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Baking Recipes with Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Sep 25, 2017

There is a considerable amount of benefits that come from consuming flowers that I bet you didn’t know about…  For starters, they add an interesting taste, texture and decadent quality to recipes that can change the entire “feel” of a meal without becoming overbearing in flavor.  This concept may not be completely foreign to most since many of us already cook with plants such as flowers and veggies which have useful blooms to add to our kitchen.  Violets and squash are examples of this and have several delicious qualities that turn an ordinary dish into magic.  Even if you’re a meat and potato type of a person- I can guarantee there is a recipe here that is perfect for you.  Read up on the qualities of these earthy flowers and see what entices your palate.

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photo credit via thenerdyfarmwife.com

Violets

You wouldn’t think it but these little purple wildflowers are more than a pretty ground cover.  Violets have several purposes due to its rich color, scent and yes- even taste.  There are hundreds of recipes that utilize this bloom’s properties to make delicious dishes, particularly those that lay on the sweeter side.  Desserts are the perfect place to show off this spring blossom’s attributes such as in cakes, pastries and drinks.  One idea that really interested me was a recipe that I came across written by “the nerdy farmwife” which was a violet jelly.  Not only did she market the beauty of this concoction impeccably but it also made my mouth water for some jam and biscuits immediately.  Easy as 1-2-3 instructions as well as sensational photographs taken, jelly fans might want to pop on over to this site to see how you can make your own violet infused jelly!

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photo credit via marthastewart.com

Squash Blossoms

Every year I grow zucchini in my garden and every year I gaze upon their beautiful yellow buds that are pretty enough to cut and place in a vase. Little did I know that they share a dual purpose because after some research, I found that these flowers could also be used in cooking.  From additions to salads to enticing Italian platters, squash blooms have been used forever in cuisine and can easily be adapted into any diet.  There are many different ways to prepare the blossoms such as frying, baking or stuffing, which makes them highly popular when sold at farm stands or on the rare occasion- grocery stores. Often you will see recipes calling for squash blooms when they are stuffed with cheese, the best being ricotta because of the pleasant compliment in taste they give one another.  Another incredible combo is with marinara sauce, making these the ideal ingredients to bake an earthy version of the classic pizza.  The taste is out of this world plus you’ll get the added benefit of dressing your pie with healthy veggies.  Try this version invented by Martha Stewart!

Tags: Chef, cooking, Health, Lifestyle, Violets

Why You Need a Yucca Plant in Your Living Room

Posted by Jenny Holt on Fri, Sep 15, 2017

The yucca plant originated in the hot dry areas of the Americas and the Caribbean. It is an incredibly resistant plant which can adapt to pretty much any climate; it is becoming more and more popular as a garden or indoor addition, thanks to the fact that it is easy to care for, beautiful and has various uses, such as being a powerful air cleaner. 

There are around 40 species of yucca and around 24 subspecies, so there are a variety of shapes, sizes and colors to choose from to display your plant and floral personality and style. 

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photo via ftd.com

Tips for Growing Your Yucca Indoors

A yucca plant inside can add a wonderful focal point to your living room or be part of an interesting indoor display. They are easily adaptable so they are perfect for displaying indoors as well as outdoors, although indoor yucca plants are usually smaller in size. As more than 40 species of yucca exist, coloration can vary greatly: they can range from the classic green to bluish with variegations of white, cream and yellow and delicate beautiful flowers.   

Yucca plant care is simple and straightforward; yuccas grow on large woody stems or canes do not require much attention. The ideal placement is in a sunny to partly shaded location; indirect light greatly helps leaf color, as full exposure to sunlight might cause browning tips or white spots on the leaves. 

Yucca plants, both indoors and outdoors, require little water and are actually drought tolerant to some extent. A light fertilization can help the plant grow when it is being grown in container, but it is not necessary for plants which are already established. Soil quality doesn't really matter but it should be heavy enough to maintain the plant upright and well-draining. Aim for a three to one mixture of sand and peat to grow yucca effectively in containers. 

The Many Uses of Yucca Plants

Yucca plants are not only a stylish indoor addition but also have many surprising uses. 

The yucca is one of the top-rated air cleaning plants which can remove toxins from the air, according to an important NASA study.

The yucca is also edible, especially certain species such as the banana yucca and the soapweed yucca, which produce succulent flowers and fruit. The roots are also edible; although they do not taste as good as the fruit and flowers, they are natural anti-inflammatories. 

Yuccas can help you with your washing and beauty routine as well. In fact, it is a key ingredient in natural shampoo and the Native Americans used the roots and trunk of the soaptree yucca (yucca elata) to make soap to wash hair and clothes. It can be quite easy, not to mention satisfying to make your own yucca soap at home! Yucca is also a wonderful skin salve, as it nurtures cuts and scrapes.

According to the Native Americans, a yucca symbolizes transmutation, protection and purification. With its many uses, beautiful flowers and stylish look, a yucca can be the perfect low maintenance addition to your living room. 

 

Tags: Plant Care, Plants, Health, Lifestyle

Plant, Animal, People

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Aug 16, 2017


There’s an old saying for those who are looking to create more balance in their life that caring for something should start in this order:


Plant-----------→ Animal ----------→ Human


The reason behind this strategy is to build the concept of responsibility by taking baby steps towards reaching your goal.  You may have heard of this approach in connection to AA, becoming a new parent or Sexaholics Anonymous but in general, this is very good advice for anyone who’s looking to enter a solid relationship with another individual.  

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photo via aboutflowers.com

If you believe that you may be on the “Plant” end of the diagram, there are excellent varieties you should be aware of to get you set up in this type of training but before I give you a list to go on, you might want to keep in mind these useful tips.


  1. Water- Just like people, plants have to be well hydrated in order to survive and flourish, making this the number 1 rule when you purchase your plant.  Be careful to read the instructions given to you by your florist or nursery since every species is different with their needs (Again… just like people).  If you feel you might fall in the forgetful realm when it comes to this task, you may want to start with a cactus, which needs very little and is drought tolerable.

  1. Sunlight-  Plants are living entities who need plenty of sunlight in order to create their own photosynthesis (food generation) so you’ll need to find a brightly lit area of your home to set your new friend up in front of.   Again, there can be a variation between different species but I can promise, there needs to be some kind of sun at least part of the day available to the plant if you’re hoping to ever continue to phase 2- an animal.  

  1. Love-  It might sound corny but plants need love just like humans do and the way to accomplish this is to follow both previous rules as well as add a little extra into the mix.  While the age-old theory claims that talking to plants will help them grow into epic proportions, some people prefer to sing to them instead.  While you may be reading this and thinking it’s silly, plants have been proven to positively react to human verbal contact and have been recorded to double in size compared to those spent in solitary.  If you need another reason to loosen up around your ficus, just remember that it’s great practice for starting a conversation once you get to step 3- a real human being.

  1. Suggested Plants- Fiddle Leaf Ficus Trees, spathiphyllum, ferns and cacti


YOU CAN DO IT!

Tags: Care Tips, Plant Care, Plants, Health

Perfect Petals for Pregnancy

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jun 30, 2017

If you are soon expecting a bouncing baby boy or girl, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed about what’s to come…  It is a time for joy but it can also be a little anxiety driven due to big changes soon to come.  For many women, they are well versed on how to take care of this situation during pregnancy and stock up well in advance with things that relieve their discomfort.  For some, lavender infused tea may due the trick and for others a soothing massage could be what gets the kinks out.  Comfort foods, soft clothing, long naps, a relaxing walk and fizzy bubble baths are just a few of the medicines many pregnant women utilize.  

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photo credit via http://www.karenscottreflexology.com

If you are a lover of flowers, you might want to consider a simple aromatherapy tactic that doctors and florists swear by.  No, you don’t have to drink elixirs filled with petals or swallow an all-natural pill with remnants of roots or leaves to make you feel better.  The answer is simple when looking to implement blossoms to ease expecting mom’s irritability, soreness and other common maladies related to pregnancy.  It is a proven fact that by selecting certain varieties of flowers to be placed inside the home, you can alleviate a multitude of symptoms just by having them near you.  Based on color and scent, floral designers can actually create perfect arrangements that will help mom feel happier and healthier.  If you are a soon-to-be who is having a difficult time adjusting to Mother Nature’s calling, try these helpful plant ideas to help you find a source of restful peace.


Color


If you are looking to select flowers based on their color, you might want to pick up a bunch or purple iris or yellow daffodils.  Science says that purple and yellow are instant triggers to encourage tranquility and serenity.  While it is commonplace to give pregnant women bouquets of either pink or blue in relation to the baby’s sex, experts insist the other options available might be a better choice.  




Scent


This is a tricky area because many expecting moms suffer from over sensitivity when it comes to their sniffers.  Stay away from strong scented species such as roses and lilies and opt for a softer smelling variety like sweet pea or ranunculus.  The last thing you want to do is make her even more nauseous than she already is so be sure to ask your florist for suggestions.

Tags: Flowers for Emotional Health, About Flowers, Health

What Are Healing Gardens

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, May 16, 2017

If you’ve ever visited one of our many impressive hospitals here in Boston, you may have noticed several have an area of the building, which facilitates an aura beyond what we traditionally recognize as “medicine”.   Healing gardens have become a popular asset to health care facilities around the country promoting the idea that green spaces can positively affect the outcome of a patient’s condition.  Typically located on rooftops of buildings, these areas often nourish lush plant life and flowers, offering visitors a chance to heal the body to relieve physical ailments.  These needs can be fostered through the spiritual, social, behavioral and psychological facets of an individual and have been known to be quite successful in boosting the overall positive energy in visitors.  

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Mass General Hospital Healing Garden - photo via C7A

Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc.

Interestingly enough, health agents have gone beyond simply setting up pretty gardens to gaze upon and instead have come up with an entirely new division of alternative therapy, which surrounds itself around the importance of growing.  As defined by the American Horticulture Therapy Association, “Horticulture Therapy is the engagement of a person in gardening and plant-based activities, facilitated by a trained therapist, to achieve specific therapeutic goals.”  This practice may be experienced in a “sensory garden”, an alternative type of plant system that is designed to specifically affect the senses of taste, touch, sound, sight and smell.  Often, water features such as small waterfalls or running riverbeds are added amongst plants specifically chosen for their texture and aroma.  

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The Stoneman Healing Garden photo via crja.com

Luckily, Boston is loaded with healing gardens that have been of great assistance to hospital patients for some time now.  Facilities such as the Dana Farber, Mass General Hospital  and the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden in Harvard, Massachusetts are some of the most stunning examples we cherish in our city.  

Tags: Flowers for Emotional Health, Boston, Garden, Health

Using Flowers to Create Peace and Serenity

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Apr 14, 2017

In this time, many of us are seeking signs of peace and tranquility due to the tumultuous conditions we view our world is in today.  Everyday life has seemed to also become far more stressful and hectic compared to only two decades ago, causing painful anxiety for millions of people.  Technology, inflation, over population and depleting environmental concerns are just a few of the reasons why we struggle to maintain a harmonious balance with others and ourselves.  For some, exercise is their chosen therapy and for others; perhaps meditation or sleep is what works to keep them above the surface of the water.  Whatever means you implement, it is a proven fact that these activities are beneficial for our mental being and is detrimental in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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One facet that is becoming more and more popular as we continue to seek our own Zen avenue, is the accumulation of specific species of plants that are known to effervesce the spirit of “peace”. From around the earth, different ethnicities, cultures and religions have collected these plants for centuries claiming they possess some sort of healing property to induce the feeling of relaxation. It isn’t unheard of to infuse teas with lavender petals or rose hips to encourage a particular sensation so why is it far fetched that just viewing a blossom can also change our mental state?  According to experts, if you place one of these blooms in front of you for at least a half hour to an hour a day, you can actually stimulate positive hormones throughout the human body.  Ideal placement would be on a dining room table, bedroom or a sitting area of the home that you spend a significant time within.  Check out these interesting varieties of flowers and see if you might enjoy the benefits of ocular floral hypnotherapy.

  • White Poppies
  • Lavender
  • Apple Blossoms
  • Olive Branches
  • Cat Tails

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Flowers for Emotional Health, Health, Peace

Allergies and Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Mar 22, 2017

At certain times of the year, allergies are at their worst here in New England and many suffer from ailments such as running nose, watery eyes, scratchy throats and other unpleasant woes. Pollen from flowers, the re-sprouting of grass and re-budding of trees are only a few of the sources that cause discomfort for those inflicted by allergic reactions.  I’m one of the lucky ones who aren’t affected in the slightest by seasonal changes that induce environmental changes having to do with flora and fauna.  

 

PHEW!  

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Photo credit: via www.bio.brandeis.edu

As florists, we should be aware of these common issues with our product and always ask customers if there are any issues they may have towards certain plants and flowers.  Roses can be a big one but many designers are unaware that several other typically used species can be problematic for sensitive customers.  No matter if the season is winter, fall, spring or summer, flower industry employees should be well educated in order to promote the health and happiness of our clientele.  After a little research, here’s what I found to avoid for those who fall within this category.  

 

Birch: I know this may not seem like a flower or plant (it’s a tree) but it’s used in abundance within holiday centerpieces and bouquets.  Birch grows in a beautiful white covering of bark but many people are allergic to this branching and can cause serious reactions just by touching the outer skin.  Try using pine as a substitution because it’s cheaper, festive and possesses a nice aromatic scent.

 

Goldenrod:  Man- unless you want to hang a sign on your door that says “Allergy Sufferers Beware”, you might want to nix the spring bloom during May and June.  It’s inexpensive and easy to find but the pollen that’s omitted from the stem and head is enough to put a person in the hospital if they’re sensitive.  Try using euphorbia or another pretty yellow product that has half the pollen and just as much impact on your arrangements.

 

Wisteria:  Wisteria is a tough one to say “no” to because its elegance can be such an asset to an event’s flower planning but if there’s a chance of making someone sick, you’re going to have to find a replacement.  Wisteria is one of the worst flowers for allergies although the delicate flowers and stunning stem formation want you to put it everywhere, especially in weddings.    The gorgeous white and purple blossoms can cause major reactions specifically a swelling of the throat to name one of he more serious effects.

 

Top Flowers to Avoid:  It’s really hard to scratch off some of these beautiful flowers from your buying list when considering allergic reactions but these are some of the more serious ones to look out for.  Mountain Thistle can bring about terrible irritation of the eyes if made contact with and a lily’s odor can make a person sneeze for hours.  Other species to be vigilant about are roses, zinnias, pansies, petunias, crocuses, columbine, verbena and geraniums.  

Tags: Flowers, Gardens, Health, Allergies

Flowers For Beauticians

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Mar 06, 2017

The cosmetic industry makes millions upon millions of dollars a year concocting potions and elixirs that are meant to beautify and euthanize their female demographic.  How many women out there start their day by applying foundation to cheeks, a swab of lipstick to mouths or a dab of moisturizer to cheeks?  I’m betting quite a few of you which is why we should know more about these products we’ve come to depend on.  Did you know that many creams are being tested on animals and some actually contain low-grade poisonous additives like strychnine?  Those aren’t exactly the kinds of components I want contacting my skin or any other part of my body, do you?  

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Photo credit via L'Occitane

When engaging in a little research, you’ll be able to find out what a corporation is really putting in their makeup so you can avoid harmful additives or unwanted components.  One area I pay close attention to is if the items possess natural elements-particularly floral elements.  Some varieties of flowers have known to have beautification properties and can actually smooth away years when implementing concentrated oils from petals, buds and in some cases, foliage.  


Potential properties that flowers contain which are beneficial to beauty are:


  • Hair Growth
  • Acne Prevention
  • Purifier
  • Reduction of Skin Redness
  • Medicinal for eczema and other sensitive skin issues

When you get right down to it, flowers can do AMAZING things for our bodies, which is why it’s important to purchase products containing these essential qualities.  Be on the watch for cosmetics using flowers such as violets, roses, jasmine, calendula, hibiscus, sunflowers and chamomile since they are the best blossoms to boost elasticity, shine and other desirable reactions.  You’ll be surprised what these pretty blooms can do for you and your beauty ritual!

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Sunflowers: Vitamin E helps build strong hair molecules so that it can increase resistance against breakage and lucky for sunflowers, they contain a lot of it!


Roses:  Rose buds have several benefits when it comes to health but makeup containing this flower will help reduce inflammation such as puffy eyes.


Hibiscus:  Another great hair strengthener is the hibiscus, which also promotes healthy shine and encourages growth.  


Lavender: This herb flower is an excellent cleanser and is useful for eliminating dead skin cells.  

Tags: Flowers for Emotional Health, Health, Lifestyle, Beauty

A Comforting Winter Soup Recipe

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, Jan 22, 2017

It’s a well-known fact that most Bostonians pack on a few pounds once the temperature starts to drop.  Reasoning says that we are just putting on a few layers to help protect from the cold, which is a natural biological response to our habitats.  Humans are not alone either since millions of New England wildlife participate in the same ritual including cats, dogs, birds and bears.  So if everyone is doing it, why feel guilty?  For one reason, many of the foods that we are ingesting contain a higher amount of fat and processed sugars.  These unhealthy additives are what make it a bit tricky when we finally decide to shed those pounds in the spring.  If you think about it, you seldom see squirrels stressing about their winter waddle once the warm weather arrives because their calories needed to be burned are mainly nuts not ice cream and cream puffs.  Does that mean forgo the comfort foods altogether in order to spare ourselves the trouble?  Absolutely not!  We can still indulge in this New England tradition of finding solace and warmth in our food; we just have to do it in a slightly different way.  Try this recipe on for size!

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photo credit via countryliving.com

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is made by a variety of companies and there a few like Progresso and Campbell’s that are in all honesty, pretty good.  The soup is for the most part, healthy so why should you make your own?  In many canned brands, the salt and processed ingredients rank high and may even contain “iffy” ingredients that you can’t even pronounce when reading the labels.  Using real poultry and veggies is always a better way to go where you can control the amounts of seasonings and be sure that your meats are fresh for cooking.  You may not be able to can and shelf your finished product but freezing is a definitely possibility allowing you to re-cook and save for a later date!  Wait to make this recipe after you’ve made a chicken roast so that you can use your own stalk, too.


How To:

Add 4 cups of your own chicken stalk to a crock-pot and set to low heat.  If you couldn’t save this much stalk after cooking your roast, just add water slowly as the soup continues to cook-it will make it’s own broth over the course of the preparation.  Add chicken that has been pulled from the leftovers being careful not to add in any bones or cartilage (it won’t taste good to those you serve and be disruptive to their palette.  Chop roughly 2 celery stalks and 1 small onion and add that to the brew.  Wash 4 large carrots and then peel and cut into circular shapes and then throw them in as well.  Add 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons of dried rosemary and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the soup for 4 hours until the chicken naturally pulls apart and vegetables soften.  In a separate pot, boil water to cook 4 cups of “No-Yolk” noodles.  When done, rinse in a colander over cold water, afterwards adding the pasta to the soup.  If you put the noodles in when they are still hot, they’ll dissolve in the soup creating a funky consistency, so make sure you rinse them first in cold water.  Serve in crock bowls with a fresh piece of Italian bread and bon appétit!  

Tags: Chef, cooking, winter, Health

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

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