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What to Do on Valentine’s Day in Case of Blizzard

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Feb 08, 2017

If you’re a florist, you’re probably laughing already since you are well aware that Valentine’s Day blizzards are a probable occurrence if you’ve set up business in New England. Some of us believe that there is a long-standing curse against the flower industry where at some point we must have ticked off the “flower Gods” in some way or another to deserve this heinous punishment.  It is after all our Super Sunday so to speak-I mean seriously, why can’t the weather turn incremental on a holiday like Saint Patrick’s Day or Halloween?  

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photo credit via Boston Globe

Valentine’s Day means that we have one day to deliver the goods, a forty eight hour time frame to get the job done so a mess of powdery white stuff can really slow things up!  It’s not like we’re going to take the day off and go home or anything.  We’ll still be up at four in the morning, tackling last minute orders and sending out drivers onto the icy streets while they curse us under their breath.  It’s just the nature of the beast and because Valentine’s Day is the #1 flower holiday on the calendar, we must carry on and bite the brute of the New England winter.  


If you’re new to the industry, you might be wondering if there is anything you can do besides biting your nails while watching the weather channel the week before the big day.  Well, there is!  Take it from some of the old dogs that have been through many snow challenging Valentine’s Days who have learned a trick or two on how to keep your cool in the event of a nor’easter.  You can’t just lock up and try again next year-no way!  By using a little forecasting in your planning, you’ll be able to have a strategy that works for your business in the case of a snowed-out February 14th.  Here are some tips that industry old timers swear by and keep them from having a disappointing Valentine’s Day.

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Pre-Delivery

If you start seeing that scary swirl on the meteorologists map than you should always be prepared to deliver early.  Offer customers an incentive such as a rebate or coupon to purchase flowers for the preceding days instead of on February 14th.  By doing so, you’ll get a head start for delivery workers as well as excite patrons with a slight reduction in cost.  Don’t think for a second you’ll lose too much money because of the deflated holiday profit margins -it’s way better than being stuck with thousands of roses with no place to go!


Don’t Be Overly Zealous

For some of you who are just learning about the flower biz, you might get a little too eager when buying for your first Valentine’s Day.  If the weather has been choppy and there is a high likelihood of storming than play it safe and cut back your purchases from wholesalers.  You won’t get stuck with dead flowers and your suppliers won’t be knocking down your door holding expensive bills you can’t pay back in March.


If You Get Stuck

It happens to everyone at some point of their floral career where they blow a holiday and are left with a lot more product than anticipated.  Go easy on yourself.  This is an industry where learning and experience are everything so take notes on February 15th and record what went right and what went wrong.  Next year is bound to be more successful.

Tags: Flower Deliveries in Snow, winter, Valentines Day, Blizzard, Snowmageddon, Florist

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

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

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

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