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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

Floral Light Reflectors

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 20, 2017

As the days get darker, many of us suffer from light deficiency and yearn for the days when the sun stayed out until late evening.  Depression sets in and the coldness of winter blankets New Englanders, turning us into grievers for the warmer weather before.  It’s a real problem if you live in this region.  I know it certainly is for me so I try finding ways of supplementing the depletion of brightness by incorporating substitutions of light and illumination.  Sometimes I buy a new lamp or a set of aromatic candles that I know will promote a sense of joy and delight.  These seem like arbitrary notions but in all honestly, they work okay.  Besides, we all yearn for some sort of comfort until the spring arrives again, don’t we?  

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Recently, I came across an interesting article that introduced a contemporary opinion about the development of serotonin in our blood levels (the stuff that makes us happy), which can actually be heightened by particular varieties of flowers!  They may be your everyday garden blooms but research shows a unique trait that can be quite useful to those who suffer from winter woes.  Is it their color or texture that wards off the grimmer months of the calendar?  Not at all…

It’s the perception that they all reflect light.

How is this possible you might be wondering?  It is a scientific fact that the petals of some blossoms are translucent enough to reflect beams of light.  By acquiring floral pieces integrated with specific varieties, there is a greater likelihood that those who endure seasonal light deprivation will find ease to their symptoms!  Sounds strange I know but truthfully, the theory makes sense when you combine this idea with other floral characteristics.  For instance, pleasant aromas are proven to increase happy cells (serotonin) in a person as well as an eye-appealing visual stimulation.  Flowers already possess these assets so why not elongate beneficial properties to include light?  

If you’re not convinced by this phenomenon quite yet, take a peek at these stunners that are now being utilized in health facilities around the Boston area.  

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You might think that any species that grows in a shade of white will work but tulips happen to be the best!  Part of the reason is behind their color of course, but the texture of the petals is what really seals the deal.  Try putting a few stems in a glass vase by the window and watch the spectrum of light lift your mood to sweeter places.

Garden Lace has been utilized in Japanese culture for centuries as a strong producer of positive energy.  Tinted in soft pink with a yellow center, the petals remind one of tissue paper because of their delicate weight and surface.  If you can’t find this variety, opt for a peony with similar hues since they are similar to one another’s physical characteristics.  

Tags: Snow, Tulips, January, winter

Where to go Skating in Boston

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 20, 2017

It’s one of Boston’s time honored traditions during the winter to slip on a pair of skates and glide across the city’s most romantic rinks.  While ice skating is a great source of exercise during the months when it’s a bit tricky to go swimming or running outdoors, many of us have engaged in this activity as a way to bond with our children, friends and even our love interests.  There are several reasons to adore this activity such as the sounds of the blade pushing evenly across the icy stage, the soothing rhythmic movement that relaxes our bodies and the excitement of completing each circular lap upon lap.  Yes, New Englanders have found great pleasure in this winter sport over the generations where the cost to participate is minimal and the need to be in perfect physical fitness is arbitrary.  This year, the popularity of ice skating is enormous due to the heighten accumulation of snow and the elongated seasonal attributes that have kept us wondering, “when will spring arrive?”  If you are curious to try this fantastic mood enhancer but have no idea where to begin, check out these top ice rinks located in and around the city.  You’ll be surprised of the extra boost of energy you will receive and be relieved once you have found your winter sport calling. While everyone is heading to city hall plaza, let the crowds die down and check out these historic hot spots. 

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Larz Anderson

25 Newton Street,

Brookline, MA 02445

This a wonderful place to visit because of all of the amenities this rink offers to the public.  Located in Brookline, patrons may purchase skates, have them sharpened, enjoy a treat from the snack bar and take a ride throughout the heated pavilion.  They also offer a special Sunday open skate for people in the community with disabilities where professional staff is on site for extra help.  

Skate Rental  $5.00

Entrance Fee Adults $8.00

Entrance Fee Children $5.00


Frog Pond Rink

The Boston Commons

Boston, MA

This is a lot of fun if you are looking to be smack dab in the middle of the city.  Located close to Beacon Hill and the red line, skaters can rent skates and grab a snack all while enjoying the beautiful setting of downtown Boston.  The Frog Pond Rink offers many “Bobby the Seal” skating aid for kids learning how to skate and flexible hours for the busy Bostonian.

Skate Rental Adult $10.00

Skate Rental Kids $5.00

Locker Rental $2.00

Bobby the Skating Seal for Kids $10.00/hour

Entrance Fee 58 inches and over $5.00

Entrance Fee Under 58 inches FREE

Tags: January, winter, Larz Anderson, Frog Pond, Skating

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

Martin Luther King’s Peace Garden

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jan 11, 2016

On January 18th, 2016, we will celebrate Martin Luther King Day, a holiday dedicated to remembering his nonviolent peace movements in the quest for equality.  Observed to honor his birthday, (which really lies on January 15th ) President Ronald Reagan signed the bill making it an official holiday on November 2nd , 1983.  The country will hold several reenactments of the reverend’s famous speech, “I Have a Dream” as well as thousands of Americans gathering in the place where a piece of his memory is held dearly.  

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Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site honors King’s life work in spreading the idealism of peace throughout the country.  Along with precious artifacts and mementos of the hero’s lineage kept inside the museum, a second tribute marks the sanction, displaying a beautiful garden holding 185 varieties of roses at the visitor’s entrance.  The stunning presentation is one of the “International World Peace Rose Gardens” containing thousands of blossoms with eclectic colors and aromas.  Structured in a design similar to a starburst, the beds are planted entirely with roses, the United States official flower.  Landscaped in the month of March in 1992, the garden is visited by millions of people wanting to learn and pay homage to the man who spent his life crusading for a nonviolent world.  Dr King and his wife are also buried close by.

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The configuration of the design and the varieties that grow within King’s International World Peace Rose Garden hold specific significance.  The starburst shape was created to mirror his brilliance and ambition of unity throughout mankind.  The plush pink roses in the center are symbolic for his wife who continued her husband’s teachings for years after his death.  The red band of roses that swerves in and out of the circle represents African Americans and their contributions made to the world and the white blooms are banded around the ring to exemplify King’s similarity with Ghandi within their peace movements.   The splash of multi-shaded roses placed within clumps is reminiscent of the world filled with a beautiful array of different cultures and ethnicities.  The assortment of several tints and color tones also represents King’s vision that peace should run throughout the world for eternity.   The garden is said to be one of the most powerful displays created in Martin Luther King’s memory and remains the number one site to honor and remember him by.  



Tags: Martin Luther King Jr., Roses, January, MLK, Garden

The Beauty of Terrariums

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jan 06, 2016

This year my favorite present was a stunning terrarium built with glass, copper and iron and boy have I been having fun with it so far!  If you’re an avid gardener like me, you can sympathize with the fact that winter is unbearably depressing when it comes to waiting for growing season to return.  As the now continues to fall, most green thumbs are waiting in anticipation for the thaw to arrive so that they can resume their passion of vegetable and flower harvesting.  

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Terrariums solve this winter woe by allowing you to foster seedlings or even tropical beauties from the sanctuary of your own home!  

 

Built to capture heat and light, this ingenious vessel works to keep your seedlings safe while nurturing them as if they were in a real greenhouse.  All you need is a window with ample sunlight and a few plants to get started.  If you have already began searching online for the best price and model, you’ll find that there is a huge array to select from with choices on different sizing, materials, height and price.  

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The best plants to use can be anything your little heart desires as long as the compartment is large enough to store it.  Cacti and orchids are fantastic options as well as Airplants, which are awesome to hang from the ceiling and sides.  Don’t forget your cucumbers, carrots and squash this spring to get them ready for future outdoor plantings!

 

If you don’t want to spend a bundle paying for a terrarium, you can actually make your own at home.  All you have to do is reuse an empty egg carton or other appropriate container and place plastic or saran wrap over the top.  There’s a million different ways to do it so be sure to browse Pinterest for some other cool and affordable ideas!  Happy Winter Planting!  



Tags: Gardening, January, winter, Plants, Terrarium

Tips to Survive Winter Blunders

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jan 04, 2016

 

The other day I got into my car to drive to a doctor’s appointment in the first real snowy day of the New England season.  I was pretty excited because afterwards, I would be having lunch with two close friends-one of which came all the way from California for a visit.  So anyways, I was on my merry way when I heard a BANG” ricochet from the front of the car.  A few moments later the “Thump, thump” made me suspicious of damage caused by whatever it was that I hit in the road.  Luckily, I barely made it into the parking lot, found a space and turned off the ignition to go and went to investigate the problem.  A flat tire.  A really flat tire during the worst winter weather we have experienced so far, making the situation all around a disastrous one.

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Thankfully, I had prepared myself for a mishap similar to this and was able to resurrect the situation without any severe grievances (although I did miss that luncheon with my friends).  It made me realize how important it is to fully stock your car with items that will come in handy during situations like these or unthinkably - even worse.  If you haven’t stocked up already, keep in mind these tips that will assist you safely through your own winter blunders.

 

Always Store In Your Trunk…

  1. Bottled Water- Even if it freezes, water will always thaw and its important to stay hydrated in freezing temperatures.

 

  1. Fleece Blankets- If there’s no heat in your vehicle then it’s imperative that you store a few warm blankets just in case your tow ride takes longer than expected.

 

  1. Extra Clothing- This goes without saying that you should pack extra clothing to add layers if needed.  Sweaters and waterproof jackets are highly recommended.

 

  1. First Aid Kits- You never know when you might need a Band-Aid or other necessary medical supplies if you’ve been in an accident.  Having the right materials just may lessen the impact of an injury incurred so make a stop at CVS or Walgreens to stock up!


A SPARE TIRE!!!  You would be amazed how many people are driving around without a spare tire in their trunk!  Now’s the time to check and make sure because if you get a flat tire like I did, you don’t want to be stuck empty handed and ill prepared

Tags: Snow, January, winter

Tightening the Budget in the New Year

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 01, 2016

So now that we’ve blown our brains out on buying gifts for the season, it’s time we tighten up the budget to refill our empty piggy banks.  I know-its like the worst hangover ever when we check our bank statements and see a depleted amount of resources.  Instead of tearing your hair out, cursing that it’s the last time you spend so much money on the holiday season, take a deep breadth, relax and listen to a few tips that are guaranteed to put a spring back in your savings step.  I get the anxiety- I really do because like many people, the January financial reality always makes me a bit panicky, too.  I like to see a nice cushion in my wallet in case disaster strikes where it really is necessary to spend the wad.  I learned long ago that if you can follow a few simple tricks, you’ll soon see those numbers start to climb back up, if not only to be in time for next year’s holiday shopping sprees.  By even taking on one or two of these principles, you’ll begin to see some positive change just by tweaking small areas of your lifestyle.  Good luck and get saving again in the year 2016!

 

Money Jars

Money jars are the best way to start because most people have at least one penny to empty out of their pockets at the end of the day.  Grab a clear vase, cup or Mason jar, and place it in an area of your home where it’s easy to utilize.  If you really want to have fun with it, choose a holder that isn’t opaque and at the end of the year you’ll be shocked at how much doe you’ve accumulated!

coca cola cans and hydrangea

photo credit: Flower Factor

Return Bottles and Cans

This one is a no brainer because not only will it help you regain your losses, it’s a real benefit to our environment!  Get an old trash barrel and toss in those coke and ginger ale empties.  Find a redemption center at a grocery or liquor store and receive your .05 rebate fee!  You might not think it’s much but if you put it aside in a account, the truth will become clear.  I’ve even paid for a significant part of one summer vacation just by using my recycling money.

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Eat in More (That Includes Your Coffee Order)

 

Do you know that on average, Americans spend almost 35% of their paychecks on take out?  From fast food burgers to fancy sit down dinners, we are literally burning our bread by buying food made in someone else’s kitchen!  I know that we all get tired and need a night out at times but if you shave off half of those occurrences, you’ll see how much money you’ll still have left at the end of the week.  If you’re a coffee fiend, you might want to brew your own since most pre-paid coffees go cold half full (not to mention the triple cost as opposed to an at home coffee maker).  Oh, and did I mention the fact that your waistline will thank you, too?  By cooking on your own, you know exactly what’s going into your food, discarding many of the empty calories and unhealthy additives typically found in restaurants.  




Tags: New Years Resolutions, cooking, January

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!

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Food

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.

 MONOPOLY

Games

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. 

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Movies

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

Hot Colors for Winter Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Jan 22, 2015

January Flowers

 

Yes it’s freezing, yes there’s ice and yes snow seems to cover every inch of ground but that doesn’t mean that we can’t escape the winter chills with a beautiful arrangement of flowers!  January is a wonderful time to try new things so why not get creative with your floral color palettes?  Traditionally, the first month of the year is cascaded with shades of white and blue but these tints are categorized in the “cool” section of color and let’s be honest, we need more warmth instead.  White and blue also express “crisp” which we also know to be all too true in New England weather terms.  So why don’t we warm things up a bit and I don’t mean we have to get on a plane to the Caribbean to do it (although that would be nice).  Lets try a few new tricks in our flower vases this month!

 orchids and roses in boston

Red emanates heat so that’s a great starting point for a new January color base.   I know we just did the red thing at Christmas but if we pair this shade with other tints besides silver, gold, white and green we can come up with a new feel and look for our arrangements.  Red is beautiful with combinations of orange and purple, lime green and yellow or multiple shades of crimson to pink.  All of these mix and matches omit a different sensation from joyful to sexy so don’t be shy to try them all out. 

 gerber daisies boston

When we use yellow, it’s pretty much a sure symbol of happiness and this is just what Bostonians need on the gray and glum days of winter.  You can either play it simple with one tone of yellow or spread your spectrum across many lighter or darker tones.  If too much yellow is threatening, add in a few hints of white and green to lighten the visual impact.  This will soften the vase’s appearance and produce a “springtime” motif, which we are all looking forward to! 

 exotic flowers boston

Lavender is a third option that is surprisingly different in effect than the color blue.  While blue is “cold”, purple provides more of a mysterious appeal.  By incorporating deep and light tints, you can make pieces that are sensual and relaxing, a combination that is perfect for a date night.  Lavender is also an excellent reflector of light that can brighten even the darkest rooms.  Since depression is at an all time high this time of year, lavender and light are two perfect remedies to clear away the January blues. 

suzie_canaleSuzie and Ryan Canale, Westwood, MA

Suzie currently has cymbdium orchids in vases throughout her home in Westwood.

Tags: Floral Design, Flower Arrangements, January, winter, Flowers

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