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Ten Things to Keep You Healthy During A New England Winter

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Feb 20, 2017

So far, we’ve been pretty lucky in New England this winter avoiding snow storms and other undesirable weather but for many who like to keep active outdoors with sports, it’s been a bit of a challenge.  Without a nice blanket of snow to cover the ground, activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are out of the question.  Yes, I know you can always visit a ski resort which pumps that white stuff out no matter what the temperature is but not everyone wants to pay for expensive tickets. The sky is dark, frigid and often depressing to say the least so what can we do to stay active, healthy and happy until the warmer months arrive?  


PLENTY!

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The state of your health depends on more than just the number read on your scale and demands further attention to maintain a balance for your mind, body and soul.   By including some of these suggested pursuits in your weekly agendas, you’ll see fast, positive changes that will support your health when the dreariness of the season gets to you!


Mind

We know that’s it’s important to keep our mind just as strong as our body but sometimes we forget and neglect the fact that our brains need to exercise, too!  Your local library is the perfect place to begin looking for preferred material that will get your neurological thinking directed in the right place and spinning again like a well oiled machine.  Read a great new novel (maybe even join a book club), check out the programs offered and start using that library card of yours!  You’ll find a huge assortment of material to devour plus engage within a community that possesses both literary and socializing attributes.


Body

You may not be able to stand the cold long enough to enjoy a long walk in the woods for the next few weeks but there are many movements you can do to keep yourself limber until the sun warms us up again!  Five minutes of simple calisthenics everyday will get your blood flowing and you endorphins spiking, plus you can do them anywhere in your home making it hard to make excuses.  Think knee bends, sit-ups or jumping jacks to get you started and don’t forget a trip to the mall or grocery store can also promote healthy benefits due to all that walking you’ll be doing while you shop!


Soul

Feeding your soul is a lot simpler than most people think…  It can be anything that relaxes you such as attending a yoga class, enjoying a favorite hobby or even just listening to music.  Don’t over think this to the point where your booking flights to tropical islands because most of the time, all you need is a few minutes to take care of you.

Tags: exercise, winter, February, outdoors

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

Fall Chores Equal Great Workout

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Nov 21, 2016

I was working in the yard over the weekend where I was preparing for the end of fall and the beginning of winter to arrive.  I took notice of all the multi colored leaves scattered on the ground as well as the shrubbery bulging with angular branches and although it looked festive it also left a huge mess.  You probably know what I’m talking about if you’re from New England and have started similar tasks to get ahead of the frost, which will surely freeze the earth to ice.

 

I’ve always been well aware of the importance of these chores but what I didn’t realize is the great workout that can be utilized during autumn primping and preening!   You’d be surprised by the amount of calories one can burn in only a half hour’s work of outdoor raking, weeding and other relatable undertakings.  The bending, stretching and pulling all works crucial muscles and is just as effective as bench pressing in a gym or taking a cardio class.  These activities can be ideal for supporting a stronger body and assisting with weight loss efforts in a fun and flexible manner.

 

If you’re interested in trying this new approach to promoting a healthier and fitter you, try these simple home and garden projects that will get you started!  You’re yard won’t be the only one who’ll be looking good this season!

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  • Raking Leaves     

       Burning calories is a snap when you pick up a rake because it’s estimated        that a person can fire off over 300 in only an hours worth of work.  You might want to keep in mind that the process of bagging them will charge up to another 100-200 calories.

 

  1.   If That Snowflake Should Fall Before Christmas

       Look-it’s just part of the package when you live in the northeast that a          few flakes can fall before the official start of winter.  In this case, don’t be  too upset about it because you can eliminate around 600-700 calories in  just less than one hour.  If it’s the heavy, wet, stuff, tack on another 100- 150 calories.  

 

  1.  Pruning Shrubs

       You might not think this involves a lot of movement but in reality,  holding a pair of shears and snapping away scraggily limbs can do a lot for your physique.  Muscles are easily flexed and           strengthened during a single half hour of this activity and can leave your arms in a firmer toned state than before.

 

  1.  Weeding

       I’ve mentioned this in other summer blogs but this is so effective, it  warrants re-mentioning.  Weeding is a wonderful way to give your legs  and arms more flexibility as well as exercising fine motor skills.  Calories  burned in one hour of this chore can equal over 250 and can also         stimulate relaxing hormones that will leave you in a happier frame of mind.  

Tags: Gardening, Fall, exercise, outdoors, Health

Flowers Found in New England Forests

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

I have two boys and happily, they are extremely active kids who love the outdoors.  We typically make several visits to places that encourage fostering this relationship with nature and one of those locations is the forest.  Hiking has become a favorite pastime for the whole family, which gives us our exercise and allows us to explore stunning woods and everything that grows within it.  We talk about the birds we see, the sounds we hear and the plant life that decorates the landscape everywhere from the ground to the trees.  It’s extraordinary what you can learn by only taking a thirty-minute walk through a nearby forest, including several different floral varieties that exist in our very own woodlands.  Thousands of species sprout wildly every year with some being protected and others just being discovered for the first time by botanists.  If you are looking for something fun to do during the next few months of fantastic weather, grab a notebook and write down all of the flowers that you notice along the forest path.  If you feel like it, doodle a quick picture so that it will make it easier to identify once you get home and Google what you’ve found.  Here is a list of common flora typical to our New England forests and some great places to visit to get you moving on your way.  Happy Hiking!

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photo credit: www.gardenia.net

                                                        Northeast Woodland Flowers

Nightcaps Anemones, Hooked Agrimony, Spreading Purple Aster, White Baneberry, Shrub Yellowroot, Tickseed Sunflower, Sessileleaf Bellwort, Cobbler’s Pegs, Water Lilies

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photo credit: www.lookfordiagnosis.com

Recommended Hiking Grounds


Hale (Westwood, MA)


Harold Parker State Forest (North Andover, MA)


Walden Woods (Lincoln, MA)

Tags: exercise, Plants, outdoors, hiking, wild flowers

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

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

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

How to Fight the Bulge During the Holiday Season

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Nov 19, 2015

The season of merriment, the season of joy, the season when our pants feel a size too small.  Yes the holiday season has arrived, luring us in with decadent dishes and rich cuisine.  I mean who can resist the pumpkin pies, the mashed potatoes or the highlight- the beloved turkey?  There’s food everywhere and most of us (including myself) find it difficult to resist taste testing a few sugar cookies here and there.  Oh, and don’t forget the “stress” issue that comes into play when our relatives are literally driving us towards that extra glass of wine or slab of cake.  Yes, according to research, the average Bostonian packs on an extra five to ten pounds during the months of November and December, hence the popular New Year’s resolution promise to get “in shape”.  


But here’s my question to you…

Why must we continuously get back on the hamster wheel of holiday diets when there are perfectly good ways to steer clear of your scale’s needle bouncing back and forth?  Is it viable that by introducing techniques that are successful in curbing our appetites might we miss that rush to join any gym we can find on January 2nd?  I dare to think we have a shot if we follow these tips that will keep us on track without eliminating the holiday season’s tasty treats all together!

 

Smaller Plates Mean Smaller Consumption

This works particularly well if you’re the one who is hosting the feasts this year because that gives you control of selecting dinnerware.  Studies reveal that by serving meals on smaller plates, it gives the illusion that you are eating the same amount of food you would be on regular dishes.  It is also documented that people feel more “filled up” when emptying their plate no matter what the size of the dinnerware may be.  That means that you can feel equally satisfied while cutting back on unnecessary indulging calories. Portion sizes will be cut in half and you’ll be pleased to know that this compromise will allow you the room you need for a regular sized dessert!


Don’t Forget to Move

Looking back on my favorite holidays that I’ve celebrated, I can’t help but to remember that I was always moving!  Talking with Aunt Kay about her summer gardening plans and then offering to help clean the kitchen with grandma, I realized that I was constantly walking from one room to another.  What does this mean for our waistlines?  It means that I was exercising!  Moving about the room is important because it burns calories and helps to digest your food better.  You’ll be the hit of the holiday party for your impressive social skills and be able to slip back into those skinny jeans without any problems at all!



Tags: Christmas, Holidays, exercise, outdoors

Preparing Your Garden for Winter

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Sep 21, 2015

Winterizing your gardens can be depressing to say the least but I assure you, it is necessary if you’re looking for another successful spring season.  I know, I know, you don’t want to say goodbye to the beautiful cascading nasturtiums or the striking sunflowers that are standing tall and proud but if we don’t get a few of the necessary tasks accomplished, you can actually hurt next year’s crop and damage perennials that are more than willing to sprout again if well managed.  It’s really not as bad as you think and honestly doesn’t take up a ton of time during your last summer days of outdoor enjoyment.  The clean up simply consists of tidying and readying your beds for a long winter’s sleep so that when the warmer weather arrives, your flowers will be able to successfully perform once again.  Healthy and strong root systems depend on your gardening grooming technique so be prepared and make time to winterize your green thumb efforts.  New England is known for our chilly season of snow and sleet so do your plants a favor and tuck them in right before the storms hit once again!  

 

Bulbs


Now is the time to plant those new bulbs if you are seeking to grow new alliums, tulips or other fancy varieties.  Fall is the ideal period to start digging and placing them throughout the garden but keep in mind that some of the older bulbs might need your attention as well.  Some varieties cannot withstand frigid temperatures and need to be taken out of the earth and stored in a cool dark place such as a wooden box.  Once the ground thaws again, replant them in their original places to see them sprout strong and vibrant stems.  

 

Wildflowers


If you’re a wildflower lover, you can do a few things to ensure their return such as spread mulch over the tops of their dormant stems and leaves to alleviate some of the harsh impact of ice.  Clearing the area from debris can also help them “sleep” better for the winter as well as clipping off any dead blossoms.  Generally, wild flowers are fuss free and will cultivate all by themselves but you never know the real damage caused by a tough January or February so its better to be prepared for the worst.  Your Black Eyed Susan’s will thank you in May!

 

Outdoors to the Indoors


Just because there are several annuals in your garden that won’t make it outside during the winter doesn’t mean that you have to say goodbye forever!  Certain plants do quite well when repotted and placed in a sunlit area of your home and can be put back outside when the spring arrives.  Blooms that I’ve tried and had success with are herbs (lavender, parsley, rosemary and basil do the best), geraniums (remember to consistently prune and nip dead flowers throughout the year), chocolate cosmos (yes, this delicate warm loving flower can be brought inside just don’t over water it) and succulents (again, don’t over water) can outlast the snow and the cold until the next gardening season arrives!

 

Tags: Gardening, Autumn, winter, outdoors, Vegetable Garden, Garden Calendar

Cool Plant Designs for Outdoors

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Aug 26, 2015

Gardens are made to be enjoyed, to provide food from our vegetables, to produce stems of beautiful blossoms for our homes and to satisfy our green thumbs as our beloved hobby.  For many Bostonians, the design and shape of the beds is imperative to expressing our gardening personalities along with their contents of various plantings.  It is in the nature of those true gardeners who design every last nook and cranny from their flowerpots to window boxes in order to manifest the most spectacular display for the summer season.  There will be hanging baskets, vine curled trellises and exploding foliage sprouting from every inch of soil available and just in case we find another ingenious innovation that might look splendid within our gardening efforts, we save room for that too…


Trending this year is a new way to architect plant appearances and honestly, it’s a pretty cool change from your typical straight as an arrow plantings.  By using diagrams constructed by our regions most talented horticulturalists, we are able to now manipulate the pathway of shoots, tendrils and leaf formations to create art for our gardens!  Not only will the contemporary techniques update your flower and vegetable beds but they will also inspire others to join in the fun!  Sometimes children and spouses are reluctant to participate in backyard toiling but I guarantee, these ideas will get everybody up and excited about getting their hands in the dirt!


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Stunning Reading Nook

 

Constructed from

growing stems of

Myrtle structured

to form a hut.



   Recycled Shoe Rack For Lettuce

    

            Talk about your clever ways to go

                      green and saving space!


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   Child’s Shopping Basket of Greens

 

   Inspire the little ones with this

   shopping cart reused for growing

   cabbage, basil and peppers.  Line

   the inside with moss and watch

   the basket literally fill with veggies!

    Wheel of Herbs

 

   So fun for a pretty backyard piece!

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, Garden Show, outdoors, Outdoor Living, Vegetable Garden

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