I have become a long time lover of Christmas books because of the bold coloring drawn throughout the illustrations and the beautiful magic and that is present within the pages.  My favorites are expansive, I will admit, but I’ve managed to narrow the list down to three.  Take a look and see if you can find any of your more favored holiday tales to that you read to your kids during this captivating time of year!

Twas the Night Before Christmas


Clement Clarke Moore is the distinguished poet who wrote the infamous story about the arrival of Saint Nick on Christmas Eve.  Written in 1822, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” (also entitled “A Visit From Saint Nick”) was first published in the New York Sentinel on December 23, 1823 with no accreditation to Moore, a requested condition on his behalf for having the piece featured.  Becoming a huge success, the author did not reveal his ownership of the poem until it was included in a later collection of short stories in 1844.  Over 1500 years later, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” has become a time read tradition for many of us to read on Christmas Eve where we listen to the fine words describing a special visit from Santa Claus. 


How the Grinch Stole Christmas


“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”

These were the famous words penned by Dr. Seuss which his iconic character, The Grinch, mutters as he figures out the true meaning of Christmas.   First published in December of 1957 where the stories goal was to teach children about what is really important to celebrate, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” has remained the highest requested book in bookstores and libraries during the Christmas season.  There is no denying the remarkable imagination that the author used when creating the land of Wooville, depicting a story of a mean and scary green creature who looms on the mountain tops plotting the ruination of Christmas for good.  Readers are taken through a wonderful adventure that focuses on friendship and togetherness while learning the invaluable lesson of the holiday spirit. 


Dream Snow


Eric Carle out does himself in this picture perfect wonderland created out of the idea of dreaming of snow.  Set during the wintery Christmas season, a man closely illustrated to resemble Santa Claus, drifts off to sleep where he imagines his farm covered in a blanket of snow.  When he is awakened, he sees that snowflakes are falling and he decides to go to his barn to decorate his Christmas tree.  The particularly beautiful and unique design of this story includes snowflakes placed on clear pages throughout the book, where when lifted, children can see five farm animals hidden.  Another lovely aspect is the button towards the end of the story that plays a sweet musical jingle when pushed. Eric Carle outdoes himself in this holiday classic where the images are bold and the storyline is splendidly simple Christmas tale.


Suzie lives in Westwood, Mass with her family. She has not only published four childrens books, but works in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library.

Suzie & Ryan Canale

Newbury Street, Boston 2014

Tags: Books, Childrens Book, Christmas, Holiday Memories, Holidays, Kids

Boston You're My Home - New Children's Book Benefits The One Fund

Posted by Rick Canale on Mon, Mar 10, 2014

Boston You're My Home

At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we believe in the importance of reading to children and reading with children. Heck we believe that reading is one of the pillars of civilization. At Exotic Flowers, we share books, poetry and even have a favorite author. Yes, Suzie Canale is my amazing wife. She also writes amazing stories.

Her newest children's book, Boston, You're My Home is the story of a young girl named Sweet Caroline who is nervous about her family moving to the city. Worried about the unknown, her mother and father attempt to soothe her fears by telling her a bedtime tale inspired by Boston's strengths. Including everything from scholarly education to delectable seafood, Caroline slowly begins to learn about the wonderful benefits of calling Boston her new home. Suzie will be donating 100% percent of her royalties for this book to benefit The One Fund. 

Tags: Suzie Hearl Canale, Land of Chocolate Cosmos, Books, Childrens Book, Boston, Suzie Canale

Children's Book Drive at Gillette Stadium Sunday September 22, 2013

Posted by Rick Canale on Thu, Sep 19, 2013

the beantown tales

Hey PATRIOTS fans! The Pats are asking for donations of children's books to bring to this Sunday's game and they will personally deliver them to needy children of Massachusetts! Exotic Flowers of Boston will give a FREE Beantown Tale book to those who show their game day ticket from now until Saturday to donate to this great cause! Just show your ticket at our store at 609 American Legion Hwy in Roslindale, MA and you'll get a free copy to give:)

At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we know the value of reading to children and for kids to have their very own books. 

Tags: Candy Roses, Chocolate Cosmos, Patriot Place, Books, Childrens Book, Popcorn Hydrangea

Boston's Favorite Children's Book Author Does It Again

Posted by Rick Canale on Fri, Jun 28, 2013

children%27s book reviews resized 600

At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we are avid readers. We especially love children's books. We know that reading to children fostersSo be a lifetime love affair with books. Our favorite author, Suzie Canale is at it again. As a premier children's book author, Suzie has shared her amazing children's book with us.

Now Suzie is working with fellow authors Chad Pio and Greg Tetreault to bring a valuable review site on children's books. 'Three Lights in the Attic Book Review' hopes to provide parents with a little direction in choosing the best books for their children. The site is written with positive reviews and great suggestions. While the authors do accept many submissions, the review's " goal is to endorse some great reads we three authors have found along our way, while giving age-appropriate guidelines, topics discussed and full descriptions of the stories."

This summer you will be heading to your local bookstore to build your children's book library. Make sure that you check this review site for some great tips on some amazing children's books. And if you like the reviews, keep in mind that you can purchase any of the reviewers books from Exotic Flowers in Boston.


Tags: Author, Books, Childrens Book, Suzie Canale

Exotic Flowers in Boston Reviews The Language of Flowers

Posted by Rick Canale on Fri, Sep 28, 2012

   Flowers meanings BostonThe Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was released in August, 2011. Since then, this novel has touched the hearts of florists, flower lovers, romantics and fiction fans. As a florist in Boston, many of my clients, colleagues and vendors have been asking me for months if I have read the novel. I am an avid reader and what better target market for the author than a florist in Boston who enjoys reading.

Upon the book's release, Diffenbaugh was living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She even credits Cambridge florist, Brattle Square Florist in Harvard Square as being a valuable resource for the creation of the novel. Although the author is not a florist, she creates real life floral characters in Renata and Victoria as florists and Grant as a wholesale florist.

the meaning of flowers in bostonThe book which is now in papeback was a New York Times and Boston Globe best seller. The accolades and reviews continue to pour in for the first time author and this novel. What really grabbed me as a reader was the insight into the meanings of flowers. Often times as a florist, we get the question "what does that rose mean,"? The author gives the reader so many floral meanings that your head will spin. 

Victoria Jones, the protagonist, realizes what many other florists come to realize as well. Depending on which book you read, there are many flowers that have multiple meanings. This revelation forces Victoria to create her own floral dictionary. Florists throughout the world will realize that working with their own interpretations of the language of flowers will work best for their clients too. 

Here is a video of Vanessa Diffenbaugh sharing her personal commentary on her debut novel.

"The Language of Flowers" cane be purchases in local bookstores, like The Andover Bookstore.  

- Rick Canale







Tags: Author, Working in a Florist, Rose Symbolism, Books, Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Joe Guggia and the Stud's Guide for Buying Flowers

Posted by Rick Canale on Fri, Jul 20, 2012

The Stud%27s Guide For Cover for Kindle resized 600
This fun and informative flower buying guide is a testament to the value of forming a relationship with a local retail florist, like Exotic Flowers in Boston.   While using "sexual rewards" as a premise to grab your attention. "The Stud's Guide for Buying Flowers..." covers flower purchases for all relationships, personal and professional. 
Using humor to add to the guide's value, author and floral designer extraordinarie Joe Guggia, AIFD hits the nail on the head and really puts it out there for the world to understand this journey and take advantage of the "rewards" flower gifting can bring.
In Joe's own words, " So Why The Hell Do I need To Read This Thing?


I have a news flash for all you studs that is going to change your life and make me the most awesome guy you know: buying flowers for your wife, partner, mistress, lover or whomever you’re sleeping with is the best thing you can do for your sex life and all around well-being.  While you might be one of those guys that wants to blurt out “but flowers are expensive!” stop that crap right this second and listen to what I have to say.   Trust me that by spending a few bucks here and there on flowers, you can become a wanted lover that will turn your sometimes boring sex life into the romantically overheated experience you want and need.    Know that giving beautiful flowers is an asset to your daily life that will make all your relationships (family, friends, lovers, fellow workers) respond in a positive way to your being.

 joe guggia resized 600

 This world is definitely full of constant surprises and changes at a moment’s notice.  Everyday we’re confronted with something new that grabs our balls and tests us to the max. We get up and go about life hoping that at least one thing we do really makes a difference in our world and the world of those around us.  But sometimes there are those crappy things that get the best of us and we just want to run a hundred miles an hour and yell ”screw you!” at the top of our lungs.

We feel that way sometimes, friggn’ overwhelmed and just plain tired of all the crap that’s thrown our way.  So buying flowers should be one of those experiences we can handle easily and not be confused about.  It’s the kind of experience you should want to do over and over again so you can give that someone special in your life a great gift that they’ll love you up for.  With proper flower buying knowledge you can learn to give something beautiful and get back what you’re hoping for ten fold.  This fact has been proven over and over again, has gone on for centuries and will continue to go on for centuries more.  Humans are created that way, responding in an incredibly positive way to receiving nature’s gift of flowers for any and every occasion.

So trust me and take a few minutes away from that game, food, garage or whatever the hell has your attention. Read and absorb what I have to say.  Follow the techniques I explain in this flower buying bible and be ready to learn how the simplest of bouquets will show them how hot you think they are.     This floral education is sure to get your special someone right where you want them to be, ready and willing to reward you with the best “thank you” you could ever imagine.  And if you were only reading this because someone threw it in front of you and said “Honey, read this!” don’t give them any flack and just do it.  This will be the one time you’ll be damn glad you did!"

A few chapter titles include: 


Chapter 1:  Monkey Men Had It Goin’ On

Chapter 2:  The Village of Testosterone

Chapter 3:  Men, It’s A Brave New World:  The Cyber Florist Seduction

Chapter 4:  Money Will Feed The Beast

Chapter 5:  The New Hottie and The Village Screamers

Chapter 6:  In-House Tail Maintenance

Chapter 7:  Flowers Vs. Plants: Testes On The Cutting Block

Chapter 8:  Sexy Roses of a Different Color

Chapter 9:  Mommy and Friends Need Lovn’ Too

Chapter 10:  The Neighborhood Piss Off

Chapter 11:  Kiss Some Corporate Ass!

Chapter 12:  Hasta La Vista, Baby…

The Last Word:  And This Ass Bite Has More To Say?

This book is a keepsake and should have made the Exotic Flowers in Boston Summer reading list. Special thanks to Joe for sharing his talents with the world.

Tags: Floral Design, AIFD, Joe Guggia, Author, Books, Florist Blogger

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