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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

Stocking Up on Safety in Your Home For A Blizzard

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jan 18, 2017

So we’ve now gone through a couple of typical, winter New England storms and have been reminded of the importance of preparing our homes with the tools necessary to survive them.  Some Bostonians think that the worst is over, and honestly, I hope they’re right but it is highly likely that we might have a few more rounds before we see spring roll around.  If this is true then we can’t put the shovels and snow blowers away just yet.  For the vast percentage of locals who have weathered a blizzard or two in their years living in Massachusetts, they already have a strict list of items that they supply themselves with before the treacherous climate arrives.  I know I have my own essentials that I stock up on and have found to be imperative towards enduring even the worst of weather circumstances.  Sometimes we forget that thousands of people in the area have suffered frostbite, dehydration and in some conditions even worse because of ill preparations made beforehand.  Safety should be the first thing we take in account once we see that dreaded map on the news station warning us of accumulating snow.  Although the natural elements can devastate homes with little or nothing that could be done by the residents, here are some items that might just save your life during the next snowstorm.

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Electric

Electricity may come and go during a brutal storm.  Although there might be annoyances when the MP3 players, TV’s, DVD’s, laptops and stereos wont work, the bigger issue is whether or not you will be able to stay in contact with the rest of the world to see what the local weather reports forecast.  Make sure that you have a battery-operated radio that has a fresh set of batteries before things start to get hairy.  


Warmth

Pull out every blanket you have in case power goes out and you loose the utility of heat.  Layers of comforters and afghans will provide warmth and help ward off the chills and subsidiary sickness.  Also, stock up on wood for your fireplaces and if you have a gas converted hearth, change in back.  If you live in the Boston area, chances are you’ll be happy to have access to this natural form of heat that saved the first pioneers of New England.  

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Water

There should be no excuse not to stock up on a few flats of bottled water before a storm breaks loose.  Water is one of the basic elements of survival and should never be taken for granted.  Many have learned first hand of the horrific damage that a burst pipe can do so make sure that you have plenty on hand for cooking, bathing and drinking.  


Food

This might seem like a no-brainer but you would be surprised of the ridiculous foods that some stock up on instead of healthy, storm ready nutrients.  Potato chips and ice cream might seem like the most important grocery items to buy but better selections would include canned soup, fresh produce and bread.   Milk is another intelligent choice that you can always refrigerate outside if you lose electricity. If you want a few treats after you’ve opted for these must-haves, go for it but don’t forget some nice hot chocolate for the kids!

Tags: Snow, winter, Blizzard, Snowmageddon

Great Desserts For Winter Weather in Boston

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 13, 2017

Who says a blizzard makes you want to just eat hot foods?  What about all of the yummy desserts inspired by the New England winter season?  Okay, crock-pots filled with simmering chicken noodle soup might seem nice but we can’t forget to sugar up on all of the delicious sweet treats made perfect for this chill infested weather!  No, I’m not just talking about stopping by the ice cream aisle before the next storm arrives.   I’m talking decadent, sensational blizzard ready concoctions that will be adored by the whole family.  Not only are they tasty, but they can be a fun project to make together when the house bound boredom sets in.  Easy to create and simple instructions, you won’t be disappointed by these festive New England indulgences.

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photo credit via allrecipes.com

Vanilla Snow Ice cream

This one is so fabulous because the main additive is the stuff piling up outside your door-SNOW!  Have the kids go outside and grab a bucket of snow that is clean and un-dirtied by salt or soot.  In a mixing bowl, combine the fresh snow with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 1 cup of sugar, a half-cup of milk (or added until desired consistency) and a teaspoon of salt.  Stir thoroughly until your batch resonates an ice cream body.  Put in the freezer for 2 hours and serve into white or light blue bowls for an extra creative flair.  You will flip over the reactions to this easy peasy ice cream recipe!


Snow-Capped Winter Cookies

This is a great one to make with your children on a snow day because the very name is thematic after the season and contains a very simple list of ingredients.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and take out confectioners sugar, flour, salt, butter and vanilla extract.  Mix together 1 cup of confectioners sugar with 1½ cups of melted butter.  Add a ½ teaspoon of vanilla and 2 ¼ cups of white flour.  Add a pinch of salt for seasoning.  Stir together until a soft consistency gels and put in the refrigerator to chill for about a half hour.  Then roll the dough into small balls placing them on a cookie sheet setting them evenly apart.  Bake for 12 minutes and then sprinkle with more confectioners sugar to get a snowy effect.  Let the cookies cool and store in an airtight container until serving time.


Blizzard S’more Frappes

I love this one because again, its fuss free and tastes of so delicious!  All you need is 2 scoops of really good vanilla ice cream, 1 crumbled graham cracker, 1 cup of chocolate chips, 1 cup of whole milk and ½ cup of mini marshmallows.  Throw everything into a blender and lightly mix until the desert resembles a white mound of blizzard delight!  Serve in high ice cream flasks and sprinkle with white sugar or confectioner’s sugar.  Everyone will love the presentation and you’ll love how little effort this desert was to make!

Tags: Dessert, Snow, cooking, winter

Tips For Snow Shoveling

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jan 11, 2017

It’s only the beginning of the year but New Englanders are starting to feel the bitterness of the blizzards arriving one after another.  Sure, it’s pretty at first but who are we kidding?  Snow removal is a tough and strenuous business when you’re talking about 24 inches + surrounding the inner and outer areas of Boston.  Plows and snow blowers are a bonus but the reality of it is, we are all out there in the chilly outdoors shoveling our walkways and driveways in order to make sure that our lives go on as usual.  Although there might be an occasional delay or school cancellation, in general New Englanders are preprogrammed to understand that life must go on.  Even the brutality of Juno didn’t slow us down for long and that’s a great thing because undoubtedly, there is more coming!   

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If you’re like me, you might still be achy from hoisting mounds of snow from the last one but recently I’ve learned a few tips on how to shovel after even the wettest and heaviest storms.  By following a few recommendations, we can get the job done without breaking our backs, necks and arms and actually receive a safe and healthy workout in the process.  We don’t have to feel as if we need to be hospitalized after an hour’s work of winter clean up when statistically speaking, 87% of us are doing it incorrectly and more importantly, dangerously.  There is a better way to engage in these movements of lifting if we take a minute to review these ideas to assist in our safety.  


When we first see the piles growing outside of our windows, we get a little anxious and overwhelmed, causing a rushed reaction of bounding outside to attack the situation.  Seldom do we calmly pre-think a plan, which would allow us to strategically move the unwanted precipitation without using unnecessary energy.  Take a couple of minutes to thoroughly analyze the layout and then decide how to go about it.  This will save you time and the frustration of re-shoveling sections over and over again.  You’ll get the job done quicker and have more time to relax in front of the roaring fire.


Another tip is to always bend at the knees when kneeling or lowering to the ground to plunge the snow.  Sudden jerks can cause fractions within the legs and hips and cause permanent damage.  Slow and steady wins this race and you’ll also be pleasantly surprised in the amazing toning your quads will receive!


If your shoulders are the problem, try to cross the shovel across your body instead of throwing the snow over your head.  Many times you’re just putting the snow back into the path behind you so this way, your arms will firm up the right way and you will be able to accomplish the blizzard’s aftermath in a cleaner and more efficient manner.   Be sure to dress warmly with layers and hang in there-spring is on its way!

Tags: Snow, winter, Snowmageddon, Health

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

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

Surviving This Boston Winter by Snowshoeing

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

We are midway through the winter season and some of us are starting to get a little stir crazy from being house bound but did you know that Boston has some terrific ways to beat the blues?  No, it’s not a cake recipe or a yet another Netflix movie but a way to get up and start utilizing Mother Nature’s seasonal attributes!  Finding a winter activity is one of the most important tasks to complete if you’re planning on calling New England your home year round.  For some it can be gliding across a frozen pond or for others, a powder-covered hill to ski down is what keeps a happy smile across their face in February.  For others selecting a sport complimentary of the season can prove to be quite difficult.  What can we do that requires little investment for equipment, low maintenance for planning at the last minute and doesn’t insist speeding down a mountain or sheet of ice at 80 miles per hour?  Well, I might just have the answer for you-snowshoeing!

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                                             photo credit llbean.com

Yes, snowshoeing is making a giant comeback for many New England outdoor enthusiasts because it doesn’t cost a lot and almost anyone in variation of physical fitness can do it!  The beauty of the sport allows participants to hike through some of Boston’s most stunning forestry while burning calories and heightening their endorphin levels, thus increasing a person’s mood.  Crystal lakes, pine matted paths and fragrant evergreen foliage are only a few of the many breathtaking scenic features that one will see when fastening a pair of snowshoes to their feet.  The winter environment also may surprise you with interesting animals and birdlife that stick around our area during even the coldest weather.  LL Bean carries a variety of sizes and styles and can easily be shipped to you before the springtime rolls around to warm things up.  Not sure where to go once you’ve bought your gear?  Check out these spectacular spots to enjoy your first snowshoeing experience in Boston.

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                                         photo credit: llbean.com

Blue Hills Reservation

695 Hillside St, Milton

MA 02186

This is a great place to visit particularly if you are a beginner and want to try somewhere close to home for the first time.  Conveniently located near both highways 93 and 95, you’ll have no problem finding parking or a beautiful scenery as you track through the Blue Hills snow paths.

 

Harold Parker State Forest

305 Middleton Road

North Andover, MA 01810

This is one of my favorite places to see a picturesque view of a winterized New England.  The forest contains several trails with majestic trees as well as a pond that ice fishermen enjoy during the winter months.  There is no fee for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing and the park does host small parking lots around the nature area.  If you like this location, you might want to check out the summer camp offered in July and August. 

Suzie Canale, Westwood, MA 

 

Tags: Snow, exercise, winter, outdoors, Snowmageddon

Finding The Art in Winter

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

So we’re on our third blizzard of the season and things are starting to get a tad bit boring being stuck in the house yet again.  One of the hardest things to do during New England snowstorms is finding something to do so it’s no wonder why most Bostonians are going stir crazy.  The regular list of to-do’s include baking cookies, playing board games, watching movies, popping popcorn, drink hot chocolate and engaging in an arts and crafts project.  But what if we’ve already implemented these activities with our families in the past few weeks?  What else can we find to entertain ourselves until the spring arrives to warm things up?  How about putting an “artsy” spin on things by using the winter wonderland that is blossoming outside our windows to create décor for our homes?  Famous artists have used this chilly season to inspire imperial pieces including Ansel Adams who focused his camera lens on breathtaking scenery.   You don’t have to be an expert to take great shots of a New England snowstorm.   You just have to use your imagination and follow a few easy tips to snap stunning photos of your winterized backyard.

 

First of all, you’re going to be outside in some seriously frosty conditions so bundle up with multiple layers.  Once you’re sure that you can bare the outdoor elements, grab a camera that you feel comfortable with and make sure there is a neck strap secured in order to make gripping and carrying the piece easier if you fall down in the snow.  Before leaving your house, also make sure that the glass eye and focus lens are clean and have no smudges that might blur an otherwise perfect shot. 

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Now that you’re ready to venture outside, locate a few of your favorite spots around your front, back and side yards.  Successful places include areas with bushes, trees and other natural, physical features that nature has provided that would make an interesting composition.  Stay away from complicated scenes that are messy when seen through the lens.  Focus on simple yet stunning views that will transfer beautifully to black and white printing.  Excellent examples, which become beautiful photographs can be branches swelled with layers of snow and icicles that are dropping from ledges.  Please keep in mind that when you are taking pictures from below of something potentially dangerous (like a sharp icicle) stay several yards away and use your zoom feature to take a close up.  Several people have been harmed by trying to snap wintery features unsafely so utilize the assets of your hardware that will allow you to capture the essence without putting yourself in harm’s way. 

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Another facet that you want to be weary of is the light factor.  Stunning images of light beams can be taken by paying attention to the time of day when you decide to take pictures and the direction of the sun’s rising and setting that will effect the outcome of your photographic efforts.  Light streaming though branches or ray bans casting shadows over fields make beautiful prints.  If you’re in the middle of a storm producing little light, make sure you have your flash activated on your camera that will allow you to manufacture the appearance of sunlight within your pictures

suzie_snow Suzie Canale, Westwood, MA Snowpocalypse 2015

Tags: Snow, winter, Blizzard, Photography, Snowmageddon

Surviving Ice Dams in Boston - Snowmageddon

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Feb 17, 2015

It’s not bad enough that we are stuck in the house while mounds and mounds of snow pile up outside our doors but do we really have to suffer actual physical damage incurred by the storms, too?  Statistics show that in the Boston area alone, homeowners will suffer detrimental costs rising above 2.4 million dollars due to the destruction of snow, ice and water that a winter season will produce.  New Englanders have seen it all including flooded basements, leaky roofs, and my favorite- ice dam destruction.  Recently over the last storm, my home was affected by this annoying, depressing and expensive form of winter weary, which ruined not only the above ceiling panel but also the freshly coated paint that I applied during the first snowstorm. 

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                                                      photo credit: Wikipedia

But what actually is an ice dam?  How does it occur?

Ice dams are formed when icicles are produced on the eaves after snowfall has accumulated on a building’s roof.  They might look beautiful but the truth is, the ice stops a gutter’s natural water flow from evacuating the area of a house properly, which causes water leakage into the home.   Common outcomes of damage caused ice dams include sagging roofs, ceiling leakage and at the very least wood and wall rot.  Severe circumstances can also affect the attic where water seeps into the structure, eventually producing mildew and mold, a serious health hazard for you and your family. 

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                                     photo credit: bobvila.com

So now that we all know what an ice dam is, what can we do to fix the problem if it occurs?  Well, my favorite answer that I received after my own situation was, “nothing”.  You have to have to wait until the snow and ice melt from your roofs and honestly, if you first see the signs that this kind of disaster is occurring, you just might have to wait it out until repairs can be made during better weather. 

 

Can Bostonians be proactive before an ice dam occurs?

 Anatomy-of-an-ice-dam                                    photo credit: structuretech1.com

Well, through careful research, experts have made a few suggestions that might defer this nasty winter effect but unfortunately, most of the advice only pertains to homes that are low enough to the ground to reach the upper gutters.  Building contractors have offered the advice to take women’s nylons and fill them with calcium chloride.  Lay them across the areas where ice dams could erupt and this should stave off the freezing until the storm passes.  Ice rakes can also be used to scrape off the snow from shingles that are reachable.  If you are like me with a roof height too distant to reach with a rake or utility ladder, you have to think about using heated cables to defrost ice dams and prevent chronic episodes.  Place them in a zigzag pattern across your shingles and cross your fingers.  They just might work!

Suzie Canale,

Westwood, MA

Suzie has been actively breaking iciciles, raking snow and catching the drips at her home in Westwood, MA.

 

Tags: Snow, winter, Blizzard, Ice Dams,, Snowmageddon

Exotic Flowers Braves the Storm to keep on Delivering in Boston

Posted by Rick Canale on Wed, Dec 29, 2010

describe the imageWith the recent run of bad weather and snow, Exotic Flowers dispatch would like to remind our customers that we are like the US Postal. Neither sleet, nor snow, nor blizzard... using our front wheel drive mini vans and the Exotic Flowers H2 Hummer, Exotic Flowers was making floral deliveries during both days of the blizzard of 2010. 

That’s thanks to our our dedicated staff – we don’t have the difficulties many other delivery companies, such as couriers, might have.

When you place your order with Exotic Flowers, it’s a local florist, close to the chosen recipient, who will create your bouquet  and hand-deliver it to your loved one.

And our staff always goes above and beyond while battling the elements. We spoke to driver Bobby Plunkett of Hyde Park who told us a fantastic story of a delivery he made in the snow.

Bob had a delivery to make on December 26th and given the snow in the area he had to go to he knew he wouldn’t be able to make it. He rang the customer who understood and said that whenever Bob could make the delivery could he help clear the stairs as she was elderly.

Blizzard 2010 Flower Delivery

Bob was able to get a lift in the H2. On the way to make the delivery he stopped to help dig out a car that was stranded but eventually Bob got to the house with the bouquet of flowers and a shovel to help remove the snow.

As you can see, there’s not much that will stop our determined flower deliverers from getting our flowers out to you, whatever the weather.

So, don’t worry – our staff sets us apart and allow us to get those flowers to you our most loyal customers.

 

Tags: Blizzard 2010, Flower Deliveries in Snow, Snow

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