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Around the World on Valentine’s Day

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Feb 06, 2017

Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day by sending flowers, chocolates and Hallmark cards filled with romantic gestures of intention.  Annually celebrated on February 14th, we see our stores and flower shops filled to the brim with red and pink decorations, cupid shooting arrows and other symbols relating to love between two people.  Since we’re used to this traditional presentation typical to most states in the USA, we sometimes don’t realize that other people across the globe carry out these festivities in a whole other manner.   Not everyone observes Valentine’s Day by dining in dimly lit restaurants, gifting their lovers with sensual bouquets of blossoms or satisfying their sweetheart’s “sweet tooth” with a box of sugary treats.  No, it’s a big world out there, encompassing hundreds of thousands of different customary practices -particularly when it comes to the holiday designated to “amore”.  Curious by this, I decided to research a few outside cultures and see how we match up!  Is perfume, lingerie and long stem roses all that’s needed for the rest of the world or is there a differentiation between the United States and other countries?  You’ll be surprised to read what I found out…   

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Photo credit via Jeff Leatham

Denmark

This is a country that loves to celebrate February 14th and has always had an overall strong appreciation for flowers.  While blooms are definitely apart of their romantic rituals, they opt instead to give their honeys pressed white snowdrops instead of fresh arrangements.  Cards are also exchanged but are referred to as “gaekkebrev” (a joking letter) that holds a funny poem instead of our typical use for sentimental varieties.  


Wales

Wales is a really interesting place to discover during Valentine’s Day as well because they have no use for roses or other generalized gifts during their holiday.  Celebrated on January 25th in retribution for their patron saint of love, the Welsh choose to give their mate a spoon made with beautiful designs that represent a feeling or trait.  Many become very valuable with age and are past down as family heirlooms throughout the generations, sometimes re-gifted as a token of luck during marriage celebrations.  


Philippines

This is a place that really understands romance at it’s highest!  While we focus on “stuff” to give our valentines, they utilize this special day with ceremony-MASS CEREMONY!  Thousands of couples gather together in areas such as community-based organizations, parks and even malls to recite their wedding vows.  Instead of walking down the aisle as a single couple, Philippine lovers prefer to say their “I do’s” in front of a multitude of others, truly sending out a message of love to all.  

Tags: Flowers Worldwide, FTD, Worldwide Flowers, Holidays, Valentines Day

Chinese New Year - The Year of the Rooster

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jan 23, 2017

Chinese New Year begins on Saturday, January 28th 2017 and guess what… It’s the year of the rooster!  That’s right- if you were born in the years 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 or 2017 than this is a blog you should pay close attention to and read.  


Before we go into the specifics about what this means for you, how about we start by talking about the history and traditions associated with the Chinese New Year.  Originally, the holiday started as a way of honoring past ancestors and deities but eventually adapted to include an opportunity to promote luck and wellness for families.  On the eve of the New Year, homes are thoroughly cleaned to ward off past dissenting auras and to welcome new and old friends, family and good spirits.  Doors are also wiped down as well as windows and decorations colored in red are added throughout all of the hinges and frames.   Once New Year’s Day arrives, it is customary to host a large meal consisting of traditional dishes to feast upon.  The gathering signifies “longevity”, “wealth” and general ‘good fortune” where many of the elders give money to younger generations in red paper envelopes.  The beauty of this occasion is the continual renewal of happiness and the hope that all ill- fortune can be swept away with the end of a year and new luck bestowed by a new one.

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So back to the “Rooster”… The rooster is the tenth sign in the Chinese zodiac or other wise known as the year of the “Cock” or “Chicken”.  Now there are a lot of great traits that roosters possess such as hardworking, social, amusing and active overall spirits.  With the good, there’s also the bad, which typically include being too outspoken, easily agitated and almost always overly confident.  With the culmination of these traits, many roosters are in fact talented and seek careers that often guide them to the stage such as acting or singing.  If they can stop bragging abut themselves constantly, they make pretty good friends as well since they are thought to be loyal and honest-sometimes too honest.  Proven lucky colors for this sign are gold, brown and red (feather colors) and favorable numbers include 5, 7 and 8.


Here’s what it get downs to in 2017 for “Roosters”…


I’m just going to put it to you short and sweet… it’s not looking to be the best year ahead for you.  The signs say that there will be a lot of ups and downs, wealth and woes when it comes to your personal and public life.  Right now, you want to play it v-e-r-y safe and make wise decisions that will be more protective of assets instead of aggressively acquiring more.  Forget that 10-1 stock tip your buddy just gave you and instead invest in clipping coupons.  There’s just too much risk when it comes to your financial affairs in 2017 so bunker down and wait for the storm to clear.  When it comes to your career, do yourself a favor and shut your trap.  Your mouth is going to be your worst enemy, so don’t give your boss an opinion if he/she doesn’t ask for it.  I’m afraid your love department is equally off kilter and if there’s been an inner nagging to dump the present lover, now’s the time to do it.  Things aren’t going to get any better anytime soon so onward and upward.


This may not sound like the best horoscope but hey-there’s always next year so hang in there!

Tags: Chinese New Year, Holidays, January, winter, New Years

How to De-Stress During the holidays

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 23, 2016

The holiday season is filled with joy, cheer and goodwill to all men and although it is certainly a wonderful time of year, it can all become a stressful one as well.  For some people, the scrambling for presents, decorating the house and visiting with relatives resonates agreeably but for others it can prove quite difficult.  There’s never enough time to do EVERYTHING on your list and the socialization between those you may not see often can become complicated or downright unpleasant.  If you’re the guy or gal who opens their arms to all the chaos that Christmas sends, well then good for you but if you‘re among the masses who need a tiny bit of help dealing with the seasonal “Fa La La” then this blog’s was written for you.   Some us need a break, a way to recharge or even just a means of coping with the next few weeks.  The first step is to look in the mirror and realize that IT’S OKAY.  You’re not a failure if you’re not dying to hang tinsel from your ears or hang mistletoe toe from every bough.  Not everyone can be Clark Griswold who manages to turn a rosy cheek when dinners are burned, family gatherings go a blunder or Christmas tree’s go up in flame. The holidays are hard!  So if you feel like you may relate to these feelings and are holding out for a few ways to burn through some of your seasonal steam, here’s a couple of ideas to try before the one who melts down is you.  

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  1. EXERCISE

This is probably the number #1 answer to your problems if you suddenly wake up with backaches and headaches once December rolls around.  Stress commonly pockets itself throughout the joints of the body leaving it sore, stiff and uncomfortable.  By doing even five minutes of stretching in the morning and evening, you’ll release tension and relax your muscles to get a better night’s sleep.  It’s a busy time of year but if you can insert a half hour of walking, jogging, biking, swimming, yoga, Pilates or aerobics, you’ll feel the difference almost immediately.  


  1.   Don’t Forget to Treat Yourself!

I’m not talking about booking a cruise the day after Christmas but it’s not against the rules to treat yourself to a little holiday treat.  Maybe you like aromatic candles, a box of rich chocolates or a quick pedicure at the salon?  These services and items are not expensive and can very well lift you up to elevated moods just by taking care of yourself for a bit.  For me, I love a great fashion or cooking magazine to soothe over bumps and ripples in my yuletide season!


  1.  Sleep.  For the Love of God…SLEEP!

Sleep deprivation has got to be one of the most typical problems during this time of year and many don’t even realize how terrible it is for behavior, mood and overall demeanor.  I realize there’s a ton to do but neglecting rest isn’t the answer.  Skip that last aggravating errand that no one is going to care about anyway and lie down on a couch with a good book.  Make sure you go to bed a couple of minutes earlier than you usually do and turn off the TV.  A continuous healthy cycle of this will make you feel better and not as cranky as you were before.   

Tags: Holidays, exercise, Stress, Health

Does Your Kid Turn into a Monster During the Holidays?

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Dec 19, 2016

You may have laughed out loud when you read the title of this blog but I bet it wasn’t because the idea was out totally of the park!  How many of you secretly parent a child who is otherwise perfectly well mannered until the dreaded Christmas season rears its ugly head?

“I want this!  

“I better get that!”

“But you said Santa would give it to me!”  

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photo credit via http://702mag.com/

Sound familiar?

 

I don’t know what happens but many kids suffer this incredible personality change when Christmas closes in and many of us have a hard time figuring out why this occurs?

 

We use Santa as bait for good behavior, but even the guy in the red suit is no match for the whiles of overly excited, out of control little pills.

 

Perhaps the “Twinkie Defense” (or in this case the “Candy Cane Defense”) is responsible since their intake of sugar extends well past what their small bodies can manage?   Or could it be the continuous visions we load their tiny minds with through holiday media of movies and books?  Are characters such as Ebenezer Scrooge impacting their little minds with thoughts of selfishness, annoyance and naughty behavior?

 

According to specialists, the “Christmas Crank for Children” diagnosis stems from an increase of stimulation, decreased amount of sleep and an influx of in-nutritious foods.  One of these off kilter may not seem like such a big deal but when you combine all three-SHAZZAM!  You’ve got yourself one unhappy, inflexible hooligan of a kid.  

 

That kind of stinks, right?

 

After all, this season is made merry and bright by a child’s faith in holiday magic.  Their inherent ability “to believe” is what makes the whole thing fun and memorable for all of us who will do anything to see smiling faces on Christmas Day.

 

Is there anything we can do to prevent this negative metamorphous from occurring?  

 

Of course there is!   

 

While we can’t compete with the impact of Christmas Crazy, we can attempt to manage certain areas of their care, which will benefit their health (most specifically their mood) during the holidays.

  1. Mandate a reasonable time for bed and just say no to “Can I have ten more minutes, pleeeaaaasssseee?”
  2. Make sure they are drinking lots and lots of water to wash their systems out from built up sugar.  You’re not going to get them to avoid all of the Christmas sweets but you can help to keep them hydrated.
  3. Lower their expectations of what they are going to “get” and ask them what they are going to “give”.  Not up scaling previous holiday shopping is one way to keep things under control and to evade some of the unwarranted “gimmees”.  
  4. While there are lots of invitations to get-togethers and parties, your child may not be able to attend all of them.  Seasonal burn-out is typical with younger children who really need a grounded schedule to go by.  While agreeing to a few dates is perfectly fine, having your family booked out every day of the Christmas month is going to undoubtedly overwhelm and exhaust them.
  5. Switch up their books and DVD’s with some topics that are not holiday related.  Keep the Christmas classics that you love and add material other than stuff solely wrapped around trees, wreaths and Santa.  It will help keep things in perspective and allow an easier transition when it’s time to get back to their regular routines.

Tags: Christmas, Holidays, Kids, Santa

Christmas Flower Sugar Cookies

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 09, 2016

Bakers love the holiday season because there is a vast assortment of ideas to create delicious edibles including cakes, pies and particularly, sugar cookies!  After all, you can’t have Saint Nick make his annual visit without leaving a few morsels of yummy sweets, right?  

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photo credit via sweetsugarbelle.com

Christmas cookies are by far the most fun and certainly the most beautiful out of all traditional seasonal desserts.  Creative chefs can let their imaginations fly when coming up with new shapes and images, making their presentations even more impressive.  


Although snowflakes, pine trees, ornaments and stars are among the most popular themes during this month, garden lovers will be overjoyed to see the new trend of “flower sugar cookies” climbing in demand! From happy daisy faces to poinsettia plant designs, horticultural elements are beginning to turn up in several Boston bakeries and floral shop owners couldn’t be more excited!  Not only are upscale supermarkets and restaurants using the new fad to gift patrons with samples but florists are also jumping on the bandwagon and adding satchels of these cookies to holiday orders.  Pretty smart, huh?


For the experts, this is an easy task but for those who neglect culinary brilliance, baking can seem a bit overwhelming.  Honestly, who hasn’t burned a cookie sheet or two in their day?  Thankfully, there are hundreds of recipes that are simple to follow including this one from the Food Network.  Grab your aprons and rolling pins and lets get baking!


Ingredients:  Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter 1 large egg

1/2 cup light brown sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups flour 1/4 teaspoon salt


Ingredients: Icing

1/4 cup water 2 cups confectioners' sugar

3 tablespoons egg white powder Candy, sprinkles, dots, chocolate chips, ANYTHING SWEET!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the butter with vanilla extract, egg and brown sugar until blended.  Slowly add the flour and season with salt to make the dough firm.  Freeze the dough for 20 minutes and then begin to carve and shape cookies with cutters or free style.  Place in oven for 20 minutes and watch their edges turn golden brown.   Cool cookies for another 20 minutes before decorating.


Whisk together the water, egg powder and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.  Add desired coloring of food dye to create color and immediately apply to cookies.  Decorate with candies and let them sit for an additional 30 minutes icing to set.  

Tags: Traditions, Christmas, Holidays, cooking

Holiday Gifts That Keep on Giving

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 09, 2016

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “the gift that keeps on giving,” a million times before, particularly during the holidays.  You might even associate the term with cruddy presents like “cheese of the month club” and dread even the quickest notion of receiving one for yourself.  The funny thing is, this type of gesture is making a huge comeback this Christmas and with good reason why.  Instead of getting a year supply of dairy, clever givers are finding ways to make their gifts meaningful in the sense that they continue their value far after the season has ended.  Immediately gratifying trinkets such as sweaters, scratch tickets or bottles of wine are being replaced with longer lasting impressionistic expressions such as hand made items and thoughtful activities.  People can only have just so much “stuff” so many are welcoming this heartfelt trend and hoping to find other unique ideas to gift.  

 

Sometimes the thinking behind this notion is harder than the actual packaging.  We may become consumed and wrapped up with a concept that is overly complicated instead of putting thoughts into simpler terms.  You don’t have to be over the top with expensive presents or tokens either, so presents should reflect thoughtfulness instead of cost.  In an effort to pass along this wonderful way to show someone you care, here are a few great options that may fit perfectly underneath your tree this season…

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A Beloved Family Recipe

If you know of someone who loves to cook (or loves to eat) give him/her a framed copy of a special recipe you know they like!  Maybe Grandma Ester left notes on how to bake the perfect ginger snap cookie or perhaps Uncle Fred bequeathed his famous clam chowder recipe to you?  These are the dishes that are meaningful to gift upon someone who shares the same passion for cuisine and if you’re lucky, they might even give you a taste when they’ve tried it out.

Seeds

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I’m actually using this one for my mom who adores gardening as much as I do!  Although you’ll have to start collecting seeds from pods during the months of July and August, you’re efforts will be duly noted when your flowers bloom in their garden for years to come.  

 

A Coupon Book

Get a few pieces of paper, staple them together and make your own coupons that they can use whenever wanted or needed!  Create tickets that reflect the appropriateness of the relationship such as “1 Kiss” for your romantic interest and “1 Load of Laundry” for your parents.  Be careful not to mix them up because things could get a little uncomfortable if the wrong person receives the wrong coupon book!

 

Museum Membership

Sometimes the best present given are an activity like visiting the aquarium, zoo or a museum.  Memberships are an excellent way to give a gift that keeps on giving and they will long be thanking you throughout the entire year.

Tags: Christmas, Holidays, Museums, Seeds, Gifts

Christmas Gifts from the Heart, Not from Your Wallet

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, Dec 04, 2016

December is a great time to spend with friends and family but sometimes we forget what the holiday is all about.  Frequently, our concerns are focused on checking off our list of presents we feel we have to buy, complaining about the long lines in the department stores.  I’m not saying that our purchases during the season aren’t gifted with good intent, I’m just stating that much of what we buy to wrap up and put underneath the tree is unnecessary. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars later we are merely left with that feeling of “thank god that’s over” while we sweat over next month’s credit card statements.  

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It’s just not what Christmas is supposed be about so why not make real presents with our hearts instead of our wallets this season?  Not only will they be appreciated more, they won’t leave you fumbling to make January’s mortgage payment.  If you have little ones, you might really want to take this suggestion seriously.  One day they’ll be making holiday preparations for their own families.  Teaching them that Christmas isn’t about how much you spend early on is a life-long lesson that someday they’ll appreciate.  You don’t have to be overly crafty or talented to make beautiful presents either.

Tags: Symbols of Christmas, Christmas, Holidays, Gifts

Let’s Talk Turkey this Thanksgiving

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Nov 16, 2016

So this might sound a little strange but there’s a new trend sweeping across New England this Thanksgiving and it’s all about dressing the bird in flowers!  That’s right!  People are actually asking caterers and florists to create small flower displays either around or on top of their turkeys in order to reap a particular benefit!  Sound crazy?  Well, the reason lies in the belief that doing so will bring about some…umm- interesting side effects.  We’re not quite sure where this phenomenon started but we do know that Bostonians are actively placing their orders for the upcoming holiday sending designers into turkey hysteria!  Want to learn more about how and why this fad is circulating?  Read on to learn the secret to this turkey taboo…

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photo credit via http://blovelyevents.com/

According to ancient scripture, the turkey was once thought to be of regal stature in certain cultures and was often given a bed of petals to sleep on during customary celebrations.  Depending on the color of the feathers the bird adorned, people would actually attempt to match the shading to the blossoms presented.  If the turkey had more red feathers, he was thought to be a bringer of love and romance while a turkey having blue feathers was believed to induce sorrow or death.  Nowadays, the Thanksgiving turkey is being wrapped in flowers of a chosen color in the hopes to encourage the desired omen.  (For those who would like to try this, select green flowers to entice a windfall of money, purple for courage and yellow for happiness.)


A second theory for why people are covering their birds with flowers is due to the aroma-therapeutic benefits that can be infused into the skin.  While many of these dressings include herbs such as rosemary, parsley and sage, there are blossoms such as dandelions and nasturtium now being thrown into the mix.  Creative chefs are infusing their meat with an incredible seasoning of sweet to spicy tastes just by covering the top of the turkey’s back and legs with freshly cut florets.  Be careful not to use species like roses that will embellish a musty aftertaste and try choosing varieties that have an earthy consistency such as heather, alliums, chicory, geraniums and borage.

Tags: Thanksgiving, Holidays, Chef, cooking, November

Easter Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Mar 23, 2016

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Flowers are an enormous tradition associated with the Easter holiday.  For some, it’s because of the religious attributes and for others it’s the seasonal celebration of spring.  Whichever attribute resonates with you most, it is true that more than have the homes in the Boston area will feature a floral arrangement during the next few days of festivities.  As some are purchased in order to brighten up their dining room tables while some are otherwise gifted from a loved one, Easter flowers are the most beautiful presentations that mark the warmer weather of the year!  As the temperatures begin to warm, a brighter and bolder color wheel of options is renewed giving us a breathtaking palette to work from.  With options such as tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, hydrangea and other little bulbed beauties that are finally available, florists are whipping up sensational treats for you to enjoy.  

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Tags: Easter Flowers, Easter Traditions, Holiday Decor, Holidays, Flowers

Popular St. Patrick's Day Traditions

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Feb 29, 2016

Saint Patrick’s Day is on March 17th (which falls on a Thursday this year), a holiday long associated with luck, fun and Irish tradition.  Customarily, Boston is just the place to celebrate the festivities, often hosting thousands of visitors who sit, drink and be merry within one of our many local pubs.  Granted, the green beer is fun but did you know that alcohol was originally banned on the holiday, forcing restaurants and bars to be closed? This is just one example of the trivia and customs associated with Saint Patrick’s Day that few even know about.  Test your Irish history and see if you’re aware of these true facts about an authentic Saint Patrick’s Day celebration!

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  1. Saint Patrick was not from Ireland, as many believe.  He was originally born in England and was captured, then enslaved to Ireland as a sheepherder. Once he escaped, he returned home to become a priest and then travelled back to Ireland to pass on his teachings.  

  1. The story about Saint Patrick chasing the snakes out of Ireland is almost impossible to be true according to experts from National Geographic.       These slithery critters are almost never seen in this area because the geographical composition is post glacier.   

  1. The official Irish color is not green but is in fact BLUE!  Most of Ireland is not as lush as most people believe accept for the Emerald Isle.  The blue is significant because it is the shade featured in many of the country’s flags.GREEN_ROSES.jpg

  1. Even though the four-leaf clover is a wonderful find since they are extremely rare, they are often misconceived as the country’s symbol.  The harp is actually the official logo of Ireland, although clovers remain the more popular notion.

  1. Corned beef and cabbage might be the sought after dish on the menu this holiday but did you know that bacon was actually the original protein cooked during this holiday?  Because many settlers who came to America could afford so little, this inevitably led to a substitution using a cheaper product than pork.  

Tags: St Patrick's Day Flowers, Traditions, Holidays, Saint Patricks Day, March

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