Finding Your Zen Anytime, Anywhere

Living in the suburbs, nothing makes me happier than falling asleep to the sound of crickets outside my window. The summer sounds of birds chirping and rain falling on the roof bring peace and a sense of oneness with nature that is unique to the summer season. These relaxing sounds are soothing any time of day and I am sharing some useful apps that deliver that relaxation in the most unlikely places, thanks to the convenience of technology.  I have found that great meditation and noise simulator apps can help me achieve the same level of relaxation whether I’m commuting to work or at the office in need of a 10-minute psychic refuel.

 

Relax Melodies

Relax melodies is one of my favorite apps to listen to when I am trying to unwind after a long day. It contains a large library full of relaxing sounds to help you fall asleep at night and meditation guides to help you regain clarity after a frazzling day with kids and work. This is the largest library I have ever seen in an app. If you find raucous traffic soothing, they have it. If the sound of the planet Jupiter relaxes you? They have it!

What is so unique about this app is that you can really tailor every sound bite to your personal preferences. You can adjust the volume of each piece so the next time you open it up the settings are automatically to your liking, as well as combine multiple sound bites that make the experience extremely personal. You can set the noise on a timer so the app will automatically close after a certain period of time so you need not worry about wasting battery while you sleep.

It is not necessary to pay the $9.99 for access to the full library but if you do, you will not regret it. The app is compatible with smartphones and Apple Watch so you can use it on-the-go.

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Headspace

If you are trying meditation out for the first time, Headspace is a free app to consider. Headspace, a guided meditation and mindfulness app makes meditation simple. The opening menu provides an array of meditation guides focusing on health, relationships, performance, foundation etc. Each session lasts around 10 minutes and you can track your progress to keep you on the path to relaxation.

And if you find yourself on the verge of a mini-meltdown — because everybody gets them — the app has an “SOS” feature that can help you calm down, rationalize the situation and provide clarity.

I would recommend this to any parent trying to maintain some semblance of sanity during the day and teens who sometimes need that reassurance that they can do whatever they put their minds to.

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In my opinion, there is no reason why summer relaxation levels can not be achieved any time of year in any location. Check out these apps to keep deep relaxation within reach and part of your daily restoration regimen.

 

-Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Container Herb Gardening: A Growing Trend

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Seasons on the Hudson’s container herb garden

Even though I have plenty of garden space, I love the flexibility that containers give me: pots of basil, parsley and rosemary are standard on my kitchen counter all year round. I keep big pots of chives on my front steps for snipping into salads and soups. I have been growing herbs this way with relative success over the years. I wanted to know more though. Should herbs be intermingled? Do some varieties just need their own private pot to thrive? What kind of drainage should pots have? How much water? And sun?

I reached out to Gerald Palumbo, the owner of Seasons on the Hudson in Irvington, NY and Seasons: A Floral Design Studio in Manhattan for the answers.  

Q: What are the biggest myths about container herb gardening? Is it true that you can grow a garden in a vessel as small as a teacup?

A: Myth: herbs will live indefinitely indoors. Many herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill are annuals and will only do well through one growing seasons. Other herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano are perennials and may live for many years if they are well taken care of. With regard to planting herbs in small containers such as a teacup, keep in mind that the smaller the container the smaller the plant will remain.

Q: What are the herbs that are ideally planted with each other? Which herbs should not be planted together and why?

A: You generally want to plant herbs together that prefer the same light and moisture conditions:  For example rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano tend to like drier soil and lots of sun. Herbs like basil, chives, parsley and dill prefer moister soil.  

Q: What are some considerations for containers with herbs which will be kept indoors?

A: With the proper light conditions most herbs can be kept indoors. Frequent cutting of the herbs and regular fertilizing will promote continual growth.

Q: What is the basic care of herb containers for outdoors living in the summer season?

A: When herb gardens are placed outside during the summer, proper watering is crucial. Plants tend to dry out quicker when in containers, especially terra cotta.

Q: What is the ideal container made of for herb planting?

A: I prefer terra cotta for the herbs that prefer a drier soil and I prefer plastic or ceramic containers for the moisture-loving varieties. Good drainage is always important.

Q: What are three rules of thumb for container planting?

A: Choose the proper container with good drainage. Use a good potting soil. Always water your container very well after planting.

Q: For herbs being mixed in container planters, does close proximity impact things like taste and growth?

A: Flavor of the herbs is not affected by how close they are planted to each other. I like to plant the herbs that I like to cook with and it is always nice to have fresh herbs on the kitchen window sill in the winter.

Seasons on the Hudson will host a container herb garden workshop on Sunday, June 19th, at “Celebrate Irvington” where you can learn how to create a beautiful herb garden for your kitchen table, patio, or as a nice gift for someone. The cost is $75 per person and covers the workshop and provided materials for an herb container garden you can take home with you. Timing is flexible. For registration and details visit: http://bit.ly/1S41O2l

WHEN

Sunday, 19 June 2016 from 11:00 to 16:00 (EDT)

WHERE

Seasons On The Hudson – 45 Main Street, Irvington, NY

 

 

Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Hoboken Farms: Small Town Sauce, Big Town Flavor

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Hoboken Farms Big Basil tomato basil sauce

Store-bought sauce can be a pretty contentious subject for fans of sauces with that just-made fresh flavor. I was one of those snobs, always stressing to squish San Marzano tomatoes in the can as a pot of salted water cooked pasta. I’d pull out the woody stems and toss the broken down tomato meat with fresh smashed garlic cloves sizzling in olive oil. That simmering concoction would meld as it cooked, was seasoned with salt and pepper and finished with torn fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of EVOO.

My work-life balance wasn’t in sync enough for homemade sauces to be on the menu and I always kept a few jarred options to resort to when the kids were lobbying for lasagna, pasta and a protein or chicken parm. I’d get complaints when I hadn’t sufficiently labored at the stove and produced a luxurious sauce that had flavor rich with the taste and aroma of freshly made tomato and basil sauce with the wonderful texture of those hand-swished tomato chunks. 

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Hoboken Farms sauce comes in three varieties (L to R): Big Red, Big Boss and Big Basil

When the folks at Hoboken Farms asked me to sample their three sauces–Big Red, their marinara sauce; Big Boss, their vodka sauce; and Big Basil, their tomato basil sauce– I agreed without expecting much. I had read the reviews and readied myself to see what all the fuss was about. 

I popped off the lid of the Big Basil sauce and took stock: wonderfully fresh aroma; great texture thanks to meaty tomato chunks; beautifully seasoned and full of fresh taste. These sauces are the real deal. They have the taste you’d expect from a chef that perfected marina, tomato basil and vodka sauces by simply relying on excellent quality ingredients prepared classically with minimal fuss.

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Big Basil sauce served over Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Penne

Here’s how I enjoyed Big Basil over Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Penne: talk about elevating the natural flavor of pasta! Hoboken Farms defies you to sauce your pasta  modestly the way you’d be served them in Italy. I flunked, happily and greedily over-saucing and enjoying every spoonful. 

Other ways I’d serve Hoboken Farms Big Basil or Big Red sauces:

– Spooned over a layer of pesto atop a grilled slice of sourdough or ciabatta

– Layered with plain Greek yogurt for a savory parfait that’s topped with minced celery and parsley for crunch 

– Spooned over zucchini noodles or baked potato

– Blended with summer veggies like squash and kale for a refreshing smoothie or chilled soup

– Stir a cup or more into bean or vegetable soup

– Baked on top of seasoned chicken cutlets or fillets of fish like char

You are only limited by your creativity with Hoboken Farms, a pantry essential for uncompromising sauce enthusiasts. 

Contributions made by Samantha (Sam) Donsky

Amelie Michel French Tablecloths – Ridgewood, NJ Pop-Up October 15-18

Amelie Michel linens - tablecloths, pillows, bedspreads and more using Provencal-sourced fabrics which are sewn in the US.
Amelie Michel linens – tablecloths, pillows, bedspreads and more using Provencal-sourced fabrics which are sewn in the US.
On visits to his family’s homestead in Provence, Amelie Michel French Tablecloths owner Michael Newburg and his wife would buy tablecloths from the open air markets. They used them to decorate their organic farm stand in Lyme, CT. The cloths were both beautiful and durable, and their customers wanted to buy them right out from under the produce. Amelie Michel French Tablecloths was born at the farm stand and grew to include surrounding farmers’ markets. The company now travels the US holding pop up sales. 
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Amelie Michel (http://www.ameliemichel.com/) offers a huge selection of tablecloths, placemats, napkins, kitchen linens, bedspreads, cosmetic bags, organic soaps and more. The company imports beautiful fabrics directly s directly from French textile mills and has them sewn in Fall River, Massachusetts. Amelie Michel welcomes custom orders for table clothes and bedspreads. The company also offers easy-care, stain-resistant jacquards and our acrylic-coated cotton “oilcloths.” The company’s Provencal prints are classic and festive, perfect for adding warmth to holiday celebrations or gift-giving. The company also offers easy-care, stain-resistant jacquards and our acrylic-coated cotton “oilcloths.” All items are discounted.

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Ridgewood Pop-Up Sale – Amelie Michel
October 15-18, 10:00AM-5:00PM
The Woman’s Club of Ridgewood, 215 West Ridgewood AVE, Ridgewood, NJ

Greenfield Ice Cream Company: Tuxedo, NY Hand Crafted Ice Cream and Sorbet

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Greenfield Ice Cream pints stocked in Fairway Market freezers.

Tuxedo, NY- based Greenfield Ice Cream Company is a small batch maker of delicate yet intensely flavored ice cream and sorbets. The line is made using local dairy, eggs, herbs and flavorings from Ghirardelli, Mountain Rose Herbs, Hudson Valley Fresh, Country Life Natural Foods, Abma’s Farm, Crown Maple, Blooming Hill Farm and Harney and Sons Fine Tea. The line is free of gums and stabilizers.

Each pint lists the ingredients used to make flavors ranging from Salted Caramel, PB ‘n Chip, Mint Chip, Cinnamon to Cookie Dough, which are part of the Greenfield Ice Cream Signature Collection. The signature line is available year round, although seasonal flavors like Vanilla Honey Crumble, Toasted Coconut, Green Tea, Pumpkin and Boozy Eggnog, are only available for a short time while ingredients are in season. The entire line spans roughly 20 flavors with eight comprising the signature line and the rest making up the seasonal line. Our favorite flavor in the signature line is the Mint Chip, which relies on freshly steeped mint leaves to create a subtle minty flavor and Ghirardelli chips to provide a sophisticated chocolaty crunch.

After experimenting in their own home and receiving positive feedback from their friends, co-founders Tinka Shaw, Courtney Vasseghi and Denise Tavani certified their company as a New York State Certified Dairy Plant and began selling their pint-sized ice cream in select supermarkets. The line is available at Fairway Market for about $7 a pint and select Whole Foods. The Ice cream can also be bought online at www.greenfieldicecream.com.

Co-Owner of Greenfield Ice Cream Company Tinka Shaw speaks with Redhead With A Fork

Greenfield Ice Cream Company

198 Route 17N, Tuxedo, NY

http://www.greenfieldicecream.com/

Summer Delights From Fairway

Fairway Market has introduced new products to make summer a little cooler. Starting with a new line of ready-to- eat, single serving chicken breast meals with themes like  Moroccan Chicken with Spiced Lentils, Lemon Chicken with French Couscous and Balsamic Chicken with Tuscan White Beans. Inspired by flavors of the Mediterranean, these new chicken dinners are handy for a light, healthy lunch or dinner. Fairway’s Mediterranean-inspired chicken dinners are sold for $5.99 each at ALL Fairway Market locations.chicken pictureFairway ice creams by High Road Craft, a new line of artisanal, hand crafted, super creamy (thanks to high fat content) frozen deserts, are competing head-on against Häagen-Dazs with flavors like Fig & Saba, Fairway to Heaven Coffee, Frutti di Bosco and Stracciatella, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Our favorite was the Burnt Sugar, which had a creme brulee familiarity and lovely carmel notes. High Road Craft ice cream is available in all NYC Fairway Market locations. The four custom Fairway flavors and the other four signature High Road flavors retail for $5.99.

Fairway Frozen Foods Manager Robert Toro spoke to us about the ice cream line.

 

IMG_0779Fairway Market of Paramus’s Frozen Foods Manager Robert Toro with the new Fairway by High Road Craft ice creams.

IMG_0776Fairway by High Road Craft collection

Atlanta-based Chef Keith Schroeder dreamed up High Road Craft Ice Cream in his MBA program. In addition to Fairway carrying four of the over 90 flavors available in High Road’s ice cream collections, Schroeder created the four original flavors using some favorite exclusive Fairway Market products as ingredients.  Chef Schroeder began High Road as a high-end ice cream product for fellow chefs, but High Road was too good to keep a secret among chefs, and the word of mouth buzz spread within a year of launching to food service. High Road’s distribution has been growing at a remarkable pace of 300% this past year; the company will be moving into a new 25,000 square-foot facility to accommodate growth, which will also house a unique ice cream visitor’s center and offer tours. Chef Schroeder is part food scientist, part food anthropologist, and 100% ice cream lover.

Fairway Market’s Director of Trade and Product Development, Lori Levy, whose tireless passion for discovering fine foods for her customers, led her to an “aha” moment when she tasted High Road. Chef Schroeder’s talent and like-minded pursuit of quality led her to the idea of using Fairway foods as ingredients in new ice cream flavors. Fairway Market’s in-house expert Steve Jenkins, who pioneered the specialty food movement, and in particular, that of fine olive oil, introduced the kind of challenge that Schroeder thrives on: make [us] an olive oil ice cream as well.

 

Fairway Market

Paramus, New Jersey

(210) 444-5455

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Endangered Species Chocolate: Indulge in a Cause with Natural, Dairy Free Filled Bars

Endangered Species Chocolate - an indulgence that does good
Endangered Species Chocolate – an indulgence that does good

Chocolate, in its many delectable forms, is often labeled a guilty pleasure – something that we try to enjoy in limited quantities when what we really want to do is devour it by the pound. Fortunately for chocoholics everywhere, there’s a way to mitigate some of that guilt.

Endangered Species Chocolate, founded in 1993, is a company that blends a passion for making delicious chocolate with its desire to make an impact on the ever-growing number of animal species that are facing the threat of extinction.  Every year, Endangered Species Chocolate donates 10% of its net profits to environmental NGOs focused on wildlife conservation and habitat protection.  So basically you can indulge in your favorite cocoa confections and do something good for the planet at the same time.  Yes, please.

Dairy free, gluten free, guilt free
Dairy free, gluten free, guilt free

Endangered Species Chocolate has just launched a brand new product line which consists of premium chocolate bars filled with natural, dairy free and gluten free crème. Currently available varieties include almond butter crème, blueberry vanilla crème, coconut crème, lavender mint crème, raspberry orange crème, and sea salt and lime crème, all surrounded by decadent 72% dark chocolate. All are quite delicious, with my favorite being the lavender mint combination – at once herbal and sweet with a wee bit of bitterness to balance the flavors. Thanks to Endangered Species’ PR folks, I received an assortment of all the new flavors.

These are the very first chocolate bars in the industry to incorporate 100% natural, dairy free and gluten free filling.  These new additions complement the company’s already impressive selection of milk and dark chocolate bars, pouches, and bites.  Each chocolate comes with a wrapper insert that gives details on an endangered species that your purchase helps protect. Cute animals and creamy chocolate – this is clearly a win/win situation. The line’s available at better markets and specialty natural foods/gourmet retailers around the country.

Browse the selection and order chocolate at:  http://bit.ly/1m7Z7D8 

Essio: A Great New Way to Enjoy Aromatherapy

Unwind with Essio's in-home aromatherapy products
Unwind with Essio’s in-home aromatherapy products

Stepping into a steaming hot shower on a cold, winter evening or morning is quite possibly one of the most satisfying experiences life has to offer.  But wait…it can actually get better.  A company called Essio makes an easy-to-use aromatherapy shower attachment that allows users to get a spa-like experience from the comfort and convenience of their own home. The company approached me to sample the product and I gladly accepted its shower kit. I use essential oils throughout the day and evening – from throwing eucalyptus and rosemary oil against the shower wall as the steam releases the aroma in the morning to dabbing uplifting peppermint and sweet orange oils onto my wrists mid-morning to tossing more oil against the wall in the evening, perhaps blending lavender and rose to invite relaxation and slumber. I drop the oils into the bath tub when my kids are achy from sports and want to immerse themselves in warm water. But the challenge for me in using essential oils in the shower has long been maintaining the aroma throughout bathing, not simply at the beginning of showering.

For those who aren’t familiar with aromatherapy, it is an ancient art that uses the power of scents derived from essential oils and other natural compounds to enhance mood, promote relaxation, and stimulate the mind. Aromatherapy has been shown to activate the limbic system and other emotional centers in the human brain.  It has been used for thousands of years and across many cultures including ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Egyptians.

So what’s noteworthy about Essio? Essio’s product attaches directly to any showerhead and automatically dispenses controlled amounts of specially formulated essential oils into the shower stream.  They offer a wide variety of essential oil pods which help achieve specific health goals.  For example, the formulation called Breathe which contains peppermint and eucalyptus is designed to clear the sinuses and soothe the lungs (a favorite of People magazine).  Another pod called Night blends orange blossom and lavender to help users achieve and sustain restful sleep. The pods release the essential oils drop by drop into the spray of the shower, creating a continuous flow of aroma while the water runs. When you are finished showering, the pod can simply be returned to an upright position to cease its dripping.

Each pod contains a special blend of essential oils
Each pod contains a special blend of essential oils

The complete starter kit which includes the Essio shower attachment and three essential oil pods (each pod lasts for approximately 3-4 showers) is a great option if you’re looking for a “steamy” Valentine’s gift under $50.

Essio's aromatherapy kit makes a great Valentine's Day gift
Essio’s aromatherapy kit makes a great Valentine’s Day gift

Note: ESSIO is now offering a special Valentine’s promotion:  purchase the starter kit, $44.99, which contains the shower arm, and receive as a free gift-with-purchase a refill pack of four “Passion” pods ($19.99 value).  Enter code BEMINE at checkout.

http://essioshower.com/