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Urban Flowers - a Book Review

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Oct 19, 2017

I’m an avid reader who loves books from genres such as Mystery, YA and Middle Grade but when a new release title about flowers or gardening catches my eye- I can’t resist browsing the pages.  Recently, I was in the library where I saw a beautiful cover put on display entitled, “Urban Flowers” that seemed to be creating quite a demand at circulation.  Written by Carolyn Dunster, this how-to seeks to educate the city dweller with ideas on designing the perfect patio garden no matter how small the area may be.  Patios, decks, balconies and tiny walk ways all have the opportunity to be transformed into luscious landscapes (according to this author) if you just have the inspiration and tips she provides.  Well this topic was right up my alley so I decided to look through the book for advice to pass on to those believing their space is too crammed to orchestrate a thriving flower bed!

urban flowers book.jpg

The first thing I noticed about this manual was how efficiently and effectively the chapters were organized.  Too often gardening books provide mashed up information where it’s hard to find the answers to questions you are seeking.  Dunster eliminates this problem by segmenting topics into easy-read fashion with contents entitled, “Evaluating Your space”, Choosing a Style” and “Experimenting with Colour”.  Within these segments, she breaks down the subject to include “Growing Therapeutic Flowers”, “Using Pots and Containers” and “Personalizing Your Space” which really helps readers to find the help they need to grow an individualized garden made specifically for them.  Not all of us have the same taste in flowers so it’s important to purchase the right supplies specific to you- a concept that is continuously stressed by the author.

If you have a hard time following lengthy instructions, you don’t have to worry because “Urban Gardens” reads more like a story than a technical guide that may leave you confused.  The descriptive phrases like, “You are effectively creating an extension of your home, while also making a green sanctuary where you can retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life,” not only will give you the confidence you need to begin but will also soothe you as if reading a work of fiction.  Another incentive to check out a copy are the glorious images captured by photographer, Jason Ingram who manages to beautifully illustrate “Urban Gardens” to resonate a fairytale.  

Tags: Books, Libraries, DIY, Lifestyle, Read

Great Book Reads About Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Nov 09, 2016

If you share a love for both flowers and reading, you already know how fantastic it is to find a title that combines the two!  I’m not referring to gardening “How-To” manuals or floral designing guides but stories that are written to include themes and ideas related to blossoms.  Perhaps it’s a novel about an owner of a flower shop who falls in love with a customer or maybe even a “Who-Done –It?” about someone being poisoned by a lethal petal.  Whatever your tastes may be, there are a variety of options readily available from your local bookstore and library.


I know what you’re thinking… How do you know the page-turners from the duds when hunting for this particular type of novel?  Well, it just so happens that I recently found a list of recommended titles that are thematic of flower world and have reviewed as some of the best!  While you may enjoy one genre apposed to another, there are thousands to choose from which celebrate a passion for blooms penned after some of our most impressive literary talentsSo if you’re looking for a fabulous flower read, take a peek at these books for adults that have topped Boston florist’srecommended reading lists!


The Language of Flowers

By Vanessa Diffenbaugh


Victoria has always had trouble communicating with others but when she finds she has a gift of speaking through flowers, her world of possibilities change for the better.  Orphaned as a child, she discovers that she has the ability to improve others lives and circumstances just by giving them a particular variety of blossom.  Growing confident with her talents, she discovers her capabilities even when a stranger threatens to eradicate her ability forever.

pretty poison book.jpg 

Pretty Poison

By Joyce Lavene


Peggy adores her life as a florist and is excited to start the autumn season selling mums and other seasonal flowers.  Just as she unlocks the door to start a new day, she discovers a rich man bludgeoned to death by a shovel lying right in the middle of her fall display!  With time running out and a police station full of morons, Peggy takes it upon herself to crack the case and find the murderer before they find her! 


 Florist Grump

By Kate Collins


Abby Knight is a local florist with a passion for posies and pansies but when her housing situation goes belly up, she and new husband Marco are forced to live with her parents who make life difficult to say the least.  It’s not until an affluent member of the community daisy turns up “pushing daisies” that the newlyweds must find the killer before the killer finds them!

Tags: Language of Flowers, Books, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Libraries

Arrangements Thematic after Famous Children’s Books

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Aug 30, 2016

I work in the children’s department of a library here in Massachusetts where thousands of books holding wonderful plots and characters constantly inspire me.  I also used to work in a flower shop, which too, provoked me to come up with different ways to display and arrange a variety of flowers.  So I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be neat if the two worlds could combine to make something really spectacular?


  photo credit via - pinterest Four Seasons Florist

\What if we took famous characters from well-known children’s titles and designed beautiful centerpieces and bouquets to mirror them?  Think about the conversations these presentations would encourage if they were used in libraries, youth events, schools or even kid’s birthday parties?  The idea has prospect doesn’t it?  Both fun and educational, flowers themed after juvenile literature can open the door to a whole new world of magical reading and floral appreciation.  Here are some of the best one’s I’ve seen so far from a few of my favorite picture books.

cat_and_the_hat_flowers.jpg photo credit -  A Touch of Class Florist and Gifts- Stockbridge, GA

Tags: Flower Arrangements, Books, Childrens Book, Kids, Libraries

Books in Bloom

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 29, 2016

There’s nothing like reading a good book but when you couple it with a beautiful flower arrangement, what could be better?  “Books in Bloom” is a new trend that is sweeping libraries, bookstores and flower shops throughout New England and is showing both flower and book lovers a clever and creative approach to combining the two things they love most in this world.  Perfect for display work or events, this interesting way to dress up a great story not only proves successful within increasing customer and patron visitation, but it can also initiate a positive marketing effect for book and floral sales.  Due the fact that merchandizing can become stale over time for both industries, this idea is a perfect way to amp up an organization’s style with an ingenious and imaginative fresh way to exhibit product lines.


photo credit: Flower Factor

So how exactly does it work?


Thanks to our city’s talented florists, designers are able to recreate a physical reflection of the content stored in some of our favorite titles by selecting particular varieties and showcasing them next to the book.  As patrons glance at the arrangement, their mind is believed to connect the pleasurable eye candy with the actual book, encouraging the reader to engage with the material at a more enjoyable level. The architecture of the floral pieces can be simple or elaborate depending on the details of where they are to be shown and props are encouraged to be included as well.  The great thing about “Books in Bloom” is that this concept works for both children and adult novels, making almost any book in a library you see possible to include within the presentation.  Of course certain titles work better than others such as “The Hungry Caterpillar” and the “Great Gatsby” so selecting the books should be carefully calculated beforehand.  


photo credit: via Flower Factor

By designing arrangements that mimic the essence of the media, we can foster a whole new level of appreciation for reading and foster a blossoming love for literature.  

Here are a few examples of my favorites!

Tags: Floral Design, Books, Childrens Book, Libraries, Flower Meanings

Flower Demonstration at the Westwood Public Library

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Mar 31, 2016

Rick Canale flowers

Libraries are amazing places and serve their communities far beyond the task of lending books.  Most local libraries also provide informative classes and workshops for both children and adults to enhance their knowledge and education throughout many different topics.  There are science programs, writing workshops and impressive guest lecturers including top authors from the area who offer stimulating presentations throughout the year.  While all are open to the public, these sessions are provided for the sole purpose of connecting members of the community and growing comparable interests that will foster both new ideas and relationships.  Plus- almost everything offered is free of charge, allowing anyone with a library card to join in.


That’s pretty cool, right?

On Tuesday, March 22nd I was fortunate to assist my husband with an impressive floral demonstration to the patrons of the Westwood Public Library.  During the two-hour program, guests were given their own vases, supplies and flowers to learn the easy and fun way to arrange their own centerpieces.  Along with teaching proper technique and form, Rick Canale led an interesting talk about the do’s and don’ts of handling the blooms as well as giving a brief background of the flowers he was using.  Varieties included stunning garden roses, spray roses, alstroemeria, anemones and lemon leaf for the finishing foliage.  The vases were rectangular, heavy glass, which provided a sturdy base for the product and a cardboard box for easy carry home was also available.  In the end, the room couldn’t have smelled better with the luscious spring color bursting from every table.

suzie and rick canale

We had a great time during this adult flower arranging class and hope to return with a fresh new look designing in the future!

Tags: Floral Design, Rick Canale, Floral Studies, Suzie Canale, Westwood, Libraries

Things To Do During February School Vacation

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Feb 05, 2016

Oh God, say it isn’t true?  There’s another school vacation coming up?!  Weren’t the kiddies just out for the holiday break, clamoring around the house, bouncing off the walls, frantic to be entertained every second of the day and now they’ll be let out again!  


If you’re anything like me, I’m a mom who loves her children but when it comes to these adorable little weeklong breaks from the classroom, I panic just a bit.  Every other month it seams as though I’m pulling out the activity section of the paper or scrolling down local events on Google searching desperately for something that the three of us can do.  If you’re a family who goes away skiing or flies off to a warm beach, you wont know what I’m talking about but for those of us stuck in the trenches we’re most likely calling “S.O.S.”


Luckily, I’ve recently compiled a list of places and projects that might keep my six-year-old and eleven-year-old boys busy for the duration of their vacation.  New England is tough during this time of year making most activities housebound due to the weather.  Keeping this in mind, with a little research we can make the most of our time.  Don’t worry about horrendous credit card bill statements or empty pocket change in our wallets- where there’s a will there’s a way!  Check out these local family favorites and enjoy February break in a relaxing, anxious free environment.  After all, it is called a vacation so enjoy it!



  1. Visit your local library and sign up for their February break programs.  They’re really cool and FREE!
  2. Visit the Museum of Science and Aquarium.  

(Don’t forget to grab passes before from your local library!)

  1. Trampoline Parks are a great way to burn off energy and luckily, establishments such as Sky Zone and Launch are awesome indoor facilities that provide hours of bouncing entertainment.
  2. Go to an art museum-Boston has hundreds!  My favorite places include the Peabody-Essex, De Cordova, Isabella Stewart and Museum of Fine Arts.
  3. The Ecotarium in Worcester is having guests inventors show kids their wacky inventions.  Most related activities are free with the price of admission.


Things to Do at Home

  1. Get out every art supply you own and let everyone paint, draw or sculpt.
  2. Let the kids choose their favorite recipe from a cookbook and have a day whipping up recipes and sweet treats to pass the time.
  3. Sledding and Snow Hiking can be a lot of fun if you’re located near the woods.  It’s great exercise and New England is so beautiful during the wintertime.
  4. Turn the house into a giant tent by tacking up old sheets and blankets to the furniture.  The children will adore camping while snug and warm in their homes.
  5. A Board Game Tournament is wicked fun and will create memories for years to come.  Top games for this include Parcheesi, Sorry, Guess Who and Clue.  

Tags: Kids, Libraries, Museums, February, vacation

Free Fun for Kids During the Winter School Break

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 18, 2015

Kids will be starting their December vacation soon and Boston parents are beginning to feel the anxiety about how they will entertain them for a whole week!  I know some families solve the problem by simply hopping a flight to Orlando for a week but realistically, that’s not in the cards for everyone.  For most households, there’s a budget to follow, particularly after the season of giving has finally passed by.  Activities for children can be really expensive so how do we keep them happy without emptying our wallets completely? We get resourceful, that’s how!


Boston has a lot to offer and if you look hard enough, you’ll find that there are quite of few places that are affordable during this time of year.  If you have an open mind and are ready to take charge of the “Winter Break Blues” than browse through these great ideas suggested by New England’s savviest families!


Hiking and Nature Walks



When you live in the Boston area, you’re fortunate to have several beautiful hiking trails across both the north and south shores.  From Harold Parker State Forest in Andover to Hale Reservation in Westwood, there are plenty of paths to take your little ones adventure seeking for hours of enjoyment.  Not only is this a free outing, the whole family will be benefiting from the fresh air and brisk exercise!


Museum Passes


Our city has loads of interesting sites to see and some of the most impressive museums present in the art and science world.  The problem is that many of them can be quite costly, especially if you’re planning on buying tickets for four or more people.  Those fees add up so do yourself a favor and plan ahead.  Often websites such as Groupon will offer discounts or check out local companies who might be sponsoring coupons. 




If you haven’t visited your local library, then you should because I’ll bet you find your new best friend pretty quickly!  Libraries are accommodating to all people of all ages and the best part-everything is free!  These media havens aren’t what they used to be when they only carried a few DVD’s and dusty books.  Most branches support a hefty amount of contemporary digital media, offer computer games, conduct story times and even hold special events during the school breaks.  You’re kids will love the experience and they also might learn something in the process! 







Tags: Holidays, Kids, Libraries, Museums, December

Two Short Story Murder Mysteries for Halloween

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

As we inch closer and closer to the spookiest time of year, New Englanders are beginning to get in the mood for scary costumes, carved pumpkins and other fun entities that tie in with the theme of October.  For me, I love twisting my creative writing around stories that revolve around mystery and mayhem, a pretty big change from my genre of children’s fantasy poetry.  As a native Bostonian, I particularly enjoy developing storylines that use the stunning picturesque images that are synonymous with autumn in New England.  If you’re a mystery book reader, you’ll know what I’m getting at because there’s no shortage of these titles.  Why is it that the industry doesn’t become over saturated with “who done it’s” based on this area?  The reason is because they’re rich with colorful detail and authentic spooky charm!  We are invested more when we read something that connects us to a story having relatable aspects such as background, characters or familiar settings. Just take a look at Stephen King who has successfully seduced his fans by cleverly by incorporating many distinguishing features of Maine within his thrillers.  


New England is a place full of mysterious potential and possesses a long history of fascinating folklore, some true and some made up.  Plots can be manufactured from actual facts or completely concocted from our imaginations.  Recently, I’ve written two short stories that are based on people, places and things that are identifiable with the cultural aspects of New England.  Take a peek if you’re looking for a little fright this season!


A Deadly Game of Jigsaw

Beth has just lost her job as a Manhattan columnist and has no choice but to return to the home of her grandmother, Lily, where she spent her summers as a child.

Becoming re-accustomed to the pace of the quaint New England town proves difficult at first until an ancient puzzle piece is found in her room. Scripted in Latin with the word “Letum” meaning death, the plot thickens when an intruder breaks into the mansion, assaulting Lily and leaving behind another peculiar clue. With time running out, the women begin their hunt to track down the person behind the mystery and be the first to win at the deadly game of jigsaw.


A Flower To Die By


It’s Valentine’s Day once again in the city of Boston and florists are gearing up for a busy holiday that is until the owner of Delicately Yours Flower Shop, Reuben Crench, is found dead in the ice chest.  As the case unravels, the victim is discovered to have ingested a large amount of digitalis, ironically traced to his own shipment of flowers.  Detective Mike Hinkley has his work cut out for him with a long list of suspects including disgruntled employees, a competing local floral business, an angry wholesaler and a cheating husband. Will he be able to find the killer in time to save Valentine’s Day?                                     

Download it free here.

Tags: Author, Books, Suzie Canale, Libraries

Great Children’s Books To Get Your Kids Gardening

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, May 27, 2015

We all know how important it is to teach our children to love the outdoors but what about gardening?  When I was only seven years old, my parents bestowed my own plot of earth that I could grow my own crop just like they did.  Sure, it wasn’t as organized as the adult plots, having mostly grown lima beans, squash, marigolds and a tomato plant that produced one single fruit the entire season but I was proud of it!  I remember the excitement I felt when I saw sprigs beginning to protrude from the soil and the amazement I felt being able to combine a seed with soil, water and sun to make a delicious edible or beautiful living thing.   I had wonderful role models to learn from since they both had that inner desire to cultivate and yes they were also florists but there was a lot more which contributed to my fondness for gardening.  One essential element that certainly helped was having a bookshelf full of stories themed after this hobby.


There is no topic that is uncovered when we’re talking about children’s literature and that includes fabulous titles dedicated to teaching little farmers how to start growing fruits, veggies and flowers on their own.  Between the fiction, picture books, easy readers and non-fiction available, we can locate just about any subcategory of agriculture that we want.  If your child is interested in composting, starter seeds, vegetables, perennials, wildflowers or simply the colors associated with gardening, you can locate these subjects by visiting your local library.  Here are a few children’s stories that particularly caught my attention.


The Secret Garden

By Frances Hodgson Burnett


This has got to be the most famous book in history on the “green thumb” matter.  Young readers fall in love with the magical changes of a once devastated garden into a stunning Eden of flowers with the help of a little girl and her companions.  While the characters lead you through a fascinating transformation of roses and other blossoming varieties, they also undergo a transformation of their own within their relationships with one another. 



Planting A Rainbow

By Lois Elhert


This is a beautiful book that educates children on how to plant seeds and bulbs to make a rainbow of color in the garden. Illustrated with bright images that capture the attention of little ones as young as two, “Planting A Rainbow” has inspired millions of readers using soothing descriptions and clever illustrations of bold poppies, lilies and sunflowers.



Suzie Canale

Westwood, MA 

Suzie also works in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, Childrens Book, Kids, #EXFL, Libraries, Outdoor Living

Post Holiday Tips To Bulk Up Your Savings Account

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 02, 2015

The holidays are over and the tinsel and wreathes have been put away for another year.  Everything seems back in it’s old place accept for one thing, your savings accounts.  December festivities can cost a lot due to exorbitant food bills, gift buying and decorations making finances a little sparse once January rolls around.  Turning to credit cards can only make things worse but I’ve found that there are several ways to add penny-by-penny back into those nest eggs.   You don’t have to worry that severe cutbacks are just not doable.  These are simple tricks that won’t interfere drastically with your lifestyle but will be effective towards assuring that your Christmas spending money will be right back in place for next year.   Utilize one or all of these suggestions and start saving today.


                                   photo credit:

Coupon clipping can be a great way to shave a few bucks off of your grocery bill each week and conveniently, almost every food store in Massachusetts accepts them.  Select products that you already use or can be easily substituted for a brand that is habitually bought.  Be on the watch for double coupon days and offers where competitors will match and beat another store’s prices.  Oh, and be sure to stock up on holiday coupons that are distributed in December, they will be good for another month!

 Counting-Coins                              photo credit:

Rolling Coins sounds small but really, those nickels, dimes, quarters and pennies add up fast!  Set aside a jar and empty your wallets and purses of change every day.  Once the jar begins to rise, dump out the contents and start rolling.  Most banks will give you paper rollers if you request them so do not buy them from stationary companies such as Staples, you’ll lose more money than you will collect.  Deposit your earnings in your account and you’ll be amazed as to how fast those numbers increase.  I once paid for an entire summer vacation with money rolled from change!


I think that many of us forget the spectacular services that Massachusetts’s towns and cities provide for their residents.  Many times, we are quick to entertain our families with expensive outings to entertainment facilities without first checking out what we can get for free!  Libraries are excellent destinations where we can borrow books, movies and passes to Boston’s museums, aquariums and zoos.  Patrons can save hundreds of dollars a year just by taking a closer look at what our public locals of our communities have to offer. 

suzie_giving_tree Suzie Canale, Westwood Public Library, October 2014

If you need any library assistance, visit Suzie in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library.

Tags: New Years Resolutions, Libraries, Museums

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