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 With Seasons on the Hudson

I recently visited Seasons on the Hudson in Irvington, NY to participate in a container herb gardening workshop hosted by Gerald Palumbo, owner of Seasons on the Hudson and Seasons, A Floral Studio in Manhattan.

Container herb gardening is easier than I thought. These lovely little eco-systems can be customized to your palate. Love Italian cuisine? Basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary are the herbs for you. These little gardens are convenient and beautiful. Notice how Gerald liked to alternate tall and squat herbs so the containers had a visual appeal with dimension and balance.

Over the years, my containers of herbs have sat on my front steps, making an obstacle course for visitors who gingerly navigated pots teeming with fragrant mint and basil, dill, chive and parsley. My big mistake had been not using pots with irrigation holes at the bottom OR adding a buffering layer of gravel, like Gerald demonstrated, or small stones that I have on hand from terrarium building projects.

Note that Palumbo points out that herb container gardens will not grow beyond their “quarters” like herbs might when planted in the garden. Think about how mint just takes over the garden like ivy does in the yard. With regular pruning and care, these herbs will stay fresh and flavorful all summer long. Some will thrive more in the winter months will plenty of sunlight.

Not only are these beautiful planters great for cooks to use at home, but they also make perfect centerpieces. In fact, Palumbo has found that instead of conventional flower arrangements at weddings, many couples are requesting herb containers that guests can take home after the celebration.

Palumbo sells customized herb garden containers similar to the one we created in the video for $75 at his stores in both Irvington and Manhattan. They can tailor your container garden to your preferences.

Seasons, a Floral Design Studio                                        Seasons on the Hudson

888 8th Avenue                                                                          45 Main Street

New York, NY 10019                                                                 Irvington, NY 10533

phone: 212.586.2257                                                                phone: 914.591.7377

Thanks to Miko, manager of the Irvington shop, for filming this video.

 

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

Pie Lady & Son in Upper Nyack, NY: A Tradition of Homemade Goodness

Pie Lady & Son, Upper Nyack, NY
Pie Lady & Son, Upper Nyack, NY

Few things in this world are as delicious and comforting as a homemade pie straight out of the oven.  There’s just something a magical about the aroma of buttery crust and warm, fruity filling floating in the air.  Something that feels like home.

Although it is rumored that pie has its origins in ancient Greece – in both sweet and savory form – the confection has long held an honored place on American tables.  Pie has been woven into our nation’s history, art, and literature.  Did you know that Mark Twain was not only a gifted writer but also a life-long pie aficionado?  One of his most famous characters, Huckleberry Finn, was named after Twain’s favorite dessert – huckleberry pie.  It’s even rumored that when the mood struck him Twain would consume half a pie for lunch and polish off the remaining half at dinner time.  Now that’s pie devotion!

Of course, pie doesn’t have to be a staple in your diet to enjoy a great slice.  If you’re anywhere near the Upper Nyack, NY area I would recommend stopping by a lovely little place called Pie Lady & Son.  Located on North Highland Avenue, the pale yellow building with red doors and shutters beckons to you from the grey roadway.  Although the shop is only a few years old, Deborah Tyler, aka the “Pie Lady of Nyack” has actually been in the business of baking pies since 1996.  She started out selling fresh, homemade pies from her back porch and she found that her pies were in such demand that she and her son Wil later worked together to open Pie Lady & Son.

As the name suggests, the specialty at Pie Lady & Son is fresh-from-the-oven pies which are available in three sizes – 5”, 7”, and 10”.  A rotating array of seasonal pie selections makes the shop a must-stop for Westchester, Rockland and Bergen visitors and residents.  (Sources tell us David Letterman had pie picked up for him on a weekly basis before the shop on 9W existed and Deborah operated out of her home in Nyack with a small hand-written street sign and an arrow pointing to the backdoor entrance.)  Their current list includes classics like apple, pumpkin, and pecan as well as options like apple pear walnut crumb and cherry walnut crumb.

All American apple pie!
All American apple pie!

Will, the son of the “Pie Lady” who helps her run the business, was generous enough to let me sample their apple pie. I’m pleased to report that it was as delicious as it looked.  The buttery crust had a nice, flaky exterior with a slightly doughier interior.  It was sprinkled liberally with sugar which complemented the tartness of the filling. The apples were fresh, well-spiced, and had just enough “crisp” to them.

Co-owner Will proudly displaying a pie
Co-owner Will proudly displaying a pie

When I asked Will what sets their pies apart, he answered, “What really makes us special is that we have stayed true to the ingredients that my mom has always used in her pies.  Nothing here comes from a box or a mix – everything is made from scratch using my mom’s recipes.  We use pure butter in our dough instead of shortening and only fresh fruit.  It’s all about doing things the old-fashioned way.”

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Pie case with blackboard offerings in background

Pie Lady & Son orders are completely booked for Thanksgiving but a limited number of pies will be available for purchase on Tuesday, the 26th and Wednesday, the 27th – first come first served!  Muffins and cookies are also available.

Shop Address

366 N. Highland Ave/Route 9W

Upper Nyack, NY

(845) 535-3290

Shop Hours

Monday through Saturday: 8am-7pm
Sunday: 9am-6pm

http://www.pielady.com/

Thanks to Kimberly Conner for writing this post.  (And eating plenty of pie for research purposes.)

Welcome to Redhead With A Fork!

Thank you for visiting Redhead With A Fork, a blog dedicated to adventures in eating, cooking, lifestyle and consumerism.  Here you’ll find musings about dining out, cooking, nifty products, noteworthy places and programs and other things I stumble upon that I’d like to share.  I am a mother of three, feeding two teenage girls and a 10 year old boy, all great eaters and very opinionated.  By (week)day I run the boutique public relations agency I founded, tending to clients in and beyond the Garden State.  But from the moment I enter my home in the early evening, I tie on an apron and (often wearily) plot and prepare dinner. With homework overseen from afar at my stove post, I, like millions of other mothers and fathers, wear multiple hats.  We have a core rotation of favorite dinner mainstays, which I’ll be sharing, and I often experiment with new recipes and twists on classics.

I cook simple preparations that are going to be enjoyed.  I aim for healthy and for the most part, succeed.  We are omnivores.  My older daughter Isabel is the most finicky of my kids, telling me she no longer eats chicken at dinner when she subsists on grilled chicken wraps for lunch.  Cooking for kids can be among life’s least rewarding experiences at times.  But on those occasions when everyone is happily eating around the table and the kids are getting along, I know that I am blessed and feel so appreciative of life, family and the dinner gathering.

Because my time is limited on evenings and weekends (homework, kids’ sports events, spending time with my kids, food shopping, yoga, dog walking and the occasional round of golf), I will focus here on things that I think and hope will be of value to you.  Things as mundane as good organizing tools for the kitchen or a nifty shortcut to a satisfying weeknight meal will be presented.

I welcome hearing from you.  If you wish to submit a review idea, please email me at heidi@redheadwithafork.com.  Thank you for reading this blog and sharing it with others you think may enjoy.

Love,

Heidi, Redhead With A Fork