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Log Cabin Inspired Floral Creations

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Jan 19, 2017

Last weekend, my family and I foraged into the great outdoors to spend a couple of night’s winter camping in Vermont.  There was beautiful forestry with trails all around us, winding roads that led you down miles of countryside and the simple sound of silence that living near a city, we can all take for granted.

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It was spectacular.


All of our surroundings alluded to a natural beauty that made just being there, relaxing and peaceful.  Trees, snow drifts and the scent of wood burning fireplaces set the stage for a place to reconnect with nature without complication.  

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After returning home, I wondered if there was a way to collect and replicate the picturesque aura of Vermont so we could continue the Zen sensation long after the vacation ended.   After a little thinking, I decided to try using flowers as my muse and see if I could come up with a few options that would mirror the “log cabin” appeal.  What I found was that species such as wild flowers and fern like foliage work really well for this style and are easily found in Massachusetts, probably even in your own backyard.  Clippings from your summer garden will also breathe a rustic statement when placed in containers like mason jars or old ceramic watertight bowls and cups.  If you’d like to amp it up beyond your capabilities, ask for the services of your local floristwho’ll be able to transform your home into a cozy, cottage retreat.

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Tags: Flower Arrangements, outdoors, Outdoor Living, hiking, Log Cabin

Growing Vegetables in New England

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

Our favorite blogger Suzie Canale takes us for a walk through her garden in Westwood. While being outside in the garden is great exercise and makes you feel better, the harvest from your vegetable garden makes it all worthwhile.

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Get an uo close look at healthy and energizing broccoli and cauliflower plants in the garden.

Tags: Gardening, Suzie Canale, Outdoor Living, Vegetable Garden

Easy Steps to Shape Up Your Garden for the Summer Season

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jun 15, 2016

Sometimes a garden can look pretty bleak when we begin to prepare for the summer season.  There is no color, the soil looks as if its evaporated into thin air and the idea of ever seeing beautiful plants once again flourish seems like an impossibility.  We all go through this in one way or another because if you’re a true New England gardener, you know that the winter is brutal on our beloved flower and vegetable beds.  It will take a little time to get things back into tip top shape but I assure you, the task doesn’t have to be as taxing as we make it out to be.  There are many ways that we can get the job done without having to spend months of our time breaking our backs or emptying our wallets.  This is a list of several tips that will get your green thumb growing in no time so you can spend your summer days doing exactly what you want to do, playing in your gardens!

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Tips to Shape Up Summer Gardens Fast


  1. You don’t always have to replace emptied raised beds with a ton of extra soil.  Sometimes the earth just needs a good toss and till to infuse the dirt with life after the colder months have past by.  Often freezing occurs which tricks the landscape into lying lower than it really is so pick up a shovel and do a little digging before you haul heavy bags of soil all over your lawn.

  1. Buy your seeds in advance from places like local hardware stores, Home Depot and Job Lot who often cut the prices once the summer has ended.  You’ll be able to stock up early as well as save a pretty penny on all the deals that you’ll find.  
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  1. Save old sheets and other fabric material that can be reused for purposes such as weed coverage or netting.  Many varieties of plants need extra protection from unwanted animals and bugs and these items are extremely helpful.  Labeled netting is often expensive and the supplies you may already have at home work just as well if not better so rummage through closets before you decide to buy anything.

  1. Save yourself the frustration of having to decipher what plant remnants are annuals and which are perennials by yanking out annuals as soon as the time has come to shut down your garden.  It can be wasteful when you discard plants that are able to bloom again if only given the time to rejuvenate.  If you really want to be economical, replant the annuals inside and see if you can weather them until the next summer!   This is how many of the pros do it and how many plant heirlooms are passed down through generations of family.  

Tags: Gardening, Plant Care, Outdoor Living, Seeds, Gardens

Easy Steps to Care for Your Hanging Plants

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Jun 11, 2016

Part of loving summer is being able to decorate the outdoor landscape with beautiful plants and flowers.  For many of us, this means long warm days spent weeding our gardens and filling up window boxes but for others who are looking for another way to enjoy seasonal flowers, you might want to consider hanging baskets.  Hanging baskets are a wonderful investment although many people shy away from this type of floral design because of the intimidation of care.  For some reason, flowering, cascading plants can look as though their maintenance might be overwhelming but in reality, they’re really quite simple as gardening tasks go.  You don’t have to have a green thumb to enjoy these stunning presentations!  All you need to learn is this hanging plant care guide to get you on your way to displaying a decadent and bold array of color on the outside of your home.

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Care Guide Instructions


  1. One of the best reasons to grab a few hanging baskets is that they will last all summer long as apposed to perennials which make their entrance in spring and then slowly exit before the end of summer.  You can color coordinate with the paint on your house or even choose an eclectic palette that showcases many different colors.  Tell yourflorist or garden center the climate of your living space as well (Do you live by the beach?  Do you live in the city?), because these differences may affect the variety of species in your basket.  Some varieties do better in the salt air as other types do better inside steamier humid conditions.  

  1. Before you go out and buy a hanging planter, find an area that you’ll be able to install a sturdy piece of hardware to hold it intact (some hangers are very heavy) and a place where there is a lot of sunlight.  Most people like to display them right outside their front doors but if there isn’t a lot of sunlight, you might want to rethink your decision.  Flowers need light to thrive and survive so the position of the planter is going to make a huge difference on how the flowers perform throughout the summer.

  1. WATER!!!!!!!  Yes, watering is the single most important thing to do when you hang a planter because they are constantly seeking moisture since there is no saucer to contain it.  Take a pitcher of water and dump it directly into the soil and if the dirt feels extra dry?  Water it again!  The single most cause for the death amongst flowering hangers is dehydration so make sure it is done daily.

  1. A little nip and tuck of the dead blooms ensures that the flowers keep blooming throughout the entire season.  Don’t worry if you’ve trimmed back the plant slightly too much because I assure you, they love “haircuts” that keep its system healthy and continuously producing blossoms.  

Tags: Gardening, Plant Care, Outdoor Living, June, Garden

Clipping Garden Parties

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jun 08, 2016

here are so many reasons why we nurture a garden and one of those reasons is because we love to watch beautiful things grow. Like many green thumbs of New England, we enjoy to watch our efforts from start to beginning, as each bloom unfolds with brilliant color and alluring scent.  In terms of visual and aromatherapy benefits, nothing beats a perennial garden in full maturity during the pleasant summer season.  I look forward to mine every summer…

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Last year, a friend of mine told me how much they liked my garden and how they wished they could grow one similar.  I thanked her for the compliment and asked rather dumbly, “Why don’t you?”  She soon explained that it wasn’t the time it took to complete the project but the cost to supply the plants.  It was just too expensive.  Immediately, I began thinking about ways to solve this dilemma remembering all of the hefty nursery bills I myself had gathered over the years in order to accumulate the dozens of varieties nestled in my backyard.  I came to the conclusion that yes, the price to grow my masterpiece had in fact added up to be considerable.


So after this realization, an idea came to me that would both increase the number of plant varieties in my garden without having to buy every one of them myself.  I called it a “Clippings Party” where the idea was to invite all of your friends over with one sample they had collected from their own gardens to be traded with other the other attending guests.  The preparation would be simple enough by readying a specimen by cutting the stems from a preferred plant and re-growing its roots by placing it in a cup of water.  Most plants will re-root in about a week or so although others take longer so it would be important to send invitations at least three weeks in advance.  Depending on the flower or greenery, you can also pull apart a small portion of a plant with roots already attached if the base is strong enough.  Have all of your guests replant the starter sprout in a Dixie cup full of soil and allow them to swap with others!  

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This practice isn’t only financial effective in staving off high prices at the garden center but it’s also a lot of fun too!  After doing a little research, I learned that this type of entertainment is quickly growing, particularly in the New England area.  You can host a fast and casual trading session or make a night out of by throwing a clippings bash!  Party games appropriate for this soiree can also be used to create a festive environment such as using the “Yankee Swap” tradition or playing trivia rounds where the clippings become the player’s prizes.  Doesn’t that sound like so much fun?


So the next time you become frustrated with paying loads of money to watch your garden grow, think about throwing a “Clippings Party” to help all of your fellow green thumb’s foster a triumphant garden this season!

Tags: Gardening, #EXFL, outdoors, Outdoor Living, Garden

Cool Dishes to Barbecue this Father’s Day

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Jun 02, 2016

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19th and just as the weather seems to be finally warming up, those grills are being awakened from a long winter’s nap in storage!  One of the biggest traditions associated with this holiday is cooking cheese hamburgers, hotdogs and other choice meats right over an open flame.  Did you know that for the last 50 or so years, aprons, oven mitts and chef hats still remain the number #1 present to gift old dad particularly for this very reason?  Well, it’s time to put them to good use!


This Father’s Day, challenge yourself to try new and exciting recipes that will excite a fresh culinary tradition for your family and friends.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a patty of ground beef but isn’t it time we showed dear old dad that we really care by grilling outside the familiar box?  Contemporary chefs from around the world are shaking their grilling styles up a bit this Father’s Day offering delicious menu items that are both inventive and creative.  From fish to poultry, to top grade “A” meat, by infusing some of these selections into your Father’s Day barbecue, you’ll make this a special holiday that he’ll never forget!   

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www.dishmaps.com

Meat and Chicken:

Ribs are pretty much a staple so spice things up with marinades like bourbon tequila to make every last bite pack a punch!  For burgers, mix oregano, celery salt and paprika for a nice wave of spice.

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photo credit: blog.danone.ca

Fish:

There’s no better place to cook fish than on a grill so make sure you salt everything before you begin and add playful juices such as lemon and lime.  Salmon, trout and shrimp are my favorites!

 





Tags: Father's Day, Barbecue, Chef, cooking, Outdoor Living

Garden Accents, Decor and Planters

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, May 23, 2016

When you’re into your garden, one tends to try making everything around the lush flowers as beautiful as possible.  To those who find themselves relating to this statement, you know what I’m talking about… We attempt to design the perfect accents to accessorize our gardening efforts such as matching colorized pots, adding decadent potting benches and even incorporating pieces of furniture into the presentation such as tables and chairs.  When it’s all said and done, yes- you’re probably going to have one heck of a spread but how about the cost of this to make it all happen?  Companies specializing in these products like Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel aren’t cheap.  They’re really EXPENSIVE!  Even if you do buy everything new, the outdoor elements are bound to age your props at some point, forcing you to go out and spend another wad of cash just to replace what you’ve lost.  Doesn’t that sound wasteful?  

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As I find myself admittedly a member of this crowd, I’ve found a better way to use my resources and still “outer decorate” my flower and vegetable beds.  By recycling used furniture, repurposing items already owned and inserting a little creativity into the mix, you can orchestrate a stunning stage of garden galore while still saving money on unnecessary purchases. If you can be cleverly thrifty, you’ll see that your garden will explode with fun and complimentary accents making a splendid Eden you can enjoy throughout the summer!  Here are a few pointers to get you started…


  1. Attic Search                                                                                                                  Before you do anything with your wallet, go check in the old attic for some finds such as chairs, tables and stools.  All of these can be sanded down and re-painted to whatever color you’d like to make pop near your plantings.  Other hot treasures include ceramic bowls, teapots and wooden crates that can be made into dish gardens, flower vases and small raised beds.
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  1.   Yard Sales

Yard sales are excellent places to hunt for props and they’ll also be marked at prices well below market value.  Since people are generally attempting to get rid of their “junk”, often you can even negotiate for a better bargain than already offered giving you a deal that you simply cannot refuse.  Plus, you’re helping the environment with your “green” savvies!  


  1.  Repurposing Old Furniture

Do you have old shutters lying in the garage with no place to go?  Make your own standing window boxes by hinging three shutters together constructing a screen.  Either build small boxes or look around the house for something that would be similar and connect these at different angles on all panels.  Add your favorite pots of geraniums, lantana or cacti and now you have the perfect standing garden boxes!

Tags: Gardening, Outdoor Living, Pottery, Garden

Gardening - Beyond Pretty Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, May 21, 2016

We’ve been busy pulling weeds, cleaning the beds, adding soil, clearing debris, rebuilding framework, watering, feeding and planting our flower gardens this month anticipating the warmer days that will soon arrive!  Pretty soon we’ll be able to watch our efforts flourish under the blue skies of summer, hopefully enjoying the stunning floral display around our houses and within our backyards. Did you know that landscaping property with perennials and annuals actually increase the value of your home?  How about the fact that gardening can also foster otherwise threatened animal and inset species (such as bees) to repopulate, therefore benefiting our environment?

If you ever wondered if all the blood sweat and tears was a waste of time, think again…

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Gardening is becoming one of the top most beneficial acts deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency to be the fastest effective medicine against the damaging agents of pollution.  According to other similar organizations, this hobby is also a major supporter for necessary recycling, while it counters effects issues of plant and wildlife endangerment and even exorbitant energy costs.  

Isn’t that something?

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Just by spending thirty minutes in the outdoors planting seeds for flowers and vegetables, we can help decrease harmful issues concerning our earth by over 35%!  Being deemed one of the most affordable hobbies for typical US families, local agencies are asking those who can to help out and plant a garden this summer.  It only takes a bit of soil, seeds, water, sunshine and a little love and care to make a difference in your community so why not get started today!


Other Benefits of Starting Your Own Garden


  1. Growing your own food is a great way to increase the heath of your family by consuming a tasty and heavy dose of vitamins from non-processed veggies and fruits.

   

  1. Growing-Your-Own saves a hefty piece of your grocery budget during the months of June, July, August and even September.
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  1. Gardening is exercise-so don’t let anyone tell you differently!  You don’t always realize the bending, pulling and pushing movements you make which burns hundreds of calories.

  1. Spending time in the outdoors raises levels of endorphins that chemically affect the brain in a positive manner.  You’ll see your outlook improve as well as your overall state in general mood.

  1. It can be a social thing to!  Start chatting up your neighbors about what their favorite plants and flowers are and where the best places are to buy them!  You’ll make fast friends and develop a whole new social group of people who share the same love of gardening as you do.

Tags: Gardening, Suzie Canale, exercise, outdoors, Outdoor Living, Gardens

Backyard Greenhouses

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, May 19, 2016

Backyard greenhouses are an interesting topic of discussion for those diehard garden lovers like me, specifically regarding the issue on whether purchasing their own is worth the investment.  Years ago, to own one of these dream set-ups cost tens of thousands of dollars but times have changed.  With technological advances within manufacturing, greenhouses are beginning to pop up in residential areas making the idea more plausible than it used to be in the past.  Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t by any means cheap but they are at least attainable without putting your house up for mortgage.

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this awesome greenhouse is made of legos. 

 

What has made this possible?  


Well, for starters, the materials used to build them have fluctuated to include more options than using solely glass. With the introduction of heavy-duty plastics, tarps and Plexiglas, the costs to purchase and ship have dramatically decreased.  Sizing has also been altered, offering customers greenhouses that are small walk-ins to more substantial exteriors. Another factor that must be considered is the actual act of putting one of these suckers together, which used to be impossible without a team of engineers at your disposal.  Nowadays, instructions are not only clearer (while most include round the clock call in or email support) but the time constraints have lessened due to the convenience of click and lock beams that avoid troublesome bolts, nuts and screws.  The model that I just put up a few days ago even had a number printed on every piece so that I could easily follow along with the pictures featured in the manual.  

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photo credit: amazon.com

It’s a beautiful thing that anyone who wants to get a jump start on the growing season now has several options available to them without fearing that the construction will be impossible.  It’s not.  If you’re in the market to buy your very own greenhouse, take a look at the benefits of doing so plus a list of retailers (the list is growing) who are ready to ship today!


Benefits of Greenhouses


Energy Efficiency


Critter and Pest Controlled


Increase of time saving on grocery bills


Elongated seasonal gardening enjoyment


Frost and storm protection for plants


Manipulation of growing conditions for fussy species

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Retail Greenhouse Suppliers


Home Depot, Poly-Tex, Inc., Sears, Uline, Florian Greenhouse, Amazon.com

Tags: Gardening, Lego Greenhouse, Boston Greenhouse, Suzie Canale, Outdoor Living, Greenhouse

Fun Kid Friendly Outdoor Winter Activities

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Dec 30, 2015

Children of New England are all excited because the weather is changing, bringing a whole new list of fun outdoor activities!  While some parents panic about how to entertain the little ones during the indoor season, others are braving the winter elements to make their own fun.   Too often we immediately turn to the expense events with pricey tickets instead of first taking a look in our own backyards.  Snowy landscapes make breathtaking views, not to mention a perfect place to explore, learn and enjoy all of the aspects living inside of it.  Boston is the perfect place to wander the woods and gain a fresh perspective on what our northeastern region has to offer.  Grab your scarves, hats and jackets and get ready for an invigorating season of excitement, exercise and plain old fun!

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Skating

Skating is by far the most popular sport during the months of January and February around these parts and there’s a good reason why.  Ice rinks are not only prevalent within and our city and surrounding areas but the activity requires very little money (if any).  There might be a small rental and rink fee but besides that, there is no cost.  Check out Patriot’s Place’s new arena if you’re looking for a new site to lace up your skates!

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Cross Country Skiing/Snow Shoeing

Before you say cross-country skis and snowshoes are a fortune to invest in, try checking out your local consignment shops, Play-It-Again Sports outlets or even Ebay.  You can get a great d eal on used outdoor snow equipment if you just do a little research before making your purchase.  If the activity sticks, then decide if brand new equipment is the right choice for you and your family.  Once you’ve got your gear in hand, simply open up your back door and get to it!

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Winter Hiking

I love winter hiking because there is so much to see that naturally appears once the branches become dusted with fresh snow.  Seasonal wildlife, white-blanketed hills and extraordinary foliage also make perfect portraits for taking snapshots to hang on your wall.  Children can start their own nature journal, track paw prints in the snow or even go on a scavenger hunt!  Make sure you have a knowledgeable guide and go explore the great outdoors to grasp the beauty gifted to New Englanders.

 

Backyard Maze Making

For your creative and imaginative kids, this is a fantastic game to keep them entertained for hours on those long chilly days.  All they have to do is find some twigs and sticks and design pathways throughout your yard.  They can be as simple or as complex as they desire and watch them tackle their own homemade maze with neighbors and friends!  




Tags: Snow, Kids, exercise, winter, outdoors, Outdoor Living

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