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Tuesday
Jun122018

Ask Dr. Barb: Celebrity suicides highlight need for mental health awareness

Dr. Barbara RosenbergDear Dr. Barb:

I work with sensitive, creative young people for whom Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain would have been among role models. When successful, high-profile people commit suicide, it makes it harder to coach those who must survive all the failures and disappointments that typically come before a breakthrough. And what does one say to those who wonder about getting through significant life challenges in the face of role models for whom success was apparently not enough? 

Dear Reader,

Needless to say, the suicides of exceptionally creative and talented celebrities like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are shocking and very sad to us all. These tragic, self-inflicted deaths raise many good questions such as yours. Often the most frequent question asked about celebrity suicide is why an individual, having achieved so much fame, admiration and success in a career, would suddenly end his or her life.                                

Of course, one can never know the inner struggles that everyday people, let alone a celebrity, might be hiding from the spotlight.

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Wednesday
Mar282018

Forcing amaryllis bulbs in water: Reblooming for a fourth season

A water-grown 'Double King' amaryllis bulb grows toward the sunlight through a sliding glass door. 'Double King' amaryllis bulb grown in water will rebloom for fourth year.

Well, that's the headline, but my pet amaryllis Leafy does not look as sturdy as it did in its first year of bloom. This year's slender flower stalk is the thinnest ever. 

I can tell before the flower emerges that Leafy needs fortification. The sun alone did not give this water-grown bulb enough energy to make a stem as healthy as its first year of water-forced blooming.

I have grown Leafy in plain water since 2014, and this year I believe I am seeing the result of insufficient nutrients.

In 2015, the first year the bulb bloomed on water in my possession, leaves emerged along with the flower stem. So far, this year, there's only a flower stem. Last year, the leaves came a bit later, so maybe the same will happen this year.

However, the bulb seems to be as tall at the end of March as it was in early April last year. We'll see what happens next month. 

At any rate, I will be testing the effect of putting a little fertilizer in water with hopes of improving both flowers and foliage growth from the bulb. 

If Leafy's growth doesn't seem stronger as a result, I might need to plant the bulb in the ground, as suggested by Hans Langeveld, co-owner of Longfield Gardens, which was the source of the bulb. 

In the meantime, I will keep looking into the bulb's neck for signs of emerging leaves. And I'll turn it as needed to encourage upright growth as the flower stem leans into the sunlight.

 

 

 


Tuesday
Jan162018

Forcing amaryllis bulbs in water for repeat bloom: A Leafy update 

My 'Double King' amaryllis bulb in a Nov. 2017 photo and a Nov. 2016 photo (right). The shorter 2017 leaves, I believe, resulted from days outside.

I have been growing the same 'Double King' amaryllis bulb in plain water since December 2014. It has become a pet houseplant, named Leafy, and it has flowered each spring (three seasons) since then with diligent weekly water changes.

This winter, I didn't have time to experiment with forcing hyacinths in water or forcing tulips in water, so I'm really counting on Leafy to bloom again this year.  

As promised in a post months ago, I called up Hans Langeveld from Longfield Gardens in Lakewood for tips on improving Leafy's health, as the lone survivor of three amaryllis bulbs I got from his nursery in 2014.

The conversation took place way back in June, and I took notes on this expert grower's advice. 

But I didn't do most of what he advised for various reasons. 'Splash' and 'Magnum' gone, but not forgotten.

 

For one thing, he suggested that in the fall I chop off the very leaves that give the bulb its name to put Leafy into dormancy. (Pipe up shock-horror music recalling how I previously killed the other two amaryllis bulbs trying to do just that.)

 

But the first thing he wanted me to do was to plant Leafy outside.

 

“You don't want to go back to soil?” he asked almost incredulously with his gentle lingering accent.

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Tuesday
May092017

Interior design withdrawal: How to pick the perfect chandelier

Photo by Wheeler Kearns Architects - More contemporary dining room photos

It's time to buy a new chandelier, and the choices are overwhelming.

So many shapes and styles and light sources. It helps to narrow things down. Are you attracted to ornate lighting dripping with rows of sparkling crystals? Or do your tastes run more toward angular forms – lights anchored within square lantern shapes or arranged upon linear frames? Advances in LED lighting have brought us so many options that resemble abstract art.

 

What follows is visual exploration of why certain styles work in their room.

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Thursday
Mar022017

Spiralizer leftovers recipe: tri-color sweet potato hash browns 

The slender leftover finger of Japanese purple sweet potato (shown) and similar fingers of white-flesh Japanese sweet potato and plain orange sweet potato are what we want for tri-color hash browns.Hand spiralizers, at least every one that I've seen, always leave a long, thin pieces that peeve some people. Not me. I think having a rounded uniform length of vegetables can lead to all sorts of creative fun. 

Think of pretty, colorful coins in soups and salads. Today I made sweet potato hash out of three colors of sweet potato. I had previously used a length of parsnip in the recipe. The slightly-sweet root veggie is a good complement for sweet potatoes.

This time I used a run-of-the-mill regular sweet potato and two types of Japanese sweet potato: one with reddish-purple skin and pale flesh and one with dusty reddish-purple skin and deep purple flesh. It's shown in the photo. 

When I first began testing hand spiralizers, I hand-processed (cut?) spirals from a purple flesh sweet potato. It was easy work because I had picked out the longest thinnest one I could find. I forgot that I had done that.

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