Latest Blog Entries

5 Tips for Planting Flowers in the Fall

If you want a vibrant spring garden, planting flower bulbs in the fall is a great idea. However, there are certain things you should keep in mind before you get started. If you put these strategies to use in the fall, you should be rewarded with an abundance of gorgeous blossoms in the spring.

1. Planting Fall Bulbs Properly 

There are several things to keep in mind when you plant bulbs, regardless of whether they are tulip bulbs or daffodils. To begin with, choose a location that gets at least six hours of sunlight daily. When planting spring bulbs like tulips, choose a site that will get light even before the trees' leaves have expanded. Early-flowering bulbs should be done blooming for the year by the time trees begin casting shade on your bulb garden. Well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter (compost) is ideal for bulbs. They'll decay in soggy soil or if you water them too much. Finally, when you're ready to plant, remember that bulbs should be set into the ground at a depth equal to three times their height, with their pointed ends facing upward.

2. Get the Bulb Bed Ready 

You can't just make a hole and drop the bulb in there. Preparing a bed before planting is essential for optimal growth. This necessitates the prior steps of weeding and aerating the soil. Before you plant, amend the soil with compost for nourishment and sand for aeration.

3. Buy the Right Bulbs at the Right Time

This is tricky as most retailers now offer fall bulbs, especially tulip bulbs for sale, in either July or August to clear out their garden section in time to put up their Christmas decorations. To get fresh, healthy flower bulbs at planting time, you'll either need to properly store them for a month or two or purchase them online or by mail. If you have to purchase your bulbs in advance, inspect them carefully for signs of mold or decay, and look for ones that are firm and plump.

4. Make Sure You're Planting the Right Flower Bulbs

Bulbs are not always grown in the fall season. For example, gladiolus and dahlias must be planted in springtime, whereas tulips and daffodils thrive when grown in late summertime or early fall. As a rule of thumb, plant spring-flowering bulbs in the fall.

5. Fertilize When the Spring Comes

Planting bulbs in the fall means you can forget about nurturing them until spring. The roots aren't ready for nutrition until you see the early buds of spring, so be patient. Also, avoid fertilizing your bulbs after they've started to bloom because doing so can hinder their growth. You should try planting some flower bulbs like tulips in your garden if you haven't already. Early spring color from daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and other bulbs can brighten your garden before anything else grows.

Final Words 

A colorful garden is guaranteed if you plant bulbs, such as tulips, crocus, daffodils, or hyacinths. Make absolutely sure you succeed by following the above tips.

5 Tips for Planting Flowers in the Fall - Tulip Bulbs


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New Cookbook: Best of Kosher


The world’s top Kosher cookbook authors have come together to create the greatest collection of Kosher recipes in one book, Best of Kosher (Nov. 15, 2022)  From finding the perfect recipe for a Shabbat dinner to holiday celebrations, Best of Kosher provides recipes for any occasion or holiday. No matter whether you cook Kosher or not, their unique spin on traditional recipes will delight any foodie. 

This new cookbook features some of the most popular kosher recipes from over 15 of your favorite kosher cookbook authors including: Chanie Apfelbaum, Between Carpools, Miriam (Pascal) Cohen, Victoria Dwek, Susie Fishbein, Rivky Kleiman, Sina Mizrahi, Renee Muller, Naomi Nachman, Danielle Renov, Daniella Silver, Leah Schapira, and Rorie Weisberg. The book also provides background on the authors, their behind-the-scenes stories, and fun facts you didn’t know about them.  

The hardcover book itself is gorgeous too with a linen textured binding and beautiful photographs, making it a wonderful holiday present or housewarming gift for just $39.99.

Best of Kosher
 features 130 recipes, including 45 brand-new ones, each beautifully photographed in this 320-page collection. 
Among the recipes are:
  • Honey-Lime Nut Salad by Rivky Kleiman
  • Crock-Pot Onion and Flanken Soup by Naomi Nachman
  • Yemenite Beef Soup by Susie Fishbein
  • Crispy Salmon Poppers by Danielle Renov
  • Sea Bass with Corn Cream by Victoria Dwek
  • Everything Bagel Tuna Patties by Chanie Apfelbaum
  • Crock-Pot Brown Sugar Beer Chicken by Miriam Pascal Cohen
  • Sweet Chili Chicken Sandwiches by Leah Schapira
  • Smoked Short Rib Tacos by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek
  • Skirt Steak with Tahini Herb Sauce by Daniella Silver
  • Maple Bourbon Brisket by Sina Mizrahi
  • One Pot No-Cream Fettuccine Alfredo by Between Carpools
  • Babka Straws by Chanie Apfelbaum
  • Irresistible Chocolate Pecan Bars by Renee Muller
  • Decadent Choco-Superfood Squares by Rorie Weisberg

This fall, try this easy and delicious recipe.


Bakery-Style Chocolate Muffins

by Miriam (Pascal) Cohen

If you’ve been following me for a while, you might know that I bake … a lot. There aren’t many baked goods that I’ll see in a bakery that I’ll want to buy vs. make myself. But for some reason (I don’t really know why!), bakery muffins, with their high domed tops, have always tempted me. Ironically, muffins are among the easiest baked goods to make, so I was determined to make a version at home that is as tempting as the ones you’ll find at a bakery.

Ingredients

         3     eggs

        ¾ cup    oil

    1½ cups    sugar

          1 tsp    vanilla extract

          1 tsp    baking powder

          1 tsp    baking soda

         ½ tsp    sea salt

      2⁄3 cup    cocoa powder

       2 cups    flour

         1 cup    buttermilk or 1 cup non-dairy buttermilk substitute (see Tip!) 

            9 oz     chocolate chunks or chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pans with paper liners; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined.

Add cocoa powder, flour, and buttermilk. Stir until combined.

Add most of the chocolate chunks to the batter, stirring to combine.

Fill muffin pans until almost full. Sprinkle reserved chocolate chunks over the top.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top feels set.

Tip: In place of chocolate chips or chunks, chop up a bar of your favorite high-quality chocolate to enhance the flavors in this muffin.

Yield 18 muffins    

Thank you Mesorah Publications Ltd. for letting me share the following recipes from Best of Kosher here. Photographs by Esti Waldman.


Best of Kosher Cookbook's Bakery-Style Chocolate Muffins Recipe by Miriam (Pascal) CohenCookbook Review: Best of Kosher Recipes Hardcover

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Fresh Ways of Wearing Polo Shirts


Polo shirts are timeless classics, which explains why it’s such a popular item in menswear and womenswear. They have a simple design but can still make the wearer look sophisticated if it’s styled well enough.

The best part is that they are extremely versatile and can be paired with a range of bottom wear. You can wear a polo shirt in a formal and casual setting alike. If you want to make the most of your polo shirt collection, here are some fresh ways to wear them. Be the most well-dressed person in the room by donning a simple polo shirt with these tips!

1. Pair it with a suit 

The formality of the suit and the casualness of a polo shirt would blend excellently if you know how to pair them. If you’re unsure of how to go on about it, you can pair a classy black suit with any of your polo shirts instead of wearing a shirt and a tie.

This combination is excellent for beginners, and once you get comfortable with this fresh style, you can also experiment with other colors. For a more casual setting, you can choose to pair the polo shirt with a jacket.

2. Accessorize 

Accessories have become important in fashion for both men and women. There are so many accessories you can choose to bring out the essence of your simple polo ensemble. If it’s sunny outside, don’t lose the opportunity to pair your polo shirt with a cool pair of sunglasses. Funky scarves can also make a fashion statement.

Hats and caps can also go well with casual shirts. Choosing accessories based on the season is a good idea. Wear a long cardigan over your favorite polo shirt during the chilly months.

3. Stay classic 

You don’t necessarily have to go with the trends, considering that polo shirts are timeless. If not with a suit, you can pair it with jeans and sneakers and steal the show with utmost simplicity as well.

Polo shirts are a brand in themselves and can make up the whole get-up if you let them shine. At the end of the day, you should wear it in a way that feels comfortable to you, rather than what’s in the trend. Women can also pair it with a pencil skirt and chino pants.

4. Shorts for the summer 

Summers are the perfect time to flaunt your polo collection by styling them with a pair of shorts. Not only would this effortless outfit look absolutely cool on you, but it can also feel very comfortable, especially in the sweltering heat.

Another relaxed way of wearing your polo shirt is to pair it with sweatpants. Although, ensure that your outfit fits you properly. You don’t want the get-up to look messy.

5. Consider unbuttoning 

Sure, buttoned-up polo shirts can give you a formal and polished look. But unbuttoned shorts also have their own allure. If you are considering wearing a polo shirt in a casual environment, then we’d suggest you lose the buttons and let your outfit breathe. However, it all comes down to your personal preference.

Polo shirts are an all-time classic. While a simple polo shirt and pants can still be a head-turning outfit, wearing them in trendy and fresh ways is not a bad idea either. You can get custom polo shirts made if you’re bored of the regular solids. 

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Gifts for Pickleball Fans - Essential Must-Haves

Pickleball is America's fastest-growing sport!

Did you know pickleball is America's fastest-growing sport? If you haven't tried it, I'm sure you know someone who has, especially if you live in Southwest Florida. It's extremely big here with almost every community having pickleball courts or are planning to add them. 

In 2020, 4.2 million people played pickleball in the U.S., up from 3.46 million in 2019, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) 2021 Topline Participation Report. That’s a whopping 21.3% increase from 2019 to 2020, the highest of any U.S. sport.

Why is Pickleball becoming popular?

Although pickleball originated in 1965, its popularity didn’t truly surge until a few years ago. In recent years, more and more people have taken up pickleball for a variety of reasons. It’s affordable, easy to learn, fun for all ages and played year-round in most places. Basically, it's a mix of tennis, ping pong, and badminton. The court is smaller than a tennis court too, so less running, but still, lots of movement to keep you active and fit. That’s what makes it one of America’s fastest-growing sports!

Pickleball Gift Guide Essentials 

Pickleball Gift Guide - Essential Gear for Picklers

If you’re a beginner or an advanced player thinking about picking up pickleball, there are just a few things you’ll need. Obviously, you need an official USAPA-approved pickleball paddle, and a pickleball (similar to a Wiffle ball), but you also need supportive shoes and a great bag to carry all your essentials. 

Here are my top recommendations for all of the above:

Selkirk's Invikta Vanguard 2.0 Pickle Ball Paddle

Selkirk's popular Vanguard line includes high-performance pickleball paddles. You'll often see them being used by picklers that have been playing the sport for a while, novices looking to up their game, and by the pros. Great for third-shot drops and improved dinking. 

Made here in the U.S.A., the Carbon Fiber (utilized by leading spacecraft companies!) featured in the VANGUARD 2.0 face delivers superlative speed, consistency, and maximum spin.

I opted for their lightweight model and it feels like I'm barely holding anything at all. The grip is cushiony and has enhanced wicking, so it won't slip out of your hands no matter how intense the match or temperatures outside. It's also available in several colors (I chose red/crimson), but best of all, it comes with a Lifetime Guarantee.  The cost is $199, but worth the investment since you'll have it forever. 

HEAD 2022 Radical Tour Pickleball Paddle


Another great option is The Radical Tour GR, made for the powerful player who needs stability as well. In addition to its graphite-hitting surface, it features the new Control Stabilizer Technology for added stability during powerful rallies. HEAD's Graphite Hitting Surface combines a crisp feel and more control for added touch, while the Comfort Grip System ensures a tremendous feel and enhanced vibration dampening. The cost is a little less too at $134.


K-Swiss Pickleball Sneakers

Now you need the right shoes for excellent traction and durability on hard court surfaces, indoor or out. The popular K-Swiss shoemaker has a selection of sneakers for both men and women that are designed specifically with pickleball in mind. 


I have a pair of their Express Light Pickleball shoe in pink, but teal, grey and white color options are also available for $105. The Express Light Pickleball was created to give players a comfortable, lightweight, breathable shoe that supports on-court movement and performance needed for the sport. It is an all-around shoe, perfect for the new or frequent player. Included on the shoe is a K-Swiss Pickleball logo and customized Pickleball sockliner. Ideal for hard court or clay court playing surfaces.


Dona Jo Clothing 

How adorable is this skort and collared top from activewear company Dona Jo? 




Not only is it stylish and colorful, but it's light, breathable and so comfortable. I have my eye on several other of their prints too. 

Sucipi Pickleball Sling Bag/Backpack for Men and Women

You'll also need a bag to fit all your gear. I found this one Amazon for under $30 and I'm very happy with it. It's available in several colors and patterns too, not just the floral one that I chose. 

It comes with a fence hook that keeps your bag lifted off the ground and away from germs, dirt and bugs. There is a pocket for your paddle, balls, a water bottle holder and other zipper enclosures to hold your keys, wallet, etc. too. I love that it combines function and fashion, making you a champion on and off the court. It's a great gift for mom, nana, or any player. 




Pickleball Suction Cup Retriever 

Simply add this pickleball ball retriever to the bottom of your paddle to pick up loose balls without bending down. Great for new players, seniors, players with limited mobility, knew problems, arthritis and anyone who wants to spare their back from the chore of picking up balls. Fits all standard pickleball paddles. Perfect stocking stuffer. 


Water Bottle from Well Told

Make sure to hydrate! Stay refreshed and inspired with Well Told’s Map Insulated Water Bottle. 

It's not just any water bottle though, but a personalized one as it comes etched with a detailed map of your favorite U.S. city or town for a uniquely personal and eye-catching beverage container. 

Perhaps you want Bainbridge Island etched since that's where Pickleball was founded, your hometown or where you play pickleball now like Estero, Naples, etc. The world's the limit ;) Price: $34.50


More Recommended Pickleball Gear Options:

Further Reading: My article in Estero Life Magazine Are you a pickler?
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How To Give Thoughtful Gifts To People


One of the most difficult aspects of gift giving is finding something that is valuable and wonderful for somebody else. This is because what holds more value and greatness to you and what is going on in your head as a gift giver may be quite different from what a present receiver is thinking or expecting. 

Here are great tips for giving thoughtful gifts. Read on!

8 Tips For Giving A Thoughtful Gift To People


1. Gift What They Need 

Gifting a person with something they need at the exact time is so thoughtful. The recipient will feel that you're thinking about them and are aware of what's happening in their life at that moment. For example, if you're gifting new parents, you can organize, schedule, and pay for a professional photoshoot with their newborn. These family photos are a lifelong treasured memory that's just thoughtfully perfect. 

And if your parents have been dreaming and saving up to travel to a certain destination, you could surprise them with an all-paid expense trip to that place. This is one of the best parent Christmas gift ideas you can consider.

2. Gift An Experience 

Giving the gift of an experience is often more meaningful than giving a person material things. You can gift them with a snorkeling session, a couples massage, a skydiving date, or a special dinner at their favorite restaurant.

Consider experiences that will startle and thrill the recipient since they are likely to leave a lasting memory.

3. Focus On Creating A Sense Of Connection 

Humans have an innate yearning for connection with others. And this is where handmade/homemade gift crafts come to your rescue. A handmade present provides the recipient with a connection beyond the gift's usage and versatility. If they can visualize and imagine where and how the item was specially handcrafted, they will feel more connected to it.

People have a relationship with the items with which they connect to, and understanding where the origin of the gift deepens this connection. If you're not creative enough to DIY an item, you can go ahead and buy from brands your recipient adores. It could be a custom-made designer bag or shoe, depending on what tickles their fancy.

4. Find Out What They Value 

Make the present more personal by sitting down and establishing a list of the recipient's hobbies, preferences, and what they value most. Make a list of the specific objects or experiences the person has ever shared with you and narrow it down to what is appropriate at that time. Consider the person's personality type to assist you in determining what type of indoor or outdoor experience is ideal for them.

You can also learn about their interests. If the recipient enjoys gardening, consider sending gardening journals, sprinklers, and assorted plant seeds as gifts.

If your friend loves spending their downtime watching football, you can give them premium tickets to a match featuring their favorite team and players.

5. Make The Recipient Feel Known 

To know your recipient better and give thoughtful presents, begin by asking great questions and paying close attention to their replies.

What do they do with their free time? What films do they like? What's their dream holiday destination? Do they have previous passions that have cooled or new pastimes that they've discovered? What restaurant or spa would they love to visit if they have a full day for themselves?

This is definitely a barrage of queries, and it's not wise to bombard them all at once. You can consider asking one or two questions randomly and keeping a record of their responses for the purpose of wonderful gift-giving!

The more you learn about the replies to these kinds of inquiries, the better ideas you will have for getting great presents. The thoughtful presents, no matter how big or tiny, are valuable because they show the receiver that they are acknowledged, loved, and valued.

6. Gift Intentionally From The Heart 

Gifts that involve a significant amount of work, such as something handcrafted or that took you a long time to outsource, can be valuable ways for you to communicate exactly how much you care symbolically.

A thoughtful gift should ideally correspond to what the recipient desires.

Gifting from the heart can also take the shape of meaningful presents. You shouldn't be afraid of sentimentality since receivers respect gifts with emotional significance.

When in doubt, put together a diverse portfolio of presents. You may give someone something you know they'll appreciate, either because you enquired directly from them or because you secretly stole the idea from their wish list, and then augment that with a more meaningful gift.

7. Gift Your Time 

As part of the gift, provide your time. Offer to give your recipient your time if they're frequently anxious, overworked, or going through a difficult moment. You can do this by mowing their lawn for a week or by bringing their children out for the day so they can have some alone time. Giving your time may also benefit those with physical or mental problems, as you might offer to take them out to dinner and help them for the night or run a couple of errands for them that they would be unable to complete on their own.

8. Gift Creatively 

Get creative with your gift-giving. Instead of just handing the present to the recipient, go creative and make the gift-giving task fascinating. Send the recipient on a treasure quest to discover their gift, or plant a hidden message in the recipient's favorite book for them to decipher to find the gift.

You might even place the present somewhere they might not think to find one and let them be surprised. Being inventive in how you give the present might increase the receiver's enthusiasm and make their encounter with getting the gift much more enjoyable.

Conclusion 

Gifting is not always about the size of the gift or how much it costs. The gift you give must be thoughtful and worth it all the way! Worth the effort, materials, and time. There are plenty of other ideas for meaningful presents for everyone in your life. I hope some of these tips have inspired you to be a more thoughtful gifter.

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Safety Precautions When Travelling

Millions of people travel for business or leisure every year in the vast travel industry. With so many people traveling around the world, security is necessary. Whether you're traveling to a new city or country, there are certain things that you need to keep in mind to stay safe. This guide will look at how you can stay safe when traveling:

Before You Go

As you prepare to travel, follow these precautions to ensure safety and convenience.

Pack Appropriately

If traveling by car, ensure you have enough petrol and snacks for the journey. If flying, don't forget your passport and any other travel documents needed for your trip (e.g., visa). Also, ensure that all your valuables are safely packed away so they don't get lost or stolen while on holiday! 

Consider the weather of your destination and carry appropriate clothing and gear. If the place is prone to getting hit by natural disasters, it's best to postpone or plan appropriately for your safety. 

Have All Your Prescription Medicine

Pack all medications in their original containers, along with copies of prescriptions and doctors' notes explaining why you need them. If you have chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, bring extra supplies in case of delays at customs or long layovers at airports that prevent you from getting food or medication from local pharmacies or hospitals.

Pack All Vital Documents

Also, ensure you have an up-to-date copy of all documents on you at all times, including copies of your passport, driving license, health insurance card, and travel insurance details (including emergency contact numbers). It will help if you lose anything while traveling abroad or need to make an appointment with a doctor or hospital.

Get Travel Insurance

Travel insurance covers unexpected medical expenses during your trips, such as emergency hospital treatment or evacuation to a country with better facilities. It also covers private medical treatment needed because of an injury or illness sustained in an accident while abroad – so long as it's not related to driving or riding a motorcycle.

While in Transit

If you are traveling by plane, bus or train, there are some things you can do to stay safe:

  • If you are traveling by plane, wear slip-on shoes that can easily be removed for security checks. Don't carry any weapons or sharp objects on board with you.

  • Do not leave any personal belongings unattended on a bus or train for long periods.

  • Never accept free drinks from strangers or take food offered by someone who may not have your best interests at heart.

  • Do not travel alone, if possible, especially at night or when traveling through unfamiliar territory. Keep any essential medications with you at all times in case of emergencies or unexpected delays; keep copies of prescriptions or doctor's notes on hand so that you don't have to carry around the original documents if you need medical attention while traveling.

While at Your Destination

It's essential to stay safe while at your destination. Here are some tips:

  • Be Aware of Your Surroundings

  • Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, even in a crowd or on public transport. If something doesn't feel right, trust your instincts and find an alternative route or place to be.

  • Avoid walking alone after dark or through deserted areas, as this could put you at risk if someone tries to attack or rob you. If possible, stick to well-lit streets and well-populated areas.

Stay Safe

In conclusion, it's essential to trust your instincts and avoid certain places or situations that make you feel uncomfortable. If you don't feel safe, leave the area immediately and find another way to get home (or back to work). If this is not possible, stay with a group of people. 


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